He’ll always be Adam Brett Walker to me. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Sorry. Welcome back to my top 25 prospect list. Last week, I profiled numbers 25-21. You can read it here. To summarize, here are prospects 25-21:
25. Kennys Vargas
24. D.J. Baxendale
23. Michael Tonkin
22. Daniel Santana
21. Levi Michael
This week, we move into the top 20. There are some very interesting prospects in this section. There are a couple of relievers, a toolsy middle infielder, an Arizona Fall League hero and a big power bat (pictured) to get us all riled up.
Confession – I had 26 players in my top 25. I am an idiot. I was making my list in Excel and I didn’t number them because I am a super cocky Excel user. I also have been counting for a long time, and I used to be able to count very well. INEXCUSABLE! Well, a lesser man would just ignore Duffey, and pretend he “just missed my list.” Not I. Duffey would have been 21, and deserves some words. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Duffey was a reliever drafted in 2012. I know, crazy, right? Duffey was co-closer at Rice University with the guy who will be number 19 on this list. Mark Anderson of BaseballProspectNation stated that he thought Duffey had the most potential as a starter of all those drafted by the Twins in 2012. If that is true, he will be higher on my list next year. Duffey struck out 27 batters in 19 innings at Elizabethton in 2012. He only walked 2 batters. If he can keep up that K:BB ratio, he’ll enter the Hall of Fame around 2035 or so. Odds are, that ratio will decrease, but he is still an arm that is worth keeping more than just an eye on. Whatever that means.
20. Zack Jones
Jones is another 2012 draftee that throws really hard. In fact, he can dial it up to 100 mph. He also needs major work on his control. He struck out 34 in 20 innings, but also walked 11. He is almost certainly a reliever, so his ceiling might not be quite as high as some of the other guys drafted in 2012. He did close some games at Beloit, so he may be getting groomed for a late inning role. He doesn’t have crazy size, at only 6′ 1″ and 185 lbs. The fact that he can deliver that velocity is impressive. However, guys with 100 mph fastballs that don’t command their pitches are often doomed to fail. Hopefully, he can work out his command and control issues and rise quickly up the Twins’ system. If you want to read more about Jones (and Miguel Sano as well), you should definitely read what Kiley McDaniel wrote about him at FanGraphs.com on Monday.
19. J.T. Chargois
Chargois might be one of the few pitchers taken in the 2012 draft that won’t be given any chance to start games. However, he also might be a future setup man or even a future closer. He has a hard fastball with good movement and a sharp slider. He closed games at Rice and could move quickly, as stated by both John Sickels of SB Nation and Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus ($). For me, he ranks lower than some of the other 2012 draft class because he doesn’t have starter potential, but a cheap late inning option is a perfect fit for a team that is traditionally conservative when it comes to spending money on pitching.
18. Nate Roberts
Roberts is intriguing. Obviously, he put himself on the map with a great 2012 in a repeat tour of Beloit and then leading the Arizona Fall League in all three triple slash categories (BA, OBP and SLG). He was old for his 2012 level, so that is worth noting. He’ll be 24 next year, and has never played above low A. Even Brian Dozier played in Fort Myers at 23. However, Roberts has had some injury issues that could explain his slow movement. I should also point out that Roberts is a corner outfielder, without the power potential that many prefer from a corner outfielder.
All potential flaws aside, when you just look at his statistics, there is one thing that is very hard to ignore. He has gotten on base at an almost 44% rate in his pro career. Now, it is obvious that rate is likely to decrease as he moves up levels, but he clearly has a good approach and/or a good eye. He also has doubles power and cut his strikeouts significantly last year. He added 27 stolen bases in just 76 games. It would be great to see Roberts dominate early at Fort Myers and move quickly to New Britain. If that happens, he’ll remain a prospect. If he can’t handle the promotion or is slow to adjust, he’ll quickly fall back off the radar. His 2012 really could not have gone any better, and hopefully it carries over to 2013.
17. Adam Walker
I’ll admit, I liked him better as Adam Brett Walker, but I am a sucker for 3 names. I am very interested to see where Walker goes in his career. The Twins took a short break in the 3rd round from drafting all of the 2012 relievers to select Walker. Walker is from Milwaukee, which is nice. He is 6’4″,225 lb. He has big power, which he immediately put on display at Elizabethton with 14 home runs in just 58 games. Sounds good right? Just to pump the breaks a bit, he did strikeout 76 times in just 254 plate appearances. He didn’t walk much either, and ended 2012 with an exactly 4.0 K/BB ratio. That is nice if you are a fan of round numbers, but not great if you like Walker’s chances of being an MLB player one day. He’ll need to refine his approach and cut down on that nearly 30% strikeout rate, but he is only 21 years old and will be given plenty of time to work those issues out. Who are these Twins, drafting power arms and power bats?
16. Niko Goodrum
Oh my. Niko is one of my favorites. The only way I could like him more is if his name was Nico, and he was named after Blind Melon’s album of the same name. Anyway, I love him for non-Blind Melon reasons. First, he has crazy tools. Second, he has a strong arm. Third, his name is awesome. I should admit, Raul Mondesi is one of my favorite non-Twins of all time. Ok, this is the most off task overview of any to this point. Let’s learn more about Niko Goodrum.
I have profiled Goodrum in the past. You can read it here. Most of what I wrote is still true. He repeated rookie ball last year, and did so as a 20-year-old. Clearly, he needs to start moving through the system. He’ll be in Cedar Rapids next year and he might be someone worth going to see. There is power potential in his slender frame. He is 6’3″, 175 lb right now. However, Baseball America’s 2012 prospect handbook noted that his dad is built more like an NFL lineman. At his current size, he can handle short. A lineman obviously moves off the position. Hopefully, Niko Goodrum at maturity falls somewhere in between.
I have read that center field might be his future landing spot. He has a cannon for an arm, so maybe he could play 3rd base if he develops some power. The thing I really like about Goodrum is that his other positional options are still enticing. It’s not as though he is a future corner outfielder or first baseman. Obviously, it would be great if he could develop size, power and keep his grace and stay at short. The reality is that most shortstop prospects end up elsewhere.
Offensively, he has displayed some power, some walks and quite a few strikeouts. He’ll need to make better contact, or his prospect days will be numbered. In addition, while he has good speed, he hasn’t been one to steal many bases. It would be great to see him add that to his game as he leaves rookie ball. A perfect world projection for Niko Goodrum is a shortstop who can handle the position with some pop, some walks and some speed on the bases. That player is huge and that is why I love me some Niko (and Nico – specifically “Soul One” and “St. Andrew’s Hall“)
Join me next week, as we move into the top 15. One of the most handsome prospects on the list appears next week and if that doesn’t leave you wondering, I’m not sure what will. Also, Paul continued his prospect list last week and you should read it. Click here please.