The Minnesota Twins have seen their minor league system drastically improve since graduating a load of young players in 2014-2016. Who should fans watch this season that might be “off the radar”?
The Minnesota Twins will lean heavily on their improved minor league system over the next half-decade as they hope to keep costs low while keeping their current young major league core of players together for a long run. While top prospects that are near the majors like Nick Gordon and Stephen Gonsalves are well-known and #1 draft pick Royce Lewis is fairly well-recognized as well, who are some of the less-heralded players that Minnesota Twins fans should be watching in 2018?
We will start with a group, not an individual player, that could end up having a fairly important role in the success of the 2018 major league Minnesota Twins club…
Of the Twins bullpen that was dominating in August and September, a number of them worked through the Rochester bullpen over the season, and it would be quite feasible that many will find their way to Minnesota again out of the Red Wings ‘pen.
The obvious candidates to make that jump are the guys who will open 2018 on the 40-man roster, but will not be on the major league roster. The top candidates to fall in this category would be hard throwers J.T. Chargois and John Curtiss.
Both have shown the ability to throw hard at the major league level, with upper 90s stuff. Curtiss was able to tally plenty of strikeouts in his month and a half in 2017 with the big league club. Both would offer big arms to bring up for the team in the case of injury or ineffectiveness of their initial bullpen members.
Beyond those two are a few guys returning to Rochester after playing there in 2017. Jake Reed has another power arm that showed well recovering from injury, and if he could just stay healthy, he could definitely impact the big league club.
Ryan Eades turned heads in the Arizona Fall League when placed into a reliever role rather than the swingman starter role that he was in for the 2017 season. His stuff played up, and the Twins could possibly extract some value from their 2013 2nd round pick after all, after waiting on him multiple years through injuries and other issues.
Mason Melotakis had some significant issues with variability in his arm in 2017. He would have one game where he was coming with a low-90s fastball, and another game where he was working more with a mid-90s fastball. Health fluctuations could be intriguing to watch with Melotakis, as he’s an MLB-quality lefty reliever when at full strength.
A number of relievers may not open with Rochester, but could find their way there eventually. Top prospect Tyler Jay could find himself in a dominant role as a lefty bullpen piece. Guys like Nick Anderson and Todd Van Steensel had excellent 2017 seasons that worked up to AA and could certainly be factors, as could guys who didn’t quite make the AA roster in 2017, like Sam Clay, Tom Hackimer, Alex Robinson, Michael Theofanopoulos, or Andrew Vasquez.
The essential thing to notice with all these names is clear – the Twins have a loaded system in relief pitching. It’s a theme recognized by multiple places this offseason, and fans should be keeping an eye out for who is establishing as an elite reliever in 2018 to make that jump.
Next: Pair of middle infielders