International Reviews: Minnesota Twins
Total 2017 signings: 22.
Top 2017-18 signing: OF Carlos Aguiar, Venezuela, $1 million.
When the 2017-18 international signing period opened on July 2, Minnesota’s top signing was Dominican shortstop Jelfry Marte, who agreed to terms with the Twins on a $3 million deal. However, the Twins ended up voiding Marte’s contract due to the club’s concerns related to Marte’s vision, and Marte ended up signing with the Rays for $820,000 in December. After voiding Marte’s contract, the Twins pursued Shohei Ohtani, but when Ohtani eliminated them from his potential landing spots, the Twins traded $1 million in bonus pool space to the Mariners for catcher David Banuelos (Seattle’s fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft) and another $1 million in pool space to the Angels for outfielder Jacob Pearson, the club’s third-round pick in 2017.
The Twins’ top international signing ended up being Carlos Aguiar, a lefthanded Venezuelan outfielder who was training in the Dominican Republic with Mayobanex Cedeno. Aguiar, who signed for $1 million in September, turned 16 on Aug. 28, which makes him one of the youngest 2017 players and nearly a 2018 player had he been born four days later. Aguiar is built like Max Kepler, with a strong, athletic frame (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) and above-average raw power. Aguiar loads with a big leg kick and his steep uppercut swing path is geared to drive the ball in the air, producing lofty blasts in batting practice. While several scouts saw length and holes that led to swing-and-miss tendencies in games, the Twins saw a player with good hand-eye coordination who made consistent contact to all fields. Aguiar is in center field right now, but he’s a touch below-average runner who’s likely to slow down as he grows into a stronger, more physical player, projecting best as a corner outfielder. Given his youth, Aguiar will make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League.
The Twins signed 19-year-old righthander Kai-Wei Teng in October for $500,000, the largest bonus last year for any player from Taiwan. Teng has a tall, strong and heavy build (6-foot-4, 260 pounds), with a fastball that parks in the low 90s and has reached 95 mph. He has a potential starter’s mix with his slider, curveball and changeup, and he has shown good command early on as well.
Dominican outfielder Jose Andujar signed with the Twins for $190,000 in July after training with Hector Evertz. Andujar, 17, is a physical corner outfielder at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, striking the ball for hard, loud contact already and the projection to grow into bigger power from the right side of the plate. He has shown an average arm that should continue to get stronger and play in right field.
Devin Smeltzer Transitions Smoothly To Starting Role
Acquired by the Twins last July, Smeltzer has excelled in his return to being a starting pitcher.
Luis Gomez is a Dominican shortstop the Twins signed in November for $175,000. The 5-foot-11 Gomez looks smooth at shortstop, standing out for his above-average speed and defensive skills. He has good body control in the field to make flashy, acrobatic plays and is solid for his age at making the routine plays as well. Gomez has shown solid contact skills for a shortstop, but he lacks strength right now and isn’t likely to hit for much power.
Dominican righthander Yordin Mateo, 17, signed with the Twins for $150,000 in July. He’s 6-foot-1, 165 pounds with a fastball that’s reached the low 90s and the physical projection to throw harder once he puts on weight. He has shown feel for a curveball that is further along than his changeup.
The Twins also signed 17-year-old Dominican righthander Yolby Guzman for $140,000 in July. Guzman is 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and more of a thrower than pitcher right now, with a fastball/slider mix and velocity that’s been up to 92 mph.