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4 Twins Prospects to Watch in 2020

During every offseason organizations have time to re-evaluate the talent in their own organization. Minnesota’s championship window could be open and minor league talent can help to keep that window open. There’s also an opportunity to bolster the current roster by trading away prospects for MLB-ready talent.
Image courtesy of Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Jhoan Duran)
Here are four prospects to watch in 2021 for different reasons. One player could be a contributor in 2020, one was a rising prospect this season, one prospect saw his stock decline, and another has a chance to be jump on the radar next year.

2020 Contributor: Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
Late in spring training, he suffered what was called a minor wrist injury and it would keep him out of action until May and then he missed more time in June. He was limited to 94 games and saw his OPS drop to .756 as he had for 29 extra-base hits. As the season progressed, he showed signs of the player he was in 2018. During the month of August, he hit .311/.351/.500 (.851) with five home runs and five doubles. The five home runs were more than double the total he had in any other month of the season.

Minnesota’s starting first baseman from last season, C.J. Cron, was non-tendered earlier this off-season and this could be an opportunity for Kirilloff to take over at first base. The Twins drafted Kirilloff as a corner outfielder, but he played over 300 innings at first base last season. He was charged with five errors in 266 chances for a .981 fielding percentage. While Minnesota might give Kirilloff a long look in spring training, it seems more likely for the club to use another internal option at first base like Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver and/or Marwin Gonzalez.

Riser: Jhoan Duran, RHP
Duran pitched most of 2019 at High-A and he was able to make seven Double-A starts where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. The 2020 season will be important for Duran to prove he can be a long-term starter as some are starting to look to him as a relief pitching option. His delivery can be inconsistent, but he threw strikes on 64.7% of his pitches. Even with these concerns, he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second straight season. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020.

Faller: Wander Javier, SS
Javier originally signed with the Twins back in 2015 for $4 million and he has been slowly working his way through the Twins system. He spent 2016 in the Dominican Summer League and jumped to Elizabethton in 2017. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all the 2018 season. Last year he played the entire year at Cedar Rapids and hit .177/.278/.323 (.601) with 21 extra-base hits. Minnesota left him off their 40-man roster and exposed him to the Rule 5 Draft. He wasn’t selected and this means he will stay in the organization. Now, he will have plenty to prove next season and he still has plenty of promise.

One to watch: Misael Urbina, CF
Urbina signed with the Twins during the international signing period back in 2018. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League and hit .279/.382/.443 (.825) in 50 games. He has great speed and was able to show that with five triples and 19 stolen bases last season. On the defensive side, he uses his speed to be a good to be a strong defender in center field and he continues to improve with his arm. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with Urbina. Will they move him to Elizabethton like they did with Javier?

What prospects will you be keeping an eye on this coming season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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32 Comments

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sweetmusicviola16
Jan 06 2020 08:09 PM

Edwar Colina among the riser crowd.

    • big dog and DocBauer like this

I'm very interested to watch Javier this year because he either produces or he's likely out of the picture. 

 

I'd be fine with Kirilloff having a chance to take over eventually, but they've got work to do before then. Rolling into the season just playing fill in at a premier position and hoping a AA hitter plays his way into that role isn't the way to operate.

    • SF Twins Fan and jkcarew like this

 

I'm very interested to watch Javier this year because he either produces or he's likely out of the picture. 

 

I'd be fine with Kirilloff having a chance to take over eventually, but they've got work to do before then. Rolling into the season just playing fill in at a premier position and hoping a AA hitter plays his way into that role isn't the way to operate.

 

Worked OK with Knoblauch in 1991... 

 

I'd be OK with going with Kirilloff, but i think he missed enough time last year at AA to let him get another half-season at Double-A and/or Triple-A levels before coming up. 

    • SwainZag, Danchat, goulik and 7 others like this

Luke Raley is an interesting prospect and if he starts hitting well in the early spring, there might be no stopping him toward a role with the Twins this year.

    • alphanumeric, big dog, goulik and 4 others like this
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tony&rodney
Jan 06 2020 09:52 PM

There has to be somebody who can watch him and talk to him and determine if young Master Kirilloff is ready for a shot at The Show. Torii, Tony, Rod, the coaches and scouts. Alex wouldn't be the first player to arrive swinging. He wasn't my first choice for 1B in October, but it's January now.

For me I would say Rhodery Diaz from the DSL.He hit 319/406.458 fora864 OPS.I believe he is also a center fielder.Not a lot of guys hit 300 at his age in the DSL so I think he has very good contact skills.

 

Donny Breek is another one to watch.He has done well the last two years.I don't think he is an uber hard thrower just yet but he just turned 20 so probably a little more in the tank yet.

 

Osiris German I believe throws a little bit harder and will turning 21 hope to see him A ball this year.His K9 looks pretty good so hoping there is something there.

 

I also will be keeping my eye on Will Holland and Eduard Jullian to see if the Twins might have gotten a couple of steals there.

    • NapoleonComplex, Ben Noble, gagu and 4 others like this

Julien apparently had Tommy John surgery in September.

While I absolutely don't dismiss him as a real talent, I'd much rather see Larnach traded in any future moves as I just see Kirilloff as a "special" talent.

I don't know that I'd dismiss Javier if he had an OK season, but is coming to that time where he needs a full, healthy season to show himself.

No Graterol? Because he's so close and debuted already?

Surprised you didn't expand to include Lewis and Balazovic. I would think they are right at the top to follow.

Maybe hope or guesswork, but I think the FO is really high on Duran.

100% on board for watching Colina. This guy seems to always fly under the radar. And maybe he's destined for the pen, but he keeps producing and flashing.

And I've been on the Raley bandwagon for some time now. Kid might do nothing. But I've seen enough that if he can just stay healthy after his ankle injury, he could be a really nice, probably not great, but really nice and versatile ballplayer.

Shout out to Chalmers to stay healthy and learn some control.
    • goulik, dbminn, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this
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clutterheart
Jan 07 2020 12:34 AM
I think we should just wait for Keith Law to give us an out of nowhere pick ala Balazovic
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

I like your picks, Cody. Here are my alternates:

 

Brusdar Graterol as a contributor. Can he stay healthy? Will his change-up develop enough to be useful? I can envision him as either a SP or RP with the 2020 Twins. Depends how the FO sets his calendar.

 

Gilberto Celestino as the riser. He plays a premium, up-the-middle position (CF) and took off the last two months of 2019. He'll start the season at Ft Myers but I think he'll break out and be in Pensacola by mid-year. A true two-way player.

 

Nick Gordon as the faller. Not an exciting pick but he's a call away if a rash of injuries hits the middle infield. I'm not optimistic but he's still young. I haven't given up all hope.

 

Cole Sands as the one to watch. Too many injuries in his short career. From what little I've seen of him, he has three legit pitches, including a change up. Moved from Cedar Rapids to Pensacola in one season, even though he made only 18 starts. I'm a fan of SP prospects who have good velo and show command with multiple pitches. 

 

 

    • Dman, Major League Ready, DocBauer and 4 others like this

 

100% on board for watching Colina. This guy seems to always fly under the radar. And maybe he's destined for the pen, but he keeps producing and flashing.

Shout out to Chalmers to stay healthy and learn some control.

 

Solid picks. I hope they keep Colina as a SP as long as he's in the minors. That said, he could be a big surprise contributor from the bullpen this season. 

 

Chalmers is a good one to keep an eye on. Thanks for the reminder.

    • DocBauer likes this

I see three others who have yet to be mentioned.First are the two catchers, either of whom could contribute in 2020 should two of the Twins top three catchers get injured.Would normally say we would see one of Jeffers or Rortvedt in September, but with the rule changes that isn't likely unless there are some injuries.

 

The other pitcher no one mentioned is Ober.He was unbelievable, when healthy.  

    • DocBauer and tarheeltwinsfan like this

 

Worked OK with Knoblauch in 1991... 

 

I'd be OK with going with Kirilloff, but i think he missed enough time last year at AA to let him get another half-season at Double-A and/or Triple-A levels before coming up. 

Kirilloff also played 1B less than half of the time in his injury shortened 2019 though, which was the first time in professional career at the position. I believe in Kirilloff's talent as a hitter, but between what you said about keeping him down a bit longer and the question mark with his ability to effectively play there, I just don't think that's the best outcome given all the possibilities they've passed up.

 

I like your picks, Cody. Here are my alternates:

 

Brusdar Graterol as a contributor. Can he stay healthy? Will his change-up develop enough to be useful? I can envision him as either a SP or RP with the 2020 Twins. Depends how the FO sets his calendar.

 

Gilberto Celestino as the riser. He plays a premium, up-the-middle position (CF) and took off the last two months of 2019. He'll start the season at Ft Myers but I think he'll break out and be in Pensacola by mid-year. A true two-way player.

 

Nick Gordon as the faller. Not an exciting pick but he's a call away if a rash of injuries hits the middle infield. I'm not optimistic but he's still young. I haven't given up all hope.

 

Cole Sands as the one to watch. Too many injuries in his short career. From what little I've seen of him, he has three legit pitches, including a change up. Moved from Cedar Rapids to Pensacola in one season, even though he made only 18 starts. I'm a fan of SP prospects who have good velo and show command with multiple pitches. 

 

That is a pretty nice list as well.Depending on how Graterol looks in camp he could get the nod to start this year will have to wait and see.Love your Sands pick.I have been watching him and he got better as the year went on.I don't think he has premium velocity but I think he has very solid secondaries. They should start him in AA This will be a big year for him.If he continues to do well he could end up in MLB this year.

 

Not quite as low on Gordon as you are.He might not quite have what it takes to be a starter but I still think he might be a bit of a late bloomer with the man muscles.Once he fills out I still believe he can play shortstop and if not certainly play second base.We'll see how it turns out as this is yet another big year for him.

    • dbminn, gagu, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this
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Doctor Gast
Jan 07 2020 11:05 AM

 I`d like to take the time to thank all of Twins Daily for being! Off season would be totally boring w/o this forum to be a sound board & articles which inform us & provoke us in discussion.

 We have been always a great farm system. In recent past, except for a few exceptions of exceptional natural talented players, we had many prospects that didn`t pan out. The ones that stick out are Hicks, he had all the tools, even some that we have now like Buxton, Sano & Berrios that took longer than normal to develop. Of course there injuries, laziness & discouragement of the players but I wonder if some of it was past inadequate coaching ? I have more hope in the present coaching staff & hope we bring more prospects into full fruition more quickly

    • gagu and SF Twins Fan like this
Graterol
Ober
Gordon
Wallner
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birdwatcher
Jan 07 2020 01:28 PM

Not that FanGraphs doesn't miss on prospects, but I DO think they're pretty good in general.

 

They see an elite group of 7: Lewis, Larnach, Kirilloff, Duran, Graterol, Balazovic, and Jeffers.

 

They still believe in Javier and like Urbina. Both are at 45+ FV, just a half-grade down from Thorpe, Celestino, and Cavaco. Also in that group: Miranda, Wallner, and Canterino.

 

But this places Javier a half-grade up from a lot of prospects people around here really like a lot: Rooker, Colina, Sands, Stashak, Rortvedt, Alcala, Blankenhorn, Wade...

 

...and a full grade up from Raley, Ober, and Gordon, all 35+ guys.

 

Chalmers is a 35FV I think, not a very promising prospect in the eyes of the FG scouts.

 

 

Great list.I'd like to see Kirilloff make his debut at some point too, but right off the bat, I'm hesitant.Just don't want things to be too big for him.One full season of baseball under his belt, a great one at that, and only half of a half season at first base?Let him see some more reps.Man, I'd love to see his bat come into play with this lineup though.

 

I was going to mention how we just wrote off Stephen Gonsalves.I didn't like that in the least.He only pitched 24 innings at the pro-level and we've banished him.We didn't let him take his lumps, cut his teeth, none of it.Just released him at the age of 25.Why would we do that?I thought the same thing about Chargois.Just let him go.Why?...I'm a passionate fan, not an employed analyst.

    • Major League Ready and Doctor Gast like this

I think that the 4 most likely to contribute in 2020 at the MLB level (from the ones who have not been there in 2019) are: Brent Rooker, Jhon Duran, Brooks Raley, and Ryan Mason, in that order.

 

Four relative unknowns I'd keep an eye on:

 

Three 2019 picks who likely all will start the season at Cedar Rapids but seem to be fast movers: Pitchers Matt Canterino, 2nd round and Cody Laweryson, 14th round, and middle infielder Spencer Steer 3rd Round. I'd also watch Wander Valdez(okay he is not relatively unknown) who had a growth spurt last season, and will likely start in E-town with an outside change in also playing at Cedar Rapids.

    • Dman likes this
There is less than a 0% chance we see Kirilloff until he hits the service time threshold. It’s more likely that a nude Kate Upton rides a unicorn up to my front door to deliver the winning Powerball ticket (they really need to change that rule).

But, it wouldn’t shock me to see him at some point. I think it’s probably more likely we see Rooker while holding off on Kirilloff until September. Then. we’ll see Kirilloff once he hits the service time threshold in 2021.
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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 07 2020 06:43 PM

 

I see three others who have yet to be mentioned.First are the two catchers, either of whom could contribute in 2020 should two of the Twins top three catchers get injured.Would normally say we would see one of Jeffers or Rortvedt in September, but with the rule changes that isn't likely unless there are some injuries.

 

The other pitcher no one mentioned is Ober.He was unbelievable, when healthy.  

I agree on Jeffers. He is my pick to click.

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tony&rodney
Jan 07 2020 07:13 PM

Less than 0%? Don't gamble with those odds.

Is the unicorn named Verlander?

I agree - the Twins are a cautious bunch. 

 

I think that the 4 most likely to contribute in 2020 at the MLB level (from the ones who have not been there in 2019) are: Brent Rooker, Jhon Duran, Brooks Raley, and Ryan Mason, in that order.

 

Four relative unknowns I'd keep an eye on:

 

Three 2019 picks who likely all will start the season at Cedar Rapids but seem to be fast movers: Pitchers Matt Canterino, 2nd round and Cody Laweryson, 14th round, and middle infielder Spencer Steer 3rd Round. I'd also watch Wander Valdez(okay he is not relatively unknown) who had a growth spurt last season, and will likely start in E-town with an outside change in also playing at Cedar Rapids.

 

Would be nice if Valdez works out as we could use all the good third base prospects we can get. What can you tell me about Lawyerson, does he throw around 95 or does he just have good secondaries?Also hard to tell how good he might be based on his E-town stats but his K rate was fantastic. I am hopeful he is the real deal. Hoping they start Canterino in High A as he didn't seem to have much trouble in A ball.

 

Would be nice if Valdez works out as we could use all the good third base prospects we can get. What can you tell me about Lawyerson, does he throw around 95 or does he just have good secondaries?Also hard to tell how good he might be based on his E-town stats but his K rate was fantastic. I am hopeful he is the real deal. Hoping they start Canterino in High A as he didn't seem to have much trouble in A ball.

Lawyerson has 4 pitches: FB, CH, CU, SL.FB is 92-94 right now with plus command and above average movement.CH and SL are above average with plus flashes.Needs to improve command. CU is a work in progress and might just drop, if the CH command improved.Definitely room for velo improvement with mechanics.Never pitched in top programs and coached with top coaches.More after I see him this coming ST...

    • Dman, gagu and Doctor Gast like this

 

Great list.I'd like to see Kirilloff make his debut at some point too, but right off the bat, I'm hesitant.Just don't want things to be too big for him.One full season of baseball under his belt, a great one at that, and only half of a half season at first base?Let him see some more reps.Man, I'd love to see his bat come into play with this lineup though.

 

I was going to mention how we just wrote off Stephen Gonsalves.I didn't like that in the least.He only pitched 24 innings at the pro-level and we've banished him.We didn't let him take his lumps, cut his teeth, none of it.Just released him at the age of 25.Why would we do that?I thought the same thing about Chargois.Just let him go.Why?...I'm a passionate fan, not an employed analyst.

 

Let me first say that Stephen was one of my favorite players coming up all the way through AAA.His K-rate and ERA always seemed to be good.I always wondered why Law was so low on him.Then I finally got to see him pitch and I could start to see why.  

 

He is not a hard thrower and his fastball didn't seem to have a ton of movement.He seemed to need to place it off the plate to have any success.His curve is really slow and seemed hittable at the MLB level.I mean it seemed like it took forever for the ball to get to the plate.Then he got hurt and it seemed like the Twins had other pitchers with better stuff ahead of him and only so many 40 man spots.I think they were hoping no one would grab him and they could stash him in AAA but that was not to be as the Mets claimed him.  

 

We will see if that turns out to be a mistake or not but I think the Twins felt he didn't have what they were looking for in a pitcher or else they would have done more to protect him.I was sad to see him go but I also understand the decision.

    • Doctor Gast likes this

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