|Photo Credit: Seth Stohs, Twins Daily|
Minnesota's top prospect list is littered with players drafted highly over the last handful of years. Players like 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.
On Tuesday, I ran through the first half of my top-10 prospect list. Today I shift my focus to the top-5. Who's going to be number 1?
5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, 19-- Highest Level: Rookie
Preseason Rank: 4
Minnesota's first round pick in 2016, Kirilloff will miss all of 2017 after having Tommy John surgery. The Twins drafted him highly because of his ability to hit. He did that last year in his first taste of professional action. His batting average was over .300 with a nearly .800 OPS. Miguel Sano has been another big name Twins prospect to undergo Tommy John and he hasn't shown an ill-effects from the procedure. Kirilloff will be 20-years old before he gets back on the field. He will need to show he can continue to hit and the Twins will need to be aggressive with him when he returns to action.
4. Fernando Romero, RHP-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 3
Romero is in the midst of a very important season. With a year under his belt since Tommy John surgery, he is sneaking into the Twins' long-term plans. With his big fastball and off-speed offerings, he has all the assets to be a front-line starter. He posted strong numbers last season at Low- and High-A but the transition to Double-A has come with some bumps. His ERA is over 3.00 and he has a WHIP north of 1.30. He's struck out 70 in 71.2 innings pitched so he will need to continue to improve his peripheral numbers as he gets closer to the big leagues. Romero might have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Twins system but he needs to prove he can stick as a starter. Otherwise, he could be destined for the bullpen.
3. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, 22-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 2
Gonsalves hasn't done anything wrong to move him down my list. It's hard to ignore the talent of the players listed in front of him. After some rough moments in the Arizona Fall League, Gonsalves has gotten back on track to start the 2017 campaign. He has an eye-popping 0.912 WHIP which would be his lowest total in any season. His 11.1 SO/9 would be his highest total with any full-season affiliate. He's also walking fewer batters which might signal that the 22-year old is putting it all together. He has dealt with a left-shoulder issue which has kept him out of action in the AFL and at the beginning of this season. If he continues to put up strong numbers, there's no reason he shouldn't make his Target Field debut this season.
2. Royce Lewis, SS, 18-- Highest Level: High-School
Preseason Rank: N/A
It's might seem odd not to put the Twins newly minted top draft pick at the top of a prospect list. Lewis was the first overall selection but there are a few factors that go into his placement on this list. First of all, Lewis wasn't considered the best draft prospect on every draft list compiled before the draft. He is a very raw prospect with all the tools to be a superstar. However, it will be multiple years before the Twins know if they struck gold. Lewis will start in the rookie leagues and he needs to prove he can stick at shortstop over other prospects currently in the Twins system. Some believe he will need to be shifted to the outfield, a position where he has shown some promise in the past. Lewis might dominate the rookie leagues this season and force his way to the top of the Twins prospect list but he isn't there yet.
1. Nick Gordon, SS, 21-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 1
In almost any other organization, Lewis would be a team's top prospect. However, Gordon is destroying baseballs this season. He is over three years younger than the competition in the Southern League and he's hitting .315/.376/.504. Gordon has hit more home runs this season than his first three season's combined. Since Engelb Vielma has moved to Rochester, Gordon has played shortstop on a regular basis. He's gotten a taste of second base but the organization seems committed to giving him as many opportunities as possible to succeed at shortstop. Like his brother, he might need to eventually move away from shortstop but his bat is better than even the Twins might have imagined when they drafted him. He's a strong top prospect and he could be a regular in the Twins line-up as soon as next season.
There you have my top-10 Twins prospects following the 2017 MLB Draft. Who did I miss? Who ranks too high? Who ranks too low? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.