Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: Recap
Image courtesy of Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Graphic by Brock Beauchamp)Minnesota Twins 2021 Top 20 Prospects
20. Bailey Ober, RHP: Upside may not stack up to 6'9" frame, but he's almost ready to help.
19. José Miranda, 3B/2B: High-contract righty-swinging infielder needs to find power stroke.
18. Alerick Soularie, UTIL: Versatile defender with intriguing bat, drafted in 2020 second round.
17. Ben Rortvedt, C: Terrific defense behind the plate virtually assures he'll play a role in MLB.
16. Edwar Colina, RHP: Huge raw stuff, but command issues on display in rocky Twins debut.
15. Cole Sands, RHP: Dazzled in first pro stint. Now needs to back it up and ramp workload.
14. Misael Urbina, OF: Athletic CF with a leadoff man's offensive profile. Still unrefined at 18.
13. Matt Wallner, OF: Quality left-handed corner bat. The MN native is poised to move fast.
12. Brent Rooker, OF: Brings tons of power and strikeouts from the right side. Ready for bigs.
11. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Best CF in the org behind Buxton, was on the rise pre-pandemic.
10. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Owns 3.36 ERA in minors, but when will heralded curve lead to Ks?
9. Matt Canterino, RHP: Excelled in 2019, reportedly hit 99 MPH in recent throwing session.
8. Aaron Sabato, 1B: Last year's first-rounder does one thing, and does it very well: MASH.
7. Keoni Cavaco, SS: Seeking to shake off rough pro debut and let considerable talent shine.
6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Lanky righty has shredded hitters in minors with balanced arsenal.
5. Jhoan Duran, RHP: An intimidating force on the mound with high-90s heat. Will he start?
4. Ryan Jeffers, C: Showed his value as a polished two-way asset in MLB breakthrough.
3. Trevor Larnach, OF: Looks the part of a near-ready, well-rounded bat for heart of order.
2. Royce Lewis, SS: Twins believe he'll stick at short. Stardom easy to envision. Born leader.
1. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Prolific bat is big-league ready. High ceiling seems imminently reachable.
- Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects
- Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects
- Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects
- Twins Daily 2017 Top Prospects
- Twins Daily 2016 Top Prospects
- Twins Daily 2015 Top Prospects
A CHANGE AT THE TOP
For obvious reasons, there wasn't a ton of movement in our rankings compared to last year. The most noteworthy development is Alex Kirilloff overtaking Royce Lewis for the No. 1 spot after ranking second behind him in each of the past two years. How can the top dog be supplanted in a season where they both practiced all summer in a private camp?
It's a question that raised some spirited debate as our panelists tried to work through a gridlocked decision. As someone who favored Kirilloff at No. 1, here's the argument that won out, from my view:
1: Although we had Lewis ahead of Kirilloff last year, it was very close. A virtual tie. Royce's tough 2019 at the plate had raised flags about his hitchy swing mechanics and lack of discipline, while Kirilloff acclimated impressively to Double-A at 21, closing the gap. The bottom line is that they're both extremely good prospects.
2: That said, even without playing official games, Kirilloff had the louder 2020. Praise for his daily work in St. Paul traveled routinely across the river. The decision to call him up for an elimination game proved there was substance behind the buzz. And Kirilloff's ability to handle such a situation unphased, looking like a natural under extreme pressure, speaks volumes.
3: Lewis didn't do anything to lower his own stock. Reports on him from the alternate were plenty positive. But it's fair to say that a player in his position – unfinished product with real question marks to resolve before breaking through – is more hurt by the disrupted year of development than Kirilloff. And now we've learned the disruption will continue for Lewis after suffering an ACL tear, which didn't factor into our rankings since we all learned of it two days ago. He'll miss all of 2021.
Lewis has the higher ceiling, with the tools to become a dynamic two-way star at a premium position, but he still has a considerable path ahead of him, made steeper by his new setback. Kirilloff's skill set is narrower, but his offensive talents are immense and – by all appearances – fully developed. That gave him a slight edge this year.
MOVEMENT ON THE LIST
As mentioned earlier, there weren't a whole lot of jumps or drops. Most players are within a spot or two of where we had them last year. Risers included Matt Canterino, who went from No. 15 to No. 9 thanks in part to reports of throwing 99. Ryan Jeffers, who excelled in a 26-game major-league debut, rose from No. 7 to No. 4.
The biggest individual change this year was a slide. Wander Javier went from 13th in 2019 to outside the Top 20. It's not so much that he did anything to lose ground in 2020, but he's now 22 with 80 games played and a .600 OPS above rookie ball. He's been passed up twice in the Rule 5 draft. Javier has gone from presumed shortstop of the future to longshot.
TOP 20 POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN
- C: 2
- IF: 4
- OF: 7
- RHP: 7
- LHP: 0
The Twins are a bit thin on high-level infield talent, especially with Lewis now sidelined, but the clearest deficiency is left-handed pitching. In past years, Lewis Thorpe was a steady presence in that category, but he graduated out of prospect status in 2020 (and frankly might not have made the Top 20 anyway). Minnesota has seen past promising southpaws like Stephen Gonsalves and Tyler Jay fizzle out, and Thorpe's in danger of joining them. This year is make-or-break, as far as his Twins future is concerned.
The scarcity of left-handers runs pretty deep in the Twins' system. Of the five pitchers we named in the Honorable Mentions, all are righties. As to how big of a problem this is, your mileage may vary. It bears noting that the Twins have only one left-hander in their rotation, and he's 38, although the presence of Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer does provide some short-term balance.
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