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Twins’ 2017 mid-season prospect rankings

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With the trade deadline in the rear view mirror, we look at the Twins’ updated prospect ratings.

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins - Game Two
There’s a new Number One in town...
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

After selecting a draft class that had our fan community buzzing in June and an interesting trade deadline that saw the Twins go from buyers to sellers in the span of a week at the end of July, the dust has settled a bit on the Twins’ collection of prospects.

With the number one pick in the 2017 draft and the highest overall bonus pool to spend on draftees, the Twins’ prospect rankings were do for a shakeup, and we got just that.

Here is the list of the Twins’ top 30 prospects as of July 1st, as chosen by MLB.com

1. Royce Lewis, SS, GCL Twins (Rookie)

Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 70 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

After being taken first overall in the draft, it is no surprise that Lewis tops the Twins’ prospect list. He has been smashing in the GCL and if he keeps up his success I could see his power tool being graded higher by the time MLB.com publishes its prospect list this winter.

2. Nick Gordon, SS/2B, Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)

Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field 55 | Overall: 55

Gordon has had a great year at Double-A Chattanooga but his spot atop the Twins’ prospect rankings deservedly goes to Lewis. If MLB.com had upgraded individual grades with this new rankings, we’d likely see Gordon’s power rated higher, as Gordon is slugging above .400 for the first time in his minor league career. Slumping at the end of July, Gordon will have to finish strong if he is going to overtake Lewis for the number one spot.

3. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)

Fastball: 55 | Curve: 50 | Slider: 40 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

After starting the year on the disabled list, Gonsalves has shown yet again that he knows how to pitch. While he lacks a plus fastball he has had success at every level and is probably ready to prove it in the major leagues, considering he turns 24 years old next summer.

4. Fernando Romero, RHP, CHattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)

Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

Romero’s control is not as sharp as it was in 2016, but he has proven this year at Double-A that he can be a legitimate power pitcher. Even if its only in a relief role it is time to get Romero (who is already on the 40-man roster) some major league innings, setting him up to fight for a rotation spot next spring.

5. Wander Javier, SS, Elizabethton Twins (Rookie)

Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

I think pundits have had a hard time grading Javier, who missed much of last season but has incredible natural ability. Javier will be 19 all of next season and it would not surprise me to see him start at Low-A Cedar Rapids. Keep an eye on Javier, he could be a legitimate top prospect with much higher scouting grades before we know it.

6. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Disabled List (Tommy John Surgery)

Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Tommy John surgery ruined Kirilloff’s chances of raising his prospect stock this year, but there is still promise for the Twins’ 2016 1st round pick. He will be 20 years old for all of next year and hit well enough in 2016 to move directly to Cedar Rapids next spring if the Twins plan to move him quickly. Miguel Sano proved that hitters can come back from TJ, and Kirilloff still projects as a middle of the lineup power hitter until proven otherwise.

7. Felix Jorge, RHP, Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)

Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

Jorge proves that consistency counts for something. Lacking premium stuff, Jorge has been able to pitch well at every level and earned a cup of coffee with the Twins earlier this year. He turns 24 this winter and will compete for a spot in the rotation in spring training.

8. Tyler Jay, LHP, Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)

Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

There is good news and bad news with Jay. The bad news is that he will essentially miss all of 2017 with injuries. The good news is that with his pure stuff, he could still earn his way to the big leagues as a power bullpen arm in 2018. If he can get healthy this winter and pitch well in Double-A next spring, Jay could still prove worthy of 6th overall pick in 2015.

9: Kohl Stewart, RHP, Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)

Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50

Stewart has had a bizarre season, with an almost yips-like performance to start the year. It turns out that he was pitching hurt and he has been much better since he returned from injury. He still needs to learn to control his pitches better but the pure stuff is still there. He will be 23 all of next season which will be a “prove it” year.

10: Lewin Diaz, 1B, Cedar Rapids (Low-A)

Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

I am not a fan of Diaz and don’t really like him listed here, but he has legitimate raw power that he is still learning to use. He will just be 21 next year, likely starting at High-A Fort Myers, so there is still a lot of room for growth

11: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B/2B, Cedar Rapids (Low-A)

Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Blankenhorn is having a weird year: he isn’t hitting for much of an average, but when he does hit it, he makes good contact. I think his fielding grades will start to take a turn for the worse but his hitting grades may keep their value.

12: Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Elizabethton (Rookie)

Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50

Graterol rose from unranked at the beginning of the year to being ranked 12th at midseason, and is a prospect that Twins fans need to keep an eye on. He has a frame and stuff similar to Fernando Romero, with a big fastball and useful breaking pitches. In fact, his pitches earn better overall grades than those of Romero despite being years younger. He turns 19 in August but after Tommy John in 2016, he may not start in full season ball next year.

13: Blayne Enlow, RHP, GCL Twins (Rookie)

Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

Enlow fell to the third round for the Twins in the 2017 draft primarily because his velocity was lower this spring than last summer. He will turn 19 next spring and if he can get his fastball velocity back to where it used to be, Enlow will see his overall grade begin to rise over the next few years thanks to his excellent three pitch mix and general pitchability.

14: Brent Rooker, OF, Fort Myers (High-A)

Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Rooker is a unique prospect because he will already be 23 for all of next season. He will have a decent sample size at High-A Fort Myers by the end of the year, and if he does well there he could start next season as a 23 year old in Double-A Chattanooga, which is fairly normal. If he hits enough to stay at a league-average age, he will be a steal of a draft pick even if he can’t become a MLB starter until the age of 24 or 25

15: Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Fort Myers (High-A)

Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

Despite missing two years due to injury and sickness, Thorpe is still a 21 year old at High-A, and will likely start next year as a 22 year old in Double-A Chattanooga. Thorpe still has mid-rotation upside and his overall grade will rise if he can stay healthy and improve one of his breaking balls to help give him a better mix.

16: Zack Littell, RHP, Chattanooga (Double-A)

Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45

The main piece coming over from the Yankees in the second Jaime Garcia trade, Littell is a better, younger Felix Jorge. Where Jorge uses his control and changeup to make up for a lack of velocity, Littell uses control and a legitimate breaking ball. As a 21 year old, Littell posted a 1.77 ERA at High-A and a 2.05 ERA at Double-A before the trade to the Twins. Littell is eligible for the Rule-5 draft this winter if not given a 40 man roster spot, though. It would not be surprising to see his overall grade raised after this year if his success continues.

17: Lamonte Wade, OF, Chattanooga (Double-A)

Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Wade is still a powerless outfielder with great on base skills. He will be 24 next year though, with Zack Granite ahead of him on the 4th outfielder depth chart.

18. Tyler Watson, LHP, Cedar Rapids (Low-A)

Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall 45

Acquired for Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline, Watson is a soft-tossing lefty with a solid curveball. At 6’5” 200lbs as a 20 year old still has time to fill out and add a tick or two to his fastball, which plays up because of his arm angle and control. Watson seems to have more starting upside than Taylor Rogers, who has proven to be a valuable reliever.

19: John Curtiss, RHP, Rochester (Triple-A)

Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

A great year so far has raised the hype around Curtiss, who is only one step from breaking into the Twins bullpen. Will need a 40-man roster spot come winter.

20: J.T. Chargois, RHP, Rochester (Triple-A)

Fastball: 80 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

Had Chargois been healthy this year, the Twins’ season might be considerably different. Hopefully he gets healthy and ready to contribute next year.

21: Ben Rortvedt, C, Cedar Rapids (Low-A)

Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Rortvedt had a dreadful April and May but a great month of June. He will start next season as a 20 year old and still projects as a legitimate catching prospect, a player group that usually take time to fully develop.

22: Daniel Palka, OF, Rochester (Triple-A)

Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

If Palka makes contact he hits it far, plain and simple. But he will be 26 next year and has not proven that he is more than a Triple-A player.

23: Mitch Garver, C, Rochester (Triple-A)

Hit: 45 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Garver is a surprisingly intriguing prospect considering he will be 27 next year. Backup catchers are more important than many people like to admit (look at the Twins’ ERA when Castro is catching compared to when Giminez is catching), and Garver has had a good year in Rochester. Garver will likely take over for Giminez next year.

24: Trevor Hildenburger, RHP, Twins

Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 40 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 45

Hildenburger has been revered as a solid middle relief prospect. So far this year he has proven to be a solid middle reliever for the Twins. It does not sound particularly exciting but this is the sort of player you need to win, and he is proving he can be that player.

25: Jake Reed, RHP, Rochester (Triple-A)

Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

If Reed had not been hurt to start the year he would likely have pitched for the Twins already. He will get his chance in the near future

26: Zack Granite, OF, Twins

Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 65 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

After destroying the ball in Triple-A, Granite has earned his cup of coffee and has so far proven to be a legitimate fourth outfielder with speed but no power.

27: Jermaine Palacios, SS, Fort Myers (High-A)

Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field 50 | Overall: 45

Palacois was a ranked prospect years ago but had a miserable 2016. After a smoking start to 2017 he is back on the list. He just turned 21 and has a .320 average across A-level ball as of 7/30. There will be a spot for him in Chattanooga next year when Gordon moves to Triple-A/MLB. Keep an eye on him

28: Landon Leach, RHP, GCL Twins (Rookie)

Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

The Twins selected Leach in the 2017 MLB Draft before they took Blayne Enlow, but will take it slow with the big Canadian hurler. He will start next year as an 18-year-old and will probably not see full season ball until 2019.

29: Andrew Bechtold, 3B, Elizabethton (Rookie)

Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Bechtold is an intriguing sleeper prospect the Twins selected in the fifth round this year’s MLB Draft. He will turn 22 early next year but could move quickly through the system as long as he hits.

30: Nick Burdi, RHP, Disabled List

Fastball: 80 | Slider: 65 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45

With a 0.53 ERA in 17 innings to start the year at Chattanooga, Burdi had essentially punched his ticket to the major leagues until he needed Tommy John surgery. Almost sent to Atlanta for Jamie Garcia, Burdi’s rehabilitation will go into next season.

Thoughts

The Twins’ farm system still lacks the high end talent it had years ago when Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jose Berrios were ripping apart minor league opponents. But with four 55 grade prospects and fourteen prospects grade 50 or over, the Twins have added depth to the minor league ranks in since the start of the season.

The addition of Enlow, Littell, and Watson along with the development of Graterol has helped boosted the teams’ pitching depth. The Twins’ are also stacked with highly athletic up-the-middle types, especially if you include the likes of older prospects like Granite and Garver. The Twins’ still need pitching depth, like anyone else, as well as added depth at catcher.

With so many solid young players already on the major league roster, the Twins’ farm system is posed to help the big league team in the near future while staying loaded with top prospects of the future.