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  • Minnesota Twins Post-Draft Top-20 Prospects: 1-5

    Cody Christie

    In the aftermath this year's MLB Draft, it can be fun to reevaluate where an organization stacks up in the prospect department. For better or worse, franchises can make it or break it with their selections in the draft. It's also important for teams to be able to build from within to help manage the bottom line.


    Minnesota's top prospect list is littered with highly drafted players over the last handful of years. Players like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach have all been taken with first-round picks. Ideally, these players will form the nucleus of Minnesota's next championship winning club.

    Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    5. Jhoan Duran, RHP

    2019 MiLB Stats: 5-12, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 136 K, 40 BB, 115.0 IP

    The Twins might have stolen Duran from the Diamondback organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was never going to be part of the long-term solution in Minnesota and Duran could be one of the answers to some of Minnesota’s pitching woes. Duran throws multiple fastballs with a four-seamer that can reach triple digits and consistently sits in the high-90s and a two-seamer that acts like a splitter which hits over 90 mph.


    Last season, Duran really put himself on the prospect map by showing plus velocity and multiple pitches as a starter. He was almost two year younger than the average age of the competition in the FSL and that number jumped to 3.3 years younger in the Southern League. Even with the age gap, he struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings and his walk rate dropped from 3.6 BB/9 to 2.2 BB/9 after his promotion.


    4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP

    2019 MiLB Stats (A, A+): 8-6, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 129 K, 25 BB, 93.2 IP

    Balazovic is good. Like, really good. He has the chance to be better than any pitcher in the current Twins rotation and that’s something the Twins have struggled to produce from the farm system for many years. The kicker is… He was a fifth-round draft pick under the previous front office regime. Talk about a going away present.


    He can hit the high 90s with his fastball and there is some sinking action on the pitch to induce groundballs. Add in a change-up in the mid-80s and that’s a recipe for disaster as a hitter. He made hitters look foolish in the MWL last season as he struck out 33 batters in just over 20 innings. Yes, that is over 14 strikeouts per nine innings. He took the jump to the FSL in stride and struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings. In some organizations, he’d be the top prospect and that tells you how good the players are ahead of him.


    3. Trevor Larnach, OF

    2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .309/.384/.458, 13 HR, 30 2B, 124 K, 57 BB, 127 G

    In his second professional season, Larnach destroyed the baseball across two levels and an argument could be made for him to be the best prospect in the Twins organization. He’s had success in college and as a pro and that could help him to advance through the Twins system. Last season he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and the Florida State League named him their Player of the Year.


    His 147 hits were the most in the Twins system and he seemed to get better as the season progressed. From August 2 through the season’s end, he had a .969 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 28 games. He’s added a lot of weight throughout college and his professional career and this will only help with his power numbers in the future. On the defensive side, he’s slotted in to be a corner outfielder and he seems likely to play that position throughout his professional career.


    2. Alex Kirilloff, OF

    2019 MiLB Stats (AA): .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 18 2B, 76 K, 29 BB, 94 G

    Any prospect would have a tough time living up to the numbers compiled by Kirilloff in 2018. He dominated two levels of the minor leagues by hitting .348/.392/.578 with 71 extra-base hits in 130 games. The 2019 season was a different story as he missed time at season’s start with a wrist injury and then ended up back on the injured list with the same injury. From that point forward, he made his presence felt in the Southern League.


    In August, Kirilloff crushed the ball to the tune of a .311/.351/.500 slash-line with five home runs in and five doubles in 26 games. He really found his stride in the playoffs as he hit home runs in the Blue Wahoo’s first four playoff games and posted a 1.435 OPS during the team’s semifinal appearance. He and Larnach have been compared to each other but Kirilloff is younger and it’s scary to think about the outfield these two could occupy in the years ahead.


    1. Royce Lewis, SS

    2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .236/.290/.371, 12 HR, 26 2B, 123 K, 38 BB, 127 G

    An argument can be made for any of the Twins top three prospects to be the best in the system. Lewis was the number one overall pick back in 2017 so it is going to be hard to ignore his prospect status no matter what he does in the minor leagues. Some might question the mechanics of his swing and some might question his eventual defensive position. His athleticism and skills are hard to ignore no matter what scouts might say about him.


    Even with a down season, the Twins sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League and he dominated over the course of 95 plate appearances. He hit .353/.411/.565 with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. Because of other players on the roster, he was asked to play positions besides shortstop, and he lived up to the challenge. Kirilloff and Larnach might beat him to the big-leagues, but Lewis could be a once-in-a-generation talent.



    Prospects 16-20

    Prospects 11-15

    Prospects 6-10



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    If defense was not a thing, Kirilloff would be tops.  I have huge expectations for that kid on the offense side.  From what I have heard he is average defense, but offense he could be amazing.  If he can stay healthy.  Not calling him injury prone but he missed a seasons with tommy john not common for a fielder.  He has missed several stints last year with different injuries I believe.  I am huge on him and think he will be middle of line up hitter for years.  

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    Put the pitchers as number 1 and 2.  Kiriloff and Larnach will look good in the lineup, but they also need to wear gloves. Royce has lost his number one position in my mental list - his bat has really regressed and it is disappointing to see.  I cannot see him challenging Polanco or Arraez at this point. 

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    Unless traded, I actually expect all 5 of these guys to be quality Twins players soon, and for the foreseeable future. And I'm not just being an optimist.


    Logic and history of pitching in general would seem to indicate Duran and Balazovic are the biggest question marks. Or is that just a jaded past reflection? The new way of doing things and their pure stuff SHOULD have us all giddy with anticipation, even if it takes a year or two to adapt and smooth things out.


    Honestly, these are the best two arms the organization has produced since Berrios. (Yeah, probably just past angst working me).


    The only problem I see with Kirilloff AND Larnach is room. To make room for both, Cruz and Rosario have to go. No matter how much we love and enjoy each of them, age and finance may make room. And soon.


    Totally believe in Lewis 100%. Kid had a rough 2019. But finished strong and the Twins sent him to the AFL to play with the caveat he would barely see time at SS. All he did was play quality defense wherever he played and earn MVP. Slow start in ST and then heated up before everything stopped.


    My only question is, especially with a supposed brief 2020, where does he end up? Is he a super sub initially? Does he take over 3B for a Donaldson move? Do you trade Polanco or Arraez? It will be an interesting and tough call when rock meets hard place. A call most every team would love to have to make.

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