Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects Part VI: 5-1
By Brad Swanson
Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Minnesota Twins center Byron Buxton reacts against East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve reached the apex. These five prospects have star to superstar potential. There’s nothing more to say, let’s meet them.
5. Eddie Rosario
Who is he? Rosaro was the Twins’ fourth round selection back in 2010. A natural outfielder, the Twins are working on converting Rosario to second base. Some experts question his feel for that new position and think that his above-average running ability and instincts would have made him a good centerfielder. As it is, that position is likely covered for many years (see number 1 on this list), so a position change is worth a try.
Rosario recently turned 22 and he was recently suspended 50 games due to a positive test for a drug of abuse. That suspension should delay his MLB debut by about 50 games and if he doesn’t slip up again, it will just be a tiny mark on his career ledger.
2013 Season: Rosario was dynamic in 52 games with High-A Fort Myers, hitting .329/.377/.527. He basically scoffed at High-A pitching for two months and earned a swift promotion to AA New Britain. With New Britain, Rosario more than held his own, hitting .284/.330/.412. More importantly, Rosario logged 115 games at second base, making just 14 errors. Although, the questions about Rosario at second have little to do with his ability to make the routine play.
Trend? Flat, but only because of the suspension. Many will point at that suspension and question his makeup. That’s fair, but he’s a young man and young men make mistakes. If he can avoid a future slip-up, all those questions will go away. As it is, you cannot question his ability. Rosario hits wherever he plays. The time away from games will give him more time to work on his fielding, although the lack of game reps will certainly hurt in the short-term.
Irresponsible Comp? Jason Kipnis
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Rosie
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Eddie Spaghetti
One-sentence summary: Rosario will need to sit out 50 games, but he’s still a great prospect.
4. Kohl Stewart
Who is he? Stewart was drafted fourth overall in last June’s draft. The right-handed Texan has four pitches at the tender age of 19. He throws a hard fastball that already hits the mid-90s. He has an excellent slider with big bite. He also has a curve and a change, both of which could be average or better pitches at maturity. He has number 1 starter potential and could headline the Twins rotation in the future.
2013 Season: Stewart made his pro debut at 18, throwing 20 innings. He posted a 1.35 ERA and a 0.850 WHIP, split between the GCL and the Appy League. In those 20 innings, he struck out 24 and walked just 4. He couldn’t have made a more impressive debut.
Trend? Up. When the Twins drafted Stewart, they knew that he was more advanced than the average high school starter. He already had four pitches and showed great feel for each. He still has a ton of development in his future, as he works to refine his command and add velocity to his fastball. He has a massive ceiling. He could be ready for full-season ball in 2014.
Irresponsible Comp? Justin Verlander
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Stewie
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Sears
ETA: late 2016
One-sentence summary: Stewart is dreamy.
3. Alex Meyer
Who is he? Meyer is a substitute teacher from Indiana. He’s also a right-handed pitcher. The Twins acquired Meyer from Washington for Denard Span, straight up. He’s super tall (6′ 9″) and he boasts a fastball that can hit triple-digits. He has a good slider that could get even better and a developing change. Meyer’s command will dictate his future. If he can harness all that fantastic stuff, he could pitch at the top of the Twins rotation.
2013 Season: Meyer pitched well in 2013, but he missed two full months due to a shoulder injury. He was able to return for some impressive August appearances, before heading to the Arizona Fall League. He pitched 26 innings in the AFL, striking out 28 and walking just 7. With New Britain in 2013, Meyer threw 70 innings, struck out 84 and walked 29. His walk rate was up from his previous season, but his shoulder injury likely didn’t help.
Trend? Up. Early in 2013, his stock was down. He was walking batters and then he was injured. From August on, Meyer re-established his prospect credentials. He looked great in the Arizona Fall League. If his command continues to develop, Meyer could feasibly make his MLB debut in 2014. Additional time in AAA might be a better prescription, but who doesn’t love a good MLB debut?
Irresponsible Comp? Randy Johnson in a mirror.
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Lex Luthor
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Lex Luger
One-sentence summary: Meyer has the talent to emerge as the Twins’ best starting pitcher as soon as this coming season.
2. Miguel Sano
Who is he? The Twins signed Sano out of the Dominican Republic back in 2009. Famously chronicled in the documentary Ballplayer: Pelotero, Sano is a massive human with a giant future. He’s a powerful man, hitting 90 Minor League home runs in just 379 games. He’s got a rocket arm, perfect for third base. Some question his ability to stay at third, citing his giant frame and growing physique. He’s not a fat man, he’s a big man. He’s athletic and intelligent, and that’s why optimists think he could remain at third for many years.
2013 Season: Sano was awesome in 2013. He crushed High-A pitching, posting a ridiculous .330/.424/.655 line before generously moving to AA. He didn’t have ridiculous success with New Britain, but he did hit 19 home runs and he slugged .571. He hit only .236, but he still drew walks and he obviously hit for power. He also made only 23 errors at third, down from the 42 he made in 2012.
Trend? Over the fence. Sano has the best power in the Minors and could probably hit 30 home runs in the Majors in 2014. He might hit .200 while doing it, but there aren’t a lot of parks that can hold him. Sano might hit 40-50 home runs in a season down the line and if he can continue to refine his plate discipline he could approach a .400 OBP as well. If he can stay at third through his 20s, he’s an MVP candidate/cornerstone player.
Irresponsible Comp? Miguel Cabrera (but Sano won’t hit .350)
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Miggy
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Sano Emergency
One-sentence summary: The only question is whether or not Sano’s home runs will break any windows in nearby buildings in Downtown Minneapolis.
1. Byron Buxton
Who is he? Byron Buxton is a mythical creature. I’m not certain he really exists. Baseball Reference states that the Twins drafted him second overall in 2012. He’s said to be an outrageously good centerfielder and that he runs like a gazelle. He is spoken about in hushed tones, many stating that he could someday hit 30 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season. A .300/.400/.500 line might be a conservative projection. If Buxton exists, then he is a baseball monster.
2013 Season: If reports are believed to be true, Buxton hit .334/.424/.520 in his full-season debut at age 19. But that’s crazy, right? Apparently, he played so well for Low-A Cedar Rapids, he earned a promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He hit 12 home runs between those two levels, stole 55 bases, added 19 doubles, made multiple highlight reel catches and made only two errors. But that just seems so unlikely, doesn’t it? If those reports are true, then Buxton is truly something.
Trend? Legendarily Up. Major baseball outlets are buying his myth. Buxton was named the top overall prospect in baseball by every important baseball-writing organization. In fact, if a website didn’t name Buxton the number one prospect, you should probably delete that bookmark. Buxton dominated at age 19 and should be ready for AA in 2014. He’s an unstoppable force of nature, so he’ll probably reach AAA in 2014 as well. He might just reach the Majors. If there was a league beyond the Majors, he’d probably get there too.
Irresponsible Comp? Willie Mays. Yes, Willie Mays.
Gardy-Inspired Nickname: Buxtie
Inspired Gardy-Nickname: Sir
One-sentence summary: Hold on to your butts.
Fin. We’ve counted down the top 30 prospects over the last six weeks. These young men are the future of the Twins franchise. Many will never be more notable than they are right now while some will exceed all expectations. The five on today’s list could form a future Twins Championship core. We can dream. Next week, we’ll run through a few notable prospects who missed this list. See you then!