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  • Observation from MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Twins Prospects


    Matthew Lenz

    Last week, I looked at the Twins who cracked MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, and now they have released their Top 30 Prospects for the Minnesota Twins. This article will examine that list and make some notable observations from the rankings.

    Image courtesy of Dan Powers via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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    MLB Pipeline featured four Twins in their top-100 and an additional player who "just missed" the cut. You can review last week's article to get some additional insight on those prospects. This article will note observations of the remaining Twins in their top-30, including the risers, fallers, and especially those who are new to the list compared to the final rankings from the end of the 2021 season. Those rankings were updated at the end of August, and between then and now no Twins reached their rookie minimums meaning that there are no “graduates” to note. The Twins have seen a lot of positive movement from their prospects over the offseason, so let’s dive into the rankings!

    Risers
    Spencer Steer (2B/3B) rose from 23rd to 11th over the offseason, which is tied for the biggest jump for any Twins prospect with the player you’ll read about next. What’s interesting is that after the rankings were published, Steer had one of the worst months of his season at AA-Wichita although it would be short-sighted to think that recent performance is all that goes into the rankings. As noted in his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Steer was able to add power in 2021 without sacrificing much of his OBP as shown by his season-long .348/.484 OBP/SLG and had a pretty successful run after being promoted in late June. We won’t be seeing him in 2022 (probably) and there are a lot of guys ahead of him who play (or can play) similar positions, so his route to Minneapolis is going to be a challenging one. That said, if he proves that his combination of power and OBP are here to stay, he’ll put himself in a position to get to the Major Leagues sooner rather than later.

    As noted before, Louie Varland (RHP) also jumped 12 spots over the offseason and finds himself as the Twins 15th-ranked prospect headed into the 2022 season. Varland had an impressive four starts following the release of the rankings last August in which he posted a 2.86 ERA and 31:4 K:BB over 22 innings which punctuated an impressive 2021 campaign between Low A Fort Myers and High A Cedar Rapids. Over 20 starts (10 at each level) and 103 innings pitched, Varland boasted a 4.73 K/BB, 2.10 ERA, and 1.09 WHIP which earned him Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors. Not yet reaching AA Wichita means that a 2022 debut is unlikely for Varland but if he has another year like 2021 then he’ll absolutely compete for a rotation spot in 2023 Spring Training.

    Fallers
    Former 13th overall pick, Keoni Cavaco, dropped 13 spots over the offseason after spending a majority of the season at Low A Fort Myers. In just his first full season as a pro, it’s way too early to call Cavaco a bust considering he was drafted out of high school and missed the 2020 season, but he didn’t help his cause with a sub .600 OPS and a 34.2% strikeout rate. Can’t emphasize enough that, especially with all factors considered, it’s way too early to judge Cavaco (although he was picked ahead of bigger name shortstop prospects like Bryson Stott and Anthony Volpe).

    Signed as an International Free Agent in 2018, Yunior Severino, who was ranked 30th last August, has fallen off the most recent version of the list. He actually posted his best season as a pro with an .802 OPS, but the addition of five players you’ll read about below made him the odd-man-out of MLB Pipelines top 30 Twins prospects. Even the most recent Fangraphs rankings put the switch-hitting second baseman outside of their top 40 prospects for the organization.

    Newcomers
    Ronny Henriquez, acquired in the Mitch Garver trade, comes in as the Twins' 14th-best prospect. MLB Pipeline retroactively added him to the 2021 list where he was ranked the 19th-best prospect in the system, and I’ll direct you to Lucas Seehafer’s article for more information on the right-handed pitching prospect.

    Cade Povich, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Jermaine Palacios are all guys who have been with the organization but are new to MLB Pipelines top 30 sitting at 27, 29, and 30, respectively.

    Povich is a left-handed pitcher drafted in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft out of the University of Nebraska. In 10 innings in 2021, he had a 19:2 K:BB ratio, allowed nine baserunners, and four earned runs.

    The Twins added corner infielder Encarnacion-Strand in the 34th round of the 2021 draft out of Oklahoma State. In 87 at-bats, he posted a 1.022 OPS with four home runs and a strikeout rate of 29.9%

    Palacios is a veteran of the Twins minor-league system at this point. He originally signed back in 2013 at just 16-years-old. He was traded to the Rays in the Jake Odorizzi acquisition, and he came back to the Twins on a minor-league deal ahead of the 2021 season. The Venezuelan is a glove-first utility infielder who posts passable numbers at the plate with a career OPS of .715 over 2,456 minor league at-bats.

    It remains to be seen where the Twins farm system will rank as a whole, but even after the graduation of so many top prospects last season, they ended as MLB Pipelines 15th-ranked system. Since then they’ve added a prospect to the top 100 and have had a lot of positive movement in their system. How do you feel about the Twins system as we enter a competitive window? Are you in the boat of trading some of these prospects for Major League talent or letting the prospects develop their way to Minneapolis? Let us know in the comments!

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    Nice that they think that highly of Henriquez; a good reminder that the Garver deal wasn't just about SS acquisition. 

    Steer is an interesting prospect; if he can trim back the Ks a bit and maintain the power he can be a quality asset. Glad to see others find him interesting too.

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    Just not sure how to react to this.  What does it mean to be 20th, 29th, 30th?  Just a nice ranking or someone who will make it?  Prospect rankings are getting more common, but their interpretation is getting more difficult. 

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    Thanks, Matt.  Very informative article.  I have three thoughts.  One, 20 of the 30 prospects have a 2022 or 2023 ETA.  I know these predictions are not exact, but right now the Twins system is loaded with players who are close to ready.  Two, I am intrigued by Raya, Rodriquez, and Miller.  When they first drafted Miller I was thinking it was an ok pick, but the more I read on him from all sources, he could be a very good major league shortstop, and he can switch hit.  Finally, Palacios is a good story, and if he has another very good year at the plate, he could be in the running for the shortstop position next year.  His defense is excellent.

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    3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    Just not sure how to react to this.  What does it mean to be 20th, 29th, 30th?  Just a nice ranking or someone who will make it?  Prospect rankings are getting more common, but their interpretation is getting more difficult. 

    Baddoo and Wade were 26 and 27 at fangraphs at the end of November, 2019

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    13 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    Just not sure how to react to this.  What does it mean to be 20th, 29th, 30th?  Just a nice ranking or someone who will make it?  Prospect rankings are getting more common, but their interpretation is getting more difficult. 

    Yea, always hard to say how these guys will turn out…even when it’s an “expert” making the list.

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    12 hours ago, RJA said:

    Thanks, Matt.  Very informative article.  I have three thoughts.  One, 20 of the 30 prospects have a 2022 or 2023 ETA.  I know these predictions are not exact, but right now the Twins system is loaded with players who are close to ready.  Two, I am intrigued by Raya, Rodriquez, and Miller.  When they first drafted Miller I was thinking it was an ok pick, but the more I read on him from all sources, he could be a very good major league shortstop, and he can switch hit.  Finally, Palacios is a good story, and if he has another very good year at the plate, he could be in the running for the shortstop position next year.  His defense is excellent.

    Yea, considering all the “graduates” from last year, it’s impressive to see our farm system with so much talent that could be ready to contribute within the next year or two.

    I agree on Miller, but would take it as a bad thing if Palacios is our shortstop next year…does that mean Correa left and neither Royce Lewis or Austin Martin are ready? I guess a positive could be they were traded for a starter, but I think Palacios is realistically a solid utility depth piece.

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    38 minutes ago, Matthew Lenz said:

    Yea, considering all the “graduates” from last year, it’s impressive to see our farm system with so much talent that could be ready to contribute within the next year or two.

    I agree on Miller, but would take it as a bad thing if Palacios is our shortstop next year…does that mean Correa left and neither Royce Lewis or Austin Martin are ready? I guess a positive could be they were traded for a starter, but I think Palacios is realistically a solid utility depth piece.

    Palacios seemed to take a quantum leap last season, so if he were to do the same thing this season…… maybe he could be an impact major leaguer. Someone may have mentioned this before, but I googled Palacios and he was listed at 6-0 and 145 pounds. I am not going to win a lot of prizes guessing weights, but I’m guessing he is north of 180 now. It points out the pitfalls of signing teenagers—they physically mature so differently and unpredictably.  For every Nick Gordon, there’s a Miguel Sanó. 

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    15 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    Just not sure how to react to this.  What does it mean to be 20th, 29th, 30th?  Just a nice ranking or someone who will make it?  Prospect rankings are getting more common, but their interpretation is getting more difficult. 

    A prospect list is someone’s opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. If a player is near the top of the list it generally means their ceiling as a player is higher. Towards the bottom it means they are in the low minors or have a chance to be a solid player. Bailey Ober was in the 20s on most people’s list. If last year was any indication of talent he could have a long career filling out a rotation

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    11 hours ago, stringer bell said:

    For every Nick Gordon, there’s a Miguel Sanó. 

    Scouts have this slick trick called "looking at the family tree".  Nick's father Tom Gordon at five-nine and 160 pounds could have been a slight tipoff versus whatever the scouts noticed in Sanó's bloodlines that led to reports I recall stipulating "assuming he doesn't grow out of the position." :)

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