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Re-opening the WAR debate

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Who's Number One?: Minnesota's Top Prospect

Baseball’s season is quickly coming to an end. One of the off-season highlights for many fans is reevaluating an organization’s prospects. Players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jose Berrios populated Minnesota’s prospect lists over the last handful of seasons. Now these players have been making an impact at the big league level.

Which prospect will come out on top in this year’s prospect rankings? Here are the candidates…
Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Seth, 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.


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27 Comments

So, no chance for Royce Lewis to take the top spot?Interesting.

I won't lie...I think Rooker has a chance to be a slightly poorer version of Kris Bryant. Get him up to MLB by the end of the year!!
    • mikelink45, twinssouth and sploorp like this
I would go with any of Gordon, Romero or Gonsalves cause they are all so close to the majors. Rooker and Lewis are close and may even be better but are far enough back, they have more hurdles to jumo to the bigs and i think that plays a role unless you have an obvious generational talent. I do think all 5 will play in the bigs at some point.

I think Gordon will be a major leaguer but not a star, Gonsalves will be a #4 rotation arm and not a star.Rooker and Lewis could be stars - they are number one and two for me. 

Probably has to be Lewis at this point, but I have Gordon right up there too. I know he tailed off big time and end of year, but he was amazing until that point and there was no doubt about his #1 status then.
    • 70charger likes this
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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 31 2017 08:49 AM

It's Lewis to me, and that's with a bullet.

 

1) Lewis

2) Gordon

3) Romero

4) Gonsalves

5) The field

    • Vanimal46 likes this

Always tough this #1. We have had Sano and Buxton...but Rosario has been the guy who has shined and he was never considered the Top Prospect in the system.

 

Us armchair general managers have to take a second seat to the real guys.

 

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twinsfanstreif
Oct 31 2017 09:06 AM
Gotta be Lewis, the ceiling alone is massive and puts him in the potential superstar range, no one else really has that kind of potential.
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clutterheart
Oct 31 2017 10:26 AM
The majority of his (Gordon's) playing time has continued to be at shortstop but he might end up at second base in the big leagues.

 

 

If this is true, I can't see how Gordon is the top prospect - and could fall out of the top 4.Modern day second basemen need to hit and hit with power.He doesn't have the bat to play MLB second base....and those strike out numbers are scary.

  

If you think he can't stick at SS, he should plummet down the rankings 

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 31 2017 10:39 AM

Right now I'd say Gordon. Next year at this time, I suspect he's been supplanted (even if he does well in AAA).

Always tough this #1. We have had Sano and Buxton...but Rosario has been the guy who has shined and he was never considered the Top Prospect in the system.

Us armchair general managers have to take a second seat to the real guys.


Buxton had more bWAR this year alone than Rosario has in his entire career.
    • jimmer and gagu like this

Brian Dozier hit16 HR for his minor league career.Nick Gordon is still younger than Brian Dozier was before he started playing professional baseball.Altuve did not show much for power until he was 25. Odor was 22 when he started hitting for power. Schoop and Jose Ramirez24,Gordon just turned 22. Not saying Gordon is similar to any of them, just HR power comes later for middle infielders.

    • gagu likes this

The bad part about this discussion is that given there are not any OMG prospects on the list there are not 5-10 names son the list.As the new regime brings in new ideas we shall see if the prospects start improving.

For me, Nick Gordon being a top prospect revolves obviously around how he performs defensively as a SS, but offensively will he continue to develop plate discipline. His brother only walks around 5% of the time. To be a top performer, Nick needs to maintain the 9% he discovered this year, or preferably improve it while cutting down his strikeouts. He might improve his doubles power but he'll never be a slugger so he needs to get on base with solid contact and walks.

    • 70charger likes this

Way too early for me to even think about this, since I do most of my prospect work in December and January when there are enough moves made, but my #1 lastseason was Wander Javier and hitting .299/.383/.471 in the Appy League as an 18 year old, did not hurt himself. Royce Lewis might be close or overtake him.Not sure yet, but these guys will likely be #1 and #2 in some order, pending transactions.

    • dgwills, gagu and gman like this

 

If this is true, I can't see how Gordon is the top prospect - and could fall out of the top 4.Modern day second basemen need to hit and hit with power.He doesn't have the bat to play MLB second base....and those strike out numbers are scary.

  

If you think he can't stick at SS, he should plummet down the rankings 

 

Gordon is going to hit, and hit well enough to play anywhere but a corner. I have no doubts about that. While there seems to be a growing idea he won't stick at SS, I'll believe it when I see it in the majors. And if you believe this about Gordon, Lewis shouldn't be #1 either, because there's far greater concern with him about sticking there right now.

I don't get why Lewis Thorpe isn't even being mentioned here, but Romero had everyone drooling last offseason. Lefty starter and still just 22 next season, former nationally ranked prospect who had a great bounce back campaign after missing the previous two. And I've always heard that he has great stuff. What am I missing here?

    • Steve Lein, 70charger, laloesch and 1 other like this

I see arguments for and against all of these and I see arguments for others to be included on this list as well. I always have a bias towards those closer to the majors so I lean Gordon from your list. He is the most likely to make an impact at the majors based on skills demonstrated and nearness to actually making a debut. I will be disappointed if he does not get his first taste some time next summer (same with Gonsalves) I do not think he or Gonsalvesare close to the most potential though.

 

    • 70charger likes this
I'm willing to bet almost every publication will have Lewis as the top prospect this winter.

I'd go with Gordon

I would go with this.

1.Gordon

2.Romero

3.Rooker

4.Lewis

5Baadoo

6. Gonsalves

I would go with this.
1. Gordon
2. Romero
3. Rooker
4. Lewis
5 Baadoo
6. Gonsalves


Lewis was the number one overall pick... in the entire draft. If he's 4th in our system, it was an awful pick.
    • laloesch, sploorp and Vanimal46 like this

 

Lewis was the number one overall pick... in the entire draft. If he's 4th in our system, it was an awful pick.

I factor into how close to the majors the player is.Lewis is at least a couple of years away.Talent also plays a part, but I would expect the first three will be with the Twins in 2018 or very early in 2019

There were a few 18-20 year olds in the rookie ball leagues throwing 92-93. There was something somewhere about Falvey and training methods that could add a couple mph to their pitches.That could make for some interesting prospects in a couple of years.

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biggentleben
Nov 01 2017 11:28 PM

 

The bad part about this discussion is that given there are not any OMG prospects on the list there are not 5-10 names son the list.As the new regime brings in new ideas we shall see if the prospects start improving.

 

That guy is Graterol.

 

Well, and Lewis. Lewis is considered by many a guy who could play in the majors in 2019, which is remarkable for a high school talent. The biggest questions I got from other teams' guys who saw him in GCL or Cedar Rapids was whether he stuck at short simply because the nuance of the pro game at the position may not have time to develop before his bat is ready for the majors.


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