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Twinkie Town Prospect Vote 2021: Round 4

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Trevor Larnach wins round three

Minnesota Twins Summer Workouts
Blue sky (and possibly Trevor) will return to Target Field this summer
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

It was a close election but at the time I wrote this Larnach had a two vote lead so I’m calling him the winner. Congratulations to Trevor Larnach for winning an internet poll!

Twinkie Town 2021 Prospect Voting Results

  1. Alex Kirilloff 68% (Lewis 19%, Balazovic 9%, Larnach 5%)
  2. Royce Lewis 65% (Larnach 17%, Balazovic 16%, Duran 2%)
  3. Trevor Larnach 37% (Balazovic 37%, Jeffers 21%, Duran 5%)

Larnach’s election means I will add a prospect who is going to earn his way to the big leagues with his bat.

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.

Ryan Jeffers, C

2021 Age: 24

2020 High Level: Twins (MLB)

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. When Mitch Garver was injured last summer it gave Jeffers an opportunity to make his major league debut. He impressed with his bat hitting .273/.355/.436 in 62 plate appearances which was enough to earn him the starting job in both playoff games. His bat is considered his best asset and he has a strong arm but his overall glove work is just average for a catcher. He manages to provide a low target by setting up on his knees which helps his framing but makes it more difficult to block pitches in the dirt. He also only threw out 13% of base stealers. Despite not being a finished product he is expected to share the big league catching duties with Mitch Garver in 2021.

Aaron Sabato, 1B

2021 Age: 22

2020 High Level: NCAA

With the 27th pick in the 2020 MLB amateur draft the Twins selected Aaron Sabato, a sophomore first baseman from the University of North Carolina. In his abbreviated college career Sabato earned several honors including Collegiate Baseball Co-National Freshman of the Year, first-team All-America and Freshman All-America, ACC Freshman of the Year and first-team All-ACC. He did this by hitting .343/.453/.696 and hitting a Tar Heels freshman record 18 HR while leading the team in hits, batting average, doubles and slugging percentage. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic but he still managed a streak of 6 HR in 7 games. The 6’2” 230lb kid from Rye Brook, New York was a top rated SS in high school which shows you that most big leaguers were a pitcher, catcher, shortstop or centerfielder in high school. His glove is not what impressed the scouts; Sabato is expected to play 1B or DH in the big leagues. Expect to see him creating outfield souvenirs at low-A Fort Myers to start the season. A promotion to high-A Cedar Rapids is possible before the summer is over.

Poll

Pick from four prospects in Round 4

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Jordan Balazovic
    (140 votes)
  • 6%
    Jhoan Duran
    (12 votes)
  • 18%
    Ryan Jeffers
    (35 votes)
  • 3%
    Aaron Sabato
    (6 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now