Twins Prospects - Waiting in the Weeds
Here is Part 2 of my analysis on the Minnesota Twins prospects. In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 of my analysis here.
OF - Byron Buxton
Low-A, High A 2013: 109 R, 12 HR, 77 RBI, 55 SB, .334 BA, .424 OBP
What can you say? He's the number one prospect in the game. There are very few true 5-tool prospects that come around and Buxton is as good as they come. The stats speak for themselves, and you undoubtedly have heard Buxton being compared to Trout, Griffey, Superman, Roosevelt, etc. Fantasy-wise, the bottom line is, he is a long shot to play in the majors this season. The Twins have always been agonizingly conservative with their prospects. I would love to tell you that Buxton will create such a shockwave that they will have no choice but to fast track him to Target Field, but I don't think that is going to happen. Dynasty and keeper leaguers need to stash Buxton immediately. The "wasted" roster spot for 2014 will be worth the dividends from 2015 and on. The potential for this young man is limitless, let's hope we don't have to wait too long to experience what he has to offer.
SP - Kohl Stewart
Rookie 2013: 20 IP, 1.35 ERA, 24 K, 0.85 WHIP
The pride of St. Piux X High School in Houston, TX. Stewart has been a star quarterback since he was wearing diapers, but he also bloomed into the top high school pitching prospect in the nation. Hitting 97 mph on the gun isn't something many of the pitchers in the Twins system can put on their resume, but Stewart has been gifted with that sort of arm. Having only pitched a few games in Rookie ball, even as fantastic as they may seem, it will still be difficult to project his ceiling. I can't imagine he will be anywhere higher than Low-A Cedar Rapids this season, but Stewart is only 19 years old. And with a few good years under his belt, he will hopefully be pitching at Target Field alongside Buxton and Sano in their respective primes.
P - J.O. Berrios
Low-A 2013: 103.2 IP, 7-7, 3.99 ERA, 100 K, 1.40 WHIP
After being drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft, Berrios was basically unhittable in the Rookie leagues (.62 WHIP, 14+ K/9). But after making the jump to Low-A, the 19-year-old came back down to earth. He will most likely stick to Low-A ball this season, but a leap to High-A isn't out of the question if he outgrows his training wheels in Cedar Rapids. Berrios, like Alex Meyer, can throw consistently in the mid-to-high 90s, a rare commodity in the Twins system. The Twins have always been painfully slow in unleashing the young players (have a I said that before?), and I doubt very much Berrios will see the light of the major leagues before 2016 or 2017. The only comfort fantasy owners have is that the Twins will likely be looking for home grown starting pitching come 2016 when their big contracts to Nolasco and company are up. Berrios and Stewart are the core of that grassroots campaign, and their development is essential to the long term success of the franchise.
1B/OF - Max Kepler
Low-A 2013: 35 R, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, .237 BA, .312 OBP
Kepler holds the record for the highest signing bonus given to a European born player. The Twins signed him as a 16 year old in 2009, and he made his debut in rookie ball at 17 in 2010. The Twins have added Kepler to their 40-man roster as a 20 year old prospect, mostly out of necessity. Kepler has been in the Twins system for too long and is eligible for a Rule-5 draft selection. And being a mid-level prospect, Kepler had a decent chance of being selected. There aren't a ton of 20 year old Low-A players on 40-man rosters! Kepler has shown decent plate discipline in the minors (.348 OBP) and he has been, like Sano, a young player at every level he has played. An injury kept him out of action for a good chunk of last year, but he is still a raw-prospect. If Kepler shows some pop while being healthy this season, he could shoot up through the ranks quickly. If not, he could be a candidate to be cut from the 40-man roster.
Look for Pinto to make immediate impact, with Meyer and Sano waiting in the wings. Buxton has a long road ahead of him, but he will be the essential player in the Twins system to watch in 2014.
Q. Who is the Twins long-time minor league director that pitched for the Golden Gophers and signed with the Washington Senators?
A. Jim Rantz, who was inducted to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in 2007.