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, 31-35. You can find all segments in this series here.
Here are players 26-30 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players no in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)
30. David Banuelos (--)
DOB: 10/1/1998; Age: 21
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: Traded by Seattle
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A- (2017)
David Banuelos was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 5th round of the 2017 draft from Long Beach State as a Junior and traded to the Twins for international pool money. The Ontario, CA native played 3 years as a catcher and was named the best defensive catcher in the country by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Rawlings. In his senior year he hit .289/.368/.468, with a career best .179 IsoP, and a 17:45 BB:K ratio, in 234 PA. As a pro he was assigned to short season A Everett of the Northwest league. He hit .236/.331/.394 with a .340 wOBA and 109 wRC+, 11% BB%, and a concerning 27.4 K%. His IsoP was .157 and the transition to the wood seemingly did not rob him of power.
His glove is very advanced and his arm is strong and accurate. He threw out 38% of runners. Banuelos had a very interesting split between home (.339/.453/.565) and away (.138/.200/.231) games, which might be meaningful or not. It will be interesting to see how the competition between Banuelos and the Twins number 31 prospect Rortvedt plays in the future. Banuelos is a year older, more advanced with the bat and at least equal, if not better, with the glove. I admit that I might have ranked Banuelos a bit lower than where he should be, but I have not yet to see him play. He can shoot up this list next season.
Likely 2018 path: At Fort Myers.
29. Tyler Watson (--)
DOB: 5/22/1997; Age: 20
Bats: R, Throws: L
Height: 6'5", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: Traded by Nationals
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A (2016, 2017)
Tyler Watson was drafted in the 34th round of the 2015 draft by the Washington Nationals from Perry Gilbert (AZ) High School. He was traded to the Twins for Brandon Kintzler in the July trade deadline of 2017. He started his pro career in 2015 in the Nats' GCL team pitching 13.1 scoreless innings in 5 games (4 starts). The next season he started in Extended Spring Training and continued in short season A Auburn, where he started 9 games (43 IP) striking out 48 (10.1 K/9, 28.2 K%) and walking 9 (1.9 BB/9, 23 K-BB%), with a 1.88 ERA, 2.05 FIP, 0.91 WHIP and .261 BABIP. That gained him a promotion to Full A South Atlantic League for the last 3 games of the season. In 2017 he started the season with the Hagerstown Suns (A) where he pitched in 18 games (17 starts) for 93 innings striking out 98 (9.5 K/9, 25 K%) and walking 24 (2.3 K/9, 18.9 K%) with a 4.35 ERA, 3.36 FIP, and 1.25 WHIP (.331 BABIP). After the trade he moved A leagues from the South Atlantic to Midwest where he started 5 games for the Kernels. He pitched 27-1/3 innings , striking out 18 (5.9 K/9, 15.7 K%) and walking 8 (2.6 BB/9, 8.7 K-BB%), with a 4.28 ERA, 5.07 FIP, and 1.32 WHIP (.286 BABIP.)
Watson is fastball/curveball pitcher who is trying to develop a changeup. His fastball sits from 87-90, and has good movement. The hope is that it will gain a few ticks when Watson gains some muscle. Also that will help his endurance, since he ran out of stream in Cedar Rapids. He has been playing with a changeup that is a work in progress. His delivery is deceptive, yet non-mechanically solid, and he might have to simplify that at some point. He is a comparable pitcher to Stephen Gonslaves, but has a long ways to go to get there.
Likely 2018 path: At the Fort Myers rotation.
28. Charlie Barnes (--)
DOB: 10/1/1995; Age: 22
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 160 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A (2017)
Charlie Barnes was drafted by the Twins in the 4th round of the 2017 draft from Clemson University as a Junior. The lefty from Sumpter, SC had a very good Junior season starting in 16 games, pitching 101-1/3 innings, walking 22 (2.0 BB/9) and striking out 113 (10.0 K/9). He had a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He won the Stowe Award given to the best Clemson pitcher. Another remarkable thing that Barnes achieved at Clemson is that he graduated on May of 2017 with a degree in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management in only three years. He started pro ball at Elizabethton, pitching 6 games (5 starts) walking 10 (4.0 BB/9, 13.5 K-BB%) and striking out 23 (9.1 K/9, 24 K%) with a 1.19 ERA, 3.90 FIP and 1.06 WHIP. He moved to single A Cedar Rapids, where he was about a year younger than the league average, and started 6 games for 25-2/3 innings striking out 23 (8.1 K/9, 21.1 K%), walking 8 (2.8 BB/9, 13.8 K-BB%) with a 3.86 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 1.21 WHIP and .260 BABIP. When all was said and done, Barnes pitched 149-2/3 innings between College and the pros in 2017.
Barnes is what a lot of people would call the "prototypical Twins' pitcher". He has an average fastball that sits at 87-90, but on occasion can reach higher, which he commands and controls excellently, "painting the corners" and inducing a lot of ground balls. At Cedar Rapids he has 2.4 times as many ground balls as fly balls. At Elizabethton 1.6 times. His mid 70s changeup is plus with plus plus flashes and it is a true out pitch. He also has a high 70s hard curve that is average as well as an above average low 80s slider. As the Clemson top starter, he matched often with ACC top starters and he did well because of his poise and control. Hard to tell what his ceiling will be, because there is a lot of development that needs to be done, but it will depend on whether he can get a couple of ticks on his fastball. At 6-2 and 160, there is the probability that he can get a bit of meat on his bones to accomplish this.
Likely 2018 path: At the Cedar Rapids rotation with a mid-season move to the Fort Myers rotation.
27. Travis Blankenhorn (15), 3B/1B, 2020
DOB: 8/3/1996; Age: 21
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 208 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd round in 2015
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A (2016,2017)
Travis Blankenhorn was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft from the Pottsville, PA Area High School as a third baseman, and he has been on the prospect list elevator. Right now he is on a down phase, esp. due to a change of position to a corner infielder and likely outfielder, as he matures. He started his pro career in the GCL where he played in 14 games (49 AB) hitting .245/.362/.408 with 7 BBs and 11 Ks, before he moved up to Elizabethton for the last 39 games of the season where in 144 AB he hit .243/.306/.326 with 11 BB, and 32 K. He started last season in Extended Spring Training before moving to Elizabethton where in 34 games (138 AB) he hit a robust .297/.342/.558 with 9 HRs, 7 2Bs, 1 3B, 8 BB and 33 K. He finished the season in class A Cedar Rapids where in 25 games (91 AB) he hit .286/.356/.418 with 1 HR, 5 2B, 2 3B, 8 BB and 28 K. In 2016 he moved to second base, but spend more than half of his time back at third base in 2017 where his glove was exposed, making 12 errors in 143 chances and not showing much range. His bat also regressed. He hit .251/.343/.441 with a .354 wOBA and 121 wRC+, with a .189 IsoP, which is fine for a good fielding second baseman, but not for a below average fielding corner position player or DH.
Blankenhorn will go as far as his glove will let him. His bat was still neutralized by left hand pitching (.228/.320/.346) while he can hit righties okay (.260/.353/.479.) A very similar player to Travis Harrison on both sides of the ball. Hopefully something will click for Blankenhorn, who is still very young, but with a suspect glove and unable to hit left hand pitching, his ceiling is that of a platoon DH/PH, which this day and age is a luxury in major league ball. There are a lot of scouts who are tantalized by his potential and he (still) is a top-10 and top-20 prospect in many lists. However, based on his flaws just mentioned, I just could not rank him that high.
Likely 2018 path: At Fort Myers, hopefully finding a defensive home.
26. Andrew Bechtold (--)
DOB: 4/18/1996; Age: 21
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
The Twins drafted Andrew Bechtold from Chipola Junior College in Florida. The Chadds Ford, PA native transferred there after two futile seasons at Maryland University where he managed a .221/.339/.241 slash line. It could be the weather, but Bechtold blossomed in Florida hitting .419/.532/.676 with 12 HRs, 29/88 extra base hits, 49 BB and 44 strikeouts and stealing 24/48 bases, in 265 plate appearances. JUCO or not, these numbers are more than draftworthy and Bechtold continued his success when he had to change his bat to wood in Elizabethton. In 175 PA he hit .299/.406/.424, .387 wOBA, 129 wRC+. He walked 27 times, struck out 40, had 13/43 extra base hits and no SB attempts, while playing an above average third base.
Likely 2018 path: Starting third baseman at Cedar Rapids. Next: 21-25