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, 26-30, 21-25. You can find all segments in this series here.
Here are players 16-20 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players not in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)
20. Jermaine Palacios (31) SS/3B, 2020
DOB: 7/19/1996; Age: 21
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 145 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent signing 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: A+ (2017)
Jermaine Palacios was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from Barquisimeto, Venezuela on July 7, 2013. In 2014, as a 17 year old he hit .270/.404/.399 in 225 PAs in the DSL (league average OPS: .671), as an 18 year old the first half of 2015 he hit .421/.472/.589 in 106 PAs in the GCL (league average OPS: .649) and .336/.345/.507 in 149 PAs as 2.5 year younger than the average Appalachian League Player (league average OPS: .731). In 2016 he was promoted to Cedar Rapids, started very cold (.471 OPS in April and .514 OPS in May) and started warming up (.613 OPS in June and .714 OPS in July) as the weather did, before his season ended on July 17 with a fractured left (glove) hand. His overall slash line was .222/.276/.287 and .306/.346/.367 for July. He does not walk much or strikeout much, but for some reason in addition not to making much contact early in the season, his isoP dropped from .171 and .168 in his two 2015 stops to 0.065, and his BABIP took an about 200 point tumble to .253 from the .375 and .464 in his 2015 stops (it was .333 in 2014.) He repeated Cedar Rapids in 2016 where he excelled in 62 games (276 PA) hitting .320/.362/.544 with a .404 wOBA and 154 wRC+. His BABIP moved up to .356. Mid-season he moved to Fort Myers as a 20 year old and he cooled up considerably. He hit .269/.303/.359 with a .306 wOBA and 92 wRC+, but he was close to 3 years younger than the league.
Palacios had wrist issues in 2016 that seem behind him, based on the Cedar Rapids performance. His BABIP at Fort Myers was at .322, which is where he has been when good. His K% rose to 20.2 from the 16.7 in Cedar Rapids and his BB% dropped to a career low 3.8 from 4.3 at Cedar Rapids. He was 20/35 at stolen bases between both stops. Hard to tell the root cause of his problems at Fort Myers, but he had reverse splits, hitting righties at a respectable .280/.316/.390 rate and lefties at only .238/.265/.270. It could be pitch recognition. Palacios will likely stay as a short stop, since his glove plays at the position and he has improved. It would be beneficiary for the 21-year old to repeat Fort Myers starting in the season, but he might be pushed up because of the numbers: Twins top prospects Royce Lewis and Wander Javier are both shortstops, in need of a full-season ball home and likely will start at Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids, respectively, which will push Palacios to Chattanooga, ready or not.
Likely 2018 path: Starting shortstop at Fort Myers or Chattanooga, depending on his and other players' health.
19. Jean Carlos Arias (36)
DOB: 1/14/1998; Age: 20
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 5'11", Weight: 170 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 7/2/2014
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: GCL (2016, 2017)
Jean Carlos Arias was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic the summer of 2014. In his first professional season in the DSL he hit .311/.378/.537 with 18 BB, 30 K, 13 2B, 9 3B and 2 HRs in 189 PAs. He was 11/17 in stolen bases. That .914 OPS is not quite at Miguel Sano level (Sano hit .344/.463/.547 at age 17 in the DSL), but cannot be ignored in a league where the average OPS is .680. His wOBA was .425 and wRC+ 151, which are also on the ridiculous level. Arias destroyed RHPs at the rate of .330/.390/.568. Reports from the Dominican have the 17 year old Arias, who batted at the number 3 spot for the DSL Twins, is a true 5-tool Centerfielder. In 2016 he moved to the United States for Extended Spring Training and later to the GCL where he played an error-less OF in all 3 outfield positions and struggled with the bat hitting .202/.265/.266 with 10 BB and 28 K, stealing 7/10 bases and only 6 xBH / 25 H in 45 games (124 AB.) He repeated the GCL last season with much better results: .298/.359/.476, .393 wOBA and 138 wRC+ in 185 AB in 48 games. His IsoP increased to .179 and BABIP to .372, close to his first professional season in the Dominican. The strikeouts were a tad high at 22.7% compared to 7.6 BB%. He made the Post-season GCL All Star team. Arias has a plus glove at centerfield with excellent range and sure-handedness. As far his bat goes, he still needs a bit of work against LHP (.255/.345/.255) but he destroys RHP (.316/.365/.573).
Likely 2018 path: Extended Spring Training and the Elizabethton starting centerfielder. Outside chance of moving to Cedar Rapids, depending on the Twins' draft and his Spring Training.
18. Jose Miranda (--)
DOB: 6/29/1998; Age: 20
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the second supplementary round of 2016
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
Jose Miranda was drafted by the Twins in the second supplementary round of 2016 from Leadership Christian High School at Guaynobo, PR. His hit tool was his best tool, but in his first season as a pro in 2016 in the GCL, Miranda struggled. He hit .227/.308/.292 with a .291 wOBA and a 83 wRC+. Upon moving to Elizabethton last season, he showed why he was a 2nd round pick. He hit .283/.340/.484 with a .367 wOBA and a 117 wRC+. He had a .202 IsoP, 6.5 BB% and only 9.7 K%, in 55 games (247 PA). He played mostly second base in 2017, and a mix of second, short, and third in 2016. His footwork and instincts are below average at this point, and his arm is just average, which indicates that second, first, or left field might be his future home. He utilizes all fields and was tied for the lead in HRs in the Appalachian League with 11. He was a post season Appy League All-Star and received the MiLB.com organization All Star Award, both last season. Miranda hit .299/.344/.521 off RHP and .232/.32/.375 off LHP, which might indicate a slight difficulty in off-speed ball recognition from lefties. His bat is ahead of his glove, but his glove is not horrible.
Likely 2018 path: Somewhere in the Cedar Rapids outfield.
17. Tyler Wells (54), RHP 2020
DOB: 8/26/1994; Age: 23
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'8", Weight: 265 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 15th round in 2016
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: A (2017)
Tyler Wells was drafted by the Twins in the 15th round of the 2016 draft from California State San Bernandino. The Oklahoma native was a starter there for 3 seasons, pitching in 38 games (35 starts) for a total of 204 innings, striking out 191 (8.4 K/9), walking 90 (4.0 K/9), with a 3.84 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. His last (junior) season he had better results (2.84 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 15 games, 92 IP) while his peripherals remained pretty much constant (8.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9) which indicates that he got a better feel in pitching. He continued as a pro to Elizabethton where he started 10 games (47-1/3 IP), striking out 59 (11.2 K/9, 29.2 K%) and walking 17 (3.2 BB/9, 20.8% K-BB%) finishing with a 3.23 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.20 WHIP (.328 BABIP). In total 2016 has been a good year for Wells, starting 25 games for 149-1/3 IP between college and rookie league. In the 2017 season Wells made 14 starts for Cedar Rapids, pitching 75-1/3 innings, striking out 92 (11.0 K/9, 29.6 K%) and walking 22 (2.6 BB/9, 22.5 K-BB%). He had a 3.11 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and 1.13 WHIP (.302 BABIP.) He missed some time last season with elbow strain, and also played in 4 rehab games in the GCL.
Wells is a very durable starter and has the physique of a football tight end. As a high school senior he was listed at 6'7" and 212 lbs. At San Bernandino he grew an inch and filled up his frame to 265 lbs, without being overweight. As a collegiate his strikeouts were in bursts. He had games where his strike outs were in double digits and games where there were few. His results as a pro show hope that he can consistently keep his strikeout high by getting a better feel for his stuff from start to start. Wells throws an above average fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. His plus slider is a true out pitch. His mechanics are very good and consistent for his size and there is a lot of potential for improvement of his pitches, which in combination with his durability, makes Wells an interesting prospect
Likely 2018 Path: In the Fort Myers rotation.
16. Nick Gordon (5)
DOB: 10/14/1995; Age: 21
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 160 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round in 2014
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AA (2017)
Nick Gordon was drafted by the Twins as the 5th overall player in the 2014 draft from Olympia High School in Orlando, FL. He started his pro career in 2014 playing for Elizabethton hitting .294/.333/.366 (101 wRC+) with 11 BB and 45 K (17.6 %), and 11/18 SB (61%). In 2015 for Cedar Rapids, he hit .277/.336/.360 (104 wRC+) with 39 BB and 88 K (16.5 %), 25/33 SB (76%). There was incremental improvement on the base paths, but in general similar results. At this point he exhibited some gap power (23 doubles, 7 triples and 1 HRs in 535 PAs, 0.083 isoP), but it does get neutralized against LHPs (.264/.325/.291; only extra base hits were 3 doubles in 110 PAs against LHPs.) He started the 2016 season in Fort Myers, where he made a leap forward hitting .291/.335/.386 (112 wRC+) in 116 games (493 PAs), with 17,6 K% and 0.095 isoP, stealing 19/32 bases. His BABIP (.353) was close to his .333 and .352 of the previous 2 seasons, which means that a BABIP around .350s is not out of question. He continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit a very impressive .346/.418/.444 (144 wRC+) in 21 games (91 PA), but inflated due to an unsustainable .475 BABIP. Last season he played at Chattanooga, where he hit a career best .270/.341/.408 with a .344 wOBA and 117 wRC+. He also had career bests with 9.2 BB% and .139 IsoP as well as career worst 23.2 K%.
Gordon's glove is about average at SS but the footwork and lateral movement is not there to believe that he can be a first tier major league shortstop. His bat still projects as a major league average, however he was again neutralized against LHPs (.174/.273/.240 in 121 AB in AA last season.) He had good speed, but not great base stealing instincts that need a lot of work. This season was his greatest work load with 578 PA and Gordon showed that his his 6-0/160 lb frame might just not be durable enough for a full season. He hit a robust .315/.376/.504 in the first half, and he followed by a lackluster .221/.304/.305 the second half. His last two seasons overall are promising, but the ones who were hoping for a star with the 5th overall pick would be disappointed at Gordon, because he does not project as one. In addition, there seem to be make up issues, because instead of focusing on working on his baseball weaknesses this off-season, Gordon chose to produce music videos, including one in which he was wearing clothing with another MLB team's insignia. With Polanco as the Twins SS of the present, and Palacios, Lewis, and Javier right behind Gordon, at shortstop and Arraez and Miranda at second base, maybe the Twins' best way of dealing with Gordon is to use him as a center piece for a trade for pitching, as long as he still is highly ranked in the National prospect lists.
Likely 2018 path: Starting AAA Rochester shortstop