It was deserved and most of you agreed - Byron Buxton is the Twins' top prospect heading into 2016 according to the Twinkie Town community. Jose Berrios had a nice showing as did Max Kepler, in spite of a few of you believing he shouldn't have been in the conversation for the top spot. I don't necessarily disagree, but as a result of your discourse we'll change what will happen for Rounds 2 and 3.
This round will continue to see just two players on the ballot - Berrios and Kepler - but the loser will not automatically be awarded third. He'll instead head into Round 3, where he'll face off with one additional player.
For now, congratulations to Byron Buxton! He's our top-ranked prospect for the third year running.
Twins Top 30 prospects for 2016
- Byron Buxton, CF - 55% (Berrios 24%, Kepler 21%)
Jose Berrios, RHP
2016 Age: 22
2015 High Level: Triple-A
|2014||20||A+, AA, AAA||2.76||25||140.0||1.11||7.6||0.4||2.4||9.0||3.7|
Along with Julio Urias, the 19-year old left-hander who reached Triple-A for the Dodgers in 2015, Berrios should be among the best pitching prospect in baseball. After 15 starts with Double-A Chattanooga to start the year, Berrios was promoted to Triple-A Rochester where he somehow proceeded to be even better. After his move up the ladder his strikeout rates went up, and his walk rates, base runners, and runs scored went down.
While the Twins endured some criticism for how they handled Berrios' innings limit, the right-hander will have an opportunity to make the club's rotation at some point in 2016. He'll compete for that job in spring training, but with so many other options available in-house it seems more likely that Berrios will begin the season in Triple-A and make his debut when injury or ineffectiveness inevitably opens up a spot for him in Minnesota.
There's no doubt that Berrios probably belongs in one of the top two spots on our list for 2016. Now that the shine has perhaps worn off of Buxton just a bit, are you daring enough to vote for a changing of the guard at the top of our prospect list?
Max Kepler, OF/1B
2016 Age: 23
2015 High Level: MLB
There are hitters who had better years in the minor leagues, but there aren't many. Kepler absolutely tore the cover off the ball, and while it earned him a seven-game cup of coffee with the Twins in September that's not what people will be talking about when prospect rankings come out.
Injuries played a significant part in stunting Kepler's development coming into 2015, or at least that was the narrative coming out of last season. Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't, but there's no denying that a fully healthy Max Kepler has put himself front and center when it comes to discussing the Twins' best prospects. He stole 19 bases in 23 attempts, walked more than he struck out, and he racked up extra base hits.
In some respects, Kepler profiles like Eddie Rosario. He could play center field but likely fits as a plus defender in a corner spot; he has good speed and knows how to use it; he does a number of things very well but nothing exceptionally and nothing poorly. Kepler doesn't mind taking a walk from time to time however, and that could be a difference maker in the trajectories of both players.
Kepler probably deserves to be in the conversation for the number two or number three spot on our list for 2016, but with the stellar season he had we just couldn't leave him out of the conversation for number one.