Friday, February 21, 2014

Updated: My top 15 Twins prospects

Top prospect Byron Buxton is besieged by autograph seekers
at training camp.
This is something I started doing last year: My own ranking of the Twins prospects.

As I said then, this is essentially a mashup of other people's work. I've personally seen a very limited number of these players, and those I have seen, I've seen only in a limited amount of action.

Looking back on last year's list, I am pleased with the ordering at the top — I was ahead of the curve in ranking Byron Buxton above Miguel Sano, and I went with Oswaldo Arcia and Alex Meyer above Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson, which wasn't obvious a year ago — and considerably less happy with the guys I had 11-15.

Baseball America on Wednesday released its Top 100 list, and "only" four Twins prospects made that list. This is fewer than made some other overall lists, and I am inclined to the more cautious BA appraisal of the system. To get higher than four — even to get to four — requires taking some leaps of faith on teen-aged pitchers and the ability of some players to handle key defensive roles.

This year's model:

1) Byron Buxton, outfield
2) Miguel Sano, third base
3) Alex Meyer, right-handed pitcher
4) Josmil Pinto, catcher
5) Kohl Stewart, right-handed pitcher
6) Eddie Rosario, second baseman/outfielder
7) J.O. Berrios, right-handed pitcher
8) Jorge Polanco, second baseman
9) Trevor May, right-handed pitcher
10) Michael Tonkin, right-handed pitcher
11) Danny Santana, shortstop
12) Lewis Thorpe, left-handed pitcher
13) Stephen Gonsalves, left-handed pitcher
14) Sean Gilmartin, left-handed pitcher
15) Max Kepler, first baseman/outfielder

(Note: this list was amended several days after the initial posting to get J.O. Berrios in. I have no excuse for missing him to start with.)

A few comments:

  • I've said throughout ranking season that Pinto — a major-league ready bat who can at least pretend to catch — ought to rate higher than most lists have had him. 
  • I deliberately depressed the rankings for Stewart and (especially) Thorpe on the basis that they are teen-age pitchers. 
  • I would have Rosario higher than Stewart if Rosario weren't starting the season with a suspension and/or we knew for sure he's going to be a second baseman.
  • If I knew May's command will be strong enough to start, he'd rate at least three notches higher. As  a bullpen guy, he's no better than Tonkin. But he has a chance to start, so he goes ahead of Tonkin.
  • I give major league proximity a bit more weight than most of the ranking outlets. Tonkin doesn't have Thorpe's ceiling, but Tonkin, who already has major league service time, is more likely to play in the majors this year than Thorpe ever is.

And Polanco over Santana probably deserves more than one sentence of explication. As I see it, Santana has the stronger set of tools — nobody's talking about moving him off shortstop — and he's two levels of competition ahead of Polanco. Polanco is more than two years younger than Santana and shows more signs of turning his tools into actual skills. In particular, I really don't like Santana's grasp of the strike zone.

This is less systematic than arbitrary, but I give Polanco a 50 percent chance of becoming a quality major league second baseman, and I give Santana a 20 percent chance of becoming a quality major league shortstop.  On that basis, I put Polanco ahead of Santana.


  1. Did you forget about Jose Berrios? I haven't seen a prospect list that didn't include him in the Top 10.

    1. You are correct. I did. The list has been amended accordingly. Thanks.