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Twinkie Town Prospect Vote 2021: Round 5

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Congratulations to Jordan Balazovic for winning Round 4

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
Jordan Balazovic at the Futures Game
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Round four was a landslide victory for Jordan Balazovic. He takes the honors as the top pitching prospect on our list.

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%)
  4. Jordan Balazovic 73% (Jeffers 18%, Duran 7%, Sabato 3%)

I’ll replace a pitcher with a pitcher for this round. After this round I will expand to five candidates.

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.

Matt Canterino, P

2021 Age: 23

2019 High Level: Cedar Rapids (A)

The Twins drafted Matt Canterino in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft. He spent three seasons at Rice University and led the team in strikeouts all three seasons. The right-handed pitcher was named Conference USA pitcher of the year in 2019. He has a four pitch mix (fastball, curve, slider, change) and his strikeout pitch is his slider but he is best known for having great control. As a mechanical engineering major who was all-academic in his conference he is known to think a bit about his pitching. He made his professional debut in 2019 for the Gulf Coast Twins rookie team but was promoted after just 5 innings. In 20 innings at Cedar Rapids he had a 2.25 RA9, 11.3 K/9 and 0.65 WHIP. Canterino spent most of last summer working out on his own but he did report to the alternate training site in St. Paul at the end of the summer. When he arrived he impressed with an improved changeup and consistent 94 MPH velocity on his fastball. He could start 2021 back at high A Cedar Rapids or possibly move up to double-A Wichita. With his college experience the organization will not be afraid to promote him quickly as long as he pitches well. He could be pitching regularly for the Twins as soon as 2022.

Poll

Choose your guy from round five

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Jhoan Duran
    (102 votes)
  • 44%
    Ryan Jeffers
    (101 votes)
  • 5%
    Aaron Sabato
    (13 votes)
  • 5%
    Matt Canterino
    (13 votes)
229 votes total Vote Now