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  • Twins Daily 2022 Top 20 Prospects: Recap


    Nick Nelson

    We've spent the past couple of weeks rolling out our choices for the top 20 prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization heading into 2022. 

    Today, we'll recap and analyze a system that is chock full of near-ready pitching with upside – seemingly exactly what's needed for this franchise at this moment in time. Will the pipeline pay off?

    Image courtesy of Thiéres Rabelo, Twins Daily

    Twins Video

    Before I get started with recapping our preseason top 20 prospect list, I'm very excited to unveil a brand-new feature here at Twins Daily which will enable you to keep up with the system's best and brightest all year long, like never before.

    Introducing: The Twins Daily Top Prospect Tracker

    Brock's been hard at work on this great addition to the site, and now it's live for all to access. The prospect tracker is a regularly-updated interactive tool that keeps you up to speed on fluctuations in the rankings throughout the season, showcasing each player's latest monthly splits so you can track performances as the season plays out. 

    Bookmark it and check in regularly. You'll also notice the widget popping up around the site. Okay, on with the breakdown.

    Minnesota Twins 2022 Top 20 Prospects

    20. Steve Hajjar, LHP: Big 6-foot-5 southpaw drafted in the 2nd round last year, touted for his changeup.
    19. Edouard Julien, INF: Versatile fielder drew 101 BB in 112 G last year at Single-A, good for a .434 OBP.
    18. Spencer Steer, INF: Mashed 24 homers in a breakthrough power season, playing mostly 2B and 3B.
    17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Looked to be clicking last year before TJ surgery, which will cost him '22 season.
    16. Emmanuel Rodríguez, OF: Extreme contact woes marred otherwise highly encouraging rookie-ball debut.
    15. Louie Varland, RHP: Honored as the org's top minor-league pitcher in '21 thanks to dazzling A-ball performance.
    14. Cole Sands, RHP: Polished righty has posted a 2.53 ERA, 10.3 K/9 in two seasons since joining Twins system.
    13. Matt Wallner, OF: Huge raw power will play if he can shore up his plate discipline and whiffing tendency.
    12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Was overwhelmed during rushed MLB debut, but the skills are undeniable.
    11. Noah Miller, SS: 38th pick in '21 draft out of HS swings from both sides with legit chance to stick at short.
    10. Josh Winder, RHP: Absurdly dominant between AA/AAA last year, and is basically ready to go at 25.
    9. Chase Petty, RHP: Team's top draft pick from last summer was a high-school phenom with 100-MPH heat.
    8. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP: Mechanics and control hold back premium arsenal, but he's still young.
    7. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Imposing flamethrower has makeup to dominate but must get past scary elbow issues.
    6. Matt Canterino, RHP: His 1.13 ERA and 76 Ks in 48 IP since being drafted in 2019 say it all, good and bad.
    5. Joe Ryan, RHP: Amazing numbers in minors were made to look legit during 5-start run with Twins.
    4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Safest combination of ceiling, floor, and proven durability among arms in the system.
    3. José Miranda, 2B/3B: Perennial breakthrough candidate broke through with minor-league season for the ages.
    2. Royce Lewis, SS: Missed 2 straight years, but has the elite skills, athleticism, and drive to catch up fast.
    1. Austin Martin, SS/OF: Headliner of 2022 deadline sell-off is a worthy top prize, with evident star qualities.

    Top 20 Prospects Positional Breakdown

    • C : 0
    • IF: 6
    • OF: 3
    • RHP: 10
    • LHP: 1

    The Right Stuff

    The positional imbalance above is stark. Before we talk about some of the scarcities and what they mean, let's talk about the area of abundance: right-handed pitching. In our rankings, the top three prospects (Martin, Lewis, Miranda) are followed by seven straight right-handed pitchers, and there are three more in the back half.

    What's more, the majority of pitchers among these 10 are viable candidates to debut in 2022 (one already has). The Twins desperately need an infusion of impact arms and the system is poised to provide it. Six years after the new front office took over with a directive to develop pitching, they've got a pipeline bursting at the seams. 

    Now, it's proving time. There's a whole lot riding on this group – especially if the Twins continue to take a relatively passive approach on the veteran pitching market. The team's fortunes over the next couple seasons may be dictated largely by this group.

    The lopsided ratio of RHP vs. LHP in these rankings definitely stands out – it's something I also remarked on when doing the organizational asset rankings, which included zero lefties. 

    I'm not sure exactly what to make of this, or how much it matters. But it's definitely a thing.

    Emerging Areas of Scarcity

    Beyond their glut of pitching, the Twins are looking solid in the infield, although there's a lot of redundancy within that group – nearly all of the six are second/third base types, with only Lewis and Miller having any real shot to play shortstop in the majors. 

    The scarce pipeline supplies in the outfield (3) and catcher (0) are not quite what they seem though.

    The past season saw Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Ryan Jeffers all graduate from prospect status. A year ago, those players ranked first, third, and fourth on this list. So yeah, that'll put a dent in the positional depth. Moreover, several of the players listed as infielders currently could easily end up in the outfield.

    Having said that, it would be nice to see some more catching talent emerge in the system. Mitch Garver is suddenly only two years from free agency, and the jury is out on Jeffers as a long-term solution. Ben Rortvedt, who also graduated from prospect status last year, has the makings of a solid backup.

    Do We Have a Shortstop?

    The Twins have an abundance of depth in the system to support their clear present need for pitching. Solutions at the shortstop position are less clear.

    Although we have three players listed (at least partially) as shortstops in these rankings, only two have a legit chance to play there in the majors: Miller, who is still probably four or five years away, and Lewis, who's gone two years without action on the field. The latter's viability at the position is in doubt.

    Keith Law of The Athletic recently reiterated his view on that matter: "Lewis is not a shortstop." Law is far from alone in his skepticism, although many others seem to more open-minded, including the Twins themselves who seem intent to keep pushing him at short for the time being.

    For his part, Lewis has his sights set on the big-league shortstop job. As he told Ted Schwerzler recently, "There’s an opening at short, and then the team looks very exciting. I’m just so ready to be a Minnesota Twin."

    At present, he might be the club's best present option at shortstop, which is to say they really have no options. Presumably that'll be addressed once the lockout ends. With the assumption that a short-term fix will be acquired, Lewis is seemingly being primed to take over in the not-too-distant future. (Otherwise, what IS the plan?)

    An Uneven Playing Field

    Before he can even be considered as a legitimate option to play shortstop in the majors, Lewis badly needs reps, and lots of 'em. Lamentably, with his presence on the 40-man roster, he's subject to the lockout, meaning he's unable to participate in spring training now, or minor leagues games when they start.

    Lewis isn't alone, although I feel his situation is more unfortunate than most. He's part of a group of nine players from our list, including six of the top 10, who will be unable to play so long as the lockout persists:

    Should the lockout claim a chunk of the season, it will create a weird imbalance in development between these prospects and all the others, who will be able to proceed as usual with all the coaching, resources, and reps of a minor-league operation. 

    Who's Your Pick to Click in 2022?

    Let's hear from y'all in the comments. If you had to pick a prospect who will enjoy a Miranda-like ascent in 2022, which is the first name that comes to mind? Ideally someone toward the back or outside of our Top 20 – either in the Honorable Mentions or entirely absent from our discussion. Maybe later on we can come back and see who made the best calls. For my part, I think I'm gonna go with right-handed pitcher Marco Raya.

    Past Rankings

     

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    Roughly 4-5 of our top 20 probably list 2nd base as their best position.  That is unfortunate.  My guess is that MANY other teams have a similar 2nd baseman glut(?)   I do like to see all of those pitchers though!

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    5 minutes ago, miracleb said:

    Roughly 4-5 of our top 20 probably list 2nd base as their best position.  That is unfortunate.  My guess is that MANY other teams have a similar 2nd baseman glut(?)   I do like to see all of those pitchers though!

    I had the same thought.  However, I count 4 only if you consider Miranda's best position 2B and I think his future is 3B with the flexibility of playing 2B & 1B.  Also, and maybe I have the wrong impression, but Steer's value is that he can play multiple positions.  Julien's best position probably is 2nd but he is not great defensively at any position.  It would seem his value will be defensive flexibility as well.  The bigger IF dilemma IMO is more immediate in the form of Arraez.  Polanco has 2B covered for the next 3 years with a 4th year option and there is a good chance Miranda will man 3rd for the next several years and Martin will be here soon.  

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    One problem that this summary points out is that 2B does not seem very hard to fill.  We have Polanco, Arraez, Miranda, Gordon already on the potential roster for next year and more in the minors.  Does every team have this kind of situation?  If so that makes 2B the least valuable position in terms of trades. Maybe Arraez, for example, is not as valuable a trade chip as we have talked about in the off season.

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    I find it interesting you have Wallner in top 20, but not Sabato.  I am not huge on Sabato, but both are bat first, or bat only guys.  Sabato is younger, put up better numbers at same level then Wallner did, in a much smaller sample size, but the point is I think it is odd a guy like Wallner is ranked so much higher than Sabato.  It will be intersting to see how Sabato does starting in CR and not in FM. 

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    Super summary!

    What is our goal for SS, keeping in mind that it’s the most important defensive position on the field (even more so given our young pitching staff)?

    If the least acceptable answer is a consistently above average, reliable defensive player with an average bat, then I’d agree the rankings confirm a huge hole at SS within our organization. It’s true, sadly.

    At the moment, it would appear that it is unlikely that we could fill SS with someone matching that description for at least four years, and even then, the jury hasn’t even begun to deliberate, let alone still be out, on our one true hope, Miller. But by the time he’s ready, we might already be talking about our next window.

    Sign Story and declare SS victory. We have the $, but if we had to move JD to get it done, so be it. For the 2023-2026 Twins, Story >>> Donaldson - it’s not even close.

    Once our SS hole has been filled, the promise and depth (not only in terms of talent, but also, importantly, cost and control) of these top 20 prospects really becomes apparent.

    But the SS hole is gaping and could be our greatest Achilles heel holding us back if not resolved. 

    My choice for who most clicks in 2022 is Cole Sands. My choice for who least clicks is SWR.  

     

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    1 hour ago, miracleb said:

    Roughly 4-5 of our top 20 probably list 2nd base as their best position.  That is unfortunate.  My guess is that MANY other teams have a similar 2nd baseman glut(?)   I do like to see all of those pitchers though!

    That's where the outfielders will come from

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    Picks to click:

    Probably the most similar narratively to Miranda would be Misael Urbina, who put up plate discipline numbers far above his overall numbers.  He's different in that he really needs to develop just any semblance of power rather than tap into what he has more effectively.  The rest of the tools are there though to make a big jump if he can add some strength and hit the ball with more authority.

    As more of a sleeper I'll take Jeferson Morales, whose offensive performance last year still seems pretty unappreciated.  He'll have to show the chops to stick at catcher to really rocket up the rankings, which is probably my biggest reservation.

    For pitchers I really can't pretend to have any sort of special insight, but I'll take Cade Povich.  He seemed to take to the Twins' coaching in instructs exceptionally quickly, so hopefully that will bode well for his development going forward.  He could be the lefty to supplement that big group of right handers.

    I'll also buy Sabato's late power surge and predict he can work his way back to top-ten bubble status.  Hard for him to really rank much higher though as a RH 1B only type.

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    57 minutes ago, Trov said:

    I find it interesting you have Wallner in top 20, but not Sabato.  I am not huge on Sabato, but both are bat first, or bat only guys.  Sabato is younger, put up better numbers at same level then Wallner did, in a much smaller sample size, but the point is I think it is odd a guy like Wallner is ranked so much higher than Sabato.  It will be intersting to see how Sabato does starting in CR and not in FM. 

    I think the separation for many would probably be that Wallner can probably play a passible corner outfield and is also left-handed, which could make him the bigger half of a platoon.

    The K% numbers for Wallner are especially scary though, so I would tend to agree with you.  Not that Sabato's numbers are that much better, but I would still give him a slightly better chance of being able to handle high level pitching at this point.

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    4 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    One problem that this summary points out is that 2B does not seem very hard to fill.  We have Polanco, Arraez, Miranda, Gordon already on the potential roster for next year and more in the minors.  Does every team have this kind of situation?  If so that makes 2B the least valuable position in terms of trades. Maybe Arraez, for example, is not as valuable a trade chip as we have talked about in the off season.

    With shifts and better positioning 2B has become probably the lowest rung on the defensive ladder. So every team has this sort of situation as anyone who can catch a grounder relatively routinely can be moved to 2B and shifted to be effective. I mean Max Muncy is certainly not a typical 2B historically, but plays there a ton now. A glut of 2B only guys is not a great look. Some of those guys can move to the OF, though.

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    3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    With shifts and better positioning 2B has become probably the lowest rung on the defensive ladder.

    I agree, 2B has become much less demanding than 3B. 

    P/C/SS/CF/3B/RF/2B/LF/1B

    Second base stays ahead of LF because they have to be able to turn the double play.

    One consequence of the universal DH is average defense at 1B and LF will increase slightly. The 15 worst fielders who could hit well enough to play those positions will move to DH. They will be replaced by 15 players who field better than them.

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    Picks to click?

    I'd love to select Urbina or Rodriguez as super talented young players, but I'm really looking for them to still adjust and grow and not necessarily breaking out. 

    So I have a couple:

    POSITION PLAYER:

    1] Severino. He started to grow in 2021. I think he's ready to take the next step. 

    1A] Will Holland. He's a 5th round pick who looked like a top prospect before a poor junior season but signed after 2019. He barely played when signed and then missed 2020 like everyone else. He had a mediocre 2021 at best. He could make a real jump in 2022.

    3] Wander Javier. It could be easy for him to say WTH, and move on. But I don't see that with him. I think he's grown in to his body and the baseball gods are going to shine on him and he's going to be healthy. I ALMOST want him to be #1, but I can't due to history. But I have a feeling where talent, time, work, and just time/luck is going to shine on him.

    PITCHER:

    I just can't pick Hajjar because hes a 2nd round pick who hasn't debuted yet.

    But I have 4 guys that are PRIMED to "click".  And that's a GOOD THING!

    1] Canterino. If he's healthy, he's on a rocket to finish at AAA if not a ML appearance. Limited IP makes him "elgible" for this list.

    2] SWR. He's been bounced around and had the whole Olympic thing disrupt his development. Unless something happens unexpectedly, he's going to be able to get good coaching, settle down, and just PITCH and develop with some stability for the 1st time in a couple years. He'll probably throw at Wichita for the full season and that's OK. He needs that. Doesn't mean he doesn't break out.

    3A] Povich was a surprise to me, even as a Husker fan. I think the Twins saw control and the ability to fill out physically, and add velocity, and maintain  control. But I was surprised by reports of new velocity. Early returns are more than I expected. I don't think he can be dismissed .

    3B] Raya. Truth be told, I WANT to put this kid #1 on my pitcher list. He was my favorite 2020 draft choice because I just 'felt" there was "something" there besides pitching in big games and numbers. Something about his stuff and attitude reminded me of Berrios, right or wrong. I thought we drafted a HS pitcher, always a big risk, that had the stuff and makeup to succeed. I was so disappointed he didn't pitch in 2021. But then I hear  how good he looked in IL and I'm starting to think he and Petty might be a great duo at Ft Myers to begin 2022.

    DARK HORSE:

    Legumina and Mooney could surprise. 

     

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