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2015 Twins offseason top 40 prospects list: 1-5

Posted by Thrylos , 08 January 2015 · 1,948 views

Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
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oday is the eight and last installment in the top 40 Twins' Off-season prospects countdown (other than the overall summary that is coming up next). You can find all installments herein reverse chronological order. Previous rankings: 36-40, 31-35 , 26-30 , 21-25 , 16-20 , 11-15 and 6-10. You can find the 2014 off-season summary list here In these listings in parenthesis, I am including their ranking in the last prospect list, which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked. You can find that list here. Every Twins' fans should know those names, so I am really going emphasize discussion of the rankings here:


5. Jose Berrios RHP (9) RHSP, DOB: 5/27/1994, 6'1", 185 lbs

Jose Berrios was drafted by the Twins in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft from Papa Juan (PR) High School. Since he was drafted by the Twins, he had to face criticism about his height, which he answered by being a maniac worker, improving his arsenal every single season and knocking in the door of the majors just 3 seasons after he was drafted. Berrios has a plus fastball that sits at 93-94 and can get up to 96-97, an above average change and a plus curve ball. He reached Rochester for one start, but likely will begin his 2015 season anchoring the Chattanooga rotation

4. Alex Meyer RHP (3) RHSP, DOB: 1/3/1990, 6'9", 220 lbs.

Meyer was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals out of the University of Kentucky and traded to the Twins in 2012 for Denard Span. Meyer is the best pure pitcher in the Twins' organization stuff-wise. His repertoire includes 4 pitches: a plus plus fastball that averages 94-96 and hits 98-100, a plus to plus plus hard slider at high 80s with a sharp break a slow curve that sits in the low 70s and he learned a low 80s change up recently, which he used last season. If you do the math, this is 30 mph differential. He still needs to command his stuff, but think of a RH Randy Johnson, with a slow curve and a change up, as far as stuff goes. The only things he needs to do, it to challenge batters and keep healthy. Definite ace potential here.

3. Byron Buxton OF (2) RHB, CF, DOB: 12/18/1993, 6'2", 190 lbs

This and the next ranking will be the major controversies here. I have been ranking Buxton second to Sano, but right now I feel that another Twins' prospect has surpassed him. I am not counting Meyer's, Buxton's, and Sano's injuries against them in these rankings. My question about Buxton is not whether he is injury prone (which is a fair question because his injuries, unlike the ones for Sano and Meyer that were the product of repetitive use, were on the field of play in plays like sliding head first while nursing a wrist and diving into a teammate's knee head first.) For me the question is not whether Buxton can be the next Rickey Henderson or the next Bo Jackson. For me the question is whether he can be the next Rickey Henderson, the next Vince Coleman or the next Otis Nixon. And unless he dominates with the bat above the Midwest League level, which he hasn't done in at least 3 chances, he might be more like Vince Coleman than Rickey Henderson, and unless he can hit the league average above the Midwest League level, he will be more like Otis Nixon. After last season he hit .212/.281/.404 in 57 PAs in the Arizona Fall League. This season he hit .240/.313/.405 in 134 PAs at Fort Myers (I am discounted his single unfortunate game in New Britain) and capped it with hitting .263/.311/.298 in 61 PAs in the AFL. Sorry, folks, this is not the best prospect for the Twins (and you can read my reasoning from last year regarding the Sano/Buxton comparison here,) which takes us to probably what most people would think of as the biggest surprise in this ranking:


2. Jorge Polanco SS (6) SH, SS, DOB: 7/5/1993, 5'11", 165 lbs.

Polanco was added to the Twins' 40-man roster last offseason to be protected from the rule 5 draft, and had a cup of coffee (mostly warming the bench while getting 8 PA) when the Twins needed someone because of injuries this season. Unlike the other prospects who saw MLB time, I don't consider him graduating this status, because he just was practically sitting on the bench. So why Polanco 2 and Buxton 3, other than the fact that I might be crazy? Simple. They are the same age, Polanco has outhit Buxton in the higher levels and Polanco's glove is close to becoming elite. Last thing first: For some reason, there is a tale that Polanco's glove is not good enough to be a shortstop and he is better fit to be a second baseman, that has been propagated like the one about the guy with the bathtub and ice and kidneys. Not sure where that came from, but let's look at one number: Do you remember when I talked about Vielma's glove hereand said the following?

How good is Vielma with the glove? I will let the numbers speak for themselves and the number I would like to use as a criterion of a good SS is the percentage of Put Outs that were double plays. Omar Visquel, the perennial AL gold glove winner, had a 40% of his Put Outs being double plays, in average of his gold glove years 1994-2001. Last season for Vielma 39.6% of Put Outs were Double Plays. In other words, four out of ten outs were in double plays. I know that defensive metrics like RZR, RangeF, UZR etc are not believable by some people, because it involves a lot of math, but % POs that were double plays, is a very tangible concept. For comparison's purpose, here are these numbers for the 2014 Twins with more than 50 POs: Escobar 49/130, 37.7% and Santana 15/53, 28.3% - (Santana's MiLB career numbers are 209/622, 33.6%)

Here are Polanco's Put Outs that were Double Plays this season: 63/120 at Fort Myers (52.5%,) 18/29 (62.1%) at New Britain and 3/3 100% with the Twins. I hope that this, along with Twins' fans witnessing his soft hands in the majors this year, seals that myth for ever.

This season Polanco hit .291/.364/.415 at Fort Myers in 432 PAs and .281/.323/.342 at New Britain in 157 PAs. You can check what Buxton did this season in the same levels. And I would argue that a good fielding shortstop who can hit is much more rare than a good fielding centerfielder who can hit. Buxton does have more speed. But he is more injury prone and he has not hit as well as Polanco at the same levels. That seals it for me...

Polanco will likely start the season as the shortstop at Chatanooga, and will move up to the Twins at least by September.

1. Miguel Sano 3B (1) RH, 3B, DOB: 5/11/1993, 6'34", 235 lbs.

Sano should be regarded the best prospect in the game. Period. Rationalization here and not much more needed to even discuss. His hitting will be back, his fielding has been improving. Likely will start as the Red Wings' third baseman, with an outside possibility of making the Twins during Spring Training.


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If you check out the various publications that put out top 100 prospect lists over the next couple months (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLBPipeline,etc...) I bet every single one still has Buxton in the top 3 along with Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant. Doubt he would be placed that high if his "hit" tool was considered suspect.

I guess it comes down to if last seasons numbers for Buxton were a huge red flag, showcasing a guy that can't hit.Or a throwaway year in which virtually every at bat was effectively a rehab type situation where he had not seen a pitch in weeks, then played 4-6 games and had another injury.

 

I guess I am curious why the write up had no mention of 2013? It seems to me that a healthy player that played 125 games and had 575 AB's and put up the following line has the makings of a good hitter, certainly answered the question about whether he has the skills to be a league average hitter:

 

.334/.424/.520/.944  12 HR, 18 3B, 19 2B and 55 SB to boot.

 

The other omission with regards to Buxton is defense (for example, Polanco's defense was talked about). By any scouting report, Buxton will be a plus defender, both with his range, glove, and arm.

I have Polanco higher on my list too.not quite 2nd but I do have him ahead of Gordon and Kohl at this point.Though I tend to give more credit when a player A: gets promoted to the majors early and B: Shows promise at AA.I think the jump is pretty big to AA and if you can make it there you have a chance of at least having a cup of coffee in the majors.anything below Beloit is too far down to judge unless the prospect is stand out or shows something we take notice of.If I could go to the games and scout I would probably judge the top prospects differently but levels go into consideration and age for level does too as far as being an arm chair grader goes.

I've never heard of % of Putouts that were Double Plays as a defensive metric.It doesn't measure his ability to range to his right.It doesn't even measure his ability to range to his left.And it's very dependent on his second baseman.Does anyone else use this measure.I think a more releveant measure would be % of Assists that were Double Plays.

 

Good shortstop defense is worth more than good CF defense.I'm not sure you have established point regarding Polanco, let alone Polanco vs Buxton.

The only other comment I have is, on what basis do you have Sano ahead of Kris Bryant?

 

His stats are comical .327/.428/.666/1.095.52 HR in 174 games.I know he was 22 last year versus Sano at 21.They have effectively the same k rate in the minors, Bryant looks like he will hit for a higher averaage, as most concede Sano may end up being a .260 or so hitter in the big leagues. 

Buxton's 2014 was injury riddled. That doesn't mean he is injury prone. His injuries were on the field of play. It's not like his knees are going out or his ankles or his hamstrings. A broken finger or sprained wrist on a diving play don't make him injury prone. One concussion does not make him injury prone. And reinjuring a mending wrist doesn't make him injury prone necessarily.

 

Buxton's wrist and concussion did affect his offense in 2014 including when he repeated A+ ball and AFL on what were essentially rehab assignments. Will the wrist or concussion or plateauing affect him in 2015? He does need to regain command and control of the strike zone.

 

Thrylos, Buxton did put up stellar numbers in above the MWL in 2013. Other than that, I understand you and where you are coming from.You do like to be bleeding edge: witness your rankings of Diaz (#9) and Minier (#6).

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Willihammer
Jan 09 2015 01:20 PM
I would also put Sano #1 if I made a list. Its impossible to put a cap on what kind of slugger he could be since there's basically no precedent for the type of production he put up in 2013

I would also put Sano #1 if I made a list. Its impossible to put a cap on what kind of slugger he could be since there's basically no precedent for the type of production he put up in 2013

 

I would probably put Buxton #1, given the high floor he has.I don't see his defense or speed going away.So even if he hits .250, 10 HR, he is going to give you plus defense in CF and swipe 40-50 bags.That is still a pretty good CF.

 

Sano, worst case could end up being a DH type that hits .250 with power and strikes out a lot.I think the CF trumps the DH in that scenario.

 

On the ceiling side, Buxton is a .280-.290, 20 HR, 15 3B, 50-60 SB player who plays really good defense at a premium position.I would probably rate that better than Sano, even if he sticks at 3B and hits .260 with 30 HR a year.It is probably unlikely that he will ever be a plus defender.

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ashburyjohn
Jan 09 2015 02:23 PM
I've never heard of % of Putouts that were Double Plays as a defensive metric.It doesn't measure his ability to range to his right.It doesn't even measure his ability to range to his left.

And it does not include any information about opportunity. How often did his fielding chances come with a man on first and fewer than two outs? 

 

Without that additional information for comparison, we are in about the same situation as awarding the batting title to whomever gets the most base hits - that might be the right thing to do, or it might deprive the honor from someone who had fewer plate appearances or many more walks.

 

None of which changes that I like Polanco a lot, too.

Buxton's 2014 was injury riddled. That doesn't mean he is injury prone. His injuries were on the field of play. It's not like his knees are going out or his ankles or his hamstrings. A broken finger or sprained wrist on a diving play don't make him injury prone. One concussion does not make him injury prone. And reinjuring a mending wrist doesn't make him injury prone necessarily.

 

Buxton's wrist and concussion did affect his offense in 2014 including when he repeated A+ ball and AFL on what were essentially rehab assignments. Will the wrist or concussion or plateauing affect him in 2015? He does need to regain command and control of the strike zone.

 

Thrylos, Buxton did put up stellar numbers in above the MWL in 2013. Other than that, I understand you and where you are coming from.You do like to be bleeding edge: witness your rankings of Diaz (#9) and Minier (#6).

 

Agree with this. Wrist injuries have to be about the worst thing for a hitter. 

"which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked. You can find that list here." 

 

I get an "error 404 page ... not found" for this link.......

Good list for discussion creation... 

Good stuff

 

Re: Buxton.Buxton is ranked very highly in this list. Just not as high as Sano (who I always thought had a higher ceiling than Buxton and a higher floor and have ranked him consistently higher than Buxton) and this season, I think that Polanco surpassed him because they are the same age, have pretty much similar tools (with Polanco's contact and selectivity being better and Buxton's speed and defense and maybe power being better) but Polanco delivered consistently at a higher level than Buxton and Polanco is playing a more premium position than Buxton. Move Polanco to CF, and I might have rethought the relative ranking.Am I concerned about Buxton's contact tool?Not that much, but 2 failed trips at the AFL and a decline at Fort Myers has me a bit uneasy.  

 

 

About this: ".250, 10 HR, he is going to give you plus defense in CF and swipe 40-50 bags.That is still a pretty good CF."  I totally agree. That's why the Nixon and Coleman mentions. That pretty good CF, cannot be this team's top prospect though, can he?

 

About Buxton being injury prone:If you are recuperating a sore wrist and slide had first and reach the bag with that wrist, you have bad judgement.Then you are injury-prone. And it is one thing to do it in the post-season in a close game.That is the minors we are talking about.

 

Re: Sano and Bryant.Bryant put those numbers in 2014, that was written in 2013.Also you got to normalize for the leagues Here are the average OPS for their respective leagues their respective years: Southern League .711, PCL.771
Eastern League.717, FSL .696.Sano had about 80 less PAs as well, thanks to Mr Jeff Smith...Hard to tell, and, frankly, I have not paid that much close attention to Bryant's defense etc. 

 

"which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked. You can find that list here." 

 

I get an "error 404 page ... not found" for this link.......

 

hereSorry.

I would probably put Buxton #1, given the high floor he has.I don't see his defense or speed going away.So even if he hits .250, 10 HR, he is going to give you plus defense in CF and swipe 40-50 bags.That is still a pretty good CF.

 


On the ceiling side, Buxton is a .280-.290, 20 HR, 15 3B, 50-60 SB player who plays really good defense at a premium position.I would probably rate that better than Sano, even if he sticks at 3B and hits .260 with 30 HR a year.It is probably unlikely that he will ever be a plus defender.

 

Barring crippling, Mickey Mantle-like ongoing injury issues,I think you and Thrylos are wildly underestimating Buxton's potential ceiling.On the defensive side, and perhaps it's a semantical misunderstanding, but Buxton's ceiling is not as "a plus defender", in point of fact, he's the epitome of a potential "plus-plus" CFer, and quite possibly could become the best defensive CFer in the majors over the first 10 years of his major league career. 

 

Offensively, I also don't get the discounting of the extraordinary season at the plate that Buxton accomplished in 2013.In the FSL, a league for which Buxton was nearly 4 years younger than the average age, he was the only 19 year old player in the FSL with 250+ PAs(in addition, there were only Five 20 Year Olds with 250+ PAs).To further put Buck's performance into perspective, if you scan the hitting lists over the last 5 years, it's hard to find ANY 19 Year Olds in the league with 250+ PAs, let alone in the Top Three in multiple major hitting categories.And don't get me wrong, I love Polanco, but here's the side-by-side comparison of his slash, one year older- at the age of 20, in the same league in 2014:

 

Buxton- .326/.415/.472/.887 wOBA .406wRC+ 155 (Top 3 in the FSL in every single category except SLG)

 

Polanco-.291/.364/.415/.780 wOBA .359wRC+ 124

 

And Polanco will likely not be even a "plus" defender, let alone Buxton's potential to be the best at his position in the game.Assuming that 2014 was a wild, health-related one-off for Buck, there's no reason to think he can't resume where he left off in 2013, and quickly move to claim the wide-open CF spot, possibly as early as July, but likely no later than sometime in the first half of 2016.

Barring crippling, Mickey Mantle-like ongoing injury issues,I think you and Thrylos are wildly underestimating Buxton's potential ceiling.On the defensive side, and perhaps it's a semantical misunderstanding, but Buxton's ceiling is not as "a plus defender", in point of fact, he's the epitome of a potential "plus-plus" CFer, and quite possibly could become the best defensive CFer in the majors over the first 10 years of his major league career. 

 

Offensively, I also don't get the discounting of the extraordinary season at the plate that Buxton accomplished in 2013.In the FSL, a league for which Buxton was nearly 4 years younger than the average age, he was the only 19 year old player in the FSL with 250+ PAs(in addition, there were only Five 20 Year Olds with 250+ PAs).To further put Buck's performance into perspective, if you scan the hitting lists over the last 5 years, it's hard to find ANY 19 Year Olds in the league with 250+ PAs, let alone in the Top Three in multiple major hitting categories.And don't get me wrong, I love Polanco, but here's the side-by-side comparison of his slash, one year older- at the age of 20, in the same league in 2014:

 

Buxton- .326/.415/.472/.887 wOBA .406wRC+ 155 (Top 3 in the FSL in every single category except SLG)

 

Polanco-.291/.364/.415/.780 wOBA .359wRC+ 124

 

And Polanco will likely not be even a "plus" defender, let alone Buxton's potential to be the best at his position in the game.Assuming that 2014 was a wild, health-related one-off for Buck, there's no reason to think he can't resume where he left off in 2013, and quickly move to claim the wide-open CF spot, possibly as early as July, but likely no later than sometime in the first half of 2016.

 

As I said, these guys are close in my book (but Sano is ahead of both).Position is a big thing.Buxton will likely be a better baseball player than Polanco.But if Polanco at SS does 80% of what Buxton does at CF, he will be more valuable than Buxton... This is taken into consideration.

Thrylos, Buxton did put up stellar numbers in above the MWL in 2013. Other than that, I understand you and where you are coming from.You do like to be bleeding edge: witness your rankings of Diaz (#9) and Minier (#6).

 

Well, I do read what people say, but I make up my own mind about prospects.My lists and prospect discussion in general are not derivative by any means... Not many people had Vargas ranked 7th and 6th in this system, like I did in my lists (and I think that I am validated.)And, since about 3 years ago, I have been talking about Josmil Pinto as a prospect, when for most, Pinto was a model of a car.I don't buy in hype.That simple. And, also, I am not afraid to change my mind based on evidence.See: Baxendale, DJ

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Think we're splitting some very fine hairs here. That being said, I will break out my scalpel as well. Completely understand the rationale for Polanco and your 80% offensive mark. And I am also a fan and believer in Polanco, and never have been bothered by the whole milb error numbers arbitrarily spouted. Regardless, I still give the nod to Buxton over Polanco despite the physical/performance downer of 2014 as we are talking overall ability and project-ability at this point.
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 09 2015 11:51 PM

I've never heard of % of Putouts that were Double Plays as a defensive metric.It doesn't measure his ability to range to his right.It doesn't even measure his ability to range to his left.And it's very dependent on his second baseman.Does anyone else use this measure.I think a more releveant measure would be % of Assists that were Double Plays.

Glad you pointed out this distinction Lonestar. I thought the same thing. Maybe it was a another typo. But I will admit I hadn't run across this general way to measure fielding before either. Seems like a nice addition to the data universe. Could be useful. Bravo if you dreamt it up Thrylos.

Glad you pointed out this distinction Lonestar. I thought the same thing. Maybe it was a another typo. But I will admit I hadn't run across this general way to measure fielding before either. Seems like a nice addition to the data universe. Could be useful. Bravo if you dreamt it up Thrylos.

 

I made it up, because I was looking for some objective metric.Heck, it is not complete, and it does not stand alone, but I think it is easily understood, whereas Range Factor, RZR, UZR, and even plus/minus are not... I will probably work to refine it at some point...

 

EDIT:And here is the refinement if anyone cares.

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Willihammer
Jan 10 2015 11:30 AM

I would probably put Buxton #1, given the high floor he has.I don't see his defense or speed going away.So even if he hits .250, 10 HR, he is going to give you plus defense in CF and swipe 40-50 bags.That is still a pretty good CF.
 
Sano, worst case could end up being a DH type that hits .250 with power and strikes out a lot.I think the CF trumps the DH in that scenario.
 
On the ceiling side, Buxton is a .280-.290, 20 HR, 15 3B, 50-60 SB player who plays really good defense at a premium position.I would probably rate that better than Sano, even if he sticks at 3B and hits .260 with 30 HR a year.It is probably unlikely that he will ever be a plus defender.


IMO you're underrating Sano's ceiling, by a lot. What he did in 2013 from a power perspective was around 4 standard deviations above the mean compared to all minor leaguers for his age-level between 1994-2005. Four. It was an outlier. Therefore I'd say his ceiling, in terms of HRs/year, has the potential to be an outlier too.

30 HRs would not be an outlier.
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