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  1. The Minnesota Twins are completing one of their most disappointing seasons in their history in one week. While they will only win around 70 games, they have major league talent under team control at every position except one--shortstop. Andrelton Simmons was acquired on a one-year deal and has shown himself to be a competent (not all-world) defender and has had a putrid offensive season. The consensus at this site is that he should not and will not return in 2022. By all measures, the 2021 Simmons has been among the worst hitters in MLB. Good luck elsewhere Simba. It didn't work out in Minnesota. Who replaces Simmons as the everyday SS next year? I think the question is interesting. The Twins can go several different directions, including moving Jorge Polanco back to short. I would think that any shortstop decision has to be made with an eye on some of the Twins top prospects. Royce Lewis will miss all of 2021 following knee surgery. Lewis has the potential to be the kind of five-tool star that Byron Buxton has teased us with when he has been healthy. Lewis also has a minor league resume that is considerably short of his potential and there are murmurs that he won't end up as a shortstop. Another top prospect is Austin Martin, obtained in the José Berríos trade, He also has a history at shortstop, but exclusively played outfield for Wichita since he was acquired by the Twins. Martin seems to have a much more refined hit tool than Lewis, with a high OBP and relatively low strikeouts. He hasn't demonstrated big power in the minors, however. Do the Twins believe either of these guys will be their everyday shortstop next year? I really doubt it. Lewis has almost no experience in the high minors and has essentially missed two years of baseball and while it is quite likely that Martin will make his major league debut next season, his most likely position will be outfield. A third minor league option is Wichita's regular shortstop this season, Jermaine Palacios. He has had a power surge and has been a shortstop through his minor league career. Could he make the jump? At least to start 2022, I think all three guys are longshots to even be on the major league roster. Of course, there are two possible candidates on the big league roster. Polanco has almost 500 games played at short, and while he isn't league average with the leather, he is a proven hitter. Nick Gordon has impressed, but despite playing a lot of shortstop in the minors, he's only logged 43 innings at short in this, his rookie year, with the Twins. Again, I have my doubts. However, I think the readiness of a replacement from the organization is the key to determining what type of player the Twins will seek to fill the void at shortstop. If they are convinced that one of their prospects will be an everyday shortstop in the majors by 2023, then the focus would be on more of a stopgap player, perhaps someone who might start the season as a regular, but could evolve into a utility player. If the feeling is that none of the prospects in the high minors can cut it as an everyday shortstop by 2023, then they have to sign someone with a bit more permanence. Signing someone from outside the organization for more than one year also would seem to create a glut of major league players. Sano and Kirilloff at first, Polanco, Arraez and Gordon at second, Donaldson at third with also Arraez capable at the hot corner. Add in that their near-certain Minor League Player of the Year, Jose Miranda, can fill first second and third and there seems to be too many players for the infield and DH positions. One additional thought--while he didn't get much love from Twins fans, I think the Twins missed Ehire Adrianza, or at least someone who could fill the role of Adrianza. Moving Polanco to shortstop whenever Simmons was hit for or had a day off seemed to disrupt the entire infield. Having a true backup shortstop who could fill in at other positions would have been a good thing for the Twins' roster. Having such a player in addition to Adrianza and Gordon might make the position player part of the roster very crowded. The frontline defense for the Twins was pretty good, but it seemed whenever a starter was subbed out, it would be for an inferior defender, sometimes weakening more than one position. I think that there is enough talent on the position player side for the Twins to contend, perhaps as soon as next year. To achieve the dream of contending, they would have to come up with pitching, but the late-season performances of Ryan and Ober offer hope that they might be pieces of the puzzle next year and that the minor leagues could possibly start producing good quality pitching from within the organization. There are decisions to be made. I don't see any clear path to solving the shortstop position problem, but there have to be answers somewhere. Falvey and Levine need to make the right choices in several areas to help bring the club back. Their jobs may depend on the choices they make.
  2. #8 - Matt Wallner OF (1st Round 2019, Southern Miss) | Another bat-first prospect, Wallner has some serious power behind his bat after hitting 58 HRs at Southern Mississippi (in just 872 PAs!). He did alright at Elizabethton, and his main concern as a hitter will be limiting the strikeouts. Defensively he's a subpar runner and will be limited to corner OF, if not 1B. He also pitched part-time in college, which means he's got the arm to throw out runners. | #7 - Brent Rooker 1B (1st Round 2017, Miss State) | Rooker's very similar to Sabato and Wallner, but unlike them, he's ready to play in the majors. He did well in his first week of games in the majors before fracturing his wrist on a pitch, and we saw a glimpse into his upside. He's got the power to hit 25+ HRs a season and his batting average did not suffer much in the minors. Strikeouts will be a concern, as he had a dangerously high 33.8% strikeout rate at AAA. Despite that he still hit .928 OPS with a super strong .399 OBP. Defensively, he really shouldn't be playing in the outfield. He hasn't played a ton of 1B, but hopefully he's given plenty of practice there because that would be an ideal place to end up. Otherwise he'll be a DH his whole career. | #6 - Jordan Balazovic RHP (5th Round 2016, HS) | The Twins have gone through a drought of starting pitcher prospects for at least 10 years, and have been desperate to get a guy like Balazovic up and going. He mowed through Fort Myers A+ in 2019 with a strong 2.84 ERA, a phenomenal K/9 rate (11.8) without a bad BB/9 rate (2.6). He uses a strong mix of a 94-95 MPH fastball that acts a sinker, and sprinkles in similar-looking curveballs and sliders. He needs to get more innings under his belt and I don't think he profiles as a #1 or #2 starter, but he has a clean injury history and he'll likely be starting in AA at the young age of 21. Balazovic has a bright future in the big leagues if he continues down the path he's headed. | #5 - Jhoan Duran RHP (International from Dominican Republic, acquired in 2018 trade) | The top pitching prospect, Duran turned his career around once arriving in the Twins organization, going from a #20-30 prospect in Arizona to top-tier prospect. Duran's fastball has sped up the past couple season, sitting in the upper 90s and he'll hit 100 every once in a while. His secondary pitch is a splitter that can hit 94, and consistently fool hitters with its fastball-speed. His command can be a bit shaky at times, but that's even been a huge problem for him. Duran does have the toolset to be a dynamite reliever, but he's successfully pitched a starter's workload in the minors and should land in the rotation. Perhaps he pitches in the Twins' bullpen down the stretch in 2021 as his first dip into the MLB pool. | #4 - Royce Lewis SS (1st Round 2017, HS) | Most prospect rankers won't agree with this, but I'm not as high on Lewis as most are. The first overall draft pick in 2017, Lewis had very strong 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he hit poorly in 2019 at A+ and AA. He was promoted to AA despite hitting .665 OPS, and proceeded to hit .649 OPS there. Critics have pointed out that Lewis' swing does not look good and his approach at the plate needs heavy refinement, and his pitch recognition is currently poor. He's still young, turning 22 this summer, but I don't think he's particularly close to being MLB-ready. There has also been debate about whether he will end up at SS or CF, as he has the raw speed to handle both. This ranking has mostly been negative, but Royce has the potential to become a talented hitter with 60-65 power potential and has the highest ceiling of any prospect on this team. I just get the sense that Lewis will become a hitter whose approach at the plate won't click until Year 4 or 5 of his career. | #3 - Alex Kiriloff OF (1st Round 2016, HS) | The Twins are poised to make Kiriloff their starting LF in 2021, and it's not hard to see why. He has a career .317 batting average in the minors, and that's no fluke. Scouts rave about his ability to make consistent contact on tough pitches, he has has some serious power behind his swing, with the potential for 20+ HRs a year. Kiriloff's focus on contact has kept the number of walks low, but that's not a big concern if he hits > .300. He's had a couple of wrist injuries and missed the entire 2017 season. Defensively Kiriloff is one of the lower prospects on this list, and while he has a good glove and a great arm, he may end up at 1B. Hopefully his bat will end up somehwere in the #2-4 spot in the lineup one day. | #2 - Ryan Jeffers C (2nd Round 2018, UNC Wilmington) | This is probably the highest you've ever seen Jeffers on a prospect ranking, but I am comfortable putting him this high. Good catching prospects are rare, and Jeffers is the entire package. He was yet another 'questionable draft pick' in the 2nd round, but the Twins organization sculpted him into one of the best defensive backstops in the minor leagues after initial scouting reports claimed he wouldn't be able to stay at catcher. He ranked as a top-notch pitch framer, and showed as much in his 26 game debut in 2020. His bat was always his calling card, and it didn't disappoint in the minors with a very strong (.296/.383/.453 .836 OPS). He'll take a lot of walks and has the potential for more power. Jeffers is ready to graduate off this list and will push for the starting role as the Twins' catcher. | #1 - Trevor Larnach OF (1st Round 2018, Oregon State) | I conclude with another bat-first position player, of whom has the best minor league track record to this point. Larnach covered 4 levels of the minor leagues through only two years (2018-19) and held his own at every level, never dipping below a .295 batting average or .840 OPS. In total he's recorded a (.307/.385/.468) triple slash, and that's even with only 18 HRs in that stretch. He's got more power in that bat, no doubt. Larnach will take plenty of walks too, as his K/BB ratio was very healthy too. Defensively he's a bit on the slower side, but I think he will work as a RF with a decent glove and strong arm. Once he figures out the big leagues, Larnach is a hitter whose name should be penned into the #3 spot in the lineup and be let loose to rake to his heart's content. || I will add one more blog post soon going over my formula of how these rankings were calculated. Until then, let me know what you think!
  3. I have been reading so many lists - the best for the Twins, oh wait, they signed elsewhere. Here are two pitchers who cannot stay healthy, which should we sign? Don't worry they can still get someone. There is still value at the bottom of the list. It is a weekly, if not daily, ritual. But what if they don't sign anyone and look inward? Let me speculate from I love the young guys to a lineup without a trade or a signing: Arraez - 2B Lewis - SS Polanco - U Blankenhorn or Gordon - U Donaldson 3B Sano - 1B Rooker - DH Kiriloff LF Buxton - CF Kepler - RF Cave - 4th OF Larnach - 5th OF/1B/DH Jeffers/Garver - C Berrios Maeda Pineda Duran Dobnak/Balazovic Robles Duffey Rogers Acala Colina Smeltzer Thorpe or a couple of our signings - none of which I know about Overall not bad (I think).
  4. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel have released their Top 100 Prospect List with brief summaries of each player. They have also added simple charts for each player, estimating the probability of future value. I like the charts because they are a reminder of how few players become MLB regulars. No big surprises with the list: 6. Lewis 16. Kirilloff 64. Graterol 99. Larnach The list includes 30 bonus players so that all 50FV players are included. "Kirilloff has a one in six chance of turning into Joey Votto".
  5. Bowden top 100 and TD top 20 The TD list and the Bowden rankings Once again I am interested in the ratings of Bowden just to give us a national perspective. This is not about right or wrong. I cannot judge any of them, but I do enjoy the ratings: 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 19. Jorge Alcala, RHP 18. LaMonte Wade, OF 17. Zack Littell, RHP 16. Gilberto Celestino, OF 15. Yunior Severino, 2B 14. Ben Rortvedt, C 13. Ryan Jeffers, C 12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP 11. Nick Gordon, SS 177 10. Akil Baddoo, OF Balazovic 170 9. Blayne Enlow, RHP 8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 162 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP 181 6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF 5. Wander Javier, SS 4. Trevor Larnach, OF 3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP 66 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF 10 TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis 7 The result of Bowdens ratings would have the top rookies for the Twins as 1. Lewis 2. Kiriloff 3. Graterol 4. Thorpe 5. Balazovic 6. Gordon 7. Duran I like this rating, but I am not an expert on prospects (not even close).
  6. Jim Bowden is releasing his top 200 on the Athletic. I am comparing where he ranks our players in order, since he has the entire MLB our numbers will not conform to his ranks, but will the sequence of ranking conform to our numbers? In the second 200 he has our number seven Jhoan Duran ranked 181. #11 Nick Gordon - Bowden has at 177. At 170, obviously above the last two is Jordan Balazovic. Why isn't he on our list? Bowden has Lewis Thorpe at 162 we have him at #8. Bowden had none of the Twins in his 101 – 150 Rating. Do we have that many in the top 100 or are we just a long way from Bowden’s perspective. Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects and Bowden rating. 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 19. Jorge Alcala, RHP 18. LaMonte Wade, OF 17. Zack Littell, RHP 16. Gilberto Celestino, OF 15. Yunior Severino, 2B 14. Ben Rortvedt, C 13. Ryan Jeffers, C 12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP 11. Nick Gordon, SS - 177 10. Akil Baddoo, OF 9. Blayne Enlow, RHP 8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP - 162 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP - 181 6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF 5. Wander Javier, SS 4. Trevor Larnach, OF 3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis Bowden Unrated by TD - Balazovic 170
  7. Baseball Prospectus has issued their Top 101 Prospects for 2019. The basic list is free for all interested. They issued a slew of supporting articles but they are protected by paywall. I need to resubscribe. Lewis, Kirilloff and Graterol make the grade but in a different order than usual. Larnach is on the "10 Just Missed" list.
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