2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list: 31-35

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.

This is the second countdown segment of the 2016 off-season Top 40 Twins'  prospect.  You can find the first segment, players 36-40 here.

35. Yorman Landa (--)
DOB: 6/11/1994; Age: 21
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 165 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 9/3/2010
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: A (2014, 2015)

Yorman Landa was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent on September of 2010.  It is fairly telling that the 21 year old Venezuelan has 5 professional seasons under his belt, yet he is younger than half of the Twins 2015 draft class.  This is the first time in those 5 years that Landa cracked my top 40 prospect list, part of the reason being that he was a 2 pitch starter/long reliever and the Twins did not know what they wanted to do with him. Add to this a shoulder surgery in the summer of 2014 and very slow climbing of the organizational steps, and does not make a great case for inclusion in a prospect list.  What happened?  The Twins decided in 2014 that he really belongs to the pen, and moved there in Cedar Rapids that season with good results.  After the surgery, he recovered completely and returned to Cedar Rapids with a new delivery from a lower arm angle that produces a mid-90s fastball with nasty movement and cleaned up some of his secondary pitches.  He pitched 27 innings in 15 games, producing an 1.67 ERA (3.47 FIP) and and 1.19 WHIP (.258) BABIP.  He walked 4 and struck out 31 (10.33 K/9 & 27% K%).  The Twins are thinking highly of him and added him to their 40 man roster to protect him from this years' Rule 5 Draft.  I think that he is still a work in progress because he still works too many and needs at least one convincing secondary pitch, but that Fastball and the new delivery has opened some eyes.

Likely 2016 path:  Will be with the big club this Spring Training as part of the 40-man roster and then likely pitch for Fort Myers. 

ETA: 2018

34.  Fernardo Romero (37)
DOB: 12/24/1994; Age: 21
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 11/4/2011
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: A (2014)

Fernando Romero was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent on November of 2011. The Dominican right hander has misses all of 2015 and most of the 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.   Here is what I wrote about him last year:

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. He missed 2014 with Tommy John surgery.   It will be interesting to see how Romero will rebound in his age 20 season. He had a heavy fastball is in the mid to low 90s and barely adequate supplementary stuff.  Romero does have mid rotation potential, depending on development of his secondary pitches and staying healthy.    He will likely begin 2015, his age 19 season, in Cedar Rapids where he will alternate between the rotation and pen until extended. 

He did not make it on a professional field in 2015, but expecting to return in full force in 2016.  One thing that needs to be remarked is his ability to hide the ball really well from both lefties and righties and throwing a Carlos Silva - like heavy sinker.  Time will tell how he will move on, but the potential is still there as long as he stays healthy. 

Likely 2016 path:  Will be eased into the Cedar Rapids bullpen and depending on success move on to Fort Myers in the middle of the season.  Likely will stay in the pen the whole season.

ETA: 2019

33. Chris Paul (--)
DOB: 10/12/1992; Age: 23
Positions: 1B/3B/OF
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: 6th Round Draft Pick 2015
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A (2015)

Chris Paul was drafted by the Twins in the 6th round of this years' draft from University of California Berkeley.  The California native was a polished hitter in College.  He hit .321/.406/.509 in the summer of 2014 in the wooden bat Northwoods Summer College League playing for St Cloud Rox (he played there for 3 summers, so he has been well-scouted by the Twins).  Continued hitting .325/.404/.562 in 2015 for Berkely and did not miss a bit by turning pro, hitting .302/.375/.488 in 96 PAs for Elizabethton earning a promotion to Cedar Rapids, where he ran out of gas hitting .244/.277/.356 in 12 games.  Not much of a home run thread at this point, but he does have double power to the opposite field.  Long swing makes him vulnerable to breaking balls, but it is fixable.  The Catch-22 with Paul is that he does not have a position.  He played pretty much everywhere but Catcher in College and High School, and all corner infield and outfield positions in the pros.  He was named in the Pac 12 all defense team, so his defense is not a liability.  His versatility might allow him to make it to the Bigs earlier as a utility player, but that would be his ceiling. On the other hand, players like Ryan Zobrist and Daniel Murphy are making a good living out of it.  

Likely 2016 path:  Will start the season as a utility player in Cedar Rapids.

ETA: 2018

32. Kolton Kendrick (--)
DOB: 8/10/1996; Age: 19
Positions: 1B/DH
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 225 lbs
Acquired: 8th Round Draft Pick 2015
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/GCL (2015)

Kolton Kendrick  was drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of this years' draft from Oak Forest (LA) Academy.  He fell to the Twins in the 8th round, while considered a top 100 player in the draft, by many insiders, including top 62nd by Baseball America.  Kendrick who played his senior season in High School with a wooden bat, has plus plus power and great plate selectivity for a teenager.  He walked 50 times in his senior season in High School.  As a pro in 24 games (89 PAs) in the Gulf Coast League, he hit .200/.371/.271 with 18 BB, and 24 K, 3 doubles and a triple.  Kendrick, generously listed at 225 lbs, is a work in progress with the glove and how he will respond to breaking balls and changeups in the pros, is still up for discussion.  He is a lot like Kennys Vargas was that age, if you could imagine Vargas as an exclusively left hand hitter, with bright red hair and freckles. Now that Miguel Sano is a big leaguer, Kendrick has the highest power potential in the Twins' minors organization, and being a lefty, is something they have been missing for the Twins, since Justin Morneau departed.   Getting consistent swings, staying in shape and improving his fielding will help him get in the majors earlier, but he is playing a position that the Twins have a couple long term answers in the majors in Joe Mauer and Byung Ho Park and Vargas in the High Minors.  

Likely 2016 path:  Will start the season in Extended Spring Training and be the starting 1B at Elizabethton once that League starts play.

ETA: 2020+
31. LaMonte Wade (--)
DOB: 1/1/1994; Age: 22
Positions: CF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: 9th Round Draft Pick 2015
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A (2015)

LaMonte Wade was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of this years' draft from University of Maryland.  Wade's 2015 practically came out of nowhere.  Before 2015 he was regarded as a glove-first Centerfielder with excellent strike zone judgement but many contact issues.  In 2014 as a Sophomore for Maryland he hit .247/.358/.335 (62 games) and for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League .145/.351/.200 in 21 games.  Then something clicked:  In his Junior (and final College) season he hit .335/.453/.468 in 42 games and in his first pro season in Elizabethton, 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 games in Cedar Rapids. Between College and Pros, he finished the season with 13 HRs and 19 SBs.  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.  It will be interesting to see how Wade's hitting will stand against better and better competition, but he has a very high ceiling in a position in need in the Twins' organization.

Likely 2016 path:  Will start the season as the starting Centerfielder for Cedar Rapids.

ETA: 2018

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