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Reviewing Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospect Rankings

Over the past month, I wrote up quick profiles for my preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospects rankings. It’s preliminary because over the last two months, I have been working on profiles, backgrounds and scouting reports for about 170 Twins minor leaguers for the soon-to-be-released 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook. Along with Cody Christie and Tom Froemming, we’ve been putting in a lot of hours to produce the 10th annual handbook. More information will be coming to Twins Daily around Christmas.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
But I thought it would be good to take a look at the Top 50 rankings in its totality to see what it is showing us. Are there any themes? Positions of strength, weakness, etc?

With that, here is the full list of my preliminary Top 50 Twins prospects. Please note that this is not necessarily my final rankings. Those will appear in the prospect handbook.

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(last year's rankings in parentheses, or how acquired)

Here are a few themes from this prospect ranking:

The New Guys

On Wednesday night, the Twins traded $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Angels and the Mariners. In return, they acquired the Mariners fifth-round pick in 2017, catcher David Banuelos. From the Angels, the Twins acquired their third- round pick in 2017, outfielder Jacob Pearson. Immediately, I was getting asked where these two prospects would fit into my rankings.

Well, I haven’t had a lot of time yet to research or talk to people, so these are subject to change. As you can see, I ranked Pearson #13, two spots below the Twins third- round pick, Blayne Enlow. Both players competed in Louisiana high schools before the draft. Pearson was the state’s player of the year.

I ranked Banuelos #21. The Twins fifth-round pick this year was Andrew Bechtold, and he’s ranked a little further down the list, at #30 for now. Banuelos is a valuable prospect for a team in that really strong defensive catchers have a lot of value. The fact that there are question marks with his bat keep me from ranking him too much higher than this.

The 2017 Draft

It’s no surprise to see several Twins 2017 draft picks in a Top 50, but it is really nice to see the high impact prospects that show up at the top of the list. Royce Lewis is the new #1. Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow are also in my Top 10. That’s some quality talent brought in. But second-round pick Landon Leach probably should be higher than where I have him. Charlie Barnes is a high-floor player who could move up quickly. And, Bechtold is a guy who gets on base a ton, could hit for average and could develop some power. I’m also quite high on sixth-round pick Ricky De La Torre, who made the list. And, frankly, the more I research a guy like Derek Molina (14th round), the more I consider the idea of putting him near the back of this list. Then add in the acquisitions of Pearson and Banuelos, two guys that were in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects in the 2017 draft, and that’s a great job of bringing in talent!

Relievers Too Low

Those that have been following me for years know that I tend to rank relievers lower on prospect rankings than their potential value in the big leagues might be. Consider that I ranked Trevor Hildenberger #42 a year ago, knowing he had the ability to be a good MLB reliever, and my point is illustrated. I really struggled this year with ranking relievers. You see a bunch at the end because those are are guys that I think could get to the big leagues and be quality relievers. But, as we’ve watched Nick Burdi and JT Chargois and Mason Melotakis need Tommy John surgery and struggle to be healthy, it’s such a challenging job.

So, John Curtiss is the highest ranked prospect for me this year. I believe he has the stuff to be a closer in time. Tyler Jay is next. When he was considered a potential starter, I had him in the Top 10 prospects. Now that he’s been moved to the bullpen (and fought injuries all year), he drops.

Youth is Served

It’s not unusual to see prospect rankings have a lot of very young, toolsy players ranked high. If you look at my prospects, particularly the #4 through #11 range, you see just that. They are easy to get excited about while at the same time understanding that they have a long way to go, and with that, a lot of development. Some will take those necessary strides forward. Some won’t. That’s the nature of player development. But with guys like Akil Baddoo and Brusdar Graterol in the mix, fans should start getting excited about what they could be.

Experience is Served

While tools and ceiling are important, floor should be factored in as well. For instance, Mitch Garver’s floor is major league backup catcher. I mean, he’s basically there already. His ceiling is quality starting catcher. He’s coming off of a terrific 2017 season in the highest level of the minors. There needs to be value in having played at the higher level. I subscribe to the thought that once a guy experiences good success in AA and/or AAA, he is pretty close. Luke Bard put up some crazy numbers in AA and then in AAA this year. Sure, he’s 27 and hasn’t played in the big leagues, but I still think he could become a solid MLB reliever.

A Combination of Both

There’s a reason that guys like Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Felix Jorge rank where they do. They’ve overcome the struggles of taking their talent and working hard and experiencing success and finding themselves putting up good numbers in the upper levels. They all have the potential to be quality major league starters, but they have worked up such that their floor is higher too.

Trades Help Too

While the Twins were surprising everyone with their turnaround success in 2017, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine never really wavered from their comments about continuing to build and continuing to look for talent, particularly pitching, everywhere.

Since they’ve taken over, they have traded for Zack Littell, Dietrich Enns, Gabriel Moya and Tyler Watson. (as well as the two players this week) Two of those pitchers pitched in the big leagues in 2017. Moya jumped straight to the Twins after completing the Southern League playoffs. Littell went 19-1 and won the MiLBY for the best starting pitcher in the minor leagues this year. They also talked about being able to provide pitching in waves, and that’s where Tyler Watson fits in. He’s just 20 and pitched in low A. He isn’t a top prospect, but he’s got the size and the pitches to move up these rankings significantly.

Injuries

The Twins system is deep with talent, but there were a lot of injuries (several significant) in 2017. Alex Kirilloff had Tommy John surgery in spring training. Nick Burdi had surgery in June. JT Chargois missed most of the season with more elbow issues. Jake Reed and Stephen Gonsalves missed time early in the season with minor injuries.

Luis Arraez tore his ACL in his third game of the season and missed the rest of the year. Kohl Stewart was on the DL a couple of times with knee problems. Tyler Jay missed most of the season with shoulder/neck/biceps injury.

On the positive, Lewis Thorpe and Brusdar Graterol made their returns from Tommy John surgery and both appear to be back to their old selves. Tyler Benninghoff just returned from Tommy John late in the season.

Depth

While I don’t think the Twins farm system will rank near the top of the rankings that will come out in February, I do think this is a very exciting group of prospects right now. While aside from Royce Lewis, there may not be any Buxton/Sano/Berrios caliber prospects, there are a lot of very good prospects, guys who can play a significant role in the big leagues.

There are quite a few players (including some pitchers) who have high-level ceilings, but obviously further development will be required to reach it.

Who Could We See in 2018?

Here are guys that have a legit chance to contribute in the big leagues in 2018:

Stephen Gonsalves, Nick Gordon, Fernando Romero, LaMonte Wade, Mitch Garver, Zack Littell, John Curtiss, Felix Jorge, Zack Granite, Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, Gabriel Moya, Aaron Slegers Jake Reed, Luke Bard, JT Chargois, Tom Hackimer.

Obviously, there needs to be opportunity. Not all of these guys will play in the big leagues, but they could. But as you look at that list, you see a lot of pitching, both starters and relievers, Who will be this year’s Trevor Hildenberger? Will any of these starters have a major impact on the Twins this year.

Please feel free to ask questions or find your own story lines or trends within these rankings. Please ask questions and discuss whatever it is you’d like. I’ll try to answer questions throughout the day and throughout the weekend. And please, support the Twins minor league coverage at Twins Daily by purchasing the Twins Prospect Handbook 2018 in a couple of weeks. As has been the case in past years, it’ll be available in paperback (in time for Twins Fest) and electronically.

Oh, and just for fun… wanna know who prospects 51-60 were for me? Here’s some exclusive bonus information for Twins Daily readers…

Here you go: 51. Jordan Balazovic, 52. Mitchell Kranson, 53. Shane Carrier, 54. Hector Lujan, 55. Cody Stashak, 56. Victor Tademo, 57. Chris Paul, 58. Sean Poppen, 59. Edwar Colina, 60. TJ White

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55 Comments

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twinstalker
Dec 08 2017 01:40 AM

You seriously think a 3rd round pick from the most recent draft who struggled is a better prospect than a pitcher who commanded the price of a legit MLB pitcher (Garcia) and dominated AA?

 

Let's put it this way.If knowing what you know now could have thrown Zack Littell into the 2017 draft, again, knowing he's dominated AA and is ready for AAA, would you ever take an outfielder at least five years away whose upside potential is 20/20?

 

I like that the Twins used their cap space to acquire Pearson, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.It's likely he'll never have more than a cup of coffee, and if he does, he'll be at best average.

 

And yes, I could use the same argument with Littell and others you have listed ahead of him.Lewin Diaz comes immediately to mind.

    • jsteve96 likes this
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terrydactyls1947
Dec 08 2017 02:48 AM
Twinstalker - Pearson is just out of high school, trying to adjust to the rigors of professional baseball, and you've already decided he will never get anything beyond a "cup of coffee?" That's harsh. Give him time to figure out how to be an adult before you throw him out with the bath water.
    • luckylager, ThejacKmp, Oldgoat_MN and 9 others like this

I sort of agree on some of the things Twinstalker said. 

 

So Pearson was a 3rd round pick, 85th overall.. He did terrible his first chance on pro fields... You can say he's ranked that high because of where he was drafted and how young he is, but that's never the case...  

 

Mirando was a higher draft pick, and broke out this year. there's no reason Pearson should be ahead of miranda because Pearson is 3 days younger. Or ahead of MiLBY pitcher of the year..

 

You seriously think a 3rd round pick from the most recent draft who struggled is a better prospect than a pitcher who commanded the price of a legit MLB pitcher (Garcia) and dominated AA?

 

Let's put it this way.If knowing what you know now could have thrown Zack Littell into the 2017 draft, again, knowing he's dominated AA and is ready for AAA, would you ever take an outfielder at least five years away whose upside potential is 20/20?

 

I like that the Twins used their cap space to acquire Pearson, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.It's likely he'll never have more than a cup of coffee, and if he does, he'll be at best average.

 

And yes, I could use the same argument with Littell and others you have listed ahead of him.Lewin Diaz comes immediately to mind.

Prospect rankings are all about potential. Tools are rated for what they can be not what they are right now. Pearson might be MLB average or he might be the next Mike Trout.No one really knows at this point. Once he has a full season of pro ball under his belt he will rise or fall on the boards.

 

Once players start reaching their potential we can see their ceiling more clearly.I believe Littel is seen as a potential number 4 starter if he makes it at all.Right now Pearson could be Mike Trout or nothing we don't know but the ceiling will be high based on his potential skill set.

 

You are right that 90% of these guys won't make it to the Majors so the failure rate is very high.You still have to do what you can to find as much talent as possible.Never know who might make it.Brian Dozier was a long shot that many thought wouldn't make it or be average at best and he made it to the All Star game.

 

There is a lot to like about Pearson and there is a reason the Angels went over slot to sign him.It is tough to find speed\power combo players and they are very valuable if they make it.

 

I wouldn't get to hung up on potential versus reached potential in these lists.They straighten themselves out in time.

    • nater79a, howieramone2, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this

Granite's low ranking confuses me.I do not see him as a star, but I do see him as a good major league player. 

 

I really liked your breakdowns - good ways to look at the prospects.I would say your tendency to lower your rankings for bullpen pitchers has been justified by all the injuries and set backs that have hit the propects over the last few years.  

 

If I could go back to Burdi and Reed postings from 2-3 years ago it would be expected that they are already contributing in a big way.  

 

But evaluating relief pitchers is hampered by the fact that many successful relievers began with resumes that include failed starter.If a pitcher gets that tag when they are still young it severly limits their growth options. 

 

Now - how about your list and Seth'slist side by side?

    • Taildragger8791 likes this

I expect there is another Buxton/Sano/Berrios in this group (other than Royce Lewis), Seth, we just don't know who.

 

And I see this as a special group in part because 10% (5 players) have already made it to the majors.For 90% to not make it would mean that no other player from this list ever plays in the majors.I would think it is more like 60%-70% won't make it...which makes this group special in my mind.

 

Personally, I would put Moya ahead of Burdi as there are to many questions related to Burdi's health versus Moya having already pitched for the Twins including some important innings

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Have an unrelated question, Seth.

 

With all the top prospects scheduled to be in Rochester this year, who is catching them is going to be very important.

 

Can the Twins over pay a catcher signed to a minor league contract?Could they sign someone like Chris Gimenez to a $300,000 or $500,000 contract?Someone with his experience could prove invaluable to the development of Gonsalves, Romero, etc.

    • SF Twins Fan, caninatl04 and HrbekRules like this
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Tommygun921
Dec 08 2017 07:46 AM
Seth, do you think the Twins front office would acquire players farther from MLB (The 2 international money trades and Watson) to be ready once the current upper group reaches the end of their time with either the Twins or MLB? Or is it just over thinking and they just got the best they could with what they had? Also...of your top 50 who would you choose of the group to be a future Twins HOFer? I'd choose Lewis assuming he isn't traded and gets a decent length career in MN.

 

Have an unrelated question, Seth.

 

With all the top prospects scheduled to be in Rochester this year, who is catching them is going to be very important.

 

Can the Twins over pay a catcher signed to a minor league contract?Could they sign someone like Chris Gimenez to a $300,000 or $500,000 contract?Someone with his experience could prove invaluable to the development of Gonsalves, Romero, etc.

 

They signed veteran Bobby Wilson to a minor league deal, so he'll likely be one of their catchers.

 

Seth, do you think the Twins front office would acquire players farther from MLB (The 2 international money trades and Watson) to be ready once the current upper group reaches the end of their time with either the Twins or MLB? Or is it just over thinking and they just got the best they could with what they had? Also...of your top 50 who would you choose of the group to be a future Twins HOFer? I'd choose Lewis assuming he isn't traded and gets a decent length career in MN.

 

I think they'll always get the best available, but they have talked about developing waves too so that as players go or injuries happen, you can keep the train rolling. 

 

They signed veteran Bobby Wilson to a minor league deal, so he'll likely be one of their catchers.

What about the salary question, Seth.Do you know what they typically pay players like Wilson?Are there limitations on what they could pay?

Wow, the last two years have seen an incredible infusion/development of talent.  Lots of big droppers, but not really because they've changed inasmuch as the competition has gotten tougher.  For example-Blankenhorn.  Obviously, he didn't make a performance leap like a Badoo did, but he still played well and would seemingly have the same potential that he had a year ago when he was 7th.

 

Chargois going from 9 to 45 seems like it partially reflects a bit of change on the evaluators part.

 

It being the hopeful Christmas season, I look at the pitchers on here that are close to ready, and then at the line (and money) a guy like Chatwood sports, and I have a hard time hoping for much FA activity.  Pay your stars, develop reinforcements, and fill-in on the fringes.

 

And sign an ace!

    • gunnarthor, sploorp and howieramone2 like this
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Tom Froemming
Dec 08 2017 08:45 AM

Care to share any thoughts on Dietrich Enns?

I try not to get too exercised over the ordering on these rankings, but like others, I'm trying to get a feeling for the recent pickups, and I just don't see them being as good as indicated by these rankings.I'm not putting any weight on a short season performance, we see a lot of guys look completely different in their second year vs their debut.But from what I've gathered about Pearson and Banuelos they just don't seem like top 20 prospects in this system even though they were much more highly rated in other shallower systems.

 

My baseline for Pearson is Leach.Pearson was rated slightly above Leach on most pre-draft boards, but he ended up slipping to 85 (right around where Leach was rated).He signed overslot for around 63rd pick value.But Leach was picked at 37th and signed for about 49th value.I don't pretend to have special knowledge about either of these guys, but at the very least this tells me that they are in similar tiers, and that the Twins FO actually likes Leach a significant amount more.And I don't see anything in their debuts to indicate that they've significantly diverged yet.I'm sure you could find scouts that like Pearson better but I'm having trouble believing that you could find one who would say he's clearly a better prospect.

 

I'm legitimately curious if there is any sort of scouting information on Pearson (or Banuelos) that suggests that this take is significantly mistaken.It takes me a while to get to know knew additions and I probably often underrate them.But I feel like we got two guys who rank in the late 20's to mid 30's range in our system, not two top 20 guys.

    • Dman and jsteve96 like this

 

Granite's low ranking confuses me.I do not see him as a star, but I do see him as a good major league player. 

 

See and I think he's ranked way too high. He seems like a 4th OF type to me - I don't see him ever being an average starter. With his lack of pop and average OBP skills, he's got to hit over .300 to be an offensive plus. I just don't really see that happening. If he hits .270, he's got to be an elite defensive CF. He's fine out there but not elite.

    • birdwatcher and jimmer like this

You seriously think a 3rd round pick from the most recent draft who struggled is a better prospect than a pitcher who commanded the price of a legit MLB pitcher (Garcia) and dominated AA?

 

Let's put it this way.If knowing what you know now could have thrown Zack Littell into the 2017 draft, again, knowing he's dominated AA and is ready for AAA, would you ever take an outfielder at least five years away whose upside potential is 20/20?

 

I like that the Twins used their cap space to acquire Pearson, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.It's likely he'll never have more than a cup of coffee, and if he does, he'll be at best average.

 

And yes, I could use the same argument with Littell and others you have listed ahead of him.Lewin Diaz comes immediately to mind.

Pearson was a 3rd round pick but he was a mid 2nd round talent who fell. Pre-draft he was rated similarly to Rooker and in some cases, rated above Rooker. 

A players first partial season results is not a good way to rank them; you have to consider their projections and I think Seth has done so appropriately. 

Littell had an incredible period with the AA Yankees, but otherwise he has pitched like a 7k-8k per 9 pitcher in the minors and looks like he could be a nice back end arm. He did not dominate with the AA Twins. His stuff just doesn't warrant a higher ranking right now because he looks like a higher floor prospect rather than a high ceiling prospect.

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor, Oldgoat_MN and 5 others like this

 

I expect there is another Buxton/Sano/Berrios in this group (other than Royce Lewis), Seth, we just don't know who.

 

Baddoo could do it on the position player side. Graterol and Thorpe have true ace potential (in the last five years or so, only six or seven Twins prospects could arguably have that kind of upside - Meyer, Stewart, Jay, Berrios, Thorpe and maybe Romero and Graterol). 

 

The "Kepler second tier" prospect group (not quite elite but damn good, probably ranked 20-40ish on lists) could include quite a number of these guys like Kiriloff, Rooker, Gordon, Miranda (I like him a lot, too), etc. 

 

    • Dman, howieramone2 and SF Twins Fan like this
Seth will certainly be the high person on Pearson.
    • jud6312 likes this

I am going to enjoy following the minors this year. Solid players at every level (Chattanooga might be a bit short of position players to start the season). Excited to see some of the youngsters move to full-season ball. 

 

I'm also interested in some of the 2017 Cedar Rapids prospects: Rortvedt, Blankenhorn, Whitefield and Arraez. All have potential but none have broken out. Kind of a big year for these four - are they going to step up or get passed by?  

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor, Dman and 1 other like this
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USDToreros42
Dec 08 2017 09:44 AM
Still trying to figure out where Anthony McIver fits in to all this?? Has done well at every level and as either starter, mid-relief or closer. He is 25, but not a lot of wear-and-tear on his arm. Healthy! Your thoughts?

 

Still trying to figure out where Anthony McIver fits in to all this?? Has done well at every level and as either starter, mid-relief or closer. He is 25, but not a lot of wear-and-tear on his arm. Healthy! Your thoughts?

Probably an org arm.

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IndianaTwin
Dec 08 2017 10:40 AM

Of the 50, 12 are new to the organization since the last ranking (all of them in the top 40, by the way). Two questions:

  • How does 12 compare to other years? Is our perception that the new guys have brought more talent into the organization accurate?  
  • What's the status of the 12 from last year?
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Tom Froemming
Dec 08 2017 11:11 AM

Not saying he should be any higher right now, but I think Ricky De La Torre could be the guy to make the biggest jump over the next year.

    • gunnarthor likes this

 

Care to share any thoughts on Dietrich Enns?

 

LHP, came from the Yankees... could pitch for the Twins... wonder if he'll move to the bullpen?

We're all getting to know them, and we'll learn more about them the next two years. As I've mentioned, this is preliminary. Landon Leach is likely to move up this quite a bit. I do think he's got a chance to be more of a reliever (whereas most believe that Enlow will be a starter). So that's why I have him a little lower. But you make a good point. I've said elsewhere that I thought Pearson could be anywhere between 12 and 20, and Banuelos could be anywhere from 18-25 or so.

 

I'm legitimately curious if there is any sort of scouting information on Pearson (or Banuelos) that suggests that this take is significantly mistaken.It takes me a while to get to know knew additions and I probably often underrate them.But I feel like we got two guys who rank in the late 20's to mid 30's range in our system, not two top 20 guys.

 


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