Wednesday, July 8, 2015

2015 Twins Top 10 Prospects: Midseason Update

Over at Twins Daily, we have been counting down the Twins system's top prospects as part of our midseason update. This allows for players like recent first round pick Tyler Jay to fit into the Twins overall prospect rankings. There is plenty of depth in the Twins system so there are some very good players outside the top 10 rankings. 

Some players like Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Miguel Sano will likely use up their rookie eligibility this season and graduate out of the rankings. This means other players just outside the top 10 will find themselves in the mix for a higher ranking spot during the coming off-season. 

These are my rankings so there are some differences from the Twins Daily compiled list (Tyler Jay was in the top 5 at Twins Daily and he checks in a little lower in the rankings below). Last week I ran through my picks for prospects 11-20. Check out the following rankings and feel free to start a conversation about these players in the comment section.
1. Byron Buxton, CF
He turned the corner at Double-A and the Twins called him up for his debut before his finger injury. He's one of the top prospects in all of baseball and his future continues to look bright. There might be some offensive struggles to start his big league career but his defense and speed are well above average. Buxton has the potential to be a five-tool player. Minnesota needs him to turn into an All-Star caliber player and get the franchise back on track. No pressure or anything...

2. Miguel Sano, 3B
At the beginning of 2014 spring training, it seemed much more likely for Sano to be making his debut before Buxton. Flash-forward a year and a half and Sano has been shining during his first week at the big league level. Questions remain about his defensive abilities but his power swing is legitimate. Hopefully, he stays hot and he can continue to develop his power swing as his major league career begins.

3. Jose Berrios, RHP
Some talent evaluators question his size and if he will be able to stick in a rotation long-term. Berrios continues to put those doubters to rest with his performance in the higher levels of the minors. Over the last two seasons, he has emerged as the Twins top pitching prospect. With a Buxton/Berrios combo, the Twins might end up with quite the top of the draft from 2012. He's another player the Twins could promote before the season is done.

4. Nick Gordon, SS
The Twins are struggling to find a long-term solution at shortstop and last year's first round pick might be the long-term answer. Gordon has suffered through some ups and downs in his first full professional season but he continues to have huge up-side. It's going to take a few seasons but he will be the Twins starting shortstop in the next handful of years. Out of the players in the top 10, he is the furthest away from Target Field.

5. Jorge Polanco, SS
Danny Santana has struggled in his sophomore campaign and this might mean that Polanco has surpassed him in the eyes of the Twins. His offensive numbers continue to improve as he moves through the system and he's been younger than the competition at each stop. He recently got bumped up to Triple-A and he's had at least one hit in each game so far. If Gordon is the shortstop of the future, Polanco might be the stop-gap until Gordon is deemed to be ready.

6. Eddie Rosario, OF
In the midst of his rookie season, Rosario might slowly be moving up the team's outfield pecking order. Oswaldo Arcia is struggling mightily since being demoted to Triple-A and questions still remain about the long-term use of Aaron Hicks. This could leave the Twins with an outfield that includes Rosario, Buxton, and Torii Hunter for the remainder of the season. Other players in this top 10 have have a higher ceiling but Rosario has a lower floor.

7. Max Kepler, OF/1B
Kepler has been thought of highly since the Twins signed him out of Europe but he's taken some time to put it all together. The start of the 2015 season has been a good one for Kepler and he should rise on many prospect lists throughout the season. If his recent hot play continues, one would bet that he'll be moving to Triple-A in the second half. He's already on the Twins 40-man roster so he could make it to Target Field in the next couple seasons.

8. Kohl Stewart, RHP
There have been a variety of injury concerns with Stewart during his first three professional seasons. He's played all of 2015 at Fort Myers but his strikeout numbers have declined and his walk rate continues to rise. He has plenty of talent in his right arm but he will need more pitching experience as he moves closer to the big leagues. It's been tough for him to log innings with a few different injuries in 2014 and 2015.

9. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Out of all the players in the Twins system, Gonsalves might be in the midst of the biggest rise when it comes to prospect status. The left-handed hurler was dominant during his time at Cedar Rapids to start the season. His first handful of starts in Fort Myers didn't go perfectly but he hasn't allowed a run in his last two appearances. At 20-years old, he's over three years younger than the other pitchers in the Florida State League. This league is usually good for pitchers so expect Gonsalves to continue his recent trend of pitching well.

10. Tyler Jay, LHP
The Twins just took Jay with the sixth overall pick and the plan is to turn the college relief pitcher into a starter. He has all the pitches to make the transition but I'm not totally convinced that he will end up being a starter. A back-end of the bullpen relief pitcher is great but I will need to see more from Jay before I move him higher on my list.

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