International Reviews: Minnesota Twins

See also: 2016 International Reviews Index

See also: 2015 Twins International Review

See also: 2014 Twins International Review

See also: 2013 Twins International Review

Top signing: 3B Wander Valdez, Dominican Republic, $495,000.

Total signings: 24.


When the Twins signed Dominican shortstop Wander Javier for $4 million in 2015, they put all of their bonus pool money for 2015-16 into one player, supplementing the class with signings of $10,000 or less exempt from the bonus pools. They switched things up with a different approach in 2016-17, avoiding seven-figure deals and spreading their money around to a wider variety of players. The Twins also opened a new academy in the Dominican Republic, where they will send all of their 2016 signings to debut in the Dominican Summer League.

Minnesota’s top signing last year was 17-year-old Dominican third baseman Wander Valdez, who got $495,000 on July 2. He’s 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with a chance to hit for above-average power from the right side of the plate. He has an unorthodox righthanded swing but he tracks pitches well and has hit for power in games. Valdez worked out at shortstop, third base and the outfield as an amateur while training with Josue Mateo, with the Twins planning to play him at first base. He has a lean frame for a third baseman and a plus arm, so with defensive development he should be able to stay there and avoid a move to an outfield corner.

Venezuelan righthander Junior Navas, who trained with Carlos Guillen, signed with the Twins for $275,000 in July. His 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame is extremely projectable and should allow him to add more zip to his 87-90 mph fastball. Navas has shown feel for a curveball, but his changeup is his best pitch. His changeup is an advanced pitch for a 17-year-old with no professional experience, dancing toward the plate with a lot of movement and late drop to work as an out pitch.

The Twins signed Dominican shortstop Jesus Feliz for $260,000 on July 2. Defense is where Feliz stands out. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Feliz isn’t flashy but he makes all the routine plays and has a natural comfort to the way he fields his position, with his plus arm an asset at shortstop. Still 16, Feliz is a righthanded hitter whose defense is more developed than his bat.

Prelander Berroa had been working out for teams as an infielder, but converted to pitching around six months before the Twins signed him for $200,000 on July 2. Berroa is an athletic righthander with a fairly loose, easy arm stroke and a fastball that’s already reached 91-92 mph. He’s not that big (6 feet, 170 pounds) but given what he’s shown already in limited time on the mound at age 16, he could develop big velocity. Berroa isn’t that big and his secondary pitches are understandably raw, so if the feel for the soft stuff doesn’t come around, he could also develop into a power arm out of the bullpen.

Dominican center fielder Felix Reyes signed for $200,000 on July 2. He’s an 18-year-old lefty who projects to stay in center field with plus speed and good defense. He’s 6 feet, 170 pounds and puts a good charge into the ball and could grow into average power.

Venezuelan catcher Victor Heredia made his mark at last year’s MLB international showcase in the Dominican Republic, where he went 3-for-3 with a home run. The Twins signed him for $180,000 in July. Still 16, Heredia is a strong, big-bodied catcher (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) who has shown the ability to hit and hit for power from the right side of the plate. Heredia is better at the plate than he is behind it, so he will have to bring along his receiving and agility to stay back there. He trained with former major league catcher Ramon Hernandez.

The Twins signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Francisco Martinez for $175,000 on July 2. Martinez is a physical switch-hitter (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) with plus raw power. His power will probably come with some strikeouts, but being a switch-hitter should help negate same-side breaking balls and give his power a better chance to play in games. Martinez is a corner outfielder with an average arm.

Estamy Urena had a higher profile when he worked out for clubs as a prospect eligible to sign in 2015, then signed with the Twins for $130,000 last year on July 2. Urena, 17, is 6 feet, 175 pounds with good baseball intelligence and feel for the game, particularly at shortstop. He doesn’t make the acrobatic plays but he has a good clock for the game and a plus arm. An average runner, Urena’s bat isn’t quite as advanced as his defense, but he’s a solid contact hitter from the right side with gap power.

The Twins signed 17-year-old righthander Yeremi Garcia out of Venezuela for $100,000 in July. He’s 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with a mid-to-high 80s fastball and physical projection to add to that, though his best pitch right now is his curveball.

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