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  • My Top 50 (plus 1) Twins Prospects - August 1 Edition

    One of my favorite days of the year is the day I open my mailbox and see a cardboard box just big enough to hold the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. The first thing I do is read each of the 30 capsules about the Twins prospects. Then I proceed to read each of the other 870 reports in the book, usually a few times.

    This year they added a new feature: the BA Grade along with the Risk Factor. Essentially, it makes it possible to compare all 900 prospects. If you want a general idea of where Miguel Sano would rank in the Rangers system, you take his grade (70/high) and find where that would fit (below all the other 70s – only Profar at #1 – and higher than all the other “high risks” – Leonys Martin at #4). He would slot in somewhere between Profar and Martin, most likely in between Martin Perez (65/medium) and Mike Olt (60/medium).
    They have an in-depth explanation of the BA Grades as well as the Risk Factors, but I’m going to tell you how I interpret it and how I use it to rank the Twins prospects. (Note these are my grades and risks, not BA’s.)
    All players are ranked on the 20-80 scale. This number would indicate a player’s ceiling.

    80 – Once-in-a-Lifetime prospects. These are your Bryce Harpers, Josh Hamiltons, Ken Griffey Jrs… and not much in between.

    75 – These are your franchise players and Ace starters. They’re out there… and the Twins have one (Joe Mauer) and traded one (Johan Santana), though Santana wouldn’t rank here anymore.

    70 – The guys you expect to hear named to the All-Star game every year. When Justin Morneau was in his prime, he fits here. Staff aces, but not necessarily true “aces”.

    65 – These would be your top-of-the-rotation starters and borderline all-stars. When Michael Cuddyer was keeping the Twins together last year, I would place him here; most of the time though, he’s a…

    60 – “First-division regulars” (Denard Span), “middle-of-the-rotation starters” (lacks a second plus-pitch), or stud closers.

    55 – Guys that look like they could be first-division regulars but lack a tool or two (Ben Revere) or a pitcher that doesn’t have it together all the time.

    50 – This is where most players fit – second-division regulars, 8th inning set-up guys or your best #4 pitchers.

    45 – These would be platoon or utility guys (Jamey Carroll) or #4/5 starters (who can eat innings), middle relievers.

    40 – This is where your #5 starters go, back-up position players or relief specialists.

    35 – Long-relief/low-leverage relief pitchers or situation position players (defensive replacement, pinch runner, pinch hitter).

    30 – AAA players and I hope not to rank any guys here.

    As far as the Risk Factor goes, it’s pretty simple.

    “Safe” means the player is at their ceiling and ready to contribute.

    “Low” means that the big leagues is in their future and they’re very close to their ceiling.

    “Medium” means that the tools are there, but this is an achievable gap between tools and MLB skills.

    “High” means there is still lots of projection.

    “Extreme” means professional baseball is new or there is a significant injury to overcome.

    Similar to how things are in the Prospect Handbook, not all players with the same number are ranked together. Likewise, players with the same risk aren’t necessarily ranked together. BA’s preseason #2 Twins prospect, Joe Benson, is a 55/medium. Max Kepler, also a 55, is ranked #20 due his risk being “extreme”. Their ceiling is similar, but their “floors” are much different. Kepler is also ranked below a number of players with a lower ceiling. Why? Because their risk factor is much less.

    The numbers mentioned above are purely for the purpose of examples. My rankings/grades may be much different, but at least you get the idea.

    I am not including players that won’t be considered a prospect at year’s end (or that I don’t think will), such as Chris Parmelee, Liam Hendriks, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar.

    I’ve also included, in parenthesis, my pre-season ranking, if they were in the Top 10. Only Liam Hendriks, who ranked #6 on my preseason list, has graduated off.

    This is a Top 50 and I waited until after the deadline to include players that were acquired… but I wanted Albers at 50, so it’s going to be a Top 50 plus 1 to include Pedro Hernandez

    #41-50
    50. Andrew Albers, LP, 35/Medium, 10/6/85
    49. Josh Burris, P, 45/Extreme, 11/28/91
    48. Caleb Thielbar, LRP, 40/Medium, 1/31/87
    47. Evan Bigley, OF, 40/Medium, 3/9/87
    46. Deolis Guerra, RP, 40/High, 4/17/89
    45. Austin Malinowski, LSP, 45/Extreme, 11/30/92
    44. Romy Jimenez, OF, 45/Extreme, 5/14/91
    43. Jorge Polanco, SS, 45/Extreme, 7/5/93
    42. Angel Mata, SP, 45/Extreme, 12/3/92
    41. Nate Roberts, OF, 45/High, 2/25/89

    Of note: If Polanco shows he can hit, he will move back up prospect lists thanks to his defensive prowess. Jimenez has had a great month or so, but hasn't played much otherwise. Roberts has a knack for getting on base, but will have to stay healthy to show other tools are playable.

    #31-40
    40. Tyler Duffey, P, 45/High, 12/27/90
    39. Javier Pimentel, SS, 50/Extreme, 3/13/94
    38. Miguel Gonzalez, P, 50/Extreme, 10/12/94
    37. Angel Morales, OF, 45/High, 11/24/89
    36. Michael Tonkin, RP, 45/High, 11/19/89
    35. Daniel Ortiz, OF, 45/High, 1/5/90
    34. D.J. Baxendale, SP, 45/High, 12/8/90
    33. Daniel Santana, SS, 45/High, 11/7/90
    32. Carlos Gutierrez, RP, 45/High, 9/22/86
    31. J.D. Williams, OF, 50/Extreme, 11/20/91

    Of note: Morales and Gutierrez, both top-10 prospects once, need to get healthy and prove they belong. J.D. Williams, who is one of the fastest players in the system, needs to show he’s a baseball player, not just fast. Baxendale is a starting pitcher to keep your eye on.

    #21-30
    30. Zach Jones, P, 45/High, 12/4/90
    29. J.T. Chargois, RP, 45/High, 12/3/90
    28. Pedro Florimon, SS, 45/Medium, 12/10/86
    x. Pedro Hernandez, LP, 45/Medium, 4/12/89
    27. Dereck Rodriguez, OF, 50/Extreme, 6/5/92
    26. Amaurys Minier, SS, 50/Extreme, 1/30/96
    25. Kennys Vargas, 1B, 50/Extreme, 8/1/90
    24. Alex Wimmers, P, 50/High, 11/1/88
    23. Adam Walker, OF, 50/High, 10/18/91
    22 (7). Adrian Salcedo, P, 50/High, 4/24/91
    21. Mason Melotakis, LP, 50/High, 6/28/91

    Of note: All of these names are intriguing. The pitchers – especially Jones, Chargois and Melotakis who could be huge movers with more experience – all have potential. Minier will debut next year. Vargas has lots of raw power.

    #11-20
    20. Madison Boer, P, 50/High, 11/9/89
    Struggling in the hi-A rotation, may have to go to bullpen to succeed.

    19. Corey Williams, LRP, 50/High, 7/4/90
    Lefty has struggled with consistency, can still fill a back-of-bullpen role.

    18. Luke Bard, P, 50/High, 11/13/90
    Recently promoted to E-Town, should get a chance to start.

    17. Levi Michael, SS, 50/High, 2/9/91
    Young for his level, Michael hasn’t hit.

    16. Chris Herrmann, C/OF, 45/Medium, 11/24/87
    Versatile defender has shown he can hit a little bit.

    15. Jason Wheeler, P, 50/High, 10/27/90
    Big-body who has thrown a ton of innings.

    14. Matt Summers, P, 50/High, 8/17/89
    Now only focused on pitching, watching his profile rise.

    13. Hudson Boyd, P, 55/Extreme, 10/18/92
    Has pitched well over his short professional career.

    12. B.J. Hermsen, P, 45/Medium, 12/1/89
    Not what you’d expect from his frame, but throws strikes and gets outs.

    11 (9). Niko Goodrum, SS, 55/Extreme, 2/28/92
    Great athlete getting another shot in Appy League.

    #1-10
    10 (8). Joe Benson, OF, 50/Medium, 3/5/88
    Down year, but glove still profiles as plus.

    9. Max Kepler, OF, 55/High, 2/10/93
    Filling out, could make lots of noise in next couple of years.

    8 (4). Kyle Gibson, P, 55/Medium, 10/23/87
    Coming back from TJ surgery; hopes to fill a rotation spot when healthy.

    7 (10). Travis Harrison, 3B, 60/Extreme, 10/17/92
    Big power from right side of plate; struggles defensively and may move to 1B.

    6 (3). Aaron Hicks, OF, 55/Medium, 10/2/89
    Switch-hitting starting to take (finally); super arm/defender in CF.

    5. J.O. Berrios, P, 60/Extreme, 5/27/94
    Excelling in GCL; dominant stuff.

    4 (5). Eddie Rosario, 2B, 65/High, 9/28/91
    Learning 2B, but real offensive threat with “quick-through-the-zone” bat.

    3 (2). Oswaldo Arcia, OF, 60/Medium, 5/9/91
    Pure hitter that is better in the OF than he looks.

    2. Byron Buxton, OF, 70/Extreme, 12/18/93
    Fast, super athlete, cannon arm, who needs to hit. If he hits with power, look out.

    1 (1). Miguel Sano, 3B, 70/High, 5/11/93
    Strikeout/defensive questions remain. No question about raw power – best in minor leagues.

    What do you think? Who is too high? Who is too low? Who did I forget entirely?

    My next addition will come out sometime after the calendar turns.

    This article was originally published in blog: My Top 50 (plus 1) Twins Prospects - August 1 Edition started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I think your grades are low on Gibson, Hicks, Benson, but doesn't look too bad. I might put Danniel Santana higher along with Walker and Vargas in the top 20?
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      You forgot Felix Jorge. He's thrown just as many innings as Berrios whom you overrated imo. Jorge would have been somewhere in my 20's before the season and he hasn't disappointed yet.

      I think you also overrated Harrison based on his appy league stats. His bat is good but he likely carries no defensive value. I'll take Kepler easily since he is younger, less developed as a European, performing better and will have more defensive value.

      I also don't get the love affair with Herrmann. he's only ranked 16 here (not ridiculously high) but he's a 24 yr old that has a <.800 OPS (sub .750 OPS) and he doesn't have good enough defense to be more than an occasional catcher. And by love affair the constant mention that Doumit's 2/7 contract is seemingly going to block him from being an MLB'er. His mediocrity is going to block him from being an MLB'er.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      pretty sure hudson boyd wasn't born in 82... just saying

      This appears to be more tools based, I'd probably rearrange most of the top 10. Berrois is way to high, and you can argue Arcia should be 1/2. Rosario at 3. I'd bring Gibson up higher too, and Benson.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Thanks for all the feedback.

      Santana, Walker and Vargas were all guys that were moved down in my last edit. #15-27 aren't separated by much and I tried not to overvalue what Vargas has done over the last two weeks. If he continues this tear, he'll move up.

      Felix Jorge was omitted.

      P Jorge, Felix 55 Extreme 1/24/94
      He should slot in at #21, between Boer and Walker.

      I'm very high on Berrios. He might not have the build of a Jose Fernandez (Miami), but I could see him shooting up prospect rankings in a similar fashion. Some aren't convinced he can start, that's never been a question for me. I thought he could have been drafted as high as 15 or 20.

      Kepler vs Harrison argument is valid. Does Kepler's recent power surge continue? I changed his risk from "extreme" to "high" recently, so no doubt he's on the rise.

      I think Herrmann's ceiling is of a platoon player - that's where he slotted in - and that you're undervaluing his defense.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      pretty sure hudson boyd wasn't born in 82... just saying
      If that were the case, he'd be much lower. :\ Fixed now.

      You could make all those arguments and I wouldn't fight you on them. But that's why prospect lists are fun!
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I too think that Hicks is to low, also the 55 seems a bit conservative as well. At the very least I think he is a 60 "solid major leaguer" and he really doesn't lack any tools at all at this point. If the power is legit (thinking 15-20 HR a year) and he can manage to hit .270 or so, he suddenly becomes a very nice CF, and possibly one of the best leadoff men in the game.
    1. enge0280's Avatar
      enge0280 -
      So where would you put Eduardo Escobar on this list if you thought he would still be counted as a prospect?
      And Parmelee?
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Fun list. I like Berrios a lot and was hoping the Twins would take him in the supp draft before they did but #5 is a bit aggressive. Hicks would be above Arcia for me but again, that's why these things are fun.

      Kepler, Hicks, Arcia are all having pretty good years which really helps our farm system. I liked last years draft, even if Michael is struggling a bit, and it's good to see Harrison and Boyd doing well.
    1. alarp33's Avatar
      alarp33 -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      pretty sure hudson boyd wasn't born in 82... just saying

      This appears to be more tools based, I'd probably rearrange most of the top 10. Berrois is way to high, and you can argue Arcia should be 1/2. Rosario at 3. I'd bring Gibson up higher too, and Benson.

      This list is tools based, because that is what prospects are ranked/ drafted/ traded based off.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Fun read.

      I'm also on the Berrios bandwagon.
    1. Matt VS's Avatar
      Matt VS -
      Jeremy, love the write up. For someone who doesn't get the handbook (which I sometimes deeply regret), your summary is much appreciated. I can't help but notice there aren't any "safe" or "low" risk prospects on the list. I assume the Twins have called those players up already (DeVries, Dozier, Parmelee), but do teams typically have a number of of these prospects in the minors? Or are they called up quickly?
    1. Jeff P's Avatar
      Jeff P -
      I think this is a good list, in general I would rank the guys below A ball lower as the disappointment rate between E town and Beloit is really high. However I am far more excited about the system than I was a couple of years ago and there is a good balance of good prospects that we will see this Sept or next year and some very high upside guys that are still 2-4 years away.

      One question, when you say that Polanco needs to show that he can hit do you mean next year at Beloit? Because his line at E town is .314/.400/.480 which I think is pretty solid; as a comparison Niko Goodrum is 16 months older (and ranked 32 spots higher) and his line at E town isn't any better: .242/.377/.470
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      I think your Hicks rating is right on. A first-division regular is pretty high praise. Hicks has the look of a 2nd-division regular with a chance to be a 1st if he learns to hit both lefties and righties. 55 is the perfect rating for him. Part of the problem is definition, because a 55 as defined incorporates risk. That is, a 55 medium is actually a 60 high.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      How am I underrating Herrmann's defense? He's not good enough to be an everyday catcher and his bat isn't good enough to be a starter at any position (OF/1B) other than catcher. I fail to be impressed at all with a 24 yr old that has a .717 OPS his second time thru AA.

      I like Berrios A LOT but this is too high too fast imo. There is absolutely no way that I can be convinced to put him over Gibson.

      I would also move Minier's upside up a tick or two. He has more risk than those around him in the rankings but he also has more upside.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Hard to tell with those things

      But... If you have Buxton at 70, Rosario at 65 and Arcia at 60 as far as potential goes, kind hard for me to see how Hicks at 55 and Benson at 50 make sense... Buxton and Rosario probably too high and Hicks and Benson too low. All of those guys, other than Buxton, who should probably be +5 should be at the same potential. And Rosario probably little lower, but his 2B transition raises him

      You got Josh Burris and Mason Melotakis way low, I think compared to people like Hudson Boyd and Luke Bard
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Buxton is the top prospect the Twins have. He actually has two talents that would rate as an 80 on the 20-80 scale no other Twins prospect has an 80 rating. Sano might have a 70 in Power. Buxton has an 80 in speed and an 80 arm. He has the most potential. I assume you don't rate Chris Parmelee and Liam Hendriks as propsects anymore even though if they were traded they would be prospects. Both in the Top 12 in the Twins system. Guys like Wheeler and BJ Hermesen have fun numbers in the minors but are 5 starters at best. Look at the K rates look at the competition. Not top 15 at all. Berrios is maybe top 15 but certainly not top 10 yet or even close to 5. That must have been a - Look what I did throw in. Alex Wimmers is to low. He has 3rd starter stuff and that still counts for something compared to guys like Wheeler and BJ.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      kab, I'm also not impressed with Herrmann. He looks like a back-up catcher to me at this point. Catchers that can hit a little bit and play adequate defense stay around for a awhile, so I'm not saying he is a terrible prospect.

      Matt- I think most prospects include a lot of risk. Many of these guys are in the minors because they have things to work on to get better. As prospects work up the ladder and stay consistent the risk drops and potential is clearer. Arcia, for example, would have less risk on my list since he has performed so well and stayed consistent. Every prospect has risk.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      top 10 is same as mine....different order, no biggie.
      Some disagreements in 2nd top...again no biggie as I see/hope Adam Walker is a top guy mostly
      Am I wrong to think MN will be top 10 for team prospects next year
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Lots of good feedback...

      VodkaDave: Hicks needs to show power. That's the missing tool. #3-6, really, though, aren't separated by much.

      enge: I would rank Parmelee as 50/Low (between Kepler and Benson) and Escobar as 45/Low (in between Goodrum and Hermsen). Dozier (45/Low) would slot in before Goodrum and Hendriks (50/Medium) right before Benson... basically all in that 10-15 range.

      gunnarther: #5 on Berrios is aggressive. I said before the draft I thought he could be a #2 starter... I didn't want to back off of that now.

      Matt VS: There are not many players labeled "safe". (I think only Matt Moore.) Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were "low"... many others that have MLB experience, but are still prospects are low. BA had Hendriks and Doyle as "low". I had Dinkelman as a 35/low, but he didn't make the cut. As far as purchasing the handbook, you would never regret it.

      Jeff P: Polanco is hitting now (100 ABs in the Appy League), but has never hit over .250 before. The Appy League is a hitter's league and it's a small sample size. He needs to sustain. Hitting in Beloit would be a good continuation of this year. The difference between Polanco and Goodrum has a lot to with their body builds.

      twinstalker: 55/Medium and 60/High are very similar, I went between the two for Hicks. Change those two, his ranking doesn't change, imo.

      kab: Herrmann is a good defensive OF. So when your 4th OF and your 2nd (or 3rd) catcher can be the same person, there is value. I had Minier rated much higher in my initial list. Way higher... but I want him to play in a game before I rank him too high. I agree with you though.

      thrylos: It's more than just the number though. I like to think of the risk factor as the floor. So Benson is 50/45, Hicks is 55/50, Arcia is 60/55, Rosario is 65/55, Buxton is 70/55. You can make a case that Benson could be higher. I've never been a huge believer. We can call Hicks 60/high (or 60/50), but I still think Arcia is a safer bet to reach a similar ceiling (albeit much different skills). But all is very debatable.

      Burris is a reliever with control issues. Maybe he's too high. Melotakis, if he stays in the pen, which is expended, lowers his ceiling. Boyd and Bard are rated as guys that will have to pitch out of the rotation. Funny though, all four of those guys I had a hard time placing.

      seans - Wheeler and Hermsen are back of the rotation guys for sure. Innings-eaters, which is exactly where I rate them. I think Wheeler can improve cause he's a big body. A velo increase isn't out of the question and the K-rate could come up. If not, yeah, he's a #5.

      I wouldn't argue with you about Buxton being #1.

      I had Wimmers higher, but TJ surgery is going to set him back. He was a 50/Medium (which rated him in the 12-13 ranger)... too many question made him a 50/High.

      Again, thanks for all the feeback... it's hard to argue with any of the points that were made.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      greengoblinrulz: Yes, unfortunately, you're wrong. The Twins won't be Top 10. I'm expecting ESPN and BA to put them somewhere between 16-22. They're top 6-7 is really good... the problem is between 8-20 where there is a lack of high-ceiling players (60/Extremes).
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