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  • Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2022: Part 2 (11-15)


    Nick Nelson

    Continuing our rankings of the most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization, we highlight our picks for 11 through 15.

    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?

    Image courtesy of Nathan Ray Seebeck, USA TODAY Sports (Jose Miranda)

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    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

    From there, we dive into the top 15.

    Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15

    15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
    2021 Ranking: NR

    The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. 

    Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did.

    "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.”

    That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. 

    The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 

    14. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    2021 Ranking: 12

    In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated.

    Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings.

    With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 

    13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    2021 Ranking: 13

    While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. 

    The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. 

    He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind.

    12. Trevor Larnach, OF
    2021 Ranking: 10

    Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." 

    During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. 

    Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while.

    Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A.

    It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward.

    11. Luis Arraez, UTIL
    2021 Ranking: 11

    Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset.

    First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year.

    It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves.

    Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him?

    Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! 

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    Unless the Twins are making a serious run at it at the trade deadline, I don’t think the FO will trade anyone who might be an important cog in a new multi year window they think will open in 2023. That includes Arraez IMHO.
     

    If Miranda and the younger outfield assets (Martin, Larnach, Celestino and, yes, Lewis (although we all hope he can be a SS)) are developing nicely, then JD and MK will be the most likely players to be moved before the deadline. 

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    The write up on Arraez surprises me and I'm going to bite. Count me among the group that believes he should be higher, possibly as high as 4, no lower than 7.

    I know it is not about trade value, but the simulator has Arraez ranked as the Twins most valuable player. While #1 seems high, #11 seems low.

    He and Donaldson are the only reliable on base guys in the lineup. He may not have a position in the field, but he has a spot in the lineup on lockdown. That has more value than others that will appear in this top 10 list.

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    Arraez is one of my favorite current Twins, as I'm more of an on base guy vs slugging. Anyone know what his knee issues are? Is degenerative joint issues or is it that he has had ligament issues over the years. 

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    This is why I think Arraez should be the centerpiece of a trade to acquire a SP.  He's got tremendous bat to ball skills and positional versatility that would be attractive to any ballclub.  That includes teams who view themselves as competitive now and those that may be going thru a rebuild (like the A's).  But with Miranda, Martin, Lewis, Celestino and Gordon and with Polanco firmly entrenched at 2B, there is certainly redundancy with Arraez.  Plus, Rocco refuses to put him at the top of the order and leave him there so I will continue to advocate moving him for pitching and replacing him with Miranda who has more pop in his bat.  

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    Thanks, Nick, love this series.

    Count me among those who love Arraez and what he brings to the Twins.  My question, does his playing left field increase the wear on his knees?  Would he have less, or more, knee problems if he stayed in the infield and as DH part of the time?

    I guess not seeing him pitch at all last year and the risk, in my eyes, of more serious elbow problems would have Duran lower on this list.  Or perhaps not even on it.  Hope I am wrong.  AS for Larnach, I just don't know what to expect.  The start to his big league career was so exciting, until it wasn't.

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    Larnach is too high for me.  I get he may have been rushed, but his biggest issue was lack of adjusting to the league adjusting to him.  Once teams scouted him they pitched him different and he never adjusted.  We will see what he does this year, but baseball is about adjustments and failing to do it over the season will not go well. 

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    These all seem pretty reasonable to me. If someone really insisted on putting Arraez ahead of Larnach I probably wouldn't get too upset about it, but these all seem pretty close. I'm a fan of Larnach and it can take some adjusting when you get to the big leagues especially for more of a power hitter, and it wouldn't surprise me if once Larnach got off track he was just kind of spinning and really needed a reset. (I don't think he was fully healthy towards the end of the season either) The talent is there. Arraez is more accomplished and has proven his ability to control the strike zone and get on base, but he really isn't much of a defensive player and doesn't hit without enough power to be very comfortable as a full-time DH. (that said, I think the Twins have enough power elsewhere that I wouldn't be opposed to him getting lots of DH time to save on those knees, but if DH is your best position you need to hit a LOT to make up for adding no value anywhere else)

    Miranda looks like the heir apparent to Donaldson at 3B to me. He's not as strong defensively, but we've seen that guys can really improve at 3B at the MLB level (Koskie was shaky early on and quickly became an asset and Plouffe was basically a butcher out there for a while but became more than adequate) and I love his hit tool. Very excited to see what he can do.

    Both pitchers need innings, but they're very talented. I'd hate for Duran to end up in the bullpen any time soon. Can't wait to see Balazovic. But I'd be happier if they were battling to be the first call up for injury/ineffectiveness or so outstanding at spring training that you can't keep them out of the rotation, as opposed to them contending for the 4th spot...both probably need some polishing and innings at AAA.

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    5 hours ago, Trov said:

    Larnach is too high for me.  I get he may have been rushed, but his biggest issue was lack of adjusting to the league adjusting to him.  Once teams scouted him they pitched him different and he never adjusted.  We will see what he does this year, but baseball is about adjustments and failing to do it over the season will not go well. 

    This. 

    Once he got to the big leagues and the worlds best scouts picked him apart, he really struggled to make the adjustment when that gameplan was executed by the worlds best pitchers. That's fine. That happens to many rookies. That is not what is concerning.

    What is concerning is that when he went to AAA and that same master gameplan against him was used, but by vastly inferior pitchers, he still couldn't make the adjustment. Celestino is a great example of the kind of turnaround you expect to see from a top prospect. Laurnach did not do that.

    Hopefully it was an undisclosed injury. Because if he struggled that much to make an approach or mechanical change against AAA pitching, he is essentially a poor man's version of Miguel Sano and will not last long at The Show.

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    1 hour ago, Minny505 said:

    What is concerning is that when he went to AAA and that same master gameplan against him was used, but by vastly inferior pitchers, he still couldn't make the adjustment. Celestino is a great example of the kind of turnaround you expect to see from a top prospect. Laurnach did not do that.

    Hopefully it was an undisclosed injury. Because if he struggled that much to make an approach or mechanical change against AAA pitching, he is essentially a poor man's version of Miguel Sano and will not last long at The Show.

    I mean, he played all of 10 games after returning to Triple-A. He did have an injury, and it wasn't undisclosed: he mentioned being bothered by a foot injury for much of the summer, and one wonders if this played a role in the team shutting him down for all of September (ostensibly due to a hand contusion).

    One year ago Larnach was a top 100 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus (top 40 according to BA!). I understand why folks are down on him, but ranking him any lower than 12th on this list would feel like a major overreaction to me.

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    18 hours ago, Nick Nelson said:

    I mean, he played all of 10 games after returning to Triple-A. He did have an injury, and it wasn't undisclosed: he mentioned being bothered by a foot injury for much of the summer, and one wonders if this played a role in the team shutting him down for all of September (ostensibly due to a hand contusion).

    One year ago Larnach was a top 100 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus (top 40 according to BA!). I understand why folks are down on him, but ranking him any lower than 12th on this list would feel like a major overreaction to me.

    Good info. I didn't know all that. Admittedly, my daily fandom waned a little bit in the last month or so as I started following the races MLB wide more closely instead.

    That does change my perception and certainly negates the concern I mentioned. 

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