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Twinkie Town Prospect Vote 2021: Round 2

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Alex Kirilloff wins round one of our prospect voting

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Wild Card Round - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Two
Alex Kirilloff gets the #1 spot on our list
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Congratulations to Alex Kirilloff for winning round one. I hope to see him in a Twins uniform this summer competing for rookie of the year honors.

Twinkie Town 2021 Prospect Voting Results

  1. Alex Kirilloff 68% (Lewis 19%, Balazovic 9%, Larnach 5%)

I’m adding a starting pitching prospect to our list of eligible players for round two. After another round or two we will expand to five possibilities per round.

Royce Lewis, SS

2021 Age: 22

2019 High Level: Pensacola (AA)

Drafted first overall in 2017, Royce Lewis did his best to live up to those lofty expectations. In 2017 he was aggressively promoted to Cedar Rapids after performing well at Rookie ball and hit .296/.363/.394 despite being 3 years younger than competition. He followed that up in 2018 by hitting .315/.368/.485 before a mid-year promotion to Fort Myers. In Fort Myers his batting average dropped to .255 but he kept drawing walks (.327 OBP) and hitting the ball relatively hard. He started 2019 back at Fort Myers and hit just .238/.289/.376 but the Twins gave him an aggressive promotion to Pensacola mid-season. At Pensacola he continued to struggle with his batting average hitting .231/.291/.358. Some scouts believe he will have to re-tool his whole approach at the plate to improve contact but he has the athletic ability to revamp his swing. He has impressive speed with 68 steals in three seasons but his 16/8 SB/CS ratio in Pensacola is not quite break-even. Scouts like his range at SS but he is still learning the position. Everyone places him at SS/2B/3B or CF long term as his speed will play at any of those positions and he did move around the field for the first time during the Arizona Fall League. Another positive of his time in Arizona was his offensive production, where he hit .353/.411/.565 and was named the league MVP. The questions for Lewis are whether he can consistently hit for average and whether he stays at SS or shifts to a different position long term. He spent 2020 at the alternate training site in St. Paul and should debut there this spring in Triple-A. Expect to see Royce Lewis make his MLB debut this summer.

Trevor Larnach, OF

2021 Age: 24

2019 High Level: Pensacola (AA)

Trevor Larnach was the Twins first round draft pick (#20 overall) in 2018 after his College World Series win with Oregon State including a game where he hit a dramatic 9th inning home run. His college career ended with Trevor being named an All-American in the outfield. After he signed the Twins sent him to rookie-level Elizabethton to get his feet wet. He quickly proved that rookie ball was not a challenge and was promoted after 18 games to Cedar Rapids. With the Kernels he hit .297/.373/.505 in 24 games showing he can produce at the plate as well as nearly anyone in the Midwest League. The Twins promoted him aggressively starting 2019 at Fort Myers. He responded well hitting .316/.382/.459 and earned a mid-season promotion to Double-A Pensacola. At Pensacola he continued to hit posting a .295/.387/.455 batting line. Larnach has played primarily in RF and should be the starter there in Triple-A St. Paul to start 2021. If he continues to hit he will make his Twins debut this summer.

Jordan Balazovic, P

2021 Age: 22

2019 High Level: Pensacola (AA)

Jordan Balazovic was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round of the 2016 draft out of St. Martin Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. He was committed to pitch at Auburn but the Twins went over slot and signed him for a $515,000 bonus. He was one of the youngest players in the draft that summer due to a September birthday and he has since grown from 6’3” 170 lbs to 6’5” 215 lbs. On draft day he impressed with his fastball command and a decent changeup. Since draft day his fastball has increased in velocity from 89 MPH to 95 MPH and added sinking movement. The changeup has improved and he has added a good slider while maintaining his above average command. In 2019 he started the year back in Cedar Rapids and was dominant (14.4 K/9, 1.7 BB/9) in four starts earning a promotion to Fort Myers. In 73 innings at that level he impressed again with a 11.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 and earned a September promotion to Double-A Pensacola for the playoffs. He is no longer a “sleeper” prospect after joining Royce Lewis at the MLB Futures game at All-Star Weekend 2019. He also played for Team Canada in the Pan Am games that summer. Balazovic was one of the prospects at last summer’s St. Paul training site. Expect him to start the season with the Saints but a major league debut is likely in 2021.

Jhoan Duran, P

2020 Age: 23

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 Saints) 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. He was added to the 40-man roster before 2020 and used an option year last season training at the alternate training site. Expect him to spend most of this season with the Saints with a Twins debut likely some time this summer.

Poll

Vote for #2 on the Twinkie Town 2021 Prospect List

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Royce Lewis
    (113 votes)
  • 19%
    Trevor Larnach
    (38 votes)
  • 17%
    Jordan Balazovic
    (34 votes)
  • 3%
    Jhoan Duran
    (7 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now