As the trade deadline, wrapped up last Tuesday, it had many revisiting the Twins farm system. The Twins managed to trade for some great arms while giving up no big-name MLB players. My main thought was, “How is Jordan Balazovic doing?” My second thought was, “How do you pronounce his name again?” See below. But really, he’s had a rough go of it this season, let’s take a look at how others are doing.
All rankings are based off of MLB Pipeline’s prospect lists.
We all saw 1. Royce Lewis perform on the big stage this year until his injury crashing into the center field wall in May. On June 21 he had surgery to repair a tear of his right ACL, the same knee that kept him out the entire 2021 season. The #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft sits #37 overall on the MLB.com prospect list.
Lewis is rehabbing at Target Field and has been since before the All-Star break. He predicts he will be back and healthy sometime in the 2023 season. So how did he do in his short time in the bigs? In 40 games he hit .300 with 2 HRs, 5 RBI, .867 OPS. The 23-year-old hit a grand slam against Cleveland on May 13. Lewis is a SS and had been working his way around the ballpark defensively as the Twins snagged another #1 draft pick in Carlos Correa in the offseason.
Austin Martin is #2 on the list and plays for AA Wichita. The 23-year-old is also a right-handed shortstop, but likely won’t stick there with all his defensive struggles. Like Royce, he too bats on the right side of the plate. The Twins acquired Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson in the Jose Berrios trade. Before that, Martin was drafted out of Vanderbilt #5 overall in the 2020 draft. This year he has made appearances at 2B, SS, RF, CF and LF. In 63 games with the Wind Surge Martin is batting .249 with 1 HR and 22 SB, struggling mightily compared to his projected improvement. The lack of any semblance of power has been particularly discouraging.
Next up is long-anticipated 6’5 Canadian RHP Jordan Balazovic at #3. The Twins pitching woes have been apparent for more than a decade. Balazovic has been on the minds of many, but he is really having a rough 2022 in St. Paul. The 23-year-old from Ontario is 0-5 with an ERA of 11.12 in 13 starts. In 39.2 innings pitched he has 39 strikouts and a 2.39 WHIP. Balazovic has been with the Twins since the club drafted him out of high school in 2016. His fastball tops out in the upper 90s, with a decent breaking ball, but his performance this year has many people speculating some sort of injury. He did miss the first month of the season with a left knee strain, but other than that there have been no reports of injury. His performance in St. Paul has been less than adequate, getting hit around the ballpark. During one game at the end of June against Omaha, Balazovic gave up three home runs in the first and was unable to get out of the inning. Balazovic’s big frame and consistency with throwing strikes previously showed promise. He will need to pick it up though and finish out the season strong in AAA St. Paul.
#4 Simeon Woods Richardson is another RHP on the list. He was the other part of the Jose Berrios trade. You may remember his success with Team USA in the Olympics. The 21-year-old was a 2nd-round draft pick (48 overall) by the Mets in 2018, straight out of high school. He is working on his fastball, getting his velocity up to the mid-90s. With the Wichita Wind Surge in 2022 Woods Richardson has started 13 games with a 2-3 record and 2.92 ERA. Woods Richardson stands at 6’3 and could be a fixture on the mound for the Twins down the road. Before AA he consistently threw for strikes, but his walk rate has gone up since joining the Wichita squad.
Coming in at #5 on the MLB.com list is RHP Matt Canterino. Canterino is 24 years old and was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft. Scouts say he could be the best pitching prospect for the Twins, but it’s going to boil down to him remaining healthy. Canterino is working his way back to AA Wichita after dealing with an elbow strain since early June. Right now he is rehabbing in Rookie ball with the Florida Complex League Twins. He had four main pitches with his fastball in the mid-90s. This year before his injury he had an ERA of 1.83 with 50 K in 34.1 IP. That puts him at 13.1 SO/9 IP. If he can rehab successfully, we could see time from him on the big squad this year. Unlikely, but it would be nice.
Honorable mention, we have to give a quick update on RHP Cole Sands. He sits #13 on the list, but aside from Royce Lewis, is the only other prospect in the top 30 to see big league time. Sands is coming off a superb outing in long-relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched three scoreless innings after being promoted when the team designated Tyler Duffey for assignment. Before his August outing, Sands saw time on the mound in May and June. Overall he’s appeared in 6 games, pitching 19.1 innings with 19 SO and a 7.45 ERA. While those aren’t the best numbers, and he has managed a 0-3 record, his recent outing shows promise. Fun fact: Cole is his middle name. His first name is actually Bryson.