2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 36-40

This is the next 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 the list of the previous rankings here:  56-60, 55-51, 46-50 , 41-45.  You can find all segments in this series here.

Here are players 36-40 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players no in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)

40. Aaron Whitefield  (59)
DOB: 9/2/1996; Age: 21
Positions: CF
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'4", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: Signed as international free agent by Twins on May 19, 2015
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A (2017)
ETA: 2020

Aaron Whitefield was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from Brisbain, Australia on May 19, 2015. 2016 was his second professional season (he played 7 games in the GCL in 2015) and it highlighted Whitefield's versatility and steady hitting.  He played 51 games in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, starting 17 at CF, 8 at RF, 2 at LF, 5 at 3B and 18 at 1B.    He hit .298/.370/.366 with 2 HR, 7 2B, in 217 PA. Struck out 47 times and walked 19, stole 31 bases and was caught 9 times. In addition to the 19 BB, he had 48 singles, which means he attempted to steal 40 of the 67 times he reached first base, which is a very high rate.  Last season he moved up to Cedar Rapids and he hit
.262/.318/.414, .330 wOBA, 104 wRC+, had 6.7 BB% and 25.7 K%, and went 33/42 in stolen bases, while playing exclusively at Center field.  During the off-season he is still playing in the ABL hitting  .292/.364/.425 with 10/31 extra base hits and 10/17 SB.

His bat is advanced for someone with only few years of playing baseball (Whitefield is a converted softball player) and improving.  As most converted softball players, he is hitting RHP better that LHP.  His slash line against RHP at Cedar Rapids was .276/.333/.415 vs .227/.280/.412 against LHP. 
Whitefield is still very raw, but has good instincts both with the glove and the bat.  The bat will continue to improve the more he gets adjusted to baseball from softball, and right now it is much ahead of his peers.  He is one of the players who might make considerable jumps in prospect lists, since he has all the makings of a five-tool player if his power further (his isoP is up to .158 from .063 last season) improves and his contact tool, esp. vs LHPs also improves.  Strikeouts are a concern.  He made it all the way to number 40 from 59 in these rankings last year.  Still very raw and surviving (and thriving) due to his athleticism, but definitely a player to follow as he is playing against higher competition.

Likely 2018 path:  The starting centerfielder at Fort Myers.

39. Wander Valdez, (--) 
DOB: 11/22/1999; Age: 18
Positions: 3B
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: Signed as international free agent by Twins on July 2, 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: DSL (2017)
ETA: 2022

Wander Valdez was signed as international free agent by Twins on July 2, 2016 for a $495,000 bonus.  His only professional season was last season at the DSL where he hit .263/.347/.401, with a .364 wOBA, 117 wRC+, 10.9 BB%, 19.2 K%, and .138 isoP, while playing both corner infield positions.  He does have a considerable power for a 17 year old, and his arm is plus.  Will likely stay at third base, unless he grows considerably.  Very good sense for the strike zone and decent speed for his size.

Likely 2018 path: Starting at extended Spring Training and then at the GCL.

38. Lachlan Wells (29), LHSP, 2020
DOB: 2/27/1997; Age: 20
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired:  Signed as international free agent by Twins on November 21, 2014
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A+ (17)
ETA: 2019

The Twins signed Lachlan Wells as an international free agent from  Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia on November 21, 2014 for $400,000.  Wells made his debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2015.   He played in 10 games (9 GS) and pitched 47.3 innings, walking 11 (2.1 BB/9, 20.5 K-BB%) and striking out 49 (9.3 K/9, 26.5% K%) for a 2.09 ERA (3.22 FIP) and 0.97 WHIP (.263 BABIP).  Last season he bypassed Elizabethton to play for Cedar Rapids in late June after Extented Spring Training.  For the Kernals he made 12 starts for 71-1/3 IP, walking 16 (2.0 BB/9, 16.7 K-BB%) and striking out 63 (8.0 K/9, 16.7% K%) for a 1.77 ERA (3.28 FIP) and 1.02 WHIP (.272 BABIP).  Wells moved all the way to Fort Myers in 2017 where he took a step back. He appeared in 16 games (14 GS) for 81-1/3 IP, striking out 68 (7.5 K/9, 20.1 K%) and walking 19 (2.1 BB/9, 14.5 K-BB%), with a 3.98 ERA, 4.17 FIP, and 1.17 WHIP (.272 BABIP.)  All his rate measures were career worst.  He missed missed all of July and most of August with an elbow flexor muscle strain, a situation that is concerning, because muscle elbow issues could very easily lead to ligament issues and Tommy John surgery.

Wells throws an above average 90-93 mph fastball, a solid average curveball and a changeup that is close to plus and is his out pitch.  His mechanics and complex delivery is a concern regarding durability, and a double concern now that he has elbow issues.  So far his spits against lefties and righties are about similar with only one big difference:  He produces much more ground balls against lefties that he does against righties.  It could be the more frequent use of the changeup, but it is an interesting data point.  The Twins have kept Wells as a starter thus far, but the bullpen might be a more realistic place for him in the future, especially given the fact that he has not pitched in triple digit innings yet.

Likely 2018 path: In the Fort Myers rotation, pending health; moving to Chattanooga mid season.

37. Pedro Garcia (45)
DOB: 7/21/1995; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent on October 11, 2015
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: GCL (2017)
ETA: 2021

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).  Opponents had a very hard time making contact (.181 OBA), especially when hitting from the right side (.155 OBA).  In 2017 he move Stateside and joined the GCL after Spring Training.  He pitched in 10 games (3 starts) for 48-2/3 innings, striking out 41 (7.6 K/9, 20.7 K%) and walking 17 (3.1 BB/9, 12.1 K-BB%), with a 2.59 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and 0.88 WHIP (.191 BABIP).

Garcia has 3 pitches, a low to mid 90s two seamer fastball with good action, a workable changeup and an above average breaking ball.  There is wildness there (he also hit 8 batters and had 7 wild pitches). His ground ball to fly ball rate is 1.3, his mechanics good and his frame projectable.  Working on that fastball command will help him take the next step.

Likely 2018 path:  Extended Spring Training then GCL or Elizabethton, depending his adjustment to commanding the fastball and the Twins 2017 draft.

 36. Bailey Ober (--)
DOB: 7/12/1995; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'8", Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 12th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
ETA: 2020

Bailey Ober was drafted in the 12th round of the 2017 draft as a Senior out of College of Charleston (SC.)  The Huntersville, NC native missed all his Sophomore season with Tommy John surgery, had a trying Junior season but finished his Senior season strong, pitching 56 innings in 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.77 BB/9, 11.7 K/9, and 1.20 WHIP. He started his first season as a pro in Elizabethton where he pitched in 6 games (4 GS) and 28 innings, striking out 35 (11.3 K/9, 31.5 K%) and walking 2 (1.0 K/9. 28.8 K-BB%), for a 3.21 ERA, 2.86 FIP, and 0.96 WHIP (.319 BABIP).

Ober at 6-8 is very tall and gives a different look than most hitters are used.  He has a 91-93 fastball that he commands very well, a close to plus changeup, a slider and a curve that are average but have potential. He dominated his opponents at Elizabethton, but it will be interesting to see what happens against better competition.

Likely 2018 path: Starting in the Cedar Rapids rotation

Next: 31-35

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