2017 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 16-20

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, and all segments in the series here.

20. Huascar Ynoa (27)
DOB: 5/28/1998; Age: 18
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 175 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2014
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: Rookie, GCL (2016)
ETA: 2020

The Twins signed Huascar Ynoa to an $800,000 bonus on July 2 of 2014 and had his first professional season in DSL in 2015 as a starter.  He started 14 games (56.7 IP) walked 30 (4.7 BB/9) and struck out 47 (7.5 K/9 and 19.2% K%) with a 2.70 ERA (3.84 FIP) and 1.29 WHIP (.258 BABIP).  Like his 7 year older and 5 inch taller brother Michael, who at some point was the baseball number 20 prospect according to baseball prospectus and now is in the White Sox' organization, consistency was the biggest issue with Huascar Ynoa.  He has 3 pitches (fastball, curve, slider) which all flash above average to potentially plus, but he did not throw them consistently, thus the walks.  He does have a good feel for all his pitches, which suggests that mechanics might be an issue here that can be correctable.  Additional data pointing out to a mechanics issue were his numbers in full wind up when pitching with nobody on:  20.7 IP, 26 H, 24 BB, 15 K for a 2.42 WHIP.  Subtract those from his totals and his numbers when pitching from the stretch position ended up like this: 36 IP, 17 H, 6 BB (1.5 BB/9) , 32 K (8 K/9) and 0.639 WHIP, which are absolutely impressive under any and all circumstances.   Last season in the GCL, also as a starter at age 18, he made considerable improvements (11 GS, 51 IP, 51 K, 9 K/9, 24.3 K%, 12 BB, 2.1 BB/9, 18.6 K-BB%, 3.18 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, .303 BABIP.  Between the 2 seasons, in similar number of innings he reduced his walks from 30 to 12 and his wild pitches from 10 to 3, while increasing his strikeouts, indicating that he is on his way to achieve consistency.   This season he improved his curveball to near plus, and added an above average changeup, while gaining a couple of ticks on his fastball that now hits 94.  His changeup is an effective weapon against lefties who he kept to an .167 OBA (vs to a .270 OBA against RHB).  The reverse splits are a good thing to see from a young pitcher, whose effectiveness against righties will come with command and maturity.

Likely 2017 path:  Extended Spring Training and move to the Elizabethton rotation in June

19. Amaurys Minier (15)
DOB: 1/30/1996; Age: 21
Positions: OF/1B
Bats: S, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2012
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: Rookie, Elizabethton (2015,2016)
ETA: 2019

Amaurys Minier was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2012 for a $1.4 million bonus.  The San Cristobal native was signed as shortstop but here was no intention of keeping him at that position.  After off-season shoulder surgery in 2013, a season he his .214/.252/.455 in the GCL, he returned to the GCL as an 18 year old in 2014, where he punished pitchers in average 2 years older to the rate of .292/.405/.520 with 11 doubles, 2 triples and 8 home runs (.228 isoP), even after he broke his hand during extended spring training.  Clearly the shoulder and hand were healed and the 18 year old who can generate power from both sides of the plate and hit equally well lefties and righties was well on his way towards the top of the prospect rankings.  Then 2015 happened.  A promotion in Elizabethton resulted in a .194/.279/.280 slash line, while his isoP dropped to .086. Still a year and a half younger than the league average player in the Appalachian league, and reportedly having to fight nagging injuries that season, the potential is still there, but Minier's stock nose-dove in the rankings. That season he made the transition from the OF to 1B.  Last season he repeated in Elizabethton, still about half a year younger than the league, where he hit .222/.318/.449, returning his isoP to .228.  His BABIP in 2016 was .281, which is very similar to his disasterous 2015 (.288) and much unlike his 2014 (.375.)  He was on a tear in July (.235/.388/.559) while cooling off considerably in August (.218/.271/.423) but the power was still there.   Power is his best tool, and he has tons from both sides of the plate, but it appoaches elite from the right side (.317 isoP as RHH in 2016).  He is a man without a position who will likely end up either at first base or at DH at the higher levels, but the Twins will try to keep him on the field as much as possible.  He can play the field, just not consistently.  As a former SS, the instincts and hands are there.  It is a matter of learning a position and getting a ton of repetitions.  There is a lot of potential, but his contact needs to improve and his BABIP to return to mid 300s, pushing his batting average closer to high 200s, and for that to happen he needs to improve his pitch recognition, something that "clicks" for different players at different times in their development.

Likely 2017 path:  Cedar Rapid Kernels' starting first baseman and potentially corner outfielder.\

18. Mason Melotakis (12)
DOB: 6/28/1991; Age: 25
Positions: LHP
Bats: R, Throws: L
Height: 6'2", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2012
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AA (2014, 2016)
ETA: 2017

Mason Melotakis was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft from Northwestern State University (LA.)  The Grapevine, TX native was one of the 4 hard throwing College closers the Twins drafted in 2012 with the hope to turn them into starters in the pro game; one of them (5th Round Pick, Tyler Duffey) made the transition, albeit it looks like he is mostly suited for the pen, and the other three (Melotakis, 1st round pick Luke Bard, and fellow 2nd round pick JT Chargois) ended up with arm problems resulting in Tommy John surgeries and return to the bullpen.  Melotakis has had his operation on October of 2014.  The return to the pen in 2014 in AA New Britain (even though hurt) resulted in a good increase of strikeouts to 9.6 K/9 and 25.4% K%.  It also produced a nice 1.64 GO/FO ratio.  After his surgery and rehab, Melotakis' plus to plus plus fastball gets up to 96-97 mph and his once suspect slurve has improved to an above average pitch that flashes plus.  He has been toying with a change up as a starter, but I suspect that with the new focus as a late inning reliever, he will abandon that. Melotakis was added to the Twins' 40-man roster and spend Spring Training with the Big club, but was optioned to AA for the season.  At Chattanooga he appeared in 36 games (33-1/3 IP), had 42 Ks (11.3 K/9, 29.2 K%) and 12 BB (3.2 BB/9, 20.8 K-BB%), with a 2.97 FIP, 3.14 ERA, and 1.44 WHIP (.384 BABIP).   He appeared in 11 games (11 IP) in the AFL where he dominated (11 K, 1 BB, 1.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP.)  His splits are considerably better against LHBs, but his slurve is an out pitch also against RHBs who he strikes out to a 1.5:1 ratio more than lefties; he is anything but a liability against RHBs, so his ceiling is higher than a LOOGY.Melotakis' stuff is a lot like that of Glen Perkins' in his prime and he belongs to a major league pen now.  The Twins have been cautious after his surgery, and he had a couple sort stints in the DL last season because of a stiff back, but he is MLB-ready now.

Likely 2017 path: Will fight for a position in the Twins' pen in this Spring Training, if caught in the numbers will start the season in AAA and likely called up later.

17. Kohl Stewart (13)
DOB: 10/7/1994; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 1st round in 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AA (2016)
ETA: 2018

Kohl Stewart was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2013 draft from St Pius X High School in Houston, TX.  Stewart is one of those players that elicit a lot of conflicting emotions when evaluated, because of the high expectations based on his potential and drafting position, which he apparently has not come close to fulfilling.  He started his professional career in the GCL the year he was drafted and pitched in 6 games, 3 starts, for 16 innings, striking out 16, walking 3, for a 1.69 ERA, and 0.938 WHIP.  He also made a start in Elizabethton that season for 4 innings, striking out 8, allowing a hit and a walk, after he recovered from a foot injury he suffered while stepping on a sea shell on the beach.   The next season (2014) he moved to single A Cedar Rapids, where, about 3 years younger than the league, he started 19 games (87 IP), struck out 62 (6.4 K/9, 17.2 K%) and walked 24 (2.5 BB/9, 10.5 K-BB%) and finished the season with 2.59 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.138 WHIP (.270 BABIP), while fight shoulder tenderness.  After that season MLB.com ranked him 36th best prospect in Baseball, and the Baseball Prospectus ranked him 28th.  Stewart had a somewhat disappointing following season in 2015 for the Miracle.  He started 22 games after losing about a month in the DL because of elbow inflammation.  He pitched 129-1/3 innings had 45 BB (3.1 BB/9, 4.7 K-BB%) and 71 K (12.8 K% and 4.9 K/9) for a 3.20 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and 1.38 WHIP (.308 BABIP)  The hope was that the 4th overall pick will miss a lot of bats, as he did in 2013 where in 24 IP in both Rookie teams he walked 4 and struck out 24, but he did not.  Potentially his injury was to blame, but that was not a very good season for him.  Last season he repeated in the high A Miracle where he improved enough (9 GS, 51-2/3 IP, 44 K, 7.7 K/9, 20.7 K%, 19 B, 3.3 BB/9, 11.7 K-BB%, 2.61 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, .253 BABIP) to be promoted to AA Chattanooga the end of May.  There, his numbers flattened out again (16 GS, 92 IP, 47 K, 4.6 K/9, 11.8 K%, 44 B, 4.3 BB/9, 0.8 K-BB%, 3.03 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.47 WHIP, .291 BABIP) before finishing the season in the DL with right biceps tendonitis.

It appears that Stewart's ceiling moved after each of his seasons, from a top of the rotation flamethrower, compared to fellow Texan Roger Clemens when drafted to a bottom of the rotation pitch to contact pitcher who will utilize his ground outs (about 1.8 as many as fly outs for his career) to get bats out.  I think that the true is somewhat in between.  There are a few things that have stalled Stewart's development:  First and foremost Stewart is still learning how to pitch at 22 years old.  He was primary football player who was on his way to be a College quarterback before the Twins drafted him and he used to throw the ball past high schoolers in the Houston Catholic School circuit.  His stuff is excellent.  He has a plus to plus plus four seamer that hits 96, which he alternates with a plus 2 seamer in the low 90s and supplements it with a close to plus hard slider/cutter in the low-mid 80s, an above average high 70s curveball and an average change up.  His command is about average at this point and the primary reason of his declining K/BB ratio.  The issue with his command is his mechanics that are not smooth.  This issue has also caused him the nagging injuries (other than the seashell one) which he has been battling with all his pro career.  At this point the Twins and Stewart will be better served by taking a step back and re-examining his mechanics, working on a consistent, repeatable delivery that will help him be successful, instead of rushing him again.  If it were up to me, I would have him start 2017 in Extended Spring Training to do this, instead of a league that is 3 years older than him, and move him to AA with a new delivery and confidence and a way to excel, avoid injuries, and reach his potential.  Not sure that the Twins will do so...

Likely 2017 path: In the Chattanooga rotation, depending on health.

16. Ben Rortvedt (--)
DOB: 9/25/1997; Age: 19
Positions: C
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 5'10", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2016)
ETA: 2020

Ben Rortvedt  was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft from the Verona, WI Area High School.  He started his pro career in the GCL where he played in 20 games (59 AB) hitting  .203/.277/.254 with 5 BBs and 8 Ks, before he moved up to Elizabethton for the last 13 games of the season where in 40 AB he hit .250/.348/.250 with 5 BB, and 2 K.  He mostly batter third, fifth and sixth in the GCL and on the 7th spot in Elizabethton.  His splits were not significantly different against lefties or righties.  Good eye and pitch selectivity overall, still lack of contact in his first few games making the transition from aluminum to wood and this was reflected on his BABIP (.235 in GCL and .263 in Elizabethton,) which has room to move upwards and trended so nicely, improving in the harder league, as he spent more time with the wood.  He has a good feel in the catcher position which he played in 30 of his 33 total games (he was the DH for 3 games.)  Good arm with 28% CS, few issues blocking the ball (9 PB for the season,)  but overall a lot of promise, but a lot of youth and development ahead of him to reach his potential that is that of an above average two ways MLB-regular catcher.    

Likely 2017 path:  EST and Elizabethton or Cedar Rapids depending on the Twins' draft; outside chance to start at Cedar Rapids.


Marv said...

I'm excited about seeing Melotakis. Oddly enough, I believe the bullpen in the next couple of years will be strong enough that we can replenish our lower leagues with some SP prospects by trading off some bullpen arms.

Rortvedt has a poor looking OPS, but that is where OPS is misleading because it over-counts slugging. If he can continue to get on base at a .348 clip his at bats will be fine.

thrylos98 said...

Agreed re: Rortvedt. First season with wooden bat. He needs to learn to square it to get line drives and power. It will come eventually.

The RP pipeline of MLB-ready or near ready pitchers is really exciting. There is no reason for the Twins not to trade pretty much every veteran in the pen this deadline. Can they get a decent SP prospect that way? Likely not, unless it is a package deal with someone like Santana and Dozier.