Monday, June 13, 2016

Cody's Post-Draft Top 10 Prospects

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina- USA Today Sports
In the aftermath this year's MLB Draft, it can be fun to reevaluate where an organization stacks up in the prospect department.  For better or worse, franchises can make it or break it with their selections in the draft. It's also important for teams to be able to build from within to help manage the bottom line.

Minnesota's top prospect list is littered with players drafted highly over the last handful of years. Players like Jose Berrios, Nick Gordon, Tyler Jay, and Kohl Stewart have all been taken with first round picks. Ideally, these players will form the nucleus of Minnesota's next championship winning club.

There were a few graduations off this list since my last list in the 2016 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (which is on sale for 10% off). At the end of last season, Byron Buxton barely missed the rookie eligibility cut-off. Byung-Ho Park was also on my pre-season list and he has surpassed 130 at-bats. A few more of these players will likely graduated before the end of the year but here's where the list stands in the days following the draft.

10. Fernando Romero, Cedar Rapids Kernels (21 years old)
Romero has been lights out since his return from Tommy John surgery. Since he didn't pitch in a professional game for over two years, this year will be crucial for his development. He needs to continue to rack up innings and show the kind of pitcher he can be. Romero has impress so far this year and he could be a top-five Twins prospect before the conclusion of the season.

Ceiling: Mid-Rotation Starter
Since he missed so much game action, it is going to be crucial for him to work on his breaking ball and his command. His fastball can hit in the upper 90's but a pitcher needs more than heat to get out big league batters.

9. Alex Kiriloff, OF- TBD (18 years old)
It could be a long time before Kiriloff, a 2016 first round pick, to make it to the big leagues. Minnesota will likely start him off with the GCL Twins and he could make it as high as the Elizabethton Twins this season. This was the lowest first round pick the Twins have had in awhile and this draft wasn't as deep as other years. For this reason, fans will have to be patient as they wait to see what kind of player Kiriloff can be.

Ceiling: All-Star corner outfielder
He hasn't spent much time playing in the outfield but he has the arm to handle a corner outfield position. There are a lot of tools in his tool box. It will be interesting to see what kind of power he can develop as he moves up the ladder and his body starts to mature.

8. J.T. Chargois, RHP- Chattanooga Lookouts, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (25 years old)
Chargois is looking more and more like he could be the Twins closer of the future. His MLB debut was an unmitigated disaster and the Twins did him no favors by sending him right back to Rochester. Despite this chain of events, he will be back before the end of the year and I would guess that he is pitching in some high leverage situations as soon as the 2017 season.

Ceiling: Shutdown back-end of the bullpen pitcher
Chargois has the stuff to be a very good relief pitcher. His biggest issue at this point his control and that was evident in his debut. The hope would be that he returns to Rochester and continues to dominate at that level. This will give the Twins no option but to give him another look.

7. Kohl Stewart, RHP- Fort Myers Miracle, Chattanooga Lookouts (21 years old)
The Twins were aggressive with Stewart as he was promoted to Chattanooga as a 21-year old. His first Double-A start was a little rough but this takes nothing away from his overall potential. Last season was the first season where he compiled more than 100 innings on the mound. It would be nice for his strikeout rate to continue to rise as he moves through the ranks and that could come with more innings on the mound.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
Stewart is still learning the art of pitching and he bounced back nicely in his second Double-A outing. His place on this list is more of a result of the talent in front of him than his lack of talent. If he puts it all together, he could be very good and the Twins have a lot of confidence in him.

6. Stephen Gonsalves, RHP- Fort Myers Miracle (21 years old)
Gonsalves just keeps getting better and that might be a scary proposition to other hitters in the minor leagues. He ended last season in Fort Myers and he has made some improvements there this year. His fastball has more life and he has been working to improve his off-speed pitches. He hasn't garnered a lot of national attention but that could change if he continues to pitch well.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
It seems like Gonsalves is a veteran of the minors even though he is only 21-years old. He comes off like that because of his professionalism and his demeanor on the mound. This is the first time I've ranked Gonsalves higher than Stewart and he will be a top five prospect for the Twins entering next year.

5. Jorge Polanco, IF- Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (23 years old)
Polanco has been settling into his role with Rochester nicely as he is posting some of his best offensive numbers in years. The Twins have utilized Polanco's skill-set at various points over the last three years and it will be interesting to see where he fits into the team's long-term plans. He's been playing more second base this year and the Twins have Dozier blocking Polanco at that position.

Ceiling: All-Star second baseman
Minnesota needs to find a spot for Polanco for next season. This could mean in a utility type role or it could mean trading away a current starter so he can get regular at-bats. If the Twins continue to play poorly this season, it would be nice to see more of Polanco at the big league level.

4. Nick Gordon, SS- Fort Myers Miracle (20 years old)
Gordon is almost three years younger than the competition in the Florida State League but he's still putting up some strong numbers. He's been able to get on base over 33% of the time and he's hitting for more power this season as his OPS has jumped over 35 points. One concern this season might be his defensive miscues. He has 13 errors at shortstop this season after setting a career high with 18 errors last year.

Ceiling: All-star shortstop
I still believe he can stick at shortstop and he will add more power as he continues to mature. This could make him a rarity for the Twins, a shortstop produced through their farm system. He's only been moving up one level a season so he likely won't debut for another couple of seasons.

3. Tyler Jay, LHP- Fort Myers Miracle (22 years old)
It was tough to know what to expect from Jay this season as he was used a relief pitcher in college. He's quieted a lot of doubters with his performance so far. At the High-A level, he has been a dominant pitcher and he should make his way to Double-A at some point in the second half. Besides Romero, Jay made the biggest jump of any player on my top prospect list but most of this was because of the unknown surrounding him at the season's start.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
Drafting a college relief pitcher and turning him into a starter is no easy feat. There is plenty for Jay still to prove but he's on the right path and trending upwards. He could and should be the team's top overall prospect heading into next season with Kepler and Berrios likely graduating off this list.

2. Max Kepler, OF- Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (23 years old)
Kepler has been in the big leagues twice this season but he has yet to find his groove. After being named the MVP of the Southern League last season, Kepler made a lot of people notice his talent. He's combined to play around 50 games at levels higher than Double-A so there is still time for him to develop. Even though those numbers haven't been there yet at the big league level, he takes good at-bats and is a mature hitter. There's a good chance that he can be an above average player for years to come.

Ceiling: All-Star outfielder
Kepler continues to improve at the big league level and most fans probably took notice of him with his walk-off home run on Sunday afternoon. He takes very good at-bats and his walk rate is very impressive for a rookie. Last week, Seth named Kepler as his top prospect in his Midseason Top 40 list but it's about preference at this point.

1. Jose Berrios, RHP- Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (22 years old)
His first taste of the big leagues was a little rough but he's getting back on track for Rochester. Berrios should be a Twins rotation staple for the better part of the next decade. Control had been his calling card in recent years but he's struggled with control this season. If he can find his command, he will likely spend the second half of this season with the big league club.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
Minnesota's starters have been bad so it seems like only a matter of time before Berrios gets another opportunity. He's the first of a core of young pitchers that should debut in the coming years. The Twins organization is desperate for a pitcher to join the rotation and take the league by storm. Berrios has the opportunity to do this.

Who would you put at the top of prospect list? Should Kiriloff be ranked higher, lower, or stay right about where he is? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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