Minnesota Twins 2018 Top 50 Prospects

Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects for 2018

It’s time for the 2018 Twins Prospects State of the Union report. The Twins biggest strength in their organization right now is their abundance of pitching prospects, as they make up half of this list. There are only a small handful of guys on this list that will make any impact this year, with most of these guys being two to three years away from the majors. But if you’re willing to wait, pick some of these guys up for cheap now and watch them lead your team to the fantasy championship in 2021.

Before diving into the list, here’s a quick rundown of the Twins’ affiliates to help keep track of who played where:

  • AAA: Rochester Red Wings (International League)
  • AA: Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern League)
  • A+: Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
  • A-: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Midwest League)
  • Rookie: Elizabethton Twins (Appalachian League)
  • Rookie: GCL Twins (Gulf Coast League)

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to some prospects!

Hey everyone. I want to thank you all for your feedback. Talking with some of you this morning it has become abundantly clear that some of my rankings are controversial to say the least. While I stand by my list and what I said about each player, after further consideration I have realized that I have erred in my ranking of a couple players. Kohl Stewart and Felix Jorge do not belong in my top five, I realize that now. I do believe that they have the potential to be solid major league starters that can contribute to fantasy teams, but they do not belong in the top five. Looking at the reasons behind why I ranked Stewart and Jorge where I did, I realize that they are not consistent with the reasoning behind the rest of my rankings, and because of that I have damaged the credibility of the rest of my list. As such, I have re-ranked them from No. 4 and 5 to No. 20 and 21. Some of you may still find this too high for them, but I feel much stronger about them being the No. 20 and 21 prospects in this system than being 4 and 5.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster






Tier 1:

None

Tier 2:

1. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: AAA
Heading into the off-season, I thought Gonsalves had a shot at cracking the Twins’ rotation out of Spring Training 2018. Now that the Twins have signed Michael Pineda and may still end up signing Yu Darvish, Gonsalves’ chances are dwindling before he even steps back on the mound. Right now it’s safe to say the Twins have Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios already penciled in to their starting five. If Darvish comes to the Twin Cities, that leaves two spots left for Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Trevor May and potentially Gonsalves and Fernando Romero. Michael Pineda would be there but had TJS last year and won’t be ready for 2018. At this point barring major injuries or terrible performances, I see Gonsalves making a few spot starts this season with a decent chance of making the starting rotation in 2019 and at the very latest 2020 when the contracts for Santana, Hughes and Pineda have all ended.

I have no doubts that Gonsalves will produce once he gets to the majors, it’s just a matter of waiting for the opportunity to open up.

2. Nick Gordon, SS
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: AA
My thoughts on Gordon can be summed up in this quote from his MLB.com prospect profile, “Gordon continues to be more high floor than high ceiling, a prospect who doesn’t have one ‘wow’ tool, but who can do everything relatively well.” Gordon spent his age 21 season at Double-A Chattanooga, where he hit .270/.341/.408 in 122 games with 29 doubles, nine home runs and 13 stolen bases, all while being three years younger than the league average age of batters. As of right now, I see Gordon as a 10+ home run and 10+ steals guy with about a .285 average. While that might not sound overly impressive, there were only five middle infielders with double-digit home runs and steals and at least a .285 average, and those five — Elvis Andrus, Jose Altuve, Whit Merrifield, Brandon Phillips and Jean Segura — all finished 2017 in the top 30 among middle infielders on ESPN’s Player Rater.

3. Fernando Romero, RHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: AA
In his second season back from Tommy John surgery, Romero pitched a career-high 125 innings in 2017 with 120 strikeouts and a 1.352 WHIP. I see Romero as essentially the right-handed version of Gonsalves, and barring any trades I think Romero and Gonsalves will provide the Twins starting rotation a solid 1-2 or 2-3 punch for years to come.

4. Brent Rooker, OF
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: A+
I got the chance to see Rooker play in person when he started the season with the Rookie-League Elizabethton Twins, and from what I saw I’m jumping on the Rooker bandwagon. He consistently was making solid contact with almost half of his 64 hits going for extra bases. I’m hoping to see him cut back on his strikeout rate (26.05% in 2017), but I think he could be a star player for the Twins in the near future. There’s a reason I picked him in the first round of the Prospects1500 Amateur Draft, stash him now while he’s still (relatively) under the radar.

5. Alex Kirilloff, OF
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: DNP-Injured (2016 Highest Level: R)
Kirilloff had hoped to avoid surgery after a partial tear of his UCL in his left (throwing) elbow ended his 2016 season, but after elbow soreness reappeared in the spring, he was shut down and underwent Tommy John surgery to end his 2017 season before it started. Before the elbow injury, Kirilloff was putting up impressive numbers in Elizabethton. He finished 2016 hitting .306 with nine doubles and seven home runs in 232 plate appearances. Also impressive was his plate discipline, as he had a strikeout rate of only 13.8 percent. Keep an eye out on Kirilloff this year, and think about stashing him in a deeper league while his stock is low.

6. Royce Lewis, SS
Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: A-
The first No. 1 overall pick for the Twins since some guy named Joe Mauer, Lewis made a big splash in his pro-ball debut with a home run in his first career at-bat with the GCL Twins. After hitting .271/.390/.414 over 36 games with GCL Twins, Lewis received a late season promotion to Cedar Rapids where he hit .296/.363/.394 over his final 18 games for the Kernels. Lewis has quite a ways to go before he makes the it to the majors, but this was a good step in the right direction to start his career.

7. Tyler Jay, LHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: AA
The big story for Twins prospects during Spring Training was the announcement that Jay was making the move from the starting rotation to the bullpen. It makes sense seeing as he was a reliever in college, but the Twins had been hoping to stretch him out as a starter, and a move to the pen hurts his fantasy value. Injuries plagued Jay throughout 2017 as he threw only 11.2 innings between bouts with biceps tendinitis, shoulder impingement, and at one point it appeared he would undergo thoracic outlet surgery but ultimately he was able to avoid that and returned to pitch at the end of August. If he can stay healthy, there’s some big strikeout potential and he could end up a top-of-the-line closer. His floor and his ceiling will hinge on whether he can stay healthy.

Tier 3:

8. Travis Blankenhorn, 3B
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: A-
Blankenhorn made his full-season debut in 2017 with Low-A Cedar Rapids, and while there were some very promising signs of potential there were also some significant issues he’ll need to work on before he can make the majors. The Good: 22 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, 13 stolen bases. The Bad: .251 average places him outside the top 100 qualifying batters in the Midwest League and a 9.25 percent walk rate. The Ugly: 23.43 strikeout rate. He’s the best third base prospect in the organization right now, and if he can cut down on the strikeouts he has a lot of promise to be a solid, all-around fantasy contributor.

9. Wander Javier, SS
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
If there’s one thing that the Twins have, it’s an abundance of middle infield prospects. Javier made the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the Appalachian League in 2017, where he batted .299 with 13 doubles and 34 runs scored — third-most on the Elizabethton Twins. He just turned 19 and he has more work to do before he even comes close to the majors, but as of right now, there’s potential for him to become a solid fantasy shortstop option a few years down the road.

10. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: AA
After missing the entirety of the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and mononucleosis, the Australian southpaw stepped back onto the mound in 2017 and picked up right where he left off. Making 16 starts between Fort Myers and Chattanooga, Thorpe threw a career-high 83 innings with a career high 91 strikeouts. This is a promising first step in the right direction for Thorpe, and if he repeats this performance in 2018 he could see his stock rise dramatically.

11. Lewin Diaz, 1B
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: A-
Getting his first taste of full-season ball, Diaz put together a solid 2017 campaign, hitting .292/.329/.444 with 12 home runs, 68 RBI and a Midwest League-leading 33 doubles. If he can turn more of those doubles into homers, he could move up into the top 10 on this list very quickly.

12. Mitch Garver, C
Age: 26
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Garver made his Twins debut in 2017 and the results were underwhelming to say the least. Over 52 plate appearances in 23 games, Garver hit  .196/.288/.348 with 15 strikeouts. His time at Triple-A Rochester showed a different story, as he hit .291/.387/.541 with 29 doubles and 17 home runs. Barring trade or free agent signing, Garver will be the backup catcher for Minnesota in 2018, and with more regular playing time he should be able to live up to his .270 average/15 home run potential.

13. Zack Granite, OF
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: MLB
After raising his average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage to career highs at Triple-A Rochester, Granite earned a call up to the Twins where he appeared in 40 games. Granite struggled a bit in his first taste of the majors, hitting .237/.321/.290 but he did draw a walk rate of 11.2% in 107 plate appearances. Granite also had a down year stealing bases, as he dropped from 56 in 2016 to 20 in 2017. I project him as being an annual 25 stolen base threat, with potential to steal a lot more.

14. Mason Melotakis, LHP
Age: 26
2017 Highest Level: AAA
As of January 16, 2017, if I had to bet money on one pitcher on this list making the 25-man roster out of Spring Training my money is on Melotakis. In his second year back from Tommy John surgery, Melotakis had 9.7 K/9 and lowered his WHIP from 1.440 in 2016 to 1.152. This will be a make-or-break year for Melotakis, and I think he can be the strikeout-heavy setup man your fantasy team needs.

15. Jake Reed, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: AAA
Reed got off to a late start in 2017 after a muscle strain in Spring Training kept him sidelined till June. While some of his numbers were down slightly from 2016, Reed has improved his fastball velocity to the mid 90s range and has shown improved command of his slider. A hot start in 2018 could see Reed making the jump to the majors very soon, where he will be a good option for those looking for a reliever with strikeout upside.

16. Jermaine Palacios, SS
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: A+
There may be several shortstop prospects ranked ahead of him, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook Palacios. Playing in over 100 games for the first time in his minor league career, Palacios batter .296 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases. It was a breakout power performance for him, as he more than tripled his career home run total. If this power turns out not to be a fluke, the case could be made for him as an above-average fantasy shortstop.

17. Luis Arraez, 2B
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: A+
A high-contact batter, Arraez was poised to build off his 2016 campaign in which he hit .347 with 31 doubles when a torn ACL ended his 2017 campaign after three games. His doubles power, potential for double-digit steals and high average make him an intriguing fantasy prospect at second base.

18. Zack Littell, RHP
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: AA
After coming over to the Twins in the Jaime Garcia trade, Littell continued his impressive 2017 season by finishing 5-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 7.1 K/9. Right now, he’s looking like a No. 3 or 4 starter, but there’s potential for him to be a future No. 2.

19. Aaron Slegers, RHP
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Slegers put together one of his best seasons in 2017, compiling a 15-4 record with a 3.40 ERA and 7.2 K/9. He has seen his strikeout rate rise over each of the last three seasons, and if he can do so again in 2018 he could become a nice back-end starter prospect.

20. Felix Jorge, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: MLB
While I don’t think he has the ceiling that Romero and Gonsalves have, that doesn’t mean Jorge won’t provide fantasy value for you in the near future. Despite a less than stellar MLB debut in 2017 where he allowed nine earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched, Jorge finished with 20+ starts and 100+ innings pitched for the fourth year in a row and 100+ strikeouts for the third year in a row. I think Jorge has what it takes to become a solid No. 3 or 4 starter, but if he starts missing more bats and giving up fewer hits he has No. 2 starter potential.

21. Kohl Stewart, RHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: AAA
It was a bit of a rough season for Stewart in 2017, a nagging knee injury caused him to miss time in May and June as well as the last two weeks of August. That injury was likely the cause for Stewart putting up career-worsts in ERA (4.28), WHIP (1.524) and BB/9 (5.0). While those numbers don’t look too pretty, what does look good is the fact he was able to raise his K/9 rate to 6.3 — the highest it’s been since 2014. Stewart was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft, and I think that next year could be a breakout season where he showcases the skills that made him a first round pick.

22. LaMonte Wade, OF
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: AA
Wade won’t wow you with flashy numbers, but he will be dependable and consistent. He’s going to hit around .295 and he’s going to draw walks at a high clip. In each of his three seasons in the minors, he has drawn more walks than strikeouts while maintaining a walk rate around 14%. There’s potential for him to hit about 10-15 home runs and steal about 10-15 bases, but what he is going to bring to your fantasy team is a high on-base percentage.

23. Akil Baddoo, OF
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
After struggling in his professional debut in 2016, things fell into place for Baddoo as he slugged his way to a .323/.436/.527 line with a 13% strikeout rate and a 15% walk rate. Baddoo showed both power and some speed with 28 of his 65 hits going for extra bases while stealing nine bases. He’ll be 19 this year, and another big season like this could shoot him up the rankings to around Rooker and Kirilloff.

24. Lachlan Wells, LHP
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: A+
Wells threw a career-high 85.1 innings in 2017, finishing with a 4-10 record and a 3.90 ERA. While his 7.9 K/9 isn’t going to turn any heads, he has the potential to be a solid back-of-the-rotation guy for the Twins, and I’ll be looking for him to take another step towards the majors in 2018.

25. Gabriel Moya, LHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: MLB
The Twins traded catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Diamondbacks for Moya, and in doing so they might possibly have acquired their best reliever prospect in the entire organization. Moya was 6-1 with a 0.77 ERA and 13.4 K/9 before he was called up to the Twins in September. In 6.1 innings in the majors, Moya’s ERA was 4.26 and his K/9 was 7.1 but I am really excited to see how he does in his age 23 season.

26. J.T. Chargois, RHP
Age: 27
2017 Highest Level: AAA
Elbow issues shut Chargois down for the year after only two appearances in 2017. I had Chargois pegged as the potential closer for the Twins in 2017, but between the injury and the Twins’ signing of Fernando Rodney, the chances of Chargois closing any time soon are not good. That being said, if he comes back healthy he could provide value through his strikeout rate (10.6 K/9 in 2016 and 9.9 in 2015).

27. John Curtiss, RHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: MLB
Curtiss made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A to the Majors in 2017. In his brief stint with the Twins from late August through September, Curtiss allowed a less-than-impressive eight earned runs over 8.2 innings. Despite that, he was able to record 10.4 K/9 with the Twins, nearly matching his 12.4 K/9 between Chattanooga and Rochester.  His worst career K/9 through four seasons is 8.5, so he’s going to rack up strikeouts at a high rate and could provide your team value as a setup man/potential future closer.

28. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
As an 18-year-old in 2017, Graterol made seven starts with a 2.70 ERA and 10.1 K/9 between GCL Twins and Elizabethton. He could end up being one of the top pitching prospects for the Twins in just a few years.





Tier 4:

29. Ben Rortvedt, C
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: A-
Considered one of the better offensive catcher prospects in the 2016 draft, that potential hasn’t translated in the minors yet as he sports a .224 average with 23 extra-base hits in 407 at-bats over two seasons. He just turned 20 in September so it’s too early to close the book on him yet, but if he can’t make some changes in 2018 he could end up as the biggest disappointment in the Twins 2016 draft class.

30. Tyler Watson, LHP
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: A-
Acquired in a mid-season trade with the Nationals, Watson struggled upon joining the Twins system but he still has potential as a solid back-of-the-rotation starter that will give you plenty of strikeouts.

31. Aaron Whitefield, OF
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: A-
Showed some minor power-potential in 2017 with a career-high 11 home runs as he stole 30+ bases for the second year in a row. Right now he’s looking like he could end up being a discount Billy Hamilton with a slightly better batting average.

32. Blayne Enlow, RHP
Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Third round pick in 2017, Enlow made six appearances for GCL Twins with 8.4 K/9. I like the strikeout potential here, so pick him up while he’s still (relatively) under the radar.

33. Thomas Hackimer, RHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: A+
Hackimer raised his K/9 from 8.9 to 10.4 in 2017, and he has the potential to become a high strikeout setup man/closer.

34. T.J. White, 3B
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: AA
Things seemed to finally click together for White in 2017, as he posted career highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Has 15 home run/15 stolen base potential and could end up breaking into the majors as a low-end fantasy option at third base.

35. Landon Leach, RHP
Age: 17
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Pitched 13.1 innings in his first year in the minors and had 10 strikeouts. Work in progress at the moment, but he was a second round pick so keep an eye on him.

36. Jaylin Davis, OF
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: A+
He’s got double-digit homer and steals potential, but an atrocious 29% strikeout rate will prevent him from advancing to the next level. He did lower his rate slightly from 2016, so there’s a chance he might be able to still figure things out.

37. Zander Wiel, 1B
Age: 25
2017 Highest Level: A+
High on power, low on average, Wiel did raise his walk rate and lower his strikeout rate from 2016, so he could end up a solid first baseman/designated hitter.

38. Charlie Barnes, LHP
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: A-
Made 11 starts between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in 2017, finishing with a 4-2 record and 2.61 ERA. His 8.6 K/9 shows promise, and if he can keep this up in 2018 he could make his way up this list very quickly.

39. Jose Miranda, 2B
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Tied for first place in the Appalachian League with 11 home runs in 2017 as part of a power explosion that saw his slugging percentage jump almost 200 points from 2016. Even though he almost gave me a concussion off a foul ball this year, I’m still high on his fantasy potential.





Tier 5:

40. Alex Robinson, LHP
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: A+
Has had a strikeout rate of 11% or better each of his first three seasons while dropping his walk rate from 12% to 9.3% to 4.6%. Has potential to become a high strikeout middle reliever/closer.

41. Andrew Bechtold, 3B
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Hit .299 with a 15.4% walk rate in his first year in Elizabethton; both good signs for his future potential.

42. Jacob Pearson, OF
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Acquired from the Angels for International signing money, didn’t put up big numbers in 2017 but he was a third round pick so there’s potential to improve here.

43. Nelson Molina, 2B
Age: 22
2017 Highest Level: AA
Had a down year in 2017 hitting .244/.287/.339, but he has potential to be a decent major league utility player .

44. Sean Miller, SS
Age: 23
2017 Highest Level: A+
Raised his average and on-base percentage in 2017, but saw his slugging percentage drop from 2016. He seems to do a good job making contact, remains to be seen how he will do in the future.

45. Edwar Colina, RHP
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Made 11 starts for Elizabethton and led the team with 56 strikeouts. I got to watch him in person, and I have him as a deep sleeper pick based on what I saw.

46. David Banuelos, C
Age: 21
2017 Highest Level: A-
Acquired from the Mariners for international signing money, Banuelos had a .236 average and strikeout rate of 27.4 percent in 2017. Nothing to get excited about yet but his 11 percent walk rate shows some promise.

47. Yunior Severino, 2B
Age: 18
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Signed by the Twins after being released due to the Braves signing scandal. He just turned 18 and only has one year of pro-ball under his belt, but there’s some extra-base power potential here.

48. Sam Clay, LHP
Age: 24
2017 Highest Level: AA
After being used as a starter the last two seasons, Clay was moved back to the bullpen in 2017, where he posted a 9-0 record with nine saves and a 1.87 ERA. Worth keeping an eye on for strikeout potential (9.0 K/9 in 2017).

49. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
Age: 19
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Had a sophomore slump with GCL Twins as all his numbers were down except for K/9. Might be some strikeout potential down the road, but he needs to make some major improvements.

50. Tyler Benninghoff, RHP
Age: 20
2017 Highest Level: Rookie
Benninghoff came back from Tommy John surgery to make his pro-ball debut with four appearances late in 2017. No conclusions to be drawn yet, but he’s worth watching as prior to his injury he had been projected to be drafted within the first three rounds in 2016.

And now for my conditional No. 51 prospect. The Twins drafted reliever Tyler Kinley from the Marlins in last month’s Rule 5 Draft, which means he’ll be on the Twins active roster the entire season or else he will be returned to the Marlins. He may or may not last through Spring Training, but if he does stick, his career 9.3 K/9 makes him a very interesting setup man with high strikeout upside.

About Michael Grennell 16 Articles
Baseball fanatic. I love to write and photograph anything and everything related to America's Favorite Pasttime. Follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrennell for baseball news with other sports-related tweets mixed in.

8 Comments

    • You’re right. I had known that and I meant to change the wording before we got this posted. What I meant to say is Pineda will likely factor in to the rotation late in 2018 and should be in it in 2019.

    • Looks like he managed to fly under my radar this year. I’ll keep a close watch on him and look for him to possibly make an appearance on my mid-season ranking.

  1. I would like for you to take a look at this kid at Indiana Wesleyan University in the outfield. He is Sterling Smith #12. The kid is a solid left hand hitter with a laser arm (92) from right field and dead on spot!

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Tuesday January 16, 2018 - Fantasy Baseball Links - FantasyRundown.com
  2. Twins Spring Training notes and mailbag | Prospects1500
  3. 2018 MLB Draft Link Round-Up | Prospects1500

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