Monday, January 15, 2024

2024 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects

It's that time of year, and the Minnesota Twins will soon be fully engaged with spring training activities down in Sunny Fort Myers, Florida. Before the season kicks off though, and with prospect positioning set to move, I needed to put out my updated top 15 prospects for the 2024 Major League Baseball season.

The highest ranked player on the 2023 list, Royce Lewis, has since graduated and he took a couple of players with him. Both Matt Wallner and Louie Varland are no longer prospect eligible, and Edouard Julien joined them in becoming a regular for Rocco Baldelli's squad. It should be expected that a few of these names will move on by the time the dust settles on 2024, and that would be a good outcome in terms of development.

I have been posting my top 15 prospect lists here since 2016, and you can find each of them below:

2016 Top 15 Prospects
2017 Top 15 Prospects
2018 Top 15 Prospects
2019 Top 15 Prospects
2020 Top 15 Prospects
2021 Top 15 Prospects
2022 Top 15 Propsects
2023 Top 15 Prospects

Now to get into the 2024 list:

15. Yunior Severino INF

Signed when the Atlanta Braves were made to forfeit players from an international signing class that they cheated to acquired, Severino has become the darling of that group. He emerged to the highest level of the farm for Minnesota last year and showed thump that could have him as a valuable first base type. There's a lot of swing and miss, but he's now on the 40-man roster and has a clear path to a debut.

14. Matt Canterino RHP

No one has bounced around more on these prospect lists for me over the years than Canterino. Drafted out of Rice, he underwent Tommy John surgery and has dealt with arm issues as many of their pitchers do. Fully healthy, he could be an absolute weapon for Minnesota in relief this year. His stuff is impressive, and should play up even more as a reliever.

13. C.J. Culpepper RHP

A 13th round pick in 2022, Culpepper reached High-A Cedar Rapids in his first full professional season. The 3.56 ERA across 86 innings was impressive, and he owned a 9.3 K/9. There's still plenty of development to take place here, but a late round arm that works in the vein of Bailey Ober or Louie Varland is something to dream on.

12. Kala'i Rosario OF

Sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season, Rosario got in extra reps and showed out with the power. He flashed some exciting potential during big league spring training action prior to the 2023 season, and his solid year at High-A should have him ready for the Double-A challenge this season at just 21 years old.

11. Luke Keaschall INF

Minnesota took Keaschall in the second round of the 2023 Major League Baseball draft out of Arizona State and he immediately took to pro ball. He posted an .892 OPS in 31 games, and helped the Cedar Rapids Kernels secure a championship at the end of the season. He probably starts in Iowa, but could make his way to Double-A Wichita quickly.

10. Tanner Schobel INF

The Virginia Tech product tore up High-A Cedar Rapids in 2023 and earned a promotion to Double-A. He struggled out of the gate for Wichita, but did bat .294 over his final 14 games. He'll need to tap back into some of the power potential that was left in Cedar Rapids, but there's the makings of a big league regular here.

9. Charlee Soto RHP

The Twins took Soto with the 34th overall pick in the 2023 draft and he didn't pitch at all last season. Looking to build up his body and prepare for pro ball, 2024 should be a fun debut season. There is an upper-90's fastball in the arsenal, and while he's a high school arm, there is a lot to work with here.

8. Brandon Winokur OF

A tools'd out high school kid taken in the third round of the 2023 draft, Winokur impressed in limited action last year. He posted an .884 OPS across 17 games at the rookie ball level, and he showed off the power and speed combination. The plate discipline is something to watch as he develops, but the ceiling for him is immense.

7. Cory Lewis RHP

Drafted just inside of the first ten rounds during 2022, Lewis has emerged as one of Minnesota's best pitching prospects. He throws a knuckle ball but isn't a knuckleballer. With dominant stuff that led to a 10.5 K/9 in his first pro season, Lewis could start at Double-A in 2024 and may be a late season option for the Twins to consider.

6. Austin Martin INF/OF

Similar to Canterino, Martin has bounced around on my prospect lists. He got back to a workable swing last year, and while the power potential isn't there, he has solid bat to ball skills and has a good contact ability. Speed is the play here, and while exit velocities could limit his overall production, he already profiles as a plus defender in center field.

5. David Festa RHP

Taken in the 13th round of the 2021 draft, Festa represented the Twins at the 2023 Futures Game. He made his way to Triple-A St. Paul and is right there among the best pitching prospects in the organization. Festa can push velocity while also showing a strong command of his pitches. He had 119 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings last season. Expect to see him at Target Field in 2024.

4. Marco Raya RHP

If Festa isn't the best pitching prospect in the organization, then it is Raya. Just 20 years old and a former prep arm, the Twins already have him at Double-A. He took his lumps for Wichita, but was incredibly young for the level and should be expected to use that experience for significant offseason development. He'll begin 2024 with the Wind Surge again, but getting to Triple-A St. Paul at 21 would be eye-opening.

3. Emmanuel Rodriguez OF

One of the most exciting prospects across baseball, Rodriguez has significant power potential and his ceiling is that of a slugging corner outfielder with all-star aspirations. He posted a ridiculous .400 OBP for Cedar Rapids last year despite batting just .240, and he doesn't sacrifice plate discipline for power. A meteoric rise could happen this year at 21, but Rodriguez's future is still one to be excited about even if it takes a bit more time.

2. Brooks Lee INF

Maybe the safest bet to be a big league regular for a long time across all organizations in baseball, Lee is near major league ready at this point. He's going to hit for more average than power, and can play shortstop but doesn't necessarily need to. He does everything well, and if any of the tools take another step forward, he'll end his career with more than a few all-star selections under his belt.

1. Walker Jenkins OF

The fifth overall pick from the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft, Jenkins is a superstar in every sense of the word. He may outgrow centerfield as his body develops, but he should hit for average and power while remaining a strong defender and runner. The maturity here is off the charts, and the abilities could push him into future MVP discussions. A 2024 debut isn't going to happen, but all bets should be off in 2025.

Monday, September 18, 2023

2023 Awards Season

We’re just a couple weeks away from the final game of the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season. As postseason races start to take shape, putting a bow on the year that was is necessary. 2023 represented a return to normal baseball for the first year in a while, and we got plenty of highlight performances to watch along the way.

I didn’t write a preseason prediction piece this year, but shared some award thoughts on Twitter. A few of these appear to have aged well, while more have gone completely off the rails. In turning in my IBWAA Award Ballot, here’s what I came up with.

American League MVP: Shohei Ohtani (Runner Up: Corey Seager)

National League MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr (Runner Up: Mookie Betts)

American League Cy Young: Gerrit Cole (Runner Up: Sonny Gray)

National League Cy Young: Blake Snell (Runner Up: Justin Steele)


American League Rookie of the Year: Gunnar Henderson (Runner Up: Royce Lewis)

National League Rookie of the Year: Corbin Carroll (Runner Up: Matt McLain)


American League Manager of the Year: Brandon Hyde (Runner Up: Bruce Bochy)

National League Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker (Runner Up: Craig Counsell)


American League Reliever of the Year: Felix Bautista (Runner Up: Jordan Romano)

National League Reliever of the Year: David Bednar (Runner Up: Josh Hader)

Monday, January 23, 2023

2023 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects


Coming into the 2023 Major League Baseball season we have seen plenty of graduations from the top of the Minnesota farm system. Players like Joe Ryan and Jose Miranda are now fully entrenched as big leaguers. With another year removed from the season wiped out by Covid, we have more development having taken place on the farm.

As the Twins head to Fort Myers in a matter of weeks, they will be looking for their youth to again be well positioned to supplement the big league club. Rocco Baldelli’s team is looking to compete in the AL Central this year, and there will at least be a name or two from this group that helps them to do so.

With the last update to this prospect list coming more than a year ago, it’s time for a refresh. Previous rankings can be found below:

2016 Top 15 Prospects
2017 Top 15 Prospects
2018 Top 15 Prospects
2019 Top 15 Prospects
2020 Top 15 Prospects
2021 Top 15 Prospects
2022 Top 15 Propsects

15. Tanner Schobel

A second round pick from Virginia Tech last season, Schobel made his professional debut and spent the bulk of his time at Low-A Fort Myers. In just shy of 30 games he posted a .670 OPS and showed a very strong set of on-base skills. He had a power breakout for the Hokies prior to being drafted, but this is more a solid bat and good fielder than anything.]

14. Matt Canterino RHP

Canterino has appeared all over this list in recent seasons. He threw 37 innings last season before needing Tommy John surgery. At this point he shouldn’t be starting, but he could certainly blossom into a late-inning reliever once returning to a clean bill of health.

13. David Festa RHP

Continuing to creep up prospect lists, Festa’s 2.43 ERA in more than 100 innings last year was impressive. It was his first real season of professional ball and the strikeout rates were nice to see. Festa looked the part of a legit starter at High-A Cedar Rapids, and continuing down that path this season for Double-A Wichita could have him positioned to debut in 2023.

12. Edouard Julien INF

The only reason that Julien isn’t higher on this list is that he’s extremely limited defensively. Julien tore up Double-A for Wichita posting a .931 OPS, and he continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League. There is a very good bat here, and it flashes with both on-base skills and power.

11. Louie Varland RHP

Making his Major League debut for the Twins last season, Varland continues to climb the prospect ranks. His ceiling may not be that of a number two pitcher, but he looks to be a number four at worst and can continue to develop a bit more. This has been an incredible success story.

10. Matt Wallner OF

Wallner made it to the big leagues last year, and it was largely because of changes he made at the plate. His arm has always been solid in the outfield, but reigning in the free-swinging profile to draw more walks and focus on doing damage was huge. There is Brent Rooker downside here, but patience has changed his trajectory some.

9. Yasser Mercedes OF

It’s hard to extrapolate too much from the teenagers playing during the Dominican Summer League, but Mercedes looks special. He posted a .975 OPS and did so with both average and on-base skills to his credit. He looks the part of a toolsy outfielder, and if the bat continues to play, this is a prospect that will keep rising the ranks.

8. Austin Martin INF/OF

It’s pretty clear that Martin is no longer a shortstop, and while he could play either second or third base, he may be best suited for the outfield. After failing to harness power Minnesota was trying to tap into, Martin’s stock could again rise by simply reverting to pure hitter tendencies. He’s not the can’t miss prospect that the Twins acquired from Toronto, but there is a big leaguer here.

7. Simeon Woods Richardson RHP

Acquired alongside Martin in the Jose Berrios trade, Woods Richardson made it to the show first. He distanced himself from the setback that was 2021, and looks the part of a Major League rotation piece. Woods Richardson should get plenty of run at Triple-A this season, and he’ll see time with Minnesota again as well.

6. Jose Salas SS

Part of Minnesota’s return for Luis Arraez from the Miami Marlins, Salas has plenty of unpredictability going forward. As he matures and grows, he could slide to second or third base, but he also profiles as an extremely talented offensive player. Just 19, Salas did post a .723 OPS across two levels of Single-A last season.

5. Marco Raya RHP

A fourth round pick back in 2020, Raya made his professional debut in 2022 after finally being healthy. His 3.05 ERA at Low-A Fort Myers paired nicely with a 10.5 K/9, and his stuff has always looked like he could be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. More development for a kid that is just 20-years-old is needed, but there is plenty to be excited about here.

4. Connor Prielipp LHP

Taken in the 2022 draft, Prielipp had the makings of a first round pick before undergoing surgery. He likely represents Minnesota's best prospect chance at an ace, and he could conceivably be a top-100 prospect nationally by this time next year. The stuff is special, and doing it as a southpaw makes him that much more valuable.

3. Emmanuel Rodriguez OF

Playing in Low-A at just 19, Rodriguez turned heads in a big way last year. His 1.044 OPS in the Florida State League was jaw-dropping, and it was only injury that slowed him down. He should be healthy coming into 2023, and there is no reason another strong season couldn’t vault him into the top 25 of prospects lists.

2. Brooks Lee SS

Drafted for his hit tool, Lee did exactly that during his professional debut. He batted .303 with an .839 OPS and made it all the way to Double-A in year one. There is no reason why Lee can’t play for the Twins as early as this year, and he looks to be among the most polished players from any recent draft class.

1. Royce Lewis SS

Making his big league debut in place of Carlos Correa last season, Lewis looked the part of an All-Star shortstop. Another unfortunate injury got him, but the production for the Twins was enough to drool over. It has never seemed wise to doubt Lewis, but his ceiling remains as high as it has ever been.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Picking the Postseason

The Minnesota Twins are not going to make the 2022 Major League Baseball postseason, but there's plenty of exciting action on tap for October. With the field set, I figured it's time to put my predictions on paper.

Rays over Guardians, Blue Jays over Mariners

Tampa wins the battle of pitching having been a bit more battle tested in a ridiculously difficult AL East division. I like the Mariners, but think the Blue Jays lineup is too deep. What Jose Berrios looks like in October could be key for Toronto's rotation.

Phillies over Cardinals, Mets over Padres

The Cardinals are winning at the right time, and well, Philadelphia is not. That said, I think the Phillies are a deep enough team to make a run. Seeing Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright continue the storybook ending would be fun though. For the Mets, in a three game series, it's pretty hard to go against Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.

Yankees over Rays, Astros over Blue Jays

New York's lineup has plenty of questions, but the rotation of Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, and Luis Severino should be the difference in this series. Houston is just too good here, and I don't think the Blue Jays fare as well in a longer series.

Braves over Phillies, Mets over Dodgers

I'd love to take the Phillies here, but Atlanta is rolling right now and is incredibly deep. They may be the best team in the National League. Despite the regular season success for the Dodgers, I'm concerned about their rotation in the postseason. Again, leaning on deGrom and Scherzer.

Astros over Yankees

Houston goes back to the World Series and they do so as the best team in baseball.

Mets over Braves

Even though the Braves chased down New York in the standings, give me the Mets getting the last laugh.

Astros over Mets

Houston wins yet another World Series, with no scandal attached.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

We’ve Entered 2022 Awards Season

With the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season coming to a close, it’s the time of the year when IBWAA members are sent out ballots to cast their selections for awards. While the year didn’t start on time, having the full 162 game schedule following the lockout was a treat, and we’ve been given a ton of great performances.

You can look back to my preseason predictions if you’d like, they were made at the end of March. In turning in my ballot recently, here’s what my selections looked like.


American League MVP: Shohei Ohtani (Runner Up: Aaron Judge)

National League MVP: Paul Goldschmidt (Runner Up: Nolan Arenado)


American League Cy Young: Justin Verlander (Runner Up: Dylan Cease)

National League Cy Young: Sandy Alcantara (Runner Up: Carlos Rodon)


American League Rookie of the Year: Julio Rodriguez (Runner Up: Adley Rutschman)

National League Rookie of the Year: Spencer Strider (Runner Up: Michael Harris II)


American League Manager of the Year: Brandon Hyde (Runner Up: Dusty Baker)

National League Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter (Runner Up: Rob Thomson)


American League Reliever of the Year: Jhoan Duran (Runner Up: Emmanuel Clase)

National League Reliever of the Year: Edwin Diaz (Runner Up: Ryan Helsley)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

2022 Award Winners and World Series Victors


Now just a week from Opening Day most Major League Baseball clubs have their 40 man rosters set and are working through their final cuts before kicking off the regular season. Although we don’t have Opening Day on its original scheduled time, a full 162-game season following the lockout is as good as it gets.

The Atlanta Braves are looking to repeat as World Series Champions, but they will be doing so with some new faces after letting franchise favorite Freddie Freeman walk. The American League will certainly be out to recapture the trophy, and there’s a ton of new talent being thrust into the highest level.

You can look back at my 2021 picks here. A dark horse MVP candidate wound up taking the crown, and it was good to see Bryce Harper pick up his second iteration of that award. Here’s what I have for 2022.

MVP: American League – Luis Robert (Dark Horse Byron Buxton) National League – Juan Soto (Dark Horse Manny Machado)

Maybe Robert is a post-hype type player, but he’s far too much of an afterthought with just two seasons in the big leagues. Robert played just 68 games last year for the White Sox, but the 24-year-old posted a .946 OPS. He has the complete package of speed, power, and athleticism to make an impact all over the diamond. The strikeout rates are still ugly, but he makes enough hard hit contact to generate a strong average. Chicago should again be good, and that puts him in a good spot. 

Byron Buxton is going to be healthy this year if I have to manifest it into existence. Should that happen, he’ll find himself squarely in the conversation. He began 2021 on a ridiculous pace and was only overshadowed by Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Betting on himself in his new extension, that paying off early would be nice to see.

On the National League side it really feels like the MVP is Juan Soto’s to lose. He’s an otherworldly talent that hits for average and power while having a great eye. I don’t think the Nationals are going to be very good this season, but if Nelson Cruz has any positive impact on the youngster allowing him to take his game up a notch, that’s pretty scary. It’d also be somewhat of a nice development to see Manny Machado step up in a big way for the Padres with Fernando Tatis Jr. out to start the season. He’s been close to an MVP award previously, and maybe this winds up being the year.

Cy Young: American League – Shohei Ohtani (Dark Horse Luis Severino) National League – Max Scherzer (Dark Horse Logan Webb)

If there’s a way to follow up an MVP award after putting up the best individual season baseball has ever seen, Shohei Ohtani could grab a Cy Young as an encore. The greatest thing working against him will always be the amount of starts he makes. That said, another year of learning the league, I think this could be his true breakout on the mound. Another step forward and he’ll be in the conversation with Gerrit Cole as the best pitcher in the American League. Speaking of Cole, his teammate Luis Severino looked to have elite stuff prior to dealing with injuries since 2019. If he’s at all healthy, I wouldn’t be shocked to see that play again.

Max Scherzer jumps teams within the division, but now he’s in a place that’s willing to spend big. Paired with Jacob deGrom, the Mets have the best one-two punch in baseball. New York should be a very good team, and those two arms are going to do the heavy lifting. It’s been a few years since Scherzer won a Cy Young, and maybe he tired a bit in the postseason last year, but I think he shows well for his new club. 

San Francisco Giants star Logan Webb is an intriguing choice here. He’s not far down the list of odds, but may be somewhat of an afterthought. The Giants probably won’t be as good this season, but Webb could take another step forward as he cements himself as a legitimate ace. His FIP was sub 3.00 last season and the strikeout numbers are there. It wouldn’t shock me if he puts up a head-turning performance.

Rookie of the Year: American League – Bobby Witt Jr. (Dark Horse Julio Rodriguez) National League – Hunter Greene (Dark Horse Max Meyer)

It’s hard to go against the Royals superstar prospect Bobby Witt Jr. He’s going to make the Opening Day roster and looks like someone that should be an impact player from day one. Kansas City won’t be good, but they shouldn’t be terrible either. The highlight reel play on both sides of the ball are impressive, and he should be fun to watch from within the division. Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez may also be in the conversation, but that will largely depend on how much runway he’s given this season.

Once considered among the best draft prospects ever, Hunter Greene’s debut should finally come in 2022. The Reds rotation has arms that need to still be moved, but Greene should see plenty of action for a team that’s clearly not trying. His stuff is going to play, and the triple-digit fastball is going to be fun to watch. If the Marlins promote Max Meyer with any amount of longevity destined for this season, he too could be in the running.


American League – Blue Jays, White Sox, Astros, Red Sox, Rays, Twins

National League – Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Mets, Padres, Phillies

ALCS – Blue Jays over Rays

NLCS – Phillies over Braves

World Series – Phillies over Blue Jays

Toronto had a stellar offseason adding Kevin Gausman and Matt Chapman. Already having a strong rotation and top talents like Jose Berrios and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., it’s hard not to see them as the juggernaut in a competitive American League East. They picked up depth talents as well, and we’re already trending towards being among the best teams in baseball. I’d be far from surprised if they finish with the best record in the American League.

On the other side, I think the Phillies give themselves a nice chance to play spoiler as somewhat of an underdog. The Braves and Mets are seen as the best in the division, but Philadelphia shouldn’t be far behind. Castellanos and Schwarber are two big bats, and the addition of the designated hitter hides the latter from playing the field. Bryce Harper is still the reigning MVP winner, and adding what they did to a formerly bad bullpen should help a lot.

We’re so close to regular season action in a season that should bring the return of normalcy. It’s time to settle in for the fun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

2022 AL Central Division Projection

We are less than two weeks away from the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season. The free agent frenzy was every bit the excitement we had hoped for following the lockout and teams are largely complete at this point. The American League Central Division had just one Postseason participant, but the hope would be for two with the field expanding to 12 teams.

The Chicago White Sox return as the division winners and will look to carry that crown for a second season. While there’s no juggernaut here, it should be expected that there’s no cellar dweller either.

Here’s how I see the division shaking out with PECOTA projections in parentheses.

Chicago White Sox 89-73 (91-71)

Chicago really didn’t do a whole lot this winter, but they also really didn’t need to. Having Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez for a full season will represent the greatest benefit they could gain from the offseason. Kendall Graveman makes an already good bullpen better, and Joe Kelly only enhances that. They should still have a very strong lineup, and the hope would be continued dominance from the rotation. There’s no doubt that they are the favorites here.

Minnesota Twins 85-77 (86-76)

If there’s a team that could go up or down more than almost any other in baseball it could be Minnesota. Byron Buxton is a superstar, and now he has a partner in Carlos Correa. How much resurgence could Gary Sanchez or Gio Ursehla find in their new home? Sonny Gray is a dependable arm, but from there it’s questionable veterans and untested rookies. If things go bad, it will likely be because the arms simply weren’t enough. This could be a very good team, a mediocre team, or a relatively bad team virtually all tied to what happens on the mound.

Detroit Tigers 77-85 (67-95)

Javier Baez’s deal with Detroit surprised many because of the assumed tie between Carlos Correa and A.J. Hinch. Baez has plenty of flaws but some of them are a bit overstated. He gives a winning presence to a team on the cusp. Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson should be in the lineup soon, and Akil Baddoo turned out to be a bad man last year. I don’t know how well they’ll pitch, but acquiring Eduardo Rodriguez was a smart move.

Kansas City Royals 75-87 (70-92)

Prospects are the name of the game for the Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. looks like a superstar as does both M.J. Melendez and Nick Pratto. Salvador Perez put up insane numbers a season ago and will look to replicate that performance. Pitching is questionable here too, and I’m not sure Zack Greinke has much left in the tank. The bullpen is uninspiring, and there’s plenty of lineup holes. They’re getting better, but not there yet.

Cleveland Guardians 73-89 (77-85)

You don’t have to look much further than the newly named Guardians to find the Central’s most rudderless team. The farm system isn’t elite, but the Major League roster is also barren. Jose Ramirez is amazing, and a healthy Shane Bieber is lights out, but beyond that there’s very little to like here. A lot of post-hype prospects and guys that have ceilings they never got close to touching reside on this roster. Alongside their lack of spending this offseason, deciding not to blow it up was a weird path forward.