We started last year's Top 30 prospects review by pointing out how different the 2014 list looked in comparison to the 2012 or 2013 lists. There was more top-end talent and a lot more talent period. Moving forward to 2015, I can say without any hesitation that this is the deepest Twins farm system I've ever seen.
Here's our Top 30 as voted by you, our valuable community.
|1||Byron Buxton||CF||2012||1||2||21||2015||Still one of baseball's top prospects, and still the game's top prospect in certain circles, Buxton's injury-riddled 2014 campaign is in the rear view mirror. Health provided, he should debut sometime in 2015 after the All-Star break.|
|2||Miguel Sano||3B||2009 (DR)||n/a||n/a||22||2015||The Twins chose to shut him down all winter in order to give him plenty of time to get ready for 2015 without further risk to his elbow. Like Buxton, Sano should debut sometime in 2015 between the All-Star break and expanded rosters in September.|
|3||Jose Berrios||RHP||2012||1||32||21||2015||Some believe that Berrios is the second-best prospect in the system, and have good arguments for believing so. If he stays healthy and pitches well, he could see a cup of coffee in September. Maybe.|
|4||Alex Meyer||RHP||2011||1||23||25||2015||Meyer's command issues, stemming at least in part from his long frame, cannot keep him from the Major Leagues forever. The Twins need him, and he should debut fairly early in the 2015 season.|
|5||Kohl Stewart||RHP||2013||1||4||20||2017||Scouts and pundits will now expect Stewart to begin increasing his strikeout totals now that he's a bit older as his slider should no longer be held back. A level or two this year, a level or two in 2016, and Stewart could still push for a 2017 debut.|
|6||Trevor May||RHP||2008||4||136||25||2014||May's debut last season was a mixed bag, including rough overall numbers but also plenty of promise. His ability to garner strikeouts is for real, and so are his command issues. Like Meyer, he should debut early in 2015 and should expire his rookie status in his first start.|
|7||Nick Gordon||SS||2014||1||5||19||2018||Gordon earned solid reviews all around last year, and his defensive skills - while a bit raw - are every bit as good as promised. 2018 may be a bit aggressive on the ETA, but because of the finish on his defensive skills it's easy to see the Twins promoting him if he hits at all.|
|8||Nick Burdi||RHP||2014||2||46||22||2015||Burdi's spectacular professional debut has put him on the fast-track to the Major Leagues. There's work to do here, but he's starting the season in Double-A and could, in very quick order, be called upon to bolster what is admittedly a lackluster Major League relief corps.|
|9||Jorge Polanco||SS/2B||2009 (DR)||n/a||n/a||21||2016||It was fun to get a look at Polanco with the Twins for a few games last season, but he's not done developing quite yet. We could see him occasionally in 2015, but most of this season should still go towards his development. With Brian Dozier entrenched at second, it will be interesting to see if the Twins choose to keep Polanco focused at shortstop defensively.|
|10||Eddie Rosario||OF/2B||2010||4||135||23||2015||A 50-game suspension followed by a stumble at Double-A led to slight tumble down our list, from number four last year. His performance in the AFL may have been a bit of a course correction, but he still needs to prove that he can hit consistently at (or above) Double-A. Buxton won't be ready for a few months at least, but Rosario could be called upon to give the outfield a little help before the All-Star break.|
|11||Lewis Thorpe||LHP||2012 (AUS)||n/a||n/a||19||2018||Thorpe's debut at number 10 last year was impressive, and I'm not sure what he did to actually lose a spot on our list - other than to say that the Twins system is very deep in talent. Sadly, Thorpe will be having Tommy John surgery and will therefore miss all of 2015 and probably parts if not most of 2016. Therefore we've moved his ETA back from 2017 to 2018, although this may still be too aggressive for a player missing critical development time at his age.|
|12||Max Kepler||OF/1B||2009 (GER)||n/a||n/a||22||2016||Kepler is on the 40-man roster, but his development has been slow (if steady), and so his debut is not likely to come until next year at the earliest. A strong summer from Kepler, which some believe is desperately needed, would solidify him as one of the wave of prospects to be available in '16.|
|13||Stephen Gonsalves||LHP||2013||4||110||19||2018||Gonsalves continued to impress in 2014 but will have his doubters until he proves that he's able to deliver such impressive results outside of short season leagues. In his 94 innings of professional baseball he's struck out 109 and allowed just two home runs, so he's doing something right.|
|14||Jake Reed||RHP||2014||5||140||22||2016||Reed's impressive debut has nearly put him on par with Nick Burdi. Because of the presence of Burdi, not to mention Michael Tonkin, Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly, Zack Jones, and others, we've listed Reed's ETA at a conservative 2016...but we could be wrong.|
|15||Adam Walker||RF||2012||3||97||23||2016||After jumping from #25 to #12 last year, Walker's progress has stagnated a bit due entirely to his contact skills. Walker allegedly has the skills to play defense and has decent speed, and of course there's also his prodigious power tool, but the strikeout rates and contact skills are red lining. But you've got to like the 52 home runs he's hit the last two summers.|
|16||Amaurys Minier||LF/1B||2012 (DR)||n/a||n/a||19||2018||Minier went a good distance towards legitimizing his prospect status by pounding out a .292/.405/.520 line for the GCL Twins last summer. He should be ready to head to Cedar Rapids shortly.|
|17||Stuart Turner||C||2013||3||78||23||2016||Turner's bat came around slowly last year, but it's more than fair to call it a work in progress. His technique as a receiver is advanced however, and he could be pushing for the backup catcher's job as soon as 2016 if he stays healthy.|
|18||Chih-Wei Hu||RP||2012 (TAI)||n/a||n/a||21||2017||Hu excelled in a rotation that included Stewart, Thorpe, and Gonsalves, and in 108 innings has allowed just 98 base runners. He could develop slowly as his stuff isn't as notable as other pitchers on this list, but he has a chance to be a top-15 prospect for the Twins at this time next year.|
|19||Mitch Garver||C||2013||9||260||24||2017||Garver's 2014 campaign put him on the map thanks to some very healthy numbers, especially for a catcher, but with Josmil Pinto and Stuart Turner in front of him the Twins have the luxury of patience. A full season in 2015 will give us a better idea of how good of a prospect Garver can be.|
|20||Tyler Duffey||RHP||2012||5||160||24||2015||The success of pitchers like Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers are overlooked now that the system has a handful of pitchers with really good stuff and high ceilings. Yet Duffey has exhibited plus command, gets a few strikeouts, and holds a 3.51 ERA in 289 minor league innings. We should see him in some fashion at some point this year.|
|21||Travis Harrison||LF||2011||1||50||22||2017||Harrison, in spite of losing his power stroke, exhibits skills that might make him an interesting bench option in a few years. He has a good eye at the plate and a fair arm, and it wouldn't be s surprise to see him hitting for slightly higher averages as his hitting tool develops. But he needs a strong year to stay in range of the Top 20 next year.|
|22||Taylor Rogers||LHP||2012||11||340||24||2015||A lefty who is beginning to look like a mirror of Duffey, Rogers exhibits good command and has allowed less than a hit per inning through his minor league career. He owns a 2.94 ERA in 349 minor league innings, has a fastball in the mid-90s, and he fell to #22 on our list why? Oh, right - incredible system depth. He could debut for the Twins this year, too.|
|23||Zack Jones||RHP||2012||4||130||24||2015||Jones more or less missed a year of development time thanks to the aneurysm in his shoulder early in 2014, but he's healthy now. He needs to develop his secondary pitches but, should that happen, he could give the Twins bullpen a boost later this year.|
|24||Lewin Diaz||1B||2013 (DR)||n/a||n/a||18||2019||Up four spots from last year and occupying the slot vacated by Amaurys Minier, fellow DR-born Diaz also has a good deal of offensive upside. On the other hand, he's also a player without a position at the moment. That won't matter, as long as he hits like the Twins think he will.|
|25||Michael Cederoth||RHP||2014||3||79||22||2017||Cederoth is another reliever who the Twins are asking to start, and as a result he may not climb as quickly through the system as he would if he were just another arm available out of the bullpen. Eventually he should transition to the bullpen however, as his velocity as a reliever is imposing.|
|26||J.R. Graham||RHP||2011||4||146||25||2015||Graham was once of of Atlanta's prized pitching prospects, but injuries pushed him to the margins of their roster and now the Twins have the pleasure of seeing just how much talent remains in his arm. He's made the opening day roster, so over the next few weeks we'll get our answer. If the velocity works and the slider plays, the Twins could be onto something.|
|27||J.T. Chargois||RHP||2012||2||72||24||2016||Finally healthy after missing all of the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Chargois is going to get the opportunity to show exactly how talented he really is. The velocity is real, and he has the stuff to be an impact reliever. Whether he can translate that talent into performance on the mound is a tale well worth tracking this summer.|
|28||Huascar Ynoa||RHP||2014 (DR)||n/a||n/a||17||2020||There isn't much to say for a player who has yet to throw a pitch for the organization and who is so young that their professional debut is at least half a decade away. Everything about Ynoa has to do with his talent though, so watch this space.|
|29||Levi Michael||2B||2011||1||30||24||2017||Michael finally had a good season in 2014, but the question is whether it was an aberration or the start of a trend. He will spend most of this season in Double-A, and the Twins would be wise to pace themselves with a player who took as long as Michael did to adapt in the early going.|
|30||Tanner English||CF||2014||11||320||22||2018||English reminds me of Nick Gordon, in that his speed, glove and arm are all more or less Major League-ready but the development of the bat is in question. If he hits at all, English's floor could be as a fourth outfielder. But if he continues to surprise people with the bat, his other tools could help him fly up this list in the next couple of years.
Observations of this year's Top 30 list
- Our list this year features eight players are international signings and seven first-round picks
- Five members of the 2014 draft class have made our list.
- Reed, Garver, Duffey, and English are the only draftees on this list who were taken after the fourth round.
- A number of players could debut for the Twins in 2015, but the players who are the most likely to graduate off the list are Buxton, Sano, Meyer, May, Polanco, Rosario, Duffey, Rogers, and Graham.
- Josmil Pinto (#6), Danny Santana (#17), and Kennys Vargas (#18) graduated off of our 2014 prospect list. Sean Gilmartin was lost in the Rule 5 draft (#22 last year). Michael Tonkin (#15) technically did not expire his rookie status, but I lost him in the shuffle when I was pre-ranking prospects back in November. Sorry, Michael.
- Felix Jorge (#13), Ryan Eades (#19), Fernando Romero (#21), D.J. Baxendale (#25), Niko Goodrom (#26), Mason Malotakis (#27), Logan Darnell (#29), and Adrian Salcedo (#30) all fell off of the list. Eight players. Wowza.
- The biggest jump came from Amaurys Minier, who moved from #24 last year to #16 this year.
- J.T. Chargois and Levi Michael re-entered the list this year after not appearing in 2014. Chargois ranked #12 on our 2013 prospect list; Michael was #24.
- Last year's Top 10: Buxton, Sano, Meyer, Rosario, Stewart, Pinto, Berrios, Polanco, Kepler, Thorpe. Again, I'm a bigger fan of the 2015 crop.
- How does the list look to you overall?