• Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects: 16-20

    Our Top 50 series continues today with a look at my choices for Minnesota Twins Prospects 16-20. There are certainly a few intriguing names on today's list.

    Again, at the bottom of today's segment, you will find links to the first six parts of this series. In the first part, I talked a bit about some of the things I look at in determining my prospect list.

    Enjoy today's installment of the Twins Top 50 prospect list, and be sure to start formulating your top 10, or top 20 or top whatever you like.

    Part 7: 16-20

    In today's set of five prospects, you'll find some prospect that, if they take another step forward could become regulars in a lineup or in the middle of a big league staff. We have a shortstop who takes good at-bats and plays very solid defense. We have a couple right-handers that can hit 94-95 with their fastballs. We have a David Ortiz-clone (to some degree), and we have another one of my 2013 minor league award winners.



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    #20 – Niko Goodrum – SS (21)

    Goodrum was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2009, one of the many players in recent years to be drafted from a Georgia high school. Goodrum was long and lanky when the Twins drafted him. He’s listed at 6-3, but hard work last offseason put him over 200 pounds. Defensively, he is pretty smooth up the middle and has a good, accurate arm. Offensively, he puts together good at-bats. In 103 games for the Kernels, he hit .260/.364/.369 (.732), showing a very impressive walk rate. He had 22 doubled, four triples and four home runs, but he has the strength and frame to continue to add power.

    #19 – Taylor Rogers – LH SP (22)

    Rogers was the Twins 12th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. He signed quickly and spent a short time in Elizabethton before finishing the season in Beloit. He was the Cedar Rapids Kernels opening night starter this year, but three starts later, he was promoted to Ft. Myers where he was terrific. There, the lefty went 11-6 with a 2.55 ERA. Rogers works quickly and efficiently, getting quick outs and eating a lot of innings. He had three complete games (2 shutouts) for the Miracle. That doesn’t count his nine shutout innings in his Miracle playoff start. He has a low 90s fastball and a good slider. He has good command. He was my choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year.

    #18 – Fernando Romero – RH SP (18)

    Another GCL kid with a mid-90s fastball. Signed late in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic, Romero came to the States in 2013 and did well in the GCL. Overall, he went 2-0 with a 1.60 ERA in 45 innings split between six starts and six relief appearances. Most impressive, in his final four outings, he gave up just one earned run over 23.2 innings. Romero throws very hard, but he will need to work on secondary pitches. Another positive, when he debuted in the Dominican Summer league in 2012, he struck out 8.1 per nine, but he walked 4.1 per nine (in 31 innings). In 2013, he struck out 9.4 per nine and dropped his walk rate to 2.6 per nine. Hopefully those are numbers we can see more of as he moves forward.

    #17 – Ryan Eades – RH SP (21)

    If Eades weren’t a 2nd round pick, you might choose to look at his debut numbers in Elizabethton and be alarmed. In 10 relief appearances, he threw 15.2 innings and gave up 13 hits, walked 12 while striking out 13. Definitely not a typical top college pick debut in the rookie league. But consider, he went 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA over 17 starts at powerhouse LSU. He has the type of stuff that could develop into a front of the rotation starter. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, he throws a fastball that sits 91-93 but hits 95 at times. He has a very good breaking ball and a changeup that has a chance to be very good as well. Typically, he has shown very good control. He has a chance to be pretty good. And, if you’re looking for bonus reason for optimism, he is represented by Scott Boras, which means he must be pretty good, right?

    #16 – Kennys Vargas – 1B (23)

    Vargas is a big, happy-go-lucky individual who seems to really enjoy life and enjoy playing some ball. At 6-5, he is listed at 215 pounds, but my guess is you can add 40 to 50 pounds to that number. After seeing him in Beloit for a long series a year ago, the similarities between Vargas and his friend David Ortiz are stunning. They look alike, they have monster power, their walk/strut is the same, and Vargas points to the sky after touching home plate after home runs the same way that Ortiz does. I guess the negatives of that comparison are that they share similar foot speed and have similar amounts of “grace” around first base. Vargas put together a very solid season in Ft. Myers, really his first full season as a professional. In 125 games, he hit .267/.344/.468 (.813) with 33 doubles, one triple, 19 home runs and 93 RBI. He hits pretty well from both sides of the plate as well. Don’t get carried away. Don’t expect Vargas to become the next David Ortiz. But, I think he can get to the big leagues as a DH with some pop in his bat.

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    There was Part 7 of what will be a ten part series with my Top 50 Twins Prospects. Next week, we'll work through the Top 15 Twins prospects (in my opinion). In case you missed any of the previous installments, here are those links:

    Part 1: 46-50
    Part 2: 41-45
    Part 3: 36-40
    Part 4: 31-35
    Part 5: 26-30
    Part 6: 21-25
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      Eades is one of the most interesting Twins prospects to me. His "massive" 15.2 innings after an insanely long college season mean zero to me. If can add some more strength with professional trainers and figure out if he wants to throw a slider or a curve, instead of a slurve, he could be a steal. He was a top 20 draft prospect for most the year and ended in the top 35 of a lot of lists.
      Well put.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Smcginnity View Post
      I read this blog daily and barely know about Fernando Romero. I realize he is in the GCL but I know Thorpe, Rosario, Jorge, Landa but this Romero kid...I have never heard anything about him really.

      Is there a prediction on which pitchers will start where next season? It seems like we have a plethora of starting pitchers but not enough spots to start them. I imagine the following:

      Rochester:
      Logan Darnell
      Alex Meyer
      Trevor May
      Pat Dean
      Tom Stuifbergen

      New Britain:
      Taylor Rogers
      DJ Baxendale
      Matt Summers
      Alex Wimmers
      Tyler Duffey

      Fort Myers:
      Jose Berrios
      Ryan Eades
      Mason Melotakis
      Tim Atherton
      Tim Shibuya
      Hudson Boyd
      Jason Wheeler

      Cedar Rapids (This is where it gets tough...):
      Kohl Stewart
      Yorman Landa
      Lewis Thorpe
      Miguel Sulbaran
      Randy Rosario
      Felix Jorge
      Stephen Gonsalves
      Aaron Slegers


      What say you Seth?
      I tried this same exercise following the season and came to the same general conclusion as you; there are a lot of pitchers vying for starting rolls, especially at the lower levels.

      A couple of notes, IMO.
      1) Rochester and NB are very similar to mine except I think Duffey starts at FM. He wasn't overly impressive at FM to end the season. I think Jason Wheeler gets the start at NB instead.

      2) Sulbaran will start at FM while Atherton, Shibuya and Boyd will be in the Pen to start the season. Brett Lee will fit in here as well. Interesting to see if he's starting or a reliever to begin the season.

      3)Thorpe will pitch at Elizabethton this season. His arm isn't ready for full season ball at this point. He only pitched 44 innings in 2013.

      4) It will be very interesting to see where Stewart and Gonsalves pitch this season. Berrios got pushed to Beloit in 2013 but there were more openings in the rotation. Beloit 2014 is going to be extremely crowded. Jorge, Landa and Rosario will be starting which only leaves 2 or 3 other slots. Eades, Slegers, Hein Robb, Gonsalves, Stewart, Kuo Hua Lo and Josue Montanez all could be looking for starts.

      5) Elizabethton will have a similar problem with Thorpe, Gibbons, Romero, Chih-Wei Hu, other GCL pitchers (there were a bunch who got starts and it's sometimes tough to figure out who will be "starters" at Elizabethton) and possibly Stewart and Gonsalves plus any pitchers they draft in 2014.
    1. SarasotaBill's Avatar
      SarasotaBill -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Rogers was the Twins 12th round pick in '12, one round after Baxendale. Both out of college. I would argue they should/could be closer together. Rogers gets bonus points for being left-handed and having a very good slider. He could drop a couple of spots due to lack of Ks. Baxendale should be up a few spots as well due to his pitch mix. I like both. They should be closer together. Having seen both, I'll stand by my slight edge to Rogers, though I know that most will disagree... (It's my list! HA!)
      Text above states Rogers as 2011 pick (needs correction). I assumed it was correct.

      I look at value this way: who would I'll be less willing to trade. Baxendale has shown a capability to dominate and the Twins have pushed him faster. Neither may make it but at least Baxendale has shown a higher ceiling.
    1. Wookiee of the Year's Avatar
      Wookiee of the Year -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      When Ortiz started this season on the DL, he went to a few of the Miracle games. He has befriended Sano and Vargas. I can't speak to the extent of that, but I know there was time spent together.
      Wow, that I had not heard before. Pretty cool little tidbit--thanks for passing it along!
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Interesting group. I too hadn't really heard of Romero, despite the inordinate amount of time I spend here. Goodrum is a favorite of mine, hopefully due for a breakout...I remember he was one of those raw, toolsy guys that would take time.

      And Eades...I just hope he or Bard, or Gonsalves, or somebody develops so the narrative can become how great the Twins are at mining for overlooked talent. He could be the next Matt Moore...or the next Matt Bashore.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      At their ages, Hicks and Vargas needed to be pushed up last summer.

      Hicks will have just turned 24 as the minor league season starts next year. Vargas is 23 and turns 24 in August. You might see catchers or possibly up the middle prospects at that age in AA. Those prospects have both parts of their game to develop.

      You don't see bat only prospects at 24 in AA. The earlier mentioned David Ortiz started in High A and moved to AA and AAA all in his 21 year old season. Allen Craig was an older prospect for the Cardinals. Like Hicks, he was a college guy. He played his first full season in high A(22) and second full season at AA(23). He hit AAA at 24 in spite of being in college.

      Vargas is on a similar age path as Craig, but he has been in pro ball since he was 18. If he was a prospect, he should have moved quicker. Hicks is behind by a year or two. He was a college player but so was Craig. If he was a prospect, he should have been moved up.

      The Twins need one of these guys in AAA next year and one in AA. It is time to find out if they are prospects.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      4) It will be very interesting to see where Stewart and Gonsalves pitch this season. Berrios got pushed to Beloit in 2013 but there were more openings in the rotation. Beloit 2014 is going to be extremely crowded. Jorge, Landa and Rosario will be starting which only leaves 2 or 3 other slots. Eades, Slegers, Hein Robb, Gonsalves, Stewart, Kuo Hua Lo and Josue Montanez all could be looking for starts.

      Crap, we traded our whole Cedar Rapids rotation to Oakland?!? I hope we got a good return.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      At their ages, Hicks and Vargas needed to be pushed up last summer.

      The Twins need one of these guys in AAA next year and one in AA. It is time to find out if they are prospects.
      I just don't get this line of thinking. I understand it in the form of a prospect list. The reason that Buxton and Sano are top prospects in baseball is, along with their amazing talent, their age to level of competition. They are the exceptions.

      I just don't see the value in pushing a player based on age as opposed to readiness. If they get to the big leagues at 25 instead of 23, but they're in a better position to succeed, what's the negative?

      Brian Dozier got to the big leagues less than 2 years after he signed, and he was 24, and yet, people thought he was old. That's just crazy to me.

      Age is just one piece of a prospect list.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Byron Buxton
      Miguel Sano
      Eddie Rosario
      Alex Meyer
      Trevor May
      Jorge Polanco
      Max Kepler
      Travis Harrison
      Adam Brett Walker
      Josmil Pinto
      Danny Santana
      Jose Berrios

      Kohl Stewart
      Lewis Thorpe
      Hudson Boyd

      Decent, but probably not included:
      Jason Wheeler-performance is good
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I just don't get this line of thinking. I understand it in the form of a prospect list. The reason that Buxton and Sano are top prospects in baseball is, along with their amazing talent, their age to level of competition. They are the exceptions.

      I just don't see the value in pushing a player based on age as opposed to readiness. If they get to the big leagues at 25 instead of 23, but they're in a better position to succeed, what's the negative?

      Brian Dozier got to the big leagues less than 2 years after he signed, and he was 24, and yet, people thought he was old. That's just crazy to me.

      Age is just one piece of a prospect list.
      Dozier is an up the middle player. He will get a longer chance to succeed or fall into a utility role.

      Hicks has to make it by his bat. He is going to need a lot of AA and AAA at bats to be successful. How is that going to happen by 25 if he starts in High A at 24? By the time he does get to the majors, he will have nothing left in the growth curve. I think the way the a Twins have chosen to handle him demonstrates that they don't see him as a prospect.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I really like Dalton Hicks, but he was a 17th round pick out of college just last year. I rank him 30th in the Twins minor leagues, but that's likely well higher than most would rank him. Is he a prospect? Yes. Is he a top prospect? No. He's probably not a guy that's going to make it up by 25, and that's OK. If he does make it at 26-27, that would be great! And, it doesn't mean he can't be a valuable piece starting at that time.
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