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Minnesota Twins top 30 prospects update: 6/4/2015

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Kernels and Lookouts and Red Wings, oh my!

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

I'm keepin an eye on the Twins game as I write this, so if my comments start getting super belligerent you know to blame Tommy Milone. Here's your weekly update.

1 Byron Buxton CF Chattanooga (AA)
Buxton had an okay week, going 4-for-19 with four walks, four strikeouts, and three stolen bases. He's now 16-for-17 in stolen bases this year. The triple slash is high on power but a bit low otherwise: .261/.326/.488 in 50 games. While Buxton has blown exceptionally hot at times, he's also blown a bit cold. His performance is certainly impressive for a 21-year old at this level, but I think the Twins probably want a little more consistency before we can get too serious about a call up.
2 Miguel Sano 3B Chattanooga (AA)
Just three games this week for Sano, who was 4-for-9 with a home run, walk, strikeout, and a stolen base. We're seeing a version of Sano that's closer to who we thought he might be, although I think the Twins hope he can hit for a better average as he matures. He's batting .253/.355/.506 in 46 games.
3 Jose Berrios RHP Chattanooga (AA)
Berrios had two more starts this week. In the first he struck out seven in 7.1 innings, allowing two runs - fairly typical fare for the Puerto Rican right-hander. But yesterday he had his worst outing of the season, allowing five runs in six innings against Tennessee. They all came in the top of the third as three singles and a walk preceded a three-run homer by Willson Contreras. In 11 starts and 69.1 innings this year, Berrios has struck out 77, walked 20, and allowed 63 hits en route to a 3.25 ERA.
4 Alex Meyer RHP Rochester (AAA)
Right now the shift of Meyer to the bullpen is really paying off. He had two relief appearances this week, striking out six in 2.2 innings of work. In his three relief appearances Meyer is yet to allow a run, mowing through the competition with eight strikeouts in 3.2 innings - with just one hit allowed.
5 Kohl Stewart RHP Fort Myers (A+)
It was a clunker of a start for Stewart this week, as Clearwater racked up ten hits across four innings. While he didn't issue a walk he struck out just one batter and was tagged for five runs. Opponents are hitting .277 against Stewart this year, which isn't good but it's also skewed after that ten-hit performance.
6 Trevor May RHP Minnesota (MLB)
As far as I'm concerned, right now Trevor May is the best pitcher in the Twins rotation. He owns a 4.45 ERA in ten starts, but his FIP (2.80) and xFIP (3.54) illustrate how much better than that mark he's actually been. May has already accumulated 1.6 fWAR. If he keeps this up, which is a stretch but still - if he keeps this up, May would be lose to a five-win season in 2015.
7 Nick Gordon SS Cedar Rapids (A)
Gordon was 4-for-13 this week, scoring three runs and stealing a base. He's 12-for-15 in that category this year. That performance has pushed his on-base percentage to .302, but in his last ten games Gordon is batting .250 with eight walks versus nine strikeouts. It's better but that .581 OPS needs work.
8 Nick Burdi RHP Chattanooga (AA)
Two appearances and another four innings for Burdi this week, who looked alright but allowed too many base runners. His ERA over his last ten games is down to 3.31, which is a big step in the right direction. For as long as Burdi struggles with base runners, even if the strikeout totals look good, his promotion to Triple-A won't come. His season ERA is down to 5.01.
9 Jorge Polanco SS/2B Chattanooga (AA)
Polanco was 6-for-23 this week, which isn't great but it's hardly put a dent into what's become a very impressive performance. In 47 games he's batting .312/.343/.417 with 30 strikeouts and ten walks, he's 10-for-14 in stolen bases, and he's collected seven doubles, a triple, and four home runs. That's a great performance for a 21-year old middle infielder, and there's no doubt in my mind that the Twins need to challenge him with a promotion to Triple-A in the very near future. The biggest issue for Polanco right now is that he doesn't walk often enough to have the well-rounded offensive arsenal that the best players have. In Minnesota we're already witnessing players like Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana, and Eddie Rosario who don't walk often enough. As good of a contact hitter as Polanco is, and as much of a star as he has the potential to be, it'll be harder to maintain that profile as he moves up the latter and faces better pitchers - if he doesn't find a way to take a few more walks.
10 Eddie Rosario OF/2B Minnesota (MLB)
Entering today's game Rosario is riding an eight-game hitting streak, giving him a .302/.318/.413 triple slash. As I just mentioned for Polanco, Rosario isn't walking enough and that's a hard way to maintain offensive value when the hits don't fall. Walking in 3.0% of plate appearances is a big red flag, even if Rosario is a very talented hitter.
11 Lewis Thorpe LHP n/a
This report from Baseball America's Matt Eddy on April 11 puts Thorpe's surgery in the past tense and echoes the reports I've read that Thorpe had the surgery in late March, but there has been no news on his recovery and rehabilitation timeline. According to the Tommy John surgery database his surgeons are listed as Dr. John Steubs and Dr. Pearce McCarty.
12 Max Kepler OF/1B Chattanooga (AA)
It's been a rough stretch for Kepler as the Lookouts hit the road. He was just 3-for-23 this week with a walk, six strikeouts, and a run batted in. He's still doing very well in Double-A, hitting .312/.349/.507, but this week was a come down for a guy whose stock was strapped to a rocket.
13 Stephen Gonsalves LHP Fort Myers (A+)
The 20-year old lefty earned a well-deserved promotion to Advanced-A this week, flashing a 1.15 ERA in 55 innings (nine starts) with 77 strikeouts and just 29 hits allowed. Gonsalves allowed 0.80 base runners per inning. Yowza.
14 Jake Reed RHP Chattanooga (AA)
Minnesota's two top-ranked power relievers have struggled this year. Reed was pounded for five runs in an inning against Tennessee on Monday, pushing his ERA back up to 6.00. In spite of not allowing a home run, Reed has allowed 22 runs (14 earned) in 22 innings, all off of 27 hits and eight walks. Like Burdi the strikeout rate is good, but there's a lot of work to be done.
15 Adam Brett Walker RF Chattanooga (AA)
Three more home runs for Walker this week...but he only had four hits total as he was 4-for-19 since last week's update. The strikeouts continue to pile up at what can only be called an alarming rate: 12 strikeouts in six games. Walker is now striking out in nearly 37% of plate appearances. The isolated power mark of .306 is incredible, but part of the reason it's so high is because the batting average is so low. 14 of Walker's 46 hits this year have been home runs. It's difficult to know what to think of Walker, but as awe-inspiring as that raw power is it's difficult to see it continue to play, as well as it has, versus better pitching. Walker's triple slash is .251/.310/.557.
16 Amaurys Minier LF/1B Extended Spring Training
Minier is currently in extended spring training. Rookie league seasons will begin soon.
17 Stuart Turner C Chattanooga (AA)
Having caught eight of 29 attempted base stealers (28%), Turner has by all accounts continued to be a good catch and throw backstop. His pitchers like working with him, and that means a great deal. It seems unlikely that Turner will ever hit enough to be a starter as his line continues to struggle (.210/.313/.323), but he's also just 23 years old, going through Double-A for the first time, and in just his second full season in professional baseball. If you're an optimist, there's probably still a little room for Turner to grow as a hitter.
18 Chih-Wei Hu RHP Fort Myers (A+)
Gonsalves joins Hu in the same rotation once again, giving the Miracle an embarrassment of riches in starting pitching. Hu didn't allow a walk and struck out four in his six inning start this week, lowering his season ERA to 1.10 for the Miracle. He's surrendered just 30 hits in 47 innings this year, including his fill-in start for the Red Wings, striking out 46 in 47 innings of work. There's little doubt in my mind that Hu finishes the season in Double-A.
19 Mitch Garver C Fort Myers (A+)
After going hitless for a week to end the month of May with a .185 batting average, Garver is 4-for-10 in three June contests with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. On the season he's walked 28 times and struck out 29, but the .333 on-base percentage seems hollow. Garver has really struggled this year, hitting just .200 with five doubles as the entirely of his extra-base hits.
20 Tyler Duffey RHP Rochester (AAA)
Duffey's second Triple-A start wasn't as good as the first, as Buffalo chased him after 4.2 innings and three earned runs. The 24-year old right-hander isn't on the 40-man roster, but if he was he'd be looking at a Major League debut at some point in 2015.
21 Travis Harrison LF/RF Chattanooga (AA)
It wasn't a good week for Harrison (3-for-21), but he did crack his third homer of the season versus Biloxi on Saturday - a grand slam that put the lookouts back in the game after going down 7-0 early. Chattanooga would lose the contest 11-8. He's been striking out a bit more often lately. Harrison's triple slash is .278/.367/.422 in 49 games.
22 Taylor Rogers LHP Rochester (AAA)
Rogers hasn't made a start this week. In ten starts this year he has a 3.34 ERA, with 47 strikeouts in 62 innings.
23 Zack Jones RHP Chattanooga (AA)
Jones has thrown two more scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.47. He's struck out 23 in 18.1 innings. It's been 15 days since he's allowed a hit.
24 Lewin Diaz 1B Extended Spring Training
Diaz is currently in extended spring training. Rookie league seasons will begin soon.
25 Michael Cederoth RHP Cedar Rapids (A)
Cederoth continues to struggle with base runners out of the bullpen. In his one appearance since our last check in he surrendered two unearned runs after serving up a hit and a pair of walks to the Clinton LumberKings (yep, that's a name) on Sunday. His season ERA is 4.19, having allowed 16 earned runs in 34.1 innings, but he's allowed an additional seven unearned runs this year, too.
26 J.R. Graham RHP Minnesota (MLB)
For the second week in a row we're talking about the impressive job Graham did in long relief for the Twins. This time he threw a trio of frames versus the Blue Jays when Ricky Nolasco exited early due to a tweaked ankle, allowing just one unearned run. Graham struck out four, scattering three hits. On the season he's put down 17 on strikes in 20.1 innings. The 3.10 ERA may exaggerate how good he's really been all year, but it's certainly a good reflection on how well he's pitched lately.
27 J.T. Chargois RHP Chattanooga (AA)
In his second relief appearance for the Lookouts, Chargois didn't get himself in nearly as much trouble. This time, instead of tightroping out of danger, he dispatched with Tennessee with relative ease. In 17 innings between Fort Myers and Chattanooga Chargois owns a 2.12 ERA with 21 strikeouts.
28 Huascar Ynoa RHP n/a
Ynoa is not currently in-season and he is not attending extended spring training.
29 Levi Michael 2B Chattanooga (AA)
Michael has yet to return from the disabled list. It was one month ago today that he hurt himself sliding into second base. On the year he's hitting .246/.353/.509. No doubt everyone is quite eager to get him back on the field, as he was only starting to put up numbers hinting that he could be the prospect Minnesota thought they had when the drafted him in the first round back in 2011.
30 Tanner English CF Cedar Rapids (A)
After such a successful professional debut, English's offense is throwing up red flags outside of the .228/.347/.347 triple slash. The extra-base hits are few and far between this year, and he's now struck out in 12 consecutive games. That's 16 strikeouts in 12 games after striking out just 23 times in 34 games to start the season. Minnesota will be happy to go slowly with English, hoping that the patience will pay off with a more well-rounded player down the line. Defense: great! Offense: work-in-progress.