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.