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Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2021: Part 2 (11-15)


Which players and prospects are most essential to the front office's vision of building a World Series champion in Minnesota? As we move into the top 15, we find a trio of established mainstays along with two rising top arms.First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 11th-through-15th most valuable player assets currently under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway.

 

15. Miguel Sanó, 1B

2020 Ranking: 11

 

This is the deepest placement yet in these rankings for Sanó, and with good reason. He moved from third base to first. He is coming off a disappointing year, marred by a ridiculous strikeout total. He is currently lined up as the team's second-highest paid player in 2021, with his $11 million commitment trailing only Donaldson's $21 million.

 

With all this in mind, I think it's important to remember the qualities that have kept Sanó on this list year after year – all still on display in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. He is an incredibly gifted athlete who hits baseballs as hard as anyone in the world. He acclimated quickly to first base, with his natural skill and instincts shining through. He's only 27 years old, at the heart of his physical prime, and still quite athletic for his prodigious size. While he'll be somewhat highly paid in 2021, the Twins also control him in 2022 at $9.25 million, which will be an amazing bargain if he pulls it together. They also have a $14 million option for his age-30 season.

 

Focus on Sanó's flaws all you want – it's valid. But don't lose sight of his strengths. They are in some ways unparalleled.

 

14. Tyler Duffey, RHP

2020 Ranking: 16

 

If he hadn't claimed it already, Duffey firmly took hold of the team's "bullpen ace" title in 2020. He was among the league's most dominant relievers, allowing only 19 baserunners via hit or walk in 24 innings, nearly all high-leverage. And because of his sparse previous track record, Duffey remains quite inexpensive in his second turn at arbitration. He's set to earn $2.2 million in 2020.

 

In some ways, he epitomizes the volatility and unpredictability of relief arms. Duffey was not present in these rankings two years ago, and in fact was probably on the verge of moving on from the organization at that point. He has since harnessed his full potential out of the bullpen to become an elite force in the late innings.

 

How long will it last? That remains to be seen. But the Twins are more than happy to control him affordably for the next two seasons.

 

13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP

2020 Ranking: 8

 

The lost minor-league season in 2020 was especially unfortunate for a guy like Balazovic. He entered the year as a fast-rising and highly promising young arm, ready to take on advanced levels for the first time and make a statement. But because he hadn't yet taken this step, and wasn't really within range of a call-up, he was left off the alternate site roster, leaving him to progress on his own, without the benefit of competition or direct coaching. (He did get added to the alternate group late in the season.)

 

None of this means Balazovic's outlook has dropped off, especially in a relative context (all prospects just lost a year). But he was at such a pivotal crux in his development – 21 years old, three years removed from being drafted out of high school, set to reach Double-A for the first time – that the disruption weighs a bit harder in his case.

 

With that said, he's clearly one of the organization's top pitching prospects – virtually deadlocked with the next guy, from my view – and that makes him one of Minnesota's most valuable assets. Huge year ahead for Balazovic.

 

12. Jhoan Duran, RHP

2020 Ranking: 13

 

The Twins acquired the Dominican right-hander from Arizona as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal in July of 2018. At the time, Duran was a middling Single-A starter with big stuff and lackluster results. Upon coming switching organizations, he immediately turned a corner. Since the trade, Duran has posted a 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 rate in 151 innings. His whiff rates are among the best in the system. He's been dominating.

 

He's also just about big-league ready. Duran reached Double-A in 2019 and spent 2020 at the alternate site in St. Paul, where he gained consideration for a call-up. His proximity to the majors and proven performance in the upper minors gives him a slight edge over Balazovic in these rankings but as I said, they're practically even in my eyes.

 

11. Luis Arráez, 2B

2020 Ranking: 10

 

The strengths and positives that Arráez brings to the table are no secret. He's one of the game's best contact hitters and the definition of a spark plug, with a .331 average and .390 on-base percentage through nearly 500 major-league plate appearances. All this before turning 24.

 

But Arráez also has his limitations. He's not a speedy runner, nor a strong defender, and it's dubious whether he'll ever develop enough power to become a well-rounded offensive threat. Overshadowing these shortcomings, all of which he's been able to rise above as a huge difference-maker in his first two seasons, is the one issue that has actually held him back: his health.

 

The second baseman missed all of 2017 in the minors after tearing the ACL in one knee, and in 2020 he was bothered all year by tendinitis in the other. Arráez was clearly hobbled most of the time and spent much of September on the Injured List.

 

No surgery was planned for this offseason, so he'll focus on strengthening his lower body and shaking off the creeping "injury-prone" rep that threatens to further tarnish his otherwise impeccable asset value as a cheap young core player with five remaining years of team control.

 

THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021

 

20. Keoni Cavaco, SS

19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B

18. Josh Donaldson, 3B

17. Taylor Rogers, LHP

16. Jorge Alcala, RHP

15. Miguel Sanó, 1B

14. Tyler Duffey, RHP

13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP

12. Jhoan Duran, RHP

11. Luis Arráez, 2B

6-10: Coming tomorrow!

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I like this grouping better than the first.

 

We often talk and speculate and disagree and chew leather about Twins prosoects that haven't turned out to be the studs we hoped they would be. Why? Because we want each and everyone of them to be the next 22-23yo future HOF players to lift the franchise to another level after years of disappointment and frustration. But when you look hard at the roster, do you realize that after 2 highly productive seasons Polanco, Sano, Kepler, Berrios and Buxton are still all around 27yo? Just entering their prime years.

 

Sano was fine at 1B. In fact, except for being overly aggressive chasing pop ups and foul balls and panacaking some of his teammates, I think he was damn good at 1B for his 1st year. Offensively, what can I say? We all know what he can do. You want to blow him off after 2019 and the short season of 2020? You won't get a big return, but you'd find a lot of teams that would love to buy his potential on the cheap if the Twins were stupid.

 

Duffey has the stuff and mentality to be part of this organization for a while.

 

Balazovic and Duran are going NOWHERE unless the FO feels they have an equal plus type of deal. They "inherited" Balazovic and traded for Duran. You don't think they are smart enough to see the potential for these two? Neither is going anywhere unless it brings a cost controlled SP.

 

Arraez is a BASEBALL PLAYER, damnit, were I to quote Kelly or Gardenhire. What's wrong with that? I've watched him for 2yrs now at the plate and in the field. I really don't want to see him in the OF again, but seen nothing in the INF that tells me he can't be at least average.

 

Playing on 1 1/2 legs to finish 2020 he HIT and produced. And he brings a hit and contact and OB approach this team needs. Hell, I might even rate him higher than this if I knew 100% his knee was ready to go. (Same with Polanoc). I think he's a healthy and important fixture.

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I like this grouping better than the first.

 

We often talk and speculate and disagree and chew leather about Twins prosoects that haven't turned out to be the studs we hoped they would be. Why? Because we want each and everyone of them to be the next 22-23yo future HOF players to lift the franchise to another level after years of disappointment and frustration. But when you look hard at the roster, do you realize that after 2 highly productive seasons Polanco, Sano, Kepler, Berrios and Buxton are still all around 27yo? Just entering their prime years.

 

Sano was fine at 1B. In fact, except for being overly aggressive chasing pop ups and foul balls and panacaking some of his teammates, I think he was damn good at 1B for his 1st year. Offensively, what can I say? We all know what he can do. You want to blow him off after 2019 and the short season of 2020? You won't get a big return, but you'd find a lot of teams that would love to buy his potential on the cheap if the Twins were stupid.

 

Duffey has the stuff and mentality to be part of this organization for a while.

 

Balazovic and Duran are going NOWHERE unless the FO feels they have an equal plus type of deal. They "inherited" Balazovic and traded for Duran. You don't think they are smart enough to see the potential for these two? Neither is going anywhere unless it brings a cost controlled SP.

 

Arraez is a BASEBALL PLAYER, damnit, were I to quote Kelly or Gardenhire. What's wrong with that? I've watched him for 2yrs now at the plate and in the field. I really don't want to see him in the OF again, but seen nothing in the INF that tells me he can't be at least average.

 

Playing on 1 1/2 legs to finish 2020 he HIT and produced. And he brings a hit and contact and OB approach this team needs. Hell, I might even rate him higher than this if I knew 100% his knee was ready to go. (Same with Polanoc). I think he's a healthy and important fixture.

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I would value Duffey higher, but I am also a guy who values relief pitchers more than most. Would like to see the Twins work out a nice extension for Duff later in spring training.

 

LIke several above, would also push Arraez into the Top 10. Yes, I understand the limitations you mention. But if he is ever healthy his production is going to be beyond belief. Not being in the locker room, don't know how likely his knee problems are to return year-after-year.

 

As for Sano, agree with your comments and ranking. 2021 should tell us a lot about his future as a player and as a Twin.

 

Can't wait for the minor league season to get started, assuming it does. Like most of you, have my fingers crossed that these two pitchers will dominate whatever league they are in...Duran at AAA and Balazovic in Wichita?

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I posted the specifics in another thread, but what Arraez has done in essentially the equivalent of one year is remarkable.  He is probably the best contact hitter in the league, and his numbers compare quite favorably to both Molitor and Gwynn at the same age (Molitor's numbers, specifically power, are better.  Gwynn's are worse).

 

I feel quite certain that so long as his knees don't betray him, Luis will retire in 12-15 years with a HOF-worthy career.  Whether he gets in or not will likely depend on if he hits (pun intended) the 3,000 hit milestone.

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I posted the specifics in another thread, but what Arraez has done in essentially the equivalent of one year is remarkable.  He is probably the best contact hitter in the league, and his numbers compare quite favorably to both Molitor and Gwynn at the same age (Molitor's numbers, specifically power, are better.  Gwynn's are worse).

 

I feel quite certain that so long as his knees don't betray him, Luis will retire in 12-15 years with a HOF-worthy career.  Whether he gets in or not will likely depend on if he hits (pun intended) the 3,000 hit milestone.

So happy to see someone agree with me about his potential. Heck, it isn't potential any more as he has been doing it for a year. 

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Really think 3 of these guys are really important to the Twins future.... Arraez, Balazovik and Duran. Really think 3 of these guys are really important to the Twins right now..... Arraez, Sano and Duffey. Which 2 are the least important overall..... Sano and Duffey. HomeRun hitting 1st basemen that strikeout a lot are not hard to find and bullpen arms are easily replaceable. Sano is at the time of his career he needs to put it together completely and the best way he can do that is by putting the bat on the ball MORE. He kills a lot of big innings with his huge K rate. If he ever figures out he doesn't have to hit the ball 500 feet every time he swings he will take a big step forward. As for Duff, he's where he needs to be, now just keep it up and he'll probably go the way of Trevor May in 2 years.

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Better than Jerry Koosman and Milt Pappas. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

 

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Drop Sano off this.  Otherwise, prove me wrong and trade him for someone worth while.

 

Secondly, besides being a highly above average hitter, Luis Arraez is actually a really good defender!!!  Look up those career stats!!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

Luis Arraez is actually a really good defender!!!  Look up those career stats!!!

I like Luis as much as the next Twins fan, but I believe that his defensive stats (if we mean the traditional error rate) are affected in his favor by his limited range. If he got to more balls and had more chances his errors would presumably climb, too.

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