Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were consensus top 100 prospects. However, outfielder Trevor Larnach, catcher Ryan Jeffers, and pitchers Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic also found their names among the league's most exciting future players depending on which prospect rankings site one preferred.
Royce Lewis lost a second straight campaign after he tore his ACL. Kirilloff, Larnach and Jeffers graduated thanks to a bevy of injuries and poor play from the MLB club. Duran and Balazovic missed time at the beginning of the season with arm injuries and slow starts. (Balazovic has turned it on as of late, while Duran was shut down with an elbow injury.)
The sheen on the Twins' top 12-15 farm system became far duller by mid-June despite the encouraging progress shown by the likes of utility infielder Jose Miranda and pitcher Josh Winder.
Before Friday's trade deadline, the Twins' system lacked a level of potential high-end talent that most of the teams inside the top 10 had, and some teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, had in spades. However, that all changed when the Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson.
Martin is a consensus top 60 prospect who hits for average, gets on base at a high clip, and has projectable power, despite his low home run output this year at Double-A. His long-term fit at shortstop is dubious, with most experts believing he'll eventually find a home at either second base or center field. Woods Richardson is a consensus top 75 prospect who boasts four legit pitches and substantial strikeout numbers but struggles with command, though, to be fair, what 20-year-old doesn't?
When paired alongside pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, who the Twins acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz, the Twins added four prospects to their top 10 and two to their top five over the last two weeks to more than replenish their future talent cupboard. Their farm system metamorphosed from good to excellent, from deep to DEEP, from top 15 in the league to arguably top 5 in a brief amount of time.
But a stockpile of minor league talent does nothing for a franchise unless it's developed adequately and positively impacts the major league team or tapped into to bring in quality MLB talent. No team gets to hang a banner for having the best farm system in place.
Now the ball is in Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and the various Twins coaching staffs' court. It is on their shoulders to make the Twins' newfound prospect currency count.
The Twins possess the most depth at starting pitcher, with the majority of their top 20 prospects - Balazovic, Woods-Richardson, Canterino, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strotman, Blayne Enlow, Chase Petty, Cole Sands, and Chris Vallimont - having the potential to one day slot into the team's starting rotation.
Of course, not all of them will, but the more fish in the barrel, the more likely one is to snag a catch. The Twins need to develop at least two or three of their starting pitching prospects into legitimate No. 2 or 3 starters. They would also be wise to dangle a few of them as trade bait to bring in impact MLB talent, particularly if the likes of Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Jorge Polanco find themselves on new teams in the coming years.
However, their talent extends beyond the mound. Miranda has exploded onto the scene and is far more likely to be considered a top 100 prospect now than entering the season. Similarly, relatively unknown prospects Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, Jermaine Palacios, and Yunior Severino have had strong seasons, boosting their prospect status.
Despite trading the best arm the franchise has employed since Johan Santana, the Twins still see themselves as a team that can contend for a playoff spot in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps as early as next year.
"The future is very bright," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters following the Twins' trade of Berrios. "We have the pieces already here that we're trying to supplement right now with some of the moves that we're making in order to get to a point where we are a playoff baseball team again. And I don't think we're very far away."
Falvey largely echoed Baldelli's sentiment.
"Our view of this is sustainability," Falvey said of the trade. "[This year] has not been what we wanted. But we still feel, even as Jose walked out the door here, and that's not easy, don't get me wrong, that we feel we have a lot of talent in that clubhouse coming back in '22 and '23 and beyond and so how do you build a sustainable group? You've got to retool it sometimes."
The only way the Twins can find themselves back in the playoff hunt next year and beyond is if the franchise capitalizes on their current wealth of young assets. Despite their current 100-loss pace, doing so is not an unrealistic goal. They simply need to go and make it happen.