2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 56-60

This is the second segment in the 2018 Twins top 60 prospect list.  You can find the introductory segment that discusses qualifications to be on this list and presents the players who were on the 2017 list but are not in this list here.  You can find all segments in this series here.

Here are players 56-60 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players no in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)

60 Jesus Toledo (--)
DOB: 8/25/1999; Age: 18
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 5'11", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Signed on July 8, 2016 from Venezuela
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: DSL (2017)
ETA: 2022

Jesus Toledo signed with the Twins as an International Amateur Free Agent on July 8th ot 2016 from San Juan de los Morros, Venezuela, but did not start his professional career until last season.  But when he started, it was quite a start.  He started the season without allowing a run in 20-2/3 IP (4 starts, 1 relief appearance) had 4 more decent starts in July (14 IP, 3.86 ERA) and ran out of steam in August (1 start, 4 relief appearances 10-2/3 IP).  His numbers for last season were: 14 G, 9 GS, 45-1/3 IP, 30 K (15.9 K%, 6.0 K/9), 17 BB (3.4 BB/9, 6.9 K-BB%), 1.26 WHIP (.293 BABIP), 2.38 ERA, 3.88 FIP.

The lefty Venezuelan, who is around 6 feet tall with a true sinker and above average change up, should not be overlooked, not only because you know who, but because his stuff is that good, even though his endurance may not be at this point, which is mainly a being in shape and consistent training issue.   He pitches to contact at this point allowing twice as many ground balls than fly balls, and only 2.5% of the later resulting in a home rum.  He is more evective against lefties, but not bad against righties.  Developing a breaking ball, improving his sinker and change and commanding his sinker better, will allow him to miss bats in the future.

Likely 2018 path: In the US for String Training, extended Spring Training and starting at the CGL

59 Carson Crites (--)
DOB: 1/18/1995; Age: 23
Positions: 2B
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 25th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
ETA: 2022

Crites who was born in Oklahoma City and went to High School in Amarillo, TX, was drafted as a senior in the 25th round of the 2017 draft from Southeastern Louisiana University.  He established himself as power-speed threat his Senior year with 14 HR and 15 SB in 59 games (231 AB) while hitting .299/.386/.554.  In his first season as a pro he hit .300/.349/.453 (.363 wOBA, 115 wRC+) in 38 games (166 PA).  He just hit 4 HRs and stole 4 bases (in 7 attempts,) but he hit 11 doubles and overall had 50% extra base hit to hit ratio for a .153 isoP, while walking 10 (6% BB%) and striking out 28 (16.9% K%) times, which indicates that home run power will come upon further adjustment to the wood bat.

Crites is a second baseman with a lot of grit.  He is a bit older than the league average but he was drafted as a Senior.  As a hitter, he utilizes the whole field and has about equal ground ball to fly ball ration. His .339 BABIP is similar to his .344 NCAA average (range .398-.304) so it seems sustainable.  He is a similar type player to the current Twins' second baseman Brian Dozier, before the latter became a pure pull ball hitter as a major league player.  At the same age and the same level, he is a bit more advanced than Dozier was as far as power (.153 vs .078 isoP) and speed (4.6 vs 4.0 fangraphs Speed) but not contact (.363 vs .392 wOBA).  However players develop differently and it will be interesting to see how Crites will develop as he gets accustomed to the wooden bat.   

Likely 2018 path: Starting the season in Cedar Rapids (A)

58 Ben Rodriguez (--) C/1B
DOB: 11/9/1994; Age: 23
Positions: C/1B
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'6", Weight: 235 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 38th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: GCL (2017)
ETA: 2022   

Ben Rodriguez was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round of the 2017 draft from Pepperdine University.  The Scottsdale, AZ native was named the number 1 catcher from AZ in his High School senior class and was in the top 100 catchers in the nation in that class; however he was not drafted and went to Pepperdine University.  He had a break through junior season (.289/.401/.533, 9HR, 21 BB, 48 K, in 135 PA) but a rough landing in his senior season (.230/.311/.378, 19 BB, 62 K, in 196 PA). He did rebound considerable at the GCL later last season (.290/.395/.457, 22 BB, 43 K, .404 wOBA, 144 wRC+ in 162 PA).  This 1.95 K/BB ratio was his career best so far.  Rodriguez played 5 games (out of 50) at catcher, but at 6'6" and 235, he has already likely outgrown the position and he appears to be a first baseman in the future.

Rodriguez has very intriguing power (easy 70 on the 80 grade scale) and mashes lefties (.431/.500/.707 in 58 AB in GCL), however his long swing is not effective against same size pitching (.212/.346/.317 in 104 AB in the GCL) and neutralized by breaking balls outside the zone. He is much older for his league (+2.6 years that the average player), however it was his first time as a pro and was drafted as a senior.  The power intrigue is there, and overall his transition to wood has proven positive.  Cutting down the strikeouts and finding a way to attack right hand pitching will go a long way towards his development. 

Likely 2018 path: Extended Spring Training and then Elizabethton (Rk) with potential trips to Cedar Rapids if the need appears.

57 Nelson Molina, (47) 
DOB: 4/30/1995; Age: 22
Positions: IF
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 175 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 11th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AA (2017)
ETA: 2020

Nelson Molina was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Draft from the Antonio Luchetti High School in Arecibo, PR.  He has been developing slowly for the Twins, starting and repeating the GCL level his first two seasons, moving to Elizabethton in 2015 and to A level Cedar Rapids in 2016.  He was drafted as a SS, but has played every infield and the corner outfield positions, concentrating at third base before last season and moved to 2B primarily this season, while still playing 1B, 3B, SS, LF and RF.  Molina had good plate discipline, but had a hard time making contact.  Something clicked for him in 2016 at Cedar Rapids, hitting .300/.374/.381 overall (with only a 13.9 K% and 9.9 BB%) and .321/.383/.419 against RHPs.  However last season at Fort Myers  (he also had 11 AB in 3 games at Chattanooga) he regressed to a .243/.285/.342 slash line overall and .249/.285/.358 against RHPs.

He is tall and lanky with limited power, but the potential to establish it as he grows.  He has some speed, stealing 12 bases in Elizabethton, but this season he only had 6 attempts (and 5 SB.) He has been improving with the glove, esp. after being moved away from third base that is his worse position.  His bat used to be ahead of his glove, but caught up last season in the wrong direction.  The Twins like his versatility but the key to making it to the majors will be his bat.  There are early indications that his 2016 .755 OPS, .354 wOBA, 125 wRC+ season at Cedar Rapids might be the exception, since he could not repeat his BABIP (.349) which regressed last season to .275 that is a bit better than his .258 career average.  At 22 he is still young but next season will be his 6th as a professional and likely a make or break season.

Likely 2018 path:  On the Chattanooga roster as a utility player

56 Sandy Lugo, (--) RHP  
DOB: 3/26/1995; Age: 22
Positions: IF
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 170 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the minor league portion of the 2017 Rule 5 draft from Reds
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: A+ (2017)
ETA: 2020

The Twins drafted Sandy Lugo in the minor league portion of the 2017 Rule 5 draft from the Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds signed the Las Matas de Farfan, Dominican Republic native on May 14, 2014.  Lugo moved fairly quickly in their system playing in the DSL that season: 19 G, 2 GS, 49-2/3 IP, 61 K (11.1 K/9, 28.9 K%) 16 BB (2.9 BB/9, 21.3 K-BB%) 2.90 ERA, 1.91 FIP, 1.19 WHIP and 13 wild pitches.  The 2015 season Lugo came to the States cruising through their Arizona League Rookie squad in 4 games and moving up to high altitude Rookie Pioneer League Billings Mustangs where he appeared in 13 games with 17-2/3 IP, striking out 23 (11.7 K/9, 28.1 K%), walking 8 (4.1 BB/9, 18.3 K-BB%) with a 5.60 ERA, 4.54 FIP and 1.47 WHIP.  In 2016 he moved to the Midwest League (A) Dayton Dragons where he appeared in 30 games for 55 innings, striking out 77 (12.6 K/9, 34.4 K%) walking 13  (2.1 BB/9, 28.6 K-BB%) and throwing 8 wild pitches with a 2.45 ERA, 2.91 FIP and 1.07 WHIP.  Last season after 5 games in Dayton, he moved to High A Daytona (Florida State League) where he appeared in 42 games, pitched 64-1/3 innings, struck out 82 (11.5 K/9, 28.6 K%), walked 40 (5.6 BB/9, 14.6 K-BB%), threw 16 wild pitches hit 5 batters, and had a 5.32 ERA, 3.87 FIP, and 1.41 WHIP.

The twenty-two year old has a 91-94 mph fastball that on occasion touches a couple ticks more, but his best pitch is a true plus upper 70s curveball. His problem has been command and control of his fastball, which has abandoned him at times.  The Twins have probably seen enough of his the past 2 seasons in the Midwest and Florida State Leagues to think that they can help him command his fastball to go with his plus curveball.  The key for Lugo is to do exactly that and get ahead in the count.  Otherwise hitters who can recognize the spin of the ball will just ignore the curve and sit on his fastball.  Definitely a work in process but the potential is there

Likely 2018 path:  Repeating the FSL with the Miracle to start the season with a possible promotion to Chattannooga depending on command of the fastball.

Next: 55-51

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