Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects Part I: 30-26
By Brad Swanson
Last season, the Twins graduated three top ten prospects (Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, and Oswaldo Arcia). They also lost a borderline top 10 prospect in Joe Benson. Most farm systems would be depleted after a season like that. The Twins however, maintain the claim to the best farm system in baseball. As such, a simple top 25 is no longer good enough to contain the Twins farm system. Therefore, we’ll count down the top 30 prospects in the Twins system, five at a time. Introductions be darned, let’s roll.
30. Amaurys Minier
Who is he? Minier is a 17-year-old, power-hitting infielder who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. He’s a switch hitter and he has a big frame.
2013 Season: Minier made his professional debut in the GCL and flexed his giant power while also struggling with plate discipline and contact. His .214/.252/.455 batting line shows that when he made contact, he made good contact. His 29:6 strikeout to walk ratio in just 119 plate appearances shows that he needs to work on his plate discipline. He was just 17 last season, so I think he has some time. He also spent most of his time at third base, after signing as a shortstop. He is a big man, so this may be a permanent move, but if he reaches his ceiling with the bat, he can play anywhere he wants.
Trend? Up. The overall numbers aren’t pretty, but power is how he will make his name. His power was as advertised in 2013. As a power-hitting third baseman from the DR, in the Twins system, he’s going to be compared to Miguel Sano for the next million years.
Irresponsible Comp? Troy Glaus
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Miner”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Maury Povich”
ETA: 2019 – pack a lunch
One-sentence summary: Minier is 30th on this list right now, but has the talent to top this list one day.
29. Yorman Landa
Who is he? Landa is a 19-year-old right-handed starting pitcher who signed with the Twins in 2010 out of Venezuela. He throws very hard, consistently in the mid-90s and he has a hard curveball as well. He also has some command issues and is very likely still learning how to “pitch.”
2013 Season: Landa jumped to the highest Rookie level and threw 55 innings for Elizabethton. He went 3 and 4 with a 2.78 ERA. He struck out 46 and walked 29. He posted his best walk rate of his brief career, and also saw a very slight uptick in his strikeout rate. His rookie ball numbers are not overly astounding, but his stuff is top-notch. Landa has a lot of development left and likely will spend another season in short-season ball.
Trend? Up. His numbers aren’t overly impressive, but his trajectory has been nice thus far. He has moved exactly one level each season and he won’t be 20 until June of 2014. He may repeat a level before reaching the upper Minors, but the extra time will help him settle in as a pitcher, instead of just a thrower.
Irresponsible Comp? Shelby Miller
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Yormy”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Landa Rover”
ETA: Late 2018
One-sentence summary: Appreciating Landa requires more than a Google search, but his stats should improve as he adds experience.
28. Mason Melotakis
Who is he? Melotakis is a 22-year-old lefty who was drafted in the second round out of Northwestern State University back in 2012. The 6′ 2″ Texan worked as their closer, but the Twins are working to convert him to the rotation. He has a mid-90s fastball and a nice curve.
2013 Season: Melotakis had a successful 2013 season, but did experience some growing pains as a result of his move to the rotation. He made 18 starts and threw 111 innings. He went 11 and 4 and posted a 3.16 ERA. His strikeout rate nearly cut in half, going from 34.34% as a reliever in 2012 to 17.68% as a starter in 2013. That type of dip isn’t anything to be concerned with yet, as he has to change his approach to go deeper into games. His walk rate was pretty stable and he held up over the course of the season.
Trend? Slightly up. He was able to add a lot of innings in 2013 and can look to start adding some strikeouts in 2014. As a starter, his climb toward Minnesota might be slow. Melotakis could have been knocking on the MLB door as a reliever, but if he can successfully convert to the rotation, he’ll provide far more value and it will be entirely worth the extra MiLB time.
Irresponsible Comp? Gio Gonzalez
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Melo”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Takis Home” or “Carmelo Anthony”
ETA: Late 2016 as a starter; 2015 as a reliever.
One-sentence summary: Melotakis was part of the Twins’ 2012 plan to turn college relievers into pro starters and the first step for Melotakis is now complete.
27. Alex Wimmers
Who is he? Wimmers was the Twins’ first-round pick back in 2010 out of The Ohio State University. Wimmers is a finesse pitcher, but he has enough stuff to be a potential number 3 starter. Wimmers was thought to be close to MLB-ready when he was drafted. His pro career has not gone as planned. He completely lost his command in 2011, walking 23 batters in 41.2 innings. He then had Tommy John surgery in 2012. He’s only thrown 77.1 innings in his four-year pro career.
2013 Season: Wimmers returned after his TJ surgery. He only pitched 15 innings and had a 7.20 ERA in the GCL. Most importantly, he only walked five batters. The control problems from before his surgery could be behind him. Hopefully, those issues were tied to his injury and all is truly well now. With a healthy off-season (he did already have one minor surgery in October), he could start next season with High-A and move quickly to AA. He’ll be 26 next season.
Trend? Not sure. He’s lost so much time because of injury and performance. If he hadn’t been injured, he could have been in the Majors by now. Instead, he hasn’t reached AAA. That said, the recovery rate from TJ is pretty high, it just takes time. If he’s fully healthy, perhaps he can begin that quick climb once more. I’m not sure what to think. 2014 will be very telling.
Irresponsible Comp? Bronson Arroyo
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Wimms”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Wimlex” It’s a play on Windex, because he wipes away hitters.
ETA: 2016. If he’s going to make it, it shouldn’t take long.
One-sentence summary: Alex Wimmers will either be a top 10 prospect next season or he won’t be in the top 50.
26. Miguel Sulbaran
Who is he? Sulbaran was acquired in the Drew Butera trade. He was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Dodgers. Although young, he has moved very quickly, reaching A-Ball in 2012 as an 18-year-old. Sulbaran is relatively short at just 5′ 10″. He throws a low-90s fastball and has a decent curve and slider. He also throws a change, but the reports I have read are not high on that pitch. There is an anti-short pitcher bias in scouting, so he’s been considered a fringe prospect or a future reliever. His performance has been great though.
2013 Season: Now 19, Sulbaran had a very nice full season in Low-A. He made 23 appearances, 20 starts, and posted a 2.96 ERA in 112.2 innings. He struck out 101 and walked just 32. He did all of that at the age of 19. A 19-year-old holding his own in the Midwest League is impressive. His stuff may not be overwhelming, but he’s gotten results so far.
Trend? Up. Sulbaran went from an organization with deep starting pitching and even deeper pockets to an organization with thin starting pitching, although a lot of depth in the Low Minors. While his stuff is nothing special, you simply cannot ignore his level of performance at his age. He seems to have mastered Low-A, so a promotion to High-A seems to be in order. It will be interesting to see how he performs as he moves levels.
Irresponsible Comp? Mike Hampton
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Sulby”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Sully” Let’s take it from the Irish.
One-sentence summary: The Twins acquired a legitimate prospect for Drew Butera; we must never forget.
Five down, twenty-five to go. If the first five names are this impressive, just think how great the rest of the list is. Next week, we have three young pitchers, a newly-acquired lefty and a first baseman with David Ortiz power. Have a nice week, everyone!