As long time readers know, I have been building my own farm system called the Shadow Twins since 1996, making my own picks in the amateur draft in more-or-less real time, while keeping to a realistic budget and drafting at whatever spot the real Minnesota Twins are at that year.
Starting in July 2012 this includes my own international signings as well, finalized on April 15th each year of the relevant signing period. Before 2012 the Shadow Twins signed whoever the real Twins did internationally.
Sometimes the Shadow Twins are stronger than the Real Twins, and sometimes the Real Twins are stronger than the Shadow version. 2017 was a cool year, the Shadows graduating Andrew Benintendi, Jharel Cotton, Clint Frazier, Ben Lively, and Stuart Turner to the majors.
2018 has been even better, as we will detail below.
And here’s how things turned out:
1) Fernando Tatis, Jr, SS, Padres, Grade A: Age 19, signed by White Sox out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for $700,000, son of Fernando Tatis; signed by Shadow Twins for $770,000 (the Shadow Twins have to exceed the Real Life bonus by 10% to simulate bidding for a player) and I certainly did not trade him to the Padres; hit .286/.355/.507 in Double-A before getting hurt; now one of the top prospects in baseball.
2) Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds, Grade A-: Age 19, first round pick in 2017 by the Cincinnati Reds, second overall, from high school in Sherman Oaks, California; Shadow Twins picked him first-overall instead of Royce Lewis; got off to a slow start in Low-A but improved steadily as season progressed until going down with elbow injury; 4.48 ERA in 68 innings, 89/23 K/BB.
3) Franklin Perez, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+: Age 20; signed by Astros out of Venezuela in 2014 for $1,000,000; Shadow Twins signed him in 2014 for $1,100,000, traded to Detroit Tigers in Justin Verlander trade in real life; I didn’t do that either; hurt for most of 2018, limited to 19 innings; the risks of young pitching.
4) Juan Soto, OF, Nationals, Grade B+: Age 19, signed by Nationals out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for $1,500,000; Shadow Twins got him for $1,650,000; historic rookie season at .305/.420/.534 in the majors as a teenager; obviously I liked him but didn’t expect him to be this good, this fast.
5) Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays, Grade B+: Age 20, signed by Rays out of Dominican Republic in 2014 for $400,000; I signed him for $440,000, strong in High-A at .301/.331/.462, not as good after moving to Double-A at .214/.300/.327; no need to rush him with Soto and Benintendi in the outfield.
6) Nick Gordon, SS-2B, Twins, Grade B+: Age 22, first round pick in 2014, real Twins pick that I stayed with, strong in Double-A (.333/.381/.525), weak in Triple-A (.212/.262/.283), stock down some although how much I won’t decide until I start on the reports for 2019.
7) Brent Rooker, OF-1B, Twins, Grade B/B+: Age 22, compensation pick, 35th overall, in 2017 from Mississippi State, real Twins pick I stayed with; .254/.333/.465 with 22 homers, 150 strikeouts in Double-A.
8) Fernando Romero, RHP, Twins, Grade B: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic by Real Twins in February 2012; I did not start doing my own international signings until July 2012. Up until then I just signed however the Real Twins signed on the international market, made 11 starts in majors with 4.69 ERA, 45/19 K/BB in 56 innings.
9) Randy Arozarena, OF, Cardinals, Grade B: Age 23, Cuban, signed by Cardinals for $1,250,000, my first foray into Cuban talent, signed by Shadow Twins for $1,500,000; unstoppable in Double-A (.396/.455/.681), human in Triple-A (.232/.328/.348), stole 26.
10) Eric Lauer, LHP, Padres, Grade B: Age 22, first round pick out by Padres of Kent State in 2016, Shadow Twins selected Lauer instead of Alex Kirilloff; promoted to majors, 4.80 ERA in 96 innings, 85/42 K/BB; should be solid starter but Kirilloff looks like an impact hitter and would have been the better choice.
11) Austin Gomber, LHP, Cardinals, Grade B/B-: Age 24, fourth round pick by Cardinals in 2014 from Florida Atlantic University; drafted by Shadow Twins in fourth round instead of Sam Clay; 2.93 ERA in 61 major league innings, 51/27 K/BB, very good so far.
12) Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Twins, Grade B-: Age 22, Australian lefty signed by Real Twins for $500,000 in 2012; I agreed with this choice and he was part of my first international class, 3.54 ERA in 130 innings in AA/AAA, 157/36 K/BB, ready for a shot next year.
13) Zac Gallen, RHP, Marlins, Grade B- : Age 23, third round pick in 2016 from University of North Carolina by Cardinals; selected by Shadow Twins in third round instead of right-hander Griffin Jax, I did not trade him to the Marlins as the Cardinals did in real life, 3.65 ERA in 133 innings in Triple-A, 136/48 K/BB, ready for a trial next year.
14) Akil Baddoo, OF, Twins, Grade B-: Age 20, compensation pick in 2016 from high school in Georgia; real Twins pick I stayed with, hit .243/.351/.419 in Low-A, 11 homers, 24 steals, 74 walks, the next Matt Lawton?
15) Sam Carlson, RHP, Mariners, Grade B-: - Age 19, second round pick in 2017 from high school in Minnesota by the Seattle Mariners; I selected him in the second round instead of Landon Leach because Minnesota; out with Tommy John.
16) Jacob Nix, RHP, Padres, Grade B-: Age 22, third round pick by Padres in 2015 from IMG Academy; Shadow Twins drafted him with compensation pick instead of Kyle Cody, 1.84 ERA in AA/AAA with 44/9 K/BB in 59 innings; six major league starts with 6.00 ERA in 30 innings, 16/9 K/BB; wish he missed more bats.
17) Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Rays, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, signed by Twins out of Taiwan in 2013; international signing that I stayed with. I did not trade him to the Rays, 4.66 ERA in 102 innings in Triple-A, 92/28 K/BB.
18) LaMonte Wade, OF, Twins, Grade B-/C+; Age 23, drafted in ninth round in 2015 from the University of Maryland by Real Twins; I stayed with this choice, .257/.360/.380 in AA/AAA.
19) Eric Skoglund, LHP, Royals, C+/B-: Age 25, third round pick by Royals in 2014 from University of Central Florida; Shadow Twins drafted him in third round instead of Michael Cederoth; 6.19 ERA in 57 major league innings, 43/17 K/BB.
20) Jake Thompson, RHP, Grade C+/B- Age 23, fourth round pick in 2017 by the Red Sox from Oregon State University; Shadow Twins drafted him instead of Charlie Barnes; 5.30 ERA in 126 innings in High-A, 96/47 K/BB, may move to bullpen.
OTHER GRADE C+: Luis Arreaz, 2B; Twins; Ronald Bolanos, RHP, Padres; Adam Choplick, LHP, Rangers; Logan Farrar, OF, Athletics; Zack Granite, OF, Twins; Felix Jorge, RHP, Twins; Brian Keller, RHP, Yankees; Ben Meyer, RHP, Marlins; Emilio Ogando, LHP; James Reeves, LHP; Yankees; Edwin Rios, 1B, Dodgers; Ben Rortvedt, C; Twins; Dalton Sawyer, LHP, Athletics; Will Toffey, 3B, Athletics; Jose Trevino, C, Rangers; Duane Underwood, RHP, Cubs; Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks; Lachlan Wells, LHP, Twins; Andy Young, INF, Cardinals
This was probably the most fun I’ve had in 20 years watching Shadow players arrive in the majors. Soto was the big hit but Lauer, Romero, Gomber, Skoglund and Nix all arrived as did C+ guys Ben Meyer, Jose Trevino, and Duane Underwood. And Tatis Jr. is waiting in the wings.
The injuries to Greene, Perez, and Carlson underline the risks inherent in young pitching.
We’ll revisit the Shadow Twins when the Top 20 Prospects list for 2019 for each organization is finished, which should be sometime during spring training.