The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets: Part 1 (16-20)
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today (Tyler Duffey)20. Alex Kirilloff - OF (20)
The pure hitting talent is unmistakable. It convinced the Twins to select Kirilloff with the 15th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and then to send him straight to advanced level rookie ball as an 18-year-old fresh out of high school. The Pittsburgh native answered the challenge, slashing .306/.341/.454 over 55 games in his first exposure to pro competition. But unfortunately, that's all we've seen from him so far.
Kirilloff missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he'll be back at full strength in 2018, still only 20 years old and ready to potentially climb the minor-league ranks in a hurry.
19. Trevor May - RHP (28)
Like Kirilloff, May isn't fresh in our memories after sitting out all of 2017. But his ability and his track record earn him a place on this list. He has shown solid potential as a starter and posted a dominant strikeout rate out of the bullpen in 2016, although his results and health were inconsistent.
Possessing some of the best stuff of anyone on the staff, May was on track to be a valuable rotation contributor last spring before the out-of-nowhere UCL tear in mid-March. There's little reason to think he won't pick up where he left off, even if it's a bit after Opening Day.
The Twins need to determine his role and he needs to finally settle into one, but if/when that happens May will probably shoot up this list. Entering his first turn at arbitration, he's still under team control for three years.
18. Wander Javier - SS (18)
The Twins signed Javier at age 16 with a $4 million bonus in the summer of 2015 and he has justified the investment ever since. In 50 pro games (between the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues), the shortstop has slashed .301/.381/.497 with good patience, and his quickly developing power suggests he may have a significant ceiling in that department.
Everything is looking good so far, but the fact remains that he's only 18 and hasn't played above rookie ball. Much can happen between now and his ETA in the majors, so uncertainty keeps the perceived ceiling of his tantalizing potential in check for now.
17. Jason Castro - C (30)
The first major free agent signing from the Falvine Regime has proven to be a success thus far. At the plate, Castro's .720 OPS in 2017 surpassed his career mark by 20 points and was slightly above average for an American League catcher. Behind the plate, he controlled the running game reasonably well and ranked 20th out of 110 MLB backstops in pitch framing per Baseball Prospectus.
He's under contract for $8 million each of the next two seasons, qualifying as a nice bargain. Though he's not necessarily a critical long-term cog, Castro is quite important to the Twins for the time being, especially since he's the only catcher who will appear on this list.
16. Tyler Duffey - RHP (27)
Duffey has gone through his stumbles and speed bumps since joining the MLB ranks. He excelled during a late-summer debut in 2015 but then struggled mightily as a starter in 2016. This past season he moved over to the bullpen, which always seemed to be his most logical fit, but much like May in 2016 the uneven results belied his quality stuff and impressive whiff rate.
Despite the all-too-frequent hiccups, Duffey has consistently had one thing going for him: a bona fide big-league out pitch in his curveball. And he's also got his youth – the righty turns 27 on Wednesday, and won't be eligible for free agency until 2022. After putting up a 3.72 FIP and adding two MPH to his fastball velo in his first year as a reliever since 2012, the future looks bright.
Check back later this week when we run down assets 11 through 15 in Part 2.
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