Minnesota Twins 2019 Preseason Top 10

Courtesy of Aaron Whelan
Trevor Larnach at Oregon State. Courtesy of Aaron Whelan

1)

Player: Royce Lewis
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 188 lbs.
Quick Report: The Twins raised a few eyebrows when they selected Royce Lewis number one overall in 2017 ahead of the likes of Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay, and Kyle Wright, but no Twins fans are complaining about the selection these days. He possesses near top of the scale speed and has looked ok at shortstop thus far. There are still some that feel he is best suited to move to center, but there is growing belief he will stick at short and, possibly, even grow into an above average fielder there. At the plate, he has a leg kick at times, but mellows it with two strikes. The bat is quick to and through the zone, allowing him to make solid contact where his bat plays as plus. There is good power, potential plus for an up-the-middle player, but will always be more of a doubles guy than a home run hitter.

2)

Player: Brusdar Graterol
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: A fastball that sits a high as 98 to go with a power slider, solid curve, and decent change gives Graterol a legit big league arsenal. He is not the tallest of pitchers, but a strong core and lower half suggest he can eat innings despite requiring Tommy John surgery before making his stateside debut. There is some arm bend and inconsistencies in his 3/4 slot delivery, but he manages to pound the strike zone just fine. If he can clean up some of the inconsistent arm slot and head whip, he could be a guy that holds down the number two or three spot of a rotation.

3)

Player: Alex Kirilloff
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’2” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Like the two players ahead of him on this list, Kiriloff started the year in Low A before being promoted to Fort Myers and helping the club win the Florida State League title. Him ranking third in the system is no slight to him, he could easily be ranked second, as Kiriloff is one of the better pure hitters in all the minors. His left-handed swing is quick to the zone and he makes consistent contact with good balance. He hit 20 home runs and 44 doubles in 130 games last season, showing he has plenty of power to be a guy who hits in the middle of the order. He missed all of 2017 due to TJ, but he still has plenty of arm to play right field. Now that he has had a healthy off-season and comes into the year fully healthy, expect to see Kiriloff get fast tracked and possibly even start the year at AA with a late season bump to AAA.

4)

Player: Trevor Larnach
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: Oregon State’s lineup a year ago was ridiculous, with Nick Madrigal of the White Sox and Cadyn Grenier of the Orioles at the top of the order, then they had presumed number one pick this coming draft Adley Rutschman and the Twins number four prospect Trevor Larnach in the middle of the order. Larnach has plenty of arm to play right but is not the greatest of defenders and could eventually land in left or even first. He has a great feel at the plate, allowing him to show off a plus bat, but has flashed impressive power, although that is inconsistent. In time, I expect more power and less contact from Larnach, turning into a guy who hits .265-.270 and hits 28-30 home runs annually.

5)

Player: Brent Rooker
Position(s): 1B/OF Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 215 lbs.
Quick Report: A two-time selection of the Twins, Rooker has a big bat with plus power, although the contact rates were lower than many hoped for a season ago. That said, it was his first full pro season, and he spent it at AA and the AFL. Where Rooker will play will go a long way into determining his ultimate value, as he has been slapped with the DH tag by many already. He has seen time in left and at first, although he is not exactly great at either one. He has an upright stance but creates plenty of loft in his swing allowing him to really drive the ball where he will continue to improve his game power into a true plus too.

6)

Player: Jhoan Duran
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’5” Weight: 175 lbs.
Quick Report: Duran has a curve that can flash plus but is inconsistent and a change that may eventually be an average offering to go with his plus fastball. At first, this may not seem like a big repertoire, but when you dive deeper and realize his fastball is actually two pitches, an upper-90s four-seam and a cutting, sinking two-seamer that gets into the mid-90s, his arsenal looks a whole lot better. He has a high leg kick with a lot of drive off the back leg before getting to his high 3/4 slot that does have some effort as he falls to the first base side. If the change becomes a pitch he can rely on, he can be a mid-rotation guy, but if it doesn’t he still has the potential to be a closer-type reliever.

 

7)

Player: Nick Gordon
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 160 lbs.
Quick Report: I went back and forth on who to place at seven and who to place at eight, but ultimately decided to take floor over ceiling in this one. Gordon is lean just like his dad, Tom Gordon, and half-brother Dee Gordon, but doesn’t have any singular standout tool like those had/have. Nick is more the all-around player who can run a little, hit for a good average (although he really struggled at AAA last year) and play an above average shortstop. Many have questioned if Gordon has the strength to withstand a full season as a regular at the big-league level, which could lead him to be stuck as a utility guy. I saw a good amount of him in the 2016 AFL and love his swing. I feel he has the potential to get off to a hot start this year and earn an early call up to Minnesota where he can earn himself a long-term gig in the middle infield.

8)

Player: Wander Javier
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: DNP
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 165 lbs.
Quick Report: Javier has no shortage of tools, but he has just on impressive short season stint in the Appy League to his stateside resume. He missed all of 2018 with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, so there is a wide range of outcomes for Javier. When on the field, he has a solid glove and a very strong arm making him sticking at short a pretty sure thing, although I wouldn’t rule out a move to third or right being a possibility in time. He is lean, but has a strong enough lower half I could see him developing into at least average power to pair with a quick bat that should allow him to hit for a solid average.

9)

Player: Akil Baddoo
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 5’11” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Much of Baddoo’s future is going to be tied to his defense, as he is a guy that should be able to play a solid center field his whole career. At the plate, his 2018 numbers would lead you to believe he is more power than hit, although he is really the reverse. The bat can be long, but the plane allows him to hit line drives all over the field. He will be able to put up average-to-better power but shortening the bat just a bit will allow him to become a guy who could hit at the top of an order.

10)

Player: Lewis Thorpe
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Left Height:  6’1” Weight: 160 lbs.
Quick Report: There might not have been an Australian to have as much as Thorpe did early in his pro career, but Tommy John cost him the 2015 season and mono wiped out the 2016 season. He bounced back in 2017, making it up to AA in what was still his age 21 season. Last year he continued his advancement, making it to AAA and is now knocking on the door to be a part of the Twins rotation. He has a good fastball that sits low-90s and touches mid-90s with some run. He has a good curve, decent change, and struggles with a slider. His mechanics are controlled and repeatable, allowing him to pound the zone with good command with all his pitches. 2018 was the first time he pitched more than 100 innings, getting one out from 130, 47 more than any other season. His upside isn’t what we once thought it may be, but he could be a guy at the back of the rotation that eats innings for a decade.

Others of Note:

Blayne Enlow – RHP – 19 – Low A
Gilberto Celestino – OF – 19 – AA
Yunior Severino – 2B/SS – 19 – Rookie
Ryan Jeffers – C – 21 – Low A
Stephen Gonsalves – RHP – 24 – MLB
LaMonte Wade – OF – 24 – AAA
Travis Blankenhorn – 2B/3B/OF – 22 – High A

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