Top 41 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 of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Twins Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Royce Lewis 19.9 A+ SS 2020 65
2 Alex Kirilloff 21.5 A+ RF 2020 60
3 Brusdar Graterol 20.7 AA RHP 2021 50
4 Trevor Larnach 22.2 A+ RF 2020 50
5 Wander Javier 20.3 R SS 2022 45+
6 Jhoan Duran 21.3 A+ RHP 2022 45
7 Jose Miranda 20.8 A+ 2B 2022 45
8 Yunior Severino 19.6 A 2B 2023 45
9 Brent Rooker 24.5 AAA 1B 2019 40+
10 Ryan Jeffers 22.1 A+ C 2021 40+
11 Willians Astudillo 27.5 MLB 1B 2019 40+
12 Luis Arraez 22.0 AA 2B 2019 40+
13 Lewis Thorpe 23.4 AAA LHP 2019 40
14 Misael Urbina 17.0 R CF 2023 40
15 Jordan Balazovic 20.6 A RHP 2020 40
16 LaMonte Wade Jr 25.3 AAA LF 2019 40
17 Ben Rortvedt 21.6 A+ C 2021 40
18 Luis Rijo 20.6 A+ RHP 2022 40
19 Nick Gordon 23.5 AAA 2B 2019 40
20 Gilberto Celestino 20.2 AA CF 2021 40
21 Jovani Moran 22.0 AA LHP 2019 40
22 Devin Smeltzer 23.6 AA LHP 2019 40
23 Blayne Enlow 20.1 A RHP 2022 40
24 Akil Baddoo 20.7 A+ CF 2021 40
25 Luke Raley 24.6 AAA 1B 2020 40
26 Jorge Alcala 23.7 AA RHP 2020 40
27 Gabriel Maciel 20.3 A CF 2022 40
28 Prelander Berroa 19.0 R RHP 2022 40
29 Cole Sands 21.8 A RHP 2021 40
30 Travis Blankenhorn 22.7 A+ 2B 2020 40
31 Stephen Gonsalves 24.8 MLB LHP 2019 40
32 Kai-Wei Teng 20.4 R RHP 2023 40
33 Ryan Costello 22.9 A+ 1B 2021 40
34 Landon Leach 19.8 R RHP 2023 40
35 Griffin Jax 24.4 AA RHP 2020 40
36 Carlos Aguiar 17.6 R OF 2023 35+
37 Johan Quezada 24.7 A+ RHP 2020 35+
38 DaShawn Keirsey 21.9 A CF 2022 35+
39 Charles Mack 19.4 R 2B 2023 35+
40 Michael Helman 22.9 A+ 2B 2022 35+
41 Lewin Diaz 22.4 A+ 1B 2021 35+
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65 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from JSerra HS (CA) (MIN)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/55 40/50 60/60 40/50 55/55

Lewis was on the scouting radar early in his high school career in southern California, starring for one of the top programs in the country and showing above average tools at an early stage. Toward the end of showcase season, scouts started throwing around Derek Jeter comparisons, saying that Lewis had a similar frame with chance for a 70 bat, 55 raw power, and the possibility to stick at shortstop with some work. Others saw closer to a 50 or 55 bat and a center fielder, and his draft spring was up-and-down, with scouts that charted all of his games reporting his hitting stats were not strong, though the tools were all still present.

The Twins took him first overall and cut a below slot deal, as Lewis was seen as one of five options in a top tier of talent without a clear top prospect. Things have gone even better than expected for Lewis in pro ball, and he’s hit above league average at every stop and reached High-A at age 19 while improving defensively at shortstop. Most scouts think he can stick there, which was not the case even a year ago, and one long-time scout even said Lewis is ahead of where Jeter was defensively at the same stage. We’ll call it a 60 bat with 50 game power and 50 defense, but there’s ceiling for more in here.

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Plum HS (PA) (MIN)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/60 35/55 50/45 45/50 60/60

Kirilloff comes from the Pittsburgh area, hardly a hotbed for talent, but he distinguished himself in the summer before his draft year despite a slightly quirky uppercut swing. By the end of the summer, scouts had seen enough from Kiriloff and Bo Bichette to convince them that these swings could work, and that Kirilloff and Bichette belonged in the top few rounds, with both continuing to exceedexpectations. Kirilloff went in the middle of the first round in 2016, and missed time immediately after playing his first 55 pro games with Tommy John surgery.

He came back for his first full season in 2018 and dominated both Low-A and High-A, hitting over .330 at both stops with 20 homers on the season and strikeout rates below league average. There’s some chance he is even more than just a 60 hitter with 55 or 60 power, which is what most scouts are projecting right now, with something like a 15-20% chance that Kirilloff turns into the next Joey Votto. There’s some disagreement about whether his 2018 season was him dominating pitching that didn’t challenge him, or if he has an approach that’s a little too aggressive and he just got away with it in 2018. Kirilloff is a fringy runner who’s an average defender in right field and has a plus arm, but he may bulk up and move to first base down the line, which would likely come with more power as well.

50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (MIN)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/60 45/55 40/50 96-99 / 100

Graterol signed for $150,000 in 2014 out of Venezuela, got Tommy John surgery within a year, then got on the scouting radar a couple years later, when he was hitting the high-90s on the backfields in Ft. Myers, eventually hitting 100 mph. Before 2018, he had only made a handful of appearances outside of the DSL and GCL. His 2018 included eight sterling starts in Low-A and 11 very solid starts in Hi-A, all as a teenager.

Graterol has the making of a frontline starter, sitting 96-99 and hitting 100 mph often, mixing in a plus-flashing slider and a changeup that’s above average at its best. He’s a short strider and a bit of a dart-thrower, which is unusual for a pitcher that hits 100, but it helps Graterol throw more strikes than you would assume from a teenager hitting this kind of heat with an arm surgery in his past. The poor extension makes his velocity play lower than the radar gun readings, but with some incremental improvements in pitch execution and command, Graterol could shoot up our overall list, as he does more things like Sixto Sanchez than anyone else in the minors.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (MIN)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 65/65 35/60 45/45 40/45 55/55

Larnach hit several balls in excess of 110 mph during Oregon State’s opening weekend of his draft season, and he ended up slugging .652 that year. We were all-in despite scout concerns about his lack of range in the outfield and fear that he might just be a DH. The gap between where we had Larnach on our pre-draft board (12) and where he went (20) was large enough that we wondered if we were too high. Then Larnach hit .303/.390/.500 in pro ball during the rest of the summer, and we could sleep again. He has huge raw power and doesn’t swing with violence or effort to generate it; it’s just there. We’re very optimistic about him hitting enough to profile in an outfield corner.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 45/55 20/45 55/50 45/55 60/60

Signed for an IFA franchise record $4 million, Javier was a “This is What They Look Like” amateur prospect, the skinny, athletically graceful, broad-shouldered teenager. Sometimes those players fill out too much to stay at shortstop, and end up as power-hitting third basemen; sometimes they don’t, and become starting shortstops with modest offensive ability. And sometimes, they develop in the Goldilocks Zone, stay at short, and make a big offensive impact. That last outcome’s existence, unlikely as it may be, puts prospects like Javier in a kind of rarified air, even when they haven’t yet done anything.

And Javier hasn’t. When should we start to worry about all the injuries? Since signing in 2015, Javier has played in just 50 games while dealing with various maladies. He was in street clothes during part of 2015 instructs for reasons unknown to us, he played in just nine games in 2016 due to a hamstring strain, was healthy in 2017, then missed all of 2018 with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. This spring, he strained his quad and did not break camp with an affiliate. His frame has filled out and looked explosive, and during the spring, he was noticeably stronger and more powerful than he was when he signed. Javier’s body, bat speed, swing foundation, and defensive fit is the stuff of stardom, but we have little-to-no data on important things like plate discipline and feel for contact, and the injury history has been troubling.

45 FV Prospects

6. Jhoan Duran, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 50/60 40/50 93-96 / 98

Duran seemingly drew lots of trade interest while with Arizona. Loose, lean, and wielding premium stuff, his name was rumored to be on some PTBNL lists before he was ultimately traded to Minnesota as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal in 2018. During his first few pro seasons, Duran’s velocity yo-yo’d a bit; he was in the upper-90s at times, while more 91-95 at others. He was also demoted from the Northwest League back to the AZL in 2017 for reasons seemingly unrelated to performance. The following spring, not only was Duran’s velocity more stable — in the 93-96 range — but he was throwing strikes and had more consistent secondary stuff.

While he can spin a good breaking ball, Duran’s best secondary pitch is his changeup, which he sells with electric arm speed. He worked with better angle after the Twins acquired him last summer, a change that improved the playability of his breaking ball without taking away from his changeup’s movement. Now a physically mature, 230-pound 21-year-old, Duran seems poised to take a bit of a leap and perhaps reach the Florida State League later in the year. He may end up with three impact pitches if his secondaries have yet another gear of quality left to claim, which makes him a threat for the top 100 list either later this year or next.

7. Jose Miranda, 2B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (MIN)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 35/50 50/45 45/50 55/55

Miranda is a strong-bodied, multi-positional infielder with advanced feel for contact. He’ll be 20 for the first half of the season and has already reached Hi-A, leaving comically low strikeout rates in his wake as he has climbed the minor league ladder. His strikeout rate has hovered around 10% throughout his career despite Miranda having been about a year and a half younger than the average player at each minor league stop.

He may start trading some contact for power (his early-season strikeout and fly ball rates would seem to indicate this might be happening) but that may require more selectivity to work. Miranda’s swing is currently bottom-hand heavy and he doesn’t rip the bat through contact the way most power hitters do. He’s been fine putting quality, low-lying contact into play to his pull side so far, but may be best served to hit for more power, especially if he eventually moves off short. He’s a version of the bat control/up the middle types we so love here at FanGraphs, if a slightly lesser version right now due to his quieter results to date and his mature physicality.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/60 30/50 50/50 40/50 50/50

A thoroughly modern hitter, Severino has above-average ball/strike recognition for his age, and everything about his swing is geared for power. While he takes the occasional, gorgeous uppercut rip, it’s clear his feel for contact is undercooked from both sides of the plate, something that won’t be helped by a recent thumb fracture and ligament tear that may cost him most of this season. He’s increasingly likely to max out as a 40 hitter, or thereabouts, which makes it imperative that Severino learn to attack pitches he can drive and take his share of walks.

An amateur shortstop — he 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, then signed for an additional $2.5 million bonus with Minnesota — Severino made all of seven 2019 starts at second base before hurting his thumb, and should settle in there. He could be a three true outcomes middle infielder à la Rickie Weeks, or peak Mark Bellhorn and Dan Uggla.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Brent Rooker, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Mississippi State (MIN)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 65/65 45/60 40/40 40/45 40/40

As a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore, Rooker hit .324/.376/.528 with 11 homers at Mississippi State. The Twins drafted him in the 38th round. He didn’t sign, returned to school, hit .287/.496/.810 with 23 homers, stole 18 bases, and was drafted 35th overall. Nobody was totally sure what to make of such remarkable improvement, and Rooker lives in the dreaded right/right 1B/DH bucket for most evaluators, but he had among the best raw power in his draft class and emphatically torched the best conference in college baseball.

Since entering pro ball, Rooker has performed and moved quickly, slugging 22 homers at Double-A in his first full pro season. His breaking ball recognition is questionable, and may be exposed more this year at Triple-A Rochester. The swing and miss issues combined with the defensive limitations are a bit of a problem, but Rooker has more power and is more athletic than most other hitters of this statistical ilk (like the Trey Mancinis and C.J. Crons of the world), so we like his chances of being a major league contributor fairly soon. We just doubt that he’s an average or better everyday first baseman, and instead think he’s a corner platoon bat.

10. Ryan Jeffers, C
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from UNC Wilmington (MIN)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/55 35/50 40/40 40/50 55/55

Jeffers emerged from relative obscurity in 2018 at UNC Wilmington to climb into the first day of the draft with a strong spring. He has 55 raw power and arm strength, carrying tools that allow him to punish mistakes at the plate and throw out runners from behind it. His receiving skills will be a 45 or 50, so he likely can stick at catcher, while his contact skills are a notch below that. Jeffers has a strength-based, power-focused swing, and catchers will often lose some of their athleticism more quickly than guys at other positions, so we don’t see him contributing a big batting average or on-base percentage, but there is low-end regular upside.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2008 from Venezuela (PHI)
Age 27.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
80/80 40/40 45/45 20/20 40/40 50/50

Yes, Astudillo is still rookie-eligible even though he’s been part of the internet baseball zeitgeist for so long, the face of a movement that enjoys a certain of baseball’s many aesthetics. For our purposes, Astudillo forces us to consider how we define the hit tool without letting other skills bleed in, which leads us to all kinds of existential questions about traditional tool classifications. Eventually, your tools just are what your performance is, and Astudillo has accumulated about a month’s worth of freakish data that’s impossible to ignore. He has been, and this has been true his entire pro career, an elite K% (3%) and in-zone contact rate (96%) hitter, and were we to make a hierarchy of individual stats that indicate ability to hit, those would be at the top.

This thinking could be considered flawed. Jose Iglesias has had plus-plus contact rates throughout his career, but hits just .265 because he lacks strength. That’s a lack of power bleeding in to how the hit tool plays, but in his case we’d say the hit tool is still good. You could argue that, similar to power, we should have Raw Hit and Game Hit split into two tools. In that vein, Astudillo is again exemplary in the way his tools/skills interact, as his game power plays beneath his raw, because he can’t help himself but swing so damn much, and often the contact is sub-optimal. The Fat Ichiro moniker was bestowed upon Brett Wallace too soon; this is the genuine article.

Correctly dubbed “positionless” as a young prospect, Astudillo has ended up a passable glove at several of the places minor league managers tried to hide him in his early 20s. Minnesota has played him all over the field — catcher, first base, second base, third base, left field — and he’s okay everywhere. He had average catcher pop times in the big leagues last year. The “role” to expect here is that of a versatile corner bench bat. It’s just the strangest version of that, a husky super utility man, with maybe the best hand-eye coordination on the planet.

12. Luis Arraez, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (MIN)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 45/45 20/30 50/50 45/50 40/40

Back from a 2017 ACL tear, Arraez hit for characteristically high rates of contact in 2018. He’s a career .328 hitter in the minors and has carried high averages to the upper levels, as he now has about half a season of Double-A at-bats under his belt. The type of contact Arraez makes is unique. He employs a punchy, minimalist swing, and just kind of throws the bat head at the baseball, leading to lots of opposite field contact. It’s worked so far, and Arraez has hit for enough contact to outweigh the total lack of game power that results from this kind of approach. It’s unlikely that this is an Altuveian situation where all of a sudden there’s power, because Altuve was pulling the ball in the minors.

Mostly because his actions are quite good, Arraez fits fine at second base. He’s a thicker guy and has begun to see more time at other positions (mostly other infield spots), and versatility will enable a team to roster him even if the lack of power turns out to be a problem. He likely projects as a bat-first utility guy, but there’s a chance he makes sufficient contact to be a regular at second.

40 FV Prospects

13. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Australia (MIN)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 60/60 45/50 45/50 90-94 / 95

Two consecutive seasons lost to a combination of Tommy John rehab and mononucleosis highlight a robust, early-career injury history for Thorpe, who has been encouragingly healthy for the last two years. He works at the top of the zone with a low-90s fastball, and beneath it with a big, breaking 12-to-6 curveball used against left and right-handed hitters, and he bisects the plate horizontally with a cutter/slider and changeup. A 6% walk rate in 2018 was comfortably Thorpe’s career best, which may be real development or just something that will regress to Thorpe’s career mean. It’s No. 4 or 5 starter stuff from an arm whose injury history, which one could argue should soon be expunged, moves him toward the back of that FV group. He’s at Triple-A and may see the big leagues this year.

14. Misael Urbina, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (MIN)
Age 17.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 25/50 55/50 40/50 40/45

Urbina was one of the more advanced bats in his July 2 signing class from both a bat control and physical development perspective. He was also one of the youngest. Currently an above-average runner, there’s a fair chance he ends up in left field due to a lack of top-end speed, though it might depend on how his body develops. Urbina’s power projection is somewhat limited by his size, which may be an issue if he does eventually move to a corner. It would mean he would have to be a high-end contact hitter to profile as an impact big leaguer, but that seems like it’s in play because Urbina has so many promising bat-to-ball traits — timing, hand-eye coordination, all-fields feel — at such a young age.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from St. Martin HS (CAN) (MIN)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 45/50 40/50 91-94 / 96

After two years in the GCL (another Canadian high schooler further down this list was developed the same way), Balazovic spent the spring of 2018 in Extended and then skipped the Appy League and went right to Low-A. He dominated there, striking out 78 in 61.2 innings while walking just 18. He throws an unusually high number of strikes for such a lanky, young, cold-weather arm with a somewhat violent delivery, and he gets nasty vertical action on his breaking ball despite a mediocre spin rate.

There’s still some visual discomfort with Balazovic’s mechanics, but he’s throwing strikes early in his career and hasn’t been injured. He’ll move up this list with a full year of innings at his 2018 level of performance. For now he at least projects as a reliever, but has a puncher’s chance to be a No. 4 starter.

Drafted: 9th Round, 2015 from Maryland (MIN)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/45 45/45 30/35 50/50 55/55 40/40

Wade intrigues as the larger half of a corner outfield platoon. He’s not exactly tooled up, but he walks a lot — more than he strikes out against right-handed pitchers, in fact — and he’ll make up for some of what he lacks in power with rangy, corner outfield defense. It’s not spectacular, but there’s a clear role here. And with Wade at Triple-A and on the 40-man, he may get his first big league opportunity this season.

17. Ben Rortvedt, C
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Verona HS (WI) (MIN)
Age 21.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/50 30/40 40/30 40/45 55/55

The beefcake Wisconsinite was sent back to the Midwest League to start 2018, thrived for six weeks there, then was promoted to Hi-A for the rest of the year. An improved receiver with a good arm, Rortvedt now projects as a passable catcher after looking kind of rough back there as an amateur and young pro. He has raw power befitting one of baseball’s more impressive physiques (Yandy Diaz is a good body comp) but hasn’t been able to get to it in games. A more pull-happy approach may unlock dormant game power, and the start of Rortvedt’s 2019 indicates it might be coming. He projects as a backup for now, with a chance the batted ball profile changes in a relevant way.

18. Luis Rijo, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 55/60 45/50 45/60 90-94 / 95

Part of Minnesota’s return from New York for Lance Lynn, Rijo is a hyper-efficient strike thrower whose curveball moves like a Wiffle ball, seemingly floating as it approaches the plate before it begins to bend and dive away from right-handed hitters. Because it’s a slower, loopy pitch, it may not miss bats against upper-level hitters, but it’s hard to square up because of how much depth it has, and Rijo locates it where he wants. So, too, can he spot his low-90s fastball where his catcher asks for it, working up at the letters and to both corners of the plate at will. His ceiling will likely be limited by stuff quality — though only 20, Rijo is physically mature and unlikely to grow into much more velocity — but the command makes him a high-probability starter and one who could move quickly.

19. Nick Gordon, 2B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Olympia HS (FL) (MIN)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 30/45 55/55 45/50 55/55

Seen as a lock to stick at shortstop while he was an amateur, Gordon has been error-prone there for several years and saw more time at second in 2018. He projects there for most scouts. The movement in his batted ball profile has plateaued (Gordon began his career as an all-fields, groundball hitter but began pulling and lifting the ball more starting in 2016), but might still produce more power than is usual at second base right now, even if it’s generally middling. (Gordon raps on the side under the alter ego “G Cinco,” which is also the name of an ASU-educated “Artist Entrepreneur,” so one of the two of them may have a copyright issue on their hands.) Gordon’s star seems to have fallen quite a bit, and instead of projecting as a shortstop with some pop, he’ll now need to hit enough to play second everyday or risk being squeezed out of a roster spot. He began 2019 on the IL with a digestive issue.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 35/40 20/30 60/60 45/60 60/60

International scouts billed Celestino’s defense and contact skills as advanced, and Houston handled promoting him as if that were true before trading him to Minnesota as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. He spent the last few weeks of his first pro season up from the DSL, but was liberated from the complex the following summer and sent right to the Appy League at 18, then the Penn League the following year, before the trade. And Celestino has hit during that time, just not usually for power, as he didn’t add much raw strength during his late teens. He’s only 20 but has a modest, tweener frame and probably needs to develop into a special defender, a special hitter, or both, in order to profile everyday.

21. Jovani Moran, LHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2015 from Carlos Beltran Academy (PR) (MIN)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 55/60 40/45 90-93 / 94

Drafted as an arm action/athleticism project out of Puerto Rico, Moran’s velocity has grown significantly since his high school days; he’s developed a plus, maybe plus-plus changeup that has about 15 mph of velocity difference off his fastball. He’s amassed 174 strikeouts in 123 pro innings, mostly via multi-inning relief outings. Lefties with changeups are well-positioned for when three-batter minimums are put in place for relievers. Now at Double-A, Moran might factor into the Twins’ bullpen picture this year. He projects as a middle reliever.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from San Jacinto JC (TX) (LAD)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 55/60 55/60 50/55 87-91 / 92

Most pitchers tuck their gloves in by their ribs when they disconnect and begin to clear their front sides; Smeltzer’s glove extends way out away from his body, the start of one of baseball’s funkiest deliveries. Repertoire depth, plus fastball and breaking ball spin, and efficient strike-throwing all mix with the mechanical deception to enable Smeltzer’s success despite a lack of velocity. He’s long been projected as a reliever but continues to start in the minors, and he’s had some dominant outings in addition to the low walk rates, and his spin rate has ticked up pretty significantly each of the last two seasons, which is rare. He may end up in a multi-inning role of some kind, as his strange mechanics would certainly give hitters a weird look one time through the lineup.

Smeltzer was struck in the head by a comeback in mid-April. He walked off the field under his own power but it’s unclear what his timetable for return is at list publication.

23. Blayne Enlow, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from St. Amat HS (LA) (MIN)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/60 40/50 40/50 90-94 / 96

Your standard high school projection arm with a breaking ball, Enlow is back at Low-A to start 2019. Like most pitchers of this ilk, fastball command and the development of a third pitch stand between Enlow and industry confidence that he’s a starter. That stuff hasn’t developed just yet, but Enlow is still just 20. If that doesn’t happen, he’s likely to be a fine reliever.

24. Akil Baddoo, CF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Salem HS (GA) (MIN)
Age 20.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 30/45 60/60 40/50 40/40

Baddoo has some promising physical ingredients — speed, raw power — and three consecutive seasons of plus walk rates. For a player who was considered raw coming out of high school, his numbers at his age and level combination are compelling, and he’ll be a 20 year old at Hi-A all year. Visual evaluations of his feel to hit temper enthusiasm for his overall profile, as the game power manifests itself in a niche, dead-pull manner that upper-level pitching should be able to avoid. Scouts think he’s more of a platoon or fourth outfielder, while we think it’s likely that teams using a pro model will like him more than that because of his age and peripherals.

25. Luke Raley, 1B
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from Lake Erie College (OH) (LAD)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 40/45 55/50 45/50 60/60

Raley is plus runner underway despite his size, and has big raw power that the Dodgers did well to tease out of him in games before trading him to Minnesota as part of the Brian Dozier deal last year. The small-school pedigree helps balance skepticism surrounding Raley’s performance (20 Double-A homers at age 23 last year) due to his age, and he projects to be a player quite similar to Daniel Palka or Scott Schebler.

26. Jorge Alcala, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/55 40/45 40/40 93-96 / 98

Acquired from Houston as part of the Ryan Pressly trade, Alcala has reached Double-A as a starter despite having been projected as a reliever for almost his entire pro career. Fastball control and a viable changeup have both been elusive, and you could argue Alcala’s issues repeating/locating also impact the way his slider plays, though it does have nasty late bite. He throws really hard — typically in the mid-90s, peaking above that — and has a great build. It makes sense to give him starter reps until he’s needed in the majors, since it means more chances for him to refine his secondary stuff and control. He’s a high-probability middle reliever, but he has a set-up man’s arm strength.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Brazil (ARI)
Age 20.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 30/30 20/20 70/70 45/55 50/50

A tiny speedster, Maciel’s build is relatively unprojectable, but one can still project on most of his skills because he was only taught baseball’s basics while growing up in Brazil, and hasn’t been switch-hitting for very long. His game has some coherent small-ball elements already, as he took quickly to bunting and putting awkward contact into play, which, because of his speed, enables him to reach against bad, low-level defenses.

There’s so little power here that Maciel likely projects as a fourth outfielder, but his feel for contact is impressive for someone of his background and seemingly insufficient physicality, and if he ends up with a 6 or 7 bat, we might be talking about a regular.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 45/55 35/45 92-94 / 96

Tilt Berroa’s cap another 15 degrees and he’s a dead on-mound ringer for Fernando Rodney. Right now, he just throws tailing heat past hitters, but he has some nascent changeup feel and his arm speed and loose, rhythmic delivery makes one comfortable projecting on the changeup. His breaking ball is good enough to miss bats when it’s located. Berroa hasn’t harnessed his limbs or his release point yet, so you have to project pretty heavily on his command to buy that the slider will play one day, and that he’ll throw enough strikes to start. If that happens, he could be a No. 4 starter. If it doesn’t, a bullpen role will be determined by his changeup quality.

29. Cole Sands, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Florida State (MIN)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 50/55 35/45 91-93 / 95

Sands’ older brother Carson was a high pick by the Cubs, and prep teammate Cole Ragans was a high pick by Texas from a historically-strong prep pitching staff. The younger Sands had a similar profile as a prep prospect as he did coming out of Florida State: above average stuff and average command that varied by the day more than scouts wanted, with no true plus pitch. Sands had biceps tendonitis just before the draft, which created some uncertainty and ultimately appears to have pushed him down a bit on draft day; he signed for third round money in the fifth round. He projects as a fourth starter type.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Pottsville HS (PA) (MIN)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/55 30/45 40/40 40/40 50/50

Though he’s gotten thick and stiff as his body has matured, the Twins continue to run Blankenhorn out at second and third base in addition to left field. He’s a 40 infield defender but as the club has shown with Astudillo, there are ways of hiding players like this in order to shoehorn their bat into the lineup. His swing is a bit grooved but Blankenhorn’s hands work well, and he has strength-driven doubles power. It’s not enough to profile everyday at one of the positions Blankenhorn is capable of playing regularly, but he should turn into a role-playing lefty bench bat.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2013 from Cathedral Catholic HS (CA) (MIN)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 213 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 45/45 55/55 45/45 87-90 / 92

Gonsalves cruised through the lower levels of the minors with three quality secondary offerings and a fastball that played above its velocity due to deception and a helpful spin axis. As he reached the upper levels, his ability to locate plateaued, and some would say it’s just gone backwards. His upper-80s fastball is vulnerable when it’s not in the right places, so Gonsalves has become a little walk-prone and gives up loud contact when he makes mistakes in the zone. Unless he can reclaim an ability to locate his fastball where it plays best (up near the letters), he’ll need to work heavily off his bevy of quality secondary offerings to get through a lineup multiple times. He’s on the IL to start the year (forearm) and looks like a No. 5 starter or low-leverage long reliever.

32. Kai-Wei Teng, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Taiwan (MIN)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 260 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/55 45/55 35/45 90-93 / 95

Of the $3 million in bonus pool money the Twins suddenly had lying around after they voided Jelfy Marte’s deal due to vision issues, they spent $2.5 million on Yunior Severino and $500,000 on Teng, who pitched at an athletics high school in Taiwan. His arm action is a little rough, and Teng’s lower slot makes it hard for him to get on top of his curveball consistently, but he’s very well balanced over his blocking leg and otherwise has a smooth delivery. At this age and size, it’s possible no more than the low-90s velo will come, but that might be enough if that curveball matures, because Teng’s changeup is also very good. His timeline to the bigs has more to do with Minnesota’s need to add him to the 40-man, which means we probably won’t see him in the big leagues until Teng is comfortably in his mid-20s, even if he makes progress. But he might be a No. 4 or 5 starter one day.

33. Ryan Costello, 1B
Drafted: 31th Round, 2017 from Central Connecticut State (SEA)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 30/50 50/50 40/40 50/55 50/50

A great small-school find by Seattle, Costello had a strong junior year after doing nothing as an underclassman, in part due to injury. Three strong months into his first full pro season, Costello had more than 40 extra-base hits and a 12% walk rate and had become of interest to eyeball scouts. A year after he was a 31st round pick, Seattle traded him in the Zach Duke deal. The Twins pushed him to a more age-apprpriate level immediately. He’s now an interesting sleeper 1B/3B bat, one who could at least play a corner utility/pinch hitting role.

34. Landon Leach, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Pickering HS (CAN) (MIN)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 40/50 40/50 40/50 91-93 / 94

The assumption that Leach, a giant Canadian kid who was still just 17 on draft day, would take a while to develop was correct. He repeated the GCL last year, missed some time with injury, and is back in Fort Myers for Extended again this spring. He’s a low-90s sinker baller with middling secondary stuff, but he repeats his delivery and remains a teenage developmental project from a cold climate. He has depth starter stuff right now and you have to project heavily on the change and command to see more than a backend starter, but it’s possible.

35. Griffin Jax, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Air Force (MIN)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 50/55 40/50 90-93 / 95

It seemed like the runway was clear for Jax to begin a pro career after graduating from Air Force. But about a month before he walked, the Department of Defense began once again requiring at least two years of active duty before graduates could apply to serve out their time in reserve status for the purpose of playing pro sports. Then baseball was reinstated as an Olympic sport, and Jax found an avenue to pro ball through the World Class Athlete Program, a military unit focused on training for the Games in the two years leading up to competition. So Jax, having sorted out some arcane rules about Air Force personnel being unable to have second streams of income, is technically an Air Force lieutenant training for the 2020 Olympics, while the Twins pay for his development, but don’t pay him.

Jax was 89-94 throughout the 2018 Fall League, with his secondary stuff about average, flashing above (especially the change). He could be a fifth starter, but if his fastball ticks up in short relief, he’ll fit in a mid-inning bullpen role. It’s unclear what happens to Jax and his military commitment after the 2020 games conclude.

35+ FV Prospects

36. Carlos Aguiar, OF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (MIN)
Age 17.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

A body-beautiful outfielder with as good-looking a swing, Aguiar played all last year as a 16-year-old in the DSL. The best of his sweet, uppercut swings have flourishes of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s beautiful finish. The cement is drier on Aguiar’s body than is typical for a prospect this age, but he has some pop, feel for lifting the ball, and he held his head above water despite being one of the younger guys in the DSL last year. He’s an interesting, long-term corner outfield project.

37. Johan Quezada, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 40/45 94 / 0

After parts of five seasons in rookie or short-season ball, and one on the shelf for a shoulder surgery, Quezada finally made his full-season debut in 2018, just a few days shy of his 24th birthday. He came back throwing fire, sitting comfortably in the 94-98 range. An imposing mound presence at a towering 6-foot-6, Quezada creates extreme downhill plane on his fastball and vertical action on his slider, which aids its vertical depth in spite of a paltry spin rate. He’s understandably behind due to his limited pro workload, but he’s a candidate for quick promotion before he breaks again, and seems like a potential set-up type if the slider improves now that Quezada is finally pitching and developing again.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Utah (MIN)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 30/45 55/55 60/60 45/50 45/45

Toward the end of the 2017 college season, Keirsey chased a Hunter Bishop flyball to the warning track and collided at high speed with the center field wall, fracturing and dislocating his hip. He couldn’t run for four months. It meant no Cape Cod League the summer before his draft year, and uncertainty that his best physical attribute — his speed — was gone. Though he didn’t look quite as explosive early the following year, Keirsey played his entire junior season and led the Pac-12 in doubles before signing as a slightly over slot fourth rounder. He currently projects as a bench outfielder whose medical might be grisly, but if more of his explosiveness returns, he could climb this list.

39. Charles Mack, 2B
Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Williamsville East HS (NY) (MIN)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 20/45 45/50 50/50 40/50 40/40

After the Twins got slightly under slot deals done with a two early college draftees, they were free to spread over slot money throughout the rest of their draft, which included a $500,000 bonus for Mack in the sixth round. A Northeast prep bat with a stiff, but well-timed uppercut swing, Mack has a good chance to hit for gap power and stay on the infield somewhere. He’s relatively mature physically, but already has good power for his age. He didn’t hit well after signing, but the leap from New York high school to pro ball is a doozy.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from Texas A&M (MIN)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Helman’s cacophonous post-draft summer — .361/.409/.510 — caused some re-evaluation after he had just gotten about $200,000 as an 11th rounder a few months earlier. We’re still not all-in. His 2018 line included a .386 BABIP against competition beneath what he faced in college, he didn’t walk much, and visual evaluations yielded mixed feelings about his ability to sustain anything approaching that kind of game power. Helman is remarkably short to the baseball and tough to beat with velocity because his hands work in such a tight little circle. A more athletic, full-bodied swing may yield more pop, which, if it doesn’t take too much from his ability to make contact, would be a meaningful improvement. Realistically, he might be a utility infielder with bat and speed. He’s at Hi-A and soon turns 23.

41. Lewin Diaz, 1B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 30/50 60/60 45/40 45/50 50/50

Diaz didn’t perform in his first try at the Florida State League, reaching base at just a .255 clip before his season ended with a thumb fracture, which required surgery. Don’t be fooled by his unconventional swing; he has feel to hit and feel for lifting the ball in the air regularly. But too often, Diaz swings at whatever he’s offered, limiting the quality of his contact and his ability to reach base. At first base, that might be a problem. Scouts have mixed opinions about his body and how it projects into his mid-to-late-20s, which is when Diaz will likely be on the 40-man fringe, perhaps a fit for some clubs in need of, or with room for, a big-bodied masher on their 40-man. The raw power and feel for lift/contact are enticing, but a more sentient approach would be nice.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Upper-level Depth
Zack Littell, RHP
Jake Reed, RHP
Alex Robinson, LHP
Kohl Stewart, RHP
Andrew Vasquez, LHP
Tyler Jay, LHP

Several members of this group will likely help Minnesota this year, as most teams need about 20 pitchers to get through a season. Littell saw some big league time last year. He’s 23, has a low-90s fastball, and an average cutter, curveball, and change. He projects as a No. 5/6 starter. Reed is a three-pitch reliever with a funky delivery who has calmed down significantly since college. Robinson throws in the upper-90s when healthy. He and Reed are middle relief types. Stewart throws in the mid-90s but has below-average command and fringe secondary stuff, except for his breaking ball, which is average. Vasquez throws a ton of curveballs and is a fringe 40-man lefty. Jay’s stuff hasn’t quite returned since his many injuries, but he’s still a multi-pitch lefty with average stuff, and that seems rosterable.

Sleeper Arms
Edwar Colina, RHP
Dakota Chalmers, RHP
Ryley Widell, LHP
Regi Grace, RHP
Josh Winder, RHP

Colina is a thick 21-year-old with below-average command. He’ll touch 96 and has an average four-pitch mix. After a strong second half of 2018, he’s hurt to start this year. Chalmers has been 93-96 with a plus change and curveball in the past, but he’s had severe strike-throwing issues and isn’t on an affiliate roster right now. Widell is a lefty with three average pitches. Grace was one of two Mississippi high school kids signed to overslot deals in the top 10 rounds. His delivery is kind of rough, but he’ll show you 90-93 with feel for spin. Winder is a spin efficient righty with average stuff that plays up.

Sleeper Bats
Jeferson Morales, C
Willie Joe Garry, Jr., OF

Morales is currently dealing with a left knee injury of unknown severity, but he’s an athletic catcher with plate discipline and speed. Garry was the second of the two overslot high schoolers taken late on Day 2 last year. He’s a lefty outfield bat with some power and a good frame.

System Overview

This is clearly one of the deeper systems in baseball, and has a few potential stars at the very top including a recent No. 1 overall pick, and yet it’s not discussed as often as the other great systems in the game. Perhaps this is because the big league team has a chance to compete, which makes us collectively fixate on the Twins’ October chances, compared to other clubs with good systems that have either pointed toward their coherent rebuild rather than dwell on a bad big league roster (San Diego), or “need” the farm to constantly feed cost-controlled players up the ladder (Tampa Bay). It might also just be media neglect.

It’s incredible the system is as good as it is considering how little the Twins have done in the Dominican Republic over the last several years. Only two of the 40 FV or better players on here are original Twins signees from the DR. Indeed, they’ve done much better in odd places like Australia or Eastern Asia than in the Dominican. That may change now that they’ve made some personnel changes in International Scouting. They’ve also done very well in Venezuela despite abandoning their complex in 2016 due to the country’s ongoing turmoil.

Let’s watch the next Twins draft to see if their 2018 strategy (two underslot college mashers early, then a bunch of overslot picks throughout the rest of the draft’s first two days) becomes a multi-year ideology.

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4 years ago

I take personal offense to Astudillo’s grade. He is going to save baseball, tools and body be damned, and if that doesn’t bump him up a few notches then I am afraid I will have to challenge you to a duel. (not a real duel, like one with nerf swords, but I’m still going to win)