Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Minnesota Twins pitcher Alex Meyer against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
With a month’s worth of Minor League games in the books, we can finally analyze the performances of the Twins’ more notable Minor League players. I have picked out eight prospects who impressed in April. I’m sticking to prospects here, so apologies go out to Yohan Pino and Chris Parmelee. The eight players covered today have all seen their stock rise. One is already in Minnesota and another might be there before long. Intrigue!
Alex Meyer – AAA Rochester
Meyer is the Twins’ best pitching prospect and he performed like the Twins’ best pitching prospect in his first month with AAA. Meyer threw 26.2 innings in April, posting a 2.70 ERA and a 1.125 WHIP. He struck out an amazing 35 batters in those innings, although he also issued 11 walks. Meyer has famously started throwing his change with a new grip and the results have been great so far. He has dominant stuff and there will be nights when AAA hitters simply can’t match up. Meyer isn’t long for Rochester and his April performance proves it.
Logan Darnell – AAA Rochester
Darnell beat Meyer to Minnesota, although he does have more Minor League experience and he was already on the 40-man roster. That said, Darnell earned his promotion with a excellent April. He threw 21.1 innings, struck out 21 and walked just seven. Darnell had perhaps his best month as a Minor League pitcher in April and it clearly could not have come at a better time. He finished the month with a 1.69 ERA and then started his May with the Twins after Mike Pelfrey was put on the disabled list. Darnell will pitch out of the bullpen for now, but may get a spot start if the Twins’ rotation continues to be underwhelming.
Aaron Slegers – Low-A Cedar Rapids
The Twins signed Slegers at the last minute in 2013 and it looks like they were lucky to have made that deadline. Slegers has been excellent in his full-season debut, finishing April with a 3.14 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched. He averaged nearly six innings per start and struck out just under a batter per inning. Even more impressive, he issued just four walks in April and batters managed to hit just .218/.259/.309. In case you were worried that Slegers was just an one-month wonder, Slegers went out and threw seven shutout innings in his first May start. Slegers could be ready for Fort Myers before midseason.
Ryan Eades – Low-A Cedar Rapids
That is of course, if Eades doesn’t beat him there. Eades’ trajectory was a worry as he had a really poor pro debut after being drafted in 2013. He’s already erased those worries with a hot start in April. He only went 2-3, but he did finish the month with a 3.42 ERA. In 26.1 innings, he struck out 24 and walked just 8. Eades is an advanced pitcher, so solid performance at Low-A is to be expected. That said, what should happen and what does happen aren’t always in agreement. Eades is handling his business so far.
Jorge Polanco – High-A Fort Myers
Polanco was the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Month, hands down. He already had his breakout season in 2013, but he might be breaking out even more in 2014. Polanco hit .327/.402/.463 in April, adding six doubles, two home runs and two stolen bases. Even more impressive, Polanco managed to walk more than he struck out. His plate discipline appears to be outstanding and he’s showing more power than was expected. In addition, he’s played shortstop exclusively, despite some troubles in the field. He may never master that position, but if he can play it adequately, he’s could be a monster player.
Niko Goodrum – High-A Fort Myers
To accommodate Polanco, Goodrum moved to third. At this very moment, Goodrum is a better shortstop, but Polanco is the better prospect so he wins that battle. Although, Goodrum is making his case as a prospect himself. He’s long been a favorite of mine and he had an outstanding April, hitting .306/.366/.447 with six doubles and three triples. Goodrum doesn’t have Polanco’s plate discipline, but he did see a slight dip in his strikeout rate from 2013 to April 2014. Goodrum’s power and plate discipline seem to be improving. If he can cut down his errors and add some home runs, he could be a top ten prospect by the end of the season.
Travis Harrison – High-A Fort Myers
With Goodrum at third, Harrison has played outfield exclusively in 2014. Harrison was never going to stick at third, so making this move sooner than later is a good idea. Harrison has more time to develop as a fielder as he moves through the Minors. The move didn’t affect his hitting, as Harrison hit .311/.370/.456 in April. He only hit one home run, but he added eight doubles. He also posted a pretty modest 17% strikeout rate, a figure that would be by far his lowest as a pro. Harrison already drew his share of walks, so an improved strikeout rate could be a sign of a maturing hitter.
Mitch Garver – Low-A Cedar Rapids
Garver isn’t a top 20 prospect like the three players above him, but he eclipsed their performances in April of 2014. Garver hit .321/.413/.628 with seven doubles, five home runs and 16 RBI. He struck out just about as often as he walked and he had eight different multi-hit games. Garver has played about half of his games behind the plate. When the Twins drafted Garver in the 9th round last June, they found a college senior who would sign quickly. He had a tremendous pro debut with Elizabethton and it looks like he’s carrying that performance into 2014. I’m officially intrigued.
Eight performances to get you fired up for May Minor League baseball. These eight players are on the rise, but it’s not all peaches and…more peaches. Some players disappointed, but I don’t have the heart to go through eight at once. Next week, we’ll look at four prospects who had worrisome Aprils, but we’ll also look at four more impressive April performances. I like to mix some good in with my bad. Have a nice week, everyone!