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Minnesota Twins End of Season Prospect Report: Hitters in Fort Myers, Cedar Rapids, and Rookie-Ball

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Did our youngest prospects hit better than our older ones?

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 18 Nicholls State at Southern Miss Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yesterday we went over our hitting prospects who ended their seasons in the highest tiers of the organization. Today we will go over the prospects who ended their seasons in Single-A or Rookie Ball.

Like yesterday, we will only talk about the hitting prospects, as we will get to the pitching prospects later.

Fort Myers

Gilberto Celestino

Celestino was one of the two headliners (along with Jorge Alcala) the Twins received in return for Ryan Pressly, meaning that he has lofty expectations to live up to in the eyes of many Twins fans.

Starting the season in Cedar Rapids, it took Celestino a while to prove his worth. He gradually improved as the year went on, posting a .506 OPS in April, a .644 OPS in May, and a .694 OPS in June before exploding in July with a .993 OPS and following it with a .952 OPS in August before his promotion to Fort Myers, where he hit a solid .300/.333/.433 in 8 games for the Miracle.

Despite his early struggles, Celestino ended the year with a respectable .277/.349/.410 triple slash line to go with 28 doubles, 3 triples, and 10 homers along with a 85/50 K/BB rate.

Celestino isn’t known for much power, which makes his 10 homers a good sign moving forward. Perhaps his biggest strength is his ability to play good defense in center field, and any significant offensive development could boost him beyond projections as a useful 4th outfielder.

Celestino will only be 21 years old for all of 2020.

Gabriel Maciel

The easiest way to describe Maciel is a clone of Ben Revere, but who is willing and able to take walks.

A slap hitting speedster, Maciel impressed enough in his first 45 games of the year at Cedar Rapids to earn a promotion out of the then-crowded Kernels outfield. At that level he his .309/.395/.377 with 3 doubles and 4 triples to go along with a 31/23 K/BB rate and 8 stolen bases in 10 tries.

After getting promoted to Fort Myers his stats declined as he fatigued through the season, although his power went up, hitting his first two homers in July and a third in August. In all, Maciel ended the year with a .283/.366/.366 line with 9 doubles, 6 triples, and 3 homers with a 61/44 K/BB and 22 stolen bases in 31 tries through exactly 100 games.

Maciel will also only be 21 for all of 2021, and will likely continue to pair up with Celestino in minor league outfields for the next few years. Hopefully his bat develops enough pop to be a worthwhile 4th outfielder.

Andrew Bechtold

When Bechtold was drafted as an overslot signing in the 5th round of the 2017 draft, the hope was that he could be a relatively quick mover through the system. He hit well in Rookie-Ball in 2017 but struggled to a .593 OPS in Cedar Rapids in 2018.

Returning to the Kernels in 2019, it looked like Bechtold would continue to struggle, posting just a .592 OPS in 21 April contests. While he didn’t hit for average in May, he started hitting for power and taking walks, posting an odd .236/.381/.416 line before really turning it on in June where he hit .333/.456/.511 in 15 games before his promotion.

He warmed to the higher level as the summer wore on, ultimately ending with a .274/.349/.358 line at High-A and a .261/.359/.380 line on the year.

Primarily a third baseman, Bechtold saw time at 1B and 2B this year, and might end up as a solid defensive non-SS infielder type.

Bechtold does turn 24 in April, though, with more highly thought of prospects blocking his path at the higher levels.

Akil Baddoo

Baddoo’s prospect stock rose dramatically after an epic 2017 that saw him end the year with a .964 OPS across two levels of Rookie-Ball. His 2018 saw him strikeout way too much but still show signs of enough power, speed, and plate discipline to be an interesting prospect.

His 2019 started in the same path, posting a .214/.290/.393 line with 3 doubles, 3 triples, and 4 homers to go along with a 39/12 K/BB ratio before needed Tommy John surgery.

Baddoo still has enough potential and freakish athleticism to keep an eye on, especially since he doesn’t turn 22 until mid-August of 2020.

Jacob Pearson

The Twins acquired Pearson from the Angels in return for International Slot Bonus Money after the 2017 season. He struggled to a .688 OPS in 2018 while in Cedar Rapids and his season started off even worse this year.

He hit a paltry .416 in April before rebounding quite nicely with a .256/.376/.344 line in May. He struggled again in June and July but still earned a promotion to Fort Myers, where he somehow started to hit, with a .293/.341/.439 line in 12 July games and a .247/.300/370 line in 23 games in August.

He ended the year with just a .641 OPS across both levels in 2019 which isn’t much to work with. He is easily on the bottom tier of a very busy outfield situation that will likely work itself out in Fort Myers next season.

Still, he only turns 22 on June 1st and has enough athleticism to keep him around as a defensive option.

Cedar Rapids

Wander Javier

After posting a .855 OPS in his U.S. debut in 2017, Wander Javier became a weird sort of underrated-but-overhyped prospect, quickly shooting up the Twins’ prospect ratings because of his power potential.

He missed all of 2018 but still remained relatively high on prospect ratings because no writers wanted to be the guy who missed on him. Coming back from a year long absence is rough, but Javier’s 2019 might start a trend of him falling off prospect lists if there isn’t an immediate turn around in 2020. In 80 games at Cedar Rapids he hit just .177/.278/.323 with 9 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs along with a 116/35 K/BB ratio.

Of course the power is still there, and so too is the arm, but he doesn’t make contact enough to use it effectively. If the Twins can get his swing back and get him locked in, he might be a great power-and-arm type 3B as he fills out his frame.

That is a big if, but he will be 21 for all of 2020 and looking to prove his worth.

Matt Wallner

#OneofUs, hailing from Forest Lake, the power-hitting outfielder was selected by the Twins in the CBA round of the 2019 draft.

Wallner showed off his prestigious power in Elizabethton, with a solid .269/.361/.452 line, 18 doubles, a triple, and 6 homers in 53 games.

That earned him his promotion to full season ball, where he hit .205/.340/.455 with 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 homers in 12 games for the Kernels. The drop in batting average is both expected, since Wallner only faced mediocre college competition while at Southern Mississippi, but also likely a factor of a small sample size.

Wallner is probably not ever going to be a guy who hits for a high average, but his ability to take walks, hit homers, and play solid defense with a cannon in RF (8 assists in 62 games in the field across both levels) means that he can be an important role player if he develops.

I don’t expect the Twins front office to push Wallner as aggressively as they pushed Trevor Larnach in 2019, but Wallner will be 22 all of next season and could move quickly if he adjusts properly to more advanced pitchers. I could also see him taking some time to develop but being a great role player as a 25-26 year old rookie, too.

Spencer Steer

When the Twins drafted Steer out of Oregon in the 3rd round it was a bit of a surprise. While he was a solid player in a good conference, he wasn’t projected to be drafted nearly that high due to a lack of power and raw tools.

But Steer came in to professional ball ready to impress, hitting .325/.442/.506 in 20 games in Elizabethton with an insane 5/15 K/BB rate.

He was quickly moved up to Cedar Rapids and he continued to hit well upon his promotion with a .328/.412/.483 line in 15 July contests at the higher level. The wheels fell off a bit in August, where he hit just .225/.333/.342 as pitchers caught up to his scouting reports and as Steer tired after a long season.

In all he ended the season with an impressive .280/.385/.424 line with 18 doubles, 3 triples, and 4 homers. He also had a 33/34 K/BB rate through his 64 pro games in his debut.

Steer saw 26 games at 3rd, 16 at 2nd, and 14 games at SS. He will likely be a 3B/2B type in the future and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in LF and RF in 2020.

Steer turns 22 in December, so it will be interesting to see if that early season magic was real in any way as he looks to move up the ladder of the system.

Seth Gray

Drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 draft, Gray was a bit more of an expected pick than Steer. A big, strong, third baseman, Gray showed off the power he was drafted for in his debut, hitting 15 doubles and 11 homers in just 57 games in Elizabethton. His final slash line of .225/.336/.445 shows promise for his patience and power, with this contact hopefully coming along next season. In 4 games in Cedar Rapids at the end of the season, he hit .3131/.353/.313 with 7 strikeouts and no walks.

Gray is said to be a solid defender at third but he also time at short and in left while in Elizabethton as the Twins continue to build a flexible roster.

Gray turns 22 on May 30th so he has a chance to make a larger imprint as a 21 year old.

Anthony Prato

Prato was taken in the 7th round of this years draft and is easily the least of the 3 college prospects that fit that mold taken this year. He is the most “defensive utility infielder” of the bunch but didn’t play much of any SS in his pro debut.

For his season (with just 2 games in Cedar Rapids) he hit a combined .268/.373/.357 with 7 doubles, a triple, and 2 homers in 47 games. He spent most of his time at second with 12 appearances at third and three at SS.

Yunior Severino

Yunior Severino was signed by the Twins after he was removed from the Braves farm system after their punishment in 2017. He started in Cedar Rapids this year at just 19 years old but his season was over before it really started, playing in just 7 games in April before he was injured.

He returned to Cedar Rapids in August after a short rehab stint in the GCL. Across both levels he hit .240/.287/.370 in just 28 games.

Severino is a power-first second baseman, which means he has to start hitting to make it, but he will likely return to Cedar Rapids in 2020 as a 20 year old with plenty of room to grow into the ceiling he still has left.

Alex Isola

It isn’t often you get excited about a 29th round pick, but Isola has impressed coming out of TCU in this year’s draft. After posting a 1.029 OPS in 7 Rookie-Ball games, Isola was promoted to Cedar Rapids in part because of the team’s dreadful catching platoon. In 18 contests for the Kernels, Isola hit surprisingly well with a .268/.323/.429 line with 3 doubles and 2 homers with a 9/5 K/BB rate before an early-August injury ended his season

On the defensive side of things, Isola threw out 8 of 23 potential base stealers, a 34.7% rate, which is very good.

Isola doesn’t turn 22 until his golden birthday on July 22nd, and I’ll be keeping an eye on him next year to see if he can continue his success.

Elizabethton

Will Holland

If Holland had been able to repeat a great 2018 season for Auburn this year, he would have been a first round pick. Instead, he struggled in part due college-specific coaching affecting his swing (small ball tactics) and lasted until the 5th round, where the Twins signed him over-slot.

Most prospect writers believe that Holland’s swing can be fixed, and if the Twins are able to do it right, Holland could easily be the steal of the entire draft.

I don’t think the Twins did too much to rework his swing during the season, on purpose, and it shows, as he hit .192/.299/.376 on the season through 36 games. But he hit 7 homers in that span, and posted a .740 OPS in August compared to a .659 OPS in July.

Even with poor bat to ball skills, Holland can affect the game with his speed (8 steals in 9 attempts), eye at the plate (9.7 BB%), and his defense whether he stays at short or ends up in center field.

It’ll be interested to see how the Twins handle Holland next season, who turns 22 in mid-April. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts in Cedar Rapids, especially if the Twins can get his swing on track in offseason instructs and Spring Training. If he clicks he could be a fast riser, but he could just as easily never take off if he doesn’t find his swing.

Ricardo De La Torre

An overslot 6th round pick in 2017 at the age of 17, De La Torre was always going to be a project with his bat. Unfortunately, he regressed in 2019 enough to be demoted.

Limited for much of the year by injury, De La Torre hit a paltry .169/.278/.250 between Cedar Rapids and Elizabethton.

He only turns 21 in July so there is still a chance he has something left, but he is certainly a project, and likely an organizational filler.

Charles Mack

Mack has some similarities to De La Torre, as another 6th round overslot draftee taken in 2018. Whereas De La Torre was a defensive guy who needed to find his bat, Mack is considered a power-potential guy without a position.

He spent 2018 at third and split time this year at third and second with a single game at first. While he didn’t hit the cover off the ball, his .234/.313/.400 line and 8 homers shows the power is still there at the very least. He turns 20 in November so is still of proper age if he gets time in Cedar Rapids in 2020.

Willie Joe Garry Jr.

Another overslot draftee in 2019, Garry Jr was taken in the 9th round but struggled heavily to a .476 OPS in 2018.

He improved quite a bit in 2019 with a .228/.301/.365 line with 6 doubles, 3 triples, and 5 homers.

He played all of his games in CF for the E-Twins and is said to be solid defensively there.

He doesn’t turn 20 until May 29th , and could potentially see time in Cedar Rapids before then.

GCL Twins

Keoni Cavaco

The Twins made a bit of a splash taking Keoni Cavaco with the 13th overall pick in the 2019 draft, considering highly regarded college prospects and prep OF Corbin Carroll were still on the board.

But the Twins really loved Cavaco’s raw athleticism, power potential, and strong arm—enough to take him with their first pick.

There is no doubt about it, Cavaco’s pro debut was rough. In 25 games he only hit .172/.217/.253 with 4 doubles and a homer with a 35/4 K/BB rate. That isn’t good.

But at the same time I don’t think it is something to worry about. While Cavaco has a lot of comparisons to Royce Lewis (prep SS from California with freakish athleticism who was born in June and thus young for his draft year), there is also a major difference in that Cavaco played in a lower division and faced far worse competition than Lewis ever did in high school. Cavaco was also left off the elite showcase circuit events the summer before his draft, so he didn’t face elite national prospects either. While Lewis got to Cedar Rapids as an 18 year old, it is not the end of the world that Cavaco didn’t.

The Twins may take a more patient approach with Cavaco than they did with Lewis, or Alex Kirilloff, or Trevor Larnach, because the overall strength of our system will allow it. Even if Cavaco only plays in the GCL as a 19 year old, he would be in Single-A at 20, High-A at 21, Double-A at 22 and Triple-A at 23, which is a very typical path for a prospect to take.

And if he were to have a breakout year at any point on this path, it would speed up the process, while a down year probably wouldn’t slow him down too much (see Royce Lewis being promoted in 2019) as long as he stays healthy.

I’m also intrigued that Cavaco played all of his defensive games at shortstop this season. He has plus speed and a plus arm, so there is at least some chance he sticks there, although the Twins think he could end up being a 70-grade defender at third base in the future.

Cavaco is young and raw and will be allowed to struggle a bit as he adjusts to more advanced pitching. I’m excited to see where he ends up in 2020.

Thoughts

I enjoy following the lower minors because you never know which random dude is going to become a “guy” instead of just a body. You also get to see the newest prospects adjust to pro ball as the begin their careers.

Outside of Cavaco, the Twins were very college-heavy in this years draft, and it is good to see many of them getting at bats in Low-A before the year is up. That should hopefully ease their transition at the start of the year next year and give the Kernels some potential before promotions begin to happen.

It’ll also be very interesting to watch a jam-packed outfield in Fort Myers, where they may have 4-5 players with some amount of prospect status trying to earn time in the outfield.

While the Twins didn’t have a true breakout player at these lower levels in 2019, they have a number of guys with the potential to build on this year and have breakout years in 2020 to help make their system even deeper.

Next time we will take a look at our pitching prospects at the higher levels, a good number of which may end up on our Playoff roster.