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  • Part 1: Seth's Top 30 Twins Hitting Prospects (26-30)


    Seth Stohs

    As the year ends, I will be sharing my Top Prospect listings but in a different way. I will be splitting hitters and pitchers and ranking the Top 30 of each. Over the next 12 days, we’ll count them down, starting today with the Twins hitting prospects that I rank between 26 and 30. 

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Andrew Bechtold photo by Ed Bailey)

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    Prospect lists are always fun to do, and they’re fun because they can be questioned and discussed. Sure, we’ve separated the pitchers and hitters to get right of one question, that being how do you compare pitchers to hitters? But still, how do you compare or rank an 18-year-old who played in the FCL to a 25-year-old at Double-A? Prospect rankings are far from a perfect science, but if nothing else, it gives us the opportunity to discuss more players and give them the recognition that they deserve. 

    #30  Gregory Duran 
    2021 STATS: .267/.389/.367, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 36.1 K%, 13.9 BB%, 0/3 SB

    Gregory Duran was signed as an international free agent in July of 2019 from the Dominican Republic.  As you would expect in an 18-year-old’s professional debut in the FCL (after a missed season), Duran struggled. He struck out too much. However, he has a smooth, strong, left-handed swing that projects some power. He is a strong outfielder who could play in center but profiles more to the corners.  Duran, who will play the full 2022 season at age 19, is likely to get lots of playing time in the FCL in 2022.

    #29  Wander Valdez 
    2021 STATS: .225/.339/.350, 8 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 32.3 K%, 12.2 BB%, 4/4 SB

    Wander Valdez is not an everyday name for those who follow Twins prospects, and yet he signed with the organization from the Dominican Republic way back in 2016. He began 2021 with the Mighty Mussels, but with other prospects there, he wasn’t playing often, or well. He spent time with the FCL Twins where he was able to show some of his power. Valdez is big and strong, so it is his power that remains intriguing. He is a little shorter, but built like former Twins DH Kennys Vargas. Valdez remains fairly athletic and can play third base, though he may be better at first base, and ultimately at DH. 

    #28 Jesus Feliz 
    2021 STATS: .238/.300/.420, 8 2B, 9 HR, 26.2 K%, 4.3 BB%, 3/3 SB

    Jesus Feliz is a difficult prospect for me to rank. I am really high on him and his potential. Having seen him in spring training in 2020, I came away impressed with his athleticism and especially his power potential. While he would have missed much of a 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2021 ready to play. He may be too big and strong to remain at shortstop and actually played more third base with the Mighty Mussels. But again, for him to have eight doubles and nine home runs in the League Formerly Known as Florida State is really impressive. It’s been a slow trek up the Twins ladder since he signed back in 2016, so 2022 will be a big season in determining what his future could be. That said, he’s still just 21 years old until June. 

    #27 Andrew Bechtold 
    2021 STATS: .239/.328/.459, 23 2B, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 32.3 K%, 11.3 BB%, 1/2 SB

    2021 was a big year for Andrew Bechtold. He had some struggles offensively in 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, and with the lost season, it was interesting to see him jump straight to Double-A Wichita to start the season. He split time pretty evenly between first base and third base, where his arm is a major asset. He also really found his power stroke in 2021 with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In addition, he spent time all season working behind the plate. After the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, he got one start behind the plate and got good reviews. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he got one start each week behind the plate as well as time at the infield corners and as the DH. Adding the ability to be a viable catching option certainly makes him more valuable to his team. The team’s 2017 fifth-round draft pick  from Chipola College will turn 26 in April.  

    #26  Michael Helman 
    2021 STATS: .246/.336/.462, 21 2B, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 19.2 K%, 11.3 BB%, 21/26 SB

    Michael Helman was the team’s 11th round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M. He had an injury-plagued season in 2019 with the Ft. Myers Miracle. So missing 2020 was not ideal for him. The Twins sent him back to High-A for the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. Always able to play the middle infield positions, Helman proved very valuable by playing three infield positions and all three outfield spots too. He showed a strong, accurate arm, and he also showed good range and improved routes as the season continued. In addition, he really performed well with the bat too. He always took quality plate appearances, and he continued to do so, but he also showed power with 21 doubles and 19 home runs. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and continued to play all over the diamond. In addition, he walked nine times and struck out six times. He will turn 26 in May.

    (go to 4:00 mark for Helman video.)

    Again, I think this is an interesting group of players ranked, and maybe you agree. Michael Helman and Andrew Bechtold are guys who could (and I think CAN) be major-league utility players. Their floor is fairly high for a minor leaguer, especially with Bechtold who had success in Double-A), and yet their ceiling is that of role player. The other three players are younger and further from the big leagues. I do think that Jesus Feliz has a very high ceiling. Gregory Duran has a very high ceiling. Wander Valdez has a few more question marks, so his ceiling may not be quite as high as those two. All three have floors that could find them topping out in A-ball, and not even get to the point where Helman and Bechtold are now. 

    Please feel free to add comments to this discussion and ask questions about players or rankings. 

     

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    Great series coming, Seth, thanks.

    Must say that I had never heard of two of the young kids while knowing a bit about Valdez.  

    Must disagree a bit with one of your comments, ie, that Duran struggled.  Those numbers look awfully good to me for a 18-year old kid who missed all of last year after signing in 2019.  You indicated that he should see lots of playing time next year in the FCL.  With all the bloody changes in teams and leagues, I assume you believe he will return to the same league he played in this year, the Florida Complex League.  You don't think he will move up to the Mussels, in whatever the Florida State League is now called?

    Seems exciting that both Helman and Bechtold are on track to making it, even though it is likely to be as utility guys.  Like how the Twins are getting Bechtold behind the plate so he might become a better version of La Tortuga.

    Also like your comment that Helman played in all four outfield spots.  Now that's a valuable tool for this young man. 

    Thanks for this series, Seth, and have a wonderful Christmas.

     

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    I don't know enough about Duran and Feliz to comment But Valdez had great year in 2019.  Was not happy to see him back slide in 2021.  Granted the competition in the FCL is tougher since they are the only big short season league now.  I know he has power just needs to make more contact.  Big year for him next year.

    Bechtold had me believing in his bat a while there but then it seemed like he lost it at the end of the season.  From what I have read he is a solid defender the bat is the only thing holding him back.  I just am getting the feeling his hit tool isn't going to be quite good enough but he will get another year to prove me wrong.

    The knock on Helman was no power and he changed that in 2021.  I still think he has a chance to make it as a utility player.  Not sure it will be with the Twins but he has a chance. I think Spencer Steer, Julien will be better candidates but we will have to wait and see.

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    Thanks Seth, love the write up.  I realize splitting a list up and doing your rankings based on pitchers/non-pitchers makes for a lot more work, but I for one truly do appreciate it.  I've personally always felt like having all your prospects on one list is often times trying to compare apples to oranges.

    So for what it's worth, thank you and hope you have a blessed and safe Christmas and New Years.

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    My biggest issue is that a couple of these guys will be 26 this year.  That is old for a prospect and to me speaks of career minor leaguer for a few more years or maybe an independent league player if they love the game that much.

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    On 12/20/2021 at 10:38 PM, HrbieFan said:

    Those first 5 are less than exciting. I follow the minors quite a bit and had only heard of 2 of these guys 

    these guys are players ranked somewhere between 50-60 overall in the Twins system, we are really diving deep here, and the early part of the list is going to have guy who are totally lottery tickets or have a ceiling as a utility guy. You need to follow the minors a LOT to know all 5 of these guys.

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