After trading from strength to shore up the major league roster and graduating Jose Miranda, this system looks thinner than usual. Royce Lewis brings a nice big name to the top, but he’s kind of a prospect in name only at this point. Would have graduated long ago if healthy. I like a lot of the guys they have. It’s just: they’ve missed a lot in the first round. Keoni Cavaco, Aaron Sabato, and I kind of want to throw Austin Martin in here, too, because if you’re missing on your big evaluations, you’re not likely to thrive for long. To their credit and savior, Minnesota has made some shrewd plays on the market, flipping a couple months of Nelson Cruz for Joe Ryan chief among them, and have built an impressive core group of under-the-radar, homegrown talents like Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Max Kepler, Jose Miranda and of course, Byron Buxton. They’re not all good all the time, but they’re pretty great when they’re good, especially for cost-controlled (gag me with a sock full of dimes for using the lingo) young veterans. The club has a knack for zeroing in on the hit tool to unearth the Astudillos of the baseball world, and while not every Astudillio is an Arraez or a Miranda, some of them can be, and godspeed to the Twins for trying to find them. I love the player type. Hardest thing in the world is to barrel up a big-league-level pitch. Could do much worse on the scouting front than separating guys who can do that someday from guys who can’t. 

 

Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/23 | Highest Level Played | ETA

1. SS Royce Lewis | 23 | MLB | 2022

Correa’s signing clutters the road before Lewis, but he’s talented enough to play left, third, second or right. When he cracked the lineup last year, the excitement was palpable. He’d hit five home runs and stolen 12 bases in 34 Triple-A games, slashing .313/.405/.534 with a 20.9 percent strikeout rate. In 41 plate appearances as a major leaguer, Lewis hit two home runs and slashed .300/.317/.550. Then he tore an ACL for the second time. That’s not what you want. Just about everything else points to fantasy success for Lewis. Now feels like a good time to buy.

 

2. SS Brooks Lee | 22 | AA | 2024

The adjectival form of doing something the way a person named Brooks would do it, Lee had an outstanding debut season after being selected 8th overall in 2022, slashing .289/.395/.454 with four home runs in 25 High-A games. Even finished up with two games at Double-A. A switch-hitter at 6’2” 205 lbs, Lee looks like a high-probability major leaguer even if his position outlook is cloudy in Minnesota.

 

3. OF Emmanuel Rodriguez | 20 | A | 2025

Rodriguez is not an easy prospect to peg. People running him up into their top tiers are pretty early for me, but I can understand the excitement. I’m always leery of an extreme-patience profile in the lower minors, but it’s certainly not a bad thing to walk in 28.6 percent of your plate appearances and get on base 49 percent of the time as a 19-year-old playing 47 games in Low-A. It’s not a bad thing to strike out 26.1 percent of the time or hit nine home runs or steal 11 bases. Bear with me, I’m trying to talk myself through the reasons I don’t love Rodriguez, but this bear in the room keeps distracting me. Also I’m grasping at straws a little because I’ve been out on the extreme patience player type for so long it’s hard to rewire my brain to embrace the possibilities. It wouldn’t be fair to call this kid passive. He slugged .551 by picking his spots and looking to do damage. All the same, I think he’s an easy sell wherever someone is giving him the benefit of the doubt as a top 25 type prospect,

 

4. 2B Edouard Julien | 23 | AA | 2023

I wound up seeing Julien quite a bit in 2021. He’s listed at 6’2” 195 lbs but never looked that big to me, not that it matters. Julien makes the most of every pitch, riding that third rail between passive and selective. I just dinged Rodriguez for the same, but Julien walks about ten percent less often than Rodriguez (19.3 percent in 113 games). Strikes out less, too. He lacks the eye-catching upside to pass the top two on this list, but I toggled him back and forth with Rodriguez in the rankings. Julien is much more likely to help in the near term after posting a 144 wRC+ in a full Double-A season, but Rodriguez can be traded for more today (I think), and I’m a bit skeptical about the bat speed on Julien.

 

5. SS Bryan Acuña | 17 | DSL | 2027

Would be kind of foolish to leave this guy off the list. At 6’0” 176 lbs, Bryan is closer to Ronald’s frame than LuisAngel’s, but the game more closely resembles little brother’s so far, if only because none of Bryan’s 12 extra base hits across 43 Dominican Summer League games left the park. He slashed .310/.409/.393 with nine stolen bases and will supercharge his dynasty value with any kind of power jump during his stateside debut which figures to happen later in 2023.

 

6. OF Yasser Mercedes | 18 | DSL | 2027

Mercedes is a better fantasy prospect than Acuña today. He’s got an inside lane on being the club’s number one guy in 2024. Takes a lot of future-casting to get there, but this guy just stole 30 bases in 41 DSL games while slashing .355/.420/.555 with a 19.9 percent strikeout rate. Gotta wash those stats away from the mind heading into this season. Reality begins in the states, statistically speaking, especially for a 17-year-old who’s already 6’2” 175 lbs of wiry muscle. Hard to know how much of the success is just physical dominance over developing youngsters and how much is baseball skill he’ll carry up the chain. Great pick in deep First-Year-Player Drafts this year. He’s quite a bit more valuable today than just about any new J2 guy (non-Celestin division) or newly drafted pitcher outside of the top group.

 

7. OF Matt Wallner | 25 | MLB | 2022

He had a good year in 2022, climbing from Double-A to the big leagues, but Wallner teeters on becoming another early draft miss to me. He’s a 6’5” 220 lb left-handed hitter with negative defensive value wherever you put him. He’s got a shot as a corner bat and DH type, but this is where the ignore-defense plan fails, I think. If a guy has bat-to-ball skills with borderline infield hands, by all means, ignore the lack of defensive value. If he’s a Rooker-ian behemoth who strikes out all the time, take that into account. From Rooker (35th overall in 2017) to Wallner (39th overall in 2019) to Sabato (27th overall in 2020), the plan appears to involve making the same shaped mistake over and over and over again. Big power, lotta strikeouts, no defensive home, no thank you.

 

8. LHP Connor Prielipp | 22 | NA | 2025

Prielipp brings a lot of shine into FYPD season for someone who’s never thrown a pro inning and only threw 28 innings in his injury-shortened career at Alabama. The hope here is that the 6’2” 205 lb lefty with three plus pitches and balance throughout his delivery will dominate in the lower minors and warp the timeline. If not, we’re looking at a 22-year-old with pretty close to zero experience over the last half decade. Takes a lot of topside to look past all that, and while I don’t disagree that it’s in here, I’m just not likely to be the one rostering Prielipp while we await the big breakout. How many innings can he realistically expect this year? 50? And where do they happen? Maybe 20 in Low-A and 30 in High-A if everything goes great. Interesting player. Just not my type for dynasty.

 

9. OF Anderson Nova | 18 | DSL | 2027

Nova features the profile that’s been working best in Minnesota these past few cycles. He controls the strike zone well (14.1% BB, 17.4% K) as a 6’0” 165 lb left-handed hitter without much thump or speed to speak for him. In 40 games, Nova hit one home run and stole one base, but he slashed .355/.456/.476 and should open 2023 in a stateside setting.

 

10. OF Austin Martin | 24 | AA | 2026

Mostly putting Martin at ten because there’s no rush to get anyone else into this spot, and I suspect I’d get a question or two if I left him off, even though he’s a non-prospect to me at this point. I’ve never been wild about him, but nobody could have predicted the kind of outcomes he’s posted so far. A 23-year-old with questionable defensive value who slugs .315 in 90 games at Double-A is a non-prospect right now. Things can change for anyone with the willpower to fight for what they want, I suppose. You could point to the OBP or wRC+ outcomes in 2021 or say he shouldn’t have been sent straight to Double-A, and that’s valid, but major league arms aren’t just going to let him earn walks if he’s slugging .300. See Straw, Myles, an elite defender at a premium position who probably shouldn’t be an everyday player.

 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

38 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Hernan
Hernan
10 days ago

lol, itch, late to the party, but, i wonder how much importance do you give to performance in Arizona Fall League, as Mr. Julien completely eviscerated pitching there….,

thehombre
thehombre
10 days ago

Itch, Do you think Murray will get to pitch in Houston and does he carry any value moving forward? Can he come out of nowhere like Garcia did?

Chhh
Chhh
12 days ago

Itch!!!! My dude!!

I love you and all, but ‘Em Rod (trying it out, you like?) is going to be a star. That hit tool and that power from a 19 year old and low A? Sexy.

Honestly, if he hadn’t gotten hurt I think you’d be all over him.

Stay safe!

Dr Ssuce
Dr Ssuce
12 days ago

Afternoon The Itch!! Respect always to your work!
Keeper league question, thinking long term (3-5 years). How would you rank the following list;
Acuna, Tucker, Bichette, Ohtani (weekly league – must decide each week to use him as a hitter or pitcher), Tatis jr, Witt jr, Corbin Carroll, Gunner, Lou Robert and McClanahan.
Can’t keep ‘em’ all, planning to make a few deals. Trying to get consensus on who I want to keep and who I want to deal. Thanks in advance for your assistance. Cheers!

packers2018
packers2018
Reply to  Dr Ssuce
12 days ago

How many can you keep?
If it was me I would try to trade Ohtani and Tatis Jr. You have Witt Jr and Bichette at SS and 4 other outfielders. Tatis Jr may end up as just outfield eligibility. Should be able to fill any weak spots offering those two.

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
Reply to  packers2018
12 days ago

Thanks for the input Packers2018! Respect your take! I can keep 6. Normally, I would try to package some players together to trade for an upgrade. However, the guys who are upgrades are not available via trade. Deals will likely be for picks.

Dr Ssuce
Dr Ssuce
Reply to  The Itch
10 days ago

Thanks Itch, appreciate it. If you have a little time, I would love to hear a bit more rationale in the relative low rank of Witt. Most in the industry, have him potentially close to Bichette area. I love the rank personally, especially given your eye for talent. Cheers

Philip
Philip
13 days ago

Good morning, Itch! Hope all is well with you and yours. Nice list. Seems the Twins don’t care much for speed these days.

Who do you think makes the best CIF this year and in dynasty leagues: Tork, Vaughn, Jung, or Miranda? Thanks!

cable
cable
13 days ago

fantasy….best utility player in baseball 2023 ?

(ofer..inf combo )

toolshed
toolshed
13 days ago

I was excited last year to see Lewis and what he was doing. He looked great. What a tough break. Question about Emmanuel Rodriguez, would you rather own him or Dustin Harris? Thanks

Carl
Carl
13 days ago

I enjoy your content. But IMHO, You are most definitely not excited enough about Emmanuel Rodríguez. I got stock in one league. 20 keepers and 10 teams. I’m thinking I may keep him over Diego Cartaya, Baz, Sixto, Bello, Quantrill, Hoerner, Olivares, Matt Manning, amongst others

Sport
Sport
13 days ago

Itch! Long time for me to commenting. Admittedly, I fizzled out a little last fall from all my prospect reading and now trying to get back into the swing of things. I have some dynasty teams that need some upgrading so I’m back to reading all your content!

In a league I created a year, my team won first place. 12 teams. 5×5 roto. We started with 12 milb rosters, and will expand to 17 partially because of the FYP draft being held Feb.13. The last place team was butchered by the owner. That owner left, replacement opted out, and the replacement’s replacement at least finished the year, but doesn’t have the patience to try and turn it around. I’m looking for a rebuild team to takeover since my other teams are all doing ok. Sooooo, I took over the butchered team, and gave him my team!

Long story short. My new team sucks. Trade assets are marginal but I do have a couple of good pieces to move. I do also have Luis Robert to kind of build around. The milb roster is pretty low quality as well. It’s going to take some time to turn it around.

My philosophy is this: Build through hitting. Worry about pitching the closer I get to competing. My assets are minimal so I feel I have to make them count. Rather than go with quantity prospects, I want a little more track record with who I am trading for. So I might be a little picky vs having a fire sale.

Does this sound ok and do you have other advice?

Also. Will you be dropping an updated FYP top 20 or 25 anytime the next couple of weeks by chance?

Thank you and I look forward to catching up on your content!

Sport
Sport
Reply to  Sport
13 days ago

I have Clase, whom I’d kind of like to keep due to age. But seems smart to move a reliever at this point right? I have already been offered Elly De La Cruz for him and might be able to get Manzardo. Am I idiot for not taking De La Cruz? Or am I justified in wanting an MLB ready bat?

Ray Guilfoyle
Ray Guilfoyle
Reply to  Sport
12 days ago

I would make the deal for EDLC.

sport
sport
Reply to  The Itch
10 days ago

Great advice on the draft picks! You’re right, the draft pick offers have been trickling in already. To be honest, I’m not much interested in FYP players outside of the top 12 to 15. Only half a dozen, it seems, will be top 100 prospects immediately. In a league with 12 teams, milb rosters of 16 (192 total), loading up on FYP draft picks doesn’t seem smart.

So what’s the thoughts on Clase? Good closers in a 12 team, saves only league have some value, but they can lose value in a blink of an eye! Would you hold Clase since he’s just 24? I have been offered Elly De La Cruz (and a draft pick lol) and in a seperate offer, I was offered Corey Seager and Kiebert Ruiz.

Galen
Galen
13 days ago

Yeah, I wouldn’t read too much into Correa signing. The Twins found someone to take their money, rumors they were in on Xander, Rendon, maybe a couple other guys only to miss out. So if Correa’s ankle brought down his value enough so the Twins could sign him to a deal, then they couldn’t pass it up worrying about blocking Lewis.

They’ve been talking about moving Kepler, Arraez and/or Larnach for some pitching. That would free up at bats in the second half for Lewis. Going forward maybe Lewis doesn’t have a set position, but rotates around the diamond. If they like him in CF he’s pretty much guaranteed 60 games at minimum a year in CF filling in for Buxton. Correa is good for a IL stint a year, maybe more if the plate in his ankle becomes worrisome .

junior56
junior56
13 days ago

Morning Itch

Thanks! for the tip on Merecedes! Where does Lewis end up playing after he recovers?

Also, What do you think about Luis Ortiz of the Pirates chances of breaking camp with the team?

Gordeon
Gordeon
13 days ago

Am I off-base here…seems like the Correa signing is telling us the Twins are worried about Royce long-term.

fivepoundbass
fivepoundbass
Reply to  Gordeon
13 days ago

I don’t think many teams would pass on a player they believe to be one of the best in the game for the sake of a prospect. Lewis is athletic enough to play all over the field, so I think his health will dictate what happens in his future.

Gordeon
Gordeon
Reply to  fivepoundbass
13 days ago

Probably right on that but I can’t remember a guy coming back from two ACL surgeries and performing at a high level.

galica1234
galica1234
13 days ago

The Itch!!!!

Awesome!!!

a. Stoked to have Yasser over Bryan. Thanks for the advice.

b. Rosters still frozen in my dynasty.

c. Great intel.

Cheers,
Ante