In what was undoubtedly one of our most competitive ballots of the year, Zack Jones won Round 23 by taking home 26% of your votes in a field of five. No other player finished with fewer than 16%. As far as Jones is concerned, if he can develop a second and third average pitch - or even just a second plus pitch to go with that high-velocity fastball - he could make a name for himself in the Minnesota bullpen.
Because Round 23 was so close, we're not going to add anyone for Round 24. It's a field of four, and as a result our winner will hopefully grab a larger percentage of the votes. Let's get on with it.
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%)
- Trevor May, RHP (May 28%, Gordon 27%, Polanco 21%, Rosario 20%, Thorpe 4%)
- Nick Gordon, SS (Gordon 35%, Polanco 30%, Rosario 29%, Thorpe 6%)
- Nick Burdi, RHP (Burdi 38%, Polanco 31%, Rosario 23%, Thorpe 8%)
- Jorge Polanco, SS/2B (Polanco 51%, Rosario 36%, Thorpe 13%)
- Eddie Rosario, OF/2B (Rosario 72%, Thorpe 18%, Gonsalves 4%, Reed 3%, Duffey 2%, Rogers 0%)
- Lewis Thorpe, LHP (Thorpe 48%, Kepler 21%, Reed 10%, Gonsalves 9%, Duffey 5%, Walker 4%, Turner 1%, Harrison 1%, Rogers 1%)
- Max Kepler, CF/1B (Kepler 30%, Gonsalves 27%, Reed 18%, Walker 13%, Turner 5%, Duffey 5%, Harrison 1%, Rogers 1%)
- Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (Gonsalves 47%, Reed 32%, Walker 21%)
- Jake Reed, RHP (Reed 49%, Walker 24%, Turner 12%, Duffey 7%, Harrison 5%, Rogers 3%)
- Adam Walker, RF (Walker 47%, Turner 22%, Duffey 16%, Rogers 7%, Harrison 7%)
- Amaurys Minier, LF/1B (Minier 24%, Turner 18%, Hu 17%, Duffey 15%, Garver 10%, Harrison 6%, Jones 4%, Graham 3%, Rogers 2%)
- Stuart Turner, C (Turner 26%, Hu 25%, Garver 14%, Duffey 13%, Harrison 7%, Jones 5%, Rogers 5%, Graham 5%)
- Chih-Wei Hu (Hu 58%, Duffey 22%, Garver 19%)
- Mitch Garver, C (Garver 31%, Duffey 28%, Harrison 16%, Jones 13%, Rogers 8%, Graham 5%)
- Tyler Duffey, RHP (Duffey 41%, Harrison 26%, Jones 17%, Rogers 12%, Graham 5%)
- Travis Harrison, LF (Harrison 32%, Jones 24%, Rogers 19%, Graham 13%, Cederoth 12%)
- Taylor Rogers, LHP (Rogers 29%, Jones 27%, Diaz 18%, Cederoth 16%, Graham 10%)
- Zack Jones, RHP (Jones 26%, Diaz 23%, Cederoth 17%, Graham 17%, Murphy 16%)
Michael Cederoth, RHP
2015 Age: 22
2014 High Level: Rookie
In recent seasons, the Twins have made a point of drafting velocity wherever it's available. Cederoth ticks that box, as a third-round selection in 2014 out of San Diego State who converted from a starter to a reliever in his third and final season and proceeded to touch 100 mph with his fastball. That kind of velocity usually makes pitchers a possible first-round draft pick.
Cederoth fell to the Twins in the third round because of his troubles with command. As has also been the case in recent seasons, the Twins have started out by attempting to develop this high-velocity arm as a starter. In shorter rookie league starts his fastball sat in the mid-90s, which is still pretty good, and there's good news in that his control wasn't good but was still better than it was in college.
The belief is that Cederoth will transition back to the bullpen eventually, partially because of that incredible fastball velocity and partially because of the command issue, but also because there isn't an obvious second plus pitch right now as both breaking balls are a work in progress. He should spend most of the year in Single-A Cedar Rapids. There's certainly reason for caution here, but scouts also like Cederoth as a potential late-inning reliever down the line.
Lewin Diaz, 1B
2015 Age: 18
2014 High Level: Dominican Summer League
|2014||17||Rookie - DSL||43||174||13||5||26||24||.257||.385||.451||.836|
The signing of Diaz (for $1.4 million) during the 2013 international signing period came with a minor level of notoriety as scouts were excited about his offensive potential. He has a big body with the potential for a big bat, but reports aren't too dissimilar from what we hear about Amaurys Minier: we love the ceiling in that bat, but we're not sure where he'll ultimately play. And that might be generous about his defensive profile.
In his professional league debut, Diaz walked more than he struck out and hit for good power. That's a good start, but he'll need to continue hitting as he moves up the ladder if he's going to work his way up this list in coming years.
Diaz should start the year with the GCL Twins. That raw power, which right now is his only plus tool as far as I can see, will be something to watch.
J.R. Graham, RHP
2015 Age: 25
2014 High Level: Double-A
Injuries have derailed what was once seen as a potential top-flight arm. His velocity is still recovering and is likely to sit somewhere between the upper-90s where it was before the injuries set in, and the low-90s where it was for parts of 2014. Some of the dip in velocity is by design, however, as Graham works through his mechanics for a more consistent delivery and better command.
Graham will have an opportunity to make the club out of spring training as a member of the bullpen. His status as a Rule 5 draft pick means that if the club doesn't take him, the Twins will need to work out a trade with Atlanta to send Graham to the minor leagues or, alternatively, just send him back to the Braves. With the array of players eligible and ready to contribute for the Twins, his spot in the bullpen isn't as secure as it may have been if he's arrived under the same circumstances in years past.
Max Murphy, CF
2015 Age: 22
2014 High Level: Single-A
The Twins took Murphy in the ninth round of the 2014 draft. He was seen as a player with a number of solid tools, although none of them stood out as a big plus tool even after hitting .314/.414/.598 for Bradley University. But his ability to "flash plus tools" didn't always jive with his performance, leading analysts like Jim Callis to say Murphy "plays beneath the tools a little bit."
Murphy obviously impressed in his rookie league debut, raking and earning a promotion to Cedar Rapids at the end of the year where he struggled a little bit. His status as a prospect will depend a good deal on how he performs in 2015. Will he play up to his tools, where his athleticism and arm and power will show the kind of player he's capable of becoming? Or will he play beneath the tools?
While he's capable of playing center field, scouts believe that long-term Murphy will end up in a corner outfield spot where his arm and decent wheels will make him a fine defender. The tools are there, but until he proves it his bat will be questioned.