Minnesota Twins Top-25 Prospects: Locked and Loaded
This is one of my favorite systems in all of baseball. Between the top-notch talent at the top, high-risk/high-reward players, and safer high-floor guys, this system has a little bit of everything. Let’s run with the top two here for a second. The top two Twins prospects on this list have an incredibly high upside and a high floor as well. Both project to be among the best overall hitters in the game and both have a strong chance at making the top-10 in my overall prospects list later this offseason. SPOILER ALERT.
If you’re in the Pensacola, Florida or Rochester, New York areas, get your rear-end down to the ballpark this season to see both of these guys before they make their way up to Minnesota. You should be able to see both at the same time as well, as their progression has been fairly similar with both splitting their time at Cedar Rapids (A) and Fort Myers (A+) last season.
Beyond the top two, there’s plenty of depth and upside in this Twins farm system, both at the plate and on the mound. Some of that talent should reach Minnesota in 2019 with a ton more projected for 2020 and 2021. Get excited Twins fans, the future is very bright.
Overall System Grade: B+
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Rochester – International League
Double-A: Pensacola – Southern League
Single-A (Advanced): Fort Myers – Florida State League
Single-A (Full): Cedar Rapids – Midwest League
Short-season Single-A: None
Rookie: Elizabethton – Appalachian League, one team each in the Gulf Coast League and Dominican Summer League.
Also, make sure to check out the Fantrax Dynasty Podcast on the Fantrax Podcast Network with Nathan Dokken, Van Lee, and Ron Rigney.
New Top 25 Minnesota Twins Prospects
1. Royce Lewis, SS, Bats: R, DOB, 6/5/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A/A+): .292/.352/.451/.803, 29 2B, 14 HR, 28 SB, 8.0 BB%, 15.7 K%, 483 AB
In the From the Field Prospect Mock that recently completed, I took Royce Lewis with the 8th overall pick, so you know I’m incredibly high on him as a prospect. The top overall pick in 2017 has recorded a .288 average, 8.8 BB%, 15.1 K%, and 40 steals per 600 at-bats so far in his 1 1/2 seasons in the minor leagues. The hit tool and speed are both easily plus right now with the potential for 70 grades on both long term.
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) June 19, 2018
Lewis’ swing is clean from the right side with good back leg load. His hands start a little high but explode through the zone with a clean swing path and plenty of bat speed. Lewis has phenomenal plate coverage and can generate hard contact to all fields, though, he got a little more pull-happy in 2018. In addition to the hit tool and speed, Lewis’ in-game power is beginning to catch up to his above-average raw power. He doesn’t quite have the power potential of Tatis or Franco, but 20-25 home runs annually is a reasonable expectation for Lewis. Defensively, he’s not a gold glover at short, but has the footwork and range to make the necessary plays and remain at the position long term.
2. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 11/9/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A/A+): .348/.392/.578/.970, 44 2B, 7 3B, 20 HR, 4 SB, 6.8 BB%, 15.3 K%, 512 AB
Not many prospects can claim they had a better 2018 season than Alex Kirilloff. Out of all the prospects that exceeded 400 plate appearances and didn’t play in the Mexican League, Kirilloff’s .348 average ranked third behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.381) and Taylor Ward (.349). But this isn’t some singles hitting slap hitter we’re talking about here. Kirilloff drives the ball with authority and ended up with an extra-base hit in 13.9% of his at-bats this season, which made up 39.9% of his total hits.
— Looting is a sign of rebellion (@Jasenelpartido) August 14, 2018
This, folks, is what you call a beautiful swing. Kirilloff stays incredibly balanced, both pre-pitch and throughout his swing. The leg kick is small and timed perfectly with his moderate back leg load. Forward weight transfer and hip rotation is fluid and paired with quick wrists and a clean, direct swing path, creates plus bat speed and plate coverage. This is a swing geared for both a high batting average and plenty of power as well. I absolutely hate throwing comps on players, especially if the comparison is a current elite player, but “Christian Yelich with less speed” comes to mind here. Kirilloff should be hitting in the heart of the Minnesota batting order for many years to come.
3. Trevor Larnach, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 2/26/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A): .303/.390/.500/.890, 13 2B, 5 HR, 3 SB, 11.9 BB%, 15.8 K%, 152 AB
It’s hard to say a player was a steal at pick 20, but Larnach could’ve easily been a top 5-10 selection on draft day. An advanced collegiate bat, Larnach combines a great feel for hitting with above-average contact skills and plus raw power. In his final season at Oregon State, Larnach recorded 19 doubles and 19 home runs which totaled more than half of his total hits. This after hitting just a trio of taters in 60 games the previous season. It’s funny what a simple mechanical adjustment can do for a hitter’s power.
Larnach has moderate back leg load with quick wrists and a slight uppercut swing path through the zone that generates plenty of backspin and hard contact. With his plate coverage and discipline, Larnach registered a strong walk rate and kept his strikeouts in check throughout his collegiate career and into the minors. With his feel for hitting, I don’t envision that changing any time soon and would give both his hit tool and power 60 grades long-term. Larnach fits the corner outfielder mold perfectly and should be a quick riser through the Twins system.
4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, DOB: 8/26/98, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A/A+): 102.0 IP, 2.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.4 K/9, .234 AVG
Mixed in with all these offensively-gifted hitters is a power righty in Brusdar Graterol. Signed in 2014 out of Venezuela, Graterol is one of the hardest throwers in the Twins system. His fastball sits in the mid to upper 90’s, hitting triple-digits on occasion, and features good arm side run. Locating the pitch has been an issue at times and has gotten him into trouble, but Graterol made solids gains there in 2018. Outside of the fastball, Graterol features two above-average breaking balls and a fringy changeup. The slider is ahead of his curve and has solid two-plane tilt, flashing plus potential. There’s only one pitcher I see as having ace-upside in this system and Graterol is that one.
5. Brent Rooker, OF/1B, Bats: R, DOB: 11/1/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): .254/.333/.465/.798, 32 2B, 22 HR, 6 SB, 9.9 BB%, 26.4 K%, 503 AB
Close your eyes for a second. Imagine that it’s the year 2023 and the 3-4-5 spots in the Minnesota order are occupied by Kirilloff, Larnach, and Brent Rooker. That’s a pretty damn good trio, don’t you think? Rooker might not have a hit tool to match the other two, but has the swing and raw power to pop 30-plus homers annually while recording respectable batting averages. Rooker used moderate load and times with more of a toe tap than a leg kick. His foot does come off the ground an inch or so, moving back then striding forward along with his weight transfer.
While Rooker has shown the ability to work the count, his plate discipline could use a little work. That 26.3% career strikeout rate isn’t horrible, but is likely to rise once he gets to the Majors to near the 30% mark. His overall contact skills and plate approach lead me to think he’ll settle into the .250-.270 range moving forward which plays quite well with his 30-plus homers. For right now, Rooker is being used mostly as a corner outfielder, but his lack of range and fringe throwing arm might cause a move back to his old position of first base.
6. Akil Baddoo, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 8/16/98, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A): .243/.351/.419/.770, 22 2B, 11 3B, 11 HR, 24 SB, 14.3 BB%, 24.0 K%, 437 AB
There’s no hiding the fact that I’m higher than most when it comes to Akil Baddoo. First off, this is easily a 70-grade name. Secondly, there’s loads of offensive upside here that could lead to him being the leadoff hitter in front of all those names you see above him. Baddoo’s hit tool and speed are most prominent right now with the power still developing. There’s plenty of projection in his swing, though, I’d like to see a quieter pre-pitch setup. His hands never really stop moving, going from a pre-pitch bat waggle right into his swing.
— Twins Daily (@twinsdaily) March 17, 2018
The swing itself is clean with a direct swing path through the zone and plenty of bat speed. While the path is more geared for line-drives than over the fence shots, Baddoo possesses sneaky-good strength and should settle into the teens for home runs. Combine all that with plus speed and a solid plate approach, and you have an intriguing offensive profile with projection still left. If you can acquire him at any sort of a discount in dynasty leagues after his down season in the batting average department, I highly suggest you try and make it happen.
7. Wander Javier, SS, Bats: R, DOB: 12/29/98, ETA 2021/2022
2018 Stats: DID NOT PLAY
This is a player you could realistically rank as high as fourth or as low as 12th on this list. The upside is there, but unfortunately, so is a fairly high amount of risk. Considered one of the top prospects in the 2015 J2 International class, Javier has amassed only 50 games and 183 at-bats over the last 2.5 seasons due to various injuries and missed the entire 2018 season recovering from shoulder surgery. That’s not a lot of game action to go off of. What we do know is that Javier has the tools to become an impact offensive performer at the shortstop position.
His swing is quick from the right side with minimal load and a higher hand setup. Plus bat speed is easily noticeable when watching Javier swing and he’s able to generate hard contact to all fields. In order to tap into his above-average raw power, Javier will need to incorporate his lower half more in his swing. If he does, 20-25 home runs are attainable. Javier isn’t a speedster, but is quick on the bases and in the field with a strong throwing arm which would easily fit at third if Javier is forced off of shortstop. Javier is one of the biggest risk/reward prospects in the minors right now. Targeting him now in dynasty could pay huge dividends down the road, or it could blow up in your face. Let’s hope for the former.
8. Gilberto Celestino, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 2/13/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK/A-/AA): .287/.341/.406/.747, 12 2B, 5 HR, 22 SB, 6.0 BB%, 17.2 K%, 244 AB
One of two prospects to head to Minnesota in the Ryan Pressley trade in July, Celestino has strong upside on both sides of the ball. He moves well in center field with a strong throwing arm projects to remain there moving forward. Offensively, he has a chance for two plus tools, those being his hit tool and speed. Using a short swing, Celestino sprays line drives to all fields and covers the plate well, limiting his strikeouts. There’s not a ton of power projection here, but he has enough strength and bat speed to grow into double-digit pop with 15 being his likely ceiling unless he adds loft to his swing. The offensive upside is in the .280/15/25 range, but it’s currently unclear how he fits into the longterm picture with all the outfielders ahead of him.
9. Jhoan Duran, RHP, DOB: 1/8/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A): 100.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 10.3 K/9, .232 AVG
The Twins received two promising prospects back in the Eduardo Escobar deal this season, with Jhoan “Don’t Call me Johan” Duran being the headlining piece. Duran features a three-pitch arsenal with all three having above-average of better potential. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s with sink and has a good feel for a curve and changeup that both flash above-average, but lack consistency. Duran is taller at 6’5 and still filling out his frame which at times can cause some command issues. If he can continue to develop his secondary stuff and keep his control in check, the upside is that of a #2 or #3 starter.
10. Misael Urbina, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 4/26/02, ETA 2023/2024
2018 Stats: DID NOT PLAY
I’d have to go back through my previous top-25 articles to make sure, but I’m pretty certain Urbina is the youngest player I’ve written about so far in these updated organizational rankings. He hasn’t taken one professional swing yet and already cracks my top-10 here for the Twins. To do that, you need oodles of upside and Urbina certainly does. Considered to be one of the top international prospects available this in the 2018-2019 J2 period, Urbina has a lot of the same tools as Celestino above with even more power and speed projection if he adds loft to his line drive oriented swing. The upside here is high and well worth the wait. Remember, he’s not even 17 until after next season starts. Keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues as his offensive potential could shoot him up the rankings over the next 24 months once he gets his feet wet in the minors.
11. Gabriel Maciel, OF, Bats: S, DOB: 1/10/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): .280/.345/.348/.693, 14 2B, 3 HR, 16 SB, 8.0 BB%, 16.2 K%, 397 AB
Man, this was a sneaky-good prospect haul for the Twins in the Escobar trade. This is also the 6th outfielder in the top-11 of these rankings. Something will have to give eventually, but most, including Maciel, are a couple years away which give this situation plenty of time to sort itself out. It’s a good “problem” to have, honestly. Maciel is cut more from the Baddoo cloth in that his hit tool and speed are his carrying tools with the power lagging behind, even more than Baddoo’s. Yes, I’m trying to say Baddoo as much as possible in this article.
Maciel possesses at least plus speed with 30-plus steals likely once he develops as a baserunner. That speed also gives him solid range in center where he projects to remain longterm. The swing is quick and clean from both sides with a line drive approach to all fields. Due to the flatness of his swing, and lack of much strength, don’t expect more than 5-10 homers or so.
12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, DOB: 11/23/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 129.2 IP, 3.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 10.9 K/9, .250
Picking between Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves longterm is like splitting hairs. For me, I like the additional upside and strikeout potential that Thorpe brings to the table. The 23-year-old Australian mixes four pitches and has shown solid command of all four. The fastball sits in the low 90’s with some life and his slider flashes plus with tilt. Both the curveball and changeup lag behind, but Thorpe has shown enough feel for them to at least be average offerings. Even if (when) that near 11 K/9 regresses in the Majors, Thorpe projects as a mid-rotation starter with solid ratios and near a strikeout per inning.
13. Nick Gordon, SS/2B, Bats: L, DOB: 10/24/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .248/.295/.355/.653, 23 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 20 SB, 5.8 BB%, 18.4 K%, 544 AB
If I’m not the low man on the totem pole here, I’m definitely near the bottom when it comes to ranking Nick Gordon. But that’s what happens when contact-first hitters don’t make consistent contact. Now, Gordon doesn’t strike out a ton, but he doesn’t generate much hard contact and has gotten more and more pull happy at each level, finishing 2018 with a 48.0% pull rate with Triple-A Rochester. At best, I envision a .270 hitter with 10-12 home runs annually. And while not a speedster, Gordon is quick enough to add around 20 steals to that. That offensive profile will be fine at short, where his above-average range and throwing arm should keep him long term, but he’s not a guy I’d be overly excited to roster in dynasty leagues.
14. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, DOB: 7/8/94, ETA Debuted in 2018
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 120.2 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 4.8 BB/9, 9.0 K/9, .184 AVG
2018 Stats (MLB): 24.2 IP, 6.57 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 8.0 BB/9, 5.8 K/9, .283 AVG
Basically, a less exciting version of Thorpe. Gonsalves is a big southpaw without a big fastball. He routinely sits in the 90-93 mph range and is able to generate solid run with a 3/4 arm slot and repeatable delivery. His two best secondary pitches are a slower looping curveball and fading changeup that is a plus pitch. Gonsalves has the tendency to get a little wild at times and his 4.8 BB/9 mark this season in the minors was the worst walk rate of his career. If he can keep his control in check, Gonsalves should turn into a solid #4 starter.
15. Blayne Enlow, RHP, DOB: 3/21/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): 94.0 IP, 3.26 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 K/9, .263 AVG
Overall, Enlow arguably has the second highest ceiling out of any Twins pitching prospects in this system behind Graterol. Two plus pitches (fastball and curve) headline Enlow’s three-pitch arsenal with an average changeup tagging along for the ride. Enlow usually sits in the low to mid-90’s but lost a little velocity during the 2018 season. I’m not overly worried about that, though, with him being a prep arm. Once he gets the velocity back up, more strikeouts should follow. Upside of a mid-rotation starter.
16. Lamonte Wade, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 1/1/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .257/.360/.380/.740, 11 2B, 11 HR, 10 SB, 12.9 BB%, 14.9 K%, 424 AB
Out of all the outfield prospects in this system, Wade is going to be the first to make it to Minnesota. While his contact skills are average, Wade has a great feel for the strike zone and his plus pitch recognition has led to more walks (241) than strikeouts (225) in his minor league career. Wade’s hands begin low and coil back up a tad before coming through the zone. His swing is quick but without much loft. The 11 home runs he hit in 2018 is likely his ceiling in the power department right now, though I could see him hitting a few more if he adds loft. Wade isn’t a speedster but is quick enough on the bases to steal 10-15 bases annually and shows decent range at all three outfield spots. The Twins could use him in 2019 as a starter, however, all that outfield talent at the top of this list will be barreling down on him by 2020.
17. Luis Arraez, 2B/3B/SS, Bats: L, DOB: 4/9/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .310/.361/.397/.758, 20 2B, 3 HR, 4 SB, 7.1 BB%, 9.7 K%, 406 AB
If someone told me I could only have one plus tool, I’d choose a plus hit tool. I feel like that conversation happened with Luis Arraez at some point during his youth. Arraez is a below-average fielder with minimal pop and speed, but man, can he hit. The contact skills and plate coverage are phenomenal and should lead to plenty of seasons near or above the .300 mark. But outside of that, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about here. However, the clean swing, bat speed, and plate approach will carry him to the Majors if he keeps hitting like this. Hopefully, he can play adequate enough defense to get his bat into the lineup regularly at the Major League level.
18. Jorge Alcala, RHP, DOB: 7/28/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 99.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 9.9 K/9, .229 AVG
Acquired along with Celestino in the Pressley trade, Acala immediately becomes one of the biggest risk/reward pitchers in this system. Why? His subpar control. Alcala features a mid-90’s riding fastball and the potential for three average to plus offspeed pitches but has really struggled to command them. The slider is the best of the bunch with strong two-plane tilt when Alcala is throwing it well. If the command comes around, Alcala should blossom as a high-strikeout mid-rotation starter. If not, hello closer role.
19. Yunior Severino, 2B/SS, Bats: S, DOB: 10/3/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK): .263/.321/.424/.745, 8 2B, 8 HR, 0 SB, 7.8 BB%, 23.9 K%, 198 AB
Severino was part of the group of prospects the Braves lost last year for signing violations and was quickly signed by the Twins for 600K more than what he signed for with the Braves. It’s easy to see why Minnesota was so intrigued with him when you look at his offensive profile. Though he has a little longer swing path, Severino makes up for it with quick wrists and generates hard contact and above-average raw power. I’d like to see him shorten that swing more before I get too excited about the type of offensive performer he can become, but the upside is clearly there. His offensive profile should fit in nicely at both middle infield spots, though I believe he’s best suited for second base moving forward.
20. Jose Miranda, 2B, Bats: R, DOB: 6/29/98, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A/A+): .264/.319/.417/.736, 27 2B, 16 HR, 0 SB, 5.6 BB%, 11.2 K%, 503 AB
This is a name that could crack the top-10 one year from now. Miranda, while adequate at second base, is a prospect that will rise up the ranks due to his offensive potential. Using a quick swing that explodes through the zone, Miranda is able to stay balanced and use the whole field to his benefit. While the swing is more geared for gap shots, he has shown above-average raw power and could develop into a 20-25 HR hitter with a slight swing adjustment. While that would be welcomed, it would likely come at the expense of his hit tool which as of now it his carrying tool as he has little to no speed upside. We’re either looking at a .275/15 type or a .260/20 type most likely, both of which will play at second base.
21. DaShawn Keirsey, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 5/13/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK): .301/.371/.427/.798, 7 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 4 SB, 10.3 BB%, 17.2 K%, 103 AB
A 4th round pick in June, Keirsey at best will have two plus tools. The speed is already plus and should lead to higher stolen base totals and the hit tool, while lagging behind a little, projects to be plus thanks to a clean swing and solid plate coverage. There’s not much power projection here, but with Keirsey’s clean swing, plus bat speed, and raw strength, he should be able to develop double-digit power.
22. Jaylin Davis, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 7/1/94, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .273/.347/.412/.759, 24 2B, 11 HR, 8 SB, 8.9 BB%, 25.5 K%
This is going to start a run of hitters with above-average or better raw power and questionable hit tools. Davis has a strong, athletic frame and could really tap into his plus raw power if he hit the ball in the air more. If he does, 25-plus home runs are likely going to follow. The problem is that he’s a pull hitter and struggles covering pitchers over the outer half. This struggle has left him exposed to soft stuff away and will likely keep his strikeout rate north of 25%.
23. Luke Raley, OF/1B, Bats: L, DOB: 9/9/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): .275/.350/.471/.821, 19 2B, 8 3B, 20 HR, 4 SB, 6.5 BB%, 24.9 K%, 484 AB
Raley came over from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier trade and adds to the corner outfield/first base logjam in the system. The best way I can describe Raley is a left-hander, not as good version of Brent Rooker. Plus raw power with the upside for around 30-homers, but doesn’t have the greatest plate coverage. I also suspect him to get exposed more at the Major League level especially against higher velocity up in the zone, due to a longer swing and uppercut swing path. Still, the power upside makes him one to watch.
24. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/3B, Bats: L, DOB: 8/3/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .231/.299/.387/.686, 24 2B, 6 3B, 11 HR, 6 SB, 6.9 BB%, 25.8 K%, 442 AB
Do you want a bland profile? Well, here it is. Average tools as far as the eye can see and the words “lacking upside” stamped across his forehead. Okay, MAYBE he ends up with above-average power thanks to a mechanical adjustment that saw him drive the ball in the air more frequently. I’ll give him that. However, the hit tool, plate approach, and speed are all average at best, with his hit tool projecting as below-average in my mind moving forward due to his questionable contact skills. Blankenhorn has seen time at both second and third base, but his arm makes him a better fit at second.
25. Lewin Diaz, 1B, Bats: L, DOB: 11/19/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .224/.255/.344/.599, 11 2B, 6 HR, 1 SB, 3.2 BB%, 18.1 K%, 294 AB
It’s amazing to think that Diaz was signed way back in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic. That seems like forever ago. When Diaz signed, my daughter was just learning how to walk and now she’s six and giving me teenager-quality attitude. So yeah, it’s been a long time coming for Diaz. Ultimately, how much his hit tool develops is going to determine if Diaz reaches the Majors, Yes, you can say that for basically every position prospect, but it’s especially true here. Diaz has plus raw power but his lack of consistent contact has limited his in-game power in a big way. Furthermore, he’s become allergic to walking over the last two seasons (4.3 BB%) and doesn’t even project to have a .300 OBP right now. The power upside is there, but I’m skeptical he hits enough to make an impact at the Major League level.
Others to Monitor
Ryan Jeffers (C): A 2nd round pick this June, Jeffers is a big 6’4 catcher with a strong throwing arm, above-average pop, and a good feel for hitting. Could shoot up the ranks this season.
Tyler Jay (LHP) & Kohl Stewart (RHP): Both are former top-5 overall picks that haven’t really worked out as starters. Jay has already transitioned to the bullpen and Stewart likely isn’t far behind.
Zack Littel (RHP): Three average to above average pitches should allow Littel to become a back-end rotation arm, but nothing more than that.
Down – Nick Gordon (SS)
Other Team Prospect Reports
Eric Cross is the lead MLB writer and prospect analyst here on FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.