|David Kohl- USA Today Sports|
In the end, it doesn't matter how high players are ranked if they don't consistently produce at the big league level. It's great that Byron Buxton is considered one of the best prospects but he needs to put all of his tools together to become the player most pundits believe he can be.
Pitching prospects can be tough to project. As Baseball Prospectus famously coined, "there's no such thing as a pitching prospect" because of how unpredictable pitching prospects can be. Twins fans have seen this first hand over the last couple years as top pitching prospect Alex Meyer has gone from possible frontline starter to being relegated to the bullpen.
Three of the biggest pitching prospects in the Twins system are Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, and Tyler Jay. They have all been first round picks since 2012 and each one is at a different part of the development process. Berrios is on the verge of his big league debut and Stewart and Jay each have things left to accomplish in the minor leagues.
Each of these players has a high ceiling but how high can they go? Or will any of them follow the path followed by Alex Meyer over the last couple of seasons?
Ceiling: Berrios has put together back-to-back strong seasons in the highest levels of the Twins farms system to make him the second highest ranked prospect in the Twins system. His control is one of his strongest assets and MLB.com recently ranked him as having the best control of any pitching prospect. He limited his walks to just 38 last season in 166.1 innings while leading the minors with 175 strikeouts. He's been very young for each level while consistently playing better than the competition. Combine all of this with his impressive curveball and changeup and you have the recipe for a top of the line starter. Ceiling: Frontline starter
Floor: There have been questions about his height since the Twins drafted him in 2012. He's slowly been able to convince some of his doubters with his on field performance. There's still no guarantee that he will be able to perform on baseball's biggest stage. Getting major league hitters out on a regular basis is much different than minor league hitters even if they are playing at Triple-A. As a worst case scenario, Berrios could only be good enough to be in the back of the rotation. Floor: Back-end of the rotation starter
Ceiling: Stewart provides the Twins with an interesting case. When the team took him with the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, Stewart was a multi-sport high school athlete. His entire focus hadn't been on pitching until he joined the Twins organization. Now with two full seasons under his belt, Stewart is learning his craft as a pitcher. He's been very good at coaxing groundballs throughout his career and this is a very useful skill at the big league level. His body type and skill set could add up to be a workhorse in the rotation while consistently pitching 200 innings or more. Ceiling: Frontline starter
Floor: The strikeouts haven't been there for Stewart as he has moved through the Twins system. He's been at least two and a half years younger than the competition at each level but it's still a skillset that would be nice to see in a starting pitcher. There were some brief injury concerns in 2014 but most of those thoughts were behind him in 2015. He also needs to get more use out of his change-up as he continues to get closer to the big league level. If needed, the other two pitchers on this list could end up as very good bullpen options but Stewart might not fit that mold because of his lack of strikeouts. Floor: Long reliever
Ceiling: Jay was a relief pitcher for most of his college career but the Twins liked his stuff enough to use the number six overall pick on him. Minnesota will attempt to transition the left-handed hurler from shutdown bullpen arm to effective starting pitcher. With his fastball and slider combination, the Twins could probably use him in the bullpen this season. That isn't going to happen as the club will monitor his innings closely and begin his starting pitching duties in the Florida State League. If Jay fails in the transition to starting pitcher, he will make a very good bullpen arm. Ceiling: Mid-rotation starter or shutdown left-handed relief pitcher
Floor: It's hard to know how Jay will adjust to his new role as starter. The Twins obviously think he can make the switch otherwise they wouldn't have drafted him as high as they did. Unlike Berrios and Stewart, Jay has a proven track record at the collegiate level which means the Twins know more of what kind of asset they have in Jay. The starting experiment might end up being a total bust but with his top two pitches, he will find success in a bullpen role. Floor: Long reliever
Which pitcher has the brighter future? Which pitcher will be able to reach their ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.