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Article: Toolshed: The Best Tools In the Minor Leagues

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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 09:00 PM

Scouts are always looking for prospects with the tools to change a franchise. The next Mike Trout isn’t going to fall into the laps of an organization. Minnesota has one of the highest ranked minor league systems in baseball and this includes arguably the best prospect duo in Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff.

So what prospects have the best tools in the Twins system? All the authors of the Twins Prospect Handbook (Seth Stohs, Tom Froemming, and myself) had some input on this list. There are some clear winners and some other spots that are open to interpretation.If you would like to see other toolsy prospects (along with articles from each Twins affiliate, full articles on the Twins Daily Minor League Award winners, over 160 Twins minor league player profiles, prospect rankings and much more), you have a couple of purchase options. If you want the paperbook copy of the book, it is $17.99. The electronic, PDF version is available for immediate download for $12.99. (Be sure to go to Lulu.com to see if there are any promo codes to provide a better price.)

Best Hit Tool: Alex Kirilloff
Alex Kirilloff might have the best hit tool of any prospect in the minor leagues not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a 20-year old, Kirilloff was almost two and a half years younger than the competition in the Florida State League. He led the minor leagues with 71 extra-base hits and had a .970 OPS. MiLB named Kirilloff the Breakout Prospect of the Year because of his offensive explosion. The only question remaining might be if Kirilloff can turn his hit tool into making his big-league debut in 2019.
Honorable Mention: Luis Arraez, Royce Lewis

Best Power Tool: Brent Rooker
Rooker burst onto the scene after being drafted by the Twins in 2017. In 62 games between E-Town and Fort Myers, he cracked 18 home runs and posted a .930 OPS. Rooker spent all of 2018 at Double-A, where he combined for 22 home runs and 32 doubles. His powerful swing resulted in some swing and miss tendencies as he compiled 150 strikeouts in 130 games played. Minnesota needs a new first baseman, but the team has already added CJ Cron and Nelson Cruz so far this off-season. This likely means Rooker starts the year in the minors but his powerful bat should get him to Minnesota.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Larnach, Luke Raley, Jaylin Davis, Travis Blankenhorn, Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Trey Cabbage

Best Run Tool: Royce Lewis
Lewis is widely considered the best prospect in the Twins system and his five-tool skills make him standout above the crowd. His 28 steals were the most in the organization last season and he was only thrown out eight times. As a 19-year old, Lewis was almost three and a half years younger than the competition in the FSL. He and Kirilloff helped the Miracle to the FSL Championship. At this time next year, Lewis could be considered baseball’s top prospect. It’s scary to think how much better he could get over the next year.
Honorable Mention: Akil Baddoo, Aaron Whitefield, Zack Granite, Tanner English

Best Arm Tool: Andrew Bechtold
Bechtold was taken out of college in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. He spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids while making most of his defensive starts at third base (670.1 innings). Bechtold did play roughly 200 innings at second base but his strong arm is probably wasted at the position. If he wants to make it to the big leagues as a third baseman, Bechtold is going to need get closer to his offensive numbers from his professional debut. His OPS dropped from .829 in 2017 to .593 in 2018. He will move up to the FSL this year, where he will try and make some offensive adjustments.
Honorable Mention: Tanner English, Brian Navarreto, Ben Rortvedt

Best Field Tool: Tanner English
English has spent the last five seasons in the Twins system and played all last year in Chattanooga. In his age-25 season, he was over a year older than the competition in the Southern League. During his time in the organization, he has accumulated 26 outfield assists and a .992 fielding percentage. His career .239/.335/.387 batting line probably won’t make him a starter at the big-league level. However, his defensive skills could make him a useful fourth outfielder. His speed has also been evident on the base paths as he has accumulated 35 steals or more in any season he’s played over 100 games.
Honorable Mention: Brian Navarreto, Zack Granite, Aaron Whitefield, David Banuelos, Royce Lewis

Best Athlete: Royce Lewis
Lewis is extremely athletic on both sides of the ball. On the offensive side, he can power the ball to all fields and he’s shown patience to draw walks. As mentioned above, any time he can get on base is a good thing because he has the best run tool of any player in the organization. Defensively, he will be given every opportunity to stick at shortstop. His athleticism helps him to have strong range and good hands. Right now, all Twins fans are familiar with Lewis, but the 2019 season could be his coming out party at the national level.
Honorable Mention: Akil Baddoo, Travis Blankenhorn, Wander Javier, Tanner English, Gilberto Celestino, DaShawn Keirsey

How does the list look? Who would you rank at the top of each tool?

To read more about the tools of over 160 prospects and much more about the Twins minor leagues, grab your copy (or copies) of the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.
Paperback version
PDF version

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#2 Dr. Evil

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 09:23 PM

Very interesting article. Gets me jacked knowing we have these great prospects.
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#3 Dantes929

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 12:13 AM

"As mentioned above, any time he can get on base is a good thing because he has the best run tool of any player in the organization" Can't imagine that would include Buxton. How would they do in a race?

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#4 h2oface

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:11 AM

"The next Mike Trout isn’t going to fall into the laps of an organization."

 

Yet....... THE Mike Trout, did. Go figure.

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#5 Doctor Wu

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:18 AM

One position that I'm worried about in the near future is catcher. What's the verdict on our catching prospects in the minors? In addition to being able to hit, which catcher has the best tools? Good arm, pitch framing, the usual arsenal of stuff.

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#6 AZTwin

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:57 AM

One position that I'm worried about in the near future is catcher. What's the verdict on our catching prospects in the minors? In addition to being able to hit, which catcher has the best tools? Good arm, pitch framing, the usual arsenal of stuff.


Ben Rortvedt

http://m.milb.com/milb/player/666163
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#7 AZTwin

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:00 AM

They drafted Ryan Jeffers last year too but not sure he sticks at C

http://m.milb.com/milb/player/680777
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#8 2wins87

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:38 AM

 

They drafted Ryan Jeffers last year too but not sure he sticks at C

http://m.milb.com/milb/player/680777

 

Jeffers has actually gotten solid defensive reviews in his professional debut.I've actually heard a bit more concern (from John Sickels for one) over whether his offensive production holds up when he faces more advanced pitchers given that he was older than a lot of his competition this year.

 

Given how well he's hit so far that's not really all that discouraging to hear.He'll just need to go out and continue to prove it.I'm feeling optimistic about him right now.I think there's a very realistic chance he turns into a starting backstop for the Twins a few years down the line.

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#9 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:47 AM

One position that I'm worried about in the near future is catcher. What's the verdict on our catching prospects in the minors? In addition to being able to hit, which catcher has the best tools? Good arm, pitch framing, the usual arsenal of stuff.


I’m worried about the future at catcher too, Garver’s concussion could prove to be a issue someday soon, Astudillo is somewhat of an unknown, Jeffers may not stick behind the plate in the long run, and Rortvedt has yet to show that he’s a legit prospect. Meaning the FO will likely have to spend another high draft pick on another catcher next June, and or, trade for one, although I doubt it’ll be Realmuto.

One guy I’ve given some thought about is the Astros top catching prospect (AAA), Garrett Stubbs, who for catcher is well above average in terms of athleticism, good defensively, has a simple left handed swing, and gets on base (.382 OBP in 2018). At 5'10 and 175 lbs, Stubb’s only “problem” has been his durability, although in a game that values versatility much more now, that may work to his benefit as he may be capable of playing the outfield (8 innings in RF last season), not to mention forming a platoon with Garver.
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#10 Thrylos

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:50 AM

Hard to argue with this list

 

I would expect to see Ryan Jeffers some place there. 35% extra base hits at Cedar Rapids first season with wood is really promising.

 

Michael Helman (11th round pick in 2018.)Any player who hits near .500 at any level is interesting.He put a.487/.567/.829 line at JuCo in 2017 and had this worse hitting line ever at Cedar Rapids this season hitting .355/.398/.486.Have not yet seen him play, but color me intrigued. 

 

I am not going to mention any Dominicans, other than the fact that no Twins minor leaguer outside the DSL had more walks than strikeouts this season.I think that aggressiveness has been a Philosophy shift in the organization (this includes the majors.)Quick sampling, back in 2016, just 3 seasons ago, there were 6 players in the minors outside the DSL with at least as many walks as strikeouts.What does this can to do in a tools post? The definition of the "hitting" tool might be changing league wide.

 

Also, unless there is a massive number of injuries, there is no way that Kirilloff will be in the majors in 2019.I understand the helium, but lets see the kid hit AA pitching first before we proclaim him "ready".

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#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:54 AM

 

"As mentioned above, any time he can get on base is a good thing because he has the best run tool of any player in the organization" Can't imagine that would include Buxton. How would they do in a race?

 

Would be fun to see... I think Buxton would win in a very close race

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#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:59 AM

 

One position that I'm worried about in the near future is catcher. What's the verdict on our catching prospects in the minors? In addition to being able to hit, which catcher has the best tools? Good arm, pitch framing, the usual arsenal of stuff.

 

Rortvedt and Jeffers are the "Prospects". Rortvedt is much better defensively and has some offensive potential. Jeffers is a hitter first, but he did impress the Twins with his defense in his pro debut....

 

Brian Navarreto and Caleb Hamilton are really good defensive catchers. 

 

Mitchell Kranson is a hit-first catcher who can play 3B, 1B, some OF.

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#13 Thrylos

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 11:35 AM

 

Rortvedt and Jeffers are the "Prospects". Rortvedt is much better defensively and has some offensive potential. Jeffers is a hitter first, but he did impress the Twins with his defense in his pro debut....

 

Brian Navarreto and Caleb Hamilton are really good defensive catchers. 

 

Mitchell Kranson is a hit-first catcher who can play 3B, 1B, some OF.

 

Stateside, I'd add Janigson Villalobos (of Phil Hughes trade fame), Trevor Casanova (13th pick in 2018), David Banuelos (who had some helium when came from Seattle last off-season, but has been hurt all of 2018 practically), plus Jeferson Morales at the DSL who was signed in 2016 and had his first healthy season in 2018 and is coming stateside next season. 

 

Not necessarily in that order.

 

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#14 bunt_vs_the_shift

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 02:08 PM

 

One position that I'm worried about in the near future is catcher. What's the verdict on our catching prospects in the minors? In addition to being able to hit, which catcher has the best tools? Good arm, pitch framing, the usual arsenal of stuff.

 

What is the ceiling for Astudillo as a catcher? From an entertainment factor alone, I'd like to see more Astudillo at the park, but I don't know if he brings enough defensively to be a backup to the backup if Garver gets hurt

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#15 caninatl04

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 02:35 PM

Di

They drafted Ryan Jeffers last year too but not sure he sticks at C
http://m.milb.com/milb/player/680777
dnt

Didn’t they draft, like, 45 catchers in last year’s draft?

#16 Seth Stohs

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 05:02 PM

 

Stateside, I'd add Janigson Villalobos (of Phil Hughes trade fame), Trevor Casanova (13th pick in 2018), David Banuelos (who had some helium when came from Seattle last off-season, but has been hurt all of 2018 practically), plus Jeferson Morales at the DSL who was signed in 2016 and had his first healthy season in 2018 and is coming stateside next season. 

 

Not necessarily in that order.

 

Casanova can flat-out hit, and Banuelos can flat-out catch! Good catches!

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#17 Seth Stohs

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 05:03 PM

 

What is the ceiling for Astudillo as a catcher? From an entertainment factor alone, I'd like to see more Astudillo at the park, but I don't know if he brings enough defensively to be a backup to the backup if Garver gets hurt

 

Terrific third catcher option for any team... Ceiling, decent backup catcher option with some versatility. 

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#18 ashbury

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:14 PM

"As mentioned above, any time he can get on base is a good thing because he has the best run tool of any player in the organization" Can't imagine that would include Buxton. 

The thread title has "best tools in the minor leagues" so I think that's a useful assumption on anything stated about "the organization".

 

I too would like to see a foot race.

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#19 Dantes929

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:32 PM

 

The thread title has "best tools in the minor leagues" so I think that's a useful assumption on anything stated about "the organization".

 

I too would like to see a foot race.

Yeah, I get your point but Iwould view "the system" to be short for the minor league system and the "organization" to include the Twins. Useful distinction because if any of these guys have tools that are better than any of the major leaguers as well I would find it interesting, even if it is an article about the minor leagues.  Also, Buxton was in the minors since May 29 and didn't get a call up so at what point is he considered not a minor leaguer.  Can't be if he has seen major league playing time since Granite was listed twice. Mostly though I just want to know how Lewis and Buxton compare.

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#20 howieramone2

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 11:11 AM

I think catching is a numbers game also. I like our organizational depth, but have no clue who will come out on top. Maybe our Cedar Rapids guys have some idea. We didn't get a catcher at the trade deadline, so I took that to mean we are not unhappy with our depth. 

 

Note, we only took one lefty at the deadline. I took that to mean we like our organizational depth, after taking 3 at the deadline in 2017.