The Minnesota Twins are in the midst of the summer portion of the 2014 Major League Baseball season. With the trade deadline looming, and the Twins once again finding themselves sellers at the deadline, it becomes time to look at what talent is on the way, and how the Twins can right the ship.
When it comes to prospects, and the Minnesota Twins farm system, few people know the lay of the land better than Seth Stohs. Stohs can be found writing for TwinsDaily.com as well as authoring Twins Prospect Handbooks, and talking Twins on multiple radio outlets. Knowing what the Twins have to look forward to, there are few who can articulate it as well as Seth.
Recently, I had the chance to talk with Seth in regards to the prospects that should turn the tide for not only the Twins record, but in getting the team back to the top of the AL Central for years to come.
Puckett’s Pond: Watching Jose Berrios and Kennys Vargas play at Target Field during the Futures Game, what do you see their career arcs looking like for the Twins, and when do you see them both making their debut?
Seth Stohs: Vargas has never really been a top prospect, but he’s had a very good year. His power is legit. He’s in a bit of a slump the last 3-4 weeks, but overall, I think he’s improved his prospect status quite a bit this year. He could be a September call up, but I could see him coming up for good sometime in the second half of 2015.
Berrios has really made himself into a top-level prospect this year. He was OK in 2013, but he has been tremendous throughout 2014 at levels in which he is very young relative to the league.
Watching him this spring, you see the athleticism and the work ethic, but watching him work in the bullpen, you also see tremendous stuff and control. There are still question marks, but he’s put himself into (or nearly into) elite prospect status. I think my prediction for him getting promoted is late 2015 or by June of 2016.
PP: Concerning one of the biggest power bats in the Twins system, what are your thoughts on Adam Brett Walker? Do you see him overcoming his swing and miss tendencies to contribute at the major league level?
SS: I am a big fan of Walker. Just a terrific person who is a very good athlete and a very powerful prospect. I don’t think he will ever get to the point where he doesn’t strike out at least 25% of the time. I think he’s made strides from 2013 to 2014, and if he can remain in that 27% range for strikeouts, and continue taking more walks, he can be a solid big leaguer.
He certainly has all the tools, but that one thing is what will likely make or break him as a prospect and eventually a big leaguer. At 22 throughout this season, he’s where he needs to be at this stage.
PP: Byron Buxton
, obviously a huge name for Twins fans, has gone from wrist injury, to player of the week, and back to nagging wrist. Where do you see his timeline at to get to New Britain, and is he still an option for the Twins next year?
SS: He was really just starting to come on when he got hit in the other wrist by that pitch and hasn’t played in 5 games since. I think, had he stayed healthy, he would likely be up at New Britain already, or certainly by August 1st.
Now again, it completely depends upon when he can come back. If he’s back by this weekend, then I would say another week or two and he’ll get up there. Frankly, at this point, I’d have no problem with him just staying in Ft. Myers and helping them in the playoffs. It’s just about getting at bats at this point.
Sticking with Buxton, do the Twins handle him differently after the Aaron Hicks
debacle. You could argue he’ll be ready from New Britain, but maybe the Twins won’t see it that way now?
SS: My hope, and I believe this to be true, is that the Twins do what they feel in their hearts is the best thing for each individual. I don’t think the Hicks situation will (or should) effect how they handle Buxton. They are different people, and they are different players.
Do you see, Miguel Sano
, who is coming off Tommy John
surgery (which is significantly different for position players) as an option for the Twins out of spring training at 3B next year? What do you see him playing like out of the gate at the big league level?
SS: After missing the entire year, it will be very interesting to see what happens with Sano out of spring training next year. He will be added to the 40 man roster after this season, so he’ll be in big league camp, which is good so they can monitor his elbow and his conditioning.
I fully expect Sano to show some signs of rust. But, he’s so talented. I think he’ll start in AA, and I think he’ll be an option for big league promotion by June or July of next year.
Like Walker, Sano can definitely be a swing and miss guy. I expect him to show some power, but I wouldn’t expect him to hit for much average early. He’s going to have to make some adjustments. That said, I believe that he is the type of player and person who will do that, and within a year or so of his debut, he’ll be a feared hitter in the big leagues.
Who’s a prospect that doesn’t get talked about enough, below the Triple-A level, that you see as having a potential to have a strong impact with the big league club? Someone like a Travis Harrison
or Mike Kvasnicka
SS: Travis Harrison is a guy that I will likely rank higher (maybe much higher) than others will. He’s had a good year in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He’s hitting over .280, getting on base at a good rate. He just hasn’t shown a lot of home run power yet. I’ve seen him hit. I’ve seen him work. I’ve talked to him. I shook his hand.
He is very strong, and he has a very good swing. I believe it’s just a matter of time before his power comes on. It just hasn’t to this point.
Kvasnicka is definitely underrated. He’s just continued to rake for the last two months.
From a trade standpoint, do you see any prospects as possible trade pieces the Twins could pair with the up and coming big names? Maybe someone like a Jorge Polanco
or Eddie Rosario
SS: Those would be the names, though I really don’t see any reason for the Twins to trade prospects. The only minor leaguer I could see potentially getting traded is Aaron Hicks, and he doesn’t qualify as a prospect any more.
PP: Finally, in September the Twins are going to be looking to see what they have going into next year. Who are some names you expect to get looks, and what do you expect from them?
I generally don’t expect much from rookies. It’s such a small sample size, and when you factor in debuting and trying to impress and likely trying to do too much, it’s important not to make too much, good or bad, about anything that happens in a player’s first couple of months.
As the Twins finish out the summer months of their 2014 campaign, and they continue to watch their very talented farm system grow, the hope is that next year and beyond is a much different look for the Twins. As Minnesota continues to get back to their AL Central winning ways, it will be the names mentioned above that lead the charge.