The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2019: Part 1 (16-20)
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA Today (Nick Gordon)20. Nick Gordon, SS (23)
2018 Ranking: 13
A year ago, Gordon was already plagued by questions surrounding his viability at shortstop, as well as the legitimacy of his bat coming off a lackluster second half in Chattanooga. These doubts were only magnified during a rough 2018 campaign that saw him fail to gain any offensive traction in Triple-A (.212/.262/.283 in 99 games) while ceding more time to second base.
Of course, he was also a 22-year-old in a league where the average player is considerably older. Assessing Gordon's performance is somewhat tough because he's always been relatively young and undeveloped compared to his competition. But now he's catching up, and it's time to show something. Huge year on deck for the former first-round draft pick.
19. C.J. Cron, 1B (29)
2018 Ranking: N/A
While I questioned the fit, Cron was undoubtedly a nifty pickup for the Twins when they grabbed him off waivers from Tampa a month ago. It's not every day you can add an affordable and accomplished hitter, under the age of 30, coming off a breakout season, for nothing.
Cron has pedigree – formerly a star collegiate slugger who became a first-round draft pick and has hit consistently in the minors and majors. He has upward momentum, having posted 30 home runs and an .817 OPS in his first full season a big-league regular. He's fairly cheap ($4.8 million in 2019), and controllable in 2020 via arbitration as well.
18. Adalberto Mejia, LHP (25)
2018 Ranking: 14
In 2018, Mejia did the same thing he's done almost nonstop since coming over to the Twins at the 2016 trade deadline: he performed. In 118 1/3 innings at Class-AAA Rochester since the trade, he has a 3.27 ERA, and he's held his own during multiple stints in the big leagues, including this year when he turned in a 2.01 ERA over five appearances for Minnesota. He's a big, burly left-hander with some velocity and the ability to miss bats.
The only missing ingredient for Mejia has been sustained durability. He totaled less than 130 innings in 2017 and less than 90 in 2018, plagued by wrist and arm ailments down the stretch. Complicating matters is that Mejia's out of options next spring, which forces the Twins' hand in terms of rostering him. But still, this is a proven, capable left-handed starter with five years of team control ahead. There's a ton of potential value here.
17. Jake Cave, OF (26)
2018 Ranking: N/A
Last spring the Twins saw an opportunity to add a player they liked and seized it. Cave had been designated for assignment by the Yankees in a roster crunch, so Minnesota flipped them teenage right-hander Luis Gil to acquire Cave before he had a chance to hit waivers. "He made some adjustments that we thought led to the power surge that he had, and we think those will continue going forward," said Derek Falvey at the time.
They did indeed. Cave hit 13 home runs and slugged .473 in 91 games for the Twins. He also showed solid range and ability in the outfield. Granted, there were some troubling indicators to be found in his performance – among them, a 5-to-1 K/BB ratio that suggests volatility in the AVG/OBP columns is likely – but the power is legit. Cave was a savvy add by the front office.
16. Wander Javier, SS (20)
2018 Ranking: 18
Javier missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing shoulder labrum surgery. So how does he manage to move up two slots on this list, you ask? Well, it's mainly because folks that were above him a year ago have either backslid or departed, and Javier's tantalizing potential remains even after his setback.
He looked like a true shortstop during his time in the Dominican Summer and Appy Leagues, with plenty of range and arm to handle – perhaps even master – the position. That shouldn't change, as the surgery was for his non-throwing arm. He has some lost time to make up for but Javier is expected back fully healthy in spring training and will be poised to take full-season leagues by storm. This has the makings of an Alex Kirilloff-type situation (Kirilloff was 20th in last year's rankings; you'll find out soon where he checks in this year).
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