Minnesota signed Jose Rodriguez as part of the 2022 international signing period. At the time, the Twins were signing other players for higher signing bonuses, which may have helped Rodriguez fly under the radar. As a 17-year-old, Minnesota had him spend the entire season in the Dominican Summer League, where he showed why he might be a prospect to keep an eye on in the years to come.
The DSL Twins started their season in June, and Rodriguez slowly started to see his bat warm up. In his first 18 games, he went 17-for-61 (.279 BA) with three doubles, two triples, and two home runs. For the month, he had three games with three or more hits. It was an impressive start to the season, especially since he faced older pitchers in all but 12 of his plate appearances this year.
July was Rodriguez's most impressive month as he hit .333/.414/.747 (1.161) with eight doubles, one triple, and seven home runs. He added on three stolen bases and a 19-to-10 strikeout to walk ratio. Rodriguez had a 14-game on-base streak that saw him go 22-for-52 (.423 BA) with 14 extra-base hits.
In August, he posted a .919 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 15 games. To end the season on a strong note, Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI on August 18th. Ranking teenage prospects before they sign can be challenging for evaluators, but Rodriguez showed he might have been a steal from last year's signing class.
Runner-Up: Ricardo Olivar, C/OF
Rookie League Stats (40 G): .349/.442/.605 (1.046), 12 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Olivar has a unique skill set as the Twins use him as a catcher and an outfielder. His bat is so good that there is no wonder the team wants him in the lineup as much as possible. Last season, he struggled in his professional debut with a .686 OPS in 34 games for the FCL Twins. In July and August this season, he combined to hit .344/.446/.677 (1.123) with 18 extra-base hits in 27 games. His performance earned him a September promotion to Fort Myers, where he played three games, including a 2-for-4 effort in his final appearance.
Second Runner-Up: Yasser Mercedes, OF
DSL Stats (41 G): .355/.421/.555 (.975), 13 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 30 SB
Mercedes ranked as one of the best international prospects in this year's signing class, and he showcased all of his tools in his professional debut. He hit for average and power, played terrific outfield defense, and stole 30 bases in 41 games. Mercedes had multiple hits in 16 games, and he saw his OPS increase each month of the season. He's one of the team's top prospects, and he should rise on prospect rankings this winter based on his professional debut.
Rafael Cruz, 1B/3B (FCL/DSL): .297/.398/.558 (.956), 8 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR
Cruz saw his OPS jump over 370 points in his second professional season.
Alexander Pena, 1B/3B (FCL): .317/.374/.537 (.910), 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR
Pena repeated the FCL as a 20-year-old but saw a significant increase in his power production this season.
Bryan Acuna, SS (DSL): .310/.409/.393 (.803) 12 2B, 0 HR, 9 SB, 20 BB
Acuna showed he can hit for average and draw walks, and his power will develop as he adds to his frame.
Anderson Nova, OF (DSL): .355/.465/.476 (.932) 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR
Nova drew 21 walks in 40 games to help boost his OBP, which is good to see from a 17-year-old.
Which players will most likely impact the Twins down the road? Who would you vote as the short-season hitter of the year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
2016 - Lewin Diaz
2017 - Akil Baddoo
2018 - Chris Williams
2019 - Matt Wallner
2021 - Kala’i Rosario