Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2022: Part 4 (1-5)


Nick Nelson
 Share

Completing our rankings of the most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization, we share our picks for one through five.

This list attempts to answer a simple question: Which 20 players and prospects are most indispensable in the team's quest to win a championship?

Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far:

20. Matt Canterino, RHP
19. Josh Winder, RHP
18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
17. Gilberto Celestino, CF
16. Chase Petty, RHP
15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
14. Jhoan Duran, RHP
13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
12. Trevor Larnach, OF
11. Luis Arraez, UTIL
10. Ryan Jeffers, C
9. Max Kepler, RF
8. Mitch Garver, C
7. Joe Ryan, RHP
6. Bailey Ober, RHP

From there, we round it out with the top five. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the writeups on #6 through #20:

Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 1 through 5

5. Austin Martin, OF
2021 Ranking: NR

Since I started putting these rankings together after the 2017 season, here's where José Berríos has ranked: #3, #2, #3, #4. Ideally you keep an asset like that, but as it became clear the Twins were not going to be able to extend their two-time All-Star, they opted for the next-best thing: recouping value.

By taking advantage of deadline urgency, as well as Berríos' additional year of team control, the Twins were able to extract a premium talent package from Toronto, including Simeon Woods Richardson (#18 on this list) but headlined by Austin Martin

The 22-year-old was one year removed from being the #5 overall draft pick, and recipient of a $7M signing bonus from Toronto. He was unanimously ranked as a Top 25 prospect in the game ahead of 2021, and appeared in the Futures Game in July. 

An athletic on-base machine who is nearly ready for The Show, Martin is one of baseball's premier young talents. His high floor – reflected by a .414 OBP through 93 minor-league games, all played at Double-A – offsets a ceiling that's uncertain due to his lack of established power or a clear defensive home. There is very realistic star potential here, and that's known around the league. 

Which is why some folks are wondering if the Twins might look to flip him in a trade for pitching when action resumes this offseason. Although he's played a lot of shortstop in the minors, no one really expects him to end up there. Martin's most valuable positions are likely center field and second base, where the Twins happen to be well set.

4. Royce Lewis, SS
2021 Ranking: 5

Here's an example of the Twins' needs outweighing a neutral assessment of player value. In a vacuum, I would probably rate Martin as a better prospect and player asset than Royce Lewis, who is an unknown commodity after struggling in 2019 and then missing two straight years. 

In spite of this, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Lewis was a #1 overall draft pick who has been a regular on the top end of prospect rankings since joining the pro ranks. His high character and innate physical gifts lead many to believe he'll find his footing quickly and re-establish himself as an electric difference-maker across multiple phases of the game. 

Most importantly, for the purposes of this list, you'll notice that Lewis is the only player on it listed as "SS." He's hardly a lock to stick at short, but he's got a better chance than any other player or prospect in the system currently. The Twins seem to firmly believe he can remain there, which may have guided them away from pursuing a free agent on a long-term deal. 

Unless the situation changes, Minnesota is putting the future of a vital position in Lewis' hands, which makes him one of the organization's most critical players. Here's hoping he can rise to the occasion after a lengthy dormant period.

3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF
2021 Ranking: 2

Long viewed as one of the most advanced and explosive bats in the minor leagues, Alex Kirilloff arrived in 2021 and affirmed his rep. The overall numbers – .251/.299/.423 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 59 games – were perfectly solid for a 23-year-old rookie. They also undersell his performance, which was hampered by a flukishly bad 0-for-15 start and then a serious wrist injury he played through for weeks before shutting it down in mid-July.

Kirilloff underwent surgery around that time, and is expected to be back at full strength for spring training (whenever it starts). Hopefully he'll pick up where he left off: straight mashing. Kirilloff's xSLG as a rookie, according to Statcast, was .541 – same as Josh Donaldson (who was in the Top 8% of all qualified MLB hitters). 

With superb plate coverage, Kirilloff drives the ball to all fields and tortures opposing pitchers. Having watched him, I have little doubt he is going to be an offensive force (maybe even an MVP-caliber hitter) so long as he can keep future bouts with injury at bay.

Defensively, he was serviceable in left but looked like a natural at first base, with instincts and movements that point to Gold Glove potential. For the time being, he's blocked there by Miguel Sanó, and given the team's current needs, Kirilloff's ability to play in the corners is quite helpful. 

The Twins still control him for six years (through age 29) after slightly delaying his arrival in 2021.

2. Jorge Polanco, 2B
2021 Ranking: 6

It's been quite the roller coaster for Jorge Polanco over the past few years. Coming off a breakthrough season where he was an All-Star shortstop and credible MVP candidate at age 25, he and his team-friendly contract reached the #1 spot in our rankings heading into 2020. 

Then, Polanco's performance nosedived in a shortened campaign marred by ankle issues. He dropped back to #6 last year – his more customary range prior to the 2019 glow-up. Unlike Max Kepler, however, Polanco rebounded to prove his star turn with the Bomba Squad was no outlier. 

In 2021, following a move to second base, Polanco regained his peak offensive form, shaking off a slow start to launch 33 homers and 35 doubles while setting career highs in SLG (.503) and OPS+ (125). He was a consistent centerpiece of the lineup, mashing from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter.

His transition to a new position was rocky at times, but Polanco seemed to get more comfortable as the season went on and showed all the skills to excel. Shifting down the defensive spectrum is theoretically a ding to his value, but sub-par play at shortstop limited his benefit there. 

He can offer plenty of value as a top-tier offensive second baseman in his prime, with two years of inexpensive team control followed by a pair of reasonable team options. 

1. Byron Buxton, CF
2021 Ranking: 9

Byron Buxton's durability issues were hardly erased in 2021, another season cut short by long absences. But while he was on the field for 61 games, the center fielder's brilliance and MVP-caliber impact was more evident than ever before. 

He won AL Player of the Month in April, and had a 1.180 OPS in early May before back-to-back major injuries (a strained hip and broken hand) cost him nearly four months. When he was able to play, Buxton was a remarkable difference-maker, producing an absurd 4.2 fWAR in less than half a season. But while he was out, the team struggled to counteract his absence.

Buxton's reliable unreliability will remain a reality until it's not. But his newly-minted contract extension accounts for that.

The stunningly favorable terms of Buxton's deal make him an easy choice for #1 on this list. It's essentially unheard of to be able to lock up an elite talent throughout his prime while largely paying him based on rate of production. Buck's recurring base salary of $15M/year is an absolute bargain for a franchise centerpiece and premier player in the game. His unique contract, driven heavily by MVP voting incentives, is a perpetual self-motivator. 

Any other team in the league would be thrilled to have this contract. But a no-trade clause ensures none of them can have it. Buxton's here for the long haul, and now the Twins can fully focus on building a championship team around him.

With our countdown complete, here's a look at the full list of the top 20 Twins assets of 2022: 

  1. Byron Buxton, CF
  2. Jorge Polanco, 2B
  3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF
  4. Royce Lewis, SS
  5. Austin Martin, OF
  6. Bailey Ober, RHP
  7. Joe Ryan, RHP
  8. Mitch Garver, C
  9. Max Kepler, RF
  10. Ryan Jeffers, C
  11. Luis Arraez, UTIL
  12. Trevor Larnach, OF
  13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
  14. Jhoan Duran, RHP
  15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
  16. Chase Petty, RHP
  17. Gilberto Celestino, CF
  18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
  19. Josh Winder, RHP
  20. Matt Canterino, RHP

Check back next week for a full recap of the list, featuring analysis, takeaways, and more. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts on these rankings in the comments below.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Order the Offseason Handbook
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email


View full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

I pretty much agree with the top 5.  I do think the that the Twins might prefer to trade Arraez instead of Martin though.  Martin is a similar type bat with greater speed and possibly more power and they would get to reset the service time clock.  If Martin can gain some power he fits well in left as well. I don't see them trading such a near sure thing even if he is somewhat redundant. 

Buxton at number 1 is the right call.  I know that injury bug has been hard to shake but his contract for a potential superstar who you only pay if he produces is pretty much unheard of in baseball.  He is the best player on the team when healthy and only gets the huge payday if is productive.  Has to be number 1 IMO.

It's a nice list and I think pretty accurate as well.  Thanks to the thought exercise. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Nick. Good list. I’m in on your assessments.
 

If I I had one on which to disagree, it would be Max. Above average (even well above) corner outfield play is not sufficient without a stronger bat in today’s MLB. Max had a tough year in ‘21 with falling performances across the key statistical categories. In addition, his ability to hit lefties seems to have deteriorated quite a bit.  

We are all hoping Max rebounds in ‘22; however, if not, your value assessment will likely be tested by the deadline. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Overall, I like the list and am hopeful for the 2022 season. It may not be a winning one, but I think we will learn a lot about who we have and what is needed. It will be exciting to watch the team develop, especially the the young pitchers, Lewis and Martin. 

I love Buxton and his contract is ideal for the team. However, I don't see how he can be listed as the team's top player asset if he has a full no-trade clause. If Buxton cannot be traded, his contract inherently has limited value, to my mind. His value only exists for the Twins, so I'd think he should be more in the 5 - 10 range. Maybe you took this into account and think he'll overcome the injury bug and get a few 10 WAR seasons in, in which case I get it. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Dman said:

I pretty much agree with the top 5.  I do think the that the Twins might prefer to trade Arraez instead of Martin though.  Martin is a similar type bat with greater speed and possibly more power and they would get to reset the service time clock.  If Martin can gain some power he fits well in left as well. I don't see them trading such a near sure thing even if he is somewhat redundant. 

Buxton at number 1 is the right call.  I know that injury bug has been hard to shake but his contract for a potential superstar who you only pay if he produces is pretty much unheard of in baseball.  He is the best player on the team when healthy and only gets the huge payday if is productive.  Has to be number 1 IMO.

It's a nice list and I think pretty accurate as well.  Thanks to the thought exercise. 

I think Dman is spot on.  I would not trade Martin who is a perfect replacement for Arraez--great on base ability, better power, better defensively, and better position flexibility which includes shortstop and centerfield which are the two most difficult defensive positions (togther with the tools of ignorance position) on the diamond.  I would trade Arraez and Kepler before parting with Martin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent articles Nick. Your assessments seem to be spot on, given the criteria listed. When I combine your series with Seth's series on top prospects, it appears to me that the hitters are on the Twins or very close and the pitchers are a year behind. the hitters. Of course, your criteria were just for 2022, so Maeda was not eligible for inclusion.  The Twins will need to make some of the 1-15 prospects into relievers. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.  Thank you for your outstanding writing. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What an excellent group to build a team around.  Excellent defense, good speed and five top hitters.  All five are mostly youngish with lots of team control

Only negative(s) I see are: 1) There aren't any pitchers in this group, and 2) Will Kirilloff's wrist be a problem of the past, and not the future?

Thanks for this series, Nick.  Is somewhat enlightening and tells us the future may not be as bleak as it felt last summer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In 2021, the average offensive production of MLB SS surpassed that of 2B, so it may have been a slide down the defensive scale, but his offense looks even better there compared to his full-time 2B peers.

With his offense and defense combined, he may be a 2-ish win SS, but he is a 4-ish win 2B. He's arguably a Top 3 hitter at SS. He would be in the back end of the Top 10 list best best offensive SS.

I'm so bullish on him. Combine his contract and durability, and I put him at #1 personally...but that's picking nits. Buxton and Polanco are clearly the top two on this list and it's really more of a 1a and 1b situation.

I wish there was more pitching here to compliment all this position player talent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as Martin goes, he appears to be a good hitting athlete looking for a position. It also appears there are only 4 players in the system rated more valuable them him. With 8 positions he could fit into including the DH(probably not catcher), I think we find a position for him. We don't need to trade our best players, considering that he can also fill in at two of the position taken by players ahead of him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Of course, your criteria were just for 2022, so Maeda was not eligible for inclusion. 

That's not exactly the case -- it's meant to be a mixture of short-term and long-term impact, which is why someone like Chase Petty made the list.  But unfortunately the asset value of Maeda (who ranked #1 last year) was really tanked by his injury last year. When he comes back he'll be 35 with one remaining year of control. Not really a guy you can plan around much anymore. This will be discussed a bit more in the wrap-up post next Monday. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Nick Nelson said:

That's not exactly the case -- it's meant to be a mixture of short-term and long-term impact, which is why someone like Chase Petty made the list.  But unfortunately the asset value of Maeda (who ranked #1 last year) was really tanked by his injury last year. When he comes back he'll be 35 with one remaining year of control. Not really a guy you can plan around much anymore. This will be discussed a bit more in the wrap-up post next Monday. 

Interesting. I understand. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, Nick Nelson said:

That's not exactly the case -- it's meant to be a mixture of short-term and long-term impact, which is why someone like Chase Petty made the list.  But unfortunately the asset value of Maeda (who ranked #1 last year) was really tanked by his injury last year. When he comes back he'll be 35 with one remaining year of control. Not really a guy you can plan around much anymore. This will be discussed a bit more in the wrap-up post next Monday. 

Which is also why Josh Donaldson isn't on this list, even though he might still be a very good hitter and effective player in 2022; between his age, injury history, and salary he probably has negative value as a trade asset and it's difficult to plan on him being a significant contributor in 2023 (even though again...he might be).

I'm a big Austin Martin guy: I think the power will come, but his control of the strike zone and ability to get hits is going to play regardless. I keeping thinking about him playing in LF with Buxton in CF and every fly ball pitcher in MLB going "yeah, I wanna play there". :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

Featured Video

×
×
  • Create New...