March 23, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Gilmartin (71) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome back to the countdown! Last week, we met five saucy Twins prospects. This week, we have five prospects who are even better! Let’s get to it.
25. Randy Rosario
Who is he? Rosario is a 19-year-old left-hander who was signed back in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He throws in the low- to mid-90s and he’s lanky, listed at 6′ 0″ and 160 lb. Rosario has three professional seasons under his belt and might be ready for the transition to full-season ball in 2014.
2013 Season: Rosario started 9 games with Elizabethton. He threw 44.2 innings, posted a 2.82 ERA, struck out 37 and walked 18. He actually posted his lowest walk rate of his brief career, hopefully step in the right direction with his command. His strikeout rate dipped against more advanced hitters. While he may look ready for Cedar Rapids, another season of Instructs and short-season ball might better suit his long-term development.
Trend? Flat. Rosario is a nice prospect, but he hasn’t done anything spectacular either. He’ll be 20 next season and appears to have the stuff to keep starting as he develops. I think the Twins will look to see if he can take a big step forward next season.
Irresponsible Comp? Short, skinny lefty? Johan Santana seems pretty irresponsible.
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Rosey”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Rosebud”
One-sentence summary: Rosario was passed up by some other teenage starting pitching prospects in 2013, but he has the talent to join them at the head of the class in the future.
24. Luke Bard
Who is he? Bard was a supplemental first-round pick back in 2012. He was part of the Twins’ wave of college relievers who would be converted to professional starters. Bard was both a closer and starter with Georgia Tech and he boasts a hard fastball that touches mid-90s and a power slider. Injuries have sapped his development, as he’s only thrown 19.1 professional innings over two seasons.
2013 Season: Well, he nearly doubled his output! Bard threw just 12.1 innings in 2013, but did spread those innings over three levels. He finished his season throwing one inning with Fort Myers, striking out two and walking none. Bard’s stats are barely worth investigating, as the sample is tiny. One stat does intrigue me though: 0. Bard didn’t start a game in 2013, although that was likely a product of his recovery. I haven’t read anything regarding Bard’s 2014 plans. I don’t know where he’ll start (Cedar Rapids would be my guess) and I don’t know if he’ll be in the rotation or bullpen (I’d guess bullpen).
Trend? Unclear. We don’t even know what type of pitcher Bard is right now. If he’s a starter, then he has a ton of work to do. If he’s a reliever, he could dominate three levels next year and put himself on the doorstep of the Majors for 2015. A lot depends on his health, but he has real talent and could jump up this list significantly with a good 2014 season.
Irresponsible Comp? Daniel Bard (pre 2012)
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Bardy”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Bard Pitt”
ETA: Late 2015 as a reliever, 2018 as a starter
One-sentence summary: The Twins haven’t given up on Bard and we shouldn’t either.
23. Sean Gilmartin
Who is he? Gilmartin was the Braves’ first-round pick back in 2011. He was acquired by the Twins in exchange for Ryan Doumit just a month ago. The 6′ 2″ lefty has a four pitch mix, with a fastball that tops out around 90 MPH. He has four total pitches, mixing a change, curve and slider with that fastball. He’s a command specialist and each pitch alone is nothing special. He’s a potential back of the rotation starter.
2013 Season: Gilmartin struggled with AAA Gwinnett in 2013. He made just 17 starts, threw 91 innings and posted a 5.74 ERA. More troubling, was an 8% walk rate. That figure isn’t high for your average pitcher, but for a guy who relies so heavily on command, the figure is worrisome. Gilmartin also managed a strikeout rate just under 16% in 2013. Those rates don’t translate well to sustained MLB success, although Gilmartin has generally limited walks at a better rate in the past.
Trend? Down, but not out. Gilmartin almost certainly will pitch in the Majors at some point. His profile is very similar to what we saw from Andrew Albers in 2013. He doesn’t throw hard, but he knows how to pitch. He won’t miss bats, but he should limit walks. Gilmartin is not on the 40-man roster and does not need to be added anytime soon. He’s going to be with Rochester for all of 2014 unless major injuries hit or he pitches out of his mind.
Irresponsible Comp? Joe Saunders
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Gilly”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Seagull”
ETA: Late 2014/Early 2015
One-sentence summary: Gilmartin is not a sexy prospect, but he could provide good value as a young, inexpensive player in the near future.
22. Kennys Vargas
Who is he? The Twins signed Vargas out of Puerto Rico back in 2009. The massive first baseman has impressed scouts and fans with his substantial power. Vargas has slugged .491 in his pro career, and posted a ridiculous .610 slugging percentage in 2012. He’s a first baseman now, but might actually outgrow that position, leaving him as a DH. The 23-year-old switch hitter has shown good contact skills and good plate discipline as well, leading some to think that he may be more than just a typical “power hitter.”
2013 Season: Vargas moved to High-A Fort Myers and held his own. After posting an OPS over 1.000 in 2012, it was going to be hard to top such a fantastic season. However, I feel that Vargas actually showed more in 2013. First, he played a full season. The 125 games he played in 2013 were nearly 3 times greater than any season total he had amassed in the past. He hit .267/.344/.468 in 520 plate appearances, with a strikeout to walk ratio just slightly above 2.0. Vargas hit 33 doubles and 19 home runs, flexing that awesome power.
Trend? Up. Vargas finally played a full season and he had a good one. He’ll take a huge developmental step in 2013, moving to AA and facing truly advanced pitchers for the first time. Vargas is climbing the ladder slowly, but he’s impressing on the way up. A big season in AA could vault him into top 10 Twins prospect territory.
Irresponsible Comp? David Ortiz
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Kenny”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Kennys Power”
One-sentence summary: Vargas has power that rivals anyone else in the Twins’ system, but he may be more than just a home run hitter at his peak.
21. Fernando Romero
Who is he? Romero signed with the Twins in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. The 6 foot right-hander throws a fastball in the low 90s and has a slider/change combo that he works off the fastball. Romero just turned 19 on Christmas Eve and joins a bevy of talented teenagers in the Twins’ various short-season rotations.
2013 Season: Romero took a giant step forward in 2013, pitching 45 innings in the GCL and ending with a tidy 1.60 ERA. He allowed just 32 hits in those 45 innings and limited opposing teams to just 8 runs. In addition, he struck out 47 batters and walked just 13. Those strikeout and walk rates are certainly tantalizing and Romero could actually get better as he ages, matures and grows.
Trend? Way up. Romero received a decent bonus back in 2011 ($260,000), but he could return many times that figure if he continues to develop and pitch as he has. He’ll head to Elizabethton after the draft.
Irresponsible Comp? Bartolo Colon (minus 500 lbs)
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: “Romeo”
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: “Benvolio”
One-sentence summary: How can one team have so many impressive teenage pitchers?
That’s all for this week. Next week, we’ll enter the top 20 with a couple catchers, another teenager, a super athletic shortstop and a guy who will likely be in the Twins bullpen in 2014. See you then; have a great week!