2014 off-season Minnesota Twins top 40 prospect countdown: 31-35

This is the second segment of the 2014 off-season Twins top 40 prospects, counting down prospects 31 to 35.  Prospects 36-40 are here and you can find all segments in reverse order here

I feel I need to make a couple of clarifications about this list (which is a bit different that others.)  First of all, I consider players who have played in the majors, as "graduating" from prospect status.  You made big league money, you are not going to be in this list.  Andrew Albers, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Colabello, Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, Ryan Pressly, Caleb Thielbar and Michael Tonkin belong in this category.   Secondly (and thirdly) my criteria are slightly different that others' (e.g I value actual results at a higher competition level more than most) and the Twins have such a deep system, that some players who are listed in other lists and/or have been drafted in early rounds recently or have received large international signing bonuses will be conspicuously absent from this list.  I am also more open to include international players who have not played in the US yet more than others.  I am open to discussion about why and how, with the idea that it is just a point of view that is up to debate and not something that is either "right" or "wrong".

Here are the number 31 to 35 off-season 2014 Minnesota Twins prospects:

35. Adrian Salcedo, RHSP, DOB: 2/5/1991. 6'4", 175 lbs.

Adrian Salcedo was signed by the Twins as a 16 year old out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2007.  There are some parallels between Salcedo's and Wimmers' career with the Twins, which took both from being top prospects to being unprotected for this December's rule 5 draft due to injuries.  Adrian moved to the States and the GCL in 2009 after a single DSL season in 2008 and established himself as one of the top rotation arms in an arm-depleted Twins system.  

His best season was in Beloit in 2011, where in 135 IP, he accumulated a 2.93 ERA, walking 27 and striking out 92. His WHIP was 1.17.  He was set for a great age 21 season in Fort Myers, but he was an injury magnet: He was hit on the face by a ball and broke his nose, he developed finger blisters, has elbow tenderness and went to the DL and while trying to rehab the elbow in the GCL, he developed shoulder pain and was shut down.   He returned to Fort Myers in 2013 where he was used exclusively as a reliever pitching 58.3 innings in 34 games with a 3.70 ERA, striking out 54 and walking 15. 

Salcedo is at the crossroads of his career, but he is still young.  His main weapon is his mid 90s fastball with a lot of movement and great command.  He has an average slider and a work-in-progress changeup.  He is very lanky.  I suspect that he will stay at Fort Myers as a starter for the beginning of the 2014 season (his age 23 season) with a mid-season promotion to New Britain, if everything goes well.  His injuries and the influx of a lot of good arms in the Twins system, has dropped him in the prospect lists.

34. Fernando Romero, RHSP, DOB: 12/24/1994. 6'0", 215 lbs

Fernando Romero was signed to an Amateur Free Agent contract by the Twins on October of 2011 with a $260,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic.  After spending the 2012 season in the Dominican Summer League, 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 and had 47 strikeouts and only 13 bases on balls.  His WHIP was 1.00 and K% a very impressive 26, while his K/BB was 3.62. 

Romero is a big guy and an extreme ground ball pitcher.  That compared to his striking out pretty much every fourth batter he faced, is very promising.  His heavy fastball is in the low 90s but he is still very young and can pick velocity. He has a slider and changeup that are works in progress.  A former Twins' comparable would be Carlos Silva at his best.  Romero does have mid rotation potential, depending on development of his secondary pitches and staying healthy.  He will likely begin 2014, his age 19 season, in Elizabethton where he will alternate between the rotation and pen until extended.

 33. Miguel Gonzalez, RHSP, DOB: 10/12/1994. 6'1", 180 lbs

Miguel Antonio Gonzalez was signed by the Twins on July 2, 2011 (to a $650,000 bonus) from the Dominican Republic and was on the top on his international free agent class as far as pitchers were concerned. Very young and still growing (was 5'11" when signed) he has a lot of potential, mainly because he has a good feeling of the art of pitching.  Not to be confused with the 26 year old Cuban defector RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez or the Orioles Mexican RHP Miguel Gonzalez.

Gonzalez pitched in the same teams that Romero did, DSL Twins in 2012 and GCL Twins in 2013.  He was used exclusively in the pen in the GCL (but started in the DSL) where he accumulated a 1.05 ERA in 20 games, striking out 33 and walking 9 in 25.7 innings (31.1 K% and 3.67 K/BB) with only a 1.13 WHIP despite a .328 BABIP.  Gonzalez has an plus fastball, average slider and above average changeup.  He really mixes his pitches well and has great command.  A lot of room to develop still and the potential for a top half of the rotation arm. He will likely begin 2014, his age 19 season, in Elizabethton where he will alternate between the rotation and pen until extended.   

32. Deibinson Romero, RH, 3B/1B, DOB: 9/24/1986. 6'1", 215 lbs

Romero at 27 is the oldest player in this list and he is about to enter his prime, and many can argue that he too old to be a prospect.  He was signed by the Twins in early 2006 as a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic.  Romero quickly moved up the Twins system and showed enough promise to be added to the 40 man roster after the 2009 season (his 4th pro season) to be protected from the 40-man draft, but was removed a year later after an average .252/.348/.363 6 HR, 54 RBI repeat season at Fort Myers as a 23 year old. 

His breakthrough season was 2012 where he hit .267/.356/.441 with 19 HRs and 78 RBI in AA New Britain.  This earned him a non-roster invite to the 2013 Spring Training and a potential challenge to Trevor Plouffe for the Twins' starting 3B position.   However luck did not want that to happen:  His work Visa to the US was delayed until the end of April because a storm damaged his town's courthouse destroying birth records, including his.   He stayed at Fort Myers for extended Spring Training and moved to Rochester with a stop of eight games at New Britain, where he hit the cover off the ball (.355/.429/.710; 3 HR).  In Rochester he hit a respectable .266/.369/.421 with 10 HRs and 50 RBI in 86 games; continuing to put better than average power numbers.  He is an average third baseman with somewhat limited range, but his hands have been improving. 

Romero is entering his prime and has earned a 2014 Spring Training invitation where he would likely battle Chris Colabello, Chris Parmelee, Jason Bartlett and others for a spot on the Twins' bench, where he could be a spot starter at the corner infield positions, esp. third base and a bat off the bench.  Otherwise he will provide depth in Rochester.  He is not on the 40-man roster and thus he is eligible for the 40-man draft with some likelihood of being selected by a team that needs corner IF depth.   

31. Mason Melotakis, LHSP, DOB: 6/28/1991. 6'2", 206 lbs

Mason Melotakis was drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2012 draft from the Northwestern State University of Lousiana.  He was one of the power relief arms the Twins selected in that draft with the intention of converting them into starters.  He split the 2012 season between Elizabethton and Beloit, where he pitched in 20 games (24 innings) in relief to a 4-2 record, with an 1.88 ERA striking out 34, walking only 6 and having a miniscule 0.958 BABIP. 

2013 in Cedar Rapids was his first season as a starter and it was a major disappointment, if you ingore ERA and W-L record.  He pitched in 24 games (18 as a starter) for 111 innings to a 11-4 record with a 3.16 ERA.  However he had only 84 strikeouts and walked 39; his WHIP was 1.31 with normal BABIP (.293).  His K/BB ratio decreased to 2.15 from the 5.67 the previous season and his K% decreased from a remarkable 37.5% to an unremarkable (unless you are an MLB Twins' starter) 17.7%.

His relative ineffectiveness as a starter likely came because his secondary pitches are raw.  He has an excellent mid 90s fastball that spikes up to 98 and it is a weapon late in the game when the starter has not been throwing that hard.  His curveball is at best average and his changeup is a work in progress; if you have only one plus pitch, no matter how good it is, hitters will be able to time it, especially as one moves up in a system.   2014 will be a crucial year for Melotakis.  I think that he would be given the opportunity to start at Fort Myers for his age 23 season.  Depending how he performs (and how his secondary pitches have developed) he will continue the season as a starter or move to the pen. 

Next: 26-30

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