Millions of words have been written about Twins prospects playing at Cedar Rapids. Ninety percent of those words were about Byron Buxton, but still. There have been quite a few notable prospects promoted from Cedar Rapids in the last month or so. Dalton Hicks, Tyler Jones, Tyler Duffey and others have joined Buxton at High A Fort Myers. However, Taylor, The Prospect Octopus, and I believe there are still eight prospects at Cedar Rapids worth wrapping our grubby tentacles around.
So, we present to you: The Level that Keeps on Giving: Cedar Rapids Kernels
Personal fave alert! I’m not sure how I became so infatuated with Mr. Goodrum. I remember reading that his dad was a linebacker, but that Niko was long and athletic. I guess I thought he would grow into some crazy power while keeping his long, lean athleticism. This season, Goodrum’s plate discipline is impressive, at least from afar. He has drawn 47 walks this season, and his OBP is over 100 points higher than his batting average. He’s stealing more bases, but his power is down a bit. Goodrum was very raw when drafted, so he may always look a bit old for his level. However, his tools are worth waiting patiently for, but they could develop slowly.
Polanco’s a stud. .303/.352/.448 in 90 games. He just turned 20. He has the range/athleticism to stay at short, but might have a second baseman’s arm. Regardless, if he can hit as he has these past two seasons, he’ll be valuable at either middle infield position. He might just have doubles power, but power is power. Somehow, he still seems to be a sleeper prospect. I guess when the Twins system is the best in baseball, some really good prospects are going to slip between the cracks a bit. Polanco will not be slipping through cracks much longer. He could be a top 100 prospect by next season. He’s good.
Speaking of top 100 potential, Max Kepler is a stud as well. He has cooled a bit since his hot start, but his tools and prospect heat won’t cool anytime soon. Kepler is getting the majority of his starts in center field, but likely will be a corner outfielder long-term. He also has huge projectable power with his long, lean frame. I’m rooting for Kepler as a Twins fan, but also because it would be amazing to see a German-born MLB star. Anything that helps grow baseball worldwide is cool with me.
Do you like raw power? Harrison is slugging .479 as a 20-year-old. Harrison is the prototypical power hitting prospect. He strikes out a lot, takes a good amount of walks and he hits the ball over the fence. His 15 home runs would be generating a lot of buzz, but another power prospect is overshadowing Harrison’s power. We’ll get to that player in a bit because Harrison deserves space of his own. Harrison was the 50th overall pick back in 2011. He is a third baseman, but probably is not long for that corner of the infield. If he can keep flexing his muscles, he’ll be a fine offensive first baseman. Plus, I saw a House Hunters in his hometown of Aliso Viejo, California, and it looked very nice.
Walker scoffs at Harrison’s slugging percentage. With 21 doubles and 20 home runs, Walker has posted a robust .543 SLG. Walker hasn’t walked much, but he hasn’t really needed to walk either. It will be worth keeping an eye on whether or not his plate discipline improves as he gains experience. Simply scouting his box scores and stat lines, it would seem that Walker is a very underrated prospect. However, he is 21 and therefore, has a bit more experience than guys coming out of high school. In addition, while he can play right field, he isn’t dynamic out there. The plate discipline isn’t a concern right now, but a roughly 6% walk rate would be eye-opening at higher levels. Walker has promise, but likely needs to move slower than his stats might otherwise indicate.
The Twins’ second-round selection in 2012 was dynamic in his pro debut last season. He posted a strikeout rate over 12 and a walk rate under three. This season, Melotakis has posted a very solid 3.83 ERA in 15 starts, but his strikeout rate has been sliced in half and his walk rate is almost four. What’s different? Melotakis is learning to be a starter this season. Many college arms move quickly. Melotakis might move more like a high school pitcher, especially if the Twins keep him in the rotation. Melotakis has the raw stuff to be a great lefty bullpen arm, if starting doesn’t work out. However, it is in the Twins best long-term interest to give him every opportunity to make a successful transition.
Berrios pitches with #rig. He’s not short on confidence, even though he is short on… well, height? At 6’0″, he will always face an uphill battle to remain in the rotation. The fact is that there simply aren’t that many short starters (short is subjective, of course). Stuff isn’t an issue with Berrios. Results aren’t a problem either. He has a solid 3.93 ERA in 13 starts, each of which occurred when he was just a teenager. His strikeout rate is right at ten per nine and his walk rate is right at three per nine. Round numbers! Berrios has a lot of Minor League development left and he needs it. The Twins want to roast him low and slow. If they develop him properly, he could be delicious for years to come. Patience.
I do still consider Boyd a prospect, thank you. He’s still just 20-years-old and he still has power stuff. He also still has a first-round pedigree. What he doesn’t have is much in the way of results. His 5.95 ERA in 75.2 innings is troubling. However, the process is more important with a young pitcher than the results. If Boyd is simply working on his pitches and his command, then the organization can deal with some growing pains. If he just sucks, then a move to the bullpen might be in the future. However, he is still far too young for a move and while his promise might not be apparent right now, his future could still be very bright.
That’s all we have this week. Taylor and I will be back next Monday with a fresh set of eight delicious prospects. If you want anyone highlighted, please let me know. You can find me on Twitter – @bridman77, or simply use the extremely popular #prospectoctopus. We never know who to write about. Sundays are very stressful, as a result. Ink everywhere, most weeks.
Have a nice week, everyone!