I've been surprised by our voting results for four ballots in a row. Firstly, I was a little surprised at how much support Jose Berrios received in Round 2 - even though he did eventually lose to Miguel Sano. In rounds three, four, and five, however, I've been surprised that each vote has had a clear and decisive winner: Berrios took 73% of the votes in Round 3, Meyer 63% in Round 4, and now Stewart with 56%. It's the lowest majority of the three, but it's still more than double the total of the second place finisher.
So far, every second place finisher has won the following round. Can Polanco continue the trend, or with Gordon pip him at the post? Regardless, we're adding more competition to the pile. Ready?
Twins Top 30 prospects for 2015
- Byron Buxton, CF (Buxton 72%, Sano 28%)
- Miguel Sano, 3B (Sano 56%, Berrios 44%)
- Jose Berrios, RHP (Berrios 73%, Meyer 16%, Stewart 4%, Gordon 4%, Polanco 3%)
- Alex Meyer, RHP (Meyer 63%, Stewart 17%, Polanco 10%, Gordon 10%)
- Kohl Stewart, RHP (Stewart 56%, Polanco 26%, Gordon 18%)
Nick Gordon, SS
2015 Age: 19
2014 High Level: Rookie
Gordon's 2014 must have been a flash before his eyes. First he raised his stock by filling out a bit and having a good senior year for Olympia High School in Orlando, then he graduated, then he was drafted (or maybe vice versa, I'm not sure when school was out for Nick this year), and shortly after being drafted he signed and started playing ball. Just having to focus on baseball in 2015 almost sounds like a relief.
How highly you rate Gordon will depend on your faith in whether hit hit tool will develop - and how far it will develop. Scouts were seemingly split by his approach in his 57 games for Elizabethton this season, but for a kid barely out of high school that's hardly a surprise. He put up decent numbers as an 18-year old shortstop in rookie league this year, and the defensive tools are most certainly there. The question is, what does his future hold? All-Star leadoff hitter with Gold Glove defense? Utility infielder with slick defensive skills? Something else?
Trevor May, RHP
2015 Age: 25
2014 High Level: MLB
May slipped in just under the gun, holding onto his rookie status for 2015. After posting his best season as a minor league pitcher, the Twins rewarded him with a well-earned promotion to the big leagues.In nine starts and one relief appearance his results were mixed: he was unable to get through the third inning in both of his first two appearances, didn't tally five full innings until his fourth time out, and only recorded two quality starts.
We all remember that first start: seven walks and no strikeouts in two innings. 13 walks through his first nine innings as a Major League pitcher? Ouch. But he did get better, striking out 41 in his last seven starts while walking just nine in 36.2 innings. Three of those seven starts were still total clunkers, but May made marked progress as he got a little more comfortable.
On September 14, we saw May at his best. Through six innings in the Cell against the White Sox, May silenced the crowd with a ten-strikeout, no-walk performance.
How highly do you hold Trevor May? Can he take command of his control, or will it take control of him?
Jorge Polanco, SS/2B
2015 Age: 21
2014 High Level: MLB
Due to injuries in the middle infield and no other options on the 40-man roster, the Twins were actually forced to call up Polanco from Fort Myers in 2014. He made a couple of brief appearances, collecting just eight plate appearances in five games, but he impressed everyone. Not just because he was 2-for-6 with a double, triple, three runs batted in, two walks and two strike outs, but because he showed a level of maturity that you absolutely love to see from young players.
We shouldn't see Polanco again until 2016, barring something going very very wrong (or, I suppose, very very right, but let's not get ahead of ourselves). Scouts like to say his long-term home on defense will be second base instead of shortstop, which was where he played for an overwhelming majority of 2014, but here's the thing with Polanco: he just keeps hitting.
With a good eye and power that will develop as he gets older (and his competition's experience doesn't dwarf his own), Polanco projects as an above average middle infielder.
Eddie Rosario, OF/2B
2015 Age: 23
2014 High Level: Double-A
After Baseball Prospectus gave him a spot in their Top 100 prospect heading into 2014 (#60, after being rated #87 pre-2012), a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse and a disappointing season at Double-A means Rosario's stock is likely to take a hit - even if he scorched the earth with the corpses of pitching prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
Basically, Rosario is in a year where he has something to prove. He turned 23 at the end of September, and we all know what getting older does to the sheen on prospects. If he can return to form, there's a good chance he could be helping the Twins out down the stretch this autumn; if he struggles we may see him for a cup of coffee in September, but his status as a prospect will see him tumble out of the Top 10.
An important part of Rosario's value derives from what has, historically, been a good bat. He still receives commendations for his swing and talents as a "pure hitter." As a second baseman, that made him look even better. But after spending just 18 games there in 2014, and a total of 72 in the outfield, it's worth considering how that affects his status as a prospect - especially when some scouts have made mention of his pre-swing mechanics. Let's hope for a great year from Eddie in 2015, both on and off the field.
Lewis Thorpe, LHP
2015 Age: 19
2014 High Level: Single-A
There's enough buzz around Thorpe that, if he stays health in 2015 and continues to perform, he could leapfrog Stewart as the second-ranked pitcher on our prospect list at this time next year. The results speak for themselves, but also like Berrios there seems to be good makeup and maturity from a young player.
While Thorpe's velocity isn't impressive, with experience and strength that comes with physical development he could eventually have a fastball approaching 95 mph. It's in the low-90s currently, but with good movement it looks like a plus pitch regardless of how fast he can throw it. The fastball is complimented with a changeup and breaking balls that are still works in progress.
As has been mentioned in other threads, Thorpe's arm wore down a bit at the end of the year and he was ultimately diagnosed with a strained UCL. That's to be expected from a teenager's arm that hasn't stopped throwing game-situation pitches in over a year, though. We'll see how he looks this spring, after a decent rest, before we get too worried.