Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects Chat

Mike Berardino: Hello, Cleveland! How’s everybody doing today? Thanks for all the questions regarding this year’s Twins Top 10 prospects. Let’s get started.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Thanks for the chat, Mike. Did Javier happen to Wander very far off your top 10?
Mike Berardino: Just missed.

Grant (NYC): How close was it between Park and Walker in your Best Power category? What was the deciding factor?
Mike Berardino: Very close. Both are pushing 80. I have yet to see Park’s power in person, but the highlights are pretty impressive.

Kelly (St Cloud, MN): Should we officially write off Meyer as a starter? Is he in your top 30?
Mike Berardino: Alex turned 26 earlier this month. It’s time for him to build some career momentum in the majors. The quickest way for him to do that is in the bullpen, where he shined at Triple-A on either side of a disappointing big-league debut. The Twins are hoping he makes a strong bid for a bullpen role out of spring training. As for the list, he slid out of the top 10 but the slide stopped right around No. 12.

Travis Blankenhorn (Home): How close was I to making the list? Is 3B my future, or do you see me making a shift?
Mike Berardino: Don’t worry, “Travis.” You made the list. Believe I turned you in at No. 27. Solid pro debut. It will be a little tricky finding enough development time at third base for you and fellow 2015 draftee Trey Cabbage, but I’m sure the Twins will make it work.

Ben (CT): What are your thoughts on Lewis Thorpe? I understand not putting him here because of TJ, but should be back by midseason and flashed impressive upside before the injury.
Mike Berardino: The Aussie lefty slid out of my top 10 last year because of concerns about his elbow (which proved legitimate). Still just 20, he had Tommy John last April and should be able to have close to a full season in 2016. Good chance he works himself back into next year’s Top 10 with a healthy return.

Dave (Minny Apples): What's the scoop on LHP Taylor Rogers? Thx
Mike Berardino: I have him at No. 14 on this year’s list, slightly higher than a year ago. He proved his durability by leading all Twins pitchers with nearly 200 innings, including the Arizona Fall League. An overbooked rotation and his history of dominance against lefties could push him into the mix for a bullpen role this spring. One thing the Twins really like about him is the way he competes. He’s not afraid to pitch inside.

Sean (Boston): Is Javier Vazquez a reasonable comparison for Berrios?
Mike Berardino: Are you sure you’re not just saying that because they’re both from Puerto Rico? Comparisons are fun but dangerous. Saw plenty of Javy during his career, which ended with the 2011 Marlins. Still can’t believe he retired when he did. He’s still just 39, by the way. Considering the dollars being thrown at starting pitchers these days, maybe he should make a comeback.

Rich (NJ): In 2915, Niko Goodrum did slightly better after his promotion to AA but his offensive numbers, particularly his power, still do not excite for a 3B prospect. Do you foresee him developing his hit tool, in particular his power, to project him as a MLB regular down the road. Thanks,
Mike Berardino: Strong makeup and still has some tools, but he didn’t make the Top 30 this year. Twins tried to make him into a super utility player at Double-A. That’s probably his best path moving forward.

Vinny (Ohio): What do you think is the ceiling for such a talented pitcher like Jose Berrios?
Mike Berardino: Have you seen those winter workout videos from the J-Olympics? Place a ceiling on that young man at your own risk. He should be a No. 2 or 3 at worst.

Jack (MN): Is defensive consistency the biggest thing keeping Jorge Polanco from getting a clear shot at the SS job? With 2B blocked by Dozier, what's his future with the organization?
Mike Berardino: Consistency is part of the problem, but mostly it’s about the arm. It plays up at second, plays down at short. We considered a 2019 Twins lineup projection that had Polanco at second and Dozier at third, but obviously the cooler head of John Manuel prevailed.

Dave (Brooklyn): Hey, Mike! Thanks for the Chat! Will Jason Adam be able to recover from the screws in his elbow in Dec. '14 and the followup procedure in May '15? When might he pitch again?
Mike Berardino: Certainly hope so. Good dude who once held a spot in the Royals’ top 10. Not sure if he’ll be ready to pitch this spring, but I’m assuming he will be.

Eastin (Louisiana): Like the Yellich/Kepler comp. What do you see as Kepler's ceiling as a big leaguer and how likely is he to reach or approach that ceiling?
Mike Berardino: Thanks. Comps are dangerous. (See earlier answer). Kepler obviously figured some things out at the plate in 2015. As long as his throwing arm cooperates, he should have the career Mike Radcliff and company envisioned when they gave him $800,000 as a German teenager.

Dave (Brooklyn): What's the timeline for Michael Cederoth's return to pitching? Is he still a Top 30 prospect?
Mike Berardino: Cederoth received consideration for the top 30 but the depth of the system pushed him into that next group (31-40). He was back working out with the Kernels by the end of last season following his undisclosed illness. He should be good to go from Day 1 this year. Long term, the question is whether he has the pitches to start or would move fastest in the bullpen. Rival scouts say his fastball lacks movement.

Frank (Chicago): Do you see Walker's plate discipline ever catching up to his power?
Mike Berardino: At this point, no, or else he’d be in this top 10.

Dave (Brooklyn): Did Jake Reed get any love in your discussions with Twins' coaches and staff? Was he considered for the Top 10?
Mike Berardino: Don’t worry, Jake From State Farm is on my radar. Blogged at TwinCities.com/Twins about my chat with him out at the Arizona Fall League, where he had another nice showing after an up-and-down first full pro season. I turned him in at No. 20.

Dave (St Paul MN): How close was SS Jermaine Palacios from your list? Can he stick at short?
Mike Berardino: I turned him in at No. 19. He can hit, but he also made 21 errors in 57 games. The jury is out on whether he’ll stay at short. I have Gordon and Vielma ranked ahead of him there.

Bednarz42 (Bloomfield, NJ): Where's Alex Meyer?
Mike Berardino: Throwing bullpens in Greensburg, Ind.

Chris (NYC): Given Buxton's struggles in the Majors and Berrios' domination in AAA, how close was the gap between the #1 and 2 spots in this list?
Mike Berardino: Buxton was the clear No. 1 — period.

Jeremy (Wisconsin): On the 20-80 scale, how much do you love shoveling snow? And also where would you put your ability to do the shoveling?
Mike Berardino: I think I’m a 60 shoveler. Very efficient, workmanlike. Don’t try to do too much. Love of shoveling? Depends on the temps, but probably 30. Haven’t had as many opportunities this winter — not that I’m complaining — so I lost valuable development time. Must be lunch break at school.

Dan (East Coast): How much concern is there over Amaurys Minier's slow development?
Mike Berardino: Turns 20 later this month. Doesn’t appear to have much defensive value, and he struggled to make contact in the Appy League. He stayed on the Top 30, but barely. He needs to get going.

Esteban (West Palm Beach): Rank the following players in five years: Nick Gordon, JP Crawford, Tim Anderson, Orlando Arcia, Trea Turner
Mike Berardino: I’ll leave that to the good folks at Baseball America.

Esteban (West Palm Beach): Has Stewart's outlook changed since drafted? Would you rather have him or Kolek in your system right now?
Mike Berardino: Have never seen Kolek pitch, but I’d still rather have Stewart. The pitches still grade out as having plus potential across the board. The declining K/9 rate is troubling, but the Twins were pleased with the way Stewart stayed healthy after an early hiccup in 2015. He pounds the zone with that sinker and gets lots of weak contact early in the count.

DR (Maryland): The Twins look like they got a steal in LaMonte Wade. Does the organization see him as a possible future big league piece?
Mike Berardino: He’s interesting. So was Max Murphy at a similar stage. Wade appears to have more upside.

Patrick (Sandpoint, Idaho): Wow, this just HAS to be a top 5 system! I mean....when an Adam Brett Walker does not make the top 10 for a third time in a row? 😉 So realistically now, a RBI machine with monster pop 4 years now....I get the K's are the stumbler here but what are your true predictions for his MLB career? Starting stud? Part time corner guy?
Mike Berardino: It’s not just the holes in his swing. The arm has become a major concern. Some view him as a DH only.

Esteban (West Palm Beach): Chances Berrios becomes the best Puerto Rican pitcher?
Mike Berardino: Ever? Let the young man reach the majors first.

Connor (Connecticut): Buxton was the top prospect last season aside from Bryant. Do you still see him there, or has Seager jumped him?
Mike Berardino: Not my call.

Bob (Boston, Massachusetts): Alex Meyer's ultimate destination: rotation, bullpen, or closer?
Mike Berardino: Long-term? I still say rotation, but he’ll have to learn to maintain his mechanics for six-plus innings at a time. To this point that has been a challenge.

Esteban (West Palm Beach): Thoughts on Byung Ho?
Mike Berardino: Look forward to covering him. Surprised they signed him that affordably, especially when you consider how everybody is looking for right-handed power.

Ricky Nolasco (Minnesota): Do I stop Jose Berrios from getting a spot in the rotation on Opening Day?
Mike Berardino: It’s not only you, Ricky. Five other guys will have a say in that.

Ringo (Octopusses Garden): Can Taylor Rodgers stick in an MLB rotation or is he just a swingman type at best?
Mike Berardino: No “D” in Rogers.

Esteban (West Palm Beach): Polanco or Santana? What's the difference between them and Florimon?
Mike Berardino: Bat.

Jeff (Duluth,Mn): Hi Mike, Thanks for all your work during and after the season. Much appreciated. Can you give us a ceiling comp for Max Kepler?
Mike Berardino: My pleasure. Thanks for reading. Went with Christian Yelich in the magazine, but that could be selling him short.

Ringo (Octopusses Garden): Can Engelb Vielma's glove make up the difference from his bat? Is he going to get the bat knocked out of his hands?
Mike Berardino: Vielma keeps getting stronger. He struggled offensively in the Venezuelan Winter League and wisely returned to Fort Myers — at the Twins’ suggestion — to work on his strength. The bat really came alive in the second half in the Florida State League.

Mike (SD): Seems to be a wave of talent from International signings coming from the lower levels. Can you elaborate on some of the better ones?
Mike Berardino: They’ll be in the Prospect Handbook. Have you ordered one yet?

John (CT): Is it premature to downgrade the future Buxton? Early projections had him as the next Trout. Is it nerves, injuries or inexperience that is affecting his performance?
Mike Berardino: Premature? Yes.

Mike (Oshkosh): What would the Twins want in return for Ricky Nolasco? How about James Shields straight-up?
Mike Berardino: Wrote about this as a potential scenario about a month ago at the winter meetings. Teams want to see Nolasco on a mound at spring training.

Mike Sixel (MN): Should I be worried that the Twins' starting DH isn't much of a prospect, or is that ranking not a ceiling one, but about control and other things? Or, are the other 6 so awesome that their starting DH can be ranked that low?
Mike Berardino: Park turns 30 in July. He’s relatively untested coming from the KBO. Many factors. I actually had him a little lower originally but the BA guys wanted to move him up.

John (Washington DC): Hey Mike, thanks for your superlative Twins coverage. I'm a native Minnesotan, but spent last week in South Florida (80°+ every day). Have you started to acclimate to Minnesota winters or appreciate the cold, or did Florida spoil you?
Mike Berardino: Thank you, sir. I enjoy the seasons after spending a total of 32 years in South Florida, which is where I was born and raised. That’s probably too many in any one place, unless that place is, say, Hawaii.

Diego (San Diego): How far out of the top 10 was Chargois?
Mike Berardino: Mid-teens. They like him a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the big-league bullpen by May 1.

Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What do you see as the ultimate destination for Jay? Starter or reliever? Thanks for the chat!
Mike Berardino: They will stretch him out this year and see how it goes. Smaller frame, but the pitch mix is there and the slider is the best in the system.

Tom (Columbus, OH): I know Arcia isn't a prospect anymore, but since he finished the season in the minors (and played poorly in AAA), is he an after-thought at this point with the Twins?
Mike Berardino: Doesn’t turn 25 until May. Still a young man. Out of options, so the opportunity is there to win a corner-outfield spot opposite Sano if Buxton needs more time in Triple-A. If that doesn’t happen, Arcia probably would benefit from a change of scenery.

Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Where does Daniel Palka now rank in the Twins system. The OF they got from Ariz. has some big time power. How do the Twins view him? Thanks for the chat!
Mike Berardino: Received consideration for the top 30 but didn’t make it.

Bob Sacamento (Ft. Myers, FL): Between Stewart, Gonsalves, and Jay who has the best chance of one day challenging for a rotational spot?
Mike Berardino: Well, I ranked them Jay, Stewart, Gonsalves, so …

Ian (MPLS): Even with a bunch of promotions the last few years, this seems like a pretty strong farm system. What are your expectations for Jay this season?
Mike Berardino: Be on time. Be a good teammate. Get his work in. Take the ball every five or six days.

Mick (Sydney): Which Aussie has the best chance to play a game in the majors; Beresford, Wade, Barrie, or none of the above?
Mike Berardino: Been rooting for Beresford for years. Good bloke, as they say. Good hitter. Glad to see he re-upped with the Twins once again. Barrie, they released.

Bob Sacamento (Ft. Myers, FL): Where did Trey Cabbage land in your rankings? bottom of Top 30 or just missing?
Mike Berardino: Just missed, Bob. Back problem didn’t help. I’d expect him to make the top 30 next year.

EnergyDrink (Seoul, Korea): What do you expect to see from Byung Ho Park this season? Many Korean fans are wating for your chat.
Mike Berardino: And I am waiting for their clicks! Please tell all your friends to follow me on Twitter (@MikeBerardino), and I’ll do my best to keep them updated. As for expectations, I’d say 20-30 homers aren’t out of the question for Park, even in Year 1. He’s going to get the at-bats.

Mike (MO): Nick Burdi really seemed to improve as the season progressed and finished with a great AFL. What do you expect from him going forward and when can we expect to see him in the Twins bullpen?
Mike Berardino: Power stuff. Not far away at all.

Bjorn (Seattle, WA): Although no longer a prospect, Tyler Duffey came onto the scene as a relatively unknown to pitch to a tune of 3.10 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 8/22 K/9 in 58 IP. With a strong rookie campaign, he isn't listed in your 2019 future rotation. Is that more a nod to the players around him? What do you see Duffey becoming in the future?
Mike Berardino: Just an educated guess.

Bob Sacamento (Ft. Myers, FL): The 6'9 Johan "Flaco" Quezada touched 100 mph a few times in GCL, any mention in the back end of Top 30 or still too raw?
Mike Berardino: Too raw.

Mike Berardino: Thanks for all the questions, everybody. I have to run. If you want to continue the conversation, I’d invite you to follow me on Twitter (@MikeBerardino), where I promise to answer as many questions as I can. Until next time …


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