Kohl Stewart may still have a believer in Keith Law, but it looks like Twinkie Town's faith isn't quite as strong as he drops five spots from last year's poll. He ran away with the Round 8 vote however, securing his spot in the community's Top 10.
Three of the four players currently on the ballot are the most common names to round out organizational Top 10 lists, so we'll run this round without a new addition. For Round 9 we'll add one player, most likely Adam Brett Walker.
I'm curious to see who comes out of this one a winner. Vote away!
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%)
- Kohl Stewart, RHP - 62% (Park 21%, Burdi 11%, Meyer 4%, Vielma 2%)
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.
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.