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Part 8: Seth's Updated Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects (1-5)

It’s been almost a month since I started posting my 2017 postseason Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospect Rankings. There have been mini profiles on 45 players so far, and today you will find who my top five Twins prospects are. I certainly welcome your feedback and discussion. Prospects 6-10 were very young and very exciting. The same can be said of this group, though there are also a couple of guys that we should see in a Twins uniform during the 2018 season.

If you’ve enjoyed these mini-profiles of 50 Twins prospects, you’ll definitely want to get a copy of the 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, which will be available in about a month. There will be bigger profiles on about 170 Twins prospects, along with stories, rankings and much more.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
Let’s get to my choices for the Top 5 Twins prospects. This is a very talented group, all of who have the ability to not only play in the big leagues but be strong, long-term contributors. Please feel free to discuss. (Note - there are links to the first seven parts of this series at the bottom)

#5 OF Alex Kirilloff

Yes, he missed the entire 2017 season because he had to have Tommy John surgery in early March. He had injured his arm late in the 2016 Elizabethton season but chose to rehab and hope. The Pittsburgh native was one of the best hitters in the 2016 draft when the Twins made him the 15th overall pick in the draft. He came in and hit very well in Elizabethton .He is a big, strong kid. He’s 6-1 and about 215 pounds. He is very sound mechanically at the plate. He’s a line drive hitter who uses the whole field, and he has tremendous power potential. He should be ready for Opening Day 2018, though the Twins will certainly not rush him back. Defensively, he will be a corner outfielder. He has the arm to play right field. He’s a good athlete with a lot of potential. He just turned 20 earlier this month. (Get to know Alex Kirilloff)

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photo by Jon Tarr

#4 RHP Fernando Romero

Fernando Romero missed two full seasons because of Tommy John surgery, but he came back throwing nearly 100 mph. He’s also got a sharp slider and an improved changeup that he worked on a lot in 2017. Romero will turn 23 on Christmas Eve. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster a year ago and spent the entire season at AA Chattanooga. He went 11-9 with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. In 125.1 innings, he walked 45 and struck out 120 batters. While he’s just over 6-0 tall, he’s build very strong. He’s thick in the legs and the backside and that’s where he gets his big velocity from. The hope for Romero should be to get him to 155 to 160 innings. And he should see time in the big leagues too.


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photo by Seth Stohs

#3 SS Nick Gordon

I mean... Nick G Cinco is The Man... maybe that's where we should start:



Nick Gordon was the Twins first pick in the 2014 draft, the fifth overall pick out of high school in Orlando. He began his career in Elizabethton and has moved up one level each year. Following the 2016 season, he played well in the Arizona Fall League. 2017 was another exciting season for the shortstop. He played very well in the season’s first half. He was named to the Southern League All-Star team (though the game was rained out). He started for Team USA in the Futures Game before the All-Star game. He struggled a bit in the second half. More important than all the accolades, he took strides in his game. He set season highs in nearly every statistical category including Isolated Discipline and Isolated Power. After hitting a combined five home runs in his first three seasons, he hit nine home runs for the Lookouts. Defensively, the questions remain for many of whether he will be able to stay at shortstop. He is also considered a leader by those who know him best.

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photo by Seth Stohs

#2 LHP Stephen Gonsalves

Gonsalves was the runner up to Jose Berrios for the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2015. In 2016, he was the choice for Starting Pitcher of the Year. Like Berrios, Gonsalves became a two-time winner when he was the choice again in 2017. His season began with an invitation to big league spring training where he had a solid showing until an injury arrived and cost him the first two months of the season. He returned to the Lookouts where he went 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 15 starts. He made three starts for Rochester at the end of the season. Gonsalves has a terrific mix of pitches. He has a good fastball in the 91-94 range. He throws a good changeup. He has really worked on his slider and it’s become a really good pitch. He also mixes in a cutter in some situations. He is poised and he is smart on the mound. He knows how to pitch. He was added to the 40-man roster this month. He should be given an opportunity to make starts for the Twins by mid-summer.

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photo by Seth Stohs

#1 SS Royce Lewis

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine came into an enviable situation. While the 2016 team lost 103 games, the organization was blessed with some young players with high ceilings. And, along with the worst record, they had the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. They had choices, and some really good choices. They could have taken a college pitcher like Kyle Wright. They could have taken a high school pitcher like Hunter Greene or MacKenzie Gore. They could have taken Brendan McKay who will pitch and may hit too. Instead, the Twins went with a high school shortstop from California named Royce Lewis with the Number One pick. And if early returns mean anything, they made a really, really good choice.

After the Boras client signed, he was sent to Ft. Myers and spent about a month in the GCL. In 36 games there, he hit .271/.390/.414 (.804) with six doubles, two triples and three home runs. In a somewhat surprising move, Lewis finished the season with 18 games in Cedar Rapids. He hit .296/.363/.394 (.757) with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Combined, he stole 18 bases in 21 attempts. Lewis has all the tools, though since he will remain just 18 until June, he will need to work and continue to develop all of them. He has a good approach at the plate and knows the strike zone. He’s got a smooth, line-drive swing. He’s got good size and will continue to grow and gain strength and could develop good power. He’s got well above average speed. He can play defense. And the more people watched him, the more many believe that he could stay at shortstop, but he could play any position on the field. He’s got what’s called an average arm, but he can make all the throws he needs to. From everything we’ve heard about him or from him, he has tremendous makeup. It will be fun to watch how aggressive the Twins choose to be with him in 2018. He will likely start in Cedar Rapids, but could he work his way up to Ft. Myers by season’s end? It’s possible.

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photo by Jean Pfiefer
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So there you have it, my choices for Minnesota Twins Top 5 prospects and my Top 50 prospects. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my choices… And, by the time the 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook comes out, it’s likely it will change a little bit more. But it’s fun for discussion, and it’s fun to recognize fifty players who deserve to be talked about. So, please feel free to ask questions, leave comments and discuss these rankings.


Part 1: Prospects 41-50
Part 2: Prospects 31-40
Part 3: Prospects 26-30
Part 4: Prospects 21-25
Part 5: Prospects 16-20
Part 6: Prospects 11-15
Part 7: Prospects: 6-10

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68 Comments

I'm in between. When is the last time the Twins added two starters and two relievers that everyone was happy with? I think the answer is never. Every "proven" player has been a prospect at one point and they don't exclusively get their chances with the losing teams and then get picked up by the better teams when they succeed. Every team relies on prospects and not just the non contending teams and not just the top prospects. Look at Bellinger for the Dodgers. He was actually mentioned as an add on piece in a trade for Dozier. and a quick check says he was only the 9th ranked prospect of the Dodgers heading into last season. Of course more prospects fail than succeed but it is a long season and every team has a revolving door of them throughout the year. Many fail but some stick. I don't think adding two starters and relievers is necessary. There are probably 25 teams looking to add starters and relievers and the lists I see usually only mention a COMBINED total of less than a dozen attractive free agent pitchers and probably a similar amount of trade possibilities. . If we could just nab one starter above the Pelfrey/Correia quality and one good reliever I would be happy since the odds say we won't get more than one or the other or maybe even neither. My preference is for Cobb but if it is Darvish or Lynn I am ok with that. Start the season with Santana, Berrios, Cobb, Meija, and Gibson and have the 4 you mentioned be ready my June because the odds are one or two starters will under perform and of those 4 prospects one or two should be able to contribute.
Adding Cobb and a good reliever would probably rank with any off season we have had in the last 30 years aside from the AJ trade. Without hindsight that includes the 91 year.


It's a small part of your point, but Bellinger was a top 10 prospect in all of baseball going into the 2017 season.

Most of the people talking about adding Bellinger to a Dozier deal were being snarky.
    • Taildragger8791 and Vanimal46 like this

One problem I see when reading "lists" is that all of the numbers from 1 to whatever must get filled. What's missing is some kind of a "value factor". Some number, say one a 1-1000, attached to each prospect in order for people to ascertain both the expected/anticipated value of a prospect and the relative value (difference) between the prospects.

Examples could show that prospects 5-15 might be a in range of 2% (20 points), but from 4 to 5 might be more like 90 points. Obviously there could be both narrow and broad differences between "lower level" prospects.


A good place to start is Sickels rankings: https://www.google.c...spects-for-2018

Fangraphs also does future value, Baseball America does a combined future value/risk profile.
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clutterheart
Nov 30 2017 11:22 AM

I am slowly becoming less hopeful when it comes to Gordon.We still read concerns about his defense, and if he can't play average MLB SS, his bat is not strong enough to play other positions.He strikes out a lot and doesn't hit with a lot of power.  

 

To my eye, I think he is trade candidate this offseason.

    • NoCryingInBaseball and nater79a like this
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clutterheart
Nov 30 2017 11:24 AM

 

One problem I see when reading "lists" is that all of the numbers from 1 to whatever must get filled. What's missing is some kind of a "value factor".Some number, say one a 1-1000, attached to each prospect in order for people to ascertain both the expected/anticipated value of a prospect and the relative value (difference) between the prospects.

 

Examples could show that prospects 5-15 might be a in range of 2% (20 points), but from 4 to 5 might be more like 90 points.Obviously there could be both narrow and broad differences between "lower level" prospects.

 

I would be interested in reading a post that attempted this. But its ambitious because arguments ensue when "value" is defined.

 

Seth didn't mention anything about Romero's injury. From Sickels's writeup on Romero:

 

https://www.minorlea...spects-for-2018

"Age 22; solid season in Double-A with 3.53 ERA, 120/45 K/BB in 125 innings, a mere four homers allowed; campaign ended on a down note with poor pitching in August (8.38 ERA) punctuated by a trip to the disabled list with a shoulder impingement; status unclear at the moment; when healthy combination of plus stuff and command could make him number three starter or impressive power reliever. ETA 2018 if healthy"

 

Romero's peripherals also point toward injury instead of tiring at the end of the season. He didn't strike out less that 22% of the batters he faced in any game for 2 straight months (averaging 28% overall), and then went 14%, 0%, two week break, 8%, 12%, shutdown for the year.

 

Does anyone have an update on his health?

 

He was on an innings limit plan. He had been limited to five innings per start for a month or six weeks before he was shut down. He was shut down when he had kind of a dead arm. It's something where if it had happened in the middle of the season, he'd skip a start and be back out there. Since it was only one more start, and he was so close to a limit, they just shut him down. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

 

He was on an innings limit plan. He had been limited to five innings per start for a month or six weeks before he was shut down. He was shut down when he had kind of a dead arm. It's something where if it had happened in the middle of the season, he'd skip a start and be back out there. Since it was only one more start, and he was so close to a limit, they just shut him down. 

So you are saying that Sickels just made up all the stuff about the disabled list and shoulder impingement? Romero did skip a start in early-August. Was that for the same dead-arm issue?

 

I don't mean to be snarky here. I trust Sickels a lot - he seems to be a straight-shooter when it comes to his analysis, and he draws from a lot of sources inside the industry. His analysis of Romero heavily focused on the injury issue. Seth and Steve both said it was actually a big nothing-burger. I'm just trying to reconcile this discrepancy.

    • birdwatcher likes this

 

So you are saying that Sickels just made up all the stuff about the disabled list and shoulder impingement? Romero did skip a start in early-August. Was that for the same dead-arm issue?

 

I don't mean to be snarky here. I trust Sickels a lot - he seems to be a straight-shooter when it comes to his analysis, and he draws from a lot of sources inside the industry. His analysis of Romero heavily focused on the injury issue. Seth and Steve both said it was actually a big nothing-burger. I'm just trying to reconcile this discrepancy.

 

Nope... he went on the Disabled List with what was called a shoulder impingement. 

    • markos likes this

 

It's a small part of your point, but Bellinger was a top 10 prospect in all of baseball going into the 2017 season.

Most of the people talking about adding Bellinger to a Dozier deal were being snarky.

Whoops.Going by memory and this bad list. https://www.trueblue...-trade-rankings.

 

It's a small part of your point, but Bellinger was a top 10 prospect in all of baseball going into the 2017 season.

Most of the people talking about adding Bellinger to a Dozier deal were being snarky.

 

Yup, I was saying if you're trading Dozier to the Dodgers and Bellinger was available, he was the guy you wanted, not the pitchers.

 

I am slowly becoming less hopeful when it comes to Gordon.We still read concerns about his defense, and if he can't play average MLB SS, his bat is not strong enough to play other positions.He strikes out a lot and doesn't hit with a lot of power.  

 

To my eye, I think he is trade candidate this offseason.

 

If you're afraid of the concerns on defense for Gordon, you're really going to dislike them for Lewis...

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Kelly Vance
Nov 30 2017 01:43 PM

Id like to see Romero and maybe Reed or Burdi, get a shot in the 2018 bullpen. That kind of speed is tailor made for a 7-8-9 reliever

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Taildragger8791
Nov 30 2017 02:36 PM

 

Yup, I was saying if you're trading Dozier to the Dodgers and Bellinger was available, he was the guy you wanted, not the pitchers.

 

 

If you're afraid of the concerns on defense for Gordon, you're really going to dislike them for Lewis...

 

Lewis is 4 years younger, is more athletic, and didn't play SS until he was a senior in high school, so we don't know whether he can grow into the position or not. All we know is he hasn't played himself out of the hole yet. He also has the potential to fall back to another position and still be viable offensively & defensively, so SS isn't make or break for his value. Gordon's question marks are more concerning as a 22-year old that played the position his whole life, especially when his value drops off considerably at any other position.

    • clutterheart likes this

With all due respect to everything Terry Ryan did for the organization, anyone else have more confidence in Falvine to draft better and develop better than the previous regime?

 

Yup, I was saying if you're trading Dozier to the Dodgers and Bellinger was available, he was the guy you wanted, not the pitchers.

 

 

If you're afraid of the concerns on defense for Gordon, you're really going to dislike them for Lewis...

Possible move to the OF was mentioned as a possibility when Lewis was drafted I believe?

 

Id like to see Romero and maybe Reed or Burdi, get a shot in the 2018 bullpen. That kind of speed is tailor made for a 7-8-9 reliever

Or all 3?!

 

I've been thinking a lot about whether they should leave a rotation spot open for one of these guys too, but it's so tough to know how a guy is going to handle his first taste in the bigs. The advantage of being a non-contender is you can give prospects a test run and if they fail it doesn't matter (like Berrios in 2016).

 

I'm excited to hear the front office talk about trying to catch Cleveland, don't get me wrong, but it is kind of a bummer that being a contender probably also means it's probably going to be more difficult for these young guys to break in.

Doesn't seem like an MLB team ever has to "leave a roster spot open".Injuries and/or ineffectiveness usually open up a spot...

    • USAFChief, Twins33 and Taildragger8791 like this

 

With all due respect to everything Terry Ryan did for the organization, anyone else have more confidence in Falvine to draft better and develop better than the previous regime?

 

I think Terry Ryan and those under him did a very good job of drafting and developing hitters... I think that success is clear and there are many examples.

 

I think that their ability to draft and develop starting pitchers has been an issue that's been brought up many, many times... So I am hopeful that the Falvine Era will find more success/luck.

 

Id like to see Romero and maybe Reed or Burdi, get a shot in the 2018 bullpen. That kind of speed is tailor made for a 7-8-9 reliever

 

Burdi will still be building up strength from his TJ next year, I don't see any real possibility that he'll make the 25 man roster until 2019.

It isn't realistic to expect any of these young starters to be in the opening day rotation, with the possible exception of Slegers. 

 

Gonsalves will need at least half a year at Rochester.Ditto for Jorge.Romero will need much of the year in AAA and then be running out of innings.

 

As for May, it would be a huge surprise if he is ready to pitch on opening day, much less pitch deep into a game.I look for him to begin his season in XST with a rehab trip sometime in May.He could be that jolt the team needs in early summer, kind of like getting someone in a trade.

 

that means that the Twins definitely need one good starter.And a second means there is competition for Mejia, Gibson, Hughes and Slegers for two spots.

 

We all take what you do for granted, Seth.It is appreciated and a thank you doesn't seem to cut it.If we can ever connect, lunch will be on me!

    • Han Joelo and Kelly Vance like this
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Kelly Vance
Nov 30 2017 04:08 PM

 

Burdi will still be building up strength from his TJ next year, I don't see any real possibility that he'll make the 25 man roster until 2019.

Yeah, ok.  You know I see his speed and just want him to make it. 

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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Nov 30 2017 04:45 PM

 

 

 

Gonsalves will need at least half a year at Rochester.Ditto for Jorge.Romero will need much of the year in AAA and then be running out of innings.

 

 

When I first read this I read Jorge Romero - he was the Night of the Living Dead guy

I had no idea G Cinco was so found of himself.

 

I think Terry Ryan and those under him did a very good job of drafting and developing hitters... I think that success is clear and there are many examples.

 

Really?

 

Ryan was the GM since 1994.That's 23 years ago.And he had plenty of high picks.How many HOF hitters were drafted under him?Maybe one, and he will should not make it.

 

Really?

 

Ryan was the GM since 1994.That's 23 years ago.And he had plenty of high picks.How many HOF hitters were drafted under him?Maybe one, and he will should not make it.

 

I guess if Hall of Fame is the criteria for quality draft picks... 

    • Mike Sixel, sthpstm and Vanimal46 like this

I am slowly becoming less hopeful when it comes to Gordon.We still read concerns about his defense, and if he can't play average MLB SS, his bat is not strong enough to play other positions.He strikes out a lot and doesn't hit with a lot of power.  
 
To my eye, I think he is trade candidate this offseason.


You know it's funny/strange how we all interpret things differently. I wasn't crazy about Gordon when drafted because he seemed to grade out 50-60 in all categories and I just didn't see him as being "special" enough to be picked so high. But I've actually become a believer due to his work and preparation, as well as increased numbers, (despite a bit of streakiness here and there).

Is he a ML SS? I just don't know, and don't pretend to know. But years of watching baseball, and reading about prospects, and looking back at milb numbers have shown me that very, very few infielders, even top prospects and future all star SS don't have a learning curve, and even a bunch of errors as they learn, grow and develop. Perhaps, ultimately, he becomes a fine 2B with quality, overall numbers. I'm OK with that.

I know I'm in the minority, maybe, but I'm actually very OK with Polanco at SS...at least until/If someone unseat him. Really, he was a borderline rookie in 2017, (If you think about real playing time, not set standards), and he played much, much better than I anticipated. He started well and finished well despite a mid season funk with both glove and bat. (And we've already discussed this at length previously). Is he a gold glover? Nope. Did he make mistakes? Yep. But what young SS doesn't? I was actually impressed, overall, and think he will continue to get better.

My concern with Romero is that it is not clear he can make it through a full season as a starter anytime soon. If he was wearing down at 110, he could be 3 years away.
 
Still think his likely outcome is a potentially dominant, multi-inning, reliever.


And you may be right. And a dominant RP is not a bad thing, certainly.

But for those who question, or want to rush him to the majors as a reliever, I'd really suggest caution. His stuff seems to be real. His build seems to suggest power, and a build that can sustain it. After missing a couple full season's, the Twins have been building up his arm and endurance. Personally, while I am eager to see him take the next step, I have no problem letting him take most of 2018 to continue to learn to pitch, refine his stuff, build up endurance, and maybe make a late season appearance with an eye towards 2019. I just don't think you mess with an arm with his potential as a starter.
    • rdehring likes this

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