The prominent top 100 prospect lists are now all out on the internet, and the Twins have a bevy of high-end talent making quite a few appearances. However, the range of opinion on some of the Twins most promising young players is wide. Here’s a look at how some of the most prevalent and well-respected lists viewed the Twins best prospects going into 2020:
Baseball America: 26
Baseball Prospectus: 21
Athletic’s Keith Law: 31
After being named a top 10 prospect by pretty much every publication heading into the 2019 season, Lewis struggled in stops at High-A and AA this season (with an OPS of just .661), though he showed his high ceiling in the Arizona Fall League as the circuit’s MVP. Slashing .353/.411/.565 in the AFL, Lewis showed exceptional pop and an above average hit tool, traits that have garnered many high rankings in the past. The 2017 #1 overall pick was still quite young for his age this season, specifically 3.7 years younger than the average player at AA in his second stop of 2019. Lewis won’t turn 21 until June, and still has a wide range of outcomes.
Common threads in the analysis of Lewis included concerns about his swing mechanics — some publications simply stated that his swing would need to be changed for the Southern California native to be an average or above average hitter in the big leagues. However, nearly all like his athleticism, makeup and baseball IQ to move him too far down their lists, with his ceiling as a legitimate five-tool player at a premium position. Most outlets believe Lewis can stay at shortstop, though it seems they are split about 50-50 on whether he will remain there or eventually play in center field.
Baseball America: 31
Baseball Prospectus: 86
Athletic’s Keith Law: 9
Kiriloff was a top 20 prospect by all four of these outlets last season, besides Baseball Prospectus, who continues to be the lowest on him. Kiriloff also had a down season for his standards at AA (with an OPS of .756), but it’s certainly plausible that this was due to injury, as he got hot down the stretch when he was healthy, and also raked in the AA playoffs. Kiriloff will play all of the 2020 season as a 22-year old, and like Lewis he could grow into some more power. However, the 2016 draft pick doesn’t play the premium positions that Lewis does, and while his hit tool is certainly more developed, his status as a corner outfielder/first baseman limit his potential total value.
Pretty much all publications state that they believe Kiriloff’s bat will play in the majors, with the ability to hit for high average and the potential to be a 25-30 home run hitter if all goes well. The consensus is that he has the tools to be an average corner outfielder, but could end up at first base, which would decrease his value. Either way, his bat should fit right in with an already loaded Twins lineup. Law’s ranking indicates that Kiriloff has the potential to be one of the most dangerous bats in the MLB, while Baseball Prospectus’ mark indicates that he may be more of an average everyday player.
Baseball America: 45
Baseball Prospectus: 85
Athletic’s Keith Law: NR
Average: 69.0 (75.4 if using 101 for NR)
Larnach showed his potential as another bat-first corner outfield prospect in 2019, with an OPS of exactly .842 at both High-A and AA in 127 combined minor league games. Those numbers were even more impressive considering that both leagues are more pitcher friendly, as he produced a 148 wRC+ at both levels. A quick riser as a college bat drafted in the first round, Larnach could force his way onto the MLB roster if he continues to mash. While not known for speed or his defensive abilities, he could be an average defender in a corner outfield spot if all goes well.
Most publications have confidence that Larnach’s bat will play at the major league level, both in hit tool and power. Multiple outlets also noted Larnach’s ability to hit to all fields and drive the ball with impressive exit velocity. Fangraphs described Larnach as “sluggish” in the outfield, though MLB.com’s writeup noted that he has a strong arm and is a “smart” defender. Most outlets put his ETA as 2021, and he has a chance to be a major player for the Twins in that season if he continues his quick ascension.
Baseball America: 95
Baseball Prospectus: NR
Athletic’s Keith Law: 69
Average: 81.0 (85.0 if using 101 for NR)
Balazovic had a breakout season in 2019, posting a 2.68 ERA and a 12.4 K/9. The Canadian righty only allowed four home runs and a 0.98 WHIP over 93.1 innings pitched last season, split between Low-A and High-A. Balazovic even made a playoff start at the AA level in 2019, and he will likely start 2020 at AA in Pensacola. Balazovic has been handled carefully by the Twins, and has thrown just 227.0 innings since being drafted in the fifth round in 2016.
Law has been on Balazovic for longer than most and before his breakout season year, listing him on his “just missed” portion of his top 100 article prior to the 2019 season. Law projects Balazovic as a mid-rotation starter currently, with tools to achieve more based on how he progresses. Fangraphs’ description says he’s “firmly a #4 starter”, while the other outlets have yet to predict where he will line up in a rotation due to his lack of innings pitched. With a good fastball and possibly two plus breaking balls, Balazovic could have an impact on the Twins rotation as soon as 2021, if he continues to put up similar numbers to his 2019 production.
Baseball America: 96
Baseball Prospectus: NR
Athletic’s Keith Law: NR (made Law’s “Just Missed” list)
Average: 79.5 (92.4 if using 101 for NR)
Duran was another riser after a quality 2019 season split between High-A and AA. In his age-21 season he produced a 3.76 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP and a 10.6 K/9. Armed with a fastball that has reached triple digits and a “splinker” (sinker/splitter combo) that is nasty is a secondary pitch, Duran has the stuff to continue missing a lot of bats at the Major League level. Duran will likely start the 2020 season at AA, but a promotion could be quickly in order in he performs well as a starter.
As seen above, not all the publications are yet in on Duran as a top-100 prospect. However, he has similar upside to Balazovic (maybe even a bit more) but has been tabbed as a pitcher that could be destined for the bullpen. Fangraphs stated that Duran is “tracking as a mid-rotation starter”, while Law stated that he had the upside of #2 or #3 starter. Law also noted that his command would probably be the reason he ends up moving to the bullpen if that indeed does happen, as he has three plus pitches in his fastball, splinker, and curveball that would play well as a starter.
If you want to read more or see the rest of these respective lists, they are linked below:
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