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Part 6: Seth's Top 30 Twins Hitting Prospects (1-5)


Seth Stohs
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Over the past few weeks, I have been counting down my top 30 Minnesota Twins pitching and hitting prospects. Today concludes that series as you can read about my choices as the Twins Top 5 Hitting Prospects. 

Welcome to my choices as the Minnesota Twins top five hitting prospects. There may be some interesting ratings as you proceed down this list, and I’m guessing there will be plenty of good discussion. The exciting thing, in my opinion, is that the top three hitters on this list all have huge potential and high ceilings. All three have defensive versatility. All three are very exciting. And my choices for prospects four and five are very young and have a world of potential, but a lot of runs to move up the organizational ladder yet. 

Enjoy this final installment of my Top 30 Twins hitting prospects, and then let’s discuss. 

#5 OF Emmanuel Rodriguez 
2021 STATS: .214/.346/.524, 5 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 23 RBI, 36.6 K%, 15.0 BB%, 9/13 SB

The Twins signed Emmanuel Rodriguez in July 2019 out of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately there was no 2020 season so 2021 marked the professional debut for the talented young outfielder. He remained in Ft. Myers for Extended Spring Training and then spent the remainder of the season with the FCL Twins. He is a really good athlete. He played centerfield  most of the season, but as he grows, he is more likely to play in the corners. He has a good arm. But as you can see from the numbers, it is his bat that will get people excited… at least when he makes contact. A 37% strikeout rate is obviously not ideal, but the 15% walk rate is obviously very impressive. Is he being too passive? Is his swing simply too big at this point? However, he certainly has immense power and power potential. Talking to people who played with him in the FCL or were around him at Instructional League saw what he is capable of and pointed out that his future is very bright. If he can improve his contact rate, he could spend time with the Mighty Mussels. He will turn 19 at the end of February, so it might make most sense to spend time with the FCL Twins again. Just two of his 2021 plate appearances came against a younger pitcher.  

#4 SS Noah Miller  
2021 STATS: .238/.316/.369, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 27.1 K%, 9.4% BB%, 1/2 SB

The Twins were very excited to get Noah Miller, a high school shortstop from Wisconsin, with the 36th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Twins not only loved his makeup, but they feel that he will be able to hit and hit for power from both sides of the plate. They also think that he has the soft hands, strong arms and quick feet to handle shortstop as he gets stronger and moves up. His older brother Owen made his MLB debut for Cleveland in 2021. Noah was there. Cleveland put his photo on the big scoreboard, congratulating him on his high school graduation as he was missing the ceremony. Unfortunately, Noah didn’t see it as he was in the concourse getting food. Noah mentioned that he has always worked with his brother and done the drills that Owen was doing while in college and Noah was still in middle school. Noah made his pro debut in the FCL and certainly held his own. He had one 5-for-5 game. He showed a little bit of power. He struck out a bit much, but that will improve with time and he showed a good, mature approach at the plate. Miller will be just 19 throughout the 2022 season. I would guess he will spend most of the season with the Mighty Mussels. 

#3 SS/CF Austin Martin 
2021 STATS: .254/.399/.381, 8 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 17.9 K%, 13.7 BB%, 5/6 SB

Cleveland drafted Austin Martin out of his Florida high school in 2017. However, he enrolled at Vanderbilt and became one of the best, most all-around players in college baseball. He hit .338 as a freshman with a .452 on-base percentage. As a sophomore in 2019, he hit .392/.486/.604 (1.091) with 19 doubles, four triples, 10 homers and 18 steals. He also walked more than he struck out. In 2020, he played in 16 games before the season was shut down. He hit .377/.507/.660 (1.168) with six doubles and three home runs. He had 10 walks and just two strikeouts. Some considered him the best available player in the 2020 draft, but he fell to the Blue Jays with the fifth overall pick. The Jays pushed him. He started his pro career in Double-A New Hampshire. In 56 games, he hit .281/.424/.383 (.807) with 10 doubles and two homers. He represented the Jays in the 2021 Futures Game. Then to acquire Jose Berrios at the trade deadline, the Jays finally gave in and dealt Martin to the Twins. After joining the Wind Surge, he hit .254/.399/.381 (.779) with eight doubles and three homers. So, what’s to like? A lot. First and foremost, Austin Martin is an on-base machine. Not only does he control the plate and take walks but he appears happy to be hit by pitches to get on base. Some worry about the power developing, and like most, I think that he will. I think he can be a 20-25 homer per year guy. He could also potentially steal 20 bases if the opportunity presents itself. He is a great athlete. Obviously there are questions about if he can play shortstop. I think he could. That said, he played third base at Vanderbilt, and with Wichita, he played over half of his time in centerfield. He can likely play all three outfield spots and all four infield spots. However, most important, he is a guy that you want at or near the top of the batting order. He may spend a little time in Wichita to start the 2022 season, if only to start him with his Team USA 15U teammate and roommate Royce Lewis, but he should spend most of his season with the Saints. There is a pretty strong chance that he will make his major-league debut in 2022. He turns 23 in late March.

#2 IF Jose Miranda 
2021 STATS: .344/.401/.572, 32 2B, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 12.5 K%, 7.1 BB%, 4/8 SB

Twins fans have read a ton about Jose Miranda in 2022, and for the reasons that was true, he made the biggest jump of any Twins prospect in 2021. It was a huge season for the former Twins 2nd round pick from Puerto Rico in 2016. I mean, just look at those numbers! OK, now look at them again. He earned the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year Award, and the Sherry Robertson Twins Minor League Player of the Year award. He was a first team all minor league baseball guy for most of the national publications. But what about his 2021 performance may lead us to believe that it is sustainable? For me, there are a few things. First, his statistics were just as good, if not even better, after being promoted to the Saints. Second, he has always had great bat-to-ball skills and puts a lot of pitches in play. It was a focus for him to avoid swinging at bad pitches, and in doing so, he was able to do much more damage on pitches he could really drive. That fundamental change in approach is incredibly difficult to make, and he did it for the full season. He won’t be one to take a ton of walks. He wants to crush the baseball, but now he’s got a plan. Defensively, he won’t win Gold Gloves anyway, but he can be a decent second baseman and average or better at both corner infield spots. He was drafted as a shortstop, though that is certainly a stretch for him. He did get games there for both Wichita and St. Paul in 2021. Following the season, the Twins added him to the 40-man roster. And while he may not make the opening day roster, Twins fans are likely to continue asking for him to be called up until he is. He will turn 24 in late June, and his offensive potential is as high as anyone in the organization. 

#1 SS Royce Lewis 
2021 STATS: Did Not Play—Injured

And some may have been surprised by my choice of #1 Twins pitching prospect, and I would guess that many will be surprised by this choice. I’m sticking with Royce Lewis. Understandably, there are questions. The only way to answer those questions is to get on the field, so hopefully he will be able to do that soon (please, MLB and MLBPA!). Since being the Arizona Fall League MVP after the 2019 season, Lewis has not played a competitive game. Like most, he missed the 2020 season. That said, he certainly impressed coaches and teammates with his work and performance at the Twins alternate site that summer. And as excited as he was about getting to spring training a year ago, he had to be disappointed when he learned that he had a torn ACL and needed season-ending surgery. But Lewis, the #1 overall pick of the 2017 draft, handled the adversity in style. He came to work every day and remained positive throughout. At season’s end, he was able to get some at bats in the final two Instructional League games. There’s no doubt that an extended lockout would hurt Lewis. He needs to play and get back into the swing of things. However, the tools remain. Lewis is strong and has 30-homer potential. He is still one of the fastest players in the Twins organization, so a 30-30 season is certainly possible. Sure, there are questions about whether or not he will stick at shortstop, but he has good range and a strong arm. He sometimes struggles with routine plays, but he can make any play a shortstop needs to make. Lewis will turn 23 in early March, so he remains young. I would suspect that following spring training, he will go to Wichita and play up to half of the season there. At that point, he will presumably move up to St. Paul for the second half of the season. Of course, if healthy, and if he’s producing and playing well, he certainly could make his MLB debut in 2022. 

So there you have it. The top three prospects are all at Double-A or Triple-A and could see big-league time in 2022. All three have huge ceilings and potential to be long-term answers in the big leagues. Noah Miller and Emmanuel Rodriguez are very young and haven’t even played for a full-season team yet. That said, both have big potential as well. 

This is a pretty solid group, and while I think it’s fair to say that the pitching in the organization may be deeper than the hitting, but let’s not forget that Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker and Ben Rortvedt are no longer “prospects,” and Luis Arraez is still very young. 

But what do you think? How would you rank the top five or the top ten Twins hitting prospects?  

Previous Rankings
Hitters Part 1: 26-30
Hitters Part 2: 21-25
Hitters Part 3: 16-20 
Hitters Part 4: 11-15 
Hitters Part 5: 6-10 
Hitters Part 6: 1-5 

Pitchers Part 1: 26-30  
Pitchers Part 2: 21-25
Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 
Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 
Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 
Pitchers Part 6: 1-5 


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I think Lewis is a huge wild card for this organization.  If he pans out, especially if his bat comes around and glove sticks at SS, that would be huge for this squad.  Couple that with the pitching finally coming up and they'd have a young core to build around.  That could still happen with Martin, but having both Martin and Lewis would be a luxury this team hasn't seen in a long time, if ever.  

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Interesting ranking, Seth.  I think we all knew who the top five were going to be, but most of us didn't expect this particular order, thinking Martin or Miranda might be in the first slot.  But, you always seem to put a little more emphasis on potential than other evaluators and that has certainly served you well over the years.  My only question about Lewis is whether his potential ceiling is still as high after the injury.  I pray you are right and we will find out for sure this summer.  Who would be your all time top hitting and pitching prospects from all the years you have compiled lists?  Buxton?  Mauer? Morneau?  Berrios?  Liriano?  Canterino?

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I am most excited about Martin and Miranda probably because they are so close to impacting the big league club. Bats that make a lot of contact  are hard to find having two guys like that ready to go is nice to have.

I still like Lewis at number 1 he is the only potential 5 tool player in the group.  Hard to get excited about him though because we haven't seen anything from him in two years and the last full season he was far from special with the bat.  I am still a believer though.  If he does work out and play to his top end potential I think the Twins will have a pretty potent offense for years to come.

Rodriguez and Miller just seem to far away with too small a sample size to say much about.  With Miller it is nice to have a likely solid switch hitter who should also be solid in the field.  With Rodriguez the bat could be special and he likely has the wheels to plus on defense in the corners.  Will know more once next season ends.

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Must say I am surprised to see Miller at #4 as that puts him next up after the top three.  And that top three is about as good of a trio the Twins have probably ever had.  Seth, can you recall a previous top three that would be their equal?  Maybe Mauer and Morneau, but who would have been the third when they were coming up.

But am also excited for Miller, seeing he is a Wisconsin kid.  When looking at your report together with what his brother has accomplished and how he compares with him, this was an exciting pick by the Twins.

The more I read about Martin, however, the more excited I get.  What a tremendous track record coming out of Vanderbilt and then beginning his professional career at AA...WOW!  The best news may be that he isn't on the 40-man and is one top prospect we should see playing come April Fool's day.  Hopefully, we will see everyone playing!

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Not a strong list especially considering where the Twins draft.  Miranda had a breakout but the rest have alot of question marks in my opinion.  It seems like other organizations graduate their top draft picks and reload where the Twins seem to flounder.  Cavaco, Lewis, Javier, Sabato and Rooker (DH at best) are all disapointing signings thus far,  At least Gordon is finally showing some value.  We have to start hitting with more regularity with top picks and international signings and moving them steadily through the system.

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Seth, I like your order of 1-3, but it really doesn’t matter.  All three should be starting for the Twins in ‘23.
 

What is most exciting is that a real core of highly talented, yet low cost controllable core of players is on the near term horizon. It is very possible that Polanco and Buxton are the only true vets on the position player roster as early as ‘23. JD, Max, Sano and possibly Garver all could be moved in the next 12-18 months.  Think about the cash that would be available to get one or two key FAs to make a good multi year run if desired or lock up some of our key younger talent with extensions  

SS is still the one position that is concerning. Defense up the middle is so important and outstanding play at SS is often highly correlated with WS appearances. It doesn’t seem that we confidently have a true solution at SS for the ‘23-24 timetable quite yet. Lots of good possibilities, but none that seem as sure as the other positions in the field. 

With this core of young talent both in the field and on the bump, the most important roles for this team/franchise are coaching related. I hope Rocco and his team are actually the right guys to see these players max out their potential once they get to the big leagues. With so many down years last season, the jury should still be out on that. 
 


 

 

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When he was drafted, I remember one pundit describing the ceiling on Royce Lewis as becoming another Derek Jeter.  If his injury issues haven’t diminished that expectation, then this “high character guy” deserves the top spot.  

Part of me, however, yearns for more “characters” (Eddie Rosario, Tortuga, Mike Redmond, Sergio Romo, A.J. Pierzynski …).   In fact, during the lock-out, somebody with a better memory than mine should come up with the all-time Twins “characters” team.  On the current roster, Josh Donaldson (after last year’s rants) may be the only one true “character”.  

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3 hours ago, roger said:

Seth, can you recall a previous top three that would be their equal?  Maybe Mauer and Morneau, but who would have been the third when they were coming up.

2021... Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, with Ryan Jeffers #4... 

And, I think Kubel came up with Mauer/Morneau. Cuddyer was a Top 100 guy. 

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2 hours ago, strumdatjag said:

When he was drafted, I remember one pundit describing the ceiling on Royce Lewis as becoming another Derek Jeter.  If his injury issues haven’t diminished that expectation, then this “high character guy” deserves the top spot.  

Part of me, however, yearns for more “characters” (Eddie Rosario, Tortuga, Mike Redmond, Sergio Romo, A.J. Pierzynski …).   In fact, during the lock-out, somebody with a better memory than mine should come up with the all-time Twins “characters” team.  On the current roster, Josh Donaldson (after last year’s rants) may be the only one true “character”.  

Ha! That's a different definition of character, but yes, having guys like that around can be good for a little while. 

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54 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

2021... Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, with Ryan Jeffers #4... 

And, I think Kubel came up with Mauer/Morneau. Cuddyer was a Top 100 guy. 

How about Buxton, Sano, Rosario, or Buxton, Sano, Kepler, or Buxton Sano, Polanco. or Buxton, Sano, Hicks

I feel like people might have forgotten the twins hitting prospects prior to this year.

 

 

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57 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

How about Buxton, Sano, Rosario, or Buxton, Sano, Kepler, or Buxton Sano, Polanco. or Buxton, Sano, Hicks

I feel like people might have forgotten the twins hitting prospects prior to this year.

 

 

Thanks TwinsDr,

Keep forgetting that Buxton, Sano and Rosie, Kepler and/or Polanco were also highly thought of.  Guess his struggles the last few years diminish how big of a prospect Sano was.  And yes, Morneau, Mauer and Kubel were also HUGE!  Guess its easy to get caught up in the excitement of what this trio could become, especially after suffering thru last summer.  

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Miranda needs to be in the lineup on opening day. Martin should soon follow him up to the Major League roster.

Lewis?? So far has shown he cant hit with his style of swing.

The other two? Come on 19 yr olds should not be considered in the top 5 if they are still years away from being ready, no matter how much "potential" they may or May not have. Lewis, case in point, is clearly not able to hit Major league pitching, yet, if ever.

Arraiz? Trade him for bullpen talent.

He is a one tool.player with no speed, power, bum knees and below average defensively.

He is not the 2nd coming of Tony Gwynn

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Seth, I always enjoy your ratings and descriptions and as usual I disagree with many or if you are right I am disappointed.  I know we moved a number of bats up, but is this all we have left?  Of course Miranda and Martin are there, but Lewis is old news until he proves that he is not and the rest?????  Who are they, what have they done.  Not a list that excites me for the future. 

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