Monday, February 27, 2017

Top 20 Twins Prospects: 11-20

Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
Twins Daily has running through the top prospects in the Twins organization. Those profiles are a combination of multiple rankings from the different writers at the site. My own top 50 list was recently included in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

There will always be differences when deciphering which prospects are the best. Should a person give a higher rank to the player with the most potential? Should it be the player with the most tools? Maybe, it should be the one who has a lower ceiling but a higher floor?

Over the next week, I will release my top 20 prospects. Here is a look at prospects 11-20 with multiple players who could impact the big league roster during the 2017 season.

20. LaMonte Wade, OF
Age: 23/ Highest Level: Low-A

Wade showed an advanced approach at the plate this season by getting on base over 40% of the time. He has strong baseball skills and showed them throughout the 2016 campaign. He might not have the tools of some of the other higher ranked prospects but he has shown the ability to play multiple outfield positions. Depending on how rosters shake out this spring, he could end up back in Fort Myers or he could get bumped up to Chattanooga.

19. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Age: 21/ Highest Level: Low-A

Thorpe is an intriguing name even though he hasn't made a professional appearance since the 2014 season. Baseball Prospectus has included him in their top-101 prospects prior to the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He was the youngest player in the Midwest League back in 2014 so there is still time for him to develop. Fans will need to be patient as he returns to the mound. If he shows that he's ready this spring, the Twins could start him at Fort Myers.

18. Huascar Ynoa, RHP
Age: 18/ Highest Level: Rookie

Ynoa pitched all of the 2015 season in the Dominican Summer League with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He made his stateside debut in 2016 and lowered his WHIP by almost 20 points as he allowed 18 fewer walks. He also increased his SO/9 from 7.5 to 9.0. His three pitch mix (fastball, curveball, change-up) could all turn into above average pitches. He's added some weight to his frame the last couple years and this should only help him to add velocity.

17. Ben Rortvedt, C
Age: 19/ Highest Level: Rookie

Minnesota used a second round pick in last year's draft to select a Wisconsin high school catcher. He struggled in his first stop in his professional debut as he hit .203/.277/.254 in 20 GCL games. Things improved in Elizabethton as he averaged jumped over 45 points and he got on base almost 35% of the time. Since he is 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, he has some room to grow into his body. He will need to do this if he wants to stay behind the plate. Most likely he will start 2017 in extended spring training before heading back to the E-Twins to start the year.

16. Engelb Vielma, SS/2B/3B
Age: 22/ Highest Level: Double-A

Even though he was two years younger than the competition in the Southern League, Vielma posted an OPS that was almost 20 points higher than his career average. His defensive skills continue to be very strong at shortstop and this ability might be his ticket to a big league career. There will likely continue to be offensive struggles as he moves closer to Target Field. If he can continue to make small offensive improvements, he could become a consistent MLB regular.

15. Nick Burdi, RHP
Age: 24/ Highest Level: Double-A

When the Twins drafted Burdi in the second round of the 2014 Draft, there were high hopes that he would move through the system quickly. These hopes haven't come to fruition as he has spent each of the last two years at Chattanooga. During the 2016 season, Burdi was limited to three appearances after he suffered a bone bruise. There were set-backs along the way and he wouldn't make it back to the mound. If he's healthy, Burdi could spend time in Chattanooga and Rochester with a chance of him making his debut in 2017.

14. JT Chargois, RHP
Age: 26/ Highest Level: MLB

Chargois dominated the upper levels of the minor leagues on the way to making his MLB debut in 2016. His debut was a disaster as he allowed five earned runs in less than an inning of work. However, he came back in the middle of August and posted a 2.82 ERA over his final 24 appearances. In the minor leagues, he averaged over 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He will need to get closer to that mark at the big league level in order to be a more effective relief pitcher.

13. Mitch Garver, C
Age: 26/ Highest Level: Triple-A

While the Twins signed Jason Castro to be the catcher of the present, Garver is setting up to be the team's catcher of the future. His emergence allowed for the team to expose Stuart Turner to the Rule 5 Draft. Barring any major injuries, Garver will likely spend most of 2017 at Triple-A. This will give him the opportunity to work with some of the team's pitching prospects as they look to make the jump to baseball's highest level.

12. Daniel Palka, OF/1B
Age: 25/ Highest Level: Triple-A

Palka displayed some impressive power during his first season in the Twins organization. Across the Twins two highest levels, he smashed 34 home runs and posted an .848 OPS. The Twins have other MLB ready options at first base and DH so his path to the big leagues might be in a corner outfield position. If Max Kepler or Eddie Rosario sputter at the beginning of the year, Palka could be an intriguing early season call-up.

11. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/3B
Age: 20/ Highest Level: Low-A
Blankenhorn was profiled as the Twins Daily number nine prospect. He's shown an advanced approach at the plate despite being younger than the competition. In 2016, he took positive strides on offense. After being drafted as a third baseman, he was mainly used at second base during his second professional season. There's a good chance he is a top-10 prospect by mid-season.  

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