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Ranking the Twins Top-5 Speed Tool Prospects


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Speed is a tool that can separate elite defenders and base stealers from the rest of the pack. Will these Twins prospects continue to be fast as they age?

While prospects can improve other tools, speed is an area that tends to decline as players add more muscle and age. According to the 20-80 scouting scale, multiple players on the list below are currently faster than expected in the future. Here are the top-five speed tool prospects in the Twins organization.

5. Yasser Mercedes, OF
Current Run/Future Run: 55/50

Minnesota signed Mercedes as part of the 2022 international signing period, where he ranked as one of the top prospects in the class. It’s easy to see why he is projected to lose speed as he continues to age. He is currently 6-foot-3, and he weighs 180 pounds, so he is projected to add weight as he continues to mature. Scouting reports leading into the signing period noted that his speed currently helps him to make up for inefficient route running in center field. Many believe he can stick in center, and his speed is one tool that makes him an intriguing player to keep an eye on. 

4. Alerick Soularie, 2B
Current Run/Future Run: 55/55

Soularie had to wait until 2021 to make his pro debut after the Twins selected him in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB Draft. He missed a large chunk of the 2021 season with a fractured foot, but he appeared in 34 games. He posted a .727 OPS during that time while going 9-for-10 in stolen base opportunities. Most of his defensive innings have come at second base, but the organization hasn’t been afraid to use his speed in the outfield. With his foot injury behind him, he can get his first full season in the books this year and show his true speed potential. 

3. Royce Lewis, SS/CF
Current Run/Future Run: 60/50

Like Soularie, Lewis missed significant time in 2021. However, there are bigger questions about whether or not Lewis will still have his top-graded speed after knee surgery. In 2019, Lewis went 22-for-32 in stolen base attempts at High- and Double-A. Questions are swirling about his future defensive position, but there is no question about his athletic ability and make-up. Lewis continues to fill out his frame, which will continue to take away from his speed while adding to his power potential. Steals aren’t as prevalent across baseball, but Lewis will be able to transition to other defensive positions because of his speed. 

2. Keoni Cavaco, SS
Current Run/Future Run: 60/60

Cavaco, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, struggled mightily in his first taste of full-season action. His athleticism was one of the biggest reasons the Twins selected him, as he was considered a late-riser on draft boards. Last season, he went 6-for-8 in stolen base opportunities, but he was also getting on base less than 30% of the time. In 60 games, he committed 24 errors at shortstop, so many believe he will eventually move to third base. As with many other prospects, missing the entire 2020 season hurt Cavaco, and he needs consistent reps and coaching to continue to improve.  

1. Will Holland, 2B
Current Run/Future Run: 70/70

Holland may be an unfamiliar name to some Twins fans, but the team took him with their fifth-round pick back in 2019. The Auburn product was old for Low-A last season, but his collegiate experience showed through as he posted a .336 OBP. Defensively, he played the majority of his innings at shortstop, but the organization also had him play at second, third, and in center field. In 76 games, he stole 19 bases, so his speed was evident on the base paths. He’s an athletic player that has a chance to fill a utility role at the big-league level. He turns 24-years-old in April, and he should start next season in Cedar Rapids.    

Who do you think has the best run tool in the Twins system? Should someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
Top Power Tool Prospects
Top Hit Tool Prospects

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Where do they rank with Byron Buxton?  I love speed and SB, as well as Hit and Run.  Baseball has diminished as they have been reduced.  I think a speed team puts a lot of pressure on the opponent both on base and in the field.  I hope some of these make it through the minors and let us see speed in MN. 

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5 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

Where do they rank with Byron Buxton?  I love speed and SB, as well as Hit and Run.  Baseball has diminished as they have been reduced.  I think a speed team puts a lot of pressure on the opponent both on base and in the field.  I hope some of these make it through the minors and let us see speed in MN. 

Lewis claims to have run a sub-4.00 second home to first this spring which would put him as faster than Buxton. I'm not going to take that as 100% truth, but even if he's in the low 4s he's got elite speed and is touching Buxton speed. Just depends if you believe his claims. Hopefully we get a glimpse of it today as he's starting at SS and hitting leadoff!

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24 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

Where do they rank with Byron Buxton?  I love speed and SB, as well as Hit and Run.  Baseball has diminished as they have been reduced.  I think a speed team puts a lot of pressure on the opponent both on base and in the field.  I hope some of these make it through the minors and let us see speed in MN. 

Byron's speed and acceleration are at/near the top of the scale in the majors, so I don't really think that these guys would rank up there with him, myself.

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24 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

Lewis claims to have run a sub-4.00 second home to first this spring which would put him as faster than Buxton. I'm not going to take that as 100% truth, but even if he's in the low 4s he's got elite speed and is touching Buxton speed. Just depends if you believe his claims. Hopefully we get a glimpse of it today as he's starting at SS and hitting leadoff!

I'm with you there, I don't think that Lewis is quite up there with Buxton, especially coming back from the ACL tear. 

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2 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

Where do they rank with Byron Buxton?  I love speed and SB, as well as Hit and Run.  Baseball has diminished as they have been reduced.  I think a speed team puts a lot of pressure on the opponent both on base and in the field.  I hope some of these make it through the minors and let us see speed in MN. 

Buxton is a 75 or 80 in speed.  I love the way he runs.  It doesn't even look like he runs, he just more glides it's so smooth.

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2 hours ago, The Mad King said:

Question...I keep seeing people say Lewis can't handle short. What's his limitation? The speed should give him range. Does he lack reflexes? Glove? Arm? If the arm isn't an issue is 3rd base an option? Some details, please 

Speed isn't what's most important for shortstop. It's quickness, accleration and reaction time. Speed is definitely valuable and helps with range, but it's rare you'd see a shortstop reach top speed playing a ball.

A strong arm is more important at the position, and more than just a strong arm, high velocity with a quick release and short windup. Pitchers can throw very fast, but they have a huge windup with it. The biggest criticism I've seen with Royce Lewis' arm is his throwing technique having a long windup and slow release to generate the high velocity. The Twins supposedly had Lewis working on that hard in 2020.

Aside from that... there's focus and and fielding technique. A good shortstop needs to be a reliable fielder. Air mailing balls or rock hands leads to high error rates and unplayable defense. This appears to be Nick Gordon's achilles heel, but we'll never know since the Twins won't play him at SS.

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1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

Royce Lewis has 70+ speed from the reported home to first times and many scouting sources. Baseball America, Prospects Live, Roto Wire all have him at 70+

He was at that level prior to his injury last year. The drop in his projection is related to him not playing in a game since 2019. He may be able to get back to a 70, but he has also added more muscle mass which can slow a player down. 

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21 minutes ago, Cody Christie said:

He was at that level prior to his injury last year. The drop in his projection is related to him not playing in a game since 2019. He may be able to get back to a 70, but he has also added more muscle mass which can slow a player down. 

I believe it was just recently Lewis reportedly ran another timed sub 4.0sec to first base. That's faster than Buxton. Baseball America reports Lewis can flash 80-grade speed. You're selling him dramatically low

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I think Royce is top, Mlb.com had him at 70 speed on the newest rankings. He might slow down, but he learned about mechanics in his recovery, so I could see him being a student of running like Buxton. Buxton works out with a track coach to keep him fast, I hope Royce is invited next year.

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I know this is about speed, but I can't look away from those Cavaco swings. Yikes. I know he is supposed to be athletic, but I hope he begins to harness that with a refined approach. Even on his 3 for 4 day, there was some wild, unhinged stuff going on there. 

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6 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Speed isn't what's most important for shortstop. It's quickness, accleration and reaction time. Speed is definitely valuable and helps with range, but it's rare you'd see a shortstop reach top speed playing a ball.

A strong arm is more important at the position, and more than just a strong arm, high velocity with a quick release and short windup. Pitchers can throw very fast, but they have a huge windup with it. The biggest criticism I've seen with Royce Lewis' arm is his throwing technique having a long windup and slow release to generate the high velocity. The Twins supposedly had Lewis working on that hard in 2020.

Aside from that... there's focus and and fielding technique. A good shortstop needs to be a reliable fielder. Air mailing balls or rock hands leads to high error rates and unplayable defense. This appears to be Nick Gordon's achilles heel, but we'll never know since the Twins won't play him at SS.

Just wanted to add, I've seen just enough of him in hilights and a few ST games that I don't believe range is any kind of issue. I don't believe arm strength is any kind of issue. I can fully appreciate your comments, and others I've read, that being more efficient with his throws is something to work on. I've also read where he just needs to work on general positioning and footwork needed to make the normal plays consistently. 

I would respond yes to all of this, but aren't these general fundamentals that pretty much every young SS has to work on and develop? I might be an optomist, but I believe the athletic package is there, the arm is there, the work ethic is obviously there as well, and all he really needs is time to play and refine himself. I'm not predicting GG defense...though that would be awesome...but I think he's got everything to become at LEAST a solid ML SS just given a little more time to refine.

Would you agree?

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1 hour ago, DocBauer said:

Just wanted to add, I've seen just enough of him in hilights and a few ST games that I don't believe range is any kind of issue. I don't believe arm strength is any kind of issue. I can fully appreciate your comments, and others I've read, that being more efficient with his throws is something to work on. I've also read where he just needs to work on general positioning and footwork needed to make the normal plays consistently. 

I would respond yes to all of this, but aren't these general fundamentals that pretty much every young SS has to work on and develop? I might be an optomist, but I believe the athletic package is there, the arm is there, the work ethic is obviously there as well, and all he really needs is time to play and refine himself. I'm not predicting GG defense...though that would be awesome...but I think he's got everything to become at LEAST a solid ML SS just given a little more time to refine.

Would you agree?

This right here.  Agreed on all accounts.

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/18/2022 at 3:56 PM, awmonahan said:

I know this is about speed, but I can't look away from those Cavaco swings. Yikes. I know he is supposed to be athletic, but I hope he begins to harness that with a refined approach. Even on his 3 for 4 day, there was some wild, unhinged stuff going on there. 

I'd have to think Cavaco will be released by mid year at this point.

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