Pitchers and catchers have officially reported to Minnesota Twins spring training in Fort Meyers, which means the 2023 season is right around the corner. It also mean it’s time to bring back a Twinkie Town tradition unlike any other: the community prospect vote.
A reminder of how this exercise works: every round we’ll be voting on the best prospect from the list. Each vote will feature 3-5 players to choose between depending on how many deserve to be in a similar range, and the top vote getter earns that spot. Also new this year: you can also vote on the Twinkie Town Twitter account if that’s your style, so be sure to follow us there too.
A new prospect will replace the old one, the vote will be reset, and we’ll go from there. Round 1 we’ll pick the top prospect, round 2 will be the second best, and so on. All of the scouting reports below are courtesy of MLB Pipeline.
The Twins’ top prospect has been debated heavily already this offseason, with the presumptive choices being either former first overall pick Royce Lewis or last year’s first round pick Brooks Lee. Lewis likely wouldn’t even be eligible if not for last season’s unfortunate knee injury, but that very same injury is what has many prospect evaluators questioning his long term future. Lee, on the other hand, was remarkable in his short professional season last year, skyrocketing up to Double A just months after being drafted, but his inexperience is the biggest question. Or maybe you think Emmanuel Rodriguez’s elite on-base talent earns him the top spot. Let your voice be heard!
Royce Lewis, SS
2023 Age: 24
2022 Stats (MLB/AAA): 46 G, .310/.397/.538, 7 HR, 12 SB
The No. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft, out of the Southern California high school ranks, Lewis played up to advanced billing in his first year-plus of pro ball, with a .292/.352/.451 slash line across two levels of A ball in his first full season. He struggled in ‘19, though he went to the Futures Game and reached Double-A. He seemed to right the ship with an MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League, but he didn’t play a competitive game for two years because of the pandemic and a torn ACL suffered in Spring Training of ‘21. He made a triumphant return to competitive play in ‘22, earning his first callup to the big leagues, only to tear the same ACL when he crashed into the center-field wall in his second Major League stint.
Lewis has tremendous upside when he’s healthy. He had close to top-of-the-scale speed before he hurt his knee that made him a dangerous baserunner. With a lot of moving parts to his swing and a big leg kick, Lewis got out of sync in 2019, but he seemed to get his timing back in the AFL and at the Twins’ alternate training site in ‘20. He’s worked to quiet his setup and smooth out his swing, and losing the leg kick helped his timing before his second knee injury. He is capable of driving the ball to all fields and there’s plenty of raw power for him to tap into.
Drafted as a shortstop, Lewis has mostly played the premium position as a pro, and had made enough improvements for most to believe he and his above-average arm can stick there in the big leagues. He also showed off positional flexibility in the AFL, including some plus defensive ability in center field. He was added to the 40-man roster this past offseason, but now Lewis and the Twins will have to wait 12 months from his June surgery to get him back into action again.
Brooks Lee, SS
2023 Age: 22
2022 Stats (AA/A+/ROK): 31 G, .303/.388/.451, 4 HR, 15 RBI
Lee was a well-regarded prospect out of the California high school ranks, but wasn’t taken until the 35th round because scouts knew he wanted to go play for his father, Larry, the head coach at Cal Poly. After missing nearly all of the shortened 2020 season following knee and hamstring surgery, Lee came back in 2021 to earn co-Big West Player of the Year honors by hitting .342/384/.626. He further solidified his bona fides as one of the top college bats in the class by hitting very well for Team USA and in the Cape Cod League last summer, then showed he was the best college hitter in this class in 2022. After finishing with a .357/.462/.664 line and being discussed as a potential No. 1 overall pick, he went No. 8 overall to the Twins, signing for a slightly-over-slot bonus of $5.68 million.
Talk to any scout about the switch-hitting infielder and the first thing that comes up are his otherworldly bat-to-ball skills. He almost never strikes out and has made consistent hard contact everywhere he’s been, including his 21-game stretch with a wood bat on the Cape, where he hit .405/.432/.667 with six homers in just 84 at-bats. He can drive the ball from both sides of the plate, and as he’s gotten more physical, it’s easy to project him having better-than-average power in the future.
That physicality will mean he’s likely to move off of shortstop at the next level, with third base the most likely destination to take advantage of his above-average arm. As the son of a coach, he thinks like one on the field and plays like a veteran, driving home the belief that will maximize all of his tools as a pro.
Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF
2023 Age: 20
2022 Stats (A): 47 G, .272/.492/.551, 9 HR, 57 BB, 11 SB
Rodriguez was a top 10 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 international prospects list for 2019-20 when the signing period opened up in July of 2019. The Twins were all in, giving the toolsy outfielder $2.75 million to sign, then had to wait a bit to see what he could do in a real competitive setting. He participated in instructs the fall after he signed and rehabbed a hand injury there a year later. When he finally made his pro debut, it was stateside, and he showed off his raw power by hitting 10 homers in 37 games in the Florida Complex League. He was making another big step forward during his full-season debut in 2022 when a torn meniscus required surgery and ended his season in June.
There aren’t many in the Twins organization who have more raw power than Rodriguez does and he has the chance to be an impact left-handed hitter with bat speed. His swing can get a little funky, with a tendency to get a little steep. For him to get to his power, he has to catch the ball out front, so it’s mostly shown up to the pull side thus far, and the Twins have worked with him to get his bat in the zone a little longer to reduce the swing-and-miss that showed up during his debut. He tends not to miss strikes, but does chase a good amount, though a willingness to draw walks is a foundation for a solid approach.
Rodriguez has good speed and solid instincts in the outfield, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to stick in center field long-term. The good news is he has a plus arm that would work well in right field and there’s confidence he’ll make the adjustments to have the power profile teams covet from a corner spot.
Who is your top Twins prospect for 2023?
2023 Twins Prospect Vote Round 2
This poll is closed