Minnesota Twins Top 40 Prospects by Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin March 8, 2022 © Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Minnesota Twins. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the second year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here. All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Editor’s Note: Ronny Henriquez was added to this list following his acquisition from the Texas Rangers as part of the Mitch Garver/Isiah Kiner-Falefa trade. Francis Peguero was added to this list following his acquisition from the Cincinnati Reds as part of the Sonny Gray trade; Chase Petty, previously ranked 14th here, was the return. Top Prospects Team Lists 2022 2021 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Twins Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Austin Martin 23.0 AA CF 2022 50 2 Royce Lewis 22.8 AA SS 2022 50 3 Jose Miranda 23.7 AAA 3B 2022 50 4 Josh Winder 25.4 AAA SP 2022 50 5 Jordan Balazovic 23.5 AA SP 2022 50 6 Joe Ryan 25.8 MLB MIRP 2022 45+ 7 Jhoan Duran 24.2 AAA SP 2022 45+ 8 Matt Canterino 24.3 A+ MIRP 2022 45+ 9 Ronny Henriquez 21.7 AA SP 2023 45 10 Simeon Woods Richardson 21.5 AA SP 2023 45 11 Matt Wallner 24.3 A+ DH 2023 45 12 Noah Miller 18.7 R SS 2026 40+ 13 Marco Raya 19.6 R SP 2025 40+ 14 Cole Sands 24.7 AA MIRP 2022 40+ 15 Misael Urbina 19.9 A LF 2024 40+ 16 Spencer Steer 24.3 AA 2B 2023 40+ 17 Keoni Cavaco 20.8 A 3B 2024 40+ 18 Edouard Julien 22.9 A+ LF 2023 40 19 Danny De Andrade 17.9 R SS 2025 40 20 Drew Strotman 25.5 AAA SP 2022 40 21 Alerick Soularie 22.7 A 2B 2024 40 22 Cade Povich 21.2 A SP 2025 40 23 Steven Hajjar 20.9 R SP 2025 40 24 Aaron Sabato 22.8 A+ 1B 2024 40 25 Emmanuel Rodriguez 19.0 R CF 2025 40 26 Kala’i Rosario 19.7 R LF 2025 40 27 Chris Vallimont 25.0 AA MIRP 2023 40 28 Blayne Enlow 23.0 A+ MIRP 2023 40 29 Louie Varland 24.3 A+ SIRP 2023 40 30 Yasser Mercedes 17.3 R RF 2027 40 31 Sean Mooney 24.2 A+ SP 2023 35+ 32 Will Holland 23.9 A 2B 2024 35+ 33 Yilber Herrera 17.2 R SS 2027 35+ 34 David Festa 22.0 A SP 2025 35+ 35 Christian MacLeod 21.9 R SP 2025 35+ 36 Jovani Moran 24.9 MLB SIRP 2022 35+ 37 Steven Cruz 22.8 A+ SIRP 2023 35+ 38 Yennier Cano 28.0 AAA SIRP 2022 35+ 39 Francis Peguero 24.6 A+ SIRP 2022 35+ 40 Juan Mendez 23.4 R SIRP 2025 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All 1B 2B SS 3B LF CF RF SP SIRP MIRP 50 FV Prospects 1. Austin Martin, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Vanderbilt (TOR) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 45/45 30/40 50/50 35/45 45 The fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, Martin was seen by many teams as the best pure hitter in the class, leading the Blue Jays to challenge him with a Double-A assignment to begin his pro career. He performed admirably, but in unexpected ways, and was dealt to Minnesota as the biggest prospect received back in the José Berríos deal. Staying at Double-A as a Twin, Martin continued to be solid but unspectacular, and plenty of questions remain. A contact machine who struck out just two times over 69 plate appearances during his COVID-shortened 2020 college season, Martin’s K rate ballooned to nearly 20% as a pro. While not a galling figure, it came at the same time that Martin’s power went backwards far more than expected in the transition from metal to wood bats. He’s an exceptionally patient hitter, but sometimes to his own detriment, as his patience crossed that dangerous line into passivity at times, leaving him behind in the count and giving pitchers too much of an advantage. Martin has solid speed and split time between shortstop and center field in 2021, but he lacks pro-level infield skills and his future is likely in the grass, where scouts think he has a chance to turn into a solid center fielder, although his arm is fringy. There are plenty of mitigating factors with Martin, and it might feel like we are unfairly tearing into a guy who put up a .414 on-base percentage in his pro debut at the upper levels of the minors, so let’s be clear: this is still a very talented player. If anything, Martin’s 2021 season just adds variance to his outlook. 2. Royce Lewis, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from JSerra HS (CA) (MIN) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/70 40/60 60/50 40/45 50 One of the top-billed high schoolers during a superlative year for talent in Southern California, Lewis began garnering Derek Jeter comparisons while he was still an amateur. To a degree those remain reasonable, though they’re no longer applicable across nearly as much of Lewis’ skill set as they once were. Those comps came from his penchant for on-field leadership, his swing’s finish (though he’s way more pull-oriented than Jeter was), his frame (which is now way bigger than Jeter’s), and his future as a defensive shortstop. The Twins took him first overall in 2017 and cut a below-slot deal, as Lewis was seen as one of five options in a tightly-packed top tier of talent. Throughout his first 18 months as a pro, Lewis had statistical success while being aggressively promoted before a developmental hiccup in 2019. His overall production slowly came down at each subsequent level, and during a 2019 season split between High- and Double-A, he had a .290 OBP. Then came a robust .353/.411/.565 Arizona Fall League line (he went to pick up reps after an oblique strain during the year) and League MVP award. But in Arizona, Lewis still clearly had issues. His swing was cacophonous — the big leg kick, the messy, excessive movement in his hands — and it negatively impacted Lewis’ timing. He needed to start several elements of the swing early just to catch fastballs, and was often late anyway. This also caused him to lunge at breaking balls, which he doesn’t seem to recognize very well. All of this was bizarre in context, as an advanced hit tool was a huge driver of his amateur profile, but Lewis looked like a guess hitter. His mannerisms — Nomar-level batting glove tinkering; deep, heavy, deliberate breaths between pitches; constant uniform adjustment — were manic and seemed to pull focus away from the task at hand rather than ground him in a ritualistic way, and the game often seemed too fast for him. His swing looked the same during 2020 spring training but based on a little bit of video sent by an executive from another team, it appears to have been tweaked at the alternate site. He’s starting with an open stance now, and the angle of his bat as he sets up is also different (more north/south and away from his shoulder), but he still has that excessive leg kick and extraneous noise in the way his hands load. We have zero idea as to how this new swing will play in games since Lewis tore his ACL in February of 2021 and missed the entire season, basically his second lost season in a row after an injury-shortened 2019. He was back taking live BP off of Jhoan Duran and others during 2021 instructs, and the Twins put him on the 40-man roster. We continue to bet big on Lewis’ makeup and physical talent. His BPs were the best in the entire 2019 Fall League, and he is an exceptional teammate, leader, and worker, who did more early infield work than anyone else in the AFL, willing himself to become a viable left-side defender even though he lacks the traditional grace and fluidity for those positions. Even if some of the pitch recognition stuff proves to be a long-term issue, the floor here is that of a multi-positional role player who hits for considerable power. There may be an adjustment period similar to the one Javier Báez experienced early in his career because of the approach issues, but the star-level talent will eventually shine through. 3. Jose Miranda, 3B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (MIN) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 55/55 45/50 40/40 40/45 50 Miranda spent time at both Double- and Triple-A in 2021, and his numbers at each level were remarkably similar, combining for a slash line of .344/.401/.572. The main attraction for the 23-year-old is still his feel for contact. He very rarely whiffs and has an uncanny ability to put his bat on the ball regardless of where the pitch is with his short, compact swing. As it often does with young hitters, this has resulted in an overly swing-happy approach, with Miranda rarely working the count and often making suboptimal contact on pitches he should have left alone. In 2021, though, he exhibited much more patience in the box, resulting in a bump in both walks and power, while maintaining an enviable strikeout rate in the low teens. Miranda hasn’t found a perfect fit on defense, instead playing more of a utility role (he spent time at all four infield positions in 2021, as well as a handful of games in left field at Triple-A), but the power he’s tapped into could allow for the possibility of a more permanent corner-infield role. 4. Josh Winder, SP Video Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Virginia Military Institute (MIN) Age 25.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 50/60 92-96 / 97 After an impressive 2019 season, Winder showed off a velocity increase at 2020 instructs, sitting 93-95 mph and touching 97. As a 6-foot-5, square-shouldered hurler with a repeatable delivery and an arm slot well suited to optimizing his fastball, the velocity bump was a welcome development, especially when combined with the spin he’d added to his curveball and the arm-side action he’d begun to cultivate in his changeup. In 2021, Winder started the season in Double-A and managed to improve upon his ’19 performance in virtually every statistical category. He issued more strikeouts (31.3%) and fewer walks (4.8%), while posting a 0.93 WHIP and a sub-two ERA. When he was promoted to Triple-A, he struck out seven guys before allowing a hit. He maintained his feel for the strike zone over four Triple-A starts but was shut down with shoulder tightness in mid-July and didn’t return for the rest of the season. That leaves unanswered the question of whether he can maintain his velocity over the course of a full season and adds some injury concern, but the overall performance was still enough for him to have been considered one of the Twins’ 2021 breakouts. 5. Jordan Balazovic, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from St. Martin HS (CAN) (MIN) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 55/55 40/45 45/55 93-96 / 97 2020 would’ve been a test of Balazovic’s ability to maintain his stuff over the course of a full season and could have helped solidify his role as an innings-eating starter. Of course, that opportunity was wiped away by the pandemic, postponing Balazovic’s chance to prove himself until 2021. His best outing came in mid-July, when he lasted seven innings against a lineup featuring several of the Dodgers’ top-ranked prospects, including Jacob Amaya, Michael Busch, and Miguel Vargas. He kept all three of those bats quiet, fanning Amaya and Busch twice each despite their oft-mentioned keen sense of the strike zone. By the time he left the game, he’d issued 11 strikeouts and just one walk, and allowed only one hit (a single, where the runner was thrown out at second). Despite flashes of brilliance like that, Balazovic never really had a stretch of games where he was consistently unhittable, and his walk-rate saw an uptick uncharacteristic of his past performance. He did pitch more innings in 2021 than he had in his dominant ’19 season, but only slightly more (97 IP, up from 93.2), and he averaged fewer innings per game (4.2, down from 5.2). That said, his stuff still looks good, working vertically with a deep curveball that is complemented by a sharper changeup that he uses low in the zone. His delivery is a whirl of limbs, distracting enough to batters on both sides of the plate for them to have trouble picking up the ball out of his hand. Despite the flailing, Balazovic keeps his long levers in check, contracting almost miraculously by the time his foot lands with each offering. Assuming he’s able to recapture his strikeout rate from previous seasons as he continues to refine his secondaries, he still looks like a No. 3 or 4 starter. 45+ FV Prospects 6. Joe Ryan, MIRP Video Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Cal State Stanislaus (TBR) Age 25.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 70/70 50/50 40/40 45/50 50/60 90-94 / 96 Throughout his time in the minors, Ryan’s strikeout rate has left many scratching their heads. With a fastball that sits 90-94 mph, it was hard to understand the 37.3% K-rate (against just 6.5% walks) he’d posted in his 29 professional starts across the 2018 and ’19 seasons, not to mention his swinging strike rates, which were among the minor leagues’ best. In 2021, he continued to build on that success. He started the year at Triple-A Durham as part of the Rays system, striking out 34.9% of opposing batters before making two impressive starts as a member of a Team USA squad that garnered a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. By the time he’d returned stateside, he was a Twin, coming over to Minnesota as part of the return in the Nelson Cruz trade. He made two Triple-A starts in St. Paul, striking out 50% of the batters he faced and earning a call-up to the big league rotation at the beginning of September. He made five big-league starts, and maintained a 30% strikeout rate at the top level, with just 5% walks. Understanding that success requires an examination of Ryan’s approach angle – he creates backspin that seems impossible based on his release point, thanks to a seemingly incongruously high arm slot and very short levers – which gives him the look of a starter, unlike other hurlers with similarly low releases. That deceptive approach angle allows his fastball to play up, with batters swinging over it, especially when he can place it in at their hands. His starter profile is further bolstered by a four-pitch mix, including secondaries that have oft been described as middling, but which also produce rare and promising spin; his curveball spin is a near-perfect mirror of his fastball, and his slider creates heavy seam-shifted wake, as Jake Malihot detailed in an in-depth look at Ryan during this past offseason. As Jake concluded, even if Ryan doesn’t make the adjustments necessary for his secondaries to play up, the characteristics of his approach angle and release point give him a wide enough margin for error. We’re skeptical that Ryan can continue to work with his fastball 75% of the time and be a starter without major league hitters making meaningful in-game adjustments, but we think that he’s poised for big league success in a relief role even if that’s true. 7. Jhoan Duran, SP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/50 60/60 40/45 95-99 / 101 Often exciting if sometimes frustrating during his inconsistent early career with the Diamondbacks, both Duran and his stuff have matured since Minnesota acquired him as part of Arizona’s trade for Eduardo Escobar. His frame filled out and his velocity became more consistent start-to-start, resting in the 95-99 mph range and touching 101 throughout 2019 and again during the first half of ’21 before Duran was shut down with a forearm strain that cost him the rest of the year. He was throwing again during 2021 instructs (if we can call what most of the Florida teams did “instructs”) but his arm strength wasn’t quite back to pre-injury levels. While Duran’s fastball has had more effective angle since the Twins acquired him, its non-velocity characteristics don’t enable it to miss bats at the rate you might expect of a 97 mph fastball, similar to what Sixto Sánchez and Brusdar Graterol have exhibited during their respective big league tenures. The area where he most consistently gets whiffs is down and to his arm-side, with a unique splitter/sinker hybrid that Duran and the Twins call a “splinker” and that we have listed as a splitter here. While his curveball has good-looking depth, it’s extreme velocity separation from his fastball (16 mph on average) and its high arc make it fairly easy for hitters to distinguish from Duran’s fastballs, and it also lost about 200 rpm in 2021, which may have been due to the injury. After he had largely assuaged concerns about whether he could start by limiting his walks in 2018 and ’19, Duran is back in the relief risk bucket because of his injury and some concerns about how his stuff will play the second or third time through a big league lineup. His delivery is very upright and kind of stiff, and he doesn’t have pinpoint feel for location, but Duran bullies the zone with huge velocity enough to consider him a starter if that heat totally returns. He slid from being in our overall Top 100 (he’d made the cut in each of the last two years) to just outside of it, with his return contingent upon showing complete health in 2022. The fallback is an impact bullpen role. 8. Matt Canterino, MIRP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Rice (MIN) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 222 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/60 50/55 55/60 40/45 91-96 / 98 Canterino has an obvious starter’s pitch mix on paper but has the visual look of a reliever because of his delivery’s violence and his build, which is atypical for a starter. Scouts and analysts have had conflicting opinions about his ultimate role dating back to college, with the former much more likely to project him in the bullpen than the latter. Until last season, Canterino had not only been healthy, but, other than a brief stretch in college when his velo dipped as he tried to throw more strikes, he’d held plus stuff for 100-120 annual innings; he also developed a great changeup during the 2020 layoff. Then his elbow started to bark and he had two separate IL stints that kept him shelved for all but 21 affiliated innings in 2021. When healthy, he was sitting 94-95 mph with feel for consistent letter-high location, a mid-80s power slider, and a pronating, Devin Williams-style changeup with big arm-side fade and sink. All three pitches are plus, and since his sophomore year at Rice, Canterino has only walked about 50 batters in 250 total innings. Again, on paper, this is an obvious starter. A top 100 prospect a year ago, Canterino was coming off a season in which he threw 120 innings combined between his pre-draft Rice tenure and post-draft Twins work. He seemed poised to vault off that foundation of innings (and the new changeup) into a potential rotation spot as soon as 2022-23, but because of the pandemic and injury, he’s now thrown just 48 total innings in parts of three pro seasons (not counting his fairly limited alternate site work in 2020) and is entering his 40-man evaluation year in kind of an awkward spot. It makes it more likely that he begins his Twins career in a multi-inning relief role, though if Canterino’s stuff is fine coming off of injury, he’ll thrive in whatever role and re-enter the Top 100. 45 FV Prospects 9. Ronny Henriquez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX) Age 21.7 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 55/55 45/55 93-96 / 97 There are always a few little toy cannon hurlers with light speed arm actions floating around, and Henriquez, who spent 2018 in the DSL then skipped several levels and pitched well in full-season ball in 2019, is one of them. Despite measuring maybe — maybe — 5-foot-10 (maybe), his arm generates mid-90s velocity with grace and ease, and he goes right after hitters at the letters. He was 94-96 mph during the spring of 2021 then held 93-95 throughout the season, working about 100 innings across 20 appearances. This was very encouraging for the liliputian Henriquez to do coming off the 2020 shutdown, as he already faces durability questions because of his size. We’re less inclined to worry about durability here, especially as Henriquez has built the inning count he has. There are advantages to being a short pitcher related to approach angle, and one of the variables in the formula for torque (which could arguably be applied to assessing stress on the elbow) is lever length, a notion that counters conventional wisdom that bigger pitchers are more durable. Henriquez’s delivery is well-balanced and controlled over his landing leg, and it isn’t especially violent. His upper-80s split/change has sinking, fading action and is aided by Henriquez’s consistent arm speed. He will double and triple up on this changeup. The shape and quality of his low-80s slurve had been more variable, but that pitch had more velocity (sitting 83-85) and spin (from 2300 rpm in 2019, to 2500 rpm in 2021) than it did in 2019. Hitters seem to struggle to pick it up out of his hand and are often frozen by it when Henriquez lands it in the strike zone. It can garner chases when it’s located, and we think a plus on-mound athlete like Henriquez projects for at least above-average command, which his careeer walk rates support. He’s posted ERAs close to 5.00 during his entire career in full-season ball, but his peripherals and FIP indicate he’s been much better than that. The Rangers added him to their 40-man roster during the offseason and then traded him to the Twins as part of a deal for Mitch Garver just before the 2022 season. He’s now part of a huge contingent of exciting young pitchers on Minnesota’s roster and he has a chance to make his big league debut in 2022, likely establishing himself as part of the rotation by 2023. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Kempner HS (TX) (NYM) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 40/45 50/50 55/60 50/60 90-94 / 97 Woods Richardson came to the Twins at the 2021 deadline as part of the José Berríos deal with Toronto. His velocity ticked down a bit in 2021, sitting about 91 mph rather than being in the 92-94 range he’d posted in ’19. His excellent changeup has arm-side fade, and both his slider and curveball have effective, distinct movement to them – the 12-6 curveball dips into the mid-70s, while the slider offers a flatter, later-breaking look in the 79-81 range. Before the trade, he’d started 11 games for Toronto’s Double-A affiliate, throwing a total of 45.1 innings with an impressive 33.2% strikeout rate and an uncharacteristically high walk-rate of 12.9%. He was traded while he was in Tokyo for the Olympics (though he did not pitch there), and when he returned after the Games, he wasn’t activated for several weeks, making his debut with the org in early September at Double-A Wichita. In his four appearances there (three starts and two innings in relief), his inability to locate seemed to worsen, with his strikeouts ticking down and his walks ballooning above 21%. Tiny though the sample may be, his post-trade looks were not the encouraging return to form that the Twins may have hoped for. Location wasn’t an issue for him in previous seasons, and he’s a young, hyper-competitive guy with a history of commanding an above-average four-pitch arsenal, so it’s important to keep in mind that development is not always linear. SWR has plenty of time to recapture his command and end up in the No. 4/5 starter area. 11. Matt Wallner, DH Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Southern Mississippi (MIN) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 70/70 45/60 40/40 20/30 70 Wallner hit for power during all three years of his college career at Wichita State, even while pitching part-time as a freshman and sophomore. While some scouts thought he had pro potential as a hurler, an arm injury kept him off the mound during his junior year and Wallner’s huge raw power carried most of the water for his draft profile. He had some of the most explosive raw thump in the 2019 draft class, drawing 70 or 80 grades from scouts. The 2021 season was Wallner’s first full pro campaign, and he hit 15 homers in just 66 games (slashing .264/.350/.508) as an old-for-the-level 23-year-old at High-A. His season was interrupted by a broken hamate, which can sometimes sap power output for many months after surgery to remove the broken bone, but Wallner slugged .465 in the 50-ish games he played after returning from surgery and kept on hitting for power against Fall League pitching that was roughly comparable to what he saw during the regular season. Wallner struck out 31% of the time in 2021, somewhat concerning for a 23-year-old in A-ball, but he has gigantic pop that he’s always gotten to in games. He does enough damage against right-handed pitching to project as the larger half of a corner outfield or DH platoon, a valuable role player. The DH is in play here because Wallner is a bad defensive outfielder who sometimes turns routine plays into a harrowing adventure. His arm strength fits in right field but he’s a liability out there right now, though there’s perhaps some room for late growth in this area since we are talking about a former two-way guy who missed a key year of development due to the pandemic and a huge chunk of another due to injury. 40+ FV Prospects 12. Noah Miller, SS Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Ozaukee HS (WI) (MIN) Age 18.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 40/45 20/45 40/40 30/45 50 If not for his age on draft day, Miller would be a complete model darling, as switch-hitting middle infielders with on-paper evidence of contact ability tend to be. Miller was close to 19 on draft day but the visual evaluation of his hitting skills is excellent and it drove his rise during the spring of 2021, as decision-makers rolled in to see him late as the weather in Wisconsin warmed up. He ended up going in the sandwich round. Miller has quick, smooth hands, great bat control, and feel for contact from both sides of the plate (his lefty swing has more pop). He’s also capable of making athletic defensive plays and throwing accurately from all kinds of different platforms, so there’s a chance he sticks at shortstop even though he lacks electric straight-line speed and huge, full-effort arm strength. It’s atypical for hitters of this sort to come out of a cold-weather area, as teams have traditionally been more comfortable taking players from SoCal or Florida with similar profiles and contact metrics, just against better varsity competition. As a switch-hitting middle infielder, Miller has a high floor. His ceiling will probably be dictated by whether or not his feel for contact is special rather than just very good, since his age dilutes his power projection. 13. Marco Raya, SP Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from United South HS (TX) (MIN) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 45/50 40/55 35/55 92-96 / 98 He still hasn’t pitched an inning in affiliated ball due to a shoulder strain that popped up during 2021 extended spring training and cost him the meat of the season, but Raya is a 2022 breakout candidate. Among all of the high school pitchers in the 2020 draft, he was one of the better on-mound athletes and had perhaps the most graceful, repeatable delivery of the group. He is arguably a beneficiary of the Scouting Halo Effect, as Raya was part of a high-level scouting run that included a huge college tournament in Houston just before the 2020 shutdown. He pitched no affiliated innings that year but was peaking in the mid-90s during quarantine bullpens, then sitting 95 mph and touching 98 after he returned from the shoulder issue in 2021; he sat 94 in a live BP session just prior to list publication. It’s one thing to do that in the womb of the complex or off an indoor mound in a t-shirt and shorts, and another to do it once a week for five months, but Raya has the components to be an impact big league hurler if he can sit 94-plus consistently. His athleticism and the arm-side feel for his breaking balls made it seem like he’d break out if he had a velo increase, which has happened in a controlled environment. His slider and curveball have distinct shape and bat-missing depth, and we like to bet on changeup development for good athletes with quick, efficient arm actions, all of which are present with Raya. We think he’ll have a mid-rotation starter’s pitch mix, and hope he stays healthy and develops a mid-rotation starter’s stamina. 14. Cole Sands, MIRP Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Florida State (MIN) Age 24.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 70/70 45/50 40/45 91-94 / 96 Sands was on the 60-day IL in 2018 and made three IL trips in ’19, though one was for a blister and another was for a calf strain, so it wasn’t all arm stuff. The injuries and the pandemic still made it tough for him to build a starter’s innings count, so the fact that he worked about 80 innings across 19 appearances last season is a win, even though Sands had yet another IL stint in 2021, this time with an elbow strain. He looked good when he returned and the Twins added him to their 40-man roster after the season; he’s in the mix for 2022 innings on a pitching staff that has dealt with a ton of turnover over the last year. Sands’ money pitch is his incredible curveball, a 77-82 mph offering with an incredible amount of two-planed, sweeping action. Sands will try to run his 91-95 mph fastball past hitters at the letters, which he’s gotten better at doing since college due to a slight shift in his delivery that altered his fastball angle. He throws very few changeups and that pitch is still shy of average. That, plus Sands’ lack of innings, has us projecting him as a multi-inning relief stopper, a role we value in this FV tier. 15. Misael Urbina, LF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (MIN) Age 19.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/55 45/50 30/50 50/50 30/45 45 It’s best to look at Urbina’s atrocious production at Low-A in 2021 with a good amount of context in mind. Urbina was one of the more advanced hitters in his J2 class when he signed in 2018; he played 50 games of Rookie League ball in 2019 and continued to look mature beyond his 17 years as he acclimated to professional pitching. Then came 2020, and with it, both the global pandemic and the contraction of the minor leagues, which meant Urbina not only lost a year of professional development, but when he returned, it was to full-season ball, a zero-to-60 scenario that would make it difficult for any young hitter to find immediate success. And indeed, Urbina’s woes were obvious. When he was dialed in, he showed the explosive rotation in his swing that had garnered him attention as an amateur, but those instances were few and far between. More often, he looked unsure of what to expect, slowly dragging his bat through the zone and seeming to decide mid-swing whether he should’ve offered at the pitch. He went hitless in 48 of his 101 games at Low-A Fort Myers, finishing the year with a wRC+ of just 67 and an anemic .191/.299/.286 slash line. But while output like that is by no means good, there were elements to his performance last season that were encouraging. He struck out just 18.7%, significantly less than league average, especially in Low-A Southeast, where the ABS system had K-rates elevated to the extreme, and we still think he has a preternatural ability to catch fastballs at his letters and hit them with power. His speed has diminished a bit and he’s less of a base-stealing threat than he was once was; he stole 16 bags in 2021, compared to the 19 he stole in ’19 in less than half the number of games. And scouts see him as a tweener outfield type without the chops to stay in center field; he split his time evenly between center and left (plus a one-game cameo in right field), and if his speed can’t keep him in center, his bat will have to improve to ensure his fit as a corner outfielder, though at just 19, he still has time to get there. The arrow is pointing down and we anticipate we’ll have a quick hook with Urbina if he looks like this again in 2022, but we still like the combination of bat speed and lack of swing-and-miss at this age, and with Urbina’s pedigree, it makes us want to hold off on sliding him for now. 16. Spencer Steer, 2B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Oregon (MIN) Age 24.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 50/50 40/45 50/45 40/45 50 The well-rounded Steer is now a .264/.362/.462 career hitter in the minors, and after he hit a whopping 24 homers combined between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita, he was shuttled between the 45 FV tier and this one throughout our list-making process. He ultimately ended up down here due to his handedness (all else equal, give us the lefty stick) and a propensity to chase breaking balls, which was exposed once he reached Wichita. His peripherals (walk and strikeout rates) shifted from “exciting” to “concerning” after his promotion, but Steer’s true ability probably lies somewhere in between, hovering around average from a plate discipline and bat-to-ball standpoint. Steer had a good college career at Oregon and was a bucket of 45- and 50-grade tools coming out. A revamped swing — one with a bigger leg kick — was evident in 2021, a more athletic and uninhibited version of his college cut. It’s a reason to buy that there has been an uptick in game power output, and that the spike in his strikeouts might taper as he gets more comfortable with this new swing and doesn’t pull off of all those sliders away from him. Compact but strong, we think that the short-levered Steer will hit enough to play a part-time big league infield role. He’s a much better defensive fit at second and third base than he is at shortstop, so getting to his power in games will continue to be important, as the other versions of this sort of profile tend to either have better bat-to-ball skills (guys like young Wilmer Flores and current Josh Harrison) or get to lots of power (recent Eduardo Escobar). 17. Keoni Cavaco, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Eastlake HS (CA) (MIN) Age 20.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 55/60 35/55 60/60 40/50 55 Cavaco is on a similar journey as Urbina, and as such, is facing similar obstacles, making for an interesting comparison. Much like Urbina, Cavaco boasts an impressive profile and pedigree, but lost the 2020 season only to return to a higher level of play than was previously typically for high school prospects of his ilk, who used to be able to adjust to professional pitching more gradually by cutting their teeth in short-season ball. And much like Urbina, Cavaco proceeded to belly-flop in 2021. But while they both posted identically abysmal 67 wRC+ marks during their seasons at Low-A, they did so in very different ways. Whereas Urbina’s mature approach was dampened by a low BABIP, Cavaco displayed the opposite of that, with an unrefined approach that resulted in walk and strikeout rates of 6.9% and 34.2% respectively. But when he did make contact, it was impactful; his BABIP on the season was a cartoonish .361, and scouts still love the raw power he brings. It’s very unlikely Cavaco can sustain that BABIP long-term, so improving his feel for the strike zone will be an important piece of his ongoing development. As an amateur, his swing was awkwardly-timed and very uphill, and his performance in 2021 was partially a result of attempts to adjust it (and, of course, him reacclimating to professional pitching). He still has an uppercut swing, though it’s clear he’s working on flattening it, and he’s added elements to his load and his front foot placement that seem geared toward adjusting his timing. As an added hiccup to his progress, Cavaco missed nearly a month with a concussion, disrupting his season just as he seemed poised to turn around his slow start (his June slash line was .344/.400/.438 when he was shut down on the 10th of that month). His 2021 defense at shortstop (24 errors in 60 games) also makes it more likely he eventually moves over to third base, where his plus arm will still play. Cavaco was always going to be a slow burn and his ceiling is still high, depending mostly on his ability to hone his timing to more consistently get to the in-game power that his bat speed/path combo is geared for. 40 FV Prospects 18. Edouard Julien, LF Drafted: 18th Round, 2019 from Auburn (MIN) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/55 35/50 40/40 30/35 40 Julien hit 17 dingers and slashed .278/.398/.556 as a freshman at Auburn, then was ruled draft-eligible as a 20-year-old sophomore not because of his age, but because he had attended a year of secondary school in Canada before heading to college, which made him three years removed from high school. He was suddenly a young-for-the-class college bat who might have gone very high in the draft if he’d hit like he had the year before and gotten better at second base. Unfortunately, he did neither. Julien’s stock fell early during the season as he struggled badly, then he got hot during a tumultuous postseason run; the Twins drafted him on Day Three. Julien tweeted he was going back to school, then went to the Cape and had a great two weeks, after which the Twins’ offer rose to just shy of $500,000, inspiring him to sign. He had Tommy John in August of 2019 and rehabbed during a 2020 season that he would have missed anyway. Julien finally got underway in pro ball in 2021, age appropriate for his level in a Twins system that tends to be conservative with promotions. He hit .266/.434/.480 with 18 homers split between Low- and High-A, showing bat speed commensurate with that kind of power output. Patient bordering on passive, Julien’s bat is what will carry him to the big leagues. He could end up tracking like Josh Rojas, who was also not a good defender but ended up playing several positions, kind of like a blunt Swiss Army Knife. Julien has played first, second, third, and in left field, and projects as a bat-first platoon role player. 19. Danny De Andrade, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Venezuela (MIN) Age 17.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/50 30/45 20/40 50/50 40/50 50 De Andrade is an international prospect straight out of central casting. He has a well-rounded collection of tools hovering around average quality, a relatively projectable frame, and precocious baseball feel and instincts. He spent 2021 in the DSL, where he appropriately put up an almost exactly league-average line — .264/.340/.348 — while putting the ball in play a ton. He’s still in a place of medium variance and impact, a higher-floored prospect than is typical for a player who has yet to turn 18 as of publication of this list. De Andrade is not a remarkable or especially explosive athlete right now but has started to get stronger and will face better pitching stateside in 2022, which might make us more confident that the bat-to-ball portion of his skillset is impactful. 20. Drew Strotman, SP Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from St. Mary’s (TBR) Age 25.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 30/40 55/55 40/45 93-95 / 97 Strotman mostly pitched out of the bullpen at a second tier California college and only began starting full-time in 2018. He was probably slightly under-scouted as an amateur and definitely underdeveloped. For a month and a half of 2018, he showed mid-rotation stuff (92-97 mph), then blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John. His rehab was slow, and Strotman’s fastball was down in the 90-93 range when he returned, then still a mediocre 91-95 with average secondary stuff late in the 2019 Fall League. When he arrived at 2020 instructs, not only had his peak velocity returned (93-95, touch 97), but he had also added a low-90s cutter that was instantly his best secondary pitch. That was his most-used secondary throughout 2021, during which Strotman held the velo (he averaged 95) amid a trade from Tampa Bay to Minnesota as part of the Nelson Cruz deal. What hasn’t continued is the starter-quality control that Strotman exhibited during his early pro career; he walked five batters per nine in 2021. We’re far enough removed from Strotman’s surgery that rust can’t really explain this issue away. His stuff is pretty good, but not so dominant that he can just aim down the chute and be loose within the strike zone without getting hit. He has No. 4/5 starter stuff, with command that pushes him into the very back of a rotation. 21. Alerick Soularie, 2B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Tennessee (MIN) Age 22.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 50/55 35/50 55/55 45/55 45 Soularie has inspired a wide range of opinions due largely to the fact that his impressive college stats were posted over a relatively short SEC career (he’d previously played at a JuCo). His first year of professional baseball was shorter than you’d like due to two back-to-back injuries (a twisted ankle in spring training, followed by a fractured foot sustained in a tumble down the stairs); as a result, his first professional game came on the complex in early August. He slashed .350/.480/.550 over six games there before joining Low-A Fort Myers for the final month of the season. His line wasn’t as spectacular, but he walked 15.2% of the time and stole nine bases in 28 games. He played a few games in left field, but his arm is better suited to a full-time second base role. He’s yet to provide a sufficient sample at the professional level, so his projection remains essentially the same as last year, with his past performance, clear athleticism, second-base defensive projection, and short levers making for a well-rounded profile. Staying healthy and proving that his swing will play against professional pitching will be key in 2022. 22. Cade Povich, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Nebraska (MIN) Age 21.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 35/45 50/55 35/50 35/60 86-92 / 96 Povich is a very well-built, athletic lefty with very advanced breaking ball feel for a Big Ten prospect. He can land his mid-70s curveball with remarkable consistency, and his fastball plays because of angle and command. Considering Povich’s build, athleticism, and age, he was a good bet to throw harder with pro development and that has started to occur, as he peaked in the 94-95 mph range late in the 2021 season, then sat there during shorter work at instructs. His slider also made some progress, mostly through increased velocity rather than spin, since Povich’s breakers rely on the shape created by his arm slot. We like Povich’s size, athleticism, feel, and underlying traits enough to consider him a good bet to be an integral part of the pitching staff eventually, though because he’s only thrown about 10 innings in pro ball, it’s tough to define a future role. He should be developed as a starter and we think he could reasonably end up in the No. 4/5 starter area. 23. Steven Hajjar, SP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Michigan (MIN) Age 20.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 50/55 45/45 50/55 35/55 88-92 / 94 Hajjar’s fastball velocity fluctuated pretty wildly while he was at Michigan, sitting 86-91 mph throughout most of his starts and then peaking at 97 when he threw at the 2021 pre-draft combine. The Twins chose not to send him out to an affiliate after the draft. His perfectly vertical, midnight arm slot creates Collementer-esque angle and carry on his fastball, so he need only throw a little bit harder for it to play against big league hitters in a starting role. Because he was still shy of 21 on draft day and is a very well-built 6-foot-5, there’s a good chance Hajjar does have more natural, steady velocity on the horizon. His curveball has better movement than his slider but is much slower, and Hajjar’s slider command is what makes that pitch play rather than its pure stuff. It’s tough to turn over a changeup from his slot but Hajjar gets a good number of whiffs with his, and he mixes all his secondary stuff in pretty evenly. He looks like a backend starter with some age/frame/athleticism pieces of the profile that indicate there may be room for more growth than there is with most college pitchers. 24. Aaron Sabato, 1B Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from North Carolina (MIN) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/60 40/55 30/30 40/50 50 Sabato was an elite performer at North Carolina but scouts were worried about his stiff, muscle-bound physique, which they were concerned might cause him to trend down the defensive spectrum. Prospects like this need to keep hitting to generate continued industry enthusiasm and Sabato didn’t in 2021. He played most of the season at Low-A, where he struggled to produce at the plate, posting a .189/.365/.357 line, shocking for anyone who saw this guy hit in college. He walked nearly 20% of the time, though, which was enough to keep his overall performance above league average. It wasn’t until after he was promoted to High-A in late August that he started tapping into his power; in his 85 Low-A games, he hit 11 home runs and came close to matching that with eight in just 22 games post-promotion. He also reached base in all but two of those games, maintaining a walk rate above 19% while slugging .630, good for a 165 wRC+ over that span. Sabato’s swing is caveman-powerful, relying on his massive arms and wrists to maintain barrel control while pummeling through the zone. It’s good he was able to rebound, but the start to Sabato’s pro career was scary enough for us to slide him from the 40+ tier and consider him more like a pre-arb bandaid at first base than someone with a shot to be a Pete Alonso sequel. 25. Emmanuel Rodriguez, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 19.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 50/55 25/55 50/50 30/55 50 Last year, we wrote about the incredible physical growth Rodriguez had enjoyed during the lost 2020 season, when he went from looking like a tweener fourth outfield prospect to resembling a college football player. We had no idea how that would manifest on the field since Rodriguez didn’t go to instructs that year, but one could have assumed that he’d have more power. Well, it turned out to be a lot more power. The 18-year-old’s high-end exit velos were in line with the big league average, and he tied for the second-most home runs in the FCL. He also struck out 36% of the time. Most young, strikeout-prone power hitters are tall, long-levered guys, but Rodriguez is pretty compact; his swing is short and has a high, abbreviated finish. Stiffness and a somewhat grooved swing seem to be driving the Ks here. If the strikeouts persist, Rodriguez will have to stay in center field, which is rare for someone as big and physical as he is at 19. We also aren’t projecting a ton on the power even though he is so young, since his frame is pretty maxed out. Rodriguez still brings exciting power from the left side of the plate and has gotten to it in games so far. He’s a risky, high-variance type with a puncher’s chance to be a 45 or 50 one day. 26. Kala’i Rosario, LF Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Waiakea HS (HI) (MIN) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 55/60 25/55 45/40 30/50 55 Another of the maxed-out, power-hitting prospects in this system is the lantern-jawed Rosario, who the Twins signed away from a Cal Baptist commitment for just over $300,000. The 2019 Area Code Games home run derby champ, Rosario has light tower power and got to it in games during his pro debut, slashing .277/.341/.452 on the complex. There’s so much pop here that Rosario can mis-hit balls and still put them out, though he also has enough swing-and-miss to put his corner outfield profile on pretty thin ice if those issues persist. His swing has a flat, almost downward-cutting angle but this keeps it pretty short (another similarity with Rodriguez above) and he’s gotten to power in games anyway, which is exciting despite the whiff issues. He and Rodriguez should traverse the minors together as power-hitting corner outfield prospects. 27. Chris Vallimont, MIRP Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Mercyhurst (MIA) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 45/50 40/45 30/40 89-93 / 95 Vallimont started the season a couple of weeks late with a game at Low-A Fort Myers, a rehab start that came after missing time with back spasms. In that start, he posted a CSW rate of 41%, missing bats with all four of his offerings and issuing six strikeouts in his three innings of work without allowing a free pass. But that would be the only outing of his season in which he didn’t allow a walk. After that game, he was skipped up to Double-A, where his 21 starts were far from flawless; his ERA and BB/9 were both 6.03. On the bright side, he struck out almost a third of the Double-A batters he faced, and his fastball velocity was in the 91-96 mph range, way up from the 89-92 he showed in 2019. He’s further shortened his arm action, and those alterations may have hurt his feel for release and could be to blame for some of the location variability. The Twins protected Vallimont from the Rule 5. Right now, he is trending toward a relief role, with a backend starter ceiling. 28. Blayne Enlow, MIRP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from St. Amat HS (LA) (MIN) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 50/55 40/45 91-94 / 96 Enlow was 92-96 mph during 2020 instructs. His repertoire had been pared down to fastball/cutter/curveball to start 2021, and it appeared as though the pace of his delivery had changed. He made three good starts in May before being shut down and requiring Tommy John in early June. The timing of the surgery puts him in the mix for the 2023 Fall League, and if Enlow’s stuff is back to normal there, he’ll be in the mix for a 40-man spot and a big league role the following year, probably in the bullpen coming off a lost season. His stuff would play in middle relief pretty easily, especially if he throws harder going an inning at a time. 29. Louie Varland, SIRP Drafted: 15th Round, 2019 from Concordia (MIN) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/55 40/50 45/55 45/50 40/50 94-96 / 98 Varland was a 15th round pick in 2019 who played college ball at Division II Concordia, but had an unexpected breakout in 2021. He pitched 47 innings at Low-A, punching out 76 guys for a 38% strikeout rate before being promoted. At High-A, his Ks dipped a bit but didn’t come totally back to earth, staying just shy of the 30% mark at the higher level. One reason for the decrease in Ks post-promotion may be that most of his Low-A games were played in stadiums where balls and strikes were called courtesy of the ABS system. That’s not to say that he’s concerningly wild – in fact, his walks decreased post-promotion – it’s only to point out that the pre-promotion strikeouts were likely affected by a league-wide increase across Low-A Southeast. Of course, the more obvious contributor to the dip in strikeouts is simply the adjustment to the more advanced batters he faced post-promotion; he improved as time went on, with his last start of the season featuring just one earned run versus 11 strikeouts in six innings of work. He’s made adjustments to his arm path to address what he described to FanGraphs’ David Laurila as “a severe case of elbow climb,” allowing him to add a few ticks of velocity to his fastball. In a side session last spring, the heater reached triple-digits; it sat 95 mph and touched 98 in games in 2021(he topped out at 92 in college), with good rising action thanks to his vertical approach angle despite a lower arm slot. Though he tends to favor his slider, at times throwing it as or more often than the heater, his changeup is arguably the better of his secondaries, though both are still works in progress. On top of having come out of relative obscurity, Varland is a St. Paul native, setting up a potential home-grown Cinderella story for the Twins. If he can continue to miss bats the way he has so far, he could find his way to back of their starting rotation. 30. Yasser Mercedes, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 17.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/60 20/55 55/50 30/50 60 Born in Puerto Rico and raised for a bit in the U.S., Mercedes eventually settled in the D.R., where he became a prototypical right field prospect with plus potential power and arm strength. The Twins signed him for $1.7 million in January. 35+ FV Prospects 31. Sean Mooney, SP Drafted: 12th Round, 2019 from St. John’s (MIN) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 55/60 50/55 35/55 90-92 / 94 Mooney is a short-arming, low-slot righty with an upshot fastball and two good secondary offerings. His low-80s changeup has enough fade to be weaponized by his consistent arm-side command of it, his low slot helps his sweeping slider play against righties, both as a chase pitch and in the zone, and his fastball angle allows it to do damage at the letters even though it sits in the low-90s. Mooney had Tommy John in college and has had a bunch of injury issues as a pro, but he has legit fifth starter or long reliever stuff and he could be in the big leagues in 2023 if he stays healthy. 32. Will Holland, 2B Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Auburn (MIN) Age 23.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 181 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/50 30/40 70/70 40/50 55 When Holland was drafted, his stance was wide and squat, taking up most of the batters box, and he barely lifted his foot as he swung. In his 2019 rookie ball season, he narrowed his stance and toyed with altered timing mechanisms, but the tinkering was to the detriment of his offensive output. In 2021, he was standing almost completely upright in the box with a pronounced leg kick, resulting in what looks like a more comfortable, better-timed swing, more consistent bat speed, and an improved slash line. He’s unafraid to swing early in a count – three of his 10 home runs came on the first pitch of the at-bat, and another three came on 1-0 counts – but he could afford to be more patient in his approach to tamp down an increasing strikeout rate. He tapped into much more gap power in 2021, notching nearly eight times the number of doubles he hit in his pro debut in just over twice the number of games. In the field, he spent most of his time at short, with stints at second, third, and in center field, and while it’s possible he can stick at short, it’s still not clear where his defensive home ultimately lies. We like Holland’s athleticism and defensive versatility, and think he has a little extra roster utility due to his speed. We think that his feel for his swing will get dialed in enough for him to be a versatile, low-impact bench piece. 33. Yilber Herrera, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 17.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 30/45 20/40 50/50 40/45 50 Herrera, who signed for $1.7 million in January, has an old school look and hits sans batting gloves, drawing some stylistic comps to Kyle Tucker, albeit while being about four inches shorter. A smaller-framed player with a lefty-hitting utility infield look, Herrera’s bat-to-ball skills are the thing most likely to help him exceed that early-career expectation. 34. David Festa, SP Drafted: 13th Round, 2021 from Seton Hall (MIN) Age 22.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 45/55 40/45 45/55 30/50 89-94 / 96 Yet another college pitching prospect with more physical projection than is typical, the Twins drafted Festa in the 2021 15th round; Festa averaged 91-93 mph and was up to 96 at Seton Hall, then sat 92-94, and often 94-95, in his post-draft pro outings. He’s 6-foot-6, has four pitches, and has shown the capability to miss bats with three of them regularly, especially his changeup. He’s a sleeper developmental starter prospect. 35. Christian MacLeod, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from Mississippi State (MIN) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 227 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/45 55/60 45/50 30/40 87-91 / 94 MacLeod dominated during the brief 2020 college season, and entered a draft-eligible second year in Starkville in the late first/early second round mix. But even while Mississippi State had a championship season, MacLeod’s individual output was mixed. He hadn’t improved from his freshman year but actually had to face SEC hitters for an extended stretch, and ran a 5.23 ERA. He ended up falling to the fifth round. MacLeod’s stuff has effective natural shape. His fastball carries, his breaking ball has depth thanks to his arm slot, and he creates arm-side action on his changeup despite that slot. MacLeod is a soft-bodied 6-foot-4 and might throw harder than just 89 mph and develop better command with improved conditioning and body control. 36. Jovani Moran, SIRP Drafted: 7th Round, 2015 from Carlos Beltran Academy HS (PR) (MIN) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 45/45 70/70 40/40 90-93 / 95 Moran posted video game numbers early in his career thanks to a Bugs Bunny changeup, which he threw almost as often as his fastball during his brief big league stint. He hasn’t improved drastically since then, and his walk rates have regressed as he’s climbed the minors. Moran is likely to be back and forth between Target and CHS Fields throughout 2022. He could eventually be a consistent middle-inning guy. 37. Steven Cruz, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 70/70 45/50 30/35 95-99 / 101 The hard-throwing Cruz averaged 97 mph in 2021 but he lacks any modicum of feel to pitch and his slider has inconsistent length and finish. His size, body composition, and arm strength are all incredible and are going to give him plenty of long-term opportunities to hone his command and find a quality secondary pitch en route to a dramatic middle-inning role. 38. Yennier Cano, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (MIN) Age 28.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 45/50 45/45 92-95 / 97 Cano was only fair at St. Paul despite sitting 94-97 mph with heavy sink and a great splitter. His fastball doesn’t miss bats, and he instead relies on that splitty and the occasional slider to garner whiffs. The low-slot righty is likely to make his big league debut at some point during 2022 and if he keeps the walks down, he could be up a lot over the next couple of years. He certainly presents an interesting look since most pitchers who deliver from this low do not have this kind of arm strength. 39. Francis Peguero, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CIN) Age 24.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/55 40/45 94-96 / 97 Peguero hung around the bottom of Reds prospects lists for several years, awaiting more velocity from the lanky young righty. In 2021 that finally arrived, and Peguero experienced a three-tick velo bump, sitting 96 mph. His fastball doesn’t have great angle or movement and relies entirely on velocity, while his slider’s shape is inconsistent and sometimes just floats toward the zone and backs up on Peguero. Traded to Minnesota as part of the Sonny Gray deal, Peguero is upper-level bullpen depth. 40. Juan Mendez, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2020 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 40/50 40/45 30/40 93-95 / 98 Like Cano, Mendez signed at an older age than most international prospects (age 22). He spent 2021 getting his feet wet on the complex and was of interest because of his mid-90s fastball, while his slider and changeup are both crude. He’s likely to have a developmental trajectory like Cano’s, where he ends up at the upper-levels deep into his 20s and either sinks or swims as a big leaguer depending on whether the secondaries have come along. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Spot Starter Types Ben Gross, RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, RHP Regi Grace, RHP Luis Rijo, RHP Cody Laweryson, RHP Pierson Ohl, RHP Gross spent three years at Princeton, then transferred to Duke and carved out a rotation spot for himself via good performance in the bullpen. He has four pitches and the Twins pushed him to Double-A pretty fast, sending him to Wichita late in 2021 and asking him to work in long relief. He sits about 93 mph and his best secondary is a good slider. Gipson-Long, 24, was the club’s sixth rounder in 2019 and has had success in the low minors as a starter, sitting 90-94 with an above-average slider and plenty of strikes. Grace, 22, fills the zone with four pitches, none of which are above average. Rijo, once acquired from the Yankees as part of the 2018 Lance Lynn trade, missed most of 2021 with an elbow injury. He has a dandy curveball but his fastball doesn’t really play. Laweryson is in the “How the hell is this guy doing this?” bucket with Joe Ryan, as he’s carved High-A while sitting 89. He’s great at killing spin on his changeup. Ohl threw a ton of strikes with 40 stuff at Grand Canyon and could move quickly if he starts throwing harder. Bench Infield Types Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B/3B Yunior Severino, 2B Jermaine Palacios, SS Wander Javier, SS Encarnacion-Strand, the club’s 2021 fourth rounder, has plus power and some approach-drive strikeout issues. He could be a 40 first-base type eventually. The 22-year-old switch-hitting Severino hit for power in A-ball, but struck out 30% of the time and has for a while now, though he’s still a switch-hitting infielder with pop, so we’re staying on him to some degree. Palacios was originally a Twin and was traded to the Rays, where he didn’t play well and was crowded out by their depth. He returned to Minnesota and had a pretty good year at Double-A while playing a good defensive shortstop, putting him in position to be injury depth in 2022. Javier is now 23 and still has big contact issues. Conversion Arms and Undrafted Sleepers Zach Featherstone, LHP Logan Campbell, RHP Aaron Rozek, LHP Malik Barrington, RHP John Stankiewicz, RHP A.J. Labas, RHP Featherstone is a converted outfielder whose fastball has huge carry, and who has a fair mid-80s slider. Campbell is a 2021 undrafted free agent from Charleston. He sits 92 mph, his slider has plus spin, and he has a screwball with big arm-side movement. Rozek, 26, was signed out of the Frontier League and pitched across four levels in 2021, getting a shot of espresso at Double-A. He has a four-pitch mix that includes an upper-80s sinker and an above-average changeup. Barrington was undrafted out of Albany State but has a sturdy, innings-eater’s frame and performed in the FCL last year. The big, 6-foot-4 Stankiewicz sits 90-92 and has an above-average slider. Labas had a good career at LSU despite throwing just 88, thanks largely to his changeup. Loads of Catching Depth Alex Isola, C Patrick Winkel, C Noah Cardenas, C Jair Camargo, C Jeferson Morales, C/OF Charles Mack, C Isola hit 17 homers at High-A in 2021 and has a chance to be a bat-first backup. Winkel and Cardenas are fairly recent addition via the draft. They were both high-profile amateurs, with Winkel the bat-first archetype from UConn and Cardenas the glove-driven third catcher sort from UCLA. Camargo (added via trade from the Dodgers a few years ago) has plus power, while Morales has interesting positional versatility. Mack is a tough converted infielder still new to the position. Had Advocates Casey Legumina, RHP Travis Adams, RHP Ryan Shreve, RHP Legumina has a plus slider and some scouts think he belong somewhere in the 35+ tier along with the other relievers there. Adams sits 92 mph but has a plus slider and might throw harder in relief. He was the club’s 2021 sixth rounder out of Sac State. Shreve throws a ton of strikes with three average pitches and he’s deceptive, racking up big numbers in relief. System Overview The top of this system is down due to a combination of graduations (Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff) and injuries that moved some of last year’s 50 FV pitchers down a tier (Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino). We learned a little bit about the club’s pro scouting proclivities during the 2021 season as the big league team unexpectedly struggled, prompting some deals that saw Minnesota acquire prospects for the first time in a while. The trade returns tended to consist of multi-player packages centered around near-term big leaguers. The Twins have not been shy about thrusting soft-tossers with accentuating fastball features into the big league fire, as we’ve seen with Bailey Ober, Cody Stashak, and others in recent years. Those traits are scattered throughout many systems but are especially common in Minnesota’s. They take opportunistic gambles on toolsy high schoolers in the draft but generally have a balanced style of talent acquisition in the amateur markets. As you can see from the group in Other Prospects of Note, the Twins have been fairly aggressive at adding undrafted guys, and some of them have become interesting pretty quickly. They seem hellbent on home-growing as much of their pitching as possible, making deals on the margins rather than pumping resources into free agency. They look to have a steady stream of depth types flowing behind the higher-ceiling guys, many of whom have dealt with injury issues within the last year. The Twins certainly have the bats to compete for a playoff spot in an AL Central that is poised for a renaissance of sorts, but if they’re going to make a run, they have to add premium pitching somehow or most of their near-ready big arms here (especially Duran, Canterino, Winder, SWR, Balazovic, and Ryan) need to stay healthy.