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Twinkie Town Prospect Vote 2022: Round 2

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Royce Lewis tops our list, who will be next?

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Minnesota Twins Photo Day
Our 2022 top prospect
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Royce Lewis won round 1 of our voting in a close election. We are all hoping for an impressive comeback season from Lewis this summer.

  1. Royce Lewis 40% (Martin 37%, Balazovic 23%)

I am adding a couple more pitchers to this round of voting. By round 3 we will have five players per ballot.

Jordan Balazovic, P

2022 Age: 23

2021 High Level: Wichita (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 the St. Paul training site in 2020. After getting a late start due to a back injury, Balazovic spent 2021 pitching for Double-A Wichita. He made 20 starts with mixed results averaging less than 5 innings per start with an RA9 of 4.45. He has had a great fastball and added a splitter to complement it last summer. Expect to see him in St. Paul this summer with a possible Twins debut.

Austin Martin, IF/OF

2022 Age: 23

2021 High Level: Wichita (AA)

Austin Martin was the top prospect the Twins received when they traded Jose Berrios to the Blue Jays at the 2021 trade deadline. He was drafted in the late rounds out of high school in 2017 but decided to play college baseball at Vanderbilt. He was named a freshman All-American by four different publications. His sophomore season he lead the SEC in batting average and on-base percentage and his 87 runs scored topped Division 1 baseball. He was named an All-American, All-SEC and one of the top college prospects leading into 2020. The pandemic wiped out his chance to play most of his junior season but he still was a possiblity for the top pick in the MLB draft. The Blue Jays were thrilled to grab him 5th overall and signed him with an over-slot $7,000,825 bonus. The Blue Jays were aggressive starting Martin at Double-A New Hampshire in 2022. He hit .281/.424/.383 at that level and earned a spot in the 2021 Futures Game. After the trade to the Twins he was sent to Wichita where he continued to get on base, ending his season with a .270/.414/.382 batting line and 14 stolen bases against 4 caught stealing. Martin is a true leadoff hitter on offense with a great eye, the ability to barrel the ball and plus speed. On defense he has good range but his trial at SS led to a lot of throwing errors and an .897 fielding percentage. He played all over the field in college and was known for soft hands and an erratic arm. I think he has All-Star potential leading off and playing LF next to Byron Buxton. Austin Martin will be one reason to buy Saints tickets in 2022.

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.

Poll

2022 Prospect Vote Round 2

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Jordan Balazovic
    (34 votes)
  • 65%
    Austin Martin
    (88 votes)
  • 7%
    Jhoan Duran
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Simeon Woods-Richardson
    (3 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now