Tuesday, June 14, 2016

2016 Midseason Top 15 Prospects Update

Here at Off The Baggy, covering the Minnesota Twins means checking in on everything from the big league club on down to the farm. With the major league team in the midst of an unfortunate season, it's hard to not get caught up already looking ahead to 2017. With the Twins graduating a handful of their top prospects, looking at who's next is plenty exciting.

Despite big names like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano no longer being considered prospects, the Twins have some serious firepower left on the farm. Shifting more towards pitchers at this point, the organization should have plenty of players to rely upon in the coming seasons. Before taking a look at where the rankings fall currently, you can find the 2016 Top 15 Prospects HERE, and the midseason 2015 Top 15 Prospects HERE.

With all of that out of the way, let's get into it. Your top 15 Minnesota Twins Prospects at the halfway point of 2016:

15. Jake Reed RP

Unfortunately, Reed struggled out of the gate. In his first 27.1 IP, he owned a 5.27 ERA. While his 29 strikeouts were a welcomed statistic, command was once again an issue. He gave up 16 earned runs while walking 12 batter. However, he's seemingly turned a corner of late. Over his last nine innings, he owns a 1.00 ERA and has allowed opposing hitters to bat just .040/.194/.040 off of him. If he can continue to limit walks, he still should have a chance to reach Rochester by season's end.

14. Lewis Thorpe SP

It's hard to move Thorpe much as he's yet to pitch in 2016. He's recovering from Tommy John surgery and has had a couple of hiccups during the process. I believe at one point he came down with mono, and that obviously slowed the process. He's still got youth on his side, and should he make a return in 2016, his ceiling remains as high as ever.

13. Felix Jorge SP

The first new name in the midseason top 15, Jorge has absolutely earned his spot. At 22 years old, he's making his debut at High-A Fort Myers this season. He's made 10 starts thus far and owns a 1.64 ERA. His strikeout numbers sit at 7.5 K/9, and have remained virtually consistent since rookie ball. He's not going to be a frontline starter, but if Jorge can continue to replicate similar results, he'll be a solid rotation contributor in the middle to back end as he rises through the Twins system.

12. Nick Burdi RP

Burdi falls out of the top 10 after a less than ideal begin to 2016. He injured himself during spring training and then has dealt with arm injuries for most of the regular season. He's made just three appearances, and remains on the Double-A disabled list. His stuff is absolutely electric when on the mound, but he's really struggled to get there this season. After some control issues a season ago, he really needed to use this season as a springboard and that just hasn't happened.

11. Daniel Palka OF

Taking over the spot previously occupied by Adam Brett Walker, Palka has been more than a nice return to the Twins for Chris Herrmann. He currently leads the Southern League in home runs, and his power is plenty legit. He has strikeout tendencies very similar to Walker, but his on-base numbers tell a different tale, and his ratios are a bit better than the free swinger at Triple-A. I compared both Palka and Walker here, and if I'm taking a flier on one to hit, it's Palka.

10. Fernando Romero SP

Romero makes the biggest jump thus far on the prospect list. After being outside of my top 15 to start the season, he's been absolutely unhittable since returning to Cedar Rapids following Tommy John surgery. Romero didn't pitch in 2014, but it doesn't appear that he's missed a beat at all. Four starts in, he owns a 1.17 ERA along with an 8.2 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9. Romero put up solid numbers as a 19 year old at Cedar Rapids in 2014, so him dominating the level isn't completely unexpected. Regardless, should he continue to progress like this from Tommy John, he's going to force himself into the Twins plans.

9. Alex Kirilloff RF/1B

The 15th overall draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in the 2016 Major League draft, Kirilloff may immediately take over the title of top power prospect. He's probably going to skip the Gulf Coast League and head right to Elizabethton. A high schooler, he'll have a significant learning curve at the pro level. He's already got tremendous pop in his bat and it should translate to wood just fine. He's likely destined for a corner spot at the big league level, but that hit tool is going to carry him on its own for a while.

8. Kohl Stewart SP

Moving up one spot, Stewart has now made the jump to Double-A Chattanooga. Of the Twins pitching prospects, he's been the one considered to be a frontline starter most often. His strikeout numbers improved this season as he started out at Fort Myers. He earned a promotion though after a few rocky starts and then turned in a clunker in his Double-A debut. He settled in during start number two and should spend the rest of the season with Chattanooga. I want to believe in Stewart, but the strikeouts need to come, and the level of dominance needs to rise if he's going to fulfill that frontline potential for Minnesota.

7. J.T. Chargois RP

Chargois made his MLB debut in June and it went hardly as planned. However, he should be back up with the big club sooner rather than later, and the expectation should be that he's capable of helping the Twins. At Triple-A Rochester in 2016, Chargois has struck out everyone to the tune of a 14.6 K/9. He's controlled walks and he's worked out of the closer role. With Glen Perkins looking like a serious shutdown candidate for the year, I'd be far from shocked to see the Twins using Chargois to save games in September.

6. Jorge Polanco 2B

The only reason Polanco is this low on the list is because of the talent ahead of him. He's gone from being a guy that plenty of organizations have, to one that should be playing every day in the big leagues. Polanco has been jerked around by the Twins but is slashing .315/.380/.500 at Triple-A Rochester. He's capable with the bat at the big league level right now, and needing to play second base, a fit with the Twins is a tough ask. If Minnesota moves Eduardo Nunez (they should), it needs to be Polanco that picks up the extra playing time.

5. Stephen Gonsalves SP

Right now, Gonsalves has no business being at High-A Fortt Myers. He's made 11 starts this seasons totaling a 2.33 ERA and has complimented that with a 9.0 K/9. He dominated the level a season ago and is ready for a challenge at Double-A. He was selected to represent the Miracle at the Florida State League All Star Game (that the Miracle are hosting), so he's not going anywhere before then. From what I've been told by a source, his promotion should come almost immediately after the All Star game. That would put him on pace to be an option for Triple-A (or the Twins) in late 2017.

4. Nick Gordon SS

Standing pat at number four, Gordon has had a nice 2016. It could look a lot better however had his last few weeks not been so rough. From April 7 through May 19, Gordon owned a .331/.370/.472 slash line for the Miracle. Since however, he's hit just .189/.268/.243 with 3 extra base hits, 18 strikesouts, and just five walks. His glove was always expected to be ahead of his bat, but he's totaled 13 errors in 46 games already after putting up 18 in 118 games at Cedar Rapids a year ago. I'm not worried about Gordon, but he's probably not as ready for Double-A as he once appeared early in the season.

3. Tyler Jay SP

If there's a reason Jay doesn't move up, it's solely because of the talent ahead of him. Give me a thre headed monster from the top three Twins prospects and I'm ok. After working solely as a reliever in college, Jay has looked the part of a dominant starter in 2016. At High-A Fort Myers, he owns a 2.18 ERA and a 9.2 K/9. Since May 4, he's made 6 starts and owns a 0.70 ERA, .205/.266/.227 slash line against, and a 9.9 K/9. He too should see a promotion to Double-A in short order, and I'd still bet on Jay making it to the big leagues ahead of both Stewart and Gonsalves.

2. Max Kepler OF

Debuting in 2015, Kepler wasn't going to become a regular until this season at the earliest. With Miguel Sano on the disabled list, he's been afforded that opportunity. It's fair to expect him to take his lumps, and he definitely has. Now with a handful of starts under his belt, Kepler owns a paltry .189/.271/.321 line at the big league level. His on-base skills will always help him though, and he's taking solid at bats. He'll continue to get his feet wet and be just fine. I'd be pretty disappointed if the Twins sent him back to Triple-A at any point during this lost season.

1. Jose Berrios SP

Easily the most anticipated big league debut after Sano and Buxton, Berrios got his shot early with the Twins. In four big league starts, he's compiled a 10.20 ERA backed by an ugly 7.2 BB/9. The strikeouts have been there, to the tune of a 12.0 K/9, but he's gotten himself in danger far too often. The problem is that has continued since his demotion back to Triple-A. He owns a 4.99 ERA since returning to Rochester, and has nibbled at the strike zone far more than you'd like. He's been more susceptible to the home run this season and the command issues haven't helped that. The ceiling is still incredibly high, but his two biggest detractors have reared their ugly head.

There you have it, the Off The Baggy Top 15 prospects at the midway point of the 2016 season. The next update will come at some point over the offseason. With the Twins looking to right the ship at the highest level, they'll again need to hope that a handful of their developed talent pays off for them.

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