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Minnesota Twins top 30 prospects update: 7/10/2015

It's been too long. Let's check in with the Twins

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With all summer leagues currently underway, all of our community-voted top 30 prospects have some playing time under their belt this year. There have been a couple of high-profile promotions since our last update, which is good, but also an injury or two. Here it all is, the good and the bad.

1 Byron Buxton CF Minnesota (MLB)
Buxton has appeared in 11 games with the Twins, already making catches on five balls considered "out of zone" but also rating as 1.7 runs above average for his arm, per FanGraphs. Also per FahGraphs, Buxton has saved the Twins roughly one run overall. Not too shabby. He should being a swinging regimen soon, and while a rehab stint will be on the books before he returns to the Twins we'll definitely see him relatively soon. He's eligible to come off of the disabled list on July 9.
2 Miguel Sano 3B Minnesota (MLB)
There's been good and bad for Sano in his professional debut, but through eight games is batting .385/.500/.577 with a home run, two doubles, six walks, nine strikeouts, and five runs batted in. He's played one game at third base, which is something he'll do occasionally when Joe Mauer or Trevor Plouffe shift to designated hitter or get a day off. Right now, Sano looks like he belongs. He also keeps the Twins from trading for help at designated hitter before the trade deadline.
3 Jose Berrios RHP Rochester (AAA)
After a well-deserved promotion to Triple-A, Berrios has been challenged in his first two times out. He's allowed nine earned runs in 10.2 innings, with 12 strikeouts and four walks. At 21, Berrios is six - yes, six - years younger than his average competition. If he continues to encounter adversity it will be the first extended challenge for Berrios in quite some time, which is no bad thing. Hopefully he adjusts as the season gets through its final few weeks, and just maybe we can see him get a cup of coffee in September.
4 Alex Meyer RHP Rochester (AAA)
It's a wonder if getting sent down after just two appearances has again played with Meyer's confidence. He allowed four runs in his first two relief appearances for the Red Wings following his demotion. Of course he also suffers from bouts of command trouble, so without speaking to him or watching him in person it's difficult to say to which side of those two issues the needle would swing. If the Twins bullpen was more stable it wouldn't be a terrible idea to keep him up and to get him work when it comes along, but until that happens there's obviously still work that needs to be done here.
5 Kohl Stewart RHP Fort Myers (A+)
There's been a little more consistency from Stewart over his last three starts, striking out 13 in 20 innings and allowing just four runs. That's lowered his ERA by more than half a run, sitting at 3.47. Right now it looks like Stewart will finish 2015 in Fort Myers, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him start there in 2016 before a mid-season promotion to Double-A if things go well. He's still just 20 years old, so there's a lot of time to work with before the organization should challenge him with better and more complete hitters.
6 Trevor May RHP Minnesota (MLB)
In spite of being the team's best starter, May has been moved to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Ervin Santana. If the Twins want to move either of Mike Pelfrey or Tommy Milone, and there's no reason why they shouldn't, the club couldn't put them in the bullpen. If and when one of those guys gets dealt, May will be back in the rotation where he belongs.
7 Nick Gordon SS Cedar Rapids (A)
Gordon's season continues on an upswing as he's coming off of four consecutive two-hit games and what is now an 11-game hitting streak. Since June 16 he's 24-for-71 (.338) and 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts. He's now hitting .260/.327/.312, which isn't great but it's a big improvement and there's no doubt that Gordon seems to be adapting against older competition.
8 Nick Burdi RHP Fort Myers (A+)
After giving the Lookouts 30.1 innings of 5.93 ERA baseball out of the bullpen, the Twins dropped Burdi back down a level. As could be expected Burdi has owned the competition, striking out seven in five innings, allowing four hits and no runs. This could be a confidence move, also designed to allow Burdi to work on his secondary pitches against lesser competition. Still, this can only be considered a speed bump of a season for a guy who before the season was considered to be a potential fast-track case.
9 Jorge Polanco SS/2B Rochester (AAA)
While Burdi is going in the wrong direction, Polanco's stock continues to rise. He just turned 22 on Sunday, and since his promotion six games ago he's hitting .400 with a pair of doubles. His overall line in Double-A was .301/.347/.409 with 20 walks against 37 strikeouts. He continues to play shortstop, which is where the Twins may try him in September if things fall the right way. Polanco profiles better defensively as a second baseman, but if he continues to make the plays he needs to make and continues to hit like he has these last few years he'll still be an above average player at the position.
10 Eddie Rosario OF/2B Minnesota (MLB)
Three walks in the last three weeks probably counts as an improvement for Rosario, who is hitting .263/.293/.396 in the big leagues. He continues to be a slightly below average contributor on offense, but for a kid getting his first look at the Major Leagues that's acceptable. Rosario's talent and ceiling speak for themselves. His four home runs, six stolen bases, and his athletic ability to play both corner outfield spots have made the injuries to Oswaldo Arcia and Byron Buxton easier to absorb.
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)
Kepler is killing it. He's hitting .335/.410/.515 for the Lookouts, with four homers, eight triples, 22 doubles, and 12 stolen bases in 15 tries. He's also the owner of a 33-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. There are a lot of outfielders in front of him on the depth chart (Buxton, Hicks, Hunter, Rosario, Robinson, Arcia), but it would be good to see him promoted to Triple-A at some juncture. What an incredible season he's having.
13 Stephen Gonsalves LHP Fort Myers (A+)
After a couple of rough starts following his promotion, Gonsalves has adapted and found a way to continue to be effective. In his last three starts he's thrown 17 innings and has allowed just two earned runs, striking out 14 and walking eight while allowing just 11 hits. It's not the 1.15 ERA he had in Cedar Rapids, but a 2.77 ERA in high-A ball for a kid that just turned 21 on Thursday is exceptional.
14 Jake Reed RHP Chattanooga (AA)
He's still getting strikeouts and the ERA has come down a bit since our last update (4.98 from 5.74), but there's still a good deal of inconsistency here. Reed continues to be a part of the Lookouts' bullpen, however.
15 Adam Brett Walker RF Chattanooga (AA)
He's hit six more homers in the last three weeks, and while still striking out enough to raise a massive red flag (37.7%) he's also taking an occasional walk which helps off-set the fact that when he doesn't hit a home run he probably swings and misses altogether. He's hitting .268/.325/.583 with an unbelievable .409 isolated power mark. There are people out there advocating trading Walker as a part of a package to get back a shut-down reliever to help set up Glen Perkins; while this is the right tactic to take, I'm not sure Walker is the guy. Then again, he's our #15 prospect for a reason.
16 Amaurys Minier LF/1B Elizabethton (Rookie)
In 13 games this year between the GCL and Elizabethton rookie squads, Minier is hitting .213/.240/.340. He may still be dealing with some discomfort in his hand, but his last six games have seen him go over the top just a bit with 16 strikeouts in 26 at-bats. Yikes.
17 Stuart Turner C Chattanooga (AA)
Turner continues to struggle as a hitter with a triple slash of .186/.281/.273.
18 Chih-Wei Hu RHP Fort Myers (A+)
Hu's ups and downs over the last few weeks haven't seen him truly get lit up at any point, but he's been a bit more hittable and there have been a couple of games where he's walked three players in five innings. Those extra base runners have touched him a little, l but he's also had a game where he struck out ten in six innings. Overall his season continues to look very impressive with a 2.26 ERA in 67.2 innings with 62 strikeouts and a .230 opponent batting average. If he's really settling in at this level, which he seems to be, it might be a good time to consider seeing how he performs against older and better competition. It's also worth remembering that Hu is just 21.
19 Mitch Garver C Fort Myers (A+)
Garver has managed to raise his batting average 21 points since our last update and is now batting .246/.368/.302. The power from last year does well and truly look tapped, with all 14 of his extra-base hits coming as doubles, but a catcher who can hit in the .250s while taking a lot of walks can still be valuable. I'm interested to see how Garver's season finishes out.
20 Tyler Duffey RHP Rochester (AAA)
Before allowing two runs in six and two thirds yesterday, Duffey hadn't allowed an earned run since June 11. In that stretch, five starts, he's allowed just the two runs in 36 innings. He's now made more starts in Triple-A (nine) than he did in Double-A before his promotion (eight), and he actually owns a better ERA at the higher level (2.47). He's not getting as many swinging strikes and therefore fewer strikeouts and he's allowed a couple more hits, but opponents aren't hitting him much better on the surface as Triple-A batters have posted just a .237 average against him. In Chattanooga hitters posted a .236 average.
21 Travis Harrison LF/RF Chattanooga (AA)
Harrison is just 1-for-his-last-20, dropping his batting average 17 points. The strikeout-to-walk ratio is now greater than 2-to-1, which is worrying for a player who doesn't hit for any power. His .357 on-base percentage still looks good but it's surrounded by that .251 batting average and .375 slugging percentage, and even on the base paths - which was considered a relative strength - he's only 2-for-8 in stolen base attempts this year. Granted this is just a cold stretch, but right now it looks like Harrison's prospect status is trending down.
22 Taylor Rogers LHP Rochester (AAA)
With three quality starts under his belt these last couple weeks, Rogers continues to illustrate why certain prospect aficionados hold him in such high regard: 19 innings, six earned runs, 13 strikeouts, and just three walks. Neither Duffey nor Rogers feel like a good bet to be added to the 40-man roster before the season is out, barring some big changes, but they are excellent depth. Rogers owns a 3.04 ERA in 109.2 innings this year.
23 Zack Jones RHP Chattanooga (AA)
Jones has had a rough - and that might be an understatement - couple of weeks. He had a 2.05 ERA as of our last update, and then gave up ten runs over his next four appearances (3.2 innings) and hit the 7-day disabled list. He's back as of Tuesday and struck out two in a scoreless inning, but he now sports an unsightly 5.06 ERA. When the command went over those four outings, it destroyed what had been a brilliant performance in a small sample size. Hopefully he's back on track now.
24 Lewin Diaz 1B GCL (Rookie)
A hitless first three games was followed by a six-game hitting streak that included four walks. Now, in his last four games, he's 1-for-13 with a walk. Overall he's struck out 14 times in 13 games, and is clearly off to a slow start as illustrated by his .178/.288/.200 triple slash. After an impressive showing in the Dominican Summer League last year, this is the first time the 18-year old slugger has been challenged - possibly in his entire baseball life. His status as a prospect goes hand-in-hand with how he hits, and while a disappointing rookie campaign as an 18-year old doesn't spell "bust" by any means it's also not the way Diaz or the Twins would want it to go. Let's see how it plays out.
25 Michael Cederoth RHP Cedar Rapids (A)
Cederoth hasn't pitched since June 4, having been placed on the disabled list June 7 with "an illness." He owns a 4.08 ERA on the season after six starts and five relief appearances; he's allowed just one earned run in 8.1 innings out of the bullpen.
26 J.R. Graham RHP Minnesota (MLB)
There have been some shaky times, but Graham and his nice fastball have stayed afloat. With a 3.08 ERA in 38 innings this year he's become a pretty reliable muti-inning option for Paul Molitor. Some of the peripherals aren't great and sometimes it's quite a while between appearances, but he's shown why the Twins wanted to take a flyer in the first place. He's been active on the 25-man roster for the requisite 90 days this season, so if the Twins ever felt he was slipping and could trump up an injury they could keep him on the disabled list and on a rehab assignment for as long as they like. That's dishonest and against the spirit of the rule, naturally, but teams do what they need to do.
27 J.T. Chargois RHP Chattanooga (AA)
Since his promotion to Double-A, Chargois numbers have leveled off a bit. After leaving hitters decimated as a member of the Miracle bullpen, going up to Chattanooga was new territory - and it shows. The 2.13 ERA in 13 appearances is good, but he's walked eight and struck out ten in 12.2 innings. That's a significant departure from where he was in Fort Myers.
28 Huascar Ynoa RHP Dominican Summer League (R)
For a kid who's just 17 years old, he's holding his own in the DSL. Through seven starts Ynoa has posted a 1.98 ERA, and that includes the five-inning, one-run performance yesterday. The command slips at times and the strikeouts are a gamble (he didn't record a single one yesterday). As the Twins' top international signing last year, he'll have a close eye kept on him.
29 Levi Michael 2B Chattanooga (AA)
Michael has come back from his injury and has played in 14 games. An 8-for-19 (.421) start upon his return from the disabled list made it look like he'd pick things up cold, but it's been a mixed bag since. He's hitting .264/.379/.445 overall, and for a second baseman there's nothing wrong with that. A season like this could go a long way in re-establishing Michael's prospect status.
30 Tanner English CF Cedar Rapids (A)
Pitchers may have noticed that if they don't nibble with English and force him to put the ball in play, they can keep him off of the bases. Three weeks ago English had an impressive 33 walks on the season, but he's managed just four free passes since that time as pitchers are just coming after him. He's 26-for-30 in stolen bases and he continues to catch anything that comes to him in center field, but the new story is the same as the old one: if English is going to have any kind of a career, he'll have to show that he can hit. Right now he's not squaring up enough, he's popping the ball up too often (nearly one in ten balls in play), and he's missing the baseball altogether far too often.