2015 Twins offseason top 40 prospects list: 21-25

Today is the fourth installment in the top 40 Twins' Off-season prospects countdown.  You can find all installments here in reverse chronological order.  Previous rankings: 36-40, 31-35 and 26-30.  You can find the 2014 off-season summary list here   In these listings in parenthesis, I am including their ranking in the last prospect list, which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked.  You can find that list here.

 25. Alexis Tapia RHP (30) RHSP, DOB: 8/10/1995, 6'2", 195 lbs

Alexis Tapia was signed by the Minnesota Twins from Venezuela on Sept of 2012, and 2013 was his first professional season.   He spent that season (his age 17 season) in the DSL where he playing in 11 games (7 as a starter) pitching 42.3 innings, striking out 31 and walking 5.  His ERA was 2.13 and his WHIP a miniscule 0.874.  Last season we moved on to the Gulf Coast league, where as an 18 year old (2.5 years younger than the league average) he pitched 45 innings allowing 6 BBs and 36 Ks, for a 3.20 ERA (3.22 FIP) and 1.044 WHIP.

The 3 things that you hear about Tapia are: that he is "projectable", with a growing 6'2" frame, that he has a "good feel for the game", and that he is "throwing strikes".  His fastball is plus with plus control, his change is above average, and breaking ball is a work in progress.  Tapia will likely start in the Elizabethton rotation.  The Twins do have a lot of young good arms, but count Tapia as a sleeper, especially if he develops his secondary stuff and increases his 19.3% K%.

24. Rainis Silva C (--) RHB, DOB: 3/20/1996, 6'1", 185 lbs

Rainis Silva is an international free agent classmate of Amaurys Minier and Lewis Thorpe, signed by the Twins as a 16 year old in 2012 for $175,000.  He has been known as a defense first catcher and has represented Venezuela in several international youth under 16 tournaments.  Like Tapia, he made the transition from the DSL to the GCL and improved with the bat from .223/.289/.250 to .270/.294/.342, adding 2 inches and some bulk.  He is strikeout prone (6:25 BB:K in 160 PA) and his bat is a work in progress. 

He is ranked that high because of his defense and game calling skills that they are much more advanced than his 18 years of age.  He is probably the most polished receiver in the Twins' organization (and that includes everyone from the majors down, thus the ranking.)  About a year and a half younger than the GCL average, he will likely move in the Appalachian League in 2015.   The development of his bat will determine his future with the organization, but he is very young right now.

23. Mike Cederoth RHP (18) RHSP, DOB: 11/25/1992, 6'6", 195 lbs

Mike Cederoth was signed by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft from San Diego State University.  Cederoth started in his first years at SDSU and he was their closer last year, dropping his ERA to about half (2.29 vs 4.26) and saving 20 games.  The Twins look at him as a starter and he started 10 games (45.7 IP) in Elizabethton where he struck out 42 and walked 18, with a 3.52 ERA, 3.65 FIP and 1.28 WHIP.  Cederoth's command and control are problematic and the source of the issue is his mechanics and large frame.  His fastball is a plus to plus plus ranging from mid to high 90s, but his secondary stuff needs work.  His mid 80s slider is average and a workable pitch, but his mid 80s change and high 70s 12-6 curve are works in progress and ineffective.

He was a half year older than the average in the Appalachian League. Will likely start in Cedar Rapids in 2015 and the Twins will be patient for his development as a starter.  Depending on whether he develops an above average third and/or a fourth pitch, his future could range from a mid to top of the rotation starter or a late inning reliever.  Either way, the next couple of years will be critical for his development, because unless he manages and improves his mechanics, he will not reach his potential.

22. Levi Michael 2B (38) SHB, DOB: 2/9/1991, 5'10", 180 lbs.

Levi Michael was drafted in the first round (30th overall) of the 2011 MLB draft from the University of North Carolina.   His 2012 and 2013 seasons at Fort Myers were lackadaisical (.246/.339/.311 and .229/.331/.340 with erratic play at SS) and Michael was flirting with being added to the list of First Round Busts for the Twins; however his 2014 play established him again as a prospect.  He started the season in Fort Meyers at a league average age now and the third time was the charm: he hit .305/.375/.395, played exclusively at second base and his glove showed major improvement. He moved to New Britain, where he was 1.7 years younger than the league and improved his hitting to .340/.444/.358 and played well at second.

What changed this season?  He finally got accustomed to making contact with the wooden bat.  His discipline has always been fine with a K:BB ratio south of 1.5 in pro ball. However his batting average dropped from .290 and .346 and .289 in college to .246 and .249 in the pros.  Those numbers are similar to his average with the wooden bat as a collegiate in the Cape Code league in 2009 and 2010 (.247 and .252.)   His glove is improving with full time play at second and I do foresee his bat improving.  Will likely start the 2015 season in New Britain.  The Twins did not protect him from the rule 5 draft this off-season, but will likely have to, next off-season.  If he repeats his 2014 performance at the higher levels, he will be knocking at the Twins door by September and might be even thought as a potential Brian Dozier replacement a year from now.  Why is he then not a top 15 prospect?  Because this is a deep organization and because he just had one good season.  Depending on how he starts 2015, he might skyrocket (or drop) in this list...

21. Adam Walker OF (13) RH,  DOB: 10/18/1991,  6'5", 225 lbs

Adam Walker by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the 2012 Draft from Jacksonville University.  I wrote the following about Walker in the 2014 off-season prospect list:

Power is Walker's most obvious tool (.246 and .248 IsoP in the last two seasons, age 20 and 21) and will likely increase. He played mostly first base in college and made the transition to full time OF (RF) in the pros. Walker is an adequate corner outfielder, even though his arm is weak, and has some speed.   His contact and [selectivity] tools need work; his K% drop from 30.2% in 2012 to 20.8 % is encouraging.  If he improves his contact he can be an All-Star corner outfielder (likely left fielder) in the majors.  Will likely start the 2014 (age 22) season in Fort Myers.

He did start this season at Fort Myers and unless one is looking at HRs (25) or RBIs (94), 2014 was a major disappointment for Walker, regressing at every aspect of the game.  His K% increased to 28.2%, his batting average decreased to .246 and, even his strong suit, his IsoP decreased to .190, dropping .058 points from 2013. Walker needs to improve in all of those numbers in 2015 at get back to at least 2013 levels in AA, to be considered as a top 20 prospect in this organization.  There are major concerns about his ability to make contact and hit for average as well as about his plate discipline.  If those are not addressed, his ceiling will be Steve Balboni...

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