We are rapidly approaching the halfway point of the Prospect Octopus Year-End Recap Extravaganza. Today, we have some really exciting names to discuss. Rather than prolong an intro paragraph that no one cares about, let’s jump right in. This isn’t a five paragraph essay; this isn’t school!
I was so excited for Jimenez this season. He’s all tooled up and seemed ready for a breakout. He did not breakout and that is the understatement of the day. Jimenez started slow and did not earn regular playing time with Cedar Rapids. He only made it through 21 games and posted an almost unrealistic .095/.150/.122 triple slash. He was sent back to the Appy League and he didn’t really do much to put himself back on the map, hitting just .254/.293/.329 after hitting .347/.439/.669 in the same league the season prior. His drop-off was so stark. He had never hit below .300 as a pro and he generally showed decent plate discipline. It all went out the window in 2013 and he’s going to have to show a lot in 2014 to get back on the prospect map. Hopefully, he’ll get another crack at A ball in April.
Tyler Jones is from Wisconsin. He was drafted in the 11th round back in 2011. He’s a hoss at 6’4″ and he pitches like a hoss too. In 146 pro innings, he has 176 strikeouts. Jones is a bullpen-convert and it seems to suit him well. Most guys see a dip in their strikeout rates as they move from rookie ball to full-season ball, but Jones did not. He throws hard, and that helps a lot. He had a brief stint with Fort Myers where his ERA wasn’t great, but everything else looked good. He’s 24, but reliever trajectories are unique, so he still has the ceiling of a future member of the Twins’ bullpen.
The greater of the two Jones’s, he was just lights out for the Miracle in 2013. In 48.2 innings he struck out 70 batters, recorded 14 saves and posted a 1.85 ERA. He also walked 28 batters, so there is some need for refinement. That being said, he can hit 100 MPH and anyone who can do that is going to be notable until they can’t do it anymore. Jones has been getting rocked in the Arizona Fall League, but he’s only thrown 4.2 innings and the AFL tends to be more of a hitters’ league. He does have eight strikeouts in those 4.2 innings, and the 100 MPH fastball and high strikeout totals are what make some think he could be a future MLB closer.
Jorge is a tall, lanky 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He made the move to high Rookie Ball Elizabethton and he didn’t miss a beat. He made 12 starts, posted a 2.95 ERA, and he struck out 72 batters in 61 innings. He only walked 18 and generally looked like a prospect with big-time potential. He’ll be 20 next season and likely will get his first taste of full-season ball. The Twins have a surprising number of guys like Jorge – starter potential, good stuff, but miles away. He might still be 4 or even 5 years from Minnesota, but he should be on the radar.
Kepler was a borderline top 10 prospect at the start of 2013. He missed the first part of the season with injury and upon his return, he appeared to be vaulting into top 5 potential. He slumped and generally played inconsistently. He ended the season with a .237/.312/.424 triple slash. His home run power continues to develop, but the contact issues are notable. Also notable is that he is playing first base in the AFL. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a future first baseman (there are tons of outfielders in the AFL), but it likely means that it is being considered. If first base is his future home, we’ll have to hope his power continues to develop. He’s still a borderline top 10 prospect now, but he’ll be 21 next season and probably needs more time in Cedar Rapids. I still love him.
Kvasnicka is both a local boy and a former first-round pick. Yet, I am not sure that everyone is familiar with his work. He was drafted by the Twins back in 2007, but went to college. The Astros then chose him 33rd overall in 2010. He was mostly disappointing in their system, although he did show some power potential. With the Miracle in 2013, Kvasnicka posted a .282/.341/.460 triple slash. He was 24 all season, so that slugging percentage comes with a caveat. However, that type of power is interesting, regardless of age. Perhaps he stalled out with Houston, but has figured some things out. It will be interesting to see how he handles AA, the level I am certain he will start at in 2014.
Landa is a 19-year-old Venezuelan who played his first season with Elizabethton in 2013. He made 12 starts, posted a nice 2.78 ERA and seemed to put himself on the prospect map. I’m not quite ready to get excited though. He only had 46 strikeouts and he walked 29 batters. The positive is that he decreased his walk rate while moving up a level. His strikeout rate didn’t drop either. Landa is interesting because of his age and his results. His stuff isn’t as flashy as other young starters in the system, but he is still worth monitoring. I keep saying that like there are prospects completely worth ignoring.
Larson was a 20th-round selection in 2012. You’re probably thinking “c’mon man, 20th round, who cares?” Well, this guy can hit. He’s at .300/.380/.433 in 268 professional at bats. He’s not a power hitter in the traditional sense, but he’ll hit some doubles. He played some center in 2013 and he just generally looked like a nice ballplayer. He may never come near Minnesota but he’s interesting. It’s not as though a 20th-round pick is banned from MLB baseball.
That’s eight, so that’s enough. Next week we’ll surpass the halfway point of our endeavor. We have three of the most important pitching prospects in the system coming up next week. If that doesn’t make you want to check back, I don’t know what will. Have a nice week, everyone!