Wander Javier ran away with Round 15, more than doubling the runner-up and accumulating 46% of your votes. Support for Engelb Vielma is slowly on its way up, but after two rounds John Hicks continues to lag way behind in the polls. For Round 16 we'll be replacing one shortstop with another, as 19-year old Jermaine Palacios enters the fray.
John Hicks, C
2016 Age: 26
2015 High Level: Seattle (MLB)
When the Twins claimed Hicks in December, it wasn't a move that was greeted with any real ceremony. After all, he Hicks hit just 2-for-32 in his Major League debut for the Mariners and he hasn't exactly set the world on first at Triple-A. What Hicks does well is catch. Scouting reports list his "pop time" - the time between receiving a pitch and getting rid of the ball to throw out a base runner - at less than two seconds.
He fits the mold of a traditional third catcher, perhaps with a bit more upside. You can see that he has, at times in the minors, hit well. He often gets credited with the phrases that are only applied to prospects who aren't expected to hit - that he's a student of the game, knows his pitchers and the opposing batters, and that his tools allow him to make up whatever ground he loses in arm strength.
Hicks is the third and final catcher on the 40-man roster. His acquisition allows the Twins to not rush Stuart Turner. In a backup capacity or as a short-term starter at the Major League level he'd probably be okay, but we need to see more from Hicks before we can project him into a larger role.
Felix Jorge, RHP
2016 Age: 22
2015 High Level: Cedar Rapids (A)
After something of a disappointing campaign in 2014, Jorge rebounded last summer to deliver a performance worthy of his prospect ranking. What he lacks in stuff he makes up for with a good mix of pitches that seem to be improving. Jorge is tall and thin, and is aggressive in going after hitters. His strikeout rates will drop as he climbs the ladder, but if the fastball-changeup combination continues to improve there's hope that he'll stick as a starting pitcher.
Still young and somewhat raw, there's a belief that the stuff can get better - especially if the breaking ball, a slider that improved through the season, can become a pitch Jorge can consistently throw for strikes. He should be challenged at Fort Myers in 2016. If he puts forward another strong season, there will be a bigger argument for him to crack the organization's Top 15.
Jorge was eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December. He was a strategic omission, with the Twins believing the right-hander was still too raw for anyone to take a risk on. The gamble paid off, but another good year will virtually guarantee his addition to the 40-man roster in the fall.
Jermaine Palacios, SS
2016 Age: 19
2015 High Level: Elizabethton (Rookie)
Palacios is a prospect who garners little general consensus. What consensus there is, goes thusly: his tools could develop across the board, where he could ultimately rate as average, but there are serious doubts as to whether or not he'll stick at shortstop. Seth's review in his prospect handbook is the exception here, as Mike Berardino, John Sickels, and Dan Farnsworth all seem a bit more skeptical. Palacios made 20 errors in 465 innings at short in 2015, which is pretty rough.
On the other hand, he spent just one season in the Dominican Summer League - and you can see how well he played - before the Twins decided he was ready to advance. He destroyed pitchers while with the GCL Twins, starting 1-for-19 before hitting .513/.560/.724 and forcing the organization to promote him to Elizabethton. All told he hit .421/.472/.589 in the GCL and .336/.345/.507 after his move up. His strikeout-to-walk ratio took a drastic dive after leaving the Dominican Summer League, but that's to be expected. He should move up to Cedar Rapids this year, perhaps from the start of the season.
Palacios is raw but there's a good amount of talent here. There's enough faith in the tools that some scouts believe his bat could play, even if he does have to move off of short. He landed at number 10 on Jeremy's list, 12 on Sickels', 16 on Gleeman's, 17 on FanGraphs', 19 on Berardino's for Baseball America, as 21 on Seth's. Where will he land on our community list?
Taylor Rogers, LHP
2016 Age: 25
2015 High Level: Rochester (AAA)
Rogers has been a competent pitcher throughout his minor league career with the Twins, but suffers from Good-Not-Great Syndrome. He doesn't have one really good pitch, he doesn't have really good stuff, and when a player is coming up through the system it can be a challenge to peg a prospect who doesn't have one single asset that sticks out. Consistency doesn't breed excitement.
With nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, Rogers was for a time considered a candidate for the second lefty arm in the Twins bullpen. While he clearly has the pitches and the stamina to start, he's much more effective versus left-handed hitters than right. Just in 2015, righties hit .326 off of him with an .831 OPS. Lefties hit .177 with a .402 OPS, and he averaged nearly a strikeout per inning.
Right now, Rogers is absolutely buried on the Twins' starting pitcher depth chart. Minnesota's stated rotation is set for Opening Day, Trevor May, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey, and maybe even Alex Meyer are on deck before the 25-year old lefty would get a sniff. If he's going to have a Major League career with the Twins, it'll have to come through the bullpen. And in that role, Rogers could be very, very effective.
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.