2016 Twinkietown Top 30 Prospect Update - Post Deadline

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  1. Byron Buxton, CF – .195/.249.318 OPS .567 (MLB). Buxton started the season with a dismal .163/.212/.306 triple slash that found him in AAA for a little more seasoning and Buxton responded by adding a somewhat inconsistent higher leg kick to light Rochester on fire with a 1.007 OPS for 129 plate appearances before his quick recall. Buxton had a quick start, but quickly turned back into what he had been... not very good at the plate. Since the All Star Break, it's been the worst yet at a .136/.235/.159 in 52 PA. It would be a major mistake to pencil Buxton in as the center fielder to start next year at this point, and it sure looks like the Twins could have found a way to keep him in AAA to improve. With rumors of Sano's impending demotion, Buxton can't be far behind.

  2. Jose Berrios, RHP – 2.44 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 9.67 K/9, 3.05 K/9 (AAA) While he didn't make the roster out of Spring Training, there were high expectations he would join the Twins and dominate in short order. Unfortunately, Berrios' first experiences in MLB didn't go well and he was shuttled back to AAA where he continued to demonstrate week in and out he was ready for another shot. Berrios got his second shot against Cleveland just a few days ago where he pitched 5 strong innings after a rough start. The future continues to look bright for Berrios.

  3. Max Kepler, OF/1B – .263/.346/.554 OPS .900 (MLB). Kepler wasn't able to make a case to be the starting left fielder out of the gate, and that's not surprising as Rosario clearly had the inside track, and in his limited playing time early on, Kepler struggled a bit. Since being recalled from AAA, though, Kepler has been one of those incredible bright spots in another pretty rotten season. He's unexpectedly crushing home runs instead of beating out doubles, and he continues to show off excellent plate discipline since something clicked in mid-June. Since 6/14, Kepler is .288/.370/.631 for an OPS of, yeah, 1.001 in 185 MLB plate appearances. In that period, his walk rate has sat at 11.4% while his K rate has plummeted down to 16.8%. Kepler could be a RoY candidate this year, but he's going to need to keep raking due to the early hole. Please don't turn into a pumpkin, Max. It's just way too much fun to watch you work these days!

  4. Nick Gordon, SS – .301/.346/.409 OPS .755 (A+). In 150 plate appearances since the last update, Gordon's production has been steady. Fewer walks, more hits, a little less isolated power and his OPS remains the same. The plate discipline isn't there as he's almost 4x more likely to strike out than draw a walk, but he's not even 21 yet. Gordon's still needing some work on the base paths as well as he remains barely better than 50/50 on steal attempts 13 of 24, but 2016 has continued to be a very nice campaign for the high end prospect. Gordon is really cementing his position as a top MLB SS prospect.

  5. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP – 2.62 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 11.08 K/9, 4.84 BB/9 (AA). Gonsalves is suddenly looking every bit as good as Twinkietown voters surprisingly chose this year. After a dominant beginning in A+ leading to his appearance in the FSL All Star Game, Gonsalves was promoted to AA as an early 22nd birthday present and he's run with it. While the walk rate is unsustainable, much of that came from two really wild games with as many as 7 walks in 5 innings and his strike out rate in AA is outstanding. His opponents BABIP isn't out of line at .291 so there's no real sign of regression at the surface.

  6. Jorge Polanco, 2B/SS – .298/.370/.574 OPS .944 (MLB) Polanco's still in a tough spot even after the Nunez trade as he's logjammed behind Escobar and Dozier. Now having just turned 23, his power production is showing up, and his bat has been looking good all year regardless of whether it's at AAA or MLB, but there was some expected cooldown from the astronomical early performance in Rochester. Polanco has one option year left, and the Twins are taking advantage of it by keeping depth rather than trading away as much as they could have. Polanco's real position is 2B, and the Twins seemed to accept that by giving Polanco absolutely zero playing time at SS in 75 MiLB games this year. Overall, Polanco has acquitted himself nicely after posting pretty mediocre marks at the plate since moving to AA in 2014. His error rate has dropped greatly at 2B this year in Rochester, and he sports a .978 fielding percentage to go with some impressive range factors.

  7. Tyler Jay, LHP – 5.79 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 5.79 K/9, 3.21 BB/9 (AA) 2015's First round pick, Tyler Jay started the season off excellently for the Miracle and Jay even saw some playing time at the FSL All Star Game. After his 2.84 ERA for his first 13 starts in A+, the Twins decided to promote Jay to AA and subsequently move him to the bullpen to restrict his innings. Jay really struggled in his only 2 AA starts before his move to the bullpen, and he was just placed on the 7 DL with a strained neck. After such a great start, Jay's season has cooled off a lot, but it looks like he may well have the chops to stick at starter.

  8. Kohl Stewart, RHP – 3.19 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 5.16 K/9, 3.79 BB/9. Stewart really took a step forward to begin the season in regard to strike out rates in Ft. Myers and with Jay and Gonsalves beginning to push, the Twins didn't want to risk letting Stewart be passed so he was promoted to AA. Stewart's ERA in AA remains inflated due to his harsh welcoming. Since then, in 10 starts, Stewart has managed a 2.65 ERA, but I still don't know how as his FIP has been 4.16. Stewart seems to generate a lot of very weak contact, but the strike out rates and walk rates are borderline awful for both. With his 1.52 WHIP, it's only a matter of time before he gets pasted at this rate. That said, it's worth noting Stewart is STILL not even 22 years old yet and he's playing in AA. I think a back end rotation arm is still potentially there.

  9. Nick Burdi, RHP – (DL) Burdi was placed on the 7 day DL on May 5th with a bone bruise on his right forearm shortly after coming off the DL for forearm tightness on April 22nd. He hasn't really pitched at all this year in what has been a tremendous disappointment for a Twins team in desperate need of bullpen arms. The latest update, Burdi hasn't even begun a throwing problem (as of 7/25) and based on that, it's doubtful Burdi will pitch this season.

  10. Lewis Thorpe, LHP – (DL) Thorpe's recovery from Tommy John surgery has been slow and continues with a couple setbacks. His last major setback was a bout of mono which kept him off the field for a month. He started a throwing program on July 2nd so there is some hope he might pitch a little this year to try and salvage what is another injury disappointment.

  11. Alex Meyer, RHP – (LA Angels) Meyer was traded to the Angels so the Twins could get Ricky Nolasco off the team. Meyer has been nursing a shoulder injury for several months and just began playing catch in July.

  12. Byung Ho Park, 1B – .242/.327/.568 OPS .895 (AAA) Park struggled to adjust to the apparent growing MLB scouting report on him and was subsequently demoted to AAA when his slash finally became too bad to ignore at .191/.275/.409. By all accounts, Park was a hard worker, but had a little too much to work through, and he's shown improvement at Rochester despite a recent slump. Since the MLB ASG, Park has a .257/.333/.700 slash for an OPS of 1.033 in AAA, but the walks aren't there and the K rate is hovering around 25%. As it has been all along, it's about whether or not Park can make enough contact. I'd expect to see him again in September.

  13. Adam Brett Walker, OF – .239/.307/.473 OPS .780. (AAA)Walker managed to drop his overall strikeout rate down to 35% thanks to managing a merely bad 31.4% K rate since the MLB ASG. Since it was at a ridiculous over 40% rate in MiLB, that's an accomplishment. Walker continues to show tantalizing power at the plate, but projecting him at the MLB level is still uglier than even his defense.

  14. J.T. Chargois, RHP – 1.06 ERA, 1.84 FIP, 10.59 K/9, 2.12 BB/9 (AAA) Chargois must have set Molitor's favorite desk on fire when he was on the Twins because this is tough to swallow. In 27 games across 34 innings, Chargois continues to put up video game numbers in AAA when the Twins could really use a shut down reliever in the bullpen. At 25 years old, Chargois has nothing left to prove in MiLB. If you combine the AA and AAA numbers, you get 45.2 IP, a 1.18 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 10.64 K:9, 2.56 BB:9 with an actual strike out rate of 30%.

  15. Wander Javier, SS – .308/.400/.654 (DSL) Javier has started up in rookie ball with a blast, but he hasn't played since July 1st. He was dealing with a hamstring injury earlier this year so maybe that's carried over into July, and that looks very likely as he was removed for a pinch runner in the first inning of the 7/1 game after making it to first base on an error. I couldn't find any information on him. An unfortunate dulling of a great start.

  16. Engelb Vielma, SS – .293/.356/.347 OPS .703 (AA)Vielma's really stepped up his performance at the plate posting his first wRC+ over 100 (107) since 2012 Rookie Ball. Undoubtedly feeling pressure from other prospects, Vielma has responded, and while the .353 BABIP might mean the performance will be short lived, at least it's given him a nice season on which to hang his hat. Unfortunately, there remains absolutely zero power in Vielma's 155lb frame and his fielding rate hasn't been very good at .949 at SS this year limiting his potential defensive value. Vielma remains a long shot for the Twins with the depth we have.

  17. Taylor Rogers, LHP – 2.56 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 9.08 K/9, 1.86 BB/9 (MLB). Rogers was called upon to take a spot in the bullpen when Tommy Milone was DFA'd and sent to Rochester, and while he was a starter his entire career, the Twins kept him in the pen. Despite Rogers profiling as a shutdown LOOGY, the Twins have had the faith to use him as a general reliever and he's rewarded their faith. Rogers owns a sick 12.51 K/9 and a 1.96 FIP against lefties, and right handed hitters haven't been able to really damage him too much. Overall, Rogers has been highly effective in his 34 games becoming arguably the best reliever Minnesota has in its pen. Rogers has the endurance to start as evidenced by his over 200 IP last season between Rochester and the AFL, and he probably deserves a shot, but there's quite a train wreck in front of his opportunity.

  18. Felix Jorge, RHP – 5.28 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 4.11 K/9, 1.76 BB/9 (AA). After a glowing start to the season in Ft. Myers including starting the FSL All Star Game, the 22 year old Jorge was rushed to the Lookouts. There was good reason for the promotion as Jorge was making A+ look way too easy with a 1.55 ERA and a 2.47 FIP as he breezed through deep games while bringing praise from his pitching coach, but everything has derailed against the stiffer competition. In 5 AA starts, Jorge has managed to go 6.0 or more innings twice and in only one of those games was he effective. He's been shelled by the long ball and the strike out rate has gone from adequate to suspiciously rare. Felix is going to have to find a way to get his stuff to play at AA rather than just rely on being crafty. That said, he's shown some signs of improvement over the last few starts, and while it's not as storybook as fans might like, it's hard to call any season where you move up 2 levels and start in an ASG anything but a success.

  19. Stuart Turner, C – .218/.324/.343 OPS .667 (AA). Turner's second year in AA continues to look almost the same as his first at the plate, but there has been a bit more pop this year. Now officially on the downhill run to 25, Turner's bat limits his peak upside to a backup MLB catcher, but even then. Turner takes walks frequently with a rate of 11.5%, but his strikeout rate remains too high for a prospect without any power, and his consistently low BABIP speaks to poor contact. Turner's defensive skills are generally praised and he's catching a solid 37% of base runners this year for the Lookouts.

  20. Randy Rosario, LHP – 3.52 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 5.79 K/9, 3.00 BB/9 (A+). Rosario's shown the same big dropoff rates in strikeouts we saw with Kohl Stewart, only Rosario doesn't have the pedigree. Despite the 5.79 K/9, Rosario rarely gives up the long ball so he keeps the ERA solid at 3.52, but he's struggled to strand base runners and has been inconsistent. Over his past 4 starts, he's made it at least 6.0 innings 3 times, but his latest appearance was in relief.

  21. Jermaine Palacios, SS – .222/.286/.287 OPS .573 (A) Palacios is having a real rough go of things in his first go round at Cedar Rapids in Low A. He's picked up his game a little since the last check-in, but he hasn't played since July 16th due after being hit by a pitch on his arm. He was added to the 7 day DL the next day, but I wasn't able to find out much more. He's got a lot of room to fill out and get some experience as he's only 19 so he gets a mulligan for 2016, especially as he's listed at 6'0" and only 145lbs.

  22. LaMonte Wade, OF – .333/.403/.539 OPS (A+) Wade earned his promotion to the Miracle by holding a wRC+ of 142 with the Kernals. Since then, Wade has only gotten better now sporting a wRC+ of 173 with blossoming power to go along with acceptable plate discipline. The perhaps lucky .357 BABIP at AA might account for some of the value, but it's solid nonetheless. With the promotion, Wade is now facing more age appropriate competition for a good 22 year old prospect, especially considering he was a 9th rounder in 2015. The plus speed outfielder is showing no signs he can't crack MLB sometime in the future and he'll probably move up the list for next year.

  23. Mitch Garver, C – .266/.345/.436 OPS .781 (AA) The 25yr old Garver's turned up the heat at the plate since our last check in, showing some additional power and even a getting on base a bit more. Now hitting 25% above average for the Southern League, his bat certainly isn't a good reason to overlook him. Even Garver's strike out rates have dropped since we checked in, and with the extra power display, 21.0% is functional. Garver's BABIP has dropped 11pts to .315 while he's managed to improve his overall batting average by slight 5pts. Garver hasn't been the slugging catching prospect who turns heads, he's made his way up the ladder with defensive chops. He was positively owning the base paths earlier in the year, throwing out an insane 67% of attempted thieves, and that rate is now down to a just exceptional 51% as he's caught just an adequate 30% since our last update. Seriously, though, why teams continued to run on him is strange to me. I'm not sure what's keeping the Twins from calling him up with the lack of future catcher potential in the system right now.

  24. Daniel Palka, OF – .275/.359/.527 OPS .887 (AAA) Palka continues to look a lot like a possibly better version of Adam Brett Walker, now on the same team. After his promotion to AAA, Palka's K rate increased to the nearly unplayable 34.0%, and in fact Walker has struck out less since, but the combined 26 bombs in 448 PA is 5 more than Walker this year. Palka's BABIP continues to be on the way high side of sustainability at .392 so I'm expecting a decline unless Palka's K rate comes down. Palka's defensive chops look superior to Walker's as well. It'll be interesting to see what Palka does for the rest of the year as he's slumped a bit since the MLB ASG.

  25. Mason Melotakis, LHP – 3.38 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 3.38 BB/9 (AA) While his overall ERA has jumped, it looks like luck going the opposite direction as it was earlier this year. Melotakis has dramatically increased his strike out rate since we last checked in with a 14.81 K/9 over his last 10.1 innings, but the walk rate skyrocketed as well. The control issues are expected when returning from TJ, though, so it's not quite as concerning as the very low initial strike out rate he was showing this year. The BABIP against suggests some problems with luck in general as it's sitting at .367. We'll probably see Melotakis in AAA to start next year, but now at 25, he's going to need to perform.

  26. Trey Cabbage, 3B – .255/.345/.471 OPS .816 ( R) Cabbage has started the short season in rookie ball much better than his experience last year. Sporting a wRC+ of 121 is nice, but not super exciting. Unfortunately, the 34.5% K rate so far is downright ominous for a hitter in rookie ball. With only 58 plate appearances it's still a pretty small sample size, but Cabbage whiffed nearly 30% in 129 plate appearances at the rookie ball level last year as well.

  27. Jake Reed, RHP – 4.03 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 9.62 K/9, 3.41 BB/9 (AA). After the slow start, Reed started pitched much better as June rolled in. In fact, since June 2nd, Reed owns a 2.93 ERA and 2.53 FIP along with a walk rate below 3.00 per 9 innings. Opposing hitters are managing a meager .168 batting average against over the span where Reed's 0.91 WHIP is dominant. Reed has been roughed up a little in his last couple appearances, but he walked nobody in either appearance. Perhaps Reed wasn't promoted due to his overall performance this season overshadowing his last few months, but it sure seems like he's proven what he needs to at AA now.

  28. Fernando Romero, RHP – 2.31 ERA, 2.32 FIP, 8.31 K/9, 1.38 BB/9 (A+). Romero's having as promising a return from 2014 Tommy John surgery as you could wish since his May 20th activation. Our #28 prospect is keeping runners off the base paths with a solid number of strike outs and very few walks. Romero isn't exhibiting any signs of control problems normally associated with TJ. While Romero isn't typically going deep into games, it's because the Twins are taking it easy on him, and he's still made it through at least 6.0 innings in 6 of his 12 starts. Romero managed to get through 7.0 innings of shutout pitching with just 69 pitches in Cedar Rapids on June 8th. He's not been quite as unhittable as he was across his first few starts, but his WHIP remains below 1.00 at 0.97 and hitters are only at .219 against him.

  29. Travis Blankenhorn, 3B – .290/.336/.548 OPS .884 (R ) Blankenhorn is showing a lot more power and a better hit tool than he did last year, but it's come at the cost of walks and strike outs so the wRC+ value is about the same as it was in the Appy league last year. It's becoming an all too familiar trend in baseball these days. At 20 years old and in rookie ball, it would be nice to see an improvement in plate discipline before the end of the season.

  30. Trevor Hildenberger, RHP – 0.70 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 10.47 K/9, 1.40 BB/9 (AA). After continuing on from his 2015 campaign to thwart all who opposed him in Ft Myers to the tune of a 0.96 ERA and 1.44 FIP to start this season, Hildenberger was rewarded with a trip to the Lookouts where he obliterated opposing hitters with a 0.78 ERA in 23.0 IP across 18 appearances before our first check-in... and then he got EVEN BETTER. Are you kidding me? Hildenberger hasn't allowed a run since June. From July 1 to current, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP, 11.68 K/9, 1.46 BB/9. Yeah. An 8.00:1 strikeout to walk rate, and he's sitting in AA.