Minnesota Twins: Shortstop position is now an organizational strength

Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; West shortstop Nick Gordon of the Minnesota Twins during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; West shortstop Nick Gordon of the Minnesota Twins during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The draft, and several solid minor league performances, has shortstop looking like a real strength for the Minnesota Twins farm system.

For much of this century one thing has been sure. The Minnesota Twins have had a revolving door at shortstop. The team has continued to not be able to find an answer for the position. “The answer” may not have been found yet, but the Twins look to be getting much closer to finding it.

The 2017 season and 2017 MLB Amateur Draft has the future of shortstop looking very bright. It starts at the highest level where the Twins have Jorge Polanco playing the position defensively and offensively in a way that seems he could be a piece on a contending team.

Polanco has hit .242/.294/.338 this year. That slash line isn’t overly impressive, but combined with his surprising ability to field his position, he has created great optimism amongst the Twins faithful. Having a competent shortstop on the Major League club also means that the organization can be patient with the guys that  are creating the surprising depth and talent behind him in the minors.

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Most recently the Twins acquired Royce Lewis with the number one overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft. There is lot to say about the athletic Lewis who can also man center field. He has speed that has helped him to cover ground in the field and on the base paths.

Many scouts also believe he has the potential to develop more power to go with his already consistent ability to make contact. Something that stands out in Lewis’ MLB.com  draft profile is that he drew comparisons to Derek Jeter for his mannerisms.

The Twins also brought in a sixth round pick from Puerto Rico, Ricardo De La Torre. Rhett Bollinger writes that the sixth rounder is considered to have above average power for a middle infielder. And although not official, the Twins are expected to sign international free agent Jelfry Marte who is number 3 on MLB Pipeline’s 2017 international Prospects list.

Those three exciting shortstops are being added to a stable of already promising shortstops in the Twins farm system. The system is headlined by Nick Gordon who has been performing very well this year slashing .316/.381/.500. Engelb Vielma has also turned heads as he has batted .277/.338/.317 for both Chattanooga and Rochester.

Most surprisingly may be the performance of Jermaine Palacios at Cedar Rapids. Palacios as hit .319/.360/.562 and show some great power with 11 home runs. And then there is still highly regarded Wander Javier who earned a $4 million international signing bonus and was ranked number 12 on the 2015 MLB Pipeline International Prospects list. To this point he has battled injury and hasn’t seen the field for the Twins organization.

This stable of shortstop prospects creates an exciting future for the Twins. In the short term it can create the ability to make some trades centered around some of these players to help the current MLB team compete. Jackson Bruce has already speculated the Twins using this depth as leverage to try and lure someone like Chris Archer away from the Tampa Bay Rays.

On the other hand, the Twins could just develop these guys. Not every shortstop prospect will play that position in the majors. As a prospect, shortstops are regarded as some of the best athletes of the level they are playing at. That makes the transition to other positions easier, and often creates an above average defender where ever they move.

Next: Minnesota Twins: Inevitable Dethroning

No matter the route the new front office chooses to take with these prospects, the Twins are in an exciting place. The major league team is contending into June and the farm system looks to be stocked again with talent following the draft. The question that will remains on Twins fans’ minds is whether or not front office will decide to trade any of this prospect talent for something more major league ready. Only time will tell.