#2: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Elizabethton
Considered to have one of the most powerful swings in the 2016 high school draft class, Kirilloff was a guy the Twins were overjoyed to see at #15 when they were on the clock. He was pushed beyond the GCL straight to the Appy League, and he handled the jump without concern, hitting .306/.341/.454, earning a top-100 ranking with MLB Pipeline.
Kirilloff’s swing has a bit of load into the zone and perhaps a bit more follow through motion than ideal, but once he enters the zone with the stick, the bat moves incredibly fast through the zone, generating an awesome sound off the bat on any contact.
While some had pegged Kirilloff as a 1B-only prospect, he showed much better athleticism than advertised, able to generate above-average speed once underway, though his initial quickness will never be a strong suit. While likely not a center fielder long term, he should be able to handle either corner position well with an above-average arm in the outfield.
Kirilloff unfortunately snapped his elbow ligament this winter and required Tommy John surgery. He’ll be back on the field likely for instructional league this fall and in games in 2018.
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#1: Nick Gordon, SS, Chattanooga
Coming from a family of professional baseball players (brother Dee is with the Marlins, and father Tom was a former big-league reliever), Gordon has a high baseball IQ as he plays the game.
Gordon has unfairly been tagged with expectations of having his brother’s speed/contact abilities, and that’s not really his game, as he’s more of a line drive spray hitter that is more of a great base runner than a great base stealer (Twins fans will remember the difference by remembering Cristian Guzman, who was elite on the bases when running, but not great at stealing).
The big question in Gordon’s file was whether he was going to profile as a shortstop or need to move off the position in the future. Gordon very obviously put in work over the offseason at short, as his instincts and movements at the position look as fluid as he’s ever looked professionally at the position, leading most to believe he can stick at short, and rocketing him up the national lists, ranking #19 in the Baseball America midseason prospect list.
I don’t think Twins fans will ever see a 20 home run hitter in Gordon nor a 30 stolen base guy, but it would not surprise me if Gordon put up stats that will resemble Guzman, plus a tick of power, with 30+ doubles, 10+ triples, and 10+ home runs at his best with 15+ stolen bases and an excellent batting average with his impressive bat to ball skills.
He’s still the certain #1 Twin prospect.
The only guys to really “disappoint” this season from this list were guys who are out due to injury. Interestingly, though the guys who are healthy have all either maintained their production or gotten better, it’s feasible that half of this list won’t make the end of season top 10 list, with new draft picks like Royce Lewis, Brent Rooker, Landon Leach, and Blayne Enlow threatening for top 10 positions based on how they perform in their first professional exposure, and the elite performances of guys like Lewis Thorpe, Jermaine Palacios, and Akil Baddoo so far this season making the top 10 an interesting proposition for the Twins again as their system depth grows by leaps and bounds.