Now official, the Minnesota Twins minor league affiliates have all completed their 2016 seasons. The Cedar Rapids Kernels ended theirs with a playoff berth, as did the Elizabethton Twins. Regardless of the team results, there were plenty of stand out performers in 2016 across the Twins system.
Here at Off The Baggy, I'd like to congratulate one hitter and one pitcher by honoring them with my pick for the Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Year. Of course, the Twins system has made it difficult to select just two players, but both of them rose above the rest in 2016.
2016 Off The Baggy MiLB Hitter of the Year: Zach Granite
Granite was a 14th round selection out of Seton Hall by the Minnesota Twins in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. He spent the entirety of his 2016 season with the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League. At the Double-A level, Granite made quite the debut. He slashed .295/.347/.382 across 127 games. While power production isn't a big part of his game, he did hit a career high four homers. His eight triple were the second most in the Southern League, and his 155 hits were the most in the league.
To classify Granite's game is to understand his speed. In swiping 56 bases, he lead all of Minor League Baseball. In the field, that speed plays well also. Granite totaled 13 outfield assists while making just one error in over 1,097 innings in the outfield. There's plenty of reason to believe that Granite has a big league future, and when he gets there, it will be his bat that allows his speed to play.
2016 Off The Baggy MiLB Pitcher of the Year: Stephen Gonsalves
In 2016, Stephen Gonsalves began the season with the Twins High-A affiliate Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League. Across his first 11 starts of the campaign, he posted a 2.33 ERA while striking out 9.0 per 9 innings, and walking just 2.7 batters per 9 innings. While those numbers are plenty impressive on their own, his promotion to Double-A Chattanooga turned in even better results.
Pitching in the Southern League, Gonsalves made 13 starts and compiled an 8-1 record. His 1.82 ERA was a career best across any level with at least ten starts. He struck out 10.8 per nine innings and gave up just 43 hits in 74.1 IP. While walks rose at the Double-A level, Gonsalves was also tweaking parts of his pitching motion throughout the season. He'll head to the Arizona Fall League for the Twins to push his innings total somewhere close to 160 in 2016. Gonsalves should be a likely call up for Minnesota at some point during the 2017 Major League Baseball season.