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  1. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have not had a good experience on the free-agent market during their tenure at the top of Minnesota’s front office. Many organizations find landmines, but did this season include the worst signing in franchise history? After Jorge Polanco limped through 2020 with an ankle injury that required a second surgery, it became more than apparent that Rocco Baldelli needed a different option at shortstop. Before Royce Lewis was shelved with a torn ACL, the big league club needed a stabilizing presence at the most critical position on the infield. Casting a wide net made the most sense for the Twins. Marcus Semien was arguably the best option, and despite finishing a close runner-up for his services, the former Athletics infielder has posted an otherworldly season for the Blue Jays. Many players would qualify as fringe options, having one or more holes in their games. Falvey opted for a pact with Gold Glove-winning fielder Andrelton Simmons. The former Angels shortstop always carried a light bat, but his defense got the job done. Welcome to 2021. It’s not as though Simmons’ defense has fallen off a cliff; he’s still been a valuable commodity in the field for Minnesota. His 11 defensive runs saved rank third in baseball at the position, and he’s behind only Nick Ahmed and Francisco Lindor when it comes to outs above average at shortstop. Simmons has induced many highlight-reel plays this season behind Twins pitching, but his blunders have always been highly noticeable. Simmons has been miscast for a guy who needs to make an impact defensively to hide his bat, given the results Minnesota has generated on the season as a whole. He carries value for a good team that can afford to have a complete non-factor in the lineup. Given the Twins inability to pitch and often hit, the marginal defensive upgrade he has been only amplified the awful season of production. At -0.4 fWAR, Simmons has been Minnesota’s third-worst position player behind Willians Astudillo and Gilberto Celestino. Without finding a trade partner for him at the deadline, the Twins have allowed Simmons to play in 116 games despite being a free agent at year’s end. He’s being paid $10.5 million in 2021 and has been worse than a non-factor offensively. His .561 OPS is dead last in baseball among 154 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. He has a .286 OBP and has a whopping 14 extra-base hits. The most divisive contribution Simmons has made to the Twins clubhouse may have been a medical one. Just days after being outspoken regarding his stance on vaccines, the shortstop tested positive, and Minnesota soon experienced an outbreak. Without attributing fault to any one person, Simmons' brash nature and desire to publicly share his opinions on Twitter were undoubtedly met with backlash given how the season began to spiral. Over the years, plenty of front offices have missed when it comes to spending money on players leaving other organizations. Sometimes those players move on for the sake of a big contract. Other times it happens because the club is moving on before getting caught holding the bag. This may be more of the latter when considering the Angels situation, and Minnesota felt the wrath of a decision gone wrong. You could make a case for Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Ricky Nolasco when considering previous Twins missteps. Still, nothing about how Andrelton Simmons has fared in Minnesota is good, and it’s a shock he’ll survive the year without a DFA. Back to the drawing board at shortstop for 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. After Jorge Polanco limped through 2020 with an ankle injury that required a second surgery, it became more than apparent that Rocco Baldelli needed a different option at shortstop. Before Royce Lewis was shelved with a torn ACL, the big league club needed a stabilizing presence at the most critical position on the infield. Casting a wide net made the most sense for the Twins. Marcus Semien was arguably the best option, and despite finishing a close runner-up for his services, the former Athletics infielder has posted an otherworldly season for the Blue Jays. Many players would qualify as fringe options, having one or more holes in their games. Falvey opted for a pact with Gold Glove-winning fielder Andrelton Simmons. The former Angels shortstop always carried a light bat, but his defense got the job done. Welcome to 2021. It’s not as though Simmons’ defense has fallen off a cliff; he’s still been a valuable commodity in the field for Minnesota. His 11 defensive runs saved rank third in baseball at the position, and he’s behind only Nick Ahmed and Francisco Lindor when it comes to outs above average at shortstop. Simmons has induced many highlight-reel plays this season behind Twins pitching, but his blunders have always been highly noticeable. Simmons has been miscast for a guy who needs to make an impact defensively to hide his bat, given the results Minnesota has generated on the season as a whole. He carries value for a good team that can afford to have a complete non-factor in the lineup. Given the Twins inability to pitch and often hit, the marginal defensive upgrade he has been only amplified the awful season of production. At -0.4 fWAR, Simmons has been Minnesota’s third-worst position player behind Willians Astudillo and Gilberto Celestino. Without finding a trade partner for him at the deadline, the Twins have allowed Simmons to play in 116 games despite being a free agent at year’s end. He’s being paid $10.5 million in 2021 and has been worse than a non-factor offensively. His .561 OPS is dead last in baseball among 154 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. He has a .286 OBP and has a whopping 14 extra-base hits. The most divisive contribution Simmons has made to the Twins clubhouse may have been a medical one. Just days after being outspoken regarding his stance on vaccines, the shortstop tested positive, and Minnesota soon experienced an outbreak. Without attributing fault to any one person, Simmons' brash nature and desire to publicly share his opinions on Twitter were undoubtedly met with backlash given how the season began to spiral. Over the years, plenty of front offices have missed when it comes to spending money on players leaving other organizations. Sometimes those players move on for the sake of a big contract. Other times it happens because the club is moving on before getting caught holding the bag. This may be more of the latter when considering the Angels situation, and Minnesota felt the wrath of a decision gone wrong. You could make a case for Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Ricky Nolasco when considering previous Twins missteps. Still, nothing about how Andrelton Simmons has fared in Minnesota is good, and it’s a shock he’ll survive the year without a DFA. Back to the drawing board at shortstop for 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. The doldrums of August have arrived, the Minnesota Twins are firmly outside of the playoff picture, and fans' eyes have begun to aim their gaze with increasing amounts of intensity towards the offseason. While free agency and trades most often dominate the conversation during the winter, another topic of conversation quietly drums on in the background: the 40-man roster. The Twins will be faced with several decisions during the offseason concerning the makeup of their roster, beginning with who's placed on and removed from the 40-man. While it may seem as though the team will be confronted with many impossible decisions, the fact of the matter is that the Twins are well-positioned to add critical prospects to the 40-man without losing much in the way of established talent and productivity. Below is a discussion of the Twins 40-man roster, primarily regarding their top prospects. Twins Daily's most recent Top 30 prospect list was used for reference. Already on the 40-man Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Drew Strotman, RHP Gilberto Celestino, OF Edwar Colina, RHP Brent Rooker, OF/DH Nick Gordon, UTIL Of the players listed above, only Rooker's future with the team appears to be dubious. Perhaps Gordon's as well. If the Twins were to try to drop them from the 40-man — something that I don't consider to be particularly likely — they both would be claimed. While Rooker and Gordon may not remain as Twins for the long haul, Minnesota likely won't just give them away for free. The remainder of the athletes above will probably fill critical roles with the Twins, if not next summer, then in the summers to follow. Not eligible for Rule 5 Draft or Minor League Free Agency Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Austin Martin, OF/SS Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Keoni Cavaco, INF Misael Urbina, OF Matt Wallner, OF/DH Alerick Soulaire, UTIL Will Holland, INF Marco Raya, RHP Spencer Steer, INF Steve Hajjar, LHP Louie Varland, RHP Noah Miller, INF Chase Petty, RHP All of these guys are going to be sticking around for at least one more season, if not longer. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team. None of the players above meet the criteria, so they aren't going anywhere unless traded. Additionally, save for perhaps Austin Martin and Matt Canterino, it's unlikely that any of the above athletes will be promoted to the majors at any point next season. The majority are still fairly young or lack professional experience, meaning some more seasoning in the minor leagues is more than warranted. 40-man Locks Jose Miranda, INF Joe Ryan, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Royce Lewis, SS/OF Jovani Moran, LHP There's no chance that the Twins will risk losing any of these guys. Miranda has been the most impressive minor league player in the system — if not all of MiLB — and will likely slot in somewhere in the infield next season. Joe Ryan and Josh Winder will probably be among those competing for a starting rotation spot next spring. Cole Sands has dominated the minors when healthy. Royce Lewis is a potential franchise cornerstone. Jovani Moran is already an MLB-caliber reliever. While all five athletes may not make the Opening Day roster, they will all accumulate service time beginning next summer, if not sooner. 50/50 Chance Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Yennier Cano, RHP Ian Hamilton, RHP Yunior Severino, INF Jermaine Palacios, INF Here's where the Twins need to make some decisions. Enlow was a third-round pick in 2017 out of high school and has been phenomenal during his minor league career. However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins. Because of this, I would not be surprised if the Twins placed him on the 40-man rather than risk losing him for nothing. As I have discussed frequently, Vallimont is an enigma. He has fantastic raw stuff and strikeout numbers, but he lacks command and gives up too many free passes and runs. While he may eventually become an MLB pitcher, he isn't particularly close to being one at the moment. For this reason, I think it would be unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 Draft, and, as such, I could see the Twins keeping him off their 40-man. Cano is an electric bullpen arm that dominated the lower minor leagues but has struggled a little bit since being promoted to Triple-A. That said, he has the raw stuff to carve out a major league career. He's already 27-years-old, but has only spent two seasons in the minors after signing as a free agent in 2019. So while he isn't eligible for the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, one figures that if he's going to make it to the big leagues, he'll likely have to do it soon. I'd be surprised if we don't see him in Minneapolis at some point next season. Odds are that he won't be added to the 40-man until next season if he isn't by the end of this one. Both Severino and Palacios were former highly-touted prospects who failed to live up to expectations, though both have been performing exceptionally well as of late. As was the case with Vallimont, neither are ready to face MLB pitchers consistently. However, both still have a fair amount of potential, especially if their recent output remains. Palacios would be eligible for free agency if he is not rostered, while Severino would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If I'm the Twins, I place Severino on the 40-man and hope I can re-sign Palacios. Hamilton's situation is akin to that of Palacios. He's a former highly-regarded prospect who will be eligible for free agency if not added to the 40-man. He's shown promise this season at the Triple-A level, hitting 100 mph with his fastball on multiple occasions. Frankly, it's a little surprising that the Twins haven't given him a shot to this point, and, who knows, maybe they'll do so before the summer is over. Regardless, Hamilton has shown that he still has MLB talent and simply letting him walk could prove to be a poor decision. Rather Unlikely Notable Prospects Wander Javier, SS Trey Cabbage, OF/DH Both Javier and Cabbage will be eligible for minor league free agency following the season, though I doubt that the Twins will use that fact as motivation to put them on the 40-man. Javier has been too inconsistent at the plate to justify a roster spot, while Cabbage is a power-hitting corner outfielder/1B/DH-type. Cabbage is in the midst of a career year and does have some value; however, the Twins are loaded with young, power-hitting outfield talent. He could probably fetch something like a potential bullpen arm in a trade, but the odds of a team trading for him when they could try to sign him away from the Twins are low. Impending Free Agents Michael Pineda, RHP Alexander Colome, RHP Andrelton Simmons, SS The Twins may try to re-sign Pineda and Colome this coming winter, but Simmons seems highly unlikely to return, especially with Lewis's arrival right around the corner. I'd put the over/under on open 40-man roster spots from this group at 1.5. 40-Man Spots That May Be Up For Grabs Charlie Barnes, LHP Devin Smeltzer, LHP Beau Burrows, RHP Danny Coulombe, LHP Luke Farrell, RHP Edgar Garcia, RHP Ralph Garza Jr., RHP Juan Minaya, RHP Cody Stashak, RHP Lewis Thorpe, LHP Nick Vincent, RHP Derek Law, RHP Willians Astudillo, UTIL Jake Cave, OF Kyle Garlick, OF Rob Refsnyder, OF The Twins have a bevy of bullpen arms, bench players, and trade candidates that could be on the move this offseason. As such, the team has at least 16 40-man spots — and that may be an underestimate — to play with. Add in the impending free agents, and that number jumps to 19. Subtract the locks, and that number falls to 14. So while it may seem as though the Twins are on the cusp of a roster crunch at first blush, the reality is that the team has plenty of room to play with this coming winter. If the team loses anyone to the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, it's because the team determined that they were of little value to them moving forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here View full article
  4. Minnesota added a strong draft class and traded for multiple top-100 prospects at the trade deadline resulting in significant shifts in the team's top prospect rankings. Here is a recap of last week's top-30 prospect countdown. Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects 30. Marco Raya, RHP: Four-pitch mix has the Twins excited about his future. 29. Jovani Moran, LHP: Dominant change-up has him close to the big leagues. 28. Steve Hajjar, LHP: 2021 Second Round Pick that led the Big 10 in Ks. 27. Wander Javier, SS: Five-tool potential that hasn’t put it all together yet. 26. Alerick Soularie, 2B: One of the best athletes in the Twins system. 25. Chris Vallimont, RHP: Has dynamic stuff, but can his command improve? 24. Louie Varland, RHP: Had dominant stretches at Low- and High-A this season. 23. Nick Gordon, UTL: May have a bright future as a true utility man. 22. Aaron Sabato, 1B: 2020 First Round Pick, whose power is now showing up. 21. Edouard Julien, INF: An on-base machine with some pop and defensive flexibility. 20. Spencer Steer, INF: Powerful infielder with college experience. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Striking out nearly 12 batters per nine at Double-A. 18. Misael Urbina, OF: Showcasing advanced approach even against older competition. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Tommy John surgery will keep him out until 2022. 16: Brent Rooker, OF: Already 26-years old, but has the system's best power tool. 15. Noah Miller, INF: 2021 Compensation Pick that will take time to develop. 14. Drew Strotman, RHP: Intriguing repertoire of major league quality pitches. 13. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Rushed to the MLB level this year but has plenty of tools. 12. Matt Wallner, OF: High strikeout guy with light-tower power. 11. Josh Winder, RHP: He struck out more than 30% of batters he faced at Double-A. 10. Keoni Cavaco, SS: 2019 First Round Pick with five-tool athleticism. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: 2021 First Round Pick with an electric fastball. 8. Matt Canterino, RHP: Recently returned from injury and racking up strikeouts. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP: Acquired for Cruz, he figures to be in the mix for the 2022 rotation. 6. Jose Miranda, 3B: Likely the organization’s minor league player of the year. 5. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Has immense potential if he can stay healthy. 4. Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP: Newly acquired pitcher is very young for Double-A. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Strikeout rate is improving. Triple-A might be his horizon. 2. Austin Martin, SS/CF: Newly acquired prospect is an OBP machine, but will the power come? 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. DEBATE AT THE TOP Austin Martin will be ranked higher than Royce Lewis on many national prospect lists, especially with Lewis missing the entire 2021 season. Both players have tremendous potential, but they each come with their own flaws. Martin’s stock might have been low when the Twins dealt for him. He has been getting on-base over 40% of the time this season, but the power he showed in college hasn’t shown up during his pro career. Defensively, he has a lot of flexibility, but that also means there are some questions about his defensive future. Lewis dominated the 2019 Arizona Fall League, but this came on the heels of a season where he struggled offensively at High-A and Double-A. He made strides at the team’s alternate site in 2020, and then a fluke injury put him on the sidelines for all of 2021. Like Martin, there are questions about his defensive future, but he has the athleticism to play in multiple spots. Overall, Lewis may have the higher ceiling, and Martin has the higher floor. MOVEMENT ON THE LIST Because of the influx of new prospects, most prospects on this list dropped from their midseason rankings. Jordan Balazovic and Jose Miranda are two prospects that have seen their stock rise the most during the 2021 season. Miranda has been dominating the upper levels of the minors this season, and he should make his big-league debut before the season’s end. Balazovic started the year on the IL, but he has been healthy since then, and his strikeout rate continues to rise. One of the most significant drops this season has been Aaron Sabato. When the Twins drafted him in 2020, scouting reports touted his powerful swing and advanced approach. His power hadn't made much of an appearance in his first professional season as he was limited to four home runs entering August. Now, he's clubbed six home runs in eight August games. If he continues this powerful pace, there's certainly potential for him to move up this list during the offseason. TOP 30 POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C- 0 IF- 10 OF- 5 RHP- 13 LHP- 2 Back in February, Nick identified two deficiencies in the Twins system, high-level infield talent, and left-handed pitching. Minnesota has seen some changes in those two categories this season. Austin Martin adds to the team’s high-level infield talent even if he ends up at second base. Jose Miranda’s emergence also adds to the team’s long-term infield plans. As far as left-handed pitchers, there weren’t any on the Twins Daily Top-20 list entering the season, and there weren’t any in the top-20 listed above. However, Jovani Moran (29th) looks like he can be a dominant big-league reliever. Steve Hajjar brings in college experience with the potential to move quickly through the minors. What are your thoughts on the changes to the team’s top prospects? How do you feel about the system as a whole? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion View full article
  5. Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects 30. Marco Raya, RHP: Four-pitch mix has the Twins excited about his future. 29. Jovani Moran, LHP: Dominant change-up has him close to the big leagues. 28. Steve Hajjar, LHP: 2021 Second Round Pick that led the Big 10 in Ks. 27. Wander Javier, SS: Five-tool potential that hasn’t put it all together yet. 26. Alerick Soularie, 2B: One of the best athletes in the Twins system. 25. Chris Vallimont, RHP: Has dynamic stuff, but can his command improve? 24. Louie Varland, RHP: Had dominant stretches at Low- and High-A this season. 23. Nick Gordon, UTL: May have a bright future as a true utility man. 22. Aaron Sabato, 1B: 2020 First Round Pick, whose power is now showing up. 21. Edouard Julien, INF: An on-base machine with some pop and defensive flexibility. 20. Spencer Steer, INF: Powerful infielder with college experience. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Striking out nearly 12 batters per nine at Double-A. 18. Misael Urbina, OF: Showcasing advanced approach even against older competition. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Tommy John surgery will keep him out until 2022. 16: Brent Rooker, OF: Already 26-years old, but has the system's best power tool. 15. Noah Miller, INF: 2021 Compensation Pick that will take time to develop. 14. Drew Strotman, RHP: Intriguing repertoire of major league quality pitches. 13. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Rushed to the MLB level this year but has plenty of tools. 12. Matt Wallner, OF: High strikeout guy with light-tower power. 11. Josh Winder, RHP: He struck out more than 30% of batters he faced at Double-A. 10. Keoni Cavaco, SS: 2019 First Round Pick with five-tool athleticism. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: 2021 First Round Pick with an electric fastball. 8. Matt Canterino, RHP: Recently returned from injury and racking up strikeouts. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP: Acquired for Cruz, he figures to be in the mix for the 2022 rotation. 6. Jose Miranda, 3B: Likely the organization’s minor league player of the year. 5. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Has immense potential if he can stay healthy. 4. Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP: Newly acquired pitcher is very young for Double-A. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Strikeout rate is improving. Triple-A might be his horizon. 2. Austin Martin, SS/CF: Newly acquired prospect is an OBP machine, but will the power come? 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. DEBATE AT THE TOP Austin Martin will be ranked higher than Royce Lewis on many national prospect lists, especially with Lewis missing the entire 2021 season. Both players have tremendous potential, but they each come with their own flaws. Martin’s stock might have been low when the Twins dealt for him. He has been getting on-base over 40% of the time this season, but the power he showed in college hasn’t shown up during his pro career. Defensively, he has a lot of flexibility, but that also means there are some questions about his defensive future. Lewis dominated the 2019 Arizona Fall League, but this came on the heels of a season where he struggled offensively at High-A and Double-A. He made strides at the team’s alternate site in 2020, and then a fluke injury put him on the sidelines for all of 2021. Like Martin, there are questions about his defensive future, but he has the athleticism to play in multiple spots. Overall, Lewis may have the higher ceiling, and Martin has the higher floor. MOVEMENT ON THE LIST Because of the influx of new prospects, most prospects on this list dropped from their midseason rankings. Jordan Balazovic and Jose Miranda are two prospects that have seen their stock rise the most during the 2021 season. Miranda has been dominating the upper levels of the minors this season, and he should make his big-league debut before the season’s end. Balazovic started the year on the IL, but he has been healthy since then, and his strikeout rate continues to rise. One of the most significant drops this season has been Aaron Sabato. When the Twins drafted him in 2020, scouting reports touted his powerful swing and advanced approach. His power hadn't made much of an appearance in his first professional season as he was limited to four home runs entering August. Now, he's clubbed six home runs in eight August games. If he continues this powerful pace, there's certainly potential for him to move up this list during the offseason. TOP 30 POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C- 0 IF- 10 OF- 5 RHP- 13 LHP- 2 Back in February, Nick identified two deficiencies in the Twins system, high-level infield talent, and left-handed pitching. Minnesota has seen some changes in those two categories this season. Austin Martin adds to the team’s high-level infield talent even if he ends up at second base. Jose Miranda’s emergence also adds to the team’s long-term infield plans. As far as left-handed pitchers, there weren’t any on the Twins Daily Top-20 list entering the season, and there weren’t any in the top-20 listed above. However, Jovani Moran (29th) looks like he can be a dominant big-league reliever. Steve Hajjar brings in college experience with the potential to move quickly through the minors. What are your thoughts on the changes to the team’s top prospects? How do you feel about the system as a whole? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion
  6. The Twins will be faced with several decisions during the offseason concerning the makeup of their roster, beginning with who's placed on and removed from the 40-man. While it may seem as though the team will be confronted with many impossible decisions, the fact of the matter is that the Twins are well-positioned to add critical prospects to the 40-man without losing much in the way of established talent and productivity. Below is a discussion of the Twins 40-man roster, primarily regarding their top prospects. Twins Daily's most recent Top 30 prospect list was used for reference. Already on the 40-man Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Drew Strotman, RHP Gilberto Celestino, OF Edwar Colina, RHP Brent Rooker, OF/DH Nick Gordon, UTIL Of the players listed above, only Rooker's future with the team appears to be dubious. Perhaps Gordon's as well. If the Twins were to try to drop them from the 40-man — something that I don't consider to be particularly likely — they both would be claimed. While Rooker and Gordon may not remain as Twins for the long haul, Minnesota likely won't just give them away for free. The remainder of the athletes above will probably fill critical roles with the Twins, if not next summer, then in the summers to follow. Not eligible for Rule 5 Draft or Minor League Free Agency Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Austin Martin, OF/SS Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Keoni Cavaco, INF Misael Urbina, OF Matt Wallner, OF/DH Alerick Soulaire, UTIL Will Holland, INF Marco Raya, RHP Spencer Steer, INF Steve Hajjar, LHP Louie Varland, RHP Noah Miller, INF Chase Petty, RHP All of these guys are going to be sticking around for at least one more season, if not longer. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team. None of the players above meet the criteria, so they aren't going anywhere unless traded. Additionally, save for perhaps Austin Martin and Matt Canterino, it's unlikely that any of the above athletes will be promoted to the majors at any point next season. The majority are still fairly young or lack professional experience, meaning some more seasoning in the minor leagues is more than warranted. 40-man Locks Jose Miranda, INF Joe Ryan, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Royce Lewis, SS/OF Jovani Moran, LHP There's no chance that the Twins will risk losing any of these guys. Miranda has been the most impressive minor league player in the system — if not all of MiLB — and will likely slot in somewhere in the infield next season. Joe Ryan and Josh Winder will probably be among those competing for a starting rotation spot next spring. Cole Sands has dominated the minors when healthy. Royce Lewis is a potential franchise cornerstone. Jovani Moran is already an MLB-caliber reliever. While all five athletes may not make the Opening Day roster, they will all accumulate service time beginning next summer, if not sooner. 50/50 Chance Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Yennier Cano, RHP Ian Hamilton, RHP Yunior Severino, INF Jermaine Palacios, INF Here's where the Twins need to make some decisions. Enlow was a third-round pick in 2017 out of high school and has been phenomenal during his minor league career. However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins. Because of this, I would not be surprised if the Twins placed him on the 40-man rather than risk losing him for nothing. As I have discussed frequently, Vallimont is an enigma. He has fantastic raw stuff and strikeout numbers, but he lacks command and gives up too many free passes and runs. While he may eventually become an MLB pitcher, he isn't particularly close to being one at the moment. For this reason, I think it would be unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 Draft, and, as such, I could see the Twins keeping him off their 40-man. Cano is an electric bullpen arm that dominated the lower minor leagues but has struggled a little bit since being promoted to Triple-A. That said, he has the raw stuff to carve out a major league career. He's already 27-years-old, but has only spent two seasons in the minors after signing as a free agent in 2019. So while he isn't eligible for the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, one figures that if he's going to make it to the big leagues, he'll likely have to do it soon. I'd be surprised if we don't see him in Minneapolis at some point next season. Odds are that he won't be added to the 40-man until next season if he isn't by the end of this one. Both Severino and Palacios were former highly-touted prospects who failed to live up to expectations, though both have been performing exceptionally well as of late. As was the case with Vallimont, neither are ready to face MLB pitchers consistently. However, both still have a fair amount of potential, especially if their recent output remains. Palacios would be eligible for free agency if he is not rostered, while Severino would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If I'm the Twins, I place Severino on the 40-man and hope I can re-sign Palacios. Hamilton's situation is akin to that of Palacios. He's a former highly-regarded prospect who will be eligible for free agency if not added to the 40-man. He's shown promise this season at the Triple-A level, hitting 100 mph with his fastball on multiple occasions. Frankly, it's a little surprising that the Twins haven't given him a shot to this point, and, who knows, maybe they'll do so before the summer is over. Regardless, Hamilton has shown that he still has MLB talent and simply letting him walk could prove to be a poor decision. Rather Unlikely Notable Prospects Wander Javier, SS Trey Cabbage, OF/DH Both Javier and Cabbage will be eligible for minor league free agency following the season, though I doubt that the Twins will use that fact as motivation to put them on the 40-man. Javier has been too inconsistent at the plate to justify a roster spot, while Cabbage is a power-hitting corner outfielder/1B/DH-type. Cabbage is in the midst of a career year and does have some value; however, the Twins are loaded with young, power-hitting outfield talent. He could probably fetch something like a potential bullpen arm in a trade, but the odds of a team trading for him when they could try to sign him away from the Twins are low. Impending Free Agents Michael Pineda, RHP Alexander Colome, RHP Andrelton Simmons, SS The Twins may try to re-sign Pineda and Colome this coming winter, but Simmons seems highly unlikely to return, especially with Lewis's arrival right around the corner. I'd put the over/under on open 40-man roster spots from this group at 1.5. 40-Man Spots That May Be Up For Grabs Charlie Barnes, LHP Devin Smeltzer, LHP Beau Burrows, RHP Danny Coulombe, LHP Luke Farrell, RHP Edgar Garcia, RHP Ralph Garza Jr., RHP Juan Minaya, RHP Cody Stashak, RHP Lewis Thorpe, LHP Nick Vincent, RHP Derek Law, RHP Willians Astudillo, UTIL Jake Cave, OF Kyle Garlick, OF Rob Refsnyder, OF The Twins have a bevy of bullpen arms, bench players, and trade candidates that could be on the move this offseason. As such, the team has at least 16 40-man spots — and that may be an underestimate — to play with. Add in the impending free agents, and that number jumps to 19. Subtract the locks, and that number falls to 14. So while it may seem as though the Twins are on the cusp of a roster crunch at first blush, the reality is that the team has plenty of room to play with this coming winter. If the team loses anyone to the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, it's because the team determined that they were of little value to them moving forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here
  7. Austin Martin is the shiny new prospect. Royce Lewis is a name that is familiar to fans. Which player will be named the team’s top prospect? 5. RHP Jhoan Duran (23 years old) Season Stats (AAA): 16.0 IP (5 G), 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12.4 K/9. 7.3 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 2, 2021 Preseason: 5 Duran is one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins system in quite some time. He can consistently hit triple digits with his fastball while mixing in a splitter, curveball, and changeup. One of his pitches sometimes referred to as a splinker, is similar to another big-leaguer. His biggest concerns are control and staying healthy. Currently, he is out with an elbow strain, and he also dealt with a trapezius issue earlier in the year. When he went on the IL at the end of June, the recommendation was for him to be shut down for 5-6 weeks, and surgery will not be needed for the time being. Minnesota can hold its collective breath and hope Duran doesn’t need to go under the knife and miss significant time in 2022. 4. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (20 years old) Season Stats (AA): 45.1 IP (11 G), 5.76 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about Woods-Richardson as he was acquired as part of the José Berríos trade. He showcases a traditional mix of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, all four pitches already grade at a 55 (20-80 scale) or higher. Toronto was aggressive with sending him to Double-A as a 20-year old, and the Twins have assigned him to the same level as he returned from the Olympics. Minnesota will be his third organization since being drafted in 2018, and it should be the organization where he will make his big-league debut. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 63.1 IP (13 G), 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 3, 2021 Preseason: 6 Minnesota snagged Balazovic back in 2016 in the fifth round out of Canada. Balazovic started the year on the IL, so his first game action didn’t come until the beginning of June. After shaking some dust off, he had a terrific month of July as he posted a 2.86 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has allowed three runs or fewer, including seven appearances with no runs allowed. His strikeout rate is higher than his career mark, and he faces older batters over 80% of the time. Will he get a shot at Triple-A before the season’s done? 2. SS/CF Austin Martin (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 62 G, .291/.438/.391 (.829), 2 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B,19.4 K%, 15.2 BB% Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline While most will have Martin in the #1 spot among Twins prospects, he slots in at #2 here as the organization might have bought low on him. There are a lot of similarities between Lewis and Martin which means they both have immense potential. Since he is new to the organization, here are a few things to learn about him. Martin may be able to play shortstop, but he can also play other infield and outfield positions as needed. He played a lot of third base in college, but the Twins will have him focus on center field. He will hit for average and get on base. The remaining question is how much power he’ll be able to provide. 1. SS Royce Lewis (22 years old) Season Stats: Out for the season after ACL surgery Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 1, 2021 Preseason: 2 Eight out of ten Twins Daily Minor League Writers agree, Royce Lewis returns to the #1 spot in our Twins Top Prospect rankings. He made strides in 2020 at the alternate site. He’s begun some baseball activities recently after spring training ACL reconstruction. Lewis has power. He has speed. He has the potential to stick at shortstop but can be versatile. Other players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft have started to perform, so some might question whether Lewis was the right choice. Martin might have a higher floor than Lewis, but Lewis has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Prospects 6-10 -Prospects 11-15 -Prospects 16-20 -Prospects 21-25 -Prospects 26-30 View full article
  8. 5. RHP Jhoan Duran (23 years old) Season Stats (AAA): 16.0 IP (5 G), 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12.4 K/9. 7.3 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 2, 2021 Preseason: 5 Duran is one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins system in quite some time. He can consistently hit triple digits with his fastball while mixing in a splitter, curveball, and changeup. One of his pitches sometimes referred to as a splinker, is similar to another big-leaguer. His biggest concerns are control and staying healthy. Currently, he is out with an elbow strain, and he also dealt with a trapezius issue earlier in the year. When he went on the IL at the end of June, the recommendation was for him to be shut down for 5-6 weeks, and surgery will not be needed for the time being. Minnesota can hold its collective breath and hope Duran doesn’t need to go under the knife and miss significant time in 2022. 4. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (20 years old) Season Stats (AA): 45.1 IP (11 G), 5.76 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about Woods-Richardson as he was acquired as part of the José Berríos trade. He showcases a traditional mix of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, all four pitches already grade at a 55 (20-80 scale) or higher. Toronto was aggressive with sending him to Double-A as a 20-year old, and the Twins have assigned him to the same level as he returned from the Olympics. Minnesota will be his third organization since being drafted in 2018, and it should be the organization where he will make his big-league debut. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 63.1 IP (13 G), 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 3, 2021 Preseason: 6 Minnesota snagged Balazovic back in 2016 in the fifth round out of Canada. Balazovic started the year on the IL, so his first game action didn’t come until the beginning of June. After shaking some dust off, he had a terrific month of July as he posted a 2.86 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has allowed three runs or fewer, including seven appearances with no runs allowed. His strikeout rate is higher than his career mark, and he faces older batters over 80% of the time. Will he get a shot at Triple-A before the season’s done? 2. SS/CF Austin Martin (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 62 G, .291/.438/.391 (.829), 2 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B,19.4 K%, 15.2 BB% Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline While most will have Martin in the #1 spot among Twins prospects, he slots in at #2 here as the organization might have bought low on him. There are a lot of similarities between Lewis and Martin which means they both have immense potential. Since he is new to the organization, here are a few things to learn about him. Martin may be able to play shortstop, but he can also play other infield and outfield positions as needed. He played a lot of third base in college, but the Twins will have him focus on center field. He will hit for average and get on base. The remaining question is how much power he’ll be able to provide. 1. SS Royce Lewis (22 years old) Season Stats: Out for the season after ACL surgery Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 1, 2021 Preseason: 2 Eight out of ten Twins Daily Minor League Writers agree, Royce Lewis returns to the #1 spot in our Twins Top Prospect rankings. He made strides in 2020 at the alternate site. He’s begun some baseball activities recently after spring training ACL reconstruction. Lewis has power. He has speed. He has the potential to stick at shortstop but can be versatile. Other players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft have started to perform, so some might question whether Lewis was the right choice. Martin might have a higher floor than Lewis, but Lewis has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Prospects 6-10 -Prospects 11-15 -Prospects 16-20 -Prospects 21-25 -Prospects 26-30
  9. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were consensus top 100 prospects. However, outfielder Trevor Larnach, catcher Ryan Jeffers, and pitchers Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic also found their names among the league's most exciting future players depending on which prospect rankings site one preferred. Royce Lewis lost a second straight campaign after he tore his ACL. Kirilloff, Larnach and Jeffers graduated thanks to a bevy of injuries and poor play from the MLB club. Duran and Balazovic missed time at the beginning of the season with arm injuries and slow starts. (Balazovic has turned it on as of late, while Duran was shut down with an elbow injury.) The sheen on the Twins' top 12-15 farm system became far duller by mid-June despite the encouraging progress shown by the likes of utility infielder Jose Miranda and pitcher Josh Winder. Before Friday's trade deadline, the Twins' system lacked a level of potential high-end talent that most of the teams inside the top 10 had, and some teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, had in spades. However, that all changed when the Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson. Martin is a consensus top 60 prospect who hits for average, gets on base at a high clip, and has projectable power, despite his low home run output this year at Double-A. His long-term fit at shortstop is dubious, with most experts believing he'll eventually find a home at either second base or center field. Woods Richardson is a consensus top 75 prospect who boasts four legit pitches and substantial strikeout numbers but struggles with command, though, to be fair, what 20-year-old doesn't? When paired alongside pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, who the Twins acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz, the Twins added four prospects to their top 10 and two to their top five over the last two weeks to more than replenish their future talent cupboard. Their farm system metamorphosed from good to excellent, from deep to DEEP, from top 15 in the league to arguably top 5 in a brief amount of time. But a stockpile of minor league talent does nothing for a franchise unless it's developed adequately and positively impacts the major league team or tapped into to bring in quality MLB talent. No team gets to hang a banner for having the best farm system in place. Now the ball is in Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and the various Twins coaching staffs' court. It is on their shoulders to make the Twins' newfound prospect currency count. The Twins possess the most depth at starting pitcher, with the majority of their top 20 prospects - Balazovic, Woods-Richardson, Canterino, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strotman, Blayne Enlow, Chase Petty, Cole Sands, and Chris Vallimont - having the potential to one day slot into the team's starting rotation. Of course, not all of them will, but the more fish in the barrel, the more likely one is to snag a catch. The Twins need to develop at least two or three of their starting pitching prospects into legitimate No. 2 or 3 starters. They would also be wise to dangle a few of them as trade bait to bring in impact MLB talent, particularly if the likes of Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Jorge Polanco find themselves on new teams in the coming years. However, their talent extends beyond the mound. Miranda has exploded onto the scene and is far more likely to be considered a top 100 prospect now than entering the season. Similarly, relatively unknown prospects Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, Jermaine Palacios, and Yunior Severino have had strong seasons, boosting their prospect status. Despite trading the best arm the franchise has employed since Johan Santana, the Twins still see themselves as a team that can contend for a playoff spot in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps as early as next year. "The future is very bright," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters following the Twins' trade of Berrios. "We have the pieces already here that we're trying to supplement right now with some of the moves that we're making in order to get to a point where we are a playoff baseball team again. And I don't think we're very far away." Falvey largely echoed Baldelli's sentiment. "Our view of this is sustainability," Falvey said of the trade. "[This year] has not been what we wanted. But we still feel, even as Jose walked out the door here, and that's not easy, don't get me wrong, that we feel we have a lot of talent in that clubhouse coming back in '22 and '23 and beyond and so how do you build a sustainable group? You've got to retool it sometimes." The only way the Twins can find themselves back in the playoff hunt next year and beyond is if the franchise capitalizes on their current wealth of young assets. Despite their current 100-loss pace, doing so is not an unrealistic goal. They simply need to go and make it happen. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. The Minnesota Twins entered the 2021 season with a minor league system considered by many to be among the top 15 in all of baseball. Headlined by the likes of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Trevor Larnach, the Twins affiliates boasted lineups filled with athletes who projected to one day be big league-quality bats with a couple of intriguing arms sprinkled throughout the minor leagues. Then the 2021 season happened. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were consensus top 100 prospects. However, outfielder Trevor Larnach, catcher Ryan Jeffers, and pitchers Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic also found their names among the league's most exciting future players depending on which prospect rankings site one preferred. Royce Lewis lost a second straight campaign after he tore his ACL. Kirilloff, Larnach and Jeffers graduated thanks to a bevy of injuries and poor play from the MLB club. Duran and Balazovic missed time at the beginning of the season with arm injuries and slow starts. (Balazovic has turned it on as of late, while Duran was shut down with an elbow injury.) The sheen on the Twins' top 12-15 farm system became far duller by mid-June despite the encouraging progress shown by the likes of utility infielder Jose Miranda and pitcher Josh Winder. Before Friday's trade deadline, the Twins' system lacked a level of potential high-end talent that most of the teams inside the top 10 had, and some teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, had in spades. However, that all changed when the Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson. Martin is a consensus top 60 prospect who hits for average, gets on base at a high clip, and has projectable power, despite his low home run output this year at Double-A. His long-term fit at shortstop is dubious, with most experts believing he'll eventually find a home at either second base or center field. Woods Richardson is a consensus top 75 prospect who boasts four legit pitches and substantial strikeout numbers but struggles with command, though, to be fair, what 20-year-old doesn't? When paired alongside pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, who the Twins acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz, the Twins added four prospects to their top 10 and two to their top five over the last two weeks to more than replenish their future talent cupboard. Their farm system metamorphosed from good to excellent, from deep to DEEP, from top 15 in the league to arguably top 5 in a brief amount of time. But a stockpile of minor league talent does nothing for a franchise unless it's developed adequately and positively impacts the major league team or tapped into to bring in quality MLB talent. No team gets to hang a banner for having the best farm system in place. Now the ball is in Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and the various Twins coaching staffs' court. It is on their shoulders to make the Twins' newfound prospect currency count. The Twins possess the most depth at starting pitcher, with the majority of their top 20 prospects - Balazovic, Woods-Richardson, Canterino, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strotman, Blayne Enlow, Chase Petty, Cole Sands, and Chris Vallimont - having the potential to one day slot into the team's starting rotation. Of course, not all of them will, but the more fish in the barrel, the more likely one is to snag a catch. The Twins need to develop at least two or three of their starting pitching prospects into legitimate No. 2 or 3 starters. They would also be wise to dangle a few of them as trade bait to bring in impact MLB talent, particularly if the likes of Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Jorge Polanco find themselves on new teams in the coming years. However, their talent extends beyond the mound. Miranda has exploded onto the scene and is far more likely to be considered a top 100 prospect now than entering the season. Similarly, relatively unknown prospects Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, Jermaine Palacios, and Yunior Severino have had strong seasons, boosting their prospect status. Despite trading the best arm the franchise has employed since Johan Santana, the Twins still see themselves as a team that can contend for a playoff spot in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps as early as next year. "The future is very bright," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters following the Twins' trade of Berrios. "We have the pieces already here that we're trying to supplement right now with some of the moves that we're making in order to get to a point where we are a playoff baseball team again. And I don't think we're very far away." Falvey largely echoed Baldelli's sentiment. "Our view of this is sustainability," Falvey said of the trade. "[This year] has not been what we wanted. But we still feel, even as Jose walked out the door here, and that's not easy, don't get me wrong, that we feel we have a lot of talent in that clubhouse coming back in '22 and '23 and beyond and so how do you build a sustainable group? You've got to retool it sometimes." The only way the Twins can find themselves back in the playoff hunt next year and beyond is if the franchise capitalizes on their current wealth of young assets. Despite their current 100-loss pace, doing so is not an unrealistic goal. They simply need to go and make it happen. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. 5. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA/AAA): .350 AVG, .409 OBP, .614 SLG, 16 HR, 46 RBI 2021 Ranking: 19 When we ranked him No. 19 on our preseason top prospects list, the short synopsis on Miranda was a familiar one: "High-contract righty-swinging infielder needs to find power stroke." The former second-round draft pick has long sat on the fringes of our top-20 rankings because of his many intriguing traits, but the production just wasn't there to justify ranking him much higher. Through his first 379 games in the minors, he slugged .394 with 37 home runs. This year, he found his power stroke. Miranda came out of the gates red-hot at Double-A, opening with a seven-game hitting streak that included three home runs, and he never really slowed down. Miranda slashed .345/.408/.588 with 13 home runs in two months at Wichita, then earned a late-June promotion to St. Paul, where he put together an unforgettable Triple-A debut: 5-6, 3 HR, 6 RBIs. It all came together in a hurry for Miranda and there's not much reason to think his breakthrough isn't legit. He's got a smooth, compact swing from the right side that was always produced high contact rates, and he's clearly turned a corner with his ability to drive the ball. He projects as a third baseman in the big leagues, and perhaps pretty soon, depending on what happens with Josh Donaldson. 4. Matt Canterino, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A+): 18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 1.14 FIP, 51.5 K%, 4.4 BB% 2021 Ranking: 9 Canterino drew considerable hype coming into this season after reports emerged of him touching 100 MPH in a side session. A second-rounder out of Rice University in 2019, he made a strong impression by dominating in his first stint as a pro (1.44 ERA, 11.2 K/9 between rookie and A-ball), but plenty of highly-drafted collegiate players have done that. Taking the next step is the differentiator. Canterino's velo jump, and the behind-the-scenes work it reflected, were seemingly positive indicators. The righty needed to show it on the field. He has. Canterino was brilliant through four starts for Cedar Rapids, now the Twins' High-A affiliate. I mean, we're talking stupid good numbers. Thirty-five strikeouts in 18 innings? A 17.5 K/9 rate?? Canterino was striking out literally more than half the batters he faced. Beyond overpowering. He was likely in line for an imminent promotion to Double-A, but unfortunately the 23-year-old developed a sore elbow and hasn't pitched since May. He is currently on the comeback trail and the Twins hope he'll be able to return to the mound soon – probably in Wichita once he's fully back on track. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA): 21 1/3 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 29.5 K%, 7.1 BB% 2021 Ranking: 6 After getting a late start to his season while healing from injury, Balazovic's results through six starts at Double-A have been ... uneven. His 4.44 ERA is nothing to write home about, and he has yet to get through six innings in an outing. With that said, he's been building up – his best, and longest, start was also his most recent – and the signs of that big potential have been on display. In 24 ⅓ innings, he has piled up 33 strikeouts with a 14% swing-and-miss rate. While hitters have had success against him at times, they haven't hit for much power (3 HR and 7 XBH total) and Balazovic's control hasn't really eluded him at any point. For now the key is to continually advance his workload and consistency. 2. Jhoan Duran, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A/AA): 34 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.64 FIP, 38.2 K%, 9.0 BB% 2021 Ranking: n/a Like Balazovic, Duran's start to the 2021 campaign was delayed by injury following a lost pandemic season. When he took the mound on May 22nd at CHS Field, it was Duran's first time pitching in a minor-league game since August 29th of 2019. He was worth the wait. Unleashing triple-digit heat, Duran dazzled, striking out six over three innings of one-run ball. His next time out he allowed only one hit while fanning eight over four scoreless frames. However, things took a downward turn at this point, as Duran was tagged with losses in his next three appearances (one a long-relief outing), surrendering 8 earned runs with an 8-to-12 K/BB ratio in nine innings. Then, he went on the Injured List with an elbow strain. For now, the Twins hope and believe he'll avoid surgery. Duran has the best stuff in Minnesota's system and some of the best in the minors. He's the real deal talent-wise and the Twins have done a stellar job in targeting, acquiring, and developing him. His biggest barriers are control and health, and we've seen both fully presented this year, with the latter currently sidelining him indefinitely. He's as boom-or-bust as they come, but the ceiling is game-changing and within reach. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats: n/a 2021 Ranking: 2 Losing two consecutive full seasons – one to a global pandemic and the next to a torn ACL – in the very crux of one's development is an ordeal many baseball prospects would be unable to overcome. I'd bet on Royce Lewis not being one of them. His much-lauded character and makeup have always positively affected the view and evaluation of Lewis, in certain intangible ways, but these qualities can have a very real impact in how he responds to this challenge. He'll be more than two years removed from playing competitively when he takes the field next spring – or maybe this winter – but has the natural talent to get back up to speed quickly. And "speed" really is the key word: even after knee surgery, he'll be one of the fastest and most athletic prospects in the game. Lewis is a dynamic talent who will likely end up at one of the most important defensive positions on the field – shortstop or center – and should be relatively productive at one of those spots even if his offensive shortcomings are not fully resolved. If the Twins do hope to rebound back into contention next year, they may need to ask quite a bit of their No. 1 prospect, as well as the other four we just profiled. One commonality you will notice among this reshaped top five: They're all 22 or 23 years old, with ETAs of 2022. These players are all verging on big-league ready and in most cases, health is the only significant barrier to surpass. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. With former top prospects like Alex Kirilloff (#1 on our preseason list), Trevor Larnach (#3) and Ryan Jeffers (#4) graduating from prospect status, several new names enter the top five in our midseason update. These promising young players all have a chance to play a significant role as the Twins aim to retool and rebound. 5. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA/AAA): .350 AVG, .409 OBP, .614 SLG, 16 HR, 46 RBI 2021 Ranking: 19 When we ranked him No. 19 on our preseason top prospects list, the short synopsis on Miranda was a familiar one: "High-contract righty-swinging infielder needs to find power stroke." The former second-round draft pick has long sat on the fringes of our top-20 rankings because of his many intriguing traits, but the production just wasn't there to justify ranking him much higher. Through his first 379 games in the minors, he slugged .394 with 37 home runs. This year, he found his power stroke. Miranda came out of the gates red-hot at Double-A, opening with a seven-game hitting streak that included three home runs, and he never really slowed down. Miranda slashed .345/.408/.588 with 13 home runs in two months at Wichita, then earned a late-June promotion to St. Paul, where he put together an unforgettable Triple-A debut: 5-6, 3 HR, 6 RBIs. It all came together in a hurry for Miranda and there's not much reason to think his breakthrough isn't legit. He's got a smooth, compact swing from the right side that was always produced high contact rates, and he's clearly turned a corner with his ability to drive the ball. He projects as a third baseman in the big leagues, and perhaps pretty soon, depending on what happens with Josh Donaldson. 4. Matt Canterino, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A+): 18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 1.14 FIP, 51.5 K%, 4.4 BB% 2021 Ranking: 9 Canterino drew considerable hype coming into this season after reports emerged of him touching 100 MPH in a side session. A second-rounder out of Rice University in 2019, he made a strong impression by dominating in his first stint as a pro (1.44 ERA, 11.2 K/9 between rookie and A-ball), but plenty of highly-drafted collegiate players have done that. Taking the next step is the differentiator. Canterino's velo jump, and the behind-the-scenes work it reflected, were seemingly positive indicators. The righty needed to show it on the field. He has. Canterino was brilliant through four starts for Cedar Rapids, now the Twins' High-A affiliate. I mean, we're talking stupid good numbers. Thirty-five strikeouts in 18 innings? A 17.5 K/9 rate?? Canterino was striking out literally more than half the batters he faced. Beyond overpowering. He was likely in line for an imminent promotion to Double-A, but unfortunately the 23-year-old developed a sore elbow and hasn't pitched since May. He is currently on the comeback trail and the Twins hope he'll be able to return to the mound soon – probably in Wichita once he's fully back on track. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA): 21 1/3 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 29.5 K%, 7.1 BB% 2021 Ranking: 6 After getting a late start to his season while healing from injury, Balazovic's results through six starts at Double-A have been ... uneven. His 4.44 ERA is nothing to write home about, and he has yet to get through six innings in an outing. With that said, he's been building up – his best, and longest, start was also his most recent – and the signs of that big potential have been on display. In 24 ⅓ innings, he has piled up 33 strikeouts with a 14% swing-and-miss rate. While hitters have had success against him at times, they haven't hit for much power (3 HR and 7 XBH total) and Balazovic's control hasn't really eluded him at any point. For now the key is to continually advance his workload and consistency. 2. Jhoan Duran, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A/AA): 34 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.64 FIP, 38.2 K%, 9.0 BB% 2021 Ranking: n/a Like Balazovic, Duran's start to the 2021 campaign was delayed by injury following a lost pandemic season. When he took the mound on May 22nd at CHS Field, it was Duran's first time pitching in a minor-league game since August 29th of 2019. He was worth the wait. Unleashing triple-digit heat, Duran dazzled, striking out six over three innings of one-run ball. His next time out he allowed only one hit while fanning eight over four scoreless frames. However, things took a downward turn at this point, as Duran was tagged with losses in his next three appearances (one a long-relief outing), surrendering 8 earned runs with an 8-to-12 K/BB ratio in nine innings. Then, he went on the Injured List with an elbow strain. For now, the Twins hope and believe he'll avoid surgery. Duran has the best stuff in Minnesota's system and some of the best in the minors. He's the real deal talent-wise and the Twins have done a stellar job in targeting, acquiring, and developing him. His biggest barriers are control and health, and we've seen both fully presented this year, with the latter currently sidelining him indefinitely. He's as boom-or-bust as they come, but the ceiling is game-changing and within reach. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats: n/a 2021 Ranking: 2 Losing two consecutive full seasons – one to a global pandemic and the next to a torn ACL – in the very crux of one's development is an ordeal many baseball prospects would be unable to overcome. I'd bet on Royce Lewis not being one of them. His much-lauded character and makeup have always positively affected the view and evaluation of Lewis, in certain intangible ways, but these qualities can have a very real impact in how he responds to this challenge. He'll be more than two years removed from playing competitively when he takes the field next spring – or maybe this winter – but has the natural talent to get back up to speed quickly. And "speed" really is the key word: even after knee surgery, he'll be one of the fastest and most athletic prospects in the game. Lewis is a dynamic talent who will likely end up at one of the most important defensive positions on the field – shortstop or center – and should be relatively productive at one of those spots even if his offensive shortcomings are not fully resolved. If the Twins do hope to rebound back into contention next year, they may need to ask quite a bit of their No. 1 prospect, as well as the other four we just profiled. One commonality you will notice among this reshaped top five: They're all 22 or 23 years old, with ETAs of 2022. These players are all verging on big-league ready and in most cases, health is the only significant barrier to surpass. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. It feels good to be able to write about actual minor league baseball action again. After it being shelved in 2020 and the only updates coming from unattended alternate site workouts, real games taking place is a welcomed reality. For Minnesota, there’s been lots of graduations from the farm, and even more shifting. Traditionally this top 15 update has come after the Major League Baseball draft. With the timing of that event being shifted into July, I wanted to keep things consistent. Coincidentally, it was this exact date last year that the previous midseason update dropped. If you’d like to take a look at where I had guys coming into 2021, you can find all archived rankings below. Let’s get into it! 2016 Top 15 Prospects 2017 Top 15 Prospects 2018 Top 15 Prospects 2019 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Top 15 Prospects 2021 Top 15 Prospects 15. Jose Miranda IF While he’s never made a top 15 for me before, Miranda has consistently been a “just missed” type. That doesn’t happen when you’ve got a .919 OPS in your first 37 games at Double-A. Lots of hype for Jose has been built around his bat and the work he did last year during the downtime. Looks like that was right. 14. Cole Sands RHP A 5th round pick back in 2018, Sands is now nearly 24 and at Double-A. He’s got 31.2 innings under his belt thus far for Wichita and owns a dazzling 2.84 ERA. The 5.1 BB/9 isn’t a great look, but the 11.9 K/9 continues his strength of being able to punch batters out. He was impressive when I saw him during Spring Training in 2020, and the arrow continues to point up. 13. Misael Urbina OF Signed out of Venezuela, Urbina has made his stateside debut in 2021. He’s struggled in Low-A thus far, but there’s speed and defensive ability here. He also may run into a good amount of pop and he’s just 19 years old. 12. Gilberto Celestino OF Forced into action for the Twins this year due to outfield injuries, Celestino is up ahead of schedule. He’s played just 21 games at the Double-A level for Minnesota, and the bat still has a ways to go. He’s a plus defender with good speed, and if he can hit at all, there’s a fourth outfielder at worst here. 11. Matt Wallner OF One of the most athletic Twins prospects, Wallner has hit everywhere he’s gone in the system. He owns a 1.005 OPS in his first 17 games at High-A but has been shelved with a wrist injury. Would not be shocked to see him be a solid corner outfielder with a plus arm and plus bat. Just need to get him healthy and back on the field. 10. Brent Rooker OF/1B It continues to be tough sledding for Rooker when looking for big league playing time. He’s a liability in the field and that bat absolutely has to play. It has again at Triple-A this season, where he’s got an .861 OPS for the Saints. If the Twins need bodies though, it’s been in the outfield, and he just can’t really help there. Should they choose a more rotation DH situation going forward, Rooker will factor in nicely. 9. Josh Winder RHP Another 2018 draft pick, Winder has impressed coming out of the Virginia Military Institute. Now 24 and at Double-A, he’s arguably been the best arm on the farm. He’s got a 2.16 ERA across 41.2 IP and his 10.8 K/9 pairs well with a 1.7 BB/9. He’ll be a Triple-A option soon and pitching 125 innings back in 2019 should work in his favor as far as workloads go. 8. Blayne Enlow RHP This one hurts, because Enlow could’ve found himself even higher on this list had his year gone differently. After 14.2 IP and a 1.84 ERA, Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out well into 2022. He’s still just 22, but it would’ve been great to see him at Double-A this season. 7. Matt Canterino RHP Another arm of concern here, Canterino is currently shelved and it’s murky as to when he’ll return. He owns a 1.00 ERA and 35/3 K/BB at High-A in 18 innings this year. It’s clear he’s ready for a step up in competition, and maybe should’ve even started at Double-A, but again, health is the chief concern. 6. Aaron Sabato 1B Do I love that Sabato has just a .668 OPS at Low-A in his first 36 professional games? No. Do I love that he has a 22% walk rate in those games? Yes. He’s got an advanced eye in a league where plenty of pitchers are fighting command. The power is real and should eventually play. 5. Keoni Cavaco SS Recently having turned 20, Cavaco is getting acclimated at Low-A. He has just a .673 OPS but seemed to be putting some positive developments together prior to a concussion related injury stint. This is a big year of growth for him and seeing some of the tools that had him shooting up draft boards would be exciting. 4. Jhoan Duran RHP A late start to the year set the timetable back some, but Duran should still be expected to reach the majors in 2021. He’s been both lights out and wild at times for the Saints, but it’s clear why there’s so much to like with him. A triple-digit fastball that he does have good command of is going to play. 3. Trevor Larnach OF It won’t be long and Larnach will have graduated from this list. He isn’t higher because I’m not sold on him being a perennial All-Star type, but there’s nothing to suggest he’s not a starting corner outfielder for a long time. The bat has contact and power, and the eye has quickly established itself. The kid is good. 2. Jordan Balazovic RHP Starting the year on the IL wasn’t ideal, but Balazovic has now taken three turns in the Double-A Wichita rotation. He’s racked up 16 strikeouts in his first 9.2 IP, and this may be the Twins next best shot at developing an ace. There’s an outside chance he could make a start in Minnesota later in 2021. 1. Royce Lewis SS Done for 2021 before he started, Royce Lewis tore his ACL, and it was discovered on intake. The year of development being missed after a lost 2020 and tough 2019 isn’t ideal. His character continues to suggest he’ll dominate rehab, and the ceiling remains as high as anyone within the organization. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Minnesota’s Front Office Philosophy Thad Levine and Derek Falvey were brought together in Minnesota four winters ago. In that time, the front office has been able to rebuild an organization that had lost 92+ games in five of the previous six seasons. They have been shrewd to hang on to their top prospects with Brusdar Graterol’s trade being the lone exception and the Twins are likely happy with their return in that deal. Having one of baseball’s best farm systems is a key to sustainable contention. Minnesota’s current crop of regulars was moving through the farm system back in 2015-16, which saw them ranked as one of MLB’s top-five farm systems. Since the new front office took over, the Twins have moved back into the top 10 with prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, and Jhoan Duran ready to make a big-league impact. Even with those players getting close, other key pieces like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios can reach free agency in the coming years so it becomes a roster balancing act. Entering the 2019 season, Thad Levine was asked about signing one of the big free agent options (Bryce Harper and Manny Machado), but he felt those moves are for teams trying to put their “foot down” and not “trying to wrench a window of opportunity open.” Last winter, the window was open, and the Twins spent big money on Josh Donaldson. Now the Twins can look to the not-so-distant past for a glimpse into their own future. Kansas City’s Approach Kansas City is a lower revenue team, and in recent memory they saw their window open and jumped at the opportunity. KC’s front office used a slash and burn approaching by trading away pieces from one of baseball’s top farm systems. The results are hard to argue with as Kansas City won back-to-back AL pennants along with taking home the 2015 World Series crown. As the old adage goes, flags fly forever, but what are the long-term costs? Looking back on those seasons, Kansas City wasn’t sure how long their window would be open. “You owe it to your fans and your city,” said Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. “You owe it to your ownership and all the people who’ve worked so hard to get your franchise to a certain point.” He capitalized at the right time, but things haven’t gone as smooth in recent years. Since their title run, Kansas City has yet to post a .500 record and things aren’t exactly looking bright for 2021. Their farm system ranks in the middle of the pack with some top tier talent, but they are still trying to rebuild after trading away pieces for their title run. Would Twins fans want the front office to follow a similar approach and go all-in for one or two seasons of success? Baseball’s Harshly Cyclical Nature Kansas City isn’t the only team to see their window close after multiple winning seasons but not all teams end up walking away with a title. Detroit won the AL Central for four consecutive seasons from 2011-14 and they made World Series runs in 2006 and 2012. During that time, they handed out big contracts and traded away top prospects to keep their window open. The team was trying to end a title drought that stretches back further than the Twins (1984). Recently, Detroit has struggled to be relevant again as they have posted sub-.400 winning percentages for four consecutive seasons. "At some point, some teams get into an all-win-now mode because they're right there," Tigers general manager Al Avila said. "It's very hard to get into the playoffs. It's very hard to get into the World Series, much more even to win it. When you feel you have that chance, you've got to go for it." Toronto made back-to-back ALCS runs in 2015-16 with sluggers like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion anchoring their line-up. The Blue Jays added veterans like David Price and Troy Tulowitzki to try and get them over the hump, but they never made it to the Fall Classic. Since then, they have lost 86+ games for three straight seasons before finishing above .500 in 2020. Forbes baseball writer Maury Brown believes MLB expects windows to be open for roughly five years. Low revenue clubs can expect to be a little shorter and higher revenue clubs can expect to be a little longer. Multiple prospects need to hit at the same time and the organization needs to make appropriate supplemental moves, but he feels confident the league likes to tout five years as a bit of a “standard.” Minnesota’s revenue is considered in the middle to lower end of baseball, so the time might be now for the Twins to act. The Twins window is clearly open, but it might close faster than fans would like. How long do you think Minnesota’s window will stay open? Should the team go all-in? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Opportunities don’t last forever and in the baseball world success can turn to also-ran status overnight. Minnesota has won back-to-back division titles, but how long can the organization keep open its window of opportunity?Minnesota’s Front Office Philosophy Thad Levine and Derek Falvey were brought together in Minnesota four winters ago. In that time, the front office has been able to rebuild an organization that had lost 92+ games in five of the previous six seasons. They have been shrewd to hang on to their top prospects with Brusdar Graterol’s trade being the lone exception and the Twins are likely happy with their return in that deal. Having one of baseball’s best farm systems is a key to sustainable contention. Minnesota’s current crop of regulars was moving through the farm system back in 2015-16, which saw them ranked as one of MLB’s top-five farm systems. Since the new front office took over, the Twins have moved back into the top 10 with prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, and Jhoan Duran ready to make a big-league impact. Even with those players getting close, other key pieces like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios can reach free agency in the coming years so it becomes a roster balancing act. Entering the 2019 season, Thad Levine was asked about signing one of the big free agent options (Bryce Harper and Manny Machado), but he felt those moves are for teams trying to put their “foot down” and not “trying to wrench a window of opportunity open.” Last winter, the window was open, and the Twins spent big money on Josh Donaldson. Now the Twins can look to the not-so-distant past for a glimpse into their own future. Kansas City’s Approach Kansas City is a lower revenue team, and in recent memory they saw their window open and jumped at the opportunity. KC’s front office used a slash and burn approaching by trading away pieces from one of baseball’s top farm systems. The results are hard to argue with as Kansas City won back-to-back AL pennants along with taking home the 2015 World Series crown. As the old adage goes, flags fly forever, but what are the long-term costs? Looking back on those seasons, Kansas City wasn’t sure how long their window would be open. “You owe it to your fans and your city,” said Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. “You owe it to your ownership and all the people who’ve worked so hard to get your franchise to a certain point.” He capitalized at the right time, but things haven’t gone as smooth in recent years. Since their title run, Kansas City has yet to post a .500 record and things aren’t exactly looking bright for 2021. Their farm system ranks in the middle of the pack with some top tier talent, but they are still trying to rebuild after trading away pieces for their title run. Would Twins fans want the front office to follow a similar approach and go all-in for one or two seasons of success? Baseball’s Harshly Cyclical Nature Kansas City isn’t the only team to see their window close after multiple winning seasons but not all teams end up walking away with a title. Detroit won the AL Central for four consecutive seasons from 2011-14 and they made World Series runs in 2006 and 2012. During that time, they handed out big contracts and traded away top prospects to keep their window open. The team was trying to end a title drought that stretches back further than the Twins (1984). Recently, Detroit has struggled to be relevant again as they have posted sub-.400 winning percentages for four consecutive seasons. "At some point, some teams get into an all-win-now mode because they're right there," Tigers general manager Al Avila said. "It's very hard to get into the playoffs. It's very hard to get into the World Series, much more even to win it. When you feel you have that chance, you've got to go for it." Toronto made back-to-back ALCS runs in 2015-16 with sluggers like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion anchoring their line-up. The Blue Jays added veterans like David Price and Troy Tulowitzki to try and get them over the hump, but they never made it to the Fall Classic. Since then, they have lost 86+ games for three straight seasons before finishing above .500 in 2020. Forbes baseball writer Maury Brown believes MLB expects windows to be open for roughly five years. Low revenue clubs can expect to be a little shorter and higher revenue clubs can expect to be a little longer. Multiple prospects need to hit at the same time and the organization needs to make appropriate supplemental moves, but he feels confident the league likes to tout five years as a bit of a “standard.” Minnesota’s revenue is considered in the middle to lower end of baseball, so the time might be now for the Twins to act. The Twins window is clearly open, but it might close faster than fans would like. How long do you think Minnesota’s window will stay open? Should the team go all-in? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  16. There are a lot of pressures that come with having the draft’s first pick and that pressure was felt by the newly hired front office duo of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Multiple names were in the conversation for first overall pick and two of the top-five picks have already made their big-league debuts. Let’s see what the Twins passed over to take Lewis. Royce Lewis, Pick 1- Minnesota Twins Lewis is out for all of 2021 after needing to undergo ACL surgery this spring. That being said, he is only 22 years old, and his future still looks promising. When he was last on the field, he won MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League after hitting .353/.411/.565 (.975) with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. This was on the heels of a 2019 season that saw him reach Double-A, but he also struggled offensively as he combined for a .661 OPS. He entered the 2021 season as a top-35 prospect on all three major national rankings. At Twins Daily, he was ranked as the organization’s number two overall prospect behind Alex Kirilloff. Hunter Greene, Pick 2- Cincinnati Reds Leading into the draft, Greene was on the cover of Sports Illustrated comparing him to Lebron James and Babe Ruth. No pressure, right? As a teenager, he could hit over 100 mph so there was plenty to be excited about. His first two professional seasons didn’t exactly go perfectly as he struggled with command while striking out a ton of batters. Then an elbow injury struck, and he underwent Tommy John surgery which means this year was his first back on the mound since 2018. At Double-A this season, Greene is almost four years younger than the average age of the competition. He’s also living up to his high draft status for the first time. In six starts (35 innings), he has a 2.31 ERA with a 51 to 10 strikeout to walk ratio. Greene has yet to face a batter younger than himself and he has held hitters to a .541 OPS. MLB.com was the only major prospect ranking to include Greene coming into the season and that will likely change heading into 2022. MacKenzie Gore, Pick 3- San Diego Padres Gore didn’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated as an amateur, but he might wind up being the best high school pitcher taken in 2017. Entering the 2021 season, Gore was considered a top-12 prospect in baseball by all three major rankings. In his last full season (2019), he split time between High-A and Double-A. For the season, he posted a 1.69 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP while striking out 12 batters per nine innings. So far in 2021, he has made four starts at Triple-A and there have been some struggles as he has allowed 11 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. He’s also dealing with a blister issue that has kept him from making all his turns in the rotation. It’s early in the season and he is a 22-year-old getting his first taste of Triple-A. His future still looks bright. Brendan McKay, Pick 4- Tampa Bay Rays McKay was an intriguing amateur as he was a two-way player during his collegiate career at Louisville. When it came to the draft, some teams saw him as a pitcher and other’s saw him as a hitter. As the draft approached, he was interested in going to an organization that would continue to allow him to continue be a two-way player. There have been some mixed results, so far in his professional career. As a hitter, he has combined for a .679 OPS throughout his minor league career. At the big-league level, he has gone 2-for-10 with a home run and a walk. McKay was a powerful hitter in college as he posted a .966 OPS in three collegiate seasons, so his bat hasn’t lived up to the hype. As a pitcher, he has posted a 1.78 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP with 226 strikeouts in 172 minor league innings. His big-league appearances (13 games) have resulted in a 5.14 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. He has yet to make a pitching appearance this season after having season-ending shoulder surgery in August 2020. Obviously, it is going to take years to know if Lewis was the right pick. With the Twins pitching struggles, some of the other arms look intriguing in retrospect. Twins fans can hope that Lewis ends up being a multi-time All-Star that is the face of the franchise. If you could go back and make the pick, would Lewis be your first choice? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. It’s been nearly four seasons since the Twins had the number one pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. As time passes, more players from this draft are starting to debut, so did the Twins make the right pick? There are a lot of pressures that come with having the draft’s first pick and that pressure was felt by the newly hired front office duo of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Multiple names were in the conversation for first overall pick and two of the top-five picks have already made their big-league debuts. Let’s see what the Twins passed over to take Lewis. Royce Lewis, Pick 1- Minnesota Twins Lewis is out for all of 2021 after needing to undergo ACL surgery this spring. That being said, he is only 22 years old, and his future still looks promising. When he was last on the field, he won MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League after hitting .353/.411/.565 (.975) with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. This was on the heels of a 2019 season that saw him reach Double-A, but he also struggled offensively as he combined for a .661 OPS. He entered the 2021 season as a top-35 prospect on all three major national rankings. At Twins Daily, he was ranked as the organization’s number two overall prospect behind Alex Kirilloff. Hunter Greene, Pick 2- Cincinnati Reds Leading into the draft, Greene was on the cover of Sports Illustrated comparing him to Lebron James and Babe Ruth. No pressure, right? As a teenager, he could hit over 100 mph so there was plenty to be excited about. His first two professional seasons didn’t exactly go perfectly as he struggled with command while striking out a ton of batters. Then an elbow injury struck, and he underwent Tommy John surgery which means this year was his first back on the mound since 2018. At Double-A this season, Greene is almost four years younger than the average age of the competition. He’s also living up to his high draft status for the first time. In six starts (35 innings), he has a 2.31 ERA with a 51 to 10 strikeout to walk ratio. Greene has yet to face a batter younger than himself and he has held hitters to a .541 OPS. MLB.com was the only major prospect ranking to include Greene coming into the season and that will likely change heading into 2022. MacKenzie Gore, Pick 3- San Diego Padres Gore didn’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated as an amateur, but he might wind up being the best high school pitcher taken in 2017. Entering the 2021 season, Gore was considered a top-12 prospect in baseball by all three major rankings. In his last full season (2019), he split time between High-A and Double-A. For the season, he posted a 1.69 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP while striking out 12 batters per nine innings. So far in 2021, he has made four starts at Triple-A and there have been some struggles as he has allowed 11 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. He’s also dealing with a blister issue that has kept him from making all his turns in the rotation. It’s early in the season and he is a 22-year-old getting his first taste of Triple-A. His future still looks bright. Brendan McKay, Pick 4- Tampa Bay Rays McKay was an intriguing amateur as he was a two-way player during his collegiate career at Louisville. When it came to the draft, some teams saw him as a pitcher and other’s saw him as a hitter. As the draft approached, he was interested in going to an organization that would continue to allow him to continue be a two-way player. There have been some mixed results, so far in his professional career. As a hitter, he has combined for a .679 OPS throughout his minor league career. At the big-league level, he has gone 2-for-10 with a home run and a walk. McKay was a powerful hitter in college as he posted a .966 OPS in three collegiate seasons, so his bat hasn’t lived up to the hype. As a pitcher, he has posted a 1.78 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP with 226 strikeouts in 172 minor league innings. His big-league appearances (13 games) have resulted in a 5.14 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. He has yet to make a pitching appearance this season after having season-ending shoulder surgery in August 2020. Obviously, it is going to take years to know if Lewis was the right pick. With the Twins pitching struggles, some of the other arms look intriguing in retrospect. Twins fans can hope that Lewis ends up being a multi-time All-Star that is the face of the franchise. If you could go back and make the pick, would Lewis be your first choice? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  18. 5. Misael Urbina, OF Current/Future Speed: 60/50 Urbina was the Twins top international signee back in the 2018 and he has continued his physical development since joining the organization. He currently comes in at 6-foot-0 and 175 pounds, which is stocky when it comes to the speed tool. Most scouting reports peg him as being a plus runner and he has shown the ability to steal bases and play terrific outfield defense. He has yet to make his debut in a stateside league, but that will likely change in 2021. 4. Keoni Cavaco, SS Current/Future Speed: 60/55 When the Twins drafted Cavaco, his athleticism was something that saw him rise quickly into the first round. He flashed plus speed entering the draft and those skills translated to his first professional season. According to reports out of the instructional leagues, Cavaco spent last year’s shutdown working on his conditioning and physical make-up. Now he is leaner this should only help his athleticism. It’s also scary to think what that could mean for his plus running skills. His body is going to continue to grow, and this can lead to him to losing some speed. The Twins are going to try and keep him at shortstop, but his size might result in a shift to third base. 3. Gilberto Celestino, OF Current Speed: 60/60 Celestino is a name Twins fans will get very familiar with in the coming years, especially since Byron Buxton’s future is up in the air. Celestino can be the heir apparent to Buxton since the team’s current centerfielder only has two more years of team control. Celestino’s stock has really taken off since coming to the Twins as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. He uses his speed to exhibit plus range in the outfield and he can play all three outfield positions. As gets more experience, his ability to steal bases should improve and he continues to add speed as he has grown into his body. Out of the players on this list, he has the best chance to keep his current speed ranking long-term. 2. Will Holland, SS Current/Future Speed: 65/60 Holland fell to the Twins in the fifth round of the 2019 Draft, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the organization. He dropped in the draft because of a poor performance during his junior season at Auburn and his pro debut didn’t go much better. His speed helps him on both sides of the ball as his physical tools allow him to play shortstop and second base. Currently, Holland might be the fastest player in the organization because the top player on this list will be out for all of 2021. He has worked with his swing throughout the minor league shutdown, so he has plenty to prove when the new season gets underway. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Current Speed: 70/60 Twins fans may have gotten spoiled with Buxton as he is one of the fastest players at the big-league level. Lewis might not be quite at the same level as Buxton, but he still has blazing fast speed (see Tom’s highlight video below). His recent knee injury might be cause for concern because he might lose a step or two as he recovers. Even considering his injury, he is head and shoulders above the rest of the players on this list when it comes to speed. His best runs times from home to first are under four seconds and there are few players that can do that in professional baseball. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Hit Tool Prospects -Power Tool Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Bryon Buxton might be the fastest player in the Twins organization, but other prospects are close to chasing him down. Here’s how the team’s top prospects rank when it comes to speed.5. Misael Urbina, OF Current/Future Speed: 60/50 Urbina was the Twins top international signee back in the 2018 and he has continued his physical development since joining the organization. He currently comes in at 6-foot-0 and 175 pounds, which is stocky when it comes to the speed tool. Most scouting reports peg him as being a plus runner and he has shown the ability to steal bases and play terrific outfield defense. He has yet to make his debut in a stateside league, but that will likely change in 2021. 4. Keoni Cavaco, SS Current/Future Speed: 60/55 When the Twins drafted Cavaco, his athleticism was something that saw him rise quickly into the first round. He flashed plus speed entering the draft and those skills translated to his first professional season. According to reports out of the instructional leagues, Cavaco spent last year’s shutdown working on his conditioning and physical make-up. Now he is leaner this should only help his athleticism. It’s also scary to think what that could mean for his plus running skills. His body is going to continue to grow, and this can lead to him to losing some speed. The Twins are going to try and keep him at shortstop, but his size might result in a shift to third base. 3. Gilberto Celestino, OF Current Speed: 60/60 Celestino is a name Twins fans will get very familiar with in the coming years, especially since Byron Buxton’s future is up in the air. Celestino can be the heir apparent to Buxton since the team’s current centerfielder only has two more years of team control. Celestino’s stock has really taken off since coming to the Twins as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. He uses his speed to exhibit plus range in the outfield and he can play all three outfield positions. As gets more experience, his ability to steal bases should improve and he continues to add speed as he has grown into his body. Out of the players on this list, he has the best chance to keep his current speed ranking long-term. 2. Will Holland, SS Current/Future Speed: 65/60 Holland fell to the Twins in the fifth round of the 2019 Draft, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the organization. He dropped in the draft because of a poor performance during his junior season at Auburn and his pro debut didn’t go much better. His speed helps him on both sides of the ball as his physical tools allow him to play shortstop and second base. Currently, Holland might be the fastest player in the organization because the top player on this list will be out for all of 2021. He has worked with his swing throughout the minor league shutdown, so he has plenty to prove when the new season gets underway. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Current Speed: 70/60 Twins fans may have gotten spoiled with Buxton as he is one of the fastest players at the big-league level. Lewis might not be quite at the same level as Buxton, but he still has blazing fast speed (see Tom’s highlight video below). His recent knee injury might be cause for concern because he might lose a step or two as he recovers. Even considering his injury, he is head and shoulders above the rest of the players on this list when it comes to speed. His best runs times from home to first are under four seconds and there are few players that can do that in professional baseball. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Hit Tool Prospects -Power Tool Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  20. Top Minnesota Twins prospect Royce Lewis slipped on some ice when a freak snowstorm hit his home state of Texas. When he got to Spring Training, he was diagnosed with a torn ACL. The Injury Gods took notice. “This took them by surprise too,” said a source close to the Gods, who requested anonymity in order to avoid being catapulted into the Swamp of Dread and Biting Things. “A snowstorm in Houston was not on their radar, and bear in mind they trapped Marty Cordova in a tanning bed because they were bored on a Thursday.” This bonus misfortune is said to be spurring the Injury Gods to inflict even greater anguish on long-suffering Twins fans. “When something like that falls in your lap you can really build an avalanche of pain and perfect grief,” said the source. “If They play this right, the agony promises to be even more exquisite than last year’s playoff exit. “You don’t expect to see Jontu of the Poison Wind smiling. He’s older than time itself. But He’s like a kid out there, just looking at Minnesota’s deep roster of young talent and noting how fragile their tendons and ligaments truly are.” While it’s impossible to know what the Old Ones have planned in specific, a second source tells Twins Daily to expect the unexpected. “Look, it’s not going to be a pulled hamstring running out a grounder,” said the source. “It’s not going to be a pitcher feeling something tighten when he throws a fastball. That is played out. This is Minnesota. They’re going to make it hurt and make it confusing. Why did a Dodge Charger just fall on Alex Kirilloff? He’s standing in the dugout. How’d a car even get in there? Why is the stereo playing ‘Butterfly’ by Crazy Town? You’ll go to your grave never knowing. Alex will retire at 28 to become a gardener and his left elbow will always hurt when it rains.” The source also speculated that They would not limit their attention to the state’s baseball team. “Oh, They’re quite aware of the Minnesota Vikings,” said the source. “Torvald the Bleak calls them His finest work. Who do you think guaranteed all that money to Kirk Cousins?”
  21. The Old Ones, praise their name, look to build on some unexpected preseason momentum.Top Minnesota Twins prospect Royce Lewis slipped on some ice when a freak snowstorm hit his home state of Texas. When he got to Spring Training, he was diagnosed with a torn ACL. The Injury Gods took notice. “This took them by surprise too,” said a source close to the Gods, who requested anonymity in order to avoid being catapulted into the Swamp of Dread and Biting Things. “A snowstorm in Houston was not on their radar, and bear in mind they trapped Marty Cordova in a tanning bed because they were bored on a Thursday.” This bonus misfortune is said to be spurring the Injury Gods to inflict even greater anguish on long-suffering Twins fans. “When something like that falls in your lap you can really build an avalanche of pain and perfect grief,” said the source. “If They play this right, the agony promises to be even more exquisite than last year’s playoff exit. “You don’t expect to see Jontu of the Poison Wind smiling. He’s older than time itself. But He’s like a kid out there, just looking at Minnesota’s deep roster of young talent and noting how fragile their tendons and ligaments truly are.” While it’s impossible to know what the Old Ones have planned in specific, a second source tells Twins Daily to expect the unexpected. “Look, it’s not going to be a pulled hamstring running out a grounder,” said the source. “It’s not going to be a pitcher feeling something tighten when he throws a fastball. That is played out. This is Minnesota. They’re going to make it hurt and make it confusing. Why did a Dodge Charger just fall on Alex Kirilloff? He’s standing in the dugout. How’d a car even get in there? Why is the stereo playing ‘Butterfly’ by Crazy Town? You’ll go to your grave never knowing. Alex will retire at 28 to become a gardener and his left elbow will always hurt when it rains.” The source also speculated that They would not limit their attention to the state’s baseball team. “Oh, They’re quite aware of the Minnesota Vikings,” said the source. “Torvald the Bleak calls them His finest work. Who do you think guaranteed all that money to Kirk Cousins?” Click here to view the article
  22. This was supposed to be a critical year for Royce Lewis. Back in 2019, he struggled for the first time in his professional career as the Twins were aggressive and pushed him up to Double-A. He was projected to head back to that level in 2021 with a chance to make his big-league debut before season’s end. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case and Lewis will go over 900 days without getting a professional at-bat. Minnesota is no stranger to top prospects being hit by the injury bug. Alex Kirilloff, Twins Daily’s highest rank Twins prospect, missed the entire 2017 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Even with the missed season, he came back with a vengeance in 2018 as he was one of MiLB’s best hitters that season. Obviously, Kirilloff was able to recover and put himself back on the prospect map, which is something Twins fans can hope for with Lewis. Before Lewis and Kirilloff, Byron Buxton was widely considered the team’s top prospect and many national rankings had him as one of the baseball’s best prospects. Buxton’s injury history has been well documented as he was limited to 103 combined games between his third and fourth professional seasons. Those injury woes have followed him to the big-league level as he as he has only had one season where he has played more than 95 games. Prior to Buxton, Miguel Sano was the team’s top prospect, and he was widely considered one of baseball’s top-10 prospects. He was forced to miss all his age-21 season after needing Tommy John surgery. It still didn’t stop him from making his big-league debut the very next year and he’s been with the Twins ever since. Kyle Gibson had a short stint as the Twins’ best prospect, and he seemed to be rocketing to the MLB level. Entering the 2011 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-55 prospects. Unfortunately, he had Tommy John surgery in November 2011 and wouldn’t be back until the end of the 2012 season. Going further back, there certainly more examples of prospects hit by the injury bug. Francisco Liriano famously blew out his elbow while the 2006 Twins seemed like they would have been unstoppable in the playoffs. Joe Mauer’s career started on a bad note as he needed knee surgery shortly into his rookie campaign. One player some people might forget is Jason Kubel. He seemed destined to be a middle of the order power bat that could bring above average defense at multiple outfield positions. Entering the 2005 season, Baseball America ranked him as baseball’s 17th overall prospect. He was able to return from injury and have a decade long big-league career, but his outlooked was significantly changed after his leg injury. Many of the players on this list went on to have solid big-league careers, but there will also be questions about what could have been. How good could Kubel have been? Would the Twins have won the 2006 World Series with a healthy Liriano? How much better would Mauer’s numbers look with another full season? Lewis finds himself among some of the best Twins players in recent memory, but it is a list that he never wanted to join. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. MLB.com tried to identify the top players under 25 under an interesting premise. “If you were starting a team today, and you were able to choose only from players under 25 years old -- that’s Major League stars and Minor League prospects, just so long as they aren’t past their age-24 season in 2021 -- who would you pick?” It can be a tough exercise, especially with Minnesota’s deep farm system. 5. Royce Lewis, SS (21-years old) Lewis might be the team’s second-best prospect, but his recently announced knee surgery puts a hold on his development. There were already questions about his swing and his long-term defensive position. Those questions will remain, especially after not playing a professional game in 2020 or 2021. The potential is there, the work ethic is there, and he projects to be a building block piece in the future. For now, the Twins are going to be left looking for other shortstop options as they wait for Lewis to return to the field. 4. Jhoan Duran, RHP (23-years old) Minnesota’s front office was confident Duran would debut in 2020, but then the pandemic shortened the season. He worked at the Twins alternate site last season and reports continue to be positive. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the organization’s highest ranked pitching prospect. With a fastball that hits triple-digits and a unique splinker pitch, Duran is one of the most intriguing prospects to come through the Twins organization. He has the making of four above average pitches and the Twins hope he is a pitcher they can build their rotation around for years to come. 3. Ryan Jeffers, C (23-years old) Jeffers is half of one of baseball’s best catching duos and he’s six and a half years younger than Mitch Garver. Because Garver was a late bloomer, the Twins have team control of both players for multiple seasons. Jeffers was Twins Daily’s number four overall prospect and it’s clear to see why people should be excited about him. He has some of the best catch framing skills in baseball and it is going to be intriguing to see how his numbers play over the course of 162-games. Jeffers needs to prove his offensive numbers weren’t a fluke from 2020, but he was known as a hitter out of college. 2. Luis Arraez, UTL (24-years old) Arraez is moving to a utility role for 2021, but there’s no question that Rocco Baldelli will find way to insert him into the line-up on a regular basis. Even though he was hobbled in 2020, he still managed to post a .321 batting average, which means he has a career .331 batting average in 124 big-league games. On many other teams, Arraez would be in the everyday starting line-up, but he’s only one injury away from finding himself back in a fulltime role. FanGraph’s ZiPS projects him to win the AL batting title and it will be Baldelli’s job to make sure he gets enough plate appearances to qualify. 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF (23-years old) Kirilloff is the type of player any team would like to build their franchise around. He had tremendous make-up and a sweet swing that is hard to ignore. MLB.com will likely include him on their top-25 list entering next season after baseball gets a longer look at Minnesota’s top prospect. One of the few questions that remains is whether or not Kirilloff will be on the Opening Day roster. Minnesota’s winning window is open and that’s one of the strongest reasons to have Kirilloff be in the line-up from day one. How good can he be in his age-23 campaign? Other Potential Names (Ages): Jordan Balazovic (22), Trevor Larnach (24), Aaron Sabato (21), Gilberto Celestino (22), Matt Canterino (23), Edwar Colina (23) Would you put any of these other names on the list? Should Lewis drop off because of his injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. Aaron and John talk about Royce Lewis' knee injury, the Twins' first spring training game and the presence of fans at the ballpark, Alex Kirilloff's chances of being on the Opening Day roster, Lewis Thorpe's improved outlook, and why Jake Odorizzi is still unsigned. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Here Now Click here to view the article
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