Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Minnesota Twins

Other clubs: Astros, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, White Sox.

The Twins have done a tremendous job of stockpiling minor-league talent, and currently deserve consideration for top farm system in the league. Even with Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario graduating to the majors, this collection of players has a crazy diverse mix of floor and upside, polish and potential, offense and pitching… there aren’t many weaknesses you could find within it. The worst thing you could say is they don’t have many power bats in their upper minors, but the addition of Byung-ho Park and the rebound of Byron Buxton will limit issues stemming from a lack of immediate offensive help.

There are a few surprises here that you should notice. One is the inclusion of Park to this list, despite having played professionally in Korea. He’s still a relatively unknown quantity, and obviously he hasn’t exhausted his rookie eligibility, so here he is! If you disagree with the decision to include him, close your eyes and scroll past it, or enjoy the “free” content.

One high rank and one snub may bother some readers. LaMonte Wade had a nice half-season debut after being a relatively unknown college pick out of Maryland, but it came against Rookie-ball competition, where college players are supposed to do well. I like enough of what he brings to the table offensively and defensively to think he’s more than just a guy who was placed too low to start his career. Adam Brett Walker sits at the end of the 40+ FV group here, which was kind of a stretch if you take the likely future 35 hit tool grade literally. I just don’t see him making enough contact for his power to work, but I do recognize he could have a future as a platoon or bench bat with some improvements.

Here’s the primer for the series and my scouting thoughts in general. The grades I put on players heavily weight the functionality of each tool in game situations, rather than just pure tool grades. Here is a table to understand the position player grades:

Scouting Grades in Context: Hitters
Grade Tool Is Called Batting Average HR ISO Baserunning Runs Fielding Runs
80 80 0.320 40 0.300 12 30
75 0.310 35-40 0.275 10 25
70 Plus Plus 0.300 30-35 0.250 8 20
65 0.290 27-30 0.225 6 15
60 Plus 0.280 23-27 0.200 4 10
55 Above Average 0.270 19-22 0.175 2 5
50 Average 0.260 15-18 0.150 0 0
45 Below Average 0.250 12-15 0.125 -2 -5
40 0.240 8-12 0.100 -4 -10
35 0.230 5-8 0.075 -6 -15
30 0.220 3-5 0.050 -8 -20

As well as one to understand what the overall grades approximate:

Scouting Grades in Context: Overall
Grade Hitter Starting Pitcher Relief Pitcher WAR
80 Top 1-2 #1 Starter —- 7
75 Top 2-3 #1 —- 6
70 Top 5 #1/2 —- 5
65 All-Star #2/3 —- 4
60 Plus #3 High Closer 3
55 Above Avg #3/4 Mid Closer 2.5
50 Avg Regular #4 Low CL/High SU 2
45 Platoon/Util #5 Low Setup 1.5
40 Bench Swing/Spot SP Middle RP 1
35 Emergency Call-Up Emergency Call-Up Emergency Call-Up 0
30 *Organizational *Organizational *Organizational -1

One other difference in the way I’ll be communicating scouting grades to you is the presence of three numbers on each tool instead of just two. The first number is the current grade. The second number is the likely future grade; or, if you prefer percentiles, call this the 50th percentile projection. The third number is the ceiling grade, or 90th percentile projection, to help demonstrate the volatility and raw potential of a tool. I feel this gives readers a better sense of the possible outcomes a player could achieve, and more information to understand my thoughts on the likelihood of reaching those levels.

In the biographical information, level refers to where they finished the year, unless they were sent down for injury rehab or other extraneous reasons. Ages are listed as of April 1, 2016. You can also find each player’s previous rank from Kiley’s list last year. Below, Dave Cameron shares his thoughts on the general state of the organization. Returning for his popular cameo, Carson Cistulli picks his favorite fringe prospect toward the end of the list. Next up will be the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Organizational Overview
After some pretty lean years, the Twins are definitively now on the upswing; the question is how long it will take to go from competitive to contender. If their best young talents turn into legitimate franchise players, then the Twins could be in for a strong run over the next few seasons, but they’re also pretty heavily dependent on those guys turning out well, which opens the franchise up to a good amount of risk. The range of outcomes for both Buxton and Sano are pretty large, and there isn’t necessarily a strong base to pick up the slack if those two end up disappointing. But if they turn into what they could turn into, and the team finds a few more solid role players to round out the roster, it won’t be long before the Twins are challenging for October baseball once again.

50+ FV Prospects

Video courtesy of Major League Baseball
1. Byron Buxton, OF
Current Level/Age: MLB/22.3, 6’2/190, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 2nd overall (1st round) in 2012 out of Georgia HS by MIN for $6 million bonus
Previous Rank: 1

Buxton had a rough year in 2015 and has more questions surrounding him now than at the beginning of last season, when he was the consensus number-one prospect in baseball. It’s easy to worry about him being injury prone after two seasons in a row where he missed a chunk of time, but I think it may be too early to knock him down off his throne. A combination of a sprained thumb and perhaps a slightly premature introduction to the majors were mostly to blame for his subpar performance. His approach was more aggressive in the big leagues than it had ever been previously, though I’m willing to chalk it up to not being able to get acclimated while dealing with his time off.

Buxon is still a plus hitter with at least average power. He’s still one of the best base-runners in the game, and small sample last year aside, still projects as one of the better defensive center fielders in the league. With his injuries all being unrelated the last two years, I’m assuming good health without much reservation. And if he’s healthy, his only adjustment will be taking his advanced minor-league approach into his at bats against big-league pitchers, which will be much easier when he isn’t having to deal with physical problems.

Hit: 45/60/65 Power: 45/50/60 Run: 75/75/80 Field: 65/65/70 Throw: 65/65/65
Overall: 60/70/80


Video courtesy of Christopher Blessing
2. Jose Berrios, RHP
Current Level/Age: Triple-A/21.8, 6’0/185, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 32nd overall (Supp 1st round) in 2012 out of Puerto Rico HS for $1.55 million bonus
Previous Rank: 3

Berrios has three pitches that are all tough on hitters — even when he throws them in the zone. He throws strikes and has a deep enough arsenal to turn over lineups and face teams multiple times over the course of a season right now. There are some slight mechanical issues to work out, but nothing he won’t be able to figure out on the fly, as he’s a tremendous athlete on the mound. He gets a little too closed off at times and has to force his upper body through, and he may need subtle adjustments here and there with his tempo, but he’s also not even 22 years old yet and had no problem cruising through Triple-A lineups last year.

His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, but has reached up to 98 in the past. His changeup is already a plus to plus-plus pitch with enough fade to get righties and lefties out, complemented by a solid breaking ball. His curve is regarded as clear third pitch, but the feel he shows for adding and subtracting speed with great movement may give him a third plus offering at its peak.

Berrios is a stud in waiting, and should get the chance to start his reign over the Twins rotation pretty quickly this season. Look for him to be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year after some seasoning in Triple-A.

Fastball: 55/60/65 Curveball: 50/55/60 Split/Changeup: 60/65/65+ Command: 55/60/60
Overall: 55/65/75


Video courtesy of 87?? ??
3. Byung-ho Park, 1B
Current Level/Age: NA/29.7, 6’1/236, R/R
Acquired: Signed in 2015 out of Korea for $12.85 million posting fee and 4 years/$12 million
Previous Rank: NA

Park is going to mash in the big leagues. While Jung-ho Kang is a completely different athlete, it’s helpful to compare the two to get a sense for how well Park’s abilities will translate stateside. While Park had the higher strikeout rate in Korea, he also shows a better ability manipulating his bat to get the barrel on tough pitches. He drew more walks, and his simpler swing should allow him more time than Kang to read pitches, giving him a good chance of continuing to rack up free passes against big-league pitching.

With regard to his swing, Park is superior in nearly every way to Kang. He has a stronger lower half with more stability and a quicker drive, a shorter path to the ball with his barrel and more reliable lift that results in high line drives and hard fly balls everywhere between right and left field. Barring some unforeseen change in his approach, or a drastic reduction in his contact rate, Park has a high probability of outpacing Kang’s impressive production with the bat.

Obviously, Park won’t provide as much defensive or base-running value as Kang, being a first baseman by trade. Though he’s likely to be the Twins’ designated hitter, his defense comes with the reputation of being solid at the cold corner. He moves well on the bases for a slugger, having stolen 10 bases in 2015. The only reservation is regarding his contact, about which some evaluators have raised concerns. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit for a lower average, but the power threat he provides will force pitchers to work around him and let him take his walks, counteracting the potential high strikeout rate with plenty of on-base opportunities.

Hit: 50/50/55 Power: 70/70/70 Run: 45/45/45 Field: 45/45/45 Throw: 45/45/45
Overall: 60/60/65


Video courtesy of MLB Prospect Portal
4. Max Kepler, LF
Current Level/Age: MLB/23.1, 6’4/205, L/L
Acquired: Signed in 2009 out of Germany by MIN for $800,000 bonus
Previous Rank: 14

Kepler had everything going right last year as he stormed through the Double-A Eastern League. He hit for the best power, stole the most bases and had the highest walk rate of his minor-league career. It led to a short debut in the big leagues, setting him up for more appreciable playing time for the parent club in 2016.

For a player coming from Germany, Kepler is surpisingly polished at the plate. His plate discipline has gotten stronger as he has come up through the system, and he has a strong swing built for hitting line drives around the field. He can get overactive with his front shoulder, leading to more than a few ground balls to the right side, but he hits everything hard and gets his hands on level with the pitch early in his swing. The shift will take away a few more hits in the majors, but his ability to take a walk will help counteract whatever he loses in hit totals.

He has developing power that could make a 55-ceiling grade look light eventually, but for now he has strong gap power with more homer pop to the pull side. While his fielding is fringe-average in the outfield, his bat more than makes up the difference to profile as an above-average regular with upside as an All-Star.

Hit: 50/55/55-60 Power: 45/50/55 Run: 55/55/55 Field: 45/50/50 Throw: 45/45/45
Overall: 45/55/65


Video courtesy of Christopher Blessing
5. Jorge Polanco, SS
Current Level/Age: Triple-A/22.7, 5’11/200, B/R
Acquired: Signed in 2009 out of Domincian Republic by MIN for $775,000 bonus
Previous Rank: 7

Polanco is a versatile player with excellent ability on both sides of the ball. He has solid hands and range to go with an average arm and quick release, which allows him to play anywhere on the infield very well. There is talk of him moving off shortstop at some point, but he’s already league average there defensively. The only reason to move him would be because he can handle second or third, and you have another shortstop who’s one of the best in the league

He’s going to hit for a high average with occasional pop on mistake pitches, though he will need to continue honing his plate discipline and not lean on his hand-eye coordination too much. He will chase balls just because he can hit them, though obviously he would benefit from putting himself in the best counts possible and driving pitches in the zone. Polanco has more power from the left side with a bit more athleticism in the box, but his righty swing will play fine as well. His hit tool may be limited slightly on account of the unsure on-base and plate-discipline future, but he can hit his way to at least a 55 grade there, or even better if the walks show up. He’s very difficult to strike out, and has shown he can use his speed to contribute on the base paths as well.

Hit: 50/50/55+ Power: 35/40/45 Run: 50/50/55 Field: 55/60/60 Throw: 55/55/60
Overall: 45/50+/60


Video courtesy of Minor League Baseball
6. Nick Gordon, SS
Current Level/Age: Single-A/20.4, 6’0/160, L/R
Acquired: Drafted 5th overall (1st round) in 2014 out of Florida by MIN for $3.851 million bonus
Previous Rank: 4

Gordon has a collection of all-around skills that could eventually conspire to produce one of the top shortstop profiles in the game. He has shown an early strength in making contact and working the count, with a solid line-drive approach and the speed to take extra bases at every opportunity. He’s a smooth fielder at short with a plus arm, already looking like a major-league regular at the position defensively.

He has the swing and raw power to develop average pop, but it may just be a question of whether he decides to gear his approach for it or not. I think he ends up coming a bit short, if only because he’s going to be so good at hitting line drives and letting his base-running instincts pad his extra-base hit totals. He won’t need power to be an excellent shortstop, though fully tapping into it would put him in the impact tier at the most important position on the field.

Hit: 40/50/60 Power: 30/35/45 Run: 50/55/55 Field: 60/60/60 Throw: 60/60/60
Overall: 30/50/65


Video courtesy of The Prospect Pipeline
7. Tyler Jay, LHP
Current Level/Age: High-A/21.9 , 6’1/180, L/L
Acquired: Drafted 6th overall (1st round) in 2015 out of U of Illinois by MIN for $3.8895 million bonus
Previous Rank: NA

Jay was a dominant reliever in college with a hard fastball and power curve carrying him to high strikeout totals. He continued his success in 18.1 innings in the High-A Florida State League, showing enough control that the Twins plan on converting him to a starter in 2016. I like his potential more out of the bullpen due to his high-effort arm action and questionable command, but it can’t hurt to see what he looks like over longer outings with more controlled intensity.

His fastball and curveball both have at least plus potential. His heater has excellent run and is tough to hit even in the middle of the zone, but his command of it will have to tighten up to be an impact pitcher in the big leagues. He changes the speed and shape of his curve to help throw hitters off their timing. A changeup rounds out his arsenal. Presently it’s a below-average offering, but shows signs of eventually becoming an average third pitch.

Fastball: 55/60+/65 Curveball: 55/55/60 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 45/50/55-60

45+ FV Prospects
8. Alex Meyer, RHP, VIDEO, MLB

Meyer made the much-needed move to the bullpen in 2015, though he continued to have issues finding the zone for most of the season in either role. His stuff gives him enough promise have a top-tier closer ceiling, since it’s rare you’ll find a stronger fastball-curveball combination than what he brings to the mound. His fastball runs in the upper-90s, though as he proved last year, velocity isn’t enough to make a pitch tough on hitters.

His knuckle curve has safer potential as a big-league offering, but his success will depend on his fastball living over the plate more often. He essentially dropped his changeup upon switching roles, though he may pick it back up if he’s throwing more strikes in 2016.

Fastball: 55/60/70 Curveball: 60/60/65 Command: 40/40/45
Overall: 40/45-50/55+

9. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, VIDEO, High-A

Gonsalves’ best quality is that he’s a safe bet to be a starter in the big leagues. Whether he ends up in the back or middle of a rotation will depend on his command and stuff playing closer to its best, but there aren’t many left-handed pitching prospects with as high of a floor as he has. His arsenal projects to be right around average throughout, with a big, durable body that should allow him to soak up innings at the major-league level.

His split-finger changeup remains his best pitch, though it may not have enough bite to be a lock for a swing-and-miss pitch. His fastball has room to gain velocity and his command of it is pretty good, but his easygoing motion leaves it looking a little too hittable at times. He will have to reach his command ceiling for it to be a well above-average pitch. His curveball flashes above-average, but he leaves enough of them up in the zone without sharp break that I can’t see it being better than average overall. He added a cutter that could develop into more of a slider, giving him a pitch to fill the velocity gap between his fastball and changeup/curveball.

The ingredients are there for him to develop into a big-league starter, and his role will reveal itself over the next year or two. He’s not without upside, as he has enough athleticism on the mound and room for physical growth to see a possible #3 if things break right.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Curveball: 45/45/50 Slider: 40/40/45+ Split/Changeup: 50/55/55+ Command: 45/50/55
Overall: 40/45-50/55

10. Kohl Stewart, RHP, VIDEO, High-A

Stewart had a disappointing year statistically in 2015, and there is reason to be skeptical about him reaching his originally projected ceiling as a number-two or -three starter. A team source said they are still expecting big things from him, and are looking forward to a bounce-back year in 2016. He has a stiff core that leads to a muscled arm action, which is worrisome on account of the shoulder issue in the past. He still has a strong arm and is a great athlete overall, but the smoothness of his motion has taken a downturn since he was drafted.

The stuff isn’t in question — he still flashes a plus slider and possibly 65 fastball — but his command has limited upside. To continue on track for an impact starter role, he will be required to turn strong stuff into strikeouts. Better location will be his ticket, since advanced hitters will have the discipline to wait for the mistake pitch if he can’t prove adept at working the corners. His changeup and curveball may get to average eventually.

These grades are a bit pessimistic considering his pedigree, and it’s worth mentioning the safety nets he has going for him. He was predominately a football player when he was drafted, so some growing pains were to be expected all along. Even if his fastball took a step back in velocity, it has good sink that gives him a future as a ground-ball pitcher with strikeout upside. There’s no certainty he reaches his slightly tempered mid-rotation ceiling, but he has the talent to quickly get back on track.

Fastball: 50/55/60+ Curveball: 40/45/50 Slider: 50/55/60 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 40/45/55

11. J.T. Chargois, RHP, VIDEO, Double-A

Chargois progressed very well last year after finally returning from Tommy John surgery. A team source believes he might have more pure stuff than anyone they have. He consistently throws in the triple digits, and has an outpitch slider in the upper-80s and a surprisingly legit changeup. He throws from a lower slot that gives him some unique deception and is super athletic on the mound.

His command is the only thing keeping him from being a shutdown reliever, though his stuff gives him a lot of room for error even if his location doesn’t greatly improve. I think he has a higher ceiling than Burdi below, with the deciding factor being whose command shows up.

Fastball: 55/60/65 Slider: 55/60/60 Changeup: 45/50/50 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 40/45/55

12. LaMonte Wade, OF, VIDEO, Rookie

Wade had an excellent professional debut that exceeded even the most optimistic internal expectations. As a ninth-round pick out the University of Maryland, he may not have the exciting pedigree, but he has a chance to be an excellent big leaguer. He’s a very good center fielder who gets great jumps, and his throws are strong and accurate. He has a highly athletic line-drive stroke, and he has a propensity for walking more than he strikes out. Team sources love his makeup and how hard he plays every day.

We’ll have to see how Wade does against better competition than the Appalachian League, but I found it hard to keep him this low on the list. He has a lot to offer, and he could be a sleeper for jumping into the top 10 next year.

Hit: 45/50/55 Power: 30/35/35+ Run: 50/50/50 Field: 55/60/65 Throw: 55/55/55
Overall: 40/45/55

13. Wander Javier, SS, VIDEO

Javier has really smooth actions at short, and attacks the ball with sound footwork and good body control. His above-average arm strength has a chance to play up a tick because of how well he moves around the ball. At the plate, he’s a bit of a different story. The developing big body is there that makes you hope for his above-average power to grow, but he’s very messy both mechanically and athletically. Some of it has to do with needing to mature a bit, and the better body awareness that comes with the process.

However, he shows below-average feel for the barrel, and his swing is going to take a lot of work to exorcise some bad movements out of it. Reports say he shows better contact skills when he keeps everything more simple and direct, but it might end up being a case of either/or with his power and hit tools. I’d bet on the power being ahead of the hitting ability after a couple years of development, but it really could go either way.

The grades here reflect that potential dichotomy, as in I don’t think he ends up with both an average hit tool and average power grade. But, if you’re really optimistic about him you can take all the ceiling grades and see his upper limit as better than a 55 overall.

Hit: 25/40/50 Power: 30/45/50 Run: 55/55/55 Field: 55/60/60+ Throw: 55/55/60
Overall: 25/45/55

14. Nick Burdi, RHP, VIDEO, Double-A

Burdi is a dirty relief prospect who was one of the hardest throwers in the Arizona Fall League this offseason. He has a strong fastball that looks even quicker to hitters in the box. He complements it with a changeup and slider that can both be inconsistent due to a fluctuating arm slot. His slider has the best chance to be an above-average pitch, flashing plus at its best.

His delivery is a mix of good and bad that adds to his viability and volatility as a reliever. He has great rotational sequencing, timing up his hips and core rotation to provide a strong base for his arm. He releases the ball at angles varying from three-quarters to almost sidearm, and a poor deceleration pattern puts some extra pressure on his arm. The abruptness of his arm at the tail end of release contributes to his so-so command, causing him to leave a good number of pitches up in the zone. Advanced hitters won’t swing through as many fastballs over the middle of the plate, but his strikeout potential gives him a job in the big leagues regardless. Finding some consistency puts him in closer territory very easily.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Slider: 50/50/55 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 40/45/50+

15. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, VIDEO, Single-A

Before he went down in Spring Training last year, Thorpe was the top left-handed pitching prospect in the system. Tommy John surgery caused him to miss all of 2015, and he is on track to be ready for the start of this season. Reports from the team and other sources project him for average command, but his arm-dominant delivery with a surgery on his resume makes me want to see where he’s at this year before agreeing.

Fastball: 50/55/55+ Curveball: 45/50/50+ Changeup: 50/55/55 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 40/45/50

40+ FV Prospects
16. Taylor Rogers, LHP, VIDEO, Triple-A

Rogers doesn’t have an exciting repertoire, but as Chris Mitchell highlighted in June, lefties have a terrible time squaring him up. There’s talk this year of Rogers breaking camp as a setup man in the big-league bullpen, and he just might have a case for the spot with his average arsenal and good command.

Fastball: 50/50/50+ Curveball: 45/50/50 Changeup: 45/45/50 Command: 50/50/50+
Overall: 40/40+/45

17. Jermaine Palacios, SS, Rookie

Palacios has a chance at possessing average tools across the board, showing a polished bat at a young age in Rookie Ball last year. Though it sounds like shortstop will not be his position for long, he has enough ability with the bat and the glove to find a suitable home. There’s plenty of risk here, but also plenty of upside if he continues to develop.

Hit: 40/45/55 Power: 40/45/50 Run: 50/45/50 Field: 45/50/50 Throw: 50/50/50
Overall: 30/40/55

18. Trey Cabbage, 3B, VIDEO, Rookie

Cabbage is an excellent athlete who could end up being a plus defender at third base. He has great hands and his arm plays very well at the hot corner. He showed off a quick bat in his pro debut, though he was limited by some pitch recognition and contact issues that may or may not be a long-term issue. A Twins source with whom I spoke remarked how calm Cabbage is under pressure, and believes his power will show up this year now that he’s had some experience and gained 10-15 pounds over the offseason.

Hit: 30/40/50 Power: 30/45/50+ Run: 45/45/45 Field: 50/55/60 Throw: 55/55/55
Overall: 30/40/55

19. Engelb Vielma, SS, VIDEO, High-A

Vielma is an excellent defender, drawing praise as being the best shortstop in the system from Twins sources. He is a thin guy without much physical projection, but he has shown some ability to hit for average and steal some bases. He has a great swing built for line drives, and makes enough contact that he could end up a starter in the end.

Hit: 35/40/45 Power: 25/30/30 Run: 60/60/60 Field: 65/65/70 Throw: 60/60/60
Overall: 30/40/50

20. Stuart Turner, C, VIDEO, Double-A

Tuner is a superb defender who the Twins see as a sure big leaguer, with his bat’s development the determining factor in what role he will fill. His offensive progress has been disappointing so far in his professional career, particularly since he shows flashes of ability to hit for power and get on base. He may be carving out a niche as a patient, low-contact hitter with sneaky power, but at least one of those three is going to have to step forward to be a starting option.

Still, he has a plus arm, calls a good game and is adept at blocking pitches in the dirt. Somewhat interestingly, the Twins see him as a solid receiver, though Baseball Prospectus’ catching metrics pegged his work in 2015 as the fourth-worst framing job in their available minor-league population. It bears watching to see how good he looks in Triple-A and the big leagues, since that is a huge factor in his projected floor as a backup catcher. I’m trusting the first-hand eyes on him for now, but it will be an important consideration when watching his progress this in 2016.

Hit: 30/35/40 Power: 35/40/40+ Run: 40/40/45 Field: 55/60/65 Throw: 60/60/60
Overall: 30/40/50

21. Mason Melotakis, LHP, VIDEO, Double-A

Melotakis missed all of last year after Tommy John surgery cut him out of the Arizona Fall League, though the stuff he showed in 2014 could put him on the fast track to Minnesota if he’s healthy. One Twins source thinks he could be in their top 10 if he comes back at the same level, which isn’t unreasonable considering his fastball-curveball combination. Though he has run his heater up to 96-97, I worry about his stiff arm action keeping him from being a long-term contributor, even in shorter outings as a reliever. Still, he could have a few years of dominating hitters out of the pen.

Fastball: 55/60/65+ Curveball: 50/55/60 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 40/40/45-50

22. Michael Cederoth, RHP, VIDEO, Single-A

Cederoth is a hard-throwing hurler with some serious funk to his delivery. He jumps toward the plate and has a stiff arm and high release. He was injured most of the year but pitched a bit in instructional league last fall with some success. The Twins tried starting him and aren’t sure what direction he will go yet, but the sense is he’s probably a bullpen guy. He flashes two good breaking balls to pair with his 95-98 heater, so there’s upside here, but the mechanics may keep him from being a real impact.

Fastball: 55/60/65+ Curveball: 45/50/55 Slider: 40/45/50 Changeup: 40/45/45 Command: 40/40/45
Overall: 35/40/45-50

23. Mitch Garver, C, VIDEO, High-A

Garver’s defense has really come along in the last year or two, and he now projects as at least an average defensive catcher in the big leagues. His offense took a step back in 2015, and he doesn’t have a great swing or amazing bat speed, but a mixture of power and discipline could make him an interesting backup option.

Hit: 40/40/45 Power: 40/45/45 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 50/55/55+ Throw: 50/55/55
Overall: 40/40/45

24. Ryan Eades, RHP, VIDEO, High-A

Eades looked better last year, throwing more strikes after a rough 2014 season and using a more deliberate delivery than his college years to stay in the zone more. He’s not throwing as hard as when he was drafted, now sitting 90-93, but both his changeup and curveball showed the potential to work in the zone in 2015. The Twins see him as a good bet to stay in the rotation, praising his solid work ethic for getting him through adversity.

Fastball: 50/50+/55 Curveball: 45/50/50+ Changeup: 45/50/55 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 35/40/45

25. Adam Brett Walker III, OF, VIDEO, Double-A

Walker has a quick bat and a choppy swing plane, with as much raw power as anyone in the minor leagues. He has too much of a downward plane to truly tap into it, but he should still be able to hit for plus power due to raw strength alone. The problem is he may not hit the ball often enough for it to matter. He has been able to supplement his poor batting average with walks, but major-league pitching will be able to pick apart the holes in his swing quickly. He struggles with half-decent breaking balls, and his swing is an all-or-nothing move once it starts.

Hit: 30/35/40 Power: 55/60/65 Run: 50/45/50 Field: 40/40/45 Throw: 50/50/50
Overall: 30/40/45

Cistulli’s Guy
Niko Goodrum, 3B/SS/CF

There isn’t much to distinguish Goodrum from other Twins prospect Levi Michael. Both produced walk and strikeout rates of roughly 10% and 20%, respectively, last year for Double-A Chattanooga. Both recorded an isolated-power figure of almost precisely .150. Both have played some shortstop in their respective careers, but also not exclusively shortstop.

In a number of ways, however, Goodrum supplies just slightly more reason for optimism. He’s a year younger than Michael, for example. He’s a bit taller and features more physical projection. He recorded roughly a third of his defensive starts at shortstop for Chattanooga, while Michael has been mostly relegated just to second base at this point. They’re not stark, the differences, but they do appear to be real.

Here’s visual evidence of Goodrum not only playing shortstop, but also completing one play without effing up real hard:

Quick Hits
Upper minors hitters: OF Travis Harrison (VIDEO) takes good at-bats, and may eventually come around as a defender in the outfield. The Twins are hoping he may be a guy that has to repeat a level for his power to show up, but a choppy, one-piece swing makes it very unlikely. INF Levi Michael (VIDEO) is a former first-round pick from 2011 who has shown signs of coming around, and played well in Venezuela this offseason. He just has to stay healthy to make the big leagues, though his ceiling is still likely a utility role. 3B/SS Niko Goodrum (Cistulli’s Guy above, VIDEO) has a nice looking swing from both sides of the plate with some utility potential. He is super athletic and started to tap into his raw power last year, though his contact quality will need to show a bit more improvement to make the list. OF/1B Daniel Palka (VIDEO) made the Diamondbacks list at the tail end of the 40+ FV group, but he drops off now that I’ve cleaned up my overall grading methodology. He has some power and some athletic movements in the box, but he’s too choppy to get to it against better pitching.

Lower minors hitters: 1B Lewin Diaz (VIDEO) may have more potential than most questionable contact/high power minor leaguers. His tremendous power is muted by a downward swing path, but he has really athletic moves in the box that may make it an easier adjustment for him than most. He’s a decent defender at first, but he has work to do keeping his big body in shape. 3B/LF Travis Blankenhorn (VIDEO) is a strong kid with surprising athleticism, and was a good high school basketball and football player before signing. He has a chance to hit for some power, but his contact projects as below-average and he’s more likely to move to left field than stay at third base. 1B Amaurys Minier (VIDEO) had a disappointing year in the Gulf Coast League and showed his rawness at the plate, but he has tremendous power potential from both sides as a switch-hitter. He’s limited to first base, though he has a strong arm.

Upper minors pitchers: LHP Logan Darnell (VIDEO) had a great year in Triple-A and might be a useful bullpen arm, but none of his pitches project better than average and he may be a little too hittable even in short outings. RHP Brandon Peterson has been a pleasant surprise as a late-pick bullpen arm. He has a funky delivery, throwing strikes from a lower arm slot with his fastball running up to 92-93. His lack of pure stuff caught up to him a bit in Double-A, which may be amplified as he tries to ascend the next two levels. RHP Trevor Hildenburger (VIDEO) throws a ton of strikes from a low three-quarters to sidearm slot, and a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League has him positioned to make a run at the big-league pen. He has good movement on his pitches, but he shows his breaking ball early at a higher slot, and I’m not sure how much he will fool more advanced hitters. RHP Jake Reed (VIDEO) has the velocity and strike-throwing ability to be a 7th inning reliever, but he is still working on getting his slider up to par. He gets good reviews for his competitiveness, and may move quick with a good performance in Double-A.

Lower minors pitchers: RHP Yorman Landa (VIDEO) is a bullpen guy with a great arm, running his fastball up to 96-97 with easy effort. If he stays healthy, the Twins may have another solid relief option coming out of the system. RHP Felix Jorge (VIDEO) was described by a Twins source as a poor man’s Ervin Santana. He has a thin body and doesn’t throw hard, but he has a good mix of pitches and throws strikes, lending hope that he can stick as a starter. LHP Lachlan Wells (VIDEO) is a young lefty with some upside, throwing his 87-89 heater and a nice breaking ball for strikes in the Gulf Coast League last year.

LHP Alex Robinson (VIDEO) didn’t throw much in college and has struggled with his command, but he has two really good pitches in the form of a heavy fastball and hard slider. If he can harness his stuff and throw strikes, he has late-inning potential. RHP Fernando Romero (VIDEO) has a strong arm that delivers two pitches that are very tough to hit. He’s coming back from TJ surgery this year and will look toward getting back to work on his command. LHP Cameron Booser (VIDEO) was an undrafted pitcher picked up in 2013, and yet he has one of the strongest arms in the system. He throws up to 96-98 from the left side with a hard breaker, but harnessing his stuff and throwing strikes has thus far eluded him.



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Dan is Fangraphs Lead Prospect Analyst, living in New York City. He played baseball for four years at Franklin & Marshall College before attending medical school. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @DWFarnsworth.


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Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
2 months 24 days ago

Wow, 50 bat + 70 power on Park? That’s a serious projection.

brat0029
Member
brat0029
2 months 24 days ago

Please, please, please

laer0302
Member
laer0302
2 months 24 days ago

Thoughts on Wander Javier? Is there a reason he isn’t included?

mike sixel
Member
mike sixel
2 months 24 days ago

Good stuff. You should expect the ABWIII fans to come out in droves to defend him. We have dozens of paragraphs about him at twinsdaily from his fans…..

Wade is tough to diagnose without seeing, imo. He should, as you say, dominate that level. Most of us never get to see these guys, so it is always good to get an update from people that do…..

brat0029
Member
brat0029
2 months 24 days ago

Nice write up. It’s nice to see that their top 3 prospects – Buxton, Berrios and Park – should all have big impacts on this years ML team. And Kepler might not be far behind. Nice to have a strong system with a lot of the talent at AAA or above.

RonnieDobbs
Member
RonnieDobbs
2 months 24 days ago

It is nice to see the way the community responses have changed throughout your series. Your first few lists generated a lot of negative responses because they were different, but people seem to have given up on trying to make you do it like everyone else. I like the in-depth analysis and your tendency to go out on a limb. Personally, I could do without the mechanical analysis, but there a bunch of others that love it – again, it is different and I appreciate it!

Ben
Member
Ben
2 months 24 days ago

The huge outlier here is Lamonte Wade – didn’t make many people’s top 30. Personally speaking, I love this ranking. He was a 9th round pick that would have been higher except for an injury concern. He absolutely dominated in E-Town, and it will be great to see him in Cedar Rapids and hopefully Fort Myers this year. Great job with these, thank you for the read.

craig4
Member
craig4
2 months 24 days ago

park power 70? fhahaha .. are you kidding me ? park is raw power 60 at best

craig4
Member
craig4
2 months 24 days ago

KBO is rubbish kbo 50HR = MLB 15HR ok? don’t know? by heart now!!

MirroR
Member
MirroR
2 months 24 days ago

Dan is demonstrating with Park’s batting mechanism and raw power. Where is your clue? I would believe in Dan rather than your 50 to 15 rule.

dl80
Member
dl80
2 months 23 days ago

I’m not sold on Buxton.

His BB/K rate has eroded as he’s moved up in league (not surprisingly). From 2:1 in AA to 3:1 in AAA to 7:1 in MLB (very limited sample). I think his projections are overly rosy about his BB/K rates and they STILL rely on him having a very high BABIP (.330+). That’s not impossible, but it’s the only way he hits enough.

He’s got speed and should steal bases, but his OBP isn’t going to go well unless he has that high BABIP. His minor league ISO numbers are almost entirely the product of unsustainably high triples. He’s not going to get 20-30 triples in the majors.

And while he’s a bit young for his leagues, he’s not 18; he’s 22.

I see a .270/.320/.390 line as about his ceiling unless he makes major changes.

He’s a faster Ender Inciarte with much worse BB/K rates.

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