The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2019: Part 3 (6-10)
Image courtesy of Matt Marton, USA Today10. Taylor Rogers, LHP (28)
2018 Ranking: 15
In 2017, it looked like Rogers might be starting to emerge as one of the better relief pitchers in all of baseball. In 2018, he hammered that distinction home. While logging career highs in innings (68.1) and appearances (72), the southpaw posted numbers that rivaled some of the game's best, ranking 11th among MLB relievers in WAR (1.9), ninth in FIP (2.33) and 10th in WHIP (0.95).
Thanks in part to a curveball that rates statistically as one of the best in the majors, Rogers has become a shutdown force, leaving behind his prior billing as a lefty matchup specialist. The unheralded bullpen hero has quietly developed into one of baseball's most valuable relievers, and the Twins control him for another three years.
9. Max Kepler, OF (26)
2018 Ranking: 7
Kepler has been the subject of exhaustive discussion this offseason, here and elsewhere. He's an interesting specimen, in that he has gone through various phases as a hitter but his production has perpetually stayed in the same average-ish range. He's an exceptional defender in right field, and seemingly a solid one in center, which is helpful for the Twins given Byron Buxton's durability issues.
The athleticism, commitment and tools are there. He's shown a reasonably high floor, turns 26 in February, and is still under team control for four more years. These things have value, and will lead to solid offers if the Twins are indeed shopping him this winter. But if Kepler continues to stagnate offensively, the fleeting intrigue further diminishes.
8. Eddie Rosario, OF (27)
2018 Ranking: 5
Although he had huge moments and earned our team MVP honors this year, Rosario was actually a tick worse offensively in 2018 than 2017. His defense improved, making him a more valuable all-around player by most measures, but the outfielder has sorta settled into his norm as a very good – but not great – hitter who has stretches of total dominance (as well as an electric playmaker).
Reaching arbitration for the first time this offseason with some strong numbers to build his case, Rosario's window of ultra-low cost is reaching its end, but he's still controlled for three more years. It's not unthinkable he finds another gear, but if this is who Eddie is, he's a good one to have around.
7. Jorge Polanco, SS (25)
2018 Ranking: 6
In late March it was announced that Polanco tested positive for a PEDs, resulting in an 80-game suspension. It was an unfortunate turn of events but he took care of his business, showed up ready to roll in July, and put up rock-solid numbers the rest of the way (.288/.345/.427 in 77 games).
Polanco didn't accrue service time during his ban so the Twins still control him through 2022, his age-28 season. His impressive showing on offense this year was offset somewhat by defensive regression, casting further doubt on his future at shortstop, but he remains usable there. And regardless, a switch-hitting middle infielder who's a reliable source of above-average offense is gonna be plenty valuable.
6. Fernando Romero, RHP (24)
2018 Ranking: 12
A year ago, the highly talented Romero was docked in these rankings by one sole factor: durability. In 2017 he wore down in mid-August, hitting the wall shortly after surpassing 100 innings. His lengthy history of injuries cast some doubt on the flamethrower's ability to hold up.
This year, he logged 146 innings between Triple-A and the majors, pitching into September for the first time ever. He debuted in the majors at age 23 and showed flashes of dominance, catching the league's attention with his upper-90s heat and 0.54 ERA through three MLB starts. I wouldn't say he totally erased the durability concerns, as he still seemed to lose steam over the course of the summer, but Romero took an important step forward. His powerful arm is destined to play a major role in 2019 and beyond.
RECAPPING THE RANKINGS:
20. Nick Gordon, SS
19. C.J. Cron, 1B
18. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
17. Jake Cave, OF
16. Wander Javier, SS
15. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
14. Miguel Sano, 3B
13. Kyle Gibson, RHP
12. Trevor May, RHP
11. Mitch Garver, C
10. Taylor Rogers, LHP
9. Max Kepler, OF
8. Eddie Rosario, OF
7. Jorge Polanco, SS
6. Fernando Romero, RHP
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