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2019 Twins Midseason Top Prospect List: 16-20

How deep is the Minnesota Twins’ system right now? So deep that we have one of the best hitters in all of the Double-A level this season slotted in as our 20th overall prospect in the org. There’s also a 17-year-old phenom in this group, a pitcher the team acquired in a high profile trade last year and a couple of the team’s top picks from its 2016 draft class. Come see who we have in our spots 16-20.
Image courtesy of Photos by Seth Stohs, Twins Daily. Illustration by Finn Pearson.
Here are our choices for the Nos. 16-20 spots in the system. Make sure to let us know how you feel about these rankings in the comments below. We put a lot of work into compiling these lists, but it is an inexact science.

20. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
Age: 22
ETA: 2021
2019 Stats (AA/A+): .295/.349/.502 (.851 OPS), 15 2B, 0 3B, 14 HR, 71 K, 22 BB
2019 Preseason Ranking: Honorable Mention
Seth: 17 | Tom: 19 | Cody: 33 | Ted: 29 | Steve: 17

We should probably come up with a name for the post-FSL breakout. How about the Pensacola push? Whatever you want to call it, that’s what Blankenhorn is doing this season.

After posting a .686 OPS over a full season with the Miracle last year, Blankenhorn boasted a .781 OPS in his second time around the circuit and was promoted up to Double-A after just 15 games. He has terrorized Southern League pitching, boasting a .300/.342/.525 line (.866 OPS) in 54 games. He’s among the league leaders in virtually every major offensive category.

Blankenhorn has struggled against same-sided pitching over his career, but is making positive steps in that regard. He has a career-high .702 OPS vs. lefties this year. In the field, Blankenhorn has spent 43 games at second base, 25 in left field and just two games at third base this season.

Here’s a look at some of his highlights since joining the Blue Wahoos:



19. Misael Urbina, CF
Age: 17
ETA: 2024
2019 Stats (Rk-DSL): .269/.371/.442 (.813 OPS), 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 K, 5 BB
2019 Preseason Ranking: Honorable Mention
Seth: 20 | Tom: 27 | Cody: 16 | Ted: 21 | Steve: 23

This kid is 17. It’s entirely possible we have him way too low on this list. Then again, might be way too high on this list. The Twins signed Urbina out of Venezuela for $2.75 million last July. He has great speed, which should serve him well in the outfield, but he also came highly regarded for his baseball acumen and makeup.

There’s such a wide range of talent in the Dominican Summer League. It can be difficult to try to put much stock into statistical performance down there, but it is encouraging to see Urbina hit the ground running in his first 14 games of pro ball.

18. Jorge Alcala, RHP
Age: 23
ETA: 2020
2019 Stats (AA): 71.2 IP, 5.65 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 2.85 K:BB Ratio
2019 Preseason Ranking: 19
Seth: 12 | Tom: 22 | Cody: 35 | Ted: 14 | Steve: 15

It’s starting to appear more likely that Alcala’s future will be in the bullpen, but it’s pretty exciting to think about what he could be in that role. He’s been used as a “primary” pitcher following an opener in four of his outings this year. He has not responded well to that adjustment. As a traditional starter, Alcala has a 4.73 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 3.86 K:BB ratio. As the primary, he’s at 8.35 ERA, 1.96 WHIP and 1.77 K:BB ratio.

Alcala has also had a difficult time limiting damage with runners on. He’s limited opponents to just a .666 OPS with the bases empty but they’ve roughed him up to the tune of a .920 OPS with runners on. Opponents also have a sky high .360 BABIP against Alcala in 2019.

Taking a look at the breakdown of how our writers ranked Alcala individually, you get a good idea for the range of opinions on Alcala.

17. Akil Baddoo, CF
Age: 20
ETA: 2022
2019 Stats (A+): .214/.290/.393 (.683 OPS), 3 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 39 K, 12 BB
2019 Preseason Ranking: 10
Seth: 23 | Tom: 16 } Cody: 14 | Ted: 19 | Steve: 20

Baddoo gets leapfrogged by several prospects in large part because he’s going to lose a year recovering from Tommy John surgery. The dip from 10th to 17th may seem a bit harsh, but all the guys who passed him by are all either brand new to the system or having incredible seasons.

It’s still fairly rare for a position player to have to undergo that procedure, but in recent years we’ve seen Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff come back and show no ill effects from Tommy John. This injury will cost Baddoo time, but he still has as much potential as always. In the little time he spent with Fort Myers prior to the injury, 29 games, Baddoo was hitting for power (.393 slugging in a league where the average is .356), but his plate discipline slipped a bit.

16. Ben Rortvedt, C
Age: 21
ETA: 2021
2019 Stats (AA/ A+): .247/.352/.409 (.760 OPS), 10 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 42 K, 28 BB
2019 Preseason Ranking: 14
Seth: 21 | Tom: 13 | Cody: 17 | Ted: 17 |Steve: 16

Rortvedt’s bat keeps showing more and more as he climbs up the ladder. His OPS has progressed from .559 to .599 to .710 to .760 so far this season. He already has a career-high six home runs this season, and his plate discipline hasn’t suffered. He has a 19.2 K% and 12.8 BB% so far this season. At 21, he’s among the youngest players in Double-A. The Southern League weighted average age for batters is 23.7.

Rortvedt’s always had a good arm, but he’s committed to trying to improve on getting the low strike called this season. Moving up the ladder has also meant more competition for reps behind the plate. After appearing at catcher in 97% of his games in 2017, that number dipped to 82% last season and is all the way down to 67%. The drop in time behind the dish has allowed Rortvedt to get more plate appearances to date than any of his prior seasons.

Here’s some recent video from Rortvedt’s time with the Blue Wahoos:



Twins Daily 2019 Midseason Prospect Rankings
Prospects 36-40
Prospects 31-35
Prospects 26-30
Prospects 21-25

Prospects 11-15 Coming Soon

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15 Comments

Surprised Rortvedt slips 2 spots since the pre-season ranking despite having his best year so far.Being drafted out of high school from Wisconsin its impressive that he's in AA at 21 years old.More impressive is that he's actually holding his own with the bat.I think there's a good chance he's Garver's backup by 2021 if he's still in the sytem.

    • beckmt, Monkeypaws, Dman and 4 others like this
Were I a trade partner for the Twins, I'd be jumping on Blenkenhorn and Rortvedt. I'd really like to keep Rortvedt, but if the right package was there, you'd have to include him. Disappointed in Alcala. I know his future spoke about a BP role, just really thought/hoped he would figure something out. I think it's the right time to move him to the pen and just make the adjustment.
    • rdehring likes this
I agree that I’m surprised Rortvedt slipped in the rankings. I believe he’s potentially one of our future stars and Garver May end up His back up catcher.
    • rdehring likes this

Out of this list the only guy i would be reluctant to trade for pitching help is Rortvedt.

    • rdehring likes this

Don't know what to think about Blankenhorn.Is this his breakout season?Is this who he is for real now or is there regression on the way?Given his past trouble with contact I am still a little skeptical. I really love what he has done this year.He is becoming what we all thought he could become which is a solid defensive infielder and power bat that can hit for average as well.I really like his athleticism and if the bat is for real he looks good at 2nd or 3rd in MLB to me. I think this is a decent spot for him.I might have him a little lower mainly because last year he was so bad at the plate that I question if he will adjust to AAA or MLB pitching but he could just as easily climb higher if he keeps this up.

 

Urbina has a nice set of tools too early to tell what his hit tool will be like just yet but that will make or break him.

 

Somewhat disappointed with Alcala.He started the season almost unhittable and quickly started regressing.I think we have enough guys that are ready to start at AA and they should put Alcala in the pen as we really could use a guy or two that throw close to triple digits in our MLB pen and he is someone that can do that.I like where he is on the list.If he becomes dominant then he moves up if not then likely starts moving down.

 

Still pretty excited about Baddoo but with him having a lost season this spot seems fair to me.Will have to wait for next year to decide where he really belongs.He has had contact issues in the past so still a ways to go but the fact he could be a power hitting center fielder with a good eye at the plate is pretty darn exciting to me.

 

I am less bullish on Ben than most.He has come a long way with his hit tool but I am still a little skeptical it will be good enough.He is still pretty young yet especially for a catcher.I think given where he is at right now this is a pretty good ranking.If you believe he becomes and is becoming an above average hitter then this is a little low for him.

 

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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 27 2019 07:24 AM

 

Out of this list the only guy i would be reluctant to trade for pitching help is Rortvedt.

 

I'm the other way around. He's probably the keeper on this list. We're lacking catching depth overall. For the right offer, I'd probably trade anyone here, but Rortvedt is the one I'd try to keep.

    • birdwatcher and Tomj14 like this

 

I'm the other way around. He's probably the keeper on this list. We're lacking catching depth overall. For the right offer, I'd probably trade anyone here, but Rortvedt is the one I'd try to keep.

:) that is what I was trying to say

    • diehardtwinsfan, Danchat and gagu like this

 

Don't know what to think about Blankenhorn.Is this his breakout season?Is this who he is for real now or is there regression on the way?Given his past trouble with contact I am still a little skeptical. I really love what he has done this year.He is becoming what we all thought he could become which is a solid defensive infielder and power bat that can hit for average as well.I really like his athleticism and if the bat is for real he looks good at 2nd or 3rd in MLB to me. I think this is a decent spot for him.  

 

Definitely a breakout. It can't be overstated how big of a part an overhaul in the coaching ranks of the farm system has played for some guys.

 

Pensacola manager Ramon Borrego from my article a 10 days ago on Blankenhorn's improvement this year:

 

- “For me, the difference [for Travis] has been pitch recognition. This is one of the parts of his game he’s really worked on and it’s showed. Now, he’s totally comfortable facing left-handed pitchers and this is what has taken him to the next level. He is hunting better pitches and his plate discipline is way better, so it gives him the chance to do more damage.” -

 

http://twinsdaily.co...-for-pensacola/

    • birdwatcher, Monkeypaws, Dman and 2 others like this

Not a lot of problems with this group.Like most, am excited to see what Blankenhorn does over the next couple years.Also believe Rortvedt will be sharing the catching duties with Garver by sometime in 2021.

 

Don't know what to think about Urbina's ranking.I expect Anthony Escobar won't be included in this Top 40, yet, he was one of the top pitchers in the DSL last year as a 17 year old.I understand that tools is what gets scouts excited and the big $$$ follows.But I personally have a problem with basing rankings off the size of the check someone received while not recognizing production in the DSL.And who knows, I may be shocked to learn that Escobar is in the next group.

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Tom Froemming
Jun 27 2019 10:04 AM

 

Don't know what to think about Urbina's ranking.I expect Anthony Escobar won't be included in this Top 40, yet, he was one of the top pitchers in the DSL last year as a 17 year old.I understand that tools is what gets scouts excited and the big $$$ follows.But I personally have a problem with basing rankings off the size of the check someone received while not recognizing production in the DSL.And who knows, I may be shocked to learn that Escobar is in the next group.

Trying to decipher anything from DSL stats is incredibly difficult, in my opinion. If you take a look back at the best 17-year-old pitchers from the 2010-14 DSL Twins I'd bargain you'll find some impressive performances and not a whole lot of future success.

 

Now if you want to turn that same argument against Urbina, I get it. I had him down lower than anyone else, but some of the reports on him are very enticing. This is very difficult, especially when it comes to teenagers who haven't played stateside or recent draftees (which you can expect to see more of in the next installments of these rankings).

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birdwatcher
Jun 27 2019 10:10 AM

 

Not a lot of problems with this group.Like most, am excited to see what Blankenhorn does over the next couple years.Also believe Rortvedt will be sharing the catching duties with Garver by sometime in 2021.

 

Don't know what to think about Urbina's ranking.I expect Anthony Escobar won't be included in this Top 40, yet, he was one of the top pitchers in the DSL last year as a 17 year old.I understand that tools is what gets scouts excited and the big $$$ follows.But I personally have a problem with basing rankings off the size of the check someone received while not recognizing production in the DSL.And who knows, I may be shocked to learn that Escobar is in the next group.

 

 

I'm guessing that Seth and others will reiterate that the DSL and GCL stats need to be taken with a grain of salt. There are tons of examples of prospects statistically shining and then disappearing quickly.

 

But I'll bet they also have a long list of names they're sort of dreaming on, hoping to see a continuation of positive things as they get to and then past advanced rookie status.

 

My guess as to some names similar to Escobar, guys who haven't cracked their Top 40 list, names that these guys are watching very closely: Berroa, Leach, Breek, Shulfer, Teng, Winder, Rijo, and maybe Schick, Moises Gomez, Moran.

 

My pick to click is Erasmo Moreno.;)

 

Maybe later this summer, we'll see an article entitltled "Unranked Pitching Prospects to Watch" or something. Part II: Position Players.

    • gagu and sftwinsfan like this

Kinda feels like prospects get pushed down the rankings the higher they ascend in the system in favor of guys who might project better? It's the only reason I can really think of dropping the ranking on Rortvedt who is having a fine season, showing continued improvement at the plate and behind it. Considering how challenging it is for most clubs to develop quality catchers who can actually swing the bat effectively, I wouldn't be thinking about dropping him down.

 

I think it's fair to push Baddoo down; while it's entirely due to injury, health is a significant factor in a) the development time of a player, and B) their ability to contribute. This may not impact him long-term, but it is going to cost him a year of development time and that can start to get important when you start factoring in the 40-man.

 

I was ready to give up on Blankenhorn. I wasn't seeing much that was going to make him an impact player, and I'm thrilled to be wrong. He seems to have thoroughly re-worked his approach and unlocked his power potential. Great news for a guy i thought was on the verge of flaming out.

    • Steve Lein, birdwatcher, Dman and 1 other like this
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108Stitches
Jun 27 2019 03:49 PM
Alcala is way too high (again). He’s simply not that good.. but everyone loves the velo. He doesn’t know how to pitch. I called this in the beginning of the season. And he’s back to rocking an unimpressive 5.65 era. And I still maintain he ends up a pen guy.

 

Trying to decipher anything from DSL stats is incredibly difficult, in my opinion. If you take a look back at the best 17-year-old pitchers from the 2010-14 DSL Twins I'd bargain you'll find some impressive performances and not a whole lot of future success.

 

Now if you want to turn that same argument against Urbina, I get it. I had him down lower than anyone else, but some of the reports on him are very enticing. This is very difficult, especially when it comes to teenagers who haven't played stateside or recent draftees (which you can expect to see more of in the next installments of these rankings).

I understand what you are saying, Tom.  

 

Followed Escobar closely last year looking at every appearance.Did some research of which I don't recall the specifics.But of the three or four biggest names coming thru the system recently, I believe only Graterol had awesome numbers...but not as good as Escobar.A couple others, like Romero, were good but not eye popping...which Escobar was.

 

The other thing that was impressive was that if memory serves, he was one of the top two or three pitchers in the league for ERA, WHIP, and some other stats.I recall that only one of that upper group was also 17.  

 

Although I agree with you totally that a lot of numbers in the DSL aren't all that meaningful.But Escobar separated himself from almost all other pitchers in the league last year and Twins who have come thru the DSL over the past half dozen years. 

 

I totally understand not following and ranking a lot of guys from the DSL. But this kid had a special year which is why I am so excited to see if he can back it up in Florida this summer...and yesterday was a very good first outing.  

    • birdwatcher and Dman like this

 

I understand what you are saying, Tom.  

 

Followed Escobar closely last year looking at every appearance.Did some research of which I don't recall the specifics.But of the three or four biggest names coming thru the system recently, I believe only Graterol had awesome numbers...but not as good as Escobar.A couple others, like Romero, were good but not eye popping...which Escobar was.

 

The other thing that was impressive was that if memory serves, he was one of the top two or three pitchers in the league for ERA, WHIP, and some other stats.I recall that only one of that upper group was also 17.  

 

Although I agree with you totally that a lot of numbers in the DSL aren't all that meaningful.But Escobar separated himself from almost all other pitchers in the league last year and Twins who have come thru the DSL over the past half dozen years. 

 

I totally understand not following and ranking a lot of guys from the DSL. But this kid had a special year which is why I am so excited to see if he can back it up in Florida this summer...and yesterday was a very good first outing.  

 

I followed him last year and came away impressed especially because of his age.When they dominate at a young age in any league that typically bodes well.DSL, GCL and E-town stats don't tell us too much because the competition is so variable.Even A ball numbers can be deceiving but guys that consistently perform well in those league still tend to do well as they move up especially when they are young for the level.  

 

I am excited about Escobar as well.Just someone to keep an eye on.He is too young to know if he turns out or not but he sure looks good right now.If he continues to dominate I think he will be a fast mover.

    • rdehring likes this

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