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Article: Seth's Preseason Top 20 Minnesota Twins Position Player Prospects

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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 03 April 2019 - 11:05 PM

Happy Minor League Opening Day! It is easily my personal favorite baseball-related day of the year! Beyond following the Twins, starting today we get to follow four other Twins full-season affiliates.

To celebrate the start of a new minor league season, I thought I would present a different variation of my prospect rankings. In the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, you can find the Top 30 rankings for myself, Tom Froemming, Cody Christie and Jeremy Nygaard. You can read other Twins top prospect rankings, or even the rankings of Twins prospects from national outlets.

In Part 1 today, I am going to post my Top 20 Twins position player prospects in the Twins system. These rankings were done since I returned from Ft. Myers for a week of spring training, conversations with several people in and around the organization and other factors. In Part 2 (tomorrow), I will add my rankings of the Top 20 Twins pitching prospects, so be sure to come back and ask as many questions as you would like.The purpose of prospect rankings is really just to create discussion. Below you will find my personal rankings of Twins hitters, and I certainly welcome your thoughts and opinions on the players and their rankings.

As we prepare for the season, be sure to check out the Opening Day roster previews of the four Twins full-season affiliates:

Triple-A: Rochester Red Wings
Double-A: Pensacola Blue Wahoos
High-A: Ft. Myers Miracle
Low-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels


Seth's Top 20 Twins Position Player Prospects

#20 - Gabriel Maciel OF (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

Maciel came to the Twins from the Diamondbacks before the trade deadline in the Eduardo Escobar trade. Maciel is not a big guy, but he shows a really good approach at the plate and generally doesn’t try to do too much. He uses the whole field with a line-drive swing. Also bunts really well.

#19 - Luke Raley OF (Rochester Red Wings)

Raley was acquired from the Dodgers at the trade deadline, with LHP Devin Smeltzer, for Brian Dozier. Raley is impressive in person. He is big and strong and has a ton of power. However, he is also faster than you would think and while capable of playing center field, he is certainly best in the corners.

#18 - Willie Joe Garry, Jr. OF (Extended Spring Training)

Garry was the Twins 10th-round pick last June out of high school in Mississippi. Garry resembles Nick Gordon, though he might be a little taller and probably weighs less than the former first-round pick. Garry is very fast, from my perspective one of the fastest players in the organization. He’s very raw, but he has a really nice left-handed swing and does show good pop in his bat. I would guess he will return to the GCL this summer.

#17 - DaShawn Keirsey OF (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

The Twins fourth-round pick a year ago out of college at Utah, Keirsey is a really good athlete. Obviously he displayed incredible toughness in his return to the diamond a year ago after a gruesome collision with the centerfield wall his sophomore season left him with a dislocated and fractured left hip. He had a terrific junior season, putting up big numbers and has regained his speed and athleticism.

#16 - Jacob Pearson OF (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

The Twins acquired Pearson last offseason for international funds that helped the Angels acquire Shohei Ohtani. He began last season in extended spring training but joined the Kernels on Memorial Day weekend. Pearson is a good athlete who can play all three outfield spots but profiles best in left field. He’s got a good approach at the plate and a line-drive swing that is currently best when hitting the ball the other way.

#15 - Travis Blankenhorn 2B/3B (Ft. Myers Miracle)

Blankenhorn is one of the best athletes in the organization. It looks as though he gained even more strength. He’s got good speed. He can play second and third base at least adequately and has spent some time in left field. He is strong and has a big swing at the plate. He has a lot of power, but he has been really streaky throughout his young career.

#14 - Michael Helman 2B (Ft. Myers Miracle)

Helman was the Twins 11th-round pick out of Texas A&M last summer. He is a good athlete who can play both middle infield positions. He’s got good speed. He has a good arm. He likely profiles as a second baseman, but he can be a line-drive hitting, top-of-the-lineup hitter. Like Larnach, Helman signed on the draft signing deadline day. He played 12 games in E-Town and just 27 games in Cedar Rapids, so this is a very aggressive placement this early in the season.

#13 - Yunior Severino 2B (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

Severino is a very talented player. Talented enough that he received two seven-digit signing bonuses before he turned 18. He has good size, and while he should see a little time at shortstop, it’s likely he is a second baseman. He’s got average speed. He’s got good power potential. As he matures, he has a chance to be really good.


#12 - Luis Arraez 2B (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

Arraez returned last year after missing most of 2017 due to knee surgery. After a slow start, he started hitting again and then hit some more. Then about July 4th, he was promoted to Chattanooga where he hit some more. The Twins added him to the 40-man roster. Arraez is impressive to watch in person. He battles out at-bats and puts the ball in play. He’s also gained size and strength and I do think that he has become more athletic. In big league camp, he got time around the infield. In minor league camp, he primarily played second base.

#11 - LaMonte Wade OF (Rochester Red Wings)

Wade had a real strong showing at big-league camp, doing the things that we have seen him do since he was drafted. He takes a lot of pitches, but he attacks fastballs. He lines the ball all over the field, but he also has the ability to turn on a ball and hit it a long ways. Ha played a lot of center field, but definitely profiles more as a left-fielder.

#10 - Jose Miranda 3B/2B (Ft. Myers Miracle)

Miranda came on strong after a slow start last year. He has played second base and shortstop, but I’ve been told that his future is likely at third base. He may even play a little shortstop. But he is a big, strong kid with a good plate approach and a ton of power potential, and he still has room to grow.

#9 - Gilberto Celestino OF (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

Celestino came to the organization from Houston in the Ryan Pressly trade last summer. He was a big-dollar international signing. He is a really good athlete and very strong. He has a big leg kick, stays balanced and swings hard. He’s got good speed and range in center field.

#8 - Ryan Jeffers C (Ft. Myers Miracle)

The Twins second-round pick a year ago had a very impressive professional debut at E-Town and Cedar Rapids. He has an advanced hitting approach and generally puts the ball in play. He takes his walks and has a lot of power potential. In addition, he has been a very pleasant surprise with his performance behind the plate.

#7 - Nick Gordon SS/2B (Rochester Red Wings)

Yes, he struggled in his Triple-A debut, but until that point, Gordon had worked his way up the Twins ladder consistently and successfully. He began last year back in Double-A and added some more power to his game. While he will start the season on the IL, Gordon typically gets off to fast starts, showing a line-drive swing that is best when driving the ball the other way. Defensively, he can play shortstop and second base adequately.

#6 - Akil Baddoo OF (Ft. Myers Miracle)

Baddoo did a very nice job in Cedar Rapids, filling out the stat line with double-figures in doubles, triples, homes and stolen bases. He has really good speed and has become a much-improved center fielder. He takes a lot of pitchers, walks a lot and strikes out a lot. He will most likely hit at the top of the Miracle lineup most nights.

#5 - Brent Rooker OF/1B (Rochester Red Wings)

In his first full season, Rooker hit 32 doubles and 20 homers in Double-A. And he put up those numbers despite struggling the first six weeks of the season and the final month of the season. There is a lot of swing and miss, but he produces big power and production. He can play first base and the corner outfield spots and should continue to get time at each.

#4 - Trevor Larnach OF (Ft. Myers Miracle)

Larnach was impressive at Oregon State, but when you watch him in person, he’s even more impressive. Larnach is tall and lean but really strong. He has a really smooth left-handed swing that has tremendous power potential as he continues to gain strength. He’s got good speed and he looks more natural in right field, including a strong arm.

#3 - Wander Javier SS (Extended Spring Training)

Javier won’t be in extended spring for too long. While he missed all of last season, Javier clearly worked hard and got bigger and stronger. He always had an innate ability to find barrels but that added size should potentially increase his power capability as well as his endurance. And people firmly believe that he can stick at shortstop as he has a very strong arm. Simply, he just needs to stay healthy and play.

#2 - Alex Kirilloff OF (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

What more can be said about Kirilloff? What a year 2018 was for the slugger? He was one of the best hitters in minor league baseball and rose dramatically up the national prospect rankings. He showed extra-base power to all fields, especially to the opposite field. He returned nicely defensively in right field, but with the Twins' outfield depth, Kirilloff is going to spend significant time at first base this year, a position he is familiar with. Kirilloff looked a little stronger, but there is no question that he regained some speed in the offseason as well.

#1 - Royce Lewis SS (Ft. Myers Miracle)

Lewis was a Midwest League All-Star in 2018. He remained with the Kernels for a few more weeks before finishing the season with six weeks in Ft. Myers where he helped the Miracle to the FSL title. Lewis worked and added strength the past couple of offseasons. It started to show about two months into last season and he continued that power run in Ft. Myers. Lewis is a good all-around hitter, aggressive in the strike zone. One thing I noted in spring training is that you don’t hear people questioning his ability to play shortstop as much as we used to hear a year ago. Lewis had a good year, and he showed that he can make all of the plays and has plenty of arm.


Again, these are my personal choices as Top 20 Minnesota Twins position player prospects. Certainly this list can and will likely cause some discussion and questions, which I welcome below.

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#2 Aerodeliria

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 02:51 AM

A deep bow and a thank you.

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#3 glunn

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 02:52 AM

Great article, Seth. Which hitter do you believe has the highest ceiling?

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#4 terrydactyls1947

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 04:43 AM

Just as a hitting prospect, I would reverse Kiriloff and Lewis.Lewis might be the #1 overall prospect, but Kiriloff can hit.

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#5 Yossarian

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 05:36 AM

Makes one almost smile to think about the future.Looking forward to the MiLB daily game summaries this year.

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#6 rdehring

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:04 AM

Trying to understand exactly what you are using as your criteria, Seth.I am assuming this is not position players, but based strictly on hitting?Or is defense included, but discounted?Reason I ask is not seeing Rortvedt in a Top 20 of position players would otherwise be shocking to me. 

 

Not quibbling over your ranking, but the player I think will move up this list greatly during the coming season in Raley.Really liked what I saw from him in early ST games.

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#7 IAMNFan

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:10 AM

Lots of optimism ahead. Especially with the clubs improved ability to develop talent.
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#8 um_stevenel

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:38 AM

Seems like Kirilloff and Rooker could both debut this year or next. With Kepler’s extension, OF is unlikely. Do you think one of them is likely to be traded?
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#9 dbminn

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:48 AM

Seth, you and many others at TD see these players a lot more than me. What follows is a fan's opinion:

 

From what I've seen of Raley, he seems as much a prospect as Rooker. He doesn't have the power potential of Rooker (who does?) but he seems to have better recognition and coverage of the k-zone. By accounts, he's a better fielder and the two are the same age. 

 

I feel like Raley gets the same treatment as Balazovic. They weren't highly touted but both have the tools to be ranked higher (not just stats). 

 

Again, not a rant, just a barely informed opinion. As I've said before, I look to the TD folks first for info on the entire Twins system. 

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#10 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 06:53 AM

I am really high on Severino. He mashed some baseballs at Elizabethton last summer. Pound for pound, he may have as much power as anyone...and he is still growing. I would move him to the top ten.Also I was very impressed with Raley at ST. He is as strong as a bull and can hit the ball a long way. Plus he is a good, fast outfielder. I wonder how many of these prospects will actually play meaningful games for the Twins?We shall see. Thanks for your article. I really enjoyed reading it. Play ball !

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#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:06 AM

I apologize for the confusion. Today I'm ranking the position player prospects. Tomorrow will be the pitching prospects. 

 

Not just ranking the hitting, but the position players.

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#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:06 AM

 

Just as a hitting prospect, I would reverse Kiriloff and Lewis.Lewis might be the #1 overall prospect, but Kiriloff can hit.

 

I don't disagree with this... 

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#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:09 AM

 

Seems like Kirilloff and Rooker could both debut this year or next. With Kepler’s extension, OF is unlikely. Do you think one of them is likely to be traded?

 

I would think Kirilloff would fit into the pretty much untrade-able category unless completely overwhelmed. Rooker would take a nice return as well. 

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#14 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:10 AM

 

Trying to understand exactly what you are using as your criteria, Seth.I am assuming this is not position players, but based strictly on hitting?Or is defense included, but discounted?Reason I ask is not seeing Rortvedt in a Top 20 of position players would otherwise be shocking to me. 

 

Not quibbling over your ranking, but the player I think will move up this list greatly during the coming season in Raley.Really liked what I saw from him in early ST games.

 

I updated the post to say "position players" and now I apologize for shocking you. 

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#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:14 AM

 

Seth, you and many others at TD see these players a lot more than me. What follows is a fan's opinion:

 

From what I've seen of Raley, he seems as much a prospect as Rooker. He doesn't have the power potential of Rooker (who does?) but he seems to have better recognition and coverage of the k-zone. By accounts, he's a better fielder and the two are the same age. 

 

I feel like Raley gets the same treatment as Balazovic. They weren't highly touted but both have the tools to be ranked higher (not just stats). 

 

Again, not a rant, just a barely informed opinion. As I've said before, I look to the TD folks first for info on the entire Twins system. 

 

I think that's a very fair comment. And as I think about it too, ,I think you make a good point. I think that speaks to the depth of talent in the system right now. Maybe it's still a lack of familiarity. Maybe it's' the background. But you're probably right. I do think that Rooker's got quite a big more ceiling, but obviously we'll have to see how that plays out. 

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#16 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:16 AM

 

I am really high on Severino. He mashed some baseballs at Elizabethton last summer. Pound for pound, he may have as much power as anyone...and he is still growing. I would move him to the top ten.Also I was very impressed with Raley at ST. He is as strong as a bull and can hit the ball a long way. Plus he is a good, fast outfielder. I wonder how many of these prospects will actually play meaningful games for the Twins?We shall see. Thanks for your article. I really enjoyed reading it. Play ball !

 

That is the question... I think a lot of these guys can play in the big leagues. In fact, I think all of these guys and probably another 8+ hitters in the system can be big leaguers too. 

 

Severino is a really exciting player and i think that with full-season time in 2019 ,he''ll likely be higher than this at the end of the season. 

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#17 Dman

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 07:45 AM

I like the list and I have virtually nothing but stats and hearsay to guide my opinions but do you feel Willie Joe Garry is currently a better hitter than Ricardo De La Torre?They both struggled in short season ball but I thought Ricky held his own there while Willie had a pretty brutal start.

 

If Raley is there how about GRZELAKOWSKI.He is a bit K prone but can take walks and had a nice OPS for High A.

 

I am biased but I like Ernie De La Trinidad better than Pearson at this point.I know Ernie doesn't have Pearsons power potential but he has a better eye at the plate and better hit tool IMO.

 

I really like where you put Helman and I would have him even higher.I think he will prove you right in the end. I know it was a small sample size but he hit well in Rookie Ball and when he got moved up he hit better than pretty much everyone else at A ball.There has to be something in his approach that makes him that successful.I will be watching him closely this year to see if we got a steal in the 11th round.High A is typically the toughest jump for hitters.If he does well there I think he makes it.

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#18 TheRealCupOfJoe

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 08:00 AM

Luke Raley must really crowd the plate! He was HBP 24 times last year.If he got plunked that many times in the Bigs, he'd be in the top 50 all time HBP in a season. Brandon Nimmo of the Mets had 22 last year, leading the league.

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#19 DutchFarmer

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 08:03 AM

I wonder if the Twins could work out some sort of trade with Atlanta, as the Braves appear to have a ton of pitching prospect depth and not much in the middle infield. e.g. Gordon for Bryse Wilson?

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#20 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 08:20 AM

 

I like the list and I have virtually nothing but stats and hearsay to guide my opinions but do you feel Willie Joe Garry is currently a better hitter than Ricardo De La Torre?They both struggled in short season ball but I thought Ricky held his own there while Willie had a pretty brutal start.

 

If Raley is there how about GRZELAKOWSKI.He is a bit K prone but can take walks and had a nice OPS for High A.

 

I am biased but I like Ernie De La Trinidad better than Pearson at this point.I know Ernie doesn't have Pearsons power potential but he has a better eye at the plate and better hit tool IMO.

 

I really like where you put Helman and I would have him even higher.I think he will prove you right in the end. I know it was a small sample size but he hit well in Rookie Ball and when he got moved up he hit better than pretty much everyone else at A ball.There has to be something in his approach that makes him that successful.I will be watching him closely this year to see if we got a steal in the 11th round.High A is typically the toughest jump for hitters.If he does well there I think he makes it.

 

Again, I updated the title to Position Players, not Hitters... 

 

Is Garry, Jr. a better hitter today than Ricky De La Torre? I don't know. Probably not. I think part of me is just surprised that the Twins don''t have De La Torre in Cedar Rapids after a solid season at E-Town last year. But as an overall prospect, Garry was incredibly impressive to me. I am probably higher on De La Torre than most, but Garry bumped him (for now, though obviously subject to change in 3-6 months again when we have more data points). 

 

Gelly can hit, no doubt, ,but again, prospect rankings are based on that. With the Blue Wahoos,, he'll be the #4 catcher and first baseman and DH,, and he has played a little bit in the outfield in the past. Again, I would probably rank Gelly higher than most prospect rankers because he's a good hitter and I know he''s worked incredibly hard and he has high character and drive and a lot of other intangibles. But because a lot of times prospect rankings are based on upside and potential and athleticism and maybe speed and more. But let's remember, as players move up the ladder, it does become a little more about performance because in the big leagues that's all that matters. Gelly is going to hit somewhere between 3 and 7 in AA most nights so he should get a lot of opportunity.

 

De La Trinidad fits into that category too. I don't think he's got any plus tools, but his approach and zone knowledge are impressive, and he is solid all around. I personally rank Mark Contreras ahead of De La Trinidad (though it's close). 

 

Man, the Twins must really, really like Helman. I mean, I fully understand Larnach and Jeffers jumping straight to Ft. Myers, but Helman isn't necessarily the type of player that you bump up that fast. But he's talented. Again, not sure he has any plus tools but he is average or better at a lot of things. Fields well. Plays middle infield. Line drives. Good approach. Averagish speed. He's impressive to watch 

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