Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Twins offseason top 40 prospects list: 6-10

Today is the seventh installment in the top 40 Twins' Off-season prospects countdown, and the descriptions of the player and rationalization of their rankings continue to a bit more detailed.  You can find all installments here in reverse chronological order.  Previous rankings: 36-40, 31-35 , 26-30 , 21-25 , 16-20 and 11-15. You can find the 2014 off-season summary list here   In these listings in parenthesis, I am including their ranking in the last prospect list, which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked.  You can find that list here.   Before I start counting down the top 10, I need to mention the names of the players who dropped from the mid-season top 10 (along with their rankings in that list in parenthesis) : Nico Goodrum IF (22), Matthew Koch C (28), Zach Jones RHP (31), Sean Gilmartin LHP (32); and not only because he is not part of the organization any longer, Brian Gilbert RHP (33), Argenis Silva RHP (34), Sam Clay LHP (35), DJ Baxendale (37).  Now that we established that Nico Goodrum is not one of the top 10, here are the prospects 10 to 6, with a couple of surprises:



10. Nick Burdi RHP (14) RHRP, DOB: 1/19/1993, 6'5", 215 lbs.

Nick Burdi was the Twins' 2nd round draft pick in 2014 from Louisville.  This was what Nick Burdi did in relief in 2014:  Louisville: 37 IP, 65 K, 10 BB;  Cedar Rapids: 13 IP, 26 K, 8 BB; Fort Myers: 7.3 IP, 12 K, 2 BB.  Total: 57.3 IP, 103 K, 20 BB.  His K% was 43.6% in College, 48.2% at Cedar Rapids and 42.9% at Fort Myers.  A high 90s nasty fastball that often reaches triple digits, complemented by a low 90s even nastier slider, and there is no wonder than many, including the author of this, were wondering why Burdi did not start his pro career in the majors, since he is the best RHRP in the Twins organization at any level, since he was drafted.  But this is not the way the Twins are thinking.  The 22 year old had nothing to prove in a league whose average age was 2 years + older.  He will likely have nothing to prove in Chattanooga and be called to the majors by mid-season to serve as the Twins' set up man or even the closer.  He is not on the 40 man roster and has not been invited to the MLB Spring Training camp as of yet. 

9. Lewin Diaz 1B (24) LHB, DOB: 11/19/1996, 6'3, 180 lbs.

Lewin Diaz is an unknown name among most Twins' fans, but it will not be so for long.  He was signed as a 16 year old in 2013 from the Dominican Republic for a $1.4 million bonus.  2014 was his Pro debut in the DSL where he hit .257/.385/.451 with 5 HRs and 24:26 K:BB in 174 PA as a 17 year old.  He was about 1.5 years younger than the league average and hit well in a pitcher's league where the average slash line is .245/.339/.331.  Five HRs might not seem like much, but Diaz hit all but 2 of the DSL HRs and had the same or more HRs than 3 of the Leagues' teams.  His is stronger (and bigger) as a 17 year old than both Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas at that age.  His glove is a work in progress at 17 and will likely end up at first base.  Will likely move to the GCL in 2015, where he will make his presence known to most of the Twins fans.  Here is a picture of Diaz from 2013 with David Ortiz, when Diaz was on the Dominican elite travel team (and Diaz was just 16 years old) to get an idea about the size of this kid:



8. Eddie Rosario OF (10) LHB, DOB: 9/28/1991, 6'0", 170 lbs.

Eddie Rosario was the Twins' 4th round pick of the 2010 MLB draft from teh Rafael Lopez Landron High School in Puerto Rico.  Rosario has been a top Twins prospect since he hit .337/.397/.670 with 21 HRs in 298 in Elizabethton as a 19 year old (1.5 years younger than League Average) in 2011.  In 2012 he hit .296/.345/.490 in Beloit where he suffered a broken jaw as result of being hit by a pitch, and in 2013 he hit .329/.377/.527 in Fort Myers and .284/.330/.412 at New Britain.  Baseball Prospectus twice named him top 100 prospect (#87 in 2012 and #60 in 2014). Last season was a trying season for Rosario.  Suspended for 50 games for street drug use, changing position from 2B to full time OF, he never found his swing.  He hit just .237/.277/.396 at New Britain and .300/.382/.300 in 8 games at Fort Myers, where he started the season. 

So why is Rosario ranked so high, if he apparently has contact problems at AA?   It is because of his past and his  potential (for pretty much the same reason that Sano and Buxton are still top prospects, even though they had worse seasons that Rosario in 2014) and because of what he did in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .330/.362/.410 with 10 SB in 105 PAs (his highest SB/PA rate ever.)  I take it as a clue that the 23 year old has put his bad couple seasons behind him and he is on his way of realizing his potential.  I'd like to see more doubles as well, but he is getting there.  He is on the Twins' 40 man roster, and unless something bad happens, he will be called for a cup of coffee in September, maybe sooner depending on his performance and the MLB team's needs.  His stock as a prospect dropped when he moved to the outfield from second base, but still Rosario would had been a top 5 prospect in most organizations out there.  Will likely start 2015 as the starting Centerfielder for the Red Wings (the assumption is that Buxton will have that position for the Lookouts,)  unless he gains a major league job out of Spring Training.

7. Kohl Stewart RHP (7)  RHSP, DOB: 10/7/1994, 6'3", 195 lbs.

Stewart was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2013 from St Pius X (Houston, TX) High School.  Other than a single game started in Elizabethton (4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 K) he started his pro career in the GCL at age 18, where he pitched in 7 games (4 GS) for 20 innings, walking 3 and striking out 16.  He had a 1.69 ERA and 0.938 WHIP.  Last season was not Stewards best, when he was promoted to Cedar Rapids. There he started 19 games and looks like he was bitten by the pitch-to-contact bug of the Twins' organization.  His K% dropped from 23.2% in the GCL (which is not great for someone with his stuff to begin with) to a mere 17.2%, putting his K rate to the Blackburner.  His 2.59 ERA and 1.14 WHIP might look encouraging before someone takes a look at his 3.73 FIP and .270 BABIP.   Still Stewart was a full 3 years too young for the league at 19 and has been battling shoulder issues pretty much the whole season. 

Stewart has 4 pitches that he commands well:  A plus to plus plus mid 90s fastball that peaks at 97-98, a close to plus mid to high 80s slider, an above average high 70s to low 80s curveball and a very good mid 80s changeup.  In August his fastball was barely hitting 90, which is an indication of injury.  He is still young, he has a lot of potential as long as the shoulder is strong.  If that happens and if he can start to miss bats, he could be a top of the rotation pitcher.   Right now, he is the third best RHSP prospect in the Twins' organization.

6. Amaurys Minier 1B/3B/OF (11) SHB, DOB: 1/30/1996 6'2", 190 lbs

Amaurys Minier might be slighted by this ranking (and it is the highest I have seen him ranked in any of these lists.)  He was signed by the Twins as a 16-year amateur free agent ($1.4 million bonus) out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2012.  In his first pro season in 2013 at the GCL he hit .214/.252/.455 (which other than the power numbers, is pretty bad) and then, he had shoulder surgery in the off-season for batter's shoulder.  Recipe for disaster.  Everyone thought that it will be a lost season.  But what did Minier do?  He played a full season in the same GCL as an 18-year old (2 years younger than the league average) and hit a mere .292/.405/.520 with a 29:52 BB:K ratio in 205 PAs.  To put this into perspective:  Minier had shoulder surgery, is 3 months younger than Nick Gordon, who in most lists is a top Twins' prospect, and out hit him in any possible way in the same team (Gordon's numbers: .294/.333/.366, 11:45 BB:SO, 256 PA.)  If you have 2 players the same age, one coming from a surgery and outhitting the other by that much in the same team, there is no way to justify not ranking them in this order.  Or is there?
The one issue with Minier is his glove.  He was signed as a SS (a position he never played professionally and likely will never play,) played an awful third base in 2013 and a better 1B and so-so LF in 2014.  A lot of people think that Minier might have the most power in the Twins' organization (and this includes his compatriots Sano and Diaz and the MLB stars in making Vargas and Arcia; Sano's GCL slash line was .291/.338/.466, for comparison.  With these 5 players mentioned, the Twins might have locked the corner IF and OF and DH positions for a while.  But this while will not start as soon as for the others, for Minier and Diaz.  Definitely exciting to see how these young powerful guys develop for the Twins.  


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