As the calendar rolls over to a new year, fans across Twins Territory can agree on one thing: the future is bright.
Minnesota turned in its best postseason performance since 2002 and ended a miserable 19-year losing streak in the process. While things have been frustratingly slow this offseason, the Twins bread-and-butter method of building for the future seems to be going better than expected.
Part of the reason the Twins were able to have such success this past season was the youth movement that helped rejuvenate the roster. Royce Lewis led the charge but was joined by guys like Edouard Julien and Matt Wallner -- all three of whom factor heavily into the plans in 2024.
The movement is ongoing, though. Austin Martin is expected to make the Opening Day roster with Brooks Lee, Yunior Severino, and Simeon Woods Richardson all potentially in line to have an impact as well. If the Twins move on from Christian Vazquez, Jair Camargo could have his number called, while both Matt Canterino and David Festa could help solve some pitching challenges.
It's a deep pool of young talent, but all of those guys -- even Lee -- were surpassed when the Twins ran their drat card up to the podium this past July. Walker Jenkins is now the top prospect in the farm system and it might not be long before he claims that title across the entire league.
MLB.com expert predicts WalkerJenkins will be No. 1 prospect in MLB
Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com recently sat down to discuss the future of baseball and the players who might become stars in a few years, and the Twins naturally became a part of the conversation.
Minnesota has always had a strong farm system, but things are even better now that Walker Jenkins is in the picutre.
Jenkins was the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, but many experts believe he could have been a No. 1 overall pick if he had come out either the year before or after the class he was a part of. The Twins were benefactors of the new MLB Draft Lottery, jumping from No. 13 overall to the Top 5 which allowed them to draft Jenkins when they otherwise would have had no shot.
It's thanks to that lucky break that the Twins might have who Callis believes could be the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball next year.
"If [Ethan] Salas goes out and hits .260 with 12 home runs and he’s in High-A, that’s actually a great year for a guy who started the year at age 17, but I don’t know that we’re going to rank that guy as the No. 1 prospect in baseball," Callis said. "That’s why I went with Jenkins over Salas.”
Salas is the top prospect in the San Diego Padres farm system, but there's concern over how his development will be handled. To be fair, criticism has been aimed at the Twins for how they develop their prospects -- with Doug Mientkiewicz calling the organization out this past summer -- but Jenkins is already starting to make waves in the small amount of time he's been involved in the system.
At one point this year, Jenkins slashed .529/.556/.882 with a 1.438 OPS while being named Florida State League hitter of the week in early-September. He signed his contract with the Twins in late-July and not long after he was hitting bombs in Florida Complex League.
Twins scouts raved about him before and after the team drafted him.
"He's a five-tool player," Twins amateur scouting director Sean Johnson said this summer, via the Star Tribune. "We love his swing. We think he's going to have a chance for real power. He's a big kid, but he moves pretty well. He can really throw and we think he can really defend, so you can't ask for much more than that when you're looking for a high school prospect."
Jenins ranks as the No. 16 prospect in baseball heading into 2024, but as Callis points out that's probably going to chance. If the young slugger can keep building on what he's already shown us, there's no question he's going to become a name everyone in baseball keeps a close eye on moving forward.