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Article: TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects Recap

fernando romero stephen gonsalves alex kirilloff nick gordon tyler jay
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 07:23 PM

Over the last two weeks, Twins Daily unveiled its choices for the Top 20 prospects in the Twins system. Today, we'll review that list and shake out some key takeaways gleaned from a look at the current state of the farm.We were spoiled.

For a run of several years, Minnesota was constantly gracing national top prospect lists with premier names. Byron Buxton has been near the top of every ranking since he became a pro, with kids like Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios and Max Kepler also scoring high placements. Now, each of those bright young talents has graduated to the majors, leaving this once-elite system looking rather ordinary.

At least, from an outside perspective.

It's been a long time since the Twins have been so sparsely represented on these national lists. But when you account for the high-caliber players who are no longer eligible, and the sneaky starpower this system offers, there's more here than meets the eye.

Here's a recap of our Top 20, with one-sentence synopses for each:

20. Justin Haley, RHP: Polished righty could make fast, albeit limited, impact.
19. Ben Rortvedt, C: Raw teenage catcher is a potential fast riser on the list.
18. Engelb Vielma, SS: Defensive whiz with minimal offensive punch.
17. Nick Burdi, RHP: Fireballing reliever must get healthy after lost year.
16. Zack Granite, OF: Speedster has makings of a versatile fourth outfielder.
15. LaMonte Wade, OF: Perhaps the system's most disciplined hitter.
14. Daniel Palka, OF: Enormous power hindered by severe contact issues.
13. JT Chargois, RHP: Closer potential if he commands ferocious stuff.
12. Felix Jorge, RHP: Exquisite control, but will pitches play at high levels?
11. Mitch Garver, C: Bolstered stock both at plate and behind it in 2016.
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B: Will slugger's huge raw power translate to games?
9. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B: Standout prep bat holding up well in pros.
8. Kohl Stewart, RHP: Scouts bullish despite lack of K's and iffy control.
7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP: Burly southpaw will go as far as improving slider.
6. Wander Javier, SS: 18-year-old infielder oozes upside as two-way asset.
5. Tyler Jay, LHP: FB/SL combo beyond legit, though SP transition in doubt.
4. Nick Gordon, SS: Well-rounded skill set with excellent pedigree and genes.
3. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Hitting tools are off the charts, but has a long way to go.
2. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP: Lanky southpaw has dominated everywhere.
1. Fernando Romero, RHP: Possesses body and repertoire of workhorse SP.

Positional Breakdown

Catchers: 2
Infielders: 5
Outfielders: 4
RH Pitchers: 6
LH Pitchers: 3

With nine pitchers and 11 position players, the Twins strike a good organizational balance. The one unrepresented spot is third base, but Blankenhorn could end up there and so could any of the three shortstops (though Vielma's bat seems unlikely to play). There is a dearth of 1B/DH types, which would seem to increase the need for Diaz to develop. But many suspect Kirilloff will end up at the position, and either way, sluggers who can stand at first are not in short supply these days.

Starters on Deck

There was quite a bit of consternation over the front office's lack of action during the offseason when it came to addressing the rotation, but the truth is that it makes little sense to crowd the unit with veterans right now. Starting pitchers comprised half of our Top 10. One finished the year at Triple-A and three at Double-A. The one who finished in Single-A, Romero, is catching up after missed time and could beat everyone else to the majors. The Twins need to maintain flexibility so that they can usher these arms into the big leagues as they become ready.

Ace in the Hole

I can see how Romero is not a particularly compelling No. 1 prospect in the context of his placements on national lists. But this is a byproduct of the lack of data on him; he has made only 31 starts in five years as a pro. The big right-hander finally got healthy and showed his stuff last year, and it appears likely his injury troubles are behind him (knocks furiously on wood). If that progression continues, I fully believe he will be viewed as a better asset than Jose De Leon – the coveted prospect Minnesota passed up in Brian Dozier trade talks – a year from now. Maybe even three months from now. That really changes the complexion of this system in a big way.

More Help on the Way

Beyond the potential for Romero and a few others to rise fast, the Twins are also set to add more top-tier prospect talent this summer. Obviously they have the top selection in June's draft. They'll also get a competitive balance pick (35) and the first pick in the second round (37), not to mention the first selection in every subsequent round. The recently restructured amateur scouting department could hardly ask to be dealt a more favorable first hand.

Arrival Timelines

Based on the ETAs we laid out, here's a loose idea of when you can expect these 20 players to start contributing to the big-league club:

2017: Mejia, Garver, Chargois, Palka, Haley
2018: Romero, Gonsalves, Gordon, Jay, Stewart, Jorge, Granite, Burdi, Vielma
2019: Wade, Diaz
2020: Kirilloff, Blankenhorn
2021: Rortvedt
2022: Javier

Again, this reinforces the mindset behind avoiding hard commitments in the rotation. Romero, Gonsalves, Jay, Mejia and Stewart all figure to arrive within the next two years, and all are Top 10 prospects with very legitimate shots at panning out in the majors. As a rebuilding club, the Twins are wise to avoid setting up additional roadblocks.

The Clearest Weakness

The evident strength of this system right now is pitching, and that's exactly how it should be. But suddenly there's not a whole lot of assurance on incoming bats. There is some significant upside with guys like Kirilloff, Diaz and Javier, but they are all several years away. With the closer players like Gordon, Garver, Granite and Vielma, it's not totally clear they'll hit enough to be impact big-leaguers. Quite the reversal from years past when names such as Sano, Buxton and Kepler led the way, but therein lies the relief: the projected Twins lineup features six regulars 26 and under.

Final Thoughts

I can honestly say that, in my view, this is the most exciting time for the Twins system since I've been closely following the team. Not just because of the players currently coming through the pipeline, but even more so because the prospects we've been following so obsessively over the past few years have arrived. Buxton, Sano, Kepler and Polanco will all probably be in the Opening Day lineup. Jose Berrios ought to be in the rotation. Each has taken some initial lumps in the majors. The heralded core looks ready to jell, and there is plenty of intriguing talent on the way, with a critical opportunity to reload coming up in June.

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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 08:14 PM

Nice synopsis.  We have been commenting on the individual rankings, but in reality what counts is the big pitcher and the ability to develop at all the positions as needed. 

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#3 MN_ExPat

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 09:27 PM

Agree, nice synopsis.I love seeing the in depth looks at the Twins farm system. Got to see a lot of the guys on the list this last season at Chattanooga and analysis was pretty spot on for those players.  

 

Especially a big fan of Granite, the kid has legit skills that will translate well to the majors.He may not wind up being a superstar or even a full time starter (4th outfielder type), but the kid can play.

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#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 09:27 PM

Just a bit more. Here is a list of some guys who were very close:

 

Lewis Thorpe, Jake Reed, Trevor Hildenberger, Mason Melotakis...

 

And here are others that have shown up in rankings.

 

Trey Cabbage, Travis Harrison, Akil Baddoo, Jermaine Palacios, Aaron Slegers, Lachlan Wells, Luis Arraez, Griffin Jax,  Jose Miranda, Huascar Ynoa, Tanner English, Brusdar Graterol, Jordan Balazovic, Aaron Whitefield, Jaylin Davis, Randy Rosario... 

 

There are several in that group that are at least quite intriguing. 

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#5 Rhino and Compass

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 09:29 PM

If everything works out, that's a serious glut of players coming next year.

 

It will be nice if the Falvey hiring really does pan out in the Twins' ability to develop pitchers. I'm not saying anything new, but there is definitely a difference between having talent and converting that talent to useful productivity. 

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#6 glunn

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 09:55 PM

Thanks for tying this all together. I feel more optimistic after reading this.


#7 BuxtonBandwagon

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 11:39 PM

I'm really beginning to wonder what will come next year if guys like gonsalves, Romero, jay, Stewart, and Jorge are all ready for the majors. We will need rotation spots for berrios and may. Hughes, Santana, and Gibson will probably still be around, unless possibly traded. Also mejia could be in the running for a rotation spot. Pitching depth is good so this makes me happy. But it is also a good reason to trade Santana if a good offer comes around. I'm excited to see what comes of all of this and who stays and who goes, who produces and who fails to make. Hopefully all these guys succeed and for once we have too much pitching!
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#8 HitInAPinch

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:51 AM

"There is a dearth of 1B/DH types"

 

Is it just me or isn't this a good thing?I think we need to get beyond these one dimensional players and use this roster spot for more athletic players that can contribute more on the field.There just ain't a lot of "Big Papi's" around.

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#9 HitInAPinch

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:54 AM

 

 

I'm really beginning to wonder what will come next year if guys like gonsalves, Romero, jay, Stewart, and Jorge are all ready for the majors. We will need rotation spots for berrios and may. Hughes, Santana, and Gibson will probably still be around, unless possibly traded. Also mejia could be in the running for a rotation spot. Pitching depth is good so this makes me happy. But it is also a good reason to trade Santana if a good offer comes around. I'm excited to see what comes of all of this and who stays and who goes, who produces and who fails to make. Hopefully all these guys succeed and for once we have too much pitching!

I would suggest that, with new management, there will be less concern/commitment to veteran pitchers and more looking towards the future. 

 

I would also suggest that with Flavey and Levine at the helm, those young pitchers you mention will really have to prove themselves to be MLB quality, not just MiLB warriors. 

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#10 beckmt

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 07:41 AM

 

"There is a dearth of 1B/DH types"

 

Is it just me or isn't this a good thing?I think we need to get beyond these one dimensional players and use this roster spot for more athletic players that can contribute more on the field.There just ain't a lot of "Big Papi's" around.

Luis Robert is supposed to be about that good now.


#11 jrod23

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 09:21 AM

 

Just a bit more. Here is a list of some guys who were very close:

 

Lewis Thorpe, Jake Reed, Trevor Hildenberger, Mason Melotakis...

 

And here are others that have shown up in rankings.

 

Trey Cabbage, Travis Harrison, Akil Baddoo, Jermaine Palacios, Aaron Slegers, Lachlan Wells, Luis Arraez, Griffin Jax,  Jose Miranda, Huascar Ynoa, Tanner English, Brusdar Graterol, Jordan Balazovic, Aaron Whitefield, Jaylin Davis, Randy Rosario... 

 

Love the fact you gave Arraez, Hildenberger, and Wells some love.  All three of those guys were borderline dominant in their respective leagues.  Dominant is a strong word, but look at their numbers.  I thought Arraez was worthy of a top twenty to be honest.  He's a hitting machine.  He takes defense for granted at times, but you can't deny that bat.  Not too keen on Palacios out of all of them.  He had a good Appy season in '15, but struggled to keep up in A ball.  I like Jaylin Davis and think he'll will be a mix between an Adam Brett Walker and a Zach Granite.

Don't forget about Zander Wiel.  He closed out the '16 season on a tear and led the Midwest League in RBI...ahead of Eloy Jimenez.

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#12 jrod23

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 09:34 AM

One more thing.  We have a plethora of bullpen arms in the minors.  A wise man once said, a bullpen guy is a guy who couldn't cut it as a starter.  After consistently drafting strong bullpen arms since '12 we're on the verge of seeing some these guys arrive.  We have Nick Burdi, Jake Reed, Mason Melotakis, J.T. Chargois, Trevor Hildenberger, Todd Van Steensel, Michael Cederoth, Michael Theofanopoulos, and an outside shot with Cam Booser.  The bullpen is all they've known.  Burdi & Chargois are on the list, and you could make an argument over some of the others.  How will this new wave of bullpen specialists actually pan out?  At the ceiling, with all the heat thrown, we have a bullpen stacked with young possible closers in Burdi, Chargois, Reed, Hildenberger, and Cederoth.  Floor?  We have erratic fireballers who could sink a ship.  Being the rube I am, I think it'll be closer to the ceiling.

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#13 Mike Sixel

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 09:53 AM

Wanna place money on that De Leon statement? I'm not sure how we'd measure it, given the Twin will be in A and AA ball, and De Leon will be in AAA and the majors....and lose his prospect status.

I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#14 goulik

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 12:06 PM

 

Love the fact you gave Arraez, Hildenberger, and Wells some love.  All three of those guys were borderline dominant in their respective leagues.  Dominant is a strong word, but look at their numbers.  I thought Arraez was worthy of a top twenty to be honest.  He's a hitting machine.  He takes defense for granted at times, but you can't deny that bat.  Not too keen on Palacios out of all of them.  He had a good Appy season in '15, but struggled to keep up in A ball.  I like Jaylin Davis and think he'll will be a mix between an Adam Brett Walker and a Zach Granite.

Don't forget about Zander Wiel.  He closed out the '16 season on a tear and led the Midwest League in RBI...ahead of Eloy Jimenez.

One word on Palacios last year, he had some injury issues just when he was starting to come around. Yes he started real slow but I still look at last year as more a lost year then time to give up on him. He does need to step up this year though, (And stay healthy while doing it)

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#15 ThejacKmp

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 12:33 PM

 

"There is a dearth of 1B/DH types"

 

Is it just me or isn't this a good thing?I think we need to get beyond these one dimensional players and use this roster spot for more athletic players that can contribute more on the field.There just ain't a lot of "Big Papi's" around.

 

Plus Byung Ho Park should be able to match last year's line for at least the next five years . . . 

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#16 HitInAPinch

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:31 PM

 

Luis Robert is supposed to be about that good now.

Is that the "best player on the planet, and that's no exaggeration." guy?Yeah, read your blog on him yesterday.If only......

It's not my fault !


#17 HitInAPinch

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:34 PM

 

 

Plus Byung Ho Park should be able to match last year's line for at least the next five years . . . 

I like Park a lot more than Vargas in the field.And I think he'll hit better than him, too.Just a hunch....

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#18 Dave The Dastardly

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 04:24 PM

 

Love the fact you gave Arraez, Hildenberger, and Wells some love.  All three of those guys were borderline dominant in their respective leagues.  Dominant is a strong word, but look at their numbers.  I thought Arraez was worthy of a top twenty to be honest.  He's a hitting machine.  He takes defense for granted at times, but you can't deny that bat.  Not too keen on Palacios out of all of them.  He had a good Appy season in '15, but struggled to keep up in A ball.  I like Jaylin Davis and think he'll will be a mix between an Adam Brett Walker and a Zach Granite.

Don't forget about Zander Wiel.  He closed out the '16 season on a tear and led the Midwest League in RBI...ahead of Eloy Jimenez.

Is that Placebo, or did you really mean Palacios?


#19 Thrylos

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 05:59 PM

 

 

Based on the ETAs we laid out, here's a loose idea of when you can expect these 20 players to start contributing to the big-league club:

2017: Chargois

 

This is part of the reason that in my lists I exclude players who played in the bigs.Chargois's ATA (*) was 2016 and he contributed last season.The fact that he still qualifies as a rookie, which is the cut-off of most prospect lists, still cannot change his Time of Arrival (and you don't have to Estimate it, it is actual) to 2017.He arrived in 2016.Fact ;)

 

(*) A for actual

Edited by Thrylos, 27 February 2017 - 05:59 PM.

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#20 caninatl04

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 11:07 PM

Wonderful summary!Thank you.

 

When it comes to "Help on the Way", I strongly suspect Dozier and Santana (and maybe even Hughes) will not be in Twins uniforms come September.Inevitable injuries among the competitors will lead to suitors and desirable prospects in return.And open some rotation spots for whomever shines in AAA or even AA. 




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