Timeline for Top Prospects: 2021 Edition
Image courtesy of © David Dermer-USA TODAY SportsIn recent years, this piece has been a mainstay in the Twins Prospect Handbook. With only Alternate Site action in 2020 however, Seth decided to shelve the project for 2021. Although development is rarely linear, it also wasn’t as accessible or visible a season ago. There are some guys that should still be expected to claw their way onto the 26-man at some point during the upcoming season. Full disclosure, Royce Lewis would’ve appeared on this list had he not torn his ACL.
April- Alex Kirilloff
I considered making Kirilloff ineligible for this list as he technically debuted already. However, the Postseason appearance doesn’t count for regular season production, so he’ll still have a debut happen in 2021. Despite it being logical from a talent standpoint, I don’t think he’ll make the Opening Day roster. Kirilloff will experience a service time related delay and should be up before the season’s first month is over. Here’s to hoping he mashes at Triple-A and the Saints have a bunch of fun with him for a brief stretch.
May- Nick Gordon
Gordon has appeared in this piece previously and never made the leap. I think 2021 is probably the time it has to happen, or it’ll end up happening for another club. The former first round pick hasn’t lived up to his prospect billing but expecting him to be a regular contributor in an infield utility role still remains a good bet. He’s not a shortstop anymore, but he handled the bat well in his second stint of Triple-A. Losing 2020 due to Covid hurt him for sure, but I wouldn’t see a reason he couldn’t overtake someone like Willians Astudillo with a strong start to the year.
June- Jhoan Duran
You’ll have different preferences on the Twins top pitching prospect depending on who you talk to or which list you look at. Jordan Balazovic is on the 40-man roster as well, and Matt Canterino should be knocking on the door soon also. What I think gives Duran and inside track to debut first is the velocity behind his fastball. If Minnesota needs a lift in relief, he could find his first innings coming out of the bullpen. It’d still be the plan to have Jhoan work out as a starter long term, but triple-digit stuff is always going to play in relief and could be a nice addition for a team with deep Postseason aspirations.
July- Gilberto Celestino
Similarly, to a promotion of someone like Jake Cave or LaMonte Wade in recent seasons, Celestino should be viewed as the first guy to get an outfield look if there’s an injury. He’s an excellent defender and can definitely handle centerfield, something only Byron Buxton can truly accomplish among those that will be on the Opening Day roster. I don’t know if the bat is quite ready, and Kyle Garlick as a waiver claim could keep him down a bit longer, but I was somewhat surprised we didn’t see Celestino during the truncated 2020.
August- Trevor Larnach
For the sake of throwing out a guy not currently on the 40-man I think Larnach makes the most sense and this timeframe is logical. He should start at Double-A Wichita and could quickly make his was to Triple-A St. Paul (like, as soon as Kirilloff is promoted). Larnach is a corner guy, but his bat has played at every level and continuing to expect that should allow him to force his way onto the Major League roster. A guy like this isn’t going to come up and sit, so there would need to be an opening, but the talent should be ready.
September- Jordan Balazovic
Roster expansion has changed a bit during recent seasons, and the Twins may not want to start the clock on Balazovic. That said, he is already on the 40-man, and a spot start or two down the stretch could help arms stay fresh for the Postseason. The Canadian-born pitcher has not started above High-A to this point, but he dominated the level during the 2019 campaign. I’d expect him to begin the year at Double-A Wichita, and he could make quick work of his remaining farm tasks. At 22, he’s still got plenty to develop into, but a taste of the big leagues on a Postseason team may serve him well.
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