2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 6-10

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, 41-45 here, 36-40 here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here, 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, and all segments in the series here.
10. Mitch Garver (10)
DOB: 1/15/1991; Age: 26
Positions: C
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 9th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AAA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Mitch Garver was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of 2013 draft from University of New Mexico as a Senior.  The Albuquerque native arrived in the pros as a fairly polished receiver who has opened eyes with his bat in his second pro season in 2014 in single A Cedar Rapids, hitting .298/.399/.481 (154 wRC+) in 502 PAs walking 61 times and striking out 65 and being good behind the plate, throwing out 32% of runners and allowing 8 passed balls.  This was a marked improvement over his .243/.313/.366 line in 202 ABs his first season as a pro in Elizabethton, that followed a .390/.458/.589 start of the season in 246 AB in New Mexico.  At first sight, 2015 looks a bit trying for Garver at the plate, hitting .245/.356/.333 in 520 PAs with 69 BB and 82 K for the Miracle.  This includes a .164/.287/.205 April and a .210/.350/.226 May, which makes me think that he was fighting something, including a potential adjustment.  He ended up hitting .252/.354/.372 for the second half of the season, which does not include a .330/.416/.420 June.   He was invited to the Arizona Fall League, where he bested all the Twins' prospects with .317/.404/.512.  His defense behind the plate improved in 2015, catching 38% of the runners and allowing fewer passed balls (6 vs 8) in more chances than 2014.  The caught stealing number improved to 48% this season that Garver split between AA Chattanooga and AAA Rochester.  He started the season in Chattanooga hitting .257/.334/.419 (118 wRC+) with 11 HRs in 95 games (497 PA) and finished in Rochester hitting .329/.381/.434 (136 wRC+) in 22 games (84 PA).  Once again he played in the Arizona Fall League, appearing in 19 games (77 PA) hitting .229/.299/.457 (106 wRC+).  He was added to the Twins' 40-man roster this off-season.

Garver is an above average defensive catcher in blocking balls and throwing out runners. His framing numbers are also positive.  He has been hitting lefties better all his career (other than an unlikely first half reverse split in Chattanooga last season.)  His BABIP looks to stabilize a bit above .300, which with an about 10-15% BB rate and .100-150 isoP, could give him a line of .275/.325/.425 or so at the next level, which will be boosted when he faces LHPs.  These numbers are good for Garver to project as an average or above average starting Catcher in the majors.  With Jason Castro signing a new 3-year contract, Garver will be in a three-way battle with J.R. Murphy and Chris Gimenez for the Twins' back up spot.  Castro cannot hit LHPs, so Garver's ability to do so might put him half a step ahead of the competition at this point.

Likely 2017 Path:  Fighting for the Twins' backup Catcher spot.

9. Adalbelto Mejia (--)
DOB: 1/15/1991; Age: 26
Positions: LHP
Bats: R, Throws: L
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired:  Traded by the San Fransisco Giants for Eduardo Núñez in 2016
Professional Experience: 6; Highest level: MLB (2016)
ETA: 2016

The Twins acquired LHP Adalberto Mejia, from the San Fransisco Giants, in exchange for Eduardo Núñez last Summer.  Mejia was signed as international free agent from the Dominican Republic by the Giants in 2011.  The Bonao native was a late bloomer signing by the Giants as an eighteen year old.  That season in the Dominican Summer League he impressed, starting 13 games for 76 innings with 71 K (8.4 K/9, 23.8 K%) and only 8 BB (1.0 BB/9, 21.1 K-BB%), with a 0.868 WHIP (.272 BABIP), 1.42 ERA and 1.75 FIP.  This was enough for him to skip the Giants' US-based Rookie leagues, jumping right on full season A in 2012, playing for the Augusta GreenJackets of the Southern Atlantic League. He participated in 30 games, among them 14 starts. His final numbers for that season were:  106.7 IP  with 79 K (6.7 K/9, 17.1 K%) 21 BB (1.8 BB/9, 12.5 K-BB%), with a 1.341 WHIP (.332 BABIP), 3.97 ERA and 3.29 FIP.  He started the season in the pen, with limited success and moved into the rotation in June, where he found success, finishing the season with a 6-3 record, 3.00 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, post All Star break. The next season he moved up to the San Jose Giants of the High A California League.  He started 16 games (87 IP) with 89 K (9.2 K/9, 25.1 K%) and 23 BB (2.4 BB/9, 18.6 K-BB%) for a 3.31 ERA,  4.20 FIP and 1.126 WHIP (.277 BABIP).  He missed 48 games that season in May and June with shoulder issues, but came back okay.  He was called to AAA Fresno to start a single game (5 IP, 5 H, 2 HR, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and participated in the Arizona Fall League playing in 7 games, 3 as a starter for 8.47 ERA, 1.529 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 17 innings.  In 2014 he moved up to AA Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) where he started 21 games and relieved in one, pitching 108 innings with 82 K (6.8 K/9, 17.9 K%) and 31 BB (2.6 BB/9, 11.1 K-BB% ), for a 1.389 WHIP (3.26 BABIP), 4.67 ERA and 3.78 FIP. He went to the DL three times for 6 days with a leg bruise after a ball hit him in April and for 8- and 12-days in July with finger blisters.   His weight that season went up to 240 lbs (he is 6'3") and needed to be reduced.  Unfortunately he took a banned weight loss supplement that contained stimulants and tested positive, receiving a 50 day suspension, very much like current Twins' DH/1B Kennys Vargas. He repeated AA in 2015 after he served his suspension. He appeared in 12 games (9 GS), pitching 51.3 innings with 38 K (6.7 K/9, K%) and 18 BB (3.2 BB/9, K-BB%), for a 1.091 WHIP (.238 BABIP), 2.45 ERA and 3.41 FIP.  Despite the nice performance, he needed innings so he returned to the AFL (7 GS, 31 IP , 1.258 WHIP, 3.48 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 4.1 K/BB) and also appeared in the Dominican Winter League (playing for the Gigantes, coinsidentally: 5 GS, 18.3 IP , 1.091 WHIP, 3.44 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 1.5 K/BB).  After he was invited to his first MLB spring training as part of the Giants' 40-man roster, he was caught in the numbers games and started against at AA Richmond where he excelled after he trimmed down this season (11 GS, 65 IP , 0.985 WHIP, 1.94 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 22.8 K%, 2.2 K/BB, 16.5 K-BB%) forcing his promotion to AAA in his age 23 season (he was 22 at the time.)  His numbers (7 GS, 40.7 IP , 1.303 WHIP, 4.20 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 25.0 K%, 2.4 K/BB, 18.6 K-BB%) were fairly impressive, especially for the Pacific Coast League.  Once in the Twins organization he made 4 starts for Rochester (26-1/3 IP, WHIP (.329 BABIP), 3.76 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 8.5 K/9, 23.2 K%, 1.0 BB/9, 20.4 K-BB%), and pitched 2-1/3 innings for the Twins in a single appearance.

He has an above average to borderline plus fastball that has increased in velocity this season, sitting at 92-94 and touching 95 as a starter.  Average to above average command and improving and the pitch is projecting to be plus pitch in the near future.  Natural cutting action on the pitch.  His slider is his best pitch.  Siting at 83-84 mph and up to 86.  Nice biting motion, great command and above average control.  This is a pitch that he throws anywhere on the count, pretty much like current Twins' starter Tyler Duffey does with his curve ball.   He also throws a changeup that is an average to above average pitch that can improve, and a fringe average slow curve.  Nice fluid mechanics. Weight is a consideration for him, and it currently is under control, listed at 195 lbs.  His ceiling is that of a number 3 or 4 starter, but he has a high floor. His floor is of a 8th inning reliever.  He held lefties to a .216/.273/.275 slash line and had 11.3 K/9 against them, which is pretty impressive for the PCL.

Likely 2017 Path:  Fighting for a spot in the Twins rotation in Spring Training

8. Alex Kirilloff (--)
DOB: 11/9/1997; Age: 19
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 1st round in 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2016)
ETA: 2020

Alex Kirilloff was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (15th overall) of the 2016 draft from Plum High School in the Pittsburgh area, where he played baseball while being Home-Schooled.  His father who used to be in the Pirates' organization as a scout and coach, is a professional hitting coach, offering both facilities and instruction to amateurs, including his son.  In High School Alex Kirilloff was a two way player.  As a pitcher he has a 89-92 mph fastball that was good enough to go 5-1 in limited competition, but was not going to get him to the next level.  Power and arm strength are Kirilloff's best tools and he projects as a rightfielder.  The transition to wood bat was seamless for him, hitting .306/.341/.454 in 55 games (232 PAs) in Elizabethton.  He has 9 2Bs, 1 3B, and 7 HRs, walking 11 (4.7%) and striking out 13.8%.  He was 0/1 in stolen bases.  He was named the Appalachian League’s player of the year.

There is definitely some power potential with his .148 isoP likely doubling at some point.  He has good judgement of the strike zone and makes contact that is successful (.328 BABIP.)   His swing is a bit complicated both with leg and shoulder action, but so far it works. It will be interesting to see how this will translate in the next levels when he will be looking at more off-speed and breaking balls. It might require some rework to quieten it up and shorten it.

2017 Likely path:  Starting the season in single A Cedar Rapids

7. Daniel Palka (18) (--)
DOB: 10/28/1991; Age: 25
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks for Chris Herrmann in the 2016 off-season
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AAA (2016)
ETA: 2017

Daniel Palka was traded to the Twins by the Arizona Diamondbacks for C/OF Chris Herrmann before the 2016 season.  The Greenville, SC native was Arizona's 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft from Georgia Tech as a Junior.  In his Junior season he hit .342/.436/.637 with 17 HR in 237 AB (13.9 AB/HR) walking 60 times and striking out 60.  He also went 2-1 with a 0.69 ERA in eight games as a pitcher He moved to Missoula Osprey of the advanced Rookie Pioneer League, where he hit .302/.386/.502 (126 wRC+) with 7 HRs in 56 games (241 PA) and ended his first professional season in short season A Northwest League Hillsboro Hops, hitting .340/.418/.574 (182 wRC+) with 2 HRs in 12 games (55 PA), showing no sign of slowing down even after playing a total of 130 games and had 489 ABs.  His HR rate slowed down his first season with the wood bat, but his isoP was at his College levels (.200 and .234.)  Next season he moved into single A Midwest League South Bend Silver Hawks, where he hit .248/.332/.466 (125 wRC+) with 22 HRs (20.7 AB/HR) and had a .218 isoP.  His BABIP was a career low .294.  In 2015, his last season in the Diamondbacks' organization, he advanced to the high A California League Visalia Rawhide where he hit .280/.352/.532 (135 wRC+) with 29 HR and 24/31 SB in 129 games, 576 PA.  His isoP was a professional high .252, but so were his strikeout percentage (28.5%).  He played an additional 22 games in the Arizona Fall League (100 PA, giving him 676 PA for the season) where he hit .278/.330/.444 with 3 HR and 4/5 SB.  He started his Twins' career in 2016 in Chattanooga, hitting .270/.348/.547 (155 wRC+) in 79 games (345 PA).  He had 21 HR (14.3 AB/HR) and increased his isoP to .277, but was only 7/11 in SB. He moved to AAA Rochester in early July where he hit .232/.296/.483 (120 wRC+) with 13 HRs in 54 games (223 PA). Despite his BABIP being at .324 in both steps, his contact at Rochester suffered and his strikeout rate increased to a very high 38.6% from 29% in Chattanooga.  His issue at Rochester was mostly over committing with his swing early, which is repairable.  Palka has 35+ HR and 20+ SB potential and a very strong plus arm at the outfield.  His contact issues in Rochester are of some concern, but Palka projects as a two way average to above average major league outfielder with plus HR power, in other words what the Twins' hope their 2016 first round draft pick becomes, but with better speed.  He was added to the Twins' 40-man roster this off-season.

Likely 2017 Path: Battle for a position with the Twins during Spring Training, likely starting the season in AAA Rochester and moving up mid-season

6. Stephen Gonsalves (4)
DOB: 7/4/1991; Age: 22
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'5", Weight: 213 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 4th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2018

Gonsalves was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 draft from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego and paid an over slot ($700K vs $468K slot) bonus.  He was considered a potential first round pick but dropped because of character questions due a suspention at High School his senior year because of smoking or being with teammates who were smoking marijuana and lying about it to cover them. Gonsalves has been playing in 2 levels every season in the pros so far with a lot of success, and marked improvement the second time with a team, other than his second season in Elizabethton.  In 2013 he slit time between GLC and Elizabethton, in 2014 between Cedar Rapids and Elizabethton, 2015 between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers, and last season between Fort Myers and Chattanooga.   In 2015 in  Cedar Rapids he started 9 games (55 IP) walking 15 (2.4 BB/9, 29.7 K-BB%) 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, 5.1 K-BB%) 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.)  This season he improved considerably at Fort Myers (11 GS, 65-2/3 IP, 66 K, 9.1 K/9,26.1  K%, 20 BB, 2.7 BB/9, 18.2 K-BB%, 2.33 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, .249 BABIP) and did not lose a beat at Chattanooga (13 GS, 74-1/3 IP, 89 K, 10.8 K/9, 30.1  K%, 37 BB, 4.5 BB/9, 17.6 K-BB%, 1.82 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, .255 BABIP.)  He made 4 starts at the Arizona fall league for a career high 148-2/3 innings this season and was named the Twins' minor league pitcher of the year, an award whose recipients seems to be cursed.

Gonsalves is ranked as the Twins 2nd best prospect by Baseball America, and 3rd by MLB.com and Fangraphs. He is a prototypical middle of the rotation type of potential talent who can occasionally 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.  Low to Mid 90s fastball that is average but has a high spin rate making it hard to hit up in the zone, a fully plus changeup and a slurvy breaking ball that is improving, is his pitch arsenal.  His changeup is effective against RHBs and his curve ball against LHBs.  Command occasionally is off and that is translated with an increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts.  When that happens, Gonsalves has been successful by inducing weak movement.  Pitching to weak contact and needed to paint the corners to succeed is a risky recipe for success and despite Gonsalves doing it in every level, there is a feeling that it will just take him that far, especially when he has a long frame and difficulties in repeating his delivery, which results in the up and down command issue.  But the end of his success is not in sight yet.

Likely 2017 Path:  Was invited to the Twins' Spring Training, but it is likely that the Twins will like him to build his innings in AAA Rochester this season.  Likely in the majors in 2018, barring injuries, trades etc.

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