It’s been a rough year for Minnesota, it started with the death of Prince, and just snowballed from there. The Twins were awful, finishing with the worst record in the majors by 9 games. The Vikings crapped out after beginning the season with so much promise. Jose Berrios is not quite the ace the Target Field faithful were dreaming on, and Atmosphere, though still entertaining, has seen better days. Well Minnesota, it’s 2017 and I’m going to continue to pile on. Sorry…. While the system looks bare, it should be mentioned that the Twinkies have graduated a group of elite prospects over the last few seasons in Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and the aforementioned Berrios. Unfortunately, none of them have provided elite returns, as of yet. So what’s left in the pipeline oh Prospect Jesus, please tell us? Yes, my children, there ain’t much. Yup, Prospect Jesus uses the word ain’t, he’s a man of the people. As for immediate impact there are a handful of useful bullpen arms, and some back end starters, but the really exciting prospects are at minimum a year away, sometimes more in first rounder Alex Kirilloff’s case. Minnesota is truly a team that needs to re-tool the farm with so many of their young talented players already on the big league club. So sit back, put your feet up, and get up to date on the Top Minnesota Twins Prospects. Can you dig it?
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AA/A
The 2013 4th rounder had a breakout season in 2016, going 13-5 with a 2.06 ERA, a 10.0 K/9, and a .179 BAA. The thin athletic, 6’5 lefty has a smooth delivery and clean mechanics, though he does land awkwardly on his plant foot. There’s good swing and miss stuff, and a lot of weak contact. In fact a look at Gonsalves batted ball profile against, shows he gets as much bad contact as anybody. Inducing popups at a 12.2% rate, paired with an unusually low line drive rate of 15.3%. That tells me very few batters are squaring up Gonsalves. His arsenal consists of a low to mid 90’s fastball, that plays up due to his deceptive arm slot, a sinking change up that terrorizes righties, and a curveball he uses effectively to keep hitters off balance. There’s not a lot of hype around Gonsalves, particularly for a player with the production he’s provided, but he’s one this Prospector would look to own.
Tyler Jay, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
The 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft was a college closer at Illinois, and a good one at that. The Twins seeing his 4 pitch repertoire, and stuff have decided to develop him as a starter, and who could blame them? After all they passed on Andrew Benintendi to draft Jay. The lefty possesses two double plus pitches in his fastball and slider, the heater works in the mid-90’s, while the slider is an off the charts out pitch with Dracula bite. He mixes in an above average hook, and an average change. He works consistently low in the zone, generating grounders at a 51% rate. Due to his slight build, and relief history, there are serious durability concerns as he was shutdown at the end of the season with neck inflammation. The upside here is a fantasy number two with strikeout upside, while the floor is high leverage reliever.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Nick Gordon, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
I know you’re waiting to be impressed by the offspring of former closer, and long time big leaguer Tom Gordon, and brother of speed king Dee Gordon. Then I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Lil Brother is a bore. He’s a hit tool first guy, with little speed, and little power. He’s the type of player that will rate high on real life lists, and more than likely will be a solid everyday infielder in the bigs. But for fantasy there’s just not a lot of upside. He should be owned in leagues where 200+ minor leaguers are rostered, but I wouldn’t be waiting on a stud.
Fernando Romero, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
A small righty with a big fastball, I should love this guy, no? Well I really don’t, and I tell you why. He’s more of a thrower than a pitcher, and I don’t see that changing. Romero’s fastball flirts with triple digits and he’s aggressive in going after batters, but too often tries to strikeout everybody. Looks like a reliever to me based on size, pitchability, and mechanics.
Daniel Palka, OF | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
After slugging 63 homers over the last two seasons in the minors, Palka could be on the cusp of providing some much needed pop to the Twins lineup. He’s an older prospect at 25, but as we saw with Adam Duvall last year, power breakouts can come from older prospects. There’s a lot of swing and miss in his game, and there’s no plus tool outside the power, but if he sees enough at bats, 20+ homers is totally obtainable. I like Palka, and would be fine taking a flier on him in 16+ team dynasty leagues, with fingers crossed for an off the radar breakout.
Kohl Stewart, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | ETA: AA/A+
The most exciting thing about Stewart is the fact that he was almost the successor of Johnny Manziel as the Texas A&M quarterback. He’s an extreme groundball pitcher with control issues, and non-existent strikeout upside. He was the third pick in the draft back in 2013, so there’s pedigree. Maybe somebody in your league buys into that, don’t be that guy. Treat Stewart the way Johnny Football treated his professional football career, forget about it. He can touch 96 with the heater, and the Twins believe he’s still learning to pitch despite his age. He’ll have to make major strides in the control and swing and miss departments to be on my dynasty radar though.
Adalberto Mejia, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
Acquired from the Giants at the trade deadline last year for Eduardo Nunez, Mejia brings a back end of the rotation profile with improving swing and miss stuff. Prior to the trade Mejia was an interesting lefty in the Giants system, a good position to be in, as lefties tend to flourish in the comfy confines of AT&T Park. Upon the trade to the Minnesnowta, Mejia took some lumps in AAA and a short stint in the majors. There’s no projection left in Mejia, as what you see is what you get. He mixes a low 90’s fastball with an above average changeup, and an average slider. His solid control should guide him to a shot at a rotation spot coming out of the spring. Should only be on your radar for the deepest of formats, or any league where pitching depth is paramount.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Alex Kiriloff, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
My favorite prep hitter in the 2016 draft, Kirilloff brings a unique package for a teenage bat. He’s a particularly polished hitter with above average power and a plus hit tool. Due to his strong wrists, and hands, his bat speed plays up due to his compact lefty swing. Won the Appy League MVP slashing .306/.341/.454 with 7 homers, and more runs (33) and RBIs (33), than strikeouts (32). Shows the ability to hit to all fields, and should continue to develop power as he matures. Kid can hit, nuff said.
Wander Javier, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: DSL
He’s yet to come stateside so, I’m going off scouting reports and grainy video, but Javier looks to be the highest upside player in the system. Then again, it’s almost like any outcome is possible. His reported skillset is across the board tools with hit tool, power, and moderate speed. Slashed .308/.400/.654 with a couple of dongs in the Dominican Summer League, he’s one to dream on.
Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/3B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
A lefthanded hitter with a quick bat, and advanced approach for a player a year out of high school. Blakenhorn has a plus hit tool with power projection that could see him develop into a 20 home run hitter. Hit 10 homers last season across two levels, and if you check out his spray charts the homers were to all fields. His natural hitting acumen will carry him throughout the minors, as at present he has no true position.
Akil Baddoo, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
Could you have a more badass name? He’s got a kill and a bad in his name, and if you spit it out real fast it sounds like you’re saying kill a bad dude. You scared brah? Well not to fear, the 2016 2nd rounder out of Salem HS in Conyers, Georgia is an exciting power/speed prospect that the scouts love. He’s said to have already added some muscle to his athletic frame, and some evaluators see him projecting more as a powerful and athletic corner guy, than speedy centerfield type many envisioned at the time of the draft. Was outside my top 50 first year player draft prospects, but if you slipped him between 40-50 I’d be with it. Mentioned Akil on my appearance with Razzball Podcast last summer.
Luis Arraez, 2B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
A single hitting machine with little power or speed, Arraez while not exciting for fantasy deserves a mention after winning the Midwest league batting title at 19. He’s all hit tool, almost to an extreme, but his hitting production is such that you should at least be generally aware of anyone who hits .345 at 19.
Lewis Thorpe, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: N/A
He’s Australian, he hasn’t pitched in years, but he could be on his way back this year. He has upside, which is why the Twins have remained optimistic that Thorpe can return to his pre-TJ form, and eventually reach his mid-rotation ceiling.
Ben Rortvedt, C | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: Rk
A catching prospect with some pop, and good makeup. How hype do you want me to get over a catcher? If there’s one to get hype about, Rortvedt’s not a bad choice. He’s blessed with excellent bat speed, and easy power from the left side. Long term his ceiling is bat first everyday catcher with 20+ homer pop.
Check Out Our Minor League Preview Index for all articles and podcasts on all 30 teams!