Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email
Photo

Article: Here's How The Experts Are Viewing Twins Prospects

royce lewis nick gordon fernando romero stephen gonsalves
  • Please log in to reply
34 replies to this topic

#1 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 3,575 posts

Posted 28 January 2018 - 09:06 PM

Over the weekend, MLB.com unveiled its official list of Top 100 prospects for 2018. This follows rankings from Baseball America and ESPN, both published in the previous week.

It's prospect season. So let's aggregate the opinions of all three authoritative sources, in an effort to establish a consensus view on the Twins system and its relative standing as we head into the new season.Here's a weighted rundown of prospects that made appearances on these lists, with thoughts on what we should make of the variance in evaluations:

1. Royce Lewis, SS
MLB: 20 | BA: 24 | ESPN: 25

Remarkable consistency among all three outlets. Aside from pitcher, the one position represented most on the top ends of these lists is shortstop, for obvious reasons. Lewis is undoubtedly among the brightest in that field – a rare combination of A+ athleticism and A+ makeup, still barely broaching his potential. The franchise's No. 2 asset is already a top-tier prospect in the game and could graduate to elite status with a strong first full season.

2. Nick Gordon, SS
MLB: 80 | BA: 93 | ESPN: 37

The monumental slide Gordon experienced in Baseball America's ranking of Twins prospects, assembled by Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, was an attention-grabber. As recently as last July, Gordon had been ranked as the team's top prospect by BA's John Manuel (incidentally, now employed by the Twins). By last week he'd dropped all the way to eighth.

Gordon's fall on Baseball America's overall prospect list (compiled by several national prospect writers instead of one local scribe) was not as dramatic – from 60th in January 2017 to 93rd in January of 2018, still the third highest Twin. But MLB.com also slid the infielder way down in its rankings, from 30 to 80.

The 2017 season was a tale of two halves for Gordon, who was one of the youngest regulars in the Class-AA Southern League. In his first 61 games he hit .318/.382/.510; in the second 61 he hit .223/.302/.311. Clearly the folks at MLB.com and BA felt that Gordon's second half, along with lingering concerns about his ability to stick at shortstop, turned him from prospect to suspect. This wasn't true of ESPN's Keith Law, who bucked the trend by actually moving Gordon up on his board, from 53 in 2017 to 37 in 2018.

While acknowledging he may end up at second, Law believes Gordon's skill set could make him a .300 AVG/.400 OBP guy in the majors, and suggests the sluggish second half only points to a need for the wiry 22-year-old to get bigger and stronger. Certainly feasible.

3. Fernando Romero, RHP
MLB: 68 | BA: NR | ESPN: 47

Like with Gordon, Law is higher than others on Romero, and in this case it also seems to be rooted in differing views on what went down in the second half of the 2017 season.

A year ago, Twins Daily ranked Romero as our No. 1 Twins prospect, though he was still largely flying under the national radar. He didn't appear on the top overall lists from MLB.com, Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus. Only Law gave him a nod, placing him 65th in his rankings.

The oft-injured Romero, who'd never logged even 100 innings in a season previously, put together an excellent first four months of 2017 with a 2.64 ERA through 20 starts, but shortly after he crossed that 100-IP mark, he wore down quickly. Following three straight clunkers in August he was shut down for the season with a shoulder impingement.

The right-hander proved last year that when healthy, he can dominate in Double-A, which is one of the biggest hurdles for a pitching prospect to cross. The only question now is his health. ESPN and MLB.com are expressing cautious optimism on that front, whereas Baseball America still isn't buying in. Frankly, I think it'll reflect pretty poorly on them if he manages to hold up for a full season in 2018. In terms of pure stuff Romero is one of the best arms in the high minors.

4. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
MLB: 78 | BA: 97 | ESPN: NR

Gonsalves doesn't come close to measuring up with Romero when it comes to stuff, which is why he's behind his fellow hurler in aggregate despite a more successful 2017 campaign. While Romero was breaking down in mid-August at Chattanooga, Gonsalves was getting his feet wet in Rochester following a late promotion to Triple-A.

The lanky left-hander's numbers – both this year (3.27 ERA in 110 innings) and overall (2.39 ERA in five minor-league seasons) – placed him on the back end of two lists, but he still hasn't earned his way into Law's esteem.

ESPN's prospect guru has always had a rather low opinion of Gonsalves, suggesting after the 2013 draft that his ceiling was that of a "6th starter" because he is "Not projectable, no breaking ball." Apparently that fundamental viewpoint hasn't changed, even as Gonsalves has experienced tremendous success at every level on the way to his Triple-A debut just a month after turning 23.

Law has always been one to trust his own assessments, and input from scouting peers, ahead of numbers. He is certainly not alone in his skepticism of Gonsalves' lack of velo and spin.

5. Brent Rooker
MLB: NR | BA: 92 | ESPN: NR

It was cool to see Rooker sneak onto Baseball America's list. It isn't surprising he failed to make the others – a highly drafted college slugger putting up big numbers in his first turn at the lower levels of affiliated ball is hardly a rarity – but there are many things to love about the 23-year-old, and BA is on board. If you follow Rooker on Twitter or catch any of his quotes and insights about the game, then you know he's a cerebral hitter who's very serious about his craft and embraces the most modernized approaches.

There's an extremely high offensive bar for players in his prototype, but with his raw power and superior baseball IQ, Rooker has the attributes to clear it and become a weapon in the middle of the lineup. If he produces the way he's capable of in 2018, he'll be on all three lists next year.

6. Wander Javier
MLB: NR | BA: 95 | ESPN: NR

Another hidden gem in the Twins system getting some shine exclusively from BA. Their ranking system has a tendency to prioritize raw tools and ceiling above all, which helps explain the athletic teenager's presence on their list. Javier oozes potential, and enjoyed a great season in the Appalachian League, but still hasn't crested a full-season league yet. You don't see too many guys at that stage in these rankings, just because of the vast degree of uncertainty, but it's not hard to understand why Javier would stand out.

He was one of the top international prospects out there when the Twins signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 with a record $4 million bonus. He has since done nothing but validate the investment by slashing .301/.386/.497 through two levels of rookie ball. Berardino ranked Javier as the second-best Twins prospect behind Lewis in his listing of the organization's top talent, calling him a "plus runner with plus athleticism" and adding that Javier "shows plenty of range as well as a plus-plus arm at times." Very excited to see this kid take on Single-A.

NOTABLE OMISSIONS
Last year, Alex Kirilloff appeared in the 90s on both Baseball America's and ESPN's lists. Unsurprisingly, he's now absent from all three after missing the entire 2017 season following Tommy John surgery. Needless to say, he can put himself back on the map quickly with a strong return to the field.

Kirilloff is the only prospect who appeared on at least one of these lists last year and completely disappeared, but there are a number of others I might have hoped to see such as Brusdar Graterol, Blayne Enlow and LaMonte Wade.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for in-depth profiles of Twins Daily's choices for the top 20 prospects in the organization for 2018.

By the way, if you'd like to read about all of these prospects and many many more, I highly recommend buying a copy of the 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook, compiled by our own Seth Stohs, Tom Froemming and Cody Christie.

Click here to view the article
  • glunn and Vanimal46 like this

#2 TNTwinsFan

TNTwinsFan

    Member

  • Members
  • 329 posts

Posted 28 January 2018 - 11:22 PM

Doubt Wade has enough upside to crack these lists. I think his ceiling is that of a 4th OF; nice player, but nothing to write home about.

#3 Doctor Wu

Doctor Wu

    Chattanooga Lookouts

  • Members
  • 556 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 06:57 AM

Neither Graterol or Baddoo made any of those lists? Somewhat surprising not to see either player listed at least on one list. Yeah, these lists are all mostly speculation and half-baked "expert" analysis, but the overall picture for the Twins is looking promising, regardless of the fact that some of their most talented prospects didn't even make any of the lists.


#4 amjgt

amjgt

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,378 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 07:04 AM

I can’t imagine very many people would say 4th OF is Wade’s ceiling. It might be his most likely outcome, but his ceiling is higher than 4th outfielder.

Edited by amjgt, 29 January 2018 - 07:05 AM.

  • Seth Stohs, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 1 other like this

#5 clutterheart

clutterheart

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,546 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 07:23 AM

 

I can’t imagine very many people would say 4th OF is Wade’s ceiling. It might be his most likely outcome, but his ceiling is higher than 4th outfielder.

 

His lack of power keeps him from cracking the top 10 in most lists and limits his ceiling. He will be only 24 all of year next year so hopefully he starts putting muscle behind the ball.If he can move his ISO much closer to .200 he could be really good.  


#6 tarheeltwinsfan

tarheeltwinsfan

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 823 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 07:24 AM

It is extremely difficult to predict the future results where there are multiple, uncontrollable variables. My hat is off to those who attempt to do so. That reminds me,I've got to make some adjustments to my 401k investments.

  • Dave The Dastardly and Respy like this

#7 amjgt

amjgt

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,378 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 08:15 AM

 

His lack of power keeps him from cracking the top 10 in most lists and limits his ceiling. He will be only 24 all of year next year so hopefully he starts putting muscle behind the ball.If he can move his ISO much closer to .200 he could be really good.  

 

Another website used Melky Cabrera as a comp. I think 2011-2016 Melky is Wade's ceiling.

 

https://www.baseball...cabreme01.shtml

 

  • ashburyjohn and birdwatcher like this

#8 markos

markos

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,292 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 08:21 AM

Law had Gonsalves in his top-100 last year at 91:

 

 

 

The Twins have done an outstanding job developing Gonsalves, who came out of high school with a 45 fastball, a plus changeup, and -- no exaggeration -- a 30 breaking ball. I did not see how you could project him to become a major-league starter with no apparent ability to spin the ball, but the Twins saw something I didn't, and he's on the cusp of earning a big-league rotation job.

Gonsalves still has a 45 fastball and a plus changeup, although he also has some deception in his delivery for the fastball to play up, but he has added a cutter now that has a chance to end up an average pitch, thrown at 84-87 mph. It's below average at the moment, but he just started throwing it within the past year, and I would bet on that over the big 72 mph curveball he babies to get it to break correctly.

I worry a little about the jump in his walk rate in Double-A, just because he can't start pitching away from contact, but other than that his performance in the minors is irreproachable: 368? pro innings, 396 strikeouts and a 2.13 career ERA. I think he's a fourth starter in the majors, probably not more, but also probably not less, although if that cutter becomes a legitimate third pitch for him, I could still be underestimating the guy -- just as I did in 2013.

http://www.espn.com/...er/post?id=6172

  • Dman, blindeke, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

#9 hugelycat

hugelycat

    Elizabethton

  • Members
  • 42 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 08:40 AM

I feel like our system is deep, but there are still a lot of question marks around our elite talent, besides Royce Lewis. A lot of the potentially elite guys are either young and still untested at higher levels (Javier, Baddoo, Graterol), or we haven't gotten a full look at them due to injury (Romero, Kirilloff).

With that in mind, I'm very happy with this list. It's great seeing Romero get some recognition. And we have a lot of guys who could really jump up on these lists next year, when they get tested at higher levels and/or get a chance to play healthy.

  • birdwatcher, gunnarthor and Twins33 like this

#10 mikelink45

mikelink45

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 2,138 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 09:03 AM

30 teams - 100 prospects.If we have three on the list we are equal with the league when we have more than that we have some real value in the system. Six is an excellent showing.All of these observers know more than I do, but I am pleased with how we rank.

  • birdwatcher likes this

#11 IaFan1

IaFan1

    Elizabethton

  • Members
  • 42 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 09:47 AM

I am much higher on Gonsalves then most. He just seems to have a feel for pitching. I like his confidence in his ability too. When he gets the call this year I expect him to stick. And I still think he has the ability to be a #2 starter or at least a solid #3.

  • Nick Nelson, Twins33, bluechipper and 1 other like this

#12 birdwatcher

birdwatcher

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 3,625 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 10:08 AM

I'd be a lot more excited about things if we had one more "can't miss" prospect, like we did when Buxton/Sano headlined the list.

 

But we do have a few "boom or bust" types in Javier, Rooker, Graterol, maybe Romero. I think the odds favor at least a couple of those guys becoming impactful players.

 

The other thing that I try to keep in mind is that we can point to a number of players on our MLB roster who barely crept onto these lists, if they did at all, and are now considered to be important contributors, guys like Polanco, Rosario, Kepler, and Dozier. It's good to have guys that fit into this category in larger numbers, guys like Badoo and Wade, and then even bigger numbers of fairly unheralded guys you hope can become your next wave of Rogers, Duffey, Garver, Granite, Hildenberger, Chargois, and Curtiss. You want the can't miss guys, but you need a fair percentage of both the handful of other top 100 prospects and those fringier prospects to bloom for you even more.

 

We're in decent shape. How'd you like to be a KC fan? Sickles gives a better grade to 18 Twins prospects than he gives to all but 4 prospects in the entire KC system.

  • gunnarthor, Oxtung, bluechipper and 2 others like this

#13 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 9,356 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 10:17 AM

We still have to get Sickel's and the fangraphs guys (not sure if they are doing one combined or two individual lists) as well. I think Baddoo might sneak onto the fangraphs list, they've mentioned him in their chats.

 

I believe it was a BA guy who said that the Twins had a glut of players (ranked 2-8 in the system) that could have been ranked more or less in any order. Klaw obviously sees Gordon higher but that seems about right to me.A bunch of guys who, right now, are pretty good prospects but not at the elite level like Lewis or that second tier (think Kepler) quite yet. I think Klaw has Gordon at that Kepler level.

 

Anyhow, I think that the system is in good shape. Light on elite talent, which is bad, but pretty deep with enough young players with high ceilings so that next year Lewis might not be alone.

  • Nick Nelson, birdwatcher, markos and 2 others like this

#14 jrod23

jrod23

    Cedar Rapids

  • Members
  • 85 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 10:41 AM

I think the guys towards the bottom of this list will only rank higher by season’s end. Then the guys on the fringe, such as Kirilloff, Graterol, and Enlow, even Baddoo could crack this list. That’d put us with up to ten on the top 100 list giving our farm system more notoriety. Home grown too, not traded for, much like those savvy Sox.

#15 Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 16,551 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 11:13 AM

 

Gonsalves doesn't come close to measuring up with Romero when it comes to stuff, which is why he's behind his fellow hurler in aggregate despite a more successful 2017 campaign.

 

While I agree that Romero (and Graterol) have bigger fastballs, I often think that Gonsalves's "stuff" is often underappreciated. While those righties throw 95-99, Gonsalves is 90-94 with his fastball, certainly enough, particularly when he has a plus changeup. I think his addition of the cutter a couple of offseasons ago could be a huge pitch for him that will play up. I was also encouraged when he said on my podcast a few weeks ago that he's working with David Wells this offseason, and Wells had one of those big, loopy curveballs that worked out pretty well for him. Is his stuff as overwhelming as Romero's? Probably not, but there is a reason that Gonsalves is generally ranked higher in most rankings. 

  • Twins33, bluechipper and IaFan1 like this

#16 Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 16,551 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 11:15 AM

 

Doubt Wade has enough upside to crack these lists. I think his ceiling is that of a 4th OF; nice player, but nothing to write home about.

 

I disagree that his 'ceiling' is 4th outfielder. With his approach at the plate, ability to get on base, how he uses the whole field and his defense, he can be a solid MLB starting left fielder. If the power - which I fully believe he has - shows up in games, he can be a little more than that. 

 

Maybe 4th outfielder is what is most likely, and with the Rosario, Buxton, Kepler group starting ahead of him (and Wade also batting left-handed), he may wind up being a 4th OF/backup 1B, but I don't think that's his ceiling. 

  • dbminn likes this

#17 Tom Froemming

Tom Froemming

    Content Editor

  • Administrators
  • 1,673 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 11:31 AM

J.J. Cooper had an interesting answer in the BA Top 100 chat regarding velocity. It was in response to a question about Dodgers prospect Yadier Alvarez, but I think you can apply the same premise to the Romero/Graterol discussion.

 

His stuff is really good, but throwing 100 mph by itself now doesn’t really put you in rare territory. We haven’t updated our “guys who throw 100” list for 2017 yet, but I’m pretty confident I can find you 75 guys or more who topped 100.


#18 Tommygun921

Tommygun921

    Cedar Rapids

  • Members
  • 195 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 11:44 AM

MLB had Javier as a prospect to watch in their top 10 SS.
  • gunnarthor likes this

#19 JLease

JLease

    Ft Myers

  • Members
  • 325 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 11:47 AM

 

While I agree that Romero (and Graterol) have bigger fastballs, I often think that Gonsalves's "stuff" is often underappreciated. While those righties throw 95-99, Gonsalves is 90-94 with his fastball, certainly enough, particularly when he has a plus changeup. I think his addition of the cutter a couple of offseasons ago could be a huge pitch for him that will play up. I was also encouraged when he said on my podcast a few weeks ago that he's working with David Wells this offseason, and Wells had one of those big, loopy curveballs that worked out pretty well for him. Is his stuff as overwhelming as Romero's? Probably not, but there is a reason that Gonsalves is generally ranked higher in most rankings. 

 

yeah, I'm not exactly going to be sad if Gonsalves ceiling is Seattle-era Jamie Moyer...and David Wells was a damn tough pitcher for a long time whose deception didn't rely on an elite slider or curve. We won't really know until Gonsalves has an extended run at MLB, I think. Looking forward to seeing it.

 

(also? david Wells is listed at 183lbs at B-ref. BWAH!)

  • IaFan1 likes this

#20 Mike Sixel

Mike Sixel

    Now living in Oregon

  • Members
  • 27,578 posts

Posted 29 January 2018 - 12:33 PM

 

Doubt Wade has enough upside to crack these lists. I think his ceiling is that of a 4th OF; nice player, but nothing to write home about.

 

Eric L of Fangraphs has said in the past he thinks Wade might be a starting OF...

  • birdwatcher likes this

I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.




Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: royce lewis, nick gordon, fernando romero, stephen gonsalves