Keith Law On The Twins Minor Leagues
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Travis Blankenhorn)This week, Law posted his Top 25 Under 25 at ESPN.com. Two members of the Minnesota Twins organization appear, Byron Buxton (#8) and Miguel Sano (#21). In addition to those two, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario are 25 and under and getting the most reps at their positions (obviously Berrios will only pitch every fifth day). Adalberto Mejia may soon be back. The future is exciting as these guys continue to get playing time.
There is reason for optimism in the minor leagues too. Although Nick Gordon is really the only consensus Top 100 prospect in the organization, that is not necessarily an indication of a weak system, especially with that young core in the big leagues.
According to Law, “There are plenty of guys in the system that aren’t Top 100, but they may be in the next 50. They are prospects of value. They will be effective major leaguers in some role.”
The key for fans is not to put too much stake in whether a guy is a Top 100 player. The Twins have had Top 100 prospects. Each of those “core” players mentioned above has appeared in Top 100 lists. Nick Gordon could be added to that core group. But just because a player isn’t a Top 100 guy doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid major league player in a role. Who knows? Several stars never appeared on Top 100 lists. Brian Dozier never did.
Law noted, “A lot of people get hung up on the Top 100/Non-Top 100 distinction. I try to emphasize this every year because I get the same reactions every year. Just because I don’t put a guy in my Top 100 doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re any good players or won’t be any good players. Plenty of great big leaguers have not been on my Top 100. Paul Goldschmidt was on nobody’s top 100 ever, ever. He’s turned out OK.”
We talked about a few players in our brief conversation.
“Tyler Jay, I really wish they hadn’t moved him to the bullpen, but OK. If that’s going to be his role, it’s going to be his role. Stephen Gonsalves. These guys are going to be big leaguers, as long as they stay healthy, they’ll be good big leaguers.” He continued, “There are guys like Lewis Thorpe somewhere out in the ether. Lewin Diaz, there’s value there. Travis Blankenhorn. I saw him one game in spring training. He’s pretty exciting. I’d like to see a full season of good contact rates and consistent performance, but he could be really good. For a big guy, he is big, that’s a big person, he moved really well at third base. He got off his feet fine, he’s got plenty of arm. It was good. And the contact was impressive.”
Of course, Law also acknowledged the elephant in the room as it relates to Twins minor leaguers and their adjustment to the big leagues. Jeff Pickler was brought in as a new Twins coach this year, and part of his responsibility is to work on players' transitions from the minor leagues to the major leagues.
“A lot of those guys haven’t gotten over the developmental hump. And that’s probably a whole other conversation, why they haven’t gotten guys over that hump, but there’s talent in the system. I think they’ve drafted OK, they just haven’t been able to convert enough of those guys into the big leaguers commensurate with the expectations of where they were drafted.”
Speaking of the draft, the Twins have a great opportunity in another month when they will have the #1 overall pick in the draft. That is what we will discuss in Part 4 of our conversation with ESPN’s Keith Law. If you have a chance, pick up his new book Smart Baseball and meet Law at Moon Palace Books on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.
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