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Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #5 Wander Javier

He was out of sight last year, with shoulder surgery wiping away his entire 2018 season. But this uber-talented young shortstop was never out of our minds, and his massive upside as a dynamic two-way talent keeps him near the top of our Twins prospect rankings.
Position: SS
Age: 20 (DOB: 12/29/1998)
2018 Stats: DNP
ETA: 2021
2018 Ranking: 6

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NA | MLB: NA | ESPN: NA | BP: NA

What's To Like

Losing major time to injury has, sadly, become a rite of passage for Twins top prospects. Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff both missed full seasons after Tommy John surgery. Byron Buxton had nearly his entire 2014 erased by wrist and thumb issues. Fernando Romero was sidelined for two consecutive campaigns by elbow and knee surgeries.

Wander Javier is the latest to join this lineage, but there's good news: Each of the prospects above came back after a long absence and almost immediately returned to prior form, if not better.

Javier has shown very good form when on the field, but that doesn't amount to much time. Signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic for a club-record $4 million, the skinny shortstop's early focus was adding strength and weight. He played in only 50 official pro games before hurting his shoulder in late 2017. The Twins tried to remedy the issue through rehab but that didn't take, and Javier underwent labrum surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder last May.

The recovery timeline from this procedure was estimated at six-to-nine months, so Javier will be on the other side of it when spring training kicks off, and all reports have him coming in at 100%. When at full strength, the righty-swinging infielder has plenty of offer.

Unlike fellow big international splashes Sano and Yunior Severino, who were both technically signed as shortstops out of the Dominican but with the expectation they'd bulk up and move elsewhere, Javier is fully expected to remain at short and be an asset there. He's quick and fluid in his motions, with good mechanics and a strong arm.

Projecting as a quality shortstop has plenty of value on its own, but what really makes Javier a special talent is his bat. In two stints at rookie ball, he owns a .301/.386/.497 slash line with six homers and 16 doubles in 210 plate appearances. He just hits. It is exceedingly rare to see an undersized teenager flash such immediate power in rookie ball, which created a great deal of hype around what Javier might do in full-season leagues. We've had to wait a bit to find out, but that excitement hasn't wavered in spite of the delay.

MLB.com didn't rank Javier in its Top 100 but did name him Minnesota's best prospect to miss the list.

What's Left To Work On

Well, everything. Javier initially showed the skills that compelled Minnesota to commit all of its 2015 international bonus pool (and then some) to acquire him, but he spent last year rehabbing from major shoulder surgery instead of developing those skills.

It shouldn't surprise, or alarm, anyone if Javier comes out of the gates slow this season. He has missed out on a full year of facing live competition at a time where those reps are so vitally important. Kirilloff showed us how quickly a young player can get back up to speed but Javier isn't nearly the same natural hitting talent.

There was already a rawness to Javier's game and now that element is magnified. He'll see better pitching than ever before and will face a more demanding regimen than ever before. Amidst this setting, he needs to fine-tune and advance his game, while also acclimating to a surgically repaired shoulder leading his swing.

Javier is in for a big challenge. But all evidence suggests he's up to it.

What's Next

“We need to get him on the field,’’ Mike Radcliff told Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune earlier this offseason. “He has to go out and play.’’

A bulked-up Javier – who claims to now have 200 lbs on his 6'1" frame, according to Reusse's piece – will almost certainly start out in extended spring training as he works back into playing shape. But by May or June he should make his way to Cedar Rapids, where we'll finally get the chance to see what he can do.

It's unfair to bring up Kirilloff's name and precedent in comparison. Expectations should be kept in check with Javier, for all the reasons listed in the section above. But the bottom line is that talent wins out, and on that front – well, I think Baseball Prospectus fantasy writer Darius Austin put it best when answering a chat question via Dusty from Colorado (infamous for his relentless inquiries about Javier) in December: "There is no upside for the player with infinite talent."

Playing to the bit with hyperbole? Sure. But Javier's raw ability and athleticism are immense, and since we haven't yet seen them play out substantively on the pro stage, his possibilities feel almost limitless. There's no Twins prospect I'm more excited to follow in 2019.

Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects

Honorable Mentions

20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
18. LaMonte Wade, OF
17. Zack Littell, RHP
16. Gilberto Celestino, OF
15. Yunior Severino, 2B
14. Ben Rortvedt, C
13. Ryan Jeffers, C
12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
11. Nick Gordon, SS
10. Akil Baddoo, OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF
5. Wander Javier, SS
4. Coming tomorrow!

Get to know more about these five Minnesota Twins prospects and much more in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It’s available in paperback or as an eBook.

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38 Comments

I think we'll get a much better feel for where Javier should rank as a prospect after this season. If he plays a full season in A ball, that's a win.

 

He's got terrific upside and the tools are real. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does during a full season facing other real prospects. How will he react to some adversity? How might he react to major success? He's a fun prospect. 

 

I might have dropped him a little lower, but that's quibbling a little. the upside is definitely there for him to be #5 in a high-quality system.

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The Billy Goat
Feb 11 2019 01:50 PM
I personally would actually have him higher, above Larnach ar least. These are the type of prospects that end up as top 25 overall prospects in baseball (able to stay at a premium position with a potent bat). Larnach offers no value on defense, so he needs to be twice the offensive player as Javier. That is a lot of pressure to constantly perform year-in and year-out.

Seth or Nick might know this, but is his arm capable of making the throws from third base? My hope is a future of Javier at 3rd, Lewis at SS, and Polanco at 2nd. There doesn't seem to be any first-division prospects at 3rd in our farm system.

I personally would actually have him higher, above Larnach ar least. These are the type of prospects that end up as top 25 overall prospects in baseball (able to stay at a premium position with a potent bat). Larnach offers no value on defense, so he needs to be twice the offensive player as Javier. That is a lot of pressure to constantly perform year-in and year-out.

Seth or Nick might know this, but is his arm capable of making the throws from third base? My hope is a future of Javier at 3rd, Lewis at SS, and Polanco at 2nd. There doesn't seem to be any first-division prospects at 3rd in our farm system.


Corner OF isn't no value.

I have no idea if Javier will be good or not, but the certainty that people are expressing here is surprising, given how little he's played at all.
    • markos and mikelink45 like this
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The Billy Goat
Feb 11 2019 02:14 PM
Everything that I have heard about Larnach from national sites seem to point that he would be a plodder in the outfield. If a player does not save runs on defense, then he would be of no value on defense. Defense has carried Kepler while he adjusts to major league pitching. Imagine the pressure on Kepler's offense if he was a nonfactor on defense.
    • Twins33 and mikelink45 like this

 

Last year, we were given quite a big of grief for our #5 prospect too. He was coming off of a missed year. He had been hurt late in 2016 and didn't have a lot of pro experience... But Alex Kirilloff turned out to be pretty good. 

 

Now,, I'm not saying that Javier will put together a 2018 Kirilloff season in 2019. I'm only saying that... I think he'll be a Top 50 prospect in all of baseball one year from now. 

 

You are right and I posted similar sentiments about Kiriloff.I am pleased where he is now, but would have still said second ten until he proved it and fortunately he did.You guys do great, it is just my personal way of looking at the prospects. 

 

Everything that I have heard about Larnach from national sites seem to point that he would be a plodder in the outfield. If a player does not save runs on defense, then he would be of no value on defense. Defense has carried Kepler while he adjusts to major league pitching. Imagine the pressure on Kepler's offense if he was a nonfactor on defense.

 

"Plodder" is a little harsh from what I've heard.He will have to hit though.

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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 11 2019 04:29 PM

Wanderlust is fine, as long as it's in moderation.


Always!

I personally would actually have him higher, above Larnach ar least. These are the type of prospects that end up as top 25 overall prospects in baseball (able to stay at a premium position with a potent bat). Larnach offers no value on defense, so he needs to be twice the offensive player as Javier. That is a lot of pressure to constantly perform year-in and year-out.
Seth or Nick might know this, but is his arm capable of making the throws from third base? My hope is a future of Javier at 3rd, Lewis at SS, and Polanco at 2nd. There doesn't seem to be any first-division prospects at 3rd in our farm system.


Miranda might be the best long term option in the system.
    • ChrisKnutson likes this
Just a quick note. Got the most recent issue of Baseball America today and they had Javier listed among a top 10 list of prospects they hoped had a healthy year. They didn't get in to specifics but mentioned he was one of the top international FA in 2015 along with Vlad Jr, Tatis Jr and Juan Soto. That's some pretty heady company!

Just a quick note. Got the most recent issue of Baseball America today and they had Javier listed among a top 10 list of prospects they hoped had a healthy year. They didn't get in to specifics but mentioned he was one of the top international FA in 2015 along with Vlad Jr, Tatis Jr and Juan Soto. That's some pretty heady company!


Why can't we ever have a Vlad or Tatis? Wander is an ok prospect but I haven't exactly understood the national hype. He signed for big money, so scouts were on him early. They give opinions for a living and aren't likely to change their minds for no reason so it makes sense that everyone is still on him. As I recall he got off to an incredible start then cooled significantly? I was also confused about the projections so early that he'd stay at ss. I haven't heard that he's vizquel or anything. And his frame, age, and bat suggest a possible bulk up power hitter corner type future if he wants it/ grows more.

Our writers are all pretty high not only of his abilities and health but of a progression and break out. I'm going to have to see it first, personally.
    • Mike Sixel and DocBauer like this

Why can't we ever have a Vlad or Tatis? Wander is an ok prospect but I haven't exactly understood the national hype. He signed for big money, so scouts were on him early. They give opinions for a living and aren't likely to change their minds for no reason so it makes sense that everyone is still on him. As I recall he got off to an incredible start then cooled significantly? I was also confused about the projections so early that he'd stay at ss. I haven't heard that he's vizquel or anything. And his frame, age, and bat suggest a possible bulk up power hitter corner type future if he wants it/ grows more.
Our writers are all pretty high not only of his abilities and health but of a progression and break out. I'm going to have to see it first, personally.


I understand and appreciate your consternation. But we DO have those types of prospects. Their names are Lewis and Khirilloff and even Graterol.

Before that was Sano and Buxton. And we can all lament the status of those two. I know I do! Only time will tell about Sano and Buck. But consider Sano was an All Star in 2017 before a very significant injury which required surgery. Buxton had a completely messed up 2018. There are HUGE questions surrounding both of these young men. Early reports are good health, both working hard and being fit and ready for 2019. We will see.

But we shouldn't be down on Javier at this point. He has shown outstanding ability when healthy. His first injury was a hamstring issue. Just one if those things? Possibly due to still growing in to his body? Who knows? The second was a torn labrum on his left, non-throwing arm.

As has been stated, young Khirilloff had an injury just as severe, if not more so, and came back with a vengeance in 2018. If he is fully healthy in 2019, Javier could be following a similar path that Khirilloff and Lewis followed last year.

I understand and appreciate your consternation. But we DO have those types of prospects. Their names are Lewis and Khirilloff and even Graterol.

Before that was Sano and Buxton. And we can all lament the status of those two. I know I do! Only time will tell about Sano and Buck. But consider Sano was an All Star in 2017 before a very significant injury which required surgery. Buxton had a completely messed up 2018. There are HUGE questions surrounding both of these young men. Early reports are good health, both working hard and being fit and ready for 2019. We will see.

But we shouldn't be down on Javier at this point. He has shown outstanding ability when healthy. His first injury was a hamstring issue. Just one if those things? Possibly due to still growing in to his body? Who knows? The second was a torn labrum on his left, non-throwing arm.

As has been stated, young Khirilloff had an injury just as severe, if not more so, and came back with a vengeance in 2018. If he is fully healthy in 2019, Javier could be following a similar path that Khirilloff and Lewis followed last year.


Maybe I'm overly cautious. Or maybe I'm frustrated that we never trade any of our prospects for MLB talent. If more of our guys panned out, perhaps I'd be less cynical.

But I've gone on the record that I have reservations on Lewis and Kirolff as well. They're both awesome prospects. Both will have MLB careers if not injured. Both have a shot at stardom. Seth calls AK the most advanced hitter he's ever seen at that stage. Still, it's he a top 12 outfielder in baseball? Is lewis a top 6 ss? That's how fis you have to be to get to all star level. Buxton and Sano didn't hit like MLB Trout and Cabrera in the minors, let alone MiLB versions. Lewis looks like an adequate to good MLB hitter, Kiroloff looks like a good to great MLB hitter which at their positions make them fringe all stars. Not necessarily corner stones. Maybe there's no such thing as "can't miss", but just for example, look at what Vlad Jr has done before 20: https://www.baseball...id=guerre002vla

and tell me Lewis or AK deserve to be in that category.

 

 

I still think Nick Gordon is our most sure prospect.

How? He has never hit besides AA for half a season. And he's gonna be a 2nd baseman. 


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