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Twinkie Town Prospect Vote 2020: Round 6

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Jordan Balazovic wins round five, now pick number six

MILB: JUN 27 Gulf Coast League - GCL Twins at GCL Orioles
Congratulations to our 5th pick - Jordan Balazovic
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jordan Balazovic won round five in a landslide. There seems to be a clear top 5 prospects in this system with blue-chip talent that is ranked on MLB top 100 prospect lists.

Twinkie Town 2020 Prospect Voting Results

  1. Alex Kirilloff 40% (Lewis 28%, Graterol 24%, Larnach 8%)
  2. Royce Lewis 48% (Graterol 29%, Balazovic 12%, Larnach 12%)
  3. Brusdar Graterol 59% (Balazovic 22%, Larnach 19%, Cavaco 1%)
  4. Trevor Larnach 48% (Balazovic 43%, Duran 8%, Cavaco 1%)
  5. Jordan Balazovic 78% (Duran 11%, Rooker 9%, Jeffers 2%, Cavaco 0%)

I am replacing a pitcher with a different pitcher for this round. This pitcher is a starting prospect who made his debut in 2019.

Keoni Cavaco, SS

2020 Age: 19

2019 High Level: Gulf Coast Twins (Rookie)

Keoni Cavaco was the Twins first round pick in the 2019 MLB draft out of Eastlake High School in California. As the draft approached the word most used with Cavaco was “helium” as he had risen up draft boards all the way to the Twins at pick #13, the fifth highest pick among high school players. Cavaco fits the mold of a “toolsy” draft pick as his arm and speed are impressive and he has some pop in his bat but he has not seen as high level of pitching as other players. This was evident in his performance in rookie ball where he hit just .172/.217/.253 in 92 PA. The Twins played Cavaco mainly at shortstop during rookie ball but many scouts think his long-term position is third base. Cavaco believes he will be ready to contribute in the majors in “three years” and while I admire the optimism I don’t think anyone will be surprised if his development takes longer. Expect to see Cavaco start the year in extended spring training with another stint in rookie ball in Fort Myers or Elizabethton late this summer.

Jhoan Duran, P

2020 Age: 22

2019 High Level: Pensacola (AA)

Jhoan Duran was signed in 2015 by the Diamondbacks as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic. He moved slowly up the rookie leagues putting up pedestrian numbers in his first two seasons (K/BB ~ 2, Run Average ~ 5). He showed modest improvement in 2017 with an improved strikeout rate and promotion to low A ball but his ERA was still 4.24. His breakthrough came pitching for Kane County in the Midwest League in 2018 with a 9.9 K/9 before the trade. The Twins acquired him at the deadline as part of the haul for Eduardo Escobar. Duran impressed quickly by throwing a 7 inning shutout in one of his earliest games as a Kernel. He finished the 2018 season with a 10.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 4.65 RA/9 in 100-2/3 innings in the Midwest League. Kernels (now Red Wings) manager Toby Gardenhire described Duran as having a “power sinker...he gets guys to chase a lot down in the zone. Got a really good arm, has a four-seamer he runs up there close to 97 miles per hour. He can sink it at 91, 92.” Baseball America calls his sinking fastball a “splinker” and said that the Twins also improved his changeup and curveball (good article with video). In 2019 he started in Fort Myers, posting an 11.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and 3.35 RA in 78 innings which earned him a July promotion to Double-A. In Pensacola he kept his strikeout rate up at 10.0 K/9 and reduced his walks to 2.2 BB/9 but his run average went up to 4.86 in 37 innings. He has the stuff and the build (6’5” 230 lbs) to be successful at the big league level but will need to learn how to sequence his four pitches to be effective as a starting pitcher. Expect him to continue to work on that in Double-A to start the 2020 season. He was added to the 40-man roster so he could make his debut this summer.

Ryan Jeffers, C

2020 Age: 23

2019 High Level: Pensacola (AA)

Ryan Jeffers was the Twins second round draft pick in 2018 from UNC-Wilmington. In college he was named all-conference twice and was the best hitter on the Seahawks his junior season. The Twins sent him to Elizabethton after he signed and it was little challenge for Jeffers as he hit .422/.543/.578 in 28 games. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids to end the season and he continued to hit well, putting up a line of .288/.361/.446. Jeffers started the 2019 season in Fort Myers and earned a promotion after hitting .256/.330/.402 in 79 games at that level. He hit even better after the promotion with a .287/.374/.483 triple slash in Double-A. His bat is considered his best asset and he has a strong arm but his overall glove work is just average for a catching prospect. Twins scouts think he should do well enough to stay behind the plate with comparisons to Mitch Garver defensively. He is likely to spend the whole season in the minors this season assuming the big leaguers avoid injuries but Alex Avila only has a one year contract and Jeffers will get a look in 2021.

Brent Rooker, LF/1B

2020 Age: 25

2019 High Level: Rochester (AAA)

Brent Rooker was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2017 draft (35th overall) out of Mississippi State. He was drafted as a redshirt sophomore in the 38th round of the 2016 draft by the Twins but decided to return for his junior season. He improved his draft stock considerably with a terrific junior year culminating in being named SEC player of the year among other honors. The Twins sent him to Elizabethton and he hit so well (.282/.364/.588) that they skipped over Cedar Rapids and promoted him to Fort Myers. Rooker hit .280/.364/.552 for Fort Myers against competition roughly the same age. In Double-A Chattanooga in 2018 he saw his first struggles hitting as a professional with a lousy April and underwhelming May due to a drop in batting average. He made adjustments ended the season with a respectable .254/.333/.465 batting line for the year. Last summer he spent the season in Triple-A Rochester and hit even better posting a batting line of .281/.398/.534 while being named an International League All-Star. However, he struggled with injuries spending a large portion of the season on the injured list and also with strikeouts as his K rate increased from 26% of his plate appearances to 35%. Rooker is seen as a competent LF and can play 1B but it is his bat that will get him to the big leagues. He could end up making the big league roster if they don’t add another infielder this off season. If not he will be one of the first call ups this summer.

Lewis Thorpe, P

2020 Age: 24

2019 High Level: Twins (MLB)

Confirmed Australian Lewis Thorpe was signed for a $500k bonus by the Twins in 2012. By 2014 he reached Cedar Rapids with a performance of 10.0 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.65 RA despite being 4 years younger than the average player in the Midwest League. That offseason the young lefty made the Baseball Prospectus top 101 list. Unfortunately in 2015 he had elbow issues in spring training which led to ligament replacement surgery. During his 2016 comeback he contracted mono and was shut down without pitching in a game. By 2017 he had faded into the background with newer prospects getting the attention of prospect lists. He started the 2017 season with Fort Myers, gradually building up his pitch count while posting a nice 9.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 3.16 RA in 77 innings. That earned him a spot start for Chattanooga in August. The Twins added him to the 40 man roster to keep him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft after the 2017 season. In 2018 he started at Double-A Chattanooga and pitched excellent with a 3.58 ERA and 10.9 K/9 against just a 2.5 BB/9. Thorpe built up his strength as the season went on and his fastball gained velocity. He earned a late promotion to Triple-A Rochester where he was able to maintain his production in 4 starts at that level. His great rate stats over 130 innings (a new high for Thorpe) led to the Twins naming him the 2018 minor league pitcher of year. He started 2019 back at Triple-A Rochester and continued to pitch well with (11.1K/9, 2.1 BB/9) but the super-ball used in AAA led to a 4.76 Run Average. More importantly he stayed relatively healthy for a second season in a row. He made his Twins debut last summer in the bullpen and his strikeouts (10.1 K/9) and walks (3.3 BB/9) were good but he gave up a bunch of runs (6.18 RA). One knock on Thorpe is that his pitch sequencing and command are great but he lacks one plus-plus pitch that can dominate batters. This limits his ceiling to a #4 starter. The Twins have an opening in the rotation to start the season and Thorpe would fill a niche as a lefthanded option. I expect him to get first dibs at that open rotation spot. If he falters the Twins can use his last option and move him back to Triple-A.

Poll

Who is your pick for #6 Twins prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Keoni Cavaco
    (15 votes)
  • 50%
    Jhoan Duran
    (240 votes)
  • 9%
    Ryan Jeffers
    (46 votes)
  • 19%
    Brent Rooker
    (91 votes)
  • 16%
    Lewis Thorpe
    (79 votes)
471 votes total Vote Now