The Minnesota Twins go into the offseason with an excellent combination of top prospects and serious depth throughout the organization. With plenty of young players putting up nice seasons, a recent end-of-the-year update to the Twins Daily Top 20 Prospects list shows real movement.
For the Twins organization, prospect graduations took place this year in the form of rookies like Royce Lewis, Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner, and Louie Varland. It wasn’t just the guys that made it to the big leagues where substantial change was experienced. With a mid-October update to the Twins Daily Top 20 Prospects, it’s clear there are a few names that jump off the page.
As Minnesota looks to find ways to supplement the major league roster for Rocco Baldelli this offseason, utilizing prospect capital could be a plan for Derek Falvey. The organization could see a change in payroll realities on the heels of a new television outcome, and trades may be a more cost-effective way to add than the free agent market. Beyond that, we saw what rookies can look like as contributors in 2023, and identifying who creates the next wave is a must.
Here are some notable names that saw their stock rise in 2023:
1. Walker Jenkins
Taking over the top spot from Brooks Lee, Jenkins went from the draft to pro ball and didn’t skip a beat. He blitzed through rookie ball and contributed at Single-A for Fort Myers. He probably could have handled High-A and helped with the Cedar Rapids Kernels Midwest League title. Jenkins is already preparing for 2024, and while he will be less than 12 months removed from high school, betting against a meteoric rise doesn’t seem like a good proposition. He’s probably not making it to The Show in the upcoming season, but getting to Minnesota, specifically St. Paul, would be an incredible outcome.
11. Kala'i Rosario
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the performance of Rosario (and Marco Raya) has helped to withstand the blow of missing on Aaron Sabato. Rosario had an .832 OPS as a 20-year-old at High-A Cedar Rapids, and his 21 homers indicate that he has come into his power. The strikeouts are still substantial, so reigning that in as he develops is a must, but there’s a legitimate power hitter here. Minnesota sent Rosario to the Arizona Fall League this year, and he’s hit five homers in his first 15 games. Continued development is needed for the Hawaii native, but he’s still young, and seeing what his season looks like at Double-A should be fun.
15. Cory Lewis
It’s easy to call Lewis’ season the best among the pitchers on the farm, given he won both the Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Year award and the same designation from Minnesota themselves. He was a 9th round pick that immediately made noise, and while he throws a knuckleball, he’s not a traditional knuckleballer. Lewis was an integral part of the Kernels championship run, and after posting solid numbers with Fort Myers, he got better when he went up a level. Lewis recently turned 23-years-old and should begin the year at Double-A. That would put him in play as a potential late-season option for a major league debut should things go well. Lewis doesn’t have the ceiling of Raya, but he could elevate to David Festa prospect status with Minnesota by sometime in 2024.
Here are a couple of names that saw their stock fall in 2023:
13. Connor Prielipp
The second-round pick in 2022 was coming off an injury when selected and hadn’t pitched since 2021 for Alabama. Minnesota took the time to get him back healthy, but it resulted in just 6 2/3 innings before going back under the knife. There’s no question that Prielipp has the skills to be an ace pitcher, but his inability to stay healthy has been problematic for years. He hasn’t done anything statistically to account for his fall, but being unavailable while others pass him by has dropped him out of the Twins top 10.
14. Yasser Mercedes
Mercedes came stateside in 2023 and saw a substantial dip in production. He was just 18 years old but dropped over .300 points in OPS while playing in just 25 games. His Dominican Summer League numbers still reflect his abilities, but it’s a reminder that international youth can be challenging to project. The hope would be that Mercedes can remain healthy in 2024 and spend a significant portion of the season playing for Fort Myers. He’s a speed and power threat who already has a good idea of the strike zone. The athleticism in the outfield plays, and that combination is an exciting one to dream about.
17. Simeon Woods Richardson
Acquired as the second piece in the Jose Berrios trade alongside Austin Martin, it was more of a learning year for the former top-100 prospect. The success from 2022 evaporated, and his one major league outing went terribly. Woods Richardson threw a career-high amount of innings, but he looked ineffective for most of them. There was a positive trend at the end of the season, but the gaudy walk rate continued to hold him back. This offseason is an important one for the former Blue Jays prospect, and ensuring he’s committed to training and focused on taking a step forward will show up in 2024.
What prospects are you most excited about in the season ahead? Is there a name or two you might be worried about?