• View From Kernels Games - Kepler, Goodrum, Walker, Boyd, Mauer

    The Twins farm system is ranked highly, and for good reason. For the first time in recent memory, we have a number of very high ceiling prospects at AA (Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, Eddie Rosario, Trevor May) and high-A (Byron Buxton). The ones at low-A (Max Kepler, Niko Goodrum, Adam Walker, Hudson Boyd, etc) in past years would have made us proud. How do they really look in comparison to the press, and in comparison to the more notable others on this list?The punchline: major leaguers are hard to come by, but there is projectable potential at low-A.

    Max Kepler
    The Good
    Nice lanky body. Beginning to fill out, but with room for bulk. Fast bat. Swing is reminiscent of Chris Davis. Starts with hands and elbow a bit high. Has good, but not Ken Griffey Jr., wrists. Takes little to no step; just a quick turn on the ball. Has enough uppercut to launch the ball yard. Good pitch recognition for the level. Clearly different than many players at this level. Smooth to flyballs in the outfield.

    Growth Needed
    Will be interesting to see how he fills out. Swing can get a bit long, but is athletic enough that I never saw it hurt him. While he is "different than many players at this level" he is not "a man among boys" like Sano. Instead, think Jason Kubel before the knee injury. When playing outfield, allows baserunners to advance too easily on flares.

    "No doubt about that one, but good thing he didn't launch it to dead CF"
    - son, commenting on a homerun to right-centerfield.

    Adam Walker
    The Good
    Nice swing. Hands move directly to the ball. Line drive swing. Quick bat (quickest on team). Everything moves in sync well. Surprisingly slender frame and narrow shoulders for his power. Has a "bubble butt" to borrow a football term. Will definitely fill out and broaden out, and when he does, watch out! Excellent power potential. Surprisingly smooth in OF.

    Growth Needed
    Below average pitch recognition. Looks like a classic mistake hitter right now. Swung over multiple sliders and curves, wishing they were fastballs. Needs to learn an approach at the plate, and to hit the breaking ball more consistently before he is promoted. Needs to wait on the ball longer before committing -- has the hand speed to do it. Fielding will almost certainly degrade as he fills out.

    "He'll hit shots that don't get 20 feet in the air, but I wouldn't want to be in the way of one of them!"
    - Kernels fan before the game.

    Niko Goodrum
    The Good
    Good sized young man. Long legs that go way up. Looks like he can put on 20 extra pounds while still growing. Once he finishes growing into his body, should have the potential to really drive the ball. No problem hitting the fastball. Good movement. Nice arm. Made all the plays he was supposed to make.

    Growth Needed
    Not clear that he'll stay at shortstop as he grows. He has enough athletic ability, but it depends upon how his legs thicken (if they do). Will never be Pedro Florimon in the field, but could be average. Still developing a plan at the plate. Too willing to hit a pitcher's pitch. Swing can get a bit long (moreso than Kepler). Has some head movement - needs to consistently bury it.

    "He looks a little out of proportion" - fan in front of us

    Hudson Boyd
    The Good
    It's clear why he was a supplemental first round pick. Has nice speed on his fastball, and is willing to attack with it. Sits 93 or so, but can reach back for a couple of extra mph when he needs it -- and chooses those spots well. Nice, repeatable arm slot. Seems to have a decent feel for pitching.

    Growth Needed
    The fastball flattens out sometimes, and the curve is sloppy (loose break, little command). Is inconsistent with his strike foot and stride length. Will vary stride length by a good 6 inches, and angle of strike foot by 5-10 degrees. It is easy to see why he is inconsistent, because his delivery isn't fully repeatable yet.

    "Ugh. That just sort of rolled in there." - son talking about his curve.

    Mauer (Jake, not Joe)
    Okay, he's not a player, but I loved the way he worked the game and the umpires. Example: hard shot over 3B, hit the chalk, called foul. Mauer doesn't say a word. He just looks at the ump. Then he looks down. Then he goes over to the ball mark in the chalk and smooths it out with his foot. Looks into centerfield, and goes back to the coaches box. 'Nuf said.

    Seems to work well with the players. Works his way around the guys, without being over their shoulder.

    Mason Melotakis
    Moving to the bullpen added a few mph to his fastball. Good movement. Has an adequate breaking ball that he can throw for strikes more often than not, though it needs sharper break. Mound presence is impressive. Can't tell what the count is if it isn't in his favor, but bears down when he needs to punch a guy out.

    Class A ball is fun. The players are still learning to play, and their bodies are still growing. There is as much projection of the body evolution as there is in baseball skills. Given that, it is hard to say that there any such thing as a "sure thing" among Class A ballplayers. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if all five of these guys made it to the majors.

    Kepler seems to have the lowest floor of the group. Boyd and Walker have the highest ceiling -- and interestingly, both of those depend upon the breaking ball. Goodrum is a wildcard: lots of potential, and needs to continue to harness it as he grows. Would love to see if Melatokis can become a starter, or if he could potentially be the Glen Perkins of 2018. I would love to see Mauer rise up the ranks as well.
    This article was originally published in blog: View From Kernels Games - Kepler, Goodrum, Walker, Boyd, Mauer started by twinsfanohio
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Cool article. Thx
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Statistically Boyd is having a disappointing season. I've been hoping he could step up this year but he is still scuffling. Probably should repeat at CR next year

      What did you think of Melatokis's delivery?
      When they drafted him reports I have read said it was "high effort" and they tagged him as a fast rising Bullpen guy.
      But Twins have kept him starting and have been wondering if he'll break down.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Love these first hand articles. I wish the Twins would put their rookie team in Boise so I could do the same.

      Any observations on Polanco?
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Nice to see some firsthand observations!

      I will note however, that Goodrum is never going to grow into his body. He is what he is. I know quite a bit about his body type since it's the same as mine. I'm 6'3", 160 Lbs, very similar to him, skinny and lanky, long levers. I can't put any extra pounds on my body to save my life, even though I've tried very hard to do so and my height says I should be able to accommodate much more. He's the same way. I've been to every Spring Training since he's been drafted and he hasn't added anything significant in that time so there's little reason to believe he will.

      In comparison, Kepler has changed a lot in that same time-frame (both began their careers in 2010). Much more muscle and bulk on him than when he first started. I think he's going to move to 1B when it's all said and done, and in actuality, has only played 1 less game at 1B than in the OF for Cedar Rapids this year.

      To clutterheart: Melotakis has a very "stiff" delivery, I describe it as robotic. Doesn't look smooth at all, but he can crank up some heat in small doses.

      As a sidenote, I don't mind trying to move some of these RP-guys to the rotation, whether if its to see if they can stick or to work more on their pitches that need it, but at the same time I think they could do a much better job of identifying the guys who actually have a chance to stick and need that work, and only do it with them. Tyler Duffey was a good choice for that, but I would say Melotakis never had a chance and in some systems might already be in the majors as a reliever.
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