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  • Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects: 31-35

    Today, we move on to Part 4 of the Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects. We'll look at the Twins prospects I ranked 31 through 35. The first three have brought some interesting discussions into the comments, and I suspect that as we move closer to the top of the list, discussions will continue to be terrific.

    If you click on the links to the previous pieces of this list at the bottom of this article, you can read some background into what I consider when making these lists. As always, feel free to discuss each of these players and the rankings of those discussed to this point.




    Part 3: Prospects 36-40

    In this group, there is an athletic on-base machine and four pitchers. As with those on the previous list, these pitchers have experienced some success, yet at this point can't be ranked any higher. Maybe it's a lack of strikeouts despite good pitches. Maybe the reason is strictly health-related. One made the move to the bullpen before the 2013 season while the other three could wind up there as well. All five are certainly worthy of interest and attention.

    #35 – Matt Summers – RH SP (24)

    Summers led the Florida State League in both ERA and WHIP in 2013. In 21 starts, he went 6-5. He also made five starts for New Britain in which he really struggled. The 2011 fourth-round pick struck out 6.3 per nine innings in 2013, which was actually an increase from 5.9 K/9 in 2012. He does throw hard, hitting 92-94 with a two-seam fastball and occasionally hitting 97. He’s got a sharp slider and a good slow curve ball, so I can’t explain the lack of strikeouts.

    #34 – Tyler Jones – RH RP (24)

    Jones was my choice for Twins minor league relief pitcher of the year in 2013. He averaged 11.4 K/9 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He had been a starter in 2012 in Beloit, but he made the transition to the bullpen and it went well. Having a fastball that touches 98 mph certainly helps, but a much-improved slider helped also. Jones rededicated himself last offseason and got himself in tremendous shape which he credits with some of his success. He's definitely one to watch as he could move quickly.

    #33 – JD Williams – OF (23)

    Williams was the Twins 10th round pick in 2010 out of high school in Florida. He is a tremendous athlete who needed time to develop. In 2013, he started the season by repeating in the Midwest League. He needed to do it, and he showed great improvement. In 80 games with the Kernels, he hit .281 with an impressive .391 on base percentage. He has very good speed and increasing pop in his bat. He moved up to Ft. Myers where he got off to a fast start before slowing at the end of the year.

    #32 – Luke Bard – RH SP (22)

    Bard was the Twins supplemental 1st round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. He has been hurt pretty much the whole time since. He rehabbed most of the 2013 season before making four appearances in the GCL. He made seven appearances in Elizabethton. He ended the season with one game pitched in Ft. Myers. He’s got the ability to be a solid big league starter or a good big league reliever, if he can get and stay healthy.

    #31 – Logan Darnell – LH SP (24)

    The Twins 6th round pick in 2010, he moved from Beloit to Ft. Myers to New Britain in 2011. He spent all of 2012 and began 2013 with the Rock Cats where he made 15 starts and went 6-6 with a 2.51 ERA. He was then promoted to Rochester where he made 11 more starts. The lefty pitched in the Arizona Fall League after the 2012 season and is well thought of. He can eat innings and has a solid four-pitch mix. He just doesn’t strike many out.


    So there you have it, Part 4 of my Top 50 Twins Prospect list. We'll be back Monday with Part 5, prospects 26-30.

    Part 1: 46-50
    Part 2: 41-45
    Part 3: 36-40
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Not a lot of exciting names in this bunch. More of an older group, but I like where all these players are at! I don't see overwhelming potential in any of these guys. Although, a few may beg to differ with Bard. I think if just one of these guys contributes (positively) in any way to the MLB team it would be a success. Sort of ditto with the recent posts.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      Tyler Jones has some good stuff but he was a bit old for the levels he pitched at. Luke Bard would be most likely of this group to reach the show, if he could just get and stay healthy. Darnell, despite his solid numbers, just doesn't really feel like a prospect to me.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      Tyler Jones has some good stuff but he was a bit old for the levels he pitched at. Luke Bard would be most likely of this group to reach the show, if he could just get and stay healthy. Darnell, despite his solid numbers, just doesn't really feel like a prospect to me.
      If Jones is projected as a relief pitcher, then age shouldn't matter as much as for a starter. To me, his evaluation should be based on his level of dominance and the likelihood that this could contribute. A really good RP can last to a 40 year-old. But this raises the question: should there be a separate "prospect list" for relief pitchers? Their function limits their impact in any game.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      If I was a betting man I would say that Darnell starts 10 games or more for the twins next year.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Good morning Seth.

      I would ask that you look back five or six years and think about where players such as this group would have been ranked. I expect they would have been much higher. But how much higher?

      When Summers joined the organization that first summer, I was convinced that he would become a top late inning reliever (if I recall, his strikeout rate was much higher out of the pen). I thought he was the best of the three pitchers taken high that year (Boer, Summers and Williams).

      After going through the process of starting for a few years, I still believe that is his fate. The only problem I see is that the Twins have an abundence of quality relievers led by the Joneses, Zach and Tyler. What would be of interest to me is that when this is over, you do a separate listing of the ten relievers you believe are most likely to contribute to the Twins. Would love to see you include your best guess of what role each will fill.

      Have a great day...its going to be around 70 degrees on the South Carolina coast again today!
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      If I was a betting man I would say that Darnell starts 10 games or more for the twins next year.
      If you were a betting man, would you take the Over, or the Under, on a Darnell Twins ERA of 5.00?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      Tyler Jones has some good stuff but he was a bit old for the levels he pitched at. Luke Bard would be most likely of this group to reach the show, if he could just get and stay healthy. Darnell, despite his solid numbers, just doesn't really feel like a prospect to me.
      His age is maybe why he is ranked where he is, but it has zero impact on the Twins future. Maybe he gets to the big leagues at 26 (if he does), again, you get ages 26-31! He is one that needed the time. He's not Buxton who is so naturally gifted that he could debut at 20. He needed time to mature, dedicate himself to baseball, make some adjustments, find a good role, add some velocity, etc.

      I jus think people make too big of a deal about age sometimes. IF you're looking for future Hall of Famers, yes, 25-26 is too old to probably be that. If you're looking for solid major league contributors, it's not.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I could do a top ten relievers article or something like that, but would you want guys who are relievers now, or guys who could be relievers in the future? As I mentioned yesterday, most big league relievers were starters in the minors. And most were failed starters at that, though they were good starters in the minors. Nathan, Aguilera, Guardado, Hawkins, Rincon, Perkins, Swarzak, etc. There are some examples, so I'm certainly not saying that minor league relievers can't be big league relievers (Crain, Neshek, Burton).

      But, Roger, it has been guys like Summers and so many others that have signed with the Twins as college starters and then been used out of the E-Town or Beloit/CR bullpens for the first year. They get strikeouts and dominate, but it doesn't tell the real story. Don't get me wrong. I 100% agree with the Twins philosophy on college pitchers in the year that they sign. As you can see from my rankings of a guy like Slegers, I'm much more leery in getting too excited by that. I'll wait until 2014 when he gets into the role he'll be in (starter) and see how that goes a bit.
    1. 2wins87's Avatar
      2wins87 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      If you were a betting man, would you take the Over, or the Under, on a Darnell Twins ERA of 5.00?
      I'll definitely take under. He doesn't strike out tons of guys and it'll almost certainly drop in the majors, but 7 K/9 isn't too bad. In addition, he's definitely a ground ball pitcher; about 50% groundballs this year. If he can keep getting groundballs and striking out a few he'll be a solid back of the rotation starter. Mid 4 ERA, low 4 if he has some luck.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Darnell did put up some high K games this season (at least when I looked), so he can get the Ks. I haven't seem him pitch, so I'm not sure on his strengths and weaknesses and why he doesn't do it consistently.

      I like him because he's close to the show, and has the potential to be something better than a 5 starter/AAAA guy... Don't expect him to be a world beater, but I wouldn't be surprised if people are looking forward to seeing him pitch at somepoint next year...
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      If you were a betting man, would you take the Over, or the Under, on a Darnell Twins ERA of 5.00?
      Under. But I wouldn't go over 4.50
      He's a leftie who has average pitches and could put together a string of a few good starts.
      With a few clunkers between.
    1. Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
      Cap'n Piranha -
      Can't wait to see the Jones boys (Zach and Tyler) throwing 98-100 mph bb's at batters in the 7th and 8th in a couple of years. Convert May to a reliever, get Bard healthy, and that's a bullpen foursome you can go to war with.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      As I mentioned yesterday, most big league relievers were starters in the minors. And most were failed starters at that, though they were good starters in the minors. Nathan, Aguilera, Guardado, Hawkins, Rincon, Perkins, Swarzak, etc. There are some examples, so I'm certainly not saying that minor league relievers can't be big league relievers (Crain, Neshek, Burton).
      Not to drag this off topic but I did a small study on this (SSS applies). Last years closers split like this: 11 were starters all the way through the minors and into the majors. 6 were full time relievers in the minors and 3 began as starters but converted to reliever while they were still in the minors. So it's almost a 50:50 split by the time they reach the majors. Some teams didn't have a defined closer or it wasn't clear the closer was going stay the closer for long so that's why there is only 20.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      Tyler Jones has some good stuff but he was a bit old for the levels he pitched at. Luke Bard would be most likely of this group to reach the show, if he could just get and stay healthy. Darnell, despite his solid numbers, just doesn't really feel like a prospect to me.
      No offense intended here, but I've never much liked the line of thought that runs..."so and so was too old for that league, so his nice performance doesn't mean much..." Isn't it possible that some guys just peak or figure things out later in life than others? I know I'm not a professional athlete, but I've noticed that I definately fall into that catagorie as far as social and intellectual things go. Is it more unusual for physical skills to develop later in life? How about the mental/psychological side of the game?

      Or is this more about valuable years of MLB service time in their prime? If a prospect makes it to the majors at 28 rather than 23, of course they will have less productive MLB years to contribute to their team. It just seems like the goal is to develop talent rather than worrying about the longevity of that talent, after all, even the 22 year old stud all star is only 1 injury away from ending his career.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Under. But I wouldn't go over 4.50
      He's a leftie who has average pitches and could put together a string of a few good starts.
      With a few clunkers between.
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Darnell did put up some high K games this season (at least when I looked), so he can get the Ks. I haven't seem him pitch, so I'm not sure on his strengths and weaknesses and why he doesn't do it consistently.

      I like him because he's close to the show, and has the potential to be something better than a 5 starter/AAAA guy... Don't expect him to be a world beater, but I wouldn't be surprised if people are looking forward to seeing him pitch at somepoint next year...
      Quote Originally Posted by 2wins87 View Post
      I'll definitely take under. He doesn't strike out tons of guys and it'll almost certainly drop in the majors, but 7 K/9 isn't too bad. In addition, he's definitely a ground ball pitcher; about 50% groundballs this year. If he can keep getting groundballs and striking out a few he'll be a solid back of the rotation starter. Mid 4 ERA, low 4 if he has some luck.

      Thanks for the encouraging words, guys. I tend to agree that Darnell may very well get the call at some point in 2014, but it's concerning to me that his fellow Kentucky Wildcat, with admittedly less stuff, has posted consistently sterling MiLB numbers throughout his MiLB career compared to Darnell. Darnell finally put up good numbers in his 3rd year at New Britain.

      It's interesting to note that Seth doesn't even have Andrew Albers ranked in his top 52 prospects at mid-season, and Darnell is ranked #28. It's like a prospect is "good" merely because he's supposed to be "good", even when he isn't. He's never averaged above 5.2IP/Start and his FIP (4.92) closely correlates with his ERA (5.23).

      Maybe he's turned a corner in 2013, and I do like lefties, but I think I have more hope in the other 2 similar lefties, Albers and Diamond being the back-end guys for the next couple years.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Thanks for the encouraging words, guys. I tend to agree that Darnell may very well get the call at some point in 2014, but it's concerning to me that his fellow Kentucky Wildcat, with admittedly less stuff, has posted consistently sterling MiLB numbers throughout his MiLB career compared to Darnell. Darnell finally put up good numbers in his 3rd year at New Britain.

      It's interesting to note that Seth doesn't even have Andrew Albers ranked in his top 52 prospects at mid-season, and Darnell is ranked #28. It's like a prospect is "good" merely because he's supposed to be "good", even when he isn't. He's never averaged above 5.2IP/Start and his FIP (4.92) closely correlates with his ERA (5.23).

      Maybe he's turned a corner in 2013, and I do like lefties, but I think I have more hope in the other 2 similar lefties, Albers and Diamond being the back-end guys for the next couple years.
      To be clear, I fully expect Darnell to take some lumps in MLB. I just think his future is brighter as he can be something other than a 5 starter/AAAA fill in. I'm not sure I understand the Albers love in particular. As soon as the scouting reports were out on him, he suddenly looked very very very human. I'll be real honest in that I am hoping that Albers is not in the starting rotation at all next year other than for maybe a couple of spot starts.

      As for Diamond, I'm not as confident as you are, though to be fair, Mark Buhrle made quite the career doing what Diamond can do. Perhaps he can find his inner Buhrle and have a decent ML career. The problem with guys like him is that it is such a fine line. Buhrle is the rare success story here, and that road is littered with failures. Being left handed probably helps, but Diamond has his work cut out for him.
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