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Prospects for 2018

Posted by Physics Guy , 18 January 2018 · 1,249 views

2017 was the season Twins fans have been waiting for. Although 2015 did offer a bit of a respite from several dreary seasons, it didn't feel as sustainable as last year's performance did. There are many reasons to think that the Twins may be on the road to a prolonged run at the playoffs. Our regular lineup has an excellent mix of productive veterans as well as young players establishing themselves, ranking right up there with the productive teams of the early 2000's. With this year's free agent signings, the bullpen has significant depth. This should allow them to bring up youngsters when they are ready rather than forcing them in due to need as we saw at times last year. The rotation has the potential to be solid, with the caveat that the Twins sign or trade for someone at least of the Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn ilk. There is great reason for hope in Twins Territory.

With that in mind, I want to take a stab at something I attempted prior to the 2013 season. 2012 saw the Twins finish 66-96 and there was going to be plenty of opportunity for players to come up from the minors in 2013. I made an attempt to predict which players were most likely to come up the the big leagues that season. It was my spin on a Top 10 Prospect list, but focused on who could most help in 2013.

http://twinsdaily.co...pects-for-2013/

Jump ahead to 2018 and this becomes a much more challenging task. The 2018 Twins have significantly fewer holes that the 2013 squad. It was a challenge to come up with ten players who have a chance to debut and rank them according to their potential to help this year's team. All players on this list would be making their big league debut.

#10) DJ Baxendale - RP - Not a sexy pick to contribute to a deep bullpen, but posted sub-3.00 ERA seasons the past two years. I could see the Twins bringing him up as a long reliever during a stretch where the bullpen is overworked. The Twins used 21 pitchers as only relievers last year.

#9) Mason Melotakis - RP - Could this be the year he finally breaks through? Melotakis will be 27 this year and while he continues to have relatively high K rates he needs to step up soon or he will be passed up. He is already well down the list of LH options.

#8) Zack Littell - SP - Littell makes the list only because the Twins used 15 different starters last year. If it happens again, Littell likely makes his debut. He doesn't have the ceiling that some other prospects in the organization may have, but he has shown continued improvement as he's worked his way through the minors. In 2017 he went 19-1, stuck out 142 in 157 IP and had a 2.12 ERA. He only reached AA for the second half on the season, so a debut would most likely occur after the All-Star Break.

#7) LaMonte Wade - OF - Wade is the first non-pitcher on the list, mainly because of the youth and strength of the Twins lineup. I just don't anticipate much opportunity for players to move up this year. If the Twins were to need an OF, Wade would likely be the first option among players who would be making their MLB debut. I could see it happening in the second half of the season. Wade appears to be a similar player to Zach Granite, albeit with more upside.

6) Tyler Kinley - RP - This comes with the assumption that the Twins either decide to keep him on the 25 man roster (doubtful) or are able to work out a trade to keep him. He assumes the position Josh Bard may have had if still with the Twins. I still don't quite get exposing Bard when it is believed Kinley has similar velocity but with less command.

5) Tyler Jay - RP - Jay would most likely be higher on this list, but health has limited his progression through the system. Jay is the first person on this list that I think is likely to get a callup this year.

4) Jake Reed - RP - Reed is my highest rated reliever on the list. He posted a 2.13 ERA in 37 IP between AA and AAA last year. Given the current makeup of the bullpen, I think he would be next in line after Busenitz, Curtis and Chargois (all have already debuted) to get a promotion to the Twins in 2018. Given Chargois' health history, he may only be behind Busenitz and Curtis.

3) Nick Gordon - Infield - Gordon is the only other non-pitcher on the list and would likely fill any needs for an infielder at Target Field. The only other option I could see making a debut this season is Levi Michael and I think we all know what the chances of that are. Gordon has not lit the world on fire thus far in the minors, nor has he been terrible. He just continues to climb up the ranks, spending his entire age-21 season at AA posting a .749 OPS.

2) Fernando Romero - SP - Romero has possibly the highest upside of starters in AA and AAA in the organization. He went 11-9 with a 3.53 ERA and 120 K in 125 IP this past year at Chattanooga. Health seems to be the only thing holding him back. He could use some seasoning a AAA before his debut sometime this season.

1) Stephen Gonsalves - SP - Gonsalves has the most experience of all the prospect starting pitchers and arguably the best production. He has a career ERA of 2.39 and has maintained high K rates throughout the his ascent through the minors. He got a taste of AAA this past season and will likely start there in 2018. He could be the first option for a callup, but might have to wait in line behind Trevor May, Aaron Slegers or Felix Jorge before debuting sometime after June 1. He is also the most likely player on this list to open the season with the Twins if they don't sign another starting pitcher.

  • ashburyjohn, markos, Hosken Bombo Disco and 2 others like this



This is a good twist on the usual prospect list. Interesting to think through the prospects from this angle. Mostly agree with your list. It is hard to know where to put Gordon. He could easily put pushed into a starters role depending on injuries, but otherwise I think he is kind of a long shot to spend any meaningful time in the majors this year. If I was to make one change, I would probably move Littell up a few spots. 

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ashburyjohn
Jan 18 2018 08:31 AM

Good list.

 

I don't see Lamont Wade as particularly similar to Granite. Much better power bat, not enough speed to be considered a CF for a good team.

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Tom Froemming
Jan 18 2018 08:36 AM

I'd be happy if the Twins traded Baxendale to the Marlins for Kinley. It would be a win-win in my eyes. The Twins would then be able to send Kinley down to the minors and D.J. would have a great opportunity to break into the big leagues. He seems like a great dude and has pitched well in the minors, I'd love to see him get a shot. He'd have a much better chance on a rebuilding club and could be valuable to them as a long reliever/swing man.

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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Physics Guy
Jan 18 2018 10:21 AM

 

I'd be happy if the Twins traded Baxendale to the Marlins for Kinley. It would be a win-win in my eyes. The Twins would then be able to send Kinley down to the minors and D.J. would have a great opportunity to break into the big leagues. He seems like a great dude and has pitched well in the minors, I'd love to see him get a shot. He'd have a much better chance on a rebuilding club and could be valuable to them as a long reliever/swing man.

I agree, this would be a great option.

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Physics Guy
Jan 18 2018 10:24 AM

 

 

Good list.

 

I don't see Lamont Wade as particularly similar to Granite. Much better power bat, not enough speed to be considered a CF for a good team.

I see Wade as similar to Granite in that he's able to play all three OF positions and appears to be more of an on-base guy rather than power.He does appear to have more pop than Granite, but not the speed.He's likely a 4th OF, but with a somewhat different set of skills.

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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Physics Guy
Jan 18 2018 10:34 AM

As much trouble as I had coming up with 10 candidates, I'm curious if anybody thinks I left somebody off the list that should be on it.

Very well thought out list. I do like the Wade comparison to Granite, and would probably have to agree. Similar type of player, but different strengths.

Something bad will have to happen to get Wade into the majors in '18.

 

Something bad will have to happen to get Gordon into the majors in '18.

 

Kinley is something bad about to happen.

 

Some relievers will prove that no good is going to happen for them, when you compare them to last years holdovers.

 

Romero & Gonsalves are something good happening and I am looking forward to their debuts.

 

:)

 

 

    • Physics Guy likes this

One pitcher who could have been considered is Ryan Eades.That is unless he is gone and I missed it.Somewhat similar to Baxendale with maybe a bit more upside.

 

I always include Thorpe with Romero and Gonsalves as the pitchers at AA or above with the highest upside.Understand that Thorpe made only one start at AA last year and probably is a real long shot to be ready this year.But based on talent and the fact he will be at AA in 2018, he could be the surprise that makes his debut late in the year.

Interesting to go back and look at the old list as well.  Several contributors, nothing eye-popping.  Does Garver count as a prospect for you?  Would Rooker have an outside shot?

 

At any rate, Gonsalves/Romero/Littell are a step above the AAA "depth" of years gone by.

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Physics Guy
Jan 19 2018 11:15 AM

 

One pitcher who could have been considered is Ryan Eades.That is unless he is gone and I missed it.Somewhat similar to Baxendale with maybe a bit more upside.

 

I always include Thorpe with Romero and Gonsalves as the pitchers at AA or above with the highest upside.Understand that Thorpe made only one start at AA last year and probably is a real long shot to be ready this year.But based on talent and the fact he will be at AA in 2018, he could be the surprise that makes his debut late in the year.

Eades was probably next on my list.I chose Baxendale just because he has a better track record and his age indicates he needs to debut soon or become a minor league lifer.

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Physics Guy
Jan 19 2018 11:16 AM

 

 

Interesting to go back and look at the old list as well.  Several contributors, nothing eye-popping.  Does Garver count as a prospect for you?  Would Rooker have an outside shot?

 

At any rate, Gonsalves/Romero/Littell are a step above the AAA "depth" of years gone by.

Wanted to include Garver, but chose to only include players who haven't made their major league debut.Garver would have been high on the list, possibly behind a couple of relievers who have had a cup of coffee with the Twins (Busenitz, Curtiss, Chargois).

I am happy that Eades was not picked in the Rule 5 draft.Last spring he developed a pretty nasty two-seamer that in relief the threw at 94-95.Give him a couple of ticks during the season, and he can be nasty.If they quit starting him (which I think is a problem) he can be a top reliever...Let him focus in one thing.

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Physics Guy
Jan 19 2018 01:51 PM

 

I am happy that Eades was not picked in the Rule 5 draft.Last spring he developed a pretty nasty two-seamer that in relief the threw at 94-95.Give him a couple of ticks during the season, and he can be nasty.If they quit starting him (which I think is a problem) he can be a top reliever...Let him focus in one thing.

At his age, that would probably be for the best.