Some Twins fans-like my dad-might not know it, but we are watching a mini prospect wave hit the big league club. Hicks, Arica, Parmelee, Gibson, and you could throw in Dozier make up the first wave preceding the Tsunami of Twins prospects that are due to hit Target field in the 2015 season. That Tsunami is made up of Sano, Rosario, Meyer, May, Vargas, Buxton, Baxendale and a few others. Most of the next wave will be hitters and if all goes to plan, start mashing the ball around and making the Twins one of the most feared offensive line-up in the MLB. I don’t have full confidence in the pitchers of the next wave so it will require the FO to go out and buy some guys. – Gulp.
But who is in the pipeline after 2015? Who are the players who are going to take up the standard and fill in the holes as Buxton, Sano, Rosario hit their prime? Will the Twin have a huge drop-off like what happened in the late 00's? Or is there another group of guys who can come up and maintain the success? For this we have to look in the low-low minors. I am going to ignore the 2013 draft picks like Stewart, Gonsalves, Turner, Kirby, Navarreto, Eades, and other such guys. They could have solid careers and I high on Turner, but for this I am going to look at guys who have been in the system for at least a year and are under 20.
Jorge Fernandez – 19 Years old, from Puerto Rico. 7th Round Draft Pick in 2012. 6' 3" 188 lbs. He has played Cather, DH and 1B. Twins have had some good success with prospects from Puerto Rico so he is one to watch. In 19 AB for the GCL Twins he is hitting for good average and power. The Twins drafted a lot of catchers this year so he is buried in the depth chart. But hopefully he can end the year at E-Town this year.
Amaurys Minier – 17 years old in the GCL.269/.333/.500 6' 2", 190 lb Swith Hitting 3B. He was a big FA signing out of the Dominican Republic. He seems pretty raw and probably will be moved up slowly. He is no Sano, but could a decent player for the twins in 5 years.
Zach Larson – 6’2" 185 lb. Right handed OF, 19 years old from Florida. Another 2012 draft pick. He is repeating at the GCL. So far he has started strong in 19 AB: .316/.350/.684 He is a toolsy high upside guy who is one to watch develop.
Frankly speaking, there seems to be a lack of huge talent in the position player category. The last two drafts, Twins have gone heavy in pitching. They need to be creative in the International Free Agent pool and try to land some more high upside position players.
This is the heart of the next wave. Barring injuries, I really believe in 2017, 2018, Twins fans will be about to watch an amazing group of young pitchers. Berrios should be in the bigs by then, Stewart maybe. But outside of the guys, there is an amazing group of young pitchers coming. I’ve been following the Twins Minors for a while and I don’t remember a group of pitchers so young throwing out such good numbers for the Low Minors. I know its very early in their careers, and they could have problems with behavior issues like Angel Mata and get kicked off the team, or injuries or they could just turn out to be bad pitchers as they face better competition. But for now, their future likes bright as they are young kids and the pitchers in E-Town are facing college hitters and so far experienceing some success. Lets look at some names:
Felix Jorge - 19 years old from the Dominican Republic. In 2012 he had 37 SO, 12 BB in 34.2 IP for the GCL twins. A bonus baby signed in 2011. In 2013 he has only pitched 7 innings but has 9 SO for the E-Town Twins. So far he has 4 walks which is obviously too much, control wasn’t a big issue for him in 2012, so hopefully it doesn’t become one now. In his early start to 2013 he is getting lots of Ground outs and this for me is a huge measure when I look at Minor League pitchers.
Randy Rosario –19 years old Lefty from the Dominican Republic. In 2012 he had 42 SO, 19 BB in 38.1. Opponents hitting .147 against him . He is a GB pitcher to the extreme with 0 HR as a professional. This year, for E-Town in 10 innings he has 10 SO, and 1 BB. He is also continuing to get GB which will be key for him as he goes forward. In my opinion, he is the class of the young Twins pitchers and if he keeps his Walks down, he could be Buerhle type of guy. I really think he is going to fly up the system if he keeps getting Ground Outs and not giving up walks.
Yorman Landa – 19 year old Right Hander from Venezuela Last year in the GCL as an 18 year old he had 27 SO, but 20 Walks 33.1 IP. Hitters only hit .204 off him. Walks was his problem in 2012 but in 2013 for E-Town he only has 2 in 10 innings. In those 10 innings he has 15 SO and opponents are hitting .171 off him. His GB rate is down from last year. Hope to see him get that up. He has lot of talent, he just needs to harness it.
Austin Malinowski – 20 Years old from Lino Lakes MN. Had a big year last year for the GCL Twins with a 2.27 era and 32 SO in 31 IP. However, in 2013 he is struggling with command early on. He might be having problems moving to the Bullpen as he has 7 walks in 5 IP. Still he has talent and it would be nice to see him getting starts.
Lewis Thorpe – 17 years old Lefty out of Australia. Big international FA signing from 2012 so he should get lots of opportunities with the team. For the 2103 GCL, he has 8 innings pitched 12 SO in his very young career. He is an interesting prospect to follow.
Sam Gibbons – 19 from Australia. Twins are having him repeat the GCL again this year, not sure why as he pitched well last year. He gets strike outs and doesn’t walk many.
Kuo Hua Lo is 20 years old pitching out the bullpen for E-Town. Last year he had 33 SO in 39 innings, but walked only 7. So far he is continuing to show good control.
The GCL Twins have some other interesting pitchers too like Leonel Zazueta (18) Fernando Romero (18), Miguel Gonzalez (18) & Damian Defrank (18). But these guys don’t have any kind of track record to get a read on them at this point.
Finally we have Jose Berrios who is 19 and holding his own in CR. In 10 starts he pitched 55.1 innings. He has 65 SO with 15 Walks and a 3.09 ERA. Opponents are hitting .256 off him. The Sky is the limit for him and I think the Twins will keep working him slowly up the ladder as they protect his arm.
With pitchers you have to assume that 90% of these guys will have injuries and setbacks and never make it. But the cream will rise to the top and here is a group of young arms who are doing well. At the very least its shows that the organizational might be changing. Instead of college pitchers who have low ceilings we will be able to watch a group of young pitchers who are getting outs against competition as old or older than them. How these young arms respond to higher work loads, more advanced hitters and better defenses behind them will be interesting to watch. Each one of these pitchers have huge question marks and there is no sure thing - especially in the low minors. But I think we will see these pitchers rise up the ranks and at least 1 or 2 of them will become a top 15 pitching prospect by the end of 2014. My prediction isRandy Rosario will be the best – even in front of Berrios, but there is other guys who could be good too. The earliest we will see any of these is guys in 2015 (Berrios) but we could see Roasrio in 2016 with Landa right behind him. If the stars align, these three guys could both be in the opening day rotation by 2017 bringing pitching talent to a team that has Buxton, Sano, Rosario, Hicks, Arcia and an ageing Mauer. Giving the team the next-next wave of prospects, this time pitchers instead of hitters, just in time to drive the team to a World Series.