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With no minor league action last year, it was certainly tough to evaluate prospects this past winter. Games are underway and a few prospects have already started to standout.

Keoni Cavaco, SS (Low-A)

Cavaco was a player that had shot up draft boards when the Twins drafted him back in 2019. He didn’t make many appearances at the big prep events leading into the draft and so there were questions about how he would fare against tougher professional competition. His first professional season fed into those concerns as he hit .172/.217/.253 (.470) with 35 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. As an 18-year-old, he looked overmatched and missing development time last year only added more questions.

He has started the 2021 season on a rampage at Low-A as he entered play on Thursday hitting .355/.444/.516 (.916) with three extra-base hits in 31 at-bats. He is still striking out in over 22% of his at-bats, but he seems more than comfortable on the offensive side of the ball. Cavaco is over a year younger than the average age of the competition at his level, and he has faced older pitchers in 86% of his plate appearances.

Yennier Cano, RHP (Double-A)

Cano was a late signing back in the 2019 international signing period as they inked him to a $750,000 bonus. At the time, MLB.com had him ranked as the second-best international prospect in his class. When he signed, he was 25-years old, which is old for a prospect, but that also means he came with plenty of professional experience. He joined the Twins with five different pitches and the ability to pitch multiple innings each time out.

Now, Cano is 27-years old and pitching out of Wichita’s bullpen. So far this year, he has posted a 1.59 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP. Those numbers are great, but his strikeout numbers are what truly make him standout. He has struck out 11 of the 24 batters he has faced for a 17.5 SO/9. He’s old for his current level, but he has only pitched 15 innings since signing with the Twins. Look for him to move quickly if he continues to strikeout batters at a high rate.

Melvi Acosta, RHP (High-A)

Acosta is entering his fifth professional season after joining the Twins as an international signee out of Venezuela in 2015. During the 2019 season, he split time as a starter and reliever. There were some positive signs in his transition to the bullpen as he saw his strikeout rate improve from 5.8 SO/9 to 9.9 SO/9. The 2020 season would have allowed him to prove that he was a potential weapon out of the bullpen, but that obviously didn’t happen.

Fast-forward to 2021 and Acosta will get the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen on a regular basis. He’s made three appearances for Cedar Rapids and posted a 1.42 ERA with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate (9.9 SO/9) has continued to stay high, and batters are having a tough time reaching base against him as he’s posted a 0.79 WHIP. Like Cano, he is old for his level, but maybe he will have the opportunity to follow in Cano’s footsteps as he moves up the organizational ladder.

What prospects have stood out to you so far this year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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I think Aaron Whitefield for Wichita looks interesting and might be able to help, especially in extra innings for the twins. He’s got a great slash line and world class speed. We’re 0 for 7 in extra innings. He and Gordon could give the Twins another dimension in base stealing along with Buxton when he returns. The team is lacking in dimensions it requires to win. Why not try those two.

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26 minutes ago, Greglw3 said:

I think Aaron Whitefield for Wichita looks interesting and might be able to help, especially in extra innings for the twins. He’s got a great slash line and world class speed. We’re 0 for 7 in extra innings. He and Gordon could give the Twins another dimension in base stealing along with Buxton when he returns. The team is lacking in dimensions it requires to win. Why not try those two.

Outfielders: Buxton, Kepler, Larnach, Garlick, Broxton (Whitefield if anyone is injured)

Infielders: Kirilloff, Arraez, Simmons, Donaldson, Polanco (Gordon if anyone is injured)

DH: Cruz

Catchers: Garver, Jeffers

Super utility man: Astudillo

Sano and Rortvedt should be demoted.

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53 minutes ago, jun said:

Outfielders: Buxton, Kepler, Larnach, Garlick, Broxton (Whitefield if anyone is injured)

Infielders: Kirilloff, Arraez, Simmons, Donaldson, Polanco (Gordon if anyone is injured)

DH: Cruz

Catchers: Garver, Jeffers

Super utility man: Astudillo

Sano and Rortvedt should be demoted.

I’m about as low as Jake cave as anyone is, but I don’t get the Keon Broxton love from so many fans. He’s a far worse hitter than Cave is, and he’s clearly not a long term answer in the outfield. I’d much rather see whitefield, Celestino (he’s hurt and not ready, no need to rush him anyhow), or just sticking with cave. This seems to be a lost year, and bringing up a 30 year old with a below <.700 career OPS is not beneficial at all. 
 

also, Miguel sano is not able to be demoted. He’s out of options, and he’s over 5 years of service time, so even if he has options, he could refuse an assignment to the minors. 

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I really hate to discuss prospects after a week or two. Seems ridiculous.  Buuuut....

Cavaco is a 5 tool talent and "fast riser " when drafted which is enticing as much as a warning sign of hope and expectation. He bottomed his rookie season. But we've seen this before. Sucks, but not that unusual. Reports are that he took the missed 2020 milb season to work hard, work on his body, and he had a good 5 week EST. WAY too early to project anything, but we should be encouraged. 

Cano is a Cuban "refuge" for lack of a better term. And we have seen such sink and rise the past few years. As such, age shouldn't matter, especially considering a lost 2020 season. Does he actually have the STUFF to now pitch and perform and and advance and maybe make any sort of difference and impact? Maybe. But a lost season means he has to advance quickly. Not sure that can happen quickly enough at this point.

Whitefield was mentioned. I've been following him since the day he was signed. What a talent and what a story. But that doesn't mean squat if he doesn't adapt and produce. But despite extreme SSS, he's been on fire. Has he, maybe, matured and learned a ton on the 2020 taxi squad to make himself a viable prospect?

 

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5 hours ago, jun said:

Outfielders: Buxton, Kepler, Larnach, Garlick, Broxton (Whitefield if anyone is injured)

Infielders: Kirilloff, Arraez, Simmons, Donaldson, Polanco (Gordon if anyone is injured)

DH: Cruz

Catchers: Garver, Jeffers

Super utility man: Astudillo

Sano and Rortvedt should be demoted.

I do like Broxton also. I think he’d be much better use of a roster spot than Cave. Big time speed and defense.

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4 hours ago, Mill1634 said:

I’m about as low as Jake cave as anyone is, but I don’t get the Keon Broxton love from so many fans. He’s a far worse hitter than Cave is, and he’s clearly not a long term answer in the outfield. I’d much rather see whitefield, Celestino (he’s hurt and not ready, no need to rush him anyhow), or just sticking with cave. This seems to be a lost year, and bringing up a 30 year old with a below <.700 career OPS is not beneficial at all. 
 

also, Miguel sano is not able to be demoted. He’s out of options, and he’s over 5 years of service time, so even if he has options, he could refuse an assignment to the minors. 

Cave is hitting .167, with a .239 OBP, didn’t hit much last year. Broxton owns a .220 avg. 20 HR, 20 SB MLB season. He would be the fastest guy on the team next to Buxton and play great defense and maybe impact some extra inning wins as pr at 2nd to start the inning. We all saw how Buxton was a net plus because of his defense even when he was hitting .160.

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3 hours ago, DocBauer said:

I really hate to discuss prospects after a week or two. Seems ridiculous.  Buuuut....

Cavaco is a 5 tool talent and "fast riser " when drafted which is enticing as much as a warning sign of hope and expectation. He bottomed his rookie season. But we've seen this before. Sucks, but not that unusual. Reports are that he took the missed 2020 milb season to work hard, work on his body, and he had a good 5 week EST. WAY too early to project anything, but we should be encouraged. 

Cano is a Cuban "refuge" for lack of a better term. And we have seen such sink and rise the past few years. As such, age shouldn't matter, especially considering a lost 2020 season. Does he actually have the STUFF to now pitch and perform and and advance and maybe make any sort of difference and impact? Maybe. But a lost season means he has to advance quickly. Not sure that can happen quickly enough at this point.

Whitefield was mentioned. I've been following him since the day he was signed. What a talent and what a story. But that doesn't mean squat if he doesn't adapt and produce. But despite extreme SSS, he's been on fire. Has he, maybe, matured and learned a ton on the 2020 taxi squad to make himself a viable prospect?

 

Whitefield is very intriguing!!! Imagine the invigorating dimension it would add to the hapless Twins offense if Gordon, Whitefield and Buxton were all given a chance to play together. I remember the amazing lift the Orioles received from rookie callups Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins in the 70’s. Three Twins seriously merit reduced playing time in Kepler, Sano and Cave. I’m also disappointed in Simmons and don’t think he’s added anything to the team. I’d play Polanco at SS again now that he looks healthy and play Gordon at 2B. Outfield could be Arraez, Whitefield or Broxton in cf until Buxton returns and Larnach in RF with Kirilloff at 1B.

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Was thinking along the same line as you, Cody.  Get Cano up to AAA with Acosta filling his spot in Wichita.  After 30 days or so in St. Paul, get Cano to Target Field to see what he can do.  

Count me among those who has not been impressed with Broxton's at bats while watching the Saints.  Would like to see Whitefield given another couple weeks and if he continues hitting like his start, get him moving up.  Would leave Cavaco where he is for at least half the season.  Nothing better than to be successful when beginning your career. 

Really liked Greglw3's comment above, until the last comment about putting Arraez in left field.  If Polanco is at short, they need Arraez at second base where he should stay for the rest of his career with the Twins...which I hope is a long, long time.

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14 minutes ago, roger said:

Was thinking along the same line as you, Cody.  Get Cano up to AAA with Acosta filling his spot in Wichita.  After 30 days or so in St. Paul, get Cano to Target Field to see what he can do.  

Count me among those who has not been impressed with Broxton's at bats while watching the Saints.  Would like to see Whitefield given another couple weeks and if he continues hitting like his start, get him moving up.  Would leave Cavaco where he is for at least half the season.  Nothing better than to be successful when beginning your career. 

Really liked Greglw3's comment above, until the last comment about putting Arraez in left field.  If Polanco is at short, they need Arraez at second base where he should stay for the rest of his career with the Twins...which I hope is a long, long time.

Hi Roger. I was just trying to get Nick Gordon to 2B because I’m very high on him. He would bring speed on base paths, triples likely and SB (look at that first game 2 clean stolen bases) and a little power (.440+ slg in 2019 in AAA). I do think Arraez has been quite competent in LF. Well, we’re both and all just trying to solve this huge dilemma facing the team we love!!!

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That is a good list and I don't disagree.  I am very, very happy and somewhat relieved to see Cavaco hitting well at least to start the season.  A ball stats don't mean too much as the competition level is more variable but if he keeps his K rate around 20% and keeps making hard contact the Twins will getting what they they envisioned in the draft.  Long way to go yet but nice to see positive development.

I had been waiting for Cano to finally prove he was one of the top prospects in that international draft.  That K rate is pretty insane and something the Twins could use.  Not sure how fast they can move him and since there is no room on the 40 man he would be addition by subtraction so that makes things tougher but if he keeps on like this the Twins won't have much of a choice.

I haven't jumped on the Acosta bandwagon just yet.  He seems wild at times to me and I am not certain he will sustain this level of dominance.  I would want to see more before moving him up but am encouraged by the number this year so far.

We are going to need lots of prospects to step up as it looks like Phase One is flailing at the major league level and we need a big Phase two to get things back on track.

 

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The late start to the MiLB season will affect how quickly teams move players up. They are not even 2 weeks into the season. Cano may be an exception, has been dominant and is already 27 years old. Not much to risk at least moving Cano to AAA. I am not on Broxton bandwagon, another poor hitter, good defense trying to get another chance at MLB. Broxton is hitting .179 in AAA.

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I am happy to see Cavaco doing well so far.  Still short sample but much better than what he did as a rookie out of high school.  The other two I will wait to make much judgement, our pen first 6 games, outside of Colome was not too bad either, it sure turned quickly. 

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