The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2019: Part 2 (11-15)
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports15. 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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