Minnesota Twins Preseason 2022 Top 50 Prospects: No. 20-11

Aaron Sabato of the Minnesota Twins at bat against the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Aaron Sabato of the Minnesota Twins at bat against the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Twins
Cedar Rapids Kernels’ Louie Varland pitches against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. (Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin) /

Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects: 15-11

Prospect No. 15: Cole Sands, RHP

If you’re looking for a pitcher with all the makings of a big league starter, a high ceiling, and a solid floor, look no further than Cole Sands. He’s got all the tools he needs: strong fastball, two plus offspeed pitches, good strikeout numbers, and the ability to miss bats. His control is an issue every once in a while, but that’s nitpicking. It truly does all come down to health.

Sands hasn’t thrown more than 100 innings in a season in either college or pro ball, and despite really good numbers, it won’t matter if he can’t make it to 20 starts in a year. That’s why 2022 is so important for the 24-year old. He must prove that he can stay healthy enough to start, or he’ll find himself as a (very, very good) bullpen arm.

Prospect No 14: Blayne Enlow, RHP

It seems unlikely that we will see Blayne Enlow pitch anytime before late in the 2022 season, if at all, but despite his injury history, he’s done nothing but produce in the pros. He’ll be 23 when he comes back, so he’s running out of time, but his excellent four pitch mix and good stuff means he can’t fall out of the Top 15 until we’ve seen him pitch again.

Prospect No. 13: Noah Miller, SS

A competitive bonus-first round pick in 2021, Noah Miller (brother of Cleveland Guardians infielder Owen Miller) is a very high-floor player, something you don’t often see from a prep shortstop. He’s not very athletic, but he’s got good baseball IQ and instincts, so he could stick at the Twins’ weakest position long term.

The issue with Miller is there’s nothing there to love. He does everything solidly. Good contact skills, could develop average power, solid fielder, fine arm. He’s only 19 though, and his refined skills are impressive. There’s plenty of time for him to prove me wrong, thus the reason he’s still ranked so high here.

Prospect No. 12: Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF

Uber athletic with a gorgeous swing, Emmanuel Rodriguez’s first taste of pro ball was quite impressive for an 18 year-old and confirmed once again the enormous potential the young outfielder has.

In his first 37 games, Rodriguez stole 9 bases, hit 10 homers, earned a .346 OBP, and a .524 slugging percentage. He also hit .214, struck out 56 times, and got caught stealing four times. He needs to refine his swing, and it will be interesting to see him at a higher level, but he’s got all the time in the world to do it (he turned 19 three days ago). Rodriguez could be the Twins’ next top prospect with proper development.

Prospect No. 11: Louie Varland, RHP

Louie Varland was the easy choice to be the Minnesota Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, posting a 2.10 ERA and a 142-30 K-BB ratio as well a 1.087 WHIP. With his low draft status, this seems like a one of a kind year. That’s when you realize, he made some very serious strides of his own.

Varland’s fastball lived in the mid-90s most of last year, far faster than it was in college and he has an excellent changeup and slider as well. On top of this, Varland has been slowly building up a curveball as a potential fourth pitch. If Varland proves his changes are for real, he’ll be in the big league rotation within months.

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