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Midseason 2019 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 12 June 2019 · 7,297 views

minnesota twins mlb draft royce lewis alex kirilloff brusdar graterol
It’s that time of year again, and with the 2019 Major League Baseball amateur draft in the books we can update the prospect rankings. After picking 13th in the draft this season the Twins took more of a developmental approach with their first-round pick. Going heavy on college players following that selection the system gets much deeper. With early season performances influencing those already into their pro careers this list has some movement to it.

My Top 15 Prospects were last updated in December prior to the season starting. You can see that list, as well as the others dating back to 2016 below. Also, in this offering, I’ve expanded the total names to go 30 deep. While those names past 15 don’t have any breakdown, know that they are certainly names worth monitoring.

2016 Top 15 Prospects
2017 Top 15 Prospects
2018 Top 15 Prospects
2019 Top 15 Prospects

2019 Twins Draft Picks

30. Gabriel Maciel 29. Travis Blankenhorn 28. Griffin Jax. 27. Zack Littell 26. Jose Miranda 25. Yunior Severino 24. Gilberto Celestino 23. LaMonte Wade 22. Ryan Jeffers 21. Misael Urbina 20. Stephen Gonsalves 19. Akil Baddoo 18. Matt Canterino 17. Ben Rortvedt 16. Luis Arraez

15. Luke Raley OF

Dropping a couple of spots from the first 2019 list, Raley’s positioning is indicative of a strengthened system. He has posted an .878 OPS for Triple-A Rochester and is right there with teammate Brent Rooker when it comes to a big power bat. Unfortunately, he just dislocated his ankle and is going to miss significant time due to surgery. He’ll return late this year and hopefully end on a high note.

14. Jorge Alcala RHP

His first full season in the Twins organization has been spent entirely at Double-A Pensacola. The 5.25 ERA isn’t good, but the FIP and xFIP numbers suggest that’s not indicative of true performance. His 9.6 K/9 is impressive, and the walks are below his career average. There’s lot of life on this fastball, and he could pop up to make a splash for the big-league club as early as this season.

13. Nick Gordon INF

Starting the season on the shelf Gordon has just 26 games to his credit thus far. He got out to a quick start and has continued to produce for Triple-A Rochester. The .784 OPS with an ok OBP is about what you should expect from the contact bat and speed profile Nick possesses. At this point he’s probably more 2B than shortstop, and while he may be a big league regular, it’s becoming less certain that happens here. Gordon could push for his debut later this season if he continues along this path.

12. Matt Wallner OF

Originating from Forest Lake, Minnesota Wallner was selected with the Twins first round compensatory pick. He’s a corner outfield bomber from Southern Mississippi that should have an advanced approach at the dish when getting to the next level. He’s played in the Cape with wood bats previously and could take a similar path to that of Trevor Larnach.

11. Keoni Cavaco 3B

After quickly jumping up draft boards the high schooler from California found himself going to the Twins in the top half of the first round. Announced as a SS but likely destined for the hot corner, Cavaco’s bat is going to be what carries him. He possesses an above average defensive profile at third but should continue to display pop as he further develops his frame.

10. Blayne Enlow RHP

Recently promoted to Fort Myers after making eight starts for Cedar Rapids this season, Enlow has turned in 18 strong innings with the Miracle. The strikeout numbers aren’t quite there yet, but he’s continued to work on both control and command. Just 20 years old, Enlow remains one of the most exciting developmental pitching prospects in the entire organization.

9. Lewis Thorpe LHP

Putting more distance behind his missed time, Thorpe has turned in 11 starts at Triple-A Rochester this season. While the 5.95 ERA isn’t good, he’s been much better of later. The 11.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 are beyond impressive, and if he can keep the ball in the park the numbers really pop. I’d expect a major league debut to come at some point in 2019, and he’ll have a real chance to be a difference maker being more than your traditional soft-tossing southpaw.

8. Jhoan Duran RHP

A model of consistency over the past two seasons, Duran has struck out 10+ per nine while walking roughly three over the course of his last 31 starts. He’s just 21 years old and can pump his fastball towards triple digits. Finishing at Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2018, he’s made 10 starts for the Miracle this season. There’s an outside chance he could progress to Double-A this year. Minnesota is stockpiling some fireballing arms to be sure.

7. Jordan Balazovic RHP

The Canadian has seen a rise like no one in the Twins system this season. After a strong 2018 for Cedar Rapids as a 19-year-old his 2019 has only taken him to new heights. Making four starts for the Kernels before a promotion to Fort Myers, Balazovic owns a ridiculous 13.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. His 2.09 ERA is beyond impressive and the body of work spans 51 innings. He’s still so young and is going to blow by his previous career innings totals, but if he keeps this up there’s no reason to think another challenge is out of the question.

6. Wander Javier SS

Having made it through plenty of setbacks over the course of his early career, Javier is finally healthy and on the field for the Kernels. He’s got as good of a chance as anyone to stick at SS defensively, and this is one of the best prospects in the system. He hasn’t leapt out to a fast start at Low-A Cedar Rapids, but we’re dealing with a sample size under 15 games thus far.

5. Trevor Larnach OF

The 2018 first round pick was drafted for his bat and since turning pro all he’s done is hit. Making it to Cedar Rapids in his debut season, he began 2019 with High-A Fort Myers. In his first 61 games he has an .863 OPS and has displayed a very strong approach at the plate. At 22 he could be pushed with a new test getting to Pensacola in the next couple of months.

4. Brent Rooker OF/1B

Taken in the first round of the 2017 draft Rooker has done nothing but crushed his way through the minors as well. Now 24 and at Triple-A Rochester, he owns a .908 OPS through 35 games with seven longballs. The exact positioning at the next level is still up in the air, but this is a power bat that doesn’t have a ton of swing and miss and is going to rake anywhere he goes. A Twins debut this season isn’t beyond comprehension.

3. Brusdar Graterol RHP

Pitching all season at Double-A despite being just 20 years old, Graterol has been dominant in his nine starts. A 1.89 ER and 8.7 K/9 are both plenty to marvel at. He needs to hone in the command some, but for a guy who can hit 100 mph on his fastball there’s just so much to like here. Unfortunately, he’s shut down with a shoulder impingement, but the hope is that there’s no long-term damaging effects.

2. Alex Kirilloff OF

It took some time for Kirilloff to get healthy and into action starting 2019, and then it took a bit more time for his bat to warm up. Across his last 11 games for Double-A Pensacola however, Kirilloff owns a 1.033 OPS and has six extra base hits (two homers). He’s a great athlete who has hit in each stop across the minor leagues and expecting the numbers to climb as the season goes on is a very good bet. He’s probably missed the window for 2019 time with the Twins, but 2020 should have him more than ready.

1. Royce Lewis SS

Entering the season as a top 10 prospect across all the big leagues Lewis has scuffled a bit in his second tour with High-A Fort Myers. A .726 OPS in 46 games last year has been followed up by a .606 OPS in 62 contests this season. The plate discipline has worn down a bit with walks not being as plentiful. He’s also tallied less extra base hits and seen the power production take a dive. Just recently turning 20, Royce is still so young and remains and elite prospect who should stick at shortstop as he rises the ranks. It’s time for him to adjust, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t.

  • Danchat and dgwills like this



I like it!

What's so impressive is the number of quality arms so high in your rankings, and deservedly so.

To a direct point, I remain very high on Thorpe and feel it's only time and experience.
    • jokin and MN_ExPat like this

Always fun to read these lists.If I had to pick a top 10 based off my own limited knowledge I'd probably go with 1-Lewis 2-Kirilloff 3-Graterol 4-Larnach 5-Balazovic 6-Cavaco 7-Javier 8-Duran 9-Rooker 10-Enlow.Sad we'll have to delete a few guys soon due to the urgent need for relief pitchers.The way its looking it's going to need to be more than one guy they have to acquire.  

    • DocBauer and Tomj14 like this
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twinsfanstreif
Jun 13 2019 03:33 AM
It seems like they almost have to trade one of Kirilloff or Larnach for pitching. I wonder which one (if not both) will go. I hate to speculate like that but especially with Wallner in the mix now and 3 outstanding young MLB OFs it seems like it would be a waste to keep them both, not just for us but for their own careers. If I had to bet I would say Larnach. If Kirilloff can stay healthy he could be like a Bryce Harper type of hitter and that seems like too good of a thing to get rid of
    • DocBauer likes this

I think it is fair to want to see some professional results, but having Cavaco at #11 is either an unfair assessment of his potential or the Twins made a pretty big first round mistake.I suspect Falvine and Co. would have him a bit higher up the list ;) 

 

I doubt they trade Kirilloff unless the Twins try to land a pretty big fish on the trade market.Larnach or Rooker make more sense to me as a centerpiece for a significant trade.  

    • DocBauer and Aerodeliria like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 13 2019 08:48 AM

I think it is fair to want to see some professional results, but having Cavaco at #11 is either an unfair assessment of his potential or the Twins made a pretty big first round mistake.I suspect Falvine and Co. would have him a bit higher up the list ;).


You could probably see him rise based on how he starts out, but I think it’s more indicative of the system as a whole. Cavaco is a ceiling pick, but that floor could be dangerous too. When they have a system like they do, you can be a bit more aggressive.
    • Danchat and DocBauer like this

I have watched Thorpe and Jordan Balazovic at Ft Myers and Balazovic was the much more impressive pitcher.Higher velocity.More control.Better movement.

    • DocBauer and Aerodeliria like this

It seems like they almost have to trade one of Kirilloff or Larnach for pitching. I wonder which one (if not both) will go. I hate to speculate like that but especially with Wallner in the mix now and 3 outstanding young MLB OFs it seems like it would be a waste to keep them both, not just for us but for their own careers. If I had to bet I would say Larnach. If Kirilloff can stay healthy he could be like a Bryce Harper type of hitter and that seems like too good of a thing to get rid of


I believe Larnach to be the real deal and a potential fast riser through any system. But to me, Kirilloff is just "special". I know this season hasn t gone as planned due to some minor injuries that have bogged him down, but I would only trade him for a true top of the rotation starter.

The hope is Buxton and Rosario will both be signed to long term deals like Kepler. We still have Cron beyond this season, at least. And there some really nice 1B options available. But between 1B/OF/DH, there is more than enough room for Kirilloff to fit in for the near future. Again, I just think he's special, a natural.

I look at 2016 and I see how good the results are.

I look at this 2019 and see how iffy we are now. Hurt players, under-performing players.I am glad we have the 2016 class in place.:)

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 15 2019 04:51 PM

I look at 2016 and I see how good the results are.
I look at this 2019 and see how iffy we are now. Hurt players, under-performing players.I am glad we have the 2016 class in place.:)


There isn’t a name in the top 10 right now that I’m worried about. Slow starts or injuries, those guys are all either good enough, young enough, or both that a few months right now doesn’t change their prospect arcs.
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twinsfanstreif
Jun 16 2019 06:36 AM
Where is Diaz on this list? Not even in thetop 30?!
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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 16 2019 08:04 AM

Where is Diaz on this list? Not even in thetop 30?!


It’s the first time he’s hit in a full season league. Love the year he’s having, and the body changes he’s made, but he’s 30-35 for me right now.
    • Danchat likes this

I know this isn't related to 2019, but I have to post this tidbit from the 2017 Rankings:

 

 

I really thought [Jake] Reed would debut with Minnesota in 2016. Unfortunately a slow start derailed that opportunity, but he did finish strong with a promotion to Triple-A Rochester. He's one of Minnesota's hard throwing relief options, and there's real reason to believe he could push for an early big league opportunity in 2017. Reed has strikeout stuff, and his movement is the real deal.

 

And yet Reed is still languishing at AAA!

    • Ted Schwerzler likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 16 2019 06:09 PM

I know this isn't related to 2019, but I have to post this tidbit from the 2017 Rankings:
 

 
And yet Reed is still languishing at AAA!


Really too bad isn’t it!?

Brent Rooker..."this is a power bat that doesn’t have a ton of swing and miss."

 

I have to ask myself...given his 38% K-rate in AAA, what does a 'ton of swing and miss' look like to you? :) Rooker's K-rate as a 23 year-old last year in AA was higher than Miguel Sano's was as a 22 year-old in AA.

 

With Rooker the story hasn't changed up to this point. Until his profile changes, the power better be HUGE. And frequent.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 18 2019 10:27 AM

 

Brent Rooker..."this is a power bat that doesn’t have a ton of swing and miss."

 

I have to ask myself...given his 38% K-rate in AAA, what does a 'ton of swing and miss' look like to you? :) Rooker's K-rate as a 23 year-old last year in AA was higher than Miguel Sano's was as a 22 year-old in AA.

 

With Rooker the story hasn't changed up to this point. Until his profile changes, the power better be HUGE. And frequent.

I feel like his whiff rates have been heightened by times of serious struggle at both of those levels. Once he's settled in and been healthy, he's looked better. There's definitely going to be strikeouts there, but I do like his plate discipline as well.

 

I feel like his whiff rates have been heightened by times of serious struggle at both of those levels. Once he's settled in and been healthy, he's looked better. There's definitely going to be strikeouts there, but I do like his plate discipline as well.

Regarding the numbers, taking out the periods of struggle would make every player look better than they are. The AAA results, including power/ISO aren't particularly good at this point (other than OBP...boosted quite a bit by an unsustainably high BABiP). But I agree he has a bit of a pattern of having better second-halfs. We'll see what his second half looks like this year...then, in 2020 in all likelihood, we'll see what it looks like for him to repeat a level. (Unless traded, maybe.)

 

To me, there's still way too much that can go wrong with Rooker to have him rated this high...not the least of which is how his bat will need to play given his defensive options at the major league level. And especially relative to guys like Rortvedt and Arraez who seem to be well on their way to establishing floors that put them in the majors.