Minnesota Twins Top 100 Prospects: The Top Twenty
5. Wander Javier, SS, Elizabethton
2017 Stats: .299/.383/.471, 4 HR, 4 SB, 19/49 BB/K
Info: Javier received the largest bonus the Twins have ever given to an international teenager in 2015, and he’s shown that he was certainly worth it. As there are multiple shortstop prospects in the system already, he certainly won’t be pushed due to his position, which is just fine, but his bat could insist upon that pushing on its own. Looking at “fantasy” numbers, one may not be as impressed with Javier’s Elizabethton line, until you also add in that he had 13 doubles and a triple to add to that 4 home runs and spent the majority of the season hitting near the top of the order as a table-setter. He has a lot of work to do in his pitch recognition, but his zone skills and advanced contact skills allowed him to have an aggressive plate approach and not get beaten badly very often. While he’d be a big shortstop at 6’1″, he has the natural movements and instincts that make you think he’d do very well there along with a plus arm that’d work well sliding over to third if he doesn’t stick at short. Javier will likely see a move to Cedar Rapids as a 19 year-old in 2018, and he should certainly be on the radar of any Twins fan looking to take a minor league drive to view some of the future of the franchise!
4. Fernando Romero, RHP, Chattanooga
2017 Stats: 125 IP, 3.53 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 45/120 BB/K
Info: This season was really about a “build up” season for Romero. He had seen his velocity and raw stuff come back to high levels in 2016 returning from Tommy John surgery, but he needed to build up his innings. It became evident, however, that the inning limit he had was perhaps a bit higher than his arm’s limit. On August 2nd, Romero hit the 110 inning mark after his start at Montgomery (110 2/3 innings, to be exact), and at that point, his season line was a 2.60 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, with a 41/115 BB/K ratio. Those final three starts added 14 1/3 innings to his tally on the season, but also 26 hits, 18 runs (17 of them earned), 4 walks, and 5 strikeouts. His arm just looked done. However, that doesn’t take away from how special that same arm looked early in the season, when Romero was a legit top 100 guy, sitting in the mid-90s deep into starts and bumping up against triple digit velocity. His slider doesn’t have hard bite, but it’s got hard velocity that is still difficult for hitters to pick up with him throwing everything from the same arm slot. Romero made significant strides in using his change up as well in 2017, and the pitch has some very impressive movement at times. Romero likely will ease up to around 150 innings in 2018, starting in Rochester, but he could finish that either in the Twins rotation or the bullpen at the end of the season as a possible playoff weapon with his velocity and raw stuff.
3. Stephen Gonsavles, LHP, Chattanooga/Rochester
2017 Stats: 110 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 31/118 BB/K
Info: Gonsalves has been on Twins fans’ radars for a couple of seasons now as he’s pushed his way onto top 100 lists the last two seasons after initially coming into pro ball as a 4th-round selection in 2013. Gonsalves is a 6’5″, 215-220 pound lefty that has filled out without adding a ton in velocity, so that could put some people off of him as a potential prospect, but those people would be missing out on the tremendous ability that Gonsalves has developed as a pitcher. There’s a reason that he’s striking out over a batter per inning while working with fastball that sits in the low-90s and works up to 95 with very good movement. He pairs that with a change that matches his fastball’s sinking motion and arm action. He uses a curve and a slider both, with the former being ahead of the latter, but he’s come a long way in locating both, allowing what would be average to fringe-average raw pitches to play up due to his ability to locate them. Gonsalves could make a strong push in the spring and exit spring training with a rotation spot, but most likely he’ll end up in Rochester and could force his way to Target Field somewhere in the 2018 season.
2. Nick Gordon, 2B/SS, Chattanooga
2017 Stats: .270/.341/.408, 9 HR, 13 SB, 53/134 BB/K
Info: While the line from Gordon in 2017 may not inspire many, he actually is a great example of what you see is different than what the stat line reads. Gordon is not a guy who has a single stand out tool, but he has average to above-average tools across the board, and 2017 saw him really show maturity on the field in utilizing that breadth of tools. Gordon opened the season playing some second base to work on his skills there, but he moved back to shortstop quickly, and he showed calm collected play at the position that isn’t elite in range, but does cover plenty of ground with an apt arm that would work moving to third or to second. Gordon’s offensive profile may never thrill fantasy players as he’ll likely never rack up a ton of HRs or SBs, but his 2017 line with 29 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs, and 13 stolen bases, he contributes very well across the board, and his base running once on base is very smart. He’ll open in Rochester in 2018 and could push for some late-season time or really make a push if he hits incredibly well and Jorge Polanco struggles in 2018.
More from Puckett's Pond
- Minnesota Twins: 2 Possible Free Agent Reunions for 2023
- Minnesota Twins: Holiday Wish List for the rest of the Offseason
- Minnesota Twins: After signing with the Mets, Correa spurns Twins again
- Minnesota Twins: You Spin Me Right Round, Right Round
- Minnesota Twins: What happens next at Shortstop?
1. Royce Lewis, SS, GCL/Cedar Rapids
2017 Stats: .279/.381/.407, 4 HR, 18 SB, 25/33 BB/K
Info: While there was some concern among Minnesota Twins fans when they selected the California high schooler #1 overall this past June rather than one of a few college players that had been linked to the team or one of the other “generational” high school phenoms, Lewis has jumped to the front of the draft class in a hurry in his initial performance as a pro. Lewis didn’t show any issues with a big jump to Cedar Rapids, though his BB/K rate that was 19/17 in GCL dropped to 6/16 in the GCL, though that’s certainly not a major issue for an 18 year old playing in a full-season league.
Lewis is a rare blend of a plus hit tool, double plus speed, and the ability to generate the kind of bat speed and reaction off the bat to indicate future possible plus power. Where he will fit defensively is the question, though he did handle short well this season. I’m not sure that short is his eventual home, but the Twins currently have a guy who is probably best at 2B playing shortstop at the major league level, and he is handling the position well by simply getting to everything he should get to. With some guys behind him that do have the ability to be a possible plus defender at short, Lewis could see a move to second base or an outfield spot down the road, but his bat has already shown to be everything the Twins would have wanted with a #1 overall selection, and his signing bonus number allowed the Twins to also draft guys that I have ranked #10, #11, #26, #30, #49, and #66 in the list in the first 6 rounds that likely would not all have been able to be signed otherwise.
Next: Twins Arbitration Eligibles
So what did you think? Any disputes? Guys you expected to see higher on the list? Guys you were surprised were on the list at all? Comment below!