Felix Jorge, Zack Littell, Fernando Romero, and Kohl Stewart, RHP; Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
The Chattanooga rotation has been productive all season and has led the team to the top first-half record in the Southern League, and the team finds themselves leading their division in the second half as well.
Jorge is currently on the 40-man roster. He took each rookie level one step at a time after signing in 2010. He had fallen a bit out of favor with fans and those who do prospecting as he was producing positive ERA results, but his strikeout rates were quite low for a guy with a mid-90s fastball. He’s continued to produce similarly with Chattanooga this year in AA, striking out 84 in 115 1/3 innings. He has come up for two major league starts as he’s currently on the 40-man roster, but to see whether he should continue as a starter or move to the bullpen, it would be good to work Jorge in the rotation at the major league level to see how he could handle that level.
Littell was just acquired from the Yankees, and he will need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft. He was acquired by the Yankees from the Mariners this past offseason. He’s a guy with an upside of a high-end #3, low-end #2 that eats a ton of quality innings.
Romero very possibly has the highest upside of any pitcher in the entire Twins system, and he certainly does among the pitchers in the upper minors. He’s on an innings limit this season after missing 2015 with Tommy John surgery, but he could work out of the major league bullpen to get him a taste of the big leagues and prepare him to possibly compete for a rotation spot next spring.
Stewart is a guy who confuddles (yes, that’s my word) many Twins fans. He has the raw stuff that would make one think he could be a front line starter, but he’s never really had to refine his pitching skills, being able to truly work off of his two excellent fastballs and their movement as he’s progressed as he’s not gotten strikeouts with them, but he has had success getting hitters out consistently, allowing him to climb the ladder to AA already. He could be a guy who gets to the majors and learns to work with his secondary pitches at that level, something John Smoltz has discussed doing in his career, or he could be a guy who ends up never refining his secondaries and transitioning to a power reliever. Either way, the Twins should continue to challenge him as he needs truly to fail with the fastball-first approach before he’ll truly feel the need to refine his other pitches.
The guy who is often highest ranked among prospect sites among this list is Gonsalves, a lefty who has quality stuff, but is more of a #2/3 upside than elite ace type, but coming from the left side, he’s shown tremendous success at every level beyond his raw pitches, showing a mental approach of pitching advanced of his stuff, which should allow him to transition to the majors quite well when that time comes (hopefully early on in 2018).
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