2/15/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 1-60 Summary and System Strengths and Weaknesses.

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here, 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, 6-10 here, 1-5 here, and all segments in the series here.  There are detailed profiles, scouting reports and analysis about each player, so if you are interested in a particular player in the list, they might be useful.

The 2017 off-season Twins' top 60 prospect list looks like this (in parenthesis the 2016 ranking, followed by position and the ETA) :

    1. Wander Javier (7) SS, 2020
    2. Tyler Jay (2) LHP, 2017
    3. Lewin Diaz (5) 1B/DH, 2019
    4. Fernardo Romero (34), RHP, 2018
    5. Nick Gordon (9) SS, 2018
    6. Stephen Gonsalves (4) LHSP, 2018
    7. Daniel Palka (18) OF, 2017
    8. Alex Kirilloff (--) OF, 2020
    9. Adalbelto Mejia (--) LHP, 2016
    10. Mitch Garver (10) C, 2017
    11. Luis Arraez IF (24), 2019
    12. Nick Burdi (3) RHRP, 2017
    13. Brusdar Graterol (28), RHSP, 2020+
    14. Engelb Vielma SS (23), 2017
    15. Travis Blankenhorn (38), 3B/1B, 2020 10 BA
    16. Ben Rortvedt (--) C, 2020
    17. Kohl Stewart RHSP (13), 2018
    18. Mason Melotakis (12), LHRP, 2017
    19. Amaurys Minier (15) OF/1B, 2019
    20. Huascar Ynoa (27), RHSP, 2020
    21. Justin Haley (--) RHP, 2017
    22. LaMonte Wade (31), CF, 2018
    23. Felix Jorge (20), RHSP, 2018
    24. Akil Baddoo (--) OF , 2020
    25. Jake Reed (16) RHRP, 2017
    26 Niko Goodrum (37), CF/IF, 2017
    27 Trevor Hildenberger (--) RHP 2018
    28 D.J. Baxendale, (--) RHP; 2017
    29 Lachlan Wells (26), LHSP, 2020
    30 Lewis Thorpe (17) LHSP, 2019
    31 Jermaine Palacios (8) SS/3B, 2020
    32 Rainis Silva (21), C, 2019
    33 Michael Theophanopoulos, LHP, 2018
    34 Dereck Rodriguez - 24 – RHP – 2019
    35 John Curtiss, RHP; 2018
    36 Jean Carlos Arias (22), CF, 2020
    37 Travis Harrison (14), OF/1B, 2018
    38 Aaron Slegers (--), RHP 2018
    39 Jaylin Davis, (--) OF 2019
    40 Levi Michael (11), 2B, 2016
    41 Brandon Lopez (--) SS, 2020
    42 Brandon Peterson (29), RHRP, 2017
    43 Zach Granite, (--) OF, 2017
    44 Humberto Maldonado (--) OF, 2020+
    45 Pedro Garcia (--) RHP 2020 +
    46 Tyler Benninghoff, (--) RHP 2020 +
    47 Nelson Molina, INF 2020
    48 Taylor Clemensia  (--)  LHP 2020
    49 Eduardo Del Rosario (--) RHP  2019
    50 Jordan Balazovic, (--) RHP, 2020+
    51 Jason Wheeler (--) LHP, 2017
    52 Andrew Vasquez (--) LHP 2019
    53 Zander Wiel, (--) 1B 2019
    54 Tyler Wells (--) RHP  2020
    55 Cody Stashak -(--) RHP 2019
    56 Colton Davis (--)  RHP 2019
    57 Williams Ramirez (--) 2019
    58 Tanner English (--) OF 2018
    59 Aaron Whitefield  (--) IF/OF 2020
    60 Michael Cederoth (--) RHP 2018

Players who were on the 2016 list (then a top 40) and are not in the 2017 are:

Emmanuel Morel (40) IF
Trey Cabbage (39), IF/OF
Chris Paul (33) IF/OF
Kolton Kendrick (32), 1B/DH
Ryan Eades RHP (25)
Adam Walker OF (19)

Players who graduated from the 2016 list are:

Jose Berrios (1) RHP
JT Chargois (6) RHP

Too good to exclude, but I had to, because of his circumstances:

Griffin Jax RHP.  His stuff is there to merit inclusion in this list, and likely within the top 40.  However his commitment to the US Air Force, which already resulted in him missing professional baseball commitments, including the whole 2017 Spring Training, is a big unknown, regarding his career as a baseball player.  Unless this conflict is resolved, I will have a hard time including him in a prospect list.   His  Air Force assignment starts in late May after graduation and it is at the Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, FL.

Organizational Strengths:

Shortstop/middle infield:  The Twins have 3 players on the top 15 of the organization that are about a year away from each other as far as readiness go, in addition to former number 2 prospect, Jorge Polanco in the majors with 4 more seasons of team control, which will bridge with the ETA of the current number 1 prospect Wander Javier,  while players like Nick Gordon (5th , ETA 2018) and Engelb Vielma (14th, ERA 2017) could be stopgaps if necessary, slide over to second base, or be trade bait.  Jermaine Palacios (31, ETA 2020) and Brandon Lopez (41, ETA 2020) are two additional players that can stick at shortstop and make quick gains. Luis Arraez (11, ETA 2019) looks like the Twins' second baseman of the future, estimated to be ready when Brian Dozier's contract expires, so there is also a nice bridge there.  If Dozier is traded, current major leaguers Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza, in addition to Polanco and Vielma will battle out for his replacement and the starting SS position, with Gordon added to the list in 2018.  All in all, middle infield is a strength in the organization allowing for potential trades down the road to plug other holes.

Relief Pitching: There are 32 pitchers in the list, several with ETA of 2017 and 2018 and only two, LHPs Stephen Gonsalves (6, ETA 2018) and Adalberto Mejia (9, 2016), are unquestionably starters.  Pitchers like LHP Tyler Jay (2, ETA 2017 as a reliever)  and RHP Fernando Romero (5, ETA 2018), the only 2 pitchers in the organization who are potentially top of the rotation starters, can help the Twins' pen soon, in addition to RHP Nick Burdi (12, 2017) who has closer potential and the best pure stuff in the organization, LHP Mason Melotakis (18, 2017), Rule 5 draft pick RHP Justin Haley (21, 2017) and RHPs Jake Reed (25, 2017) and D.J. Baxendale (28, 2017).   Former 6th overall prospect JT Chargois is in the majors, along with his college co-closer Tyler Duffey, who has had setbacks as a starter and belongs to the pen, and along with the current pipeline, supplemented by another half dozen pitchers who are projected to be ready in 2018, they can anchor a strong bullpen for the Twins for the years to come.

Organizational Weaknesses: 

Catcher:  The only major-league ready catcher in the list is Mitch Garver (10, ETA 2017) who projects as a two way major league average catcher at this point, and will battle for a back up to defensive wizard but light hitting, especially against lefties, Jason Castro.   There are only 2 more catchers in the list, Ben Rortvedt (16, ETA 2020) and Rainis Silva (21, ETA 2019) who have as much promise as they have question marks.  Former 28th best prospect in the 2015 list Stuart Turner was selected on the Rule 5 draft and might return,  however he is a glove first catcher who profiles as a defensive back up in the majors at best at this point.  This is a position that there is practically no pipeline and the Twins should address at the draft and/or with trades

Starting pitching:  As mentioned only LHP Tyler Jay (2, ETA 2017 as a reliever)  and RHP Fernando Romero (5, ETA 2018), are the only two prospects with top of the rotation projections, but they both bring a lot of unanswered questions about durability and whether they can transition to starters in the majors.  Add to this the fact that the current Twins starters in the majors are at best number 3s or 4s in a competitive team, and the situation looks a bit dire. RHP  Brusdar Graterol (13, 2020+) and LHP Lewis Thorpe (30, 2019), could be part of the discussion, if proven healthy, but they are at least 2 seasons away.  LHPs Stephen Gonsalves (6, ETA 2018) and Adalberto Mejia (9, 2016), are close to ready or ready, but project as a mid to bottom of the rotation starters.  So do RHPs Kohl Stewart (17, 2018) and Huascar Ynoa (20, 2020).  The rest of the pitchers in this list project as relievers.  The Twins will have to address this problem with the draft where they have the number 1 overall selection as well as with trades, and potentially free agency down the road, in order to compete.

2/14/17

Twins' off-season moves and rumors report: 2/14/2017

This is the latest installment of the Twins 2016-2017 off-season rumors and moves report.  You can find the previous here and all the previous installments in this series here.

With Spring Training starting this week, this will be the last installment in the series.  I will include news on Twins rumors and moves in regular Spring Training reports.

I will be bringing news for Twins moves and rumored interest as they come periodically, leaving the names of interesting parties as are unless something changes about their status, adding new information as it comes.  As previously, this is actually reported interest, and not "who fits where" hypothetical interest.  I will be adding information about former Twins as it happens, but not rumors, as well.  This is what has happened or rumored to have happened so far:
  • The Twins are interested in 1B/3B/DH Pedro Alvarez (2/9).  However only if the can sign him for an inexpensive one year deal (2/12)
  • The Twins have signed OF Quintin Berry to a minor league contract (2/10)
  • Twins RHP Pat Light was traded to the Pirates for cash considerations (2/9)
  • Twins 1B/DH Byung Ho Park has cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Rochester (2/9) 
  • The Twins have attended the work out by free agent RHP Seth Maness who is coming back from UCL repair surgury, along with 15 more teams (2/7)
  • The Rays are interested in recently DFA'd Twins' 1B/DH Byungho Park (2/7).
  • The Twins are interested in RHP Joe Blanton (1/30)
  • The Twins are interested in 1B and former Twin Justin Morneau (1/29), however there seems to be no room on their roster (1/30)
  • There is interest by unnamed teams on Twins RHP Ervin Santana and the Twins have indicated that nobody is "untouchable" (12/16)
  • The Twins could have interest in Red Sox'  P Drew Pomeranz, but have not discussed them yet with Boston (12/6); However are not listed among the teams that were interested in Red Sox' pitchers per Boston sources (12/7)
  • The Twins have talked to the Diamondbacks about their young pitching.  No particular names were mentioned and nothing is imminent (11/29)
  • The Twins might be interested in RHP Justin Masterson (11/23) as a minor league free agent signing (11/29)
From the former Twins' news department:
  • Former Twins' RHP Kevin Jepsen has agreed to a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks (2/13)
  • Former Twins' RHP Omar Bencomo  has agreed to a minor league contract with the Marlins (2/10)
  • The Angels designated former Twins' RHP Deolis Guerra for assignment (2/10)

2/13/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 1-5

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here, 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, 6-10 here and all segments in the series here.

5. Nick Gordon (9)
DOB: 10/14/1995; Age: 21
Positions: SS
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 160 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round in 2015
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A+ (2016)
ETA: 2018

Nick Gordon was drafted by the Twins as the 5th overall player in the 2014 draft from Olympia High School in Orlando, FL.   He started his pro career in 2014 playing for Elizabethton hitting .294/.333/.366 (101 wRC+) with 11 BB and 45 K (17.6 %), and 11/18 SB (61%).  In 2015 for Cedar Rapids, he hit .277/.336/.360 (104 wRC+) with 39 BB and 88 K (16.5 %), 25/33 SB (76%).  There was incremental improvement on the base paths, but in general similar results.  At this point he exhibited some gap power (23 doubles, 7 triples and 1 HRs in 535 PAs, 0.083 isoP), but it does get neutralized against LHPs (.264/.325/.291; only extra base hits were 3 doubles in 110 PAs against LHPs.)  He started the 2016 season in Fort Myers, where he made a leap forward hitting .291/.335/.386 (112 wRC+) in 116 games (493 PAs), with 17,6 K% and 0.095 isoP, stealing 19/32 bases.  His BABIP (.353) was close to his .333 and .352 of the previous 2 seasons, which means that a BABIP around .350s is not out of question.  He continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit a very impressive .346/.418/.444 (144 wRC+) in 21 games (91 PA), but inflated due to an unsustainable .475 BABIP.

Gordon's glove is about average at SS, and he projects to stay in the position.  His bat still projects as a major league average, however he was again neutralized against LHPs (.220/.276/.254 in 118 AB in Fort Myers last season.)   He had good speed, but not great base stealing instincts that need a lot of work.  His season at Fort Myers and his success in Arizona are promising, but the ones who were hoping for a star with the 5th overall pick would be disappointed at Gordon, because he does not project as one. Gordon is a non-roster invitee in the Twins Spring Traning, but not MLB-ready at this point.

Likely 2017 path: Starting AA Chattanooga shortstop

4. Fernando Romero (34)
DOB: 12/24/1994; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: A+ (2016)
ETA: 2018

Fernando Romero was singed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic for on November 4th, 2011 with a $260K bonus.  The San Juan de la Maguana native spending his age 17 2012 season in the Dominican Summer League where he pitched in 14 games, 6 starts, for 31 innings, striking out 27 (7.8 K/9, 20.2 K%), walking 14 (4.1 BB/9, 9.7 K-BB%), with a 4.94 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP (.289 BABIP).  He made the jump to the Gulf Coast League in 2013.  He pitched in 12 games (6 GS) for 45 innings to a 1.60 ERA (2.44 FIP) and 1.00 WHIP (.271 BABIP) and had 47 strikeouts (9.4 K/9, 26 K%) and 13 walks (2.6 BB/9, 18.8 K-BB%.)  After only 4 games in single A Cedar Rapids in 2014 he required Tommy John surgery, missing the rest of 2014 and the whole 2015 season.  Last season he returned to Cedar Rapids where he started 5 games (28 IP) had 25 K (8.0 K/9, 24.3 K%) and 5 BB (1.6 BB/9, 19.4 K-BB%) with a 1.93 ERA, 2.33 FIP, and 0.82 WHIP (.250 BABIP).  He moved to high A Fort Myers late in June where he started 11 games (62-1/3 IP) had 65 K (9.4 K/9, 26.9 K%) and 10 BB (1.4 BB/9, 22.7 K-BB%) with a 1.88 ERA, 2.00 FIP, and 0.93 WHIP (.288 BABIP), improving on his already great Cedar Rapids performance.

Romero has a plus plus fastball that sits at 95-97 mph and has a nasty sinking movement, a plus plus slider that sits 88-92 mph and an average changeup.  After his surgery, Romero came in better shape and he improved his command and control by leaps and bounds, pounding the strike zone and cutting down on walks.  His stuff can already play in a major league pen, but Romero has top of the rotation potential and the Twins will explore that. Romero was added to the Twins' 40-man roster this November, so he will appear in the Twins' Spring Training camp; however he will need to pitch more innings before he makes it to the majors.  In addition to the innings, he would need to develop that changeup, because it will be difficult to make it long as a starter with only 2 pitches, even though both are plus plus.

Likely 2017 path: In AA Chattanooga Rotation


3. Lewin Diaz (5)
DOB: 11/19/1996; Age: 20
Positions: 1B
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'3", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2015, 2016)
ETA: 2020

Lewin Diaz was singed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million bonus on July 2nd, 2013.   The Santiago native made the transition to the US, after a hitting .257/.385/.451 (.411 wOBA, 142 wRC+, 13.8 K%) in the DSL in 2014, his age 17 season.  His first season in the US, he had a few difficulties with the transition, hitting .261/.354/.369 (.357 wOBA, 123 wRC+, 18.9 K%) in 33 games in the GCL and finishing the last 14 games of the season hitting .167/.245/.375 (.285 wOBA, 70 wRC+, 32.1 K%) in Elizabethton.   This was mainly a season of adjustment for Diaz, who would have not earned the promotion had he not hit .522/.607/.696 for August in the GCL, and likely would have served better not making the trip to Elizabethton.  One interesting thing that the numbers do not show about Elizabethton is that those 14 games there were the only night games Diaz has played as a professional, since both the DSL and GCL play day games only.   Last season he repeated Elizabethton after extended spring training, playing in 46 games (187 PA) hitting .310/.353/.575 (.409 wOBA, 149 wRC+, 18.7 K%, with a career best .264 isoP and his BABIP at .344, close to his .326 in the GCL the previous season.  There is room for improvement in pitch recognition and the twenty year old just started to realize his tremendous power.  More like Miguel Sano with the bat (minus some power and some strikeouts, plus some plate discipline) than Kennys Vargas, but more like Vargas with the glove, Diaz is a player who can be a workable first baseman.  Listed very generously at 6'3" and 180 lbs, likely has the highest LHB power potential in the organization, with .264 isoP as a teenager, and still is learning how to swing the bat.  It will be interesting to see how he does next season in full-season ball, but he has scary potential, even though only as a first baseman or DH.

Likely 2017 path: Starting first baseman at Cedar Rapids


2. Tyler Jay (2)
DOB: 4/19/1994; Age: 22
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round in 2015
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Tyler Jay was drafted by the Twins 6th overall in 2015 from University of Illinois.  The Lemont, IL native was mainly the closer in College appearing in 30 games (2 starts) in his Junior season pitching for 66.7 innings, walking 7 (0.9 BB/9) and striking out 77  (10.3 K/9) with a 1.08 ERA and 0.70 WHIP.  He moved on to the Fort Myers' bullpen with the Twins to appear in an additional 19 games (18.2 IP) where he walked 8 (3.9 BB/9, 17.3 K-BB%) and struck out 22 (10.8 K/9, 27.2 K%) for a 3.93 ERA (2.07 FIP) and 1.42 WHIP (.353 BABIP).  The Twins view Jay as a starter and he made the transition to the Miracle rotation this season where he started 13 games (69-2/3 IP) struck out 68 (8.8 K/9, 23.6 K%), walked 21 (2.7 BB/9, 16.3 K-BB%) and finished with a 2.84 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP (.311 BABIP).  He moved to Chattanooga in July, where he pitched in 5 games (2 starts) before ending his season on the disabled list because of a sore neck. He pitched only 14 innings (9 K, 5.8 K/9, 5 BB, 3.2 BB/9, 6.9 K-BB%, 5.79 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, .262 BABIP).  Jay has the stuff to be a starter but not yet proven that he can be a starter and it is unknown how his stuff will be as a starter in the long run.  He has received some comparisons with David Price (which I am not sure that I buy) basically because of their fastballs. He has a plus to plus plus fastball that sits at 95 and peaks and 97-98 (not bad at all for a lefty) which he complements with a plus slider, an above average curve ball and an average changeup that has flashed some potential.   I think that this ranking is fair, because if a reliever, he is likely (but close) the best reliever in the system who could potentially help the Twins in 2017 (thus the ETA.)  But the Twins will like to see what he can do as a starter for a second season and whether he could become a top of the rotation starter.  As a starter, he likely has more potential than anyone in the organization but he is not there now and would need more that 15 career starts to be considered for a major league job.

Likely 2017 path: Likely starting the season at Chattanooga with a potential promotion to Rochester mid-season, depending on needs and performance


1. Wander Javier (7) SS
DOB: 12/29/1998; Age: 18
Positions: SS
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 165 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 7/2/2015
Professional Experience: 0; Highest level: N/A
ETA: 2020

Wander Javier was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic last summer and has yet to play a single professional game.  His $4 million signing bonus topped what the Twins gave Miguel Sano, and any other amateur player ever for signing with them other than Joe Mauer, Kohl Stewart and Byron Buxton.  I have not seen Javier play professionally in person, but I have seen plenty of video to be confident about this ranking.   At this point, he has 5 above average or better tools, with his arm,  fielding and power at above average and contact and speed approaching plus.   Javier started his pro career last season in the DSL with a bang, playing in 9 games (30 PA), hitting .308/.400/.654 (199 wRC+, .498 wOBA), with 13.3 BB% and 16.7 K% in a league dominated by pitching, as a 17 year old, before he was shut down with a hamstring injury.

Unlike Sano who was signed as shortstop, the Bonao native projects to stay in the position as a professional.  He has very smooth hands and confident footwork and body control.  Highest upside of any player in the Twins' organization, his toolset is similar to Byron Buxton's at that age, but with higher power and less speed, and he is a true shortstop.

Likely 2017 path: Extending Spring Training and then Starting SS for the GCL or Elizabethton Twins
depending on health and the Twins' draft.




2/10/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 6-10

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here, 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, and all segments in the series here.
 
10. Mitch Garver (10)
DOB: 1/15/1991; Age: 26
Positions: C
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 9th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AAA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Mitch Garver was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of 2013 draft from University of New Mexico as a Senior.  The Albuquerque native arrived in the pros as a fairly polished receiver who has opened eyes with his bat in his second pro season in 2014 in single A Cedar Rapids, hitting .298/.399/.481 (154 wRC+) in 502 PAs walking 61 times and striking out 65 and being good behind the plate, throwing out 32% of runners and allowing 8 passed balls.  This was a marked improvement over his .243/.313/.366 line in 202 ABs his first season as a pro in Elizabethton, that followed a .390/.458/.589 start of the season in 246 AB in New Mexico.  At first sight, 2015 looks a bit trying for Garver at the plate, hitting .245/.356/.333 in 520 PAs with 69 BB and 82 K for the Miracle.  This includes a .164/.287/.205 April and a .210/.350/.226 May, which makes me think that he was fighting something, including a potential adjustment.  He ended up hitting .252/.354/.372 for the second half of the season, which does not include a .330/.416/.420 June.   He was invited to the Arizona Fall League, where he bested all the Twins' prospects with .317/.404/.512.  His defense behind the plate improved in 2015, catching 38% of the runners and allowing fewer passed balls (6 vs 8) in more chances than 2014.  The caught stealing number improved to 48% this season that Garver split between AA Chattanooga and AAA Rochester.  He started the season in Chattanooga hitting .257/.334/.419 (118 wRC+) with 11 HRs in 95 games (497 PA) and finished in Rochester hitting .329/.381/.434 (136 wRC+) in 22 games (84 PA).  Once again he played in the Arizona Fall League, appearing in 19 games (77 PA) hitting .229/.299/.457 (106 wRC+).  He was added to the Twins' 40-man roster this off-season.

Garver is an above average defensive catcher in blocking balls and throwing out runners. His framing numbers are also positive.  He has been hitting lefties better all his career (other than an unlikely first half reverse split in Chattanooga last season.)  His BABIP looks to stabilize a bit above .300, which with an about 10-15% BB rate and .100-150 isoP, could give him a line of .275/.325/.425 or so at the next level, which will be boosted when he faces LHPs.  These numbers are good for Garver to project as an average or above average starting Catcher in the majors.  With Jason Castro signing a new 3-year contract, Garver will be in a three-way battle with J.R. Murphy and Chris Gimenez for the Twins' back up spot.  Castro cannot hit LHPs, so Garver's ability to do so might put him half a step ahead of the competition at this point.

Likely 2017 Path:  Fighting for the Twins' backup Catcher spot.

9. Adalbelto Mejia (--)
DOB: 1/15/1991; Age: 26
Positions: LHP
Bats: R, Throws: L
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired:  Traded by the San Fransisco Giants for Eduardo Núñez in 2016
Professional Experience: 6; Highest level: MLB (2016)
ETA: 2016

The Twins acquired LHP Adalberto Mejia, from the San Fransisco Giants, in exchange for Eduardo Núñez last Summer.  Mejia was signed as international free agent from the Dominican Republic by the Giants in 2011.  The Bonao native was a late bloomer signing by the Giants as an eighteen year old.  That season in the Dominican Summer League he impressed, starting 13 games for 76 innings with 71 K (8.4 K/9, 23.8 K%) and only 8 BB (1.0 BB/9, 21.1 K-BB%), with a 0.868 WHIP (.272 BABIP), 1.42 ERA and 1.75 FIP.  This was enough for him to skip the Giants' US-based Rookie leagues, jumping right on full season A in 2012, playing for the Augusta GreenJackets of the Southern Atlantic League. He participated in 30 games, among them 14 starts. His final numbers for that season were:  106.7 IP  with 79 K (6.7 K/9, 17.1 K%) 21 BB (1.8 BB/9, 12.5 K-BB%), with a 1.341 WHIP (.332 BABIP), 3.97 ERA and 3.29 FIP.  He started the season in the pen, with limited success and moved into the rotation in June, where he found success, finishing the season with a 6-3 record, 3.00 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, post All Star break. The next season he moved up to the San Jose Giants of the High A California League.  He started 16 games (87 IP) with 89 K (9.2 K/9, 25.1 K%) and 23 BB (2.4 BB/9, 18.6 K-BB%) for a 3.31 ERA,  4.20 FIP and 1.126 WHIP (.277 BABIP).  He missed 48 games that season in May and June with shoulder issues, but came back okay.  He was called to AAA Fresno to start a single game (5 IP, 5 H, 2 HR, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and participated in the Arizona Fall League playing in 7 games, 3 as a starter for 8.47 ERA, 1.529 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 17 innings.  In 2014 he moved up to AA Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) where he started 21 games and relieved in one, pitching 108 innings with 82 K (6.8 K/9, 17.9 K%) and 31 BB (2.6 BB/9, 11.1 K-BB% ), for a 1.389 WHIP (3.26 BABIP), 4.67 ERA and 3.78 FIP. He went to the DL three times for 6 days with a leg bruise after a ball hit him in April and for 8- and 12-days in July with finger blisters.   His weight that season went up to 240 lbs (he is 6'3") and needed to be reduced.  Unfortunately he took a banned weight loss supplement that contained stimulants and tested positive, receiving a 50 day suspension, very much like current Twins' DH/1B Kennys Vargas. He repeated AA in 2015 after he served his suspension. He appeared in 12 games (9 GS), pitching 51.3 innings with 38 K (6.7 K/9, K%) and 18 BB (3.2 BB/9, K-BB%), for a 1.091 WHIP (.238 BABIP), 2.45 ERA and 3.41 FIP.  Despite the nice performance, he needed innings so he returned to the AFL (7 GS, 31 IP , 1.258 WHIP, 3.48 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 4.1 K/BB) and also appeared in the Dominican Winter League (playing for the Gigantes, coinsidentally: 5 GS, 18.3 IP , 1.091 WHIP, 3.44 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 1.5 K/BB).  After he was invited to his first MLB spring training as part of the Giants' 40-man roster, he was caught in the numbers games and started against at AA Richmond where he excelled after he trimmed down this season (11 GS, 65 IP , 0.985 WHIP, 1.94 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 22.8 K%, 2.2 K/BB, 16.5 K-BB%) forcing his promotion to AAA in his age 23 season (he was 22 at the time.)  His numbers (7 GS, 40.7 IP , 1.303 WHIP, 4.20 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 25.0 K%, 2.4 K/BB, 18.6 K-BB%) were fairly impressive, especially for the Pacific Coast League.  Once in the Twins organization he made 4 starts for Rochester (26-1/3 IP, WHIP (.329 BABIP), 3.76 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 8.5 K/9, 23.2 K%, 1.0 BB/9, 20.4 K-BB%), and pitched 2-1/3 innings for the Twins in a single appearance.

He has an above average to borderline plus fastball that has increased in velocity this season, sitting at 92-94 and touching 95 as a starter.  Average to above average command and improving and the pitch is projecting to be plus pitch in the near future.  Natural cutting action on the pitch.  His slider is his best pitch.  Siting at 83-84 mph and up to 86.  Nice biting motion, great command and above average control.  This is a pitch that he throws anywhere on the count, pretty much like current Twins' starter Tyler Duffey does with his curve ball.   He also throws a changeup that is an average to above average pitch that can improve, and a fringe average slow curve.  Nice fluid mechanics. Weight is a consideration for him, and it currently is under control, listed at 195 lbs.  His ceiling is that of a number 3 or 4 starter, but he has a high floor. His floor is of a 8th inning reliever.  He held lefties to a .216/.273/.275 slash line and had 11.3 K/9 against them, which is pretty impressive for the PCL.

Likely 2017 Path:  Fighting for a spot in the Twins rotation in Spring Training

8. Alex Kirilloff (--)
DOB: 11/9/1997; Age: 19
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 1st round in 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2016)
ETA: 2020

Alex Kirilloff was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (15th overall) of the 2016 draft from Plum High School in the Pittsburgh area, where he played baseball while being Home-Schooled.  His father who used to be in the Pirates' organization as a scout and coach, is a professional hitting coach, offering both facilities and instruction to amateurs, including his son.  In High School Alex Kirilloff was a two way player.  As a pitcher he has a 89-92 mph fastball that was good enough to go 5-1 in limited competition, but was not going to get him to the next level.  Power and arm strength are Kirilloff's best tools and he projects as a rightfielder.  The transition to wood bat was seamless for him, hitting .306/.341/.454 in 55 games (232 PAs) in Elizabethton.  He has 9 2Bs, 1 3B, and 7 HRs, walking 11 (4.7%) and striking out 13.8%.  He was 0/1 in stolen bases.  He was named the Appalachian League’s player of the year.

There is definitely some power potential with his .148 isoP likely doubling at some point.  He has good judgement of the strike zone and makes contact that is successful (.328 BABIP.)   His swing is a bit complicated both with leg and shoulder action, but so far it works. It will be interesting to see how this will translate in the next levels when he will be looking at more off-speed and breaking balls. It might require some rework to quieten it up and shorten it.

2017 Likely path:  Starting the season in single A Cedar Rapids

7. Daniel Palka (18) (--)
DOB: 10/28/1991; Age: 25
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks for Chris Herrmann in the 2016 off-season
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AAA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Daniel Palka was traded to the Twins by the Arizona Diamondbacks for C/OF Chris Herrmann before the 2016 season.  The Greenville, SC native was Arizona's 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft from Georgia Tech as a Junior.  In his Junior season he hit .342/.436/.637 with 17 HR in 237 AB (13.9 AB/HR) walking 60 times and striking out 60.  He also went 2-1 with a 0.69 ERA in eight games as a pitcher He moved to Missoula Osprey of the advanced Rookie Pioneer League, where he hit .302/.386/.502 (126 wRC+) with 7 HRs in 56 games (241 PA) and ended his first professional season in short season A Northwest League Hillsboro Hops, hitting .340/.418/.574 (182 wRC+) with 2 HRs in 12 games (55 PA), showing no sign of slowing down even after playing a total of 130 games and had 489 ABs.  His HR rate slowed down his first season with the wood bat, but his isoP was at his College levels (.200 and .234.)  Next season he moved into single A Midwest League South Bend Silver Hawks, where he hit .248/.332/.466 (125 wRC+) with 22 HRs (20.7 AB/HR) and had a .218 isoP.  His BABIP was a career low .294.  In 2015, his last season in the Diamondbacks' organization, he advanced to the high A California League Visalia Rawhide where he hit .280/.352/.532 (135 wRC+) with 29 HR and 24/31 SB in 129 games, 576 PA.  His isoP was a professional high .252, but so were his strikeout percentage (28.5%).  He played an additional 22 games in the Arizona Fall League (100 PA, giving him 676 PA for the season) where he hit .278/.330/.444 with 3 HR and 4/5 SB.  He started his Twins' career in 2016 in Chattanooga, hitting .270/.348/.547 (155 wRC+) in 79 games (345 PA).  He had 21 HR (14.3 AB/HR) and increased his isoP to .277, but was only 7/11 in SB. He moved to AAA Rochester in early July where he hit .232/.296/.483 (120 wRC+) with 13 HRs in 54 games (223 PA). Despite his BABIP being at .324 in both steps, his contact at Rochester suffered and his strikeout rate increased to a very high 38.6% from 29% in Chattanooga.  His issue at Rochester was mostly over committing with his swing early, which is repairable.  Palka has 35+ HR and 20+ SB potential and a very strong plus arm at the outfield.  His contact issues in Rochester are of some concern, but Palka projects as a two way average to above average major league outfielder with plus HR power, in other words what the Twins' hope their 2016 first round draft pick becomes, but with better speed.  He was added to the Twins' 40-man roster this off-season.

Likely 2017 Path: Battle for a position with the Twins during Spring Training, likely starting the season in AAA Rochester and moving up mid-season

6. Stephen Gonsalves (4)
DOB: 7/4/1991; Age: 22
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'5", Weight: 213 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 4th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2018

Gonsalves was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 draft from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego and paid an over slot ($700K vs $468K slot) bonus.  He was considered a potential first round pick but dropped because of character questions due a suspention at High School his senior year because of smoking or being with teammates who were smoking marijuana and lying about it to cover them. Gonsalves has been playing in 2 levels every season in the pros so far with a lot of success, and marked improvement the second time with a team, other than his second season in Elizabethton.  In 2013 he slit time between GLC and Elizabethton, in 2014 between Cedar Rapids and Elizabethton, 2015 between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers, and last season between Fort Myers and Chattanooga.   In 2015 in  Cedar Rapids he started 9 games (55 IP) walking 15 (2.4 BB/9, 29.7 K-BB%) and striking out 77 (12.6 K/9 and 36.8 % K%) with a 1.15 ERA (2.10 FIP) and 0.80 WHIP (.243 BABIP.)  In Fort Myers he started 15 games (79.3 IP) walking 38 (4.3 BB/9, 5.1 K-BB%) and striking out 55 (6.2 K/9 and 16.5 % K%) with a 2.61 ERA (3.58 FIP) and 1.31 WHIP (.270 BABIP.)  This season he improved considerably at Fort Myers (11 GS, 65-2/3 IP, 66 K, 9.1 K/9,26.1  K%, 20 BB, 2.7 BB/9, 18.2 K-BB%, 2.33 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, .249 BABIP) and did not lose a beat at Chattanooga (13 GS, 74-1/3 IP, 89 K, 10.8 K/9, 30.1  K%, 37 BB, 4.5 BB/9, 17.6 K-BB%, 1.82 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, .255 BABIP.)  He made 4 starts at the Arizona fall league for a career high 148-2/3 innings this season and was named the Twins' minor league pitcher of the year, an award whose recipients seems to be cursed.

Gonsalves is ranked as the Twins 2nd best prospect by Baseball America, and 3rd by MLB.com and Fangraphs. He is a prototypical middle of the rotation type of potential talent who can occasionally flash top of the rotation moments.  Good command and control most of the time, ability to make adjustments and a good feel for the game.  Low to Mid 90s fastball that is average but has a high spin rate making it hard to hit up in the zone, a fully plus changeup and a slurvy breaking ball that is improving, is his pitch arsenal.  His changeup is effective against RHBs and his curve ball against LHBs.  Command occasionally is off and that is translated with an increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts.  When that happens, Gonsalves has been successful by inducing weak movement.  Pitching to weak contact and needed to paint the corners to succeed is a risky recipe for success and despite Gonsalves doing it in every level, there is a feeling that it will just take him that far, especially when he has a long frame and difficulties in repeating his delivery, which results in the up and down command issue.  But the end of his success is not in sight yet.


Likely 2017 Path:  Was invited to the Twins' Spring Training, but it is likely that the Twins will like him to build his innings in AAA Rochester this season.  Likely in the majors in 2018, barring injuries, trades etc.

2/9/17

Twins' off-season moves and rumors report: 2/9/2017

This is the latest installment of the Twins 2016-2017 off-season rumors and moves report.  You can find the previous here and all the previous installments in this series here.

I will be bringing news for Twins moves and rumored interest as they come periodically, leaving the names of interesting parties as are unless something changes about their status, adding new information as it comes.  As previously, this is actually reported interest, and not "who fits where" hypothetical interest.  I will be adding information about former Twins as it happens, but not rumors, as well.  This is what has happened or rumored to have happened so far:
  • The Twins have signed  former Twins' LHP Craig Breslow to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training (2/8)
  • The Twins have signed OF Drew Stubbs to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training (2/7)
  • The Twins have attended the work out by free agent RHP Seth Maness who is coming back from UCL repair surgury, along with 15 more teams (2/7)
  • The Rays are interested in recently DFA'd Twins' 1B/DH Byungho Park (2/7).
  • The Twins are interested in RHP Joe Blanton (1/30)
  • The Twins are interested in 1B and former Twin Justin Morneau (1/29), however there seems to be no room on their roster (1/30)
  • The Twins are "strong on" LHP and former Twin Craig Breslow (1/28)
  • There is interest by unnamed teams on Twins RHP Ervin Santana and the Twins have indicated that nobody is "untouchable" (12/16)
  • The Twins could have interest in Red Sox'  P Drew Pomeranz, but have not discussed them yet with Boston (12/6); However are not listed among the teams that were interested in Red Sox' pitchers per Boston sources (12/7)
  • The Twins have talked to the Diamondbacks about their young pitching.  No particular names were mentioned and nothing is imminent (11/29)
  • The Twins might be interested in RHP Justin Masterson (11/23) as a minor league free agent signing (11/29)
From the former Twins' news department:
  • Former Twins OF Carlos Quentin has agreed with the Red Sox on a minor league deal (2/8)
  • Former Twins OF Rene Tosoni was re-signed by Independent Atlantic League Sugar Land Skeeters (2/8)
  • Former Twins 3B Gary Gaetti was re-signed to on-year contract as the manager of  the Independent Atlantic League Sugar Land Skeeters (2/7)

2/8/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 11-15

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here, 21-25 here, 16-20 here, and all segments in the series here.

15. Travis Blankenhorn (38)
DOB: 8/3/1996; Age: 20
Positions: 2B
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 208 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2015
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: A (2016)
ETA: 2020

Travis Blankenhorn was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft from the Pottsville, PA Area High School as a third baseman.  He started his pro career in the GCL where he played in 14 games (49 AB) hitting .245/.362/.408 with 7 BBs and 11 Ks, before he moved up to Elizabethton for the last 39 games of the season where in 144 AB he hit .243/.306/.326    with 11 BB, and 32 K.  He started last season in Extended Spring Training before moving to Elizabethton where in 34 games (138 AB) he hit a robust .297/.342/.558 with 9 HRs, 7 2Bs, 1 3B, 8 BB and 33 K.  He finished the season in class A Cedar Rapids where in 25 games (91 AB) he hit .286/.356/.418 with 1 HR, 5 2B, 2 3B, 8 BB and 28 K.  Blankenhorn who moved to second base, a position that he is playing better than third, adjusted to the wooden bat much better in his second professional season.  He has decent game speed, but will not steal many bases.  His contact tool improved this season (.330 BABIP in Elizabethton and .403 at Cedar Rapids) and there is potential for further power that was realized with a .261 isoP in Elizabethton (.132 in Cedar Rapids.)   The positional change to second base, along with the improvement in defense from his previous corner OF and IF positions, made him jump in the ratings as well.  His bat might or might not play at corner positions and his glove is very suspect there.  However at second base he has the potential to be a Todd Walker type of player, esp. if he curtails his strikeouts (27.5 % K% in Cedar Rapids and 22.1 in Elizabethton.)  Better pitch recognition will help with selectivity, and Blankenhorn is young enough for one to believe that he will get there.    Part of the problem is that LHPs make him practically worthless (.472 OPS and 54.2 K% against them in Elizabethton and .593 and 25 K% in Cedar Rapids, vs a star-like 1.107 and .832 OPS against RHPs in those stops)  

Likely 2017 path: Starting 2B at Cedar Rapids.

14. Engelb Vielma (23)
DOB: 6/22/1994; Age: 22
Positions: SS
Bats: S, Throws: R
Height: 5'11", Weight: 155 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2011
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Engelb Vielma was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Venezuela on September 8, 2012 for a $90,000 bonus.  The Maracaibo native has been moving really quickly through the Twins organization, mainly because of his glove appears ahead of what looks from afar as an average bat (career minor league .264/.327/.309 slash line.)   Vielma had a highly quiet and mostly invisible break-through season with the bat in 2015 at high A Fort Myers. He hit .270/.321/.306, which at first sight is about the same .266/.313/.323, if not worse, than he did in Cedar Rapids in 2014, until someone looks below the slash lines:  Vielma was the youngest position player at the Miracle team and the Miracle team slash line was .246/.319/.318, so he made better contact than the average. Power is not his strong suit, so looking at SLG% is misleading.  If you look at component numbers, like wRC+, he had 93 in 2015 vs 84 in 2014.   He is also maturing as a player taking advantage of his speed. He will not walk (7% BB%) or strikeout (14.2% K%) but will make contact and run.  He had 24 sacrifices that season, and most of them (18) on the ground. He stole a career high 35 bases (but was caught 12 times).  He started his first 8 games last season at Fort Myers rehabbing from an oblique strain before he moved to AA Chattanooga.   There here played 90 games (314 AB), hit .271/.345/.318, striking out 62 times and walking 34.  He went 10/18 in stolen bases as well.  His wRC+ improved to a career best and close to a league average 97, while his K% dropped to 16.9%.  His BABIP was .333, a couple of ticks above his career average in .310s.  For some unfortunate reason, the improvement in Vielma's bat is invisible to the outside, which drives unfortunate characterizations like "punchless leatherwizard with a bat so light he may not even profile as a utility man despite an acrobatic brand of plus defense at short" from national writers who likely have not seen him play.

This cannot be any further from the truth.  A 97 wRC+ at AA with a plus defense projects as Ozzie Smith (career .666 OPS and 90 wRC+ in the majors with career best 119 wRC+ ) material.  Vielma's detractors will also need to look at his  .338/.407/.416 line in 2016 (and .301/.343/.341 in 2015) as a right hand hitter, which are exceptional.  Vielma is the poster boy for stopping switch hitting.  Why would someone with All-Star SS potential is ranked so low?  For one single reason:  Concentration lapses both on the field and the base paths make Vielma less effective than he should be.  He is still 22, so there is a lot of time for him to mature (and learn how to hit right handers as a right.)  When that happens, watch out.   

Likely 2017 path: On the 40-man roster with the Twins, likely starting SS at AAA Rochester with a potential trip to the majors.

13. Brusdar Graterol (28)
DOB: 8/26/1998; Age: 18
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2014
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: Rookie/DSL (2015)
ETA: 2020+

Brusdar Graterol was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Venezuela on August 29, 2014, three days after his 16th birthday, for $150,000.  The Calobozo native made only 4 career starts in the DSL before he required Tommy John surgery and moved statewide the summer of 2015.  His numbers in those 4 games, as a 16 year old, fully 3 years younger than the league, were video-game like: 11 IP, 17 K, 13.9 K/9, 36.2 K%, 1 BB, 0.8 BB/9, 34 K-BB%, 2.45 ERA, 1.19 FIP, 1.18 WHIP (.444 BABIP.)  He made my 2016 off-season prospect list at number 28 (http://tenthinningstretch.blogspot.com/search/label/2016%20Prospect%20List).   He returned from the surgery well, throwing his plus to plus plus fastball at 94-97 mph, supplementing it with a crisp slurve at the 85-87 mph range and a work in progress changeup.  He is throwing from a 3/4 delivery that causes deception between his pitches.  Graterol is one of the few pitchers in the Twins' organization with top of the rotation stuff, but he will need a lot of work.  Reports from Fort Myers say that he added about 40 lbs to his DSL weight the past season and a half. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Likely 2017 path: EST and the GCL or Elizabethton rotations depending the Twins' draft.

12. Nick Burdi (3)
DOB: 8/3/1996; Age: 24
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'5", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2014
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: AA (2015, 2016)
ETA: 2017

Nick Burdi was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft from Louisville as a Junior.  The Hinsdale, IL was the Louisville closer his last 2 seasons and finished his Junior season with ridiculous numbers: 32 games, 37 IP, 18 H, 2 ER, 10 BB (2.4 BB/9), 65 K (15.8 K/9,) for 0.49 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 18 saves.  Burdi had the arm to bypass the minors and pitch directly at the Twins' pen in 2014, but he started the season in A Cedar Rapids (13 G, 13 IP, 26 K, 18.0 K/9, 48.2 K%, 8 BB, 5.5 BB/9, 33.3 K-BB%, 4.15 ERA, 1.33 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, .400 BABIP) and finished in high A Fort Myers (7 G, 7-1/3 IP, 12 K, 14.7 K/9, 42.9 K%, 2 BB, 2.5 BB/9, 35.7 K-BB%, 0.00 ERA, 1.35 FIP, 0.95 WHIP, .385 BABIP).  Burdi started the Next season in AA Chattanooga, demoted to Fort Myers for inconsistency in the end of June and returned mid August.  For the season Burdi pitched 30 games in AA (43.7 IP) walked 32 (6.6 BB/9, 10.7 K-BB%) and struck out 54 (11.1 K/9 and 26.3 K%) with a 4.53 ERA (3.99 FIP) and 1.65 WHIP (3.22 BABIP). In 13 games at Fort Myers (20 IP) he walked 3 (1.4 BB/9, 35.6 K-BB%) and struck out 29 (13.1 K/9, 39.7 K%) for a 2.25 ERA (1.37 FIP) and 0.75 WHIP (.275 BABIP).  He finished the season in the Arizona Fall League, in a truly dominating fashion, when he pitched in 8 games (8 IP) walking 1 and striking out 11 (42.3K%, 38.5 K-BB%,) allowing no earned or unearned runs and only 2 hits with a .380 WHIP.  Were it an isolated incident, his numbers in AA in 2015 could be of some concern; looking at the facts that a. other top relief prospects, like Reed and Chargois suffered there that season, and b. that Burdi dominated in the AFL, the concern is alleviated.  Burdi was invited in the MLB Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, but quickly shut down with elbow concerns that were diagnosed as a bruised humerus.  He pitched only 3 innings in Chattanooga last season for that reason, and has changed his delivery in order to help his healthy.

Burdi is throwing a high 90s plus plus fastball that tops in three digits and supplements it with a plus to plus plus slider that sits at 89-90, creeping into the low 90s.  He is also throwing a changeup.  Burdi had has a violent delivery and his mechanics are concern both as far as his health and his command goes.   Hopefully his recent changes in his delivery will address this, without taking away his effectiveness.   Pitchers with high 30s K-BB% are rare to find and Burdi has closer potential, but he has to get healthy, stay healthy and keep command of his fastball, which has done at several levels so far.  2017 will be a rebuilding and cautionary season for him, as he is not invited to the Twins' Spring Training

Likely 2017 path: Depending on health, Rochester or Chattanooga pen with a potential MLB call up this season.

11. Luis Arraez IF (24)
DOB: 4/9/1997; Age: 19
Positions: 2B
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 5'10", Weight: 155 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2013
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A (2016)
ETA: 2019

Luis Arraez was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Venezuela on November 3rd, 2013.  The San Felipe native opened some eyes in his first professional season in the DSL hitting  .348/.433/.400 (147 wRC+) in 31 games (135 PA).  The next season he moved to the GCL where he continued his success hitting .309/.377/.391 (133 wRC+) in 57 games (233 PA).  Last season he played for class A Cedar Rapids where he was the fifth youngest player in the Midwest League.  He hit .347/.386/.444 (146 wRC+) in 114 games (514 PA).  He continued the season in the Venezuelan Winter League where he hit .335/.382/.445 with 15 BB and 15 K this in 45 games (182 AB.)  Other than Cedar Rapids where he was 31:51, Arraez has had at least equal strikeouts to walks, and his K% was never higher than 9.9%.  His splits last season was pretty equal for the lefty hitting Arraez: .333/.378/.422 vs LHP and .351/.388/.450 vs RHPs.  He finished the season with a .374/.398/.457    slash line the second half that included a very impressive .425/.444/.487 performance in August.  His swing is compact with great bat control and plus bat speed, quick wrists and the ability to hit the opposite way. His power has been improving (0.052 to 0.082 to 0.097 isoP), his contact has remained fairly high (.374, .323, and .382 BABIP) and he has decent speed but not good base stealing instincts (career 21/37 SB).  His play at second base has been improvin every season and he was +13 DRS last season in Cedar Rapids.  Arraez is starting to look more and more like a two way player with All-Star bat potential, but he is still very young.  It will be interesting to see how he will fare against higher level competition, but his VWL results are extremely promising.

 Likely 2017 path: Starting 2B at Fort Myers

2/7/17

Twins' off-season moves and rumors report: 2/7/2017

This is the latest installment of the Twins 2016-2017 off-season rumors and moves report.  You can find the previous here and all the previous installments in this series here.

I will be bringing news for Twins moves and rumored interest as they come periodically, leaving the names of interesting parties as are unless something changes about their status, adding new information as it comes.  As previously, this is actually reported interest, and not "who fits where" hypothetical interest.  I will be adding information about former Twins as it happens, but not rumors, as well.  This is what has happened or rumored to have happened so far:
  • The Twins claimed SS Ehire Adrianza from the Brewers (2/6)
  • The Twins designated RHP Pat Light for assignment (2/6)
  • The Twins signed OF Josh Romanski to a minor league contract (2/5)
  • The Twins signed 3B Tom Belza to a minor league contract (2/5)
  • The Twins signed C Jose Gonzalez to a minor league contract (2/3)
  • The Twins designated 1B/DH Byung ho Park for assignment (2/3)
  • The Twins are interested in RHP Joe Blanton (1/30)
  • The Twins are interested in 1B and former Twin Justin Morneau (1/29), however there seems to be no room on their roster (1/30)
  • The Twins are interested in DH/1B Mike Napoli (1/24).  It was reported that Napoli was not a fit (1/29)
  • The Twins are "strong on" LHP and former Twin Craig Breslow (1/28)
  • There is interest by unnamed teams on Twins RHP Ervin Santana and the Twins have indicated that nobody is "untouchable" (12/16)
  • The Twins could have interest in Red Sox'  P Drew Pomeranz, but have not discussed them yet with Boston (12/6); However are not listed among the teams that were interested in Red Sox' pitchers per Boston sources (12/7)
  • The Twins have talked to the Diamondbacks about their young pitching.  No particular names were mentioned and nothing is imminent (11/29)
  • The Twins might be interested in RHP Justin Masterson (11/23) as a minor league free agent signing (11/29)
From the former Twins' news department:

No news this period.

2/6/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 16-20

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here, 21-25 here, and all segments in the series here.

20. Huascar Ynoa (27)
DOB: 5/28/1998; Age: 18
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 175 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2014
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: Rookie, GCL (2016)
ETA: 2020

The Twins signed Huascar Ynoa to an $800,000 bonus on July 2 of 2014 and had his first professional season in DSL in 2015 as a starter.  He started 14 games (56.7 IP) walked 30 (4.7 BB/9) and struck out 47 (7.5 K/9 and 19.2% K%) with a 2.70 ERA (3.84 FIP) and 1.29 WHIP (.258 BABIP).  Like his 7 year older and 5 inch taller brother Michael, who at some point was the baseball number 20 prospect according to baseball prospectus and now is in the White Sox' organization, consistency was the biggest issue with Huascar Ynoa.  He has 3 pitches (fastball, curve, slider) which all flash above average to potentially plus, but he did not throw them consistently, thus the walks.  He does have a good feel for all his pitches, which suggests that mechanics might be an issue here that can be correctable.  Additional data pointing out to a mechanics issue were his numbers in full wind up when pitching with nobody on:  20.7 IP, 26 H, 24 BB, 15 K for a 2.42 WHIP.  Subtract those from his totals and his numbers when pitching from the stretch position ended up like this: 36 IP, 17 H, 6 BB (1.5 BB/9) , 32 K (8 K/9) and 0.639 WHIP, which are absolutely impressive under any and all circumstances.   Last season in the GCL, also as a starter at age 18, he made considerable improvements (11 GS, 51 IP, 51 K, 9 K/9, 24.3 K%, 12 BB, 2.1 BB/9, 18.6 K-BB%, 3.18 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, .303 BABIP.  Between the 2 seasons, in similar number of innings he reduced his walks from 30 to 12 and his wild pitches from 10 to 3, while increasing his strikeouts, indicating that he is on his way to achieve consistency.   This season he improved his curveball to near plus, and added an above average changeup, while gaining a couple of ticks on his fastball that now hits 94.  His changeup is an effective weapon against lefties who he kept to an .167 OBA (vs to a .270 OBA against RHB).  The reverse splits are a good thing to see from a young pitcher, whose effectiveness against righties will come with command and maturity.

Likely 2017 path:  Extended Spring Training and move to the Elizabethton rotation in June

19. Amaurys Minier (15)
DOB: 1/30/1996; Age: 21
Positions: OF/1B
Bats: S, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2012
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: Rookie, Elizabethton (2015,2016)
ETA: 2019

Amaurys Minier was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2012 for a $1.4 million bonus.  The San Cristobal native was signed as shortstop but here was no intention of keeping him at that position.  After off-season shoulder surgery in 2013, a season he his .214/.252/.455 in the GCL, he returned to the GCL as an 18 year old in 2014, where he punished pitchers in average 2 years older to the rate of .292/.405/.520 with 11 doubles, 2 triples and 8 home runs (.228 isoP), even after he broke his hand during extended spring training.  Clearly the shoulder and hand were healed and the 18 year old who can generate power from both sides of the plate and hit equally well lefties and righties was well on his way towards the top of the prospect rankings.  Then 2015 happened.  A promotion in Elizabethton resulted in a .194/.279/.280 slash line, while his isoP dropped to .086. Still a year and a half younger than the league average player in the Appalachian league, and reportedly having to fight nagging injuries that season, the potential is still there, but Minier's stock nose-dove in the rankings. That season he made the transition from the OF to 1B.  Last season he repeated in Elizabethton, still about half a year younger than the league, where he hit .222/.318/.449, returning his isoP to .228.  His BABIP in 2016 was .281, which is very similar to his disasterous 2015 (.288) and much unlike his 2014 (.375.)  He was on a tear in July (.235/.388/.559) while cooling off considerably in August (.218/.271/.423) but the power was still there.   Power is his best tool, and he has tons from both sides of the plate, but it appoaches elite from the right side (.317 isoP as RHH in 2016).  He is a man without a position who will likely end up either at first base or at DH at the higher levels, but the Twins will try to keep him on the field as much as possible.  He can play the field, just not consistently.  As a former SS, the instincts and hands are there.  It is a matter of learning a position and getting a ton of repetitions.  There is a lot of potential, but his contact needs to improve and his BABIP to return to mid 300s, pushing his batting average closer to high 200s, and for that to happen he needs to improve his pitch recognition, something that "clicks" for different players at different times in their development.

Likely 2017 path:  Cedar Rapid Kernels' starting first baseman and potentially corner outfielder.\

18. Mason Melotakis (12)
DOB: 6/28/1991; Age: 25
Positions: LHP
Bats: R, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2012
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AA (2014, 2016)
ETA: 2017

Mason Melotakis was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft from Northwestern State University (LA.)  The Grapevine, TX native was one of the 4 hard throwing College closers the Twins drafted in 2012 with the hope to turn them into starters in the pro game; one of them (5th Round Pick, Tyler Duffey) made the transition, albeit it looks like he is mostly suited for the pen, and the other three (Melotakis, 1st round pick Luke Bard, and fellow 2nd round pick JT Chargois) ended up with arm problems resulting in Tommy John surgeries and return to the bullpen.  Melotakis has had his operation on October of 2014.  The return to the pen in 2014 in AA New Britain (even though hurt) resulted in a good increase of strikeouts to 9.6 K/9 and 25.4% K%.  It also produced a nice 1.64 GO/FO ratio.  After his surgery and rehab, Melotakis' plus to plus plus fastball gets up to 96-97 mph and his once suspect slurve has improved to an above average pitch that flashes plus.  He has been toying with a change up as a starter, but I suspect that with the new focus as a late inning reliever, he will abandon that. Melotakis was added to the Twins' 40-man roster and spend Spring Training with the Big club, but was optioned to AA for the season.  At Chattanooga he appeared in 36 games (33-1/3 IP), had 42 Ks (11.3 K/9, 29.2 K%) and 12 BB (3.2 BB/9, 20.8 K-BB%), with a 2.97 FIP, 3.14 ERA, and 1.44 WHIP (.384 BABIP).   He appeared in 11 games (11 IP) in the AFL where he dominated (11 K, 1 BB, 1.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP.)  His splits are considerably better against LHBs, but his slurve is an out pitch also against RHBs who he strikes out to a 1.5:1 ratio more than lefties; he is anything but a liability against RHBs, so his ceiling is higher than a LOOGY.Melotakis' stuff is a lot like that of Glen Perkins' in his prime and he belongs to a major league pen now.  The Twins have been cautious after his surgery, and he had a couple sort stints in the DL last season because of a stiff back, but he is MLB-ready now.

Likely 2017 path: Will fight for a position in the Twins' pen in this Spring Training, if caught in the numbers will start the season in AAA and likely called up later.

17. Kohl Stewart (13)
DOB: 10/7/1994; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 1st round in 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2018

Kohl Stewart was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2013 draft from St Pius X High School in Houston, TX.  Stewart is one of those players that elicit a lot of conflicting emotions when evaluated, because of the high expectations based on his potential and drafting position, which he apparently has not come close to fulfilling.  He started his professional career in the GCL the year he was drafted and pitched in 6 games, 3 starts, for 16 innings, striking out 16, walking 3, for a 1.69 ERA, and 0.938 WHIP.  He also made a start in Elizabethton that season for 4 innings, striking out 8, allowing a hit and a walk, after he recovered from a foot injury he suffered while stepping on a sea shell on the beach.   The next season (2014) he moved to single A Cedar Rapids, where, about 3 years younger than the league, he started 19 games (87 IP), struck out 62 (6.4 K/9, 17.2 K%) and walked 24 (2.5 BB/9, 10.5 K-BB%) and finished the season with 2.59 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.138 WHIP (.270 BABIP), while fight shoulder tenderness.  After that season MLB.com ranked him 36th best prospect in Baseball, and the Baseball Prospectus ranked him 28th.  Stewart had a somewhat disappointing following season in 2015 for the Miracle.  He started 22 games after losing about a month in the DL because of elbow inflammation.  He pitched 129-1/3 innings had 45 BB (3.1 BB/9, 4.7 K-BB%) and 71 K (12.8 K% and 4.9 K/9) for a 3.20 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and 1.38 WHIP (.308 BABIP)  The hope was that the 4th overall pick will miss a lot of bats, as he did in 2013 where in 24 IP in both Rookie teams he walked 4 and struck out 24, but he did not.  Potentially his injury was to blame, but that was not a very good season for him.  Last season he repeated in the high A Miracle where he improved enough (9 GS, 51-2/3 IP, 44 K, 7.7 K/9, 20.7 K%, 19 B, 3.3 BB/9, 11.7 K-BB%, 2.61 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, .253 BABIP) to be promoted to AA Chattanooga the end of May.  There, his numbers flattened out again (16 GS, 92 IP, 47 K, 4.6 K/9, 11.8 K%, 44 B, 4.3 BB/9, 0.8 K-BB%, 3.03 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.47 WHIP, .291 BABIP) before finishing the season in the DL with right biceps tendonitis.

It appears that Stewart's ceiling moved after each of his seasons, from a top of the rotation flamethrower, compared to fellow Texan Roger Clemens when drafted to a bottom of the rotation pitch to contact pitcher who will utilize his ground outs (about 1.8 as many as fly outs for his career) to get bats out.  I think that the true is somewhat in between.  There are a few things that have stalled Stewart's development:  First and foremost Stewart is still learning how to pitch at 22 years old.  He was primary football player who was on his way to be a College quarterback before the Twins drafted him and he used to throw the ball past high schoolers in the Houston Catholic School circuit.  His stuff is excellent.  He has a plus to plus plus four seamer that hits 96, which he alternates with a plus 2 seamer in the low 90s and supplements it with a close to plus hard slider/cutter in the low-mid 80s, an above average high 70s curveball and an average change up.  His command is about average at this point and the primary reason of his declining K/BB ratio.  The issue with his command is his mechanics that are not smooth.  This issue has also caused him the nagging injuries (other than the seashell one) which he has been battling with all his pro career.  At this point the Twins and Stewart will be better served by taking a step back and re-examining his mechanics, working on a consistent, repeatable delivery that will help him be successful, instead of rushing him again.  If it were up to me, I would have him start 2017 in Extended Spring Training to do this, instead of a league that is 3 years older than him, and move him to AA with a new delivery and confidence and a way to excel, avoid injuries, and reach his potential.  Not sure that the Twins will do so...

Likely 2017 path: In the Chattanooga rotation, depending on health.

16. Ben Rortvedt (--)
DOB: 9/25/1997; Age: 19
Positions: C
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 5'10", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2016)
ETA: 2020

Ben Rortvedt  was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft from the Verona, WI Area High School.  He started his pro career in the GCL where he played in 20 games (59 AB) hitting  .203/.277/.254 with 5 BBs and 8 Ks, before he moved up to Elizabethton for the last 13 games of the season where in 40 AB he hit .250/.348/.250 with 5 BB, and 2 K.  He mostly batter third, fifth and sixth in the GCL and on the 7th spot in Elizabethton.  His splits were not significantly different against lefties or righties.  Good eye and pitch selectivity overall, still lack of contact in his first few games making the transition from aluminum to wood and this was reflected on his BABIP (.235 in GCL and .263 in Elizabethton,) which has room to move upwards and trended so nicely, improving in the harder league, as he spent more time with the wood.  He has a good feel in the catcher position which he played in 30 of his 33 total games (he was the DH for 3 games.)  Good arm with 28% CS, few issues blocking the ball (9 PB for the season,)  but overall a lot of promise, but a lot of youth and development ahead of him to reach his potential that is that of an above average two ways MLB-regular catcher.    

Likely 2017 path:  EST and Elizabethton or Cedar Rapids depending on the Twins' draft; outside chance to start at Cedar Rapids.


2/3/17

Twins' off-season moves and rumors report: 2/3/2017

This is the latest installment of the Twins 2016-2017 off-season rumors and moves report.  You can find the previous here and all the previous installments in this series here.

I will be bringing news for Twins moves and rumored interest as they come periodically, leaving the names of interesting parties as are unless something changes about their status, adding new information as it comes.  As previously, this is actually reported interest, and not "who fits where" hypothetical interest.  I will be adding information about former Twins as it happens, but not rumors, as well.  This is what has happened or rumored to have happened so far:
  • The Twins have signed  RHP Matt Belisle to an 1yr/ $2.05M deal (2/2)
  • The Twins are interested in LHP Jerry Blevins, and RHP Joe Blanton (1/30)
  • The Twins are interested in 1B and former Twin Justin Morneau (1/29), however there seems to be no room on their roster (1/30)
  • The Twins are interested in DH/1B Mike Napoli, and RHP Joe Smith (1/24).  It was reported that Napoli was not a fit (1/29)
  • The Twins are "strong on" LHP and former Twin Craig Breslow (1/28)
  • There is interest by unnamed teams on Twins RHP Ervin Santana and the Twins have indicated that nobody is "untouchable" (12/16)
  • The Twins could have interest in Red Sox'  P Drew Pomeranz, but have not discussed them yet with Boston (12/6); However are not listed among the teams that were interested in Red Sox' pitchers per Boston sources (12/7)
  • The Twins have talked to the Diamondbacks about their young pitching.  No particular names were mentioned and nothing is imminent (11/29)
  • The Twins might be interested in RHP Justin Masterson (11/23) as a minor league free agent signing (11/29)
  • It looks like the new Twins' Front Office t is doing the right thing and committing to a full-time rebuild.(11/20)  However, previous reports suggested that the Twins were after "experienced" players, without any names mentioned. (11/9)
  • Twins' 1B Kennys Vargas (who apparently has a fourth option left), has drawn some trade interest, but no teams are named (11/17)
From the former Twins' news department:

  • Former Twins RHP Joe Nathan has signed a minor league contract with the Nationals (2/1)

2/2/17

The Twins Singed Free Agent RHP Matt Belisle

The Twins have signed free agent RHP Matt Belisle who turns 37 years old early this June, in an 1 year, $2.05 million deal.   Belisle was drafted by the Braves in the 2nd round of the 1998 draft out of High School, was traded to the Reds for then 35  year old Kent Mercker in 2003, and moved on to Rockies, Cardinals, and Nationals as a free agent.   A swingman and full time starter with the Reds with limited effectiveness early in his career.  He moved to the pen full time after missing most of 2008 with a torn ACL and knee surgery.   In the off-season  after 2010 he had knee meniscus surgery as well. 

Belisle spent all of his career in the NL and has faced AL hitters only during interleague games.  AL hitters have been hitting .294/.346/.453  in 355 plate appearances collectively of Belisle, during his whole career.   The last couple of seasons he has been used as a mop up pitcher in low leverage situations.   Last season he appeared in 40 games with the Nationals (46 IP), striking out 32 (6.3 K/9, 17.2 K%) and walking out 7 (1.4 BB/9, 13.4 K-BB%)  He finished with a 1.76 ERA, 2.84 FIP and 1.09 WHIP (.285 BABIP), all career best.   Belisle pitches to contact and tries to get outs with ground balls.   Last season he was aided by a non-sustainable 4.5 HR/FB and a 78.8% strand rate.  His career ERA is 4.20 and FIP 3.76 (SIERA 3.63 and xFIP 3.74), and those are likely outcomes for next season.

The Twins' 40-man roster is full, so adding Belisle will necessitate designating someone for assignment.   Mike Tonkin, Ryan O'Rourke, Buddy Boshers, and Pat Light being the likely candidates as far as pitchers go, and Danny Santana, as far as hitters go.  The last thing a 103 loss team needs is a 37 year old mop up man who will cost them potentially a younger player.  So this is a bit of a headscratcher to say the least.   Not that any of the above, with the potential exception of Light have much future in the majors, but a journeyman pop-up guy in a team that needs to focus on youth is perplexing.  Maybe the new Twins' brass know something...

2/1/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 21-25

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here and all segments in the series here.

25. Jake Reed (16)
DOB: 9/29/1992; Age: 24
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 5th round in 2014
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: AAA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Jake Reed was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round of the 2014 draft from the University of Oregon as a Junior.  The Tuscon, AZ native was a starter both of his first collegiate seasons and was converted to a closer in his junior season where he excelled pitching in 31 games (37 IP), striking out 34 (8.3 K/9), walking 15 (3.7 BB/9) finishing with 1.95 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 13 saves.  He continued the season in Elizabethton where he over-matched the opposition (4 G, 6 IP, 8 K, 0 BB, 1 H, 0 R, 3 SV) to a degree that the Twins moved him all the way to A level Cedar Rapids where he appeared in 16 games, pitching 25 innings with 31 K (11.2 K/9, 34.4 K%), 3 BB (1.1 BB/9, 31.1 K-BB%), for a 0.36 ERA, 1.48 FIP, 0.52 WHIP (.182 BABIP), and 5 saves.  Were that not enough, the Twins send him to the Arizona Fall League his first professional season, where among family and friends he pitched in 10 games for another 12-2/3 innings with good results also (10 K, 7.1 K/9, 20.0 K%, 3 BB, 2.1 BB/9, 14 K-BB%, 2.05 ERA, 1.43 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, .270 BABIP.  So between all of his stops from Oregon to Tennessee to Iowa and to Arizona, in 2014 Reed pitched 61 games and 80-2/3 innings, a load that seems appropriate for a major league level reliever, but hardly for a first year professional, but Reed responded.  His strikeouts were down and walks up in Arizona, but that was more than expected from a pitcher who was overused by they usually cautious Twins.  In 2015 the Twins had Reed skip the high A Fort Myers and play all the way up to AA Chattanooga in his second season as a pro after a first season that was overused with the expected results:  Reed tanked.  He appeared in 35 games, pitching 47 innings, striking out 39 (7.5 K/9, 17.6%) and walking (career high 4.0 BB/9, and career low 8.1 K-BB% ), with a 6.32 ERA (inflated by a very low 50.1 LOB%), 4.20 FIP, 1.62 WHIP (.340 BABIP). To salvage his season in the begining of August Reed was sent to Fort Myers where we pitched better, finding his control, but not his strikeouts (9 G, 12-1/3 IP, 7 K, 5.1 K/9, 16.3 K%, 1 BB, 0.7 BB/9, 13.9 K-BB%, 0.00 ERA, 2.27 FIP, 0.73 WHIP, .229 BABIP).  To add to the 44 games and 59-1/3 innings, the Twins re-sent him to the AFL after the season where the appeared in 10 more games for a total of 10-2/3 innings (season totals 54 games, 70 innings), pitching well (10 K, 8.4 K/9, 25.6 K%, 4 BB, 3.4 BB/9, 15.4 K-BB%, 0.00 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, .240 BABIP).  He again started last season in Chattanooga, with better results  (41 G, 60 IP, 64 K, 9.6 K/9, 25.6 K%, 22 BB, 3.3 BB/9, 16.8 K-BB%, 3.90 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, .314 BABIP).  He moved to Rochester for the final 9 games of the season doing well (9 G, 10-2/3 IP, 8 K, 6.7 K/9, 19.1 K%, 2 BB, 1.7 BB/9, 14.3 K-BB%, 3.90 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, .258 BABIP.) For the season Reed pitched in 50 games for 70-2/3 innings.

Overused his first season and rushed both his first two seasons, Reed turned from an elite reliever to a below average to an above average reliever who has been a workhorse in the pen, already carrying MLB-level loads and more, each of his first professional seasons.  He has a plus fastball that sits from 93-95, an above average slider that flashes plus, and an average to above average change up.  Reed has a problem with left hand hitters (.256 OBA in Chattanooga in 2016) which might limit him to a 7th inning reliever.  The dilemma the Twins have is that with rushing him and not allowing him to develop an effective pitch against lefties, like a changeup, they have been grooming him for that role.  They can potentially slow him down, allowing him to develop that third pitch, and solve his wildness problems, to potentially be a set-up type of pitcher.

Likely 2017 path: Depends on the Twins' plans: either AA to develop a third pitch, or AAA with a potential call to the majors, depending on performance and needs.

24. Akil Baddoo (--)
DOB: 8/16/1992; Age: 18
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 5'11", Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/GCL (2016)
ETA: 2020+

Akil Baddoo was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft from Salem (GA) High School.  Baddoo did not turn 18 until after his first professional season at GLC.  He had a very hard time making the transition to a wooden bat (.178/.299/.271, 36 K for 28.3 K%, and 18 BB in 128 PA.)  He flashed speed both on the bases 8/9 SB, 2 triples and on the field where he is fast as a centerfielder, but needs to learn taking better routes to the ball.  He has a quick bat and soft hands.  Baddoo is a project.  But he is a potential 5 tool player, thus his ranking.  He is still growing but has a good frame, so power both with the bat and throwing could very well come.

Likely 2017 path:  Extended Spring Training and then repeating GCL

23. Felix Jorge (20)
DOB: 1/2/1994; Age: 23
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 170 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2011
Professional Experience: 6; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2018

Felix Jorge was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic on February 21, 2011.  The Santiago native received an $250,000 bonus and was assigned to the Dominican Summer League the following summer.  He has been moving along the Twins organization, about a step a season, until 2014 where he had major issues in Cedar Rapids and had to return in Elizabetheton.  He started 2015 again in Cedar Rapids and was the Kernels' best pitcher, pitching 23 games (22 GS) a team tops 142 IP, had 32 BB (2.03 BB/9, 14.6 K-BB%) and 114 Ks (7.3 K/9 and 20.3% K,) for a 2.79 ERA, 3.54 FIP, and 1.056 WHIP (2.67 BABIP).  Last season he started in the Miracle rotation where he has the best results of his career: 14 GS, 93 IP, 77 K (7.5 K/9, 21.6 K%), 11 BB (1.1 BB/9, 18.5 K-BB%), 1.55 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, .280 BABIP.   He moved to AA Chatanooga in July and fell a bit flat, especially as far as strikeouts go: 11 GS, 74-1/3 IP, 32 K (3.8 K/9, 10.7 K%), 12 BB (1.5 BB/9, 6.7 K-BB%), 4.12 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, .307 BABIP.  Jorge's effectiveness has decreased in the second half both of last season, which might indicate that his decline in AA might have been the result of low endurance, in addition to facing better competition.

Jorge came in the organization as a 16 year old with a rare 3 above average pitch mix.   He has a low 90s fastball that maxes at 93 with good downward movement, which the hitters have a hard time picking up.  Above average slurvy curveball and change up.  He commands all three pitches well, has good control and he mixes pitches well.  One might see his 2016 results in Fort Myers and think that Jorge had a break-through season, but his biggest issue surfaced again: endurance. He does have mid-rotation potential, but time will tell whether he will have the endurance to be in a major league rotation or the pen.

Likely 2017 path:  In the Chattanooga rotation

22. LaMonte Wade (31)
DOB: 1/1/1994; Age: 23
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 189 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 9th round in 2015
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: A+ (2016)
ETA: 2018

LaMonte Wade was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of the 2015 draft from the University of Maryland as a Junior.  The Baltimore native  hit .335/.453/.468 in his Junior season with 30 walks and 20 strikeouts in 42 games (158 AB).  He continued to his first pro season in Elizabethton, where he hit .312/.432/.506 in 64 games (284 PAs) with 8 doubles, 5 triples, 8 HRs, 12/13 SBs, 46 BB and 34 K.  He played 4 more games in Cedar Rapids.  He started 2016 in Cedar Rapids where he hit  .280/.410/.396, walking 44 times and striking out 27.  He also had 4 HRs, 3 3B and was 5/8 in SB in 56 games.  He was promoted to A+ Fort Myers in June after was was named a starting outfielder in the  2016 Midwest League All-Star game.  There he improved hitting .318/.386/.518 in 32 games (110 ABs) despite losing most of August in the disabled list.

Quick wrists, excellent eye, decent power and speed, very good Centerfield play and hitting and throwing as a lefty have had some people drawing Denard Span comparisons.  However the truth of the matter is that Span has less power, speed, and strike zone judgement than Wade  and has never had a season like Wade's 2015 or 2016.  It will be interesting to see how Wade's hitting will stand against better and better  competition, but he has a very high ceiling.  With Buxton, Granite, and English ahead of him at the majors, AAA, and AA, Wade might potentially move to a corner spot, but his defense is as good as any of the three.  There has been some discussion on moving him to second base; however throwing left-handed might put an end to that thought.

Likely 2017 path:  Will start the season as the starting Centerfielder for Fort Myers.

21. Justin Haley (--)
DOB: 6/16/1994; Age: 25
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'5", Weight: 230 lbs
Acquired:  Rule 5 draft, 2016
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AAA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Justin Haley was selected by the Twins in the 2016 Rule 5 draft from the Boston Red Sox who drafted him in the 6th round of the 2012 draft from Fresno State University as a Junior.  The Sacramento native pitched in 22 games (12 starts) for 93-1/3 innings, striking out 94 (9.1 K/9) and walking 39 (3.8 BB/9) with a 7-4 record, 3.18 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.  He started his professional career at short season A New York Penn League Lowell's rotation, and has been moving steadily in the Red Sox' organization reaching AA Portland in late July of 2014, spending a disappointing season there in 2015 (27 GS, 130-1/3 IP, 95 K, 6.9 K/9, 17.2  K%, 50 BB, 3.6 BB/9, 8.1 K-BB%, 5.15 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.55 WHIP, .343 BABIP), and beginning last season.  Last season he was very much improved (12 GS, 61-1/3 IP, 59 K, 8.7 K/9, 24.1  K%, 19 BB, 2.8 BB/9, 16.3 K-BB%, 2.20 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, .293 BABIP).  He was promoted to AAA Pawtucket in June where he continued pitching well with a slight drop in strikeouts (14 GS, 85-1/3 IP, 67 K, 7.1 K/9,  19.8 K%, 26 BB, 2.7 BB/9, 12.1 K-BB%, 3.59 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, .264 BABIP).  After the season was over he started 5 games in the Winter Dominican League, pitching 23-2/3 innings with 14 K, 4 BB, 0.68 WHIP and 0.38 ERA.

Haley is a polished pitcher with a big body and a lot of endurance; he has a mix of 4 pitches.  His fastball is above average at 90-92 and has touched 95 with good downward movement, average command, and occasional control issues. Average to above average changeup at 80-82 mph, above average slider that occasionally flashes plus and a slow 12-6 curve that he uses very sporadically and is a work in progress.  He has bottom of the rotation potential; however his stuff might play better in the pen and become a late inning reliever.


Likely 2017 path:  Will start the season in the Twins' pen.