Top Twins Prospects Are Performing
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Alex Kirilloff)The Top 5 Twins prospects are all performing as well or better than expected.
ROYCE LEWIS - Twins Daily #1 Prospect
The top pick in the 2017 draft moved up to Cedar Rapids late in the 2017 season. In 18 games, he hit .296. The still-18-year-old Lewis began the 2018 campaign with the Kernels as well. He has had multi-hit games in nine of his 19 games played so far this year. He is 11-21 (.524) in the last five games (four multi-hit games). Overall, he is hitting .372/.417/.423 (.840) with a double and a home run. He also has 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts. He’s also got a solid .963 fielding percentage through his first 19 games at shortstop.
FERNANDO ROMERO - Twins Daily #2 Prospect
The hard-throwing right-hander was the Twins Daily #1 prospect coming into the 2017 season, but Lewis grabbed that spot this year. The 23-year-old had an impressive showing at big league spring training, throwing eight scoreless innings. He moved down to minor league camp fairly early to allow him to stretch out and be ready to start. He began the season in Rochester where he went 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP through his first four games. In 21 innings, he gave up 17 hits, walked ten and struck out 20. He was called up to the big leagues last week, and he’s been nothing short of stellar. After six more shutout innings last night, Romero is now 2-0 with zero runs allowed through his first 11 2/3 innings. More than the numbers, Romero’s stuff looks great and plays well. He’s shown poise and an ability to make big pitches when needed.
NICK GORDON - Twins Daily #3 Prospect
Gordon was the Twins top draft pick in 2014 out of high school in Florida. He moved up one level each year. After hitting .270/.341/.408 (.749) with 29 doubles, eight triples and nine home runs, had a strong showing in big league spring training this year. It was surprising that he was returned to Chattanooga to start the season. As he did a year ago, Gordon is off to another fast start. Through his first 29 games, he is hitting .324/.358/.491 (.849) with six doubles,, three triples and two home runs. In 24 games at shortstop, he has a .961 fielding percentage. He’s played just four games at second base to this point.
STEPHEN GONSALVES - Twins Daily #4 Prospect
Gonsalves has been the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year the last two seasons. He was added to the 40-man roster last November and did well at big league spring training. After ending 2017 with a handful of games in Rochester, it was very surprising that the 23-year-old began the 2018 season with a month in Chattanooga. In four starts for the Lookouts, he went 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. In 20.1 innings, he gave up 11 hits, walked ten and struck out 25. He has now made two starts in Rochester. He’s 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA and a 0.42 WHIP. He’s given up just one run on four hits and two walks in 14 1/3 innings. He has 14 strikeouts.
ALEX KIRILLOFF - Twins Daily #5 Prospect
2017 was a long year for the Twins top pick from the 2016 draft. He missed the season after having Tommy John surgery in March. However, he was cleared for full participation in November. After getting just one hit through his first four games, he has taken off as if he didn’t miss any time. On the year, he’s hitting .283/.314/.515 (.829) with 11 doubles and four home runs. He has an organization-leading 24 RBI. Still just 20-years-old, Kirilloff has tremendous power and has a great swing to the opposite field gap.
WANDER JAVIER - Twins Daily #6 Prospect
It can’t all be good news. Javier, who has as much talent as anyone in the organization, was unable to play in spring training because of an injury in his non-throwing shoulder. There were hopes that the 19-year-old would quickly move up to Cedar Rapids, but it is yet to happen. While I’m hearing conflicting reports on how he’s doing, I wouldn’t expect to see him in a Kernels uniform too soon.
BRENT ROOKER - Twins Daily #7 Prospect
Rooker was the Twins 38th-round pick in 2016. He went back to Mississippi State and after the 2017, the Twins took him with the 35th overall pick. After 22 games in Elizabethton, he finished the year with 40 games in Ft. Myers. Combined, he hit 18 home runs. As a 23-year-old, he is one of the youngest players on the Lookouts roster. The jump to AA is known to be the biggest jump in the minor leagues, and Rooker has had some struggles. In 27 games, he has hit .232/.267/.333 (.600) with five doubles, a triple and a home run. He has four walks to go with 33 strikeouts.
BLAYNE ENLOW - Twins Daily #8 Prospect
The 19-year-old from Louisiana was the Twins third-round draft pick in 2017 out of high school. He debuted with six games in the GCL last year where he went 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP in 20 1/3 innings. He made the jump to Cedar Rapids to start this season. He made two starts in the cold before spending a couple of weeks on the disabled list with a back strain. He returned to the mound over the weekend. In 11 innings this year, he’s given up 17 hits, walked five and struck out eight.
BRUSDAR GRATEROL - Twins Daily #9 Prospect
The 19-year-old from Venezuela debuted in the DSL in 2015, but after just four games (during which he had one walk and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings), he had Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2016, and was eased back into things in 2017. He made five appearances for the GCL Twins (1.40 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings) before moving up to Elizabethton where he made five starts. While he’ll be on an innings and pitch count throughout the year, Graterol has now made two starts for Cedar Rapids. He’s 0-0 with a 1.04 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP. In 8 2/3 innings, he has given up six hits, walked none and struck out 11. He’s already hit 100 mph with his fastball on numerous pitches and shown the makings of a strong slider too. Honestly, speaking for myself (Seth), I could see him ranking as high as number two on my personal prospect list.
AKIL BADDOO - Twins Daily #10 Prospect
Baddoo was one of two supplemental second-round picks in 2016. He split 2017 between the GCL and Elizabethton and was named the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Hitter of the Year. He’s continued to get stronger and faster. While he hasn’t hit for average yet this year, he has been an on-base machine. Through 22 games, the 19-year-old has hit .203/.398/.311 (.709) with a triple and two home runs. He’s also stolen seven bases in nine attempts. Having watched many Kernels games, Baddoo is not a passive hitter, by any means. He seems to know the strike zone pretty well and takes some very aggressive swings. He’s got a lot of power potential, and he’s done a really nice job covering a lot of ground in centerfield.
THE NEXT TEN
Here’s a quick rundown on the Twins Daily choices for Prospects 11 - 20.
#11 - Zack Littell (22) - Added to the 40-man roster last offseason, Littell returned to AA where he started the year 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA. He made his AAA debut this weekend and threw six shutout innings for the Red Wings. He gave up just two hits, walked four and struck out six.
#12 - Lewis Thorpe (22) - Thorpe is the youngest player on the Lookouts roster this season. The lefty was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He’s currently 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA. In six starts, and 28 innings,, he’s given up 39 hits, walked nine and struck out 35. He’s seemingly improved each time out.
#13 - Lewin Diaz (21) - In 23 games for the Miracle, he’s’ hitting .244/.270/.477 (.746) with two doubles, three triples and four home runs. He really got himself into much better shape this season and while the numbers may not show it yet, he’s heading in the right direction.
#14 - LaMonte Wade (24) - In 28 games with the Lookouts this year, he’s hitting .290/.385/.430 (.815) with a triple and four home runs. As is normal for Wade, he has 15 walks to go with just 10 strikeouts.
#15 - Mitch Garver (27) - Garver won the Twin backup catcher job in spring training, and through his first 14 games this year with the Twins, he’s hit .250/.302/.450 (.752) with two doubles and two home runs.
#16 - Ben Rortvedt (20) - Rortvedt returns to the Kernels and he has taken strides forward. He’s hitting .242/.309/.371 (.680) with five doubles and a home run in 17 games. He continues to be a terrific defensive backstop as well.
#17 - Travis Blankenhorn (21) - Blankenhorn made the jump to Ft. Myers this year. In 29 games, he’s hit .257/.302/.459 (.760) with five doubles, a triple, and five home runs (leads Twins minors). He’s got just one error on the season despite playing third base, second base and even left field.
#18 - Yunior Severino (18) - The Twins gave Severino $2.5 million to sign with them after he was declared a free agent after some Atlanta indiscretions. Severino is a really good athlete who has a good swing from both sides of the plate. He may develop some power too. He can play all around the infield. He will likely go to Elizabethton in mid-June.
#19 - Tyler Jay (24) - The Twins top pick in 2015, Jay missed a lot of time in 2017 as he was moved to the bullpen full time. He did spend a couple of weeks on the DL early this year with a leg injury, but he’s back with the Lookouts now. In nine innings over five games, he has a 1.00 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and eight strikeouts. Last night he recorded his first save of the year.
#20 - Felix Jorge (24) - Jorge pitched at AA, AAA and even two starts in the big leagues in 2017. Unfortunately in spring training, he took a line drive off of a knee and has yet to pitch. Hopefully he will return to action in the next couple of weeks.
It’s encouraging that most of the Twins top prospect have continued their development and growth at the start of the 2018 season. Give it another month or so, and we’ll likely see more player movement.
Feel free to ask questions and discuss these prospects, and think about which prospects you might add to your top 20 list, maybe some that aren’t even mentioned here. For me,, I would strongly consider the likes of Landon Leach, Andrew Bechtold, Aaron Whitefield and Tyler Wells. And don’t forget about Kohl Stewart yet either.
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