While we have no baseball right now because of the league locking out its players, there’s still minor league prospects to dream on. 2021 provided us a full season of minor league action and the Twins saw a ton of movement from their biggest names.
It was certainly tough to see the injuries mount this season, but that can likely be tied to the non-traditional 2020 and having to get back into a demanding flow. The last update to the top 15 in this space came in June, prior to the Major League Baseball draft, so now feels like a good time to refresh the list.
Previous rankings can be found below. Let’s get into it:
15. Cole Sands RHP
Sliding Sands back a spot here has nothing to do with him,
and everything to do with additions before him. He posted a 2.46 ERA in 80.1 IP
all at the Double-A level in 2021. The strikeouts are there and while the walk
rate was up, he still worked around damage. Some time on the IL wasn’t a great
thing, but he could be an option for Minnesota soon.
14. Matt Wallner OF
I’m pretty bullish on Wallner being a better version of
Brent Rooker. His .854 OPS at High-A was a professional best this season, and
he raked for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. He has massive arm strength
and should be fine in a corner spot. He’s going to hit for power, and I think
the on-base abilities are there too.
13. Noah Miller INF
Taken 36th overall by the Twins, Miller’s brother Owen is a big leaguer. Noah is expected to be a better all-around prospect and
has plenty of speed on his own. I think he’s got a pretty good shot to stick in
the middle of the infield, and it’ll be exciting to see him on the field in
12. Blayne Enlow RHP
Throwing just 14.2 innings this year, Enlow was put on the
shelf early and then underwent Tommy John surgery. He was added to the 40-man
roster protecting him from a Rule 5 selection. He’s still one of my favorite
breakout prospects, but he won’t be healthy to start 2022.
11. Josh Winder RHP
After dominating Double-A, Winder earned a pretty quick
promotion to Triple-A. He was just ok in his four starts at St. Paul, but there’s
no reason to believe this isn’t a talented arm. He’s consistently had strong
strikeout stuff and avoided free passes. Winder was bit most by the longball
for the Saints. He did experience a trip to the IL but should be healthy coming
10. Keoni Cavaco INF
In 60 games for Low-A Fort Myers Cavaco did little to
impress. That said, he’s still just 20 years old and it was great to see him
advance beyond the complex league. He’s still filling out form a body
standpoint, and 2022 will be an important year for his development.
9. Chase Petty RHP
Selected as the 26th overall pick in the 2021
Major League Baseball draft, Petty was seen as a great value selection given
his ability to reach triple-digits on the mound. He’s still got a good amount
of refinement to undergo, but this is a great arm for Minnesota to mold.
8. Matt Canterino RHP
Spending a good amount of time on the IL this year, Canterino
certainly wanted to get in more than 23 innings. The work he did do was
dominant, however. A 0.78 ERA and 45/4 K/BB is plenty indicative of him needing
the challenge of at least Double-A to start 2022.
7. Simeon Woods-Richardson RHP
One piece of the return for Jose Berrios, Woods-Richardson
pitched just eight innings for the Twins at Double-A. After playing with Team
USA in the Olympics, he needed a good amount of time to ramp back up. The strikeout
numbers are exciting, but he does have command issues to work through. Still,
this is a top-100 prospect that should be fun to watch in 2022.
6. Jhoan Duran RHP
After being among the best Twins pitching prospects coming
into 2021, Duran took a slight step backwards. He was injured for a good part
of the season and contributed just 16 innings. The high strikeouts were
combined with too many walks. The velocity is certainly there, but he could
wind up being a reliever too. 2022 will be a big season for him.
5. Joe Ryan RHP
Acquired in exchange for Nelson Cruz, Ryan wound up being
among the best things to happen for the Twins last season. After pitching for
Team USA, Ryan made five starts at the big league level. His 3.43 FIP was
better than the 4.05 ERA, but a 30/5 K/BB is beyond impressive for a guy who
doesn’t have dominant velocity. How Ryan adapts to more tape on him in year two
is going to be intriguing.
4. Jose Miranda IF
No player in the Twins system had a better year than
Miranda. He tallied a .973 OPS across Double and Triple-A while blast 30
homers. He played all over the infield and it’s clear the bat is ready for his
next challenge. I’m not sure where he fits for Minnesota yet, and it may not be
Opening Day, but he’s coming and soon.
3. Jordan Balazovic RHP
Starting 20 games for Double-A Wichita, Balazovic turned in
3.62 ERA with a 9.5 K/9. He looked every bit the pat of an ace at times while
going through growing pains as well. He’ll need a clean bill of health and
complete season in 2022, but he’s very close.
2. Austin Martin SS/OF
The headlining return for Jose Berrios, Martin is a very
similar player to Minnesota’s top prospect Royce Lewis. Playing shortstop but
potentially an outfielder, Martin owned a .779 OPS at Double-A Wichita. He hasn’t
really hit for any power, but that should come. The athleticism is strong, and
the speed is there as well.
1. Royce Lewis SS/OF
Putting him back on top of the prospect rankings, Lewis missed
all of 2021 with a torn ACL. He’ll return to the field healthy in 2022 and
looking to distance himself from a 2019 that left production to be desired.
Lewis’ bat has flashed plenty, and he’s looked comfortable at both short and in
the outfield. A quick rise to the big leagues may be in the cards.