Hello everyone. Over the past 4 weeks, I have been counting down the Twins’ top 25 prospects. As is customary, I went in order. If you want to re-live the earlier stages of the countdown, here is your chance: Just missed, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11. Each entry has highlighted some names to be aware of. Each player profiled has a decent chance to play for the Twins. As we enter the top 10, the chance that we will watch these players in a Twins uniform increases significantly. To me, there are two names on this list that almost can’t miss, two names that are really young but seem like future contributors, and a new guy that has something to prove. Let’s investigate.
10. Trevor May
Ah, the new guy. Trevor May was acquired in the Ben Revere trade all the way back in December of 2012 (the picture makes a little more sense now, right?). He is a large man, at 6’5″ and 215 lbs. He can touch mid-90s with his fastball and also has a curve and a change. He was considered a top 100 prospect in baseball before 2012, but had a pretty disappointing AA debut at the age of 22. His strikeout rates dipped a bit last season, but the bigger concern is the fact that he simply can’t get his walk rate under control (pun very intended). This is a case where the Twins’ pitching philosophy could help to save his future. He will need to work on his control in order to properly harness his stuff. He’ll likely repeat AA, at least to begin, but if he can put things together quickly, he could be all the way to Minnesota by September.
9. Jose Berrios
Ah, the newish guy. Berrios is so exciting, but should we take a step back? As an undersized starter (only 6′) he needed to really stand out to get on the map. His pro debut could not have gone better. Many assumed that he would end up in the bullpen, but he showed that he very much belongs in the rotation. While that may not seem like much, it is quite the change in the span of just 3 or 4 months. In about 31 innings between the GCL and the Appy League, he posted a ridiculous 49:4 strikeout to walk ratio. He has a mid-90s fastball, and a slider/change combo that needs some work. He’ll have time to work on those pitches. If they develop, he’ll be a fixture in the Twins’ rotation one day.
He likely will repeat at Elizabethton in 2013. He should. It is easy to look at the stats from last year and completely lose your mind. They are crazy good. However, Berrios is like a good stew, in that he needs time. He might dominate the Appy League again next year, but if he does that while working on his secondary pitches, then the extra year of development is more than worthwhile, even if it looks redundant on paper. He’ll be 19 next season, and even if he moves slowly, he could still be a Twin by age 21 or 22. He doesn’t necessarily need to move quickly now, in order to move quickly later. It might be a few years until we can fully evaluate Berrios, but it is going to be a lot of fun keeping an eye on him.
8. Max Kepler
Ah, the German guy. Ok, I’ll stop that now. He is German though. He went from young, raw athlete in 2011 to young, raw athlete that put up impressive numbers in 2012. He’ll be 20 next year, and is likely ready for full-season ball. He might be another player worth trudging down to Iowa to go see. In 2012, he cut his strikeout rate significantly and turned that added contact into added power as well. He is likely destined for a corner outfield spot, but if he maintains is current athleticism, who really knows? The gap between what is and what might be is huge. It should be a lot of fun to see how his first taste of A ball goes. Oh, and the fact that he is German and there aren’t many German MLB players means nothing to me. How many German NBA players were there before Dirk Nowitzki. Detlef Schrempf? That’s it? Poor point proven. Slam dunk.
In my opinion, Eddie Rosario is the most interesting player in the Twins’ farm system. Often times, I will read about players who would be great if they just had the hit tool. Experts rave about these players and wish that they could just hit the ball consistently. It seems so simple. Yet, when a player like Rosario has the hit tool down, but only has potential in other areas, the experts don’t seem to have the same level of excitement. Rosario can hit, and he has shown that at all levels. He also has shown good power, but I have read that he doesn’t have a power profile. I am sure there are many examples of players with good tools and good stats that don’t make it, but it seems really strange to write them off so early. I’m not really saying that he is being written off, but it does seem like expectations are pretty muted, when reading about Rosario in certain places. Rosario can hit, has good speed, and is clearly versatile enough in the field that someone with pull gave him a chance in the middle infield. Something tells me that Rosario will always be the type of player that exceeds expectations. I love it; Minnesota’s own Dustin Pedroia perhaps?
Last week, Michael gave a very detailed Eddie Rosario rundown, and you should check it out.
6. Kyle Gibson
I think Kyle Gibson is the safest prospect in the Twins’ system. This seems very strange to say, considering he has already had a major elbow surgery and is getting older as we speak (read, or type, or text-to-speech, or whatever). But then, aren’t we all? Philosophy aside, Gibson is safe because he has skills that translate strongly to any level that you can put him at. He came back from Tommy John throwing harder than before. That might not last, but it is certainly encouraging that he is not throwing any softer. Gibson has displayed good control, and flashed excellent control in the minors. His ability, pedigree and performance create an equation that should lead to some level of success over the course of a long period of time.
If you asked me to bet my entire life savings that one player on this list would be on the Twins in 2017, I’d put all 45 dollars on Kyle Gibson. I think his floor is a 5th starter. Obviously his ceiling is higher, but there is no reason that he can’t contribute at least an above-Blackburn level for the next few years. I am starting to think he won’t get much of an opportunity in 2013, but by 2014 he should be a rotation staple. He likely isn’t going to win a Cy Young Award in his career, but he could have positive WAR staying power. While a pitcher like Berrios or Alex Meyer may generate more excitement, Kyle Gibson is sure as sugar. Is that still a saying? What a way to end.
Join me next week as we finish up this list. Have a nice week, everyone!