Aug 21, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Michael Tonkin (59) pitches in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome back to the Minnesota Twins top 30 prospect countdown. We’ve looked at a third of the list so far and today we reach the halfway point. We have not one, but two catchers! We have a shortstop! We have a starting pitcher! We have a reliever. That’s less exciting. They’re all great though! Let’s get to the list.
20. Stuart Turner
Who is he? Turner was the Twins’ third-round pick this past June. The 22-year-old catcher is considered a glove-first receiver, but his offensive skills might be better than advertised. He hit .374 and reached base at a .444 clip in his Senior season with Ole Miss. Turner is a good receiver and he has a plus arm. He immediately got Drew Butera comps from certain Twins experts, but his bat might be considerably better.
2013 Season: Turner had a great pro debut with Elizabethton. He hit .272/.345/.384 in 146 plate appearances. Turner worked mostly as a catcher and threw out 32% of would-be base stealers. Turner even got a brief giant promotion, playing one game with AA New Britain. He hit .500 with New Britain, which would be a record in a larger sample.
Trend? Up. It’s not hard to trend upward when you initially get compared to Butera, but Turner is trending upward because his college profile and more advanced offense might help him move quickly through the Twins’ system. Personally, he’s trending way up for me, as I love catching prospects and I think Turner might be an underrated one.
Irresponsible Comp? Jason Kendall
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Stewie
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Ike
One-sentence summary: I doubt Turner will ever be a top ten prospect, but I am quite confident that he will wear a Twins uniform one day.
19. Michael Tonkin
Who is he? Tonkin was the Twins’ 30th round selection way back in 2007. The 6′ 7″ right-hander has emerged as a legitimate potential late-inning reliever. Tonkin is basically a two-pitch pitcher, with a hard fastball and a nasty breaking ball. You only need two pitches to throw late in games, so long as those two pitches are outstanding. He made his MLB debut in 2013 at age 24 and enters the 2014 season as a presumed member of the Twins bullpen.
2013 Season: Tonkin struck out 66 batters in 57 innings split between New Britain and Rochester. He walked just 16 batters and finished the season with a 3.47 ERA. His ERA with Rochester was over four, but so was his strikeout to walk ratio. In his short time with the Twins, he threw 11.1 innings, struck out 10 and walked just 3. He posted a 0.79 ERA and generally looked like he belonged in an MLB bullpen.
Trend? Up. Tonkin appears to have late-inning stuff, but he’s currently blocked by a few better and more established right-handers. While Jared Burton and Casey Fien have more MLB experience and success, Tonkin might have better stuff. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Tonkin setting up saves for Glen Perkins within a couple years.
Irresponsible Comp? Jon Rauch
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Tonky
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Honky Tonkin Man
ETA: 2013 (already made MLB debut)
One-sentence summary: Don’t be upset with the Rauch comparison, he was an excellent reliever for many years.
18. Niko Goodrum
Who is he? Goodrum is my beloved. He was a second-round pick back in 2010 out of Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, Georgia. Goodrum will be 22 in 2014 and will likely make a big jump to High-A Fort Myers. Goodrum is a shortstop with tools you can see miles away. His performance is starting to catch up to his tools as well. I’m drooling.
2013 Season: Goodrum is sliding down Twins’ prospect lists and I just can’t understand why. He made his full season debut in 2013 and hit .260/.364/.369 with 22 doubles and 20 stolen bases. He walked 60 times in 455 plate appearances and struck out 105 times. His plate discipline is quite good and he finally showed off his speed on the basepaths. He did make 24 errors at short, but his range and arm lead me to believe that he’s making silly mistakes but he can handle the position.
Trend? Slightly up. He strikes out a lot, but he walks a lot too. He added some stolen bases, but his power dipped a bit. He’ll move up to High-A Fort Myers in 2014 and I’d wouldn’t be shocked if he produced a major breakout season. That said, he hasn’t wowed yet.
Irresponsible Comp? Jay Bell
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Goody
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Bacardi
One-sentence summary: I predict a breakout campaign for Goodrum in 2014, of course, I likely did the same before 2013.
17. Brian Navarreto
Who is he? Navarreto was the Twins’ sixth-round selection this past June. The 6′ 4″ catcher has massive power and slipped in the draft partially due to some questions about his character stemming from his major part in an on-field brawl. He just turned 19 last month and he has a long way to go to get to the Majors. That said, he’s an impressive specimen and a very intriguing prospect.
2013 Season: Navarreto made his pro debut in the GCL, hitting .226/.318/.365 in 158 plate appearances. He struck out in over 20% of his at bats, but he walked nearly 10% of the time. He was just 18 last season, so a giant performance would have been surprising. Navarreto played first base as much as he caught in 2013, but the Twins have a lot of catching prospects in short season ball.
Trend? Up. Navarreto will almost certainly spend his 2014 season in instructs and then with Elizabethon. He held his own as an 18-year-old in the GCL and he’ll hope to do the same as a 19-year-old in the highest rookie level. Navarreto should have more catching opportunities as he develops and if he can stay at the position, he’ll be a massive prospect.
Irresponsible Comp? Mike Piazza. Is that irresponsible enough?
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Navs
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Garmin
One-sentence summary: I love catcher prospects and I especially love this catcher prospect.
16. Jorge Felix
Who is he? Whether he’s Jorge Felix or Felix Jorge, he’s a very intriguing prospect. Felix was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He’s a 6′ 4″ righty with a wiry frame. He has a nice fastball that sits in the low 90s and a solid curve. He has good feel for his pitches and has shown great command in his young career.
2013 Season: Felix was outstanding with Elizabethton in 2013. He had a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings, striking out 72 while walking just 18. He improved his strikeout and walk rates in 2013, all while adding a bunch of innings to his career-high total. In 122.2 career innings, he’s given up just two home runs. That’s more of a piece of trivia than anything, but it’s still pretty impressive.
Trend? Way, way up. Felix’s name may have flipped, but his performance has been steady as can be. He’s shown excellent command and posted excellent walk and strikeout rates in his career. He’s ready for full-season ball, but the Twins might give him one more short season. Personally, I hope he hits Cedar Rapids in 2014 because I would love to see what he can do in 100 or so innings.
Irresponsible Comp? Jordan Zimmermann
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Georgie
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Felix Jorge
One-sentence summary: He can flip his name around all he wants, he’s an excellent prospect by any name.
Thanks for reading! Check back next Monday as we move into the top 15. We’ll have a couple power hitters, a couple starters and a guy who might make his MLB debut in 2014. See you then; have a great week!