Minnesota Twins: Alex Kirilloff makes jump in latest prospect rankings
By Nate Palmer
Several Minnesota Twins prospects were on the move in MLB.com’s updated end of season prospect rankings. Here are four notable names for Twins fans.
The Minnesota Twins on-field product this past season was at best mediocre. With the franchises group of once highly touted prospects such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jose Berrios all in the majors now the expectations were much higher. With only one of that trio performing well in 2018, wins were hard to come by regularly enough to be competitive in the American League.
So while there was disappointment raining on Target Field that even the Pentair water system couldn’t handle, there was optimism and growth happening on the fields the Twins minor league clubs call home. That was highlighted once again as MLB.com updated their Top-100 prospect list as the regular season has come to a close.
Alex Kirilloff had a monster season in 2018 as he took not just the Twins minor leagues by fire, but had all of minor league baseball paying attention to what the slugger was doing. In his first season after returning from Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff put together an incredible stat line of .348/.392/.578, 20 home runs, 44 doubles and a .970 OPS between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. That moved Kirilloff from 30th on MLB.com’s rankings all the way to 10th in this end of season ranking.
As I have written about a couple different times, Kirilloff looks the part of a professional baseball player. He swings his bat well and fields his position well enough to remain as a corner outfielder. Not to mention his arm doesn’t show any negative effects from surgery when he looks to gun down a runner trying to advance on the base paths. It seems very likely that Kirilloff will start 2019 at Double-A which puts him in striking distance of the major leagues depending on how he performs at the advanced level.
The next most notable move would be Nick Gordon‘s drop off of the Top-100 list. After previously being ranked 71st, it is not shocking as Gordon’s progress with hitting seemed to halt as he hit Triple-A Rochester. After slashing .333/.381/.525 to begin the season at Double-A, Gordon’s line dropped to an alarming .212/.262/.283.
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While it is absolutely appropriate to see Gordon drop off a ranking list based on his 2018 numbers, it doesn’t mean that Twins fans need to panic over Gordon’s development. At 22-years-old this is Gordon’s first major hiccup along the way and he has time to learn and fine tune his approach at the plate and still become a productive major leaguer.
The Twins top prospect, Royce Lewis, finds himself at 7th overall on MLB.com’s Top-100 list. Lewis continues to show he is an impressive player with his approach to the game and his .315/.368/.486 slash line, .853 OPS, and 22 stolen bases at Cedar Rapids to begin the season. He did slow down a bit at Fort Myers after being promoted midseason as he slashed .255/.327/.399. The 19-year-old may return to Fort Myers to begin 2019, but don’t be surprised to see him move quickly if he dominates another level of minor league baseball.
The last player of note is a player who may have actually shocked the world with his development even more than Kirilloff has in 2018. Right handed pitcher Brusdar Graterol comes in as the Twins 3rd prospect and 70th overall according to MLB.com. Graterol’s stuff is electric as he has a fastball which generally clocks in at 95-98 mph, but when needed it has also been clocked in the triple digits. That velocity combined with his 2.74 ERA and 107 strikeouts over 102 innings in 2018 has fans and prospect evaluators both excited about his potential.
All four of these players represent what looks to be another exciting group of prospects that will look to form the core of a competitive Twins team. As we got a healthy dose of this season with Sano and Buxton, there is no guarantee’s with prospects. There is no magic formula to make sure once they hit the majors they stick in the majors. Even with that in mind, the Twins farm system has plenty of reason for Twins fans to be excited as showcased here.