2/15/17

2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 1-60 Summary and System Strengths and Weaknesses.

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, 6-10 here, 1-5 here, and all segments in the series here.  There are detailed profiles, scouting reports and analysis about each player, so if you are interested in a particular player in the list, they might be useful.

The 2017 off-season Twins' top 60 prospect list looks like this (in parenthesis the 2016 ranking, followed by position and the ETA) :

    1. Wander Javier (7) SS, 2020
    2. Tyler Jay (2) LHP, 2017
    3. Lewin Diaz (5) 1B/DH, 2019
    4. Fernardo Romero (34), RHP, 2018
    5. Nick Gordon (9) SS, 2018
    6. Stephen Gonsalves (4) LHSP, 2018
    7. Daniel Palka (18) OF, 2017
    8. Alex Kirilloff (--) OF, 2020
    9. Adalbelto Mejia (--) LHP, 2016
    10. Mitch Garver (10) C, 2017
    11. Luis Arraez IF (24), 2019
    12. Nick Burdi (3) RHRP, 2017
    13. Brusdar Graterol (28), RHSP, 2020+
    14. Engelb Vielma SS (23), 2017
    15. Travis Blankenhorn (38), 3B/1B, 2020 10 BA
    16. Ben Rortvedt (--) C, 2020
    17. Kohl Stewart RHSP (13), 2018
    18. Mason Melotakis (12), LHRP, 2017
    19. Amaurys Minier (15) OF/1B, 2019
    20. Huascar Ynoa (27), RHSP, 2020
    21. Justin Haley (--) RHP, 2017
    22. LaMonte Wade (31), CF, 2018
    23. Felix Jorge (20), RHSP, 2018
    24. Akil Baddoo (--) OF , 2020
    25. Jake Reed (16) RHRP, 2017
    26 Niko Goodrum (37), CF/IF, 2017
    27 Trevor Hildenberger (--) RHP 2018
    28 D.J. Baxendale, (--) RHP; 2017
    29 Lachlan Wells (26), LHSP, 2020
    30 Lewis Thorpe (17) LHSP, 2019
    31 Jermaine Palacios (8) SS/3B, 2020
    32 Rainis Silva (21), C, 2019
    33 Michael Theophanopoulos, LHP, 2018
    34 Dereck Rodriguez - 24 – RHP – 2019
    35 John Curtiss, RHP; 2018
    36 Jean Carlos Arias (22), CF, 2020
    37 Travis Harrison (14), OF/1B, 2018
    38 Aaron Slegers (--), RHP 2018
    39 Jaylin Davis, (--) OF 2019
    40 Levi Michael (11), 2B, 2016
    41 Brandon Lopez (--) SS, 2020
    42 Brandon Peterson (29), RHRP, 2017
    43 Zach Granite, (--) OF, 2017
    44 Humberto Maldonado (--) OF, 2020+
    45 Pedro Garcia (--) RHP 2020 +
    46 Tyler Benninghoff, (--) RHP 2020 +
    47 Nelson Molina, INF 2020
    48 Taylor Clemensia  (--)  LHP 2020
    49 Eduardo Del Rosario (--) RHP  2019
    50 Jordan Balazovic, (--) RHP, 2020+
    51 Jason Wheeler (--) LHP, 2017
    52 Andrew Vasquez (--) LHP 2019
    53 Zander Wiel, (--) 1B 2019
    54 Tyler Wells (--) RHP  2020
    55 Cody Stashak -(--) RHP 2019
    56 Colton Davis (--)  RHP 2019
    57 Williams Ramirez (--) 2019
    58 Tanner English (--) OF 2018
    59 Aaron Whitefield  (--) IF/OF 2020
    60 Michael Cederoth (--) RHP 2018

Players who were on the 2016 list (then a top 40) and are not in the 2017 are:

Emmanuel Morel (40) IF
Trey Cabbage (39), IF/OF
Chris Paul (33) IF/OF
Kolton Kendrick (32), 1B/DH
Ryan Eades RHP (25)
Adam Walker OF (19)

Players who graduated from the 2016 list are:

Jose Berrios (1) RHP
JT Chargois (6) RHP

Too good to exclude, but I had to, because of his circumstances:

Griffin Jax RHP.  His stuff is there to merit inclusion in this list, and likely within the top 40.  However his commitment to the US Air Force, which already resulted in him missing professional baseball commitments, including the whole 2017 Spring Training, is a big unknown, regarding his career as a baseball player.  Unless this conflict is resolved, I will have a hard time including him in a prospect list.   His  Air Force assignment starts in late May after graduation and it is at the Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, FL.

Organizational Strengths:

Shortstop/middle infield:  The Twins have 3 players on the top 15 of the organization that are about a year away from each other as far as readiness go, in addition to former number 2 prospect, Jorge Polanco in the majors with 4 more seasons of team control, which will bridge with the ETA of the current number 1 prospect Wander Javier,  while players like Nick Gordon (5th , ETA 2018) and Engelb Vielma (14th, ERA 2017) could be stopgaps if necessary, slide over to second base, or be trade bait.  Jermaine Palacios (31, ETA 2020) and Brandon Lopez (41, ETA 2020) are two additional players that can stick at shortstop and make quick gains. Luis Arraez (11, ETA 2019) looks like the Twins' second baseman of the future, estimated to be ready when Brian Dozier's contract expires, so there is also a nice bridge there.  If Dozier is traded, current major leaguers Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza, in addition to Polanco and Vielma will battle out for his replacement and the starting SS position, with Gordon added to the list in 2018.  All in all, middle infield is a strength in the organization allowing for potential trades down the road to plug other holes.

Relief Pitching: There are 32 pitchers in the list, several with ETA of 2017 and 2018 and only two, LHPs Stephen Gonsalves (6, ETA 2018) and Adalberto Mejia (9, 2016), are unquestionably starters.  Pitchers like LHP Tyler Jay (2, ETA 2017 as a reliever)  and RHP Fernando Romero (5, ETA 2018), the only 2 pitchers in the organization who are potentially top of the rotation starters, can help the Twins' pen soon, in addition to RHP Nick Burdi (12, 2017) who has closer potential and the best pure stuff in the organization, LHP Mason Melotakis (18, 2017), Rule 5 draft pick RHP Justin Haley (21, 2017) and RHPs Jake Reed (25, 2017) and D.J. Baxendale (28, 2017).   Former 6th overall prospect JT Chargois is in the majors, along with his college co-closer Tyler Duffey, who has had setbacks as a starter and belongs to the pen, and along with the current pipeline, supplemented by another half dozen pitchers who are projected to be ready in 2018, they can anchor a strong bullpen for the Twins for the years to come.

Organizational Weaknesses: 

Catcher:  The only major-league ready catcher in the list is Mitch Garver (10, ETA 2017) who projects as a two way major league average catcher at this point, and will battle for a back up to defensive wizard but light hitting, especially against lefties, Jason Castro.   There are only 2 more catchers in the list, Ben Rortvedt (16, ETA 2020) and Rainis Silva (21, ETA 2019) who have as much promise as they have question marks.  Former 28th best prospect in the 2015 list Stuart Turner was selected on the Rule 5 draft and might return,  however he is a glove first catcher who profiles as a defensive back up in the majors at best at this point.  This is a position that there is practically no pipeline and the Twins should address at the draft and/or with trades

Starting pitching:  As mentioned only LHP Tyler Jay (2, ETA 2017 as a reliever)  and RHP Fernando Romero (5, ETA 2018), are the only two prospects with top of the rotation projections, but they both bring a lot of unanswered questions about durability and whether they can transition to starters in the majors.  Add to this the fact that the current Twins starters in the majors are at best number 3s or 4s in a competitive team, and the situation looks a bit dire. RHP  Brusdar Graterol (13, 2020+) and LHP Lewis Thorpe (30, 2019), could be part of the discussion, if proven healthy, but they are at least 2 seasons away.  LHPs Stephen Gonsalves (6, ETA 2018) and Adalberto Mejia (9, 2016), are close to ready or ready, but project as a mid to bottom of the rotation starters.  So do RHPs Kohl Stewart (17, 2018) and Huascar Ynoa (20, 2020).  The rest of the pitchers in this list project as relievers.  The Twins will have to address this problem with the draft where they have the number 1 overall selection as well as with trades, and potentially free agency down the road, in order to compete.

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