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  • Part 6: Seth's Top 30 Twins Pitching Prospects (1-5)


    Seth Stohs

    It's taken us some time to get here, and hopefully you've enjoyed a new look at the Twins prospect rankings, but today we reach the Top 5 Minnesota Twins pitching prospects. I certainly don't expect that everyone will agree, but the purpose of these reports is to provide recognition for well-deserving pitching prospects, and create discussion on the Twins system. 

    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey (Woods Richardson, Balazovic, Winder), Rob Thompson (Ryan), Seth Stohs (Canterino)

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    What is very exciting is that these five pitchers, along with the pitchers in the 6-10 ranking range, and even a couple in the 11-15 range, have a real chance to be impact big league starters. The other thing to note is that the organization's top prospect lists have shifted quite significantly even from last year. While hitters such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Ben Rortvedt lost their prospect status, the Twins have developed many intriguing, exciting pitching prospects. 

    Obviously what matters most is what they are able to do in the big leagues, but there is a stable of pitchers that Twins fans should be very excited about. Let's get started on my Top 5 Twins Pitching Prospects. 

    #5 - RHP Josh Winder 
    2021 STATS: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 14/14 G/GS, 0.94 WHIP, 80/13 K/BB, 72.0 IP

    The Twins drafted Josh Winder out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He went 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts at Elizabethton that summer. In 2019, he went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. Like so many others, he missed the 2020 season, but when he came to Instructional League, he made a prospect name for himself. Instead of sitting 91-92 with the fastball, he was now hitting 95-97 consistently. In addition, he has a good slider and a changeup. In 2021, he received a call to be a part of the Twins depth camp for spring training. He skipped High-A and began the season as Wichita’s opening day starter. He dominated Double-A. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 65 batters while striking out just ten. He moved up to St. Paul and in his first Triple-A start, he started with five no-hit innings. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in the Futures Game in Denver. He made just four starts for the Saints due to a shoulder impingement and missed the remainder of the season. Winder is intriguing because of his fastball, his control of all of his pitches, and his work ethic is second to none. Following the season, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster and when spring training starts, he should be given a real shot to make the opening day roster. That said, he is most likely to spend some more time in St. Paul. He will be 25 years old throughout the 2022 season. 

    #4 - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson 
    2021 STATS: 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 1.75 WHIP, 10/8 K/BB, 8.0 IP

    Simeon Woods Richardson joined the Twins organization in July when the Twins acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios deal. It was the second time the 21-year-old prospect was traded. After being drafted out of his Sugar Land, Texas, high school in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, he was traded in 2019 to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. He has always been very young for the level in which he plays, but at Double-A in 2021, he was nearly five years younger than average. The numbers showed it as he posted a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in New Hampshire before the trade. Now, he did have 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. He also walked 26 batters. Control was something that eluded him in 2021, though it really hadn’t previously. When the Twins acquired him, he was a teammate of Joe Ryan on Team USA in the Olympics. Woods Richardson has a big fastball in the mid-90s as part of a solid four-pitch mix. Again, control will be the key. He will pitch the 2022 season at age 21. With his struggles in 2021, and his youth, he should spend much of the season in Wichita. 

    #3 - RHP Jordan Balazovic  
    2021 STATS: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 20/20 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 102/38 K/BB, 97.0 IP

    The Twins 2016 draft has proven pretty impressive to this point. The Twins started with five straight high school hitters. In the fifth round, they took Jordan Balazovic out of secondary school in Ontario. He has had ups and downs since signing with the Twins, but when healthy, he has generally been very good. He has also really developed as a starting pitcher. He now has a fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 at times. He has four pitches that all can be average or better big-league pitches. He has typically shown good control. He didn’t pitch in 2020, although he spent the last several weeks in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. Following the season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He came to big-league camp for spring training in 2021, but he began the season on the Injured List with an oblique injury. However, he still made 20 starts and reached a career-high 97 innings, all in Double-A Wichita. He was much more inconsistent throughout the season than normal. He had a good start, then struggled a bit. Then he dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He followed that with struggles again, but he ended the season strong, and most important healthy. Balazovic should spend most of the 2022 season in Triple-A St. Paul, but I would expect him to make his MLB debut in 2022. He won’t turn 24 until mid-September. 

    #2 - RHP Joe Ryan  
    2021 MiLB STATS: 0-0, 2.00 ERA, 2/2 G/GS, 0.78 WHIP, 17/2 K/BB, 9.0 IP
    2021 MLB STATS: 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 5/5 G/GS, 0.79 WHIP, 30/5 K/BB, 26.2 IP

    Fair to say that Joe Ryan made a strong first impression with the Twins. Then again, he has been impressing since he was young. The Twins wanted to sign him after he went undrafted following an injury-filled junior season. He bet on himself, went to Cal State-Stanislaus, pitched great and the Rays took him as a senior sign in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. He has been really good since joining the Rays, and in 2020, he was pitching at the alternate site. He was pitching well for Triple-A Durham to start this season and then headed to the Olympics with Team USA (the team won both games he started). While across the ocean, he learned that he had been traded to the Twins with Drew Strotman in the Nelson Cruz deal. Upon his return to the States, Ryan made two unbelievable starts with the Saints (Strotman’s story about that in Monday’s Twins Spotlight is hilarious!) before joining the Twins. Then he came up to the Twins and was again impressive. A few more home runs than you might want, but he showed great poise and an ability to miss bats. As Strotman said of Ryan, you may not know why you can’t hit him, but they don’t hit him. Ryan sits with a fastball that averages right around 90 mph. He can occasionally touch 94 with the fastball, but since he releases the ball low and can spot the pitch and be successful up in the strike zone, it is hard to hit. He will throw a high percentage of fastballs, but we also saw some really good change ups and sliders, and he really tunnels the ball with all three pitches very well. Ryan should spend the full 2022 season with the Twins. He won’t turn 26 until May. I think Twins fans can look forward to The Joe Ryan Experience for years to come. 

    #1 - RHP Matt Canterino 
    2021 STATS: 1-0, 0.78 ERA, 6/6 G/GS, 0.61 WHIP, 45/4 K/BB, 23.0 IP

    I am guessing that this ranking of Matt Canterino as my choice for the Twins top pitching prospect will come as a surprise to some. However, if not for the elbow concerns that caused him to only throw 23 game innings in 2021, I don’t think people would be surprised. They’re certainly legitimate concerns, for sure. However, when it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Canterino’s is electric. He’s got a big fastball, sitting 94-96 with his fastball as a starter, touching 97. He’s got the slider that can make hitters look silly. He’s got a slower curveball. And he’s got a good changeup. He’s also got really good makeup, work ethic and energy, some of the intangibles you are looking for in a top-of-rotation option. Canterino was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2019 out of Rice where he was a three-year starter and averaged about 97 innings each season.  He did spend some time at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul late in 2020. If healthy, Canterino could move quickly. After his absolute domination in Cedar Rapids for the first month of the season (43 strikeouts in 21 innings!), I would expect he will start his season at Double-A Wichita and have a chance to move up to St. Paul fairly quickly. Now, innings will be a concern at some point, and if that happens, he could certainly work out of the bullpen as the season ends. The goal should continue to be to have him start, but obviously this kind of arm is very valuable and needs to be taken care of. He will be 24 throughout the 2022 season. 

    Discuss... I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my rankings 100% I certainly wouldn’t expect that. I hope that I was able to make my case. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are a lot of pitchers in this system that have upside to become a playoff-caliber starting pitcher, and that’s exciting. It’s important to have some, but the fact that they have several should give hope that one to three of them will become just that while others will become mid-or-back end starters or even relievers. That’s just how pitching prospects work. 

    Feel free to discuss and ask questions. . 

    Previous Rankings
    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 
    Pitchers Part 6: 1-5 

     

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    Nicely done and Canterino was a surprise - an excellent ending to the pitching prospect novel - surprises, good stories, some question marks and then a twist for the ending.

    I do hope that we see most of your top five this year.  I have been hoping for Balazovic for a while and the injuries are the big unknowns in all their paths.  Richardson would not be this high for me.   I would slide him back a few places until I see some of the potential displayed.

    Thanks Seth

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    Thanks for these lists, Seth!  Always a good read and I enjoy getting your takes on the top end of the farm system.

    Count me as among those that found Canterino to be in the top spot.  That's high praise.  Hopefully he, along with the rest of them, can stay healthy and show everyone why he belongs.

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    I feel the Twins should use this year as a testing grounds for these pitchers.  Why waste their bullets in St. Paul when we can see how they fare up here.  I would expect at least Winder to join Ryan in the Twins rotation, with some of the rest not far behind.  Until the last week of spring training you will not learn much, unless these pitchers start the game against the other major league players (on the road).  I have high hopes for most of the top 5, with Woods-Richardson being the one that I would not have in the top 5 yet.  

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    That is an impressive list.  They really need to figure out what they have in these guys this year.  They have about 6 guys they might need room on the 40 man for next year in Canterino, Varland, Gipson-Long as well as Wallner, Steer, and Jullien.  Some of those guys need to make it so there is more room on the 40 man.  If they can't then maybe they get dropped not sure but it is time for pipeline to show it is working.

    Very excited about all of these guys and honestly don't even care about the order.

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    Excellent article as always.  Well researched and thought out.  I would think Ryan is going to have to make an impact this year if he is going to be age 26.  That's in that range to prove it.  I wish there would have been more of these guys pitching last year when the team was rotten.  That way we may have had a little glimpse at what we have.  I hope the FO adds a good veteran or two to the pitching staff.  Because all there is now is a wing and a prayer.  As currently constructed this is NOT a major league pitching staff

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    1 hour ago, RJA said:

    Seth, is Canterino a potential number one in your mind?  I have not seen him pitch after the elbow problems.  Is the elbow anything to worry about. 

    The elbow is always something to worry about, and it will likely remain so... but yes, when healthy, I do think he can be a #1/2. 

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    Will second the above comments thanking you for doing this, Seth.

    Will also admit that I was a bit surprised to see Canterino at #1.  But after thinking about what he has accomplished when pitching, understand he may have the best chance of all of these to become that true ACE.

    Personally, would put Winder higher on this list.  On the other hand, see there are arguments for each of the four above him to be there.  

    Is this the best Top 5 Twins pitching prospects you can recall?  Sure seems like it to me.

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    49 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

    Excellent series Seth. I liked seeing the interviews with your articles. Well done, Seth. Well done. 

    Yeah, I enjoy doing those interviews too... Get first-hand what they throw, their background, their makeup. 

    In addition, for those that don't know... clicking on the player links will bring you to a list of all Twins Daily articles they've been tagged in. So clicking on those can get you a lot more information on a player too. 

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    1 hour ago, Seth Stohs said:

    The elbow is always something to worry about, and it will likely remain so... but yes, when healthy, I do think he can be a #1/2. 

    So Seth just curious why you have Duran @6 but Canterino @1?

    Both are the only 2 with top of the rotation stuff, both have limited inning with injury concerns but are dominate and have big fastballs.  Both 24 but Duran did it at AAA and Caterino at A+.  
     

    I am on the Winder bandwagon, adding to that fastball has changed his game.  He gets a little more on one of his secondary pitches something Wes Johnson may be able to do. he is a guy who reminds me a bit of Bieber.  

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    2 minutes ago, High heat said:

    So Seth just curious why you have Duran @6 but Canterino @1?

    Both are the only 2 with top of the rotation stuff, both have limited inning with injury concerns but are dominate and have big fastballs.  Both 24 but Duran did it at AAA and Caterino at A+.  
     

    I am on the Winder bandwagon, adding to that fastball has changed his game.  He gets a little more on one of his secondary pitches something Wes Johnson may be able to do. he is a guy who reminds me a bit of Bieber.  

    Oof... that is a good question... did I even have Duran at 6, or was he at 8?! But that's a very fair question. I think that Canterino's chances of being a starter are much better. I think that's a big part of it. But you're right in all your points. 

    I'll also add this... I think the 1 through 8 pitchers are all pretty interchangeable... and depending on opinion or having seen some of them or whatever, a solid argument could be made for any rankings of those guys... 

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    I probably would have done the order differently...and I admit I really have trouble knowing exactly how to rank Joe Ryan who is rookie-eligible, but also sort of graduated. So, I'll leave Ryan where he is?

    the other 4 guys (all of whom I really like), I probably go Balazovic, Winder, Canterino, Woods-Richardson...and then immediately feel bad for not ranking woods-richardson high enough. I think W-R got messed up by the Olympics and not pitching in japan and having all that time off, so I don't take his 2021 all that seriously as an indicator of his real ability. I think he's a terrific pitcher and it's amazing to me that some people are treating him almost as a throw-in with Martin in the Berrios deal.

    It's a nice top five and stronger than anything we've had in some time. I worry about the elbow and shoulder injuries and I worry that the lockout may impact development on guys that need normal years. these guys got skipped a year of competitive baseball in 2020, had a still semi-goofy COVID year, and now have the lockout following all of that. UGH.

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    Overall the top of the list looks good.  The main question is how many innings they can pitch in the coming seasons.  All have been limited for various reasons and the higher pitch load may affect their ability to stay as starters.  I think some will make moves to pen as they shake out who will be the best starters. 

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    3 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Oof... that is a good question... did I even have Duran at 6, or was he at 8?! But that's a very fair question. I think that Canterino's chances of being a starter are much better. I think that's a big part of it. But you're right in all your points. 

    I'll also add this... I think the 1 through 8 pitchers are all pretty interchangeable... and depending on opinion or having seen some of them or whatever, a solid argument could be made for any rankings of those guys... 

    It's crazy that 8 guys are interchangeable in terms of making a case for their rank in the organization but I have to agree.  I was already really excited to watch Milb baseball this year and this series has elevated my interest.  Thanks Seth!  Great series.

    In terms of ceiling I am thinking Duran / Canterino / Balazovic / Ryan but they would be reversed in terms of probability of reaching their ceiling.  Does this seem accurate in your opinion?

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    4 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Yeah, I enjoy doing those interviews too... Get first-hand what they throw, their background, their makeup. 

    In addition, for those that don't know... clicking on the player links will bring you to a list of all Twins Daily articles they've been tagged in. So clicking on those can get you a lot more information on a player too. 

    Great tip. I did not know that. Thanks.

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    Can't thank you enough Seth for these tremendous lists! Just great work and great thought and detail. (Really like the split of pitchers and position players). 

    I was briefly surprised as to Canterino at #1, but as I thought about it, you're right. His stuff and ceiling is as good or better than anyone here. I do think I would have Duran higher based on similar stuff and ceiling. Can't "penalize" him for limited IP but then dismiss Canterino for the same. But I absolutely agree you could really arrange the top 8-10 in just about any order and you wouldn't be wrong.

    I think the mound is going to be interesting and tantalizing over the next couple of years. Here's hoping for good health in 2022 and a sense of "normalcy" so all these guys can develop and move forward.

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    The Twins don't need Pitching PROSPECTS.  They need PITCHERS.  I'm so tired of talking about prospects while the Twins have let available PITCHERS go to other teams because they spend their wad on the likes of Donaldson.  Really?  Talk to us when the Twins get some PITCHERS.  How many MORE seasons will this glaring problem exist before they figure it out? #insanity 

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    38 minutes ago, Murph said:

    How many MORE seasons will this glaring problem exist before they figure it out? #insanity 

    Almost certainly zero. Almost all of these guys (probably not Canterino, but maybe him too?) will have a chance to at least get their feet wet in the majors this year, and if the likes of Ober and Ryan are any indication then there's a good chance that most or all of them will prove to have a little MLB stickiness about them.

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    I'm a BIG Canterino guy.  I'm excited for all he brings to the table.  His energy is phenomenal.  Especially on his off days.  He's out there joking and playing around with the boys.  He amps them up and seems to always be positive.  Those are intangibles I love to see in top tier talent.  Royce Lewis shares the same type of energy, if not more.

    All that said, it's hard to deny Joe Ryan's resume right now.  Not complaining.  I love it.  Baseball talk in January-February during a lockout???  We need this.

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    On 1/12/2022 at 7:34 AM, beckmt said:

    I feel the Twins should use this year as a testing grounds for these pitchers.  Why waste their bullets in St. Paul when we can see how they fare up here.  I would expect at least Winder to join Ryan in the Twins rotation, with some of the rest not far behind.  Until the last week of spring training you will not learn much, unless these pitchers start the game against the other major league players (on the road).  I have high hopes for most of the top 5, with Woods-Richardson being the one that I would not have in the top 5 yet.  

    Perhaps Falvine feel the same way - their inactivity in the free-agent market might be an indicator. 

     

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    I like Canterino, and it's hard to argue with his numbers to this point. That said, I think he's got significantly more reliever risk than the other guys in this group. His mechanics and injury history don't scream starting pitcher to me.

    My ranking of this group, from #5 to # 1, would be Ryan, Canterino, Winder, Balazovic, and Woods Richardson.

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    On 1/12/2022 at 11:12 AM, roger said:

    Will second the above comments thanking you for doing this, Seth.

    Will also admit that I was a bit surprised to see Canterino at #1.  But after thinking about what he has accomplished when pitching, understand he may have the best chance of all of these to become that true ACE.

    Personally, would put Winder higher on this list.  On the other hand, see there are arguments for each of the four above him to be there.  

    Is this the best Top 5 Twins pitching prospects you can recall?  Sure seems like it to me.

    I won't speak for Seth directly, but as someone who has been following the Twins milb teams/prospects since my teens, the early-mid 80's had a group of Gasser, Bumgarner, Nivens, Banks, Sontag, Newman and Pittman that was highly regarded and expected to give the Twins real hope.

    Alas, only Banks ever did much of anything, and it wasn't a lot. Newman I belive had some success as a coach.

    By no means does that mean this group won't be outstanding, just offering up a list that at one time was probably comparable.

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    On 1/13/2022 at 8:59 AM, Murph said:

    The Twins don't need Pitching PROSPECTS.  They need PITCHERS.  I'm so tired of talking about prospects while the Twins have let available PITCHERS go to other teams because they spend their wad on the likes of Donaldson.  Really?  Talk to us when the Twins get some PITCHERS.  How many MORE seasons will this glaring problem exist before they figure it out? #insanity 

    One of TD’s strong points is talking about prospects and the minor leagues. No other site has this much comprehensive coverage and Seth et al do a really good job at it. Some of us like to follow these kids from start to finish, so to speak, so we really look forward to these off-season rankings and in-season coverage so when one of them finally gets there, we already know as much as we can to cheer them on. I get your ‘complaints’ about the Twins needing pitching, but honestly, this is where it starts. Or, we use these prospects to make a trade. It’s a huge part of the game. I suggest, for your own peace of mind, when you see an article with the word ‘prospect’ in the title, you ignore it. With nothing happening right now in baseball, this is pretty much all we have to read and discuss.

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