After shutting this vote down last Friday morning and drafting about 80% of this article, I had to step away from the computer. Later that afternoon when I returned to finish the post, I thought "Hey, why don't I clean up all of those unpublished drafts I have sitting in my editorial dashboard?"
And then I deleted Round 8. I haven't had a chance to get back to it since.
So, apologies for making you all wait. But we're back in business now, and it's worth noting that Tyler Jay did separate himself from Kohl Stewart by about 40 votes in the end. 643 votes for Jay gave him 44% of your ballots, and that way enough.
Here's how our list breaks down so far. Beyond that you'll find the candidates for Round 8, including holdovers Stewart and Byung Ho Park along side newcomers Nick Burdi, Alex Meyer, and Engelb Vielma.
Twins top 30 prospects for 2016
- Byron Buxton, CF - 55% (Berrios 24%, Kepler 21%)
- Jose Berrios, RHP - 62% (Kepler 38%)
- Max Kepler, OF/1B - 78% (Jay 10%, Gordon 9%, Polanco 3%)
- Nick Gordon, SS - 59% (Jay 32%, Polanco 9%)
- Stephen Gonsalves, LHP - 59% (Jay 32%, Park 5%, Polanco 3%, Stewart 1%)
- Jorge Polanco, 2B/SS - 50 % (Jay 37%, Park 12%, Stewart 2%)
- Tyler Jay, LHP - 44% (Stewart 42%, Park 14%)
Nick Burdi, RHP
2016 Age: 23
2015 High Level: Chattanooga (Double-A)
Alex Meyer, RHP
2016 Age: 26
2015 High Level: Minnesota (MLB)
Byung Ho Park, 1B
2016 Age: 29
2015 High Level: Nexen (KBO)
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.
Kohl Stewart, RHP
2016 Age: 21
2015 High Level: Fort Myers (A+)
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.
Engelb Vielma, SS
2016 Age: 22
2015 High Level: Fort Myers (A+)
Vielma has been in the system for four years now, and has quietly moved up the ladder in spite of underwhelming offensive numbers. Yet his bat has been just good enough to pair with his stellar defensive tools, making his promotion justifiable every step of the way.
His tools are impressive, combining a strong arm with good range and the sweet phrase every scout loves to hear: soft hands. Maturity and leadership on and off the field are intangible benefits that endear him to teammates and coaches alike. As Roger has said on multiple occasions, Vielma has the potential to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the Major Leagues. If he can hit .250 and boast a .290 on-base percentage (because he's never going to hit for power and walked in just 7% of his plate appearances last year), that will be good enough to make him an everyday player. He just has to show that he can get there; the bat is always going to be the question, and because of his size (5' 11" and 150 lbs are likely overstated) he'll always need to prove it.
Following the 2016 season the Twins will need to add Vielma to their 40-man roster. A successful campaign in Double-A will set up a Minnesota debut sometime in 2017, and he could - at some juncture - be considered as the club's starting shortstop.