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Minnesota Twins

The only elite prospect to get the call in 2020 for the Twins was Brent Rooker.  He played in seven games.  The Twins are stacked at the Major Leagues with young players but with a team that is good, not great, perhaps it’s time to shake things up.

Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis are ready for their respected promotion and both should see time in Minnesota next season. Plus, Trevor Larnach and Jordan Balazovic are getting close and could also press for a late-season call-up or at worse, a call-up in 2022.  All four are elite prospects with a ceiling of full-time regulars.  Perhaps it’s time for the Twins to cash in some of their young prospects to push the team from a good club to a Championship team.  Now that I’ve given them the idea, it’s up to the Twins front office to figure out the rest.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Alex Kirilloff
  • Biggest Mover: Jordan Balazovic
  • Emerging Prospect: Danny De Andrade

1. Alex Kirilloff (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Plus hit tool with plus raw power that has yet to emerge in games.  He’ll also steal a handful of bases.

Alex Kirilloff is one of the best prospects in the game, but he does get overlooked in prospect circles and I’m not sure why.  First, he can flat out hit.  He makes good contact with good on-base skills.  Secondly, there is big raw power in the bat that has yet to translate into in-game power.  The most impressive thing is that it’s not just pull-power, but its power to all fields.  If you told me that one day, he hits 30 home runs in the big leagues, I would not be surprised.  The Twins have a stacked young outfield, so something will have to give for Kirilloff to get a chance.  I think it will be in 2021.

2. Royce Lewis (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Athleticism with plus makeup.  However, a change to his swing has given pause to his ultimate ceiling. 

Royce Lewis has all the tools to be an all-star.  He’s got great bat speed, is a double-plus runner with instincts for the game.  He did change his swing in 2019 and I did not like the change.  He added a hitch, likely to add more power and for me, the change didn’t work well.  He looked great in the AFL in 2019 but long-term I would prefer he moves back to his original swing.  The ceiling continues to be a 15-30 performer.  My one concern is will he hit enough.

3. Jordan Balazovic (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP
  • Tools Summary: Plus stuff with improving control and command.  He’s still a little under-the-radar and could be a nice get in a Dynasty League.

Jordan Balazovic was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 MB Draft as 17-year-old prep. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and will scrape 97 with a slider that has tight rotation.  The best part is he’s able to throw strikes. He only turned 22 in September and given his draft age, is still pitching as one of the youngest pitchers at each level.  If it all comes together, his upside is a number three starter, maybe a little more.

4. Trevor Larnach (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Big country raw power but contact and the ability to handle elite velocity needs to be solved.

I was a light on Trevor Larnach when the Twins drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft.  While I still have questions on his ability to hit and ultimate power projection, he has handled each level well. However, his lack of bat speed could be exposed as surely pitchers will pound him inside with velocity. While there’s a chance for 25+ home run, I question whether he fully reaches that

5. Aaron Sabata (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 1B/DH
  • Tools Summary: Large man with huge power potential

Aaron Sabata’s carrying tool is massive raw power that if he makes enough contact, could translate into “Pete Alonso” type of power.  While I don’t want to put a ROY ceiling on Sabata, there are similarities.  Both have huge raw power, both can work a walk, and both strikeout too much.  However, we know that Alonso makes it work.  Will Sabata?  It will be about his contact rate.  If he can reduce his holes and not expand the strike zone, then the answer is yes.  Otherwise, he’ll be a .220 hitter and struggle to hang on in the Major Leagues.

6. Misael Urbina (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Exciting top of the order skillset with double-plus speed but also lacking in power

The Twins signed Misael Urbina for an impressive $2.75 million signing bonus in the summer of 2018 and assigned him to the DSL for 2019 where he showed exciting top-of-the-order tools.  He doesn’t have a ton a current power nor does he project to hit for much power long-term, there is solid bat speed with enough strength for plenty of doubles.  The Twins will bring him stateside to begin the 2021 season and given his approach and ability to make contact, he could move quickly. 

7. Jhoan Duran (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus cutter will likely push him to the bullpen, but he could thrive there.

Jhoan Duran earns his keep vby having one double-plus pitch – a nasty cutter with terrific boring action.  However, his four-seamer is straight, and he lacks a feel for his change-up.  While I wouldn’t compare his cutter to Mariano Rivera’s cutter, it does show the success a pitcher can have with just one pitch.  Could that be Duran?  Perhaps, but unless he expands his arsenal, he’s likely bound for the bullpen.

8. Gilberto Celestino (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Plus speed, makes great contact and is a plus defender

I continue to be high on Gilberto Celestino, the young outfielder who the Twins acquired from the Astros for Ryan Pressley.  He profiles as a plus defender in centerfield with plus speed and enough bat speed to post a .400 SLG at the highest level.  His current swing indicates it will be more doubles power, but doubles have a way to turn into home runs in the Majors.  If it all comes together, he could be a dynamic leadoff batter with high on-base skills and plenty of stolen bases.

9. Ryan Jeffers (C)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling:  Backup catcher/1B/DH
  • Tools Summary: Good power with solid-average hit-tool.  He does struggle behind the plate which might require a move off the position.

Ryan Jeffers slashed .273/.355/.436 in 26 games in the Major Leagues in 2020.  He didn’t make great contact (31% K/9 rate) but in the past, he’s made solid contact with a decent walk rate.  I’m still not convinced he’s a catcher long-term, but with the struggles of Mitch Garver in 2020, perhaps the Twins will turn to him in 2021.

10. Brent Rooker (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Big power, big strikeouts, but will work a walk.

Brent Rooker was one of the few elite prospects in the Twins system to get a chance in the Major Leagues in 2020.  It was only seven games, but he played well. He hit .316 with a home run.  While it was only seven games, my opinion has not changed.  He has double-plus raw power with good loft and a swing that gets long which leads to a lot of strikeouts.  Through his development, he has learned to be more patient at the plate. Therefore, a full season could look like .230/.330/.500 with 30 plus home runs.

11. Keoni Cavaco (SS/3B)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 3B
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus raw power with a little speed but his approach and tendency to swing-and-miss need to be addressed

The Twins selected high schooler, Keoni Cavaco, with the 13th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.  The Twins love his big power potential and believe he’ll hit enough to get to it.  Assuming both are true, there is a lot to like from a fantasy perspective.  He has great bat speed with a lot of physical strength and is currently a good runner.  As he puts on weight, some of the speed will likely disappear, but for now, he should be able to steal some bases.  It’s the kind of kid you want to bet on in a fantasy draft and hope the Twins can help him with his approach and contact.

12. Akil Baddoo (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 OF or streaming outfielder
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing skills but hasn’t hit since Rookie Ball.

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Akil Baddoo got off to a strong start during his draft year but just hasn’t done much since.  It was unfortunate that he didn’t make the Alternate Site, but he was recovering from TJ Surgery, so that was likely a factor.  There are some promising skills with good speed, a little bit of pop with good plate patience.  However, the strikeouts have increased as he’s faced more advanced pitching.  Unless he learns to make better contact, the ceiling looks more like a fourth outfielder or a fringe regular.

13. Nick Gordon (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Utility Player
  • Tools Summary: Just has not developed.  Hit tool and power all point to a backup role.

Despite being the number five overall pick in 2015 with a Major League lineage, unless something clicks, and quickly, Nick Gordon ceiling is a utility player.  The Twins have begun to move him around the infield in anticipation of such a role.

14. Emmanuel Rodriguez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Plus raw power with an idea at the plate.  That’s all you can ask for in a 16-year-old.

In July of 2019, the Twins signed Emmanuel Rodriguez to a $2.9 million signing bonus.  He’s athletic, with plus raw power, an idea at the plate, and can run a little.  While he’s still a teenager, given the organization in which he was signed and the initial feedback on the player, he might be a nice lottery pick in deep Dynasty Leagues.

15. Danny De Andrade (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l Player Project sign ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Great bat speed and raw power

Danny De Andrade is one of the top international talents in the 2020-21 class and is projected to sign with the Twins on January 15th.  He has elite bat speed and is projected to hit for plus power.  He has good current speed but is expected to lose a step as he fills out. As with Emmanuel Rodriguez, he could be a nice lottery pick in a deep Dynasty League.

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