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  • These 3 Minnesota Twins Prospects Are Off to Disappointing Starts in 2023

    Matthew Taylor

    The Minnesota Twins have had some minor-league standouts this season, but they have also had some prospects who have been off to disappointing starts in 2023.

    Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints

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    Baseball prospects can be some of the most volatile players to follow in all of sports. As young players moving up through various levels of competition in a short period of time, it can be expected to see extreme peaks and valleys, even for some of the most highly-touted prospects.

    While the Twins have certainly seen some promising starts for some of their top prospects (article coming soon…), there have been some disappointing starts as well.

    These three prospects have been off to the most disappointing starts of the 2023 season:

    Jose Salas, Cedar Rapids Kernels (A+)
    .154/.229/.214, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 36 K, 8 BB
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 12

    Jose Salas was a borderline top-100 prospect that the Minnesota Twins picked up this offseason in the Pablo López/Luis Arraez swap after posting a .723 OPS across Low-A and High-A last in 2022 as a 19-year-old. 

    While many were optimistic about the infielders bat, and his potential to turn into a top-notch prospect, the start to the 2023 season has been disastrous for the switch-hitter. In 135 plate appearances to start the season, Salas has posted an OPS of just .438 with just five extra base hits and a lowly 36/8 K/BB ratio. For these reasons, Twins Daily has dropped Salas from the eighth ranked prospect coming into the season down to 12.

    Salas has always excelled at getting on base throughout his young career as a prospect, but this season he has done anything but get on base with just a .230 on-base percentage through his first 34 games.

    Salas is still just 20 years old and has plenty of time to adjust to the pitching at the High-A level, but it’s been a disappointing start to the season to say the least.

    Simeon Woods Richardson, St. Paul Saints (AAA)
    30 1/3 IP, 7.12 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 8.0 K/9
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 7

    Simeon Woods Richardson came into the season as one of the likeliest prospects to join the Minnesota Twins rotation with an injury and, depending on his performance, stay up with the rotation as a key piece moving forward. After posting a 2.21 ERA in seven starts with the Saints in 2022, SWR appeared ready to take the next step in 2023.

    Things haven’t quite gone according to plan for Woods Richardson this season, though. Other than a spot start with the Twins in April (it didn’t go well), SWR has spent his entire season in St. Paul where he has posted a 7.12 ERA in seven starts with a 1.93 K/BB ratio.

    One big reason for the poor performance for SWR this season has been a lack of control. After walking just three batters per nine innings across multiple levels of the minor leagues in 2022, he has been walking 4.2 batters per nine innings this season. If Woods Richardson can get his control back in order and start throwing like he did last season, he could still get another chance up with the Twins later this season. If not, the Twins might be looking at a bullpen role for the right hander down the road.

    Emmanuel Rodriguez, Cedar Rapids Kernels (A+)
    .171/.326/.408, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 40 K, 17 BB
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 3

    Coming into the season, some considered Emmanuel Rodriguez to be the Minnesota Twins prospect with the highest ceiling and that he might just be the Twins’ top prospect by the end of the 2023 season. While both of those statements might still be true, it hasn’t been an awesome start to the 2023 season for the left-handed prospect.

    After posting a .870 and 1.044 OPS in 2021 and 2022, respectively, Rodriguez has posted just a .734 OPS through his first 21 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels this season. While Rodriguez still has shown similar power numbers to each of the last two seasons (five home runs in 95 plate appearances after posting nine home runs in 199 plate appearances in 2022), his eye at the plate has been extremely discouraging thus far. This season, Rodriguez has 41 strikeouts compared to just 18 walks. By comparison, last year the left hander struck out 52 times compared to 57 walks. 

    It’s possible that injury has something to do with E-Rod’s struggles in 2023. Since coming off of the injured list with an abdominal strain on May 6, Rodriguez has just a .582 OPS with 24 strikeouts and 13 walks.

    Do you have confidence that the players listed above will turn things around? What other prospects have been off to disappointing starts? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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    SWR is confounding to me. I was never as high on others, despite his previous status, as part of the Berrios trade. But I was willing to wait and see due to youth, early promotion for such a young player, and the whole Olympic experience which disrupted his development. He won me over after having a really good 2022. He really looked like he was on the precipice of being a solid ML starter who could help this year at some point. I don't know that his STUFF says anything more than a mid rotation starter, but he sure looked like he was ready to contribute and gain experience as a future rotation piece. Right now? Woof! What is going on?

    Salas and Rodriguez? A pair of great young prospects, especially Rodriguez, IMO. The previous FO was often admonished for not pushing prospects hard enough. I don't think that has been an issue for the current FO. And I recognized Ft Myers was going to be built by 2022 draftees and FCL promotions and a few holdovers. But I really questioned Miller, Salas, and Rodriguez being pushed to CR based on age, experience, and coming off injury in the case of Rodriguez. 

    Now, CR is often a better hitting environment than Florida. I've often said, if you can hit in Florida, you can probably hit even better in CR. But we're talking about 19-20yo players in A+. There's still a lot of season to play, and a lot of time to adjust and finish strong. But I do wonder if the Twins might have been a little too aggressive in a few of their promotions. But again, talent rises, and there's a lot of season left.

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    39 minutes ago, jkcarew said:

    I nominate Cedar Rapids’ entire infield….Salas, Miller, Schobel, Cavaco. 

    Only catcher Cardenas and right fielder Kala'i Rosario are hitting worth a hoot in that lineup.

    Somehow CR is above .500 despite giving up more runs than they've scored.

    So far. Let's hope for an upswing, no pun intended, from the hitters.

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    7 hours ago, FlyingFinn said:

    I'll take Emma Rodriguez as the player who will take off this year and we'll forget about this slow start.

    I sure hope you are right. I've been disappointed by Woods-Richardson's performance this year, but the slow start by Rodriguez is even more puzzling and worrying. Hope he's healthy and ready to put up some better numbers next month. 

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    14 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

    Seems like less than a month ago I was getting roasted on this site for mentioning the fact that we're nearly two years in to the Berrios trade and thus far have ZERO return to show for it.  Never an egg timer when you need one.

    Right? And where the heck did Austin Martin disappear to? This guy was supposed to be the next Darby Swanson but I haven't heard a peep about him lately. He's now 24 years old and the Twins have plenty of holes in the outfield - if Martin was developing on target he'd be the starting center fielder right now and M.A.T. probably wouldn't be on the team. It's another reminder that prospects are NEVER a sure thing, no matter how highly they are ranked. 

    Falvey's "wunderkind" schtick is getting tired. Time to deliver results. 

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    Reasons why we try to keep performers like Polanco for as long as we can. There’s always a shiny new guy with some success and “he just needs a chance to show what he can do……..” nothing new. Players come & some that are touted as sure things, are going to wash out OR take 4-5 years to get to the right consistency level.

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    I'm not super worried about Rodriguez; he's coming off an injury and not everyone is Royce Lewis. The talent is great and I think he just needs the time to get back into a groove. He's also adjusting to a new level, so the slow start isn't a huge shocker.

    SWR was the big surprise to me. I really liked the way he was profiling and he did well in his cup of coffee in MLB so to see him struggling in AAA so far this season was not something I saw coming. He's had stretches where his control has wobbled before so hopefully he can get it back together.

    Salas is hard to know. He's pretty young, and sometimes it takes a while for these toolsy kids to figure it how to translate it into production. But it's a little concerning seeing such a big jump in Ks, no power, and a loss of plate discipline.

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    44 minutes ago, JD-TWINS said:

    Reasons why we try to keep performers like Polanco for as long as we can. There’s always a shiny new guy with some success and “he just needs a chance to show what he can do……..” nothing new. Players come & some that are touted as sure things, are going to wash out OR take 4-5 years to get to the right consistency level.

    Couldn't agree more.  Hate to keep harping on the same points over and over again but Eddie Rosario is a perfect example.  We moved on from him for nothing to save $8 Million, in part because we had "an overabundance of corner OF talent."  First of off, I'm old enough to remember a time when fans of this team would scream and holler about "cheap ownership" getting rid of a proven performer to save $8 Million.  Actually we'd have whined about substantially lower savings.  And, yes, I know.  He's absolutely sucked since he left.  All he's managed to do is win a World Series and make a second playoff appearance.  Know what else he's done?  Outperform most of the collection of stiffs we've put in LF for the last two and a half years prior to Larnach showing a pulse this year.  The play in 2021 SHOULD have been to keep him and let somebody play him off the roster.  Moves like that are why we've spent the last two years WATCHING the playoffs.  Polanco's a great example of the same situation playing itself out in the coming years.  Do we move on from him this off season and declare the one of Lewis or Brooks Lee play that spot going forward or do we keep him AND bring up one of the kids and give both playing time until the kid(s?) play him off the roster?  Your move Mr. FalVine.


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