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  1. Over the years, if you have been a reader of Seth Stohs’ Twins Prospect Handbook, you have seen a piece along these lines. Each year, the big-league club sees debuts of highly-anticipated prospects. While some happen due to injury and others take place because of performance, you can bet Minnesota will welcome some fresh faces to Target Field this year. Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Last season, Rocco Baldelli saw a significant number of players make their major-league debuts. We finally saw Royce Lewis play shortstop at Target Field, and Jose Miranda earned his way onto the roster after an incredible 2021. Simeon Woods Richardson closed out the season for the Twins, and hometown star Louie Varland took his turn as well. Although the Twins are somewhat veteran-laden at several key spots, we’ll still see plenty of prospects pop up along the way this season. Trying to pick one player per month, here are a few names we could see for the first time in 2023: April - To Be Determined Prior to being traded for Michael A. Taylor, there was reason to believe that Evan Sisk could find himself in this spot. Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for J.A. Happ, he's a high strikeout guy at Triple-A that hasn't been able to calm the walks. Maybe the Twins didn't see it happening and flipped him. If another prospect is going to debut this soon in 2023, it will likely be to replace an arm in the bullpen. May - Austin Schulfer Working as the Double-A Wichita closer for the first half of the year, Schulfer dominated. He then struggled across 32 2/3 innings at Triple-A St. Paul. Having moved fully to a bullpen role following the 2021 season, Schulfer looks the part of a quality major-league reliever. He should be called upon at some point this season when the bullpen could use a fresh arm. Starting strong for the Saints is a must in 2023. June - Jordan Balazovic Previously the best starting pitching prospect in the Twins system, things couldn’t have gone worse for Balazovic in 2022. He got off to a late start due to a knee injury, and despite suggesting he was healthy, never got back on track. The walk and home run rates skyrocketed last year, but turning it back to his 2021 and earlier numbers, Balazovic could rekindle some of the same prospect allure that made him a consensus top 100 type coming into the year. July - Brent Headrick A 9th-round pick in 2019, Headrick was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. His 4.81 ERA at Double-A was a byproduct of the longball, but he has shown the ability to generate strikeouts as a starter. Another lefty, Minnesota could opt to push him into a bullpen role, but either way, he’ll have ample opportunity to work his way toward Triple-A and beyond this season. August - Brooks Lee Taken with their most recent 1st round pick, Minnesota fans may see Lee as soon as this year. While it may look like he’s blocked on the dirt, there is no reason that he couldn’t play second base if Jorge Polanco is hurt or struggles. Lee looked incredibly advanced during his professional debut, and that justified promotions all the way up to Double-A. September - Austin Martin Once the key piece of a Jose Berrios trade, Martin’s prospect shine has faded some. He didn’t hit for power last season, and it led to a frustrating year at Double-A. His Arizona Fall League season went well, however, and returning to more of a pure hitter could be a good change. He may find a role in the outfield or move off of shortstop, but Martin figuring into Minnesota’s plans behind Byron Buxton may make some sense late. October - Matt Canterino This is truly a wild card as Canterino is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last summer. He has great strikeout stuff, and while his delivery is unconventional, it may work exceptionally well in the bullpen. The former Rice product may be well served to put his starting days behind him, and if the Twins are in a run for the postseason, Canterino could provide a big boost to the bullpen. What prospects are you most excited for in 2023 and who not on this list do you think could debut? View full article
  2. Last season, Rocco Baldelli saw a significant number of players make their major-league debuts. We finally saw Royce Lewis play shortstop at Target Field, and Jose Miranda earned his way onto the roster after an incredible 2021. Simeon Woods Richardson closed out the season for the Twins, and hometown star Louie Varland took his turn as well. Although the Twins are somewhat veteran-laden at several key spots, we’ll still see plenty of prospects pop up along the way this season. Trying to pick one player per month, here are a few names we could see for the first time in 2023: April - To Be Determined Prior to being traded for Michael A. Taylor, there was reason to believe that Evan Sisk could find himself in this spot. Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for J.A. Happ, he's a high strikeout guy at Triple-A that hasn't been able to calm the walks. Maybe the Twins didn't see it happening and flipped him. If another prospect is going to debut this soon in 2023, it will likely be to replace an arm in the bullpen. May - Austin Schulfer Working as the Double-A Wichita closer for the first half of the year, Schulfer dominated. He then struggled across 32 2/3 innings at Triple-A St. Paul. Having moved fully to a bullpen role following the 2021 season, Schulfer looks the part of a quality major-league reliever. He should be called upon at some point this season when the bullpen could use a fresh arm. Starting strong for the Saints is a must in 2023. June - Jordan Balazovic Previously the best starting pitching prospect in the Twins system, things couldn’t have gone worse for Balazovic in 2022. He got off to a late start due to a knee injury, and despite suggesting he was healthy, never got back on track. The walk and home run rates skyrocketed last year, but turning it back to his 2021 and earlier numbers, Balazovic could rekindle some of the same prospect allure that made him a consensus top 100 type coming into the year. July - Brent Headrick A 9th-round pick in 2019, Headrick was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. His 4.81 ERA at Double-A was a byproduct of the longball, but he has shown the ability to generate strikeouts as a starter. Another lefty, Minnesota could opt to push him into a bullpen role, but either way, he’ll have ample opportunity to work his way toward Triple-A and beyond this season. August - Brooks Lee Taken with their most recent 1st round pick, Minnesota fans may see Lee as soon as this year. While it may look like he’s blocked on the dirt, there is no reason that he couldn’t play second base if Jorge Polanco is hurt or struggles. Lee looked incredibly advanced during his professional debut, and that justified promotions all the way up to Double-A. September - Austin Martin Once the key piece of a Jose Berrios trade, Martin’s prospect shine has faded some. He didn’t hit for power last season, and it led to a frustrating year at Double-A. His Arizona Fall League season went well, however, and returning to more of a pure hitter could be a good change. He may find a role in the outfield or move off of shortstop, but Martin figuring into Minnesota’s plans behind Byron Buxton may make some sense late. October - Matt Canterino This is truly a wild card as Canterino is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last summer. He has great strikeout stuff, and while his delivery is unconventional, it may work exceptionally well in the bullpen. The former Rice product may be well served to put his starting days behind him, and if the Twins are in a run for the postseason, Canterino could provide a big boost to the bullpen. What prospects are you most excited for in 2023 and who not on this list do you think could debut?
  3. The Twins added one of Miami's top prospects as part of the Luis Arraez trade. So, where does Jose Salas rank among the top Twins prospects? Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports 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. View full article
  4. It's prospect season again. Pitchers and catchers will soon report, so our effort at Twinsdaily to cover the minor leagues will fire up once again, and that includes our prospect rankings. The system looks surprisingly strong. Despite a flurry of trades over the last 18 months or so, the Twins still have a top nucleus of elite talent, and the franchise enjoys solid upper-level pitching depth. They're a little low on gamechangers at the elite positions—centerfield and shortstop—but so is basically every system, and Minnesota could easily cover that deficiency with a healthy season from Emmanuel Rodriguez and continued development from their two DSL stars. Remember: tier matters more than ranking. Royce Lewis 6’2” / 200 (Prev: 1) Age: 23 Position: SS Highest level reached: MLB Nothing has changed my view of Royce Lewis since I last updated my list. He’s a potentially franchise-altering talent with a frustrating lack of baseball in his recent resume. Lewis’ short playing time in 2022 was a revelation, as he checked significant boxes—his ability to play shortstop and his hitting prowess—before the brutal knee injury cut off his time playing baseball. A much quieter batting stance appears to have unlocked his hitting potential. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do when he is healthy again. Brooks Lee 6’2” / 205 (Prev: 2) Age: 21 Position: SS/3B Highest level reached: AA If you think Brooks Lee deserves to be in the one spot, I can’t argue with you; Lee is an incredibly safe bet to hit well, no matter where his defensive home is. Despite being drafted just seven months ago, Lee reached AA, playing in a handful of games for Wichita before calling it a season; he smoked A+ ball with a 140 wRC+. His immense hitting pedigree, combined with his lineage as a coach’s son indeed points towards an ideal makeup package that should serve him well as he transitions to big leaguer. He’ll probably impact the 2023 Twins and will undoubtedly affect the team in 2024. ------------------------- Emmanuel Rodriguez 5’10” / 210 (Prev: 4) Age: 19 Position: OF Highest level reached: A Potentially the most dynamic prospect in Minnesota’s system, Emmanuel Rodriguez’s nuclear 2022 fell violently when he tore his ACL in June. Still, Rodriguez walked an absurd 28.6% of the time while slugging .551 in a league that favors pitchers. Granted, it was just a 199 plate appearance sample. Still, I’m excited to see Rodriguez return to action healthy, and he could quickly become the Twins’ best prospect sometime next season. Noah Miller 6’1” / 190 (Prev: 3) Age: 20 Position: SS Highest level reached: A I am too high on Noah Miller; I will remain too high on Noah Miller until his hitting falls entirely off a cliff. Prospects who are locks to play shortstop do not grow on trees—at least none that I know—and Miller’s bat is just good enough to keep him a valuable contributor at the position. If it clicks offensively—and his strike zone awareness is already elite—we’re looking at a potential successor to Carlos Correa in a few years; he’ll need to gain more power, though. Marco Raya 6’1” / 170 (Prev: 8) Age: 20 Position: RHP Highest level reached: A “[Marco] Raya’s slider is Charon, come to ferry batters back to the dugout,” wrote Jeffery Paternostro for Baseball Prospectus in November—a perfect sentence. Raya carries the same risk all pitchers do—injury potential, a future in the bullpen—compounded by his smaller frame. But if he can stay healthy, Raya could vault into the top of the Twins rotation, dominating hitters with a compelling four-pitch mix and a bulldog mentality. Raya struck out 28.9% of batters over 65 innings with Fort Myers in 2022. Jose Salas 6’2” / 191 (Prev: n/a) Age: 19 Position: SS Highest level reached: A+ A new name! A critical, underrated addition to the Pablo López trade, Jose Salas adds another intriguing infield wrinkle to a system bursting with “people who can play shortstop,” not necessarily “shortstops.” A super young 19 in A+, Salas hit like an overwhelmed prospect, but some AFL seasoning plus an off-season of recovery could cleanse him anew. Salas hit .267/.355/.421 in A ball before his promotion in 2022. Edouard Julien 6’2” / 195 (Prev: 7) Age: 23 Position: 2B Highest level reached: AA If this were a list of favorite prospects, Edouard Julien would be top three, potentially sitting at the top spot. What’s not to love? The lefty smoked AA Wichita with a .300/.441/.490 line and then hit—and I’m not kidding here—.400/.563/.686 in the Arizona Fall League before ending his terror on pitchers for the season. He lacks a defensive home, but a team would move Heaven and Earth to find a spot for that bat somewhere. Minnesota added him to the 40-man roster this past season; we will probably see Julien in the majors soon. Connor Prielipp 6’2” / 210 (Prev: 5) Age: 22 Position: LHP Highest level reached: n/a Who is John Galt Connor Prielipp? The baseball world has seen startlingly little from Prielipp, as injuries limited his time with Alabama to seven starts. Still, he owns a mid-90s fastball and a power slider when healthy; 2023 will illuminate his prospect status. Simeon Woods Richardson 6’3” / 210 (Prev: 6) Age: 22 Position: RHP Highest level reached: MLB Maybe one of the more crucial cogs in Minnesota’s 2023 pitching machine, Simeon Woods Richardson appears well-set to impact the major league roster soon. Armed with unique fastball traits, Woods Richardson held his own in a harsh Texas League environment in 2022, then torched AAA at the end of the year for fun. He earned enough respect to make his first Twins start—a five-inning outing notable in that he’ll never have to debut again; the nerves are behind him. Still somehow just 22, Woods Richardson struck out 27% of batters in the minors last season. ------------------------- Louie Varland 6’1” / 205 (Prev: 10) Age: 25 Position: RHP Highest level reached: MLB Louie Varland should rank higher on this list, but something in his profile doesn’t fully click for me. His fastball is excellent—a real jumper he can use in any count because of his low angle. But none of his other pitches stood out as difference makers, turning Varland into a one-pitch pitcher. His slider and changeup command was non-existent, and batters brutalized his cutter. That’s a negative paragraph for the supposed 10th-best prospect on the team, but that’s what I’ve seen from Varland, and until it changes, I remain bearish on his starting capabilities. Austin Martin 6’0” / 185 (Prev: 13) Age: 23 Position: SS/OF Highest level reached: AA Austin Martin’s wild 2022 bounced him more than any other player around this list. After slugging a dreadful .315 in a hitter’s league, Martin crushed in the Arizona Fall League, showcasing his older, successful mechanics in a dramatic redemption arc. He’s not a shortstop—that much is obvious now, but if his bat is back, then the Twins could have a quality 3-win utility player capable of playing a variety of positions. 2023 will be a crucial test. Matt Wallner 6’5” / 220 (Prev: 9) Age: 25 Position: OF Highest level reached: MLB It’s hard to hold 18 major league games against a guy, but Matt Wallner’s Adventures in the Outfield stunk enough to deeply sour me on any notions of him replacing Max Kepler soon. The Twins appear to agree. With approximately 30,000 outfielders ahead of him, it would take a series of great tragedies before Wallner earns significant MLB playing time soon. Still, he shaved points off his strikeout rate in 2022—the biggest knock against him—and he could ride his outstanding power stroke to an elongated playing career. Yasser Mercedes 6’2” / 175 (Prev: 11) Age: 18 Position: OF Highest level reached: DSL Yasser Mercedes did things as a 17-year-old that teenagers aren’t supposed to do. Yes, it was in the noisy environment that is the DSL, but 30 steals with a .555 slugging percentage is impressive, no matter the level. Mercedes will likely play in rookie ball in 2023, and I imagine his prospect package will become much more apparent in 2024 when he’ll still be just 19. David Festa 6’6” / 185 (Prev: 20) Age: 22 Position: RHP Highest level reached: A+ One of the most “pop-uppiest” prospect in the Twins system in 2022, David Festa commands a tremendous fastball/slider combo that torched hitters in the low minors. Although his numbers dropped following a promotion to A+ ball, Festa punctuated his season with a 10-strikeout performance over six shutout innings in a playoff game against the Cubs. We will see how Festa pitches in a tougher environment in 2023. Misael Urbina 6’0” / 190 (Prev: 12) Age: 20 Position: OF Highest level reached: A Misael Urbina is an excellent example of why prospect evaluations are a snapshot in time, not the law in written form: he couldn’t hit for any power in 2021 but re-played A ball again in 2022 and showcased a much-improved power stroke. Soon to be 21, Urbina should unleash even more strength this year, potentially shooting him further up the list. ------------------------- Brent Headrick 6’6” / 235 (Prev: 14) Age: 25 Position: LHP Highest level reached: AA A surprise 40-man addition, Brent Headrick’s numbers are perhaps more impressive than his raw tools. His breaker is a bit of a looping pitch, which MLB hitters–especially righties—could lay off of, but his fastball lands perfectly at the top of the zone, and his command is good enough that the breaker shape may not matter. He will probably impact the Twins in 2023—though it’s unclear in what capacity—and he could become a regular, reliable lefty swingman. Jordan Balazovic 6’5” / 215 (Prev: 15) Age: 24 Position: RHP Highest level reached: AAA How do you rank Jordan Balazovic? Long considered the promised arm, delivered by our wonderful friends Up North, Balazovic faced a nightmare 2022 season, one so hideous that I don’t even want to post any stats from it. The Twins claimed he was healthy, but such a shocking drop-off in performance is almost unbelievable; hopefully 2023 will be a kinder year for Balazovic. Ronny Henriquez 5’10” / 155 (Prev: 17) Age: 22 Position: RHP Highest level reached: MLB One of the more exciting arms in Minnesota’s system, Ronny Henriquez spent a few months getting bullied by AAA hitters before turning around and delivering an adequate July through end-of-season performance. Armed with a fastball, slider, and changeup, Henriquez will pepper well-commanded off-speed pitches around the zone, hopefully enticing the hitter to bite before the end of the at-bat. His issue? A fastball that ends up either 1. In the heart of the strike zone 2. In the gap (if he’s lucky) 3. In the hands of a fan sitting in right-center field. Whether Henriquez can improve his heater will determine his success at the major league level. Noah Cardenas 6’1” / 195 (Prev: 18) Age: 23 Position: C Highest level reached: A I am still trying to understand why Noah Cardenas is not more well-regarded as a prospect. Catchers who hit for a 146 wRC+ aren’t common, and while he was older than your average A-ball hitter, I feel confident that Cardenas should continue to hit as he elevates through the system. Although catcher development is often strange, so he may run into weird pitfalls and unusual traps that keep him from improving linearly. Jose Rodriguez 6’2” / 196 (Prev: Unranked) Age: 17 Position: OF Highest level reached: DSL Like Yasser Mercedes, Jose Rodriguez is a 17-year-old whose only time in professional baseball is in the DSL—a sign that all hype should involve grains of salt and the such. Still, as a player even younger than most DSL hitters, Rodriguez pounded 13 homers and slugged over .600. He’s about as far away from the majors as possible. Still, you should keep his name in mind over the next few years as a potential big-league powerhouse. Cody Laweryson 6’4” / 205 (Prev: 23) Age: 24 Position: RHP Highest level reached: AA A personal favorite, Cody Laweryson prefers to trick hitters with his pitching motion: a lanky, swan-like delivery that combines the sudden violence of Carter Capps with the grace of Joe Ryan. Lawyerson crushed AA, striking out over 30% of hitters while holding an ERA just over 1.00. The Twins left him unprotected in the rule 5 draft, and no other team claimed him, giving Laweryson another year to prove that his play isn’t a fluke. Cole Sands 6’3” / 215 (Prev: 16) Age: 25 Position: RHP Highest level reached: MLB Cole Sands owns one of the nastiest pitches in Minnesota’s system: a whirling breaking ball, here to alter planes and send batters home wondering if they even saw the pitch. The issue? The offering moves so much that Sands has difficulty commanding the pitch. He mixes in an effective splitter—which actually outperformed his breaker by xwOBA during his time in the majors—but his fastball drags down his profile. Sands might be a kitchen sink reliever if he doesn’t improve his heater. Blayne Enlow 6’3” / 170 (Prev: 14) Age: 23 Position: RHP Highest level reached: AA Blayne Enlow pitched in an entire season for the first time since 2019, and his results were mixed. He struck out 24.8% of hitters—which is good—but walked 11.6% of them—which is not good. The Twins DFA’d him earlier in the offseason, but after no team claimed him, Enlow will have another year in the system to prove he was worth his high draft pick. Tanner Schobel 5’10” / 170 (Prev: 27) Age: 21 Position: 2B Highest level reached: A The Twins sent Tanner Schobel on the fast track, pushing their 2022 2nd-round pick to A Ball, where he held his own. Although lacking in power, Schobel could carve out a career as a contact/OBP/defense threat capable of putting together a 3 WAR season if everything works out; many teams could use a player like that. ------------------------- Alejandro Hidalgo 6’1” / 160 (Prev: n/a) Age: 19 Position: RHP Highest level reached: A A newcomer, Alexander Hidalgo joined the Twins in the Gio Urshela trade. The Angels handled him with kid gloves, as he didn’t touch 40 innings despite making 10 starts. The owner of a plus changeup, Hidalgo’s pitch mix is otherwise unimpressive, but he could grow into an off-speed specialist if he finds more consistency with his curveball; his fastball lacks crucial characteristics. Matt Canterino 6’2” / 222 (Prev: Unranked) Age: 25 Position: RHP Highest level reached: AA I highly doubt that Matt Canterino will even become an effective starter for the Twins. His minor league innings total is barren, and the righty looks to be standing in a long line of Rice products driven into the ground by an indifferent coaching staff. Still—and this is the only thing keeping him on the list—his electric stuff could allow him to live as a 1-2 inning reliever. Alex Isola 6’1” / 215 (Prev: 24) Age: 24 Position: C/1B Highest level reached: AA A 29th-round pick, Alex Isola has hit well at every step in his minor league journey. He owns a well-rounded hitting package, trading off a touch of power for excellent plate control (13.0% walk rate vs. 18.2% K rate at AA), and could find himself playing some first base for the Twins if a few injuries take out key players. Cesar Lares 6’0” / 155 (Prev: 28) Age: 19 Position: LHP Highest level reached: DSL Another DSL prospect, Cesar Lares crushed his competition in 2022, holding an impressive 2.23 FIP over 46 innings. Again, he’s literally a teenager; we don’t know much about how he’ll perform against older, tougher competition, but he appears to be on the right track. Keep his name in mind. Aaron Sabato 6’2” / 230 (Prev: 29) Age: 23 Position: 1B Highest level reached: AA For two years now, Aaron Sabato has done just enough to keep his name in these prospect conversations, but time is running out for the former 1st-round pick. After hitting well at A+ ball, AA smacked into Sabato like a truck; whether he can recover in 2023 will potentially define his time as a Twins prospect. Yunior Severino 6’1” / 189 (Prev: 25) Age: 23 Position: 2B/3B Highest level reached: AA A post-hype prospect received after the Braves got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Yunior Severino broke out with big numbers at A+ ball before falling back to earth at AA. We will see if he can rebound at a higher level. Honorable mentions: Brayan Medina, RHP: Brayan Medina came over in the Chris Paddack trade and struggled to throw strikes in his time at Rookie Ball. He can touch the mid-90s and works well off a curveball. Danny De Andrade, 3B/SS: Danny De Andrade is an all-around player, lacking in one elite category but doing everything mostly well. He has yet to break out of rookie ball and could burst with his first (probable) playing time in full-season ball. Kala’i Rosario, OF: Kala’i Rosario strikes out far too much, but he has good power for a 20-year-old and could improve with extra seasoning. Michael Helman, 2B/OF: Michael Helman hasn’t exploded with an overwhelming season yet, but he’s snuck his way into AAA, and his overall package could serve him well if the Twins need to call him up. Alerick Soularie, 2B/OF: Alerick Soularie still hasn’t tapped into his power potential, which makes his high strikeout rate hard to stomach. Still, he could figure it out any day now and shoot back up this list.
  5. 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.
  6. Unlike other professional sports leagues, baseball’s first-round draft picks take time to develop and reach the major leagues. Here is a look back at the last decade of MLB Drafts and the players selected by the Twins. Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Many first-round picks quickly move into the organization’s top prospect lists. Minnesota has seen some successes and failures in recent drafts, with multiple top prospects on the way to Target Field. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have focused on certain types of players in the draft, which might help the team keep its winning window open as long as possible. Here’s a look at the last decade of first-round picks for the Twins. 2022: Brooks Lee (8th overall) Lee is one of the most exciting hitting prospects to come through the Twins organization in quite some time. Some evaluators thought he could be the number one overall pick, but he fell to the Twins with the eighth pick. Last season, he played at three levels and hit .303/.389/.451 (.839) with six doubles and four home runs. The Twins don’t need to rush things with Lee, and he will probably spend most of the season at Double-A. If he performs well, there is a chance he will make his debut in 2023 and is a top-25 global prospect by this time next year. 2021: Chase Petty (26th overall) It can take a long time for high school pitchers to develop in the minor leagues. Minnesota thought Petty had enough upside to take on that risk before drafting him late in the first round. Leading into last season, the Twins traded him to the Reds organization for Sonny Gray. In his age-19 season, the Reds pushed him to High-A, and he compiled a 3.48 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 8.8 K/9. For 2023, Petty should get a full season at High-A with a chance to pitch over 100 innings for the first time in his career. 2020: Aaron Sabato (27th overall) The 2020 MLB Draft will be interesting to analyze in the years ahead. College teams saw limited action before the shutdown, and many high school players never stepped on the field that spring. Sabato destroyed the ball in college (1.158 OPS) before being drafted by the Twins. In 2022, he hit .215/.336/.438 (.774) with 17 doubles and 22 home runs while reaching Double-A. Sabato was over a year younger than the average age of the competition in the Texas League, so he should spend most of 2022 at that level. 2019: Keoni Cavaco (13th overall) Cavaco has spent the last two seasons at Fort Myers while shifting from shortstop to third base. Last season, he hit .231/.275/.397 (.672) with 18 doubles, five triples, and 11 home runs. His OPS jumped 74 points compared to 2021, and he was roughly the same age as the average competition at his level. He will be pushed to Cedar Rapids in 2023 with a chance to reach Double-A by the season’s end. 2018: Trevor Larnach (20th overall) Larnach has averaged fewer than 80 games per season over the last two years. He’s been a streaky hitter during his big-league career, but some of his performance might be tied to his injury history. He posted a 104 OPS+ in 2022 and destroyed the ball in May with a 1.077 OPS. Minnesota has a plethora of left-handed power-hitting bats, which might make Larnach expendable as part of a trade. 2017: Royce Lewis (1st overall) It looked like the Twins might be willing to turn shortstop over to Royce Lewis before the team signed Carlos Correa to a long-term deal. Now, Lewis will need to shift to other defensive positions if Correa continues to stay healthy. During the 2023 season, Lewis isn’t expected to return to action until mid-season while recovering from his second ACL tear over the last two seasons. 2016: Alex Kirilloff (15th overall) Kirilloff has battled through wrist issues during his first two big-league seasons, and the Twins hope his latest surgery helps him in the long term. There have been glimpses of the strong hitter Kirilloff was at the start of his professional career, but his nagging wrist has slowed down his development. He will get regular time at first base and in a corner outfield spot for the 2023 Twins. 2015: Tyler Jay (6th overall) Jay never made it to the big leagues with the Twins organization. He topped out at the Double-A level in four seasons in the organization. The Twins traded Jay to the Reds organization during the 2019 season for cash considerations, but he only spent part of a season pitching for that organization. Last year, he made 22 appearances with a 1.64 ERA and 9.8 K/9 for the Joliet Slammers in the independent Frontier League. It seems likely that he can get another job in independent baseball if he wants to continue pitching. 2014: Nick Gordon (5th overall) It may have taken longer than expected, but Gordon found a niche with the 2022 Twins. He became an everyday player for a team struggling through injuries and posted a 113 OPS+ in 136 games. Minnesota has plenty of corner outfield options on the 40-man roster, so it will be interesting to see how the Twins will use Gordon in 2023. He is out of MLB options, so he needs to be kept on the Opening Day roster. 2013: Kohl Stewart (4th overall) Stewart played eight seasons in the Twins organization and made six appearances at the big-league level. He struggled in the upper minors with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in over 160 innings at Triple-A. For 2023, the Royals signed Stewart to a minor league deal, but he isn’t expected in big-league camp as he continues to rehab from an elbow injury. Which players will have the most significant impact on the 2023 roster? Which player was the biggest disappointment? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  7. Coming into the 2023 Major League Baseball season we have seen plenty of graduations from the top of the Minnesota farm system. Players like Joe Ryan and Jose Miranda are now fully entrenched as big leaguers. With another year removed from the season wiped out by Covid, we have more development having taken place on the farm. As the Twins head to Fort Myers in a matter of weeks, they will be looking for their youth to again be well positioned to supplement the big league club. Rocco Baldelli’s team is looking to compete in the AL Central this year, and there will at least be a name or two from this group that helps them to do so. With the last update to this prospect list coming more than a year ago, it’s time for a refresh. Previous rankings can be found below: 2016 Top 15 Prospects 2017 Top 15 Prospects 2018 Top 15 Prospects 2019 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Top 15 Prospects 2021 Top 15 Prospects 2022 Top 15 Propsects 15. Tanner Schobel A second round pick from Virginia Tech last season, Schobel made his professional debut and spent the bulk of his time at Low-A Fort Myers. In just shy of 30 games he posted a .670 OPS and showed a very strong set of on-base skills. He had a power breakout for the Hokies prior to being drafted, but this is more a solid bat and good fielder than anything.] 14. Matt Canterino RHP Canterino has appeared all over this list in recent seasons. He threw 37 innings last season before needing Tommy John surgery. At this point he shouldn’t be starting, but he could certainly blossom into a late-inning reliever once returning to a clean bill of health. 13. David Festa RHP Continuing to creep up prospect lists, Festa’s 2.43 ERA in more than 100 innings last year was impressive. It was his first real season of professional ball and the strikeout rates were nice to see. Festa looked the part of a legit starter at High-A Cedar Rapids, and continuing down that path this season for Double-A Wichita could have him positioned to debut in 2023. 12. Edouard Julien INF The only reason that Julien isn’t higher on this list is that he’s extremely limited defensively. Julien tore up Double-A for Wichita posting a .931 OPS, and he continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League. There is a very good bat here, and it flashes with both on-base skills and power. 11. Louie Varland RHP Making his Major League debut for the Twins last season, Varland continues to climb the prospect ranks. His ceiling may not be that of a number two pitcher, but he looks to be a number four at worst and can continue to develop a bit more. This has been an incredible success story. 10. Matt Wallner OF Wallner made it to the big leagues last year, and it was largely because of changes he made at the plate. His arm has always been solid in the outfield, but reigning in the free-swinging profile to draw more walks and focus on doing damage was huge. There is Brent Rooker downside here, but patience has changed his trajectory some. 9. Yasser Mercedes OF It’s hard to extrapolate too much from the teenagers playing during the Dominican Summer League, but Mercedes looks special. He posted a .975 OPS and did so with both average and on-base skills to his credit. He looks the part of a toolsy outfielder, and if the bat continues to play, this is a prospect that will keep rising the ranks. 8. Austin Martin INF/OF It’s pretty clear that Martin is no longer a shortstop, and while he could play either second or third base, he may be best suited for the outfield. After failing to harness power Minnesota was trying to tap into, Martin’s stock could again rise by simply reverting to pure hitter tendencies. He’s not the can’t miss prospect that the Twins acquired from Toronto, but there is a big leaguer here. 7. Simeon Woods Richardson RHP Acquired alongside Martin in the Jose Berrios trade, Woods Richardson made it to the show first. He distanced himself from the setback that was 2021, and looks the part of a Major League rotation piece. Woods Richardson should get plenty of run at Triple-A this season, and he’ll see time with Minnesota again as well. 6. Jose Salas SS Part of Minnesota’s return for Luis Arraez from the Miami Marlins, Salas has plenty of unpredictability going forward. As he matures and grows, he could slide to second or third base, but he also profiles as an extremely talented offensive player. Just 19, Salas did post a .723 OPS across two levels of Single-A last season. 5. Marco Raya RHP A fourth round pick back in 2020, Raya made his professional debut in 2022 after finally being healthy. His 3.05 ERA at Low-A Fort Myers paired nicely with a 10.5 K/9, and his stuff has always looked like he could be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. More development for a kid that is just 20-years-old is needed, but there is plenty to be excited about here. 4. Connor Prielipp LHP Taken in the 2022 draft, Prielipp had the makings of a first round pick before undergoing surgery. He likely represents Minnesota's best prospect chance at an ace, and he could conceivably be a top-100 prospect nationally by this time next year. The stuff is special, and doing it as a southpaw makes him that much more valuable. 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez OF Playing in Low-A at just 19, Rodriguez turned heads in a big way last year. His 1.044 OPS in the Florida State League was jaw-dropping, and it was only injury that slowed him down. He should be healthy coming into 2023, and there is no reason another strong season couldn’t vault him into the top 25 of prospects lists. 2. Brooks Lee SS Drafted for his hit tool, Lee did exactly that during his professional debut. He batted .303 with an .839 OPS and made it all the way to Double-A in year one. There is no reason why Lee can’t play for the Twins as early as this year, and he looks to be among the most polished players from any recent draft class. 1. Royce Lewis SS Making his big league debut in place of Carlos Correa last season, Lewis looked the part of an All-Star shortstop. Another unfortunate injury got him, but the production for the Twins was enough to drool over. It has never seemed wise to doubt Lewis, but his ceiling remains as high as it has ever been.
  8. A candidate to go #1 overall, Brooks Lee fell to the Twins and the #8 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. What can we expect from Lee heading into the 2023 season? What's his ceiling? Where might he start the year? Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (graphics by Thieres Rabelo) In advance of the 2022 draft, a clear top six industry prospects emerged in the pre-draft process. The Twins appeared to be on the outside looking in, selecting at number eight overall in the first round. The only predictable thing about the MLB Draft, however, is its lack of predictability. The Rangers shook up the draft taking Kumar Rocker at number three. The Twins ended up in the enviable position of being able to pick between Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, and Cam Collier and opted for Lee, the prospect with the safest floor of the three, and a contender to go number one overall. Scouting and Signing Hitting: 70 Power: 50 Run: 40 Fielding: 50 Arm: 55 (scouting grades courtesy of Baseball America) Lee signed a $5.675 million bonus with the Twins, second behind Jacob Berry for all college players. Lee had a track record as a prospect, ranking as a consensus top 50 pick as early as 2019. After an injury plagued 2020 season, Lee hit well in 2021, and took off in 2022. In 58 games at Cal Poly he put up a .357 average with 15 home runs, 46 walks, and just 28 strikeouts. Lee had the best hit tool in the 2022 draft class. He’s a true switch hitter, although more effective from the left side of the plate. Projecting forwards, Lee should be a .300 hitter at the major league level, with the ability to continue to develop power (15-20 home run range). While he has good hands and a strong arm, the critique of his play at shortstop in college was a lack of lateral agility. It’s likely that he moved to third base long term (particularly with Carlos Correa locked in at shortstop for the foreseeable future). Early Returns The Twins weren’t shy about throwing Lee into the mix at a variety of levels of pro ball when he made his debut in late 2022. After starting at the Complex League, Lee played 25 games at High-A Cedar Rapids. In 114 plate appearances he managed a 140 wRC+, walking 14% of the time and striking out just 15.8%. Lee was promoted to Double-A for their playoff run last fall and has already lived up to his billing as a fast mover. Likely to Start At: Wichita Wind Surge (AA) Lee dominated most of the pitching he saw in 2022. It’s likely he starts 2023 at AA Wichita. Expectations from Twins fans have understandably been high for such a promising prospect. In a very small samples size, Lee has delivered. If he can stay healthy, the smart money would be on a major league debut in 2023, a blistering pace that could have Lee with the Twins before he’s completed a full calendar year in the minors. If the Twins hold onto Lee and he stays healthy, he should be a starting infielder who hits .300 with average to above average power for the big league team for the next decade. What are your hopes for Brooks Lee in 2023? Where do you think his defensive home will be? What do you think his ceiling is? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts in the comments. View full article
  9. Many first-round picks quickly move into the organization’s top prospect lists. Minnesota has seen some successes and failures in recent drafts, with multiple top prospects on the way to Target Field. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have focused on certain types of players in the draft, which might help the team keep its winning window open as long as possible. Here’s a look at the last decade of first-round picks for the Twins. 2022: Brooks Lee (8th overall) Lee is one of the most exciting hitting prospects to come through the Twins organization in quite some time. Some evaluators thought he could be the number one overall pick, but he fell to the Twins with the eighth pick. Last season, he played at three levels and hit .303/.389/.451 (.839) with six doubles and four home runs. The Twins don’t need to rush things with Lee, and he will probably spend most of the season at Double-A. If he performs well, there is a chance he will make his debut in 2023 and is a top-25 global prospect by this time next year. 2021: Chase Petty (26th overall) It can take a long time for high school pitchers to develop in the minor leagues. Minnesota thought Petty had enough upside to take on that risk before drafting him late in the first round. Leading into last season, the Twins traded him to the Reds organization for Sonny Gray. In his age-19 season, the Reds pushed him to High-A, and he compiled a 3.48 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 8.8 K/9. For 2023, Petty should get a full season at High-A with a chance to pitch over 100 innings for the first time in his career. 2020: Aaron Sabato (27th overall) The 2020 MLB Draft will be interesting to analyze in the years ahead. College teams saw limited action before the shutdown, and many high school players never stepped on the field that spring. Sabato destroyed the ball in college (1.158 OPS) before being drafted by the Twins. In 2022, he hit .215/.336/.438 (.774) with 17 doubles and 22 home runs while reaching Double-A. Sabato was over a year younger than the average age of the competition in the Texas League, so he should spend most of 2022 at that level. 2019: Keoni Cavaco (13th overall) Cavaco has spent the last two seasons at Fort Myers while shifting from shortstop to third base. Last season, he hit .231/.275/.397 (.672) with 18 doubles, five triples, and 11 home runs. His OPS jumped 74 points compared to 2021, and he was roughly the same age as the average competition at his level. He will be pushed to Cedar Rapids in 2023 with a chance to reach Double-A by the season’s end. 2018: Trevor Larnach (20th overall) Larnach has averaged fewer than 80 games per season over the last two years. He’s been a streaky hitter during his big-league career, but some of his performance might be tied to his injury history. He posted a 104 OPS+ in 2022 and destroyed the ball in May with a 1.077 OPS. Minnesota has a plethora of left-handed power-hitting bats, which might make Larnach expendable as part of a trade. 2017: Royce Lewis (1st overall) It looked like the Twins might be willing to turn shortstop over to Royce Lewis before the team signed Carlos Correa to a long-term deal. Now, Lewis will need to shift to other defensive positions if Correa continues to stay healthy. During the 2023 season, Lewis isn’t expected to return to action until mid-season while recovering from his second ACL tear over the last two seasons. 2016: Alex Kirilloff (15th overall) Kirilloff has battled through wrist issues during his first two big-league seasons, and the Twins hope his latest surgery helps him in the long term. There have been glimpses of the strong hitter Kirilloff was at the start of his professional career, but his nagging wrist has slowed down his development. He will get regular time at first base and in a corner outfield spot for the 2023 Twins. 2015: Tyler Jay (6th overall) Jay never made it to the big leagues with the Twins organization. He topped out at the Double-A level in four seasons in the organization. The Twins traded Jay to the Reds organization during the 2019 season for cash considerations, but he only spent part of a season pitching for that organization. Last year, he made 22 appearances with a 1.64 ERA and 9.8 K/9 for the Joliet Slammers in the independent Frontier League. It seems likely that he can get another job in independent baseball if he wants to continue pitching. 2014: Nick Gordon (5th overall) It may have taken longer than expected, but Gordon found a niche with the 2022 Twins. He became an everyday player for a team struggling through injuries and posted a 113 OPS+ in 136 games. Minnesota has plenty of corner outfield options on the 40-man roster, so it will be interesting to see how the Twins will use Gordon in 2023. He is out of MLB options, so he needs to be kept on the Opening Day roster. 2013: Kohl Stewart (4th overall) Stewart played eight seasons in the Twins organization and made six appearances at the big-league level. He struggled in the upper minors with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in over 160 innings at Triple-A. For 2023, the Royals signed Stewart to a minor league deal, but he isn’t expected in big-league camp as he continues to rehab from an elbow injury. Which players will have the most significant impact on the 2023 roster? Which player was the biggest disappointment? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. Carlos Correa has officially returned to the Twins, and now the organization may have a surplus of talented shortstops at all levels. Does Correa’s return challenge the future plans of these players, or is this a good situation the Twins front office is happy to have on hand? Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson, USA TODAY Sports With Correa back in Minnesota, the Twins have three shortstops on the 40-man rosters with an additional three in their top 20 prospect rankings across many publications. Some fans (if they know little about baseball) may argue the Twins have more shortstops than they know what to do with. Fortunately for Twins president of baseball operations, Derek Falvey, the surplus of shortstops is not a problem to be had. “I will take having more shortstops than we have spots for every day of the week,” said Falvey in an interview following Correa’s press conference. “That tends to lead to good outcomes over time in different spots on the team. If you can play shortstop, you can move around on the dirt. And you're probably going to be pretty good at that.” Kyle Farmer For some time this off-season, Kyle Farmer was looking to be the Twins primary shortstop, but when the Twins acquired him from the Reds via trade, they knew they were getting him for more than just one position. “We really did feel that when we traded for Kyle. He’s a good player, a good shortstop. [We had] a unique situation. So we think Kyle can play in multiple slots. We actually still think he fits our current team, even in a slightly more hybrid role than what he plays, because he deepens our team [defensively],” Falvey said. While Farmer has only played four games in the outfield his entire professional career (all in left field), Falvey feels confident Farmer can extend his utility infield role into the corner outfield positions. Especially as a way to balance the heavy amount of left-handed hitters in the outfield. Though the team has yet to officially announced this, Farmer is anticipated to be the "emergency catcher" given his previous time at the position during his call up with the Dodgers in 2017. Royce Lewis With Royce Lewis, the situation is not entirely a downside with Correa’s return. Yes, his main position is blocked, but that is not the only position that Lewis feels comfortable playing on the infield. “Third base. I played three years in high school and that was my first position,” Lewis said in an interview with Twins Daily in May 2022. “That move is actually very easy for me. It's the same side of the infield and the ground balls are very similar and it's usually just more topspin [of the ball] over at third base.” Prior to his season-ending injury on May 29, 2022, Lewis played only nine games at positions that weren’t shortstop with two of those games at third for the St. Paul Saints. Jose Miranda is still set up to be the team’s everyday third baseman and while the Twins may not put Lewis back in centerfield, considering that is where he re-injured his knee, for his return. He has the ability and arm strength for third base as well as corner outfield positions. Brooks Lee The last primary shortstop that some people expect to break onto the Twins roster sometime in 2023 is Brooks Lee. Since being drafted last July by the Twins, Lee has only played games at short or as the designated hitter at Cedar Rapids and Wichita. Lee played a handful of games between second and third base in college at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Falvey acknowledged that there are conversations in the organization on how the Twins handle his primary defensive position based on his overall progression as a player in the minors this season. By signing Correa, Lee’s progression has no need to be rushed to the big leagues, and Lee and the organization can figure out what his next best position is. And to go a step further, Lee has received the invitation as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, which will give him plenty of time for tutelage under Correa himself. Other Shortstop Prospects There are three other notable shortstop prospects that the Twins have to work with at other positions with Correa’s return; Austin Martin, Noah Miller, and Tanner Schobel. Martin has transitioned more into an outfielder throughout the 2022 season and there are those who see him as an ideal backup to Byron Buxton in center field when the time comes for his call-up. Martin had his value plummet with a down year in Wichita for 2022. He went to the Arizona Fall League and regained his value and played 95% of his games at shortstop, but with Correa back, the Twins can expect his move to the outfield to be full-time. Miller is an interesting case as he is the only one of the Twins top five picks from the 2021 Amateur Draft that remains in the organization. A high school pick from eastern Wisconsin, Miller spent the full 2022 season in Fort Myers. He still has not played a position other than shortstop but his defense is not the problem on the diamond, more so the results of his hitting. Given he is only 20, there is time to figure out what other positions he can play. Finally, Schobel, who was the third pick out of this last year’s draft, has already been shifted to second base. Schobel played only a handful of games at short after he was drafted, and will likely start his 2023 season on the other side of Miller in Ft. Myers or Cedar Rapids. View full article
  11. In advance of the 2022 draft, a clear top six industry prospects emerged in the pre-draft process. The Twins appeared to be on the outside looking in, selecting at number eight overall in the first round. The only predictable thing about the MLB Draft, however, is its lack of predictability. The Rangers shook up the draft taking Kumar Rocker at number three. The Twins ended up in the enviable position of being able to pick between Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, and Cam Collier and opted for Lee, the prospect with the safest floor of the three, and a contender to go number one overall. Scouting and Signing Hitting: 70 Power: 50 Run: 40 Fielding: 50 Arm: 55 (scouting grades courtesy of Baseball America) Lee signed a $5.675 million bonus with the Twins, second behind Jacob Berry for all college players. Lee had a track record as a prospect, ranking as a consensus top 50 pick as early as 2019. After an injury plagued 2020 season, Lee hit well in 2021, and took off in 2022. In 58 games at Cal Poly he put up a .357 average with 15 home runs, 46 walks, and just 28 strikeouts. Lee had the best hit tool in the 2022 draft class. He’s a true switch hitter, although more effective from the left side of the plate. Projecting forwards, Lee should be a .300 hitter at the major league level, with the ability to continue to develop power (15-20 home run range). While he has good hands and a strong arm, the critique of his play at shortstop in college was a lack of lateral agility. It’s likely that he moved to third base long term (particularly with Carlos Correa locked in at shortstop for the foreseeable future). Early Returns The Twins weren’t shy about throwing Lee into the mix at a variety of levels of pro ball when he made his debut in late 2022. After starting at the Complex League, Lee played 25 games at High-A Cedar Rapids. In 114 plate appearances he managed a 140 wRC+, walking 14% of the time and striking out just 15.8%. Lee was promoted to Double-A for their playoff run last fall and has already lived up to his billing as a fast mover. Likely to Start At: Wichita Wind Surge (AA) Lee dominated most of the pitching he saw in 2022. It’s likely he starts 2023 at AA Wichita. Expectations from Twins fans have understandably been high for such a promising prospect. In a very small samples size, Lee has delivered. If he can stay healthy, the smart money would be on a major league debut in 2023, a blistering pace that could have Lee with the Twins before he’s completed a full calendar year in the minors. If the Twins hold onto Lee and he stays healthy, he should be a starting infielder who hits .300 with average to above average power for the big league team for the next decade. What are your hopes for Brooks Lee in 2023? Where do you think his defensive home will be? What do you think his ceiling is? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts in the comments.
  12. With Correa back in Minnesota, the Twins have three shortstops on the 40-man rosters with an additional three in their top 20 prospect rankings across many publications. Some fans (if they know little about baseball) may argue the Twins have more shortstops than they know what to do with. Fortunately for Twins president of baseball operations, Derek Falvey, the surplus of shortstops is not a problem to be had. “I will take having more shortstops than we have spots for every day of the week,” said Falvey in an interview following Correa’s press conference. “That tends to lead to good outcomes over time in different spots on the team. If you can play shortstop, you can move around on the dirt. And you're probably going to be pretty good at that.” Kyle Farmer For some time this off-season, Kyle Farmer was looking to be the Twins primary shortstop, but when the Twins acquired him from the Reds via trade, they knew they were getting him for more than just one position. “We really did feel that when we traded for Kyle. He’s a good player, a good shortstop. [We had] a unique situation. So we think Kyle can play in multiple slots. We actually still think he fits our current team, even in a slightly more hybrid role than what he plays, because he deepens our team [defensively],” Falvey said. While Farmer has only played four games in the outfield his entire professional career (all in left field), Falvey feels confident Farmer can extend his utility infield role into the corner outfield positions. Especially as a way to balance the heavy amount of left-handed hitters in the outfield. Though the team has yet to officially announced this, Farmer is anticipated to be the "emergency catcher" given his previous time at the position during his call up with the Dodgers in 2017. Royce Lewis With Royce Lewis, the situation is not entirely a downside with Correa’s return. Yes, his main position is blocked, but that is not the only position that Lewis feels comfortable playing on the infield. “Third base. I played three years in high school and that was my first position,” Lewis said in an interview with Twins Daily in May 2022. “That move is actually very easy for me. It's the same side of the infield and the ground balls are very similar and it's usually just more topspin [of the ball] over at third base.” Prior to his season-ending injury on May 29, 2022, Lewis played only nine games at positions that weren’t shortstop with two of those games at third for the St. Paul Saints. Jose Miranda is still set up to be the team’s everyday third baseman and while the Twins may not put Lewis back in centerfield, considering that is where he re-injured his knee, for his return. He has the ability and arm strength for third base as well as corner outfield positions. Brooks Lee The last primary shortstop that some people expect to break onto the Twins roster sometime in 2023 is Brooks Lee. Since being drafted last July by the Twins, Lee has only played games at short or as the designated hitter at Cedar Rapids and Wichita. Lee played a handful of games between second and third base in college at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Falvey acknowledged that there are conversations in the organization on how the Twins handle his primary defensive position based on his overall progression as a player in the minors this season. By signing Correa, Lee’s progression has no need to be rushed to the big leagues, and Lee and the organization can figure out what his next best position is. And to go a step further, Lee has received the invitation as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, which will give him plenty of time for tutelage under Correa himself. Other Shortstop Prospects There are three other notable shortstop prospects that the Twins have to work with at other positions with Correa’s return; Austin Martin, Noah Miller, and Tanner Schobel. Martin has transitioned more into an outfielder throughout the 2022 season and there are those who see him as an ideal backup to Byron Buxton in center field when the time comes for his call-up. Martin had his value plummet with a down year in Wichita for 2022. He went to the Arizona Fall League and regained his value and played 95% of his games at shortstop, but with Correa back, the Twins can expect his move to the outfield to be full-time. Miller is an interesting case as he is the only one of the Twins top five picks from the 2021 Amateur Draft that remains in the organization. A high school pick from eastern Wisconsin, Miller spent the full 2022 season in Fort Myers. He still has not played a position other than shortstop but his defense is not the problem on the diamond, more so the results of his hitting. Given he is only 20, there is time to figure out what other positions he can play. Finally, Schobel, who was the third pick out of this last year’s draft, has already been shifted to second base. Schobel played only a handful of games at short after he was drafted, and will likely start his 2023 season on the other side of Miller in Ft. Myers or Cedar Rapids.
  13. Recently, Twins fandom has become locked in on the Marlins as a trade partner in pursuit of starting pitching help. Who are other possible partners? Who might the Twins target to bolster the top of the rotation? Image courtesy of Brad Penner - USA Today Sports With Carlos Correa in the fold, the discourse of Twins fandom has turned to possible rotation upgrades. There has been rumored interest in Pablo López and the Marlins as a possible trade partner. Fair enough. López, however, doesn’t really check the cost-benefit box for the Twins. Coming off a career-best season, he accumulated 2.8 fWAR in 2022. A free agent in 2025, he doesn’t clear the Sonny Gray (2.4 fWAR in 2022) echelon of starting pitching candidates with enough conviction. Pass, especially if it would take a package including Max Kepler or Luis Arraez and more to acquire him. I would assert the following guidelines in working toward a trade for starting pitching: They have to be clearly better than Sonny Gray (3.5-4.5 fWAR ideally), OR There has to be some projectability left. Edward Cabrera is a good example of the latter qualifier (25 K%, 24 years old, and not a free agent until 2029) With those criteria in mind, here are a few ‘less talked about’ starting pitching trade candidates for the Twins to pursue. For each, I’ll attempt to answer ‘what’s the appeal’? and ‘what’s the deal’? I leveraged ‘Baseball Trade Values’ to find approximate value equivalency for each trade. As with any hypothetical trade scenario, they’re meant to outline potential cost, as opposed to specific names teams might target, because, what do I know? Zac Gallen What’s the Appeal? The Diamondbacks would maximize Gallen’s value by trading him now. In 2022, he accumulated 4.3 fWAR (14th in baseball) from 180 innings after accumulating 4.4 fWAR in his previous 270ish innings spread over three seasons. Gallen was misery for hitters last season, sporting a 26.9 K%, 6.6 BB%, and 111.7 stuff+. Gallen is under team control for three more seasons, so the cost would be breathtaking. The Diamondbacks aren’t in a position to win a loaded NL West division and have some of the most elite prospect talent in baseball. Trading with the Twins allows them to continue to load up for 2024 and beyond. What’s the Deal? The Twins acquire RHP Zac Gallen from the Diamondbacks for SS Brooks Lee, OF Emmanuel Rodriguez, and RHP David Festa Verdict? Too rich for me. Nestor Cortes What’s the Appeal? Cortes was one of the feel-good stories in baseball in 2022. After a promising 2021, he exploded last season, amassing 3.6 fWAR with a 26.6 K% and a stingy 6.2 BB%. Cortes isn’t a free agent until 2026, so he would be expensive, but the Yankees and Twins are a good match to trade. The Yankees have Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Frankie Montas, Domingo Germán, and Luis Severino in the rotation mix, with more options close to the major-league level. Cortes might strike the balance between adding real quality to the rotation, at a price the Twins can stomach. What’s the Deal? The Twins acquire LHP Nestor Cortes from the Yankees for OF Max Kepler, OF Matt Wallner, and RHP Josh Winder Verdict? I would accept this trade. The Twins have a huge dearth of left-handed corner outfielders. This trade gives the Yankees a defensively strong starting outfielder, an additional outfielder for the future who can also fill in at DH, and a powerful arm who hasn’t yet clicked in Minnesota. Brandon Woodruff What’s the Appeal? Simply put, a dominant track record. Over the last four seasons, Woodruff has averaged 3.4 fWAR. While Woodruff isn’t a free agent until 2025, we know that the Brewers are not opposed to cashing in on or maximizing value. In 2022, Woodruff struck out over 30% of batters faced while maintaining a 6.8 BB%. At his best, he’s dominant and would immediately be the Twins best starting pitcher. What’s the Deal? The Twins acquire RHP Brandon Woodruff for 3B José Miranda, and RHP Bailey Ober Verdict? This deal is more a reflection of cost than a possibility. We all know Assistant General Manager Carlos Correa would immediately veto a trade of José Miranda. This situation simply bumped Ober, (who has struggled to remain healthy) from the bottom of the Twins' rotation and substituted Woodruff at the top. This also sees Brooks Lee as the Twins' long-term third baseman, debuting in 2023, with Miranda as more of a first base or DH option. Honorable Mentions I put the topic of pitching trade candidates on twitter and, as usual, Twins Daily readership came through in style. Other candidates that I didn’t include in-depth either as they had been recently written about, OR the trade fit wasn’t as obvious. They are, however, worth mentioning: Tyler Glasnow, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Logan Gilbert, Chris Sale, and Frankie Montas. The list goes on. It’s worth widening the lens when considering Twins trade targets. Thinking back to the Rangers/Yankees double trade last season, it feels likely they pursue a similarly creative path to upgrade the high-end talent on the roster. Ultimately, I’m in favor of the 3.5 fWAR threshold for starting pitching acquisitions. Given the prices, I think the Twins are unlikely to be, as it would involve parting with a close-to-the-majors prospect they see as part of their core, or MLB-level pieces they view as indispensable. Time will tell. Who would you like the Twins to trade for? Who are you willing to part with and who is off limits? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts in the chat. View full article
  14. With Carlos Correa in the fold, the discourse of Twins fandom has turned to possible rotation upgrades. There has been rumored interest in Pablo López and the Marlins as a possible trade partner. Fair enough. López, however, doesn’t really check the cost-benefit box for the Twins. Coming off a career-best season, he accumulated 2.8 fWAR in 2022. A free agent in 2025, he doesn’t clear the Sonny Gray (2.4 fWAR in 2022) echelon of starting pitching candidates with enough conviction. Pass, especially if it would take a package including Max Kepler or Luis Arraez and more to acquire him. I would assert the following guidelines in working toward a trade for starting pitching: They have to be clearly better than Sonny Gray (3.5-4.5 fWAR ideally), OR There has to be some projectability left. Edward Cabrera is a good example of the latter qualifier (25 K%, 24 years old, and not a free agent until 2029) With those criteria in mind, here are a few ‘less talked about’ starting pitching trade candidates for the Twins to pursue. For each, I’ll attempt to answer ‘what’s the appeal’? and ‘what’s the deal’? I leveraged ‘Baseball Trade Values’ to find approximate value equivalency for each trade. As with any hypothetical trade scenario, they’re meant to outline potential cost, as opposed to specific names teams might target, because, what do I know? Zac Gallen What’s the Appeal? The Diamondbacks would maximize Gallen’s value by trading him now. In 2022, he accumulated 4.3 fWAR (14th in baseball) from 180 innings after accumulating 4.4 fWAR in his previous 270ish innings spread over three seasons. Gallen was misery for hitters last season, sporting a 26.9 K%, 6.6 BB%, and 111.7 stuff+. Gallen is under team control for three more seasons, so the cost would be breathtaking. The Diamondbacks aren’t in a position to win a loaded NL West division and have some of the most elite prospect talent in baseball. Trading with the Twins allows them to continue to load up for 2024 and beyond. What’s the Deal? The Twins acquire RHP Zac Gallen from the Diamondbacks for SS Brooks Lee, OF Emmanuel Rodriguez, and RHP David Festa Verdict? Too rich for me. Nestor Cortes What’s the Appeal? Cortes was one of the feel-good stories in baseball in 2022. After a promising 2021, he exploded last season, amassing 3.6 fWAR with a 26.6 K% and a stingy 6.2 BB%. Cortes isn’t a free agent until 2026, so he would be expensive, but the Yankees and Twins are a good match to trade. The Yankees have Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Frankie Montas, Domingo Germán, and Luis Severino in the rotation mix, with more options close to the major-league level. Cortes might strike the balance between adding real quality to the rotation, at a price the Twins can stomach. What’s the Deal? The Twins acquire LHP Nestor Cortes from the Yankees for OF Max Kepler, OF Matt Wallner, and RHP Josh Winder Verdict? I would accept this trade. The Twins have a huge dearth of left-handed corner outfielders. This trade gives the Yankees a defensively strong starting outfielder, an additional outfielder for the future who can also fill in at DH, and a powerful arm who hasn’t yet clicked in Minnesota. Brandon Woodruff What’s the Appeal? Simply put, a dominant track record. Over the last four seasons, Woodruff has averaged 3.4 fWAR. While Woodruff isn’t a free agent until 2025, we know that the Brewers are not opposed to cashing in on or maximizing value. In 2022, Woodruff struck out over 30% of batters faced while maintaining a 6.8 BB%. At his best, he’s dominant and would immediately be the Twins best starting pitcher. What’s the Deal? The Twins acquire RHP Brandon Woodruff for 3B José Miranda, and RHP Bailey Ober Verdict? This deal is more a reflection of cost than a possibility. We all know Assistant General Manager Carlos Correa would immediately veto a trade of José Miranda. This situation simply bumped Ober, (who has struggled to remain healthy) from the bottom of the Twins' rotation and substituted Woodruff at the top. This also sees Brooks Lee as the Twins' long-term third baseman, debuting in 2023, with Miranda as more of a first base or DH option. Honorable Mentions I put the topic of pitching trade candidates on twitter and, as usual, Twins Daily readership came through in style. Other candidates that I didn’t include in-depth either as they had been recently written about, OR the trade fit wasn’t as obvious. They are, however, worth mentioning: Tyler Glasnow, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Logan Gilbert, Chris Sale, and Frankie Montas. The list goes on. It’s worth widening the lens when considering Twins trade targets. Thinking back to the Rangers/Yankees double trade last season, it feels likely they pursue a similarly creative path to upgrade the high-end talent on the roster. Ultimately, I’m in favor of the 3.5 fWAR threshold for starting pitching acquisitions. Given the prices, I think the Twins are unlikely to be, as it would involve parting with a close-to-the-majors prospect they see as part of their core, or MLB-level pieces they view as indispensable. Time will tell. Who would you like the Twins to trade for? Who are you willing to part with and who is off limits? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts in the chat.
  15. Some of these guys will play on the 2023 Twins, so you may as well read about them. Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports As we have seen the past two seasons, the Minnesota Twins have needed more than just their 26-man roster to get through the season. In fact, they have not only used their 40-man roster, but another 20+ players each year. That is the reason why we care so much about offseason minor-league signings, many of them will get an opportunity with the Twins at some time during the season. Here’s a list of the 25 players invited to join the 40-man roster players in Ft. Myers for spring training: Brooks Lee and Austin Martin are the two headline names. Lee, the Twins’ 1st round pick last year, looks to rub elbows with major leaguers for the first time in his career. Martin, now playing in his second spring training, can prove that his AFL performance was not a fluke. Both players will fight for who can pick Carlos Correa’s brain the most. Beyond them are some exciting arms: Cody Laweryson—a gliding righty who struck out over 30% of batters at Double-A; Evan Sisk—a cross-bodied lefty reliever who owned a 1.57 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A; and Blayne Enlow, who cleared waivers on Friday and will be looking for a chance to re-establish himself as an impact arm. As the post notes, 13 players—Willi Castro (Tigers), Mark Contreras (Twins), Danny Coulombe (A's, Dodgers, Twins), José De Léon (Dodgers, Rays, Reds), Randy Dobnak (Twins), Grayson Greiner (Tigers, Diamondbacks), Ryan LaMarre (Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, Yankees, A's, Twins), Patrick Murphy (Blue Jays, Nationals), Chance Sisco (Orioles, Mets), Elliot Soto (Angels, Twins), Brock Stewart (Dodgers, Blue Jays), Tyler White (Astros and Dodgers), and Tony Wolters (Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers)—can claim previous major-league experience. There’s a good chance a few of these players will impact the Twins in 2023. If you’re looking for an Author’s Choice list of players to keep an eye on, it goes as follows: Laweryson, Stewart, and Sisco. Laweryson, while lacking in prominent tools, punches people out with a tricky plane—an upward one, sorry Bert—and intimidating swan-like limbs. Stewart owns over 100 forgettable innings with the Dodgers, but his fastball was sitting in the mid-90s last season, making him one of the first choices when a reliever inevitably bites it. Cisco is a former top prospect whose sheen hasn’t sparkled in years. He earned surprisingly few major league opportunities, and a fresh start could produce better results for the catcher. Certainly more players will be invited in the coming weeks, but who would you say are the leading candidates for Sire of Ft. Myers based on this list? Comment below. View full article
  16. As we have seen the past two seasons, the Minnesota Twins have needed more than just their 26-man roster to get through the season. In fact, they have not only used their 40-man roster, but another 20+ players each year. That is the reason why we care so much about offseason minor-league signings, many of them will get an opportunity with the Twins at some time during the season. Here’s a list of the 25 players invited to join the 40-man roster players in Ft. Myers for spring training: Brooks Lee and Austin Martin are the two headline names. Lee, the Twins’ 1st round pick last year, looks to rub elbows with major leaguers for the first time in his career. Martin, now playing in his second spring training, can prove that his AFL performance was not a fluke. Both players will fight for who can pick Carlos Correa’s brain the most. Beyond them are some exciting arms: Cody Laweryson—a gliding righty who struck out over 30% of batters at Double-A; Evan Sisk—a cross-bodied lefty reliever who owned a 1.57 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A; and Blayne Enlow, who cleared waivers on Friday and will be looking for a chance to re-establish himself as an impact arm. As the post notes, 13 players—Willi Castro (Tigers), Mark Contreras (Twins), Danny Coulombe (A's, Dodgers, Twins), José De Léon (Dodgers, Rays, Reds), Randy Dobnak (Twins), Grayson Greiner (Tigers, Diamondbacks), Ryan LaMarre (Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, Yankees, A's, Twins), Patrick Murphy (Blue Jays, Nationals), Chance Sisco (Orioles, Mets), Elliot Soto (Angels, Twins), Brock Stewart (Dodgers, Blue Jays), Tyler White (Astros and Dodgers), and Tony Wolters (Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers)—can claim previous major-league experience. There’s a good chance a few of these players will impact the Twins in 2023. If you’re looking for an Author’s Choice list of players to keep an eye on, it goes as follows: Laweryson, Stewart, and Sisco. Laweryson, while lacking in prominent tools, punches people out with a tricky plane—an upward one, sorry Bert—and intimidating swan-like limbs. Stewart owns over 100 forgettable innings with the Dodgers, but his fastball was sitting in the mid-90s last season, making him one of the first choices when a reliever inevitably bites it. Cisco is a former top prospect whose sheen hasn’t sparkled in years. He earned surprisingly few major league opportunities, and a fresh start could produce better results for the catcher. Certainly more players will be invited in the coming weeks, but who would you say are the leading candidates for Sire of Ft. Myers based on this list? Comment below.
  17. Carlos Correa is a Twin! What does the move mean for Austin Martin, Brooks Lee, and Royce Lewis, a trio of high upside infield prospects? Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker - USA Today Sports Barring a dramatic third u-turn of the postseason, the Carlos Correa sweepstakes are over. Correa’s free agency played out much like a 2022 Vikings game, the Twins coming from behind to win a contest they had no right to. Fans can’t complain though, their team having linked the irresistibly charismatic duo of Correa and Byron Buxton together until at least 2028. Indications suggest Correa’s physical shouldn’t be a problem (Dr. Nick Riviera supervising). Jokes aside, the addition creates a log jam for the Twins in the infield, with established big leaguers (Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez ) and up and coming prospects (Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, and Austin Martin) vying for at bats. How will the Correa signing impact the Twins high ceiling infield prospects? Austin Martin There are folks still high on Martin as a prospect. I am not one of them. The centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade to the Blue Jays, Martin got off to a good start for the Twins, putting together a 122 wRC+ in his first 168 plate appearances at AA. 2022 was a struggle. In 404 plate appearances, Martin managed just an 89 wRC+, .315 SLG and committed 18 errors in 70 games at shortstop for AA Wichita, as a 23-year-old. Martin still has some value due to good on base skills and speed but he’s at the bottom of the depth chart for Twins infield prospects. I think it’s likely he’s part of a trade package for a team that thinks they can help him get back on track. Royce Lewis How different might the Twins offseason have looked if Lewis had remained healthy in 2022? In a tantalizing 40 plate appearances, he mashed to the tune of a 146 wRC+ and .550 SLG. Unsustainable numbers, but they provided a taste of Lewis’ incredible athleticism. Lewis also played better-than-expected defense and shortstop, managing 1 OAA in his 12 games. Projection systems like him for 2023, with Fangraphs predicting 2.3 fWAR in 330 plate appearances. The injury history is troubling, but Lewis still possesses the best athletic profile and some of the best speed in the organization. With Jose Miranda entrenched at third base, it’s possible Lewis becomes a right-handed outfield option (but that’s where he got hurt!), or he’s traded to help balance the roster. When asked about the signing of Correa, Lewis was his typically positive, effusive self. Brooks Lee The Twins couldn’t believe their luck in the 2022 draft when Brooks Lee, a candidate to go number one overall, fell into their laps at number eight. Lee has dominated in his short minor league career, posting a 140 wRC+ at A+ before moving to AA at the end of the season for a handful of games. While Lee’s defensive profile is not to stick at shortstop (he’s likely a good defensive third baseman), the hit tool is legit. He should be pushing a .300 batting average in MLB as a switch hitter and likely makes his debut with the Twins in 2023. Lee could fetch a hefty return in a trade package, as he was seen as the safest high ceiling pick in the 2022 draft. Clearly, Lee isn’t overly concerned with where he plays for the Twins, as he recently passed on to Ted Schwerzler. If you were in the hot seat, what would do with these three infield prospects? Move them to a different position? Trade them? Feel free to leave trade proposals or positional adjustment ideas in the comments. View full article
  18. Barring a dramatic third u-turn of the postseason, the Carlos Correa sweepstakes are over. Correa’s free agency played out much like a 2022 Vikings game, the Twins coming from behind to win a contest they had no right to. Fans can’t complain though, their team having linked the irresistibly charismatic duo of Correa and Byron Buxton together until at least 2028. Indications suggest Correa’s physical shouldn’t be a problem (Dr. Nick Riviera supervising). Jokes aside, the addition creates a log jam for the Twins in the infield, with established big leaguers (Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez ) and up and coming prospects (Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, and Austin Martin) vying for at bats. How will the Correa signing impact the Twins high ceiling infield prospects? Austin Martin There are folks still high on Martin as a prospect. I am not one of them. The centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade to the Blue Jays, Martin got off to a good start for the Twins, putting together a 122 wRC+ in his first 168 plate appearances at AA. 2022 was a struggle. In 404 plate appearances, Martin managed just an 89 wRC+, .315 SLG and committed 18 errors in 70 games at shortstop for AA Wichita, as a 23-year-old. Martin still has some value due to good on base skills and speed but he’s at the bottom of the depth chart for Twins infield prospects. I think it’s likely he’s part of a trade package for a team that thinks they can help him get back on track. Royce Lewis How different might the Twins offseason have looked if Lewis had remained healthy in 2022? In a tantalizing 40 plate appearances, he mashed to the tune of a 146 wRC+ and .550 SLG. Unsustainable numbers, but they provided a taste of Lewis’ incredible athleticism. Lewis also played better-than-expected defense and shortstop, managing 1 OAA in his 12 games. Projection systems like him for 2023, with Fangraphs predicting 2.3 fWAR in 330 plate appearances. The injury history is troubling, but Lewis still possesses the best athletic profile and some of the best speed in the organization. With Jose Miranda entrenched at third base, it’s possible Lewis becomes a right-handed outfield option (but that’s where he got hurt!), or he’s traded to help balance the roster. When asked about the signing of Correa, Lewis was his typically positive, effusive self. Brooks Lee The Twins couldn’t believe their luck in the 2022 draft when Brooks Lee, a candidate to go number one overall, fell into their laps at number eight. Lee has dominated in his short minor league career, posting a 140 wRC+ at A+ before moving to AA at the end of the season for a handful of games. While Lee’s defensive profile is not to stick at shortstop (he’s likely a good defensive third baseman), the hit tool is legit. He should be pushing a .300 batting average in MLB as a switch hitter and likely makes his debut with the Twins in 2023. Lee could fetch a hefty return in a trade package, as he was seen as the safest high ceiling pick in the 2022 draft. Clearly, Lee isn’t overly concerned with where he plays for the Twins, as he recently passed on to Ted Schwerzler. If you were in the hot seat, what would do with these three infield prospects? Move them to a different position? Trade them? Feel free to leave trade proposals or positional adjustment ideas in the comments.
  19. Let’s all take a collective deep breath here first; they did it. They really did it! In back-to-back offseasons, the Minnesota Twins landed arguably the greatest free agent available. Carlos Correa is staying in Minnesota. Image courtesy of © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports As reported this morning by Jeff Passan, the Minnesota Twins have officially agreed to terms with Carlos Correa. No, it’s not the $300+ million deal that the San Francisco Giants or New York Mets initially agreed to, but it is the largest contract this franchise has ever handed out to a free agent. Correa is locked in at six years and $200 million with a no-trade clause and no opt-outs through his age-33 season. The deal includes vesting options for years seven through ten, which could bring the total value to $270 million. The negotiations over the past several weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. From the time the New York Mets expressed concern over Correas health, through weeks of negotiations decreasing the guaranteed money, Minnesota remained persistent. Their efforts finally paid off Monday night when Correa's agent Scott Boras ended conversations with the Mets. Rocco Baldelli now has a significant amount of certainty regarding his infield on Opening Day. While Royce Lewis remains out for at least the first half of the year, Correa will play shortstop into the foreseeable future. Jorge Polanco is locked in as the starting second baseman, and Minnesota wants Jose Miranda to play the hot corner. It’s conceivable that Joey Gallo could factor in at first base, or it could be a combination of Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff. Either way, only the long-term replacement of Miguel Sano is truly up in the air. For Minnesota, the revolving door at shortstop is over. Yes, they acquired Kyle Farmer to set a baseline this offseason, but he’ll now be pushed to more of a utility role. Correa starts at short for the second straight Opening Day. No Minnesota shortstop has made three consecutive Opening Day starts since Cristian Guzman last did so in 2004. That level of fluctuation has never been a good thing at such a premium position. Last year Correa showed an immeasurable amount of leadership and production in the clubhouse. His 4.4 fWAR led the team, and Steamer projections have him coming in at 4.9 fWAR for 2023. Still entering his prime, there is no reason why Minnesota can’t see Correa replicating the 6.0 fWAR season he previously put up with the Houston Astros or potentially pushing the bar even further and winning an MVP. The clubhouse has to be elated to get such a rare monumental talent back for the long haul. Polanco, Arraez, and Miranda all found themselves on FaceTime with Correa during the Twins jersey reveal at Mall of America, and it’s clear this group is more than excited to have him still on their team. Outfielder Byron Buxton took to Twitter to show his emotions as well. For the rest of the roster, there is a bit of fallout to deal with. Correa, as mentioned, likely pushes Farmer to a utility role. Unfortunately, that impacts Nick Gordon the most. He could factor in as an extra outfielder, but the bat of Kyle Garlick could be a bigger draw. On the infield, it’s both Lewis and Brooks Lee that see a bit of an adjustment. Lee has yet to debut and now may have the luxury of more time to develop. Lewis has plenty of runway to clear before his health is restored, but he has positional flexibility already built-in with his athleticism. It remains to be seen what the Twins will do on the trade market. Their outfield seems packed, and now there are some assets on the infield that competitors could covet in trade. At this point, Minnesota is better off having Correa in their clubhouse, and they can shuffle the pieces as they need to when the time comes. View full article
  20. Every season top prospects climb the organizational ladder and reach the big leagues. Here are four Twins prospects that fans can get excited about debuting in 2023. Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports Prospect development is not a linear path. Some prospects reach the higher levels of the minor leagues and struggle, while others move quickly to the big-league level. Two of the prospects outlined below had a chance to reach the big leagues in 2022, but their performance didn't warrant a promotion. Injuries and poor performance can hurt a prospect's long-term outlook, but these players have the potential to impact the Twins in 2023. Brooks Lee TD Top Prospect Rank: 2 Debut Prediction: September Minnesota selected Lee as the team's top pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. He flew through three levels in the Twins system and ended the year at Double-A. In 31-games, he hit .303/.389/.451 (.839) with six doubles and four home runs. He likely spends most of 2023 at the Double-A level, but his performance will dictate his ultimate landing spot. There is no need to rush Lee to the big leagues, but his college experience and advanced bat can put him on track to be a late-season call-up. Austin Martin TD Top Prospect Rank: 6 Debut Prediction: July Martin entered the 2022 campaign as one of the Twins' top prospects, but his season went differently than planned. There was an opportunity for him to make his big-league debut in 2022 since he was repeating the Double-A level. Unfortunately, he struggled offensively with a .685 OPS while also dealing with a wrist injury. Martin ended September on a strong note and carried his hot hitting into the Arizona Fall League. If healthy, Martin is still part of the team's long-term plans while offering plenty of upside. Edouard Julien TD Top Prospect Rank: 10 Debut Prediction: May While Martin struggled in Wichita, Julien was one of the organization's breakout prospects in 2022. In 113 games, he hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. He posted an eye-popping 1.248 OPS this fall on the way to being named the AFL's Breakout Prospect. Julien is close to big-league-ready when it comes to his prospect development. He will play the year in the upper minors waiting for an opportunity to arise at the big-league level. Since he's on the 40-man roster, one injury is all it will take for a call-up. Jordan Balazovic TD Top Prospect Rank: 15 Debut Prediction: June Balazovic struggled through much of 2022 but ended the year on a high note. Minnesota needed many starting pitchers last season, but Balazovic never got the call. In 22 appearances (70.2 IP), he posted a 7.39 ERA with a 1.94 WHIP and a 76-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Multiple starting pitchers have passed him on the organizational depth chart, but there have been times when he was considered one of the team's best pitching prospects. His September might signify that he is ready to take the next step, which can set him up for a bounce back year in 2023. Will all of these prospects debut in 2023? Can Martin and Balazovic bounce back? Who are you most excited to see? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  21. As reported this morning by Jeff Passan, the Minnesota Twins have officially agreed to terms with Carlos Correa. No, it’s not the $300+ million deal that the San Francisco Giants or New York Mets initially agreed to, but it is the largest contract this franchise has ever handed out to a free agent. Correa is locked in at six years and $200 million with a no-trade clause and no opt-outs through his age-33 season. The deal includes vesting options for years seven through ten, which could bring the total value to $270 million. The negotiations over the past several weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. From the time the New York Mets expressed concern over Correas health, through weeks of negotiations decreasing the guaranteed money, Minnesota remained persistent. Their efforts finally paid off Monday night when Correa's agent Scott Boras ended conversations with the Mets. Rocco Baldelli now has a significant amount of certainty regarding his infield on Opening Day. While Royce Lewis remains out for at least the first half of the year, Correa will play shortstop into the foreseeable future. Jorge Polanco is locked in as the starting second baseman, and Minnesota wants Jose Miranda to play the hot corner. It’s conceivable that Joey Gallo could factor in at first base, or it could be a combination of Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff. Either way, only the long-term replacement of Miguel Sano is truly up in the air. For Minnesota, the revolving door at shortstop is over. Yes, they acquired Kyle Farmer to set a baseline this offseason, but he’ll now be pushed to more of a utility role. Correa starts at short for the second straight Opening Day. No Minnesota shortstop has made three consecutive Opening Day starts since Cristian Guzman last did so in 2004. That level of fluctuation has never been a good thing at such a premium position. Last year Correa showed an immeasurable amount of leadership and production in the clubhouse. His 4.4 fWAR led the team, and Steamer projections have him coming in at 4.9 fWAR for 2023. Still entering his prime, there is no reason why Minnesota can’t see Correa replicating the 6.0 fWAR season he previously put up with the Houston Astros or potentially pushing the bar even further and winning an MVP. The clubhouse has to be elated to get such a rare monumental talent back for the long haul. Polanco, Arraez, and Miranda all found themselves on FaceTime with Correa during the Twins jersey reveal at Mall of America, and it’s clear this group is more than excited to have him still on their team. Outfielder Byron Buxton took to Twitter to show his emotions as well. For the rest of the roster, there is a bit of fallout to deal with. Correa, as mentioned, likely pushes Farmer to a utility role. Unfortunately, that impacts Nick Gordon the most. He could factor in as an extra outfielder, but the bat of Kyle Garlick could be a bigger draw. On the infield, it’s both Lewis and Brooks Lee that see a bit of an adjustment. Lee has yet to debut and now may have the luxury of more time to develop. Lewis has plenty of runway to clear before his health is restored, but he has positional flexibility already built-in with his athleticism. It remains to be seen what the Twins will do on the trade market. Their outfield seems packed, and now there are some assets on the infield that competitors could covet in trade. At this point, Minnesota is better off having Correa in their clubhouse, and they can shuffle the pieces as they need to when the time comes.
  22. Prospect development is not a linear path. Some prospects reach the higher levels of the minor leagues and struggle, while others move quickly to the big-league level. Two of the prospects outlined below had a chance to reach the big leagues in 2022, but their performance didn't warrant a promotion. Injuries and poor performance can hurt a prospect's long-term outlook, but these players have the potential to impact the Twins in 2023. Brooks Lee TD Top Prospect Rank: 2 Debut Prediction: September Minnesota selected Lee as the team's top pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. He flew through three levels in the Twins system and ended the year at Double-A. In 31-games, he hit .303/.389/.451 (.839) with six doubles and four home runs. He likely spends most of 2023 at the Double-A level, but his performance will dictate his ultimate landing spot. There is no need to rush Lee to the big leagues, but his college experience and advanced bat can put him on track to be a late-season call-up. Austin Martin TD Top Prospect Rank: 6 Debut Prediction: July Martin entered the 2022 campaign as one of the Twins' top prospects, but his season went differently than planned. There was an opportunity for him to make his big-league debut in 2022 since he was repeating the Double-A level. Unfortunately, he struggled offensively with a .685 OPS while also dealing with a wrist injury. Martin ended September on a strong note and carried his hot hitting into the Arizona Fall League. If healthy, Martin is still part of the team's long-term plans while offering plenty of upside. Edouard Julien TD Top Prospect Rank: 10 Debut Prediction: May While Martin struggled in Wichita, Julien was one of the organization's breakout prospects in 2022. In 113 games, he hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. He posted an eye-popping 1.248 OPS this fall on the way to being named the AFL's Breakout Prospect. Julien is close to big-league-ready when it comes to his prospect development. He will play the year in the upper minors waiting for an opportunity to arise at the big-league level. Since he's on the 40-man roster, one injury is all it will take for a call-up. Jordan Balazovic TD Top Prospect Rank: 15 Debut Prediction: June Balazovic struggled through much of 2022 but ended the year on a high note. Minnesota needed many starting pitchers last season, but Balazovic never got the call. In 22 appearances (70.2 IP), he posted a 7.39 ERA with a 1.94 WHIP and a 76-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Multiple starting pitchers have passed him on the organizational depth chart, but there have been times when he was considered one of the team's best pitching prospects. His September might signify that he is ready to take the next step, which can set him up for a bounce back year in 2023. Will all of these prospects debut in 2023? Can Martin and Balazovic bounce back? Who are you most excited to see? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. Last season we saw the Minnesota Twins race out to an early season lead in the American League Central division. They held serve for the entirety of the summer, and despite making necessary additions at the trade deadline, sputtered late. In order to stay regain the division in 2023, they’ll need a few players to emerge from the farm. Image courtesy of © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Despite a strong 2021 in the minor leagues, Jose Miranda did not start the year on the Twins Opening Day roster. He needed to wait for an opportunity and then ran with it once one presented itself. We saw Matt Wallner force his way into the big league outfield by season’s end, and a handful of pitchers including both Simeon Woods Richardson and Louie Varland made their way to the majors. For Rocco Baldelli and the 2023 Minnesota Twins, plenty will be made about the remaining moves to come this offseason. There is no denying that Joey Gallo and Christian Vazquez aren’t enough to supplement this team. There is plenty more to be done in terms of acquisitions, but the more that Minnesota can draw from internal development the better. Who are some of the names on the farm that could fill some gaps in the year ahead? Edouard Julien A late round pick from Auburn in 2019, Julien has progressed nicely. He put on a show during the Arizona Fall League this year, and it only further substantiated his .931 OPS from Double-A Wichita. His power stroke is legit, and that’s a strong asset from the second base position. He could be a replacement for Jorge Polanco should he suffer an injury, or he could move around the diamond some. Julien will be 24 in 2023, and there is almost no reason for him to start anywhere but Triple-A St. Paul this season. He has crushed the ball every place he has gone for Minnesota, and getting this type of production from an 18th round selection is a massive win. Jordan Balazovic If there was a Twins prospect that had a nightmarish 2022 it was Balazovic. He entered the season as arguably Minnesota’s best pitching prospect, and he ended it failing to remain among many top 15’s. His 3.62 ERA at Double-A Wichita last season looked to have him close to Major League ready. Then the season got off to a slow start with a knee injury, and despite suggesting he was healthy, a 7.39 ERA across 70 2/3 Triple-A innings followed. The strikeouts stayed, and while his command faltered some, Balazovic basically became a batting practice pitcher allowing a whopping 2.5 HR/9. His previous career worst was 1.1 HR/9 as an 18-year-old in 2017, and if that can be figured out, a sucessful rebound should be in store. Brooks Lee A candidate to be taken first overall in the 2022 MLB Draft, Lee fell into the Twins lap at number eight. He wound up advancing all the way to Double-A and posted an .839 OPS in his first professional season. I’m still not sure if Lee will remain a shortstop, but there is zero question about his hit tool. There is probably not a ton of power in the bat, but he’s going to be a consistent gap hitter, and he looks extremely refined at the dish already. Barring an unexpected turn of events at shortstop, Lee could factor into an infield that will include young talents like Royce Lewis and Jose Miranda as soon as this year. With a ton of pre-draft hype, he’s lived up to all of it. David Festa Another later round pick that Minnesota has turned into found money, Festa was taken in the 13th round out of Seton Hall. He threw just 8 1/3 innings as a pro during his 2021 debut. Last season he racked up 103 2/3 innings split between two Single-A levels and posted a combined 2.43 ERA. His 9.4 K/9 was strong and Festa allowed only six homers. It may be a leap to think he’ll jump up high enough to make a Major League debut in 2023, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t start at Double-A, and that basically puts him on the doorstep following strong performance. Festa could take a path similar to that of Louie Varland, Bailey Ober, or Josh Winder in being somewhat of an overlooked prospect that forces his way into significant action. Blayne Enlow Another season removed from his Tommy John surgery, this could be the one that Enlow puts it all together. He was a draft prospect that this front office targeted with saved pool money, and he was projected to have a power arm. Throughout his minor league career Enlow has certainly been a strikeout pitcher, and that came back last season. Command was a bit of an issue during his first exposure at Double-A, but that’s not entirely unexpected given the return from injury. He’s done a good job limiting homers and has progressed nicely from a physical development perspective. It remains to be seen if he’ll stay starting or transition to a bullpen role, but there is reason to believe he’s not far from contributing at the Major League level. After a season in which we saw plenty of big league debuts, some from highly noteworthy Minnesota prospects, is there someone you’re excited for in the year ahead? Who do you think is worthy of this list and went unmentioned? View full article
  24. Prior to the 2019 Major League Baseball season Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made shrewd decisions to sign both Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler to extensions. Despite both players being years from free agency, their futures were locked up and gave the organization cost certainty. Now, Polanco’s deal is quickly coming to a crossroad Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Although the Twins may decide to deal Max Kepler this offseason rather than roster him alongside Joey Gallo, there seems to be less of an inclination that slugging second baseman Jorge Polanco is going anywhere. Although he is a failed shortstop, and has dealt with multiple ankle injuries in recent seasons, it’s clear Polanco is still a key piece of what Rocco Baldelli and the Twins want to do. 2023 is a very important juncture for Polanco with the Twins, and while the decision in front of him is not his, the level of health he can display will trigger an option for an extended payday. When Minnesota inked Polanco to his five-year deal back in 2019, it actually provided an opportunity for the Twins to get seven years out of their former star prospect. The contract includes a vesting option that triggers a $10.5 million salary for 2024 should he reach 550 plate appearances this year, and that would also allow for a $12 million team option to be triggered for 2025 if Minnesota wants to keep him at age-31. Given a full season of play, 550 plate appearances is something any regular should be able to blitz by. In fact, Polanco has done so in two of the past three full seasons (not including the truncated pandemic year), and he nearly accomplished that feat despite playing in just 133 games during 2017. Why this becomes a discussion is because Polanco missed substantial time in 2022, and the 2018 season suggests it may not be a fluke. The Twins truly employ one of the best offensive second baseman in baseball when Polanco is healthy. From 2019-2021 Polanco missed just 24 games. He was horrendous offensively during the Covid season, but still managed a 117 OPS+ combined over that stretch. Blasting a career best 33 homers in 2021 made him nothing short of a lineup pillar, even with team expectations having drastically fallen short. Minnesota may find themselves struggling to quantify Polanco’s production last season given the offensive downturn across the league as a whole. We know again that Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball used multiple different gameballs, and the league saw a substantial drop in OPS across the board. While his slugging percentage fell, Polanco’s .346 OBP checked in as his second-best mark, ranking only behind the .356 he put up in 2019. From a production standpoint, his presence in the lineup remained constant. The problem for Polanco, and the Twins, was the amount of time he was unavailable. Missing more than 35% of the games, Baldelli’s lineups were constantly without their starting second basemen, and fill-in Luis Arraez was already being asked to pull double-duty at first base. If Polanco’s injury history, namely his ankle, winds up being a nagging issue, the Twins could be in for a world of hurt. Despite being a batting champion and dearly beloved by Twins fans, it’s more than clear Arraez’s knees aren’t meant for every day action. Nick Gordon has shown to be a solid utility defender, but isn’t someone you want playing every day. Maybe Polanco gives way to a prospect like Brooks Lee, Austin Martin, or Edouard Julien if he misses time, but it’s safe to assume that both the team and the starter would like to see 2024 vest. We have seen Polanco remain healthy over extended periods of time previously, and he’ll need to play in something like 135 games to trigger the next phase of his contract. Getting him there should be something new athletic trainer Nick Paparesta is focused on through his offseason program, and the Twins would have no problem paying a guy posting 3 or 4 fWAR upwards of $10 million an offseason from now. View full article
  25. With the arrival of a new year, it's time to update my annual rankings of the top 20 most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization. Read on for the final installment, to see where I landed on the top five and find a full recap of the list. Image courtesy of David Berding-USA TODAY Sports 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 fourth installment, breaking down my picks for #1 through #5: the cornerstones upon which the Twins will aim to orchestrate their success in the coming years. First, a recap of the list as it stands, as covered in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3: 20. Matt Wallner, OF 19. Louie Varland, RHP 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 16. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B 15. Ryan Jeffers, C 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 13. Austin Martin, SS/OF 12. Connor Prielipp, LHP 11. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 10. Luis Arraez, 1B 9. Jose Miranda, 3B/1B 8. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP 6. Bailey Ober, RHP Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 1 through 5 5. Royce Lewis, SS 2022 Ranking: 4 In some ways, Lewis' 2022 season was obviously a huge setback. To come out on the other end of a long, grueling recovery from reconstructive knee surgery, only to reinjure the same ligament and recommence the very same process ... it's an almost unthinkable level of bad fortune. But that's not to say his season was a loss. Far from it. In 46 games between Triple-A and the majors, he showed plenty to solidify his status as a top-five asset in the organization. In 194 total plate appearances he batted .310 with 16 doubles, seven homers, and 12 steals. That includes a debut stint in the majors, filling in for COVID-stricken Carlos Correa, that was so impressive the Twins flipped Lewis' role – from shortstop to utilityman – on the fly in order to rush him back. As we all know, calamity struck soon as soon as he returned. And two straight serious injuries to the same knee, with the latest expected to keep him out until midseason, certainly diminishes his stock. But the talent, the electricity, the youth (still only 23), and especially his future importance cement him as a central asset of this franchise. It's really hard to doubt the kid at this point. 4. Jorge Polanco, 2B 2022 Ranking: 2 Polanco's value mainly derives from his steadiness: he's been a reliable, durable, clutch, consistent fixture near the top of the Twins lineup for years, and likely will be for several more. The 29-year-old is entering his final guaranteed year under contract, at a very reasonable $7.5 million price tag, but Minnesota has team options for 2024 ($10.5M) and 2025 ($12M). This is more favorable to the Twins than a straight three-year deal because they have the ability to pull out and save millions should Polanco collapse. One could argue there are some concerning signs on that front. He posted a career-high K-rate in 2022, causing his batting average to plummet to .235, well below his career .270 mark. He also ended the season on the injured list, with a knee issue adding to his medley of historical ankle injuries. But at the same time, Polanco showed signs of adapting his game to stay productive. His spike in K-rate came attached to a huge increase in walk rate, with an elite 14.4% mark more than doubling his 7.0% rate from 2021. As a result, Polanco posted the second-highest OBP of his career (.346). And while the stat sheet shows a drop-off in power, his batted-ball data was very strong, helping the second baseman produce a stellar .358 xwOB, which suggests his offensive approach is exactly where it needs to be. Polanco's getting older and a little more expensive, but remains an excellent star-caliber player and cornerstone for this franchise. 3. Joe Ryan, RHP 2022 Ranking: 7 In large part, these rankings are about upside and ceiling – as you'll see reflected in the top two choices. Players with a real chance to be cost-controlled superstars and top-tier performers at their position are the primest of assets, generally speaking. But you also need to weigh the probabilities and assign proper value to those who can reliably provide essential services to the team. Thus, Ryan finds himself in the top three. Is he an ace-caliber arm with the tantalizing potential of a Connor Prielipp? No. But what's great about Ryan is that he has no more rungs to climb, no more hurdles to jump, nothing left to prove. He's a bona fide major-league starter with a tremendous track record of durability and consistency on the mound across all levels. For an organization that has no other young pitchers who can rightly say the same, and no veteran starters under control beyond the 2023 season, these qualities make Ryan – who won't be eligible for free agency until after 2027 – an indispensable building block for the rotation going forward. 2. Brooks Lee, SS 2022 Ranking: NR To say the Twins think highly of Lee would be a mighty understatement. They were thrilled to get him with the eighth overall pick in last year's draft, and were so eager to move him through the organization that he concluded his half-season pro debut at Double-A. The baseball world at large is also taking notice. His stellar performance as a 21-year-old pro fresh out of college – .303/.389/.451 with a 20-to-16 K/BB ratio in 139 PA between three levels – quickly earned him distinction as the organization's top prospect in the eyes of many. Not only is the Cal Poly product flashing advanced hitting skills that could push him to the majors quickly, but he's also showing the defensive ability of a guy destined to play at least some shortstop once he gets there. No matter where he ends up on the diamond, Lee figures to be a central contributor on the Twins for many years. 1. Byron Buxton, CF 2022 Ranking: 1 The 2022 season was, in many ways, more of the same for Buxton. Many people would say that in a derisive way – immediately pointing to the injuries that sidelined him for much of the second half – but I mean it in a positive way. When on the field, the center fielder continued to solidify his status as a premier MLB player, earning his first All-Star nod and turning in the third 4+ fWAR season of his career (and second in a row). He set a career high in home runs with 28 while posting a 135 OPS+ and continuing to grade as one of the league's best defensive outfielders. Since 2019, Buxton ranks 36th among all MLB position players in fWAR, which is remarkable when you consider that he's played in literally half of his team's games during that span. (51%, to be exact.) He's one of the highest-impact players in baseball, without question. I am mindful of the factors detracting from Buxton's value as an asset, of course. Namely the injuries, which came roaring back in full force last year, as well as the steps being taken to mitigate those injuries (more days off and DH duty), which take away a bit of what he offers. But, as the aforementioned stats illustrate, he's still offering plenty. And as I wrote last year, his highly favorable contract accounts for all that risk. Even as his annual base salary escalates to an ongoing rate of $15 million annually this year, that's still a huge bargain for what he already provides, let alone the massive upside he brings to the table. I mean, we just saw the White Sox sign Andrew Benintendi to a five-year deal with the same annual rate. Benintendi has once in his career (2018) posted a 4.0 fWAR or better, which Buxton produced in 92 games last year. If the knee issue that tormented Buxton throughout 2022 proves chronic and recurring, that will impact his ability to remain atop this list going forward. For now, I'm keeping that possibility on the back-burner. If he can finally find a way to shake off the injuries and stay somewhat healthy, Buxton will rise to become one of the most valuable player assets in all of baseball. View full article
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