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Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: Honorable Mentions


Over the next couple of weeks, Twins Daily will be counting down our Top 20 Minnesota Twins Prospects. We start today by discussing several Honorable Mentions, guys who received votes but finished outside the Top 20. Today’s list of players illustrates the depth that is developing in the organization.Two years ago, our 2019 Honorable Mentions included Luis Arraez who went on to be the team’s top rookie that season. It also included Jordan Balazovic who jumped into the top five the next season.

 

In last year’s Honorable Mentions, you’ll find Jorge Alcala who had just been shifted from starting pitcher to a reliever. We saw his impressive rookie season in 2020.

 

So which players who received votes this year will climb the prospect ladder in 2021 and maybe even contribute to the big league club this year?

 

This year’s prospect rankings are difficult. Because of the pandemic, there wasn’t a 2020 minor league season. Some of the top prospects spent the summer at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. Some even made their MLB debuts. The minor leaguers did report to spring training, several had been there for weeks before being sent home. Some players went to Instructional League and there were some reports from there.

 

Before we start, the following players are no longer “prospects” according to Baseball-Reference: Jorge Alcala, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Cody Stashak and Devin Smeltzer.

 

HARD-THROWING PITCHERS

 

The Twins’ player development group has done a nice job in recent years developing arms in the minor leagues. The next step will be seeing those pitchers work their way to the big leagues. There are some strong pitchers in the top 20, but there are a few impressive arms in our honorable mentions as well.

 

Josh Winder was the talk of the Twins Instructional League after the missed 2020 season. He is a big, strong kid whose fastball jumped up to 97 mph this past fall. Chris Vallimont throws just as hard. He came to the Twins in the Sergio Romo trade late in 2019. Luis Rijo is the youngest of the group, and he too is reaching into the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball. When the Twins acquired him from the Yankees in the Lance Lynn deal, he was touted as an advanced pitcher. He still has a good mix, but now with the increased velocity too.

 

Dakota Chalmers came to the Twins in the Fernando Rodney deal with the A’s. He was coming off of Tommy John and completed his rehab in 2019. He was added to the 40 man roster and spent his 2020 summer at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul.

 

ALREADY DEBUTED

 

Travis Blankenhorn made his MLB debut in September with one game played. His role will likely be a versatile utility player with some power. We will likely see him some in 2021, but he will see most of his time in St. Paul.

 

COMEBACK KIDS?

 

Wander Javier was once a top ten, and even a top five prospect for many in the Twins system. Unfortunately, he has missed about three of the past five seasons due to injury and then last year’s lost season. He struggled at Cedar Rapids in 2019. Despite that, he is ultra-talented and just turned 22 years old in late December.

 

Yunior Severino was set to return in 2020 after breaking his thumb early in the 2019 season. He was twice a seven-figure international free agent, and he will be just 21 throughout the 2021 season. He likely is a second baseman, but he has a lot of offensive potential.

 

WE HARDLY KNOW YE

 

Spencer Steer was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2019 out of the University of Oregon. He had an impressive pro debut that summer but didn’t get the opportunity to back that up in 2020. That year, the Twins also selected shortstop Will Holland in the fifth round. In 36 games at E-Town, he hit seven homers and stole eight bases. His college teammate at Auburn was Edouard Julien, an infielder that the Twins took in the 18th round. Unfortunately, he was hurt during the Pan Am Games and had Tommy John surgery and hasn’t yet made his pro debut. Seth Gray is a very talented third baseman that was the Twins fourth round pick in 2019. He’s got a lot of power potential.

 

In the 2020 draft, the Twins took right-handed pitcher Marco Raya in the fourth round. He’s got an impressive pitch mix and can throw hard. He’ll need to gain strength, but he’s certainly got some potential to move up this list. Then in the fifth round, the team took outfielder Kala’i Rosario. The Hawaii native has as much power as any prep player in last year’s draft.

 

Emmanuel Rodriguezsigned a seven-digit bonus with the Twins in 2019. He was set to begin his professional career in the DSL in 2020, but instead we will begin in 2021.

It was just last month that the Twins signed 16-year-old shortstop Danny De Andrade for $2.2 million. The Venezuelan was one of this year’s top international prospects.

 

For each of these players, 2021 will be their first opportunity to make a real impression. Some may move up this list next year. Some may find themselves outside of this list.

 

That is a lot of talent, and those are guys who rank outside of the Twins Daily Top 20 prospects. Check back over the next two weeks to see who our 2021 Top 20 Twins Prospects are.

 

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I am hoping that Will Holland can find his stroke and prove he should have been a 1st round draft pick in 2019.  We really could use another up the middle prospect with speed that could move fairly fast.  So hopefully he has a good year.

 

Out of this list I am the most excited about Windor.  He had a really, really good first full season in A ball and if that velocity increase is for real I have a really good feeling he could be a mid rotation starter.  So far most all of it is hype but hoping he shows he is ready to back it up.

 

I haven't been hearing a ton of buzz about Chalmers but I am a big believer in him as a reliever.  Would be nice to hear that his change up is improving and that his fastball gained more movement but I haven't heard a thing so really waiting to see how he does in an extended season of work.

 

I got to watch Spencer Steer in Beloit and he looked good at the plate although he did go 0 for 3 that night.  Nice eye at the plate, good hard swing, he looks like a hitter but he'll need to be better to make it.

 

For pitcher I am betting on Windor to make the most movement on this list and I am going out on a limb and saying Holland for the bat, stolen bases and defense to move him up the rankings.  Let's see if those other guys can prove me wrong.

 

 

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I'm guessing a lot of prospect lists are going to look very different come midseason since there was no minor leagues last season and I'm guessing it will impact players in many different ways.

 

Midseason rankings tend to look fairly different under normal situations, and now we have to consider a missed season and players working to develop at home... Will be an interesting season to follow, for sure. 

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For pitcher I am betting on Windor to make the most movement on this list and I am going out on a limb and saying Holland for the bat, stolen bases and defense to move him up the rankings.  Let's see if those other guys can prove me wrong.

 

 

I like these picks... Gotta like a guy who was clocked at 97 at Instructs, has good size, a military work ethic... I think he could be a 2or even 3 level pitcher in 2021. 

 

Holland is certainly intriguing. He's not a big guy. With his power numbers, I thought he'd be bigger. He's very athletic and swings hard. It'll be interesting to see how he develops, but he's got a ton of talent and certainly could move up! 

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I just mentioned this in Cody's Lineup Projection 1.0....why Astudillo over Blankenhorn on the active roster to start the season?

 

Because Blankenhorn needs to play most every day and can do that in AA or AAA (or likely both) in 2021 rather than sitting on the bench for the Twins and playing once or twice a week. 

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I was hoping to see Cavaco in this category.  It seems like the descriptions have many  players who have shown more than he has at this stage.

 

Prospect rankings have little to do with performance... it's just one small part of a ranking. It's much more about tools and upside and potential... Of course, to move up levels, performance has to be there to some level. 

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Very interesting group of guys who didn't make your Top 20. Can't believe that Rijo hasn't been taken in the Rule 5. Must be the fact he is too far away for anyone to take the risk.

 

After everything I heard last summer/fall, can't believe Winder isn't in your Top 20. He could be a guy that moves all the way up to your Top 10 come next off-season.

 

 

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Very interesting group of guys who didn't make your Top 20. Can't believe that Rijo hasn't been taken in the Rule 5. Must be the fact he is too far away for anyone to take the risk.

 

After everything I heard last summer/fall, can't believe Winder isn't in your Top 20. He could be a guy that moves all the way up to your Top 10 come next off-season.

 

For Winder: 

Seth - #22

Nick - #29

Tom - #21

Cody - #22

 

For Rijo: 

Seth - 25

Nick - 28

Tom - 23

Cody - NR (not in top 30)

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HARD-THROWING PITCHERS

The Twins’ player development group has done a nice job in recent years developing arms in the minor leagues. The next step will be seeing those pitchers work their way to the big leagues. There are some strong pitchers in the top 20, but there are a few impressive arms in our honorable mentions as well.

Josh Winder was the talk of the Twins Instructional League after the missed 2020 season. He is a big, strong kid whose fastball jumped up to 97 mph this past fall. Chris Vallimont throws just as hard. He came to the Twins in the Sergio Romo trade late in 2019. Luis Rijo is the youngest of the group, and he too is reaching into the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball. When the Twins acquired him from the Yankees in the Lance Lynn deal, he was touted as an advanced pitcher. He still has a good mix, but now with the increased velocity too.

Dakota Chalmers came to the Twins in the Fernando Rodney deal with the A’s. He was coming off of Tommy John and completed his rehab in 2019. He was added to the 40 man roster and spent his 2020 summer at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul.
.

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Fangraphs has Rijo's fastball graded at 40. That's quite a leap. Do you know if this is something built over time or did they find something in his delivery that yielded a substantial uptick in velo relatively quickly? It's going to be a lot of fun to follow prospects in 2021.

 

Wow, would it be great to have 2 or 3 pitching prospects break out.

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Fangraphs has Rijo's fastball graded at 40. That's quite a leap. Do you know if this is something built over time or did they find something in his delivery that yielded a substantial uptick in velo relatively quickly? It's going to be a lot of fun to follow prospects in 2021.

 

Wow, would it be great to have 2 or 3 pitching prospects break out.

 

In 2019 in Cedar Rapids, he was clocked at 96. His average fastball was obviously less than that, but he's young, and he's a big dude, so yes, it will be interesting to see where he is at in 2021! 

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In 2019 in Cedar Rapids, he was clocked at 96. His average fastball was obviously less than that, but he's young, and he's a big dude, so yes, it will be interesting to see where he is at in 2021! 

 

What I found interesting / encouraging is that his highest rated attribute with Fangraphs is control. Assuming the command remains with the uptick in velocity, he becomes a very intriguing prospect.

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 Javier and Severino are names I'm keeping an eye on.  If either or both of them "figure it out", that just deepens the farm system with either a player they can use in 2022 or 2023 and beyond, or provides them with another trade chip to help the big league club.

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 Javier and Severino are names I'm keeping an eye on.  If either or both of them "figure it out", that just deepens the farm system with either a player they can use in 2022 or 2023 and beyond, or provides them with another trade chip to help the big league club.

 

Yeah, been disappointing, and injured, but both are still so young and so talented. No reason to give up on 21 or 22 year olds. 

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A lot of comments that I'm going to save until the top 20.

 

But in regard to this list:

 

WINDER: Top 20 this time next year if not mid-year from his 2019 results and the reports of velocity and improvement on his own and instructional.

 

CHALMERS: Might still be destined for the pen. Like so many young "big arms" it's the 3rd pitch and overall control that has prevented him from being high on any prospect list. What's encouraging is not pure stuff but his 2019 finish at high A that I think encourages the Twins to keep him in the rotation for now. Never want to give up on a kid too soon in the rotation.

 

RIJO: Velocity and control are there. Both seem to have improved since he came to the Twins. But I keep reading his FB is straight and doesn't miss bats, or won't as he climbs. Can they tweak his FB?

 

VALLIMONT: Small school kid with stuff drafted in the 5tb round in 2018 and basically raked in 2 levels of A ball over a year and a half and reportedly has velocity. No reason at all to place him in any top 20 list. But...could he be a riser in 2021? Not sure how he was a "throw in".

 

JAVIER and SEVERINO: Javier could be a STUD SS and Severino a STUD 2B...POTENTIALLY. I see both as competition with Miranda for the next Twins 3B IF THEY COULD JUST STAY HEALTHY and play! Just too much talent to give up on either at this point. I've had a theory that both of these kids have not only had some bad luck, but part of their problem has just been physically growing and growing out of their positions. Can their body and mind settle down and just play ball? If so, both could vault up the system.

 

2019 DRAFT: I was really pleased to see a concentration on the infield in this draft. Cavaco developing or not, they brought in a number of intriguing options that were needed to infuse the system. Time will tell, but the selections seemed smart at the time. Numbers aren't everything, but enough well thrown darts at the board usually means you hit.

 

Interesting Sands wasn't listed in the honorable mention. Does that mean he's in the top 20?

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Counting down makes no sense. Oh, Alex Kirilloff is #1? I've been waiting five articles to find out!

 

The big pubs start with #1 for a reason. JMO

Personally, I'd rather start at the bottom of the ranking and speculate about who is in the top 10/5/3 than start at the top and speculate about who is snagging the Honorable Mentions.

 

Besides, it's Feb 12, what else do I have going on? Something to look forward to.

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Anybody else notice that the Twins won over 100 games in 2019, were on a pace for nearly 100 wins in 2020, and remain one of the top teams in MLB at this point with what is on hand and the moves they've made and have done so without a single trade of prospects? (Thus far).

 

This is NOT by accident. The FO has talked about sustainability about the team. They are not opposed to trades, as we saw with the Graterol trade last year. But so far, they are doing exactly what I had hoped they would do coming off a lost 2020 milb year. They have been taking advantage of the market to build the team, already really good, and holding on to internal assets FOR NOW to further development for promotion and potential future trades.

 

Without surprises, the "honorable mentions" here are potential top 20 options plus really soon. There is real "ammunition" in the system right now for future help as well as trade possibilities.

 

Kudos!

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Anybody else notice that the Twins won over 100 games in 2019, were on a pace for nearly 100 wins in 2020, and remain one of the top teams in MLB at this point with what is on hand and the moves they've made and have done so without a single trade of prospects? (Thus far).

This is NOT by accident. The FO has talked about sustainability about the team. They are not opposed to trades, as we saw with the Graterol trade last year. But so far, they are doing exactly what I had hoped they would do coming off a lost 2020 milb year. They have been taking advantage of the market to build the team, already really good, and holding on to internal assets FOR NOW to further development for promotion and potential future trades.

Without surprises, the "honorable mentions" here are potential top 20 options plus really soon. There is real "ammunition" in the system right now for future help as well as trade possibilities.

Kudos!

 

As we all know, our area of need is pitching and its really hard to trade for pitching without giving up pitching prospects. Even Darvish cost the equivalent to Balazovic AND Durant plus a couple other prospects. I say "even" Darvish because he is already 34 and he has not been reliable especially in post season. We are not deep in front of the rotation guys but we finally have enough pitching in the pipeline to build a true contender. Of course, there is no guarantee with prospects, far from it. However, it's nice to be in a position where sustained success is a real possibility.

 

It's a heck of a lot easier to fill out a roster in free agency or trade when those final pieces are position players as opposed to pitching. We should be set for OFers for several years to come and if Lewis realizes his potential our position players should not need all that much augmenting. It is so nice be realistically optimistic about having a solid decade of quality Twins teams to enjoy!

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