Weekly summary of the Twins moves and targets: 12/13/2013

Here is the summary of the moves the Minnesota Twins did and the players they expressed interest in this week (the links will take you to reports).  As far as "targets" go, I am listing players that the Twins reportedly expressed interest in and not players who baseball writers and other thought that they would be a good fit or may fill a need.  The targets identified past weeks are still in the list unless they signed elsewhere.

As a reminder, you can see all the Twins' weekly transactions and targets in reverse chronological order here.



Signed OF/DH Jason Kubel to a minor league deal with invitation to Spring Training (12/13/13)
Selected RHP Kevin Thomas from the Cardinals in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft (12/12/13)
Selected LHP James Fuller from Mets' Double-A roster in Triple-A phase of Rule 5 Draft. (12/12/13)
Signed 1B CJ Ziegler to a Minor League Contract (12/11/13)


LHP Joe Velasquez was selected by the Mets in AAA portion of Rule 5 draft (12/12/13)
RHP Tim Atherton was selected by the Athletics in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft (12/12/13)

The current Twins' 40-man roster is here and contains 20 pitchers and 20 position players for a total of 40 spots.

Free Agent:
RHP Raisel Iglesias (Cuban Defector)
C John Buck 
SS Erisbel Arruebarruena (Cuban defector)


2014 offseason Minnesota Twins top 40 prospects: summary; all 1-40

I have been counting down the Twins top 40 prospects with descriptions and scouting reports of the players, their potential, their likely destinations for 2014, and in some cases the reasons why they were ranked where they were.   These detailed reports for prospects 36-40 are here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here , 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, 6-10 here, and 1-5 here; and you can find all segments in reverse order here.

I thought that a summary that contains my 1-40 list was in order, so there is perspective of all the rankings as a whole.  A couple of things that I indicated in my earlier posts, regarding my rankings (pretty much verbatum) :

There are a lot of prospect lists out there and they are all slightly different because different people value different qualities in a player, but they all serve a great singular purpose:  to get to know the minor league players in an organization who otherwise would just be names in old draft boards and rarely seen box scores.

I consider players who have played in the majors, as "graduating" from prospect status.  You made big league money, you are not going to be in this list.  Andrew Albers, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Colabello, Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, Ryan Pressly, Caleb Thielbar and Michael Tonkin belong in this category.   Secondly (and thirdly and fourthly) my criteria are slightly different that others' (e.g I value actual results at a higher competition level more than most) and the Twins have such a deep system, that some players who are listed in other lists and/or have been drafted in early rounds recently or have received large international signing bonuses will be conspicuously absent from this list.  Trying to compile this list made me really appreciate the depth of the system this year.  There are players who would have been on the top 20 list 3 and 4 years ago (a couple of names I can think of are Taylor Rogers, Luke Bard and JT Chargois) who did not crack my top 40 list.   This is great news for the Twins. I am open to discussion about why and how, with the idea that it is just a point of view that is up to debate and not something that is either "right" or "wrong".

Here is my twins 2014 off-season top 40 prospect list:

1. Miguel Sano RH, 3B, DOB: 5/11/1993, 6'3", 195 lbs.
2. Byron Buxton, RH, CF, DOB: 12/18/1993, 6'2", 189 lbs
3. Alex Meyer, RH, DOB: 1/3/1990, 6'9", 220 lbs.
4. Eddie Rosario LH, 2B, DOB: 9/28/1991, 6'0", 170 lbs.
5. Kohl Steward RHSP, DOB: 10/7/1994, 6'3", 195 lbs.

6. Jorge Polanco, SH, SS/2B, DOB: 7/5/1993, 5'11", 165 lbs.
7. Kennys Vargas SH, 1B, DOB: 8/1/1990, 6'5", 245 lbs
8. Jose Berrios  RHSP, DOB: 5/27/1994, 6'1", 185 lbs
9. Trevor May RHSP, DOB: 9/23/1989, 6'5", 215 lbs
10. Stephen Gonsalves LHSP, DOB: 7/8/1994, 6'5", 190 lbs

11. Ryan Eades, RHSP, DOB: 12/15/1991, 6'2", 178 lbs
12. Felix Jorge, RHSP, DOB: 1/2/1994, 6'2", 170 lbs.
13. Travis Harrison, RH, 3B, DOB: 10/17/1992, 6'1", 215 lbs
14. Amauris Minier, SH, SS/3B, DOB: 1/30/1996 6'2", 190 lbs
15. DJ Baxendale RHSP, DOB: 12/8/1990, 6'2", 190 lbs

16. Max Kepler LH, OF/1B, DOB: 2/10/1993, 6'4", 180 lbs
17. Adam Walker, RH, OF, DOB: 10/18/1991,  6'5", 225 lbs
18. Lewis Thorpe LHSP, DOB: 11/23/1995, 6'1", 160 lbs.
19. Zach Jones, RHRP, DOB: 12/4/1990, 6'1", 185 lbs.
20. Brian Gilbert, RHRP, DOB: 8/12/1992, 6'1", 215 lbs.

21. Alexis Tapia RHSP, DOB: 8/10/1995, 6'2", 195 lbs
22. Matthew Koch RH, C, DOB: 11/21/1988, 6'0", 219 lbs
23. Jose Abreu RHSP, DOB: 6/13/1992, 5'11", 170 lbs.
24. DJ Hicks, LH, 1B, DOB: 4/2/1990, 6'5", 228 lbs
25. JD Williams, SH, OF, DOB: 11/20/1990, 5'11", 183 lbs

26. Tyler Duffey RHSP, DOB: 12/27/1990, 6'3", 225 lbs.
27. Niko Goodrum, SH, SS, DOB: 2/28/1992, 6'3", 170 lbs
28. Stuart Turner, RH, C, DOB: 12/27/1991, 6'2", 220 lbs
29. Josh Burris, RHSP, DOB: 11/28/1991, 5'10", 183 lbs.
30. Danny Santana, SH, SS, DOB: 11/7/1990, 5'11", 160 lbs

31. Mason Melotakis, LHSP, DOB: 6/28/1991. 6'2", 206 lbs
32. Deibinson Romero, RH, 3B/1B, DOB: 9/24/1986. 6'1", 215 lbs
33. Miguel Gonzalez, RHSP, DOB: 10/12/1994. 6'1", 180 lbs
34. Fernando Romero, RHSP, DOB: 12/24/1994. 6'0", 215 lbs
35. Adrian Salcedo, RHSP, DOB: 2/5/1991. 6'4", 175 lbs.

36. Zach Larson RH, OF, DOB: 10/8/1993.  6'2", 185 lbs
37. Logan Wade, SH, IF, DOB: 11/13/1991. 6'1", 190 lbs.
38. Tyler Grimes, RH, C, DOB: 7/3/1990. 5'10", 187 lbs.
39. Tyler Jones, RHRP, DOB: 9/5/1989. 6'4", 215 lbs.
40. Alex Wimmers, RHSP, DOB: 11/1/1988.  6'2", 195 lbs.

One interesting thing (at least to me) is that all but Meyer and May were either drafted or signed as amateur free agents by the Twins.


A Pictorial Summary of the Minnesota Twins Winter Meetings Activities

Terry Ryan has said that this is the most active he has ever been in Baseball's winter meetings.  I think that this image summarizes what I perceive his activities to be:

2014 off-season Minnesota Twins top 40 prospect countdown: 1-5

This is the eighth segment of the 2014 off-season Twins top 40 prospects, and we entered the top 10.  Prospects 36-40 are here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here , 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, 6-10 here, and you can find all segments in reverse order here.

This is not the last post in these.  For completeness sake, I will have a summary post with all 40 tomorrow.

The number 1 to 5 off-season 2014 Minnesota Twins prospects are:

5. Kohl Stewart RHSP, DOB: 10/7/1994, 6'3", 195 lbs.

Stewart was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2013 from St Pius X (Houston, TX) High School.  Other than a single game started in Elizabethton (4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 K) he started his pro career in the GCL at age 18, where he pitched in 7 games (4 GS) for 20 innings, walking 3 and striking out 16.  He had a 1.69 ERA and 0.938 WHIP.  

Stewart has 4 pitches that he commands well:  A plus to plus plus mid 90s fastball that peaks at 97-98, a close to plus mid to high 80s slider, an above average high 70s low 80s curveball and a plus low to mid 80s changeup, which is an impressive arsenal for an 18 year old.  Stewart draws comparisons to another Houstonian hurler  and the Twins would be ecstatic if he realizes half of that potential.  He is still getting a feel on how to pitch, but this is expected for someone his age.  Depending on how he shows in Spring Training, I will not be surprised if he starts 2014 at age 19 in Cedar Rapids' rotation.

4. Eddie Rosario LH, 2B, DOB: 9/28/1991, 6'0", 170 lbs.

Eddie Rosario was drafted by the Twins in the 4th round of the 2010 draft from Rafael Lopez Landron (PR) High School as an OF.  Rosario is one of those rare prospects who had success at every step of his pro career with his career slash line at .307/.358/.510 .  His best season was his second pro, age 19 season, 2011 at Elizabethton, where he hit .337/.397/.670 with a career high 21 HRs in 67 games (298 PAs).  He also swiped 17 bases that season. That was his last season as a full time center fielder before converted to a second baseman by the Twins due to their OF wealth.  

He played in Beloit in 2012, with his season cut short with a line drive on the face that broke his jaw bone.  Despite that he finished the season with a .296/.345/.490 slash line.  He moved up to Fort Myers in 2013 (age 21 season) where he hit .329/.377/.527 before moving to New Britain mid season.  In New Britain he hit .284/.330/.412.  In 2013 Rosario played in a career high 122 games with a career high 544 PAs.  If that was not enough, he played at the AFL after this season and continued in the PWL the winter.  Right before he started his appearance in the PWL he communicated to the press that he tested positive for prescription painkillers and was given a 50-day suspension, but at the time of this writing he has yet to be charged officially. 

Rosario has All-Star potential.  A middle infielder with IsoP in the .200s before he hit drinking age, supplemented with good contact and decent plate discipline (he still needs some work on this tool) is rare.  But the key word here is "infielder".  Rosario is still mostly learning the position, but has shown a lot of promise and second base is probably the easiest position in the diamond defensively.  For this, his impending suspension might be a blessing in disguise:  He will give him some necessary rest after about 700 projected plate appearances this year and will give him a couple months in extended spring training to work on his fielding while serving his suspension.  He will likely start 2014 in New Britain.

3. Alex Meyer, RH, DOB: 1/3/1990, 6'9", 220 lbs.

Meyer was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals out of the University of Kentucky and traded to the Twins last off-season (2012) for Denard Span.  I am not really going to give detailed statistics for the top 3 Twins' prospects, just some information and justification for the rankings.  I assume that everyone knows enough about them at this point.

Meyer was ranked number 83 prospect in baseball by MLB.com before the 2012 season and number 59 from Baseball America and number 40 by MLB.com before last season.  Believe it or not, Meyer is near to major league ready after just 2 professional seasons and at certain teams he would be in their 2014 MLB rotations.  His repertoire includes 3 pitches: a plus plus fastball that averages 94-96 and hits 98-100, a plus to plus plus hard slider at high 80s with a sharp break and an average changeup, which right now is a complementary pitch.  An likely comparable would be a right hand version of Randy Johnson, because their pitching styles and their offerings are so similar.  Developing that changeup will make Meyer truly dominant.  His ceiling is a top of the rotation perennial All Star starter.  Likely will start 2014 (his age 24 season) in Rochester.  He is not on the 40 man roster, but may still get a September call up depending on how the Twins and he is doing.

2. Byron Buxton, RH, CF, DOB: 12/18/1993, 6'2", 189 lbs

Byron Buxton was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round (second overall) of the 2012 draft.  He was rated number 10 prospect in Baseball by Baseball America and number 19 by MLB.com before the 2013 season.  He likely is thought of as the top Twins' prospect by most people.  Why he is not here?  Because I think that Sano is a better player right now, because I saw him strike out in three straight change ups last spring training , because he had not a stellar performance in the AFL, and because at the same level (Fort Myers) at the same season, Miguel Sano (who is just 7 months older) was a better player.  As a matter of fact, other than the Midwest League (and this could very well be Beloit vs Cedar Rapids,) Sano's production was better than Buxton's in the same stops.  Another issue with Buxton's production was that his OPS dropped more than 100 points (from .990 to .887) from Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers. And his BABIP in both stops was a ridiculous .402 and .404, which is about 100 points higher than the combined .303 among the 2 rookie stops the previous 2 seasons.  I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, just color me a tad worried here and not ready to jump in the top prospect in the system bandwagon, when Sano is still a prospect.

On the other hand, Buxton is more of a complete player, having better defense and speed tools than Sano.  He has been compared to Mike Trout, but his overall performance in the Midwest League in the first half of 2013 at the same age (19) was better than Trout's in the same league at the same age.  What is Buxton's ceiling?  Rickey Henderson with a stronger arm and fewer SB (just because they do not steal this much these days.)  He could be a fixture at CF and an All-Star for many years.  But he has to prove himself against AA pitching first and will likely get the chance starting his age 20 2014 season in New Britain.  Twins' fans are wishing for a September call up to the majors, but I think 2015 is more realistic, unless he tears the Eastern League apart and the Twins are competing in September (and both would be great things.)

1. Miguel Sano RH, 3B, DOB: 5/11/1993, 6'3", 195 lbs.

The Twins signed Miguel Sano as a free agent from the Dominican Republic on October of 2009 to a $3.15 million signing bonus.  Before the 2010 season Sano was ranked as the 94th prospect in baseball by BA, before the 2011 season the 60th, before the 2012 season the 18th by BA and 23th by MLB.com and before last season the 9th by BA and 12th by MLB.com In the Byron Buxton entry, I talked about why I think that Sano is a better prospect, but I shouldn't have need to, if I just iterated what I wrote here last August, arguing that he should be the top prospect in baseball after this season, for a great reason.

Miguel Sano is number one as far as I am concerned.  And I am not going to compare him with Miguel Cabrera, like a lot of people do, because a. Miguel Cabrera is a disliked Tiger and b. I think that Sano will be better.  So I will compare him to a beloved Twins' player: Harmon Killebrew.  And those nit pickers who think that Sano's K% of around 25% on each of his age 17 to 20 seasons, need to go no further than realize that the Killer's K% in his age 19 to 22 seasons were 34.8%, 35.5%, 24.2%, and 36.4% respectively.  There is further nit picking on Sano's defense.  I am sure that many of nit pickers picked on his fellow third baseman's when he was coming up as a Senator, but he ended up alright by any measure.  And next season will be Sano's age 21 season.  He will like start 2014 in Rochester with a potential September callup depending on his and the Twins' performance.  He is not on the 40-man roster, so a 2015 MLB appearance, like Buxton, is more likely.

EDIT: I was recently asked (after this was up) whether Sano's elbow issues might change my opinion on the rankings.   The answer is categorically no, the same way that Buxton's shoulder issues do not change my opinion on him.   If any of those injuries are catastrophic, it might be a different story.  My original thoughts were that both Sano and Buxton will not be in the majors until at least 2015, so even that time table is not affected....

Next: Summary of all 1-40.


2014 off-season Minnesota Twins top 40 prospect countdown: 6-10

This is the seventh segment of the 2014 off-season Twins top 40 prospects, and we entered the top 10.  Prospects 36-40 are here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here , 21-25 here, 16-20 here, 11-15 here, and you can find all segments in reverse order here.

The number 6 to 10 off-season 2014 Minnesota Twins prospects are:

10. Stephen Gonsalves LHSP, DOB: 7/8/1994, 6'5", 190 lbs.

Stephen Gonsalves was drafted by the Twins in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.  He dominated pro ball, after he joined the team pitching 14 innings in each of the Twins Rookie League teams (GCL Twins and Elizabethton Twins) and finished the season with cumulative 28.3 IP in 8 games (5 start) striking out 39 and walking 11.  His ERA was 0.95 and WHIP 1.024.  His dominating K% (32.1 in the GCL and 38.1 in Elizabethton) bodes well for the tall lefty.

His fastball is at 89-91 mph with good action and touches 93 mph.  Its velocity is projected to increase as he grows and it is a plus pitch.  He also does have a plus mid 70s changeup already, but his sbreaking balls are a work in progress and below average at this point.  He is throwing a soft high 60s curve, which is the better of the two and a high 70s slider/slurve.  Last season was his age 18 season and he still has room to grow.  Depending on development of his breaking ball, he will either start his age 19, 2014 season at EST and then at Elizabethton or at Cedar Rapids.  He is slated to move fast in the organization and does have top of the rotation potential, especially if his fastball picks a couple of notches.

9. Trevor May RHSP, DOB: 9/23/1989, 6'5", 215 lbs

Trevor May was drafted by the Philadelphia Philies in the 4th round of the 2008 draft out of Keslo (WA) High School.  He came to the Twins, along with Vance Worley in the winter of 2012 for Ben Revere.  He was rated 69th prospect in baseball by Baseball American and 54th by MLB.com before the 2012 season.  May's stock was low when the Twins got him after 2012 because his production fell that season, his first at AA.  He pitched 149.7 innings (28 GS), struck out 151, walked 78, allowed 22 HRs (1.32 HR/9) had a 4.87 ERA (4.88 FIP) and 1.44 WHIP (.292 BABIP).  The main concern was that his K% fell from his usual high 20s and 30s a career low 22.9% and his BB% ever though it improved, it was still high at 11.8%.  He pitched 9 innings in the Arizona Fall League before he moved to the Twins organization last Fall.  He was added to the Twins 40-man roster then.

May repeated the Eastern League in 2013, now in New Britain.  Not reflected by his W-L record (9-9) or his ERA (4.51, similar to 2012), his repeat trip in AA resulted in small but significant improvement.  His K% increased to 24.1%, BB% decreased to 10.2%, HR/9 regressed to a still high but better 0.83.  His WHIP remained at 1.42, but with .329 BABIP this season (reflective to the bad defense at New Britain). All in all resulted in a full point drop plus on his FIP to 3.79 from 4.88 in 2012.  He has 3 good pitches:  A 92-94 mph plus sinker, a plus low 80s hammer curve that is an out pitch and an above average straight change that is his weaker pitch. 

There are concerns about both his command and control, and frankly they are the reason he is still in the minors.  His mechanics are inconsistent and likely the source of his issues.  Improved concentration and more focus on baseball instead of music production , will go long ways towards fixing these.  His ceiling is mid to top of the rotation pitcher, but unless his control improves and his changeup improves a bit or he adds another pitch, a major league bullpen may be in his future.  May will likely start the 2014 (his age 24 season) in Rochester and will be called up in September to the Twins.  

 8. Jose Berrios  RHSP, DOB: 5/27/1994, 6'1", 185 lbs

Jose Berrios was drafted by the Twins in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft from Papa Juan (PR) High School .  He finished that season blazing through both Twins' rookie leagues, turning heads on the way.  In the Gulf Coast League he appeared in 8 games, starting one, pitched 16.7 innings, struck out 27 and walked 3.  His WHIP was 0.600, ERA 1.08 and FIP 0.50.  In the Appalachian League he started 3 games for 14 innings, striking out 22 and walking just one with a 0.643 WHIP, 1.29 ERA and 1.41 FIP.  In 2013, his age 19 season, he was a starting pitcher in Cedar Rapids and fell back to earth.  He started 19 games (103.7 innings) striking out 100 and walking 40, with a 3.99 ERA (3.44 FIP) and a 1.40 WHIP (.330 BABIP-driven).

The biggest disappointments in his first full season was the decrease of his K% from 43% or so to 22% and the increase of his BB% from 2-5% to 8.8%.  Not certain whether those changes were fatigue-driven, but Berrios will just be 20 in 2014, so there is still a lot ways to go.  Berrios has a plus fastball that sits at 92-93 and can get up to 96-97, an above average change and a work in progress slurve.  The command of his off-speed pitches has been the issue for him in Cedar Rapids, which probably is dues to inconsistent mechanics.  He does have a 3/4 arm release point that is inconsistent.  He does have top of the rotation potential, but he needs to develop better breaking pitches and have more consistent mechanics to reach it.  Otherwise he will be a relief pitcher.  Depending on how he shows up in Spring Training, he will start the 2014 season (his age 20) in the Fort Myers rotation, with a small possibility of repeating the Midwest League for part of the season if his mechanics are not there.

7. Kennys Vargas SH, 1B, DOB: 8/1/1990, 6'5", 255 lbs

Kennys Vargas was signed by the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent in February of 2009.  As a Puerto Rican he was eligible for the 2008 MLB Draft but he was passed by all teams in all 50 rounds of the draft as a 17 year old high school senior. Vargas started at the Twins system at  the GCL his age 18 season (2009) hitting .257/.369/.404, 3 HR, 7 2B, 17/34 BB/K, in 35 games. He repeated the GCL his age 19 season .324/.388/.507, 3 HR, 15 2B, 13/40 BB/K in 39 games, exhibiting both good contact skills and gap power.   Next season he was in Elizabethton where he continued his dominance with the bat, hitting .322/.377/.489 with 6 HRs and 11 doubles and 15/50 BB/K in 44 games.  Unfortunately, that off-season he tested positive for a banned in the US diet pill that contained ephedrine and he had to serve a 50 day suspension losing half of the 2012 season.

But that second half of the 2012 season put him on the map as one of the Twins' top prospects. He playing in Beloit and made the transition from a doubles hitter to a home run hitter and improved his plate discipline skills.  In only 41 games (186 PAs) he hit .318/.419/.610 with 11 HRs and 10 doubles walking 28 times and striking out 41.  Those numbers were better than his Uber-prospect teammate's Miguel Sano's.   That season, the now expectant father, received the nickname "Baby Papi", referring to his similarity in statute and in punishing the ball to David Ortiz.   In 2013 he was promoted to Fort Myers where he hit .267/.344/.468 with 19 HRs and 93 RBI 50/105 BB/K in the longest campaign in his pro career (125 games, 520 PA) running out of gas later in the season. 

Vargas has phenomenal power and his power tool is up there with Sano's.  He needs conditioning.  His contact tool has been good (but regressed the second half at Fort Myers, likely because of fatigue) and his plate discipline has been improving.  His play at first base has also been improving but it is at Big Papi territory.  Next season, his age 23 season, he will likely start in New Britain and share DH/1B duties with DJ Hicks.  He has power from both sides of the plate but is a better LHB.  He was added to the Twins 40-man roster a few weeks ago and will be there in Spring Training.  A September call-up, and a mid-season promotion to Rochester, if all goes well in New Britain, might be in Vargas' near future.

6. Jorge Polanco, SH, SS/2B, DOB: 7/5/1993, 5'11", 165 lbs.

Jorge Polanco was signed by the Minnesota Twins on July of 2009 from the Dominican Republic for a $750,000 bonus.  He is in the same international class as fellow Twins' prospects Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, but his classmates stole the lime light until this season.  Much like Sano, Polanco started 2010 (his age 16 season) in the DSL and move to the states to the GCL mid-season.  But, unlike Sano, he had a hard time.  He hit .233/.303/.294 with 1 HR, but 18 BBs and 18 Ks, combined in 42 games (187 PAs) in 2010 between the 2 rookie leagues.   In 2011, his age 17 season, he repeated the GCL with similar results: .250/.319/.349 15/24 K/BB in 51 games (193 PAs).  A seventeen year old cannot be a bust, especially one with such a good eye as Polanco and he indeed broke through the next season in Elizabethton, where as an 18 year old he hit .318/.388/.514  with 20/26 K/BB in 51 games (204 PA.)  Once his contact tool met his plate discipline tool, the switch hitter entered the top prospect map. 

He continued to improve in 2013 as a 19 year old in Cedar Rapids where he hit .308/.362/.452 with 32 doubles, 42 walks and 59 strikeouts in 115 games (523 PAs) in his first full pro season.  He got contact and discipline before, but last season he started to exhibit gap power that was translated to doubles.  As of this writing Polanco is hitting .331/.396/.444 in 38 games (133 PAs) with 17 BB and 20 K, at the Dominican Winter League, which is a great performance for a 20 year old.  At 5'11" and 165 lbs he will never be a home run hitter, but seeing line drives and doubles is great.  In his career he played an equal amount of games at 2B and SS and a handful at the OF, but his future in this franchise is at SS, because it is the biggest position of need.  He does have the range and the hands to play SS, but he needs to get a better feel for the position, and the way a 20 year old does that is with more reps.  I think that Polanco will start his age 20 2014 season as the starting SS for the Fort Myers Miracle, pushing Nico Goodrum to third base and Travis Harrison to OF or 1B.  He will likely earn a promotion to New Britain mid season and could even be a surprise September call up for the Twins, since he is on the 40 man roster, depending on performance.

Next: the top 5.




2014 off-season Minnesota Twins top 40 prospect countdown: 11-15

This is the sixth segment of the 2014 off-season Twins top 40 prospects, counting down prospects 31 to 35.  Prospects 36-40 are here, 31-35 here, 26-30 here , 21-25 here, 16-20 here, and you can find all segments in reverse order here.

The number 11 to 15 off-season 2014 Minnesota Twins prospects are:

15. DJ Baxendale RHSP, DOB: 12/8/1990, 6'2", 190 lbs

DJ Baxendale was drafted in the 10th round of the 2012 draft by the Twins from University of Arkansas.  He finished that season between Elizabethton and Beloit where he pitched 18.7 innings in the pen with a 0.96 ERA and 0.804 WHIP, walking 2 and striking out 31.  If that does not spell "domination" I am not sure what it does maybe the fact that his ERA in six games in Elizabethton was 0 and he had a -0.58 FIP. Negative.  His FIP increased to 0.75 in Beloit, eventually.  Fast forward to next Spring (2013 Spring Training), Baxendale had the single most dominating pitching performance I have seen, and I have seen a lot, retiring all 9 batters he faced, striking out all but one, including Byron Buxton.

This is what I wrote then, and pretty much fit his 2013 path to a tee:

DJ Baxendale, who was the Twins' 10th round pick from the University of Arkansas last summer and has been stretched to be a starter this season retired all 9 A players he faced, striking out 8.  Only second baseman Aderlin Mejia was retired on a 3-1 ground out.  Not a small feat, because the Cedar Rapids' lineup started with Buxton, Polanco and Harrison.  Baxendale's stuff was absolutely filthy and his control was perfect (he had only one called ball the whole game).  Two seam sinker with a lot of motion, a sharp breaking ball and a change up that had a life of its own.   I will be very surprised if he does not move fast in the organization.   This was one of the single most dominating pitching performances I have ever seen at any level of play.  It was as if a major leaguer was pitching against Rookie league kids.  Definitely someone to follow this season in Fort Myers (even though I suspect that he might end the season in New Britain.)

and my next sentence was:

Speaking of, this Fort Myers squad will score some runs and will be a serious contender in the Florida State League. 

(they actually led the league in runs per game and had the best record in the FSL. Should had bought a lottery ticket that day...)

Back to Baxendale: He followed that Spring domination with the Fort Myers Miracle, where he begun the 2013 season, starting 9 games (57.3 IP) compiling a record of 7-0 with an 1.10 ERA, 0.785 WHIP, striking out 48 and walking 11.  He moved in New Britain where he returned to earth.  He started 16 games (92.7 IP) 5-7 record, 5.63 ERA (4.42 FIP), 1.42 WHIP (.317 BABIP), striking out 64 and walking 22.  If not for his half season in New Britain, he would have been on the top 10 in this list.  He jumped 4 levels of pro ball in two seasons and it is just his age 22 season.   He has four pitches that he controls impeccably: low 90s fastball with good sink and movement, which is a plus pitch, and above average curve, slider and plus changeup.  He has a good feel for the game and he can throw any pitch at any count for a strike. I believe that he will start 2014 in New Britain with a mid-season promotion to Rochester depending on performance.  Definitely a pitcher who can make a fast jump in the organization.

14. Amaurys Minier, SH, SS/3B, DOB: 1/30/1996 6'2", 190 lbs

Minier signed with the Minnesota Twins as an amateur free agent ($1.4 million bonus) out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2012. Minier is still 17 years old (the youngest player in the list), skipped the DSL (he attended the Twins academy) and played his first professional season in the Gulf Coast League last summer.  He played 31 games, mostly at 3B, with 119 plate appearances.  He hit .214/.252/.455 with 6 HRs and 17 RBI, and a 6/29 K/BB ratio.  He still is very raw but most of his peers are playing high school ball, while he has a .241 IsoP at the GCL.  For comparison's sake, at the same age, Miguel Sano had a .175 IsoP at the GCL.  And Minier is a switch hitter.

Not that he is the same kind of prospect that Sano is, and the ranking reflects this.  He needs to develop his contact and plate discipline, starting to hit off-speed and breaking balls, and needs to find a position because SS is out of the question and 3B is likely taken.  But he is just seventeen.  Maybe he will end up as a corner outfielder depending on how he grows and how he develops. Will likely spend 2014 in extended Spring Training and in Elizabethton.

13. Travis Harrison, RH, 3B, DOB: 10/17/1992, 6'1", 215 lbs

Harrison was a supplemental first round (50 overall) pick of the Twins in the 2011 draft out of Turstin (CA) High School.  His first professional season was in Elizabethton in 2012, where he hit .301/.383/.461 with 5 HRs, 12 doubles, 4 triples, 24 BB and 51 K, as a 19 year old in 60 games.  Last season in Cedar Rapids, his first full season, he hit .253/.366/.416 with 15 HRs, 28 doubles, 68 BB and 125 K in 129 games.

Power has been touted as Harrison's best tool, and there have been flashes of it, and his IsoPs have been around .160, which is ok for a 20 year old in pro ball, but have to increase as he grows.  Harrison has some trouble with breaking balls, especially of the in-the-dirt variety, and that is reflected by his consistent so far about a strikeout a game rate.  He has to improve his pitch recognition and contact to go to the next level.  Position-wise he has played almost exclusively at 3B (just a single game at LF finishing the game) but he will be squeezed from Sano ahead of him and potentially Minier behind him who are both better fielders.   Moving across the diamond or at an OF might be an option, but he needs some reps at those spots soon, and first base might be spoken for for a while.

12. Felix Jorge, RHSP, DOB: 1/2/1994, 6'2", 170 lbs.

Oft confused with a former major league player or the Rangers farmhand with similar names, Felix De Jesus Jorge was signed by the Twins out of the Dominican in February of 2011 for $250,000.  He started his pro career at the DSL where he pitched in 9 games (5 starts) for 27 innings, walking 9 and striking out 26 (2.67 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.037 WHIP).   He move to the States and pitched 12 games (7 GS) in the GCL in 2012 with similar results (34.7 IP, 37 K, 12 BB, 2.34 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 1.212 WHIP, .303 BABIP) and moved up to Elizabethton as a 19 year old last season.   He started 12 games (61 IP) striking out 72 and walking 18, with a 2.95 ERA, 2.25 FIP and 1.213 WHIP (.338 BABIP.)

His high 20s K%, which improved every season and was up to 28.4% is very encouraging.  Jorge is also one of those rare pitchers who had 3 above average pitches when he signed at 16 and he has been improving them.  He has a low 90s fastball with decent movement, which will likely gain a few mph as he gets stronger.  Above average slurvy curveball and change up.  He commands all three pitches well, has good control and he mixes pitches well.  For 2014, his age 21 season, he will likely be in the Cedar Rapids rotation.

11. Ryan Eades, RHSP, DOB: 12/15/1991, 6'2", 178 lbs

Eades was the Twins second round pick in the 2013 draft.  After he signed he played 10 games in the Elizabethton pen pitching 15.7 innings striking out 13 and walking 12.  He had a 4.60 ERA (4.22 FIP) and 1.596 WHIP.  This is after pitching a career high 100 innings in college in 2013 and by no means can be used as an indication of his potential.  

Eades' potential is a mid to top of the rotation starter with four good pitches.  He has a plus fastball that sits at 93-95 mph and peaks at 97-98, which he commands really well.  He compliments it with three above average off-spead offerings: a high 80s slider, a high 70s curveball and a mid 80s changeup.  He needs work with commanding his off-speed pitches but this will be a matter of maturity.  Eades will likely start the 2014 season in the Cedar Rapids rotation, with the possibility of moving to Fort Myers mid-season.

Next: 6-10