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  1. Many national prospect rankings have recently been released, with some debate at the top for the Twins. Royce Lewis and Brooks Lee are considered the team's best prospects, but their order differs depending on which list readers prefer. Emmanuel Rodriguez appears on multiple top 100 lists, so he is another name to watch in 2023. The Marlins included Jose Salas as part of the Luis Arraez trade, and this is where I'd place him in the team's top-10 list: 10. Matt Wallner, OF Age: 25 2022 Levels: AA, AAA, MLB Wallner is coming off his best professional season, which saw him hit .277/.412/.542 (.953) in the upper minors before making his big-league debut. He's in the same age range as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff, so it will be interesting to see how the organization utilizes these three young players. Wallner will likely start the year at Triple-A if everyone is healthy, but he should be one of the team's first call-ups in 2023. 9. Edouard Julien, INF Age: 23 2022 Level: AA Julien was one of Minnesota's breakout prospects in 2023. He hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League, and he continued to rake with a 1.248 OPS in 21 games. Minnesota added him to their 40-man roster, so he should debut in 2023. Julien moved higher on the organizational depth chart after the Twins traded Arraez. 8. Jose Salas, INF Age: 19 2022 Levels: A, A+ The Marlins were aggressive with Salas throughout his professional career. Last year, he split time between Low- and High-A, and he was over three years younger than the average age of the competition in the Midwest League. In 109 games, he hit .250/.339/.384 (.723) with 20 doubles, four triples, and nine home runs. He is expected to add more to his frame, and his power numbers should increase. Some believe he can stick at shortstop, but he is comfortable playing multiple defensive positions. Salas should play most of his games in Cedar Rapids, but the team might want him to play in Fort Myers for the season's early months. He's a long way from Target Field, but he is still a prospect to watch in 2023. 7. Louie Varland, SP Age: 25 2022 Levels: AA, AAA, MLB Varland has been named the team's minor league pitcher of the year in back-to-back seasons. That has yet to happen in the Twins organization since Jose Berrios was a top-100 prospect. In 24 appearances, he posted a 3.06 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. His strikeout totals dropped at the big-league level, but his sample size was limited to five starts. He projects to start the year in St. Paul's rotation, but he should pitch in important games for the Twins in 2023. 6. Marco Raya, SP Age: 20 2022 Level: A Raya made his professional debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. Only 42 of his at-bats came against younger batters because he was three years younger than the average age of the competition at his level. In 19 appearances (65 1/3 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and 10.5 K/9. Baseball Prospectus ranks Raya as baseball's 53 overall prospect, which is higher than any other national ranking. Minnesota can let Raya start the year back in Fort Myers, but most of his innings should be in Cedar Rapids. 5. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Age: 22 2022 Levels: AA, AA. MLB Woods Richardson bounced back nicely in 2022 after struggling through parts of the 2021 season. In 23 appearances (107 1/3 IP), he posted a 2.77 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 9.6 K/9. He has been significantly younger than the median age of the competition throughout his professional career. Minnesota's starting pitching depth will have Woods Richardson continuing to develop at Triple-A this season. His performance and the health of other players will dictate how long he stays in St. Paul. 4. Connor Prielipp, LHP Age: 22 2022 Levels: N/A The Twins took Prielipp with the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. He fell that far after undergoing Tommy John surgery in college, so he should be ready to make his professional debut in 2023. His fastball and slider are both MLB-ready pitches, and his changeup also projects to be above average. The Twins were confident enough in his pre-draft workouts to go over slot value to sign him. Minnesota will work him back slowly in 2023, but he has all the traits necessary to be an ace pitcher. 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Age: 19 2022 Level: A Rodriguez has a chance to be the most exciting prospect in the Twins farm system. Last year, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. The only thing that slowed him down was a knee injury that ended his season in June. Many national prospect lists have taken notice of Rodriguez's performance as he is a consensus top-100 prospect. He has a chance to be a top-25 global prospect entering next season, especially if his power continues to develop. 2. Royce Lewis, SS/3B/OF Age: 23 2022 Levels: AAA, MLB Lewis surprised many with how strongly he returned from ACL surgery during the 2022 campaign. The Twins sent him to Triple-A, and he hit .313/.405/.534 (.940) with 18 extra-base hits in 34 games. His big-league debut went nearly as well with a .867 OPS with four doubles and two home runs. Unfortunately, his season ended early after he tore his ACL running into the Target Field wall. Lewis should be ready by the middle of the season to help bolster the team's line-up. 1. Brooks Lee, SS Age: 21 2022 Levels: Rookie, A+, AA Lee was considered the best college bat in the 2022 draft class, so the Twins were thrilled that he fell to them with the eighth overall pick. Two months following the draft, he played in the Double-A playoffs after combining for a .839 OPS at three different levels. Lee likely won't stick at shortstop when he reaches the majors, but the Twins hope Correa can fill that position for multiple years. Minnesota doesn't need to rush him in 2023; he can reach the big leagues in the second half. The Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospect Rankings will be coming in early February with input from all of the site's minor league contributors. Who is ranked too high? Who is ranked too low? Should Austin Martin be in the top 10? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  2. A Prospective Ace? As the Minnesota Twins prepared to make their second selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, Twins fandom held its collective breath. A fanbase rarely coalesces around a prospect so uniformly. It’s rarer still that said prospect is still available to be selected by the team whose fan base is obsessing over them. Rarest of all is the team selecting said player. With the 48th overall selection in the draft, the Twins selected Connor Prielipp, and the universe momentarily moved into perfect alignment. Prielipp is a left-handed pitcher from Tomah, Wisconsin, a town famous for existing on the I-90 corridor between the Twin Cities and Madison, where there are a lot of gas stations and not much else. The Twins drafted Prielipp in the second round and signed him to a $1.825 million bonus resulting in the rare actualization of many fans' draft fantasies. Most thought he would go in the middle to the end of the first round. Here's a quick video overview of Prielipp from Tom Froemming: Scouting and Signing Fastball: 60 Slider: 70 Changeup: 55 Control: 55 (scouting grades courtesy of Baseball America) Suppose our timeline had skewed into a different tangent, like Marty McFly's in Back to the Future 2. In that timeline Prielipp, a 6’0, 210 pound pitcher out of the University of Alabama, would have been a top ten draft pick. He posted a 0.98 ERA in 28 innings of work in 2020 pre-COVID, racking up an eye-watering 45.6 K%, with an 11.7 BB% against good competition. That is an incredible stat line. Prielipp’s 2021 season was cruelly ended by Tommy John surgery. Suddenly, the best left-handed pitching prospect in the draft was shrouded in uncertainty. Prielipp had to rely on pre-draft bullpen showcases to convince MLB scouts he was on the road to recovery. The Twins jumped at the chance, recognizing that a pitcher of his caliber would only be available to them with the 48th pick. Pitchers are generally a high-variance bunch, and Prielipp is an extreme example. The floor is never fully recovering from his arm injury. The ceiling? Well, let’s examine. To date, Prielipp has relied on three pitches. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can reach as high as 95 mph. He has a changeup that sits 82-85 mph that had a good whiff percentage early in his college career but had less usage than his fastball or slider because he didn’t need to use it. The pitch to write home to mama about is his slider. It’s immediately in contention to be the best in the Twins system (with Raya and anyone else you’d care to mention). Pre-injury it was one of the best pitches in the entire 2022 draft class and generated a 50% whiff rate that scouts placed between a 65-70 grade pitch with an extremely high spin rate. Likely to Start At: Extended Spring Training During his pre-draft bullpens, Prielipp showed solid stuff but spotty command of his pitches, to be expected when a pitcher is recovering from a major injury. Talent evaluators seemed interested, as over 100 attended one of his bullpen sessions in the run-up to the draft. I’d expect the Twins to be extremely cautious with Prielipp (who's already working out in Fort Myers). Some extended time in Fort Myers followed by an assignment to low A to continue to build him up and monitor his arm seems likely. Prielipp is a challenging prospect to project because he has no track record. With an injury-free, effective season, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in top 100 prospect lists by the beginning of the 2024 season. If you want a pitcher to dream on, Prielipp is it. Injuries may not allow him to get there, but he has the tools to become a front-line starting pitcher. How excited are you by Connor Prielipp? What was your reaction to the Twins drafting him? What would constitute a successful 2023 season? Add your thoughts in the comments.
  3. If you like, you can quickly catch up on the ground rules for this exercise in the first installment. The short version is this that we're attempting to rank Twins players and prospects through a big-picture lens in asking: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? Here in this second installment, breaking down my picks for #11 through #15, we find an interesting cross-section of rising and falling stocks. It feels like there's a lot at stake here; a couple of true breakthroughs at this level would profoundly impact the franchise's future fortunes. First, a recap of the list as it stands, from Part 1: 20. Matt Wallner, OF 19. Louie Varland, RHP 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 16. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 11 through 15 15. Ryan Jeffers, C 2022 Ranking: 10 Good major-league catchers are really hard to find. The offseason market is typically sparse; this year the Twins were happy to land a reliably average veteran in Christian Vazquez on a three-year deal that – while reasonable – could hardly be described as team-favorable. Even with Vazquez's addition, catching depth is sparse in the Twins system, which is why Jeffers remains a fairly vital if unexciting asset for the organization. Two straight sub-par offensive seasons have tempered expectations, but the defensively-acclaimed Jeffers remains heir apparent behind the plate, with the Twins surely hoping he'll have emerged as primary starter by the tail end of Vazquez's contract. 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 2022 Ranking: 12 Around this time last year, we were wondering if Larnach's fade during a promising rookie season in 2021 meant he was hitting a wall or merely enduring a speed-bump in his development. The good news is that he fueled the "speed-bump" narrative in 2022 ... at least for a while. Larnach emerged as one of the best hitters in the lineup, earning his way into the heart of the order by June, but a worsening groin/core injury tanked his performance leading up to surgery that ended his season halfway through. There's no reason to believe that particular issue will be a factor going forward, and Larnach in general stands out as a player who figures to benefit from a fresh leadership voice on the training staff. Last year's performance, when healthy, left little doubt as to his viability as a starting outfielder in the big leagues – but at the same time, he hasn't firmly established himself as such and turns 26 in February. 13. Austin Martin, SS/OF 2022 Ranking: 5 Martin's huge regression at Double-A was one of the top headlines for the Twins system in 2022. He'd emerged as arguably their top prospect – centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade and OBP wizard extraordinaire – but his bat went silent in a follow-up at the same level where he'd spent the entire previous year. While remaining true to his trademark calling card – namely, a knack for getting on base via the BB or HBP and then wreaking havoc as an aggressive runner – Martin batted just .241 with a .316 slugging percentage in his encore at Wichita. He managed two home runs in 90 games. Meanwhile, we gained no real clarity on his defensive future, as he continued to make nearly all of his starts at shortstop, where no one expects him to play in the majors. With all that being said, Martin is still the same player he was a year ago, when he ranked #5 on this list, as well as #1 on our top prospects list and consensus top-50 status on global lists. It feels rash to drop him more than eight spots here in response to one tough season at age 23. In the wake of said tough season, Martin did put together a very encouraging showing in the Arizona Fall League, slashing .374/.454/.482 with six doubles and a homer in 21 games. Something to build upon heading into a crucial 2023 campaign. 12. Connor Prielipp, LHP 2022 Ranking: NR The Twins need to hit big on a premium arm in the draft. It's been a persistent sore spot for this front office. Yes, they've managed to develop some late-round picks like Bailey Ober, Louie Varland and Josh Winder into capable big-league starters, but in seven years, they haven't jumped on a high-end pitcher at the top of the draft and developed him into a frontline stud – and that's really what it feels like this franchise most desperately needs. Prielipp has a real chance to finally break through as that guy. Easily enough said for a player who's yet to throw a professional inning, I realize. But in naming him Minnesota's most intriguing pick in last year's draft, The Athletic notes that before blowing out his elbow in the spring of 2021, "Prielipp was a consensus top-10 draft prospect with a chance to pitch himself into the No. 1 pick conversation." He was fully rehabbed from Tommy John surgery by the time Minnesota selected him 48th overall, but didn't see any official action last year. Baseball America already rates his slider as the best in the Twins system, even though he's yet to technically throw one as part of it. Obviously there's a fair amount of risk attached to Prielipp, and that's why the University of Alabama product lasted into the second round of the draft, but you won't find much more pure upside in a collegiate pitcher draft pick. The Twins really need this one to click. 11. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 2022 Ranking: 18 Earlier I mentioned that Martin's step backward was one of the top headlines in the Twins system last year. The flip side is that Woods Richardson's emergence was another of the top headlines, and – given he came over in the same trade package – it helps take some of the sting out of Martin's drop-off. Whereas Martin stumbled at Double-A after thriving there the previous year, Woods Richardson had the opposite experience. He found his footing in a second turn at Wichita, posting a 3.06 ERA over 70 innings, then pitched brilliantly after a promotion to Triple-A where he went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA in seven starts. It all culminated with a late-season MLB debut, making him the youngest pitcher to appear in the big leagues in 2022. He's very polished and it showed at every stop, but at the same time, Woods Richardson's stuff and approach don't quite scream "frontline starter." Not yet. He just turned 22 in September though, so there's plenty of room for growth. With his big 6-foot-3 frame and excellent demeanor for pitching, he's got much to work with.
  4. Multiple names listed below had tremendous stretches during the 2022 season, which is why they are ranked so highly in 2023. Nearly every top-5 Twins prospect has a chance to impact the 2023 big-league roster if everything breaks right. Each player needs to set a resolution for the new year to reach those lofty goals. Royce Lewis , SS/3B/CF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 1 Unfortunately, Lewis won't be ready for spring training after ACL surgery ended his season for the second consecutive year. Expectations are that he will be able to rejoin the club near the middle of the season. Last year, he was electric in his big-league debut by hitting .300/.317/.550 (.867) with four doubles and two home runs in 12 games. There are questions about his long-term defensive home as the Twins moved him to multiple defensive positions last year. After missing out on Correa, the Twins hope Lewis can fill their shortstop void for multiple years. Resolution: Prove he can be a long-term big-league shortstop Brooks Lee , SS Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 2 Minnesota was elated when Lee fell to them with the eighth overall pick since he was arguably the best college bat in the 2022 draft class. He flew through the Twins system during his professional debut by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) across three levels. Lee finished the season at Double-A, where he is expected to begin the 2023 season. Many national prospect rankings have him ranked as the organization's top prospect, even though there are questions about his long-term defensive home. He will have plenty of pressure on his shoulders next season as he works his way through the upper levels of the organization. Resolution: Prove he is the team's top prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez , OF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 3 Rodriguez made his full-season debut in 2022 and had a breakout season. As a 19-year-old, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely after he tore his meniscus, which required surgery. He is expected to be ready for the season's start and has all the skills to be a five-tool player. By this time next year, he will likely be the Twins' top prospect, and he has a chance to be an exceptional player for the long-term. Resolution: Prove that 2022 wasn't a fluke Connor Prielipp , SP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4 The Twins snagged Prielipp in the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, but he wasn't always expected to fall that far. There was talk of him being a potential number-one overall pick, but he injured his elbow in the first start of his sophomore season. Leading into the draft, he pitched in front of evaluators multiple times to prove he was fully healthy. Prielipp has yet to make his professional debut, and the Twins will take it slow since he was limited to 28 collegiate innings. He still has unbelievable upside, and the Twins hope he is a long-term answer for the rotation in the years ahead. Resolution: Prove he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter Simeon Woods Richardson , SP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5 Woods Richardson broke out in 2022 after struggling for much of the 2021 season. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP with 9.6 K/9 at Double- and Triple-A. By season's end, he made his big-league debut, and the Twins hope he can build off that performance in 2023. Minnesota has yet to add to the rotation this winter, so Woods Richardson has a chance to earn a starting spot coming out of spring training. Other pitchers are ahead of him on the depth chart, so he will need a solid performance to come north with the club. Resolution: Prove he deserves a rotation spot during spring training. Do you agree with these resolutions? What other resolutions should the organization's other top prospects make? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Minnesota saw multiple prospects break out last season, including Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner, and Simeon Woods Richardson. Based on those performances, all three players are expected to impact the big-league roster in 2023. Even with these players, the Twins' farm system ranks in the middle of the pack compared to other organizations. Minnesota's farm system can continue to improve if these three players prove something in 2023. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 3 Rodriguez needs to prove that his shortened 2022 campaign was legitimate. Last season, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. As a 19-year-old, he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition in his league. Few Twins prospects have power like Rodriguez, and his numbers are expected to improve as he continues to improve and add to his frame. National prospects rankings have started to take notice of Rodriguez, who has all the tools to be considered one of baseball's best prospects. To do that, he must compile strong numbers as he moves up the organizational ladder. He has the chance to be a superstar player, but he has a long way to go before reaching Target Field. Connor Prielipp, SP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4 An argument can be made that Prielipp is facing one of the most crucial development seasons in recent Twins history. He needs to prove he can be a top of the rotation starter after only pitching in seven college games since the start of 2020. The Twins will likely take it slow with Prielipp when he makes his professional debut, but the left-handed starter has the potential to be an ace. Prielipp will likely get most of his innings in Fort Myers, where he will be closer to the team's training facilities. His performance may dictate a second-half promotion, but there is no rush to get him to the big leagues. For Prielipp, the 2023 season is about proving he is healthy and has the potential to be Minnesota's best starting pitching prospect in quite some time. No pressure, kid. Austin Martin, SS/CF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 6 Entering last season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin as the Twins' top prospect. From there, things couldn't have gone much worse for one of the key pieces from the Jose Berrios trade. In 92 games, he hit .241/.368/.317 (.685) with 19 extra-base hits and a 55-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Luckily, he ended the season on a high note and carried that performance into the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a .936 OPS. Over the last two seasons, he has played at Double-A, so expectations are for him to make his Triple-A debut in 2023. Can he prove that he is still one of Minnesota's top prospects? It's easy to look at the Twins' top prospects and have hope for the future. Minnesota's farm system will be sitting in a much better place if these three players take the next step in 2023. What can these three prove next season? What other prospects have something to prove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  6. Defining what constitutes an ace is something fans have debated throughout baseball history. Some might view it as baseball's top 10-15 pitchers, while others might characterize it as the top pitcher for each team. As Nick wrote about earlier this week, Sonny Gray currently represents the top of Minnesota's rotational threshold, and some might not call him an ace. He is the team's best starting pitcher, and an off-season acquisition should be better or equal to him. So, does Minnesota currently have a pitcher in the system with ace potential? It could be easy to look at the Twins' prospect rankings and gauge ace potential by those rankings. However, pitching prospect development rarely follows a linear path. At this point last season, Simeon Woods Richardson saw his stock drop as he struggled at Double-A. Now, he is back on the prospect radar and has the potential to be an ace. Below there are five candidates that have varying levels of ace potential. Connor Prielipp, LHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4th ETA: 2025 Ace Potential: High Prielipp has the best chance to be an ace out of all the pitchers in the Twins organization. Minnesota was lucky to have him fall to them with the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball and slider are both MLB-ready pitches, and his changeup also projects to be above average. The Twins were confident enough in his pre-draft workouts to go over slot value to sign him. Minnesota will work him back slowly in 2023, but he has all the traits necessary to be an ace pitcher. (Click here for more Connor Prielipp articles at Twins Daily.) Marco Raya, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 9th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Medium Raya made his organizational debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. He impressed with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 65 innings. Over 82% of his at-bats came against older batters, which he held to a .571 OPS. According to MLB.com, he has four pitches that grade at 50 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale. The biggest thing holding him back from being an ace is his size, as he is six feet tall and weighs around 165-pounds. Players like Jose Berrios and Marcus Stroman have shown ace potential while being his size, so there is plenty of hope for him to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. (Click here for more Marco Raya articles at Twins Daily.) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Medium Woods Richardson has the best potential to be an ace pitcher out of the prospects in the mix for 2023. He turned 22 in September, and he already made his big-league debut. Woods Richardson struggled mightily during the 2021 season but bounced back nicely in 2022. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 115-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 107 1/3 minor league innings. He likely starts next season at Triple-A, where he only made seven starts this season. His age, pitch mix, and prospect status give him a shot at becoming an ace. (Click here for more Simeon Woods Richardson articles at Twins Daily.) Louie Varland, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 7th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Low Varland has been named the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in back-to-back seasons. For most organizations, a pitcher winning that award multiple times would point to ace potential. However, it might also result from other pitchers in the organization not performing well. Varland dominated the upper minors on the way to making an impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He has three above-average pitches, which can help him fit into the Twins' rotation for multiple years. It still seems unlikely for him to ever be considered the best pitcher in a rotation, even if he reaches his ceiling. (Click here for more Louie Varland articles at Twins Daily.) Matt Canterino, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 14th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Low Canterino's potential has been hard to project throughout his professional career because he hasn't stayed healthy. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August, so he will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season. Minnesota hopes this surgery can get Canterino back on track, as he was one of the team's top pitching prospects entering the season. When on the mound, Canterino has dominated with a true four-pitch mix and a fastball in the upper-90s. He arguably has the best stuff in the system, so his ace potential is tied to his ability to stay healthy, and remaining a starter. (Click here for more Matt Canterino articles at Twins Daily.) Who do you think has the best chance to be an ace? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Currently, one can make an argument for both Royce Lewis and Brooks Lee being Minnesota's top prospect. By 2024, both will have graduated from prospect lists and should be helping the Twins at the big-league level. In recent years, Minnesota's farm system has dropped in national rankings, but it's hard not to get excited about the talent level of the players listed below. 1. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF ETA: 2024 Rodriguez's stock has significantly risen this season as many national outlets included him in their updated top-100 rankings. As a 19-year-old, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. He only faced younger pitchers in four plate appearances during the 2022 campaign. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his season prematurely. Minnesota can have him repeat Fort Myers to start 2023, and he has plenty of development to do before he reaches Target Field. 2. Connor Prielipp, LHP ETA: 2025 The Twins took Prielipp with their second-round pick in 2022 from the University of Alabama. He was initially projected as a top-10 pick but missed the 2022 collegiate season due to Tommy John surgery. Minnesota will likely hold off on his professional debut until 2023, but he is already in the conversation as one of the team's top pitching prospects. By 2024, Prielipp has the potential to be the team's top prospect if he can return to his pre-injury form. 3. Marco Raya, RHP ETA: 2024 Like Rodriguez, Raya is another player that has put himself on the prospect map as a teenager in the Florida State League. In 61 innings, he has posted a 3.25 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and a 69-to-22 strikeout to walk ratio. Over 81% of his at-bats have come against older batters who Raya has held to a .592 OPS. He has three terrific secondary pitches that should allow him to continue as a starter as he moves up the organizational ladder. 4. David Festa, RHP ETA: 2024 The Twins drafted Festa in the 13th round of the 2021 MLB Draft. It's exciting when a team can find value late in the draft and develop a prospect in the organization. His velocity has significantly jumped since joining the Twins organization, as he can consistently hit in the upper-90s. In 100 2/3 innings, he has a 2.43 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and a 108-to-34 strikeout to walk ratio. In 2023, he should get a chance to pitch in the upper minors with a chance to prove he is part of the team's long-term plans. 5. Noah Miller, SS ETA: 2025 Minnesota has traded away much of their 2021 draft class, and Miller is the highest pick still with the organization. The Twins sent him to Fort Myers this season, where he has hit .212/.347/.281 (.628) with 108 strikeouts in 106 games. As a 19-year-old, he still has offensive development to accomplish, especially as he adds weight to his body. His baseball instincts should allow him to stick at shortstop, a position the Twins have previously struggled to fill. Which player will be the team's top prospect in 2024? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. You can go more in-depth on any specific player in the Twins Daily Draft Tracker. I'll give you the class overview here. All of the Top 10 round selections and seven of the Day 3 selections are signed, sealed and delivered. We'll keep you updated at Twins Daily as they all embark soon on their professional careers. Only Brooks Lee (first round) and Connor Prielipp (second round) came in over slot. Surprisingly enough, Lee's bonus was more over slot than Prielipp's. Both figure to enter the Twins Top 10 prospects and it isn't out of the question to consider Lee and Prielipp the organization's top hitting and pitching prospect, respectively. In order to get both players signed to over slot deals, the Twins had to shave money off their Day 2 picks. Each one of those players came in under slot - between $24,100 and $178,500 - to guarantee the Twins could make that happen. Now that the dust has settled and figures are public, there are a few interesting tidbits. The Twins spent $9,933,700 of their $10,081,500 bonus pool, meaning they still have $147,800 remaining to spend. Additionally, they could spend 105% of their bonus pool without any penalty. That means the Twins could spend up to $651,875 more. Omari Daniel has not signed yet, but he will be reporting to Fort Myers this weekend and is likely to forego his college eligibility to begin his professional career. Sources have indicated that Daniel's bonus will not exceed $125,000, which would require the signing team to dip into their bonus pool. So that leaves Garrett McMillan (Alabama) and Korbyn Dickerson (Kentucky prep committed to Louisville). Both have said publicly they will not be signing and that would be the expected outcome. The Twins could offer either one $272,800 (sixth round money) to sign. That would put them right at the limit of their bonus pool. If they wanted to use the 5% extra, they could sign either to $776,875 (which is basically third round money) or they could offer each $450,937 (late fourth round money). A late signing after professing publicly that a player is returning isn't unprecedented. The Twins signed Edouard Julien for $493,000 in 2019 after he stated he was going back to Auburn As the signing deadline approaches next week, the only question remains... will either McMillan or Dickerson change their mind? MINNESOTA TWINS $651,875 Player Round Slot Bonus $147,800 Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly 1 $5,442,400 $5,675,000 -$232,600 Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama 2 $1,662,700 $1,825,000 -$162,300 Tanner Schobel, SS, Virginia Tech"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Tanner Schobel, SS, Virginia Tech CB $1,002,000 $1,002,000 $0 Andrew Morris, RHP, Texas Tech"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Andrew Morris, RHP, Texas Tech 4 $533,300 $500,000 $33,300 Ben Ross, SS, Notre Dame Coll."}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Ben Ross, SS, Notre Dame Coll. 5 $398,500 $220,000 $178,500 Jorel Ortega, 2B, Tennessee"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Jorel Ortega, 2B, Tennessee 6 $301,200 $250,000 $51,200 Kyle Jones, RHP, Toledo"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Kyle Jones, RHP, Toledo 7 $235,600 $176,700 $58,900 Zebby Matthews, RHP, W. Carolina"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Zebby Matthews, RHP, W. Carolina 8 $187,900 $125,000 $62,900 Cory Lewis, RHP, UC-Santa Barbara"}" style="font-size:8pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Cory Lewis, RHP, UC-Santa Barbara 9 $164,100 $140,000 $24,100 Dalton Shuffield, SS, Texas State"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Dalton Shuffield, SS, Texas State 10 $153,800 $20,000 $133,800 Andrew Cossetti, C, St. Joseph's"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Andrew Cossetti, C, St. Joseph's 11 - $125,000 Nate Baez, C, Arizona State"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Nate Baez, C, Arizona State 12 - $125,000 C.J. Culpepper, RHP, Cal Baptist"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">C.J. Culpepper, RHP, Cal Baptist 13 - $125,000 Omari Daniel, SS, The Walker School 14 - Agreed Ben Ethridge, RHP, So. Miss."}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Ben Ethridge, RHP, So. Miss. 15 - $125,000 Jankel Ortiz, SS, Ac. Pres. HS (PR) 16 - $125,000 Alec Sayre, OF, Wright State"}" style="font-size:9pt; padding:2px 3px 2px 3px; vertical-align:bottom">Alec Sayre, OF, Wright State 17 - $100,000 Zachary Veen, LHP, Point Loma 18 - $80,000 Garrett McMillan, RHP, Alabama 19 - intends to return to Alabama Korbyn Dickerson, OF, Trinity HS (KY) 20 - intends to go to Louisville
  9. Prospect lists can be exciting, especially as the trade deadline approaches at the beginning of August. Contending teams must part with some of the top-rated prospects so they can add veteran pieces to their roster. Minnesota expects to be active in the trade market, so who are the organization's top pitching prospects? RHP Jordan Balazovic Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus named Balazovic as one of their top 100 prospects entering the 2022 season. Unfortunately, injuries have impacted him over the last two seasons. He suffered a back injury in spring training last year that delayed the start of his season until June. From there, he was solid with a 3.62 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 20 appearances. In 2022, he began the season on the IL with a knee strain, and he has struggled since returning. Across 11 appearances, he has a 10.13 ERA with a 2.32 WHIP. He has yet to pitch 100 innings in any professional season. RHP Matt Canterino When healthy, Canterino has sliced through minor league batters. He has struck out 126 batters in 82 1/3 innings in his professional career, but those innings have been spread over three seasons. All 11 of his appearances have come at Double-A this season with a 1.83 ERA and 13.1 K/9 in a career-high 34 1/3 innings. An argument can be made that he is the best pitching prospect in the system. However, the organization may need to shift him to a bullpen role if he can't stay healthy. LHP Connor Priellip Minnesota selected Connor Priellip in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft, but he's no ordinary second-round pick. The left-handed pitcher was in the conversation to be the number one overall pick in the current draft class before requiring Tommy John surgery in May 2021. He is healthy and will be able to pitch in the organization after he signs. His fastball and slider are both plus pitches, and he continues to improve with his changeup. There is hope that he will be able to add more velocity as he continues to get further away from elbow reconstruction. RHP Marco Raya Raya missed most of last season with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marks his professional debut. He's been outstanding in 13 appearances with Fort Myers, where he is three years younger than the average age of the competition. In 47 innings, he has a 2.87 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and a 56-to-16 strikeout to walk ratio. Only 80% of his match-ups have come against older batters who have been held to a .586 OPS. Raya has been the biggest breakout pitcher in the organization this year, but he still has a long way to go before reaching Target Field. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson As a 20-year-old, Woods Richardson faced multiple challenges as he pitched the entire year at Double-A, joined Team USA in Japan, and was traded for the second time in his career. Based on those reasons, it's easy to see his performance struggled (5.91 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP). His second Double-A stint has improved as he has a 3.40 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 9 K/9. Woods Richardson has held batters to a .595 OPS, and over 96% of his plate appearances have come against older batters. He may have solidified his stock more this season than the others mentioned above. Cody's Current Top-5 Twins Pitching Prospects 1. Connor Priellip 2. Simeon Woods Richardson 3. Matt Canterino 4. Marco Raya 5. Jordan Balazovic How would you rank the organization's pitchers? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. A lefty starter from Tomah, Wisconsin, Connor Prielipp was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019 and tabbed as the state’s top draft prospect. As the Crimson Tide staff ace, Prielipp dominated to the tune of 21 scoreless innings with 35 strikeouts before the pandemic ended the 2020 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery last May, but showed well during the Major League Baseball draft combine. Prielipp has a devastating slider and can touch 95 mph on his fastball. He’s agreed to an over-slot deal with the Twins. His professional career will soon be underway, I caught up with him in the days following the selection. Twins Daily: Your draft status was talked about as an early pick, but having not pitched after surgery you had to have some uncertainty as to how things would go. What was the experience surrounding the draft and workouts for you? Connor Prielipp: Yeah, not pitching for a long time was really tough on me, but I never lost the confidence that I had while I was playing, and I always believed in myself. I was able to do the bullpen in Hoover and the [MLB] Combine and to be fortunate enough to give myself the opportunity to play professional baseball. TD: Your stuff was some of the best in the country prior to Tommy John surgery. How have you rebuilt following surgery and where do you feel like you’re at now? CP: My Tommy John surgery rehab has gone very well throughout the whole process, and I feel like I am just about back to my old self at the moment. TD: With such an impressive slider and the Twins being notable for loving the pitch, what are you most excited about developing with your offerings and repertoire? CP: I am very excited to start working with a professional staff, and I am not working on anything, in particular, to add to my repertoire at the moment. TD: Coming into professional baseball, what do you think is the thing that you as a pitcher can take the biggest leap? How do you feel about the pitch clock in the minors? CP: The biggest leap that I can take as a pitcher coming into professional baseball is to just become more polished and to be more consistent with all my pitches. The pitch clock doesn’t really bother me, and I don’t really have too big of an opinion on it. TD: What do you know about the Minnesota Twins? Have you ever been to Target Field? CP: Growing up close to the Twins and Target Field, I know a lot about who their best players were and some of their history, but I, unfortunately, grew up a Brewers fan and never made the trip to Target Field. TD: As a person or player, what is something you want Twins Territory to know about you? CP: Something that I would want Twins Territory to know about me is that I am going to do everything in my power to try and bring a World Series to Minneapolis.
  11. An Update on the Consensus Big Board The Consensus Big Board worked well in its first year. All of the consensus top 56 we profiled at Twins Daily were drafted. Only 3 players in the 76 I ranked (Tristan Smith, Cam Smith, and Max Martin) were not drafted. They are all high school players going to college. The Minnesota Twins gained 29 draft spots of consensus ranking value with their first two picks. Brooks Lee (ranked 4th, selected 8th), and Connor Prielipp (ranked 23rd, selected 48th), both reflected high value plays by the Twins front office. Barring health issues (which is a big hurdle to clear), the first two picks played out perfectly. Additionally, the consensus board was pretty accurate in the first few rounds. After day one (through 80 picks), 63 of our top 70 players had been drafted. That’s certainly something to build on for next year. In 2023, some of my thoughts on additions will be: Adding more sources (Fangraphs, Perfect Game, etc.) Expanding to 100 picks Limiting the writeups I have a suspicion that the usefulness of the board will be capped at around 75 players, but we’ll use next year to test that theory. Thanks to everyone who commented, gave feedback and interacted with all our pre-draft content at Twins Daily. Now, onto the Twins draft. After Lee and Prielipp, the Twins went heavy on signable college players. That’s not necessarily a trend. Twins VP of Amateur Scouting Sean Johnson says that the Twins "drafted players they liked organically", as opposed to trying to explicitly make savings in later rounds to pay up for initial picks. There were, however, some noticeable trends this year among picks. Here are three. The Twins Targeted Athletes ‘Geez, how many shortstops do the Twins need?' An incredibly tiring refrain tweeted out by many an egg-profile picture sporting twitter account on draft day. The answer is…an infinite number. The Twins picked six shortstops in twenty rounds of the 2022 draft. Brooks Lee (1st), Tanner Schobel (CB-B), Ben Ross (5th), Dalton Shuffield (10th), Omari Daniel (14th), and Jankel Ortiz (16th). Simply, shortstops are typically the best athletes on a given team, the Twins (like many other teams) target athletic players. If a player can play at short, they can play anywhere on the infield (and likely other positions), so please, let’s toss the ridiculous notion that the 'Twins drafted too many shortstops’ out the window forever. Twins are Buying Power Breakouts This may seem obvious, but I think there are some noteworthy case studies here. Competitive Balance pick Tanner Schobel (who Jeremy Nygaard reported has already reached an agreement with the Twins) had a power breakout in 2022. He went from seven home runs and 10 doubles in 2021 to 19 home runs in 2022 with increased elevation and pull-side power. Jorel Ortega, the Twins 6th round pick (and another middle infielder), had a similar breakthrough in 2022. He hit 18 home runs and slugged .672 for the Vols, compared to just one home run and .296 slugging in 2021 in his return from Tommy John surgery. "Just a really strong performer on one of the best college teams in America", says Sean Johnson. Although Ortega is an extreme example, the Twins draft class is littered with them, whether in college, the Cape, or the Northwoods League. Ben Ross is another example. "It's a higher bar to clear (coming from a Division II school), especially on our model, but he held up well on our board", says Johnson of Ross. The Twins are known to value exit velocity in their model. They are also jumping on players who have breakthrough years as a development that may translate to the professional level. Twins Value K/BB Ratio for Pitchers, Confident in Their Ability to add Velocity As John Vittas (play-by-play for Fort Myers) alluded to, the Twins use K:BB as a driving metric for their pitchers. If we look at the pitchers drafted outside of the three mentioned by Vittas, the trend continues: Andrew Morris (91 K, 28 BB) Ben Ethridge (39 K, 7 BB) Zachary Veen (59 K, 3 BB) Garrett McMillan (83 K, 26 BB) Johnson had plenty of interesting insights to share regarding the pitchers the Twins selected. "In these rounds (day 2 and 3), you're looking for one special pitch, something unique", before adding that the Twins feel extremely confident in their player development department in adding velocity to incoming pitchers. Interestingly, Johnson also mentioned careful consideration of the school a pitcher attended, highlighting the additional development possibilities for players who had less access to elite coaching and playing technology in their college programs. On specific pitchers, Johnson had additional insights. "Andrew Morris is a good strike thrower, four solid pitches across the board, we see him as a starter for us". On Zebby Matthews, Johnson noted, "We had him here for a pre-draft workout. He has a chance to throw really hard." When prompted to reflect on the success of last year's draft, particularly with pitchers (Hajjar, Povich, Festa etc.), Johnson noted that no one could have predicted Festa's breakout season, even the scouts who advocated for drafting him. "If you have draft ten guys like him, one might have a breakthrough like that," shares Johnson. What’s not yet clear to me is the extent to which the Twins target raw velocity in their pitchers. In a recent graphic (that I now cannot find), the MLB team was producing some of the most consistently high exit velocities and some of the most consistently low velocities from pitching. It’s likely the front office is working to course correct this in the minors and it just hasn’t shown up yet at the MLB level (besides Duran). What are your takeaways from the draft? What players are you excited to watch? Any Twins draft regrets?
  12. Prospect lists can be exciting, especially as the trade deadline approaches at the beginning of August. Contending teams must part with some of the top-rated prospects so they can add veteran pieces to their roster. Minnesota expects to be active in the trade market, and these are the prospects considered the best in the system. Royce Lewis, SS Minnesota saw the type of impact Royce Lewis could have on the big-league roster during his first call-up in 2022. In 12 games, he hit .300/.317/.550 (.867) with four doubles and two home runs. He was also destroying the baseball at Triple-A with a .940 OPS, which is tremendous considering the amount of time he missed during the 2020-21 seasons. He also made some solid defensive plays at shortstop, which may quiet some of his critics. Unfortunately, another knee injury means he is out until late June or July 2023. Lewis has gone through this rehab before, and the hope is he can return next season and look just as strong. Austin Martin, SS/OF Around this time last season, the Twins acquired Austin Martin as the centerpiece of a trade for Jose Berrios. He was a top-5 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and considered the best college bat in his draft class. Martin's stock has dropped over the last two seasons as he has failed to showcase the power he had at Vanderbilt. He is repeating Double-A this season, but he is putting up career lows in nearly every category. In 63 games, he is hitting .249/.378/.313 (.691) with 11 extra-base hits. Martin is still over a year younger than the average age of the competition at his level. Emmanuel Rodriguez, CF Emmanuel Rodriguez was off to a tremendous start to the 2022 season as he firmly established himself as a breakout prospect. As a 19-year-old, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 17 extra-base hits in 47 games. What makes his performance even more impressive is the fact that Rodriguez was over two years younger than the average age of the competition in the Florida State League. Unfortunately, he tore the meniscus in his right knee when sliding into a base in the middle of June. Rodriguez is out for the season, but he's certainly in the conversation as one of the team's best overall prospects. Brooks Lee, SS Minnesota's front office was ecstatic when the draft board played out in their favor, and Brooks Lee was still on the board. Baseball America ranked Lee as the second-best prospect in the draft, and the Twins snagged him with the eighth overall pick. He has tremendous bat-to-ball skills as he hit .357/.462/.644 (1.106) with 15 homers and 25 doubles in 58 games during his junior season. Defensively, there are questions about whether he can stick at shortstop, but his bat will play at any defensive position. Lee is similar to Martin in their draft position and strong hitting reputations from college. As he enters the Twins system, few prospects will compare to Lee and his overall potential. Other names are certainly in the conversation at the top of the Twins system. Second-round pick Connor Prielipp was the potential number one pick in this year's draft before missing the season due to Tommy John surgery. Spencer Steer has been dominating the upper levels of the minors as he is a frontrunner for the team's minor league player of the year. Cody's Current Top-5 Twins Prospects 1. Royce Lewis 2. Brooks Lee 3. Austin Martin 4. Emmanuel Rodriguez 5. Connor Prielipp How would you rank the names listed above? Does a different prospect make your top-5 list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  13. Industry buzz had the Twins interested in Connor Prielipp at number eight overall in the draft. Instead, they were able to nab him with their second pick at #48 overall. The slot value for the #48 pick is $1.62 million. Jeremy Nygaard drafted Prielipp at #8 overall for the Twins in the Prospects Live Mock Draft. Prielipp already has two plus pitches. The first is a 60 grade fastball that sits 93-95 mph. His slider is his best secondary pitch and one of the better offerings in the entire draft. It generated 50% whiffs when he threw it in college. Finally, he has a serviceable changeup that is already above average, and can be developed further. Prielipp had good command pre-surgery, but this may take some time to return. Prielipp didn't allow a run in 21 innings pitched in the 2021 season before COVID halted play in the SEC. He struck out 35 hitters. Prielipp is 6'2, 205 pounds and still has a ton of projectability to add velocity, an endeavor the Twins have shown proficiency with. When he is fully recovered, I'd expect them to be able to add a tick or two to his fastball as he fills out more. Prielipp missed the entire 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery. The Tomah, Wisconsin native was in line to be a top ten overall talent in the draft has he remained healthy. With his surgery and rehab behind him, Prielipp was able to throw multiple times in front of talent evaluators in late spring, including at the MLB Combine. Expect the Twins to bring Prielipp along slowly, but the upside here is a front of the rotation arm. Prielipp fell due to such a limited track record. If he can remain healthy, the Twins may have a steal at 48 overall. Prielipp was recommended by Twins scout Matt Williams. What do you think of the Twins taking Connor Prielipp at #48 overall?
  14. Let’s start with the basics. The draft was filled with surprises at the start. After Jackson Holliday and Druw Jones went with the top two picks, the Rangers messed up a lot of mock draft boards by selecting righty Kumar Rocker with the third overall pick. In addition, the Cubs used the seventh overall pick on Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton. That left the Twins with several options that we have read a lot about, including Cam Collier (18th, Reds), Gavin Cross (9th, Royals), Kevin Parada (11th, Mets) and others. The Twins scouting department was ecstatic that shortstop Brooks Lee was available. “We see him as a playmaker. He’s a creative, skilled, and instinctual player,” Scouting Director Sean Johnson said following the first day of picks. Lee could have been a very high pick out of high school but, as Johnson noted, “chose to go play for his dad, Larry Lee, who is a heavily decorated college coach, and they have a very close connection. He comes from a really strong baseball family.” Interestingly, Johnson noted that in 2021, when the Twins selected Wisconsin prep shortstop Noah Miller, they were comparing him to Brooks Lee, who the Twins have been watching for several years going back to high school. He noted, they both “have really good instincts, elite baseball IQ, great feel for the game, really great feel to hit in the batter’s box.” “We think, whether he plays shortstop, or second or third or wherever he ends up, we think that he has a chance to have impact power to go along with the hit skills that he possesses.” Lefty Conner Prielipp was the team’s second-round pick (#48 overall) out of the University of Alabama. He had Tommy John surgery in May of 2021, but he has thrown bullpens and was impressive at the draft combine. Many believe he has the talent to be a top-of-the-rotation starter in time. Several Twins scouts saw him before the injury, but they have been around him a lot. The area scout, Matt Williams, and the supervisor, Derek Dunbar, got the chance to know him. Johnson said, “Our scouting staff has absolutely loved the pitcher, loved the pitches. The uniqueness of the slider is a real draw. It’s a high-velocity breaking ball that you don’t see a lot because his grip on it is pretty unique.” Johnson also said that Alabama head coach Brad Bohanon was very helpful in giving the Twins insight on his makeup and the type of person he is off the field. At the combine, he was up to 95 or 96 mph and the breaking ball was at 90, and he flashed a changeup. It was an impressive outing (just 20 pitches), and it certainly is a signal that he’s tracking toward full health.” In 2021, the Twins drafted Steve Hajjar in the second round. They added Cade Povich in the third round. In the fifth round, they took Christian MacLeod. All three are left-handed, and Prielipp adds another left-handed arm with upside to the mix. Is this a trend? A strategy? Or, just who the best pitcher was on their board at the time. Johnson said, “Our aim is not to acquire left or right-handed pitching, it’s just impact pitching, regardless of which hand they throw with. So obviously it’s a little more unique being left-handed. A guy with his kind of pitches and upside is exciting to turn over to our player development group which has done such an amazing job with a lot of the pitchers we have taken in the last couple of years. To be able to add him into the mix is really exciting for our future, as it pertains to pitching prospects in our system. Finally, with the 68th overall pick, the Twins took infielder Tanner Schobel from Virginia Tech. Now, he is listed at 5-10 and 170 pounds, but his stats might surprise you. This season, he hit .362/.445/.689 with 18 doubles, a triple, 19 home runs, and 74 RBI. He led the Hokies in home runs, RBI and total bases, a team that included Gavin Cross who was taken by the Royals with the ninth overall pick. “He really performed. He’s a guy that grows on you a little bit. He’s not the most physical guy on the board, but he’s got surprising strength and he can jolt the ball farther than you’d ever think he could,” Johnson continued. “His makeup is really good. Comes from a really great background, and family. He’s really competitive. He was the leader on that Virginia Tech team.” The Twins went to watch Gavin Cross a lot, but “The more you see that team play, the more you appreciated Schrobel’s game. He’s got a chance to stay in the middle of the diamond. He’s got a fast swing with some sneaky power. Like Brooks Lee, he’s got plus-intangibles.” Fair to say that the draft couldn’t have gone much better for the Twins. They have two players that probably should have gone higher in the draft fall to them, and their third pick is clearly a guy they really like too and maybe even drafted just a little higher than he might rank, knowing that they don’t have a third-round pick on Monday and he would be gone long before Round 4. The Twins draft room was very happy, according to Johnson. “We were just saying in the room that some years, it feels like you don’t get any bounces falling your way, and some years you feel like some of them go, but you never feel like they all fall that way. But to get the three guys we got tonight, felt like a really good night for our room. We coveted all three players. We were hopeful that ones would make it to certain ranges on the board, and the fact that they did, our room is in a really good spot going into Day 2.” Here’s hoping that Sean Johnson and the personnel at Target Field are just as excited about Day 2’s selections. Regarding Day 2, Johnson said, "Day 2 always seems to be the craziest!"
  15. Over the next week leading up to July 17th, Jeremy and I will be writing more in-depth previews of ten players the Twins might take with the eighth overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. On Wednesday night, Jeremy selected for the Twins in the annual Prospects Live Mock Draft, taking Connor Prielipp, a left-handed starting pitcher from the University of Alabama, so let’s start there. Who is He? Connor Prielipp is a 6’2, 210 lb. left-handed starting pitcher out of Tomah, Wisconsin. Prielipp has been on the prospect map for a while. He was the Wisconsin player of the year in 2019 and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 39th round. He fell due to concerns about his signability with a commitment to the University of Alabama in hand. Why the Twins Will Draft Him Prielipp is the lone pitcher the Twins have been publicly connected with in the industry during the pre-draft process, most recently by MLB.com. Make no mistake, prior to his injury in 2021, he was being touted as a lock to be picked in the 5-10 range in the first round of the draft. Prielipp has a serious pedigree and a serious arsenal of pitches. In his freshman season at Alabama, he didn’t allow a run in 21 innings of work (striking out 35) before COVID-19 halted the season. Prielipp’s slider is one of the better pitches in the entire draft (it generated close to a 50% whiff rate in college), and as we know, it’s a slider league. The pitch approaches 90 mph and has a sharp, late break. His fastball sits in the low to mid-90s. After throwing a bullpen in front of evaluators in May and at the MLB Draft Combine, many have suggested Prielipp could continue to add velocity to his fastball, with fluid, repeatable mechanics. Prielipp also has a changeup that has not been significantly developed yet, but could be an average pitch. Add 55-grade control to this mix and you have a possible left-handed, front of the rotation starting pitcher. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel calls Prielipp ‘clearly the best college arm in the draft’. Why the Twins Won't Draft Him The Derek Falvey-led front office does not have a track record of drafting college arms early. Drafting prep pitcher Chase Petty in 2021 was an extreme bucking of a trend of taking high floor, corner outfield or corner infield bat first college players. What’s different in 2022, however, is that the Twins have their highest draft selection since they took Royce Lewis number one overall in 2017. There are two primary reasons the Twins might not take Prielipp. Firstly, the way the top of the draft board is stacked. The presumptive top seven players in the draft when looking at trends across evaluators are (in no particular order) Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday, Elijah Green, Temarr Johnson, Cam Collier, Brooks Lee and Kevin Parada. If any team throws a wrench in the works and an outstanding bat on that list falls to the Twins at eight, I think they would jump at the chance. Finally, Prielipp’s injury muddies his status significantly. As Keith Law points out ‘he could be a high-end starter, he could easily end up in the bullpen. He’s thrown so little in games that the range of his potential outcomes is huge’. What are your thoughts on the Twins drafting Connor Prielipp? Do you think he’s a good fit for Minnesota? Would you take a chance on a limited track record? Share your thoughts in the comments.
  16. Yesterday, we looked at hitters the Twins might target in the first round, today, we’ll look at pitchers. A few notes before we begin. I mostly focused these two ‘overview’ pieces on who the Twins might take a number eight overall (as opposed to focusing on later picks). Additionally, I’ll profile these players in alphabetical order, there's no preference here. I think it’s worth pointing out that the Twins are extremely likely to take a hitter. That’s not a front office ‘thing’, it’s simply how the talent stacks up at the top of the board. In baseball, you take the best player available, no matter what. There is a group of 8-12 hitters, most of whom I think will come off the board before we see pitchers start to be picked. Assumptions Unlike yesterday, there are no assumptions to make in this scenario. If the Twins go with a pitcher in the first round, I expect them all to be available when Minnesota selects at eight overall. That’s reflective of the strength of this year’s draft class. The top of the first round is flush with extremely impressive, borderline elite bats. The pitching talent at the top of the class is much more scattered. Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS Lesko was the number one pitcher on the board and a consensus top ten pick until Tommy John surgery ended his season. In 2021, he managed 112 strikeouts in just 60 innings. Lesko offers a mid to high-90s fastball that he locates well. The biggest weapon in his arsenal is his changeup. The pitch has been described as one of the best prep changeups ever scouted. Lesko is committed to play for Vanderbilt, which, in combination with his injury, may pose an issue for a team picking him. Additionally, he falls into the riskiest draft sub-group, prep right-handed pitchers. Despite the uncertainty, Lesko has the highest upside of any pitcher in the draft and legitimate front-of-the-rotation potential. Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake St. Marys Porter is a tall, slender prep prospect out of Michigan, a state that doesn't produce a ton of first-round talent. He has a 70-grade fastball that regularly hits 97 mph but he has also cranked up to 100 mph. Additionally, he carries a 70-grade changeup that has significant tumble. Porter also throws a curveball and a slider, both of which need more work but have a chance to be above-average pitches. Porter has work to do in refining his command, but his arsenal is so impressive, it has not been an issue to date. Porter is committed to Clemson, but could be the first pitcher taken in the first round in the wake of Lesko’s injury. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama A Tomah, Wisconsin, native, Prielipp has been ranked in the 30-50 range on most big boards throughout the draft process. His inclusion here is a result of the Twins being connected to him in recent weeks. Prielipp’s progress was hindered by Tommy John surgery in 2021 but a strong showing at the MLB draft combine has vaulted him into first-round consideration. He offers a mid-90s, 60-grade fastball, and a devastating 70-grade slider that had a 50% whiff rate in college. Prielipp is seen as a little bit of a draft wild card due to a limited track record, but two pitches above a 60 grade give him elite stuff. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Independent Ball Of all the pitching prospects in the 2022 draft class, Kumar Rocker has the most pedigree. In three years at Vanderbilt, he put up a 2.89 ERA and a 33.2 K%. After being drafted 10th overall by the Mets in 2021, he never signed due to concerns around his medical records. Rocker elected to pitch in independent baseball this spring, showing stuff that is in the same realm as his peak with the Commodores. Rocker has a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, a 70 grade slider, a cutter and a decent changeup. Rocker is an unknown in the 2022 draft class as it’s unclear how his medicals will be viewed and perceived by teams. He has the stuff and the track record to be a front of the rotation starting pitcher. Honorable Mentions Mississippi State right-hander Landon Sims was in-line to be the top college arm taken in the draft before Tommy John surgery ended his season. He has an electric fastball (velocity ad movement) and a wipeout slider. Florida prep lefty Brandon Barriera is a smaller framed lefty who is expected to go at the end of the first round. Gonzaga right-hander Gabriel Hughes has a strong fastball slider mix and a ton of projectability, as he will only be 20 on draft day. Tennessee righty Blake Tidwell missed the first six weeks of the season to injury but can ramp his fastball up to 99mph, with a deceptive arm slot. Lastly, Minnesota native and Iowa Adam Mazur is ranked on big boards around where the Twins will pick for the second time. Mazur struck out 98 in 92 innings pitched this spring, increasing his fastball velocity to the 94-97 mph range to compliment a sharp 12-6 curveball and a smooth mechanical approach. If the Twins take a pitcher at number eight overall, who would you like to see them draft and why?
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