Minnesota Twins 2020 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Trevor Larnach (Photo by Tom DiPace)



Dusty (Colorado):

     Thoughts on Wander Javier? What’s his upside?

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone I am getting a little bit of an early start because I am going to try to answer a lot of questions in a intense flurry of Twins talk before heading back to help send our Prospect Handbook to the printers. I would have been disappointed if Dusty didn’t stop by. At this point, you have to be somewhat skeptical with Javier–as teams were understandably in the Rule 5 draft where he was unprotected and unpicked. The hope is that the player who once wowed scouts is still in there. But in addition to the rust that comes with a full-year layoff for an injury, Javier was not as explosive as an athlete as he was pre-injury. The hope is that 2019 was a needed year to get back into the swing of playing everyday and 2020 will be a big step forward, but offensively he needs to make major strides. His realistic upside has diminished, as it’s now unlikely he’s going to be an offensive force who can also play up the middle. The glove is still good, but his bat faces significant questions.

Alex (Bay Area):

     Hi JJ, thanks for chatting with us today. Should we expected Wander Javier to fall into the #11-15 range? I was really excited to see him back healthy in 2019 but the results were pretty ugly. Do the Twins and scouts attribute a lot of that to a long layoff or has his tools regressed since 2017?

J.J. Cooper: To follow up. As I have just finished proofing the Twins, no. Javier is in the book, but he is ranked No. 30. This is a VERY DEEP system. I don’t see how Javier could rank ahead of guys like Brent Rooker, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Gilberto Celestino, Cole Sands, Keoni Cavaco and several others. There’s a ton of good, quality talent in this system. Javier is still a prospect, but one who, if he has a poor 2020 as well, will be battling to avoid the org player tag. Several of the players I named above will be playing in the majors in 2020.

Royce Lewis (Best Power Hitter?):

     Hi JJ, what was the rationale for noting Royce Lewis as the best power hitter in the system over both Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff? Is just due to Lewis’s bat speed and the anticipation he’ll continue to get stronger?

J.J. Cooper: Yes. There’s a lot of belief that Lewis is going to mash. The questions are more whether he is going to hit for average consistently. He has excellent bat speed and a great frame to go with his athleticism.

Alex (MN):

     Alex Kirilloff ended 2019 ranked as the #20 overall prospect. Do you think he’ll stay around that when updated rankings come out in February, or will he take a hit? Is it reasonable to think that he can jump back into the top 10 overall prospect conversation if he’s fully healthy? Are my hopes of a .300/.350/.500 guy providing 25-30 HRs still warranted?

J.J. Cooper: I believe he will move down a little because of the season/injuries, but it’s not going to be a significant drop I would guess. The bat is still impressive. It’s just hard to get a full read on him after an injury-plagued season. Every data point is a data point (to seem obtuse, but hey, I’m sleep exhausted as we finish the Handbook). You don’t throw out that he struggled at times in 2019 and had wrist injuries (which can linger). But you also don’t throw out what he did before and the scouting reports from evaluators who believe he will return to form.

Alex Kirilloff’s Hit Tool (trending down?):

     Alex Kirilloff’s hit tool was rated as a 70 in the current top 100. I see the top 10 now has him at a 60. That’s a pretty big drop from being having a truly elite hit tool to plus. Do scouts really feel like hit tool should be dropped by a full grade or was this largely due to his wrist issues this year?

J.J. Cooper: That’s a one grade drop (we don’t use 65s because I am adamant that unless we are going to use 35s–which no one does–than don’t use 65s either. At 55 and 45s we need the gradation. But we don’t need it to separate 60s from 70s. The wrist issues and his performance meant scouts saw more a future plus hitter than plus-plus. If you want to say it went from a 67 hit tool last year to a 63 hit tool this year (splitting hairs) than he went from a 70 to a 60. I don’t know if I made that clear at all, but that’s my pass at explaining it.

Josh Meyer (West Des Moines, IA):

     How high is Kavani Cavaco’s offensive ceiling? What current or former MLB player does he remind you of most?

J.J. Cooper: It’s a massive ceiling and it’s a massive amount of risk as well. If he hits, he’ll be a potential Gold Glove 3B with power. Now he has a long, long way to go to get there, but when you describe that, it’s a pretty high ceiling. Now the hit tool is going to be the massive question.

Josh Meyer (West Des Moines, IA):

     What are your thoughts on Akil Baddoo? Kind of reminds me of a young Matt Lawton.

J.J. Cooper: Let’s not forget about Baddoo. He is still prominent in the Twins Top 30 and once he is healthy and gets back on the field in 2020, I could see him reminding us all about his quite impressive tools. I’ll let you do the Lawton comp, as I don’t have a clear, accurate comp coming to my brain right now.

Zac (NYC):

     Thoughts on Gilberto Celestino? How close was he to the top 10?

J.J. Cooper: There were some iterations where I considered putting him at No. 10. He is on the short list of prospects who just missed the Top 10. He’s a much-improved hitter who is quite impressive in center field.

Josh Meyer (West Des Moines, IA):

     Can Jhoan Duran be a future No. 1 starter for the Twins?

J.J. Cooper: I would say no on that. I think he is more likely than Graterol to have to move to the bullpen in the long-term. I think he can be a very, very good, high leverage reliever, but he’s more likely to be a pen arm than a starter.

Bob (Minn):

     What kept Brent Rooker from the top 10? Is his upside as an above average regular at 1B/DH or is the concern that he might only be a short side platoon bat?

J.J. Cooper: There’s upside to be an average (and even above-average regular) at 1B/DH, but I think it’s more likely average than above-average. And his defense is still an issue. He’s yet to show enough glove at first or in left field for a team to feel comfortable putting him out there everyday. That’s a big hurdle.

Ken (Lakewood CA):

     Thanks for the chat. I’m a little surprised that Rooker is not in the Top 10. Am I over- estimating him as a prospect or are there just too many quality prospects in the Twins system? Do you see him as a future MLB regular? Not in your projected line up, so I am guessing no.

J.J. Cooper: To follow up on the previous answer. This is a very deep system. He’s a lower-upside, but also lower-risk prospect than some of the players around him in the rankings. To compare him to Celestino–Celestino is a much better glove and has more defensive and baserunning value. Celestino has a path to be an all-star CF, although the likelihood is pretty low. Rooker could be part of the Twins plans in 2020, but the Twins don’t seem sold on keeping a spot clear for him.

Josh Meyer (West Des Moines, IA):

     What’s your ETA for Jordan Balazovic?

J.J. Cooper: I would say 2021, although whenever I put ETAs on young pitchers, I do so with the knowledge that it’s very easy for that ETA to be pushed back–any significant injury, or troubles adjusting to a new level could push back the ETA by a year or even two. That ETA is much faster than it was a year ago. Good step forward for Balazovic.

Mike M. (57401):

     Is Nick Gordon just not dedicated enough to baseball to make the grade? He seems to start seasons on fire and playing really good baseball, then seems to lose interest and fade the rest of the season. Or is he just not dedicated enough to improving his physical conditioning to hold up for a whole season?

J.J. Cooper: I would strongly disagree with that assessment. He had health issues in 2019 and once he got that straightened out he was significantly better. Getting back to his old weight (and strength) will be key to him being a MLB contributor.

Adam (Boston):

     What are your thoughts on Edwar Colina and Gilberto Celestino? I thought we might see at least one of them in the back end of the top 10. Thanks, enjoy the chat.

J.J. Cooper: Mentioned Celestino already. Colina in in the 30, but I did go with some of the closer to the majors arms higher on the 30 than him. There are orgs where I would consider Colina for the Top 10 (admittedly bad farm systems). With the Twins I have him in the 20s.

Richard Hansen (Milwaukee):

     Garver had an amazing season and is still signed though 2023, but who do you see as the next in line behind him, Ryan Jeffers, Ben Rortvedt, someone else, and do you think they may be our next long term solution or do they have to try and find someone else.

J.J. Cooper: I think it’s Jeffers (as the rankings reflect). Rortvedt is a potentially excellent defensive catcher, but there are significant questions with his bat. Right now, if Garver is anything like he was in 2019 again in 2020 and beyond, catcher is one of the positions where the Twins have little to worry about for several years to come.

Mike M. (57401):

     Was Cavaco a mistake to pick at that level? Is he going to hit enough to reach the power?

J.J. Cooper: He’s high risk. And there is absolutely a chance that this will look like a bad pick in a few years, but it’s also high upside if it clicks. He has a short amateur track record and he was awful in his pro debut. That’s two data points against him. But tools-wise he also has higher upside than some of the other high school bats in the class, so the Twins knew they were taking on some risk.

Richard Hansen (Milwaukee, WI):

     Will Holland was a great pick in the 5th round and he had a pretty good debut in the App League. Do you see him developing more into an everyday starter or more of a utility type player.

J.J. Cooper: I like that pick as Holland would have been a much higher pick if the draft had been held in January of 2019. He had a poor year with Auburn, but few actual shortstops are available in the fifth round. That said…when you say he had a good debut, I think we have differing opinions of good. He hit .192/.299/.376 with a high strikeout rate as an SEC veteran playing in the Appy League. His pro debut adds to the concerns of how poorly he hit at Auburn. Right now Holland has to prove that his 2019 season is an abberation and that what we saw in 2018 is much more his true talent level. Until he does that, projecting an MLB role is asking too much.

Logan Field (MIN):

     Hi! Thanks for doing this! What do u think it would cost the Twins to get Matt Boyd? Graterfol? Larnach? Also, when do you plan on releasing the 2020 top 100 prospects? Mid January? Thank you again! I love my BA subscription and all your hard work!

J.J. Cooper: Thank you for the kind words. I think the cost for Boyd has gone down because of his bad second half to the point where the Tigers may be loathe to trade him until he brings back up his value. Top 100 will be coming in the not-to-distant future after we get back from Operation Shutdown for the next week or so.

Dusty (Colorado):

     I processed your answer and just wanted to inform you that Wander Javier’s will is stronger than your doubt JJ.

J.J. Cooper: I expected this response.

J.J. Cooper: I’m sorry I need to call an end to this, but we have the Prospect Handbook TO SEND TO THE PRINTER TODAY. YAY. Thanks for all the questions and thanks for subscribing to Baseball America.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone