Thursday, June 7, 2018

Midseason 2018 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects

With the 2018 Major League Baseball draft in the rearview mirror, the Minnesota Twins have now brought more young talent into the organization. Despite not having the first overall pick this season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were able to identify a handful of players that could be making an impact at Target Field in years to come. While this class seems catcher and college heavy, there's also a juggle of names already included in the Off The Baggy top 15 prospects.

Before diving into an updated, post draft list, here's a few key areas to check out first:

2016 Top 15 Prospects

2017 Top 15 Prospects

2018 Top 15 Prospects

2018 Draft Picks

Now that we have the foundation laid, here's who I have as the Midseason Top 15 Prospects for the Minnesota Twins:

15. Wander Javier SS

Coming into the season, I found myself incredibly high on Javier, thinking he could end up being the Twins best positional prospect not named Royce Lewis. Unfortunately, he's been handed a season ending injury, and despite the surgery not being on his throwing arm, the biggest setback is missing out on a year of development at 19 years old. By the time he's back on the diamond, Javier will be 20. He's going to need to pick up and go right away to regain his prospect status. There's an incredible amount of talent there, and counting him out would be foolish.

14. Tyler Jay LHP

The Twins 2015 1st round pick is now firmly entrenched as a reliever. After being bounced back and forth between starting and the pen, keeping him healthy has maybe been the largest challenge. In 2017, Jay pitched just 11.2 innings, a mark he's nearly doubled thus far in 2018. He's still at Double-A Chattanooga which is unfortunate, and the strikeouts have dipped to just 7.5 per nine innings. As a lefty, he can bring it, and profiles well in the late innings. He'll need to start putting up numbers indicative of that should he want to jump to Triple-A. At 24, it would be ideal to see him get time with the Twins this year, but that would require a significant breakout in short order.

13. Lewis Thorpe LHP

Starting the season healthy for the first time in more than three years is huge for the Aussie. After a solid display at High-A Fort Myers last season, he was jumped to Chattanooga to begin 2018. The ERA sits at a respectable 3.74, while his 10.2 K/9 is something Minnesota would love to see carry forward. The 1.528 WHIP is a bit out of hand, and it's reflective of a guy that allows a handful of runners to reach base. Thorpe is still just 22, and already at Double-A. If he continues to refine his approach, he'll jump back into the national discussion.

12. Blayne Enlow RHP

The Twins targeted Enlow with some of their early round savings in the 2017 MLB Draft. After appearing in 20.1 innings for the GCL Twins last year, he's spent 2018 with Low-A Cedar Rapids. The 4.46 ERA isn't ideal, but he's another guy giving up too much contact right now. A 1.718 WHIP is buoyed by an 11.5 H/9. He's only 19 and the stuff is still very raw. His bender is impressive, and the velocity probably has a bit of room to grow yet. If nothing else, this is a very good developmental year for the Louisiana native.

11. Akil Baddoo OF

There wasn't a guy I was more impressed with during spring training 2017 than Baddoo when it came to physical body work. He looked as if he'd at half of his 2016 self, and put on a ton of muscle. At E-Town last season, Baddoo posted a great 1.057 OPS across 33 games. Batting as the leadoff guy for the Kernels this year, he owns a .788 OPS. The power continues to play, and while the average has sunk a bit lower than you'd like to see, his plate discipline hasn't fallen off much. He's got a chance to be the breakout type, much like the next guy on this list.

10. LaMonte Wade OF

As a 9th round pick in 2015, Wade hasn't gotten the fanfare he's deserved until recently. Despite posting .840 + OPS numbers in each of his first two pro seasons, he really only began to be a name more commonly known. Now at Double-A Chattanooga, Wade owns an .837 OPS on the year, and has already hit seven longballs. If the Twins really wanted to test him, he could be up filling in for Byron Buxton right now. He's got a tremendous eye at the plate, and controls the zone well. There's a lot to like here, and the ceiling is higher than just a fourth outfielder.

9. Zack Littell RHP

Acquired by the Twins in a shrewd exchange that involved Jaime Garcia, Littell has shown exactly why he was the apple of Falvey and Levine's eyes. He had a strong Twins organization debut at Double-A last year, and had been great in 28 innings with Triple-A Rochester this season. His major league debut didn't go smoothly, but there's little doubt that he'll be back, and that he's a capable arm to count on as a rotation mainstay.

8. Trevor Larnach OF

The 20th overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, Larnach is of a similar mold to Twins prospect Brent Rooker. The power potential is massive, and he absolutely destroys the baseball when making contact. Swing and miss is a bit less of a worry here, although his position is certainly going to be limited to a corner outfield spot. He used all fields in college, but rarely pulled the ball. Ideally you'd like to see him shorten up a bit, and be able to get around on big league pitching to his drive side. This was a safe pick for Minnesota, and the bat should absolutely play.

7. Brent Rooker OF/1B

I still think Rooker ends up at first base long term, but he's not a liability in the Robbie Grossman sense when it comes to outfield play. After a slow start at Double-A, he's really come around of late. From May 7 through June 6 (29 G), he owns an .890 OPS with seven homers. Rooker's bat was always going to be what drove his promotions, and it's played as expected. The next piece of his game that has to be addressed is the plate discipline. A 66/14 K/BB at Double-A is only going to get wider as he moves upwards.

6. Alex Kirilloff OF

Coming off of Tommy John surgery, it wasn't so much a worry that Kirilloff wouldn't rebound, as much as it was about how the time off would effect him. The short answer has been, not much. While Royce Lewis got the early fanfare as the latest first round pick, it's Kirilloff who's been shining of late as well. His .978 OPS is comprised of 11 homers and 17 doubles through 55 games. It's been a heck of a return to the diamond, and the bat first prospect has been nothing short of exciting.

5. Stephen Gonsalves LHP

After dominating Double-A to the tune of a 1.77 ERA through four starts, Gonsalves was moved up to Triple-A. He owns a 4.13 ERA through seven starts, but the numbers are inflated by a few clunkers. His 10.5 K/9 is more than impressive, but it's the 5.5 BB/9 that still cause the Twins pause. Command has always been the last part of the puzzle for the crafty lefty, and it'll be the piece he needs to hone in before jumping to the big leagues.

4. Brusdar Graterol RHP

Now completely healthy, the Twins next flamethrower has been must see baseball on the mound for the Kernels. His few DL stints this year seem much more roster manipulation than genuine cause for concern. He's gone six trips through the rotation, and owns a 1.95 ERA in 32.1 IP. With a triple-digit fastball in his arsenal, the 11.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 suggest he could probably use a new challenge sometime soon.

3. Nick Gordon SS

While shortstop may not be Nick Gordon's longterm home, it probably works out better that way for the Twins roster construction. Yes, he faded down the stretch at Double-A last year, but he's been nothing short of exceptional in 2018. His .906 OPS across 42 games with Chattanooga earned him a bump to Triple-A Rochester. In 16 games since his promotion, he's hitting .350/.371/.467. The five home runs continue to drive home the notion that the nine in 2017 were real, and he could turn into a 15-20 longball guy at the next level. He should be the Twins Opening Day second basemen in 2019, and there's little reason to worry about it.

2. Fernando Romero RHP

It took just 21 innings at Triple-A for the Twins to decide that Romero was ready for the big time. His 2.57 ERA with Rochester came with some walks (4.3 BB/9), but the stuff was absolutely going to play. Since being in the big leagues, he owns a 3.96 ERA over seven starts (36.1 IP). He was lights out against some good teams in the early going, and he's thrown in a clunker or two as well. Long term, he still profiles as an ace, and pairing him with Jose Berrios should give Minnesota a solid one-two punch for quite some time.

1. Royce Lewis SS

After making it to Cedar Rapids to conclude his first season in pro ball, Lewis has torn up the Midwest League this season as well. Currently his OPS is down to .750, but it rested at .799 through 40 games just over a week ago. The power hasn't really shown up yet, but it should come in time. He has plenty of room to fill out and gain muscle, so there isn't much cause for concern. Expect him to hit High-A Fort Myers for the second half of the year, and tracking towards a 2020 MLB debut is very plausible.