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  • The Next Twins Prospect Promotion


    Ted Schwerzler

    Thus far this season we’ve seen multiple Twins rookies make their big league debuts. Most recently it was star infield prospect Jose Miranda. With Minnesota having plenty of noteworthy prospects close to the big leagues, it’s worth wondering who might be next.

    Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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    First it was the pitchers as Josh Winder made the Opening Day roster, and then Cole Sands followed him during his first career start. Jose Miranda crushed Double and Triple-A last season before drawing his first big league start at the hot corner. The goal for Minnesota was to have both a good Major League team, but also establish real depth that could immediately make an impact from the farm.

    You can now make the argument that pipeline is bearing fruit, and we can take a looking at the names that could be next up:

    Spencer Steer
    The least likely of this group, Spencer Steer is a solid infielder at Double-A Wichita. He was a 3rd round pick out of Oregon in 2019 and posted an .833 OPS split between High-A and Double-A last season. Through the first month of 2022 Steer owns a .300/.398/.488 slash line for the WInd Surge, and has now played nearly 100 games at that level. With Miranda moving up to the majors, Steer could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A if the stay becomes long-term for Miranda.

    Steer can play second, third, and shortstop, but finds himself most at home playing the hot corner. Power production showed up in a big way last year when he blasted 24 homers, and it was clear he put in serious work during the canceled 2020 season. He’s been a doubles machine so far in 2022 but the longballs will fly as the weather warms.

    He’s not on the 40-man roster and there’s a few non-roster veterans that may be opted for first, but Steer certainly has the chops to help the Twins should his number be called.

    Matt Canterino
    A product of Rice University, Canterino has been held back by injury like so many to go through the program. He possesses a unique windup and has a lot of movement in his delivery. Canterino is a very hard thrower though, and his 13.9 career K/9 is beyond impressive.

    Throwing just 21 innings last year, Canterino is being handled very carefully after beginning the season at Double-A. He’s made five starts but has accumulated just 12 2/3 innings across them. His 2.13 ERA is impressive but the command has become a bit of an issue early this year with nine walks. He still has big strikeout stuff mowing over 18 batters, and he’s yet to allow a home run.

    Canterino has never thrown more than 25 innings during a single season of his professional career, and Minnesota certainly is hoping to change that this season. Managing his workload and helping a good big league team, Canterino could be called upon to debut out of the bullpen with a higher level of effort. He too would need a 40-man roster spot.

    Royce Lewis
    Quite possibly the most likely prospect promotion is also the most exciting. Lewis missed two years due to the pandemic and then an ACL surgery prior to Spring Training in 2021. He’s back and debuted at Triple-A to start 2022. You could make the argument that the former top 10 prospect looks as good as he ever has.

    There’s a notable difference in his swing as Lewis has calmed the leg kick dramatically. His hands are a bit quieter and the results have certainly followed. Through his first 21 games for the St. Paul Saints, Lewis is slashing .320/.441/.587 with three homers, nine doubles, and a triple. Maybe even more encouraging is how well Lewis is covering the plate and dictating at-bats. The talented shortstop owns a strong 18/15 K/BB and he’s used elite speed to swipe five bases on six attempts.

    Minnesota doesn’t seem to question whether Lewis can stick at shortstop, but barring a Carlos Correa injury the opportunity wouldn’t seem to immediately be there. Lewis has played in the outfield professionally and could find an opportunity as the right-handed outfield bat that the Twins continue to seek. While not the prototypical corner slugger, there’s power that can play, and he’d be an elite defender with range that would match that of Byron Buxton.

    Ultimately I don’t foresee any of these options coming to fruition prior to June. Each has hurdles to clear and time to substantiate current performances. They are all names to watch though, and none of them would represent a shocking debut should they reach Target Field in 2022.

    Who are you most looking forward to seeing next?

     

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    It would be Lewis.  Canterino next.  Absolutely nothing against Steer but with Urshela and now Miranda to go with Arraez there's not really a clear a pathway yet for Steer. 

    Lewis however, even with Correa could still play OF and if the bat to ball skills continue, Lewis could be very much like Buxton...if he stays healthy, and PLAYS, he's going to do good things.  I wouldn't mind seeing Canterino up and pitching out of the pen.  I'd use him in low stress innings and just kind of bring him along slowly. 

    At some point, since he's pitched so few innings these last couple years you've got to believe they will shut him down.  But I'd like to see how that "STUFF" plays up in the big leagues and handle him with care.  

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    I agree that a Royce Lewis promotion would on come with bad news-a Carlos Correa injury. Please, baseball gods, keep them both healthy and playing shortstop every day.

    Not a prospect, but my guess is that Devin Smeltzer will get called up. He'd have to be added to the 40 man roster, but I'm rooting for him. 

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    I'll get the ball rolling  ...

    Royce Lewis  certainly  would be my choice  but he needs to establish his game before a promotion  ...

    I wish they would play him in the outfield  like he did in the AZL league  which he won mvp of the fall league  in 2019  ....

    He's athletic enough and might find an earlier opening in the outfield if Correa stsys

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    I think an outfield of Lewis, Buxton and Kepler would be amazing both defensively and offensively.  The Twins would have three players that could play center out there.  All three can hit for power as well as steal bases if needed.  If there is no room in the infield he looks good in the outfield to me.

    If they believe Canterino's arm can hold up I wouldn't be surprised if the Twins used him in the pen this year.  He is going to be on an innings limit and it looks like his stuff will play if gets his pitches under control.  He could really help the pen start to look more elite IMO.

    I am a big Steer believer.  Not sure where he and Jullien fit right now and if the Twins continue to do well I wonder if they end up trade bait.  Will have to wait and see how the season goes but Steer would be a good option if ever needed this year.

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    If we agree that Correa will be gone after this year, I would keep Royce at SS in the minors until the end of the year then bring him up for a playoff push. He needs the development there and it looks to me he absolutely could be our opening day starting SS next year. With this good start his floor at short is Polanco. If Correa goes on the IL bring Royce up then.

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    The next opening on the MLB roster will be when we have to add a 13th position player.

    *If* we are ok with Celestino being our 4th outfielder, which is looking better, we have a bench of Sanchez, Gordon, and Celestino, with our main DH being Arraez. So, a catcher, middle infielder, center fielder, and corner infielder.

    We could add a corner outfielder. If Kirilloff is ready, great. If not, who do we bring up for that? Do we give that spot back to Garlick?

    Or, if 5th outfielder seems a little excessive, maybe we go with another infielder, so Lewis. But then he won't have playing time unless Gordon and Urshela have theirs cut.

    Good problems to have options. We can wait out injuries to Sano and Kirilloff, and we don't have to rush top prospects. We can even develop likely MLB bench players like Celestino and Gordon appropriately. I guess that's my question: who do we groom next for the bench?

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    If things continue the way they are I see no reason it would not be Lewis.  Yes, his normal position is SS, but he can play OF or 3b.  His bat is doing great, and reports are he has been good at SS, but I think next injury at MLB level, unless it is a catcher will be Lewis coming up. 

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    Interesting question.  Lewis appears to be the next man who should be called up.  But call ups will be determined in part by position of need.  Another factor that will play into it is when he is called up is there a spot for him to play most games, ie, not sit on the bench.  

    Cannot say how pleased I am that he is doing so well.  Seems to be confirming what we all thought/hoped for back when he was drafted.  Should the rumors be true and Correa really wants to stay with the Twins, they are gonna have to find another spot for Lewis to play.  With Polanco at second and hopefully Miranda at third, outfield remains the only answer.  

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    2 minutes ago, roger said:

    Interesting question.  Lewis appears to be the next man who should be called up.  But call ups will be determined in part by position of need.  Another factor that will play into it is when he is called up is there a spot for him to play most games, ie, not sit on the bench.  

    Cannot say how pleased I am that he is doing so well.  Seems to be confirming what we all thought/hoped for back when he was drafted.  Should the rumors be true and Correa really wants to stay with the Twins, they are gonna have to find another spot for Lewis to play.  With Polanco at second and hopefully Miranda at third, outfield remains the only answer.  

    Do you really think the Twins will sign a 10 year $300+m deal? Do you think Correa and Boras are open to a discount? I don't see it at all and I don't want the Twins to sign that kind of deal for anybody. Royce for starting SS next year! My 2¢.

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    If Lewis is for real and Correa opts out after the season, the future would look very bright, especially if Martin and the young pitching is for real. If Correa decides to stay and even agrees to an extension, Polanco becomes a very attractive trade piece (I say Polanco because of the love for Arraez on this site).

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    25 minutes ago, wabene said:

    Do you really think the Twins will sign a 10 year $300+m deal? Do you think Correa and Boras are open to a discount? I don't see it at all and I don't want the Twins to sign that kind of deal for anybody. Royce for starting SS next year! My 2¢.

    I don't know what to think about Correa, other than recent reports that he really likes it here and would be open to a longer term deal.  As for the specifics you mention, none of us know what might happen just as none of us thought there was any possibility he would be playing shortstop for the Twins at the start of this season.

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    Forget OF. Move Lewis to Firstbase and then fastrack to Target Field. Sano has refused to be coached on hitting to all fields. Trade for a prospect. 

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    we have to all hope Correa opts out for a long term contract....that means he was healthy and had a good year.....same spot as I have been with this contract all along....best for the twins if this is only a 1 year deal....the longer it goes..means he has underperformed...and we are stuck with an asset that isn't worth what he is being paid.  

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    I love seeing Royce Lewis doing so well and it gives me a lot of hope for his future. But I also think it would be best for him to stay at AAA for now and get reps. Pitchers will without doubt try to adjust to him and it will be better for him to make the counter adjustments at AAA rather than the majors. I believe the Twins share that opinion unless a longer-term injury to Correa (please not!) forces their hand. That would make him unlikely to be the next call up. 

    Steer is a possibility though the Twins seem to have a lot of infield depth in front of him. We know how quickly that can change, though. 

    But I would still guess on a pitcher. You always need more of those. I absolutely love Matt Canterino and I'm probably higher on him than most. If we assume Duran stays a reliever, I think Canterino has the highest upside of any SP prospect in the Twins organization. But the Twins seem to be determined (smartly) to closely monitor his innings and I would like seeing him as a reliever in the big leagues right now and then get stretched out next year. 

    As a dark horse candidate, I wonder if Ronny Henriquez might get a shot in the bullpen at some point. Obviously depends on his performance, but he is already at AAA and on the 40-man roster and he certainly has the stuff to do it, if the Twins needed an additional reliever. 

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    1 hour ago, wabene said:

    If we agree that Correa will be gone after this year, I would keep Royce at SS in the minors until the end of the year then bring him up for a playoff push. He needs the development there and it looks to me he absolutely could be our opening day starting SS next year. With this good start his floor at short is Polanco. If Correa goes on the IL bring Royce up then.

    Yes, it all seems to depend on Correa, and he holds the option. Lewis is our shortstop next year if he leaves. If he stays, then we are still in a situation of great uncertainty because of his second-year option, but will need to find a place for Lewis if he continues to develop as he has recently.

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    Steve Lein
  • Twins Daily Contributor
  • Posted (edited)

    1 hour ago, Blyleven2011 said:

    I'll get the ball rolling  ...

    Royce Lewis  certainly  would be my choice  but he needs to establish his game before a promotion  ...

    I wish they would play him in the outfield  like he did in the AZL league  which he won mvp of the fall league  in 2019  ....

    He's athletic enough and might find an earlier opening in the outfield if Correa stsys

    Yeah, if they had any possible intention of getting him in the MLB lineup as an outfielder, they'd be playing him there some in St. Paul.

    He played 5 games in CF versus 17 in the infield (primarily 3B) in the AFL. He was very good at both in his time there, but that is also basically the only time he's ever played anything but shortstop.

    Edited by Steve Lein
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    Fire Falvine they're the worst FO ever! Oops, wrong thread 😜

    It's only been a month, but it's really nice to see so many prospects developing so well. This is how a team draws it up. Good major league team with a growing number of replacement options on the farm to step in when injuries or poor performance hit the big club. It's almost like there was a plan.

    I agree with the many people noting it's most likely a pitcher who's next up. I'd be absolutely shocked if they were willing to simply cut Sano loose so he'll be back at some point (sounds like he may have surgery?) and they'd let him see if the warm weather has him back to mashing before cutting him loose. Kirilloff is ahead of any other prospect so once he's healthy he'll be back. Garlick will get more chances to mash lefties. With those bats coming back at various times I'd expect it to be harder for a prospect bat to break through as I even expect Miranda to be the one sent out if/when one of those 3 is back during May.

    There are also a lot of non-prospect arms in line that could get shots before the prospect arms, but this FO seems much more comfortable cutting bullpen arms loose in short order than bats so I'd guess a prospect in the bullpen would be the next "big" prospect move. Maybe Canterino. I love him and wish he could stay a starter, but at this point I'd honestly look real hard at putting him in the pen for good. He's only 24 so there's plenty of time for him to establish himself as a starter, but with the Rice connection and him not having thrown many innings at all since 2019 (he threw 124.1 that year between college and his first pro ball stint) the injury concerns would have me looking at making him a weapon out of the bullpen. I'd love for him and Duran to both get shots at starting down the road, but I think they have the best stuff in the org and if they're going to compete the next couple years they may be the 2 best options for lights out relievers the Twins have. I'd certainly think hard about seeing what they can do together in the pen this year.

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    Assuming current levels of production, Lewis will be up this year. The only questions would be when and where.

    If the Twins are not in contention come the trade deadline (which hopefully is not the case) or Correa is certain to opt out (so even if we are in contention), then Correa will likely be moved. In that case, Lewis is the starting SS the remainder of the year.

    If Correa is not moved, Lewis gets moved up at some point when the inevitable injury occurs.

    Btw, if Lewis continues to play at this level, he could be the best choice in CF of disaster befalls us.

    No mention of Martin. I hope he gets his chance this year too. 
     

     

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    1 hour ago, wabene said:

    Do you really think the Twins will sign a 10 year $300+m deal? Do you think Correa and Boras are open to a discount? I don't see it at all and I don't want the Twins to sign that kind of deal for anybody. Royce for starting SS next year! My 2¢.

    Did you really think the Twins would pay Correa 35MM to play SS? All signs I’ve seen point to Correa planning to be here for awhile. Signs coming from him. It doesn’t have to be 10 years. But yes, Lewis up sooner rather than later. There’s plenty of room for an immense talent like Royce.

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    2 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    Assuming current levels of production, Lewis will be up this year. The only questions would be when and where.

    If the Twins are not in contention come the trade deadline (which hopefully is not the case) or Correa is certain to opt out (so even if we are in contention), then Correa will likely be moved. In that case, Lewis is the starting SS the remainder of the year.

    If Correa is not moved, Lewis gets moved up at some point when the inevitable injury occurs.

    Btw, if Lewis continues to play at this level, he could be the best choice in CF of disaster befalls us.

    No mention of Martin. I hope he gets his chance this year too. 
     

     

    Nashville Twin. Does this mean that like me, you’re a Twins fan living in Nashville?

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    That is a great article Ted! Very interesting read, stimulating and even exciting to read. I like Spencer Steer also. And Lewis has developed into a very exciting prospect with his total domination of AAA this year! Canterino I have hopes for but tempered a bit by his current brittleness and the walks. I’m a huge fan of walks for hitters but not so much for pitchers.

    Congrats on writing a really fine article! It brightened up my day right at the start!

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    26 minutes ago, Greglw3 said:

    Nashville Twin. Does this mean that like me, you’re a Twins fan living in Nashville?

    Lived there for two years two years ago. My wife got cancer and we moved back to CA - we have a good setup in CA to maximize her chances to beat it. Two kids are there though!

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    I am in the position that IF the Twins extend Correa to say 8 year 240mil contract or what ever it is. Than either you trade Lewis for a haul OR you need push someone else out to make room for him and trade the other guy. The thing  is if others believe Lewis is a SS and will be a good SS long term his trade value might be better as a trade piece than an above average 3B or a skilled outfielder which are easier to come across. 

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    The Twins have been half-decent lately (giggle), so injuries or recovery are the most likely factor if the call-up is a position player. I still wouldn't be counting on Kirilloff until he shows he can hit with the wrist discomfort (which he hasn't done yet in limited play; .200 average on 2/10, both singles). Doesn't sound like the Twins are going to rush that either when they talk about Miranda getting a lot of at-bats.

    Another outcome of being good; you just don't jump people straight from AA, so anyone in Wichita is more likely to go to St Paul. If Miranda can stick a while, I'd like to see Steer go to the Saints, and Encarnacion-Strand jump to the AA Wind Surge.

    Don't want to see Lewis moved around as I'm pretty sure he is the everyday shortstop of our future. (While Correa is definitely showing his full value now on D and at the plate, the Twins simply aren't the type of franchise that can afford the ten year deal Carlos is seeking, especially with a younger, cheaper replacement in the system.)

    The bullpen's early awfulness has been muted of late with a better sorting of roles, a few better outings, and lots of low-leverage mop-ups, but I suspect any non-injury need will be here. Moran will get a chance to stick, and while I think they have good 'non-prospect' options sitting in St Paul, Henriquez is intriguing as a prospect bullpen arm.

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    12 minutes ago, 21bdp21 said:

    I am in the position that IF the Twins extend Correa to say 8 year 240mil contract or what ever it is. Than either you trade Lewis for a haul OR you need push someone else out to make room for him and trade the other guy. The thing  is if others believe Lewis is a SS and will be a good SS long term his trade value might be better as a trade piece than an above average 3B or a skilled outfielder which are easier to come across. 

    With Lewis' ability (he looked good in the AFL) to play CF I'd think he'd be the perfect player to keep around knowing Buxton is always 1 play away from a 2 month trip to the IL. If Lewis reaches his ceiling he's far better than an "above average 3B or a skilled outfielder." He's Ronald Acuna Jr who is a part time CFer, but has spent most of his career in a corner OF spot. Or Mookie Betts who plays RF. Now if you don't think he reaches his superstar ceiling then trading him could make some sense. But if you think he's going to reach his ceiling you don't even consider trading him until you can't pay him to stay.

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    22 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    Lived there for two years two years ago. My wife got cancer and we moved back to CA - we have a good setup in CA to maximize her chances to beat it. Two kids are there though!

    Unfortunately there isn't a 'like option' to click on to tell you that I am praying for you and your wife.  Trust that God will be with her in the battle she is facing.

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