The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets: Part 2 (11-15)
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today (Adalberto Mejia)15. Taylor Rogers - LHP (27)
Shutdown relievers are becoming increasingly coveted commodities in today's game, and Rogers is well on his way to firmly establishing such a rep. Outside of a brutal two-week stretch following the All-Star break, he was lights-out in 2017, following an impressive rookie showing in '16. Rogers eviscerates left-handed hitters and is effective enough against righties to hold his own in a setup role.
He's not flashy and not a star, but figures to be an ongoing staple in the Twins bullpen. He's under team control for four more years and probably won't get expensive at any point.
14. Adalberto Mejia - LHP (24)
No one would describe Mejia's rookie campaign in 2017 as a resounding success, but making 21 starts and posting a league-average ERA at the age of 24 is nothing to sneeze at. The big lefty's 10.6% swinging strike rate was highest among Twins starters, and he held opponents to three or fewer runs in all but three of his outings.
Granted, lasting deep into games was a serious problem; he pitched past the fifth only six times all year, and never after July 17th. But that issue mainly stemmed from his control issues, which weren't characteristic (he averaged 2.1 BB/9 in the minors) and tend to dissipate with experience.
With his big sturdy build and quality stuff, Mejia has the makings of a mid-rotation workhorse, and he will be affordably retainable for the next five years.
13. Nick Gordon - SS (22)
The shine of a great first half in Chattanooga wore off as the shortstop hurtled back to Earth in the final months, but Gordon still enjoyed an altogether outstanding season as one of the youngest regulars in the Southern League. He's always been a good contact hitter but this year his line drives started to carry, leading to 46 extra-base hits in 122 games (he previously had 74 in 293 games).
We're still waiting for his true breakout season at the plate, and he needs to prove he can stick at shortstop, but the former top draft pick is already knocking on the door at age 22, and his floor looks like a solid big-league starter in the middle infield.
12. Fernando Romero - RHP (23)
A year ago at this time I'd have been tempted to place Romero among the top five in these rankings. In fact, that would've held true as recently as this past July, when the big right-hander was dominating Double-A hitters with upper-90s FB velocity from an intimidating frame. More than any other pitcher currently in the organization, his profile screams "ace," and around the All-Star break Romero was making a case for a late-season promotion.
Unfortunately, he is once again in a position where he must prove his ability to stay on the mound. Romero's performance nosedived in August, and he was shut down at 125 innings with a shoulder impingement. It's been a frustrating run for the oft-injured starter, who missed almost all of 2014 and 2015, but if he can shed the durability concerns he'll be a rotation building block
11. Trevor Hildenberger - RHP (27)
It'd be awfully tough for a pitcher who works strictly as a reliever to crack the organization's top ten most valuable assets, but Hildenberger comes close. He's been almost completely untouchable throughout his minor-league career, and in 2017 as a rookie with the Twins he showed the numbers were no mirage.
Lending a season-altering assist to a bullpen that desperately needed late-inning reliability, Hildenberger delivered a 3.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 37 appearances. Sample size be damned, there was nothing artificial about his excellence. Hildenberger rarely touches the 90s, but his quirky sidearm delivery, masterful control and legitimately phenomenal changeup make it work, leading to an ideal combination of grounders and strikeouts. The 27-year-old bears every attribute of a closer or high-leverage fireman for years to come, and is controllable through 2022.
RANKINGS THUS FAR
20. Alex Kirilloff, OF (20)
19. Trevor May, RHP (28)
18. Wander Javier, SS (18)
17. Jason Castro, C (30)
16. Tyler Duffey, RHP (27)
15. Taylor Rogers, LHP (27)
14. Adalberto Mejia, LHP (24)
13. Nick Gordon, SS (22)
12. Fernando Romero, RHP (23)
11. Trevor Hildenberger, RHP (27)
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