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Who’s the Top Twins Prospect? Alex Kirilloff vs. Royce Lewis

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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 09:30 PM

Many teams would be ecstatic to have the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis headlining their farm system. For Twins fans, a debate can be argued about who is the organization’s top prospect.Most national prospect rankings have been released over the last few weeks and these lists are especially tough this year when many of these players haven’t seen game action since the conclusion of the 2019 campaign. As I created my top-20 Twins prospect rankings, the top spot was one of the toughest to decide. Let’s look at the cases for Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis as the Twins’ top prospect.

Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
2021 Number 1 Rankings: Baseball America, FanGraphs

Pros: Praise couldn’t have been much higher for Kirilloff last season as the team called him up to make his debut in the do-or-die game against the Astros. Eddie Rosario’s departure means Kirilloff is likely being handed the keys to a starting spot for the majority of 2021. Since he was drafted, he has been praised for his advanced approach at the plate and that has remained true even though he missed an entire season due to Tommy John surgery.

His powerful swing is going to put him in the middle of the Twins line-up for the majority of the next decade. He sprays the balls to all fields, and he’s added muscle in recent years that is only going to make him more dangerous at the big-league level.

Cons: Kirilloff’s added bulk means his defensive options will be limited at the big-league level. He will be relegated to a corner outfield spot or first base, which can limit some of his defensive value. As with many power hitters, Kirilloff tends to swing at a lot of pitches which can result in a higher number of strikeouts.

Royce Lewis, SS
Number 1 Rankings: MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus

Pros: Lewis has been praised for his athleticism since the Twins drafted him. He’s used his athletic ability to play multiple defensive positions, but Minnesota would like him to stick at shortstop. In the lower levels of the minors, he killed the ball posting an .800+ OPS in rookie ball and Low-A. He finished the 2019 campaign in the Arizona Fall League and was named MVP after hitting .353/.411/.565.

His on- and off-field leadership are also something to consider as his makeup is one of the reasons the Twins drafted him first overall. He’s going to work hard to improve his game on both sides of the ball. One of those adjustments was to his swing which was tweaked while working with Twins coaches at the alternate site. FanGraphs wrote, “He’s starting with an open stance now, and the angle of his bat as he sets up is also different (more north/south and away from his shoulder.” Fans will have to wait to see if those tweaks improve his 2021 numbers.

Cons: Speaking of his swing, that has been one of his biggest struggles as he has reached the high minors. For those that haven’t seen Lewis hit, he utilizes a big leg kick and a lot of movement with his hands. At High- and Double-A, his OPS dropped to under .690, but he is open to making tweaks to his swing as mentioned above. Defensively, some have questioned whether he can stick at shortstop. He may wind up playing a combination of infield and outfield positions.

It seems like Lewis has the potential for a higher ceiling, but Kirilloff has a much higher floor. Which prospect would you rank number one? Stop by later this week as I unveil my top-20 prospects.

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Cody Christie

#2 ashbury


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Posted 24 January 2021 - 09:56 PM

Tie. If I had Kirilloff and was offered Lewis in trade? Probably I say no. If I had Lewis and was offered Kirilloff? Probably no.

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#3 Doctor Gast

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 04:37 AM

It's close, Kiriloff has more power but I'd choose Lewis because of his athleticism. His ability to play the critical positions of SS and CF which is the Twins greatest need. I'm not worried about his stance, he has shown that he's able to make the necessary adjustments.
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#4 High heat

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 04:43 AM

Prospect lists is all about high upside so Lewis is the answer.But he still could never play a game in the majors. 


Were Kiriloff is at worst Delmon Young. 

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#5 DasBat


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 06:57 AM

I like both of them. For me it’s Kirilloff. He has a more consistent track record
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#6 Out State Twin

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:44 AM

Excited to see the growth Lewis will make in 2021. Kirilloff will have a very productive Twins career. We need more players like them.

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#7 Shaitan


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:52 AM

Too hard to tell without a minor league season last year.


But offense rules all rankings, so I suppose I'll say Kirilloff because this stuff is all opinion and arbitrary anyway.

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#8 Kendel


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:08 AM

As long as defensive shifts stay legal, I take Kirilloff. Cody has posted his spray chart previously (a thing of beauty). Players who can hit to all fields with power, are going to be the only way to beat the shift.

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#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:30 AM

For me, it's still Lewis...


But I've also been on record (on Twitter) as saying Kirilloff will win a couple of batting titles and an MVP. So, that's pretty good.


I also don't think there is a huge difference between Kirilloff and Larnach, prospect-status-wise. 

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#10 Shaitan


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:38 AM


For me, it's still Lewis...


But I've also been on record (on Twitter) as saying Kirilloff will win a couple of batting titles and an MVP. So, that's pretty good.


I also don't think there is a huge difference between Kirilloff and Larnach, prospect-status-wise. 

Does a potential Larnach/CF/Kirilloff outfield make retaining Buxton extra important, or does one end up at 1B?

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#11 Trov


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 11:12 AM

It really depends on what you value more, offense or defense?Offense Kirilloff is higher, but defense Lewis is.Lewis is not only defense but his is more of a wild card on what kind of offense he will put forward.Even if he cannot stay at short he should still play high level of defense and if he can be above average on offense he should be better overall.


I really like Kirilloff and expect big things from him.However, he will be playing average defense at best from what I hear and so his bat will have to be extra special. 

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#12 mikelink45


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 12:12 PM

Kiriloff by far for me.Lewis has not advanced the way that the number one prospect should in my mind.Larnach is actually part of this discussion too. 

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#13 tvagle


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 01:38 PM

Kiriloff is an everyday Major Leaguer in 2021 so...IMHO Lewis is the top prospect with Larnach clipping at his heals

I'm going to need a Falvine definition of the word IMPACT in regards to MLB Hurlers

#14 strumdatjaguar


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Posted 25 January 2021 - 06:07 PM

I think you mean Kirilloff has a higher floor.
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#15 TopGunn#22



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Posted 26 January 2021 - 07:55 AM

At this point I'd have to go with Kiriloff.His bat is just much more consistent than Lewis.

And it remains to be seen just where exactly Lewis will end up defensively.

If Lewis had shown a little more consistent hitting ability this would be much tougher for me to judge.

And I agree with the idea that Larnach isn't really that far behind Kiriloff as a hitter.

Unless Kiriloff becomes a 1B-man exclusively(and with Sano, Rooker, and Sabato that seems unlikely) and even as much as I like Kepler it's hard not to imagine Larnach and Kiriloff in the corner OF spots.  

Signing Buxton to an extension is very important in that scenario.


You make a trade for Trevor Story and sign him to a long term extension making him the Twins SS for the next 7-8 years.

In that scenario, Lewis takes over for Buxton in CF and the process of developing a SS for 5+ years from now begins.

Will Wander Javier EVER deliver on his promise ???

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Posted 26 January 2021 - 07:56 AM

The other, similar option is making a trade for Baez.Same scenario, different player that the Twins would need to be committed to playing at SS for 5+ years or more.

#17 JLease


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Posted 26 January 2021 - 08:02 AM

I think right now it's Kirilloff. He's passed the test at every level so far and looks to have an elite hit tool that's backed up with performance. Lewis has great athleticism and elite potential, but he hasn't locked into a defensive position yet and he hasn't unlocked his hit potential yet.


This is also probably the last time we talk about them this way, because Kirilloff is about to graduate from prospect status. While it's possible Larnach or Rooker beats him out for a starting position in the OF, he's the odds-on favorite to grab a corner OF slot. And I don't think he's gonna let it go once he lands it.


The only real knock against Kirilloff is health: he's been dinged a few times. Hopefully he's able to stay on the field and slash line drives at everyone and every thing. I can't wait to see him out there for the Twins.


I'm still high on Royce Lewis, but he's still got some work to do. He'll be back as #1 after this season as Kirilloff graduates. Hopefully the loss of last season's minor league games don't set him back.

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#18 rdehring


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Posted 26 January 2021 - 08:35 AM

Lewis could become special. But so could Kirilloff, although mostly because of his bat. Although Lewis' ceiling is higher and his defense certainly better, there is a much higher probability that Kirilloff reaches his ceiling than Lewis. So its AK for me.

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#19 jrod23


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Posted 26 January 2021 - 09:10 AM


For me, it's still Lewis...


But I've also been on record (on Twitter) as saying Kirilloff will win a couple of batting titles and an MVP. So, that's pretty good.


I also don't think there is a huge difference between Kirilloff and Larnach, prospect-status-wise. 


I tend to mirror this.Especially the Kirilloff and Larnach similarities.Larnach is just bigger.Both will be very good bats in The Show.Lewis' bat has me concerned, but his leadership traits are fantastic.


The only thing I'd disagree with though from the article is Kirilloff doesn't swing and miss as much as you mentioned Cody.Yes, with power may come more swings and misses, but Kirilloff's plate discipline is one of the best to come up through our system in recent years.Not Luis Arraez levels, but under 20%.

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#20 Heiny


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Posted 26 January 2021 - 12:02 PM

For me it is easily Kirilloff.Because, since this is all opinions, I believe Kirilloff will be a star in the bigs even if he only plays average defense.And even though I hope that Lewis' bat will begin to shine, as expected, I am not quite as confidant in that happening. Making him a defensive specialist.Possibly even "Super Utility".I know that sounds pessimistic and I don't actually believe it myself, but the point is that he needs to show that his bat can be ML average. But, on the other hand, he is young, and super athletic.I do believe he will get there, hopefully very soon.

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