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Minnesota Twins 2016 prospect vote: Round 5

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Which Twins prospect will round out the top five for 2016? Cast your vote!

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

I was curious to see which way Round 4 went, and the community largely tilted towards 2014 first-round pick Nick GordonBaseball America and John Sickels agree with you, as they both rated Gordon the Twins' fourth-best prospect ahead of 2016 as well.

Heading into Round 5, we're going to add a trio of players. These three are the most common players to also appear on lists after those already ranked or on the ballot: Byung Ho Park, Kohl Stewart, and Stephen Gonsalves. No players will be added to the ballot now until Round 7.

Twins top 30 prospects for 2016

  1. Byron Buxton, CF - 55% (Berrios 24%, Kepler 21%)
  2. Jose Berrios, RHP - 62% (Kepler 38%)
  3. Max Kepler, OF/1B - 78% (Jay 10%, Gordon 9%, Polanco 3%)
  4. Nick Gordon, SS - 59% (Jay 32%, Polanco 9%)

Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
2016 Age: 21
2015 High Level: Fort Myers (A+)

Year Age Lvl ERA G GS IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 K:BB
2013 18 Rookie 0.95 8 5 28.1 1.02 5.7 0.0 3.5 12.4 3.6
2014 19 Rookie, A 3.02 14 14 65.2 1.14 7.4 0.3 2.9 9.6 3.3
2015 20 A, A+ 2.01 24 24 134.1 1.10 6.4 0.3 3.6 8.8 2.5
3 Seasons 2.17 46 43 228.1 1.10 6.6 0.2 3.4 9.5 2.8

The 110th overall pick from the 2013 draft is turning into something of a steal. Other pitchers from that draft class have made their Major League debuts - but they were all collegiate selections - and it's possible that he turns out to be the best player Minnesota selected that year. That's saying something.

Gonsalves has been one of a few pitchers in the system who, in recent years, have had scouting reports printed that insist his numbers don't live up to his stuff. For the first time we may have seen that belief crop up in his numbers, considering his dip in strikeout rate after being promoted from Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers this season (36.8% to 16.5%), but you can't bring that up without also bringing up that Gonsalves was 20 when he played for the Miracle. That means he was pitching to hitters who were, on average, three years older than he was.

He already possesses a decent fastball, but how quickly Gonsalves climbs the ladder from here will depend on how far his secondary pitches can develop. He already throws a curve and a changeup. He's been working on another breaking ball, either a slider or a cutter depending on who you read, and if that pitch can catch up he could be a lefty with four average pitches - which is incredibly valuable. If his command can come together just a bit more, all the better.

Tyler Jay, LHP
2016 Age: 22
2015 High Level: Fort Myers (A+)

Age Level ERA G GF IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 K:BB
21 A+ 3.93 19 7 18.1 1.42 8.8 0.0 3.9 10.8 2.8

Jay's Twins debut saw him pushed into the bullpen. It was a familiar role for club's first-round pick, as he'd been the closer for Illinois. He's already thrown a career-high 60 innings prior to being drafted, so while the Twins wanted to develop him as a starter long-term there was no benefit in getting him lengthened out for the Miracle's stretch run. Indeed, the fact that Jay was a bit worn down was the reason the Twins didn't push for him to help the Major League team in August and September - he was already exhausted.

With a winter to rest up and get ready, the Twins will get started on Jay's development in earnest. Scouts believe he has impeccable command, which is already something of a rarity for left-handers, and his fastball and curve already show signs of being plus offerings. His slider and changeup still need work, but Twins staff expect Jay will develop four Major League-ready pitches.

Minnesota will give Jay some time to adjust to the new role. It's hard to say how long that will be - two months, one season, maybe two - but if at some point the organization decides that the starting pitcher route isn't going to work, they'll turn Jay loose as a reliever. Considering what he already offers, Jay is nearly Major League-ready as a reliever from Day One. As a starter, his ETA will be closer to 2018.

Byung Ho Park, 1B
2016 Age: 29
2015 High Level: Nexen (KBO)

Year Age G PA H 2B HR SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS
2012 25 133 560 136 34 31 20 9 73 111 .290 .393 .561 .954
2013 26 128 556 143 17 37 10 2 92 96 .318 .437 .602 1.039
2014 27 128 571 139 16 52 8 3 96 142 .303 .433 .686 1.119
2015 28 140 622 181 35 53 10 3 78 161 .343 .436 .714 1.150
9 Seasons 868 3271 773 137 210 59 22 432 801 .281 .387 .564 .951

Minnesota got a steal in Park, at least in terms of their financial commitment, considering he was unequivocally the best international hitter available on the market. He'll plug in as the Twins' everyday designated hitter, occasionally taking starts at first base where he is rated as a good athlete and fine fielder.

The scouting reports on Park all agree on two things: the power is for real, and he's going to strike out a lot. Scouts rate the power between a 60 and a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and if that power translates to the Major Leagues he could hit 25+ home runs in 2016. Whether or not he can reach that potential depends a great deal on how much contact he can make in the first place, which in turn will depend on how quickly he can adapt to the league's higher quality of pitching.

It should be expected for Park to struggle a bit, particularly during the first four to eight weeks. Early struggles will be normal, and he may start less frequently early in the season as a result, so don't be surprised if the Twins bring him along slowly - as the Pirates did for Jung Ho Kang in 2015. Kang started just six games in April before catching fire and becoming a regular. As scouting reports were compiled, pitchers adjusted, and he went through an extended slump in June and the early part of July. But Pittsburgh was patient and gave him time; he adjusted again, and from the All-Star break through the end of the year Kang hit .310/.364/.548. If Park follows a similar path, the Twins will be elated.

Jorge Polanco, SS/2B
2016 Age: 22
2015 High Level: Minnesota (MLB)

Year Age Lvl G PA H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS
2010 16 F Rook, Rookie 52 187 38 7 0 1 3 7 18 18 .233 .303 .294 .597
2011 17 Rookie 51 193 43 8 3 1 6 4 15 24 .250 .319 .349 .668
2012 18 Rookie 51 204 55 15 2 5 6 3 20 26 .318 .388 .514 .903
2013 19 A 115 523 143 32 10 5 4 4 42 59 .308 .362 .452 .813
2014 20 A+, AA 131 589 151 23 6 7 17 11 55 88 .288 .353 .395 .748
2015 21 AA, AAA 117 525 139 23 3 6 19 10 39 73 .288 .339 .386 .725
6 Seasons 517 2221 569 108 24 25 55 39 189 288 .288 .348 .404 .752

Polanco has been on the verge of being Major League ready over the last couple of seasons, getting cups of coffee with the Twins in both 2014 and 2015. While he impressed coaches and teammates alike with his maturity and attitude, not to mention 20 surprisingly productive plate appearances, the club has let him spend most of the last two seasons in the upper echelons of the minor league system. It's helped him mature, but this experience has also tempered some of the enthusiasm that may have been building after his incredibly successful runs in 2012 and 2013.

He's played mostly shortstop for the Twins over the last two years, but in the Dominican Winter League this year he was almost exclusively a second baseman. Scouts seem split over which middle infield spot is better suited for Polanco's skill set, with some believing he has the arm for short while others call him a work-in-progress at second base. He looks like at least an average player on both sides of the ball long term. The biggest area of work for Polanco right now is in reading pitchers, as his plus speed hasn't translated to efficiency on the base paths.

With Brian Dozier entrenched at second base and Eduardo Escobar earning an extended look at short to start 2016, Polanco's opportunity to impact the Major League roster will have to come later in the season barring an injury. He's deserving of a shot very soon, however, and along with Danny Santana he does give the Twins a good deal of quality depth up the middle.

Kohl Stewart, RHP
2016 Age: 21
2015 High Level: Fort Myers (A+)

Year Age Lvl ERA G GS IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 K:BB
2013 18 Rookie 1.35 7 4 20.0 0.85 5.8 0.0 1.8 10.8 6.0
2014 19 A 2.59 19 19 87.0 1.14 7.8 0.4 2.5 6.4 2.6
2015 20 A+ 3.20 22 22 129.1 1.38 9.3 0.1 3.1 4.9 1.6
3 Seasons 2.82 48 45 236.1 1.25 8.5 0.2 2.8 6.0 2.2

Stewart spent the last few weeks of the 2015 season on the disabled list, as "a shoulder issue" forced the Twins to shut him down. Reports insist it was nothing serious and that no surgery or procedure was necessary, so he'll be ready to go come spring training. Still, it will be worth noting his fastball velocity when the minor league season gets underway.

Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a good slider in the mid-80s, Stewart already has a pair of plus pitches in his arsenal. The secondary pitches and his command aren't of the same quality, but he'll be just 21 this season with plenty of time to develop.

Oftentimes, scouting reports on Stewart feel like the opposite of reports on a pitcher like Stephen Gonsalves. Where it's often been said that Gonsalves' numbers are ahead of his stuff, it's also said that Stewart's stuff is ahead of his numbers. With that fastball and that slider he should be getting more swinging strikes, and therefore more strikeouts. Perhaps it's just a matter of command, but Stewart - like his rotation mate Gonsalves - was three years younger than his average competition.