Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list: 6-10

You can find the introductory segment in this series, including my criteria for eligibility to be a prospect and the list of the 2015 top 40 players who graduated as prospects or are not in the system, here.    Here is my 2015 Twins off-season top 40 prospects list (summary of 1-40) for reference.

You can find players 36-40 here, players 31-35 here, players 26-30 here, players 21-25 here, players 16-20 here, and players 11-15 here.


10. Mitch Garver (17)

DOB: 1/15/1991; Age: 25
Positions: C
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 220 lbs
Acquired: 9th Round Draft Pick 2013
Professional Experience: 3; Highest level: A+ (2015)

Mitch Garver was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of 2013 draft from University of New Mexico.  The New Mexico native arrived in the pros as a fairly polished receiver who has opened eyes with his bat last season hitting .298/.399/.481 in 502 PAs walking 61 times and striking out 65 and being good behind the plate, throwing out 32% of runners and allowing 8 passed balls (which are the exact numbers in those categories that the Twins' defensive catcher darling, Stuart Turner achieved that same season; off course Garver's OPS was .182 higher.)    


At first sight, 2015 looks a bit trying for Garver at the plate, hitting .245/.356/.333 in 520 PAs with 69 BB and 82 K for the Miracle.  This includes a .164/.287/.205 April and a .210/.350/.226 May, which makes me think that he was fighting something, including a potential adjustment.  He ended up hitting .252/.354/.372 for the second half of the season, which does not include a .330/.416/.420 June.   He was invited to the Arizona Fall League, where he bested all the Twins' prospects with .317/.404/.512.    His defense behind the plate improved in 2015, catching 38% of the runners and allowing fewer passed balls (6 vs 8) in more chances than 2014.  Garver was invited in the MLB camp in this Spring Training, but with Kurt Suzuki under contract for one more season and John Ryan Murphy as the starting catcher for 2016, and John Hicks ahead of him in the depth charts, Garver will stay in the minors for at least one more season.

Likely 2016 path: Starting Catcher at Chattanooga

ETA: 2017


9. Nick Gordon (12)
DOB: 10/14/1995; Age: 20
Positions: SS
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 160 lbs
Acquired: 1st Round Draft Pick 2014
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: A (2015)


Nick Gordon was drafted by the Twins as the 5th overall player in the 2014 draft.   Part of the frustration with Gordon is not about his potential, but about the position he was drafted in a draft that included established major leaguers like Aaron Nola, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Finnegan (among others,) being selected after him.   Gordon started his pro career in 2014 playing for Elizabethton hitting .294/.333/.366 with 11 BB and 45 K (17.6 %), 11/18 SB (61%).  In 2015 for Cedar Rapids, he hit .277/.336/.360 with 39 BB and 88 K (16.5 %), 25/33 SB (76%).  There was incremental improvement on the base paths, but in general similar results.  At this point he has gap power (23 doubles, 7 triples and 1 HRs in 535 PAs), but it does get neutralized against LHPs (.264/.325/.291; only extra base hits were 3 doubles in 110 PAs against LHPs.)

Gordon's glove is better than average at SS, and he projects to stay in the position.  The biggest issue with Gordon is that I am not sure how his bat projects at this point.  He yet has not have a season of .700 OPS in professional ball and even though his best tool is his speed; his "speed-related" hitting numbers have slightly decreased this season compared to last (76  vs 64 PA/3B and .333 vs .352 BABIP).  I know that Gordon has been ranked high by many people, and I tend to believe that the reasons are a. bloodlines and b. overall selection, which are just not enough for me to rank him higher.   Have to see a good season of hitting to do so, basically because there are better prospects (even as shortstop) ahead of him at this point, including the next two players in the list.

Likely 2016 path: Starting SS at Fort Myers

ETA: 2019



8. Jermaine Palacios (36)
DOB: 7/19/1996; Age: 19
Positions: SS/3B
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 145 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 7/2/2013
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: Rookie/Elizabethton (2015)

Palacios was signed as an International Free Agent from Venezuela in 2013 and has not stopped hitting, since he became a professional player with the Twins.  In 2014, as a 17 year old he hit .270/.404/.399    in 225 PAs in the DSL (league average OPS: .671), as an 18 year old the first half of 2015 he hit .421/.472/.589 in 106 PAs in the GCL (league average OPS: .649) and .336/.345/.507 in 149 PAs as 2.5 year younger than the average Appalachian League Player (league average OPS: .731).   Palacios last season did not walk much (BB% 8.5 in GCL and 2.1 in Appy) and did not strike out much (10.4% & 13.8%.)  He did make meaningful contact (.421 and .336 batting average.)  

Still a teenager, there are issues with his glove.  Mainly a shortstop, has played some third base in the Dominican, but this season he was a SS in all but 5 games (shared in 1B, 2B, 3B, DH and LF.)  His play in Shortstop is erratic (.918 fielding percentage in both Rookie teams for the season,) but his glove is for real.  If you compare his .336/.345/.507 this season in Elizabethton, to Gordon's .294/.333/.366 at the same age at the same league last season, you see where these players are ranked where they are ranked in this list.  Time will tell whether Palacios will remain at SS, but the Twins will try to see how long that can be. 

Likely 2016 path: Starting SS at Cedar Rapids

ETA: 2020


7. Wander Javier (--) 
DOB: 12/29/1998; Age: 17
Positions: SS
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'0", Weight: 165 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent 7/2/2015
Professional Experience: 0; Highest level: N/A


Wander Javier was signed by the Twins as an International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic last summer and has yet to play a single professional game.  His $4 million signing bonus topped what the Twins gave Miguel Sano, and any other amateur player ever for signing with them other than Joe Mauer, Kohl Stewart and Byron Buxton.  I have not seen Javier play professionally, since he has not, but I have seen plenty of video to be confident about this ranking.   At this point, he has 5 average or above average tools, with his arm and fielding above average and contact approaching plus.  Power and speed are average, but Javier who just turned 17 a month ago has room to grow.  Unlike Sano who was signed as shortstop, Javier projects to stay in the position as a professional.

Likely 2016 path: Extending Spring Training and then Starting SS for the GCL Twins

ETA: 2020+


6. JT Chargois (--) 
DOB: 12/3/1990; Age: 25
Positions: RHP
Bats: S, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: 2nd Round Draft Pick 2012
Professional Experience: 4; Highest level: AA (2015)


 JT Chargois was drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2012 Draft from Rice.  The Louisiana native started his professional career that season as the Elizabethton closer, pitching 16 innings in 12 games walking 5 (2.8 BB/9) and striking out 22 (12.4 K/9 and 36.1 K%) with a 1.69 ERA (1.89 FIP) and 0.94 WHIP (.294 BABIP.)  The reason that this is the first time he appears in this list is that he missed the next 2 seasons.  After the 2012 season he has issues with his UCL, which the Twins' doctors treated by resting him.  He appeared for Extended Spring Training in 2013 but the issues resurfaced.  After another round of R&R, he finally had Tommy John Surgery on September of 2013.  In 2014 he was pitching at the Instructional League and was assigned to Fort Myers to begin 2015.

He was a Florida State League All-Star as the Miracle closer,  pitching 15 innings in 16 games walking 5 (3.8 BB/9) and striking out 19 (11.4 K/9 and 28.8 K%) with a 2.40 ERA (1.63 FIP) and 1.13 WHIP (.286 BABIP.)  He earned a promotion to Chattanooga on May 27th, where he eventually displaced Zach Jones as the closer.  He pitched 33 innings in 32 games walking 20 (5.4 BB/9) and striking out 34 (9.3 K/9 and 24.1 K%) with a 2.73 ERA (3.64 FIP) and 1.39 WHIP (.298 BABIP).  Those AA numbers seem a bit sub-par, and out of context they are.   However, Chargois, pitched 64 innings after missing 2 seasons dealing with his elbow and came back with a plus plus fastball that often topped 100 mph supplemented by a 87-88 mph plus slider that hits low 90s on occasion, but it hard to command at the higher velocities, which is what led to the increase of walks in AA.  In addition to the strikeouts, Chargois tend to produce twice as many ground balls as fly balls and is especially lethal against LHBs in that regard with the ratio up to about 2.8 last season.  What happened in Chattanooga against better competition, was that he threw more of his bat-breaking ground ball inducing fast ball than the hard to command strikeout inducing slider, which resulted into that 28.8 to 24.1 K% decrease, but in a 1.5 to 2.3 ground out to fly out increase.   Chargois has been added to the Twins 40-man roster and will have a chance to make the Twins out of Spring Traning this season, but he will have to compete with some veterans as well as with other top prospects.

Likely 2016 path: Depending on his and others' Spring Training performances and Free Agent signings, a part of the Twins bullpen or in the closer mix for Rochester and Chattanooga.   The Twins bullpen will be very fluid this Spring.

ETA: 2016


 
 

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