Twins Prospects and the Final Piece
Image courtesy of © Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsAt the current juncture, it's too early to decide whether or not the Twins should be using the balance of the 2018 season for development or continuing to believe the Indians are a reachable distance away. The reality is that this current club is underperforming significantly, but the division isn't getting away from them either. At some point however, promotions for near-ready prospects will be come a reality. For three guys, there's one key piece to each of their games that could be holding them back.
Now through seven Triple-A starts, Gonsalves has been passed over in favor of both Fernando Romero and Zack Littell when it comes to making a big league debut. Despite dominating Double-A Chattanooga to start the year, Gonsalves had put up a couple of clunkers with the Red Wings.
Through his seven starts, three of them have seen one or less runs cross the plate, while a fourth saw three runners score in 5.2 IP. As a whole, opposing batters own just a .643 OPS against the talented lefty, and batters are hitting just .190 against him. Those numbers are all indicative of a guy who would be expected to be performing at a high level.
If there's something that gives for Gonsalves, it's the same bugaboo that has plagued him in recent years: free passes. 2016 was when Gonsalves really started to gain steam, and the knock then was his walk rate. He posted a 3.7 BB/9 split between Fort Myers and Chattanooga. In his first turn at Double-A, he owned a 4.5 BB/9. 2017 saw that number drop all the way to 2.4 BB/9 in 87.1 IP. Fast forward to this season, and Gonsalves walked 4.4 per nine in 201. IP at Double-A, with 5.5 BB/9 through 32.2 Triple-A innings.
Gonsalves has a very strong 1.189 WHIP, and he limited damage by allowing just 5.6 H/9 and 0.8 HR/9. For him to be successful at the next level, and keep himself out of precarious positions, keeping batters from getting free bases is a must. As the walk rate drops, his call up chances will rise dramatically.
As a guy who is going to play up the middle for the Twins, the last question remaining is where there's an avenue for time. In part, it's on Gordon to cement himself as a defender, and on the flip side, Minnesota must decide how they want to go about defensive positioning.
Right now Ehire Adrianza leaves an immense amount to be desired at the plate, while Eduardo Escobar can't hack it there in the field. Brian Dozier is entrenched as the every day second basemen, but his time with the Twins could soon be coming to an end. With only short bursts of opportunity presenting themselves, it's hard to get real bent out of shape about Gordon being at Triple-A.
Thus far in 2018, he's played eight games at second and 48 at short across two levels. He makes more than his fair share of errors, and that's continued to be an opportunity for improvement. Jorge Polanco may be better suited of the pair to hang on at short, but Gordon is also more than capable of making it a competition.
Right now, Nick needs to continue honing in both his arm and glove, while biding his time until the iron is hot. Should the Twins fall out of it, he's going to get his chance. Miguel Sano hitting the DL provided an opportunity I feel the Twins missed on, but another injury could allow them a shot to right that wrong as well.
Drafted as a fast moving, bat first (only) prospect, Rooker touted some incredible numbers in the SEC. A Triple Crown winner, there were very few questions about his ability to hit the baseball. He's as decorated of a college athlete as they come, and getting him deep in the first round looked like an absolute steal for the Twins.
So far during his pro career, things have gone as expected for Brent. He posted a .930 OPS between rookie ball and High-A last season, which led to starting 2018 at Chattanooga. While he got off to a slow start for the lookouts, Rooker owns an .890 OPS over his last 29 games. He's got 24 extra base hits on the season, and has launched eight longballs. In other words, the production off of his bat leaves little to question.
Where things get a bit out of whack, are when Rooker swings and misses. Right now he owns a 66/14 K/BB through 55 games. For some context, that's a 160/41 K/BB ratio over 133 games, the same sample size that saw Adam Brett Walker post a 195/51 K/BB in his best Double-A season. Brent is a better pure hitter than Walker was, and ideally he's not destined to be a three true outcomes guy. That said, it's imperative that the discipline at the dish is honed in a bit more.
There's reason to believe that a perfect storm could land Rooker in Minnesota by the end of 2018 for a cup of coffee. In order for that to happen though, he's going to need to drastically tighten things up when he steps into the batters box.
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