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Minnesota Twins Top 20 Prospects for 2018: mid-season review

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Let’s begin our mid-season reviews

Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It is time to begin our annual series of mid-season organization reviews, beginning with the Minnesota Twins.

*****THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST******

THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST

THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES

This list was originally posted December 18th, 2017 and revised in February 2018 and again in March 2018.

1) Royce Lewis, SS, Grade A-/B+: Age 19; first-overall pick in 2017 draft had strong pro debut, hit .315/.368/.485 with 22 steals in Low-A, just promoted to High-A a few days ago; reports from Midwest League are glowing, hits for average, above-average power, good speed, plausible he can remain at shortstop but should hit enough to play anywhere; grade was already high and stock is trending UP.

2) Nick Gordon, SS-2B, Grade B+: Age 22; excellent in 42 Double-A games (.333/.381/.525), more human in 51 Triple-A games (.246/.267/.362); plate discipline has slipped a bit in the International League but given overall track record I think he’ll be OK; defense remains steady, just nine errors all season at shortstop (70 games) and only one at second base (21 games); stock holding in my opinion but he needs to make more progress in second half to avoid reputational prospect fatigue.

3) Brent Rooker, OF-1B, Grade B/B+: Age 23, compensation pick, 35th overall, in 2017 from Mississippi State; got off to a slow start in Double-A, heated up, hitting .260/.317/.483 overall, 15 homers, 27 walks, 112 strikeouts in 346 at-bats; obvious contact concerns and his defense has been problematic; big power here remains key attraction but can he get to it enough at higher levels? Trending down.

4) Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, B/B+: Age 24, 3.20 ERA in 84 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 90/51 K/BB, just 53 hits; holding his own with very good K/IP, H/IP ratios but walk rate is higher than it should be, especially for a guy who relies a lot on his change-up and deception rather than blazing stuff; stock holding but not improving right now.

5) Fernando Romero, RHP, Grade B: Age 23; excellent in Triple-A (2.04, 35/17 in 40 innings), inconsistent but highly promising in major league trial, 4.69 ERA in 56 innings, 45/19 K/BB; given lack of career AAA innings he did pretty well, no question about quality of his stuff, now past rookie limits but I’d give him a B+.

6) Wander Javier, SS, Grade B: Age 19, signed for $4,000,000 in 2015 from Dominican Republic; hit .299/.383/.471 in the Appalachian League in 2017 but will miss all of 2018 with shoulder injury; obviously we’re in wait-and-see mode with this one.

7) Alex Kirilloff, OF, Grade B/B-: Age 20, 2016 first-round pick from high school in Pennsylvania, missed all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery, healthy and in gear this year, hitting combined .322/.372/.553 with 14 homers, 27 walks, 64 strikeouts in 342 at-bats between Low-A and High-A; scouting reports excellent, and these numbers have been generated in pro-pitching leagues; stock up into B+ range at least.

8) Zack Littell, RHP, Grade B-/B: Age 22, acquired from New York Yankees for Jaime Garcia; 4.06 ERA in 84 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 89/30 K/BB, 83 hits; walked six in 3.1 major league innings; obviously that’s not his game; stock stagnant right now but I still find him intriguing as an efficiency type who can surprise.

9) Lewin Diaz, 1B, Grade B-/B: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1,400,000; hitting .230/.261/.355 with six homers, nine walks, 53 strikeouts in 282 at-bats in High-A; strike zone command and power production have taken a hit in the Florida State League after what looked like a breakout in ’17; showing unusual reverse platoon split this year; has hit better lately, there’s still hope but stock stagnant or down a bit.

10) Akil Baddoo, OF, Grade B-: Age 19, compensation pick in 2016 from high school in Georgia; hitting .247/.363/.425 with eight homers, 16 steals, 53 walks, 87 strikeouts in 292 at-bats in Low-A; high walk rate, some power, speed make him impressive secondary average player; has been reliable in center though arm a better fit in left long-term; young enough to develop much further as a hitter; I like him.

11) Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Grade B-: Age 22, from Australia, posted 2.69 ERA with 84/31 K/BB in 77 innings in High-A; 3.95 ERA in 84 innings in Double-A, 106/24 K/BB, 92 hits; love the K/BB ratio, scouting reports still indicating low-90s fastball with plus change-up, decent curve, has been especially sharp lately with 65/12 K/BB in last 48 innings.

12) Blayne Enlow, RHP, Grade B-: Age 19, third round pick in 2017 from high school in Louisiana, could have been a first round pick on talent; 3.49 ERA in 57 innings in Low-A, 41/25 K/BB, 60 hits; not dominant yet but holding his own, at his best shows three-pitch mix with plus curveball, 94-95 MPH fastball, developing change; watch the strikeouts for any sign of breakout.

13) Mitch Garver, C, Grade B-/C+: Age 27, hitting .249/.332/.367 with four homers, 19 walks, 46 strikeouts in 169 major league at-bats; solid glove, could show more power eventually although by normal age standards at his peak now at age 27.

14) Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 19, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014; missed 2016 with Tommy John; unhittable in Low-A with 2.18 ERA, 51/9 K/BB in 41 innings, more human in High-A with 6.28 ERA, 10/4 in 14 innings, 23 hits; throws extremely hard and flashes plus breaking stuff, was way ahead of the Midwest League, needs to make some adjustments in FSL but stock is certainly up, top 100 guy at this point.

15) Gabriel Moya, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, from Venezuela, acquired from Arizona Diamondbacks for John Ryan Murphy; excellent in Triple-A, 1.40 ERA in 39 innings, 46/9 K/BB; fanned 10 in seven major league innings but with six runs allowed; not much left to prove in the minors and deserves full bullpen trial.

16) LaMonte Wade, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, ninth round pick in 2015 from University of Maryland; hitting .279/.391/.432 with 10 homers, 48 walks, 40 strikeouts in 280 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; noted for excellent strike zone judgment and has maintained this; runs pretty well, some power, rather tweenery with tools but hitting feel helps his chances.

17) Travis Blankenhorn, INF, Grade B-/C+: Age 21, third round pick in 2015 from high school in Pennsylvania; hitting .248/.313/.404 with eight homers, 24 walks, 88 strikeouts in 307 at-bats in High-A; versatile with the glove, capable at second and third and now picking up outfield innings as well; some pop with the bat but hasn’t really taken off, still young enough to do so eventually.

18) Andrew Bechtold, 3B, Grade C+/B-: Age 22, fifth round pick in 2017 from Chipola Junior College; disappointing season at .226/.321/.289 with just one homer, 36 walks, 76 strikeouts in 266 at-bats in Low-A; haven’t drilled down enough to know what’s going on here given his reputation as a strong hitter when drafted; glove has been very good which buys him some time.

19) Tyler Jay, LHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 24, first round pick in 2015, limited to 11.2 innings by shoulder impingement in 2017, back healthy this year with 2.97 ERA, 37/12 K/BB in 39 innings in Double-A; will likely be a competent relief pitcher, but they could have had Benintendi.

20) John Curtiss, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, sixth round pick in 2014 from University of Texas, 3.60 ERA in 35 innings in Triple-A, 45/19 K/BB, has the stuff to be a useful bullpen asset if the command is there.

OTHER GRADE C+:

Luis Arreaz, INF: Nice year, .300/.349/.388 between High-A and Double-A
Charlie Barnes, LHP: 2.93 ERA, 63/35 K/BB in 86 innings in High-A
Zack Granite, OF: Hitting just .212/.284/.246 in Triple-A; he’s better than that, though not as good as he appeared in ’17.

Felix Jorge, RHP: Hurt all year; was released in early July but quickly re-signed with Twins.
Landon Leach, RHP: Just getting active in rookie ball
Jose Miranda, INF: .268/.317/.427 with 10 homers, 20 walks, 43 strikeouts in 328 at-bats in Low-A; good glove at second and third, power developing, just 20 years old.

Ben Rortvedt, C: .268/.332/.373 between Low-A and High-A at age 20, good defensive tools but needs more polish
Aaron Slegers, RHP: 3.55, 55/19 K/BB in 84 innings in Triple-A; 5.68, 5/2 in 13 major league innings; classic fifth starter type
Kohl Stewart, RHP: 4.98, 84/26 K/BB in 85 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, 108 hits; I think he needs to move to the bullpen.

Tyler Watson, LHP: 5.43 ERA, 54/25 K/BB in 65 innings between Low-A and High-A, 81 hits; I thought he was a significant sleeper but not panning out so far, too hittable.
Lachlan Wells, LHP: Out with Tommy John.
Tyler Wells, RHP: 2.85 ERA with 68/16 K/BB in 76 innings in High-A, 53 hits; need to see at higher levels but ahead of the FSL league right now due to command.

***********

Let’s talk about the Twins.

I urge you to take a close look at Jordan Balazovic, currently dominating the Midwest League and likely to be shooting up prospect lists very quickly. He was a Grade C pre-season but has seen a huge improvement in command with a simultaneous large increase in strikeouts.