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NBA Offseason 2018

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

Earlier this week, we kicked off our countdown of the Twins franchise's 20 most valuable player assets. Looking beyond performance to account for age, contract, and future impact, the idea is to determine which players will be most vital to the team's ongoing success (or, most useful as trade chips).

You can check out our choices for 16 through 20 here. Read on for Nos. 11 through 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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22 Comments

Must be low on Gordon ;) The Twins #1 "consensus" prospect last off-season, should have a tad more value than that, no?

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Nick Nelson
Dec 28 2017 08:42 PM

Well he was hardly the consensus #1. We ranked him fourth, plenty of others had him somewhere below first. 

 

In any case, all a matter of opinion. I'm sure some would place him more highly on this list. I personally foresee Gordon as a likely Orlando Hudson type 2B in the majors. Very solid piece, no doubt, but also not irreplaceable. And because these rankings are more Twins-centric as opposed to neutral trade value assessments, the org's considerable MI depth plays a factor there too.

    • Mike Frasier Law and Oldgoat_MN like this
Mejia impressed me, most of the time, and it's just unfortunate he got hurt because I thought he would have finished strong. He seemed to get ahead of hitters but just couldn't always put them away. But go figure huh? A rookie pitcher with less than a full season of AAA feeling his way in the majors? I'm pretty high on him and have his name written in ink for the start of 2018.

I'm also high on Romero despite a fade last season. Considering his relatively young age, and time missed, he has been impressive. I know we treat the word "patience" as a dirty word sometimes, but you have to have it sometimes. Let his body keep building and gain experience. No way I move an arm lime his to the pen prematurely. I have no problem with him spending most, if not all, of 2018 learning and building up his body and arm for endurance in 2018.
    • Monkeypaws and dbminn like this

Hildenberger is 27 already, and he just debuted in the second half of last season. It seems MLB career years are getting shorter and shorter.

    • Thrylos likes this

Hard to argue with much on the list so far, but I have a hunch that Javier will be quite a bit higher later on in the year.

Count me amongst those who don't think as highly of Gordon.My other concern is with Mejia.The defensive part of his game is a liability.He has a real problem covering first base.He is a big man and appears to lack the conditioning needed to do what a pitcher must do defensively.Add that to his inability to pitch beyond the 5th inning and I see a pitcher who I doubt will be in the major leagues very long.

 

Hopefully, both improve and prove me wrong.

    • mikelink45 likes this
The guy that will shoot up is Kiriloff. TJ doesn't seem to bother position players

I almost need to see the final 10 to understand the way that this ranking is done.If it is all the assets from mlb down it seems like the rest of the list should be mostly in the majors right now. 

 

How does Mauer rate - that will be a fun read.It appears to me that Gonsalves is going to be the only minor league pitcher in the top ten and I hope he is part of the rotation.I am not big on Mejia, but I am comfortable with him as a #4/5.With his size and strength he should be an inning eater and that is not what he has shown so far.Does out new 41 year old erratic closer make the top ten?Not in my book. 

 

I am also not sure about Gordon.I only base my opinion on the various TD columns, but his rankings range from sure fire MLB shortstop to future okay 2B.Maybe I am reading this wrong, but it seems like his best value to the team is as trade bait.

 

My last hope since I lack the ability for detailed analysis, is that Romero comes to camp and blows everyone away.I want Santana, Berrios, Gonsalves, Romero, and Mejia/Gibson (but much less Gibson).

    • ClubhouseDanceParty likes this
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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Dec 29 2017 11:00 AM

I would put Mejia at #20, and pull those in between up a spot. I suspect Mejia will be in the bullpen by the end of 2018. Otherwise a great read and list.

 

As for Mauer, I doubt if he makes the list, with his contract and only one year left. He's valuable to the Twins, but not as a potential trade piece or long-term asset.

 

Dozier might make the list, as a lower cost alternative with a longer and brighter future, but he, too, has only one year left.

 

If both Mauer and Dozier get extensions, that might be a different story.

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MidwestTwinsFan15
Dec 29 2017 11:08 AM

Unrelated to this specific post - but Wade Davis getting 3 years and $52 Million from the Rockies. That's big time money for a reliever

Am I the only one who is depressed by this list?

 

Come on second half rally!!! 

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Nick Nelson
Dec 29 2017 12:29 PM

 

Unrelated to this specific post - but Wade Davis getting 3 years and $52 Million from the Rockies. That's big time money for a reliever

That's actually not unrelated... there were two relievers in this group, and I don't think I'd have ranked them this highly several years ago. But we've seen a number of relief pitchers get almost unprecedented contracts already this offseason and that's reflective of the way these specialized bullpen roles are growing in value around the game. So I'm glad you mentioned it. 

    • TRex likes this
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Wookiee of the Year
Dec 29 2017 01:38 PM

A quick note to say I love the philosophy of this and have wondered why there aren't more lists like this out there, that include both major and minor leaguers and factor in remaining contract as opposed to just pure ability.

 

Given this list is Twins-centric, I guess the framing is more, "Who would it hurt the Twins the most to lose?" as opposed to, "Who would have the highest value in a trade?" Makes me wonder how different those two lists would be. I'm sure they'd be substantially similar, but would be interesting to see where they'd differ.

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Nick Nelson
Dec 29 2017 02:16 PM

 

Given this list is Twins-centric, I guess the framing is more, "Who would it hurt the Twins the most to lose?" as opposed to, "Who would have the highest value in a trade?" Makes me wonder how different those two lists would be. I'm sure they'd be substantially similar, but would be interesting to see where they'd differ.

That's a really good way to frame it, and aligns with my mindset putting the list together. 

 

If you're curious about the latter, John had actually put together his own trade value rankings in the forums just last week. You can check it out here.

 

I had missed that thread, and when John pointed it out to me I had to chuckle. Pretty crazy that we were struck by almost the exact same idea at about the exact same time. 

    • Wookiee of the Year and Sconnie like this
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birdwatcher
Dec 29 2017 02:46 PM

I agree. I've thought for a long time that the Twin's achilles heel was its failure to think along these lines more and to do a better job of asset management. Ryan seemed to like to wait until the asset was practically illiquid and he was forced to sell at a depressed valuation. Think of how often we at TD make comments about X player having more value to us than what can be fetched in the marketplace. And now, we're seeing signs that investment behavior is becoming part of the analysis, where irrational investments create a market irregularity. Like teams paying relievers way more than performance value. Interesting times.

    • Nick Nelson likes this
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ashburyjohn
Dec 29 2017 03:55 PM

That's a really good way to frame it, and aligns with my mindset putting the list together.

I find myself wondering the same thing when prospect rankings come out. "A prospect ranked higher than another, means he... what? Would bring more if offered in trade? Has the higher ceiling? Has the higher floor? Has the larger expectation for total career WAR? Profiles to have the higher career earnings?"

 

Usually the reply is "probalby a smidgen of all of those", which really makes me question the value of bothering to construct such rankings. A ranking suggests a precision that doesn't really exist unless there's a metric.

 

Glad you indicated your metric here.

    • Sconnie likes this

Mejia is so frustrating. I'd love to see him speed things up on the hill, it seems like he's out there for 15 hours every start and he gets pulled in the 5th just because of game fatigue. I like the kid and I am also cheering for him to succeed since the Twins flipped Eduardo Nunez for him at the 2015 deadline. Could end up being a steal, just need him to take that next step. Hope it's this year!

 

Maybe the looming 'Ghost of Pineda' will light a fire under a few of the Twins' less reliable starters this year.

If only Duffy had Hilgenberger's change...

 

Must be low on Gordon ;) The Twins #1 "consensus" prospect last off-season, should have a tad more value than that, no?

 

Gordon's actual floor is utility middle infielder.

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ClubhouseDanceParty
Dec 30 2017 08:14 PM

 

I find myself wondering the same thing when prospect rankings come out. "A prospect ranked higher than another, means he... what? Would bring more if offered in trade? Has the higher ceiling? Has the higher floor? Has the larger expectation for total career WAR? Profiles to have the higher career earnings?"

 

Usually the reply is "probalby a smidgen of all of those", which really makes me question the value of bothering to construct such rankings. A ranking suggests a precision that doesn't really exist unless there's a metric.

 

Glad you indicated your metric here.

This is a great point. I have often wondered myself what kind of methodology goes into these rankings/lists. They seem pretty subjective to me, yet this is also what is fascinating about baseball compared to football and basketball. Those other sports rely on more traditional analysis like scouting combines to help reinforce who the top prospects are. How do you do that with an 18 year old from the Dominican? The path to the big show is such a long burn I don't envy the difficult jobs these talent elevators try to do. 

 

I find myself wondering the same thing when prospect rankings come out. "A prospect ranked higher than another, means he... what? Would bring more if offered in trade? Has the higher ceiling? Has the higher floor? Has the larger expectation for total career WAR? Profiles to have the higher career earnings?"

 

Usually the reply is "probalby a smidgen of all of those", which really makes me question the value of bothering to construct such rankings. A ranking suggests a precision that doesn't really exist unless there's a metric.

 

Glad you indicated your metric here.

 

Prospect Rankings are way easier than what Nick is trying to do. 

 

Prospect rankings contain a ton of variables, but for me, it's like 50% (or more) ceiling... another factor is proximity/likelihood of reaching near that ceiling (so floor), age-to-level of competition, scouting reports, personal opinions... They're absolutely subjective as there is really no official mathematical way to dig into it with confidence.

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ashburyjohn
Dec 31 2017 09:31 AM

They seem pretty subjective to me

They're absolutely subjective

Yeah, don't get me wrong, there is nothing the matter with the uncertainty inherent in any of these rankings (prospects or established major leaguers). You're calling it subjectivity, but really it's no different than the descriptive and predictive analytics that any business has to include in their planning, in the face of uncertainty. Baseball front offices used to be behind in these areas but probably have essentially caught up by now.

 

I think I'm just saying that a ranked list makes the most sense when a metric has been decided on, no matter whether the way you carry it out involves a range of forecasts rather than (unattainable) certainty. When it's a blend of too many things, though, ranking stops making sense to me. It would be more like tiers - "prospects likely to make big contributions or even be stars", "prospects who have somewhat of a chance to make big contributions or even be stars", "veterans who could be the key piece in a big trade", etc etc.


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