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  • Reviewing Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospect Rankings


    Seth Stohs

    Over the past month, I wrote up quick profiles for my preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospects rankings. It’s preliminary because over the last two months, I have been working on profiles, backgrounds and scouting reports for about 170 Twins minor leaguers for the soon-to-be-released 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook. Along with Cody Christie and Tom Froemming, we’ve been putting in a lot of hours to produce the 10th annual handbook. More information will be coming to Twins Daily around Christmas.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily

    But I thought it would be good to take a look at the Top 50 rankings in its totality to see what it is showing us. Are there any themes? Positions of strength, weakness, etc?

     

    With that, here is the full list of my preliminary Top 50 Twins prospects. Please note that this is not necessarily my final rankings. Those will appear in the prospect handbook.

     

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    (last year's rankings in parentheses, or how acquired)

     

    Here are a few themes from this prospect ranking:

     

    The New Guys

     

    On Wednesday night, the Twins traded $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Angels and the Mariners. In return, they acquired the Mariners fifth-round pick in 2017, catcher David Banuelos. From the Angels, the Twins acquired their third- round pick in 2017, outfielder Jacob Pearson. Immediately, I was getting asked where these two prospects would fit into my rankings.

     

    Well, I haven’t had a lot of time yet to research or talk to people, so these are subject to change. As you can see, I ranked Pearson #13, two spots below the Twins third- round pick, Blayne Enlow. Both players competed in Louisiana high schools before the draft. Pearson was the state’s player of the year.

     

    I ranked Banuelos #21. The Twins fifth-round pick this year was Andrew Bechtold, and he’s ranked a little further down the list, at #30 for now. Banuelos is a valuable prospect for a team in that really strong defensive catchers have a lot of value. The fact that there are question marks with his bat keep me from ranking him too much higher than this.

     

    The 2017 Draft

     

    It’s no surprise to see several Twins 2017 draft picks in a Top 50, but it is really nice to see the high impact prospects that show up at the top of the list. Royce Lewis is the new #1. Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow are also in my Top 10. That’s some quality talent brought in. But second-round pick Landon Leach probably should be higher than where I have him. Charlie Barnes is a high-floor player who could move up quickly. And, Bechtold is a guy who gets on base a ton, could hit for average and could develop some power. I’m also quite high on sixth-round pick Ricky De La Torre, who made the list. And, frankly, the more I research a guy like Derek Molina (14th round), the more I consider the idea of putting him near the back of this list. Then add in the acquisitions of Pearson and Banuelos, two guys that were in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects in the 2017 draft, and that’s a great job of bringing in talent!

     

    Relievers Too Low

     

    Those that have been following me for years know that I tend to rank relievers lower on prospect rankings than their potential value in the big leagues might be. Consider that I ranked Trevor Hildenberger #42 a year ago, knowing he had the ability to be a good MLB reliever, and my point is illustrated. I really struggled this year with ranking relievers. You see a bunch at the end because those are are guys that I think could get to the big leagues and be quality relievers. But, as we’ve watched Nick Burdi and JT Chargois and Mason Melotakis need Tommy John surgery and struggle to be healthy, it’s such a challenging job.

     

    So, John Curtiss is the highest ranked prospect for me this year. I believe he has the stuff to be a closer in time. Tyler Jay is next. When he was considered a potential starter, I had him in the Top 10 prospects. Now that he’s been moved to the bullpen (and fought injuries all year), he drops.

     

    Youth is Served

     

    It’s not unusual to see prospect rankings have a lot of very young, toolsy players ranked high. If you look at my prospects, particularly the #4 through #11 range, you see just that. They are easy to get excited about while at the same time understanding that they have a long way to go, and with that, a lot of development. Some will take those necessary strides forward. Some won’t. That’s the nature of player development. But with guys like Akil Baddoo and Brusdar Graterol in the mix, fans should start getting excited about what they could be.

     

    Experience is Served

     

    While tools and ceiling are important, floor should be factored in as well. For instance, Mitch Garver’s floor is major league backup catcher. I mean, he’s basically there already. His ceiling is quality starting catcher. He’s coming off of a terrific 2017 season in the highest level of the minors. There needs to be value in having played at the higher level. I subscribe to the thought that once a guy experiences good success in AA and/or AAA, he is pretty close. Luke Bard put up some crazy numbers in AA and then in AAA this year. Sure, he’s 27 and hasn’t played in the big leagues, but I still think he could become a solid MLB reliever.

     

    A Combination of Both

     

    There’s a reason that guys like Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Felix Jorge rank where they do. They’ve overcome the struggles of taking their talent and working hard and experiencing success and finding themselves putting up good numbers in the upper levels. They all have the potential to be quality major league starters, but they have worked up such that their floor is higher too.

     

    Trades Help Too

     

    While the Twins were surprising everyone with their turnaround success in 2017, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine never really wavered from their comments about continuing to build and continuing to look for talent, particularly pitching, everywhere.

     

    Since they’ve taken over, they have traded for Zack Littell, Dietrich Enns, Gabriel Moya and Tyler Watson. (as well as the two players this week) Two of those pitchers pitched in the big leagues in 2017. Moya jumped straight to the Twins after completing the Southern League playoffs. Littell went 19-1 and won the MiLBY for the best starting pitcher in the minor leagues this year. They also talked about being able to provide pitching in waves, and that’s where Tyler Watson fits in. He’s just 20 and pitched in low A. He isn’t a top prospect, but he’s got the size and the pitches to move up these rankings significantly.

     

    Injuries

     

    The Twins system is deep with talent, but there were a lot of injuries (several significant) in 2017. Alex Kirilloff had Tommy John surgery in spring training. Nick Burdi had surgery in June. JT Chargois missed most of the season with more elbow issues. Jake Reed and Stephen Gonsalves missed time early in the season with minor injuries.

     

    Luis Arraez tore his ACL in his third game of the season and missed the rest of the year. Kohl Stewart was on the DL a couple of times with knee problems. Tyler Jay missed most of the season with shoulder/neck/biceps injury.

     

    On the positive, Lewis Thorpe and Brusdar Graterol made their returns from Tommy John surgery and both appear to be back to their old selves. Tyler Benninghoff just returned from Tommy John late in the season.

     

    Depth

     

    While I don’t think the Twins farm system will rank near the top of the rankings that will come out in February, I do think this is a very exciting group of prospects right now. While aside from Royce Lewis, there may not be any Buxton/Sano/Berrios caliber prospects, there are a lot of very good prospects, guys who can play a significant role in the big leagues.

     

    There are quite a few players (including some pitchers) who have high-level ceilings, but obviously further development will be required to reach it.

     

    Who Could We See in 2018?

     

    Here are guys that have a legit chance to contribute in the big leagues in 2018:

     

    Stephen Gonsalves, Nick Gordon, Fernando Romero, LaMonte Wade, Mitch Garver, Zack Littell, John Curtiss, Felix Jorge, Zack Granite, Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, Gabriel Moya, Aaron Slegers Jake Reed, Luke Bard, JT Chargois, Tom Hackimer.

     

    Obviously, there needs to be opportunity. Not all of these guys will play in the big leagues, but they could. But as you look at that list, you see a lot of pitching, both starters and relievers, Who will be this year’s Trevor Hildenberger? Will any of these starters have a major impact on the Twins this year.

     

    Please feel free to ask questions or find your own story lines or trends within these rankings. Please ask questions and discuss whatever it is you’d like. I’ll try to answer questions throughout the day and throughout the weekend. And please, support the Twins minor league coverage at Twins Daily by purchasing the Twins Prospect Handbook 2018 in a couple of weeks. As has been the case in past years, it’ll be available in paperback (in time for Twins Fest) and electronically.

     

    Oh, and just for fun… wanna know who prospects 51-60 were for me? Here’s some exclusive bonus information for Twins Daily readers…

     

    Here you go: 51. Jordan Balazovic, 52. Mitchell Kranson, 53. Shane Carrier, 54. Hector Lujan, 55. Cody Stashak, 56. Victor Tademo, 57. Chris Paul, 58. Sean Poppen, 59. Edwar Colina, 60. TJ White

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    I am still waiting for the smoke to clear before I start mine (just because of things that happened this week and will happen the next), but I see a really big omission here:  Rainis Silva.  The guy has always been the top defensive and game calling catcher in the system but could not hit his way out of a paper bag and was pushed to Cedar Rapids last season because of his game calling and D and got a .551 OPS.  Back to EST and extensive work in his hitting and to Etown this season he hit .356/.446/.446.  Something definitely clicked.  I am doing my prospect lists a bit different (i.e. if someone has played in the majors, has graduated from my list - btw, you are missing Chargois as well ;)  )  so Garver is out.  Pending further research of Banuelos and transactions, Silva would be my highest rated C.  Has been hovering between 20-30 or so in my lists for a while and definitely will shoot up at top 15-20 or so.

     

    Kirriloff is way way way too high, but that has already been discussed.

    Interestingly enough, I think that that guy who dropped the most in your list (Jay) will likely be the guy who did so in mine as well.

     

    The one thing that is certain is that the Twins system is much better this year than last, despite not having many "flashy" prospects.  I think that the top 20 or so will have a good chance of making it to the majors (and I mean from my list that does not include the ones who did,) which is more than most systems can claim.   And Falvine are not done yet.  I hope.

    Edited by Thrylos
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    I try not to get too exercised over the ordering on these rankings, but like others, I'm trying to get a feeling for the recent pickups, and I just don't see them being as good as indicated by these rankings.  I'm not putting any weight on a short season performance, we see a lot of guys look completely different in their second year vs their debut.  But from what I've gathered about Pearson and Banuelos they just don't seem like top 20 prospects in this system even though they were much more highly rated in other shallower systems.

     

    My baseline for Pearson is Leach.  Pearson was rated slightly above Leach on most pre-draft boards, but he ended up slipping to 85 (right around where Leach was rated).  He signed overslot for around 63rd pick value.  But Leach was picked at 37th and signed for about 49th value.  I don't pretend to have special knowledge about either of these guys, but at the very least this tells me that they are in similar tiers, and that the Twins FO actually likes Leach a significant amount more.  And I don't see anything in their debuts to indicate that they've significantly diverged yet.  I'm sure you could find scouts that like Pearson better but I'm having trouble believing that you could find one who would say he's clearly a better prospect.

     

    I'm legitimately curious if there is any sort of scouting information on Pearson (or Banuelos) that suggests that this take is significantly mistaken.  It takes me a while to get to know knew additions and I probably often underrate them.  But I feel like we got two guys who rank in the late 20's to mid 30's range in our system, not two top 20 guys.

    This is true, good take.

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    The guy has always been the top defensive and game calling catcher in the system but could not hit his way out of a paper bag and was pushed to Cedar Rapids last season because of his game calling and D and got a .551 OPS.  Back to EST and extensive work in his hitting and to Etown this season he hit .356/.446/.446.  Something definitely clicked.  I am doing my prospect lists a bit different (i.e. if someone has played in the majors, has graduated from my list - btw, definitely will shoot up at top 15-20 or so.

     

    Kirriloff is way way way too high, but that has already been discussed.

    Interestingly enough, I think that that guy who dropped the most in your list (Jay) will likely be the guy who did so in mine as well.

     

     

    Who said Kirriloff is too high?? just bc he had TJ surgery? was Appy league player of the year..

    Hope you're right with Silva.

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    Of the 50, 12 are new to the organization since the last ranking (all of them in the top 40, by the way). Two questions:

    • How does 12 compare to other years? Is our perception that the new guys have brought more talent into the organization accurate?  
    • What's the status of the 12 from last year?

     

     

    12 feels a little bit high, but I'd have to go back and look. I mean, this was a really good draft for the Twins... The international money deals were unusual to this year because of the Braves situation. There were several other trades... And there were a few guys who really stepped up. 

     

    But like I said somewhere... the difference between, say, 41 and 70 is all about opinion.

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    I am still waiting for the smoke to clear before I start mine (just because of things that happened this week and will happen the next), but I see a really big omission here:  Rainis Silva.  The guy has always been the top defensive and game calling catcher in the system but could not hit his way out of a paper bag and was pushed to Cedar Rapids last season because of his game calling and D and got a .551 OPS.  Back to EST and extensive work in his hitting and to Etown this season he hit .356/.446/.446.  Something definitely clicked.  I am doing my prospect lists a bit different (i.e. if someone has played in the majors, has graduated from my list - btw, you are missing Chargois as well ;)  )  so Garver is out.  Pending further research of Banuelos and transactions, Silva would be my highest rated C.  Has been hovering between 20-30 or so in my lists for a while and definitely will shoot up at top 15-20 or so.

     

    Kirriloff is way way way too high, but that has already been discussed.

    Interestingly enough, I think that that guy who dropped the most in your list (Jay) will likely be the guy who did so in mine as well.

     

    The one thing that is certain is that the Twins system is much better this year than last, despite not having many "flashy" prospects.  I think that the top 20 or so will have a good chance of making it to the majors (and I mean from my list that does not include the ones who did,) which is more than most systems can claim.   And Falvine are not done yet.  I hope.

     

    While Thrylos and I often disagree... when it comes to prospect rankings, that's the beauty of them. I don't expect anyone to agree 100% with my rankings. 

     

    I've seen players in Cedar Rapids every year. I've been at spring training and hung out a lot on the minor league fields something like 4 of the last 5 years or something. Thrylos gets to Red Wings games in Lehigh Valley. And, I know he's been in Ft. Myers for spring training too. 

     

    I think he and I have both been on the minor league side at the same time... He may see Player X do something and start paying more and more attention to him. I may be over on another field at that time and see another player do something and my opinion of him goes up or down a little. 

     

    To me, that's what makes these lists fun.He really likes Rainis Silva, has for years. I am higher on Kirilloff than he is. There are (gasp) probably a lot more players that we have similar opinions on. It's all good. 

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    Lots of potential here. With most of these players more than 1 year away, it will be interesting to see if the recent changes to system admin, coaches and I presume processes bring out a higher return on the minor league system than we have been used to seeing. When I look as this list, I have a hard time not trying to squeeze 30 players into the top 20 slots. 

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    I have a curiousity question. I heard Stephan Gonsalves mentioned on MLB radio but the "expert" pronounced his last name as Gonzales. Is that correct? I have not heard anyone in the Twins organization verbally say his name so I don't know. And I now live in Maine where nothing is pronounced correctly so that doesn't help matters. Aye-yah?

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    I mean, if you go strictly on what they paid him, he should be around Enlow. Realistically, in an open market, as is the case with Intl free agents, you'll have to overpay a bit. So he's probably 4-5 spots worse than Enlow

    Edited by amjgt
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    I have a curiousity question. I heard Stephan Gonsalves mentioned on MLB radio but the "expert" pronounced his last name as Gonzales. Is that correct? I have not heard anyone in the Twins organization verbally say his name so I don't know. And I now live in Maine where nothing is pronounced correctly so that doesn't help matters. Aye-yah?

     

    It's Gone-Saul-Viss...

     

     

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    Twinstalker - Pearson is just out of high school, trying to adjust to the rigors of professional baseball, and you've already decided he will never get anything beyond a "cup of coffee?" That's harsh. Give him time to figure out how to be an adult before you throw him out with the bath water.

    I absolutely love it when someone argues against something they wanted me to say instead of what I said.  "Why, yes, I've said it before and I'll say it again...Pearson will NEVER have more than a cup of coffee in MLB."  This, according to you, is what I said.  Thanks bunch.

     

    Also, as far as potential goes, 80% (made up) of players have some sort of really high ceiling they'll never reach.  In Pearson's case, his potential if all goes right is said to be 20/20.  Again, in a vacuum, who would you take if you had to choose a player for the franchise you're starting, Zach Littell or Pearson?  I highly doubt more than a very small percentage would take Pearson.  I doubt Seth would, which is what I'm arguing.

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    Twinstalker - Pearson is just out of high school, trying to adjust to the rigors of professional baseball, and you've already decided he will never get anything beyond a "cup of coffee?" That's harsh. Give him time to figure out how to be an adult before you throw him out with the bath water.

    What he said was ".It's likely he'll never have more than a cup of coffee.." [emphasis added]

     

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    In one sense, the most interesting players this year are Gordon, Gonsalves, Romero, Rooker, Thorpe, Littell, Jay and Stewart, because they each could play a significant role on the 2019 team. Granite, Slegers and Garver will likely be on that team, also, but their impact may be lesser. (Anything Jorge provides will be a pleasant surprise to me.) hopefully, May also gets ramped up in AAA. As a source of potential impact talent, Rochester is going to be bigger than it has in years.

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    I have a curiousity question. I heard Stephan Gonsalves mentioned on MLB radio but the "expert" pronounced his last name as Gonzales. Is that correct? I have not heard anyone in the Twins organization verbally say his name so I don't know. And I now live in Maine where nothing is pronounced correctly so that doesn't help matters. Aye-yah?

     

    Gonsalves is of Portuguese origin, Gonzales is of Spanish.  Different names from different origins.  Likely lazy expert, in the manner of Bert as far as finding out name pronunciations.

     

     

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    Gonsalves is of Portuguese origin, Gonzales is of Spanish.  Different names from different origins.  Likely lazy expert, in the manner of Bert as far as finding out name pronunciations.

    Or a typo. Or an auto-correct. My home computer tried to correct Gonsalves to a 'more common' Gonzalez until I taught it otherwise.

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    See and I think he's ranked way too high. He seems like a 4th OF type to me - I don't see him ever being an average starter. With his lack of pop and average OBP skills, he's got to hit over .300 to be an offensive plus. I just don't really see that happening. If he hits .270, he's got to be an elite defensive CF. He's fine out there but not elite.

     

     

    Yeah, I don't know much myself, but I find myself thinking of Granite more in the Tyner Maestro Shane Robinson Alex Pressly category.

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    My two cents, but a lot of guys on this list have a legit chance to be in the top 100 next year at this time. Yeah, there's no Buxton/Sano there right now, but I wouldn't write that off just yet. Most everyone in the top 10 (who aren't already in the top 100) if they make steps forward will get national love. Guys like Palacios, Littlel, Severino, Miranda, etc. could all be in that conversation too if things break right. It's a very deep system with lots of upside. Hopefully, we get some good answers to a lot of the question marks.

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