Minor League Update: Twins' Top Prospects

Hannah Foslien

We're just over a month into the minor league seasons. Let's take a look around our Top 30 list to see how our best and brightest have performed so far.

This will start to be a regular feature again as we go forward through the season. Now that we have a few weeks of play under the belt, here's a spin around Twinkie Town's top 30 Twins prospects for 2014.

1 - Byron Buxton, CF
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Buxton's season started late due to wrist issues, and after five games re-aggravated it and is out again. It's nothing serious, and the biggest effect is that the final push in his development is delayed. He was always likely to make his Major League debut in 2015 anyway, so losing a portion of this season doesn't affect his long-term prospects as much as it robs us of the opportunity to watch him put up video game numbers again. We'll see him down the line, and it still wouldn't surprise me to see him get a couple of weeks in Triple-A at the end of the year.

2 - Miguel Sano, 3B
New Britain Rock Cats (AA, 2013)

Sano's season was lost to Tommy John surgery but, like Buxton, was unlikely to make much of an impact for the Major League team until 2015. He'll be ready to go for spring training in 2015, and could still compete for the third base job from Opening Day.

3 - Alex Meyer, RHP
Rochester Red Wings (AAA)

Meyer has been up and down in eight starts this season, alternating appearances where he blitzes through hitters and appearances where he's not as efficient or effective as he'd like to be. In his last start, five days ago, he no-hit Columbus through five innings. It was all the further he'd go, striking out seven and walking four. In late April, he had back-to-back 11-strikeout games. Overall he's recorded 49 strikeouts in 40.1 innings, surrendering 17 earned runs (3.79 ERA) and just 31 hits. Velocity, stuff, attitude - it's all there. Meyer has turned from a potential ace, at the time of the Denard Span trade, to a guy who looks like he'll be one once he's ready. It's only a matter of weeks until he forces his way into the Major League rotation.

4 - Eddie Rosario, 2B
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)

It seems likely that Rosario would have started the season at Double-A, with an imminent promotion in store had he started the year with a bang. That plan is on hold as Rosario serves out his 50-game suspension for "a drug of abuse" (probably marijuana), which leaves just eight games left for him to miss. He's scheduled to be available off of his suspension on Wednesday, May 28.

5 - Kohl Stewart, RHP
Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)

As a 19-year old right-hander, he's more than holding his own for the Kernels. He's recorded 26 strikeouts in 34.2 innings (seven starts), allowing ten walks and just 23 hits en route to a 2.34 ERA. It's a performance that could earn him a mid to late-season callup to Fort Myers, but considering his age and who he's pitching against there's really no need to push him through the system too quickly. Opponents are hitting just .184 off of him. Let them see Stewart a couple of times, see how his arm responds, and if he continues to look good into late July, maybe we can get excited about what the Twins might have in Stewart's arm.

6 - Josmil Pinto, C
Minnesota Twins (MLB)

In 32 games and 127 plate appearances this season, Pinto has held his own by swatting out a .245/.362/.443 triple slash. The unexpected display of power has continued from his September callup last autumn, with another six homers leading to an impressive .198 isolated power mark. He's striking out a lot still, but he's also walking in 15% of his plate appearances. Is he being protected by not having to play everyday, thanks to the play of Kurt Suzuki? Possibly. But with a .358 wOBA and a 128 wRC+, and the recent callup of Chris Herrmann, hopefully we'll see him on a more regular basis.

7 - Jose Berrios, RHP
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Berrios is starting to turn some heads. He was the hot knife through Daytona's butter on Sunday, striking out ten and giving up two hits over seven innings. On the season, the almost birthday boy (he turns 20 in a week) has recorded 45 strikeouts in 43.1 innings en route to a 2.70 ERA. We're just eight starts into his 2014 campaign, but we could see him - as a newly-minted 20-year old - in Double-A by the end of the season. He just might be as good as his biggest fans think he can be.

8 - Jorge Polanco, 2B
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

With Niko Goodrum and Levi Michael on the same squad, all three players are moving around as they all need playing time. Polanco has been the Miracle's primary shortstop, and the 20-year old continues to impress: he's posted a .319/.400/.425 triple slash in 41 games. I expect him to hit a few more doubles as the summer moves along, but his discipline and strike zone judgement continue to evolve; in spite of this being his first stint in Fort Myers, he's still walking more (22) than he's striking out (18). He still needs work on maximizing his speed on the base paths, but there's a lot to love about Polanco. If you're wondering what the Twins will do at second base with Brian Dozier once Rosario is ready, you probably shouldn't sleep on this guy, either. There are middle infield prospects in the system with real sticks, and that is priceless.

9 - Max Kepler, CF/1B
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Kepler has been taking most of the center field duties for the Miracle in Buxton's absence. But in spite of being healthy and getting regular playing time, Kepler has been slow out of the gate. The 21-year old is hitting .220/.321/.356 in 34 games, with a pair of homers, 15 walks, and 19 strikeouts. It's still early, so the optimists among us may hope he'll adapt as we get deeper into the summer. The pessimists, however, are wondering just how far Kepler's prospect ranking will fall for next season.

10 - Lewis Thorpe, LHP
GCL Twins (Rookie)

Short seasons have yet to begin, but the 19-year old will be tracked with great excitement after bursting onto the scene in 2013.

11 - Trevor May, RHP
Rochester Red Wings (AAA)

May is second in the Twins minor league system in strikeouts, trailing the one and only Alex Meyer. But that hasn't stopped May from impressing. He hasn't allowed a run over his last two starts, the most recent of which included eight shutout innings. In 43 innings and eight starts, he's struck out 47 batters, walked 17, and surrendered just 30 hits en route to a 3.35 ERA. If you want to talk about Meyer taking someone's rotation spot this summer, May needs to be in on that conversation, too.

12 - Adam Brett Walker, RF
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

The 22-year old outfielder has had a slow start to 2014, although he's looked better lately. In his last ten games, Walker has swatted a couple of homers to go with three doubles, and he's been a force of nature driving in runs (13). But the season as a whole is, really, a hole for him to crawl out of at the moment. He's still hitting just .227/.288/.387 on the season, with seven home runs and 51 strikeouts to go with 14 walks. Contact was always going to be the question mark for Walker. Can he do better against right-handed pitchers than he has so far in 2014?

13 - Felix Jorge, RHP
Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)

It's been a learning experience for the 20-year old, who has bounced between decent and bad starts. He's been hit hard (45 hits in 30.2 innings), and the strong strikeout rates from Rookie leagues haven't carried forward to his full-season gig. He's young and it's early in his development, so it's not worth passing much judgement at this juncture. We'll continue to see how he performs through the summer.

"Harrison's status as a prospect is tied highly to his ability to hit, and specifically the power (or lack thereof) will be the determining factor on his prospect status."
14 - Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Elizabethton Twins (Rookie)

Gonsalves has yet to pitch, since Elizabethton's season has yet to begin.

15 - Michael Tonkin, RHP
Rochester Red Wings (AAA)

Tonkin was just demoted from the Twins, where he struck out nine and walked six in 12.1 innings. It sounds like the powers that be would like him to work on relying on pitches other than his fastball.

16 - Travis Harrison, 3B
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Harrison's season is heating up, except for his power. He's hit .306 with a .409 OBP in his last ten games, and on the season is hitting .267/.353/.377 - but with just one home run, as the slugging percentage may imply. Harrison's status as a prospect is tied highly to his ability to hit, and specifically the power (or lack thereof) will be the determining factor on his prospect status.

17 - Danny Santana, UT
Minnesota Twins (MLB)

Injuries and awful performances resulted in an early callup for Santana, who had hit .268/.311/.381 in 24 games with the Red Wings - his first spin through Triple-A. He's flourished in the Majors, where he's played more center field than shortstop, and in nine games is hitting .375/.444/.500 with three doubles, five runs scored, three walks, and six strikeouts. Once the scouting report comes out on Santana we'll see him need to make adjustments, but with Sam Fuld, Oswaldo Arcia, and Josh Willingham all scheduled to eventually return it's probable that Santana will be back to Rochester in due course.

18 - Kennys Vargas, 1B
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)

Vargas has rewarded the Twins for their faith in him, when they added him to the 40-man roster last winter. He's absolutely crushing it, hitting .309/.394/.533 in 42 games, with eight homers, ten doubles, and 21 walks compared to 27 strikeouts. And he's only been getting better: .378/.465/.622 in his last ten games. How long until he's the starting first baseman for the Red Wings?

19 - Ryan Eades, RHP
Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)

Eades has alternated good and bad starts this season, but in the aggregate is having a very mediocre season. He's eight starts into his 2014 campaign, and in 39 innings has posted great strikeout numbers (37), but has also given up a lot of hits (45) leading to a 4.62 ERA. Right now he's in a situation where he's better out of the stretch, but the only way he gets there is by letting runners get on base. It's hurting his bottom line.

20 - Zack Jones, RHP
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Jones continues to sit on the disabled list and has yet to throw an official inning this year. He was diagnosed in January with an aneurysm in his throwing arm, which required surgery.

21 - Fernando Romero, RHP
GCL Twins (Rookie)

The GCL Twins have not yet started their season.

22 - Sean Gilmartin, LHP
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)

Gilmartin has been very good in Double-A, and currently owns a 3.63 ERA over 39.2 innings and seven starts. He's getting his share of strikeouts (37), but continues to allow too many hits (44). Once the Twins find room on the Major League roster for May and/or Meyer, it's possible we'll see the Twins move Gilmartin up to Triple-A. Now 24 years old, it's not too late for him to regain his status as a prospect, but he does need to impress when given the opportunity, because the upside is limited.

23 - Stuart Turner, C
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Turner is listed as a designated hitter on the roster, possibly because Tyler Grimes and Jairo Rodriguez are also available, but Turner continues to get his share of innings behind the plate. Base runners have stolen 17 bases off of him this season, but he's also caught them 15 times. It doesn't look like a game minor league managers will want to continue playing if that rate keeps up. Unfortunately, the report on the offensive side isn't as positive. He's hitting just .190/.257/.260 in 109 plate appearances so far this year. Can Turner flip the switch and access his potential?

24 - Amaurys Minier, 3B
GCL Twins (Rookie)

No games yet.

25 - D.J. Baxendale, RHP
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)

Baxendale made four starts in April, but now sits on the 7-day disabled list. He owns a 6.64 ERA in 20.1 innings so far this season, but that's obviously not a true reflection of his talent level.

26 - Niko Goodrum, SS
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

Goodrum's putting together a good season, partnering with Jorge Polanco and Levi Michael to give the Miracle three middle infielders who are competing to see who can be the biggest producer. With a .291/.355/.404 line through 39 games and the best defensive chops of the three, Goodrum has the arm to stick at shortstop or at third base - although his bat wouldn't play nearly as well on the hot corner. He's stolen seven bases in eight attempts, and all of his power comes from slapping balls down the line or driving them into the gap. At 22, Goodrum is due for a promotion to Double-A, and it may come once Michael is off the disabled list.

27 - Mason Melotakis, LHP
Fort Myers Miracle (A+)

The 22-year old right-hander has made a pair of starts this season, but mostly has appeared out of the bullpen in ten other appearances. As a reliever he's posted 20 strikeouts in 20.1 innings, allowing ten walks and 24 hits en route to a 4.43 ERA. The numbers aren't as promising from his two starts. Is his future as a big arm out of the 'pen? It seems probable.

28 - Lewin Diaz, OF
DSL Twins (Summer League)

The Dominican Summer League has yet to open for the season.

29 - Logan Darnell, LHP
Rochester Red Wings (AAA)

After two scoreless innings in relief for the Twins, Darnell was sent back to Rochester, where in six starts he's posted a 2.32 ERA. In 31 innings he's struck out 33, walked 11, and allowed 26 hits. His best performance of the spring came on Saturday when he struck out eight over 5.2 innings en route to a win over Toledo. Darnell seems a likely recall to Minnesota at some point this season, although with higher-end arms also jostling for time it will be interesting to see what kind of a role he can carve out for himself.

30 - Adrian Salcedo, RHP
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)

Salceco's spring hasn't been as strong as anyone would like. In 15 appearances and 22 innings, he's struck out 30 and walked only eight, but he's also surrendered 33 hits. He's still getting a ton of ground balls, which means extra bases aren't multiplying the damage, but there's only so much benefit to be derived when you're giving up hits in bunches; big innings have been the killer. The good news is that he'll get plenty of chances to turn his season around in New Britain.

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