• Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects: 6-10

    We are getting close now. Today, we enter into the Top 10 Twins prospects by looking at prospects six through ten. To give a heads up, the Top 5 prospects will be posted for Thursday, so be sure to come back for that. And on Friday, I'll review my Top 50 and encourage all of you to post a Top 20 (or 30 or 50, or whatever you like).

    I would argue that the top five Twins prospects approach 'elite' status. Prospects six through ten all have great upside, but each still has a question or two. It may be youth. It may be plate control or discipline. It may be development of a third or fourth pitch. These guys have a chance to be solid major league contributors. Likely they won't be big league All-Stars, but they can be big league regulars (and sometimes they do become All-Stars).

    Part 9: Prospects 6-10

    As we start the Top 10 Twins prospects today, this group is really pretty interchangeable (and I think Josmil Pinto fits with this group). I think it's fair to say Cedar Rapids is pretty well represented as four of the five players on this list spent at least most of the season there. One was the Midwest League's Player of the Year, according to Topps. Two are hold-overs from last year's Top 10 while the fourth has jumped up prospect rankings over the last 18 months. The fifth is a hard-throwing kid who would still be a senior in high school if he were from the US.
    Photo by Rinaldi Photos
    #10 – Adam Walker – OF (22)

    The Milwaukee native went to Jacksonville University and put together three very good collegiate seasons. He posted OPS of 1.035, 1.168 and 1.007 in those seasons. He hit 52 doubles and 42 homers in those three seasons, plus he went 40-41 in stolen base attempts. After the Twins drafted him in the third round of the 2012 draft, he hit 14 home runs at Elizabethton, not to mention the two playoff homers that helped the E-Twins to the Appy League title. At Cedar Rapids in 2013, he hit .278/.319/.526 (.844) with 31 doubles and seven triples. He led the Midwest League with 27 home runs and 109 RBI (which was second in minor league baseball to only Dalton Hicks). He was also 10-10 in steal attempts. At 6-4 and 225 pounds, Walker is built for power. Except for Miguel Sano, Walker has as much power and power potential as anyone in the organization. He didn’t walk much in his first full season in the minors, which is a concern, so that will be the area worth watching. Defensively, he is solid in right field with good speed for his size. Yesterday, Topps named him the Player of the Year in the Midwest League.

    #9 – Lewis Thorpe – LH SP (17)


    Last week, Lewis Thorpe was kind enough to participate in a Q&A, so be sure to check that out. We know he has grown physically a lot since signing last summer from Australia. He also now has the ability to throw a fastball at 95 mph. He has a good curveball and an improving change up. In his 44 innings pitched for the GCL Twins this year, he walked just six and struck out 66 batters. He then dominated Team USA in international competition after the season. He is very young and has a long way to go, but he has certainly, and very quickly, put himself on the Twins prospect map!

    #8 – Max Kepler – OF/1B (20)


    Since signing at the same time as Polanco, Kepler has slowly worked his way up the system. Whereas Polanco spent two years in the GCL, Kepler spent two years at Elizabethton. Unfortunately, he began this season with an injured throwing elbow. He moved up to Cedar Rapids for the season’s second half. He hit just .237/.312/.424 (.736) with 11 doubles, three triples and nine home runs. He really struggled against left-handers with the Kernels. At 6-4 and nearly 200 pounds, he has the build to hit a lot of home runs. He stands at the plate with his hands held high, and is able to get the bat through the zone very quickly. He is a solid outfielder with adequate range and arm. If he stays in the outfield, left field is his likely destination. He also plays a very good first base which could be a very good fallback option for him.

    #7 – Jose (JO) Berrios – RH SP (19)


    Berrios was the Twins supplemental first round pick in 2012 out of high school in Puerto Rico. After an impressive professional debut in 2012 between the GCL and the E-Twins: He combined to go 3-0 with four walks and 49 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. He showed up at the Twins big league camp this year because he was selected to play for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Because he pitched out of their bullpen, he remained in extended spring training after returning to the Twins. He was stretched out before being called up to the Kernels where he made 19 starts. He went 7-7 with a 3.99 ERA over 103.2 innings. He walked 40 and struck out 100. As pitching coach Gary Lucas told me, there were times when Berrios looked like a future star and other times he looked like a teenager on the mound. He has the pitches to be very successful. His fastball is between 92 and 95. He has a very good breaking ball. His changeup is improving. He just needs to slow it down to get a good differential between it and his fastball. He is just 6-0 and thin. He’s very athletic on the mound and he should advance to Ft. Myers in 2014.


    Photo by Tim Gale

    #6 – Jorge Polanco – 2B (20)


    When the Twins signed Polanco as a 16-year-old in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic, he was a very skinny kid, known for his defense. It’s possible that his defense was a bit overrated because generally the belief is that he doesn’t really have the arm for shortstop. He is a solid defensive second baseman. The surprise is that he has grown into a really solid hitter. After really struggling with the bat his first two seasons, he had a strong showing at Elizabethton in 2012 and he proved himself again with the bat with a solid first full season campaign in Cedar Rapids. He hit .308/.362/.452 (.813) with 32 doubles, ten triples and five home runs. Although he is an aggressive hitter, he does have a good idea of the strike zone and puts together quality at-bats. He was the 3rd overall pick in the Dominican Winter League draft and began in that league this winter by hitting .359 in his first ten games.



    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thank you for reading part Part 9 of my ten-part series with my Top 50 Twins Prospects. On Thursday, the Top 5 Twins prospects (in my opinion) will be revealed. 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
    Part 7: 16-20
    Part 8: 11-15
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Nice list Seth
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think that Lewis Thorpe is way too high based on a total of 44 innings at the GCL if you consider his potential. He did have monster numbers, but if you compare them to Berrios' 2012 numbers in the GCL and Appy, they are not that monster. And I am referring to Berrios because he is ranked at around that spot.

      Were he hitting 95 and had a couple of above average offering to complement his FB, it would have been a different story.

      I know he is a lefty and there is a lot of hype right now, but...
    1. ajstolt_09's Avatar
      ajstolt_09 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lightfoot789 View Post
      AdamBrettWalkerKernelsHighlights
      youtube
      The first short clip is an advertisement for the Kernels (be patient) and then there are 29 short highlight clips (15 - 30 seconds each) of Adam Brett Walker at Cedar Rapids home games only. It played on my laptop, but didn't play on my ipad for some reason. I think this series of clips would give everyone a real idea of what Walker brings to the organization in terms of potential.
      The guy absolutely crushes the ball! Hes a good looking athlete from the right side of the plate, hopefully he cruises on up to the Twins by 2015
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      That said, anyone signed at 16 should be exempt from rule 5 for at least 5 years if not 6.
      I was going to write an article about this - and still might - but there is an important factoid that we need to remember when discussing whether or not Polanco and Kepler should be added.

      Since they both made their full-season debut this year, they will have used up their three options in their first five (full) seasons, allowing them a fourth option year. That essentially allows both players an "extra" year, though it's on the wrong side of the Rule 5 deadline. Both guys are no-brainer adds.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Sorry, Jeremy, I didn't quite understand what you were saying...

      Would these two players end up with 4 option years because of their debut year in full season ball?
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      Sorry, Jeremy, I didn't quite understand what you were saying...

      Would these two players end up with 4 option years because of their debut year in full season ball?
      Yes. If you have exhausted your option years before you start your fifth full season, you get a fourth year. Kepler and Polanco will only have four full seasons when their options run out after the 2016 season, so they could be optioned a fourth year in 2017.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      A team may have a fourth option year on a player with less than five full seasons of professional experience, provided that both conditions are met below.
      A player has not spent at least 90 days on an active professional roster in a season. Minor leagues that play below Class A Advanced have seasons that are shorter than 90 days, and as such, any player who spends a full season in a rookie or Class A (short-season) league will receive a fourth option year.
      A player has not spent at least 60 days on an active professional roster AND then at least 30 days on a disabled list in a season. Only after 60 days have been spent on an active professional roster does time spent on the disabled list count towards the 90-day threshold. As with the prior example, this cannot occur with players who spend a full season in a rookie or Class A (short season) league.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      ... so you think that all Top-10 guys should fall in the Elite category? In my mind, not even all of MiLB's Top-100 are Elite prospects. Someone who exemplifies my thinking is Kyle Gibson, who was very deserving of his spot but not what I would ever call 'Elite'.
      No, and I qualified my post--but i will explain. Every "Top Ten List" has ten names--but that doesn't imply that all ten are, or must be, "elite". It's very likely that only a handful are actually "elite", but the list still has ten names. But if there aren't ten guys who actually are "elite" the bottom of the list needs to be weighted with those on the cusp of the majors to reflect their success over time and the likely promotion to the majors.

      There may be more than ten "elites" (if a team is really fortunate)--but only ten are on the "Top Ten List".
    1. Thesouthpaw22's Avatar
      Thesouthpaw22 -
      It is tough to put Thorpe already in the Top 10 simply because he really hasn't proved much yet, he still has a lot of maturity and experience to gain, overall if I were to switch up a few things I would swap Adam Walker and Max Kepler, simply because of what we got to see number wise last year, Walker was the Midwest League player of the year and Kepler is still improving down in Cedar Rapids, but I like Berrios at no. 7, I think he eventually will be up in the Top 5 because he will be a number 2, maybe a number 3 starter when he touches his ceiling(or if he ever does, but im optimistic about him). Watching Berrios pitch in the WBC was FANTASTIC, he was only 19 at the time, throwing Fastballs past elite players such as Robinson Cano, he has no where to go but up! I really don't see Polanco at number 6 though, he had a solid year this year but when you look at players that I previously mentioned they have a bigger upside than Polanco does. Very excited to see what you have as the Top 5! You guys do great work.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      A team may have a fourth option year on a player with less than five full seasons of professional experience, provided that both conditions are met below.
      A player has not spent at least 90 days on an active professional roster in a season. Minor leagues that play below Class A Advanced have seasons that are shorter than 90 days, and as such, any player who spends a full season in a rookie or Class A (short-season) league will receive a fourth option year.
      A player has not spent at least 60 days on an active professional roster AND then at least 30 days on a disabled list in a season. Only after 60 days have been spent on an active professional roster does time spent on the disabled list count towards the 90-day threshold. As with the prior example, this cannot occur with players who spend a full season in a rookie or Class A (short season) league.
      Huh, I had never heard that before. Yeah, If this is true, it pushes Kepler from a maybe 40 man add, to a sure add. That type of talent needs to be protected. Kepler ceiling is so high, one strong statistical year from him, and one age appropriate league year from Walker and our system may not take a big hit after promotions from Sano and Buxton.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      I was going to write an article about this - and still might - but there is an important factoid that we need to remember when discussing whether or not Polanco and Kepler should be added.

      Since they both made their full-season debut this year, they will have used up their three options in their first five (full) seasons, allowing them a fourth option year. That essentially allows both players an "extra" year, though it's on the wrong side of the Rule 5 deadline. Both guys are no-brainer adds.
      So there's a 4th option year for people in this scenario? Was that part of the new CBA?
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      So there's a 4th option year for people in this scenario? Was that part of the new CBA?
      Nope. It's been in play for as long as I can remember.

      Jose Mijares was added to the 40-man after the 2005 season (his first full-season). He spent a couple seasons in the VSL. His was optioned in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Because he entered 2009 with less than five full seasons, he could be optioned again - and was - in 2009, his fourth optional assignment year.

      Felix Jorge, who only threw 60 innings last year, should be left in EST until short-season starts. He should then be moved up to Cedar Rapids. That would make 2015 his first "full" season. He needs to be added to the 40-man after the 2015 season, so he would be in the same boat: eligible for a fourth optional year.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thesouthpaw22 View Post
      It is tough to put Thorpe already in the Top 10 simply because he really hasn't proved much yet, he still has a lot of maturity and experience to gain, overall if I were to switch up a few things I would swap Adam Walker and Max Kepler, simply because of what we got to see number wise last year, Walker was the Midwest League player of the year and Kepler is still improving down in Cedar Rapids, but I like Berrios at no. 7, I think he eventually will be up in the Top 5 because he will be a number 2, maybe a number 3 starter when he touches his ceiling(or if he ever does, but im optimistic about him). Watching Berrios pitch in the WBC was FANTASTIC, he was only 19 at the time, throwing Fastballs past elite players such as Robinson Cano, he has no where to go but up! I really don't see Polanco at number 6 though, he had a solid year this year but when you look at players that I previously mentioned they have a bigger upside than Polanco does. Very excited to see what you have as the Top 5! You guys do great work.
      A 17 year old lefty who can peak out at 95 is definitely a top 10 system talent. There are so few of them. Here is Ben Badler's (BaseballAmerica) take on if Thorpe will be a future big league starter:

      "Definitely a starter. If had been born in the United States, he'd be a first-round pick. Actually, he'd be just starting his senior year of high school, so he wouldn't even be eligible until the 2014 draft, but I already like him better than some of the arms who went at the end of the first round this year."
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Yes. If you have exhausted your option years before you start your fifth full season, you get a fourth year. Kepler and Polanco will only have four full seasons when their options run out after the 2016 season, so they could be optioned a fourth year in 2017.
      Jeremy, where were you in our extended 40-man/Rule 5 Kepler debates?

      The extra option year pretty much settles that.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      Jeremy, where were you in our extended 40-man/Rule 5 Kepler debates?

      The extra option year pretty much settles that.
      Around, but who am I to ruin all that fun.

      Vargas may be in the same boat as well. His suspension clouds things, but, technically, this season was his first full season. There may be something in the fine print that says otherwise, though. .
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Around, but who am I to ruin all that fun.

      Vargas may be in the same boat as well. His suspension clouds things, but, technically, this season was his first full season. There may be something in the fine print that says otherwise, though. .
      If he was suspended under short season rules (IE couldn't start serving he's suspicion until the short season started) then the option status should count the same way...
    1. goulik's Avatar
      goulik -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I think it speaks volumes to the types of players that the Twins are signing that in a strong system, young players they've signed in recent years are very exciting. Of course, youth means longer trek to the big leagues and more opportunity for falling back. But, I like all four of these guys, for sure!
      I get what your saying Seth. I should have given my reason why I like it...I love when a prospect reaches the majors at a fairly young age so we can root for them for a LONG time so being this high on the prospect chart and young gives us better odds of seeing them in a Twins Uniform for 15+ years. Even being able to root for them before they get here and knowing the names for a long time. That is why I like their youth.
    1. goulik's Avatar
      goulik -
      Sometimes my posts are more emotional than logical.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Nothing wrong with emotion... of course, if a guy comes up at 25, he can still be with the organization for 12+ years.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      One of the undervalued things in prospecting is "old" prospects. Some times it takes time. Guys like Koskie and Youkilis took a long time to make the majors. Youk wasn't a full time player until 27 and neither was ever a top 100 prospect.
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