Midseason Prospect Update: Twins

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues as of June 21 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible.

After four straight losing seasons, the Twins improved their win total by 13 games from 2014 to 2015, finished in second place in the American League Central and seemed to be on the upswing, breaking in new talents such as Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton.

C Mitch Garver
1B Joe Mauer
2B Brian Dozier
SS Nick Gordon
3B: Trevor Plouffe
OF Byron Buxton
OF Max Kepler
OF Eddie Rosario
DH Miguel Sano
No. 1 Starter Jose Berrios
No. 2 Starter Stephen Gonsalves
No. 3 Starter Kohl Stewart
No. 4 Starter Felix Jorge
No. 5 Starter Fernando Romero
Closer J.T. Chargois

Instead of taking the next step in 2016, however, the Twins were challenging for the worst record in the game. Their only all-star was journeyman infielder Eduardo Nunez; Buxton and Rosario had notable first halves only for how poorly they had hit; Sano was injury-prone and struggling to find a position; and Korean import Byung Ho Park had tanked, striking out at an alarming rate and being sent down to Triple-A. Only Max Kepler among Twins rookies has played up to expectations this season, with the native of Germany supplanting since-traded Oswaldo Arcia as the team’s right fielder.

That’s not even touching on the pitching, the consistent bane of Minnesota’s franchise. Minnesota ranked last in the American League in mid-July with an ERA hovering around 5.00, and homegrown pitchers such as Jose Berrios, Pat Dean, Tyler Duffey and Kyle Gibson were among those who had contributed to the negative side of the ledger. Only veteran Ervin Santana, a solid trade chip, has given the Twins consistent work in the rotation.

As one club official said, the Twins used to succeed in the regular season with command-oriented starters, and the organization has tried to adjust to the times by focusing more on power arms in the draft. However, those homegrown arms have failed to materialize as contributors in the majors, with Berrios still providing hope by righting the ship back at Triple-A Rochester. And with all those hitters graduating to the majors, the system sought to replenish its hitters in the draft.

And this year’s class started with four high school hitters before the Twins took four pitchers in rounds three to six, with two of them college relievers. Minnesota’s farm system has had decent news from pitchers such as lefthanders Stephen Gonsalves and Tyler Jay and righthanders Kohl Stewart (a 2013 first-round pick), Felix Jorge and Fernando Romero, but most are at least a year or more away from contributing in the big leagues.


1. Jose Berrios, rhp

Berrios flopped in his first four MLB starts, walking 12 in 15 innings, but he’s returned to Triple-A and continues to shine for Triple-A Rochester, limiting hitters to a .180 average. He tossed a nine-inning complete game with just 87 pitches for the Red Wings, showing his control can be pinpoint at his best. Berrios continues to show a consistent 92-94 mph fastball but needs to locate it more precisely when he returns to the majors. His changeup also tends to be too firm.

2. Nick Gordon, ss

Gordon thrives with instincts, skills and solid tools rather than dynamic speed and athleticism. He ranked in the top 10 in the Florida State League in batting while also showing strong power for a middle infielder, though he needs to handle lefthanders better (.529 OPS). Gordon will need to maintain his short-area quickness and use his instincts to stick at shortstop on his way up the ladder.

3. Tyler Jay, lhp

The No. 6 overall pick last season, Jay moved quickly while switching from an Illinois closer to a high Class A starter. His changeup helped him limit righthanded hitters to a .633 OPS, but he tired after a strong start. Promoted to Double-A, he’s expected to shift to a relief role in the second half.

4. Jorge Polanco, 2b/util

Polanco continues to be a steady offensive player who controls the strike zone and hits for average. He’s a strong defender at second base, but unless something happens to Brian Dozier, Polanco will have to get more time playing third base and perhaps left field.

5. Stephen Gonsalves, lhp

Gonsalves earned a promotion to Double-A and tossed six scoreless innings in his third start, showing the ability to make adjustments. Gonsalves hasn’t mixed in his slider and cutter enough and relies heavily on his low-90s fastball that plays up thanks to his deceptive delivery, as well as a changeup he throws with similar action.

6. Kohl Stewart, rhp

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft likely will never live up to that lofty draft slot. Stewart has reached Double-A by using a 91-92 mph two-seamer and solid-average slider, throwing strikes, getting ground ball outs but rarely dominating. Drafted as a power pitcher, he’s been content to pitch to contact thus far as a pro.

7. Felix Jorge, rhp

Another sinker-slider pitcher, Jorge has had his best season as a pro, leading the Florida State League in ERA and WHIP to earn a promotion to Double-A. He’s a classic Twins profile as a command-oriented starter who throws strikes, gets ground ball outs and has an out pitch in his changeup.

8. Fernando Romero, rhp

After missing 2015 with Tommy John surgery, Romero did the best he could with his lost time. He’s firmed up a formerly soft body, and at approximately 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Romero has a power arm with an above-average curveball and potentially plus changeup. He’d made eight starts this season and walked just nine.

9. J.T. Chargois, rhp

One of the many hard-throwing bullpen pieces in the Twins’ system, Chargois throws as hard as any of them, touching 100 mph. As important, he’s stayed healthy this season and can mix in quality sliders and change ups as well. The Twins have depth of relief arms, including Jake Reed and Travis Hildenberger at Double-A as well.

10. Travis Blankenhorn, 2b/3b

A Pennsylvania prep signee from the 2015 draft class, Blankenhorn is repeating his stay at Rookie-level Elizabethton, mixing in time at second and third base. He’s a solid athlete who has a chance to be the best pure hitter in the Twins’ system, with a simple swift stroke that has power potential as well.


Acquired in an offseason trade with the Diamondbacks for catcher Chris Herrmann, outfielder Daniel Palka was the best hitter in the system in the first half, leading the Twins with 164 total bases. He strikes out a lot (100 strikeouts in his first 300 at-bats), but Palka has a long track record of hitting for power back to his Georgia Tech days . . . Outfielder Jaylin Davis might wind up on a corner, but he’s got bat speed and strength that helped him homer twice off Carlos Rodon in college. He missed most of his first pro season with a labrum tear but got off to a strong start, hitting seven homers in 10 games with Rookie-level Elizabethton to earn a promotion to low Class A Cedar Rapids. He had nine home runs in his first 82 pro at-bats . . . Outfielder Zach Granite is a grinder and plus runner and base stealer who has the defensive chops to be a fourth outfielder, and he’s hitting enough at Double-A to make that possible.


Outfielder Adam Brett Walker steadfastly refuses to adjust at the plate, still showing tons of swing and miss and modest defensive ability . . . Righthander Ryan Eades lost his rotation spot at Double-A after a lackluster start.


Righthanders Alex Meyer and Nick Burdi remain prospect-eligible despite having every chance to graduate to the majors. Two of the Twins’ top power arms are both out with shoulder injuries . . . Mononucleosis has slowed the return of Australian lefty Lewis Thorpe from Tommy John surgery.


Outfielders Byron Buxton and Max Kepler form two-thirds of the Twins’ big league outfield, with Kepler out-hitting Buxton to this point thanks to a more advanced offensive approach . . . DH Byung Ho Park has struggled even more with contact issues, while lefthander Taylor Rogers has carved out a role as a reliever.

COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks

The Twins’ first five picks in the 2015 draft. (s-supplemental round)

1. Alex Kirilloff, of, Plum HS, Pittsburgh. Several clubs considered the Pennsylvania prep product among the best pure hitters in the 2016 draft class, and he might be able to play center field.

2. Ben Rortvedt, c, Verona (Wis.) HS. Minnesota wanted to improve its minor league catching and turned to next-door Wisconsin to grab the draft’s top-rated prep catcher.

2s. Jose Miranda, ss, Leadership Christian Academy, Guayabo, P.R. A Puerto Rico native, Miranda likely will move off shortstop but had one of the best approaches and swings in the draft, according to Twins officials.

2s. Akil Baddoo, of, Salem HS, Conyers, Ga. A repeatable swing and plus speed mark Baddoo as a potential future leadoff hitter.

3. Griffin Jax, rhp, Air Force. He’ll miss instructional league and 2017 spring training due to Air Force commitments, but Jax had one of the best arms in the West, at times sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone