The Twins have two of the better lower-level international outfield prospects in the minors, both of whom were big signings for them out of the Dominican Republic. Emmanuel Rodriguez, signed for $2.5 million in 2019, missed a big chunk of the 2022 season due to a knee injury, but dazzled with his mix of patience and power to hit .272/.492/.551 in 47 games with more walks (57) than strikeouts (52). Meanwhile, outfielder Yasser Mercedes—a $1.7 million signing last year—hit .355/.420/.555 in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, showing an exciting mix of athleticism, power and speed.
This year, the Twins had a focused class centered around three players signed for north of $1 million, with the organization giving three of the top 40 bonuses in the class this year.
Top Of The Class
The Twins’ biggest bonus this year went to Cuban outfielder Ariel Castro, who signed for $2.4 million. Castro is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and stood out for his bat speed and power. Scouts were split on his pure hitting ability, where some liked his bat-to-ball skills, while others thought there was some stiffness to his stroke that would create issues against better pitching. His power is his calling card though, with a chance for that tool to continue to tick up as he fills out his frame. It’s an offensive-driven profile with enough athleticism to handle a corner outfield spot.
Angel Chivilli, a 20-year-old righthander who signed with the Rockies for $200,000 in 2018, is a reliever who posted a 2.21 ERA and a 51-10 K-BB mark in 40.2 innings last year between the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League and Low-A Fresno. The Twins signed his brother, 17-year-old shortstop Hendry Chivilli, for $2.1 million this year. At 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Chivilli sticks out immediately for his extremely lanky, high-waist frame with a ton of space left to fill out. Chivilli’s physical development will be key for his future, with a chance to stay at shortstop because he’s an above-average runner who moves well at the position and has at least a plus arm that could be a 70 or better tool once he gets stronger. There’s also a chance he could outgrow shortstop, but if he does, some scouts think he could have the offensive ability to fit at third base, too. He has a loose stroke from the right side, and scouts highest on him liked his contact skills. His swing is geared to pull the ball in the air and he has significant power projection that could come once he packs on more weight.
The third big signing for the Twins this year was Carlos Silva, a 5-foot-10 Venezuelan catcher with an extremely strong, compact frame for a 17-year-old. Signed for $1.1 million, Silva can drive the ball with authority from the right side of the plate with his mix of strength and bat speed, giving him a chance to be a catcher with above-average power. Silva will have to stay on top of his conditioning to be able to stay behind the plate, but he has the skills to catch at higher levels if he does. Silva has a strong arm for his age and moves well for his size with good quickness on defense.
Names To Know
Juan Hernandez, SS, Venezuela: Hernandez, who signed for $350,000, is the younger brother of Maikol Hernandez, a shortstop the Orioles signed for $1.2 million in 2021. Hernandez, 17, is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds who stood out for his mix of hitting ability and glove work. He’s an instinctive player with a knack for putting the ball in play with a line-drive approach and gap power. Those instincts also translate in the field, where he’s a sound defender with good actions. He’s a below-average runner who should get time at shortstop, though his pure range might have him moving around the infield to get exposure to second and third base as well.
One of the more intriguing sleepers this year among lower bonus signings from the Dominican Republic is Moises Lopez, a 16-year-old infielder the Twins landed for $80,000. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Lopez has a simple, compact, low-effort swing from the left side with an accurate barrel and good bat speed. It’s an adjustable stroke with the ability to make contact at a high clip and a hit-over-power profile with a chance for more of his doubles to turn into over-the-fence shots as he gets stronger. He’s an offensive-oriented player who should move around the infield between shortstop, third and second base.