Minnesota Twins: Under the Radar Prospects Part One


With the 2015 MLB Draft in the books, the Twins added to an already loaded farm system. After selecting LHP Tyler Jay and RHP Kyle Cody with their first two picks, the Twins continued to focus hard throwing pitchers with upside as well as drafting two athletic and talented HS 3B, Travis Blackenhorn (3rd) and Trey Cabbage (best name in baseball? 4th). Most Twins fans are familiar with the club’s top prospects. Fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Buxton (debut on Sunday), Sano, Polanco, Berrios and others following their early June swoon. The Twins have a particularly deep farm system. Here, we will focus on a few of intriguing ‘under the radar’ prospects throughout the organization.

Low A Cedar Rapids
The Kernals are having a strong season, currently sitting 11 games over .500 (through Saturday) and are second in their division only to the Astros Quad City River Bandits. The strength of the Kernals has been its pitching, which is leading the Midwest league with a .278 ERA and 1.16 WHIP through 556 innings of work. Several of last year’s draft class currently reside in Cedar Rapids, including Michael Cederoth, Samuel Clay, John Curtiss and Randy LeBlanc.

Cameron Booser
Booser is a big physical lefty (6’3 220lbs). He grew up loving football and switched to baseball after injuries derailed his football career. Booser had TJ surgery during his brief tenure at Oregon State before transferring to Central Arizona College. He went undrafted before the Twins picked him up in 2013. Booser has been simply dominant this year, lighting up the radar gun with a fastball in the upper 90s, a solider and a changeup which he is developing. Through 25 innings at Cedar Rapids, he has a 1.40 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and has SO 39 for a SO/9 of 13.7. Don’t expect him to stick around at low A too much longer.

Luke Bard
The younger brother of former Red Sox flamethrower Daniel Bard, Luke was the 42nd overall pick of the Twins in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. Bard is another pitcher who has struggled with injuries throughout his career, both in college and professionally. He managed just 38 innings between 2012 and 2014. Finally healthy, Bard has thrived early in 2015. Through 14 IP he has managed a 1.26 ERA 0.558 WHIP and has struck out 7. If Bard can remain healthy, he had the arm to move through the Twins minor league system, although I would expect the Twins to be careful with him given his injury history.

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High A Fort Myers
The Miracle have performed well this year, despite most of the Twins high upside prospects being scattered between Cedar Rapids and Chattanooga. The Miracle are currently riding a 6 game winning streak and hold a record of 31-30 (through Saturday), good for second place in their division but 10 games behind the first place Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay). Pitching is the strength of this team. Similarly to Cedar Rapids, Fort Myers leads the league with a 2.72 team ERA and 1.23 WHIP through 562 IP. There were a number of excellent prospects to profile here including Stephen Gonsalves, Alex Swim and Brandon Peterson.

Chih-Wei Hu
Hu is a Taiwanese RHP who has solid size (6’1 209lbs). The Twins picked up Hu in their continued excellent work on the international market for $220,000 in 2012. Hu has an interesting mix of pitches, including a fastball in the low to mid 90s, a slow curveball and an excellent change. Hu also has excellent control. He started the season at Cedar Rapids but was quickly promoted. He even made a spot start at AAA Rochester before returning to Fort Myers. Through 49.2 innings in the Florida State League Hu holds a 2.17 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, 45 SO and just 12 BB. If Hu continues to perform with this level of consistency, he may soon strengthen the rotation anchored by Jose Berrios at Chatanooga.

Todd Van Steensel
Van Steensel is an interesting prospect for the Twins. Minnesota picked him up as an unsigned free agent in 2011 and again in February 2014. Van Steensel has an unorthodox delivery with a high leg kick reminiscent of ex-Marlin Dontrelle Willis. This year Van Steensel has exceled in the closers role at Fort Myers. In 36 innings, he has an ERA of 1.98, a 1.18 WHIP and has 54 SO good for a SO/9 of 13.4.

Stay tuned for some profiles of some under the radar prospects from AA Chattanooga and AAA Rochester.