Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • 2014 Offseason Minnesota Twins Top 40 Prospect Countdown: 1-5

    This is the eighth segment of the 2014 off-season Twins top 40 prospects, and we have reached the top players, but this is not the last post in this series. For completeness sake, I will have a summary post with all 40 tomorrow.

    The number 1 to 5 off-season 2014 Minnesota Twins prospects are:

    5. Kohl Stewart RHSP, DOB: 10/7/1994, 6'3", 195 lbs.

    Stewart was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2013 draft from St Pius X High School (Houston, TX). Other than a single game started in Elizabethton (4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 K) he started his pro career in the GCL at age 18, when he pitched in seven games (four GS) for 20 innings, walking three and striking out 16. He had a 1.69 ERA and 0.938 WHIP.

    Stewart has four pitches that he commands well: A plus to plus plus mid-90s fastball that peaks at 97-98, a close to plus mid- to high-80s slider, an above average high-70s low-80s curveball and a plus low- to mid-80s changeup, which is an impressive arsenal for an 18-year-old. Stewart draws comparisons to another Houstonian hurler and the Twins would be ecstatic if he realizes half of that potential. He is still getting a feel of how to pitch, but this is expected of someone his age. Depending on how he shows in spring training, I will not be surprised if he starts 2014, at age 19, in Cedar Rapids' rotation.

    ~~~
    For more, prospects 36-40 are here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here , 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, 6-10 here, and you can find all segments in reverse order here.
    ~~~

    4. Eddie Rosario LH, 2B, DOB: 9/28/1991, 6'0", 170 lbs.

    Eddie Rosario was drafted by the Twins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft from Rafael Lopez Landron (PR) High School as an OF. Rosario is one of those rare prospects who has had success at every step of his pro career, with a career slash line at .307/.358/.510 . His best season was his second, his age 19 season, 2011, at Elizabethton, where he hit .337/.397/.670 with a career high 21 HRs in 67 games (298 PAs). He also swiped 17 bases that season. That was his last season as a full- time center fielder before being converted to a second baseman by the Twins due to their wealth of outfielders.

    He played in Beloit in 2012, with his season cut short by a line drive to the face that broke his jaw bone. Despite that, he finished the season with a .296/.345/.490 slash line. He moved up to Fort Myers in 2013 (age 21 season) where he hit .329/.377/.527 before moving to New Britain mid-season. In New Britain he hit .284/.330/.412.

    Last year, Rosario played in a career high 122 games with a career high 544 PAs. As if that was not enough, he played at the Arizona Fall League after this season and continued in the Puerto Rican Winter League this winter. Right before he made his appearance in the PWL he communicated to the press that he had tested positive for prescription painkillers and was given a 50-day suspension, but at the time of this writing he has yet to be charged officially.

    Rosario has all-star potential. A middle infielder with IsoP in the .200s before he hit drinking age, supplemented with good contact and decent plate discipline (he still needs some work on this tool) is rare. But the key word here is "infielder". Rosario is still learning the position, but has shown a lot of promise and second base is probably the easiest position in the diamond defensively. For this, his impending suspension might be a blessing in disguise: it will give him some necessary rest after about 700 projected plate appearances this year and will also give him a couple months in extended spring training to work on his fielding while serving his suspension. He will likely start 2014 in New Britain.

    3. Alex Meyer, RH, 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 last off-season (2012) for Denard Span. I am not really going to give detailed statistics for the top three Twins' prospects, just some information and justification for the rankings. I assume everyone knows enough about them at this point.

    Meyer was ranked #83 prospect in baseball by MLB.com before the 2012 season and #59 from Baseball America and #40 by MLB.com before last season. Believe it or not, Meyer is near major league ready after just twoprofessional seasons and at certain teams he would be in their 2014 MLB rotation. His repertoire includes three pitches: a plus plus fastball that averages 94-96 and hits 98-100, a plus to plus plus hard slider at the high-80s with a sharp break and an average changeup, which right now is a complementary pitch. A likely comparable is a right-handed version of Randy Johnson because their pitching styles and their offerings are so similar. Developing that changeup will make Meyer truly dominant. His ceiling is a top of the rotation, perennial all-star starter. He likely will start 2014 (his age 24 season) in Rochester. He is not on the 40 man roster, but may still get a September call-up, depending on how he and the Twins are doing.


    2. Byron Buxton, RH, CF, DOB: 12/18/1993, 6'2", 189 lbs

    Byron Buxton was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round (second overall) of the 2012 draft. Before the 2013 season he was rated the #10 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and #19 by MLB.com. He likely is thought of as the top Twins' prospect by most people. Why he is not here? Because I think Sano is a better player right now, because I saw him strike out on three straight change- ups last spring training, because he had a less than stellar performance in the AFL, and because at the same level (Fort Myers) at the same season, Miguel Sano (who is just 7 months older) was a better player.

    As a matter of fact, other than the Midwest League (and this could very well be Beloit vs Cedar Rapids,) Sano's production was better than Buxton's at the same stops. Another issue with Buxton's production is that his OPS dropped more than 100 points (from .990 to .887) from Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers. And his BABIP in both stops were ridiculous .402 and .404, which is about 100 points higher than the combined .303 at the two rookie stops the previous two seasons. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, just color me a tad worried here and not ready to jump on the "top prospect in the system" bandwagon, at least while Sano is still a prospect.

    On the other hand, Buxton is more of a complete player, having better defense and speed tools than Sano. He has been compared to Mike Trout, but his overall performance in the Midwest League in the first half of 2013 at the same age (19) was better than Trout's in the same league at the same age. What is Buxton's ceiling? Rickey Henderson with a stronger arm and fewer stolen bases (just because players do not steal that much these days.) He could be a fixture at center field and an all-star for many years.

    But he has to prove himself against AA pitching first and will get that chance, likely starting his age twenty season in New Britain. Twins' fans are wishing for a September call-up to the majors, but I think 2015 is more realistic, unless he tears the Eastern League apart and the Twins are competing in September (and both would be great things).

    1. Miguel Sano RH, 3B, DOB: 5/11/1993, 6'3", 195 lbs.

    The Twins signed Miguel Sano as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in October, 2009 to a $3.15 million signing bonus. Before the 2010 season Sano was ranked as the 94th prospect in baseball by BA, before the 2011 season the 60th, before the 2012 season the 18th by BA and 23th by MLB.com and before last season the 9th by BA and 12th by MLB.com In the Byron Buxton entry, I talked about why I think Sano is a better prospect, but I shouldn't have needed to, if I had just re-iterated what I wrote here last August, arguing that he should be the top prospect in baseball after this season.

    Miguel Sano is number one as far as I am concerned. And I am not going to compare him with Miguel Cabrera, like a lot of people do, because:

    a) Miguel Cabrera is a disliked Tiger and
    b) I think that Sano will be better.

    Instead, I will compare him to a beloved Twins' player: Harmon Killebrew. Nitpickers focus on Sano's K% of around 25% on each of his age 17 to 20 seasons. But Killer's K% in his age 19 to 22 seasons were 34.8%, 35.5%, 24.2% and 36.4%, respectively. There is further nitpicking at Sano's defense, but Killebrew also came up as a third baseman when he was a Senator. He ended up all right by any measure.

    Next season will be Sano's age 21 season. He will likely start 2014 in Rochester with a potential September call-up, depending on his and the Twins' performances. He is not on the 40-man roster, so a 2015 MLB appearance, like Buxton, is more likely.

    I was recently asked (after this was up) whether Sano's elbow issues might change my opinion on the rankings. The answer is categorically no, the same way that Buxton's shoulder issues do not change my opinion on him. If any of those injuries are catastrophic, it might be a different story. My original thoughts were that both Sano and Buxton will not be in the majors until at least 2015, so even that time- table is not affected....

    Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch




    Next: Summary of all 1-40.
    This article was originally published in blog: 2014 off-season Minnesota Twins top 40 prospect countdown: 1-5 started by Thrylos
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Why did you mention Buxton's BABIP when you fail to mention Sano's? His BABIP of .397 was nearly identical to Buxton's at the same stop (Fort Myers).

      Buxton's BABIP is more sustainable then Sano's because he's super fast and can beat out infield hits. Both are great prospects though.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Hitters' BABIPs are to be compared only to themselves, and unlike pitchers', which should be around .290, depending on who you are talking to, they are all over the map depending on the hitter. I compared Buxton's 2013 BABIP to his 2012 BABIP. Would be meaningless to compare to Sano's. Yes, they are great prospects. Top 5 in baseball as a matter of fact
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Remember that HRs aren't included in BABIP

      Attachment 6153

      And since roughly 1/4 of Sano's hits have left the park, his BABIP takes a hit (this is partially offset by striking out more though - 31% to 22%).

      If you include HR's as "in play," the BABIP's are:

      Buxton: .421
      Sano: .407

      IMO the whole Cedar Rapids-Mike Trout comps have unfailrly raised expectations for Buxton. Trout has exceeded the highest possible expectations. You could take all the speed out of Trout's game at this point and he'd still be a top 10 hitter. IMO its probably unlikely that Buxton ever becomes that good of a hitter (especially on Trout's timetable).

      On the other hand, Sano's going to pound MLB pitching, its only a question of at what rate. Will he be a Chris Carter or mature into a selective, high OBP guy like Cabrera to go with the power, or something in between.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      IMO the whole Cedar Rapids-Mike Trout comps have unfailrly raised expectations for Buxton. Trout has exceeded the highest possible expectations. You could take all the speed out of Trout's game at this point and he'd still be a top 10 hitter. IMO its probably unlikely that Buxton ever becomes that good of a hitter (especially on Trout's timetable).

      On the other hand, Sano's going to pound MLB pitching, its only a question of at what rate. Will he be a Chris Carter or mature into a selective, high OBP guy like Cabrera to go with the power, or something in between.
      Speaking of selectivity, there is a measure that most people don't talk about these days for some reason, called isoD (and it is analogous to isoP) for isolated discipline and it is OBP-BA. Buxton, Sano and Trout's isoDs have been around .090 all their careers. Sano's got higher in New Britain, but I think it is a SSS glitch because the BA got lower. So, if these guys hit around .300, their OBP will likely approach .400
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Thanks for these rankings- very thoughtful and very interesting.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Thank you for these write-ups, Thrylos, I have really enjoyed them... you speak my language.

      Just a nitpick, but remember that options are used to 'remove' someone from the 40-man roster, so calling up Sano in September will not 'use' an option unless you send him back down in September, which would be pointless. And I assume there will still be drek on the 40-man that can be removed in favor of a star prospect (or two, as I am hopeful Buxton also makes a September appearance).
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      Thank you for these write-ups, Thrylos, I have really enjoyed them... you speak my language.

      Just a nitpick, but remember that options are used to 'remove' someone from the 40-man roster, so calling up Sano in September will not 'use' an option unless you send him back down in September, which would be pointless. And I assume there will still be drek on the 40-man that can be removed in favor of a star prospect (or two, as I am hopeful Buxton also makes a September appearance).
      Thanks, it was fun.

      Agreed with the options (other than the fact that used to remove someone from the 25-man, and needs to be on the 40 man). Did I indicate otherwise? I just don't think that Buxton (especially, because Sano would need to be added to the 40 man roster before the 2014 Rule 5 draft) would be added to the 40-man roster, unless he can contribute and the Twins would need him to contribute (i.e. if they are competing.) The might want to save that roster spot for someone else before that Rule 5 draft.
      Not a matter of options
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Other than the Buxton/Sano switch, I like this top five.
    1. VandyTwinsFan's Avatar
      VandyTwinsFan -
      I think the value of defense is a large reason why most people have Buxton ahead of Sano. Buxton has the potential to be a golden glove CF, while Sano could be a decent defensive 3B. I think that "small" difference tends to represent the idea that while Sano may be more feared in the batter's box, Buxton will provide more overall value to a team. However, that's just my take on other people's opinions.
      Also, the wRC+ comparison is quite an interesting one to see. It makes me even more excited for Sano than I was before. I keep forgetting how young he really is. He just looks older because he's so big. I'll have to keep an eye out for more of your writing. Nice work!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Other than the Buxton/Sano switch, I like this top five.
      You might find this interesting: I asked someone who watched (and broadcasted) every single game of both Sano's and Buxton's at Fort Myers this season to validate the Sano over Buxton, and here is this discussion.

      These guys are very close. A jump of power by Buxton or continuation of dominance in New Britain might switch the rankings for me. And since age is a wash (Sano is 7 months older, but half a level ahead), I'd go with the higher production guy at this point.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Thrylos, I honestly don't really have a problem with flipping those two. I get the point. They are top 3 prospects OVERALL in baseball. That discussion was interesting. If Sano just harnesses his skills at fielding the ball, he could amount to an average or above average defender there.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Regardless of ranking, that is one nice top 5. (I think/hope Stewart will be the best of the bunch)
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      x<3.8 seconds to first base can definitely help one's BABIP.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      x<3.8 seconds to first base can definitely help one's BABIP.
      Did not in 2012
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Did not in 2012
      Data sample was too small.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Did not in 2012
      ..."can" help...was the word I used. As opposed to someone else slower.

      We'd have to find something with balls hit in the IF and his AVG there versus the league average. Would be best weighted if we knew speed of each player relative to the average attained. if you're wanting something exact.

      His BABIP is definitely high, but it's not that high for someone with his K% and HR%.

      Mike Trout his .420 BABIP at A-ball. He's at .366 in MLB now.

      Paul Goldschmidt hit .385 in A+, he's a .340 guy in MLB. Add the HRs and his BABIP would be even higher.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Did not in 2012
      But yes, you're right - his BABIP and his AVG were definitely lower in 2012.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.