Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects

 Rank

 Player

 Position

 1

 Royce Lewis

 SS

 2

 Alex Kirilloff

 OF

 3

 Trevor Larnach

 OF

 4

 Brusdar Graterol

 RHP

 5

 Brent Rooker

 1B/OF

 6

 Akil Baddoo

 OF

 7

 Stephen Gonsalves

 LHP

 8

 Nick Gordon

 SS

 9

 Jhoan Duran

 RHP

 10

 Wander Javier

 SS

 11

 Travis Blankenhorn

 2B

 12

 Yunior Severino

 2B/SS

 13

 Gilberto Celestino

 OF

 14

 LaMonte Wade

 OF

 15

 Jose Miranda

 2B

 16

 Misael Urbina

 OF

 17

 Blayne Enlow

 RHP

 18

 DaShawn Keirsey Jr.

 OF

 19

 Cole Sands

 RHP

 20

 Luis Rijo

 RHP

 21

 Luis Arraez

 2B

 22

 Lewis Thorpe  LHP

 23

 Jaylin Davis  OF

 24

 Landon Leach  RHP

 25

 Gabriel Maciel  OF

 26

 Lewin Diaz  1B

 27

 Ryan Jeffers  C

 28

 Ryley Widell  LHP

 29

 Zack Granite  OF

 30

 Tyler Jay  LHP

Photo credit: Bryan Green

1. Royce Lewis, SS

Age: 19

Highest Level: A+

.255/.327/.399, 5 HR, .144 ISO, 17% K, 9% BB, 6 SB (A+ - 46 games)

One word to describe Lewis: everything

If I could ask him one question: How many times in your career have coaches told you to quiet down your swing (hands or leg kick) when going through a slump? Do you think there’s a point where your swing will look different than it does now in the future?

You have to go all the way back to the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft to find a first-overall selection that holds up to an off-the-cuff redraft (Carlos Correa, HOU). The Twins calling Lewis’ name holds up over a year later. Lewis is a mix of everything you want in a prospect. I’m comfortable saying everything grades out as above average at the moment, with a few pluses. There might be a lack of a true 70 tool, but the net value of Lewis’ production plus the premium ability to stick at shortstop make this a dream first-overall pick.

He’s extremely active in the box, with motion in his front foot and hands pre pitch. He loads pretty high, coiling with a waist-high leg kick that catches your attention before you realize the noise in his barrel movement as he drops his hands into the zone. His added barrel movement is deceptive because of how concise his hand path is to the ball. Any visible length is countered with plus bat speed and refined pitch-recognition skills.

Lewis doesn’t turn 20 until June of 2019 and has already made it to the Florida State League. The results weren’t as strong as his Midwest League stint, but the chance to push towards Double-A before his age 21 season is ideal and sets up the Twins for a potential return on their investment only three years after drafting Lewis in 2017. I expect Lewis to stick at shortstop, where he can be an above-average defender with a good first step and fantastic range.

Minnesota will have the opportunity to love Lewis as much as prospectors do soon enough.

ETA: 2020/2021

2. Alex Kirilloff, OF

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

.362/.393/.550, 7 HR, .188 ISO, 14% K, 5% BB, 3 SB (A+ - 65 games)

A sentence to describe Kirilloff: Best non-Vlad hit tool in the minors

If I could ask him one question: You participated in the Midwest League Home Run Derby, where you took some of the hardest swings to your pull side I’ve seen you take. What was the prep like for the event? Did the pull-side aggression feel weird? Do you think you could win it with a do-over?

I have a feeling Kirilloff debuts in Minnesota before Lewis, barring any injuries. I’m comfortable calling them 1A and 1B in this system. Kirilloff sits below Lewis because of the corner outfielder role versus Lewis’ potential to play up the middle.

But that doesn’t take anything away from Kirilloff. He has one of the best present hit tools I saw in the minor leagues all season and far and away the best in the Midwest League. It’s a scary-good mix of plate coverage and hard contact to all fields. If any ball hit to his pull side was considered an out I think he could’ve still mustered a .280 average. That’s a testament to his ability to let the ball travel deep, but it’s also praise for his bat speed and simple swing.

He has a small leg lift that brings his lower half forward while his shoulders rotate back. It’s a picture-perfect example of separation and is mesmerizing to watch. I got to see him swing out of his shoes at the Midwest League Home Run Derby and he easily hung with power bats Will Benson and Ronaldo Hernandez — a terrifying revelation when you realized how much more advanced Kirilloff’s hit tool is than either hitter.

He played a few games in center field in 2018, but he’ll end up in right field with an above-average arm and good defensive profile. Add to that decent wheels and you’re looking a perennial 3-WAR player with a ceiling above that mark. Kirilloff has a shot at contending for batting titles in the future and should be a household name for years to come. I think I speak for everybody at Prospects Live when I say we really enjoy his profile.

ETA: 2020

3. Trevor Larnach, OF

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

.297/.373/.505, 3 HR, .209 ISO, 17% K, 11% BB, 1 SB (A - 24 games)

One word to describe Larnach: Polished

If I could ask him one question: What were the key things you learned from Madrigal at Oregon State? (Bonus: Tell me something I don’t know about Rutschman.)

Larnach hit the biggest home run of the College Baseball season for Oregon State with teammates Nick Madrigal and Adely Rutschman by his side. He went from playing on the national stage to playing 1,000-fan games in the Midwest League. He’s a calm, big-bodied, and level-headed guy who I got the chance to chat with about the defining moment of his early career and how he has adjusted since.

Like Lewis, he has a little bit of movement in his hands pre pitch, but also like the Twins’ top prospect, he has the bat speed and approach to neutralize any talk of length. Larnach’s serious raw pop from the left side currently manifests in the form of hard-hit gappers. His early batted-ball distribution looks like he’s more of a line-drive hitter than light-tower power type, which is why I don’t know if his profile translates to 30-plus homers in-game immediately. Can he get to that number at peak? Sure, but I expect a curve up to that number, with ample production along the way in the form of OBP and doubles.

His swing is compact, crouching down a little bit with his 6-foot-4 frame and using a pretty wide base to set up. He has a small stride, but uses his lower half pretty well in staying back and transferring energy up to his torso.

Larnach is an extremely safe player with a high floor. I struggle with how high his ceiling can realistically be, but a polished college bat like this is going to move very quickly. We won’t need to wait long to find out. I think there’s a chance he debuts before Lewis as well.

ETA: 2020

4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

60.2 IP, 3.12 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 22% K, 8% BB, .259 BAA (A+)

A phrase to describe Graterol: controlled velocity

If I could ask him one question: When you see your mechanics on film, which major league pitcher do you think of?

I’m thoroughly impressed with Graterol’s ability to hang in the zone with relatively violent mechanics and a live fastball. Most pitchers who touch 99-100 mph in the lower minors have no idea where it’s going. Graterol’s control has allowed him to thrive against ill-equipped hitters. His fastball has the potential to become a 70-grade pitch at peak.

He has fantastic arm speed, something that leads me to expect even more out of his changeup versus left-handed hitters in the future. In the meantime, I’m happy to watch him mow down hitters with an above-average to plus slider and his devastating fastball.

His mechanics are a little bit violent, coming from a higher three-quarters delivery with really good momentum towards the plate. He's efficient, with little wasted motion, but his velocity comes from an engaged back leg and strong drive off the rubber more than fluid rotation. There’s noticeable effort, which I think makes him a little bit higher risk than I would like, but the pure stuff and control is what you’re betting on with Graterol because in reality, all pitchers are risky.

Graterol’s 100-plus innings in 2018 were a huge step forward from Tommy John surgery. His results in the Florida State League bode well for future performance as he shoves his way up to Double-A. Kirilloff, Lewis and Graterol all have a shot to debut in 2020. It’s more likely come in 2021 for the Twins’ top arm, but one can dream the trio all walks onto Target Field at the same time sooner than later.

ETA: 2021

5. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF

Age: 21

Highest Level: AA

.254/.333/.465, 22 HR, .211 ISO, 26% K, 10% BB, 6 SB (AA - 130 games)

One word to describe Rooker: pop

If I could ask him one question: What’s the most essential aspect of a power hitter? Which aspect do you think is overrated?

This might an aggressive rank on Rooker, but I’m happy to call him one of my guys on this list for the potential impact game power. The Twins have a plethora of bats that fans can dream on, but Rooker has the chance to be the best game power option of the bunch. I think he’s a 30-homer bat at the major league level with the ability to mash left-handed pitching.

His swing is simple, starting upright with a little bounce that pushes his bat perpendicular to the ground and throws his hands back into his load as he strides forward. His transfer of weight is good, I like the interaction between his upper and lower half as well. I think he may just have a slight contact issue that leads to the swing-and-miss problem. I hope reps can kick it out of him.

I’m worried that he shifts to first base long term, which makes the standard on his bat substantially higher to overcome in order to be productive. But the power floor I anticipate should be enough to overcome any concerns on this front.

ETA: 2019

6. Akil Baddoo, OF

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

.243/.351/.419, 11 HR, .176 ISO, 24% K, 14% BB, 24 SB

Three words to describe Baddoo: sneaky pop, perplexing

If I could ask him one question: How much power do you see yourself having at higher levels? Do you think it’ll come for you later in your career or will it develop in tandem with your overall development?

Baddoo looked overmatched to me at times in Cedar Rapids. Despite that, what I keep falling back on was the advanced pitch recognition for his age and level. He walked nearly 15 percent of the time in the Midwest League and popped 11 home runs (a league not particularly known for hitter inflation). He’s an extremely patient hitter, but not always to his benefit. He can work deep into counts, but it still seems like there’s a lack of ability to do substantial damage when he’s in beneficial counts. The plus here is that it shouldn’t be impossible to develop him into a 55-hit, 50/55-power player with good speed and average-to-below defense.

His swing is compact with his small frame. His approach to the ball is good, which confirms some of the hidden power generation in his bat for a smaller guy. He keeps his hands pretty close to his head pre pitch, and tenses them up in his load. There isn’t much of a stretch back which limits the distance of his hands travel, but he has some sneaky quick-twitch muscles that are used to his benefit.

I think the ultimate product might be a little bit odd if some of the tools don’t play up, but the likely outcome is a productive major leaguer who can hopefully stick in center field with his athleticism.

ETA: 2021

7. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

24.2 IP, 6.57 ERA, 5.72 FIP, 13% K, 18% BB, .283 BAA

One phrase to describe Gonsalves: low-velocity lefty

If I could ask him one question: With a rough major league debut, how do you balance what needs to actually change with your repertoire to what might be noise because of the sample?

Gonsalves has some fantastic stretches in the minor leagues. He’s shoved across multiple stints, with swing-and-miss stuff tethered to stellar results. His stint in the major leagues, however, was substantially less appealing and prospect fatigue quickly set in.

The only pitch hitters had trouble with was his slider and it’s the least used of his four offerings. He mixes a 90-92 mph fastball with an above-average curveball and changeup. Unfortunately, neither of those two pitches showed up in his four-start, seven appearance sample.

I don’t think there is a future with Gonsalves as an opener-type arm given his repertoire and lack of velocity (even if it kicks up higher in a shorter window of anticipated innings). This leaves the Twins in a weird spot where they likely want to develop him as a fourth or fifth starting pitcher who can continue to eat innings if they can’t stitch together a competent core of 2-3 IP relievers.

It’s hard to get excited about low-velocity pitchers like this, but I like the overall profile enough to extend a bit of leeway and hope the 24-year-old finds his niche.

ETA: 2019

8. Nick Gordon, SS

Age: 23

Highest Level: AAA

.212/.262/.283, 2 HR, .071 ISO, 20% K, 6% BB, 13 SB (AAA - 99 games)

One word to describe Gordon: floor

If I could ask him one question: Do you think smaller-framed players like yourself have an advantage at the major league level in the power department given the rate of home runs and inflation of power over the past two years?

Gordon feels like one of those prospects who should be 27 years old because of how long we’ve talked about him, in positive or negative ways. Yet, the shortstop is only 23 and still rolling through the Twins system.

He’s the first member of this list on the offensive side of things where there isn’t substantial excitement for his overall offensive production. It can still be average on both hit and power, but looking at the likes of Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach, etc. make looking at a future 50-hit, 45/50-power bat less appealing. Gordon is a mix of 50s and a plus arm, with no true carrying tool to pop his profile up above others. I didn’t really ever think there was a risk he moved off shortstop, but given his 29 starts at second base last season in Triple-A, the Twins are clearly considering it. With Lewis clearly the better defender and hitter, although he’s further off than Gordon, he will push Gordon to second base (which might actually help his overall value).

His frame is pretty small. He used to have a very similar low hand load to Dee Gordon back in 2017, but this season seems to have raised his hands a little bit pre pitch, dropping them back into his load as opposed to starting low and keeping them there.

There’s a little bit of excess movement, but I’m more concerned with the lack of approach with some swing and miss in an already offensive-neutral profile. It’s a fluid swing, it might just need more reps against higher-level pitching for it to smooth into an intriguing everyday profile to me aside from simply a passable one.

Gordon has a nice floor, I would be surprised if he’s not eventually an everyday player, but I don’t think there’s much chance of impact performance at the major league level.

ETA: 2019

9. Jhoan Duran, RHP

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

36 IP, 2.00 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 25% K, 10% BB, .266 BAA

One word to describe Duran: stuff

If I could ask him one question: At what point in your career did you really start to get a feel for spinning your breaking ball - when did it become a pitch you were extremely confident in? Did you tinker at all to get it to that point?

Duran was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar in 2018. He struck out 8 or more batters in four of his six starts to finish the season with Cedar Rapids. I got to watch a bullpen of his in Davenport, Iowa, against Quad Cities and I was unexpectedly pleased with what I saw.

His slider is extremely vertical, so much so that I was marking it as a curveball. The pitch’s velocity sits at a lower interval than the average slider as well. Members of the Cedar Rapids team charting the game next to me didn’t know what to call it either. Regardless, I think the pitch itself is his best and can be plus at peak. His feel for spin is fantastic and I like the changeup projection a lot with his arm speed (a pitch he didn’t throw much of in his start). His fastball is live, with a version that runs more and another that he elevates with more velocity. The knock is his control, which pushes down the upside. He’ll be reliant on whiffs for success, but with the potential for four serviceable pitches the Twins clearly saw something when giving up an MLB asset that posted an fWAR north of 3 in 2018.

The strikeouts should maintain well into the upper minors, but I’m interested to see where his walks trend and if he reigns in his mechanics for more consistency pitch to pitch and from the stretch. He’s a high risk starter with stuff good enough to be a multi-inning reliever if the Twins decide to develop him in that direction.

ETA: 2021

10. Wander Javier, SS

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

.299/.383/.471, 4 HR, .172 ISO, 27% K, 11% BB, 4 SB (2017 Rookie Ball - 41 games)

Two words to describe Javier: injured, raw

If I could ask him one question: Do you anticipate any swing changes or movement limitations with your shoulder injury going forward? If so, will they go away?

Javier underwent season-ending labrum surgery early in 2018, which cut out a nice chunk of development time and what would have likely been a look at full-season ball if all went well. Instead we’re left with a year-old sample and a lot of shrugs as to how to grade him out after not playing for the majority of his age-19 season.

It seems like there’s some swing and miss in his swing, but it’s tough to tell with certainty from the stats how much, especially when trying to figure out how much of it came from his developing shoulder injury. His swing structurally is very quiet, which tells me his issues were probably more on the spin recognition side of the spectrum, but there could have been some contact issues as well.

I’m particularly interested to see if there are any swing changes coming off the injury. There’s unfortunately a good chance Javier falls further down this list if he doesn’t come back and hit. Shoulders can be fickle beasts and I hope latent side effects don’t bog him down.

ETA: 2022/2023

11. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

.231/.299/.387, 11 HR, .156 ISO, 26% K, 7% BB, 6 SB (A+ - 124 games)

One word to describe Blankenhorn: sturdy

If I could ask him one question: How quick did it take to refine the key mechanical change that allowed you to untap your power and lift the ball more?

Blankenhorn has a sturdy 6-foot-2 frame with sneaky pop similar to Baddoo. He elevated his strikeout rate when he saw better spin in the Florida State League in 2018, but complimented it with power. His bat projects as a 45/50-hit, 50/55-power option with the likely outcome for me being lower on the hit and higher on the power.

I’m a little bit nervous to see what happens if he starts in Double-A next season. Does the strikeout rate jump above 30 percent? Do his walks stay around 5 percent? If that’s the case, I think his development is slowed down and the ceiling is capped a little bit harder unless serious changes occur.

I expect production, I don’t expect impact production given the fringe defense and lack of plus speed. But the product here is of the power-first second base variety that often finds a place in the major league level. He’s athletic enough where you can reserve some hope for his defense long term as well.

ETA: 2020

12. Yunior Severino, 2B/SS

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

.263/.321/.424, 8 HR, .162 ISO, 24% K, 8% BB, 0 SB (Rookie Ball - 49 games)

A phrase to describe Severino: raw-pop infielder

If I could ask him one question: What are the organizational differences you’ve noticed between the Twins and Braves in your short time in professional baseball?

Severino was a Braves international prospect that was released along with others—most notably Kevin Maitan. The reasons for the Braves’ investment are apparent. Severino has solid raw power, projecting out for above-average to plus in game if all goes according to plan. He’s currently playing second base and shortstop, but seems like he’ll end up at either second, where his bat would be plus, or third, where he’ll be a little bit less exciting given the offensive standards.

He sets up pretty wide with a big, thigh-high leg kick that comes all the way back as he closes off his upper body. The plane of his bat and hand movement is minimal, which is surprising given his strikeout rates in the minors. The majority of his swing and miss comes from the length in his swing. The structure reminds me a little bit of Bo Bichette from the left side, with the head of his bat wrapping all the way back to his helmet before firing into his swing. He’s going to have trouble catching up to velocity and reacting to spin with how much momentum he builds, but that’s what the minor leagues are for. I’m excited to see this kid’s swing develop.

He has a ton of risk given his age and level, but I like Severino a lot. I had trouble ranking him given his distance from impact and mix with all the other low-ceiling, high-floor options the Twins have up the middle. If I get a bold take on this list, it’s that Severino is a top-5 prospect on the Twins list after the 2020 season.

ETA: 2022

13. Gilberto Celestino, OF

Age: 19

Highest Level: AA (Astros)

.266/.308/.349, 1 HR, .083 ISO, 14% K, 5% BB, 8 SB (Rookie Ball MIN - 27 games)

A phrase to describe Celestino: Glove and bat

If I could ask him one question: Is the minimal movement in your upper body during your swing something you’ve thought about tinkering with? Think you’ll ever quiet your front leg or move your hands a little bit lower?

Celestino comes to the Twins from the Astros organization as the Twins have done a nice job of rounding out their crop of 45 future value prospects, some with the potential for everyday roles. His swing is extremely reduced for a 19-year-old. There’s essentially no movement as he tilts his hands back and goes into a waist-high leg kick that helps him pull a little bit more of his body into the ball.

He’s smaller at only 6-feet, but fleet of foot with good defensive instincts and some hope that he might be able to stick in center field. I wonder whether that’s as an everyday regular, given the lack of power, but if he can actually get to a 55-plus hit tool then I think a team like the Twins would be able to set aside the lack of 15-homer pop.

At worst, Celestino should be a valuable asset for the Twins as a player who can survive with the bat and play exceptional defense. Buying the high floor here and potential for center field action.

ETA: 2020/2021

14. LaMonte Wade, OF

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

.229/.337/.336, 4 HR, .107 ISO, 18% K, 13% BB, 5 SB (AAA - 74 games)

One word to describe Wade: unusual

If I could ask him one question: Is your contact-first profile and knowledge of the strike zone is something that developed because of a lack of power in the minors? Do you have an urge to try and tap into that power?

2018 was the first season where Wade’s strikeout rate hopped up a considerable amount from his walk rate. He’s always been a hit-tool first player with an even strikeout to walk profile that seemed like it would sustain well into the upper minors. Instead it seems like we’re looking at more of a 10 percent walk to 20 percent strikeout profile at the major league level with not much in the way of power.

He’s a little bit crouched in his set up with low hands and a smooth stride with minimal excess movement. His best characteristic is his knowledge of the zone, which suffered a little bit at Triple-A, but rest assured, all is not lost.

He doesn’t have an arm either, but he’s light on his feet with good instincts and range. Not a center field profile, but could play a decent left field, even the Twins have been inclined to play him in every outfield spot through the minors.

There’s a major leaguer here in some form, but it’s probably not one that will impact the Twins roster considerably. If Wade can get his OBP up above league average, there could be some hope for a developed role as he crests towards peak performance ages, which are about 3-4 years out for him.

ETA: 2019

15. Jose Miranda, 2B

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

.216/.292/.353, 3 HR, .137 ISO, 10% K, 4% BB, 0 SB (A+ - 27 games)

One word to describe Miranda: contact

If I could ask him one question: Which major leaguer’s swing do you think of when you look at your swing?

Miranda’s swing is fluid. He has a 6-foot-2 frame and on the field looks a little bit smaller than he is, but his build is solid. There’s some nice explosion from him hips, from coil to weight transfer onto his front foot, similar to a lot of other right-handed hitters without an above average power tool that can make consistent contact.

What you’re betting on with Miranda is that his hit tool actually ends up as an above average characteristic. That seems like the most likely path to regular playing time given an average glove at second base. I buy the possibility of that happening and consider Miranda a high-floor, low risk option with a chance for a lot of 50s across the board.

ETA: 2022

16. Misael Urbina, OF

Age: 21

Highest level: Signed on July 2, in 2018-19 J2 Class for $2.75m

Urbina is considered a top-10 get from the 2018-19 J2 class. Some might consider him one of the more polished hitters in the class who will rely heavily on his hit tool to run through the minor leagues. He might move a little bit quicker than some of the other players in the class as well, even if the overall product and characteristics don’t lend themselves to massive upside.

There’s understandably some cleaning up needed in his swing from a movement perspective, but overall the approach is intriguing. He’s a player who may be forgotten in the J2 class because of Victor Victor, Gaston, and Luciano, but there’s upside here and the Twins came away with a legitimate talent that’s multiple years off from impact.

ETA: 2022/2023

17. Blayne Enlow, RHP

Age: 19

Highest Level: A

94 IP, 3.26 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 17% K, 9% BB, .260 BAA

Enlow is a projectable prep pitcher with a live arm from the 2017 draft class. His velocity was only average in his first looks at professional baseball, contrary to expectations. There’s hope he gets back up to the 94 range he sat in, which would make the overall profile with his slider and changeup a little more exciting (he was throwing a curveball back in 2016’s Perfect Game All-American Classic).

He has a bit of a body tell in regards to what pitch he is throwing. His trunk tilts down substantially when he throws breaking balls, while there is more of an upright recoil when he throws his fastballs. I don’t think this is of extreme importance, but it’s noticeable when watching him on tape.

His stuff didn’t play up in 2018 in the Midwest League, usually somewhere where strikeouts aren’t insanely hard to come by. There’s extreme risk here being with Enlow being a high school arm and the lack of results is a little bit concerning. Pedigree will allow him multiple chances to find a role.

ETA: 2022

18. DaShawn Keirsey Jr.

Age: 21

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

.301/.371/.427, 0 HR, .126 ISO, 17% K, 10% BB, 4 SB (Rookie Ball - 26 games)

Keirsey’s swing is smooth as heck from the left side. There’s a lot of natural loft in it, although it’s more hit tool over power at the moment. I hope he can get to something like a 55-hit, 45-power profile with plus speed and average defense and find a role.

He raked against PAC12 pitching in his junior season at Utah, posting an OPS over 1.000. The structure of his swing and follow through reminds me a little of Corey Dickerson, with slightly less power. Everything is quiet and while his bat starts and stays wrapped around his head, I don’t think it’s impossible to have him loosen up and drop his hands to tap into a little more upside. He’s a guy I’d like to see a swing adjustment considered for, even with his present loft.

I might be dreaming on a little bit too much power here for this to be a viable profile at the major league level, but I don’t expect him to have much issue with minor league pitching. It will be a matter of proving he has the bat to be more than a platoon option or proving his defense can get to above average on the back of his range.

ETA: 2022

19. Cole Sands, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: Did not pitch with MIN; Drafted in 5th round of 2018 First-Year Player Draft

Sands logged over 200 across three seasons with Florida State, posting a plus strikeout rate in his senior season to widen eyes and earn him a fifth-round selection in 2018. He sat in the mid-90s as a freshman and mixed in a fastball and slider for most of his first two seasons with FSU. He then added a two-seamer and curveball going into his junior season, which is likely responsible for his strikeout jump.

He hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional ball, but figures to move quickly and as a starter through the lower minors of the Twins’ system before some track record is built. He’s a big kid at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, with a delivery that reminds me slightly of Ryan Rolison from Ole Miss, without as much crossfire deception. His sidearm motion is going to be tough for right-handers to square up. Even though there isn’t much lower-half engagement, he can still touch the mid 90s consistently and figures to do so in the minors.

It’s hard to project out without a precedent for how the Twins will use him, but at the moment, I don’t think there’s much more ceiling than a fourth starter or good reliever.

ETA: 2021

20. Luis Rijo, RHP

Age: 20

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

21.2 IP, 3.00 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 20% K, 5% BB, .195 BAA

Pitching prospects from the Yankees with results, but a lack of eye-popping numbers. The Yankees moved him very quickly through the minor leagues in 2018 and we’ll see in 2019 if the Twins follow suit.

His best pitch is a curveball that will likely be plus at peak, it’s sharp out of his lower three-quarters delivery breaking away from right-handers as his fastball possesses nice zip and tail. He’s a little bit small at 6-foot-1 for a pitcher, but I tend to inflate pitchers who are developing as starters, but I think can be impact relievers with their stuff if it never comes together consistently for 90-plus pitches per game.

I’m hoping for a velocity jump as he ages and that his body doesn’t push up any more weight-wise because he’s already filled out well in his lower half.

ETA: 2022

21. Luis Arraez, 2B

Age: 21

Highest Level: AA

.298/.345/.365, 2 HR, .067 ISO, 8% K, 7% BB, 2 SB (AA - 48 games)

This late on a list, it’s a great sign to see a player with the potential for a future 60 tool. That’s what the Twins have in Arraez’s ability to hit. The problem is it’s suppressed by a profile devoid of power, even more so than others on this list. He’ll play an average to below second base with average wheels and limited upside. But if hit tools are your thing, I think the case for him being a few spots higher is warranted.

He has a sturdy frame, with a swing from the left side that reminds me slightly of Victor Martinez or even Eddie Rosario (Twins bias!). He starts his hands high and then drops them pretty low into his load before driving the ball to all fields, pounding left field with his smooth, left-handed swing. Line drives galore, Arraez probably ends the tier of intriguing fringe major leaguers on the Twins. list before we get into some of the wild cards.

ETA: 2020

22. Lewis Thorpe, LHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AAA

21.2 IP, 3.32 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 30% K, 7% BB, .244 BAA

Thorpe is a well-proportioned lefty whose stock is ticking up after transitioning over from Australia. He mixes a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup, with good feel for the zone. The results have been good as well, I’m just a little bit worried that the performance won’t continue at higher levels given the lack of good to great stuff. I could easily find this rank laughable by the end of 2019, but I guess I’ll be the low man on Thorpe until then.

Ralph likes Thorpe and advocated for a boost from the initial ranking of 27 I had him at. He defended the four-pitch mix, even if none of them are truly plus offerings. I bought in, considering how few times we see four-pitch guys this low on lists.

ETA: 2019

23. Jaylin Davis, OF

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

.275/.341/.425, 6 HR, .150 ISO, 26% K, 8% BB, 5 SB (AA - 63 games)

There’s some serious raw power here with Davis that I like. Mix that with average speed and an average glove and you’re looking at another intriguing profile past the Twins top 20 prospects. I think I could be a little bit higher on Davis even, but I’m not convinced the hit tool is or can be better than 40, which limits the profile and makes me wonder whether we’re looking at a weak-side platoon outfielder. I’m keeping him here as a hedge against that and hoping I’m under-ranking the righty as there is enough hit tool for him to produce.

His swing is a little reminiscent of Jackie Bradley Jr. to me, if Bradley Jr. tapped into more power. There’s a little bit of a jump into Davis’ front foot after striding from a largely upright base stance. I like the structure and explosiveness, but his strikeout number will probably always look like it needs improvement.

ETA: 2020

24. Landon Leach, RHP

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

20.2 IP, 2.18 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 16% K, 10% BB, .216 BAA

Leach does not look like he’s 19 years old, at all. He’s a big 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, with nice projection and a great frame to dream on. Dreaming, however, is really all that’s happening at the moment, as the results haven’t been great at lower levels of the minor leagues. The stuff seems good enough, even with poor results, but what I keep coming back to is what he could become, hence the nod to his potential with this rank.

I like his arm path from his three-quarters slot. He hides the ball well and his arm speed is fantastic, making me wonder if there’s a future 50/55 changeup hidden underneath a largely fastball-slider profile at the moment. Leach is a shot in the dark, but check back in once he gets a taste of full-season ball and hope the results match the projection.

ETA: 2022/2023

25. Gabriel Maciel, OF

Age: 19

Highest Level: A

.287/.362/.333, 2 HR, .047 ISO, 16% K, 10% BB, 14 SB (A - 30 games)

Maciel didn’t stand out to me much in the few games I saw him with Cedar Rapids. I think there’s good feel for the zone and an ability to hit, but I didn’t see the future 55/60 hit tool I’ve seen some others put on him. If it’s there, it will come with little to no power, maybe 30-grade if you’re lucky.

He somehow stumbled into two home runs in the game prior to the series I saw in Davenport, Iowa. As the old saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. I think it’s safe to say I might be the low man on Maciel for now as well.

ETA: 2022

26. Lewin Diaz, 1B

Age: 21

Highest Level: A+

.224/.255/.344, 6 HR, .119 ISO, 18% K, 3% BB, 1 SB (A+ - 79 games)

Diaz is a bit lefty bat, with essentially nothing to show for in terms of his profile outside of a big power bat with baseline hit tool. He’s a first baseman and nothing more, which severely limits the upside. I’m not entirely sure the present profile on the offensive side of things would even be average at the major league level for first basemen. He resembles another big first baseman the Twins used to have named Kennys Vargas (now playing in Japan).

He makes this list because of the proximity and ability to be average with the bat at the major league level right now, but I really don’t see anything past that in terms of impact.

ETA: 2020

27. Ryan Jeffers, C

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

.288/.361/.446, 4 HR, .158 ISO, 19% K, 9% BB, 0 SB (A - 36 games)

Jeffers is the Twins 2018 pick out of UNC Wilmington. He showed some pop in his junior season with his DI club, putting his name on maps and boards. His calling card behind the dish is his arm and he projects to be an average defender if development goes well.

His frame is a little bit big for a catcher at 6-foot-4, which is concerning given the average size of catchers, and his bat won’t hold up if there’s a move to first base down the road. What the Twins can have is a platoon catcher with a lot of loft in his swing and a good understanding of the strike zone. He can also move quickly through the system after catching for three seasons and the Twins seem to agree with his production at Cedar Rapids likely earning him a start in the Florida State League to kick off 2019.

I don’t think there’s an everyday future here in a prime catcher role, but I think he can be a great compliment sharing time with another body behind the dish.

ETA: 2021

28. Ryley Widell, LHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

29.2 IP, 2.43 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 31% K, 15% BB, .229 BAA

Widell is one of the few names on this list with a changeup as his best offspeed pitch. He mixes in a curveball with his fastball and projectable command. Overall, he’s an athletic kid who gets great extension from his 6-foot-3 frame. There’s a little bit of deliberate build in his back leg that seems to take away from some of his fluidity as he drives off the mound. I’d be interested to understand whether that’s pulling away from his velocity at all as he only tops out around 92-93.

Even with those limitations, I think there’s a chance he ends up in a multi-inning reliever role with the ability to punch out right-handed bats with his changeup. I generally will buy into pitchers if I think they can serve in a multi-inning, opener role. Ton of risk in Widell, but I think he fits in that bucket.

ETA: 2022

29. Zack Granite, OF

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

.211/.282/.245, 0 HR, .034 ISO, 8% K, 11% BB, 9 SB (MLB - 68 games)

The token player I wish graduated from this list that I have to still rank. Granite has 20 power with 50 hit and 70 speed. It’s a weird profile that found its way to the major leagues and was actually decent defensively to round out a serviceable profile. I think he’ll hang around the major leagues for a while as an outfield utility option and baserunner who will put the ball in play. That may be less valuable in today’s game, but he’ll occupy a major league roster spot and there’s value in that despite the boring nature.

30. Tyler Jay, LHP

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

59.2 IP, 4.22 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 18% K, 7% BB, .298 BAA

Jay hasn’t thrown more than 60 innings since 2016, yet I found a way to shove him on this list despite the other players that didn’t make it on (see below). He throws four pitches, so like Thorpe, I think there’s value in that, but where Thorpe got results, Jay did not, which is why he’s lagging behind slightly.

He’s fastball dominant, with a not particularly athletic delivery, but is able to run it up to the mid-90s with a good slider. I think there’s a chance he can work in a multi-inning relief role, but the results would be better if he could kick up a few ticks of velocity and find the feel for his curveball or changeup. I’ll let Jay represent the player you thought should have made this list but didn't.

ETA: 2020

Others in consideration (no particular order) - Jacob Pearson (OF); Alex Robinson (P); Ryan Costello (1B); Zack Littell (P); Jhoan Quezada (P); Charles Mack (3B); Jorge Alcala (P); Andrwe Bechtold (3B); Devin Smeltzer (P)