Feb 19, 2013; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins pitcher Alex Meyer (66) poses for a portrait during photo day at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The Prospect Octopus Year-End Extravaganza has reached the halfway marker. We have highlighted 56 prospects and we will have 56 more after today. That gooey prospect center sits before you today. We have some of the most important prospects in the Twins system to discuss, so let’s not wait any longer.
Brett Lee is a 6’4″ lefty drafted in the 10th round back in 2011. Lee has thrown 159.2 professional innings and has a 2.87 ERA that he can brag to his friends about. Lee has a 137:38 K:BB ratio so far, or a 3.61 K:BB ratio. His strikeout rate isn’t worth boasting, but his control has been great so far. Lefties are always intriguing. He is just 23 and had a solid season with Cedar Rapids. He isn’t a big-time prospect, but Andrew Albers proved this year that lefties are always in the mix. Lee seems to be a full-time starter for now and he’s done nothing but succeed at this point.
Lo is a 21-year-old international signee out of Taiwan. Lo has just 77.2 professional innings, split between the Gulf Coast League in 2012 and the Appy League in 2013. He has good strikeout to walk numbers and elite to solid ERAs. Personally, I’m not sure what to think of Lo. He’s got a good fastball and a couple of secondary pitches, but we’ve seen so little of him that I am not ready to draw any conclusions about him. He’s interesting and a good full-season debut could really establish him in the organization. He might not make that debut until 2015 though.
MINNESOTA BOY! Malinowski is from Circle Pines. Circle Pines is the size of your car. They have a really good Pizza Man. I cannot confirm that Malinowski has eaten at that Pizza Man, but I do know that the Twins drafted him in the 16th round in 2011 and that he’s been pretty good as a pro so far. As was the case for Lee and Lo, Malinowski has good strikeout and walk rates and has parlayed that into good ERAs. He’s also never played full-season ball. Same as above; he’s interesting. This makes for three straight young, unproven pitching prospects. Can we make it four?
Well… No, May isn’t unproven. He’s been a top 100 prospect as recently as 2012 and he’s actually reached AA and had some success there. May was acquired in the Ben Revere trade and he probably has the greatest range of future possibilities of any prospect in the system. May could still become a number 1 or 2 starter, a front-line closer or set-up man, or he could flame out in AAA. I prefer to be optimistic and assume he will be a contributor in some way in the future. His 2013 season wasn’t great, but it was better than 2012. He was repeating AA, but with a new team (although in the same league). He might be someone who moves slowly and adapts slowly, but he has enough talent to reach his ceiling. It just might take time and he could be one of those guys who looks like a bust but then becomes dependable down the line.
Offense! Mejia is the only non-pitcher on today’s list and he enjoyed a bit of a breakout season in 2013. He had only played 5 games above rookie ball, but spent his whole 2013 season with Fort Myers. In 328 plate appearances, he posted a .308/.359/.349 triple slash, which isn’t too bad when you consider that he hit zero home runs and only ten doubles. He’s versatile, as he played all four infield positions and both corner outfield positions in the past two seasons. His lack of power certainly caps his upside, but if he can continue to make good contact, he could carve out a bench or utility role with the Twins in the future.
What do you prefer: a closer or a number 4 starter? That seems to be the two potential best-case scenarios that exist for Melotakis. He’s a hard-throwing reliever, but obviously doesn’t throw as hard as a starter. This does not make him unique, but the closer stuff does. As a starter, Melotakis had great success in 2013. He started 18 games, pitched 111 innings and posted a 3.16 ERA. Looking more closely, his strikeout rate plummeted and his walk rate jumped in 2013. Personally, I’d give him another year to start and see how he fares at Fort Myers. If the strikeout rate and/or velocity don’t jump, I’d get him back in the bullpen and tell him to start firing those bullets. That being said, I’d take a number 4 starter over a closer.
Mendonca was the Twins’ 17th-round selection this past June and he had a pretty disastrous debut. In 23.1 innings, Mendonca struck out 23. Not bad! He also walked 37 batters. Yuck. His 8.49 ERA in his pro debut is probably something he would like to put behind him. I hate to draw conclusions based on just 23.1 innings, so I won’t. He’ll be back in Elizabethton (I imagine) and if he can reign in some control, he might still have a pro career.
Meyer is the most important prospect in the Twins’ system. He could be a legitimate Ace as he has the size and stuff to become a dominant pitcher. His AA season was cut short by injury, but everything he did on the field was a complete success. As of Saturday, he has carried that success to the AFL, posting an ERA of 3.63 with an 18:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17.1 innings. This level of domination is impressive as the AFL might be an even slightly more advanced league for pitchers than AA. His 70 innings for New Britain were up and down, but ultimately impressive. He’ll probably start his 2014 season back in New Britain, but he could get all the way to Minnesota if things go well. He’ll be just 24 next season and could be in a Twins uniform for a long time.
It’s nice to end with a bang! Next week, we will have eight more prospects including someone who is rapidly becoming my most intriguing young position prospect. We also have some middle infielders to feature. See you next Monday!