5. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
Predicting a breakout for a global top-100 prospect seems odd. For Woods Richardson, you could describe it as more of a bounce back. The Twins received the tall, well-regarded right-hander and Austin Martin in the blockbuster that sent José Berríos to Toronto last July.
Woods Richardson had a forgettable season, posting a 5.91 ERA and 14% walk rate in just over 53 innings at Double-A. Even with those numbers, Woods Richardson used his (fluctuating) mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to strike out 77 of the 240 batters he faced. He just turned 21, and his future remains bright.
4. LF/OF Alerick Soularie
The Twins picked Soularie in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft after he hit a remarkable .336/.448/.586 in 76 games at Tennessee. Soularie’s 1.068 OPS in 2019 was the third-highest mark in the SEC, behind only JJ Bleday (Marlins No. 5 prospect) and future teammate Austin Martin.
Soularie’s future position is questionable, and he’ll likely fill multiple spots as he moves up the system. He was limited with a broken foot early in 2021 but returned to hit .240/.367/.360 in 34 games, mainly for Fort Myers. I’ll take the over on Soularie’s projected impact for 2022.
3. 1B Aaron Sabato
It was a rough professional start for Sabato, whom the Twins selected with their first-round pick during the COVID-19 shutdown. The slugging Sabato hit just .189 for Fort Myers but buoyed it with a .365 On-Base Percentage, walking in nearly 20% of his plate appearances.
The Twins promoted Sabato despite his shoddy numbers, and he responded hugely. The former North Carolina star hit .253/.402/.613 for an OPS over 1.000 in 97 plate appearances for the Kernels. He bashed eight homers in just 22 games, finally taking advantage of strikes he received for getting ahead in the count. He has a chance to move up quickly in 2022.
2. RHP Jhoan Duran
Duran was undoubtedly on his way to Minnesota before an elbow injury derailed his season. Standing 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Duran is an imposing presence with the stuff to boot. He reaches 100 MPH with his fastball and pairs it with a devastating “splinker” hybrid, a pitch that should help him get both lefties and righties out in the majors.
The Twins have a slew of potential threes or fours in their system. They only have a few who possess the repertoire to become a true No. 1 starter. Duran fits that bill, and it’s not out of the question that he could operate a spot in the Twins’ rotation as early as mid-2022.
1. OF Emmanuel Rodríguez
It’s ill-advised to project teenagers as future stars, but if there’s one player in the Twins’ system who could warrant that excitement, it’s Rodríguez. Signed as an international free agent in 2019, Rodríguez quickly established himself during his first professional season.
The 18-year-old left-handed swinger slugged .524 in 37 games for the FCL Twins. Rodríguez posted an .870 OPS despite striking out in nearly 40% of his plate appearances. More consistent contact and an adapted approach would turn Rodríguez, who plays a strong centerfield, into a true force. That could happen in 2022.
Who are you most excited about? Comment below!