Minnesota Twins

It was a challenging year for many of the Twins’ famous prospects.  Royce Lewis had his second ACL surgery on his knee, Emmanuel Rodriguez’s season ended early with knee surgery, Jordan Balazovic had shoulder issues and posted a 7.79 ERA, and Austin Martin slugged .316 in Double-A.  None of that is good.  On the other hand, the Twins got arguably the best hitter in July’s draft in Brooks Lee, Edouard Julien looked great, showing intriguing power and speed, and Misael Urbina started to put things together.  So, as the old saying goes, you have to take the good with the bad. 

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Brooks Lee
  • Biggest Mover: Emmanuel Rodriguez
  • Emerging Prospect: Yasser Mercedes

1. Brooks Lee (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 SS or Top 15 2B/3B
  • Tools Summary: He has an advanced approach with good contact and solid power potential.

The Twins drafted Brooks Lee with the eighth overall pick last July after a stellar junior year at Cal Poly.  He hit .357 with a .462 OBP and 15 home runs while walking more than he struck out.  Evaluators love his approach and swing, and most believe he will hit with above-average power.  He did that in his first exposure in the minor leagues by slashing .303/.389/.451 in 31 games, primarily in High-A.  He did get a late-season taste in Double-A, and I would not be surprised if he starts the season there in 2023.  There’s little speed, and there are questions about whether he’ll stay at short.  So for me, he’s a high-floor, low-ceiling player with a chance to hit .280 with a .350+ OBP and 15 to 20 home runs annually.  That’s a solid player at shortstop, but if he moves to third or second, he could be an impact player for fantasy managers.

2. Emmanuel Rodriguez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus raw power should translate into future 30+ home run pop.  His improving strikeout rate, in conjunction with his ability to work a walk, gives him an all-star ceiling.

Emmanuel Rodriguez is one of my favorite young players in the minor league.  He has vast raw power that should project 30+ future home run power and a little speed that should play until he fills out.  As we noted last year, his problem is that he strikes out too much.  What was encouraging is that he did cut down his strikeout rate from 36% to 26%.  If he can keep that up as he moves through the system, he could have all-star potential.  He’s also showing an incredible ability to work a walk that pushed his OBP to nearly .500.  Unfortunately, his season ended in June when he tore his meniscus.  It should not be a limiting factor in the future.

3. Royce Lewis (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS or Top 40 OF
  • Tools Summary: He blew out his right knee for a second time and missed most of the season.

Royce Lewis was playing well last season in Triple-A when he got the call to fill in for an injured Carlos Correa.  He was hitting .300 after 12 games with two home runs when he tore his ACL in his right knee and was lost for the rest of the season.  It was the second time he injured his knee, and now questions exist on whether this will cause him to move off short to a less demanding position.  There were already discussions about him moving to centerfield, but I question if that will help much.  Fantasy managers need to hope that he returns and can stay healthy.  He was a plus runner, but two knee surgeries could start to take their toil on him.  I wish I had better news and guidance, but warning lights are blinking.

4. Edouard Julien (3B)

  • Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: He understands the strike zone with intriguing speed and power upside.

Edouard Julien has always walked a lot.  Last season was no exception when he walked 19% of the time in 113 games in Double-A.  If that’s all he did, that would be interesting.  However, he keeps his strikeouts under control and has solid-average power and speed.  Said another way, he’s a sneaky good player.  He did post a .393 BABIP, which in turn propped up his batting.  When you add it up, he could be a 15-15 player with a high OBP and, oh yeah, playing at second…sign me up.

5. Austin Martin (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: He can hit, and there’s plenty of speed, but he’s showing no power.

I was a big fan of Austin Martin coming out of the 2020 MLB Draft.  The Blue Jays selected him as the fifth player “off the board.”  He showed a premium hit tool in college with plus speed and a little power.  After two full years (mostly in Double-A), he makes excellent contact (13% K-Rate) and walks nearly as much as he strikes out (11.6% BB-Rate).  He also stole 34 of 39 bases last season.  However, he’s not showing any power.  He slugged .315 in 90 games with a .074 ISO.  Is that enough to be a full-time Major Leaguer?  I think there are serious questions.  The Twins can hopefully add some loft to his current flat swing, but he likes going the other way so much that it might be hard.  Fantasy managers might need to adjust their thinking and compare his value to David Fletcher’s.

6. Connor Prielipp (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP with risk
  • Tools Summary: He did not pitch in 2022 as he was recovering from TJS.  He still managed to be taken in the second round of last July’s draft.

The Twins took Connor Prielipp, a high-risk, high-reward pitcher, in the second round of last July’s draft.  Before having Tommy John Surgery in the spring of 2021, he showed a solid three-pitch mix and the ability to throw strikes.  He didn’t throw hard (92 to 93 MPH), but his fastball played up due to his control and high spin rate.  If he returns healthy, he could be at least a number three starter, maybe more.

7. Jordan Balazovic (RHP)

  • Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: He had a rough year, likely due to a shoulder impingement that occurred in the spring.  The size and arsenal still point to a mid-rotation starter ceiling. 

It was a rough season for Jordan Blazavoic as he started the season on the IL with a shoulder impingement and struggled to find success.  In the end, he pitched to a 7.79 ERA while walking a career-high 4.6 per nine.  He pitched better in the last several outings of the season, giving hope that his struggles were due to his shoulder.  Assuming health, he has the size and arsenal to be a mid-rotation starter, and Dynasty League managers who are rostering him should not lose faith.

8. Misael Urbina (OF)

  • Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: He has started to fill out, and the results are encouraging.  He always had the above-average speed and feel to hit, but now with his added strength, there might be enough to be a full-time regular.

Misael Urbina started his 2022 late due to visa issues; however, once he got going, the athletic outfielder played well.  In 50 games in Low-A, he slashed .246/.323/.416, striking out 23.5% of the time and walking 10.6% of the time.  He’s got well above-average speed, but power has always been the question.  Since he signed in 2018, the Twins have been waiting on him to put on weight and get stronger.  That happened in 2022, and the results are encouraging. For now, he’s still running well and stealing bases, but maintaining that speed is always a concern when a player fills out.  However, in Urbina’s case, I think it’s a good thing.  With added strength, he could profile as a full-time regular, and with his speed and growing power, perhaps an impact full-time regular.

9. Marco Raya (RHP)

  • Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or reliever
  • Tools Summary: He has a big arm, but with his size, he might work best in the bullpen.

In the fourth round, Marco Raya was selected in the 2020 draft and finally got on the mound in 2022.  The Twins managed his innings closely, only allowing him to pitch six innings once.  He has a big fastball that will touch the upper 90s and a curveball that grades out as a 70-pitch.  He’s only 6 feet tall, likely making him homer-prone and a potential bullpen arm.  However, it’s one of the more exciting arms in the system with a lot to dream on.

10. Simeon Woods-Richardson (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: He lacks the big fastball but has the arsenal to be a number four starter.

If Simeon Woods-Richardson threw harder, he would be discussed more in prospect circles. Then again, if he threw harder, he probably would be in the big leagues.  That said, the results were there last season.  In 95.1 innings across Double and Triple-A, he posted a 2.93 ERA striking out nearly ten per nine while walking three per nine.  He’s never had pristine control; if he did, the arsenal would play up a grade.  When you add it up, the ceiling is a number four starter.

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