Welcome to the second half of the top 30 Minnesota Twins prospect countdown. The following 15 prospects are all delicious in their own way. Many of these players are future Twins and some are future stars. Let’s continue this countdown in the order in which the players are ranked, as is customary.
Who is he? Gonsalves is a 6′ 5″ left-handed starter who the Twins nabbed with their fourth round selection this past June. Just 19 years old, Gonsalves sports a fastball that can touch 94, a plus change and a developing breaking ball. He’s super young, so he could add velocity as he develops and fills out. He slipped in the draft because he got busted for smoking pot. He’s owned up to it, moved on and the Twins have really benefitted from that transgression, as Gonsalves was considered a borderline first-round pick going into the season.
2013 Season: Gonsalves had an excellent pro debut, splitting his time between the GCL and the Appy League. He threw about 14 innings in each league and dominated both. In 28.1 total innings, Gonsalves struck out 39 and walked just 11. He posted a 0.95 ERA and 1.024 WHIP. His command actually improved when he moved up to the Appy League, but we’re talkin’ small samples here, yo. Regardless, he was excellent in 2013.
Trend? Super Up. If he can develop a consistent third pitch, he could be dynamic. If he can add velocity to his fastball, he could be dynamic. If he can do both, he could be super dynamic. I’m not good with hyperbole. A three-pitch lefty with a mid-90s fastball is a ridiculous weapon. He’s not there yet and may not get there for years, but that is his upside.
Irresponsible Comp? Gio Gonzalez
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Gonzo
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Funzo
One-sentence summary: Gonsalves has as much upside as any pitcher in the Twins’ system.
14. Adam Walker
Who is he? I might catch heat for this ranking. Walker is a very popular prospect, and rightfully so. He was the Twins’ third-round pick out of Jacksonville University in 2012. He’s a big man, listed at 6′ 4″ and 225 lb. Walker’s big tool is his power and he’s flexed that power and become an interesting prospect.
2013 Season: As Cedar Rapids’ regular right fielder, Walker hit .278/.319/.526, with 31 doubles and 27 home runs. He also stole 10 bases. His plate discipline is a worry, as he did finish the season with a 115:31 K:BB ratio. He’s young though. He finished the 2013 season with 553 plate appearances and 109 RBI. He’s a run-producer, but we’re not really allowed to talk about RBIs anymore. If we were, we could be very happy with that total.
Trend? Up. Walker has flaws and he can’t carry a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio to the Majors. He’ll have to work to either take more walks or cut down his strikeouts. That said, his power is legit and he managed to make it all work in 2013. He’ll move to High-A in 2014.
Irresponsible Comp? Joe Carter
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Walky
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Adam Brett Walker
One-sentence summary: Walker’s power is impossible to ignore and keeps him high atop Twins’ prospect lists.
13. Max Kepler
Who is he? The Twins signed Kepler as a 16-year-old out of Berlin, Germany. The tall and lanky first baseman/outfielder is starting to fill out as he approaches his 21st birthday. The Twins protected Kepler on the 40-man roster, despite Kepler being years from ready for MLB baseball. Kepler has great raw power and has demonstrated good plate discipline as a youngster. His other tools are impressive too, but they haven’t been on display as readily.
2013 Season: After enjoying a breakout campaign in 2012, where he hit .297/.387/.539 in 269 plate appearances with Elizabethton, Kepler regressed a bit in 2013. He hit just .237/.312/.424, although he was making his full-season debut at age 20. Kepler missed half the season with injury and went through a couple prolonged slumps. In addition, he signed as a center fielder, but might already be a first baseman, as he saw the most time at that position in 2013.
Trend? Slightly down, but don’t give up. Kepler needs to show that he can adjust to new levels. He adjusted in 2012 and will need to do the same in 2014. Even at this slow pace, it’s conceivable that Kepler could make his MLB debut around age 23 or 24. It feels like he’s been around forever, but he’s still very young and very talented.
Irresponsible Comp? Fred McGriff
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Keps
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Max Moon
One-sentence summary: All prospects face adversity; it’s how they deal with adversity that matters in the end.
12. Trevor May
Who is he? May was acquired last Winter from the Phillies along with Vance Worley in exchange for Ben Revere. May is a former top 100 prospect who has lost a bit of his shine due to his shaky AA performance. May has great stuff, improving command and a durable frame. He hasn’t missed a single start in his past three Minor League seasons.
2013 Season: May improved in 2013, you cannot argue with that. He increased his strikeout rate, decreased his walk rate, lowered his ERA and pitched more innings. However, he didn’t improve any of those numbers into the “good” range, more or less just improving from “mediocre” to “not as mediocre.” His strikeout rate was good, but his walk rate was simply ok. The Twins were likely hoping for more from May, as he was repeating the Eastern League in 2013.
Trend? Flat. May should move to AAA in 2014 and since he is on the 40-man roster, a good performance could put him in the conversation for an MLB call-up at any point in the season. May hasn’t adjusted to new levels quickly, requiring two stops in Low-A, High-A and AA. He could struggle in AAA next season and it wouldn’t be shocking. That said, May is still just 24 and thus, nearly two full years younger than Kyle Gibson. He’s extremely durable and has good stuff. He doesn’t look like a number 1 starter anymore, but I’d be shocked if he isn’t in the Twins rotation for a number of years starting quite soon.
Irresponsible Comp? Bud Norris
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: MayDay
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Trevor the Trevriffic.
ETA: Late 2014
One-sentence summary: Trevor May could be a 200-inning, 4.25 ERA starter for a number of years and that has a ton of value, especially at the league-minimum.
11. Danny Santana
Who is he? Santana is a 23-year-old shortstop who was signed by the Twins way back in 2007 out of the Dominican Republic. In over 500 Minor League games, Santana has shown the ability to make decent contact, albeit with minimal power and very low walk totals. Santana is a pure shortstop with good range and a strong arm, but he can be a bit error-prone, committing almost 90 over the past three seasons.
2013 Season: Santana made good contact in 2013, finishing the season with a .297 batting average. He walked just 24 times in 588 plate appearances, although he did add 22 doubles and 10 triples. He stole 30 bases as well, showing that he has some speed, although he was caught 13 times, showing that he might not fully know how to use that speed. Santana’s an interesting prospect because of his glove, but he did make 31 errors at short in 2013. He’s got the talent to play the position, but the Twins will simply not allow a player on the field who makes that many mistakes.
Trend? Flat. Santana has been a good prospect for years. The non-believers question his bat and as a result, he gets comparisons to current Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon. While both are speedy, switch-hitting shortstops, Florimon didn’t make contact like Santana has until his third time through AA. Even then, he was 25 years old, where Santana was just 22 last season. If Santana can hit .250/.300/.350 in the Majors, he could be a reasonably valuable shortstop before he hits arbitration.
Irresponsible Comp? Brandon Crawford, which doesn’t sound amazing, but the Giants won a World Series in 2012 with Crawford at short.
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Danny Boy
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Santana Claus
One-sentence summary: Santana is a rare true shortstop prospect and he may not project to be much of a hitter, but he’s certainly hit well in his past two seasons.