2/23/18

2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 1-5

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, 36-40, 31-35, 26-30, 21-25, 16-20, 11-15, 6-10. You can find all segments in this series here.


Here are players 6-10 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players not in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)

5. Fernardo Romero (4)
DOB: 12/24/1994; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent
Professional Experience: 6; Highest level: AA (2017)
ETA: 2018

Fernando Romero was singed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic for on November 4th, 2011 with a $260K bonus.  The San Juan de la Maguana native spending his age 17 2012 season in the Dominican Summer League where he pitched in 14 games, 6 starts, for 31 innings, striking out 27 (7.8 K/9, 20.2 K%), walking 14 (4.1 BB/9, 9.7 K-BB%), with a 4.94 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP (.289 BABIP).  He made the jump to the Gulf Coast League in 2013.  He pitched in 12 games (6 GS) for 45 innings to a 1.60 ERA (2.44 FIP) and 1.00 WHIP (.271 BABIP) and had 47 strikeouts (9.4 K/9, 26 K%) and 13 walks (2.6 BB/9, 18.8 K-BB%.)  After only 4 games in single A Cedar Rapids in 2014 he required Tommy John surgery, missing the rest of 2014 and the whole 2015 season.  Last season he returned to Cedar Rapids where he started 5 games (28 IP) had 25 K (8.0 K/9, 24.3 K%) and 5 BB (1.6 BB/9, 19.4 K-BB%) with a 1.93 ERA, 2.33 FIP, and 0.82 WHIP (.250 BABIP).  He moved to high A Fort Myers late in June where he started 11 games (62-1/3 IP) had 65 K (9.4 K/9, 26.9 K%) and 10 BB (1.4 BB/9, 22.7 K-BB%) with a 1.88 ERA, 2.00 FIP, and 0.93 WHIP (.288 BABIP), improving on his already great Cedar Rapids performance.  Last season he pitched in 24 games (23 starts) at AA Chattanooga for a career high 125 innings.  He had a 3.53 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 22 K%, 13.8 K-BB%, and 1.35 WHIP (.328) BABIP.  He was shut down in early August due to shoulder impingement.  Previously he had a 5 inning limit on his last 5 starts because of the arm. His numbers are deflated because of 8 August starts that he pitched hurt, where he got a 8.38 ERA, 1.86 WHIP and allowed a .372 OBA.

Romero has a plus plus fastball that sits at 95-97 mph and has a nasty sinking movement, a plus plus slider that sits 88-92 mph and a close to plus now changeup.  After his surgery, Romero came in better shape and he improved his command and control by leaps and bounds, pounding the strike zone and cutting down on walks.  His stuff can already play in a major league pen, but Romero has top of the rotation potential and the Twins will explore that. Romero was added to the Twins' 40-man roster the November of 2016, so he will appear in the Twins' Spring Training camp.  The shoulder is not much of a concern, and he has a chance to make the team out of Spring Training.

Likely 2018 path: Depending on health and on transactions, fighting for a spot in the Twins' rotation. Likely in the majors in 2018, barring injuries, trades etc.

4. Brent Rooker (--)
DOB: 11/1/1994; Age: 23
Positions: 1B/LF
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1s Round of 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A+ (2017)
ETA: 2018

Brent Rooker (whose first name is Terry) was drafted by the Twins in the supplemental 1st Round of the 2017 draft as a Junior from Mississippi State. The Germantown, TN native, tore up the Southeast NCCA Conferance last season hitting: .387/.495/.810 with 23 HR (and 18/23 SB) in 248 AB (10.78 AB/HR.)  He had 48 walks and struck out 58 times.  As a pro he moved to Elizabethton, where he did not loose a beat with the wooden bat, hitting .282/.364/.588 with a .413 wOBA and 145 wRC+ in 99 PA in 22 games.  That was enough for a promotion all the way to A+ Fort Myers where, in a league that usually bats come to die, he improved upon his E-town production hitting .280/.364/.552 with a .415 wOBA and 166 wRC+ in 40 games and 162 PA, as a 22 year old, about a full year younger than the average player.  And this was the first time he hit with a wooden bat.  Rooker played mostly LF at both Elizabethton and Fort Myers, with 11 games at 1B in Florida.  His throwing arm does not play outside those two positions, but he is a capable defender in both positions.  Strikeouts have been a issue in the pros (21.2% at Elizabethton and 29% at Fort Myers,) but playing a full season and further adjusting with the wood, will help him improve. A player with a great work ethic and makeup, Rooker will be a leader for every team he plays.  My impression is that the Twins will fast track him as the heir-apparent to Joe Mauer at first base, thus the aggressive ETA estimate. If he continues to hit at that rate, he might force the Twins' hand ahead of time, since they can use a power RHB in the majors right now.

Likely 2018 path: Starting 1B/LF at Chattanooga with potential promotion to the majors based on necessity or a September cup of coffee with the Twins.

3. Brusdar Graterol (13)
DOB: 8/26/1998; Age: 18
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2014
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
ETA: 2020

This is the third time that Brusdar Graterol has been in this list and every season he has made serious leaps.  He was ranked 28th in my 2016 list well before the National media and most of the local media even knew him from Adam.  Graterol was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Venezuela on August 29, 2014, three days after his 16th birthday, for $150,000.  The Calobozo native made only 4 career starts in the DSL before he required Tommy John surgery and moved statewide the summer of 2015.  His numbers in those 4 games, as a 16 year old, fully 3 years younger than the league, were video-game like: 11 IP, 17 K, 13.9 K/9, 36.2 K%, 1 BB, 0.8 BB/9, 34 K-BB%, 2.45 ERA, 1.19 FIP, 1.18 WHIP (.444 BABIP.)   He returned from the surgery well, adding considerable muscle to his frame and surprised everyone when he added several miles per hour to his fastball when he hit the mount.  In 2017 he started the season in the GCL where he pitched 19-1/3 innings in 5 games (2 starts) with a 1.40 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 9.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 29.2 K%, 23.6 K-BB%, and 0.72 WHIP (.205 BABIP).  He moved to Elizabethton mid-season where he started in 5 games (20-2/3 IP) with a 3.92 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 10.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 28.2 K%, 17.7 K-BB%, and a 1.21 WHIP (.300 BABIP.) 

Graterol is throwing his plus to plus plus fastball at 96-98 mph deep into the games and he can dial it up to triple digits if necessary, supplementing it with a crisp slurve at the 85-87 mph range and a changeup that has improved the last season, but he still needs to command better.  He is throwing from a 3/4 delivery that causes deception.  Graterol is one of the few pitchers in the Twins' organization with top of the rotation stuff, and his ceiling is higher than any other pitcher in the organization, but he still needs work on command and control, esp. with his secondary offering. The 40 innings he pitched last season were Graterol's career high and he will need to be stretched, potentially slowly because of the elbow.

Likely 2018 path: At the Cedar Rapids rotation, potentially after some EST, depending on how the Twins feel about his elbow and the temperatures in the Midwest in April.

 Note:  The next two players are very close, and I could have ranked either at the top spot.

2. Wander Javier (1) SS, 2020
DOB: 12/29/1998; Age: 19
Positions: SS
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 165 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 7/2/2015
Professional Experience:2; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
ETA: 2020

Wander Javier was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic last summer and had yet to play a single professional game, before this season.  His $4 million signing bonus topped what the Twins gave Miguel Sano, and any other amateur player ever for signing with them other than Joe Mauer, Kohl Stewart and Byron Buxton. Javier started his pro career last season in the DSL with a bang, playing in 9 games (30 PA), hitting .308/.400/.654 (199 wRC+, .498 wOBA), with 13.3 BB% and 16.7 K% in a league dominated by pitching, as a 17 year old, before he was shut down with a hamstring injury.  In 2017 he moved to Elizabethton where he hit .299/.383/.471    with a .390 wOBA and 131 wRC+, in a league where the average player was 2.5 years older.  His K% increased to 27.2%, which is more of a data point, than even a slight concern at this point of his career.    

Javier has the highest upside of any position player in the Twins' organization; his tool-set is similar to Byron Buxton's at that age, but with more power and less speed.  At this point, he has 5 above average or better tools, with his arm, and power at above average and fielding, contact and speed approaching plus.  Great work ethic, he gives 100% even at drills at Fort Myers and back field spectators are always impressed by his tendency to try to win all race drills. Unlike Miguel Sano who was also signed as shortstop, Javier projects to stay in the position as a professional.  He has very smooth hands and confident footwork and body control.  Power will come as he fills in.  He had an .172 IsoP at 6-1/165 lbs, which will shoot up as he bulks up.

Likely 2018 path: Starting SS at Cedar Rapids.

1. Royce Lewis (--)
DOB: 12/29/1998; Age: 18
Positions: SS/OF
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'2", Weight: 188 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (1st overall) in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: N/A
ETA: 2020

Royce Lewis was taken first overall by the Twins in the 2017 draft from J. Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano, CA.  The Aliso Viejo, CA, native started his professional career in the GCL.  There he hit  .271/.390/.414 with a .391 wOBA and 136 wRC+ with 11.9 BB% and 10.7 K% in 36 games and 159 PA.  He moved for the final 18 games of the season (80 PA) all the way to Cedar Rapids where he hit .296/.363/.394 with a .348 wOBA and 117 wRC+, and had 7.5 BB% and 20 K%.  All that in a league in which the average player was 3.2 years older. 

Lewis is a five tool player, with his contact, power, and arm slightly trailing the other 2 tools that are plus, with his speed being close to plus plus.  Already at 6-2/188 as an 18 year old, he might have to shift position from shortstop to centerfield, or even potentially to third base, a position he played early in High School, if he grows more.  His make up, affect, personality, and, workout ethic is off the charts.  The Twins have a great to have difficult decision in where to play Lewis and Javier, if they want to keep both as everyday shortstops in full-season leagues.  Lewis, who is about half a year younger, has been at a higher level, and I expect him to stay this way as long as he stays at SS.  As I indicated earlier Lewis and Javier are very close and either can be ranked as number one at this point.  Javier's ceiling is a bit higher with the bat and he is the better shortstop, but Lewis' speed, charisma, and the fact that was notched ahead of Javier by the Twins, give him the nod in these rankings.  But they are close.

Likely 2018 path: Starting SS at Fort Myers, unless the Twins are willing to have Lewis and Javier play in other positions; in this case, they will both be at Cedar Rapids.

Next: Summary 1-60 and Organizational Overview

 

2/22/18

The Twins seem to hide an ace up their sleeve...

There seem to be some news about to break from Twins' Territory South: 

The Twins have announced that they have send RHP J.T. Chargois through waivers to open a 40-man roster spot.

There are multiple reports that have linked RHP Lance Lynn to the Twins recently:

Jon Heyman
Mark Feinsand
Mark Rose this afternoon at the MLB Network
Christopher Crawford


There is enough smoke, to indicate that the Twins are about to do something. 

Is Lynn the Ace up their sleeve?  We will find out the next couple of days or so...



2/21/18

2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 6-10

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, 36-40, 31-35, 26-30, 21-25, 16-20, 11-15.  You can find all segments in this series here.


Here are players 6-10 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players not in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)

10. Lewin Diaz (3) 1B, 2019
DOB: 11/19/1996; Age: 21
Positions: 1B
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'3", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level:A (2017)
ETA: 2020

Lewin Diaz was singed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million bonus on July 2nd, 2013.   The Santiago native made the transition to the US, after a hitting .257/.385/.451 (.411 wOBA, 142 wRC+, 13.8 K%) in the DSL in 2014, his age 17 season.  His first season in the US, he had a few difficulties with the transition, hitting .261/.354/.369 (.357 wOBA, 123 wRC+, 18.9 K%) in 33 games in the GCL and finishing the last 14 games of the season hitting .167/.245/.375 (.285 wOBA, 70 wRC+, 32.1 K%) in Elizabethton.   This was mainly a season of adjustment for Diaz, who would have not earned the promotion had he not hit .522/.607/.696 for August in the GCL, and likely would have served better not making the trip to Elizabethton.  One interesting thing that the numbers do not show about Elizabethton is that those 14 games there were the only night games Diaz has played as a professional, since both the DSL and GCL play day games only.   In 2016 he repeated Elizabethton after extended spring training, playing in 46 games (187 PA) hitting .310/.353/.575 (.409 wOBA, 149 wRC+, 18.7 K%, with a career best .264 isoP and his BABIP at .344, close to his .326 in the GCL the previous season. 2017 was his first time in full season ball at Cedar Rapids.  He hit .292/.329/.444 with a .344 wOBA, 114 wRC+, 4.9 BB%, and 15.7 K%, in 122 games (508 PA/ 466 AB.) 

The strikeout number was a career best for Diaz, who however had a Stateside career worst of .152 IsoP.  In Cedar Rapids he focus on making contact and hitting the ball in all fields, vs hitting for power.  Home run power will definitely come: He is a .7 ground ball to fly ball hitter, and his HR/FB dropped to 6.1% from 15% the previous season.  In other words, if the fly balls were leaving the park at the rate they did for him in 2016, it would translate to 30 HRs.  But that's on paper, and they don't play the game on paper.  His glove has been suspect, but has been improving every year.  Last year both his footwork and range improved and he is getting better instincts for the position to make his glove about average, with room for even more improvement.  It is unlikely that he will be an elite glove at first, but also unlikely to be a liability on the field in that position.

Likely 2018 path: Starting first baseman at Fort Myers 

Note:  The next 3 players are very close, and practically interchangeable in their rankings from number 7 to number 9.

 9. Stephen Gonsalves (6)
DOB: 7/8/1994; Age: 23
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'5", Weight: 213 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 4th round in 2013
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AAA (2017)
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.  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.)  In 2016 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 that season and was named the Twins' minor league pitcher of the year, an award whose recipients seems to be cursed.  And, following suit, Gonsalves was shut down in Spring Training with shoulder issues.  Those issues were resolved and joined the AA Chattanooga team in late May.  He made 15 starts (87-1/3 IP), striking out 96 (9.9 K/9, 27.3 K%) and walking 23 (2.4 BB/9, 20.7 BB-K%).  He had a 2.68 ERA, 2.88 FIP and 1.03 WHIP (.270 BABIP).  He was promoted to AAA Rochester in August and he lost steam.  He pitched in 5 games (4 starts) for 22-1/3 inning, striking out 22 (8.7 K/9, 21.8 K%) and walking 8 (3.2 BB/9, 13.9 K-BB%) , with a 5.56 ERA, 4.75 FIP, and 1.54 WHIP (.343 BABIP).  In addition to the increased BABIP in Rochester, his HR/FB rate that been traditionally at 6% or lower, jumped to close to 14%. Hard to use those 5 games at the end of the season to make predictions, but they are just data points.

Gonslaves is a pitcher with a high floor, that of a number 5 starter or late inning reliever, and a low ceiling, that of a number 3 starter.  There are questions about how his stuff will translate in the majors: Gonsalves has an above average to plus low to mid 90s fastball with good command and control, which has a high spin rate making it hard to hit up in the zone, generating a lot of swings and misses. I am not sure that this tactic can generate as many outs in the majors.  His changeup is a plus plus pitch and very effective, especially against RHBs.  He throws two breaking balls: an average to below average slow curve, and a work in progress slurvy sliders.  Command of his breaking balls is occasional at this point.  His delivery is a bit worrisome, in light of the shoulder issue last season, as he cocks his shoulder behind his body.  After that part, he is all arms and legs and throws from a 3/4 position and causes deception to the batters. He has some difficulties in repeating his delivery which results in occasional loss of command and that is translated with an increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts.  When that happens, Gonsalves has been successful so far 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 with the difficulties in repeating his delivery, which results in the up and down command issue, not to mention the shoulder considerations. Gonsalves was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season.

Likely 2018 Path:  Depending on health and on transactions, fighting for a spot in the Twins' rotation. Likely in the majors in 2018, barring injuries, trades etc.

8. Zack Littell  (--)
DOB: 10/5/1995; Age: 22
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'4", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired:  Traded by the Yankees
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AA (2017)
ETA: 2018

Zack Littell was selected by Mariners in 11th round of 2013 draft from the Eastern Alamance, NC, High School.  He spent his first pro-season in the Mariners' Arizona League Rookie squad where he pitched in 10 games, making 7 starts, for 33-1/3 innings, striking out 28 (7.6 K/9, 18.4 K%) and walking 13 (3.5 BB/9, 9.9 K-BB%), finishing with a 5.94 ERA, 4.37 FIP, and 1.56 WHIP (.343 BABIP).  That was the starting point of his professional career and he has improved pretty much every season.  In 2014 he played for the Appalachian League Pulaski Mariners where he started 13 games for 69-2/3 IP, striking out 64 (8.3 K/9, 21.6 K%) and walking 12 (1.6 BB/9, 17.5 K-BB), with a 4.52 ERA, 3.15 FIP, and 1.25 WHIP (.343 BABIP).  He started 2015 with the full season A Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League where he made 21 starts for 112-2/3 innings, striking out 84 (6.7 K/9, 17.4 K%), walking 30 (2.4 BB/9, 11.2 K-BB%), with a 3.91 ERA, 3.27 FIP, and 1.34 WHIP (.324 BABIP).  He repeated A ball in 2016 making 16 starts (97-2/3 IP, 2.76 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 24.2 K%, 18.8 K-BB%, 1.18 WHIP, .332 BABIP) before he was promoted to high A California League Bakersfield Blaze where he continued his success (12 G, 11 GS, 68 IP, 2.51 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 22.1 K%, 17.4 K-BB%, and 1.13 WHIP/.311 BABIP.)  He logged a total of 165-2/3 innings in the 2016 season and was traded to Yankees for LHP James Pazos, on November of 2016.  He started last season for the Yankees in High A Tampa (13 G, 11 GS, 1.77 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 20.2 K%, 14.9 K-BB%, 1.12 WHIP, .302 BABIP) and moved to Eastern League AA Trenton (7 GS, 44 IP, 2.05 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 10.6 K/9, 29.7 K%, 1.6 BB/9, 25.1 K-BB%, 1.02 WHIP, .304 BABIP.)  He was traded with LHP Dietrich Enns to Twins for LHP Jaime Garcia at the trade deadline and jumped into the Twins AA Chattanooga team where he started 7 more games (41.2 IP, 2.81 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 7.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 19 K%, 8.6 K-BB%, 1.22 WHIP, .274 BABIP.)  He regressed a bit at Chattanooga, likely running out of steam after 157 innings, but he assembled an excellent 19-1 win/loss record for the season in all 3 steps.

Littell was listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds at high school, and gained an inch and 30 pounds as he grew. He has a two-seam fastball that sits at 89-91 and has a cutter like movement, a four-seamer that he throws at 92-93, which plays up because of high spin rate and advanced command. His main secondary offering is a true plus curveball. He also has an above average changeup that works well against LHBs.  Littell is a student of the game and he spends a lot of time in advanced preparation before each start studying the opponents' hitters, a practice that will serve him well in the bigs. He has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter with the possibility of seasons better than that.  A young Phil Hughes is a good comparable for Littell, as far as the size and type of pitcher he is, as well as his potential.  Littell was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season.

Likely 2018 Path:  Depending on further transactions, fighting for a spot in the Twins' rotation during Spring Training. Likely in AAA Rochester most of the season with a potential trip to the majors in September or before, depending on the Twins' needs and their record

7. Blayne Enlow (--)
DOB: 3/21/1999; Age: 18
Positions: RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 170 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 3rd round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: GCL (2017)
ETA: 2020

Enlow was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft from St. Amant, LA, and signed for $2 million, well above slot, in order to forfeit his commitment to LSU.  He started his pro career in the GCL where he pitched in 6 games (1 GS) for 20-1/3 innings, striking out 19 (8.4 K/9, 24.7 K/%), walking 4 (1.8 BB/9, 19.5 K-BB%), with a 1.33 ERA, 3.08 FIP, and 0.69 WHIP/.177 BABIP. He is very polished for a prep pitcher and he is very projectable.  Has a easy repeatable delivery, with a close to plus fastball that he throws at 92-94 and the potential to grow a few ticks as he gets more muscle, a true plus curveball that flashes plus plus, and an average changeup with potential for improvement.  He added a high 80s cutter as a pro, that is a work in progress. Still lots of ways to go, but Enlow has front of the rotation potential and already what a lot of people think the best curveball in the system.

Likely 2018 Path:  Extended Spring Training, then at the Elizabethton rotation.

 6. Rainis Silva (32)
DOB: 3/20/1996; Age: 21
Positions: C
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2012
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: A (2016)
ETA: 2020

Who is Rainis Silva and why do I have him ranked this high?  This is what I wrote about him last off-season when he was ranked 32nd:

Rainis Silva was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from Venezuela on July 9, 2012.  The Barquisimeto, Venezuela native received an $175,000 bonus.  He has been in my top prospect lists for the third time in a row and this is his worst ranking.  Silva is an exceptional catcher with the skills to catch in the majors right now, with a great game calling capacity, excellent defense and strong arm, averaging 35-40% CS.  His problem has been his bat, which in 4 seasons now has been consistently bad.  His career slash line is .238/.295/.293 and his OPS variation (.539 in DSL in 2013, .636 in the GCL in 2014, .635 in Elizabethton and .572 in Cedar Rapids in 2015, and .551 in Cedar Rapids in 2016) were driven by his isoP that has varied from .024 to .097.

Why is Rainis Silva even in the list, no matter how good his fielding is, since he has no power and he is hitting so lightly?  First of all he is still 20 years old.  Secondly, he actually hits LHP very well now and he improved.  Here are his OPS against LHP by year and league: .539 in DSL in 2013, .521 in the GCL in 2014, .940 in Elizabethton and .889 in Cedar Rapids in 2015, and .754 in Cedar Rapids in 2016.  So something clicked for him in 2015 and continued to work in 2016.  Those OPS numbers are more than acceptable for a catcher, albeit in a platoon if necessary.  The hope is that something will click for the 20 year old when facing RHPs as well and reach his potential as solid every day bat with elite defense in the C position, otherwise his ceiling would be that of a platoon player.


So what happened for Silva in 2017?  The Twins took a step back and kept him in Extending Spring Training to address his hitting, before he moved to Elizabethton for the rest of the season, and he arrived with a bang: He hit .356/.446/.446 with a .416 wOBA and 147 wRC+, with a career high 13.8 BB%, and career low 6.5 K%, as well as a career high 32.5% line drive percentage. There were concerns regarding his ability to face RHP.  He hit righties at a .433/.532/.567    rate (60 AB) in Elizabethton, which was remarkable.  In addition he had his best defensive season behind the plate with just 1 error and 2 passed balls, and threw out a career best 43% of the runners. It will be interesting to see how the improvements in his hitting will translate to full season ball, but I am confident that they will.  His potential is that of an elite glove and above average bat in the majors now, thus the ranking.  Catchers blossom later, so there is no reason for the Twins to rush him, other than the fact that he will be Rule 5 draft eligible next off-season.

Likely 2018 path:  Catching at Fort Myers or Cedar Rapids, depending on his spring.

Next: the top 5

2/19/18

2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 11-15

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, 36-40, 31-35, 26-30, 21-25, 16-20.  You can find all segments in this series here.


Here are players 11-15 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players not in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)

15. Michael Montero (--)
DOB: 1/6/2000; Age: 18
Positions:RHP
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in July 2, 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: DSL (2017)
ETA: 2021

Montero was signed as an international free agent by the Twins in July 2, 2016 from Valencia Venezuela for a bonus of about $150,000.  2017 was his first professional season and he pitched in the DSL as a 17 year old.  He started 13 games (58-1/3 IP), struck out 64 (9.9 K/9, 27.7 K%), walked 12 (1.9 BB/9, 22.5 K-BB%) and finished with a 2.78 ERA, 2.61 FIP, and 0.96 WHIP (.279 BABIP).  He has three above average pitches: low 90s fastball, slider, and change up and he commands all three well. Has a projectable frame, already at 6-3 and 190 lbs, very good feel for the game and is not afraid to attack the strike zone.  Great composure on the mount. He should add 3-4 ticks to his fastball as he grows and sharpen the rest of his pitches.  Flashes of top of the rotation potential; a prospect worth following. 

Likely 2018 path: Extended Spring Training and then at the GCL rotation.

14. Luis Arraez IF (11), 2019
DOB: 4/9/1997; Age: 20
Positions: 2B
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 5'10", Weight: 155 lbs
Acquired:   International Free Agent signing 2013
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: A+ (2017)
ETA: 2019

Luis Arraez was signed by the Twins as an international free agent from the Venezuela on November 3rd, 2013.  The San Felipe native opened some eyes in his first professional season in the DSL hitting  .348/.433/.400 (147 wRC+) in 31 games (135 PA).  The next season he moved to the GCL where he continued his success hitting .309/.377/.391 (133 wRC+) in 57 games (233 PA).  Last season he played for class A Cedar Rapids where he was the fifth youngest player in the Midwest League.  He hit .347/.386/.444 (146 wRC+) in 114 games (514 PA).  He continued the season in the Venezuelan Winter League where he hit .335/.382/.445 with 15 BB and 15 K this in 45 games (182 AB.)  He started 2017 at Fort Myers and he was on fire hitting .385/.385/.538 with a.418 wOB and 168 wRC+ in the first 3 games (13 PA) of the season before he tore his ACL after awkwardly tripping over first base, and spend the rest of the season recuperating from surgery.   

Other than Cedar Rapids where he was 31:51, Arraez has had at least equal strikeouts to walks, and his K% was never higher than 9.9%.  His splits last season was pretty equal for the lefty hitting Arraez: .333/.378/.422 vs LHP and .351/.388/.450 vs RHPs.  He finished the season with a .374/.398/.457    slash line the second half that included a very impressive .425/.444/.487 performance in August.  His swing is compact with great bat control and plus bat speed, quick wrists and the ability to hit the opposite way. His power has been improving (0.052 to 0.082 to 0.097 isoP), his contact has remained fairly high (.374, .323, and .382 BABIP) and he has decent speed but not good base stealing instincts (career 21/37 SB).  His play at second base has been improving every season and he was +13 DRS in Cedar Rapids.  Arraez is starting to look more and more like a two way player with All-Star bat potential, but he is still very young.  Speed has not been much of his game but the ACL tear might affect his future, thus the drop in the rankings.  Arraez has likely the best hit tool in the Twins' system.

Likely 2018 path: Starting 2B at Fort Myers or even Chattanooga depending on his Spring Training. 

13. Alex Kirilloff (8) OF, 2020
DOB: 11/9/1997; Age: 20
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 homeschooled.  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.  Unfortunately, he had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow and missed all the 2017 season recovering.

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.  The Tommy John surgery is not usually an issue for a position player, but Kirilloff's arm was not elite before it, and he might be relegated to left field or first base in the long run.

2018 Likely path:  Starting the season in single A Cedar Rapids

12. Tyler Jay (2)
DOB: 4/19/1994; Age: 23
Positions: LHP
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round in 2015
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: AA (2016,2017)
ETA: 2018

Tyler Jay was drafted by the Twins 6th overall in 2015 from University of Illinois.  The Lemont, IL native was mainly the closer in College appearing in 30 games (2 starts) in his Junior season pitching for 66.7 innings, walking 7 (0.9 BB/9) and striking out 77  (10.3 K/9) with a 1.08 ERA and 0.70 WHIP.  He moved on to the Fort Myers' bullpen with the Twins to appear in an additional 19 games (18.2 IP) where he walked 8 (3.9 BB/9, 17.3 K-BB%) and struck out 22 (10.8 K/9, 27.2 K%) for a 3.93 ERA (2.07 FIP) and 1.42 WHIP (.353 BABIP).  The Twins view Jay as a starter and he made the transition to the Miracle rotation this season where he started 13 games (69-2/3 IP) struck out 68 (8.8 K/9, 23.6 K%), walked 21 (2.7 BB/9, 16.3 K-BB%) and finished with a 2.84 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP (.311 BABIP).  He moved to Chattanooga in July, where he pitched in 5 games (2 starts) before ending his season on the disabled list because of a sore neck. He pitched only 14 innings (9 K, 5.8 K/9, 5 BB, 3.2 BB/9, 6.9 K-BB%, 5.79 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, .262 BABIP).  After the 2016 season the Twins Front Office decided to stop the Jay as a starter experiment and relegated him full time to the pen.  The 2017 season was practically lost for Jay due to injuries that limited him to 11-2/3 innings, including rehab.  Those injuries started with bicep tendonitis, right after spring day and a Left shoulder impingement on the beginning of July that ended his season.  It was thought that he might require Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery, but he did not.  He pitched 9-2/3 innings at the Arizona Fall League.

When Jay is healthy, and in the pen, he has a plus to plus plus fastball that sits at 93-95 and peaks and 97-98 (not bad at all for a lefty) which he complements with a plus slider, an average curve ball and an average changeup that has flashed some potential.  As a reliever he is likely to be a fastball/slider pitcher with occasionally throwing his lesser offerings, unless the change up improves to plus quality, being useful against RHBs. He dropped several points from the number 2 ranking last season, because of his health issues and the move to the pen.  Jay, if healthy can help the Twins this season.  He was not invited to the major league camp this spring.

Likely 2018 path: Likely starting the season at  Rochester health allowing, and moving to the Twins' pen some time during the season.

11. Akil Baddoo (24) OF , 2020
DOB: 8/16/1992; Age: 19
Positions: OF
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 5'11", Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired:  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: ELZ (2017)
ETA: 2020

Akil Baddoo was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft from Salem (GA) High School.  Baddoo did not turn 18 until after his first professional season at GLC.  He had a very hard time making the transition to a wooden bat (.178/.299/.271, 36 K for 28.3 K%, and 18 BB in 128 PA.)  His bat came alive in 2017, when he repeated the GCL (.267/.360/.440, .381 wOBA, 130 wRC+, 10.5 BB%, 15.1 K% in 20 games, 86 PA) and sizzled at Elizabethton (.357/.478/.579,.476 wOBA, 183 wRC+, 17.2 BB%, 12.1 K%, in 33 games, 157 PA)       

He flashed speed both on the bases (9/13 SB and 5 triples) and on the field where he is fast as a centerfielder, and this season he improved his routes considerably.  He has a quick bat and soft hands, and his eye at the plate has matured to a major asset.  He is a potential 5 tool player, with his throwing arm power arrived last season and home run power expected to arrive soon. He is still growing and has an impressive physique.  Makeup and workout ethic are off the charts.  If he does well against full season competition, expect a rise into the top 5 prospects, and national media recognition.

Likely 2018 path: Starting CF at Cedar Rapids.

Next: 6-10


2/18/18

From the horse's mouth: Why Jake Odorizzi stunk last season but trading for him does not stink for the Twins

The Minnesota Twins announced that they traded their 20th prospect Jermaine Palacios to the Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Jake Odorizzi.  This is the second recent "buy low" acquisition of a pitcher who had a rough 2017, but all signs point to an improvement in 2018.  I have discussed why the acquisition of Anibal Sanchez makes sense for the Twins here; the reasons that Odorizzi will improve are slightly different.

Today (2/18/18) the Front Office show on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette had an exclusive interview with Odorizzi.   In that Odorizzi mentioned that hamstring and back issues in 2017, impacted him "quite a bit" last season.  Especially his back bothered him since Spring Training.  As a result he made mechanical adjustments to compensate for the pain, which created "bad habits" cutting his extension point short when finishing pitches and became more of a "side to side" vs "up and down" pitcher.  He was "constantly tinkering" until he went to the DL got enough rest and came back feeling the way he "should feel."  It took him "a bit" to fix his mechanics, but felt good at the end of the season.

And the numbers support this.

After he returned from the DL in August, for the rest of the season, his pitching line looked like this:

3.51 ERA, 48-2/3 IP, 26 BB, 45 K, .186 OBA, average Game Score 53

In September, when his mechanics cleared up his line looked like this:

1.03 ERA, 26-1/3 IP, 9 BB, 30 K,  .116 OBA, average Game Score 64

The Twins will be thrilled if they get the September Odorizzi.  These are Ace numbers, but they will not mind getting the August to September Odorizzi.  And all of that for their number 20 prospect who was behind 3 other shortstops (Nick Gordon, Wander Javier, and Royce Lewis, alphabetically) in the Twins' shortstop prospect depth.   This is a great trade for the Twins and they will reap the benefits in 2018.