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  • Twins Daily 2022 Top Prospects: #16-20


    Nash Walker

    Over the next few weeks, Twins Daily is releasing its top 20 Twins prospects. We started with Honorable Mentions and now move on to Numbers 16-20. 

    Image courtesy of Thiéres Rabelo, Twins Daily

    Twins prospects ranking between 16-20 in our series highlights a dynamic group of players, some brimming with upside and others with higher perceived floors. Let's break it down. 

    20. LHP Steve Hajjar
    Age: 21
    2021 (Michigan): 14 starts, 81 2/3 IP, 3.09 ERA, 32% K, 8.5% BB

    The Twins selected Hajjar with the 61st pick in last June’s draft, expressing serious interest in Massachusetts's 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year. Hajjar is a sizeable lefty with a plus-changeup. Like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, Hajjar’s fastball gets on hitters promptly because of his extension. 

    Hajjar was excellent in his two seasons at Michigan, pitching to a 3.01 ERA with a 31% strikeout rate in just over 100 innings. Hajjar has a deceptive delivery, relying primarily on a fastball-changeup combo with a loopy curve. Hajjar has a chance to move quickly up the system.

    19. INF Edouard Julien
    Age: 22
    2021 (A-A+): 112 games, .267/.434/.480, 28 2B, 18 HR, 34/39 SB, 28% K, 21% BB

    Julien had an exciting season last summer. He walked or struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances while nabbing 34 bases in 39 tries. Julien hit .267 but walked 110 times. It was a strong season overall for Julien, but there are some blemishes, especially considering he’s still in the low minors. 

    With a left-handed stroke, Julien reached base in 44% of his appearances against right-handed pitchers. Julien logged 20 starts at first base, 38 at second base, 22 at third, 15 in left field, and 15 at DH. Like many of the other position players in the Twins’ system, Julien will continue to play all over the diamond. 

    18. INF Spencer Steer
    Age: 24
    2021 (A+-AA): 110 games, .254/.348/.484, 18 2B, 3 3B, 24 HR, 21.5% K, 11% BB

    An example of the Twins helping their contact-oriented prospects tap into more power; Steer hit 24 homers in 110 games in 2021. He had never hit more than six homers in a season, dating back to Oregon. Steer broke out at Cedar Rapids before struggling initially in Wichita. He had a 26-game stretch where he hit .307/.371/.634 (1.004 OPS) for the Surge. 

    Steer worked hard to add more pop to his bat, and his progression has significantly improved his ceiling. Instead of a future slap-hitting utility player, Steer now projects as a potential double-digit homer bat. Steer’s development is certainly encouraging. 

    17. RHP Blayne Enlow
    Age: 22
    2021 (A+): 3 starts, 14 2/3 IP, 1.84 ERA, 39% K, 10% BB

    Enlow was off to a terrific start in Cedar Rapids before an elbow injury (and Tommy John surgery) ended his season. Enlow will have thrown just 14 2/3 Minor League innings in over two years when he returns. Even then, the Twins chose to protect him by adding him to the 40-man roster this offseason. 

    The Twins signed Enlow for $2M in the 2017 draft, pulling him away from a commitment to LSU with an over-slot bonus. Enlow’s fastball had ticked up last summer, an encouraging sign after it sat in the low-90s in a mediocre 2019. Enlow is young, talented, and driven and will be right back on the radar when he returns. 

    16. OF Emmanuel Rodríguez
    Age: 18
    2021 (FCL): 37 games, .214/.346/.524, 5 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 37% K, 15% BB

    Rodríguez gained considerable buzz after his power-heavy debut for the FCL Twins. 58% of his plate appearances ended in a walk, strikeout, or home run. To slug .524 in his pro debut at 18 years old is reason enough for excitement, but there are things Rodríguez has to work on as he works his way up. 

    Touted for his advanced approach at the plate, Rodríguez is oozing with projection. Scouts have tabbed Rodríguez with above-average speed in centerfield with a chance to stay there permanently. If you’re looking for a talented potential future top prospect for the Twins, Rodríguez is probably your best bet.

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    guy hits .214 and you label him potential future top prospect????? Twins have enough K Kings in the entire organization.. how about start focusing on Plate discipline? its sickening watching baseball anymore with all the flailing away at the plate...or just plain watching strike 3 go by. 

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    Good summaries, Nash.  Rodriguez is a prospect we can all dream on.  If he makes more consistent contact as he matures, he will be climb the rankings quickly.  I like the Hajjar pick. He fits the mold of a Twins college arm selection--he has an excellent secondary offering in his changeup, and has room to get a little more giddy up on his fastball.  It will be interesting to see if they can get him working consistently in the mid 90's with his heater.  It would make his changeup even more effective.  Enlow looked ready to break out before TJ.  Let's hope he makes a full recovery.

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    9 minutes ago, MinnInPa said:

    guy hits .214 and you label him potential future top prospect????? Twins have enough K Kings in the entire organization.. how about start focusing on Plate discipline? its sickening watching baseball anymore with all the flailing away at the plate...or just plain watching strike 3 go by. 

    I agree with your assessment about so many players having too much swing and miss in their game, but in Rodriguez's case, he is still very young.  It is not unusual for a 17-18 year old player to be anxious and overly aggressive.  Plus, he has some knowledge of the strike zone as witnessed by his ability to draw some walks.  In his case, I think there is reason to believe that his strike outs will go down as he matures.  Clearly his power is phenomenal.  At this stage of his career, it is all about projection, but the skills are there for him to be special.

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    46 minutes ago, MinnInPa said:

    guy hits .214 and you label him potential future top prospect????? Twins have enough K Kings in the entire organization.. how about start focusing on Plate discipline? its sickening watching baseball anymore with all the flailing away at the plate...or just plain watching strike 3 go by. 

    He's 16th on the prospect list. All they're saying is he has the tools to rise very high. If he doesn't make more contact as he rises through minor league levels, he won't climb these prospect ranks, But ignoring that initial power production would be silly. 

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    Interesting group.  I am not as high on Enlow as most people are and I am happy to see Hajjar break in to the top 20 giving me another pitcher to follow.  Thanks for the write up. 

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    The only certainty when ranking prospects is your list will be proven wrong eventually. There is always a lot of arguing about whether a player should be ranked higher than another. Really, the prospects in the 15-25 range are pretty much equal in terms of projected future value. I like how Fangraphs estimates a future value. On their latest list 13 players rated a 40 and six more were a 40+. That's 19 players who rate the same or everyone from 13-32. There are roughly 800 players rated 40 FV or higher in the minor leagues. Obviously they can't all contribute in the big leagues.

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    This is a useful article

    Putting a Dollar Value on Prospects Outside the Top 100 | FanGraphs Baseball

    Quote
    Valuing Prospects off the Top-100 List
    Grade Number of Players AVG WAR* 2018 $ Value**
    45+ POS 18 0.9 $8 M
    45+ P 18 0.7 $6 M
    45 POS 76 0.7 $6 M
    45 P 76 0.4 $4 M
    40+ POS 38 0.4 $4 M
    40+ P 38 0.3 $3 M
    40 POS 211 0.2 $2 M
    40 P 211 0.1 $1 M
    *Present Day Value Per Player
    **$9M/WAR

     

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    Am not a fan of Steer, who hopefully will prove me wrong.  Am more than a little excited about what Julien may become, with his speed the kid could end up being special.  Hated seeing Enlow go down last year, will second the above comments hoping he comes back 100% healthy.

    Must disagree with MinninPa regarding Rodriguez.  Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't he sign in the summer of 2019?  That would have put him in the DSL in 2020, but that didn't happen.  So he shows up in Fort Myers last spring without an inning of professional ball.  I find it interesting that they brought him north rather than staying in the DSL to begin his career.  The fact he did anything with his bat should be encouraging and a .346 OBP and .524 slugging  is a heck of a lot more than nothing.

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    4 hours ago, MinnInPa said:

    guy hits .214 and you label him potential future top prospect????? Twins have enough K Kings in the entire organization.. how about start focusing on Plate discipline? its sickening watching baseball anymore with all the flailing away at the plate...or just plain watching strike 3 go by. 

    A .364 OBP is pretty solid plate discipline for a guy who hit .214. And at the age of 18 in his first ever professional season. Also, it was a 37 game sample size. Let's settle down a little. A large part of prospect ranking is projection. Looking at tools and guessing what future performance might be. Crushing a kid who should have still been in high school for having some initial strike out issues against professional pitchers seems a little ridiculous. As @roger points out, he was signed during the international signing period in 2019 and had no 2020 season. The 10 HRs and 23 BBs in 37 games was quite promising.

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    3 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

    I don't understand how Strotman, who has had real success at higher levels in the minors, is behind Enlow at this point. Or, even, number 20 at this point. 

    I can see dropping Enlow down (he's a player where you have to have a lot of faith in his talent and projection over health & production), but Strotman's lack of control, age, and likely fate in the bullpen make it hard to put him in the top 20 for me. He had some success his first dozen starts, but he was still walking everybody, which is why it shouldn;t have been a surprise to see his numbers drop off for the next dozen after he came over to the Twins.

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    I like this group a lot. But I suspect I'm going to be saying that a lot throughout this series.

    I'm very intrigued by Hajjar and his projectability. I'm going to have to believe that with his frame, and some tweaks by coaching, his velocity is going to sit consistently in the mid 90's with sustainability. I guess my question is just how good is his curve, or how good can it be? Would he be better off altering to to more of a power slurve instead?

    I feel bad for Enlow, as I would anyone who undergoes TJ. If there's a silver lining I guess it would be that he's still quite young and looked like he was starting to really figure some stuff out. They say control is the last thing to come around following TJ. Here's hoping he finds it quickly enough to be at AA come 2023, if not the end of this year.

    I'm rather enamored by both Steer and Julien. With all due respect to Arraez, who I love, and Gordon who I think has a chance to carve out a solid career as a super-utility player with speed, Steer and Julien could both be even better options and relatively soon if they keep on their current trajectory. Really hoping Steer has enough glove to be a legitimate bench SS, as well as 2B/3B. Looks like Julien could play 3 infield spots and LF. They offer a mix of positional flexibility and a mix of power and speed that could make them semi-regulars. (Especially Julien? Could he be a top of the order presence on a daily basis?)

    Hard to not be excited about Rodriguez as not yet 19yo, already with a year under his belt, and possessing defense, OB ability and power. He seems to have a solid approach as his walks and XB power show. Now he just needs greater consistency.

    And just to comment further on Strotman, he's not old, but not a kid. But TJ and 2020 robbed him of 2yrs. That isn't his fault or a lack of development. Again, control takes a little while to get back post TJ. And his control in 2021 wasn't great for sure. But the velocity is there and seemingly some solid secondary stuff. I think he ran out of gas after the Twins got him. He might end up in the pen. And a few of our arms are going to. But I still think he's got a shot at the rotation at some point this year.

     

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    6 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

    I don't understand how Strotman, who has had real success at higher levels in the minors, is behind Enlow at this point. Or, even, number 20 at this point. 

    I am a big Strotman backer but he has to gain better control and miss more bats.  I think the Twins will get him straightened out and I don't know if you watched the interview Seth had with him but he knows he is close and wants to make it real bad.  He is going to work hard and his pitching motion is soo smooth I have to believe if he can just refine things a little he has to be a solid starter just has to, but he has to prove it at AAA first.

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    I am high on Steer, I like a guy who can hit for power without completely selling out and striking out at a high rate. It's too bad he's likely to end up as another defensive homeless prospect, but unlike the likes of Rooker and the other power-only guys, I think Steer will be a guy who can continually stick in the lineup because of his bat.

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    I love it when we complain about first year (or even second year) guys not producing big numbers in the minors.

     

    Hey, once you leave the realm of high school, or college, you are suddenly playing with the best guy from everyteam on your team or an opposing team.

     

    Even in the majors, you can be a Denny Hocking and have a career because you fill a skillset. And you have to be darn good to hold your own at every minor league level, as you adjust to pitchers with control, great video, and the day-to-day of having fun but improving your skills. It is a job now and you have to come to the field everyday to work, work, work. If you don't you get passed by as 300 top names are added to teams systems every single season.

     

    That said, some rich names here.  Enlow is the one that excites me the most, but we won't see him in action until mid-season. He might make his debut in 2023.

     

    Spencer Steer is a perfect example of a player who has improved. He is one of those surprise guys that could get a call if someone goes down and find himself in a major league career because he is ready to play in a variety of positions. Same for Eduoard Julien. You hate the thought that top prospects might be all-around good utility guys, but that can be valuable to a team. Maybe they can hone their skillset to fill just one position. 

     

    No one here will help this year. Enlow maybe the next. We will see what 2024 ranks the others.

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