Monday, January 25, 2016

Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects: 1-10

Even with prospects like Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario graduating off this list, there are still plenty of things to be excited about in 2016. Byron Buxton fell just short of meeting the rookie eligibility so he will get one more year to be considered the Twins top prospect. Other players like Jose Berrios and Max Kepler could use up their rookie eligibility this season as well. 

If all of these players graduate off this list, next year's top 10 will have a very different feel to it. However, that's a story for a different day and a different time. Let's focus on the present and the future of the club with this year's top-10 prospects for the Minnesota Twins.
1. Byron Buxton- Centerfield
2015 STATS: .209/.250/.326, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI (MLB) .305/.367/.500, 10 2B, 13 3B, 7 HR, 45 RBI (Rochester/Chattanooga)
Buxton made his debut in 2015 and found some struggles at the big league level. He saw limited action as the Twins attempted a postseason run but his defense continues to be strong in centerfield. He is a five-tool prospect with more potential than any player on this list. Fans will have to be patient with his bat but he will take over centerfield for the Twins at some point next season. He could be a perennial All-Star and he should be the face of the franchise in the post-Mauer era.

2. Jose Berrios- Starting Pitcher
2015 STATS: 14-5, 2.87 ERA, 27/27 G/GS, 1.05 WHIP, 175/38 K/BB, 166.1 IP (Rochester/Chattanooga)
Berrios has little left to prove in the minor leagues after another dominating year. This time he was overpowering hitters at Double-A and Triple-A which left him on the doorstep of making his big league debut. That didn't happen in 2015 but fans should see him shortly into the 2016 campaign. His strikeout rate continues to be over 9.0 K/9 and he posted a 9.9 K/9 at Triple-A. He has the potential to be a top half of the rotation starter and be part of the Twins rotation for the better part of the next decade.

3. Max Kepler- Outfield
2015 STATS: .143/.143/.143 (MLB) .318/.410/.520, 34 2B, 13 3B, 9 HR, 71 RBI (Fort Myers/Chattanooga)
After years of waiting for a breakout season, Kepler finally lived up to all the hype. He destroyed the ball at Fort Myers before being promoted to Chattanooga and doing more of the same. The Southern League named him the MVP of the league as he helped the Lookouts win the championship. It was the third league title he has won since joining the Twins organization. Minnesota hopes his winning ways payoff at the big league level as he should be called up for good in the second half of 2016.

4. Nick Gordon- Shortstop
2015 STATS: .277/.336/.360, 23 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 58 RBI (Cedar Rapids)
Gordon's father and brother have both made an All Star Game so it's looking like Gordon has all the genes to become the Twins shortstop of the future. Gordon held this own this year as a teenager in the Midwest League. He has room to grow into his body and this could result in more power. His strong arm and good range at shortstop should allow him to stick at the position long-term. With the players above him expected to graduate, Gordon could be the team's top prospect at this point next year.

5. Byung-Ho Park- First Base/DH
2015 STATS: .343/.436/.714, 35 2B, 1 3B, 53 HR, 146 RBI (KBO)
Park will join the Twins this season after plenty of experience in Korea. He has hit over 30 home runs in each of the last four seasons and the last two seasons he has topped 50 home runs. Minnesota is hoping his bat can become a potent part of the middle of the line-up that already includes Miguel Sano. Since the beginning of 2014, he averaged over 150 strikeouts per season so he has struck out in just over 30% of his at-bats. He's going to strikeout but the Twins hope that he balances it out with a ton of home runs.
6. Jorge Polanco- Shortstop
2015 STATS: .300/.417/.300, 1 RBI (MLB) .288/.339/.386, 23 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 53 RBI (Rochester/Chattanooga)
Polanco will be out of options after this season so the Twins will need to make a decision about him. There are questions about whether he can play shortstop long-term but the Twins might give him the opportunity to sink or swim at the position in 2016. His offensive numbers continue to be strong as he has an advanced approach at the plate. If things go well, Polanco should be the Twins starting shortstop in the second half of the season and at the start of 2017.

7. Stephen Gonsalves- Starting Pitcher
2015 STATS: 13-3, 2.01 ERA, 24/24 G/GS, 1.10 WHIP, 132/53 K/BB, 134.1 IP (Cedar Rapids/Fort Myers)
Some could argue that the season compiled by Gonsalves was just as good as Berrios. He was over three years younger than the competition in the Florida State League. His big stature on the mound makes him very projectable as a big league pitching prospect. Even though his fastball tops out in the low 90s, his secondary pitches are what will make him an effective starter at the next level. His potential as a mid-rotation starter could make him very valuable.

8. Kohl Stewart- Starting Pitcher
2015 STATS: 7-8, 3.20 ERA, 22/22 G/GS, 1.38 WHIP, 71/45 K/BB, 129.1 IP (Fort Myers)
Even though Stewart's numbers haven't been outstanding over his first few professional seasons, there is still hope that he will be able to develop into a top of the rotation starter. When the Twins drafted him out of high school, he had been splitting time between football and baseball. Since he's transitioned to baseball full-time, he needs to learn more of the nuances of pitching. This will come with more experience as he moves up the ranks.
9. Tyler Jay- Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher
2015 STATS: 0-1, 3.93 ERA, 19/0 G/GS, 1.42 WHIP, 22/8 K/BB, 18.1 IP (Fort Myers)
Minnesota's first round pick from this past June is the team's fourth straight top-6 pick. Jay, a left-handed pitcher, was taken out of college where he was primarily used as a reliever. The Twins hope to transition Jay to being a starting pitcher. There are questions about whether he will be able to make that transition but most accounts believe he has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter. Next year will go a long way to deciding his future path to the big leagues.

10. Wander Javier- Shortstop
2015 STATS: No stats
Javier was signed out of the Dominican Republic this July. Baseball America ranked him as the 9th best prospect available at that deadline. He's only 16-years old so his high ranking is based solely on his potential. Some believe he will be able to stick at shortstop but he's got a long way to go before that decision is made. He will get his first professional action in the Dominican Summer League and some think he could debut in the States when the GCL season starts.

No comments: