Top 30 Prospects: Minnesota Twins

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Minnesota Twins. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All the numbered prospects here also appear on THE BOARD, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. Click here to visit THE BOARD.

Twins Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 Royce Lewis 18 A CF 2020 55
2 Nick Gordon 22 AA SS 2019 50
3 Alex Kirilloff 20 A RF 2021 50
4 Fernando Romero 23 MLB RHP 2018 50
5 Stephen Gonsalves 23 AAA LHP 2019 50
6 Travis Blankenhorn 21 A+ 2B 2021 45
7 Wander Javier 19 R SS 2022 45
8 Brusdar Graterol 19 A RHP 2023 45
9 Mitch Garver 27 MLB C 2018 45
10 Brent Rooker 23 AA 1B 2020 45
11 LaMonte Wade 24 AA LF 2019 45
12 Akil Baddoo 19 A CF 2021 45
13 Jose Miranda 19 A 2B 2022 45
14 Yunior Severino 18 R 2B 2023 45
15 Blayne Enlow 19 A RHP 2022 40
16 Jaylin Davis 23 A+ RF 2020 40
17 Lewin Diaz 21 A+ 1B 2021 40
18 Jake Reed 25 AAA RHP 2018 40
19 Jake Cave 25 AAA CF 2018 40
20 Zack Littell 22 AAA RHP 2019 40
21 Landon Leach 18 R RHP 2023 40
22 John Curtiss 25 MLB RHP 2018 40
23 Gabriel Moya 23 MLB LHP 2018 40
24 Andrew Bechtold 21 A 3B 2022 40
25 Ryley Widell 20 R LHP 2022 40
26 Zack Granite 25 MLB CF 2018 40
27 Tyler Jay 23 AA LHP 2019 40
28 Lewis Thorpe 22 AA LHP 2019 40
29 Alex Robinson 23 A+ LHP 2019 40
30 Luke Bard 27 MLB RHP 2018 40

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from JSerra HS (CA)
Age 18 Height 6’2 Weight 188 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 50/55 25/50 60/60 45/55 55/55

Lewis was one of the best players on the summer showcase circuit in 2016, showing a rare combo of hit, power, and speed tools, though it was unclear if he fit better in the infield or center field. He had an up-and-down spring for his high school, with contact concerns caused by some mechanical changes, but he finished strong and the raw tools were still there, helping him go No. 1 overall in a year without a clear-cut top prospect.

Scouts still largely think Lewis’s tools play best in center field long-term, but he’ll play shortstop for now to see if he can grow into that position. He performed even better than expected in his pro debut, and that has continued with a strong start to 2018 in Low-A at age 18.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Olympia HS (FL)
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 160 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 55/55 30/45 50/50 45/50 60/60

Gordon, son of Tom Gordon and brother of Dee Gordon, was identified as a top prospect as high-school freshman in the Orlando area and has made subtle improvements since then, getting more athletic and twitchy with maturity. That said, he’s also been the same sort of player for some time. It’s a card full of grade 5 tools on the 2-8 scale along with a 6 arm, and while there aren’t flashy classic shortstop actions, per se, Gordon gets the most of his tools, in part due to private defensive lessons by family friend Barry Larkin.

There are some questions about where Gordon will end up defensively (sliding over to second base wouldn’t be too big of a deal), and his pitch selection is below average, keeping him from getting to all of his 55-grade raw power. He has made a swing change this spring, with a wider setup and steeper plane, designed to get to more of his power in games. That’s been the outcome so far in 2018, without an increase in strikeout rate.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Plum HS (PA)
Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 55/60 30/50 50/45 40/50 60/60

At first, some scouts who saw him on the showcase circuit didn’t like Kirilloff’s uphill swing, but he performed at every event and scouts eventually looked past that, focusing on his feel to hit, results, and sufficient raw power for an everyday right-field profile. That continued during his first pro summer, so most think he’ll be able to tap into what projects as plus raw power and hit enough to get play every day. Kirilloff had Tommy John last March and didn’t play in 2017 but is in Low-A this year as a 20-year-old and has been performing well.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
70/70 55/60 40/45 40/45

Romero missed almost all of 2014 and all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, then his stuff didn’t come all the way back until into 2017. Now, the reins are now off, though, with Romero have recently been promoted to the big leagues. He throws from a three-quarter slot and sits 95-98, hitting 100 mph with above-average life. Romero uses his explosive fastball effectively up in the zone, and his best secondary pitch is a slider that flashes plus.

Romero isn’t a great athlete, has never had good command, and has endured arm trouble. He’ll often hit bad spots up in the zone with his fastball and isn’t a slam dunk to start, despite having a changeup that flashes average occasionally. He throws lots of strikes and gets ground balls, but in the big leagues, command within the zone becomes much more important when pure velocity and life can’t generate good outcomes alone. Romero could turn into a power mid-rotation starter or settle near the back of a bullpen.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2013 from Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
Age 22 Height 6’5 Weight 213 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
45/50 45/50 50/55 50/55 45/50

Gonsalves was a big name high-school arm who didn’t make a ton of progress in his draft year, working in the low-90s with a sinker, three pitches, feel, and projection, but a soft breaking ball that some scouts thought may never be consistently average. He’s still mostly that guy, with all of his pitches and command either projecting for 50 or 55, but his curveball has improved and now flashes above average.

He still uses both the slider and curveball depending on the situation, and his length helps create plane for a fastball that sits 89-91, peaking at 95 mph, and plays up due to the extension he creates down the mound. Gonsalves has performed well his whole pro career, is about to turn 24, is now in Triple-A, and would seem to be in line for a late-season look to see if he can turn into a league-average starter.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Pottsville HS (PA)
Age 20 Height 6’2 Weight 208 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 30/50 40/40 40/45 50/50

Blankenhorn was a solid all-around athlete and baseball player as a prep prospect in Pennsylvania, going in the third round on the strength of his hit-first infield profile. He’s developed mostly as good as the Twins could have reasonably expected, with good numbers at every stop in the minors, added strength to help the bat profile, and only a slight regression in speed and defense. Blankenhorn is fringey at second base due to his lack of quickness and range but could be fine there in a heavily shifted infield, or he could be a little closer to average over at third base; he’s been essentially splitting time between those positions in pro ball.

The carrying tools here are the bat and newly developing power: Blankenhorn has added loft to his swing and at least an extra grade of power over the last two years while still maintaining average pitch selection and bat control. He projects for something like Neil Walker: hit and power tools from the left side ranging anywhere from 50 to 60 (closer to 50 hit and closer to 60 power) as a fringey defender that fits best at second or third. (Both also signed as prep picks out of Pennsylvania.)

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic
Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 165 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/55 20/45 55/50 45/55 55/60

Javier signed for a club-record $4 million bonus as one of the top prospects in the 2015 July 2nd class out of the Dominican Republic. As an amateur, Javier flashed above average speed, raw power, and arm strength with the ability to stick at short and the loose athletic actions to project as an above-average regular. He could play out of control at times and needed to become more selective at the plate, which is still a concern at this point.

He’s only played 50 official professional games and is out for all of 2018 after getting left shoulder surgery recently while still in extended spring training. In 2019, he’ll be a 20-year-old with a very short pro track record who will likely get a shot to play at Low-A and receive some much-needed reps.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela
Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/70 50/60 45/55 40/50

Graterol missed the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery, but afterwards went from a lower bonus ($150,000) projection arm to a power-armed righty who was up to 100 mph in 2017. He sat 93-97 for Eric after the 2016 season, then worked 95-99 last summer in short-season leagues. He has a mature, non-projectable frame and is a short-strider, so his elite velocity plays down a bit in games. He has average life on the pitch and very loose, quick arm working from a high arm slot.

Graterol’s slider is a high-spin pitch that flashes plus at times but is still inconsistent; his changeup, meanwhile, shows flashes of above-average quality but he’s doesn’t use that pitch too much yet. The upside is frontline if it all comes together, but Graterol’s first need is innings to help him develop some of the starter traits on top of his impressive raw tools. He’ll be able to do that this year at age 19 in Low-A.

Drafted: 9th Round, 2013 from New Mexico
Age 26 Height 6’1 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 55/55 50/50 30/30 50/50 45/45

Garver was a senior sign in the ninth round of the 2013 draft from New Mexico who got a $40,000 bonus. He’s now in the big leagues and, after Jason Castro’s recent injury, is the club’s primary catcher, which obviously was a crazy longshot as recently as a few years ago. Garver has turned into an average defensive catcher due to hard work in pro ball, and he’s added loft and power to his swing in recent years, as well.

He now has 55 raw power, the pitch selection to get to that power in games, and enough bat control to hit in the .240 to .250 range. Garver doesn’t have loud tools or pedigree but has learned how to improve and get the most out of what he has.

10. Brent Rooker, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Mississippi State
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 65/65 40/60 40/40 40/45 45/45

With top prospects like Nick Gordon, Travis Blankenhorn and Mitch Garver all learning to lift the ball and hit homers in recent years, the Twins clearly value that skillset and drafted arguably the best power bat in the 2017 draft class in Rooker with the 35th overall pick. He signed quickly and ended the year in High-A at age 22, hitting 18 homers in 66 games aided by his 65-grade raw power and fly-ball-oriented approach.

Rooker have below-average speed and arm strength, and fits best long-term at first base, though he plays some left field, as well. His swing has some stiffness to it and his swing/approach create additional swing and miss, so he needs to maintain at least average pitch selection to get to his power in games consistently enough to profile as an everyday player.

11. Lamonte Wade, LF
Drafted: 9th Round, 2015 from Maryland
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 189 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 45/45 30/40 50/50 50/55 40/40

Wade has an unusual profile: he’s an average runner with a below-average arm, but his instincts allow him to play an above-average left field. Meanwhile, his power is below average and his bat control is fringy, but his pitch selection is plus-plus. This rare skillset manifests itself in backwards strikeout-to-walk numbers with little power and a higher average than his hitting ability suggests he’d produce, since he’s swinging at better pitches than almost every player.

So, the traditional hit tool, which we grade as a 50, doesn’t capture the production of which Wade is capable with elevated contact and walk rates. While “underpowered, fringey-tooled platoon left fielder” isn’t a sexy profile, Wade is extremely likely to have a multi-year big-league career because of his elite feel for the strike zone.

12. Akil Baddoo, CF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Salem HS (GA)
Age 18 Height 5’11 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/55 20/50 60/60 40/50 40/40

Baddoo is a live-bodied athlete with plus speed who profiles in center field. The emergence recently of solid-average raw power gives him the tools-based ceiling of an above-average everyday player. His feel for the strike zone is above average, he has some feel for the barrel, and he’s learning the lift the ball, so there’s enough here to project 50 to 55 for hit and power tools with a chance to play center field if his instincts improve a bit. It’s still early — and if things play down a bit, he could be a fringey defender with fringey offense — but he figures to be a valuable piece either way.

13. Jose Miranda, 2B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Leadership Christian HS (PR)
Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 30/50 50/45 45/50 55/55

Miranda was a second-round pick in 2016 out of a Puerto Rican high school who stood out for his bat control with a second-base profile. He’s still seen that way, with a bag of solid-average tools that play up due to his feel for the game. He hadn’t played in full-season ball until this spring, so it’s still early in the career of the 19-year-old, but his feel for second base helps his defense play above average, while his feel for hitting help his bat play above average and will also help get to what raw power he possesses.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic
Age 17 Height 6’1 Weight 180 Bat/Throw S/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/60 20/50 50/50 40/50 50/50

Severino signed for $1.9 million with the Braves in their deep 2016 July 2nd class but was declared a free agent due to the Braves’ violations in the international realm. He then signed for an additional $2.5 million bonus after showing similar promise in his 2017 pro debut as he did during his best moments as an amateur. He has electric bat speed and employs hitting mechanics occasionally reminiscent of Gary Sheffield’s to help him time his swing with a quick bat, but he’s toned it down over time to help him make more consistent contact and swing with greater control.

He projects for plus power and will probably always be a power-over-hit type prospect. Severino is a decent infielder with an average arm and solid hands but somewhat limited range. He’ll likely settle at second base or possibly third.

40 FV Prospects

15. Blayne Enlow, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from St. Amat HS (LA)
Age 18 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/55 50/60 40/50 40/50

Enlow was one of the top prep arms in the 2017 draft class but came out of the gates slow, sitting around 90-91 mph until finishing a bit better. As a result, his stock became more of a projection arm with varying opinions from scouts than the more finished products stuff-wise into which some of his peers grew by draft time. Enlow can spin an above-average to plus breaking ball and shows the elements to start, though some scouts are still dubious it all comes together. The Twins spent much of the money they saved at 1-1 on Lewis to get Enlow in the third round for an overslot bonus of $2 million. He normally sits 90-93, but there’s some projection remaining to sit a tick or two higher at maturity.

Drafted: 24th Round, 2015 from Appalachian State
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 60/60 40/50 50/50 45/50 50/50

Davis was a 24th-round pick out of Appalachian State in 2015. He was available at that point not because he lacked tools, but because he missed most of his draft year with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. He’s played just over 200 games in pro ball in close to three full seasons, so health is still an issue, and Davis will soon turn 24 while still in A-ball. That said, he has loud enough tools that you still need to pay attention: a right-field defensive profile with plus raw power and enough bat to possibly profile as a useful big leaguer. Davis is probably a below-average contact hitter, but he may have enough pitch selection to get to most or all of his raw power, which would at least make him a solid rotation/platoon player.

17. Lewin Diaz, 1B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 60/60 30/50 45/40 45/50 50/50

Diaz signed for $1.4 million as one of the better bats in the 2013 July 2nd class but already looked like a future first baseman as a 15-year-old and still looks like one at age 21. He’s had plus raw power most of that time but has chosen not to sell out for power in his swing, instead focusing on working as a more well-rounded hitter. Diaz has above-average bat control, so there are the tools here for above-average offense, but he doesn’t lift the ball as much as you’d like yet in games and his pitch selection is still below average as well. He’s a below-average runner and should be about average at first base.

18. Jake Reed, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Oregon
Age 24 Height 6’2 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 50/50 55/60 40/45

Reed developed into a high-octane power arm at Oregon and has steadily cleaned up his formerly unworkable delivery and lack of command into a big-league-ready reliever who’s waiting in Triple-A. Reed sits 94-98 and hits 99 mph with above-average life but is a very short strider, so his velo plays down a bit due to lack of extension. He works up in the zone and the ball comes in flat due to his lower three quarter arm slot, so he’ll always need to have at least decent command to avoid homer problems.

Reed throws mostly sinkers and his slider, which flashes above average at times but isn’t a swing-and-miss pitch. He should throw his changeup more than he does; the pitch flashes plus due in part to its big sink, helped by Reed’s low slot. Relying more on his changeup down in the zone could also generate more ground balls and tunnel with a high sinker with similar but less movement. Reed’s control is now average to above, but his command is still a bit below average. Making some small adjustments could get him a big-league middle-relief role by the end of the year.

19. Jake Cave, CF
Drafted: 6th Round, 2011 from Kecoughtan HS (VA)
Age 24 Height 6’0 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 45/50 55/55 45/45 50/50

We didn’t particularly want to rank Cave this high, since he was traded from the Yankees during the winter for a very fringey low level prospect. So, as recently as March, his demonstrated trade value wasn’t very high. That said, we also think Cave has a good chance to be a solid bench outfielder in the big leagues, and the Yankees just didn’t have a spot for him to figure it out at the big-league level. Cave used to be more of a gap-power, hit-first type who was an outfield tweener.

He’s still an outfield tweener (fringey in center, solid average in a corner), but he now has joined the air-ball revolution and changed his swing to tap into his newly improved 55-grade raw power more often. It’s accompanied by fringey pitch selection and bat control, though, so it comes with a good bit of swing and miss. If Cave can find a happy medium between these two approaches, he could be challenging for a big-league role by the end of the year.

20. Zack Littell, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2013 from Eastern Alamance HS (NC)
Age 21 Height 6’4 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
45/50 40/45 50/55 45/50 45/50

Littell is a tough evaluation for scouts. He has a maxed-out 6-foot-4 frame, has been traded twice in the last two years, sits 87-90 or 89-91 depending on when you see him but can reach back for a 93 or 94 occasionally, and doesn’t have a plus pitch or plus command. That would normally point to an organizational player who doesn’t project for a big-league career of any consequence, but Littell is now in Triple-A and keeps performing, figuring out ways to set up hitters and get them out.

His curveball flashes 55 at times, his changeup is average to a hair above, and he mixes in a slider against right-handers: the weapons are not overwhelming. Scouts will always question how effective he can be, and it’s likely that his big-league career is as a back-end starter barely surviving on guile and filling in as a long reliever at times. Because we don’t completely understand why Littell keeps performing, we’ll stick him here. [Shrug emoji.]

21. Landon Leach, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Pickering HS (CAN)
Age 17 Height 6’4 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/60 40/50 40/50 40/50

Leach drew some attention of high-level scouts late in the summer into the fall of showcase season in 2017, flashing a projectable frame, clean arm action, and some present stuff, sitting in the low 90s and hitting 94 mph. For most scouts, he didn’t take the expected leap forward that you often see from Canadian prep kids finally reaching a critical mass of reps (like Mike Soroka did), but Leach is still a nice ball of clay with average-ish present stuff and elements to project. He may be in short-season league for two years while the Twins try to iron everything out in his delivery and get him the reps to find consistency with his offspeed stuff, possibly with a velo spike along the way.

22. John Curtiss, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Texas
Age 24 Height 6’4 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command
60/60 55/60 40/45

Curtiss came out of the University of Texas as a power arm who’d already endured Tommy John surgery and didn’t develop the finesse traits necessary to start. As a result, he slid to the sixth round as a likely relief prospect. He’s almost exclusively relieved in pro ball and has come along nicely, sitting 94-97 and hitting 99 mph along with a curveball that’s above average to plus, average control, and fringey command. Curtiss has had short big-league looks last year and this year, so he’s big-league relief inventory who can carve out a middle-relief career with some small adjustments.

23. Gabriel Moya, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 175 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
50/50 30/30 50/50 60/60 50/50

Moya was acquired from Arizona last summer for catcher J.R. Murphy, then made his MLB debut later that summer. He’s now 23-year-old big-league bullpen inventory in Triple-A, and while it isn’t loud stuff, there’s enough here to play for a while in a middle-relief role in the big leagues. Moya sits 90-91 and touches 93 mph but makes it work by operating up in the zone with a rising fastball to set up his above-average changeup and curveball that he tends to throw down in the zone for a tunneling boost. His command is average and needs to be that or better to make this fastball approach work, which is why he threw under 50% heaters last season.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Chipola JC (FL)
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/50 30/45 45/40 45/50 55/55

Bechtold transferred from Maryland to powerhouse Chipola JC in Florida’s panhandle and played a big role for one of the better junior college teams of all time, a club that won the JC World Series and had most of its regular players drafted. Bechtold himself went in the fifth round. He has mostly average tools, with above arm strength and below speed, but has a chance to turn into a low-end everyday starter if he can build on his solid 2017 at the plate.

25. Ryley Widell, LHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from Central Arizona JC
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/50 50/55 50/55 40/50

Widell washed out at Washington State and ended up at an Arizona Juco, where he had a big 2017 with some gaudy numbers down the stretch. He was ultimately selected in the seventh round but with a $400,000 bonus that more closely resembled fourth-round money. At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, he has a prototypical pitcher’s frame. Though the fastball is a pretty ordinary 88-92 mph without much life, Widell has good feel to pitch and some deception to his delivery. He’ll often pitch backwards from a three-quarter slot with a changeup and curveball that flash above average, giving him back-of-the-rotation upside.

26. Zack Granite, CF
Drafted: 14th Round, 2013 from Seton Hall
Age 24 Height 6’1 Weight 175 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 40/40 20/20 70/70 50/55 40/40

Granite has one of the more extreme profiles in pro baseball: well below-average power and a contact-only approach that rarely lifts the ball, but above-average or plus pitch selection and bat control, plus 70 speed that helps him profile in center field. With his current approach, Granite won’t produce enough offensively to be an everyday player (60 hit and 20 game power doesn’t work in the big leagues), but he could obviously, even with this current version of himself, serve as a solid reserve outfielder.

He would fit near the back of a roster as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement who bunts and slaps at the ball when given a chance at the plate, using his speed to do what he can. He’s also the type of player who will see his minor-league stats play down more than usual in the big leagues, with pitchers knocking the bat out of his hands and infield defenders taking away would-be infield hits. It may not be sexy, but for a 14th round-pick this is a resounding success.

27. Tyler Jay, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Illinois
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
50/55 45/45 55/60 40/45 45/50

Jay was a 6-foot-1 reliever in college, but his heater touched 97 mph and everything he threw had great movement. He also had four pitches and the command to start, so the Twins took him sixth overall and tried him in the rotation. After that experiment produced mixed results and Jay suffered some minor injuries, he returned to relief, in which capacity he’s now working in the upper levels.

His stuff is down since his amateur days, sitting 90-95 and hitting 96 mph. He also has a plus curve and a fringey slider and changeup that used to be better, but barely uses either of the latter two pitches anymore with his fastball-dominant approach. He’ll occasionally sit in the mid-90s and flash some of his amateur promise, but even if he stays as that player, he’s a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever.

28. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Australia
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
50/50 50/55 40/45 45/50 45/50

Thorpe had real prospect status following the 2014 season, when he turned in a solid 71.2 innings in Low-A at age 18. He then missed all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons with Tommy John surgery and mono during his rehab from the surgery. He returned last year and mostly picked up where he left off, reaching Double-A at age 21, which is where he was assigned to start 2018. His stuff has always been around average, but it was a little above before and now it’s more fringy with a good slider.

He worked 90-93, hitting 94 mph in 2017 but came out early this spring sitting more 88-91 mph. Thorpe works up in the zone and is mostly effective, but he has to be fine to avoid homer issues and his command is just okay, not above average. He also lacks an outpitch. There’s plenty here to be a back-end starter and he’s in Double-A, so there’s some value; it just looks like more of a role-player upside than it did back in 2014.

29. Alex Robinson, LHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Maryland
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 217 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command
60/65 55/55 40/50

Robinson was a known power arm at Maryland who emerged in his draft year to become a fifth-round pick after hitting 97 mph, but only flashing an average to above slider at times and with below-average command and almost no projection. It was more of the same in 2016, when Robinson worked 92-94, hitting 96 mph, and had over 9 BB/9. Then something clicked in 2017. Robinson dropped his arm slot a bit to three quarters, took a longer stride, and started sitting 94-98, hitting 99 mph.

His control improved to playable and he started throwing his more dominant fastball so much (nearly 80% of the time) that the slider played better with hitters cheating to catch the heater. Robinson still doesn’t have projection to his frame and his command is fringey, but the electric fastball and above-average slider give him an MLB future if he can stay healthy.

30. Luke Bard, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2012 from Georgia Tech
Age 26 Height 6’3 Weight 202 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command
60/60 55/55 45/45

The 42nd overall pick in 2012, Bard had trouble staying healthy and threw just 20 innings combined from 2012 to 2014. Then he failed to miss many bats when he did return. This past year, however, Bard upped his delivery’s tempo and struck out 99 hitters in 65.1 innings. He sits 93-95 with an above-average slider that he locates consistently to his glove side. He’s a middle-relief flier from December’s Rule 5 draft whom the Angels returned recently and whom the Twins sent to Triple-A as big-league relief inventory.

Other Prospects of Note
Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Projected Starters
Kohl Stewart, RHP
Sean Poppen, RHP
Felix Jorge, RHP
Charlie Barnes, LHP
Lachlan Wells, LHP
Tyler Wells, LHP
Ryan Eades, RHP

Stewart is still a solid athlete who has four pitches and runs his heater up to 97, but everything plays down in game to the point that the stuff plays close to average. He hasn’t improved much in pro ball. Poppen has three pitches that flash above average and good control, but he’s 24 in A-ball, so he doesn’t have much time left. Jorge has an above-average slider and changeup, but his 90-92 mph fastball plays down in games, so he’s more of a depth arm. Barnes is the best of the softer-tossers in this group due to his plus changeup and above-average curveball.

Projected Relievers
Zack Jones, RHP
Randy LeBlanc, RHP
Jovani Moran, LHP
Bailey Ober, RHP
Griffin Jax, RHP
Sam Clay, LHP
Williams Ramirez, RHP
Andrew Vasquez, LHP

Jones has had control and injury issues but has been up to 100 mph and has an average breaking ball. LeBlanc throws a 91-94 mph sinker that hits 96 and pairs it with a plus changeup. Moran works from the left side at 90-93 mph with a 65 or 70 changeup but doesn’t have a reliable breaking ball. Jax and Ober both have plus changeups, while Clay and Ramirez flash plus curveballs.

Up-the-Middle Bats
Ben Rortvedt, C
Tanner English, CF
David Banuelos, C
Luis Arraez, 2B
Jacob Pearson, CF
Ricky De La Torre, SS
Jean Carlos Arias, CF

Rortvedt has developed into a fine catcher, but hasn’t realized his amateur power potential, flashing an average bat with well-below-average pop. English has great pitch selection and has improved his hitting ability since college, where he stood out mostly for his easy plus speed. Banuelos is a glove-first catcher with some pop who was acquired from Seattle for pool space they hoped to use on Ohtani.

Corner Bats
Zander Wiel, 1B
Trey Cabbage, LF
T.J. White, 3B

Weil has plus raw power, good pitch selection, and enough bat control to make the big leagues; he’s first-base only and righty hitting, so he’ll need to put the ball in the air as much as possible to create a role for himself. Cabbage is similar, but with a little more defensive value and less power.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Willians Astudillo, C
Astudillo is a unicorn — a unicorn shaped like one of the more rotund varieties of winter squash. Because of his body, catcher is more or less the only position at which he’s capable of being deployed — and, according to Kiley McDaniel, reports on Astudillo’s framing are actually pretty decent. Still, his physical constraints limit his capacity to fulfill all the demands of the position excellently.

At the plate, Astudillo features one of the absolutely strangest skill sets in baseball, having recorded a career strikeout rate of just 3.1% in the minors. Part of that is a product of an aggressive approach, but a lot of it is just never whiffing. Over his last 200 or so plate appearances — a span that includes all of 2017 and -18 — Astudillo has recorded the lowest ground-ball rate of his career, so perhaps there’s room for added game power. The greatest onus, though, is on the glove. In any case, he persists as one of the game’s real curiosities.

System Overview

The Twins have a deep system with promising players at all levels, featuring a variety of profiles and pedigrees. They’re positioned well, with a competitive, mostly young big-league team and a farm system that has at least one solid contributor emerging each year to fill holes. With Garver and Romero close to losing eligibility and Gonsalves, Gordon, Rooker, and Wade at the upper levels, there could be some attrition from this list, but there’s a nice group in the lower levels (Baddoo, Blankenhorn, Enlow, Kirilloff, Lewis, Severino) that could emerge to fill those spots.

It shouldn’t be a banner class of incoming talent to the farm, but more of an average one: they’re tied to Venezuelan CF Misael Urbina in the upcoming July 2nd period for a seven-figure bonus and have the 20th pick in the draft in a few weeks. The new management group comes from the Cleveland school of talent acquisition and tends to lean to more analytically pleasing profiles. That said, with all the information to be gleaned from scouting and high-school showcases, that isn’t as low upside and college focused as that approach would’ve been five or 10 years ago.

Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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Blue Shoesmember
5 years ago

Out of curiosity, you say for Granite that “60 hit and 20 game power doesn’t work in the big leagues.” Off-hand, that doesn’t seem like that different a skill set from Dee Gordon, especially when adding a 70 run grade. Am I underrating Gordon’s skill set?

5 years ago
Reply to  Blue Shoes

Here’s the scouting scale, explained:

3-5 homers a year is considered a 30, so yeah, Dee Gordon and his 12 (twelve!) homers over 3200 PAs sounds like a 20 power to me. Maybe if you pulled out a spray chart for the Marlins’ stadium you could argue he was robbed and he’s really a 30, but that’s not exactly a resounding endorsement of his game power.

As far as Gordon’s hit tool, he clearly has excellent contact ability but he walks so rarely his career OBP is only .328. So yeah, 60 hit sounds good to me too.

Keep in mind, much of Gordon’s value came from two places: His elite baserunning ability (probably a 70 on pure speed, but he’s an 80 on baserunning overall) and his excellent defense at 2B.