Who's Number One?: Minnesota's Top Prospect
Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsSeth, Tom, Jeremy, and I are jumping into work on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. In the weeks ahead, look for more stories about the team’s top prospects as we dive into researching the next crop to come off of the farm.
Nick Gordon, SS
One knock on Gordon after his 2016 season was his lack of power. He made a switch this year as his OPS increased by 28 points but his batting average dropped by 21 points. For the season, he hit .270/.341/.408 with 46 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 519 at-bats. Gordon was three years younger than the competition in the Southern League. The majority of his playing time has continued to be at shortstop but he might end up at second base in the big leagues. Some will rank Royce Lewis ahead of Gordon but it’s tough to do that when Gordon has been performing well at Double-A.
Royce Lewis, SS
Minnesota’s number one pick this past June made his mark quickly in his professional debut. He hit .279/.381/.407 with 18 steals in over 200 at-bats. He finished the year with Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League where he was over three years younger than the competition. There is still an opportunity for him to add more power as he grows into his body and that has to be a scary proposition for pitchers in the Midwest and Florida State Leagues. Many believe he will be able to stay at shortstop. Out of the hitters on this list, he has the highest ceiling.
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Gonsalves has dominated Double-A over the last two seasons. In 161.2 innings (28 starts), he has posted a 2.51 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and a 185 to 60 strikeout to walk ratio. His time at Triple-A wasn’t as clean but he was limited to five appearances (four starts) at season’s end. Gonsalves did not make a start after August 25 and his final appearance came on August 30th. He missed time at the beginning of the season with a shoulder issue. There was no structural damage and he went on to pitch well. There was talk of him making a spot start at the big league level but that never happened. He will head back to Triple-A to prove he can dominate that level like he has in Double-A.
Wild Cards: Brent Rooker, Fernando Romero
Rooker dominated at the plate during his professional debut. Coming from the college ranks, Rooker started in Elizabethton to get acquainted with a wood bat and to start playing in the outfield. After less than 100 plate appearances, he moved to Fort Myers and continued to hit. For the season, he batted .281/.364/.566 with 18 home runs and 11 doubles. He’s still adjusting to the outfield so that will be a focus for him in 2018.
Romero was a legitimate candidate to be the Twins top prospect one year ago. There were flashes of greatness with Chattanooga but the consistency wasn’t always there. In 125 innings, he posted a 3.53 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP and 120 strikeouts compared to 45 walks. Like Gonsalves, he missed time with a shoulder issue which is never a good thing for a power pitcher. All things considered, he might still have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Twins organization.
Who would you consider the Twins top prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.