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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. 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 issues 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, though his arm, which is a tick below-average might be better suited for left. 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. he 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 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 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 four-seam 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: Signed away from an Louisiana State commitment for $2 million, nearly triple the slot value of $755,500, 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 and must keep the game from speeding up on him at times. 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. A standout catcher at UNC Wilmington, where he helped the Seahawks reached the NCAA Tournament, he came out mashing at Rookie-level Elizabethton and quickly earned a promotion to the Midwest League. 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. A Buster Posey fan growing up in North Carolina, 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. 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. A huge fan of Robinson Cano, Severino has shown little interest in returning to short or trying third base since moving to second with the Braves. 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: If he doesn’t open 2019 in the low Class A Midwest League, Severino should get there once the spring thaw arrives.
Track Record: Added to the 40-man roster for the first time in November, Arraez made a successful return in 2018 from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Scouting Report: Signed out of Venezuela seven months after his 16th birthday for just $40,000, Arraez has packed on 30 pounds since signing. Blessed with outstanding hand-eye coordination, Arraez hit his way out of the Florida State League and continued to impress in his first taste of the Southern League. Drawing comparisons to Carlos Baerga with more pull-side power, Arraez is still learning to handle hard stuff on the inner third. At worst he’s a hit-tool fiend with the ability to spray the ball to all fields. Defensively, Arraez is athletic with feet that work well around the bag. His arm is average at best while his speed is below-average, but he shows soft hands, constant energy and leadership skills. Despite the questions about his arm, some believe he could handle third. The Future: Arraez figures to open 2019 in Double-A, where he’ll aim to hit over .300 once again.
Track Record: Urbina was one of the top Venezuelan prospects in 2018, with the Twins making him the prize signing of their international class when the 2018-19 signing period opened on July 2. He had ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the international class. Scouting Report: While several other highly-regarded 2018 international prospects face questions about their future positions, Urbina projects to stick at a premium position in center field. An athletic, high-intensity player, Urbina works diligently at his defense and it shows. He was one of the best defensive outfielder in the 2018 class, maximizing his plus speed by getting good jumps off the bat and taking sharp routes with good closing speed. His arm is a fringe-average tool. The split among Urbina with scouts was on the offensive side. He has good bat speed and puts a surprising charge into the ball during games, with occasional pull shots over the fence in batting practice. Scouts highest on Urbina saw him hit well in games and liked his compact swing, though others didn’t see that type of performance and saw risk with his swing path. The Future: Urbina is many years away from the big leagues, but he has a chance to develop into an everyday center fielder.
Track Record: The second Puerto Rican player taken in his draft class and signed for $775,000, Miranda improved his conditioning and his defense in 2018. His range, actions and footwork flashed above-average at second base and his above-average arm remains plenty strong enough to handle third base, where he again split time. Scouting Report: At the plate he continued to show excellent barrel awareness with the chance for plus power as he continues to hone his strike-zone discipline. Overshadowed in the first half by Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, Miranda blossomed after their promotions and later joined them at high Class A Fort Myers for the title push. For much of July some felt he was the best hitter in the Midwest League. Miranda has good balance at the plate with quiet hands and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. An average runner with a projectable frame who could yet outgrow second base, Miranda swung and missed just 11 percent of the time but could stand to walk more. The Future: Miranda figures to open 2019 at Fort Myers, where he will play both second and third.
Track Record: The son of former NFL linebacker Garth Jax, the younger Jax stood out on the pitcher’s mound instead at Air Force. The Twins took him in the third round in 2016, signing him for $645,600, but soon saw the Department of Defense bring back the traditional restrictions on pro sports participation for graduates of service academies. That change held through Jax’s first two pro summers as he was limited to just 40 total innings. The rules changed again, this team to his benefit, with the return of baseball as an Olympic medal sport for 2020. Jax took full advantage of the increased development time, piling up 109 combined innings via the Florida State and Arizona Fall leagues. Scouting Report: Exhibiting excellent command with a loose, quick arm and a low-stress delivery, Jax spots his 90-93 mph fastball to all four quadrants. He must be pinpoint as his stuff lacks late action, but his touch and feel are advanced considering his limited mound time. Jax has a big-breaking slider that projects as a plus offering and a good feel for his change, which some evaluators feel will be his best pitch. With plus makeup, athleticism and an aggressive approach, he could still add some muscle to a lean build. The Future: Entering his age-24 season already, Jax figures to start at Double-A Pensacola. He could move quickly now that he’s able to defer his military commitment.
Track Record: Outstanding bloodlines have long been a selling point for the son of former all-star pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon and the younger half-brother of the Mariners’ Dee Gordon. Drafted fifth overall in 2014 out of an Orlando-area high school, the Florida State signee received a $3.851 million signing bonus from the Twins. Gordon reached the All-Star Futures Game in 2017 after a star turn in Arizona the prior fall. However, he stumbled in his first extended look at Triple-A last season, losing confidence in the field and seeing his gap power disappear after tearing up the Double-A Southern League. Scouting Report: Never a burner like Dee, Gordon at his best is an instinctive runner who shows advanced barrel awareness, solid plate discipline and a line-drive swing. Too many careless mistakes in the field along with questions about his range and throwing accuracy have knocked down his value. Gordon’s lean, almost-scrawny frame raises doubts about his ability to be more than a utility type. The Future: Gordon figures to open 2019 back at Rochester, where he should get more chances to play additional positions besides the keystone spots.
Track Record: Acquired from the Astros along with center fielder Gilberto Celestino in the Ryan Pressly trade last July, Alcala suffered a neck strain in his final outing before the deal and was never fully healthy in his brief Twins debut. Scouting Report: Signed as a late-blooming 18-year-old, Alcala has seen his fastball velocity jump from 90-92 as a teen to as high as 102 mph, although he pitches at 92-98 mph with late explosion. His electric arm works well with excellent arm speed, but he sometimes gets out of sync with his twitchy delivery. His changeup is solid-average and he throws two distinct breaking balls, including an 88-90 mph slider that sometimes flattens out and a curve that flashes plus but often lacks precision. The Future: Worst case, Alcala could land in the back of the bullpen, but the plan is to keep developing him as a starter with mid-rotation projection. He has yet to reach 110 innings in a season and won’t be Rule 5 eligible until December 2019, so starting him back at Double-A would make sense.
Track Record: Thorpe got his career fully rolling after missing two full seasons in the wake of Tommy John surgery in April 2015 and a bout of mononucleosis in 2016. Back on the mound, he reached Futures Game in 2018 and later Triple-A Rochester as well. Signed for $500,000, the richest Australian bonus in the 2012-13 international class, Thorpe added two inches and 35 pounds in his first two pro seasons. Scouting Report: Thorpe’s fastball sits at 89-92 mph and touches 94, but it plays up due to angle and carry with some deception. His cutter/slider is 85-87 mph, allowing him to chew up lefties when he’s on. He continues to improve his changeup and he also has a 12-to-6 curve. The Future: Once considered a potential mid-rotation starter, Thorpe has been knocked down a couple of pegs to a fourth-starter projection. To get there, he must figure out how to pitch backwards more often.
Track Record: After top-seven ERA finishes in the minors in the 2015-16 seasons, Gonsalves battled through shoulder strains at the Arizona Fall League and early in the 2017 season. The loss of a couple of ticks off his already-modest fastball led to some delivery tweaks that ultimately led to command issues last season, both before and after his big league debut. Scouting Report: Long-levered with generally good mound presence and a three-quarters arm slot, Gonsalves pitches in the high 80s now with an above-average changeup and two average breaking balls. His 1-to-6 curveball has flashed above-average in the past. The fastball used to touch 94 mph with glove-side run, but it’s ticked down though Gonsalves has shown the moxie to pitch through it. The Future: Gonsalves should get another crack at the back of the rotation in 2019.
Track Record: A compensation pick after the Twins failed to sign Kentucky righthander Kyle Cody, Baddoo accepted a $750,000 bonus to spurn those same Wildcats. Scouting Report: After growing two inches and adding 25 pounds of muscle, Baddoo surged up the prospect charts in his first full season, when he walked more than he struck out. Last year started slowly, however, as he was bothered by hamstring issues during the first half, but the above-average runner (sub 4.1 seconds to first) still shows potential to be a high-end basestealer. His route-running improved in center, but his below-average arm and funky throwing motion eventually figure to push him to left. A high-energy spark plug who is popular with teammates, Baddoo showed more ability to drive the ball at Cedar Rapids but still has some swing-and-miss, though he pushed his walk rate to 14.3 percent. The Future: Baddoo figures to open 2019 at high Class A Fort Myers, where he’ll look to hit more.
Track Record: Snatched two rounds after Griffin Jax in the 2016 draft, Balazovic signed for $515,000 and needed a couple of years to make the transition to pro ball. Scouting Report: Balazovic visits both sides of the plate at 91-95 mph and touches 97. He is learning to work up in the zone effectively as well. He found a new grip for his hard slider, which can be hit and miss, but flashes above-average when it’s on. His changeup projects as an average pitch, giving him more than enough weapons to post a nine-inning strikeout rate of 11.4 with a 13.4-percent swinging-strike rate in the Midwest League. Competitive with a repeatable delivery, Balazovic has improved his work habits as he’s gained maturity though some still question his makeup. Those off-field improvements enabled him to move past a disappointing 2017 in the Gulf Coast League, where he walked 4.5 batters per nine. The Future: Balazovic should open the year in Fort Myers and projects as a mid-rotation starter at best.
Track Record: A ninth-round steal after a broken hamate bone marred his junior season at Maryland, Wade signed for $163,800 after slugging the Terps past top-ranked UCLA in an NCAA regional. Scouting Report: Wade saw his strikeout rate climb in his first crack at Triple-A last season, but his plate discipline has been a consistent strength as he’s risen through the system and even back to his college days. Wade has a line drive swing with some pull-side power, but he doesn’t project to add much more. With a sturdy frame and above-average speed, Wade has overcome a fringe-average arm well enough to play some center field. He projects as a solid fourth outfielder who profiles best on the corners. He is also an instinctive baserunner with a career success rate of 78.7 percent as a basestealer. The Future: Look for Wade to head back to Triple-A to start 2019 and push for a big league debut.
Track Record: Signed away from an Arkansas commitment for $900,000, Rortvedt is a rare Wisconsin prep product taken in the first three rounds who looked better in his second stint in the Midwest League. Scouting Report: Fiery and competitive, he shows a plus arm and continues to polish his footwork, blocking and game-calling. Most importantly, after some initial resistance, he worked on his pitch framing with minor league catching coordinator Tanner Swanson. A below-average runner with a wiry, compact frame, Rortvedt shows tremendous flexibility and is more than athletic enough for the position. At the plate, however, he has struggled to decide what type of hitter he wants to be. While his default mode tends to be spraying line drives with a short, quick swing, the Twins’ development staff wants to see him sacrifice some contact to get to more of his pull-side power. He handled a promotion to high Class A Fort Myers, helping the Miracle to a Florida State League championship. The Future: Defense will get Rortvedt to the majors, but he’ll need to hit to stay there long-term.
Track Record: A late-blooming prospect traded twice before turning 22, Littell has come a long way since the Mariners signed him out of a small North Carolina high school. Acquired from the Yankees in the Jaime Garcia deal in July 2017, Littell continues to defy doubters and made his ML debut in 2018. Scouting Report: A Duke signee out of high school, Littell has improved his conditioning and command while showing plus pitchability to go with his durable frame. He can work his 91-94 mph fastball up in the zone due to a high spin rate, and his curveball has good bite and depth with the chance to be a plus pitch. His changeup should be at least average with swing-and-miss moments. Littell is highly coachable with a repeatable delivery and was among the best adapters to the opener expirement the Twins tried. The Future: After mixed results in three separate big league stints, Littell should get another chance to win a spot in the back of the rotation.
Track Record: While the Twins probably waited too long to trade Brian Dozier, they at least salvaged a potential impact bat in the self-made Raley. Compared by some to a lefty-swinging version of Brent Rooker, Raley signed for $147,500 as the Dodgers’ seventh-round pick in 2016. Scouting Report: Raley is a physical presence who is still growing into his projectable frame and is more athletic than he appears. He is at least average in left field, where his accurate arm flashes above-average and his jumps and routes are solid. Raley shows the ability to get the ball in the air and drive it to all fields with 70-grade raw power but his plate discipline needs to improve. An average runner, Raley has seen time at all three outfield spots and he’s ahead of Rooker as a defender at first base as well. The Future: A strained left shoulder limited Raley to just 14 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, but he figures to open 2019 at Triple-A Rochester with a chance to make his big league debut.
Track Record: Nagging shoulder issues limited Leach to just seven Gulf Coast League outings in his first full pro season, but he used the downtime to work on his body. Already blessed with a pitcher’s frame, the converted catcher now deadlifts 500 pounds and could take a big step forward in 2019, when he won’t turn 20 until mid-July. Scouting Report: The first Canadian player taken in the 2017 draft, Leach landed on the Twins’ radar that spring on a Florida tour with the Canadian Junior National Team. He grew two inches and added 25 pounds of good weight in the months before the draft. Signed under slot for $1.4 million, Leach pitches at 90-94 mph and has touched 97. His sharp-breaking 84-86 mph slider has plus potential, his 78-80 mph curve is average and he has a good feel for his changeup at 79-81 mph. Fluent in French with a serious personality, Leach’s hockey background shows through in his mound presence and high-end competitiveness. He repeats his delivery well and knows how to use his height to work downhill, which helped produced a 23.7 percent swinging-strike rate last season. The Future: Leach should get his first taste of the Midwest League in 2019, where the early-season cold weather shouldn’t bother him a bit.
Track Record: Signed for $266,900 as a sixth-rounder in 2014, Curtiss overcame UCL and thoracic-outlet syndrome surgeries in an eight-month span as the Texas closer. An academic All-America and aspiring country singer-songwriter who graduated in three years with an English degree, Curtiss endured a tough 2015 that included a concussion and elbow pain that cost him two months. He overcame it all to make his ML debut in 2017 and return in 2018, though he hasn’t had success at the level. Scouting Report: Curtiss’ fastball tops out at 98 mph and sits at 94-96 mph, but it’s his tight mid-80s slider that serves as his two-strike weapon. On the down side, his groundball rate dipped to 39 percent at Triple-A, where his nine-inning walk rate jumped over 5 and his ERA was 5.22 combined in June and July. He struggles to hold runners and his emotions have gotten the best of him at times in the majors, but he’s smart enough to figure things out. The Future: Command and confidence appear to be the only things holding Curtiss back from a permanent spot near the back end of the Twins’ bullpen. He should get another shot at proving he belongs in 2019 after brief looks the last two years went poorly. The stuff is certainly there.
Track Record: An undersized catcher growing up in Lincoln, Neb., Helman didn’t receive a single Division I offer out of high school. Moved to second base soon after arriving at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, the late bloomer hit .487 with 17 homers and 30 stolen bases as a sophomore to earn his way to Texas A&M. Scouting Report: After signing with the Twins for $220,000 as an 11th-rounder, Helman enjoyed a scorching first pro summer. Some see another Brian Dozier in Helman, who is a few inches taller than the former Twins second baseman. Helman could walk more but the Twins love his contact rate and barrel awareness. He shows more gap power than one would expect from his appearance. Helman thought the Rockies might take him as high as Round 3, but sliding out of the first 10 rounds just gave him more fuel for the long climb ahead. A fringe-average runner with an average arm, Helman should add power as he adds muscle. He lacks positional flexibility but some believe he could handle third if needed. The Future: Humble with strong makeup, Helman should open 2019 at high Class A Fort Myers.
Track Record: Despite a broken hamate bone that cost him two months last season, Whitefield remains one of the more intriguing prospects in the system. Signed out of Australia for $70,000 late in the 2014-15 international signing period, Whitefield is the product of professional softball-playing parents and focused on softball into his mid-teens. Scouting Report: A true center fielder who rates as the best defensive outfielder in the system, the sturdy Aussie roams both gaps with plus range. Although his arm is just average, he is an above-average runner who has clocked sub-4.0 times to first from the right side. Still somewhat raw due to his background, Whitefield hit just .163 in his first 32 games after returning from the hamate injury before stabilizing in August. Intense, coachable and able to make adjustments quickly, his raw power remains and that should carry over into games more once he improves his contact rate (23.5 percent strikeout rate in 2018). The Future: Whitefield was a top performer at the Twins’ fall minicamp and was expected to recoup some of his lost at-bats while playing for Team Australia at the Pan Am Games qualifier as well as in the Australian League. Whitefield figures to open 2019 back in the Florida State League.
Track Record: When the Twins traded popular utility infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Diamondbacks amid a breakout season, they came away with a top-10 arm in Jhoan Duran and a switch-hitting center fielder in Maciel. Originally signed in October 2015 out of Brazil for $90,000, Maciel is from Londrina, a city with a strong Japanese influence and thus baseball tradition. Maciel made his name at the 18U World Cup in Japan and was signed a month later. Scouting Report: Blessed with first-step quickness and considered an above-average runner, Maciel has been successful on just 58 percent of his stolen-base attempts the past two seasons. He isn’t the defender Akil Baddoo is in center but has a solid-average arm and good instincts. At the plate he lacks thump, especially from the left side, but puts the ball in play and uses the whole field. The Future: Some question his bat speed and wonder how much higher his ceiling really is, but Maciel’s athleticism is enough to buy him time to develop. It also helps that Maciel, who figures to open at high Class A Fort Myers, doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until November 2020.
Track Record: Scouted by then-Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine as a 15-year-old in the Dominican Republic, Celestino and the executive met up again after Levine’s current team acquired him from the Astros in the Ryan Pressly deal. Scouting Report: A well-rounded player with solid-average tools across the board and a chance to be a plus defender, Celestino is the classic “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” prospect. At fall minicamp, former Twins hitting coordinator Rick Eckstein changed Celestino’s awkward bat grip, which had been cutting off his swing and limiting his exit velocity. Celestino doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as Gabriel Maciel, another center fielder acquired the same day from Arizona in the Eduardo Escobar trade, but he’s an instinctive defender who shows excellent reads and routes to go with an above-average arm. His speed is just average and he projects as an average hitter with average power if the changes take hold. He was voted the top prospect in the New York-Penn League but struggled in the conversion to the Appalachian League after the trade. The Future: Coachable with fast-improving English skills and a fairly high floor, Celestino figures to open 2019 in the Midwest League.
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