After multiple discussions with knowledgeable folks I respect on the Twins farm system, I'm calling an audible and changing things up. While Byron Buxton topped Miguel Sano for the number one overall spot in our 2015 prospect rankings, 72% to 28%, a couple of the people I spoke to said they'd at least considered Berrios for the second spot on the list. Primary reasoning included a lack of other successful 20-year old pitchers in Double-A and concerns about Miguel Sano's injury, although all but one of these people did end up placing Sano second and Berrios third.
And so this is the option I'm placing before you: do you trust Sano's status as a blue chip prospect, nationally regarded, with power rated between a 70 and an 80 on the 20-80 scale, or does Berrios' success and age relative to level overpower Sano when considering his injury?
Let's get to the ballot.
Miguel Sano, 3B
2015 Age: 22
2014 High Level: N/A
|2013||20||A+ - AA||123||519||123||30||5||35||65||142||.280||.382||.610||.992|
Sano had issues with his arm in spring training and eventually went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Position players don't take as long as pitchers to recover from the operation, and at one point there was even speculation that he could come back and get some reps as New Britain's designated hitter down the stretch, but that plan was soon scrapped in favor of patience and a longer rehab process. Sano was shut down for the whole of the season, and will start fresh in spring training.
He was considered one of the game's top prospects heading into 2014. Baseball America had him ranked sixth; Baseball Prospectus 14th; Major League Baseball fourth. Concerns remain about his long term potential at third base, but he's one of the few prospects with 80 power. Conservative efforts give his power a 70 on the 20-80 scale, with an added bonus being that he knows how to use it in games. While he won't be ready for Opening Day, if he's healthy and productive we could see Sano after the All-Star break.
Jose Berrios, RHP
2015 Age: 21
2014 High Level: Triple-A
|2014||20||A+, AA, AAA||2.76||25||140.0||1.11||7.6||0.4||2.4||9.0||3.7|
Berrios only had one start in Triple-A at the end of the season, but it counts. It's also worth looking up his particulars to see exactly just how good he was against Double-A hitters (he was good) and Advanced-A (oh, the humanity, those poor, poor batters).
The knock on Berrios, and what has made scouts less optimistic about his ceiling in spite of his performance, is his height. He's listed at six foot even, officially, but people who see him in person tend to think he comes up a little short. What difference an inch or two makes, at that height, isn't a great deal, because the primary concern is his the movement he can generate on a downward plane. Essentially: the pessimist believes Berrios won't be able to pitch up in the zone.
On the plus side he has a three-pitch mix including a good fastball, a changeup, and a potential out-pitch in his curve. His makeup, both as an individual and his maturity on the mound, has been nothing but exemplary from all corners. And as of right now, the numbers speak for themselves. Berrios is an elite talent. The only question is: do you see him as more or less of an elite talent than Miguel Sano?