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  • Part 5: Seth's Top 30 Twins Pitching Prospects (6-10)


    Seth Stohs

    This week, we jump into my choices for the Top 10 hitting and pitching prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization starting with pitchers 6-10 today. This group didn't pitch many pro innings in 2021, but each has the potential to be an impact starter in the big-leagues. 

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Duran), William Parmeter (photos of Raya, Petty, Povich)

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    Sometimes there aren’t a lot of data points or statistics available in scouting or in prospect analysis. That would be the case today. In this group of five prospects, they combined to pitch just 36 innings of pro ball in 2021. Granted, three of them were drafted in 2021 and threw plenty of innings as amateurs. The other two pitchers missed significant time during the season with injury. So for this group to be pitching prospects six through ten means that they have some impressive scouting reports, stuff, big arms and more. So let’s start. Be sure to discuss and ask questions in the comments below.  

    #10 - LHP Steve Hajjar 
    2021 Stats: Did Not Pitch 

    Back in 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Steve Hajjar in the 21st round out of Central Catholic High School in Massachusetts. He declined and enrolled at the University of Michigan. He tore his ACL in the fall of his freshman season. He put his name on the map in 2020. Due to Covid, he made just four starts, but he went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Then in 2021, he went 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA over 14 starts. In 81 2/3 innings, he struck out 110 batters while walking just 29 batters. The Twins made him their 2nd round pick. The southpaw works in the low-to-mid 90s, though he has been clocked as high as 97 mph. He’s also an advanced pitcher and has a good breaking ball and changeup as part of his four-pitch mix. The 21-year-old will make his pro debut in 2022 and could be a fast mover through the lower levels of the system.

    #9 - LHP Cade Povich 
    2021 STATS: 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 0.90 WHIP, 19/2 K/BB, 10.0 IP

    The Twins drafted Cade Povich in the third round of the 2021 draft. In his junior season at Nebraska, he went 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA over 15 starts. He tossed 81 innings and struck out 88 batters while walking 22. After signing, he went to Ft. Myers and got adjusted to the professional game and the Twins organization. He ended the season with two innings in the FCL before pitching in eight innings (over three games) to end the season with the Mighty Mussels. Along with the impressive numbers he showed all season and in his ten pro innings, his name was the one I heard most coming out of the Instructional League after the season. He’s blessed with a very strong arm, pitching into the mid-90s, but he also has solid secondary pitches. Video surfaced of him airing it out in a cage last week, throwing 101.2 mph. He will turn 22 in April. 

    #8 - RHP Jhoan Duran 
    2021 STATS: 0-3, 5.06 ERA, 5/4 G/GS, 1.81 WHIP, 22/13 K/BB, 16.0 IP 

    2021 was a lost season for Jhoan Duran. He began the season in the Injured List with some forearm/elbow issues. He returned to the mound about a month into the season. He showed his stuff, often hitting 102 mph for the Saints (probably actually 100 mph). He’s got a good slider. He has the noted “splinker.” He has the ability to miss bats and get strikeouts. Unfortunately, as you can see above, he couldn’t stay on the mound. After just five games, he went back on the IL and was shut down. He didn’t have surgery and reports were good late in the year. That will be the question. It is also possible that he could wind up in the bullpen where he could be a force and his arm could be protected more. He came to the Twins in the July 2018 Eduardo Escobar trade from the Diamondbacks. Duran just turned 24 years old over the weekend, so there should be no rush. 

    #7 - RHP Marco Raya 
    2021 Stats: Did Not Pitch 

    Along with Povich, the name Marco Raya also came with glowing platitudes about how good he looked at the Instructional League. Raya was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2020. He didn’t pitch during the 2021 season due to a minor injury, but he pitched at Instructs. The 19-year-old from Laredo, Texas, was consistently hitting 97 mph on the radar gun. He also has a lot of pitch-ability. He’s got a changeup. He has a couple of different breaking pitches. He has confidence. Now he just needs some innings. He should start the season with the Mighty Mussels. 

     

    #6 - RHP Chase Petty 
    2021 STATS: 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 25/17 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 6/1 K/BB, 5.0 IP

    Chase Petty grew up in Millville, New Jersey. Yes, the hometown of Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. Petty finished out his high school career at Mainland Regional High School, and he actually threw a no-hitter against Trout’s alma mater. In July, the Twins made him the 26th overall pick in the 2021 draft. That night, he immediately showed his personality and charisma that could make him a star off the field. On the field, and specifically on the mound, he has the kind of stuff that could make him an All Star. Petty is blessed with a big arm. He regularly touched triple-digits with his fastball, reportedly hitting 102. While he stands just 6-1, he is lean and has the potential to add strength. But beyond the fastball, Petty throws a slider, a curveball and a changeup, and he has worked on more pitches. After signing, he worked at the Twins complex in Ft. Myers. However, he got into two games at the end of the FCL Twins. He gave up three runs over five innings. He also struck out six batters with just one walk. In games, he was sitting 96-98 mph with the fastball. (Personally, I see this as a good thing)  

    In summary, these five pitchers did not get many professional innings in 2021. They all have potential, and after throwing some innings, we may find that these five and the top five could be pretty interchangeable. This is a group with a ton of potential. Duran is the one that could see big-league time in 2022 if healthy. Povich and Hajjar could be fast movers, and they're left-handed which is certainly an added bonus. Raya and Petty are all about ceiling and upside and the organization should and will be patient with them. 

    This grouping should be a fun list to discuss. I know I'm excited about this group. Discuss these players, their rankings and feel free to ask questions. 

    Previous Rankings
    Hitters Part 1: 26-30
    Hitters Part 2: 21-25
    Hitters Part 3: 16-20 
    Hitters Part 4: 11-15 

    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 

     

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    Seth, Thank you for this view of the future. All 5 are flame throwers. YES !  If Wes Johnson can get a couple of additional mph out of each of them, then several of these prospects will be consistently over 100mph. That can't be bad. After reading about the 6-10 pitching prospects, I can't wait to read about 1-5. I'm beginning to see the light. 

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    This is a shocking list for me.  I expected to see established minor leaguers who were nearing time in MN.  This is like a wish list.   So many players start out with so much promise, but it takes at least two years of minor league pitching before we can separate hope and disappointment.  

    Thanks for the surprise, the interesting information and the introduction to players I really have not heard much about except Duran who fits my expectations.  I do hope he breaks out and not down this year so he can fit in MN. 

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    This is where I think philosophy really comes into play and the challenge of performance vs projection makes it an interesting debate on the rankings. I tend to value professional experience over projection on prospect rankings and would probably push guys like Raya and Povich further down the rankings in favor of Sands/Varland from the last set. I just feel better about a guy that has shown the ability to dominate A-ball over someone who doesn't have any professional innings in competitive baseball (or functionally doesn't). With pitching being the hardest thing to project (my opinion), the scholarship bonus for draft position should be reduced a little, and we shouldn't always be seduced by the power of the new.

    With the brand new guys, we can project anything we want upon them and presume that they will be able to perform. 

    Hajjar was a good pick with a nice college track record, so I'm fine with him in this group. I think there's an error on Chase Petty's stats; he pitched in 2 games for the Twins minor league system and started 1. He's definitely getting a scholarship bonus based on his draft position...which is ok, but I discount that more and more the further you get from the 1st round.

    Duran has all the tools and pitches to be a front-line starter...we'll see if he can pair that up with the health you need. I'm hoping last season was an aberration born of not having had a minor league season in 2020 and that he'll be able to get it back together. My fear is that the shenanigans going on with the CBA will again put his development back and it will mess up his season. But the upside is terrific.

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    I was pretty excited when the Twins made the Hajjar pick.  I know he is only in the Big10 but the K rate was there and he is a lefty that can hit mid 90’s.  Has the right build as well.  I was hoping we would get a look at him in MiLB but it was not to be.  The industry saw his potential as well so it seemed like a solid pick to me.

    Povich was a bit of an odd pick in the third round to me.  Very hard to find much information on him. The stats were there but it seemed high to pull the trigger in the third round.  I guess maybe the Twins knew something other teams didn’t?  This team is in desperate need of hard throwing lefties and his MiLB debut was pretty impressive with 19 K’s in 10 innings.  This is where Seth’s ear to the ground is nice to have because all I have are stats and hearsay to guide me.  Pretty excited if this is a pick that exceeds expectations.

    I had Raya pegged for the FCL but nice to see you think he starts in A ball.  That A ball starting pitching lineup is starting to fill up fast.  He didn’t pitch much last year so I have no idea what to expect from him but glad there is buzz out there on how well he is developing.

    I really liked the Petty pick.  There is some reliever risk form what I understand but here’s hoping he ends up with three plus pitches.  Always nice to start with that big fastball but those secondary's are the difference makers.

    That is a nice list.  A little surprised at how high some of the new draftees are but I do trust what Seth has to say.  It could be a pretty exciting year next year for MiLB pitching and it is nice to see a farm stocked with arms instead of just bats for once.

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    Wow, this was an interesting set of prospects.  What is really encouraging about the four young guys is that they already have secondary pitches in addition to great fastballs, so if they can refine those and throw strikes, they could move quickly.  The Twins seem to like spin rate data.  Do you know how these guys rank in spin rate, Seth?  Thanks for the great work.

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    Love the upside of this entire group, Seth.  Have a feeling if we went back a couple years, several of these would be near the top of any pitcher ranking.

    As for each individual, don't know much about either of the lefties drafted last year.  Should be exciting to see them out on the hill come April.  Could the Twins be so fortunate to have one of these guys be a quick mover to the big leagues and dominate?  Loved Raya when they picked him, also eager to see him get his career started.

    So often rehabbing an elbow injury just delays the eventual TJ surgery.  Sounds like you hear that isn't the case for Duran?  Is that correct?

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    Being transparent, I'm surprised by this portion of the list due to the simple fact 4 of these guys have either not pitched at all, or only a few innings. But then I re-read and reflect on their draft day notes and projections and then hear the whispers from instructs and the off-season Seth has access to and the light sort of clicks on.

    I don't dislike any of these guys at all. In fact I've been very encouraged by all of them since being selected. I just didn't initially expect to see them so high.

    I think Big 10 baseball has largely caught up with the rest of the country and tournament trips and CWS appearances seem to support this. Very excited to see what Hajjar will do. Being from Nebraska I'm already a Povich supporter and am very encouraged about reported velocity gains. The #1 thing I read after the draft was questions about his FB, and not his make-up or control. 

    Raya and Petty just need to pitch....and some time. They both seem to have good stuff and a lot of confidence considering their age

     

    Duran....just be healthy man.

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    1 hour ago, jmlease1 said:

    This is where I think philosophy really comes into play and the challenge of performance vs projection makes it an interesting debate on the rankings. I tend to value professional experience over projection on prospect rankings and would probably push guys like Raya and Povich further down the rankings in favor of Sands/Varland from the last set. I just feel better about a guy that has shown the ability to dominate A-ball over someone who doesn't have any professional innings in competitive baseball (or functionally doesn't). With pitching being the hardest thing to project (my opinion), the scholarship bonus for draft position should be reduced a little, and we shouldn't always be seduced by the power of the new.

    With the brand new guys, we can project anything we want upon them and presume that they will be able to perform. 

    Hajjar was a good pick with a nice college track record, so I'm fine with him in this group. I think there's an error on Chase Petty's stats; he pitched in 2 games for the Twins minor league system and started 1. He's definitely getting a scholarship bonus based on his draft position...which is ok, but I discount that more and more the further you get from the 1st round.

    Duran has all the tools and pitches to be a front-line starter...we'll see if he can pair that up with the health you need. I'm hoping last season was an aberration born of not having had a minor league season in 2020 and that he'll be able to get it back together. My fear is that the shenanigans going on with the CBA will again put his development back and it will mess up his season. But the upside is terrific.

    This is all very possibly true. Performance vs Projection is always going to be the question. I tend to look at ceiling, but I also factor in likelihood of reaching it. If I went 100% by projection, Petty should be #1, but he's got a long ways to go, and there are always injury risks and such. So while I don't know that he gets a "scholarship" because of his draft position, for me it's his tool set, It's the triple-digit fastball, it's for having multiple pitches already, it is about makeup (which we don't know completely, of course)... And of course those are the things that make him a high draft pitch. But again, I think all five of these guys have the potential to be guys you are happy to start in a playoff game. I think that of several of the 11-15 group too. 

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    1 hour ago, roger said:

    So often rehabbing an elbow injury just delays the eventual TJ surgery.  Sounds like you hear that isn't the case for Duran?  Is that correct?

    That is the current belief... of course, that could change quickly once he starts going full-go in spring training or in games. 

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    38 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

    I wondered where Raya would be ranked.  Seems like Berrios is a pretty good comp.  He would be a good bet for the Twins pitching prospect that makes the biggest jump in the national rankings this year. 

    There are a lot of similarities between the two, and I do think that is his upside... That said, Berrios was a first-round pick, Raya a fourth-round pick (which doesn't necessarily mean anything, but maybe does)... then again, at this point, Berrios had a year at Low A under his belt and Raya hasn't thrown a professional pitch in a regular season game. That said, Berrios was sitting 90-92 at that point whereas Raya has hit 97. And Raya's secondary may be ahead of where Berrios was. But... he needs to pitch had it will be interesting to see where he is on this list in one year. 

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    3 minutes ago, beckmt said:

    Interesting list, we seem to have more pitching depth than I thought.

    It didn't feel that way last year until the Twins drafted 5 pitchers in the first 6 rounds and traded for Ryan, Strotman and SWR.  That was quite a swing in depth for this team.  7 or 8 guys with good potential in the span of one month.  That changed things quite a bit IMO.

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    As has been commented by others, this is where my prospect ranking philosophy diverges from Mr Stohs.

    Most of the guys in the 11-20 range of this list once profiled as Petty/Raya/Povich/Hajjar. As you can see, the shine has worn off all but Duran at this point. That said, 11-15 in particular is ranked such mostly for missing time on the field as their performance has been borderline dominant when pitching.

    Pitching prospects burn out at an alarming rate and if this group, sans Duran, turns out like Sands/Enlow/Varland at 23/24 years old, we should be very pleased. By that logic, I would rank those pitchers higher than most of the lottery tickets here, retaining only Petty (and Duran) in the Top 10.

    Nothing wrong with weighting ceiling so heavily, just different.

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    2 hours ago, Minny505 said:

    As has been commented by others, this is where my prospect ranking philosophy diverges from Mr Stohs.

    Most of the guys in the 11-20 range of this list once profiled as Petty/Raya/Povich/Hajjar. As you can see, the shine has worn off all but Duran at this point. That said, 11-15 in particular is ranked such mostly for missing time on the field as their performance has been borderline dominant when pitching.

    Pitching prospects burn out at an alarming rate and if this group, sans Duran, turns out like Sands/Enlow/Varland at 23/24 years old, we should be very pleased. By that logic, I would rank those pitchers higher than most of the lottery tickets here, retaining only Petty (and Duran) in the Top 10.

    Nothing wrong with weighting ceiling so heavily, just different.

    I am curious who you mean specifically in the 11-20 group.  Enlow (11) and maybe Strotman (15) we view as high ceiling guys,  A lot of the other guys seem like they are just showing up as having upside now.  .  

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    5 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    This is all very possibly true. Performance vs Projection is always going to be the question. I tend to look at ceiling, but I also factor in likelihood of reaching it. If I went 100% by projection, Petty should be #1, but he's got a long ways to go, and there are always injury risks and such. So while I don't know that he gets a "scholarship" because of his draft position, for me it's his tool set, It's the triple-digit fastball, it's for having multiple pitches already, it is about makeup (which we don't know completely, of course)... And of course those are the things that make him a high draft pitch. But again, I think all five of these guys have the potential to be guys you are happy to start in a playoff game. I think that of several of the 11-15 group too. 

    I think that's fair. I tend to weight pro performance a bit more in trying to project than maybe some, partly because there's so many things that can go wrong with young pitchers. So when I see a guy like Sands or Varland succeeding at every level they're be asked to pitch at, I probably rate them a little higher than guys who basically have thrown few or no professional innings, even if they're a bit older. Some of this also may shake out a bit better when we're not coming off the first year back in minor league ball too; do guys like them get penalized (whether knowingly or not) because they missed a development year, whereas Petty does not?

    There's still a bit of a glut in prospect-land right now, IMHO where it's more challenging to really place everyone on the development path because of that missing year. How many guys got injured because they didn't have competitive baseball in 2020? How many needed extra time to adjust to being back in games?

    I think you could make a case for grouping guys from 6-15 into two pools: 1) young guys with big tools, little pro experience, and high ceilings, 2) older guys with possibly lesser tools but more pro performance (who missed a development year). Not easy to know which ones out of either pool will keep rising up. Except Duran, who is in the high minors and just needs health or he's going to end up in the bullpen.

    I do feel good that we're talking about guys like Petty, Sands, Hajjar, Varland, and Duran and we haven't even hit the top 5 yet! There's a lot of talent in the pitching pipeline and it could be very exciting if the team is successful in developing a decent percentage of it.

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    40 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

    I am curious who you mean specifically in the 11-20 group.  Enlow (11) and maybe Strotman (15) we view as high ceiling guys,  A lot of the other guys seem like they are just showing up as having upside now.  .  

    I spoke a little hastily using them as a group. You are correct that a lot of them are showing up for the first time. 

    I guess my point is that pitching prospects in particular are ridiculously volatile and I value distance to the majors more than Seth. Right now, I'm more bullish on Sands, Varland, and/or Strottman, having an impact at the MLB level than I am on Raya, Povich, or Hajjar, strictly due to the former group already accomplishing what I hope those players in the latter group will accomplish when they reach the upper minors or at the same age.

    I just don't dream on upside in pitching prospects as much and I'm perfectly willing to admit that could be a flaw in how I value said prospects.

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    46 minutes ago, Minny505 said:

    I spoke a little hastily using them as a group. You are correct that a lot of them are showing up for the first time. 

    I guess my point is that pitching prospects in particular are ridiculously volatile and I value distance to the majors more than Seth. Right now, I'm more bullish on Sands, Varland, and/or Strottman, having an impact at the MLB level than I am on Raya, Povich, or Hajjar, strictly due to the former group already accomplishing what I hope those players in the latter group will accomplish when they reach the upper minors or at the same age.

    I just don't dream on upside in pitching prospects as much and I'm perfectly willing to admit that could be a flaw in how I value said prospects.

    I hear ya ... Some of them you don't think will be much develop a new pitch and all the sudden they are a different pitcher.  MacKenzie Gore looked like one of the best prospects in baseball and now his future is questionable.  Who knows!  I am high on Raya while realizing he has not proven much so far.

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    3 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

    I think that's fair. I tend to weight pro performance a bit more in trying to project than maybe some, partly because there's so many things that can go wrong with young pitchers. So when I see a guy like Sands or Varland succeeding at every level they're be asked to pitch at, I probably rate them a little higher than guys who basically have thrown few or no professional innings, even if they're a bit older. Some of this also may shake out a bit better when we're not coming off the first year back in minor league ball too; do guys like them get penalized (whether knowingly or not) because they missed a development year, whereas Petty does not?

    There's still a bit of a glut in prospect-land right now, IMHO where it's more challenging to really place everyone on the development path because of that missing year. How many guys got injured because they didn't have competitive baseball in 2020? How many needed extra time to adjust to being back in games?

    I think you could make a case for grouping guys from 6-15 into two pools: 1) young guys with big tools, little pro experience, and high ceilings, 2) older guys with possibly lesser tools but more pro performance (who missed a development year). Not easy to know which ones out of either pool will keep rising up. Except Duran, who is in the high minors and just needs health or he's going to end up in the bullpen.

    I do feel good that we're talking about guys like Petty, Sands, Hajjar, Varland, and Duran and we haven't even hit the top 5 yet! There's a lot of talent in the pitching pipeline and it could be very exciting if the team is successful in developing a decent percentage of it.

    I hope the Twins "glut" of young pitchers does not take the same route that last years Twins "glut" of young outfielders took.

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    9 hours ago, Minny505 said:

    As has been commented by others, this is where my prospect ranking philosophy diverges from Mr Stohs.

    Most of the guys in the 11-20 range of this list once profiled as Petty/Raya/Povich/Hajjar. As you can see, the shine has worn off all but Duran at this point. That said, 11-15 in particular is ranked such mostly for missing time on the field as their performance has been borderline dominant when pitching.

    Pitching prospects burn out at an alarming rate and if this group, sans Duran, turns out like Sands/Enlow/Varland at 23/24 years old, we should be very pleased. By that logic, I would rank those pitchers higher than most of the lottery tickets here, retaining only Petty (and Duran) in the Top 10.

    Nothing wrong with weighting ceiling so heavily, just different.

    I agree, I have a hard time ranking arms who haven't ever thrown before in the minors above guys like Enlow and Sands. The one exception I will make is for top tier prospects who haven't debuted yet, which would include Petty, but none of the others.

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    6 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Any ideas of how I'll rank the Top 5? 

     

    Balazovic 
    Ryan
    SWR
    Winder
    Canterino

    I could see the 1st 3 in any order.  Winder and Canterino could be reversed too so who knows. I will be interested to see why you rank them where you do.  Great series, Seth.

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    I wonder where these guys will start the season. The starting rotation for most levels could well be stacked. I'm hoping for a high success rate. 

    Can players on the 40 man roster pitch in the minors if the lockout is still in effect? Could Ryan and Ober pitch at triple A just until the regular season started if need be? If so, The Saints could have quite a rotation to start the year.

    I agree with "Major League Ready" on the top 5.

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