60. Hector Lujan, RHP, Cedar Rapids
2017 Stats: 54 IP, 1.33 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8/54 BB/K, 17 saves
Info: Lujan was a 35th round pick in 2015, and most probably didn’t have a lot of thought about him after posting a 5.00 ERA in his draft year and a similar ERA in 2016 as well. Instead, he simply was dominant for Cedar Rapids out of the closer role this season.
Part of the major change for Lujan was something he’d been working on since he was drafted, and that was adding velocity. He didn’t go from throwing 95 to throwing 99, but he is throwing 96 and every now and then 97, but the fastball has such impressive movement that it is near impossible to square up.
He’s got an excellent hard slider and a change that has very good arm deception. The three velocity points also help to keep hitters from being able to truly sit on any velocity point and look for multiple pitches in that range. What was most impressive in 2017 was the improved command of all three pitches that Lujan exhibited. If he can keep that up and maintain his increased velocity, he’ll move up the reliever pecking order in a hurry.
59. Randy Rosario, LHP, Fort Myers/Chattanooga/MLB
2017 Stats: Minors: 61 IP, 3.84 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 23/48 BB/K; Majors: 2 1/3 IP, 30.86 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 0/2 BB/K
Info: Rosrio made the move to the bullpen in 2016, and it was assumed that would help him to jump tot he majors in a hurry. He did get a major league trial this season, but he was still working through growing pains as a reliever in bringing consistent stuff every night from the left side. Rosario brings impressive raw stuff on the mound, with a fastball that can hit the upper 90s and a slider that runs in the upper 80s. That combination should be lethal, especially from the left side, but Rosario’s fastball has a tendency to flatten some, and he struggled with command today, sometimes grooving a pitch to have to generate a strike, which led to him getting hit hard when he’d do so. The raw stuff is still there and impressive, which leads to him still hanging on here.
58. Jake Reed, RHP, Chattanooga/Rochester
2017 Stats: 38 IP, 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 17/33 BB/K
Info: Reed is a guy who just can’t seem to stay healthy, but when he is, his stuff is incredibly impressive. He can run his fastball into the upper 90s with good sink to the pitch. His best secondary pitch is a slider that works in the mid-80s but can sometimes end up getting “slurvy” and lack hard break. Reed can mix in a change that generates weak contact. The main reason Reed is here is that with his age and health concerns, he could be falling behind other options for bullpen arms, but he just needs a chance to show himself at this point.
57. Chris Paul, 3B, GCL/Fort Myers
2017 Stats: .320/.373/.460, 4 HR, 1 SB, 16/46 BB/K
Info: Paul really wasn’t a third baseman or a first baseman or an outfielder at Cal – he was a hitter. He’s struggled to show that as a pro until this season with Fort Myers, where he was hitting .350 before he broke his hamate bone. Paul has the ability to handle any corner spot defensively at a passable level, though first or left are probably his best spots. He has a quick bat through the zone with excellent gap power and the ability to jump on a pitch to drive one out as well. He’s working in the Arizona Fall League this month to get some of the plate appearances he missed this season, and if he continues hitting like he did when healthy in 2017, he might force his way into the Twins’ plans.
56. Luke Bard, RHP, Chattanooga/Rochester
2017 Stats: 65 1/3 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 24/99 BB/K
Info: It seemed as if Luke was following the path of his also-talented brother Daniel Bard in having an elite relief arm that simply can’t stay healthy for his first few years in the system after being being drafted 42nd overall by the Twins in 2012. After missing all of 2014 with surgery, he’s eased back as a reliever, and this season, now that he’s healthy, he’s really showing all of that stuff that he has. Bard can run his fastball up to 97 with excellent weight on the pitch. He also works with an elite slider, and he got a number of swings this year when throwing an infrequent change, which is a “show me” pitch in quality, but when used well can be effective. This is really the first time we’ve seen this kind of strikeout numbers from Bard, so it is something to watch, and being 27 to open 2018 also makes his overall value slip a bit, but it wouldn’t surprise at all if he finds his way to Target Field in 2018 if he keeps this up.