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Scouting Twins Prospects: Gilberto Celestino


Gilberto Celestino was overmatched during his 23 games with the Minnesota Twins this past summer. Other than the occasional flash of true MLB talent, his performance was more akin to a floundering fish out of water than that of a professional baseball player. But, at the end of the day, what could be expected from a 22-year-old who had appeared in a mere 24 games above High-A and was thrust into the limelight due to a rash of injuries suffered by an otherwise deep Twins outfield?

Still, the outfielder acquired from the Houston Astros as part of the Ryan Pressly trade displayed enough talent, particularly at the minor league level, in 2021 to warrant excitement about his prospects.

Celestino is an athletic and speedy outfielder whose defense projects best in centerfield but would be a viable option in right. Across the three levels (Double-A, Triple-A, and MLB), he played at this season, he appeared in 57 games in center, 25 in right, and five in left. With Byron Buxton (temporarily?), Austin Martin, and perhaps even Royce Lewis either in or near the majors, Celestino’s long-term outfield home remains up in the air.

While his defense was worth -2 outs above average — albeit with a small sample size — while with the Twins, he made several two- and three-star caliber catches, which is suggestive for possessing good range. This assessment is backed up with the eye test as he made many highlight-reel catches during Spring Training and in the minors.

Celestino boasts solid doubles power at the plate (29.3 per 140 game pace for his career), but his home run power remains a work in progress; his .153 ISO was the third-best of his career, while his nine home runs in 93 games pace represented a career-best. Although his average exit velocity (87.2 mph) and launch angle (5.4 degrees) were both below the MLB average, he achieved a maximum exit velocity of 111.4 mph — good for the 80th percentile — which suggests he may have hidden power potential.

He possesses a decent eye and approach to batting, as evidenced by his walk rate (11.5% at Double-A; 11.4% at Triple-A), which is above average. His strikeout rate (25.0%; 20.4%), by comparison, hovers closer to the mean. 

Celestino’s bat-to-ball skills — as indicated by his average exit velocity — could use some refinement. This was particularly exposed at the major league level, where he had difficulty catching up to higher speed fastballs and could not hit offspeed or breaking ball offerings to save his life (combined: 2-for-20, 10 K).

To their credit, the Twins recognized this and often made in-game adjustments to Celestino's stance, likely in an attempt to better position his hands to catch up to the increased velocity.

As things currently stand, Celestino's median outcome would likely be the fourth outfielder on a playoff-caliber Twins team. He can play all three positions at least an average clip, which makes him a suitable replacement for the likes of Buxton, Trevor Larnach, and Max Kepler in 1-3 game intervals. However, hitting from the right side of the plate limits some of his and the Twins' lineup versatility as the roster is currently constructed. 

If his power progresses to the point where he's hitting home runs at a 20 per 130-140 game pace, his ceiling progresses to that of a solid everyday centerfielder. 

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What could a 22-year-old with limited play above A-ball possibly do?

Quote

 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=baddoo000aki

You just never know until you try. In 2020 the Twins decided to protect Celestino from the Rule 5 draft, although he was far from ready. In 2021, the Twins decided to NOT protect Akil Baddoo, for the same reason.,

 

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He presents another one of the many dilemmas this offseason.  His natural position is CF.  He probably does not have enough power for the corners.  If this team has any chance to contend in 2022, they must resign Buxton.  If a rebuild is in order, then trading Buxton would be the choice.  So far, ownership says they have no intention to rebuild, in which case resigning Buxton is a must.

Celestino's maximum value might be as a trade piece for much needed pitching.  Much easier to get a 4th OF from one of Lewis, Martin, Gordon or even Refsnyder.  I'd see what the demand is for Celestino outside the organization.

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Have always liked Celestino, he's got great potential. It's much easier to have a CF play the corners than have an ok corner fielder play CF, which we have been doing for years. Where was he 4 years ago. Too bad he was rushed last year, hope he adjusts quickly. Now that he's almost ready he'll have stiff competition from Austin . It's better to have excess of CFs than corner fielders.

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Excited to see what Celestino can do next year.  He was quite awful when brought up this year on both offense and defense fully considering the jump he made but I was encouraged how he performed in in AAA.   I definately want to keep Buxton and I also favor keeping a good fielder with speed as the 4th OF over a plodding OF slugger that has difficulty making contact such as Rooker.   It seems we could also use a RH platoon for Kepler - don't know how Celestino hits lefties.   I should clarify that I feel the Twins could use an outfielder that can field well to backup all OF positions and hit lefties to spell Kepler and am hoping Celestino progresses to that role next year.   Fine if he starts in AAA and earns his way up.   Want to make sure he gets enough at-bats so he can continue to develop.          

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I’m on board with what many of you have said. He needs to continue to develop offensively adjusting to heat and a break ball not getting caught in between.
 

Like him defensively as a decent CF and a right handed bat to supplement all the left handed corner outfielders. 
 

his biggest concern is he has to compete with Martin and possibly Lewis if he can’t develop quickly and falls behind those 2 top prospects.

Not a big fan of trading him now, likely doesn’t have a lot of value with struggles at MLB level. If he plays well the first half of 2022 either in the majors or AAA his value increases astronomically.  Will be a good insurance policy for needed Buxton injuries and missed time to come.

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Celestino had to be crushed at his brutal initiation to MLB. As noted, he was pushed to that tough experience after very little prior exposure to high level pitching. What is really impressive is how resilient Celestino was when he played for the Saints. He had an excellent finish to the year and baseball is all about confidence, adjustments, and dealing with failure to proceed to success. The Twins are likely quite pleased with his progress. 

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I found little to complain about when he was in the field.  He obviously adjusted well to better pitching in St. Paul. Lets hope the Twins don't trade Buxton. Lets hope they don't have to rely on Celestino in '22. Lets hope they can stay with Celestino until he matures as a hitter. (lets hope Celestino doesn't turn out like the typical Cleveland center fielder.) :)

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I like his potential a lot and really hope we find a RH Cave replacement and allow Celestino to begin the year in St Paul. He needs to play daily right now to improve his bat and hopefully unlock some additional power potential. 

IMO his floor is a quality and versatile 4th OF. His ceiling is a starting OF, of course. I'm not worried about him being passed by at this point. I truly believe Lewis is going to stick at SS and while I'm not in a hurry to move Martin off of SS...you always give a talented kid like him time to see how he develops...I think he's going to end up in the OF with the ability to still help in the infield. 

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2 hours ago, ashbury said:

I liked seeing Broxton jump for joy on the catch in that video against de la Guerra.  Considering that Celestino stood to prevent Broxton from getting a call to the majors if he did well, that shows real class.

Remember when I saw that, I could see that Broxton had a bead on that ball and could have also caught that ball but saw Celestino had the best shot. And yielded to Him. Like you said he was just as happy that Celestino made that catch as if he had made that catch himself. That's a player I'd like to play on my team.

 

 

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Great article, thanks.

A bit confused, however, by one of your last comments regarding batting from the right side limiting his versatility.  Assuming that Buxton and Kepler are back and Larnach is the leading candidate to win the left field job either in spring training or early in the year, a right hand bat to offset Larnach and Kepler being left handed fits perfectly.   Did you mean compared with the entire lineup, not just the outfielders he would likely replace?  

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I like celestino's chances as a 4th OF who plays a fair amount; the D looks to be quality and I think he'd be able to manage LF just fine in addition to being good in CF and RF. Agree with roger above that as constructed right now, he's an excellent fit as a potential 4th OF because of Kepler/Kirilloff & even Larnach as OF options for this team. (at this point, I don't know that i need to see Max kepler try and hit lefties much longer) All of this presumes that he won't be overwhelmed in his next shot at the majors, but the way he rebounded in AAA speaks very well of him and his chances. Some guys go into a tailspin after experiencing that level of failure, even if they know they're being thrown in long before they should be. celestino took the demotion down to AAA and finished the season very strong.

he may never be a 20-30 HR guy, but if he's smacking 30+ doubles a year with 10+ HRs that's enough slugging to get it done if the OBP is also in the .350 range. I think he'll draw enough walks to be effective. The only problem with his being right-handed is with Austin Martin rising behind him, but that's an ok problem to have.

I think celestino gets a good chance to be the 4th/5th OF next year out of spring training.

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Article ignores one key issue. Did you watch any of the games? Celestino showed NO knowledge in how to play an outfield wall! He either crashed into the wall or shied away from it. Either way he did not show the proper technique of putting a hand out to locate the wall. But to his credit neither did Larnach or Rooker. This is on Toby Gardenhire. None of the call ups knew how to play the wall.

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Celestino has always intrigued me. Good comments, I see a floor of a busy 4th outfielder. Man his D didn't look good in the bigs, but he seemed a little overwhelmed. Yes the AAA bounce back, as Mr Lease said, has probably got many of us excited. His ceiling has got to be above average center fielder. If he and Alcala top out it'll be Pressley who? Good things come to those who wait.

This series of articles has got me excited. I'm not so into speculation on possible trade or free agency targets, but self scouting? That is crucial and here's hoping the FO is working harder on this than you guys!

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Celestino's performance at AAA was very encouraging. With the Saints, Celestino's walk rate was near his career best at 11.4% and his strikeout rate was a palatable 20.4% showing a good enough eye at the plate, and while his .356 BABIP suggests he may have been lucky, the lack of good batted ball data from the minors makes it hard to tell if Celestino was just making hard contact and hitting line drives.

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