2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects 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 2015 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2015 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

You can find players 36-40 here, players 31-35 here, players 26-30 here, players 21-25 here, players 16-20 here, players 11-15 here, and players 6-10 here

5 Lewin Diaz (9)
DOB: 11/19/1996; Age: 19
Positions: 1B/DH
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'3", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 7/2/2013
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2015)

Lewin Diaz was singed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million bonus in 2013.   He made the transition to the US, after a hitting .257/.385/.451 in the DSL in 2014, his age 17 season.  This season he hit .261/.354/.369 in 33 games in the GCL and finished the last 14 games of the season hitting .167/.245/.375 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.

Diaz is the highest ranked position player in this list, and this speaks as much for Diaz as it does for the number of prospects who graduated this list.  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 close to .200 isoP as a teenager, and he still is learning how to swing the bat.  It will be interesting to see how he does next season and in full-season ball when he gets into his twenties.

Likely 2016 path: Extending Spring Training and then starting first baseman for the Elizabethton Twins

ETA: 2019

4 Stephen Gonsalves (13)
DOB: 7/8/1994; Age: 21
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'5", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: 4th Round Draft Pick 2013
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A+ (2015)

Gonsalves was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 draft from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, and has been playing in 2 levels every season in the pros so far.  And he has been successful in each of those levels.   In 2013 he slit time between GLC and Elizabethton, in 2014 between Cedar Rapids and Elizabethton and last season between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers.   In Cedar Rapids he started 9 games (55 IP) walking 15 (2.4 BB/9) 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) 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.)

From the Department of Statistics that Do not Matter, he finished the season between both levels with a cumulative 13-3 record and a 2.01 ERA, which albeit mostly irrelevant is equally eye opening.  Getting into more meaningful albeit more banal measurements, he was 2 years younger than average in the Midwest League and 3 years younger than average in the Florida State League, making that drop in strikeouts and increase in walks in Fort Myers a tad more palatable.  To add, this season he pitched a career high 134.3 innings more than doubling the 65.7 he pitched in 2014.  If someone thinks that his Fort Myers' record is because he possibly ran out of gas, this is not the case.  In his first 3 starts with the Miracle he pitched 14 innings walking 10, striking out 6, surrendering 13 hits and 8 ERs  for a 5.14 ERA and 1.64 WHIP.  He made adjustments after that,  allowing him to pitch 65.3 innings in his last 12 starts walking 28 and striking out 49 (still not that optimal) for a 2.07 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.

Gosalves is a prototypical middle of the rotation type of potential talent who can 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.  Mid 90s fastball that approaches plus, a fully plus changeup and a two years old slurvy breaking ball that is improving is his pitch arsenal.

Likely 2016 path: In the Miracle rotation moving up to Chattanooga mid-season; or even starting at Chattanooga.

ETA: 2018

3 Nick Burdi (6)
DOB: 1/19/1993; Age: 23 (Happy Birthday!)
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'5", Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: 2nd Round Draft Pick 2013
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: AA (2015)

Nick Burdi was drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2014 draft from Louiville and from the point he signed his contract with the Twins he became the right hand reliever with the most dominating stuff in the organization regardless the level.  Burdi was major league ready last season and he is this season.  He and Jake Reed and JT Chargois, will all tell you that there must be something in the water (or the coaching) in Chattanooga, since their sustained inability to find the strike zone there.  In 2015 Burdi pitched 30 games in AA (43.7 IP) walked 32 (6.6 BB/9) 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) 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, allowing no earned or unearned runs and only 2 hits with a .380 WHIP.

Burdi is throwing a high 90s plus plus fastball that tops in three digits and supplements it with a plus slider that sits at 89-90, creeping into the low 90s.  He is also throwing a changeup.  Were it an isolated incident, his numbers in AA could be of some concern; looking at the facts that other top relief prospects, like Reed and Chargois suffered there and that Burdi dominated in the AFL, the concern is alleviated, but points out to a more systematic issue at Chattanooga that might need an expedited solution by the organization.  Burdi is invited in the MLB Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and has a chance to make the Twins' bullpen this season.

Likely 2016 path: (As with JT Chargois) Depending on his and others' Spring Training performances and Free Agent signings, a part of the Twins bullpen or in the closer mix for Rochester and Chattanooga.   The Twins bullpen will be very fluid this Spring.

ETA: 2016

2 Tyler Jay (--)
DOB: 4/19/1994; Age: 21
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: 1st Round Draft Pick 2015
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A+ (2015)

Tyler Jay was drafted by the Twins 6th overall in 2015 from University of Illinois (his native State.)   He was mainly the closer there appearing in 30 games (2 starts) last 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 additiona 19 games (18.2 IP) where he walked 8 (3.9 BB/9) 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).

Jay is very similar with the pitcher who I ranked number 1 in my list for 2016 and it could have really been a tossup.  He is about a month older than Jose Berrios, they are about the same size (and have received similar size-based criticism,) they have similar stuff (even though Jay's is likely a tad better than Berrios') but the reason that Jay comes second in this comparison is that Berrios has been a pro for a while, has been a starter for a while and I have seen him pitch.  Jay has not yet proven that he can be a starter and it is unknown how his stuff will be as a starter.  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 2016.  But the Twins will like to see what he can do as a starter and whether he could become a top of the rotation starter.  As a starter, he likely has more potential than Berrios, but he is not there now.  This time next season, things might look different.

Likely 2016 path: Assuming that he will be a starter:  Likely starting the season at Fort Myers with a potential promotion to Chattanooga mid-season, depending on needs and performance

ETA: 2017

1 Jose Berrios RHP (5)
DOB: 5/27/1994; Age: 21
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired: 1st Round Draft Pick 2012
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: AAA (2014, 2015)

Jose Berrios was drafted 32nd overall in the 2012 draft from Papa Juan High School in Puerto Rico.  Since he has joined the Twins he has been the poster boy of hard work and has rapidly risen the organizational ladder going all the way from the Gulf Coast League in 2012 to Rochester in 2014 (for just a game, but still...)  And Berrios had to fight criticism on each step about whether he is tall or strong enough to have the endurance to be a starter.  Berrios is as tall as some guy named Greg Maddux and an inch taller than another guy named Pedro Martinez. Other than his height, he does not belong in the same sentence as they do (and he may never do,) but his size will not be the reason for that.

He started the 2015 season in Chattanooga starting in 15 games (90.7 IP) and walked 24 (2.4 BB/9) while striking out 92 (9.1 K/9, 25.1 K%), for a 3.08 ERA (3.09 FIP) and a 1.11 WHIP (.296 BABIP).  He finished the season in Rochester where he started 12 games (75.7 IP) walked 14 (1.7 BB/9) and struck out 83 (9.9 K/9 and 27.7 K%) for a 2.62 ERA (2.79 FIP) and 0.96 WHIP (.278 BABIP.)  Berrios is one of the many pitchers who had problems with walks in Chattanooga (albeit his problems were lesser than the rest) in this top 40 list, compared to other places they pitched last season.  This surely looks significant enough to take a closer look this off-season (but I am digressing.)

Berrios deserves this ranking.  He started his pro career with a lot of us thinking of him as back-end of the rotation potential pitcher, then the next season mid to back of the rotation pitcher, then the season after that, mid to top of the rotation pitcher.  And that's where he is right now.  Like Jay he has four pitches:  A plus plus fastball that sits at 94-96 and tops at 98 mph, a close to plus slow curve, an above average slider and an average to above average changeup.  He uses his slow curve morer against LHBs and gets them to ground out more than righties.  As a matter of fact, he has been even or close to better against LHBs than RHBs.  He should throw his slow curve more against RHBs potentially.  He is a non-roster invitee and will fight for a job in the Twins' rotation in Spring Training.

Likely 2016 path: May win a spot in the Twins' rotation this Spring.  Likely will anchor the Rochester rotation and might see some action with the Twins as the rosters expand; not on the 40-man roster.

ETA: 2016


Joe feia said...

Great stuff I like the perspective. Only quibble... you have Berrios and Jay at 23 when they are both still 21 .... big difference for prospects.

thrylos98 said...

Nice catch. Copy and Paste error

lms said...

I enjoyed the your rankings. I live in Cedar Rapids and now get to see a lot of these kids come up.. kind of surprised not to see Alex Swim in there I was impressed with him when he was here. anyway thanks again

thrylos98 said...

Thanks. Swim has considerable holes in his game. He does hit for average and that is about it. At this point he projects more as a 1B/RF/DH than a C (arm and blocking issues) and at 5'10" not really suited at 1B. He does not walk and has no power, and has limited speed. At 24 he is considerably older that the average at any level he has played. Not that much different than Trey Vavra, for example. These guys are good minor league role players, but do not project as major leaguers.