Cream of the Crop – Minnesota Twins Top-20 Farmhands

Alex and Brenden will be creating their own top 20 prospects per organization. The methodology is simple: they develop their own top 20’s, average them together, then have friendly arguments about who should be higher or lower. The next organization up for them to review is the Minnesota Twins. 

State of the System Address 

Brenden – 

Going into this system I had high expectations, but this system blew me away honestly. It is far deeper than I realized. Alex and I, for the first time in doing these top 20’s, strongly disagreed on players and the top 20 as a whole. It lead to some incredibly interesting discussions (who knows maybe they carry over into a potential podcast *winky face*) that caused us to reevaluate first impressions we had on multiple players.

Overall this system give the White Sox a run for their money as the top system in the Division. They are anchored by two near consensus top 10 prospects (Lewis and Kirilloff) and an arm that has ace potential in Graterol. Past them they have so many players that I see as future big league contributors and project-able arms. The only thing I wish this system had was one or two more arms that could have top of the rotation potential. I like some of the lower level arms but I don’t see any of them being better than a SP3 but they have plenty of guys who have the look of future rotation piece. While the Indians have a stranglehold on the AL Central for now, and everyone has their eyes on the White Sox as the next up for that crown, I think the Twins need a closer look from the general baseball community for that distinction.

Alex – 

I really like this system, they have incredible depth and two of the top 10 prospects in the game. This is the first system we’ve done where there were 10 plus guys I really wanted to put on the list that had to be cut.

Coming in, I knew they had absurd depth with bats, but I didn’t realize how many intriguing young arms that could be impactful with projection. Guys like Andrew Cabezas and Anthony Escobar couldn’t even make the just missed write ups. They have some of the best outfield and middle infield depth in the majors, tons of intriguing low level arms, two high end arms and a draft perfectly geared for them to grab a high ceiling arm or third baseman.

I think there is a very good chance this will be widely regarded as one of, if not the best systems in baseball at the start of 2020.

1. Royce Lewis SS

Age – 19

HT/WT – 6’2″ 190lb

Handedness – R/R 

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

For my money Rolls Royce is a top 5 prospect in the game. Legit 5 tool talent and honestly shows more than 5 tools with his leadership, work ethic, humility, intelligence and charisma. This is a guy anyone would want in their dugout. How many people get drafted 1-1 out of high school and buy a used Toyota Camry? I’ll call him a 6 tool talent because of his makeup. About his other 5 tools…at the plate, he shows what could become a 60-grade hit. Consistently gets the barrel on the ball, line drive swing path, likes to pull the ball, but not afraid to go oppo, takes his walks, stays back on spin well for his age, etc. Could be a .300 hitter. People tend to assume he’s a smaller guy because of his speed, but he’s really not and he’s growing into 55-grade power. I could see 25 home runs in his prime with his bat to ball and frame.

He’s fast, plain and simple, good quickness, good speed, good instincts. Probably a 70 now, 60 in his prime. Defensively, he shows an MLB arm, not special but above average. He’s going to have the arm to play SS, 2B, CF nicely and be above average throwing from those positions. He could play right or third if he somehow gets thick as he matures, but unlikely. The concerns he would need to move off of short are becoming few and far between and he’s shown that he can make quick and major strides with his defensive play. He won’t ever HAVE to move off short. The twins could choose to move him to center, but it would be a choice for depth reasons, not ability. Overall, I think I’d take him 2nd overall of all prospects real life and top 5 in fantasy. I love the kid, his talent, and his makeup. I think in prime you are looking at Trea Turner but swapping a grade of speed for an extra grade of power. That’s a star right there.

Brenden’s Take – 

Special, special player. If I remember correctly my partner Alex has Royce ranked as his number one overall prospect during his last update of his Juicy 300 (before I was able to recruit him to Baseball Farm). While I wasn’t behind the ranking when I first saw it, the more and more I watch Royce the more I see it. The kid is a special athlete and every time I look up info on him the first thing that comes up is his terrific makeup and personality. There were some worries about his ability to stay at short in the long term but he has quieted those concerns and has proven that short will be his defensive home for years to come. “5 tool talent” gets overused a bit nowadays in the prospect world but Royce is more than deserving of that moniker. Plus or better speed, plus raw power with terrific bat speed and a developing hit tool. He keeps showing the ability to make adjustments and stay away from bad habits. When it comes to evaluating which prospects will be able to make it or not, the ability to make adjustments easily is at the top of the list. Royce is a special talent and is everything the Twins wished for when they drafted him number one overall.

Ceiling – 300/375/500 25/35

Floor – 260/315/415 12/21

Expectation – 285/345/455 18/27

Risk – Low

ETA – 2020


2. Alex Kirilloff OF

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’2″ 195lb

Handedness –  L/L

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

It feels weird not to have Kirilloff as the #1 player in the org with how good he is. A name on everyone’s radar in 2016 after being arguably the best player in the Appalachian league at 18 following being drafted 15th overall…Kirilloff wasn’t here in 2017 due to a UCL tear requiring Tommy John. This is why he came out nowhere to some people in 2018, absolutely mashing in A and A+ en route to a 348/392/578 slash line with 44 doubles, 7 triples, 20 home runs and even a few SB; in my opinion becoming a top 10 prospect in the game.

Kirilloff, despite what should have been a rusty season, displayed my personal 2nd favorite hit tool in the minors in 2018 (Vlad is #1 obviously) and I think it’s a legitimate 70-grade tool. He makes hard, consistent contact, displaying an ability to hit the ball hard on a line to all fields. He also gets the ball in the air, on the ground, and on a line at rates that indicate good home run totals, as well as a high average. While he doesn’t walk much (6.8%) his 15.3 % k rate that actually dropped from A ball to A+ indicates he has good discipline and sees spin well. He’s not slow to the point of it being an issue, but he won’t be a CF and he won’t steal many bases, probably a 45 grade. He has a solid arm in right and profiles as an average defender there. Bat carries the prospect here, but he has 70 hit, 60 power ceiling in him and he’s decent defensively in right. 2019 is going to be an exciting year for this kid. Could easily be this year’s Vladdy Jr. “best hitter in the minors” award winner.

Brenden’s Take – 

Kirilloff is one of my favorite prospects in baseball. He is special in the batter’s box. His hit tool is special and has the ability to consistently barrel up baseballs and drive it with authority. He was a first round pick in 2016 but was forced to miss the 2017 season due to TJS. In his year off, he packed on muscle and came out swinging in 2018 and vaulted himself to top 10 prospect status on several publications (along with Royce from the Twins). He slashed .333/.391/.607 with 13 home runs in A ball then got promoted to A+ and continued proving himself slashing .362/.393/.550 and 7 home runs at the next stop. While a .399 BABIP may make it seem he was getting lucky, that’s not the case with Kirilloff. He was making such hard contact so consistently, the .399 BABIP isn’t an indicator of luck as more it is an indicator of his ability to make hard contact. While it would be nice to see him post higher walk rates (only 5% at A+), it isn’t because he is over-aggressive and chasing bad pitches (only a 13.9% K% in A+). Once again more of an indicator of his plus hit tool. The only reason Kirilloff isn’t really considered a better prospect than Royce is that unfortunately Kirilloff won’t offer much on the base paths and won’t be the prolific defender either. He will likely situate himself quite nicely in right field with a strong throwing arm with a potential .300+ and 30+ batting line. How does that sound?

Ceiling – 330/395/545 32/8

Floor – 270/325/435 20/3

Expectation – 295/355/475 27/5

Risk – Very Low

ETA – 2020


3. Brusdar Graterol RHP

Age – 20

HT/WT – 6’1″ 180lb 

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

There’s no debating that Graterol is a sexy arm. Brusdar mixes electric 95 to 99 heat that can reach 101 with 3 off-speed pitches. His slider is the best of the 3 and can be a wipeout swing and miss pitch when its on. His change is an average pitch but can play up due to his fastball velocity. He also mixes in a curve that can be average when he’s commanding it. I love the 4 pitch mix. I also think his lower half strength will make up for an undersized frame for a starter. I don’t have bullpen concerns but I do have my qualms about Brusdar the Destroyer. The fastball has truly elite velocity, but it is fairly straight, and while he pounds the strike zone with it, it seems more control than command. The off-speed stuff, while promising is definitely not commanded well yet. I think his stats (though impressive) have been padded by having raw stuff that was too much for the competition. He’s going to need to command his stuff better and sequence his pitches better to continue to have the same success. The blueprint is there for a high end two if everything goes right.

Brenden’s Take – 

Graterol is a physical pitcher on the mound with his stocky stature and pitching motion. I have previously done a write up on Graterol, for a more detailed write up of him you can read it here on the site. He can hit 100 with the fastball but generally sits in the upper 90’s with it. He also has a terrific out pitch in his slider that is a plus or potentially even plus-plus pitch. He also has a curveball and changeup in his arsenal that are pitches that could potentially be above average in the future as he gains more consistency with them. I really like Graterol and has true top of the rotation upside but I do have some durability concerns with his arm motion in his delivery. It’s a cross-fire kind of motion that whips his arm around his body. With his newer physical frame that might not be as much of an issue but it is a small worry of mine and he’s already had Tommy John once before.

Ceiling – High End SP2

Floor – High Leverage RP

Expectation – SP3

Risk – Medium

ETA – Late 2020


4. Trevor Larnach OF

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’4″ 210lb 

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

Larnach may not be the sexy 5 tool guy that everyone drools over the potential of, but don’t let that make you sleep on him. Always regarded as a good hitter, Larnach saw a power surge in 2018, going from 3 home runs in 2017 to 19 in 2018 for the NCAA champion Oregon State Beavers and continued it for the Twins to the tune of a 303/390/500 debut after being selected 20th overall. While he’s not quite the name of college teammate Nick Madrigal, I prefer him as a fantasy option. He has a nice bat, using all fields and making solid contact. While strikeouts will be a part of his game, he doesn’t press, takes his walks and punishes mistakes. I do see a 55 hit tool here with the ability he’s shown to use all fields.

With his big 6-4 frame and ability to get the ball airborne, I see the potential for a 60 power tool at maturity. While he has a nice arm in the outfield, he lacks the speed and jumps required to play right and looks like he would be a left fielder for most teams. He doesn’t have the speed to make an impact on the base paths. All in all, he’s a bat first guy who doesn’t offer a ton else, but playing for an AL team with no set starters, he offers a high floor with a solid offensive ceiling and has a clear path to at bats. Don’t let him slip too far in a FYPD.

Brenden’s Take – 

Larnach is a highly advanced hitter with power to both the pull side and to left-center. One of the more polished college bats that slashed .348/.463/.652 and 19 homeruns after hitting only 3 his first two seasons at Oregon State. He does a great job using his lower half and generating power but also has a polished hit tool to make full use of his strong frame. Similar to Kiriloff he will offer little in terms of speed but is athletic enough to make plays in the OF without being a liabilty. Easy to see a potential high average hitter (270-.280) with 25+ homeruns and create a great OF tandem of Kiriloff and Larnach. He’s a guy that you should be on the lookout for in FYPD’s. He might not be the sexiest player in those drafts but he might one of the safer players and still offers great upside.

Ceiling – 285/355/500 30/5

Floor – 250/310/420 20/2

Expectation – 270/330/460 25/4

Risk – Low

ETA – 2021


5. Wander Javier SS

Age – 19

HT/WT – 6’1″ 170lb

Handedness –  R/R

Current Level – RK

Alex’s Take – 

“Wander Javier’s will is stronger than your doubt”-DustyColorado.

Brenden’s Take – 

Wander Javier was signed for $4 Million in 2015 as one of the top international free agents but has struggled to stay healthy since. Struggled with hamstring injuries in his debut then tore his labrum missing the entire 2018 season. He is an athletic specimen and has shown great strides in his swing since signing. He has reduced the leg kick dramatically and greatly improved his weight transfer with a beautiful inside-out swing. Hard to make inferences about his future at this stage but I think his swing should be able to hit for high average with some pop and should also be able to stay at short long term. He just needs to get healthy and prove the torn labrum is a thing of the past.

Ceiling – God and/or 300/345/515 25/10

Floor – Injury Prone High K-rate Utility Guy

Expectation – 275/320/445 21/10

Risk – High

ETA – 2022


6. Akil Baddoo OF

Age – 20

HT/WT – 5’11” 195lb

Handedness – L/L

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

A man on just about everyone’s breakout list at the start of 2018, Baddoo was a second round pick out of the Georgia prep ranks in 2016 as one of the youngest players in his draft class. He broke out as an 18 year old in 2017 and the hype was crazy. So while 2018 might have felt like a failure, don’t fault Baddoo for a bunch of writers trying to make their name by putting unrealistic expectations on him, calling him “this year’s Acuna” etc. 243/351/419 with 44 XBH and 24 steals shouldn’t feel like a disappointment for a 19 year old in A-Ball. Baddoo still shows the raw tools to have the ceiling that made so many writers high on him. He happily takes walks, sees the ball well, works counts, uses all fields and posted an absolutely absurd 49.3% fly ball rate that indicates he will get the most out of his power. The 60-grade speed was on display as Baddoo hit 11 triples and stole 24 bases with just 5 CS. Baddoo’s only real concerns are a bit on the hit tool and a left field only defensive profile due to his arm (although CF is possible if everything breaks right). The ingredients are all here for him become an impact fantasy and real life player, just give him some time to reach that ceiling and refine his tools.

Brenden’s Take – 

Akil Baddoo was one of the more popular prospects I couldn’t stop hearing about before the 2018 season. Often being called a potential breakout prospect with every tool someone could want. I think to some his 2018 season was a disappointment. But in his first taste of full season ball, I think he held his own. He slashed .243/.351/.419 with 11 HR and 24 SB all while walking 14.3% of the time. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate was 24%. Baddoo is a great athlete who looks like a perfect fit in CF. He also has great raw power and I was really impressed by his ability to drive the ball to the left-center field gap. Sky is the limit for Baddoo at the moment but he needs to improve his ability to make good contact with the baseball and let his athleticism play. 20/20 guy or better isn’t out of the question for Baddoo and while he didn’t erupt like many people though he would, his 2018 season was a step in the right direction in showing what he’s capable of.

Ceiling – 285/370/480 20/25

Floor – 4th outfielder 

Expectation – 265/345/435 15/20

Risk – Medium

ETA – 2021


7. Stephen Gonsalves LHP

Age – 24

HT/WT – 6’5″ 215lb  

Current Level – MLB

Alex’s Take – 

Gonsalves is a pitchability over stuff prospect, but his stuff isn’t that bad. He has a low 90’s fastball but it has riding life and he commands it fairly well down in the zone. With the fastball, he mixes in 4 total pitches, including a slider, curve and a changeup. The change is the best of the 4, with good sink, his best command and an average velocity gap. The curve is the better breaker and the slider flashes a bit below average and is inconsistent. Gonsalves relies heavily on deception and sequencing to make his arsenal work. As a result, he has to eat at the corners of the plate and walks will always be a part of the picture, even with improved command. But he will always get more strikeouts than his raw stuff suggests and has proven adept at sequencing. He has upside to be a SP4 and is MLB ready now.

Brenden’s Take – 

Gonsalves looks every bit of his reported size and uses his long limbs effectively in his delivery. His delivery also has a crossfire like quality to it as he finishes his stride towards the first base side of the rubber then allows his arm and body to rotate around, causing fits for left-handed hitters. His long limbs cause some problems in repeating his arm action and he lacks consistency in his pitches, struggling to find the strike zone. He had walk rates of over 4 per 9 innings in 2018 but if he can return to his 2017 form where he averaged only 3 per 9 at AAA it should allow him to see success on the mound. His 2-seam fastball sits in the lower 90’s with good life. He can reach 94 with his 4-seam and locates the pitch better but the 2-seamer is the better pitch. He possesses a good changeup that is effective with same arm action as his fastball and a good curveball. He also throws a slider but doesn’t possess sharp break and won’t be able to get major league hitters out. Overall Gonsalves future will be determined by his ability to throw strikes. If he can keep the walks down, he has mid-rotation starter written all over him. If not, he will be a lefty specialist out of the ‘pen.

Ceiling – SP3

Floor – SP5

Expectation – SP4

Risk – Low

ETA – 2019


8. Brent Rooker 1B/OF

Age – 24

HT/WT – 6’3″ 215lb 

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

After an absolutely monstrous Jr. year at Mississippi St in 2017, Rooker hit the minors running with 18 home runs in just 62 games, flashing double plus raw power. Unfortunately, power will always have to be the carrying tool for Rooker. While his quality of contact is good and he uses all fields, there is always going to be a high rate of swing and miss in his game. That being said, Rooker was able to cut his K rate from 29% to 26.4% while moving from A+ to AA and maintained a solid 9.9% walk rate at both levels. A very good sign that the swing and miss won’t be the be all end all in his game. I think he has the potential for a 50 hit tool when all is said and done. He also has sneaky wheels, not a burner by any means but for a 1B/LF type, he has good speed. I don’t think we will see 18 steals like his Jr. year of college again, but he will chip in 5 or so most years and can get home from 2nd on a single in most cases. Defensively, he is raw on his routes and his arm is more fringy, but he does have deceptive athleticism and is capable of playing mediocre 1B or LF. That bat will need to keep playing at a high level for him to become a regular, but the ingredients are there.

Brenden’s Take – 

Rooker is another potential bash brother with Kiriloff and Larnach but is lacking the polished hitting abilities that his counterparts have. He has tremendous power from the right side with a swing that gets great extension when he is able to make good contact. He looks like he will be a better fit at 1B with poor range and arm but isn’t exactly a gold glover at first either. He is a free swinger at the plate, often chasing fastballs up in the zone and good breaking balls down. He will need to refine his approach at the plate if he wants to reach his potential. Rooker is a guy that will never hit for average but if he can hit around .250 he will hit 30 HR and be a powerful middle of the order bat.

Ceiling – 270/345/500 30/10

Floor – 230/290/400 18/5

Expectation – 250/330/460 22/5

Risk – Medium

ETA – 2020


9. Lewis Thorpe LHP

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’1″ 165lb  

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Thorpe, the Aussie infamous for completely shutting down team USA in the 2013 17U world games in Taiwan, came on strong in 2013 after signing a sizable bonus with the Twins and was at the tail end of most top 100 lists by the end of 2014. Then disaster struck, with Tommy John in 2015 and a full season battle with mononucleosis in 2016 kept him out of baseball for 2 years. He came back rusty in 2017, with his fastball dropping from the high 90’s to the low 90’s despite good numbers.

2018 was a different story. Much of the old stuff was back, with Thorpe now touching 95-96 with a very high spin rate fastball, a plus sinking changeup with a good velocity drop from his heat, an MLB average curve and a tight slider that works like a cutter. Thorpe led the Southern League in swinging strike rate in 2018 before looking solid in his AAA debut. There is reliever risk with Thorpe considering his frame and durability concerns, and his fastball/change combo could work well there. But he also looked good again last year, has a long track record of good numbers as a starter, a legit 4 pitch combo and the ability to miss bats. I don’t think he will be a high IP guy, which limits his ceiling, but I think he can be a solid back-end starter who has 2-3 type ratios.

Brenden’s Take – 

The Aussie from Melbourne was once a top 100 prospect early in his professional career but missed two seasons due to TJS and mono. 2018 was his second season back and is still working on trying to regain his feel for pitching. His fastball velocity no longer hits the upper 90’s with regularity but now sits 92-94 and can touch 96 when needed. He locates the fastball well and seems to highly effective at the top of the zone inferring a potential high spin rate on the pitch. His second best pitch is the changeup. It is a deadly pitch to right-handers with it coming from the same arm slot and speed with great sinking action. In some tape I watched he could consistently hit the outside corner with it and it was straight up unfair when his fastball was working.

He pairs these two offerings with a curve and a harder slider that acts more like a cutter. The curve flashes above-average on occasion and he likes to throw it to both right and left-handed batters. The slider-cutter hybrid pitch is a decent offering that he can use and mostly just likes to throw it to the lower glove-side of the plate. Thorpe was a pitcher I was a bit skeptical of at first but decided to take a closer look when I saw how high Alex had him. While I don’t agree that he’s a top 10 guy in this system, I have taken a liking to him and definitely project him to be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter for some time.

Ceiling – SP3

Floor – High Leverage Reliever

Expectation – High End SP4

Risk – Medium

ETA – 2019


10. Nick Gordon 2B/SS

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’0″ 160lb  

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

It feels like I should have Gordon higher based off of pedigree, but at the end of the day there are just too many players I prefer in this loaded system. Gordon is a plus up the middle defender with the quickness and arm strength to play either second or short. I also see the skill set to play center with some development time. Don’t read too much into Gordon’s AA stats (insanely good) or AAA stats (insanely bad) because both were affected by fluky luck. That being said, Gordon shows more swing and miss than I’d like to see from a low walk rate contact hitter. He does have better pop than you’d expect from a guy his size, but I can’t see it becoming any better than average. His speed has fallen back to earth and is sitting in the 50 grade range, although his quick first step bumps him up to a 55 for me. Ultimately, he’s just a high floor guy who’s close to MLB ready, but with some issues and a lower ceiling.

Brenden’s Take – 

The younger half-brother of MLB player Dee Gordon and son of MLB pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, Nick has good bloodlines. He has a quick, compact swing that doesn’t have much power in it (though more than his older brother). He’s also not as quick as his brother, so he won’t be nearly the stolen base threat. His 2018 season was quite the mixed bag. He had an impressive 42 games at AA slashing .333/.381/.525 with 5 HR and 7 SB. Unfortunately, that didn’t carry over into AAA where he was only able to muster .212/.262/.283 with 2 HR and 13 SB in 99 games. So terrific numbers at AA but struggled mightily at AAA, hard to figure out the player he is going to be. I think Gordon has the chance to be a nice MLB player but I think he’s going to fit more a utility role playing SS, 2B and possibly some OF as well with a good batting average and chipping in some power and speed counting stats.

Ceiling – 290/345/440 12/20

Floor – 230/290/350 5/15

Expectation – 270/325/415 10/18

Risk – Low

ETA – 2019


11. Gilberto Celestino OF

Age – 19

HT/WT – 6’0″ 170lb 

Handedness – R/L

Current Level – RK

Alex’s Take – 

I really like Celestino and when you watch him play, it’s clear why a gold standard organization like the Astros made him one of the highest paid players in the 2015 J2 class with a $2.5 mil signing bonus. The real knock on Celestino is that he hasn’t gained strength as expected yet, but he shows the raw tools to become a star player. With notable bat speed, an all fields approach, good bat to ball skills, and solid patience for his age, Celestino shows the potential to hit for average. He has solid speed and could be a 20-25 base stealing threat. He also has the frame and bat speed to grow into at least 10-15 home run power. He is a potential double plus center fielder with a good arm and elite routes. The comp everybody gives is Albert Almora and that seems pretty spot on. With Almora’s 2018, that’s high praise for a 19 year old. At the end of the day, he has the capability to become a high end player, but he still has a lot of work to do to get there. He is polished for his age though.

Brenden’s Take – 

Celestino was acquired by the Twins in 2018 in the deal that sent Ryan Pressley to the Astros. Celestino has all the looks of a major league regular even at the age of 19. Great defender in CF but can also play corner OF spots so his floor is that of a 4th OF already. He has a contact oriented approach but can spread the ball to all fields and I think he will develop a little more pop as he matures physically (nothing extreme but double digits isn’t out of the question). He has also shown good instincts on the bases stealing 22 bags and only getting caught twice last year and with the speed he possesses could be nice SB threat at his peak. A nice defensive OF who hits for a nice average, some pop and could steal 15-20 bases, sounds like a nice player to have.

Ceiling – .300/.340/.455 12/25

Floor – 4th OF

Expectation – .270/.315/.415 8/18

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2021


12. Blayne Enlow RHP

Age – 19

HT/WT – 6’3″ 190lb 

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

A 3rd round prep arm who signed for a mid-first round bonus in 2017, Enlow is a high pedigree prospect. He mixes a low to mid 90’s fastball that he does a good job locating for his age with a curve that is double-plus when it’s on and a rarely used changeup that looks good when he uses it. Enlow has an average fastball now, but still very young with a project-able frame despite putting on 20 pounds since being drafted. He has room to add more and I could see his fastball living more in the 95-96 range at maturity, which would push it into the 55-60 range with his ability to locate. The curve is a swing and miss pitch. He’s still working on commanding it, but it flashes 60 and with his fastball gives him a floor of a nice bullpen arm, where the Twins did play around with him a bit last year. Him staying in the rotation will hinge on his ability to throw his changeup, which is a fine looking pitch that he just hasn’t had to learn to use yet. I’d imagine he opens 2019 in A+, learning to use his change and to sequence. If that goes well, he has SP3 upside. If not, he is a solid bet to be a useful pen arm with his fastball/curve combo. He’s a nice piece.

Brenden’s Take – 

Enlow is one of the most projectable arms in this system in my opinion. A lengthy pitcher with long limbs but has yet to fill out physically. Currently can ramp the fastball up to 94 but I think he could reach upper-mid 90’s when he is matured. Also features a pair of breaking balls spearheaded by a sharp curveball and has some feel for a changeup. Would like to see his K% match his stuff I’ve seen on tape (only 6.8 K/9 in 2018) but there are some that feel that is simply because he pitches too much around the plate. Enlow is on my list of arms to watch in 2019.

Ceiling – SP 3

Floor – Middle Relief

Expectation – SP 3/4

Risk – High

ETA – 2022


13. Jhoan Duran RHP

Age – 20

HT/WT – 6’5″ 180lb

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

Part of the return from the Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar, Duran is the definition of a projectable arm. Just 20-years-old and with a frame that could realistically add 40-50 pounds and stay athletic, Duran already has an explosive mid-90s fastball that features tremendous sink and should help him be a high GB rate arm. With his frame, it’s not crazy to expect it to become a pitch that lives in the upper 90s at maturity. It’s hard for me to tell at this point if Duran throws a slider, curve or both; but what I can tell is that it features quality spin and is inconsistently commanded. Given time it looks like a 50 grade pitch, maybe 55 if the projectability ups his stuff.

Similarly, Duran throws a changeup that has a solid velocity drop and mimics his fastball motion well and at times is a 55-60 grade pitch, but lacks consistency and command. Duran made strides with his control with the Twins after coming over via trade, but remains raw when it comes to command. Duran is still raw and will need to make big strides in command, sequencing and fill out his impressive frame to reach his ceiling. As a result, his possible outcomes are all over the place. But his ceiling is a high end SP3 and maybe even more if the project-ability is maxed out. Not a bad flier to have in your system.

Brenden’s Take – 

Big-framed right-hander that was the main piece in the deal for Eduardo Escobar going to Arizona. His main pitches right now are his fastballs: a 4-seamer that can reach 98 mph and a sinker thrown with a splitter-like grip that has heavy action to it. I love the sinker he features and generates a lot of swings and misses and weak contact. His slider is a slow and has good movement but lacks sharp break and the changeup is a project at the moment. Duran is highly project-able arm with a great fastball but lacking the secondary pitches at the moment. If the secondary pitches develop he could become a nice middle of the rotation arm. At worst, a high leverage role in the back of the bullpen could be in store for him.

Ceiling – SP 3

Floor – Middle Relief

Expectation – SP 4 with spurts of SP 3 value

Risk – High

ETA – 2022


14. DaShawn Keirsey Jr. OF

Age – 21

HT/WT –  6’2″ 195lb

Handedness – L/L

Current Level – RK 

Alex’s Take – 

A notably good defender in college at Utah who showed an increase in power last year. Coming back from a truly devastating hip injury in 2017, Kiersey was a very interesting flier in the 4th round. The carrying card for Kiersey is going to be plus defense in center field combined with a rocket arm in the outfield that allows him to play all 3 positions. Kiersey is a bit of a free swinger with a bit of a linear swing path a la Evan White of the Mariners, but flashes 55 grade raw power in batting practice and has the frame to support it. With his current swing path, he’s going to be line drive and ground ball oriented (see the 58.5% GB rate), but if he makes a slight change for loft a la Evan White late last year, his game power will shoot up. He, like most Twins hitters on this list, uses all fields and even went oppo more than pull last year, indicating a good hit tool. He needs to learn a bit more patience at the plate to succeed at the upper levels, but he makes good contact and should have a 50 hit. Kiersey, once a true 60 runner looks more like a 50-55 post injury and doesn’t look like a high steals guy, but it’s plenty enough speed to let him do what he does in center, considering his route running. The real concern is possible hip degeneration from his injury and it’s a real concern. Kiersey is one to watch in 2019, with a swing change, he could skyrocket up lists or could show lack of health and fall.

Brenden’s Take – 

I think the Twins got an absolute steal in the 4th round with Keirsey. He was a 3-time first team All-Pac-12 and a 3 time Pac-12 All-Defensive team in his time at Utah. The kid is a total athlete that plays a damn good CF with tremendous speed and power tools. In his final season at Utah, he slashed .386/.440/.609. Unfortunately, he only hit 4 homers so the swing is more of a line drive swing with doubles power but there is hope he can develop more home run power as he develops. In his professional debut, he was pounding almost 60% of balls into the ground. He will have to make some swing adjustments but I think double digit power is there if he makes the corrections needed.  There is some injury concern with Keirsey though. At the end of his Sophomore season, he suffered a dislocated and fractured hip. There are several concerns that this will cause chronic health issues and potentially cause his speed and athleticism to deteriorate quicker than one would anticipate. Personally, I love the tools he possesses and despite the injury concerns, I’m betting on this kid to make a big league impact.

Ceiling – .280/.345/.450 15/20

Floor – 4th OF or his hip deteriorates to the point where he struggles and doesn’t make the majors. 

Expectation – .265/.330/.420 11/17

Risk – High (would only be moderate without the injury concerns)

ETA – 2022


15. Misael Urbina OF

Age – 16

HT/WT – 6’0″ 175lb 

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – N/A

Alex’s Take – 

Signed to the 4th highest J2 bonus in 2018 behind just Victor Victor Mesa, Sandy Gaston, and Orelvis Martinez, it should be no surprise that Urbina is a highly touted prospect. Ranked 4th on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 2018 J2 and 10th by Ben Badler at Baseball America, scouts everywhere agree that Urbina has plus speed, plus bat speed and will be able to stick in center. That being said, he is a bit polarizing. Just in my own video analysis, I’ve seen a decent amount of tape where he has a weird pronounced wrist wrap hitch at the start of his swing that could effect timing and other viewings it’s completely gone. Going by the latter, I see the makings of a future 55 hit assuming he can understand spin and even if the hitch is there initially, it should be coachable.

Urbina has an athletic frame and plus bat speed that give him deceptive raw power, that I think will be above average raw in prime, but his linear swing path should limit him to a 45-50 game power ceiling. Quick twitch and athletic, Urbina has solid speed, not elite but should be enough to chip in double digit steals and stick in center, where he gets excellent jumps for his age and shows great instincts. The arm is fringe/average but fairly accurate in my looks and could jump to average with reps, coaching and growth. All in all, he looks like a guy who could be all 55’s and 50’s playing a premium position well and hitting for an average. Obviously, a loooooong ways off, but could move quickly for a J2.

Brenden’s Take – 

One of the top J2 signings of the 2018 class, Urbina oozes athleticism. Slender athletic frame with plus speed that just glides in the OF. I try not to make too many conjectures concerning his batting abilities based just on batting practice tape but he has a nice balanced swing with good bat speed and hits line drives all across the field. I see the tools to have an above average hit tool with speed to be an impact on the bases. The power is hard to project at this moment because of how young he is but don’t see his frame holding enough to develop much more than 10 homerun power. He has all the makings of a prototypical lead-off hitter in CF and I think he’s a good enough athlete where he could probably be a defensive 4th OF but he’s a little far away to know anything for sure.

Ceiling – Lead-off hitter with speed but little power

Floor – Doesn’t make the majors

Expectation – Honestly who knows, I think the ceiling is pretty likely but anything goes for a 16-year-old prospect. 

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2024


16. Ryan Jeffers C

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’4″ 230lb 

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

Jeffers was an under the radar signing in the 2nd round last year out of UNC Wilmington. With a solid track record of hitting for average and power, Jeffers did nothing to dispel that notion in his debut, slashing 344/444/502 and displaying good patience at the plate. Jeffers isn’t the most quick-twitch athlete on the planet, but he has a chance to stick behind the plate. In A ball, he committed zero errors in 22 games and showed off his above average arm, erasing 40% of would be base stealers. Jeffers is a big guy, and there are 1B/DH concerns, but he’s been better than expected as a receiver and his arm is good enough to play. He likes to work counts, and as a result, strikeouts will be a part of his game, but so will walks. The guy gets on base and has above average power while hitting at every step he’s been to. I think he’s going to be a guy who plays enough catcher to get eligibility while still getting at bats at other positions. To be honest, he might even be an average defensive catcher, which is rare for a guy with his offensive upside. I really like this kid and will be excited to see how he handles A+ and AA pitching.

Brenden’s Take – 

One of the players Alex and I disagreed on. We both agree that the bat is pretty great displaying a good hit tool and good power. His type of bat profiles incredibly well at catcher where the position is devoid of bats that have a fantasy impact. At this very moment, the Twins are trying very hard to keep Jeffers at backstop where he is a project defensively. He has a strong arm for the position but the rest of his defensive profile is in question. He has been regarded as a below average receiver behind the plate, mostly regarding his blocking skills. Baseball America’s recent report on him did report that he actually has some natural feel in pitch framing which is good to hear. His footwork behind the plate is also below average but that usually fixable with good coaching. His athleticism is lacking though so he might not be able to make the changes needed to stay behind the plate. If he can’t stay behind the plate I struggle to see him making the majors. I don’t think he can play other positions defensively other than maybe 1B but not sure his bat has enough power for the Twins to play him there. Catchers are risky as-is but Jeffers is extra risky because I’m not sure if he can stay at catcher and if he doesn’t not sure he makes the majors. Good news is the Twins don’t have a lot of other interesting catching options so Jeffers will get every chance to succeed.

Ceiling – .270/.340/.470 18 HR Full-Time Catcher

Floor – Doesn’t make the majors

Expectation – .260/.330/.450 12 HR Platoon/Backup Catcher

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2021


17. Yunior Severino 2B

Age – 19

HT/WT –  6’1″ 190lb

Handedness – S/R

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

Once a $1.9 million J2 signing by the Braves and then signed again for $2.5 mil by the Twins once the Braves were forced to release him, it is fair to say Severino is a high pedigree international free agent. With a dynamic swing likened to Robinson Cano (which is about the highest praise you can get) Severino shows plus plus raw power at just 19. He has decent fielding skills and a plus arm with below average speed and quickness with a thicker body. It leads me to believe he will ultimately play 3B, although for now, he’s at 2B. I have some concerns with the profile as he has quite a bit of swing and miss to his game and hasn’t yet faced quality pitching. He’s also turned out very high GB rates and (although he improved majorly last year) a somewhat pull-heavy approach. That being said, these issues are all mental and pitch recognition based, he won’t have to alter his swing, which increases the likelihood of success. All in all, who he really reminds me of is Maikel Franco, which isn’t a bad thing for a 19-year-old. Franco had and still has big potential, just know that he’s not a sure thing and a lot will come down to how he develops.

Brenden’s Take – 

Severino was one of several prospects the Braves were forced to release after being found guilty of several infractions. Originally a SS, he has moved primarily to 2B where he wants to replicate Robinson Cano who he idolizes. I think there are some Cano like comparisons you can make here. Severino’s lower half isn’t as quiet as Cano’s is but the hand movement and strong wrists follow a very similar path. Right now Severino’s power is all to the pull side (from both sides of the plate) but I think he has the bat speed that when he matures physically could start hitting the ball the other way with authority. I love the swing and the raw power he is already showing but like several young international players he has some work to do to quiet his swing mechanics and hit the ball more consistently. Severino and Blankenhorn I think have similar offensive profiles right now but I think the tools are there for Severino to be the better player.

Ceiling – .265/.325/.470 25 HR

Floor – Doesn’t get the strikeout problems under control and doesn’t make the majors

Expectation – .250/.315/.450 20 HR

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2023


18. Zack Littell RHP

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’4″ 220lb  

Current Level – MLB

Alex’s Take – 

A former Mariner and Yankee, Littell has been a quick mover who has shown advanced command and feel for pitching at each level. His stuff hasn’t exactly been electric, but there is enough there to play in the majors with his feel for pitching. He mixes a low 90’s fastball that has decent life with a standard curve and changeup. He sequences his pitches at an MLB level already, knows how to mix speeds, spin and works all 4 quadrants of the zone. Up until last year, he’d always been a high GB rate guy, which disturbingly disappeared last year but should return based on his profile. His stuff won’t allow him to make mistakes and its a back end SP4-5 profile, but he does enough things right, has shown the ability to consistently handle innings and is MLB ready now, so it looks like he will be ready to assume that role in 2019.

Brenden’s Take – 

Littell gained a lot of prospect traction during the 2017 season with the Yankees, where he dominated the A+ and AA levels with a 1.77 and 2.05 ERAs respectively. He was then traded to the Twins where he kept up his success but not to those dizzying levels. 2018 he reached the big leagues and while mostly pitching from the bullpen, he struggled in his first taste at the Major League level. Littell is a big framed pitcher with an easy delivery that he repeats very well. His fastball can touch 94-95 and is highly effective at the top of the zone. This would infer a high spin rate on the fastball but in his time at the major league level, he averaged 2035 rpm per baseball savant. That mark is well below average for major league pitchers but it is a relatively small sample size so that could be an aberration. He shows 3 other pitches as well: a curveball that flashes above average, a slider-cutter hybrid that is below average, and a changeup which can be effective at times when located and sequenced correctly. Littell is a nice back of the rotation pitcher that might have had some people claiming he could be a potential “ace in the making” (as coined by Yanksgoyard) back in 2017 but that seems to have gone and went.

Ceiling – SP 3/4

Floor – SP 5

Expectation – SP 4

Risk – Low

ETA – 2018


19. Jorge Alcala RHP

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’3″ 180lb 

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Alcala has one of the best fastballs in the minors, living 96-98 with elite movement and touching 102. He has a decent slider that can be a swing and miss pitch when it is on but lacks command. His curve and changeup will flash average at times but are extremely inconsistent. Alcala is still being developed as a starter, and there is still a chance that happens. That being said, I think the Twins would be best suited pushing Alcala into the pen and having him go 1-3 innings per outing. Dropping the curve in favor of developing command (or at least control) of the slider and occasionally mixing in the change would really help him work through his command/control issues and his stuff would absolutely play up in shorter stints. With a legitimate 80 grade fastball, a decent slider to fall back on and an occasional changeup to keep lefties honest, Alcala has top 5 closer upside and his multi-inning history could allow him to be fireman role type guy. There’s a reason he was popping up on top 100 lists at the end of 2017.

Brenden’s Take – 

Still being developed as a starter with a fastball that lives in the upper 90’s and reaches triple digits. I think his future is in the bullpen because his other pitches are below average and can’t get hitters out that are able to foul off his fastball. My partner sees a pitcher with the incredible fastball and 4 usable pitches that will play up in the bullpen. As of right now, I think he has a fastball and that’s it. The other pitches are well below average and I don’t see much to them right now. If he moves to the bullpen and focuses on developing at least one of his pitches I could see an effective late-inning reliever but I have some doubts.

Ceiling – Closer

Floor – Doesn’t get close to the Majors

Expectation – Bullpen Depth

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2020


20. LaMonte Wade OF

Age – 24

HT/WT – 6’1″ 190lb 

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Pretty simple profile here. Good bat to ball with elite plate discipline but mediocre power/speed and an arm that only plays in left. Unfortunately, he’s in a system jampacked with left field talent and he’s got about 5/6 higher ceiling guys to beat out, as well as MLB talent. He is the definition of a high floor player and is easy to root for, but at the end of the day looks like a Quad-A type bat since he lacks 4th outfielder ability.

Brenden’s Take – 

The thing I love about Wade is that over the course of his minor league career he has walked more than he has struck out. He has accumulated a 241:225 BB:K ratio over his minor league career. He is a bit of a unicorn in that respect. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much power or speed to add to those great contact and plate discipline skills he possesses. He might scrape by double-digit power and steals as a full-time player but it’ll be barely. He profiles as a left fielder who can play right or center in a pinch but doesn’t have the arm or range to be above average anywhere but left. Probably a nice bench bat or role player that make consistent contact with some power and speed but hard to expect more than that.

Ceiling – .280/.370/.430 12/5

Floor – AAAA Player

Expectation – .275/.360/.420 8/3 Platoon Player

Risk – Low

ETA – 2019


Honorable Mentions

Usually for the Honorable Mentions portion of these we narrow it down to 3 prospects we find interesting. We found it hard to cut it down to 20 so we decided to give a couple bonus mentions, so enjoy!

Cole Sands RHP

Has a good pitcher’s frame with mid-rotation upside. Polished college pitcher with 3 pitches with 2 good off-speed pitches. Has some work to do when it comes to not slowing his arm down on off-speed pitches but he just missed our top 20.

Landon Leach RHP

Leach has a big pitcher’s frame with a heavy fastball that is in the lower to mid 90’s. He also has a feel for both his off-speed offerings that could be above average at his peak. Still some project-ability in him but at the moment looks like a nice pitcher with back-end rotation potential.

Lewin Diaz 1B

Plus raw power and already showing the ability to hit the other way with authority. He has struggled to translate his raw power into games but has a strong lower half with a developing upper body. Likely will stay at 1B long term where he shows the ability to be an above average defender. He has shown the ability to make contact with the ball but needs to refine his ability to find his pitch as he only walked 3.2% of the time in 2018. Still waiting for things to click for Diaz but at 22 and just making A+ ball with 4 years of minors experience isn’t ideal.

Jordan Balazovic

Balazovic, a 5th round pick in 2016 as a tall, projectable prep arm who was young for his class, made his full season league debut in 2018 as a starter. The results were mixed but encouraging as he posted a 7-3 record with a 3.94 era, 1.17 whip and a solid 78/18 k/bb across 61 2/3 IP and 11 starts at a level in which he was 2.9 years younger than the average competition. Balazovic gained 20 pounds in the offseason, going from 175 to 195 but still has room to add good weight to his athletic and still projectable frame. Currently he sits 92-94 with a fastball that will reach up to 97. He mixes in a change up that needs some work and a hard slider that will get some swing and miss (part of his 11.4 K/9 last year). As he fills out, the power on Balazovic’s stuff could play up and he has SP3-4 potential. But despite good control, he has work to do on his command. 2019 at the higher levels should be a good test for Jordan and if he continues with strides in his game, he could emerge as a riser in 2019.

Luke Raley

Part of the return in the Dozier trade, Raley is a left-hand swinging 1B/OF hitter is a bit of a sneaky athlete. One of the bets division 2 hitters in D2 history (424/578/747 his jr year) Raley is a pull power hitter. He lacks the discipline to hit for high average, but he does have 55 grade power and is a surprisingly capable corner outfielder with good reads, a strong arm and 50 grade speed that his big 6-3 220 frame wouldn’t suggest. He’s likely a AAAA guy but hes close to that now and is likely to put up interesting numbers in the minors this year.

Donny Breek

Breek is one of the best Dutch and general European prospects in the minors. The young 6-2 arm mixes a low 90’s fastball, topping out at 94 with an advanced change up with 10 MPH drop off, a cut-slider and a curve, the latter two of which are developing still. An advanced pitcher for his age, still projectable with good stuff, Breek dominated the GCL going 2-1 with a 2.89 era, 1.15 whip and 41/17 k/BB in 37 IP across 10 appearances (8 starts). He needs to refine his control/command but has intriguing stuff and has shown good athleticism. A name to keep an eye on for the next few years.

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