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Top Ten Twins Players Under 25 (1-5)

Plenty of prospect lists are released during the off-season. One thing prospect lists don’t show is the depth of young talent at the big league level. Minnesota’s farm system would look a lot different if the likes of Byron Buxton or Jose Berrios still populated top-10 lists. Hence, the need for a look at the top ten players in the Twins system under age 25.

In the first part of this list, there wasn't a single player who has made their big league debut. Today's portion of the list includes multiple big league assets.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Here at Twins Daily, Nick recently finished off his top-20 Minnesota Twins assets. His approach was a little different as he was looking at every player in the organization. Baseball Prospectus just released their list of Top 25-and-under players but their cutoff was 4/1/1992. This allowed Miguel Sano and Max Kepler to be included on their list.

The list below is limited to players whose seasonal ages for 2018 are 24 or younger—that is, any player who will not yet have turned 25 on July 1, 2018. Players like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler don’t qualify because they will turn 25 before July 1st.

5. Nick Gordon, SS
Date of birth: October 24, 1995 (age-22 season)
Entering last off-season, Nick Gordon was near the top of every Twins prospect list. Royce Lewis’ addition to the system has pushed Gordon down a peg. Tom wondered if Gordon has gone from prospect to suspect because of his poor second half. As a 21-year old, he spent all of 2017 at Double-A where he was over three years younger than the competition. His batting average dipped by over 20 points but he bumped up his slugging percentage by 22 points. There are still questions about whether he will stay at shortstop or even if he will still be in the Twins organization at this point next year. If the Twins need to add big league pitching, Gordon might have to be one of the trade pieces.

4. Jorge Polanco, SS
Date of birth: July 5, 1993 (age-24 season)
It’s hard for me to imagine ranking Jorge Polanco this high but that’s how good he looked in 2017. He got on base over 31% of the time and collected 46 extra-base hits in 133 games. From the beginning of August until season’s end, he hit .316/.377/553 with 10 home runs. Throughout his professional career, there have been questions about his defensive abilities. He committed 18 errors in 507 chances for a .964 fielding percentage. SABR’s Defensive Index had him ranked in the bottom five among American League shortstops. Polanco could help end Minnesota’s revolving door at shortstop if he can make some defensive improvements and continue to hit like he did in August and September.

3. Jose Berrios, RHP
Date of birth: May 27, 1994 (age-24 season)
This is the year, right? Berrios has shown flashes of being a dominant big league pitcher. In fact, there are times his breaking pitches are completely unhittable.
Berrios has shown the ability to be dominant at an individual level during his time in the minor leagues. In 30 starts at Triple-A, he has a 2.79 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP and a 10.0 K/9. Last year at the big league level, he was over 5.5 years younger than the competition. He’s going to put it all together and that’s certainly good news for Twins fans.

2. Royce Lewis, SS
Date of birth: June 5, 1999 (age-19 season)
In many other organizations, he might be the best player under the age of 25. It’s hard to know what the future will hold. Lewis could end up becoming better than the top player on this list. Right now, there is a lot of projection involved and he projects to be a very good player for a very long time. At his current age, Baseball Prospectus is comparing him to Carlos Correa. If Lewis can lead Minnesota where Correa brought Houston this year, he will become a Twins legend.

1. Byron Buxton, CF
Date of birth: December 18, 1993 (age-24 season)
Buxton follows quite the impressive line of defensive center fielders in Minnesota that stretches back to the Puckett era. Twins fans have been spoiled with diving catches from the likes of Hunter, Gomez, Span, and Revere. Buxton was honored as the best defensive player in the American League and the scary things is… his bat turned out to be pretty good too. When I predicted the 2021 line-up last week, I wrote about the possibility of Buxton winning an MVP. This isn’t a stretch especially in an era that values all-around players. Minnesota’s base running saw a resurgence in 2017 and Buxton was leading the way as the best runner in the big leagues. He’s going to need to hit and he showed the type of player he could be in the second half of last season.

So how would your rankings look? What will the rankings look like next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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17 Comments

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Kelly Vance
Jan 31 2018 09:29 PM

Bux needs to bat leadoff.

    • SgtSchmidt11, sploorp, gagu and 1 other like this

I posted on my blog - he needs to have a Rickey Henderson approach.I am serious, speed, defense and some power.He needs to focus his inner Rickey and he is HOF

    • slash129, gagu and Nine of twelve like this

One thing I notice about this top ten is that 2-4 of these guys best position will be 2nd base. Pretty good reason not to resign Dozier. I do like him, but it's just not an need for the Twins.

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor and Twins33 like this
2021 infield:
3rd, Lewis
Short, Javier
2nd, Gordon
1st, Rooker
Utility/DH, Polanco
DH, Sano
    • caninatl04 likes this
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FormerMinnasotan
Jan 31 2018 11:44 PM
I definitely think Berrios will improve even more this year. If he can be more consistent with his command of his fastball that’ll be a start, and he’s got to improve his change up to become a better starter. The funny thing is in the Minors he was graded as having a plus change and a near plus curve. Given Berrios’ work ethic and attention to detail I wouldn’t be surprised if his fastball command was better and his changeup improved.

2021 infield:
3rd, Lewis
Short, Javier
2nd, Gordon
1st, Rooker
Utility/DH, Polanco
DH, Sano


If Lewis can't stick at SS, he'd move to the OF, not third base. Perhaps his best tool is wasted at third base.
    • adorduan likes this
Gordon and Polanco are too high, IMO.

Not real high on Gordon. He could be an OK player, but I just don't see much of a ceiling there. Not an especially great fielder. Not especially blazing fast. No power. Not real sure what he brings that puts him in the top 50 prospects for ESPN.

I don't think the Polanco we saw in the second half last year is the guy he is. Offensively, that's clearly unsustainable. Defensively, he couldn't fall apart to the point where you can't warrant playing him at SS.

No Kepler in the top 10? He was better in High A to AAA than anyone else on that list, outside of Buxton. He's already shown flashes of brilliance in the majors. Still only 23-24, right? Not sure I could justify putting some of those guys ahead of him.

I think Gleeman nailed the list, with the exception that I'd put Kepler ahead of Polanco. It is supposed to be the 10 best players under 25 right now. A guy like Graterol may have a high ceiling, but shouldn't be in this list yet.
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ScooterDance
Feb 01 2018 08:11 AM
If you move Lewis to outfield, who is he gonna replace? Your 2020 MVP order is gonna be Buxton, Kepler, Rosario.

 

No Kepler in the top 10? He was better in High A to AAA than anyone else on that list, outside of Buxton. He's already shown flashes of brilliance in the majors. Still only 23-24, right? Not sure I could justify putting some of those guys ahead of him.
 

July 1, 2018 is the qualifier date for this list. It's stated after the Gleeman list insert.

Are we sure Kepler can hit lefties well enough to be a star??I'm not 100% sold yet.And TOTALLY get SSS, and he is young...

 

Just want to see him do it a bit before I'm sold

 

    • Ben Noble and Vanimal46 like this

 

One thing I notice about this top ten is that 2-4 of these guys best position will be 2nd base. Pretty good reason not to resign Dozier. I do like him, but it's just not an need for the Twins.

 

Disclaimer: Bit of a fanboy commenting

 

Or, you could resign Dozier and move some of those MI prospects for high-end controllable pitching

    • Vanimal46 and tvagle like this

Solid list.

 

If the Polanco we saw in August and Sept is real he belongs on the list. Not sure he's a .300 hitter/high on-base guy though. Hope he is. I think this will be a big year for him.  

 

Gordon and Polanco are too high, IMO.

Not real high on Gordon. He could be an OK player, but I just don't see much of a ceiling there. Not an especially great fielder. Not especially blazing fast. No power. Not real sure what he brings that puts him in the top 50 prospects for ESPN.

I don't think the Polanco we saw in the second half last year is the guy he is. Offensively, that's clearly unsustainable. Defensively, he couldn't fall apart to the point where you can't warrant playing him at SS.

No Kepler in the top 10? He was better in High A to AAA than anyone else on that list, outside of Buxton. He's already shown flashes of brilliance in the majors. Still only 23-24, right? Not sure I could justify putting some of those guys ahead of him.

I think Gleeman nailed the list, with the exception that I'd put Kepler ahead of Polanco. It is supposed to be the 10 best players under 25 right now. A guy like Graterol may have a high ceiling, but shouldn't be in this list yet.

 

Gordon's high on prospect lists because he does most everything at an average or above average rate. He hits well enough, not elite but not horrible. He fields well enough, not elite but not horrible. So on and so forth. When you add all of that up, it's a valuable prospect. I think he'll have an extended career in the majors. This is a big year for him.

 

Re: Polanco. I agree the 2nd half isn't him. It's very hard to maintain an .870 OPS throughout the season. Baseball-Reference projects him to be a .256/.313/.410 player in 2018. I'd be good with that if he continues to improve defensively. 

 

Re: Kepler. Yeah he certainly deserves a spot in the top 10. That's a pretty big omission.

 

An even bigger omission IMO is Sano. I don't know how someone who has 40 HR potential and major league success didn't make the list. 

I agree with Gleeman's list more than Cody's. 

 

 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

 

 

Re: Kepler. Yeah he certainly deserves a spot in the top 10. That's a pretty big omission.

 

An even bigger omission IMO is Sano. I don't know how someone who has 40 HR potential and major league success didn't make the list. 

I agree with Gleeman's list more than Cody's. 

 

Cody said right before he wrote up his list:

"The list below is limited to players whose seasonal ages for 2018 are 24 or younger—that is, any player who will not yet have turned 25 on July 1, 2018. Players like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler don’t qualify because they will turn 25 before July 1st."

 

Not an oversight, not an omission: it was a decision based on how he set up the rules.

 

Gordon has a super high floor for a prospect. Where his ceiling end up is yet to be determined.

 

I feel very good about Royce Lewis so far.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

Cody said right before he wrote up his list:
"The list below is limited to players whose seasonal ages for 2018 are 24 or younger—that is, any player who will not yet have turned 25 on July 1, 2018. Players like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler don’t qualify because they will turn 25 before July 1st."

Not an oversight, not an omission: it was a decision based on how he set up the rules.

Gordon has a super high floor for a prospect. Where his ceiling end up is yet to be determined.

I feel very good about Royce Lewis so far.


Touche. That's what I get for skimming through the list instead of reading.

Gordon is way overated.Rooker needs to be there ahead of him, for one. 

Gordon is way overated. Rooker needs to be there ahead of him, for one.


Well of the major publications that have released their prospect rankings, only BA has Rooker ahead of Gordon. And even there it's by 1 spot (92/93).
So, I don't think it's accurate at all to say that Rooker needs to be ahead of Gordon.

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