In today’s rankings, there are some interesting names. There are a few college draft picks that had some ups and downs throughout the season, but their tool set remains quality and clear. There is a former highly ranked international free agent who came to the team in a trade and made his unexpected debut in 2021. And there is a young player that hasn’t spent a lot of time in the organization yet but who is really exciting.
Here are my choices for the 6-10 hitting prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization.
#10 1B Aaron Sabato
2021 STATS: .202/.373/.410, 18 2B, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 32.1 K%, 19.8 BB%, 1/1 SB
Aaron Sabato was the Twins first-round draft pick (27th overall) out of the University of North Carolina in 2020. Over 83 college games, he hit .332/.459/.698 (1.158) with 31 doubles and 25 homers. He was added to the Twins depth camp at 2021 spring training and then began the season with Low-A Ft. Myers. It was certainly a struggle for him, especially in the first half of the season. Only one player in all of minor league baseball had more walks than Sabato, but he also struck out a lot more than was expected. However, late in the summer he started showing a little more power. In 85 games with the Mussels, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with 15 doubles and 11 homers. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids and played in 22 games. He hit .253/.402/.613 (1.015) with eight homers. He had 92 walks and 149 strikeouts on the season, certainly more than was expected from a strong college bat. But, getting out of the former Florida State League and experiencing the success in Iowa reminds us of the immense power potential that he does have.
#9 IF Edouard Julien
2021 STATS: .266/.434/.480, 28 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 28.0 K%, 21.4 BB%, 34/39 SB
Edouard Julien grew up in Quebec. Out of high school, the Phillies drafted him in the 37th round in 2017. He declined and went to Auburn where he (and teammate Will Holland) led Auburn to the 2019 College World Series. The Twins took him in the 18th round of the 2019 draft. While he really wanted to go back to Auburn, the Twins gave up fourth-round money and he decided to sign. Unfortunately, he went to Peru for the Can-Am Games but hurt his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He likely would have missed at least half of a 2020 season either way. So, his professional debut came in May in Ft. Myers. He played 47 games and hit .299/490/.456 (.946) with 12 doubles, three homers and 21 steals (in 23 attempts). Yes, a .490 on-base percentage. He moved up to Cedar Rapids for 65 more games. He hit .247/.397/.494 (.891) with 16 doubles, 15 home runs and 13 more stolen bases. On the season, he struck out 144 times, but he led minor league baseball with 110 walks. In college, he was a power hitter and upon joining the Kernels, he showed that again. But he added the speed dimension back to his game. He’s got a great eye and with those things combined, he becomes a very intriguing prospect. We just don’t know where he is going to play.
#8 IF Spencer Steer
2021 STATS: .254/.348/.484, 18 2B, 3 3B, 24 HR, 66 RBI, 21.5 K%, 11.3 BB%, 8/12 SB
A southern California native, Spencer Steer headed north to the University of Oregon despite being drafted by Cleveland in the 29th round of the 2016 draft. He was a starter all three years in Eugene. He hit .349/.456/.502 (.958) with 20 extra base hits as a junior, and the Twins selected him with their third round pick. He played 20 games in Elizabethton before ending with 44 games in Cedar Rapids. Following the lost 2020 season, Steer was a late addition to the Twins depth camp during spring training in 2021. He homered in a game against the Atlanta Braves. It was a sign of things to come. In an interview with Twins Daily following the 2019 season, Steer said, “I’m not the most powerful guy, but I think I can be a guy who drives in runs. For that reason you can stick me at the top of the order and I’ll find ways on base and draw a lot of walks. I think at this level, I’m more of a top of the order guy, but that can always change as I get older and put on more weight.” He began the season with High-A Cedar Rapids and hit .274/.409/.506 (.915) with seven doubles and ten home runs in 45 games. He was promoted to Wichita where he hit .241/.304/.470 (.773) with 11 doubles and 14 more homers. As Torii Hunter would have said, his man-muscles arrived. Defensively, he played 46 games at second base, 38 games at third base and 15 games at shortstop. Asked early in the year if Steer was a future utility player, Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman said no. He thinks he can be an everyday second baseman, but they will continue playing him around the infield. Steer should start 2022 with the Wind Surge, but he could get a chance to play in St. Paul in the season’s second half. He just turned 24 in December.
#7 OF Gilberto Celestino
2021 STATS: .277/.371/.423, 18 2B, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 21.8 K%, 11.4 BB%, 4/5 SB
2021 MLB STATS: .136/.177/.288, 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 22.2 K%, 4.8 BB%, 0/0 SB
First and foremost, Twins fans need to realize that what they saw from Gilberto Celestino isn’t necessarily the player that he is or certainly will become. Frankly, the 22-year-old looked like a guy who had only played eight games of High-A baseball in 2019, missed all of 2020 and had just 21 games in Double-A before being called up to the big leagues. What we saw late in the year in St. Paul. We saw a guy who takes good plate appearances and is willing to walk. He can hit for some average, and he does have a little pop in his bat. Defensively, despite some nervous issues in his first stint with the Twins, he is a plus defensive outfielder, fully capable of play centerfield well. He has good (though not great) speed. He typically takes good routes, and he has a strong and generally accurate arm. Expect that he will spend most of the 2022 season at age 23 and in St. Paul. He should mostly play in centerfield, but with Byron Buxton locked in, he really should play all three outfield spots and be ready when needed.
#6 OF Kala’i Rosario
2021 STATS: .277/.341/.452, 10 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 31.7 K%, 9.1 BB%, 4/4 SB
There were just five rounds in the 2020 draft due to the lockout. The Twins drafted Kala’i Rosario from Waiakea High School in Hawaii with their fifth round pick. It was noted that, along with Red Sox early pick Blaze Jordan, Rosario had as much power as any prep player from that draft. He signed, but of course, there was no season for him to report to Ft. Myers. In 2021, he stayed at the complex and then played most everyday for the FCL Twins once their season. With solid all-around offensive numbers, Rosario was named the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Hitter of the Year. He played in 51 games and showed off the extra base power. He also walked at a decent clip. Clearly he will need to keep working and try to reduce that strikeout rate, but the bat is legit and the power is legit. Defensively, he will be a corner outfielder. He spent about 75% of his innings in right field and the rest in left field. He also still has work to do with the glove and arm, but he does have the potential to an average corner outfielder. Obviously he has several levels to work through on his way up the organizational ladder. He’s going to be fun to watch. Presumably, he will spend the majority of the 2022 season in Ft. Myers again, this time with the Mighty Mussels. If he is able to show much power in that league (he’ll turn 20 in July) next year, his prospect status should go up even further. And if he doesn’t, but he shows an improved eye and produces more contact, it will be very exciting to see how he does when he moves up to Cedar Rapids.
I think this is another interesting group. The first three listed above are college bats. Sabato certainly had his struggles early, but he came on late and his power is legit. Julien showed off all of his skills, his ability to know the strike zone and get on base, use his speed and also hit for a lot of power. Steer’s power certainly arrived and has moved up quickly. Celestino remains really young, and certainly was not at all ready for the big leagues when he was called up, but he has upside both offensively and defensively. Finally, Rosario is very young, and a long way from the big leagues, but he has a lot of potential with his bat that will be fun to watch.
So there are hitting prospects 6-10. What do you think of this group? Please feel free to discuss and ask questions. And also try to guess how the Top 5 will be ranked when that is posted later this week.
Hitters Part 1: 26-30
Hitters Part 2: 21-25
Hitters Part 3: 16-20
Hitters Part 4: 11-15
Hitters Part 5: 6-10
Pitchers Part 1: 26-30
Pitchers Part 2: 21-25
Pitchers Part 3: 16-20
Pitchers Part 4: 11-15
Pitchers Part 5: 6-10