Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
This is the next segment in the 2018 Twins top 60 prospect list. You can find the introductory segment that discusses qualifications to be on this list and presents the players who were on the 2017 list but are not in this list here. You can find the list of the previous rankings here: 56-60, 55-51, 46-50 , 41-45, 36-40. You can find all segments in this series here.
Here are players 31-35 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players no in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)
35. Bryan Sammons (--)
DOB: 4/27/1995; Age: 22
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'4", Weight: 235 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 8th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A (2017)
Bryan Sammons was drafted in the 8th round of the 2017 draft by the Twins as a Senior from Western Carolina University. The Wilmington, NC native have had an unremarkable College career until he appeared in the Cape Cod league the summer of 2016, winning the title game and going 1-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 10 games (4 starts.) He pitched 29-1/3 innings, with a 1.36 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and 7.1 K/9. His senior year he pitched in 16 games (15 GS) for 104-1/3 innings, wiht a 1.20 WHIP, 11.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. He started his pro career at Elizabethton, where he pitched in 7 games (3 starts) for 24-2/3 innings, striking out 31 (11.3 K/9, 32.3 K%), walking 7 (2.6 BB/9, 25 K-BB%) with a 1.46 ERA, 2.76 FIP, and 0.85 WHIP (.228 BABIP). Mid-season after dominating Appalachian League hitters, he moved to the Midwest League Cedar Rapids and continued his successful seasona pitching in 6 games (5 starts) for 25-2/3 innings with 35 strikeouts (12.3 K/9, 31.5 K%) walking 11 (3.9 BB/9, 21.6 K-BB%) with a 3.51 ERA, 3.07 FIP and 1.29 WHIP (.318 BABIP).
The big lefty pitched 154-1/3 innings between college and pros, and has the looks of a rotation workhorse. He held lefties to a .143 batting average and righties to a .235 at Cedar Rapids. His fastball sits at 88-91 and has the ability to change velocities. Also has a curve, slider/cutter, and an changeup that are average but improving.
Likely 2018 path: Starting in the Cedar Rapids rotation, with an outside possibility of moving to Fort Myers based on Spring Training.
34. Derek Molina (--)
DOB: 7/27/1997; Age: 20
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 14th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: GCL (2017)
Derek Molina was drafted in the 14th round of the 2017 draft by the Twins as a draft eligible Sophomore from Merced College. The Turlock, CA native transferred there from Cal State Northridge, with the intend of being a two way player, pitcher and shortstop. Even though he hit .356/.456/.550 in 160 AB, the Twins drafted him as a pitcher. In his Sophomore season he pitched for 15 games (1 start) for 28-1/3 IP with a 0.95 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 13.7 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9. He was assigned to the GCL as a pro and continued his success pitching in 10 games (2 starts) for 16-2/3 innings striking out 21 (11.3 K/9, 33.3 K%), walking 3 (1.6 BB/9, 28.6 K-BB%) with an 1.08 ERA, 1.44 FIP, and 0.90 WHIP (.308 BABIP).
The converted shortstop has a plus mid 90s fastball with a lot of movement, and an above average changeup with a good feel, complemented by a work in progress breaking ball. He has excellent command of all his pitches. Still very raw, but with very high potential and the mentality to close games, if needed (Between College and the GCL he amassed 8 saves in 2017). However the Twins will likely see what he can do as a starter the more accustomed he gets with pitching. He is a player that might jump up these ranking really quickly, in the manner of Brusdal Graterol.
Likely 2018 path: In extended Spring Training and then in the Elizabethton rotation, or pen, depending on the Twins' draft.
33. Alberoni Nunez (--)
DOB: 2/17/1999; Age: 18
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: DSL (2017)
Alberoni Nunez was signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2016 by the Twins from San Domingo, Dominican Republic. His first pro season was in the DSL where he was a monster with the bat (.352/.420/.545, .457 wOBA, 172 wRC+) and played CF and RF. For comparison purposes, Miguel Sano's numbers at the DSL were .344/.463/.547, .485 wOBA and 191 wRC+. Nunez walked 10.4% of the time and struck out only 18.1%, which is really optimistic of someone with a .194 IsoP as an 18 year old. Nunez has some speed as well, stealing 11/19 bases and harvesting 7 triples. An interesting player to follow when he comes Stateside.
Likely 2018 path: In extended Spring Training and then in the GCL outfield
32. Kohl Stewart (17)
DOB: 10/7/1994; Age: 23
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round in 2013
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AAA (2017)
Kohl Stewart was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2013 draft from St Pius X High School in Houston, TX. Stewart is one of those players that elicit a lot of conflicting emotions when evaluated, because of the high expectations based on his potential and drafting position, which he apparently has not come close to fulfilling. He started his professional career in the GCL the year he was drafted and pitched in 6 games, 3 starts, for 16 innings, striking out 16, walking 3, for a 1.69 ERA, and 0.938 WHIP. He also made a start in Elizabethton that season for 4 innings, striking out 8, allowing a hit and a walk, after he recovered from a foot injury he suffered while stepping on a sea shell on the beach. The next season (2014) he moved to single A Cedar Rapids, where, about 3 years younger than the league, he started 19 games (87 IP), struck out 62 (6.4 K/9, 17.2 K%) and walked 24 (2.5 BB/9, 10.5 K-BB%) and finished the season with 2.59 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.138 WHIP (.270 BABIP), while fight shoulder tenderness. After that season MLB.com ranked him 36th best prospect in Baseball, and the Baseball Prospectus ranked him 28th. Stewart had a somewhat disappointing following season in 2015 for the Miracle. He started 22 games after losing about a month in the DL because of elbow inflammation. He pitched 129-1/3 innings had 45 BB (3.1 BB/9, 4.7 K-BB%) and 71 K (12.8 K% and 4.9 K/9) for a 3.20 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and 1.38 WHIP (.308 BABIP) The hope was that the 4th overall pick will miss a lot of bats, as he did in 2013 where in 24 IP in both Rookie teams he walked 4 and struck out 24, but he did not. Potentially his injury was to blame, but that was not a very good season for him. Last season he repeated in the high A Miracle where he improved enough (9 GS, 51-2/3 IP, 44 K, 7.7 K/9, 20.7 K%, 19 B, 3.3 BB/9, 11.7 K-BB%, 2.61 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, .253 BABIP) to be promoted to AA Chattanooga the end of May. There, his numbers flattened out again (16 GS, 92 IP, 47 K, 4.6 K/9, 11.8 K%, 44 B, 4.3 BB/9, 0.8 K-BB%, 3.03 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.47 WHIP, .291 BABIP) before finishing the season in the DL with right biceps tendonitis. Other than a game at Rochester, Stewart spent all last season in Chattanooga starting in 16 games, pitching 77 innings striking out 52 (6.1 K/9, 15.5 K-BB%), walking 45 (5.3 BB/9, 2.1 K-BB%,) hitting 4 and throwing 13 wild pitches. Ended with ta 4.09 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.52 WHIP and .296 BABIP. He spent good chunks of the season in the DL with left knee tendonitis.
Here is what I wrote last season about Stewart:
It appears that Stewart's ceiling moved after each of his seasons, from a top of the rotation flamethrower, compared to fellow Texan Roger Clemens when drafted to a bottom of the rotation pitch to contact pitcher who will utilize his ground outs (about 1.8 as many as fly outs for his career) to get bats out. I think that the true is somewhat in between. There are a few things that have stalled Stewart's development: First and foremost Stewart is still learning how to pitch at 23 years old. He was primary football player who was on his way to be a College quarterback before the Twins drafted him and he used to throw the ball past high schoolers in the Houston Catholic School circuit. His stuff is excellent. He has a plus to plus plus four seamer that hits 96, which he alternates with a plus 2 seamer in the low 90s and supplements it with a close to plus hard slider/cutter in the low-mid 80s, an above average high 70s curveball and an average change up. His command is about average at this point and the primary reason of his declining K/BB ratio. The issue with his command is his mechanics that are not smooth. This issue has also caused him the nagging injuries (other than the seashell one) which he has been battling with all his pro career. At this point the Twins and Stewart will be better served by taking a step back and re-examining his mechanics, working on a consistent, repeatable delivery that will help him be successful, instead of rushing him again. If it were up to me, I would have him start 2017 in Extended Spring Training to do this, instead of a league that is 3 years older than him, and move him to AA with a new delivery and confidence and a way to excel, avoid injuries, and reach his potential. Not sure that the Twins will do so...
I feel more that ever that this is a make or break season for him. He was left unprotected for the Rule 5 draft and was not selected; that must have been a wake up call. The Twins just need to do the right thing and try to fix his mechanics, before throwing him out there an having yet another disappointing season, his last before he becomes a minor league free agent...
Likely 2018 path: In the Rochester rotation, depending on health.
31. Ben Rortvedt (16)
DOB: 9/25/1997; Age: 20
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 5'10", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: A (2017)
Ben Rortvedt was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft from the Verona, WI Area High School. He started his pro career in the GCL where he played in 20 games (59 AB) hitting .203/.277/.254 with 5 BBs and 8 Ks, before he moved up to Elizabethton for the last 13 games of the season where in 40 AB he hit .250/.348/.250 with 5 BB, and 2 K. He mostly batter third, fifth and sixth in the GCL and on the 7th spot in Elizabethton. He was rushed to Cedar Rapids last season, which was forgettable for him. He hit .224/.284/.315 with a .279 wOBA, and 71 wRC+. He also had career worsts in walks (6.5%) and Strikeouts (17.9%). He had reverse splits hitting LHPs remarkably (.311/.400/.393) but neutralized against RHPs (.202/.253/.296). His OPS by month was .229, .510, .953, .575, .711, .364, which indicated that other than a hot spell in June, he was unremarkable the whole season.
He has a good feel in the catcher position which he played in 86 of his 89 total games (he was the DH for 3 games.) Good arm with 36% CS, few issues blocking the ball (15 PB for the season,) but overall a lot of promise, but a lot of youth and development ahead of him to reach his potential that is that of an above average two ways MLB-regular catcher. His hitting tool is just not there, and I am not sure the that Twins did him a favor rushing him to full season ball. There are questions at this point whether his hitting will be good enough for him to have a shot in the majors. Catchers develop later, and maybe slowing down will help the former second round draft pick.
Likely 2018 path: Repeating Cedar Rapids.