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Twins Top Ten Prospects (Preliminary)

Over the last two weeks, I’ve posted my choices for Minnesota Twins prospects 11 through 50. Today, I’ll post my choices for the Top 10 Twins Prospects. Obviously injury played an unfortunate role with many of these guys, but there is tremendous upside in this group. There may even be a couple of surprises.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs
Reminders: This list is preliminary. Following research for the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2015, as well as your feedback, I’ll provide my final Top 30 prospects list. Players eligible to be on this list include players who remain eligible for Rookie of the Year voting in 2015. That is to say, hitters with less than 130 at bats and pitchers with less than 50 innings.

Before we get to the Top 10 Twins prospects, you can review prospects 11-50 here:Top Prospects 1-10

#10 – Nick Burdi – 21 – RH RP – Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle

The Twins drafted Burdi in the 24th round of the 2011 draft out of high school. He chose to go to Louisville where he became the most dominant college reliever. A three-digit fastball with a 90+ mph slider creates a lot of strikeouts. The Twins drafted him again in the second round this June after the College World Series. Upon signing, he was assigned to Cedar Rapids where in 13 innings he gave up eight hits, walked eight and struck out 26. He moved up to Ft. Myers where he pitched 7.1 innings in seven games. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out 12. I would guess that he’ll be invited to big league spring training and start the season at Chattanooga. I also think he will be up with the Twins before June.

#9 – Taylor Rogers – 23 – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats

Rogers was my choice in 2013 as the Twins minor league starting pitcher of the year when he went 11-6 with a 2.55 ERA. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Kentucky where he teamed with Logan Darnell and Alex Meyer. Rogers' 2014 got off to a slow start. Through his first five AA starts, he went 1-3 with an 8.14 ERA despite a 26/5 strikeout to walkout rate. Over his final 19 starts, he went 10-3 with a 2.31 ERA. In 120.2 innings, he walked 32 and struck out 87. The left-hander is blessed with a fastball that touches 95 mph and a sharp slider. He will pitch in the Arizona Fall League and could debut with the Twins in 2015.

#8 – Trevor May – 25 – RHP – Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins

May came to the Twins in December of 2012 from the Phillies. In 2013, he went back to the Eastern League in New Britain. After two years of AA ball, he advanced to AAA this year and was terrific. He went 8-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 18 starts before being called up to the Twins. It likely would have happened a month or more earlier if not for a calf injury. His debut in Oakland on August 9th was a disaster. He walked seven in two innings. In his first three starts, he walked 13 and struck out three in nine innings. In his final seven starts, he walked nine and struck out 41 over 36.2 innings. That kind of improvement should have Twins very optimistic that May can be a solid mid-rotation guy.

#7 – Jorge Polanco – 21 – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats/Minnesota Twins

Polanco had a breakout season in 2013 in Cedar Rapids. He hit .308/.362/.452 (.813). He moved up to Ft. Myers to start this season. In 94 games, he hit .291/.364/.415 (.780) with 17 doubles, six triples and six home runs. In late June, the Twins surprised fans by calling up Polanco from the Miracle for a small cup of coffee. He was returned to the high-A Miracle. A month later, he was well on his way up to AA New Britain, but instead he was called up to the Twins again for a short stint. Quickly returning to AA, he hit .281/.323/.342 (.665) with six doubles and a homer. With the Twins, he primarily just pinch hit, though he did make one start. He went 2-6 and walked twice. After splitting time between shortstop and second base in 2013, he made the move to shortstop in 2014. He spent 119 games at short and just 10 at second base in the minor leagues. He committed 35 errors at shortstop and three more at second base, but he does have decent range. His arm is best suited to second base. He should start 2015 in Chattanooga.

#6 – Nick Gordon – 18 – SS – Elizabethton Twins

The Twins were thrilled when Nick Gordon was still available when they were on the clock with the fifth pick. He certainly fits a mold that the Twins have used in the past. Gordon is an athletic high school hitter with a lot of tools who plays in the middle of the diamond. The Twins believe he will be able to stay at shortstop as he develops. He can hit, field his position, has a very strong arm and good speed. Though he isn’t the burner that his brother, Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon is, he has well above average speed. Currently 6-0 and 180 pounds, the hope is that he will develop some power. He began his professional career with Elizabethton where he played in 57 games. He hit .294/.333/.366 (.699) with six doubles, four triples and a home run. In Elizabethton’s playoff series, he broke a bone in his finger. He will most likely spend the 2015 season with the Kernels in Cedar Rapids.

#5 – Alex Meyer – 24 – RHP – Rochester Red Wings

He missed about two months of the 2013 season with shoulder pain. As much as Twins fans wanted to see Meyer in 2014, it is clear that the organization’s goal for Meyer in 2014 was to get him through the season healthy. He left his final start in the second inning when he was unable to get his shoulder loose, but he has been deemed healthy heading into the offseason. He had a solid season, posting a 7-7 record with a 3.52 ERA. In 130.1 innings, he struck out 153 batters to lead the International League starters with 10.6 per nine innings. However, he also walked 64 batters, 4.4 per nine. He has the stuff to be a very good starting pitcher, but he will have to throw more strikes. Some believe there is a chance he could wind up in the bullpen at the end of the day. However, with a 98 mph fastball, a great slider, a curveball and an improved changeup, it’s worth giving him every possible chance as a starter.

#4 – Kohl Stewart – 19 – RHP –Cedar Rapids Kernels

Stewart was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft out of St. Pius X High School in Houston. As we know, he was a star on the football field, but the Twins signed him away from Texas A&M. He made 19 starts for the Kernels this year and went 3-5 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He was limited to 75 to 80 pitches throughout most of the year. This, combined with missing several weeks with shoulder soreness limited him pitching only 87 innings. Stewart has good control of his pitches. His fastball sits between 93 and 94 mph but at times has hit 97. He has a slider, which he threw only sporadically. He has a sharp curveball and a solid changeup. He is also very competitive and wants to be great. He has a chance to move up quickly on national prospect rankings next year.

#3 – JO Berrios – 20 – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats/Rochester Red Wings

The Twins made Berrios their supplemental first round pick in 2012 out of high school in Puerto Rico. After an unspectacular 2013 season in Cedar Rapids, Berrios was the top pitcher in the Twins farm system in 2014. He pitched at three levels and combined to go 12-8 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 25 starts. At Ft. Myers, he went 9-3 with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He started the Florida State League All- Star game and the Futures game. He was promoted to AA, and when the Rochester Red Wings needed a starter on the final weekend of the season, they went to Berrios. At 6-0 and just 185 pounds, Berrios throws hard, topping out at 96. He has a sharp breaking ball as well as a very good changeup. He has good control and struck out a batter per inning over the season. He will likely begin 2015 in Chattanooga, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that we could see Berrios in a Twins uniform sometime in 2015.

#2 – Miguel Sano – 21 – 3B – Did Not Play

We all had hoped to see Sano with the big league club sometime in 2014. However, in the first spring training intra-squad game, a slow-roller to third base was fielded by Sano. He made an off-balance throw to first base, and his elbow popped. Less than two weeks later, he had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season. He rehabbed in Ft. Myers and hopes to get some at-bats in the second half of the Dominican Winter League before heading back to spring training. Coming in to the season, he was Baseball America’s #6 prospect in baseball. At 6-4 and 255 pounds, he has elite power potential. He’ll strike out, but he will also take some walks. He is a very good athlete who has a cannon for an arm. It will be interesting to see how his arm returns to playing shape. Despite the injury, he’s still just 21 years old. He still could debut in 2015, though we need to remember that he missed an entire year of development.

#1 – Byron Buxton – 20 – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats

There was a chance that we would have seen Byron Buxton in Target Field (and not just in the Futures game). Unfortunately, it was a tough season for baseball’s top prospect. He represented himself well in big league camp, but in a minor league spring training game, he hurt his wrist making a diving catch. When he came back, he hurt it again and missed more time. Then he was hit on the other wrist with a pitch and missed time. He moved up to New Britain, where he likely would have started if not for the injury. In his first game, he collided with Mike Kvasnicka and suffered a concussion that cost him the rest of his season. Fortunately, he has been cleared to play in the Arizona Fall League. Kris Bryant may take over the #1 prospect list, but Buxton remains an upper echelon prospect in the game. He can hit for average and take walks. He has the potential to hit for a lot of power. He is one of the fastest base runners in baseball. He is a potential gold glove centerfielder with a great arm. He has confidence and humility. At the same time, he doesn’t just want to be a very good player. He wants to be great.


So, what do you think of Part 5, the Twins Top 10 Prospects?


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61 Comments

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pierre75275
Oct 02 2014 03:45 AM
I think Alex Meyer should be above Mr. Stewart based on what he has shown at higher levels and because he is closer to the bigs. I would personally go Meyer, Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Stewart as my top five. But I will defer to Seth because he knows a lot more about it then I do
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clutterheart
Oct 02 2014 05:26 AM

1 - 6 could be the top prospect in any other organizations

    • Eephus likes this
Wow Seth, that's quite the 10 ten ranking. What a difference a year makes when Rosario was I believe 5 and Meyer was 3rd. You must be quite high on Rogers to have him at 9 and having Thorpe at 11 and I fully trust your opinion on that one. The only difference I have is Meyer at 5. There's no getting around that Berrios is special when a 20 year had the impressive year he had at such high levels, ending at AAA. But, when you consider potential alone, Meyer has it. When he's on, it's Ace material. It's not often, when a 6'9" young man, firing 98 mph bullits into the 6th inning, with excellent strike out secondary stuff, comes around. He had to accomplish 2 things this year; improve command and get thru a full season which he did, albeit by a wing and a prayer. My 2 cents has Meyer 3, Berrios 4 and Stewart 5. In total, awesome job Seth.

Taylor Rogers is the next Brian Duensing. Upside is not high enough for the top 10.

    • nicksaviking and JustinCB like this
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SarasotaBill
Oct 02 2014 06:20 AM

My Ranking by Position:

 

SP - Berrios,Meyer,Stewart,May,Thorpe,Gonsalves,Rogers,Duffey,Ynoa,Hu,Romero,Jorge

RP- Burdi,Z.Jones,Chargois,Reed,Tonkin,Melotakis,Cederoth,Curtiss,Adam,Landa,Clay

C - Turner,Silva,Garver,Fernandez,Navaretto

1B- Diaz,Hicks

2B/SS- Gordon,Polanco,Vielma,Michael,Hinojosa,Mejia

3B- Sano,Goodrum

OF- Buxton,Rosario,Walker,Kepler,Minier,Harrison,Larson,Murphy

    • birdwatcher, Brandon and Dantes929 like this

Thanks for taking the time to write this up Seth!!!! Very encouraging after a 90 loss season!!Hopefully most of those young arms will make it to the majors!!!

I'm not sure about Rogers above Thorpe and Gonsalves.... actually I am, and think you're crazy Seth lol. Rogers so/9 has decreased as he's gone up the ladder. He looks like his ceiling is a back of the rotation starter, while Thorpe and Gonsalves both have much higher ceilings. Based on that, Rogers wouldn't make my top 15 probably. 

 

Not taking anything away from Rogers, he is still a good prospect and would most certainly be in the top 10 in most other teams list. Its all subjective though, and I enjoyed the write-up on each prospect. Well done.

    • SQUIRREL and JustinCB like this
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IowaTwin346
Oct 02 2014 07:07 AM

I like the list and like that there are more hard throwing guys than there have been in the past. Like you mentioned injuries hampered a lot their seasons so it will be interesting/fun to watch how they bounce back.

 

One thing I noticed is you have a few guys starting in New Britain in 2014. Should be Chattanooga in 2015 right?

Rather than post a bunch of replies, I'll just try to address some of the things above here:

 

1.) First and foremost, this is just my list. I do follow things and talk to a bunch of people. Going to Ft. Myers for several days of spring training is great because you can actually get a glimpse of the players in action. But it's just my list. I don't and won't claim it's perfect in any way. As I do more research for the Prospect Handbook the next couple of months, I'll learn more so it's subject to change. It is just my opinion and everyone here can certainly agree or disagree as much as you want, and that's fun. Most important, these guys are getting recognized. 

 

2.) Regarding Taylor Rogers. I think last year at this time, I ranked him about 18th or so, and I got a lot of grief for that. At that time, he was sitting 91-92 with a good slider. Now he's 94 and touching 95 and had a terrific year at AA. He hasn't been a huge strikeout guy, but I think he's got a real chance, and I know that the Twins really like him and his stuff. Should he be 9 or 12, well, that's certainly debatable, but I think he's got to be somewhere in that range.

 

3.) Jeremy and I, on Twins Hangouts, have frequently talked about these prospects in layers. Sano and Buxton are clearly the top 2 (with Buxton clearly 1). Then there is the group of Meyer, Berrios and Stewart who could be put in any order. Then there are Nick Gordon and Jorge Polanco.

 

4.)I still believe in Rosario, and I still like Kepler. I like the Gonsalves, Hu, Thorpe group that is currently in my 11-20 range and can see each of them as Top 10 candidates.

 

5.) Overall, this organization is strong. There are players throughout the Top 50, and likely a few that I missed, who realistically could get to the big leagues, and that's exciting.

Yeah, I was going to give Seth a hard time about him projecting that so many of these guys apparently are being traded to the Rockies (NB's new affiliate). We're all going to have to get used to the Chattanooga thing.

 

Like others, I'm not as high on Rogers as Seth is. Honestly, I'm not sure I'll have Stewart ranked as high, either, when I do my own list (usually after Arizona League). I thought he had a perfectly fine season in CR and looks like a potential top of the rotation guy, but I'm not sure he showed me enough to merit a top 5 ranking. Certainly top 10 though, so it's probably splitting hairs a bit.

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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 02 2014 07:46 AM

Lewis Thorpe cannot crack the top ten list in the organization.

 

Wow. That says all you need to know about the Twins system right now.

    • birdwatcher and Dantes929 like this

Berrios, Meyer, and Stewart is a pretty nice collection of potential starters to have in the top 5!May certainly put himself back into Top 10 territory this year as well.

 

Rogers is a funny case to me.I certainly wouldn't have him as the top lefty on these lists, but he was fantastic this year.Everything secondary to his normal numbers just tells me his upside isn't worthy of that high a ranking.I do like the Duensing comparison though.

 

And I can't wait to see Nick Burdi at Target Field.He's probably the one on this list I'm most excited about for next year.Would like to see the Twins give him a real chance to make the team out of Spring Training.Maybe the new manager (perhaps Mientkiewicz? Who has seen him) would do that!

Yeah, I was going to give Seth a hard time about him projecting that so many of these guys apparently are being traded to the Rockies (NB's new affiliate). We're all going to have to get used to the Chattanooga thing.

 

Like others, I'm not as high on Rogers as Seth is. Honestly, I'm not sure I'll have Stewart ranked as high, either, when I do my own list (usually after Arizona League). I thought he had a perfectly fine season in CR and looks like a potential top of the rotation guy, but I'm not sure he showed me enough to merit a top 5 ranking. Certainly top 10 though, so it's probably splitting hairs a bit.

 

Good call... I wonder how long I'll be saying New Britain when I should stay Chattanooga. Thank you for pointing that out. I have corrected.

Great writeup on all 50, I really enjoyed reading it.

 

I would flip Stewart and Meyer based primarily on closeness to majors, but otherwise I completely agree on the top 8. And I would have Burdi 9 and Thorpe 10.

 

I share the skepticism on Rogers. I think he'll make the majors at some point (possibly middle of next year), but I agree with the Duensing comp, that seems about right. Main concern is the declining k/9 rate. I would put several people ahead of him, but I would also acknowledge that Rogers will provide more mlb value than many of the people I would put ahead. That said, I like people following their hunch and hope he blows past my expectations.

Berrios, Meyer, and Stewart is a pretty nice collection of potential starters to have in the top 5!May certainly put himself back into Top 10 territory this year as well.

 

Rogers is a funny case to me.I certainly wouldn't have him as the top lefty on these lists, but he was fantastic this year.Everything secondary to his normal numbers just tells me his upside isn't worthy of that high a ranking.I do like the Duensing comparison though.

 

And I can't wait to see Nick Burdi at Target Field.He's probably the one on this list I'm most excited about for next year.Would like to see the Twins give him a real chance to make the team out of Spring Training.Maybe the new manager (perhaps Mientkiewicz? Who has seen him) would do that!

 

If the Twins cut ties with Duensing, Swarzak and Burton like they should, I think Burdi has a legit chance to break camp with the Twins. No reason to hold him down.

    • Steve Lein and nicksaviking like this

I think there is no reason to hold back Burdi also. I was 100% wrong on that pick for sure. His pitches are ready right now for a bullpen role. As more and more teams are doing, call him up before he gets hurt.

    • Steve Lein, nicksaviking and jokin like this
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DAM DC Twins Fans
Oct 02 2014 08:49 AM
Thanks for doing this Seth.

I agree with you on Rogers (obviously a minority opinion).

I actually have Berrios at numero uno on my list--he has really grown this year. Do you think he has a chance to come up in 2015??

I wouldn't put Rosario in a top 20 list--I have lost faith in him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.) Overall, this organization is strong. There are players throughout the Top 50, and likely a few that I missed, who realistically could get to the big leagues, and that's exciting.

 

AJ Achter...Stephen Pryor....Brandon Peterson...DJ Johnson....Adrian Salcedo...Matt Tomshaw...Tyler Jones

Seth. I've been wondering about something. How comparable do you see Jorge Polanco & Danny Santana. Both are young primarily SS-types -- at least in the minors. We obviously got to see a lot of Santana at Target Field and he was mostly in centerfield. If I told you only one would be with the Twins four of five years from now, would you guess it to be Polanco or Santana. Obviously they could both be with the Twins and one at another position. 

I've mentioned this before, but Rogers is very good at getting ground balls, a skill that is likely to translate to the majors as well.  I had him around 20, but I didn't think he had anything more than an average fastball.  If he's hitting the mid 90s he has a bit more upside and merits some reconsideration.  Although I do wonder if adding velocity is changing his fastball trajectory and his pitcher profile in the process.  But if he learns to change speeds effectively he might be able to sneak his fastball by guys some of the time and take a little off to make them pound it into the ground at others.

 

Seth, I know you do a lot more research and have a lot better sources than than us armchair guys, so I always like the surprises on your list.

My Ranking by Position:

 

SP - Berrios,Meyer,Stewart,May,Thorpe,Gonsalves,Rogers,Duffey,Ynoa,Hu,Romero,Jorge

RP- Burdi,Z.Jones,Chargois,Reed,Tonkin,Melotakis,Cederoth,Curtiss,Adam,Landa,Clay

C - Turner,Silva,Garver,Fernandez,Navaretto

1B- Diaz,Hicks

2B/SS- Gordon,Polanco,Vielma,Michael,Hinojosa,Mejia

3B- Sano,Goodrum

OF- Buxton,Rosario,Walker,Kepler,Minier,Harrison,Larson,Murphy

This would be an interesting way to do the list.instead of top 50 wee could show the top players at each position. of course this only is interesting when we are deep in minor leaguers.

 

Also Duffy and Rogers are well established at AA this year meaning they could show enough to warrant a big league promotion as early as next year.We should be looking at the following pitching options available for next year.

 

Meyer

May

Berrios

Duffy

Rogers

 

Do we really need to sign or trade for a pitcher for those last 2 slots in the rotation?

This would be an interesting way to do the list.instead of top 50 wee could show the top players at each position. of course this only is interesting when we are deep in minor leaguers.

 

Also Duffy and Rogers are well established at AA this year meaning they could show enough to warrant a big league promotion as early as next year.We should be looking at the following pitching options available for next year.

 

Meyer

May

Berrios

Duffy

Rogers

 

Do we really need to sign or trade for a pitcher for those last 2 slots in the rotation?

 

Yes.

    • birdwatcher and HitInAPinch like this
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nicksaviking
Oct 02 2014 09:52 AM

I guess I'm late too late to the comment board to question the Rogers placement, so instead I suggest perhaps it's possible his increased velocity will have a delayed impact on increased strikeout numbers.

 

Still, does anyone have a take on why so many Twins prospects have good velocity but can't miss bats?Rogers, Stewart, Brett Lee, Tyler Duffey, Ryan Eades, Brian Gilbert, Fernando Romero and Aaron Slegers come to mind.What are we missing? Minor league hitters tend to strike out a ton, even if there isn't a lot of movement on the pitches.What's causing the failure here? Philosophy? Mechanics?

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nicksaviking
Oct 02 2014 09:54 AM

This would be an interesting way to do the list.instead of top 50 wee could show the top players at each position. of course this only is interesting when we are deep in minor leaguers.

 

Also Duffy and Rogers are well established at AA this year meaning they could show enough to warrant a big league promotion as early as next year.We should be looking at the following pitching options available for next year.

 

Meyer

May

Berrios

Duffy

Rogers

 

Do we really need to sign or trade for a pitcher for those last 2 slots in the rotation?

 

Yes.

 

No, the first two slots.

 

I don't need more Pelfreys, Correias or Marquis.Go big or stay home.

    • birdwatcher and HitInAPinch like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 02 2014 09:56 AM
I don't think May is really eligible anymore... at least in my opinion. He's going to be off most of the lists this offseason. Rogers is way too high. His development is encouraging, but he won't amount to much more than a back rotation guy if he cannot miss more bats.

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