Prospect lists are fun to look at and review. I think that they’re fun because they can be questioned and discussed. As mentioned yesterday, I’ve separated the pitchers and hitters to get rid of one question, that being how do you compare pitchers to hitters? But still, how do you rank an 18-year-old who played in the FCL to a 25-year-old at Double-A? Prospect rankings are far from a perfect science, but if nothing else, it gives us the opportunity to discuss more players and give them the recognition that they deserve. Hopefully you find this entertaining and also gives you the opportunity to learn about some new Twins prospects.
#30 - RHP Steven Cruz
2021 STATS: 4-2, 4.32 ERA, 28/2 G/GS, 1.36 WHIP, 80/33 K/BB, 50.0 IP
If you like velocity, then you should really like Steven Cruz. The 6-7 right-hander from the Dominican Republic frequently topped 100 mph in 2021, topping out at 102 mph. There are times, as you would expect, when he gets a little wild with his fastball and his improving secondary pitches. However, 80 strikeouts in 50 innings is certainly noteworthy. He spent the season in Ft. Myers with just a couple of appearances in Cedar Rapids late in the season. Cruz signed back in March of 2017 and will turn 23 in June.
#29 - RHP Luis Rijo
2021 STATS: 0-0, 9.95 ERA, 4/2 G/GS, 2.53 WHIP, 7/6 K/BB, 6.1 IP
Luis Rijo came to the Twins in the July 2018 trade from the Yankees for Lance Lynn. He looked really good in 2019 with Low-A Cedar Rapids. He was always known for being a good control pitcher with quality secondary pitches but that season he was suddenly touching 95-96 with a fastball. He lost the 2020 season, and after attempting to return from elbow issues a couple of times, his season came to an end when he had Tommy John surgery. He will be just 23 throughout the 2022 season, but he likely won’t pitch and if he does it would be a few innings late. He has a ton of potential. The concern is that he becomes a free agent after the 2022 season.
#28 - RHP Travis Adams
2021 STATS: 0-1, 20.25 ERA, 1/1 G/GS, 3.00 WHIP, 3/2 K/BB, 1.1 IP
Adams pitched in just one game in the FCL late in the 2021 season. He had already made 14 starts for Sacramento State before the Twins made him their sixth round pick. In his 79 1/3 innings in college, he walked just 16 and struck out 72 batters. He’s got a good, smooth delivery with a low-90s fastball. He also has a really good changeup and command of both pitches. He is developing a curveball that has shown some potential. He certainly profiles as a starter. Adams will turn 22 in January.
#27 - RHP Tyler Beck
2021 STATS: 3-4, 3.00 ERA, 19/13 G/GS, 1.12 WHIP, 91/30 K/BB, 84.0 IP
Tyler Beck had a long and circuitous route to professional baseball, but after helping the University of Tampa to a national championship, the Twins drafted him in 2019. He began the 2021 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels either starting or working in a piggyback role, and he pitched well. His fastball is in the low-90s, and he’s got a really good split-finger/sinker/changeup and mixes his pitches and velocities. He ended the season in Double-A Wichita but soon started experiencing some elbow pain and had Tommy John in the offseason. He hopes to get some innings late in the 2022 season. He is 26 years old.
#26 - RHP Ben Gross
2021 STATS: 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 21/17 G/GS, 1.37 WHIP, 122/32 K/BB, 95.1 IP
Ben Gross graduated from Princeton in three years and then spent his senior season at Duke. The Twins drafted him in the tenth round in 2019. After a missed 2020 season, Gross was a starter for High-A Cedar Rapids in 2021. He also pitched well and was durable. With Cedar Rapids, he had 106 strikeouts and just 23 walks over 82 innings. He was then promoted to Wichita late in the season and got some innings out of the bullpen. He had 16 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old is mostly a fastball thrower in the low-90s. He’s got a good curveball and a changeup. He also has a strong idea of what he wants to do on the mound.
I think this is an interesting group of players ranked, and maybe you agree. There are a couple of older, senior-sign pitchers who have found success in High-A ball and touched Double-A in their first full season of pro ball. We have an intriguing pick from the 2021 draft. Luis Rijo has a high ceiling, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2021, so we can’t be sure how much he (or Tyler Beck) will pitch in 2022. And finally, Steven Cruz could go up and down the rankings. He may be ‘just’ a reliever, but when a guy can throw 102, he becomes intriguing. He’s still fairly young.
Please feel free to add comments to this discussion and ask questions about players or rankings.