Today we begin our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects list, beginning with the Minnesota Twins. THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST.
IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.
THESE ARE PRE-SEASON GRADES.
1) Byron Buxton, OF, Grade A: Shook off injury rust to hit .283/.351/.489 with 20 steals in 22 attempts in Double-A, promoted to majors and hit .189/.231/.270 until going on disabled list. A bit rushed perhaps, but still an outstanding talent.
2) Miguel Sano, 3B, Grade A- Shook off injury rust to hit .274/.374/.544 in Double-A, promoted to majors and has been excellent thus far at .326/.444/.558. We'll have to see how average and OBP stand up in a larger sample but he's been very impressive.
3) Jose Berrios, RHP, Grade B+: 3.49 ERA in 108 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, with 113/29 K/BB. Should be ready for a September cup-of-coffee depending on workload management. Stock remains strong.
4) Alex Meyer, RHP, Grade B+: 5.51 ERA with 72/34 K/BB in 65 innings, has moved into relief role. Command remains the biggest issue here, stock down as a result.
5) Nick Gordon, SS, Grade B+/B: Hitting .266/.321/.328 with 22 steals in Low-A. No power yet but is using speed well on the bases and is drawing good reviews for his defense at shortstop, easing concerns that he'll have to switch to second.
6) Kohl Stewart, RHP, Grade B/B+: Has a nice 3.26 ERA in 86 innings in High-A, but with mediocre components (44/31 BB/K, 91 hits) and rather blah scouting summaries. Seems to be developing into a workhorse number four type rather than a future ace.
7) Trevor May, RHP, Grade B-/B: 4.43 ERA in 85 innings for the Twins, mostly as a starter, with 77/18 K/BB but 99 hits allowed. Has had some excellent moments, can build on this.
8) Jorge Polanco, INF, Grade B-: Hitting .304/.344/.406 combined between Double-A and Triple-A with 15 steals. A solid season, could help down the stretch or maybe show up in trade rumors. Could take larger role in 2016.
9) Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Grade B-: Tommy John surgery, out for season.
10) Eddie Rosario, OF-2B, Grade B-: Promoted to Minnesota, hitting .273/.298/.397 in 209 at-bats. I'd like to see a higher OBP but in general he's held his own at age 23
11) Nick Burdi, RHP, Grade B-: Fireball closer prospect saw command failure in Double-A (5.93, 33/22 K/BB in 30) and was sent down to High-A. He's been terrific there (1.54, 15/0 in 12 innings) and will try again in Double-A soon.
12) Max Kepler, OF, Grade B-: German outfielder having breakthrough season, hitting .332/.414/.522 in Double-A, power increasing to go with contact hitting, solid defense, 13 steals.
13) Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Grade B-: Lights-out in Low-A (1.15, 77/15 in 55 IP) but more human in High-A (2.50, 22/20 in 36). Reports on stuff remain lukewarm and his K/BB needs to improve or the pretty ERA won't last much longer. Drew raves for pitchability in Low-A.
14) Travis Harrison, OF, Grade B-/C+: Hitting .239/.351/.366 in Double-A, showing command of the strike zone but still struggling to turn his raw physical strength into useable field power.
15) Stuart Turner, C, Grade C+: Hitting .206/.292/.291 in Double-A, glove is outstanding but has been overmatched by Southern League pitching to this point. Was under Mendoza Line much of season but has hit better of late.
16) Adam Brett Walker, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .259/.313/.557 with 25 homers, 26 walks, 114 strikeouts in Double-A. Enormous power but contact issues problematic at higher levels.
17) Michael Cederoth, RHP, Grade C+: Hard-thrower posted 4.08 ERA, 37/18 K/BB in 35 innings in Low-A, went on disabled list in early June.
18) Jake Reed, RHP, Grade C+: 5.18 ERA in 40 innings in Double-A, 35/14 K/BB, 42 hits. Power arm not intimidating Southern League hitters.
19) Amaurys Minier, 1B, Grade C+: Serious contact issues in rookie ball, hitting .218/.258/.322 with four walks, 35 strikeouts in 87 at-bats in Appy League.
20) Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Grade C+: A Sleeper Alert choice who has performed very well, 1.99 ERA in 86 innings with 76/22 K/BB combined between High-A and one Triple-A spot start. Reports on pitchability remain strong and his stuff has ticked up.
The big league team has performed better than expected under new manager Paul Molitor but the best is yet to come, in the form of premium prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Other farm products on the close horizon include Jose Berrios and right-hander Tyler Duffey, who was graded as a C+ "Sleeper Alert" arm pre-season and would have ranked 21st on this list pre-season. Duffey has been excellent this year (2.41, 109/29 K/BB in 123 innings in the high minors) and is likely ready for a big league trial soon. Positionally, Jorge Polanco looks like an exciting player who could be ready for a larger role in the majors in 2016.
All four full-season clubs are over .500, which doesn't mean they are full of prospects but is certainly not a bad thing.
Pitching has been strong. Unheralded lefty Ryan O'Rourke is getting a shot in the majors now and should be a useable LOOGY. Keep an eye on exceptionally polished finesse lefty Mat Batts, who has been tearing through A-ball. Skeptics want to see him in Double-A and that could happen soon given his ability to make A-ball hitters look dumb (1.89, 93/19 K/BB in 95 IP) despite lack of plus stuff.. Right-handers Brandon Peterson, Alex Slegers, and Felix Jorge (who looks recovered from a disastrous 2014) also merit attention
Feel free to ask about other players as well as the 2015 draft class in the comments section and I will answer to the best of my ability.