Three Prospects To Watch In 2018
Image courtesy of Linwood Ferguson-Captive PhotonsBrusdar Graterol, RHP
Graterol has seen a bumpy start to his professional career. As a 16-year old in 2015, he made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League. He was limited to four starts and was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. It cost him the rest of 2015 and all of 2016. Last season, he returned to action in the GCL and the Appy League, where he was still over 2.5 years younger than the competition. In the GCL, he posted a 1.40 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP while averaging 9.8 K/9. With the E-Twins, he saw increases to both his ERA (3.92) and WHIP (1.21). However, he was Elizabethton’s youngest pitcher this season and his K/9 increased to 10.5.
Looking ahead to 2018, it’s not hard to imagine that Graterol could make appearances with Cedar Rapids before he turns 20 in late August. His fastball can consistently hit in the high 90’s and he has shown the ability to rear back and hit triple digits. If he can continue to develop his secondary pitches, his stock could continue to rise in 2018.
Jacob Pearson, OF
Minnesota acquired Pearson this off-season in a deal that sent international bonus money to the Los Angeles Angels. Pearson was taken by the Angels in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft. He signed for $1 million, an over-slot deal, to keep him from committing to LSU. Pearson made his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League and saw some ups and downs. Over 155 at-bats, he hit .226/.302/.284 with eight extra-base hits and five steals in 40 games. He ended the year with hits in eight of his final ten games including a .317 OBP. All but 30 of his plate appearances came against older pitchers so there are still some adjustments to be made as a pro.
As a sophomore in high school, Pearson had labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder. This currently means his arm is below average but he could strengthen it as he works through the Twins system. Baseball America touted Pearson’s quiet confidence and work ethic in an article this past November. He could eventually be a 20-20 type of player. He will start 2018 in extended spring training but he could make his way to Cedar Rapids before season’s end.
Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Thorpe burst on the scene as a 17-year old in the GCL back in 2013. He dominated hitters with a 2.05 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, and 64 strikeouts in 44.0 innings. Baseball Prospectus even included him in their top-101 prospects leading into 2014 and 2015. Thorpe did not pitch in 2015 and 2016 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery and then from mononucleosis. He’d return in 2017 with the Miracle where he posted a 2.69 ERA while striking out nearly 10 batters per nine. In late August, he made a spot start with the Lookouts and picked up the victory. He allowed four runs, struck out seven and pitched through the sixth frame. It was a big year back for Mr. Thorpe.
Since he is multiple years removed from TJ surgery, 2018 could end up being an important year in Thorpe’s development. He will likely pitch the entire year in Chattanooga but he will still be roughly two years younger than the competition. With an arsenal that includes three pitches, he has the opportunity to prove he should be reconsidered as one of the best pitching prospects in the Twins system.
What minor league players will you be focused on during the coming season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Make sure to pick up a copy of the 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook if you'd like to identify your own prospects to follow in the Twins farm system.
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