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  • 3 Twins Prospects That Need Healthy 2022 Seasons


    Cody Christie

    Every team has prospects that need to stay healthy to reach their full potential. Here are three top prospects in the Twins system looking for a healthier 2022.

    Image courtesy of Steve Buhr

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    Earlier in the week, Baseball America discussed some of baseball’s top prospects looking to return from injury in 2022. It was tough to gauge prospects from an evaluation standpoint, especially on the heels of a nonexistent 2020 minor league season. There are some prominent names in the Twins’ system, and the three names below have a lot riding on how they look next season. 

    Royce Lewis, SS/OF
    2021 Injury: Torn ACL 

    Lewis is widely considered one of Minnesota’s top prospects, as he was the top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, he hasn’t appeared in a minor league game since November 2019, and that’s a long time in the prospect development world. When Lewis was last on the field, he won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League while getting an extended look in the outfield. Lewis was sent to the AFL that year on the heels of a sub-par 2019 regular season where he hit .236/.290/.371 (.661) at High- and Double-A. 

    All signs point to Lewis being on pace to start the 2022 season with the chance to begin the year at Triple-A. However, it’s hard to know what he will look like and how long it will take to shake off the rust. A significant knee injury can impact his best tools like his speed and athletic ability. His long-term defensive position and swing have been questioned in the past. There is a lot for Lewis to prove in 2022. 

    Matt Canterino, RHP
    2021 Injury: Strained Elbow

    Minnesota initially selected Canterino from Rice in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Based on his college experience, his pro debut put him on the prospect map as he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in the low minors. With no 2020 minor league campaign, Canterino worked on his changeup, and reports had this as a dangerous pitch coming out of the shutdown. All signs pointed to Canterino having a breakout 2021 season, but injuries eventually played a factor. 

    Canterino dominated hitters at Cedar Rapids to start 2021 as he struck out 45 batters in 23 innings and only allowed two earned runs. His elbow began bothering him from there, and he was limited to five innings the rest of the season. Canterino’s time at Rice may point to some of his injury issues. Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers. Canterino has the potential to be Minnesota’s top pitching prospect, but he needs to prove he can get past his 2021 injuries. 

    Jhoan Duran, RHP
    2021 Injury: Strained Elbow

    Duran joined the Twins organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade back at the 2018 trade deadline. At the time, he was a teenager in the low minors, but the Twins believed he had a high ceiling. Since the trade, he has established himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects with a fastball that can hit triple-digits and various off-speed offerings. He got plenty of attention to start 2021 as radar guns had his fastball clocked at over 100 mph. Already at Triple-A, it looked like Duran was knocking on the door to the big leagues. 

    Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his 2021 season. He was limited to 16 innings before being shut down with a strained elbow. There was some hope he would be back on the mound after six weeks on the IL, but he didn’t make another appearance last year. So far, he has avoided surgery, and this recent injury has some believing Duran may be heading for a bullpen role. Earlier this month, he turned 24 years old, so there is still time to prove that he can stick as a starter. 

    Which player do you feel has the most to prove? Can they all avoid injury in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    Cody, I would have to say Lewis.  He was among the best prospects in baseball before he struggled in 2019 and the injury bug bit him.  As a former overall number one pick, the expectations for him and the hoopla around him were much greater than for Canterino and Duran.  Plus, he has been out two years and his injury, as you noted, could definitely impact his long term potential.  I think this really is a huge year for him.

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    This team needs pitching, so those two are more important in at least the short term.  

    I think Lewis is more important long term.  If he can regain his status and produce at the MLB level, especially at SS, that'll be a huge development for this team.  I think he's a big wild card for how this team grows.  Having both Lewis and Martin healthy and producing makes for a talented core.  Throw in a healthy Buxton and that's exciting to think about.  But, there's plenty of "ifs" in that discussion.

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    About Duran specifically, while he might indeed end up in the pen, after a missed 2020 and elbow issues in 2021...quite possibly due to the lost 2020...baby the guy and his arm all you have to in order to stretch him out and ap him back up. He's not old. His arm is special and his stuff can be filthy. Give him all of this season if you have to, but you absolutely keep him in the rotation.

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    The pitchers scare me the most that neither had surgery.  I see all the time players trying to rehab for several months, only to need the TJ surgery and be out another year.  I am no doctor, and I am sure the research is there to support the rehab rout, but it just does not seem to work out all that often. 

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    Canterino is the one that I think should and needs to make the Twins Rotation at some point this year - spring would be best if we actually play ball again this spring.  Duran is proof that it is not just Rice that impacts young arms.  I really want to see him in Minnesota.  

    If Lewis is not going to be a SS he is the least important on this list.  He is not a slugger, he does not hit for high average, he needs SS to be valuable, otherwise the number of non-SS Twins is getting crowded and 2B and 3B seem well filled with 2 - 3 good players in line at each.  As far as OF is concerned only CF would give him value since the corners are usually covered by people with power. 

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    "Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers."  -  You would think that talented pitchers with professional aspirations would avoid Rice if it is truly notoriously known that they overwork pitchers.  I have got to believe they have other good options where to go to school to pitch.

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    I believe Lewis, Canterino, Durham will make it to the 26 man roster of the Twins in “2022”. They have the skills, maturity and the desire to make this year. I believe at least 1 will break spring training with the Twins. If spring training is delayed because of the lockout,then, the changes improve for the remaining two.

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    19 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    Canterino is the one that I think should and needs to make the Twins Rotation at some point this year - spring would be best if we actually play ball again this spring.  Duran is proof that it is not just Rice that impacts young arms.  I really want to see him in Minnesota.  

    If Lewis is not going to be a SS he is the least important on this list.  He is not a slugger, he does not hit for high average, he needs SS to be valuable, otherwise the number of non-SS Twins is getting crowded and 2B and 3B seem well filled with 2 - 3 good players in line at each.  As far as OF is concerned only CF would give him value since the corners are usually covered by people with power. 

    I agree with Mike.  If Lewis isn't a middle of the pack, starting shortstop for 10 years, his numbers probably won't hold at other positions.........and he will be a solid utility guy.  "Solid utility guy" is not what we need out of the #1 pick.

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    Lewis has the most to prove as a number 1 draft choice ... 

    I'm concerned about Duran and canterino's elbow injuries as rehab did not allow them to pitch again in 2021  .... 

    I hope they can evaluate pitching injuries better than they get from the dumpster or low tier free agent pitchers

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    I would say Lewis.  The weight of being the #1 overall pick means you need to be at least a solid to good major league player.  I like his potential versatility, but he's got to be my starting SS for the next 10 years.  His bat to ball skills need to improve, but with his speed and power potential, if he starts making consistent, hard contact,  we can allow ourselves to dream a little higher.  Canterino and Duran belong on this list (as do Balazovic and Winder).  But because the Twins have SO MANY pitchers in this category and only Lewis and Martin as possible SS's, I go with Lewis.  

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    21 hours ago, Verified Member said:

    "Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers."  -  You would think that talented pitchers with professional aspirations would avoid Rice if it is truly notoriously known that they overwork pitchers.  I have got to believe they have other good options where to go to school to pitch.

    It's still a high-profile program, though. They go to the College World Series, their players get drafted, and every player thinks they're invulnerable, so...

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