Top 10 Prospects (2019): Minnesota Twins: A System On The Rise

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The Twins are a team that has an impressive farm system, though one that doesn’t offer significant immediate upside.  In two or three years?  The talent is there to arrive and make a significant impact on the team, both in the field and on the mound.  That will lead to exciting times, and it’s not out of the question, with a developing base in the Majors already, the team tries to accelerate at least a few of the arrivals (think at some point in 2020) depending on the development.  It’s an exciting time for the team, and there are several prospects that belong on your radar.  Who are those players?  Let’s take a look:

1) Royce Lewis – Shortstop
Grade – A
ETA – 2020

Lewis emerged as one of the premier prospects in the game, splitting time between Single-A (327 PA) and High-A (208 PA) and showing both power (14 HR) and speed (28 SB).  The numbers did falloff after his promotion, but it’s easy to chalk that up more to luck than anything:

LevelStrikeout RateWalk RateSwStr%BABIP
Single-A15.0%7.3%10.0%.349
High-A16.8%9.1%8.3%.291

In fact you can see his approach was actually better as he faced tougher competition, cutting down on the swings and misses and improving his walk rate.  Throw in that it was a more pitcher friendly setting, and his numbers look that much better.  While he may be forced to shift off shortstop at some point, he continues to be viewed among the premier prospects in the game.

2) Alex Kirilloff – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

After missing all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery Kirilloff returned in 2018 and emerged as one of the better outfield prospects in the game.  Splitting time between Single-A and Double-A he hit .348 with 20 HR, adding 44 doubles and 7 triples showing that there’s even more upside in his power.  He hasn’t shown an ability to translate some speed into stolen bases, and he may never flash more than a few in a season. 

He’s also not a .348 hitter, benefitting from a bloated BABIP at each level (.364 in Single-A, .399 in Double-A).  His overall 11.0% SwStr% shows risk (though part of that could’ve been an adjustment after missing a full season, including an improvement to 9.3% after his promotion) that the strikeout rate rises (15.3%).  The walk rate not being impressive (6.8%) and dropping upon his promotion (5.0%) adds a little bit additional risk.

All that means is that he currently falls short of being an “A-“ type prospect, though he has the ability to get there.

3) Brusdar Graterol – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2021

Minnesota has often seen it’s pitching prospects fail to live up to the hype, and while Jose Berrios has a chance to buck that trend it could ultimately be Graterol who does so.  He’s a prospect on the rise after splitting time between Single-A and High-A, combining for a 2.74 ERA and 1.15 WHIP across 102.0 innings and showing all of the skills we look for from a pitcher:

  • Strikeouts – 9.44 K/9 (10.9% SwStr%)
  • Control – 2.47 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 54.4%

Reports have his fastball capable of reaching triple digits with a slider that’s developing into a wipeout pitch.  He hasn’t quite developed his changeup, though he hasn’t needed to, but as he advances he will need that to continue to thrive.  If he does, and it appears that he can, the stuff is electric and he could emerge as a Top 5 pitching prospect in short order.

4) Trevor Larnach – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2021

Minnesota’s 2018 first round selection (20th overall), Larnach appears capable of moving quickly as he played at Rookie Ball (61 AB) and Single-A (91 AB) and hitting .303 with 5 HR and 3 SB.  He showed a strong approach, which is viewed as his best asset, posting a combined 15.8% strikeout rate and 11.9% walk rate (a 10.8% SwStr% does show a little red flag, but it was a small sample and his first taste of professional baseball).

He does have power that should develop as he matures/develops, as he added 13 doubles and 1 triple.  He’s never going to be able to rack up a significant number of stolen bases, but that’s not going to be a deal breaker (it just ultimately limits his overall appeal).

5) Brent Rooker – First Baseman/Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

Rooker played the year at Double-A showing the skill set we expected, with plenty of power (32 doubles, 4 triples and 22 HR) with questions about his approach (26.4% strikeout rate).  A 13.6% SwStr% backs up that concern and he may never be more than a .250ish hitter (and there’s a chance that he posts an even worse mark).  That’s going to put him in the Joey Gallo category, though maybe not with quite that type of home run potential.  Keep that in mind as you try to value him.

The Rest:

6) Akil Baddoo – Outfielder (Grade – B-)
Baddoo hit .243 over 437 AB at Single-A, though he showed intriguing power (22 doubles, 11 triples and 11 HR) and speed (24-for-29 SB attempts).  Was part of the average struggle due to being too patient at the plate?  His 14.3% walk rate shows a willingness to work deep counts, and maybe that has left him exposed a bit more than needed (13.2% SwStr%).  He needs to learn to get a little bit more aggressive, and when he does he’ll pair a strong approach with the potential to develop into a 20/20 threat.  He has time to get there, having turned 20-years old late in the ’18 season, though seeing him take a step forward in ’19 would be an added bonus.

7) Jhoan Duran – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
Duran doesn’t generally get much attention, but after being acquired as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade, but he deserves it.  Playing for a pair of Single-A teams his 3.75 ERA over 100.2 IP isn’t going to catch your attention, but the underlying skillset should:

  • Strikeouts – 10.28 K/9 (15.4% SwStr%)
  • Control – 3.40 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 54.5%

He needs to refine his control and develop his changeup, though the now 21-year old has some time to develop both.  He also still has room to develop physically (6’5”, 175 lbs.), just adding to the intrigue.  He’s a pitcher with potential that few are discussing, so put him on your radar.

8) Gilberto Celestino – Outfielder (Grade – B-)
While the 19-year old (he turns 20 before the start of the 2019 season) didn’t show much power in his 244 AB (12 doubles, 1 triple and 5 HR), he showed plenty of speed (22 SB) and an impressive approach (17.2% strikeout rate, 8.1% walk rate).  He should add some power as he matures physically and the hope is that with his speed he can cut down on his aggressiveness a little bit and improve his walk rate.  Those are things we will have to watch closely, but the upside is there.

9) Wander Javier – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
Shoulder surgery cost him all of 2018, which is going to suppress his perceived value in the short-term (and drops him below some other prospects on this list).  That said it doesn’t change the combination of power/speed he brings to the table, as soon as he returns to health, and at just 20-years old he’s going to have the time to develop both.  Don’t be surprised if he shoots up this list in 2019.

10) Nick Gordon – Second Baseman/Shortstop (Grade – C+)
Gordon’s name generally carries value, at least perceived value.  Playing between Double and Triple-A last season he hit just .248 with 7 HR and 20 SB, as his lack of walk rate (5.8%) is a red flag and he doesn’t have the speed that his brother (Dee Gordon) carries.  Without power we are looking more at a 10/10 type player, and one that may not carry much more than a .260ish average.  There’s potential value, but it’s not as high as we’d like to believe.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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