2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 41-45

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2016 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

This is the countdown for players ranked 51-55th in the system. You can find players 56-60 here, players 51-55 here, 46-50 here, and all segments in the series here.

45. Pedro Garcia (--)
DOB: 7/21/1995; Age: 21
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: International free Agent Signing
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/DSL (2016)
ETA: 2020+

The Twins signed Pedro Garcia as an international free agent from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on October 11, 2015. Garcia had his first professional season in the Dominican Summer Rookie League in 2016 and he was the ace of that team, starting 14 games (62-1/3 IP), striking out 69 (10.0 K/9, 28.2 K%), and walking 24 (3.5 BB/9, 18.4 K-BB%).  He finished the season with a 5-1 record, 2.17 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.01 WHIP (.260 BABIP).  Oponents had a very hard time making contanct (.181 OBA), especially when hiting from the right side (.155 OBA)  Garcia has 3 pitches, a low to mid 90s fastball with good command, a workable changeup and an above average breaking ball.  There is some wildness there (he also hit 5 batters and had 2 wild pitches) but he really improved in August (4 GS, 21 IP, 5 BB, 30 K, 4-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, .123 OBA) which suggests that there is huge room of improvement and he is already on his way. If that 12.9 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 of August as a starting pitcher is sign of what it is to come from Garcia, expect him to move really fast in the organization.

Likely 2017 path:  Extended Spring Training in the United States, then GCL or Elizabethton, depending his adjustment and the Twins 2017 draft.

44. Humberto Maldonado (--)
DOB: 12/30/1997; Age: 19
Positions: CF
Bats: S, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 202 lbs
Acquired: International free Agent Signing
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/DSL (2016)
ETA: 2020+

The Twins signed Humberto Maldonado as an international free agent from  San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic on November 15, 2015. Maldonado had a good first professional season, hitting .283/.363/.404 as the starting centerfielder of the DSL Twins, in a league dominated by pitchers.  He flashed a bit of power (15 xBH / 47 H) and speed (stole 14 bases in 24 tries.)  He is a switch hitter and equally well from both sides of the plate.  His glove is adequate at CF at this point.  He also played 17 games at LF and finished a game at 1B.  He is strong athletic type (6'3 - 202 lbs) who can develop into a five tool talent and stick at centerfield.  Think of a bit taller and stronger version of Joe Benson, as a prospect.  Tons of potential, but he has a long ways to go, and Joe Benson did not go very far for the Twins.

Likely 2017 path:  Extended Spring Training in the United States, then GCL, depending his adjustment and the Twins 2017 draft.

43. Zach Granite (--)
DOB: 9/17/1992; Age: 24
Positions: CF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 175 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 14th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/DSL (2016)
ETA: 2017

Zach Granite was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round of the 2013 draft from Seton Hall University.  The Staten Island, NY native as a collegiate hit .299/.391/.367 with 91 BB and 75 K in 156 games (633 AB).  He also stole 67/78 bases.  After he was drafted in 2013 he started his pro career in Elizabethton where he hit .285/.362/.343 with 29 BB, 25 K, and 14/21 SB in 61 games (278 PA.) He was promoted to Cedar Rapids in 2014 but was a lost season for him going to the disabled list multiple times with leg ailments.  He only managed to play 21 games (85 PA) and had decent success (.291/.321/.367, 4 BB, 8 K, 1/5 SB.)  He started the 2015 season also in Cedar Rapids where he his the cover off the ball (.358/.463/.463, 12 BB, 6 K, 7/8 SB) and after 19 games was propoted to Fort Myers were he landed hard, having the worst season of his career: In 105 games (441 PA) he hit .249/.328/.304 with 41 BB and 63 K and was 21/33 in stolen bases.    He was promoted to AA Chattanooga last season where he rebounded as a 23 year old, hitting .295/.347/.382 with 42 BB and 43 K, stealing 56 of 70 bases and had 8 triples in 127 games (584 PA.)  His glove at centerfield is above average and his splits as LHB were equally good in AA against both LHP (.291/.345/.339) and RHP (.296/.348/.396) for the first time in his career, having reverse splits previously. 

There have been some comparisons to Ben Revere after his season in Chattanooga, but Granite is a very poor man's Ben Revere.  Their tool sets are the same, hit for average, speed, and defense; however Revere's tools were much better at the same points of their career, not to mention that Revere was in the majors by age 22 where Granite just finished his age 24 season.  Revere owned a career .325/.382/.402 minor league line and a .353 career BABIP in the minors where Granite's are .282/.349/.354 and .321 respectively.  For someone whose game is to get on base and use his speed to move ahead that difference of 43 points on the battling average, 33 on the on-base percentage and 32 on the batting average of the balls in play are huge.  In the modern game those skills are much more devalued than they were 2 decades ago.  Granite's ceiling is more of an Eric Yelding vs. a Juan Pierre type of player, which is that of a AAAA of that might spend some time in a mediocre or worse MLB team's bench.  The Twins added him on their 40 man roster this season and he might be afforded that opportunity.  A potential trade piece to a National League team that might value his skills as a PR and a PH and a defensive glove at the end of a game more that the Twins. 

Likely 2017 path:  Starting CF at Rochester and potentially part time with the Twins based on needs and injuries.

42. Brandon Peterson (29)
DOB: 9/23/1991; Age: 25
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: 13th Round Draft Pick 2013
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AA (2015, 2016)
ETA: 2017

Brandon Peterson was drafted in the 13th round of the 2013 draft from Wichita State University.  The Savage, MN native moved pretty fast in the Twins organization, reaching the high A Fort Myers Miracle squad in the second half of his second pro season, but ended up being caught in the numbers games, having to start each of the last two seasons at that level before being promoted to AA Chattanooga the second half of the last two seasons.  His 2015 and 2016 seasons both split between A+ and AA were almost identical in peripheral numbers, but not in effectiveness.  Here are his numbers in both organizations for the last 2 seasons:

2015-A+: 21 G, 31-2/3 IP, 44 K (12.5 K/9, 36.1 K%), 17 BB (4.3 BB/9, 23.8 K-BB%), 0.85 ERA, 1.81 FIP, 0.92 WHIP (.222 BABIP)   
2016-A+: 22 G, 34 IP, 44 K (11.7 K/9, 33.3 K%), 14 BB (3.7 BB/9, 22.7 K-BB%), 2.65 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 1.00 WHIP (.264 BABIP)
2015-AA: 20 G, 29-1/3 IP, 33 K (10.1 K/9, 25.4 K%), 13 BB (4.0 BB/9, 15.4 K-BB%), 3.38 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.47 WHIP (.354 BABIP)
2016-AA: 16 G, 26 IP, 31 K (10.7 K/9, 27.2 K%), 15 BB (5.2 BB/9, 14 K-BB%), 4.15 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 1.35 WHIP (.288 BABIP)

Peterson has a fastball that sits at 95 mph and a slider that is a hair below a plus pitch.  I think that the 2017 season is a make or break season for the 25 year old.  After last season, I thought that it might be that he needs to adjust his approach to be successful against better competition rather than his stuff not playing against better competition, based on his results in AA compared to A+, especially with that high AA BABIP.  Having pretty much the similar results between the two leagues in 2016, reduces my confidence in Peterson.  While in A+ he looks like a borderline elite reliever, albeit with some wildness, in AA he looks like a mediocre reliever, and the Twins are full of young promising RHRP who are ahead of him both in the high minors and majors.

Likely 2016 path:  Sharing closer duties in AA, a promotion to AAA is probably depending his success and promotions to the MLB bullpen of AAA pitchers allowing him a path there.

41. Brandon Lopez (SS)
DOB: 9/9/1993; Age: 23
Positions: SS
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: 10th Round Draft Pick 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A (2016)
ETA: 2019

Brandon Lopez was drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 draft from the University of Miami as a senior.  The Miramar, FL native Sports Administration major was the Hurricanes' starting SS all 4 seasons with the team and was previously drafted out of High School by the Blue Jays in the 34th round of the 2012 draft.  He struggled somewhat his first two seasons as a collegiate with the bat, keeping the starting SS position because of his glove, he improved in his junior season and had a stellar senior season in 2016.   He hit .376/.449/.469 with 23 BB and 34 K, stealing 5 out of 7 bases and having 14 doubles and 2 home runs, in 58 games (214 AB).  He started his professional season in Elizabethton where he continue hitting well despite the transition to the wooden bat.  He hit .337/.474/.413 with 21 BB and 19 K, was 4/4 in stolen bases and had 5 doubles and 1 HR in 27 games (92 AB).  He was promoted to Cedar Rapids at the end of the season where he played 18 games (70 AB) and hit .286/.398/.329 with 11 BB and 16 K and 3 doubles.  His BABIP numbers this season were .433 with Miami, .425 with Elizabethton and .370 with Cedar Rapids.  His junior season, his BABIP was .357, which suggests that there is potential to sustain a BABIP at the .375 level as a professional player.  Very limited power, but some potential and average speed, but above average pitch selectivity and glove at SS; a bit older for both of his leagues at 23, but much better than average performance.  He hits Left and Right hand pitchers equally well.

Lopez has the potential to be a good glove shortstop that can hit and take a walk.  Because his performance requires that he maintains a high BABIP, which is not beyond Lopez, it is interesting to see how he will do against better pitching competition, especially at the A+ and AA levels.  Potentially blocked by Nick Gordon at this point, if Gordon stays at SS, Lopez might be a valuable trade chip for the Twins down the road.  But there is long way to go.   Lopez in a pretty high ceiling but high risk player, thus the reason he missed a top 40 inclussion.  This will change with sustained success, esp. keeping his BABIP high.

Likely 2017 path:  Starting SS at Cedar Rapids with a potential move to Miracle mid-season

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