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TRACK RECORD: Picking No. 1 overall in 2017 for just the third time in club history, the Twins passed on advanced college pitchers Brendan McKay (Louisville) and Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt) as well as elite high school arms Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore. Instead they ignored predraft concerns about Lewis’ hit tool and opted for him after falling in love with his five-tool potential, outstanding makeup and franchise- level charisma. Lewis accepted a club-record draft bonus of $6.725 million that was nearly a full million below slot value. He shined in his full-season debut by ranking as the No. 1 prospect in both the Midwest and Florida State leagues.
SCOUTING REPORT: Lewis endured a pair of lengthy hitting slumps in 2018, one apiece in each league. He also learned how to fight his way out of bad habits that may have come from trying to play through patellar tendinitis in his left knee. His left shoulder, which he separated in high school, was not an issue in 2018. With a high waist and wide shoulders, Lewis shows high-end athleticism and the ability to make quick, natural adjustments. The Twins got him to calm down his leg kick with two strikes, but they had no trouble with his early-count aggressiveness. Lewis has learned to turn on inside pitches but still struggles at times with soft stuff away. Instinctive and smart, he shows advanced plate discipline and drastically cut his flyball rate after earning a July promotion to the bigger ballparks of the FSL. He still managed to help lead high Class A Fort Myers to a league title while flashing plus speed and a basestealer’s mentality. After seeing time at third base and center field at JSerra Catholic High, he has worked extensively on his footwork, range and throwing mechanics at shortstop with minor league infield coordinator Sam Perlozzo. Rival scouts still see a funkiness to Lewis’ throwing motion, which includes a higher-than-normal release point, but his arm strength and accuracy have improved. His hands are soft, his reactions are good and he goes back well on pop-ups.
THE FUTURE: Lewis figures to return to Fort Myers in 2019. Industry debate will continue about his ability to stay at shortstop, but he will be given every opportunity to play himself off the position as he climbs the ranks. While Alex Kirilloff has narrowed the gap considerably, Lewis still merits the mantle of No. 1 prospect.
TRACK RECORD: It’s hard to imagine a better return season after Tommy John surgery than the one Kirilloff enjoyed in 2018. Inflammation in his throwing elbow ultimately led to season-ending surgery in March 2017, but he used that time to pack on 20 pounds of muscle.
SCOUTING REPORT: It didn’t take Kirilloff long to outgrow Max Kepler comparisons and head straight for Christian Yelich territory. He shows a consistently smooth lefthanded swing with excellent balance, strong wrists and quick hands. He could stand to walk more but doesn’t chase much and shows outstanding barrel awareness. He drives the ball to center and left-center field with ease and authority. His hit tool and power potential are both plus if not double-plus. When pitchers started pounding Kirilloff up-and-in more after his promotion to high Class A Fort Myers in late June, he made adjustments and started turning on more inside mistakes. An average runner who moves well for his size, he has improved his reads and routes and should be able to stay in right field, where his arm is a tick below-average.
THE FUTURE: Kirilloff should head to Double-A Pensacola in 2019. He should be pushing for a big league look by midseason 2020 at the latest.
TRACK RECORD: Graterol has gained 60 pounds since he signed, and he used his rehab period from Tommy John surgery to get stronger. After a 40-inning taste of the new Graterol in 2017, he built on those gains at two levels in 2018, helping pitch Class A Fort Myers to a Florida State League title.
SCOUTING REPORT: Before his surgery, Graterol sat 87-88 mph with his fastball but showed a clean delivery. Since his return, he pitches at 96-100 mph and touches 101 while throwing exclusively two-seamers. With his renewed commitment to conditioning, especially to his strong legs and hindquarters, Graterol can maintain that 80-grade fastball into the later innings. His tight, late-breaking slider shows plus-plus potential at 87-90 mph, and at times it is almost unhittable. His average curveball tends to get loopy at 82-84 mph, and his power changeup can be too firm despite heavy sink. Graterol studies video of All-Star righty Jose Berrios and patterns his approach after him, on and off the mound.
THE FUTURE: Graterol, who has an endearing sense of humor and has worked hard to improve his English, could return to Fort Myers to open 2019. He projects as a potential rotation-topping ace.
TRACK RECORD: A torn labrum in Javier’s non-throwing shoulder required surgery in May, costing him all of the 2018 season. Signed for $4 million in July 2015 as the No. 9 international prospect, he still holds the Twins’ bonus record for a foreign amateur. Hamstring issues plagued Javier in his first pro summer in 2016, but he shined at Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2017.
SCOUTING REPORT: A plus runner with plus athleticism, Javier shows plus range, a plus arm and a true shortstop’s profile. He also has worked hard to improve his English and his body, which was wiry and a bit gangly when he signed. Javier junked a big leg kick in favor of a simpler setup and swing that now features quiet hands and a small lift of his front foot. He was able to take part in batting practice in time for fall hitter’s minicamp, where he again showed good barrel awareness, an inside-out swing and the ability to hit the ball with authority into the opposite gap.
THE FUTURE: Look for the Twins to take things slowly with Javier, who figures to open 2019 at extended spring training. Once the weather warms up at low Class A Cedar Rapids, he should get a chance to test himself and pile up some much-needed game reps.
TRACK RECORD: After hitting just three homers as an Oregon State sophomore, Larnach remade his swing to create better launch angle and higher exit velocity. The late-blooming Larnach completed his transformation with a game-winning, two-run homer to complete a miracle comeback in Game 2 of the College World Series against Arkansas. He became the first college outfielder the Twins had taken in the first round since 1969.
SCOUTING REPORT: Larnach taught himself to hit with power to center and left-center field while maintaining high-end plate coverage. He closed out his first pro summer with a strong showing at low Class A Cedar Rapids, where he showcased strong plate discipline skills, including a strong swinging-strike rate, walk rate and strikeout rate—especially for a hitter with power. Defensively, Larnach grades as a shade below-average in right field. His arm is fringe-average, and his speed, routes and jumps are average at best. His defense won’t impede his ability to impact the major leagues with his potent lefthanded bat.
THE FUTURE: Larnach worked extensively with hitting coordinator Rick Eckstein on elevating the ball to his pull side. He could open 2019 at high Class A Fort Myers.
TRACK RECORD: Rooker improved his stock greatly by returning to Mississippi State after nearly accepting a modest 38th-round bonus from the Twins in 2016. A year later, the Memphis-area product went 35th overall and received the full slot figure of $1.935 million after posting the second-highest exit velocity in college baseball.
SCOUTING REPORT: Rooker slowed down a bit after an eye-popping pro debut. Pushed to Double-A Chattanooga to start 2018, he found his low-ball swing tested with hard stuff above the belt. Too often, Rooker struggled with pitch recognition by chasing high fastballs and power breaking balls out of the zone. His strikeout rate crept up to 26.4 percent, while he still managed to walk 9.9 percent of the time. Hopes have faded for converting Rooker into a full-time left fielder, a la Josh Willingham, mainly due to Rooker’s below-average arm and poor reads. Even at first base, the ball gets on him in a hurry. He is a smart baserunner with good instincts despite below-average speed.
THE FUTURE: A high ankle sprain led the Twins to pull Rooker from the Arizona Fall League. He is expected to return to Double-A to open 2019.
TRACK RECORD: The key piece in a three-player package received from the D-backs for Eduardo Escobar at the July 2018 trade deadline, Duran was only throwing in the upper 80s when he signed for $65,000 a month before his 17th birthday. Just two years later, he was touching 98 mph.
SCOUTING REPORT: Even at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Duran still has plenty of projection remaining on his strong, durable frame. He sits 96-98 mph with his fourseam fatsball but relies more on a 93-94 mph “splinker,” which he throws with his fingers spread, generating tremendous late movement. Duran still needs to tighten his slider, which he struggles to command, and his changeup is a work in progress. But he has a clean arm and repeats his smooth delivery out of a high three-quarter arm slot. Duran’s swinging-strike and groundball rates were both above-average for the low Class A Midwest League. Quiet and coachable, he is married with a young child.
THE FUTURE: After dominating at times in 2018, Duran should soon be ready for the challenge of the Florida State League. He could end up as a mid-rotation starter with a fallback option as a back-end bullpen arm.
TRACK RECORD: Enlow caught the Twins’ eye pitching for Team USA’s 18U team. That came after a harrowing car accident entering his sophomore year in which he suffered a broken ankle and pelvis and spent eight weeks in a wheelchair. Doctors warned him he might never reach his prior potential, but Enlow built himself back up from an atrophied 130 pounds. His 2018 season was disrupted by a back strain and a sprained left ankle.
SCOUTING REPORT: Enlow pitches at 89-92 mph and touches 95 mph from a high three-quarter arm slot. He projects to add even more velocity as he fills out, but his best weapon remains an above-average 78-82 mph sharp downer curveball. He also features a hard 84-85 mph slider and a fringy changeup that projects as future average with sink and fade. Enlow still needs work on controlling the running game. His 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings and his swinging-strike rate were both below the low Class A Midwest League average. Some felt he was around the plate almost too much.
THE FUTURE: Despite some command issues at Cedar Rapids, Enlow still has a mid-rotation ceiling. He should reach high Class A Fort Myers by midseason.
TRACK RECORD: Drafted 59th overall and signed for a below-slot figure of $800,000, Jeffers wasted little time making the Twins look smart for snatching him from a deep group of draft-eligible catchers. He came out mashing at Rookielevel Elizabethton and quickly earned a promotion.
SCOUTING REPORT: Two semesters shy of completing his physics degree, Jeffers has a natural curiosity that plays well with the pitchers he must handle and the coaches who work with him. Catching coordinator Tanner Swanson helped him build on the natural feel he showed in college for pitch framing. Jeffers has enough arm strength, but his blocking and footwork are below-average. He is determined to stay behind the plate. When Jeffers did cool off with the bat, it was because he was trying to let the ball get too deep in the zone. He quickly made the adjustment and resumed raking with a smooth, natural stroke that generates easy power.
THE FUTURE: The Twins are committed to keeping Jeffers behind the plate, so he could return to low Class A Cedar Rapids. Some rival scouts are skeptical about his glove—he doesn’t profile at other positions because of his body type and actions—but love his bat.
TRACK RECORD: Severino landed in the Twins’ lap in late 2017 after their pursuit of Kevin Maitan fell short. The Twins paid Severino $2.5 million after the former Braves prospect was declared a free agent because of the team’s rules violations. The former shortstop moved to second base upon signing with the Braves. A huge fan of Robinson Cano, Severino has shown little interest in returning to short or trying third base.
SCOUTING REPORT: Blessed with strong wrists and forearms, Severino generates tremendous bat speed that suggests power potential in the 20-25 homer range. A switch-hitter, he grades out as a future plus hitter with plus raw power. His arm is above-average but his range and footwork must improve. His below-average speed limits his range, but his reads off the bat have improved and his hands are good enough to stay up the middle.
THE FUTURE: Some evaluators see more thump in Severino’s bat than in Wander Javier’s. The difference is that Severino must prove he will offer value in the field and on the bases. If he doesn’t open 2019 in the low Class A Midwest League, he should get there once the spring thaw arrives.
- Mike Berardino
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