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The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2019: Part 2 (11-15)

This is the second in a four-part series ranking the top 20 player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization. The idea is to think solely in terms of commodity valuation, factoring in things like age, cost, control, and risk management in answering the question: which players are most essential to this team's vision?

Last week we looked at Nos. 20 through 16. Today we continue the countdown with Nos. 15 through 11.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
15. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (24)
2018 Ranking: 10

In some ways, Gonsalves took a big step forward in 2018. He pitched brilliantly over 100 innings at Triple-A, solidifying his supremacy over minor-league hitters. He then received his first promotion to the big leagues, making seven appearances for the Twins in August and September.

Gonsalves' MLB debut was a mixed bag. He was brutal in his first four starts (11.68 ERA and 3.00 WHIP in 12 1/3 innings) then excelled in three appearances as a "primary" (1.46 ERA and 1.05 WHIP). The true pitcher lies somewhere in between these two extremes, but there were enough troubling signs during his time with the Twins (shoddy control, untenably low 6% swinging strike rate) to cast serious doubt on his viability as anything more than a back-of-rotation starter. Not that this is without value – especially at a low cost.

14. Miguel Sano, 3B (25)
2018 Ranking: 4

It was a rough, rough year for the third baseman, who saw his stock plummet like a mile-high fly ball hurtling down to Earth. Seemingly never quite right after undergoing major surgery on his leg during the previous offseason, Sano played poorly enough to merit a demotion all the way to Single-A in June. He made his way back six weeks later but didn't look much better, and played only four games in September due to another leg injury.

The innate talent that resides within Sano is plainly obvious, but so too is the reality at hand: if he doesn't reverse course, he's on his way to going from promising young slugger to marginal asset – chronically dinged up, obscenely strikeout-prone, defensively inflexible, and generally unproductive. (This is also known as the Oswaldo Arcia Path.) He's got much to prove, and it starts with completing his ambitious offseason conditioning program, which the Twins are monitoring closely. If he comes back in improved shape, with his left leg issues finally behind him, maybe that talent starts to reemerge. Few players can hit or throw the ball as hard.

Sano is eligible for arbitration this offseason for the first time, meaning free agency is only three years away. The clock ticks on his turnaround.

13. Kyle Gibson, RHP (31)
2018 Ranking: N/A

At long last, things came together for Gibson. For many years, his arsenal showed the potential to overpower big-league hitters, but that didn't really come to fruition. In the latter half of 2017 he seemingly turned a corner, and then he backed it up big-time in 2018. His 11.5% swinging strike rate was easily a career high, edging Jose Berrios (11.3%) to lead the rotation.

Gibson's performance wasn't flawless by any means, but he was steady and effective, bringing length to a starting corps that needed it. As long as he stays healthy in 2019 there's little reason to expect a step back. The factors suppressing his ranking on this list are age (turned 31 in October), cost (likely to make around $9 million in 2019), and control (free agent after next season).

12. Trevor May, RHP (29)
2018 Ranking: 19

It's not clear yet how the Twins plan to deploy May going forward. He might be a closer, after looking awfully good in the role down the stretch. He might be a bullpen fireman, called upon in tight spots to unleash his elite swing-and-miss stuff. He might be a multi-inning long reliever, given his historically strong and durable arm. And I still happen to think he could be a pretty good starter.

This much is clear: May is an awfully nice piece for the Twins to have around, and a real game-changer for their pitching staff. He is under control for two more years and will remain inexpensive in 2019, since he's spent most of the past two seasons rehabbing.

11. Mitch Garver, C (28)
2018 Ranking: N/A

A few weeks ago, I posed an open question: Is Mitch Garver still a catcher? I'm not sure we definitively know the answer, but the general assumption right now seems to be "yes." And if so, he's a borderline Top 10 asset to the organization. This is true because of the scarcity he addresses – Jason Castro is one year away from free agency and the system lacks any high-level catching depth – but also because he's just shown to be a solid player at the position.

Garver's rookie production, which progressively improved over the summer, was above-average for a catcher. Reviews on his defense varied but he did show some positive signs of improvement and making adjustments. Turning 28 in a couple weeks, he's not young relative to others in this emerging core, but he's inexpensively controllable for years to come. With that said, concussion concerns will hang over him until he goes a prolonged period without incidents or setbacks.

RECAPPING THE RANKINGS:

20. Nick Gordon, SS
19. C.J. Cron, 1B
18. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
17. Jake Cave, OF
16. Wander Javier, SS
15. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
14. Miguel Sano, 3B
13. Kyle Gibson, RHP
12. Trevor May, RHP
11. Mitch Garver, C

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80 Comments

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Nick Nelson
Dec 30 2018 07:16 PM

Just to pre-empt any, "Are you saying Garver would get more back in a trade than Sano??" objections, that's not exactly the point of this exercise. I'm evaluating not in terms of what players would be worth independently, if the team shut it down and sold off all parts. I'm evaluating based on their value to the franchise's current path and vision. 

 

Trade value comes into play, but not really in a case like this, because there's no reason to trade Sano at this moment in time. It'd be silly. 

 

That said, welcoming all comments/questions/debate! 

    • nicksaviking, caninatl04 and MN_ExPat like this

Actually a big Garver fan....and beyond frustrated with Sano....but alas...

 

Sano is clearly still a MUCH more significant asset based on his "value to the franchise's current path and vision"

 

Unless the "fanchise's current path and vision" does not include trying to win the WS.

 

Come on man?!

    • USAFChief, Thrylos, jokin and 9 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Dec 30 2018 08:41 PM

A fun series of rankings. Each one of these rankings can be argued that the player is too low or too high. I predict your top 5 will be in this order: 1)Lewis, 2)Kirilloff, 3)Berrios, 4)Rosario.5) Polanco.I left of Graterol due to the unpredictability of young pitchers' health and control.

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sweetmusicviola16
Dec 30 2018 08:41 PM

 

Actually a big Garver fan....and beyond frustrated with Sano....but alas...

 

Sano is clearly still a MUCH more significant asset based on his "value to the franchise's current path and vision"

 

Unless the "fanchise's current path and vision" does not include trying to win the WS.

 

Come on man?!

Yeah,not at all sure to me how an oft injured May is rated ahead of a potential 40HR hitter in Sano either. I just don't get it.

    • TheLeviathan and SF Twins Fan like this

Once again you have provided a fun and provocative list.Sano should be top five, his place on this list is a frustration listing.Garver seems to high - it depends upon concussion.If he is well I rank him above Castro, if not I put him off the list.  

The biggest surprise is Gonsalves.We want him to succeed, but last year was not very positive from a big league standpoint.I think he lost a lot with his debut.

 

I wish I could go back and read all the essays about May.He has been the man of promise for so long.It would be great to see him have the year everyone anticipates.

    • D.C Twins likes this
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TheLeviathan
Dec 30 2018 09:31 PM

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    • Nick Nelson, nicksaviking, h2oface and 4 others like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Dec 30 2018 10:01 PM
Nick, I love this series and I love the discussionit has created. Thanks for putting the time and effort into it.

All that said, I can’t fathom how any of Gibson, May or Garver, by any measure, can be placed ahead of Sano on this list.

I don’t care if we are talking trade value, WAR, or traditional stats. Sano (and his three years of team control) is a significantly more valuable asset for the team than Gibson (one year), May (two years) or even Garver (five years).
    • Thrylos, jokin, TheLeviathan and 5 others like this

 

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This made me laugh harder than I have all week. OUTSTANDING!

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Dec 30 2018 10:28 PM
Meh, I'd probably have Sano in this 11-15 block, though probably closer to 11. He is what he is, which is ok, could be great, but probably not. I think most the other starters with team control plus some pitchers are just as valuable at this point.
    • BJames likes this

 

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Check that....after watching it a couple more minutes its up to the funniest this month and climbing.....just soooo many nuances to appreciate

    • TheLeviathan likes this
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Nick Nelson
Dec 30 2018 11:01 PM

Haha, whew. A couple nuggets of food for thought before I go to bed and wake up to a hell storm.

 

Since appearing in the 2017 All Star Game, Miguel Sano has:

 

* Hit .210/.291/.370 in 437 plate appearances

* Played in 103 of a possible 236 games for the Twins

* Struck out at a 38% rate, with only 9% walks

* Suffered two serious injuries to the same leg, each lingering into the offseason

* Been optioned straight to Single-A

 

Because these are annually updated rankings, I'm attempting to heavily factor recent track record into the equation. You can argue I'm going too far with that here, and you might be right. But in the last 17 months Sano's stock has been on a steady downward plane. 

    • Twins33, Oldgoat_MN, USNMCPO and 5 others like this

I start to look at the list as assets going into 2020, too. See a drop off of at least four names in the next year, sadly. Although a couple of those COULD remain if they are better than OTHER product out there.

 

 

Interesting concept to create a list for, thanks for starting this discussion!

 

Agreed that Sano's recent track record has been bad, but his upside makes him much more valuable than any of the others. My definition of the value of an asset would be who you would keep if you had to choose, and the choice would definitely be Sano (assuming the Twins don't suddenly get a conscience about off the field issues). And I can't think of any different definition of value of an asset that would result in a different choice.

    • jokin likes this
We had 3 big cornerstones we all waited for a few seasons ago- Sano, Bux, and Berrios. So far, only 1 has been a consistent major league asset, and no world beater.
I'm sad. Still somewhat hopeful, but about to cut bait and begin the wait for the Lewis - Kiriloff axis to 'arrive.'
    • Blackjack and caninatl04 like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Dec 31 2018 07:57 AM

Was this list prepared by you before or after Nelson Cruz was signed? I would submit that Nelson Cruz coming to the Twins has made Sano 8 spots higher, all the way up to #6 on my list. Cruz is going to be immensely helpful to Miguel Sano.

    • jokin and Original Whizzinator like this

Regardless of where each of us might rank Sano on such a list today, how depressing it is to think back to 2012 and imagine someone from the future coming back to tell us then that we'd even have a discussion someday about Sano being somewhere in the second-ten in a team asset ranking.

    • Blackjack, bluechipper and howieramone2 like this

Very interesting, Nick.But the biggest disagreement I would have of your first 10 is Gonsalves.I don't see him as ever being more than a AAAA pitcher for the Twins.One of those great minor league guys that can't get it done on the big stage.Not only wouldn't I have him in the Top 20 most valuable, I wouldn't have him on the list if you did a Top 30.Hopefully he will prove me wrong, but I expect he will be out of the organization within two years.  

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

 

Yeah,not at all sure to me how an oft injured May is rated ahead of a potential 40HR hitter in Sano either. I just don't get it.

You could just as easily say that Sano is oft injured and May is a potential 40 save man. Can only say the May ended the season on a higher note than Sano.

    • jokin and adorduan like this

I'd switch Gordon and Gonsalves.I'd also switch Sano and Garver.Nice list so far.As for Sano, I'm done waiting. If he ready next year bat him 8th or trade him for a solid starting pitcher.Power hitters (Sano is) are fickle.We need a bat we can count on everyday in the Middle of the order.We have one now in Cruz.  

    • TheLeviathan, Danchat and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Dec 31 2018 10:14 AM

Was this list prepared by you before or after Nelson Cruz was signed? I would submit that Nelson Cruz coming to the Twins has made Sano 8 spots higher, all the way up to #6 on my list. Cruz is going to be immensely helpful to Miguel Sano.

Really good point. I'm sure those two have met and interacted before now, if not necessarily as teammates. We'll see if Cruz can make a difference.
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Nick Nelson
Dec 31 2018 10:35 AM

 

Was this list prepared by you before or after Nelson Cruz was signed? I would submit that Nelson Cruz coming to the Twins has made Sano 8 spots higher, all the way up to #6 on my list. Cruz is going to be immensely helpful to Miguel Sano.

Before, and a good point. Once this list is published completely, I think it'll be interesting to discuss how Cruz's presence may alter some of the other rankings (not to mention where he'd place).

 

 

Interesting concept to create a list for, thanks for starting this discussion!

 

Agreed that Sano's recent track record has been bad, but his upside makes him much more valuable than any of the others. My definition of the value of an asset would be who you would keep if you had to choose, and the choice would definitely be Sano (assuming the Twins don't suddenly get a conscience about off the field issues). And I can't think of any different definition of value of an asset that would result in a different choice.

A reasonable take, to be sure. Sano's ranking is basically meant to reflect the enormous amount of risk attached to him as an asset now. I don't think he can succeed as a guy who strikes out almost 40% of the time and walks less than 10% of the time but that's become his reality. His health and durability are complete question marks. His defensive value is a mystery. 

 

The question isn't whether he'll turn things around and turn into a quality player. The question is whether he'll do it here. Right now he's got a long way to go and as I wrote, the clock is ticking.

 

For the record, I am personally a believer in Sano and I think he'll rejuvenate his status this year. I just don't think that can be counted on. I'm curious to hear why people feel differently.

 

 

 

Yeah,not at all sure to me how an oft injured May is rated ahead of a potential 40HR hitter in Sano either. I just don't get it.

I mean, the Twins just acquired an almost guaranteed 40-HR hitter, who was openly available, for nothing but $14m on a one-year deal. So we really need to ask ourselves how valuable that trait on its own is. 

Man, I really hope concussions don't force Garver away from the plate. He's a terrific asset there and his bat plays so nicely. he's showing a nice combination of patience with a decent amount of pop. His positional flexibility is helpful to any roster, but if he can't catch any longer, it's a real loss.

 

i can't blame Nick for dropping Sano down to this level. It's fair to think that his upside should still rank him higher (he is only a year away from smacking 28 hrs in 114 games), but in 4 seasons he's never played 120 games in any of them. He's had 2 that were...not good. Last season was a disaster. At the same time...he's only 25 and it wouldn't take a whole lot for him to step back up as a premiere slugging 3B. he's an asset, but his value definitely has dropped pretty far and pretty fast.

 

I like May a lot, probably more that is warranted. He was terrific this season, but is it the dreaded SSS or a combo of him finally being healthy and figuring it out? I suppose this season is a prove it one, but I'm glad to have him in mix.

    • Nick Nelson likes this
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stringer bell
Dec 31 2018 10:58 AM
Sanó is much more replaceable than Garver unless he becomes the elite slugger we envisioned in his rookie year. How long does the team give him a spot on the field and in the lineup based on potential? At some point, it has to be basis of performance, and Miguel’s hasn’t been good since the first half of ‘17.
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birdwatcher
Dec 31 2018 11:06 AM

I love this exercise of trying to assess the present and future value of these players and the things that have to happen for that value to be realized or sustained.

 

A roster of players reminds me of a portfolio of startup companies, with all the unpredictability and all the volatility. You just can't really predict whether you have the next United Healthcare (Kirby Puckett) or if you're being a bit hoodwinked by early success like an Old County Buffets (Oswaldo Arcia). Or maybe we have a narcissistic entrepreneur who can't control his demons and takes us down with him (Delmon Young).

 

Snapshots indeed, lol.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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strumdatjaguar
Dec 31 2018 11:24 AM

I understand the collective frustration with Miguel Sano.Still this ranking is ridiculously low. He remains as one of the few potential superstars in theTwins system. This is a guy in a Home Run era of baseball, who could hit over 40 dingers on a yearly basis for 3 straight years or more. Granted, he could be confirmed disaster and done in two years as well. He clearly is a more valuable asset than Gibson., May and Garver - and several of the players yet to be higher on your list.Craaaaazy!

    • SF Twins Fan likes this

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