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Article: Top Five Twins Prospects Who Should Be Promoted

todd van steensel royce lewis andrew vasquez lamonte wade ben rortvedt
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#1 Jonathon Zenk

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 11:25 AM

We are just about two months into the regular season, and the Minnesota Twins are under-performing. When the Twins are pitching well, the offense is non-existent and when they are hitting well, the pitching has been bad. However, it is not all bad for the organization. The minor league system has been solid, with many of the organization’s top prospects playing like it. As in the past two seasons, here is my list of the top five prospects who should be promoted. Some of the top players like Stephen Gonsalves and Nick Gordon have already been moved up a level, so we'll see who will follow shortly.Important note on the selection process: In this list, I avoided putting players in their first year with the level. Because of that, I did not put Alex Kirilloff on this list, even though he has been the best player in the organization this season. Other players who were not added because of this stipulation are Zander Wiel, Tyler Wells and Brusdar Graterol. Perhaps they could be added to my next one in late July or early August if they keep performing.

Here is my list...

Honorable Mentions:
Tyler Jay, LHP, Chattanooga
Jordan Gore, 2B, Cedar Rapids
Bryan Sammons, LHP, Cedar Rapids

5. Ben Rortvedt, C, Cedar Rapids

Everyone knows how much of a fan I am of him. My last article for Twins Daily raved about Rotvedt as the catcher of the future. It has been an up and down season for the Verona, Wis., native. At the time I wrote my Rortvedt piece, the catcher was hitting .471 through his first four games of the season. But apparently I was the kiss of the death, as he went on a month-long slump.

In a stretch that saw his batting average plummet down to .225 on May 10, Rortvedt only had eight hits in 54 at-bats (.148). In addition to his .148 batting average, his OBP slipped down to .286 and he had an OPS of just .624. After having three extra- base hits in his first four games, he had just three during that 15-game stretch.

But Rortvedt has since rebounded. In the three weeks (17 games) since the slump ended, he has hit .333 (21-63) with five of the 21 hits being extra-base hits. His batting average has ballooned up to .276 with an OPS of .719. The 2016 second round pick has improved in every single area. His average has improved by 52 points, his OBP by 47 points and his OPS by an incredible 122 points. Despite his homer numbers being down a bit, his extra-base numbers are up. His strikeout numbers are up a bit, but I think it is time to move up the 20-year-old to Fort Myers.

4. LaMonte Wade, OF, Chattanooga

Wade is one of the more under-the-radar prospects in the Twins organization. With Byron Buxton on the disabled list once again, I wish they would put Wade up in the majors instead of rolling with Ryan LaMarre. The 24-year-old was drafted in the ninth round in 2015 and has been as consistent as any player in the system.

After dominating the Florida State League in the last half of 2016, Wade played the entire 2017 season in Double-A Chattanooga. All he did there was hit .292 with seven homers and an OPS of .805. Wade started this season in Chattanooga once again, and has done as well, or maybe even better. Currently, his average sits at .289, but has struggled a bit since coming off the DL (1-11). However, the Baltimore native was hitting .305 before the injury with an OPS of .864. That is promotion worthy.

In a weird stat, he has hit six homers this year after hitting seven in 2017, but Wade does not yet have a double. Gordon was promoted to Rochester in May, and I have a feeling the former Maryland Terrapin is not far away.

3. Andrew Vasquez, LHP, Fort Myers

Vasquez has pitched 1 1/3 innings with Chattanooga this year, but I do not count that as primarily being a member of the Lookouts. So, I am putting the 24-year-old as No. 3 on this list. I am a bit surprised he didn’t start the season with the Lookouts, even if he only pitched 35 2/3 innings with the Miracle in 2017. But the 24-year-old started this season in Florida, and has done even better.

In 27 1/3 innings this season, Vasquez has a minuscule 0.66 ERA, along with a .210 batting average and a 1.06 WHIP. Last year, in his 35 2/3 innings, he had a 1.51 ERA and a .241 opponents batting average. His strikeout numbers are a bit down from last year, but still very good. In 2016, Vasquez struck out 52 batters in the 35 2/3 innings, and in 2017, he has struck out 30 in 27 1/3 innings.

I know he was promoted to Chattanooga for a game, but then he went back to High-A Fort Myers. It is time to promote him for good. Chattanooga has a few relievers who are worthy of a promotion, so he might be promoted for good once that happens.

2. Royce Lewis, SS, Cedar Rapids

Many probably think I am crazy for not putting him at the top spot. I mean, it would make sense. He has been really good for the Kernels this year. After hitting .296 last year for the Kernels in 18 games, Lewis has been on fire in 2018.

In 41 games this year, last year’s top overall pick has hit .307. Lewis, who turns 19 on Tuesday, has hit three homers in 163 at-bats after hitting one in 71 last year. He only has 13 extra base hits, but that will come in time. He still has an OPS of a solid .775, including a slugging percentage of .423.

Last year, in 36 games in the Gulf Coast League, Lewis had 15 stolen bases, but only three in 18 games with the Kernels. However, he has 15 in 41 games in Iowa this season, and has only been caught once.

It is just a matter of time before he gets promoted to High-A Fort Myers. I am biased, so I hope he at least is in Cedar Rapids until after next weekend since I will be in Appleton for the Saturday and Sunday games. I will say, I think he will be with the Miracle by my birthday (June 16).

1. Todd Van Steensel, RHP, Chattanooga

Some may think Lewis should be higher, but I chose Van Steensel since he has been so dominant with the Lookouts the last two-plus seasons.

It has been a weird trip through the system for the Australian. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, but he was released after a year. Van Steensel then signed with the Twins in 2011, but then was cut after a year. After a few years in the Australian Baseball League, Minnesota signed him back and he has been with the organization ever since.

With the exception of a year in which he had an ERA of 3.46 with Fort Myers in 2016, he has been lights out. He has been especially great for Chattanooga. In eight games for the Lookouts in 2016, he allowed two runs in eight innings. Coming back with the Lookouts in 2017, he was even better. In 58 2/3 innings, he only allowed nine runs and struck out 59. His opponents batting average was just .207 with a WHIP of 1.14. Even though he was outstanding in 2017, he has been even more amazing in 2018.

In 15 (29 2/3 innings) games, the 27-year-old is 5-1 with an ERA of 1.82. The opposing batting average against Van Steensel is just .152 and his WHIP is a microscopic 0.78, which are both career-bests. He should be in Rochester at some point this season, which would open the door for Andrew Vasquez to be promoted.

As always, feel free to tell me which Twins prospects you hope to see promoted soon.

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#2 Brandon

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 11:33 AM

What about killeroff?

#3 Tom Froemming

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 11:37 AM

 

What about killeroff?

From the article:

 

"Important note on the selection process: In this list, I avoided putting players in their first year with the level. Because of that, I did not put Alex Kirilloff on this list, even though he has been the best player in the organization this season."

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#4 jimbo92107

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 01:30 PM

Alex Kirilloff should be the exception to your selection rule. When a guy is "the best player in the organization this season," he should be put on the Joe Mauer fast track. 

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#5 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 01:45 PM

Looks familiar.... lots of similar names.

 

http://twinsdaily.co...o-move-up-r6798

 


#6 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 01:46 PM

 

Alex Kirilloff should be the exception to your selection rule. When a guy is "the best player in the organization this season," he should be put on the Joe Mauer fast track. 

 

Joe Mauer spent his whole first season in the Midwest League. 

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#7 Darius

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 02:07 PM

Joe Mauer spent his whole first season in the Midwest League.


Joe Mauer made his major league debut at age 20. Kiriloff is in CR at 20. Not really sure there is or should be a comparison there.
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#8 spycake

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 03:17 PM

But Rortvedt has since rebounded. In the three weeks (17 games) since the slump ended, he has hit .333 (21-63) with five of the 21 hits being extra-base hits. His batting average has ballooned up to .276 with an OPS of .719. The 2016 second round pick has improved in every single area. His average has improved by 52 points, his OBP by 47 points and his OPS by an incredible 122 points.

Actually that is not really an improvement in OBP -- it is just double-counting his improvement in AVG. (His "isolated discipline" -- OBP minus AVG, or reaching base other than getting hits -- is actually down 5 points.)

Likewise, the OPS improvement is doing a bit of double-counting too -- a single will improve both OBP and SLG. So you should expect a 52 point increase in AVG to produce at least a 104 point increase in OPS, assuming the walk rate is constant.

His "isolated power" (SLG minus AVG) has improved by 21 points, but that is pretty small, basically 3 total bases. (I notice he has 2 triples already, and minor league triples are usually pretty suspect for non-speed players. Downgrade those to doubles and it mostly erases his purported isolated power gains.)

His big improvement is BABIP -- up from .265 to .356. Again, for a non-speed guy, not sure I would count on most of that improvement staying.

Edited by spycake, 02 June 2018 - 03:23 PM.


#9 D.C Twins

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 03:26 PM

Nick Gordon is STILL the top one person that needs to be promoted....STILL.

 

Eh, the FO will get there eventually

 

 

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#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 08:39 PM

 

Joe Mauer made his major league debut at age 20. Kiriloff is in CR at 20. Not really sure there is or should be a comparison there.

 

Kirilloff and Mauer spent their draft season hitting well in Elizabethton.

Mauer spent his first full season of minor league ball playing in the Midwst League.

Kirilloff has spent the first two months of his first full season of minor league ball playing in the Midwest League.

Obviously he missed all of last year cuz of Tommy John surgery, which makes it different. He will likely move up to Ft. Myers within the next two weeks.

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#11 DocBauer

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 11:02 PM

I understand the criteria and respect it. But I would still have to argue Khiriloff and remove Rortvedt. Not because Rortvedt isn't doing well, not because he shouldn't be promoted at some point, and not because the Twins don't need future help at catcher.

I just feel he's been a little up and down, not unexpected for a young player. And defense and game calling or so important for a catcher. I've heard nothing negative about him in this regard, but I'd be interested in just how good he is and how much he's improved. That could change my opinion quickly.

Van Steensel is an interesting choice. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he a SP initially? His age may be a concern, but how many guys have we seen over the years who suddenly going themselves by being re-invented as a RP? Marginal players, top prospects, even quality ML SP who began to lose effectiveness. His numbers scream promotion. Even though I follow the system pretty close, I don't really know anything about his repertoire and how it plays up.
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#12 BJames

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 10:16 AM

Nick Anderson, to the Bigs.

2W-1L, 3.38ERA,3Saves, 24.Innings, 14Hits, 37K's. 1.04 WHIP27years old and has moved steadily under the radar.  


#13 jimbo92107

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 10:35 AM

 

Joe Mauer spent his whole first season in the Midwest League. 

True, but Kirilloff has little left to prove in Iowa. I suspect the same might be true in Ft. Myers. If he winds up in Chattanooga by season's end, he could possibly have a cup in September, or be only a year older than Joe was when he hits the bigs sometime in '19.  

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#14 Seth Stohs

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 03:09 PM

 

True, but Kirilloff has little left to prove in Iowa. I suspect the same might be true in Ft. Myers. If he winds up in Chattanooga by season's end, he could possibly have a cup in September, or be only a year older than Joe was when he hits the bigs sometime in '19.  

 

Pretty sure that Kirilloff won't end up in Chattanooga this year... He'll be in Ft. Myers within a copule of weeks... sitting just fine. I'm pretty sure that he won't be up in September....

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#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 03:14 PM

Has this FO promoted anyone from AA yet? I can't think of anyone. So, Wade should be in AAA.

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


#16 AZTwin

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 04:23 PM

It's time to move up Kirilloff.  Not even challenged in low A ball.


#17 caninatl04

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 08:07 PM

 

Has this FO promoted anyone from AA yet? I can't think of anyone. So, Wade should be in AAA.

How does this FO view AAA?As a step between AA and the Bigs or as an extended "bench" for the Bigs filled with potential injury replacements?

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#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 11:22 PM

How does this FO view AAA? As a step between AA and the Bigs or as an extended "bench" for the Bigs filled with potential injury replacements?


I have no idea, but this doesn't answer my question

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


#19 HrbieFan

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 05:10 AM

How does this FO view AAA? As a step between AA and the Bigs or as an extended "bench" for the Bigs filled with potential injury replacements?

Very good question. Not very often do you see a guy that can rake at AA not hit in AAA. I could see the FO wanting the younger player, ie Gordon, to get some tips from guys that have been in the bugs already.

#20 2wins87

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 06:55 AM

Vasquez is probably the most puzzling to me.He pitched in the AFL and had a couple appearances in AA this year, but they're having him dominate in A+ where he's old for the league.Presumably they think he could be an MLB player since they sent him to the AFL last year, but if he's going to pitch in the majors you'd think they'd want him in AA as a 24 year old.

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