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Minnesota Twins' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2014

Minnesota Twins' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    It's entirely plausible when discussing a farm system and prospects to use hyperbole. We get so fixated on what a player can be that it tends to distract us from what they are. 

    I say that to introduce the Minnesota Twins' prospect rankings for the 2014 season, which is the best group in baseball and filled with the kind of present talent/future projection that every franchise envies. 

    Everything starts with Byron Buxton, the No. 1 prospect in baseball. He entered the draft two years ago being declared the best raw talent available, but no one was prepared to see the 20-year-old dominate the way he did right out of the gate. 

    When you can follow a prospect like Buxton with Miguel Sano, owner of arguably the best power in the minors, things are going really well. 

    The Twins have a nearly perfect mix of high-ceiling position players and pitchers. No longer are they stuck in the old ways of drafting low-risk pitch-to-contact arms. Kohl Stewart and Alex Meyer offer some of the best stuff in the minors. 

    Times have been tough in Minnesota with at least 96 losses for three consecutive seasons. The front office has added quality pieces through free agency this offseason, but the real turnaround will start in 2015 when the prospect wave takes over. 

    Be patient, Minnesota. It won't take long before the Twins are back on top in the American League Central. 

    Here are the top 10 prospects for the Minnesota Twins heading into the 2014 season. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. Scouting reports/rankings are based on personal evaluations and opinions. 

No. 10 Stephen Gonsalves, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 07/08/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 190 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2013 (Cathedral Catholic HS, CA)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Highly projectable left-hander fell in draft due to diminished results; stuff regressed following breakout campaign in 2012; still offers tremendous upside; coaching and development will be key to maintaining high ceiling.

    Fastball is only average offering at present; works in 88-91 range with projection to add more velocity; curveball and changeup are both below-average; curveball has most upside; will show good snap; doesn't have feel or release point on off-speed stuff.

    Rare height and projection for left-handed pitcher; needs to show vast improvement with off-speed stuff to remain on list.

     

    Ceiling: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Extreme

     

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 9 Lewis Thorpe, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/23/1995 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 160 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/L

    Signed: July 2012 (Australia)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    All projection and potential. Lewis Thorpe impressed with a dominant showing in the Gulf Coast League; not the biggest guy in the world, but makes great use of height to drive ball into home plate; clean, simple arm action; great athlete with easily repeatable mechanics. 

    Fastball has plus projection; good present velocity and frame will lead to mid-90s peak; curveball and changeup lag behind heater; both look like above-average pitches, but still developing feel; excellent present control and command; could be high riser after season. 

     

    Ceiling: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Extreme

    Video via Valhalla Sports TV

No. 8 Jorge Polanco, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 07/05/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 165 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Signed: July 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats 

     

    Scouting Report

    Playing with Byron Buxton in Cedar Rapids, Jorge Polanco didn't get enough attention for breakout 2013 season; translated raw tools into excellent performance; excellent hit tool; short stride and small frame limits power upside; makes solid contact; line-drive machine. 

    Best tool is speed; will be stolen-base threat when he learns to read pitchers; limited arm strength limits profile to second base; range will play up at the position; excellent footwork; will have to hit for high average since power is limited to be starter at position; steps taken in recent years lead to solid-average projection; underrated prospect in deep system. 

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via Christopher Blessing, Bullpen Banter

No. 7 Josmil Pinto, C

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    Position: C

    DOB: 03/31/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 210 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: February 2006 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Hit-first catching prospect; shined in brief MLB call-up to end 2013; toe-tap timing mechanism; short path to the ball; excellent bat speed generates above-average power; excellent feel for the hitting zone; able to work deep counts and take walks. 

    Lacks strong defensive profile; very slow, heavy body prospect; doesn't have good athleticism; struggles with lateral movement and blocking balls in dirt; arm strength is above-average, though accuracy is spotty.

    Bat will have to play huge to be starter; moving positions, likely 1B/DH, will lower ceiling exponentially.

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

No. 6 Jose Berrios, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 05/27/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 187 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (Papa Juan HS, PR)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    First-round 2012 draftee continues to impress; big-time strike thrower; above-average control profile; lacks height and physical projection, but stuff plays at big-time level; plus fastball velocity and projection; can get in trouble due to lack of height/plane on fastball. 

    Too reliant on heater right now; off-speed stuff is intriguing; changeup looks like second plus offering; late fade and deception; needs better feel and trust in pitch; will snap average curveball on occasion, but tends to be slow and loopy; aggressive, attacking mentality. 

     

    Ceiling: No. 3 starter

    Risk: High

    Video via Reds Minor Leagues

No. 5 Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF

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    Position: 2B/OF

    DOB: 09/28/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 170 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2010 (Rafael Lopez Landron HS, PR)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Solid all-around prospect; lacks impact tool, but will show average ability across the board; fits into Kolten Wong mold; excellent hit tool; developing approach, but still prone to strikeouts; low hand positioning allows him into zone quickly; should develop average power in time; line-drive approach.

    Above-average running speed; new to second base after transition from outfield; footwork and range are still developing; solid feel for position; projects as average glove; offensive ability gives starter upside. 

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Note: Rosario was suspended for the first 50 games of 2014 due to a second violation of Minor League Drug Prevention Program. 

No. 4 Kohl Stewart, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 10/07/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (St. Pius X HS, TX)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Highest ceiling of any 2013 pitcher; incredible combination of arm strength, velocity and projection; perfect height and plenty of room to fill out; incredible athlete who turned down Texas A&M football scholarship.

    Elite arm strength; fastball already sits in mid 90s with explosive life; ball comes out of hand free and easy; should have no problems repeating delivery; still learning to pitch instead of throw; must learn to drive fastball into zone instead of slinging it.

    Already has average slider that flashes plus; excellent feel and hard velocity to go along with sharp tilt; could turn into plus-plus offering with more work; changeup flashes solid-average; has to throw more in pro ball; huge upside heading into season.

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 starter; All-Star potential

    Risk: Extreme

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 3 Alex Meyer, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 01/03/1990 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6'9", 220 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (Kentucky)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Big, powerful right-hander continues to take steps towards realizing potential as top-of-the-rotation starter; premium fastball velocity, sits 92-94 and touches 97-99 with late life; stays on top of heater with long legs driving down to the plate; plus slider that plays better at times, extreme bent as it crosses plate. 

    Will show changeup, but clearly doesn't trust it; will need third pitch to hit full potential; doesn't have to dominate with it, just keep lefties off fastball; size and long arms will cause command problems; struggles to hit release point for 100-plus pitches; doesn't repeat delivery from pitch to pitch; would fit in back of bullpen, but has proven capable of handling starter role. 

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 starter

    Risk: Low

No. 2 Miguel Sano, 3B

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 05/11/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: October 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Incredible specimen; boasts best in-game power and among top raw power in minors; absolute monster with bat; strong discipline and patient approach lead to a ton of walks; has struggled against velocity on hands and off-speed stuff; long, time-based swing will lead to high strikeout totals. 

    Defensive profile continues to impress; won't be elite third baseman, but has improved footwork, reactions and lateral movement to project as solid-average; plus arm strength with solid accuracy. 

    Very rare right-handed prospect; going to hit 35-plus homers with high OBP; likely ends up in .250-.260 average range; tremendous offensive skills, solid defensive profile and youth make him elite-level prospect; superstar potential. 

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular; All-Star potential

    Risk: Moderate

No. 1 Byron Buxton, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/18/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 189 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (Appling County HS, GA)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Best package of tools and performance in minors; potential you rarely see; true five-tool superstar and MVP projection; could step into big leagues today and put up league-average numbers.

    Hit tool was more advanced than expected; showed mature, patient approach at two levels; simple, compact swing always generates loud contact; plus raw power that will develop as frame fills out; plus-plus arm strength and running speed; elite defensive profile in center field; will try to do too much at times; must slow down and let game come to him.

    Already on fast track to big leagues; possible 2014 debut, though 2015 is more realistic; incredible ceiling, near Andrew McCutchen level; going to be one of the best players in baseball for the next decade.  

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular; All-Star and MVP potential

    Risk: Low

    Video via Baseball Instinct

     

    If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter. 

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