Emmanuel Rodriguez narrowly takes down the competition to win round 3.
- Brooks Lee 49.7% (Lewis 41.9%, Rodriguez 8.4%)
- Royce Lewis 76.4% (Rodriguez 15.4%, Varland 5.3%, Wallner 2.9%)
- Emmanuel Rodriguez 44.1% (Julien 38.4%, Varland 10.4%, Wallner 7.1%)
Julien’s hot Spring seems to make him a favorite for the next round. We’re in the glut of mid-level prospects where it just depends the type of player you prefer, so we’re doing a monster vote this round with 6 players. Twitter only lets me do 4 options, so we’ll have to do multiple polls if you vote there. Vote below or on Twitter!
Edouard Julien, IF
2023 Age: 24
2022 Stats (AA): 113 G, .300/.441/.490, 17 HR, 98 BB, 19 SB
A star on Canada’s junior national team, Julien opted to go from his home in Quebec to Auburn rather than sign with the Phillies in the 2017 Draft. He put himself on the map by hitting 17 homers as a freshman and at age 20 as a sophomore, Major League Baseball ruled that his secondary school year in Canada counted as a year of college, thereby ruling him Draft eligible. He hit 10 more homers in ‘19 and the Twins rolled the dice on his power potential in the 18th round that June, going way over pick value to sign him for $493,000. He didn’t make his official pro debut until ‘21 after the shutdown, hitting 18 homers and stealing 34 bases across two levels of A ball.
Julien still has a power over hit profile, but the scales have balanced out a bit more as a pro. The left-handed hitter has tremendous plate discipline and led the Minors with 110 walks in 2021, but he also struck out in 28 percent of his plate appearances. He has bat speed and strength with the ability to drive the ball out to all fields with loft. He can get overly aggressive at times, something he was working to improve with a move to Double-A in ‘22.
So far in his pro career, Julien has played first, second and third base, as well as left field, as the Twins have tried to find him a defensive home. While he’s swiped a bunch of bags, he’s not particularly quick and his arm is fringy. He’s been focusing on his second base play, where he’ll have to improve in order to have the chance to be an offensive-minded regular there.
Matt Wallner, OF
2023 Age: 25
2022 Stats (MLB/AAA/AA): 146 G, .272/.403/.524, 29 HR, 105 RBI, 195 SO
As a three-year starter at Southern Miss, Wallner hit for power consistently, even when pitching his first two years. He set the school’s career home run mark when he hit 23 out as a junior, leading to him being taken in the Compeititive Balance Round A by the Twins. The pop has shown up as a pro, along with the swing-and-miss concerns, even despite missing a good chunk of 2021 with a broken hamate. He made up for lost time and showed off his carrying tool in the Arizona Fall League.
While it’s possible Wallner came back too soon from the hamate fracture, thus impacting his hit tool, the power did come back and he slugged .606 in the AFL. He has as much raw pop as anyone in the system and despite some swing issues, he’s shown he can get to it. There will likely always be high strikeout rates, but he has shown a better hit tool in the lower part of the strike zone, and the Twins have worked with him to tone down his swing so he can be more consistent at the top of the zone.
Wallner has a plus arm that fired mid-90s fastballs as a reliever in college that works well in right field, though he’s a fringy, at best, defender. If he can continue to shrink the zone in order to increase the damage he can do when he puts the ball in play, he does have a Joey Gallo-esque offensive ceiling. (Twinkie Town editor’s note: lmao)
Louie Varland, SP
2023 Age: 25
2022 Stats (MLB/AAA/AA): 152.1 IP, 3.20 ERA/3.67 RA9, 1.256 WHIP, 9.9 K/9
There have been a grand total of four players ever drafted from Division II Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn., and two of them are named Varland. Gus went in round 14 in 2018 and is now with the Dodgers, while younger brother Louie went a year, and one round, later. He was a revelation in his first full season in 2021, showing improved stuff and dominating across two levels of A ball en route to being named the organization’s Minor League pitcher of the year, then has followed that up by pitching his way to Triple-A in 2022. (TT Editors Note: this was before his MLB debut)
A focus on changing his arm action to reduce joint stress led to increased velocity and movement on his fastball, not to mention nastier secondary stuff. Varland entered pro ball maxing out at 92 mph, but averaged 94 mph in 2021 and touched 98 mph. His changeup is his best secondary offering, thrown with really good action to it, but his slider might be catching up. He throws it in the mid-80s and will continue to work on adding side-to-side movement in order to miss bats with it. He can still fold in a get-me-over slower curve to give hitters a different look.
Austin Martin, IF/OF
2023 Age: 24
2022 Stats (AA/ROK): 92 G, .241/.368/.317, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 35 SB
Thought to be the top hitter in the 2020 Draft class, Martin left Vanderbilt with a .368/.474/.532 career line that helped him become the No. 5 overall pick in that year’s Draft, taken by the Blue Jays. After time at Toronto’s alternate training site that summer, Martin went straight to Double-A for his pro debut in 2021 and showcased his impressive on-base skills. He also went to the Futures Game before he was sent to the Twins at the Trade Deadline for right-hander José Berríos.
Martin has many desirable attributes as a right-handed hitter. He makes a ton of contact and can use the entire field. He limits strikeouts and has incredible plate discipline, as evidenced by his .414 on-base percentage in his first year as a pro. While Martin did show more extra-base authority from year-to-year at Vandy, there are questions about whether a lack of physicality will limit his power and impact at the plate.
A solid athlete with good hands, Martin faces more quandaries about where he might find his long-term defensive home, with throwing issues the main concern. He’s played shortstop and center field as a pro after moving all over the diamond in college, with the outfield perhaps a better overall fit. His contact skills give him the chance to be a good hitter, and added strength could make him a special one, regardless of where he plays.
Simeon Woods Richardson, SP
2023 Age: 22
2022 Stats (MLB/AAA/AA): 112.1 IP, 2.77 ERA/2.93 RA9, 1.053 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, .199 BAA
Originally a second-round pick of the Mets in 2018, Woods Richardson has already been involved in two big trades, first getting sent from the Mets to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal in 2019, then going from Toronto to Minnesota as part of the Jose Berrios trade at the 2021 Deadline. After a breakout in 2019, Woods Richardson’s stuff backed up in 2021, and he only pitched briefly for the Twins after being on Team USA’s pitching staff for the Olympics.
At his best, Woods Richardson is an intriguing combination of size, stuff and feel for pitching. The Twins are working with him to regain the velocity on his fastball, which still features good movement but averaged only around 91 mph in 2021. He touched 96 mph, so the organization thinks more consistent velocity is in there if he can access it. His curve, an upper-70s downer, is a tick better than his low-80s slider, but it’s his changeup that is his only plus pitch right now, thrown with good fade and deception.
Connor Prielipp, SP
2023 Age: 22
2022 Stats: None!
Prielipp immediately became Alabama’s No. 1 starter as a freshman and didn’t allow a run while striking out 35 in 21 innings before the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2020 season. He looked like a potential No. 1 overall pick for 2022 before injuring his elbow in his first start as a sophomore, leading to Tommy John surgery in May 2021. He returned to the mound with a bullpen workout in front of more than 100 evaluators in late May and showed he had fully regained his stuff three weeks later at the Draft Combine, enough to give the Twins confidence to take him in the second round and go slightly over slot to sign him for $1.83 million.
Prielipp’s slider was one of the most devastating pitches in the college class, sitting in the mid-80s and touching 90 mph with two-plane break that enables it to drop off the table as it approaches the plate. He also can elicit swings-and-misses with a low-90s fastball that peaks at 95 mph with run and downhill plane. He has a quick arm and could add more velocity the further removed from his elbow reconstruction he gets.
Prielipp hasn’t used his changeup much but shows feel for an 82- to 85-mph offering with some sink. He pitches with confidence, and while he doesn’t have the smoothest delivery, he’s athletic and locates his pitches where he wants. Assuming a return to full health, he has all the ingredients to become a frontline starter.
Twinkie Town Prospect Vote Round 4
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Simeon Woods Richardson