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Ranking the 2021 Twins Rookies On Long-Term Value

Rookie players’ performances can be a roller-coaster ride as teams and the league adjust to unproven players. Following a turbulent 2021 season, here are the five Twins rookies with the most long-term value.

Minnesota saw some solid performances from rookie players this season. However, their current value might not match up perfectly with their long-term value. 

5. Bailey Ober, SP
Ober was one of the most critical rookies for the 2021 Twins. In fact, earlier this week he was named the team's Best Rookie by Twins Daily. He stepped into the rotation that saw multiple players dealt away at the trade deadline. Ober has never ranked as one of the team’s top prospects, but his 2021 performance proves he can be a back-end of the rotation starter for multiple years. This provides value to the club, especially since the 2022 Twins have many rotational holes to fill. 

4. Ryan Jeffers, C
Like many Twins players, Jeffers had a disappointing 2021 season, but he is a prime candidate to rebound in 2022. Minnesota drafted Jeffers as a hit-first catcher with defensive skills that the Twins scouts believed in more than national publications. His defense has vastly improved since joining the Twins organization. Also, Jeffers is only 24-years-old, and he won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2024. There is a lot of defensive value associated with catchers, and Jeffers has to be average at the plate to provide long-term value. 

3. Joe Ryan, SP
Ryan was the top pitching prospect acquired from the Rays for Nelson Cruz, and he was impressive during his first taste of the big leagues. He pitched five innings or more in four of his five starts and allowed three runs or fewer. His most impressive start came in Chicago, where Ryan struck out 11 Cubs batters in five innings. Like Ober, Minnesota likely has Ryan penciled into the back-end of the rotation for 2022, but he has the chance to be a top-half of the rotation starter.

2. Trevor Larnach, OF
In his rookie season, things didn’t go perfectly for Larnach. After a strong start, the team demoted him after some mid-season struggles. Things didn’t go much better in St. Paul where he hit .176/.323/.373 (.695) in 14 games. Larnach was a first-round pick for a reason, and he showcased his high-ceiling during the 2019 season when he posted an .842 OPS between High-A and Double-A. That performance led him to be named the 2019 Twins Daily Minor League Player of the Year. He can get back to that level and hit in the middle of the line-up for most of the next decade.  

1. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
Kirilloff was impressive in the middle months of the season as he posted an OPS of .760 or higher in May and June. In July, a wrist injury sapped some of his power, and he underwent season-ending wrist surgery. MLB Pipeline thinks Kirilloff has one of the highest long-term values among all 2021 rookies. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his professional career. If Minnesota moves him to first base, he will be an above-average hitter and defender for the majority of his big-league career. 

How would you rank this year’s rookies when it comes to future value? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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Interesting, Cody.  Thanks.

As I read this was thinking that Ryan should be at least second.  But as I finished reading about Larnach and Kirilloff, nah!

As much as 2021 was an absolute horse crap season for the Twins, and us fans, this is an awfully bright five some for 2022 and beyond.  Considering you didn't include Celestino and Rortvedt, it gets even more exciting.  Both were brought up way before they were ready, having never played a game at AAA, they did fine defensively.  Matter of fact, it appears that Rortvedt is their best defensive catcher who should only get better.  And both proved when they finally got to AAA that they can be counted on to be decent hitters a year or two down the road.  

And this group of seven doesn't include several other rookies who contributed in 2021, guys like Barnes and Jax.  There have been a lot of very good pitchers who put up results similar to those two before taking that final step and becoming very good.  Will they, who knows?

Add a young Alcala to this group and you have a 10-man core who should be part of very good Twins teams over the remainder of the 2020's.  Add a couple of the young guns who are close and Miranda, Lewis and Martin and the future is bright, oh so bright.  Will they be back in the playoffs in 2022?  Maybe, maybe not.  But the rest of the decade sure should be fun. 

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I have no real qualms with this order, aside from maybe Ryan being above Larnach.  I tend to value pitching more than a corner outfield types with below average gloves, even if they have middle of the order potential.

Admittedly, there could be some recent SSS playing into that logic in this particular case.

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I think Jeffers is a bit low.  Catcher is a tough position to fill and I think teams value them a bit above their WAR because of this.  Also Jeffers hit quite well when Garver was out.  His offense has been suppressed by facing so much right handed pitching, but long term it should still be very solid for a catcher. 

Celestino also deserve a mention, I think pretty close to Ober in terms of future value.  He hit really well after heading back down to AAA.  It was a tough position to be put in jumping up to the majors after just 100 PAs in AA.  I think he has enough pop to play as an elite corner defender or good center-fielder long term.

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On the Kirilloff front: have we heard anything about how recovery from wrist surgery is going, or Larnach's issue that put him on the IL at the end of season?

More than anything recovery from injury is going to tell the tale next year. We're not even sure if Larnach's injury impacted his hitting in the last half of the season: they just shut him down in the last month or so.

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Celestine is probably a better value based on what he did in AAA vs Larnach

Ober at an ERA a little over 4 is better than a back end starter. The state of pitching is that bad. If he can pitch every 5th time through the rotation for a full season at that ERA or slightly better that is a very high value

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Nice list, but I strongly disagree that we can project long-term value based on what Trevor Larnach produced. His body of work at the MLB level was disappointing across the board. A couple long homers don't really count for much, both his advanced and standard stats were pretty terrible.

Just because we all want Trevor Larnach to be good (and I am among them) doesn't make it true. I will be cheering for the kid next year, but if Larnach is a regular in 2022 it'll be because this team isn't competing. He could be the next Brent Rooker and it could happen quickly.

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Larnach was terrible for the Twins and no better for the Saints. If he doesn't show sharp improvements in 2022 he is out of the picture.

The last game Ryan pitched should be a warning sign to all of us.  He isn't going to be a  major league starter until he proves he can consistently pitch 3 times through a batting order and allow 3 runs or less doing it. His mediocre fast ball will not fool major league hitters for long unless he has complete command of it.

I agree that Alcala should be on the list. He could end up as next years closer.


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56 minutes ago, Thegrin said:

His mediocre fast ball will not fool major league hitters for long unless he has complete command of it.

I would add deception to the list of qualifications. The fastball has to look for all the world like it could be an off-speed pitch of some kind, until it is too late.

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On 10/8/2021 at 12:55 PM, LA VIkes Fan said:

I agree on Celestino. Assuming no trades of outfielders, I think Celestino profiles nicely as the 4th OF in 2022 playing in a platoon in RF with Kepler and being Buxton's primary backup. Let's get him 250-300 plus ABs next year and I think he could be starter material by 2023. 

I'm even more bullish on Celestino.... I think he is the heir apparent to Buxton in CF after he is traded this winter. I also think he will preform admirably next year in the MLB.

(again... I don't WANT Buxton to leave the Twins, but he will leave on the open market, so the FO is obligated to get some return for hime)

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If we have a roster full of "prospects"  expect 90-100 losses a year for awhile.  I do think some of these will pan out and become solid major league players.  However we will need to be patient.  I don't think I can be that patient to be a bottom feeder for a few years.  Trading regulars for " prospect". Is a full out rebuild.  As for Joe Ryan, he looks very good.  However if his fastball averages out to 92 mph he will struggle unless he develops good secondary pitches.  It won't take long for major league hitters to adjust 

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