Jordan Balazovic comes off the board in round four. If things go well for him we could see him make his Twins debut this summer.
- Royce Lewis 40% (Martin 37%, Balazovic 23%)
- Austin Martin 65% (Balazovic 25%, Duran 7%, Woods-Richardson 2%)
- Joe Ryan 43% (Balazovic 27%, Miranda 24%, Duran 4%, Woods-Richardson 2%)
- Jordan Balazovic 48% (Miranda 45%, Duran 4%, Woods-Richardson 2%, Celestino 1%)
Lose a pitcher add a pitcher this round. The Twins (for the first time that I can remember) are deeper in pitching prospects than position players.
Jhoan Duran, P
2022 Age: 24
2021 High Level: St. Paul (AAA)
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 around 2, Run Average around 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 training at the alternate training site. 2021 was poised to be a big year for Duran with a promotion to Triple-A but instead he pitched just 16 innings due to injury. 2022 will be a make-or-break season with Duran using his 3rd option. Sending him to the bullpen is a possibility if he isn’t able to earn a promotion as a starting pitcher by mid-season.
Simeon Woods-Richardson, P
2022 Age: 21
2021 High Level: Wichita (AA)
Simeon Woods-Richardson began his professional career in the Mets organization after they made him their second round pick in 2018. He went from high school in Sugar Land, TX to rookie ball that summer in the Gulf Coast League and dominated in 5 games at that level. That earned him a promotion to the Appalachian League team for his final 2 starts of the summer and his final line was a 13.5 K/9 and 6.5 K/BB. The Mets promoted him to single-A Columbia and he continued to impress with a 11.1 K/9 and 5.7 K/BB in 78.1 innings. His time at Columbia was interrupted when he was traded to the Blue Jays as part of the Mets deal for Marcus Stroman. The Blue Jays promoted him to high-A Dunedin and Woods-Richardson finished the year strong at that level. He was named to several top 100 prospect lists after the 2019 season and once again after COVID-19 interrupted the 2020 minor league season. He began the 2021 season with another promotion to Double-A New Hampshire but had mixed results. He was still striking players out (13.3 K/9) but his walk rate spiked (5.7 BB/9) as his control suffered from the time off. He was named to the Team USA roster for the Olympics and while in Tokyo was traded to the Twins as part of the package for Jose Berrios. After winning an Olympic silver medal he joined the Twins organization in Wichita. He continued to struggle with walks but it is important to realize that at age 20 he was pitching in Double-A while many players his age were still undrafted amateurs. Expect him to begin the 2021 season back at Double-A to work on his control. If he is able to get back to his previous form he could be a mainstay in the Twins rotation as soon as 2023.
Jose Miranda, 3B
2022 Age: 24
2021 High Level: St. Paul (AAA)
Puerto Rican Jose Miranda was the 73rd overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. He made his debut with the GCL Twins and hit .227 while playing three infield positions. In 2017 the Twins sent him to Elizabethton and had him play mostly 2B because the team had Andrew Bechtold at 3B. Miranda improved at the plate in 2017 hitting .283/.340/.484 in 247 plate appearances. In 2018 he split time defensively between second base and third. He started the season at Cedar Rapids and hit .277/.326/.434 over 104 games. He earned a late season promotion to Fort Myers and initially struggled batting .216 in 27 games to end the season but he hit .400 with two home runs in the playoff series helping the Miracle win the Florida State League championship. The Twins sent him back to Fort Myers and in 2019 and he continued to split time at 2B and 3B with a little SS for good measure. His swing is designed to get the ball over the fence but Fort Myers is a difficult place to hit dingers and Miranda hit only 8 HR while slashing .248/.299/.364. He started 2021 in Double-A Wichita and didn’t have any trouble hitting at that level posting a .345/.408/.588 slash line and earning a promotion to Triple-A. With the Saints he maintained that level of production hitting .343/.397/.563 - enough to earn him the Twins award for best minor league hitter. He seems to be best suited for 3B but the Twins have kept him prepared for a utility role by playing him at 2B and 1B fairly regularly. Miranda is ready to contribute to the Twins now and should get his chance next summer.
Gilberto Celestino, CF
2022 Age: 23
2021 High Level: Twins (MLB)
Gilberto Celestino was signed as an international free agent by the Houston Astros for a $2.5M bonus in 2015. He ranked as the #7 international prospect that signing period. As an outfielder who throws left and bats right, a combination that worked mainly for Rickey Henderson, he is a rarity. He runs fast and throws hard which has helped him build an excellent reputation as an outfielder. After hitting .268/.331/.379 as an 18 year old in the Appalachian League the Astros promoted him to the New York - Penn league in 2018. He hit .323/.387/.480 for the Tri-City Valley Cats. Celestino was acquired along with Jorge Alcala in 2018 in return for reliever Ryan Pressly. After he was acquired by the Twins he was sent back to the Appalachian League to play with the Elizabethton Twins instead of assigning him to Cedar Rapids. He finished the 2018 season hitting .266/.308/.349 which was a downgrade from his past performance in the same league. He debuted in 2019 at Cedar Rapids and hit .276/.350/.409 with lots of doubles and excellent defense. He earned a late season promotion to Fort Myers and hit .300/.333/.433 in 33 PA at that level. He was added to the 40 man roster to ensure he wasn’t picked in the 2019 draft. He used an option in 2020 working out in St. Paul. In 2021 he started the season in Wichita hitting .250/.344/.381 in 21 games before a Byron Buxton injury necessitated his big league debut. He has tremendous tools and rated as an average MLB defender in centerfield but struggled at the plate hitting just .136 as a Twin. Celestino was demoted to Triple-A St. Paul and adjusted well to that level hitting .290/.384/.443 in 49 games to end the season. Look for him to get more development time at Triple-A with another call-up likely in 2022.
Josh Winder, P
2022 Age: 25
2021 High Level: St. Paul (AAA)
Josh Winder was selected in the 7th round of the 2018 MLB draft from Virginia Military Institute. He left after his junior season with the highest strikeout rate in school history and placed second on their list of career strikeouts. He spent his first summer as a Twin in Elizabethton and pitched well (9.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 3.96 RA). In 2019 he pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels and had a very productive season (8.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 3.08 RA in 125-2/3 IP). He was named a Midwest League All-Star (along with Chris Vallimont) and led the league in ERA. He throws at least four pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup and slider) and he throws them for strikes. At 6’5” and 210 lbs he has the build scouts like in a starting pitcher and still has potential to add muscle. In 2020, working out mainly on his own, he was able to increase his fastball velocity to 97 MPH. He also impressed scouts at the fall instructional workouts. He skipped over high A-ball and started 2021 at Double-A Wichita where he was very impressive (10.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 1.98 RA9) in 10 starts. This led to a promotion to Triple-A St. Paul in June and a spot on the MLB Futures Game roster. A right shoulder injury ended his season in July, ending a trajectory that probably would have led to a big league callup. The Twins added to him the 40 man roster and he will be fighting for a spot on the team this spring.
Twinkie Town Prospect Vote 2022: Round 5
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