Minnesota Twins 2022 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
Following today's release of our new Twins Top 10, Carlos Collazo answered your questions below.
Carlos Collazo: Hey everyone, thanks for joining me for today’s Twins Top 10 chat! We’ve got some questions already queued up and ready to go but if you have one (or several) and want to get it in you’ve still got some time. Let’s get this thing started!
Kyle Weatherly (Timmonsville, South Carolina):
- Royce Lewis looked elite (or very good) in 2017 & 2018. Then struggled in 2019 (except for the AFL where he was sensational). Since then he has had 2 lost seasons due to the pandemic in 2020 & his injury last year. So my question is do you think he could return to elite (or very good) status in 2022?
Carlos Collazo: I do! I am not sure what my confidence in him getting to that player he flashed immediately, but there’s no reason given his toolset, athleticism and what he’s flashed before for me to think he can’t get back to that sort of player. I think I wrote this in his report, but he truly does have the biggest upside of any player in this system. Now, there are real questions, and it’s difficult to be extremely confident after missing two years of at-bats during a pretty crucial time period for his development, but his injury isn’t one that leads me to be too pessimistic about how he’ll be affected in the long run. It would be surprising if there weren’t some growing pains as he starts getting caught up to speed on live pitching I would think, but I still believe in the talent there.
- Seems to me that the Twins have a fairly talented and well rounded top 10. Do you agree that their next 10 are probably some of the best middle of the top 30 players in baseball?
Carlos Collazo: I do agree! This was actually brought up by others on the staff here at BA when I sent my first draft of the top 10 to the prospect team. Many of the guys are excited about this top 10 specifically and think the entire group has a chance to provide big league value in some capacity. I asked a few people with the Twins what they thought about their system as well and depth certainly seems to be a word that’s brought up early and often. You’d probably want a few more clear cut impact types at the very top in an ideal world (or fewer questions with the impact players you do have), but even without those pieces there are a lot of players who can be solid major league players in some capacity. We had them right around the middle of the pack after the trade deadline (16) and that feels about right. You could probably argue them higher if you wanted, bit there are some injury dings with many of the arms and at least one real question for every player on the list here. Still, it’s a lot of upper-level minor league talent that should impact the big league Twins soon.
- You gave Martin a 65 hit tool, Miranda a 55, yet listed Miranda as the best hitter for average in the system. Could you explain this ?
Carlos Collazo: Thank you for calling this out! That was my mistake. It should have been Martin from the get go, as you point out. Call it an E6 on my part. The best tools should now list Martin as the best hitter for average in the system. While there are more questions with Martin than I would have hoped at this point (especially considering how high I was personally on him coming out of the draft) I still believe he has the bat-to-ball skill, bat speed and batting eye to be a very, very good hitter. His chase rate is quite impressive and his on-base numbers for a player in their pro debut at the Double-A level is extremely encouraging to me. Now about that impact…
- The Twins have a lot of top level pitching prospects near major league ready in the top 10 and few more in the next 10. Do you think they have the making of a really good major league staff, over the next 1-2 years, if the can continue their development and not trade them away?
Carlos Collazo: Yes, and that last piece is critical. A lot of these pitchers in the top 10 have a track record of throwing really good strikes, but each has their own warts. Balazovic dealt with back injury and has a good arsenal of stuff that doesn’t seem to include one dominant pitch, so he’ll be reliant on mixing and matching well and throwing with precision; Winder has perhaps the best complete secondary mix of the organization and generates tons of whiffs with those pitches, but you might want the FB to play better and he has the shoulder fatigue to worry about; I think there’s reason to be concerned with Ryan already being or becoming too reliant on the FB over a longer big league sample; Richardson struggled for the first time in his pro career and you have to wonder about FB velocity with him a bit; I love Canterino’s stuff but he’s dealt with injuries and hasn’t pitched a ton and also might not be one of the names you’re even talking about given his level currently; Duran has some real reliever risk. The Twins haven’t developed a true front of the line rotation arm in a while, and they traded away one of the better arms they’ve developed in a long time in Berrios to get their new top prospect in the system and another intriguing pitching prospect. Right now it looks like a lot of mid-rotation arms at best, who might actually be more No. 4 & 5 types. We’ve talked a lot recently around BA about the dwindling importance of 4s and 5s in the playoffs but I am still of the belief that solid starters in that role are extremely valuable during the regular season. I think you’ve got to hope these guys pan out and one or two take a step forward to get a 1 or 2. Twins need arms now.
Bill B (Glen Allen, VA):
- Simeon WR… all Hope lost as very good starter? Or growing pains for still a very young pitcher? Thanks
Carlos Collazo: It’s tough to jump off the bandwagon for a pitching prospect when they hit the first real roadblock of their pro career. Especially when the pitcher in question just finished his age-20 season. He’s very young, he was young for the level this year in Double-A by almost five years and has plenty of time to figure it out. I would like to see him come out next year with a more powerful fastball. As it stands right now scouts didn’t think it was a dominant pitch and with either more velo or better life, he would be able to get away with being less precise and I think his secondaries would also in turn play up. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he bounced back next year and got back on track.
KB (New York):
- Is it fair to say the Twins will be drafting a catcher in the early rounds of the 2022 MLB draft? Do they have anyone anywhere in their farm system that can supplant Ryan Jeffers in the next decade?
Carlos Collazo: I would advise against drafting for organization need, particularly in those top rounds you’re talking about. If it happens that Minnesota is sitting at No. 8 next year and the best player on the board is a catcher (perhaps a guy like Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, who I have raved about for years now?) then great! If not, you should just take the best player available and worry about your organizational depth needs later. As to your second question, I don’t see a catcher in the system now who’s going to be able to do that, no. Ben Rortvedt is a good defender but he’s not going to provide much with the bat and as such doesn’t profile more than a backup. The market for catching right now is not great, so I think you have to hope Jeffers cuts down the strikeout rate next year and hits more like he did in his debut for now.
- How far away do you think this current roster is from contention again? Can I be optimistic we're not as far as last year may seem?
Carlos Collazo: Touched on this earlier, but man the Twins need arms in a big way if they’re going to contend. This question also heavily depends on what the Twins do with Byron Buxton this offseason. If they trade him away it doesn’t make a ton of sense to keep Josh Donaldson around either and after that you’re really reliant on some very young players who haven’t yet established themselves in the majors. I like some of the core here but this is a pitching staff that was one of the worst in baseball last year with Jose Berrios included for half the season. Seems tough to re-work the starting rotation quickly unless you’re being pretty active on the free agent market.
- Can Eduord Julien do anything other than hit?
Carlos Collazo: Well, he can take a walk that’s for sure. He led the minors in that category this year with 110. He had a case for the best strike zone discipline in the org, though I went with Martin there. Getting to your question though, I think he does have a limited defensive profile and will be reliant on his on-base ability and pop as a corner guy. He would rank much higher in the system if he had a better chance to stay in the dirt but there’s some concern he’s going to have to play a corner outfield spot. I am curious how that passive approach will fare for him as he gets challenged more by upper-level arms in the minors. How does he adjust to that?
- Edouard Julien put together a nice season during his first time in pro-ball. Was he in consideration for top 10?
Carlos Collazo: Not really. There are some other guys who are still ahead of him even beyond the top 10 and this group of 10 names seemed to be the ones who were pretty locked into those spots.
- Is Jermaine Palacios a legitimate prospect at shortstop, or just playing at a level below his age bracket and taking advantage of it?
Carlos Collazo: He might be one of the more underrated guys in the system. Sure, you can scoff at the age I suppose as a 24-year-old in Double-A, but he is a legitimately good defensive shortstop who can handle all the infield positions and he just came off a season where he hit 19 home runs and 17 doubles. His damage on contact is pretty good, his exit velocities sound respectable so maybe there is something here offensively as well. He chases a bit and it sounds like there’s some susceptibility to breaking stuff, but given how good a defender he is at shortstop and the other shortstop prospects in the system I think he’s worth getting a bit excited about.
Old Prospector (Phoenix):
- Nice work on the top 10! What are your thoughts on Cole Sands and his potential MLB role? Do you see a MLB SP there? Mid rotation or more if a back end type?
Carlos Collazo: More of a back end type for me if he can get back to the walk rates he showed a year ago instead of the walk rates he showcased this year (which were more in line with the sort of strikes he threw in college as well). He’s been strictly a starter so far in pro ball, but I think there’s a chance he’s a reliever. And thank you for the kind words! Appreciate the question.
- Recognizing that Trevor Larnach graduated from prospect eligibility, how do you project him going forward? It seemed like he was holding his own, not great, not terrible. Then I was really surprised they kept him down once it was clear the season was lost.
Carlos Collazo: Big league pitchers adjusted to him quickly by steadily feeding him off-speed stuff. Check out his splits during his first two months in the bigs vs. his second two. It’s pretty drastic. He never hit for a great average even when he was going well, but he was at least getting on base at a solid clip and hitting for some power. I think that might be the hitter he is: power bat who can drive the ball and take his walks, but not one who’s ever going to be competing for a batting title.
- Did Sean Mooney elevate his prospect status in 2021? His numbers were pretty good albeit it a small sample.
Carlos Collazo: Yeah he struck out a ton of batters and it sounds like the fastball has some really strong traits that allow it to play up better than the low-90s velocity would indicate. Lower slot, good vertical approach angle type guy. Needs to cut down the walks and throw more strikes.
- How do you think Jose Miranda fits into the twins 2022 playing time? Is he a bench bat/depth player?
Carlos Collazo: If Josh Donaldson is still around I think so. I do think he has a chance to hit well enough and hit for enough pop to play himself into a more regular role than that, but it’s going to be at the cost of below-average or fringy defense at a corner and certainly the Twins have a ton of corner guys like that. His best defensive position seems to be third or first base given his lack of range but I am really intrigued with his combination of contact ability, power and the newfound approach that gave him so much success this year. If he hits his offensive ceiling the Twins will find somewhere to get him regular ABs I would imagine.
- do the Twins know what turned Jose Miranda into a better hitter, and is it sustainable?
Carlos Collazo: It's mentioned in his scouting report and I just touched on it in the last question but I think he did a much better job being selective in his approach at the plate. In early-count situations he was looking for something to drive instead of just going after whatever was in the strike zone. I also heard he got himself into a bit better shape, but I think the approach adjustment/maturation was more important because he does have bat-to-ball skill and he is strong enough to drive the ball far. Just two players in the minors this year hit 30 homers and 30 doubles: Bobby Witt Jr. and Jose Miranda. Seems like a good club to be in.
Warren (New London):
- Like Austin Martin, Dustin Ackley was a big star in college. The Mariners tried to make a second baseman out of him because he didn't run well enough to play center field and they thought his bat might not have enough impact at a corner, and his career foundered. How worried should a Twins fan be that something similar will happen with Martin?
Carlos Collazo: I think Martin’s most instinctual and best defensive position right now is center field. He is an above-average runner even though he’s not a burner, and I think he has the sort of athleticism and instincts to make that work in center field on a team that doesn’t include Byron Buxton of course. Martin’s never going to push him off the position. In my personal looks when Martin was in college and from all the scouts I’ve talked with before and after the draft, the outfield just seems to come easier to him. So I do still think he has a chance to play a premium position and play it well, but you also can’t hold him to the standards of what Buxton does out there, which could be tough for Minnesota fans who’ve gotten used to that caliber of defensive play. Also keep in mind that I am probably still the high man on Martin in the BA office and others might tell you he’s going to have to play a corner spot—if you think that’s the case then certainly there’s a bit more need for him to develop power and that is currently still an open question. I’m in on the athleticism, batting eye and hit tool though. If he doesn’t pan out I’ll have to take the L with him. I’m bought in.
- For a team that is rebuilding/retooling, that just sold it's best hitter and a close to stud SP, this farm looks awful. Outside of Martin, I don't see an impact player in this top 10, Lewis is so far removed from prospect land, Ryan doesn't look like a traditional SP and there 2021 draft doesn't look particularly strong. What is going on here?
Carlos Collazo: I think this is a fair but critical take on the current state of the Twins and the farm system. Given some of the moves they made at the big league level, you would want to be much closer to No. 1 in the org rankings to feel confident about your rebuild barring some really impressive re-tooling that happens to make the team competitive right away. This seems like a farm that would be great for supplementing a competitive, win-now team (kind of like the Braves and their farm system) rather than one that gets you extremely excited if a full-blown rebuild is on the way. For the reasons you mentioned the successful development of both Martin and Lewis is extremely important for the team. Sure, Lewis hasn’t played in two years but one of those was because of a season everyone in baseball missed and the other was a freak injury. You can’t write him off entirely because of that, even if it’s unfortunate and damaging to his development and/or timeline. The Twins certainly went for upside in their most recent draft pick and steered away from some of the “safer” corner/college types, but they also did that a few years ago with Keoni Cavaco and that hasn’t exactly panned out yet either. The Twins will pick in the top 10 of the draft this year for the first time since 2017 and it seems to be shaping up as a strong class. You want them to nail that pick. I would push back against the “this farm looks awful” claim, however. Lots of contributing major league pieces seem to be here.
- Any general update on Cavaco? Seems to have taken quite a dip, thanks for your time!
Carlos Collazo: It feels like Cavaco has been disappointing for longer than he actually has thanks to the lost 2020 season. Which… again that probably hurt a guy like Cavaco who was so far behind the speed of the pro game more than many. He just needed those at-bats and innings pretty desperately. What you can say for Cavaco this year is that he flashed glimpses of the tools the Twins liked so much out of high school. His June and July were solid. When he was healthy and at his best he drove the ball up the middle and the other way, but he never did this consistently and also battled a few injuries that kept him off the field. He’s still chasing far too often and swinging and missing too much generally and that can be attributed to some mechanical things he still does as well as an approach that needs more maturation.
- Keoni Cavaco has yet to really put it together since he was drafted. I know he was always considered on the raw/long term development side, but anything positive to not on his past year? Also would love to hear thoughts on Kala'i Rosario who I thought had a solid debut in the FCL.
Carlos Collazo: Hopefully you got some of the Cavaco stuff answered in the previous question. As for Rosario, he’s extremely interesting. He gets big time grades on his raw power (7s and 8s) and the Twins sounded excited about some of the adjustments he made with his swing. The pro performance is solid, as you noted (.793 OPS, 5 HR, 4 3B, 10 2B in 51 games). We ranked him as a top 100 prospect in the 2020 draft and Kyle’s report really feels spot on today. His exit velocity numbers are pretty impressive. Take a shot, because it’s another power-oriented corner bat in the Twins system, but everything sounds pretty good so far.
- what positions do you think the twins have the greatest in throughout their system?
Carlos Collazo: Righthander pitchers by a wide margin and then probably corner outfield or 2b/3b types maybe. Not a ton of lefthanders or catchers.
- Thanks for the chat! How close was Emmanuel Rodriguez to making this list? Is his ultimate ceiling an Eddie Rosario type player?
Carlos Collazo: The specific 10 names were pretty easy to finalize (the specific order was a different matter entirely) but Rodriguez was one guy who I really thought about for the top 10 but wound up not pushing him that high given his proximity compared to the other guys who are on the top 10. I am extremely intrigued with him and think he has some pretty big upside potential with the power in his bat. He feels like a much different player than Eddie Rosario, however.
- Thanks for the chat Carlos. Now that there's some time between it, can you revisit Keoni Cavaco's path to becoming a first-round pick and maybe what went wrong or what we can learn from it?
Carlos Collazo: No problem, thank you for the question! First of all, he’s still got a chance to figure it out and has had essentially two partial seasons with a Covid year in between them and he wasn’t even fully healthy this year. So there’s still a chance he turns it around even if things are looking pretty bad right now. This could be oversimplifying things with Cavaco specifically because every year there are first round picks who don’t pan out (sometimes it’s just the nature of the beast) but he was a player who didn’t have much of a track record on the showcase/travel ball circuit. That was one of the critiques of his profile and a reason many teams wouldn’t have taken him in the first even though everyone seemed to love his raw toolset. Pure hitting ability was the big question with him as a high schooler and it remains the biggest question now. In some ways this reminds me of Austin Beck, who the Athletics took out of high school in Lexington, N.C., in 2017. He was another player who had a pretty massive toolset and tantalizing upside, but he missed the summer and fall before his draft year because of a knee injury. I believe he had more underclass track record than Cavaco did, but perhaps there’s more to be said for how much more confidence teams can gather on prep hit tools over the summer/fall against the best arms in the high school class. Perhaps this is just me creating a narrative that makes sense among the data points that I have in front of me. Perhaps nothing is harder in scouting than evaluating and projecting a high school hitter. Teams will continue to miss on bats.
Carlos Collazo: OK everyone, I think that's going to have to wrap it up for today. Hopefully I was able to give you some satisfying answers to a lot of really good questions! As always thanks to everyone who has taken the time and especially thanks to those who subscribe to BA and allow us to continue doing the work. It's always a pleasure to interact with you guys and talk baseball. Have a good weekend and hope you all have a good Thanksgiving next week!