Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Minnesota Twins pitcherAlex Meyer
against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
When draft season ends, updated prospect list season officially begins. Today, I will unveil my updated top ten Twins prospects list. Two prominent prospects are no longer eligible for my list because they have been on the Minnesota roster for too long. That said, I’m sure Josmil Pinto and Danny Santana are 100% cool with that. Who is still eligible? Who has moved up? Who has moved down? Who is on this list?!? Let’s find out:
1. Byron Buxton, CF, Previous Ranking – 1
It’s a rare prospect who can survive an entire year of injuries and still remain as the top prospect in all of baseball. Buxton hasn’t missed the whole season yet, although he has missed significant time and it appears his MLB debut will have to wait until 2015. Even if he doesn’t play another game in 2014, his combination of tools and makeup will keep him at the top of just about every prospect list you can find. Once he starts playing again, he may force the world to invent a ranking higher than one.
2. Miguel Sano, 3B, Previous Ranking – 2
The top two prospects in the Twins’ system have played a combined five games. Sano will likely miss the entire Minor League season after having Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. He should return for Fall baseball, but the only thing Twins fans need to hope is that he is ready for Spring Training in 2015. He should begin his career with the Twins shortly thereafter. Sano is a giant man with massive power. The time he lost will hurt his development defensively, but his bat should be just about ready in 2015.
3. Alex Meyer, SP, Previous Ranking – 3
If Twins fans are lucky, this will be the final time Meyer appears on a top ten prospects list. While he isn’t quite a finished product, Meyer does have the stuff to have dominant outings in the Majors. He might mix some clunkers in as well, but that’s all part of the development of a pitcher. Meyer is coming off of a shoulder injury in 2013, so the Twins may be cautious and move him to the bullpen at some point. If the Twins want to contend in 2014, Meyer might be their second-best option in that bullpen, as his stuff is nasty. Make no mistake, he is a starter long-term.
4. Kohl Stewart, SP, Previous Ranking – 4
Stewart has the highest upside of any starter in the Twins’ system. If everything comes together, he becomes that mythical “ace” that every team dreams about. Stewart is holding his own in the Midwest League at age 19. He isn’t striking out batters at a high rate, but he’s also working on specific things and he isn’t using his full repertoire. Once the Twins get a better feel for him and he gets a better feel for pitching, he’ll be unleashed. At that point, he’ll show glimpses of his future self and Twins fans will be waiting impatiently for his MLB debut.
5. Jose Berrios, SP, Previous Ranking – 9
Biggest riser! Berrios owns the Florida State League. While many pitchers have owned that same league in the past, it’s very hard to ignore just how good Berrios has been at such a young age. His stuff might be better than anticipated and he clearly has that feel for pitching that so many ball-guys clamor for. I toyed with putting Berrios ahead of Stewart, but I still think that Stewart has the higher potential ceiling. That said, Berrios could be a No. 2 starter one day, meaning the Twins have as many as three potential starters with that upside or higher. Not bad.
6. Eddie Rosario, 2B/CF, Previous Ranking – 5
Rosario drops one spot, solely because Berrios is such a stud. I feel exactly the same way I felt about Rosario at this time last year. He’s going to hit MLB pitching. I’m not sure that he’s a star, but I feel very confident that he will be a valuable player for a number of years. He’s still getting reps at second base and the Twins are likely to try to keep that versatility for as long as they can. Everyone loves loud tools but sometimes a more balanced game is a better formula. Rosario appears to be a pretty balanced player, even if nothing truly stands out.
7. Nick Gordon, SS, Previous Ranking – NR
The Twins’ first-round selection less than one month ago, Gordon could rocket up this list with a strong performance in his pro debut. True shortstop prospects are so rare and there are about zero indications that Gordon will need to move off the position. He has the movements, the range and the arm for short. His bat is pretty nice too, as he filled out a bit in his senior year of high school. If Gordon proves to be a good hitter, he joins Sano and Buxton as future cornerstone players. It’s much too early to put him there now, but it’s fun to think about.
8. Lewis Thorpe, SP, Previous Ranking – 8
Thorpe recently made his full-season debut at the age of 18. He’s off to a pretty rough start, but the Twins might be pushing him a bit to see how he handles it. They won’t let him dangle for too long though. Regardless of his performance in 2014, Thorpe is still a great prospect. His stuff from the left side is very hard to find. His ceiling is harder to establish because of his age, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s pretty high. I wouldn’t be shocked if he starts to figure out Low-A hitters by the end of the season.
9. Jorge Polanco, SS, Previous Ranking – 7
It seems odd to lower Polanco’s ranking while he’s having a pretty good season. This is more of a reflection on the growth of Berrios and the introduction of Gordon to the organization than anything Polanco has done in 2014. The Twins appear to be committed to Polanco as a shortstop, even though many feel that second base is his best position. He has made a ton of errors this season, but that alone isn’t enough of a reason to move him just yet. His bat is ahead of his glove as he makes nice contact and shows good OBP skills. I like Polanco a lot and that shows the depth of the system quite clearly.
10. Trevor May, SP, Previous Ranking – 12
All along, I’ve felt that May’s durability and stuff would make him a solid back-end starter for a number of years. The more I see and the more I hear, I’m starting to think that he will still be that pitcher, but he’ll also have stretches when he pitches like a front-end starter. When he has his best stuff, he’s pretty dominant. He’s had some outstanding starts with Rochester in 2014 and he looks to be pretty MLB-ready right now. Personally, I’d call him up right now and see what he can do. It’s possible that he’d be the Twins’ third-best starter.
Burdi will probably have a bigger impact on the Twins than half of the players on this list, but I have a hard time ranking relievers in the top ten. If Vargas continues to mash in the second half, he’ll definitely be in my top ten going into 2015. Harrison has had a decent season, but his lack of game power is legitimately concerning, especially with his transition to the outfield.
There you have it, ten players ranked by some guy who drew an Octopus in Paint. Even if the ranker’s credentials can be called into question, the players on this list are anything but questionable. These ten players could all provide major value for the Twins in the near future. I’d estimate that half of this list is on the Twins’ 25-man roster by the end of next season. The Twins’ system is so loaded that even if that is true, the future top ten lists will still be very impressive. Next week, we’ll look at some notable players on the Elizabethton roster. Have a nice week, everyone!