Minnesota Twins: 2022 Midseason Top 50 Prospects, No. 20-1

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Minnesota Twins shortstop Royce Lewis during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
Minnesota Twins shortstop Royce Lewis during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Cedar Rapids Kernels’ Louie Varland pitches against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. (Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin) /

Minnesota Twins Top Prospects: No. 20-11

No. 20-2B Edouard Julien (2022 Preseason Ranking: No. 33): After a breakout campaign in 2021, I wanted to see Eduoard Julien back it up at AA in 2022. While his pure stat totals have dipped a little playing up a level, Julien followed his stellar 2021 slashline of .267/.434/.480 with a .285/.424/.460 line and kept walking at high rate.

Sure, his defense is still a major weakness and his arm has forced him to land at second base. His strikeouts are still way too high. There’s a reason he’s still ranked just 20th. With that being said, his OPS-based style of play gives him some potential in modern baseball.

No. 19-OF Misael Urbina (2022 PR: No. 21): There’s always been a lot of talk about Misael Urbina’s potential, but he’s had a good start to his season since his visa issues have been resolved, slashing .282/.341/.538 in his first 10 games.

He’s a good defender because of his good speed and solid arm, but if he can prove there’s an interesting bat in there, Urbina could shoot up my rankings. As always, he has potential, but now we’re seeing some flashes.

No. 18-Brayan Medina (2022 PR: Not Ranked): Traded from the Padres to the Twins in the Taylor Rogers trade, Medina has looked solid since coming over, flashing his potentially elite stuff and striking out a lot of batters in the hitter-friendly FCL. His control is still a major issue, but he’s just 19 and has time to figure things out.

No. 17-RHP Blayne Enlow (2022 PR: No. 14): Blayne Enlow pitched in just three pro games between 2020 and 2021, and while his first appearance hasn’t been earth-shattering, it’s still good to see the high upside arm back in action.

His control was loose, but he struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings and didn’t get hit too hard in his first eleven appearances at AA. There’s still some upside here, but he needs to finish strong in 2022 and have a good 2023 to make a jump. He’ll be 24 to start next season, but that four pitch mix and good stuff all appears to still be there.

No. 16-LHP Cade Povich (2022 PR: No. 22): The Minnesota Twins’ third round pick in 2021, Cade Povich has had a really good year in High-A. Armed with four pitches and a plus changeup, Povich has been tremendous (except for his last start) and looks to be coming close to being a mid-rotation arm over the next few years for the Minnesota Twins.

No. 15-1B/3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand (2022 PR: No. 31): Coming into the season off of a huge 2021 campaign, I wanted Christian Encarnacion-Strand to prove he was for real. Well, in 82 games between High-A (74 games) and AA (8 games), he’s done exactly that, slashing .308/.379/.619 with 23 homers and 80 RBI.

He doesn’t have a ton of speed, his defense has been brutal this year, and he still strikes out a lot, but if he finishes the year strong and isn’t dealt for a pitcher, he might just crack the Top 10 of this list by the end of the year.

No. 14-LHP Steve Hajjar (2022 PR: No. 25): What a professional debut for Steve Hajjar! In 11 starts at Low-A ball, Hajjar has been nothing short of dominant, posting a 2.04 ERA and 63-22 K-BB ratio in 39.2 innings pitched. The 2021 2nd Round pick’s four pitch mix looks legit, and if he can lower the walks, he could fly through the system.

No. 13-RHP Jordan Balazovic (2022 PR: No. 3): While the last two prospects on this list have jumped up 10+ slots on the list, Jordan Balazovic has plummeted to ten spots to 13th, and it’s really obvious why. Balazovic has been flat out awful this year, posting a 10.85 ERA with a 31-18 K-BB ratio in 34 innings.

The poise, control, and velocity is diminished, and he looks nothing like the former Top 100 prospect we saw in 2019 or even last year. This year is likely a wash for him, but if he can finish strong, there will still be some optimism that the top of the rotation guy is still in there somewhere.

No. 12-RHP Louie Varland (2022 PR: No. 11): The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland has taken a small step back in 2022 facing tougher competition in AA, but he’s still used his well-rounded four pitch mix to post a 7-3 record, 3.64 ERA, and 108-37 K-BB in 94 innings pitched.

Varland should finish out the season at Triple-A, where if things go well, he will have a chance to make more than a few starts with the big league rotation in 2023. All things point to him and his extremely high floor becoming a rock solid starter at the MLB level.

No. 11-SS Noah Miller (2022 PR: No. 13): The No. 36 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Noah Miller has flashed solid speed, on-base numbers, and the defensive chops to stick at shortstop in his first full season of pro ball. He’s looked like someone who can be a potential big league shortstop, but he isn’t without flaws.

Miller (like a lot of Twins prospects) strikes out way too much, and he doesn’t make a lot of contact or hit for power. Because of that, there’s a bit of a cap on his upside for me, but that high floor and defensive poise keeps him right near the Top 10 prospect group.

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