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


    Seth Stohs

    Yesterday, I started a new series, looking at 60 Twins prospects, 30 hitters and 30 pitchers. In Part 1, we looked at the hitters that I rank 26-30. Today, I’ll start reviewing Twins pitchers, starting with my rankings as the Twins #26-30 pitchers. 

    Image courtesy of Bri Ostwinkle, Cedar Rapids Kernels (Ben Gross), Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Luis Rijo)

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    Prospect lists are fun to look at and review. I think that they’re fun because they can be questioned and discussed. As mentioned yesterday, I’ve separated the pitchers and hitters to get rid of one question, that being how do you compare pitchers to hitters? But still, how do you 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. Hopefully you find this entertaining and also gives you the opportunity to learn about some new Twins prospects. 

    #30 - RHP Steven Cruz 
    2021 STATS: 4-2, 4.32 ERA, 28/2 G/GS, 1.36 WHIP, 80/33 K/BB, 50.0 IP

    If you like velocity, then you should really like Steven Cruz. The 6-7 right-hander from the Dominican Republic frequently topped 100 mph in 2021, topping out at 102 mph. There are times, as you would expect, when he gets a little wild with his fastball and his improving secondary pitches. However, 80 strikeouts in 50 innings is certainly noteworthy. He spent the season in Ft. Myers with just a couple of appearances in Cedar Rapids late in the season. Cruz signed back in March of 2017 and will turn 23 in June. 

    #29 - RHP Luis Rijo 
    2021 STATS: 0-0, 9.95 ERA, 4/2 G/GS, 2.53 WHIP, 7/6 K/BB, 6.1 IP

    Luis Rijo came to the Twins in the July 2018 trade from the Yankees for Lance Lynn. He looked really good in 2019 with Low-A Cedar Rapids. He was always known for being a good control pitcher with quality secondary pitches but that season he was suddenly touching 95-96 with a fastball. He lost the 2020 season, and after attempting to return from elbow issues a couple of times, his season came to an end when he had Tommy John surgery. He will be just 23 throughout the 2022 season, but he likely won’t pitch and if he does it would be a few innings late. He has a ton of potential. The concern is that he becomes a free agent after the 2022 season.   

    #28 - RHP Travis Adams 
    2021 STATS: 0-1, 20.25 ERA, 1/1 G/GS, 3.00 WHIP, 3/2 K/BB, 1.1 IP

    Adams pitched in just one game in the FCL late in the 2021 season. He had already made 14 starts for Sacramento State before the Twins made him their sixth round pick. In his 79 1/3 innings in college, he walked just 16 and struck out 72 batters. He’s got a good, smooth delivery with a low-90s fastball. He also has a really good changeup and command of both pitches. He is developing a curveball that has shown some potential. He certainly profiles as a starter. Adams will turn 22 in January. 

    #27 - RHP Tyler Beck 
    2021 STATS: 3-4, 3.00 ERA, 19/13 G/GS, 1.12 WHIP, 91/30 K/BB, 84.0 IP

    Tyler Beck had a long and circuitous route to professional baseball, but after helping the University of Tampa to a national championship, the Twins drafted him in 2019. He began the 2021 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels either starting or working in a piggyback role, and he pitched well. His fastball is in the low-90s, and he’s got a really good split-finger/sinker/changeup and mixes his pitches and velocities. He ended the season in Double-A Wichita but soon started experiencing some elbow pain and had Tommy John in the offseason. He hopes to get some innings late in the 2022 season. He is 26 years old.  

    #26 - RHP Ben Gross 
    2021 STATS: 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 21/17 G/GS, 1.37 WHIP, 122/32 K/BB,  95.1 IP

    Ben Gross graduated from Princeton in three years and then spent his senior season at Duke. The Twins drafted him in the tenth round in 2019. After a missed 2020 season, Gross was a starter for High-A Cedar Rapids in 2021. He also pitched well and was durable. With Cedar Rapids, he had 106 strikeouts and just 23 walks over 82 innings. He was then promoted to Wichita late in the season and got some innings out of the bullpen. He had 16 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old is mostly a fastball thrower in the low-90s. He’s got a good curveball and a changeup. He also has a strong idea of what he wants to do on the mound. 

    I think this is an interesting group of players ranked, and maybe you agree. There are a couple of older, senior-sign pitchers who have found success in High-A ball and touched Double-A in their first full season of pro ball. We have an intriguing pick from the 2021 draft. Luis Rijo has a high ceiling, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2021, so we can’t be sure how much he (or Tyler Beck) will pitch in 2022. And finally, Steven Cruz could go up and down the rankings. He may be ‘just’ a reliever, but when a guy can throw 102, he becomes intriguing. He’s still fairly young. 

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

     

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    Rijo is the only name I recognize.  Can a team Rule V draft him and then immediately stash him on the IR so they can keep him?  

    The rest of the pitchers are unknowns to me.  The most important aspect of this report so far is the fact that we actually have 30 minor league pitchers worth talking about. 

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    Five interesting and different prospects, Seth.  Expect it would be a big win if one of this group actually makes it.  And probably is a crapshoot as to which of the five it would be.

    Looking forward to future articles as the prospects become more familiar.

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    Thanks! These rankings are always fun to read and give some insight into guys at lower levels that many of us fans don't have time to research. I trust Seth's rankings more than the national outlets because I get the impression he does his homework and knows the Twins farm better than any of them.

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    2 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    Rijo is the only name I recognize.  Can a team Rule V draft him and then immediately stash him on the IR so they can keep him?  

    The rest of the pitchers are unknowns to me.  The most important aspect of this report so far is the fact that we actually have 30 minor league pitchers worth talking about. 

    A team can Rule 5 a guy that's hurt, but they can't put him on the 60-Day IL until Spring Training. In Rijo's case, he would likely miss all of 2022, so then the Rule 5 rules would then apply in 2023 for him. He'd have to be on that team's roster all season or offered back. 

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    Cruz has been a bit frustrating to watch to this point IMO.  When he is on and forcing batters to swing he can dominate.  When he can't hit the zone consistently he tends to get lit up.  Batters just take walks or let him get behind and sit on his fastball.  He has quite a bit of work to do yet as his WHIP indicates but he throws hard and if harnesses it he could be even more dominant than he already is K wise at least.

    I was always nervous about Rijo until he started throwing 95 or so.  He has an elite Curve I believe so if starter is not in the cards he could be elite out of the pen depending on if he can get his fastball to play up.  Would hate to lose him so hopefully he comes back and does well.

    Beck had a really good year last year,  Didn't know he needed\had TJ surgery that is a bummer.  Not sure if he can make it all the way to MLB or not with what he has but he surprised me this past year so who knows.

    I was totally down on the Gross pick when the Twins made it, but he did well IMO.  He was more than solid most of the year.  He wore down toward the end of the season though.  I was surprised at the K rate and it will be interesting to see if can continue to do as well at the higher levels.

    It is a pretty nice group of arms to have at the bottom of your list of 30. I will be very interested in your top 15 but even 15 through 25 should have some names to get excited about.  Thanks for separating out pitchers and hitters it is more apples to apples and we all get to see a few extra names we normally wouldn't see.

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    1 hour ago, Seth Stohs said:

    A team can Rule 5 a guy that's hurt, but they can't put him on the 60-Day IL until Spring Training. In Rijo's case, he would likely miss all of 2022, so then the Rule 5 rules would then apply in 2023 for him. He'd have to be on that team's roster all season or offered back. 

    If  team is willing to take a gamble and no one in rule 5 jumps out at the them it may be worth that.  You get the rehab year to decide what you think of him, then he either gets a shot or you offer back, which Twins may not want to take him if health may be an issue.  The big issue is having to have him use up a 40 man spot in offseason with nothing to work off of other than what he did during rehab, and that is a big risk. 

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    Rijo to me is a pitcher you might offer as a sweetner or part of a deal for a major league starting pitcher now.  He is a lottery ticket and it might bite us, but is also might help get a #2 or #3 starter with 2+ years of control. 

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