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12/2/13

2014 off-season Minnesota Twins top 40 prospect countdown: 36-40.

I have not attempted a full detailed one of those, but I think that with the Twins getting better this off-season and the possibility of trades of prospects for established players being a true possibility, I thought that it might be a good idea.   There are a lot of prospect lists out there and they are all slightly different because different people value different qualities in a player, but they all serve a great singular purpose:  to get to know the minor league players in an organization who otherwise would just be names in old draft boards and rarely seen box scores. 

My list will be long, forty names long and I will be presenting profiles of the players in fives pretty much every work day starting this week.  I will be done in time for the Rule 5 draft on December 12th.  I also do include recent international players who have not made the trip to the United States, so there will be a few new names there.

You can see all the segments, in reverse chronological order here.

There are the number 36 to 40 off-season 2014 Minnesota Twins prospects:

40. Alex Wimmers, RHSP, DOB: 11/1/1988.  6'2", 195 lbs.

Wimmers was the Twins' first round pick (21st overall) in the 2010 draft out of Ohio State University. He missed all but 5 innings in 2012 and 15 rehab innings in the Gulf Coast League in 2013, due to elbow issues and Tommy John surgery.  Additionally, he had further surgery to decompress the nerve in the same elbow this off-season.   There are a lot of expectations for a first round pick, but Wimmers has effectively not pitched (other than 4.3 innings in 2012) above the high A Florida State League, where he amassed a 4-3 record, with a 3.20 ERA (4.20 FIP), 1.08 WHIP (.211 BABIP), 9.9 K/9 and 2.3 K/BB in 56.3 innings spread along 2 seasons. 

His stuff before his elbow troubles was a plus two seamer with excellent movement in the low 90s, complemented by a plus changeup and an plus plus breaking ball, which he needs to command better.  I watched Wimmers during the 2012 Spring Training before his injury and you can read the report here .

Wimmers is a big enigma in the organization that left him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft.  2014, his age 25 season will be a make or break season for him.  Depending on the elbow, he will start either at extended Spring Training or at New Britain with a potential call up to Rochester later in the season depending on health and performance.

39. Tyler Jones, RHRP, DOB: 9/5/1989. 6'4", 215 lbs.

Tyler is the older of the two Jones' (the other one is Zach) at Fort Myers the second half of the 2013 season.  He was drafted by the Twins at the 11th round of the 2011 draft out of Louisiana State University.  In 2011 and 2012 he was primarily a starter at Elizabethton and at Beloit, with mixed results (5-5, 4.67 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 1.442 WHIP, .357 BABIP. 10.6 K/9, 26.6 K% and 2.91 K/BB in 86.7 Midwest League innings.)  This season the Twins transitioned him to the pen, where his high strikeout rate as a starter really increased to a strikeout machine level.

At high A Fort Myers, this season he struck out 33.3% of the batters he faced, while at Cedar Rapids, where he started the season, he strick out 29.9%.  His FIP was 1.27 and 2.21 at A+ and A levels, respectively.  When a third of the batters you face strike out, you have a serious advantage as a pitcher and belong in a top prospect list.   Unlike his namesake who has an impressive fastball, Tyler Jones fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95, but has a tremendous movement and he complements it well with above average changeup and slider.   Command of his fastball had been an issue, but he seems to have improved last season.

He will likely start 2014 at Fort Myers (maybe taking over the closer duties) and end the season in New Britain.  Will be interesting to see how his stuff looks against tougher competition next season and if the strikeout rate holds up at AA.  I expect him to be a big mover in this list next year this time.

38. Tyler Grimes, RH, C, DOB: 7/3/1990. 5'10", 187 lbs.

Tyler Grimes was drafted by the Minnesota Twins at the 5th round of the 2011 draft from Wichita State University as a Shortstop.  At 5'10 and 187 lbs (in actuality closer to 200), he does not have the optimal body for a shortstop and it showed at his limited range and error-proneness on the field.  Last off-season the Twins transitioned him into a Catcher role.  He did also spend some time at second base (13 games) and at shortstop (1 game) but middle infield is not in his future. 

Grimes played all of his pro seasons in the Midwest League (Beloit and Cedar Rapids) so far and he has shown a steady improvement the last season on the plate, hitting .256/.377/.382 with 6 HRs and a 45/87 BB/K ratio in 356 plate appearances.  He is still learning how to call a game, but his strong SS arm translated into C where he threw out 44% of the would be base stealers.

Grimes would likely spend (his age 23) 2014 season in Fort Myers.

37. Logan Wade, SH, IF, DOB: 11/13/1991. 6'1", 190 lbs.

Logan Wade was an international (Brisbane, Australia) signee of the Twins in the Spring of 2012 and he reminds me of a fellow Australian with the Twins, Luke Hughes.  He started his professional career as a middle infielder with the Gulf Coast League Twins in 2012 where he hit .234/.301/.371 in 138 PAs as a 20 year old.  This season he played in Elizabethton where he hit .303/.333/.455 in 106 PAs.  His power (IsoP) for a young middle infielder (.137 in 2012 and .152 in 2013) are very impressive and his hit tool improved last season. 

His pitch recognition needs work (5/33 BB/K in 2013) but he potentially has future as a utility player or better, especially if he can keep the power numbers at higher levels and improves his pitch recognition and glove.  His glove plays better at 2B than SS, but he has played both corner infield positions and LF.   He will likely spend the 2014 season at Cedar Rapids.

36. Zach Larson RH, OF, DOB: 10/8/1993.  6'2", 185 lbs

Zach was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 20th round of the 2012 draft out of Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton FL.  He played only in 15 GCL games in 2012 and his transition to the wooden bat was unremarkable (.250/.318/.325)  However, 2013 was a great season for him.  He started the season repeating the Gulf Coast League where he hit .317/.382/.467 in 137 plate appearances and moved up to Elizabethton without slowing down (.301/.407/.438 in 86 PA)

He can play all 3 OF positions and he played exclusively at CF in high school, but his arm plays better at LF.  He does make good contact, has gap power, is pretty selective (19/39 BB/K last season,) and his 19 year old frame will fill.  Has decent range and speed as well, even though the last has not translated much into stolen bases.  Depending on his Spring Training, he will likely start 2014 in Cedar Rapids.   

Next: 31-35







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