A Minor Review of 2017: Minnesota Twins

The Twins system maybe doesn’t have the best depth but it has some impact hitters on the way — especially up the middle — and some intriguing arms.

The Graduate: Trevor Hildenberger, RHP: More moxie than stuff, Hildenberger survived his first taste of the Majors with a fastball that sat 88-89 mph. His changeup was the nasty go-to offering and his slider had just enough to keep hitters honest. Most importantly, the right-hander threw strikes and kept the ball down in the zone which helped him generate a ground-ball rate of close to 60%. Hildenberger had similar success in the minors and the Twins began to trust him with some key pitching situations. He’s not a big name and he doesn’t throw hard but he could be a key arm for the Twins in 2018.

First Taste of The Show: Zack Granite, OF: Like Hildenberger, Granite is the sexiest player but he knows how to get the job done. He didn’t have a great MLB debut with 67 wRC+ in 93 at-bats, but he has some skills to help a big league club win as a fourth outfielder. He can run, he can play defence and he makes a ton of contact. Granite walked more than he struck out in his debut (11.2% vs 8.4%) and it’s not rare for him to strikeout less than 10% of the time. He’s also shown more zip in his bat over the past two seasons with his line-drive rates jumping from 13% in 2015 to 19% to 22% in 2017.

The Stud: Wander Javier, SS: Projecting athletes at 15, 16, 17 years of age is difficult but there are always the odd player that stands out and says, “Hey, I’m going to be really good.” Such was the case with Javier who got $4 million from the Twins as a 16 year old and has done nothing but sting the ball since turning pro. Playing in advanced rookie ball in 2017, the middle infielder was one of the best hitters in the league as an 18 year old. He showed an approach at the plate beyond his years by just missing a .300 average and walking more than 10% of the time. He also generate more pop than expected from his slight frame. The biggest knock on him is the strikeout rate, which was at 27%. He’s expected to stick at shortstop.

The Draft Pick: Royce Lewis, SS: If Javier isn’t enough for you, the Twins also have Lewis, who projects as a stud at shortstop. He showed an advanced approach at the plate and it’s not difficult to envision him eventually hitting .300 and flirting with a .400 on-base percentage in The Show. It remains to be seen how much power he’ll generate but he already displays gap pop. He has the raw speed to steal 40+ bases and be a real ignitor on the bases and at the plate. Defensively, he shows excellent athleticism with a modest arm. The Twins could have a (good) problem at shortstop in about four years.

The Riser: Brusdar Graterol, RHP: The Twins really know how to get their money’s worth from the international market and Graterol is no exception. Signed in 2014, he’s moved slowly and pitched in rookie ball in 2017 but he shows mid-to-upper-90s heat and could develop a four-pitch repertoire with three above-average offerings. That, however, depends on his ability to improve both his command and his control. He’s also just 6-1 so he’ll have to prove his durability to stick as a starter. He should get his first taste of full-season ball in 2018.

The Sleeper: Tyler Jay, LHP: The sixth overall pick of the 2015 draft, Jay is hard to term a “sleeper” but injuries have kept him off the mound and he’s become a forgotten man. With barely more than 100 innings thrown over the past three years, this southpaw will be looking for a strong season in 2018. He has a four-pitch mix but it’s mid-to-upper-90s heat and plus slider that will be his bread and butter. He has high-leverage potential if he can stay off the DL and he could reach the Majors in the coming year.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Jaboy
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Jaboy

I think you meant to say Granite *isn’t* the sexiest player.

balancedman178
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balancedman178
jfree
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jfree

Where is shirtless Bartolo colon when you need him?