2014 Minnesota Twins

C – Mitch Garver –  LoA Cedar Rapids – 23 yo;  – (2013 – 9nd round)  –
  • .298 – 5 HR – 79RBi – 56R – .406/.448/.880 slash   –  – PAG: 3.49
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
1B – Tyler Kuresa – Rookie Elizabethton – 21 yo;  – (2014 – 16th round) –
  •  .298 – 5 HR – 44RBi – 28R – .381/.478/.859 slash  –  – PAG: 3.72
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • The 6’3 – 190 lb. UC Santa-Barbara grad ranked second in the Appalachian League in Rbi (44) and committed only three errors in 330 chances at 1B 
2B – Luis Arraez  –  DSL Twins  –  17 yo;  – (2014 – International FA signee-VE)
  • .348 –  15 RBi – 23R – 10 SB –   .433/.400/.833 slash  – – PAG: 3.55
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
3B – Jermaine Palacios  – DSL Twins – 18 yo;  – (2014 – Int FA signee-VE) –
  • .270 – 11 2B –  29RBi – 40R –  14 SB –  .404/.399/.802  slash   – PAG: 3.86
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
SS – Nick Gordon  – Rookie Elizabethton – 18 yo; – (2014 – 1st Round) –
  • .294 – 1 HR – 28RBi – 46R – 11 SB  –  .333/.366/.699  slash   – PAG: 3.19
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#6  –  BP-NR 
  • It might seem unfair to point out [that] Gordon is listed as an NR (non-ranked) player on Baseball America’s and Baseball Prospectus’ top prospect lists.  He was ranked #6 on MLB Pipeline’s mid-season Top 20 which is a sign of how good he can be; and the 6’0 lefty is a near lock to make any and every Twins top prospect list heading into 2015. Yet the fun part about what we do here (and how we do it) is we get a leg up on most of those lists and then place kids like Gordon amongst the “not-spects” who posted similar and (some) even better production; which is designed to raise the question of “Why not this guy, or that guy too?” when the lists of the above publications hit the net come winter and early spring.  Jim and I aren’t trying to prove any points here.  Just raise awareness. And this process does it. Now back to Gordon. The Olympia HS (FL) native crashed the Appalachian League playing a premium position and ended the season ranked second in runs (49), fourth in hits (69) and third in triples (4) as an 18 year old which is more than two years younger than the league average. 
LF – Max Murphy  – Rookie Elizabethton/LoA Cedar Rapids –  21 yo; –  (2014 – 9th round)
  • .309 – 14HR – 41RBi – 49R – 5 SB  –  .403/.556/.958 slash  – –  csPAG: 3.88
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • The Bradley University (IL) alum logged one of the most productive debuts of any Twins hitter in 2014, including the aforementioned 1st rounder Nick Gordon.  After posting only 151 at-bats for Rookie Elizabethton, Murphy dropped a mind boggling 4.91 PAG and still finished the season as the Appy League leader in home runs (10), on-base % (.483), slugging % (.723) and OPS (1.206). The 5’11 – 195 lb outfielder received a late July promotion to LoA Cedar Rapids where he saw an expected slow down in production, yet still posted a respectable 2.75 PAG in 137 at-bats. I expect Murphy to repeat LoA Cedar Rapids in 2015 and if he hits the ground running, he could see time in HiA Fort Myers which could further his cause in becoming one of Minnesota’s top OF prospects. 
CF – Jason Kanzler – LoA Cedar Rapids/HiA Fort Myers – 23 yo; – (2013 – 20th round) –
  • .282 – 12HR – 59RBi – 71R – 27 SB  –  .344/.444/.788  slash  – –  csPAG: 3.27
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • I almost feel sympathetic toward all other center fielders in the Twins organization because of the mere presence of the minors top overall prospect Byron Buxton. It says a lot about the 20 yr old Buxton who after an injury filled 2014 logging only 31 games, he remains the consensus #1 impact talent in all the minors. However, as much as I’d love to take my place in line with those gushing over the Appling County HS (GA) grad, I’m here to stake my claim for a hometown boy, Penfield, NY native  Kanzler. Even though he’ll most certainly be required to change positions with Buxton in town, the SUNY Buffalo draftee Kanzler certainly made a solid case with PAG scores of 3.52 for LoA Cedar Rapids and a 3.19 for HiA Fort Myers. Kanzler posts above average defense (combined .984 Fldg %) in all outfield positions and fell a solitary triple short of being only the 8th UTR-qualifying hitter in all the minors to post double-digits in doubles, triples, home runs and steals in 2014.  
RF – Adam Brett Walker  – HiA Fort Myers – 22 yo; – (2012 – 3rd round) –
  • .246 – 25HR – 94RBi – 78R  –  .307/.436/.743  slash  –  – PAG: 3.37
  • BA/#16  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#13  –  BP-NR
  • The 6’4 – 225 lb Walker lead the Florida State League, as well as all Minnesota prospects, in home runs with 25. The Jacksonville University alum also lead the Florida State League in Rbi (94), total bases (220), however, with power hitters comes the strikeouts as well. Walker’s 156 K’s also lead the league, but 25 home runs from a 22 year old growing bat, I’ll take that trade off. It worked for Ryan Howard right? 

 

 
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
1. RHP Jose Berrios – (13) SP/TPS .084
  • 20 years old (HiA Fort Myers / Double-A New Britain / Triple-A Rochester)
  • 1st round – 2012
  • Ranked #5 by Baseball America and MLBPipeline / #6 by Baseball Prospectus
  • Berrios was the Twins Pitcher of the Year for 2014. He’s a modest sized right-hander, but as 20-year old has already progressed through the system to make a cameo appearance in Triple-A. He saw a dip in his velocity late in the 2013 season that raised some concerns. He presents a high strikeout rate but induces a paltry groundball rate (37%) that has some projecting him as a late-innings reliever. Its too early to make such projections, as Berrios has plenty of time grow. Some more Double-A seasoning should be in the cards for Berrios in 2015.
2. RHP Aaron Slegers – (12) SP/TPS .137 
  • 21 years old (LoA Cedar Rapids / HiA Fort Myers)
  • 5th round – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 12thJuly 23rd)
  • I first focused on Slegers back in late April when the UTR performances were sorely lacking any type of mention. During my research, I spotlighted of what a huge presence Slegers was on the mound at 6’10” 245 lbs and the associated injury/durability risk coming out of Indiana University. The big guy had a successful 2014 by pitching 132.1 innings and getting a taste of  Hi-A hitters. I was hoping to see his TPS rate stay closer .100 , as it crept and leveled into the high .130’s as the season progressed. If Slegers continues to master his low 90’s fastball and accompanying slider, especially from that high plane which should create more strikeouts, he just may project as a back-end starter.
3. RHP Kohl Stewart – (9) SP/TPS .116
  • 19 years old (LoA Cedar Rapids)
  • 1st round – 2013
  • Ranked #4 by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus / #3 by MLBPipeline
  • Early into the 2014 college football season, Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill gave the Aggie faithful short memories of recently NFL-departed Johnny Manziel, when he got off to a fast start. That “Gig-Em” high has deflated as there’s speculation that Hill may soon be benched with his recent poor performances. With a open QB situation, one wonders if Kohl Stewart would have been the successor if it wasn’t for the Twins throwing millions at the right-hander to skip his commitment to A&M. The athletic Stewart was one of the top prep QB’s in the country, but his comps to Mark Appel and Sonny Gray were to good for the Twins to pass on the then 18 year old. Stewart’s ceiling is high and is already a polished pitcher with the potential for 4 above-average pitches.  The Twins are known for how well they handle their pitchers within the minors. Most expected Stewart to repeat with Elizabethton in the Rookie Appy League, but Twins were aggressive by sending him to LoA Cedar Rapids, were he did well as a teenager.
4. LHP Jadison Jimenez –  (8) SP/TPS .108
  • 20 years old (DSL Twins)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 4thAugust 11th)
  • Third year in the Dominican Summer League and first as a starting pitcher. Steady improvement may have the lefty state-side in 2015 with either the GCL or Appy League Elizabethon Twins.
5. LHP Jason Wheeler – (8) SP/TPS .116
  • 23 years old (HiA Fort Myers / Triple-A Rochester / Double-A New Britain)
  • 8th round – 2011
  • 4-Time UTR Mention (April 28thMay 29thJune 8thJune 16th)
  • Wheeler is the brother of Ryan, an ex-Diamondback third baseman and currently in the Angels system. He’s another towering (6′ 6″ 251 lbs) pitcher in the system that has had success despite not having punch-out stuff (115 K’s in 158.1 innings). Wheeler had 26 starts in 2014 and complied a 2.19 ERA in the wake of bouncing between 3 levels including one start at Triple-A. He made four UTR Mentions to start the season (13 starts) and before being promoted to Double-A and dropping off my UTR tracking. Wheeler’s fastball runs in the high 80’s and low 90’s. Fellow starter Aaron Slegers can look at Wheeler’s success as a template through the system, though it would be nice to see them utilize their size to push off the rubber in an effort to increase their velocity.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
1. RHP Brandon Peterson – (12) cSR/TPS .053
  • 22 years old – (LoA Cedar Rapids / HiA Fort Myers)
  • 13th round – 2013
  • UTR Mention (June 2nd)
  • A closer during his collegiate career at Wichita State, Peterson bring a lot to the mound as a relief pitcher with a fastball/slider combo that can run in the upper 90’s. He stakeout 84 batters over 57.2 innings in 2014 and posted a 1.56 ERA. He was named the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year for 2014. The Twins should have a solid set-up guy in Peterson.
2. LHP Brandon Bixler – (10) RP/TPS .076
  • 22 years old (LoA Cedar Rapids)
  • 16th round – 2013
  • 2014 UTR Breakout
  • UTR Mention (April 14th)
  • As Peterson makes his way as a future set-up guy, Bixler could be a middle reliever for the Twins. He has some control issues (37 BB / 77 K in 74 IP) where advance hitters would tee-off on his offerings. LOOGY could be his ceiling.
3. RHP Alex Muren – (7) RP/TPS .119
  • 22 years old – (LoA Cedar Rapids / HiA Fort Myers)
  • 12th round – 2012
  • Muren is a athletic pitcher with raw stuff  that is progressing through the system with success. He throws a mid 90’s fastball along with a intriguing high 80’s cutter.
4. RHP Todd Van Steensel – (7) RP/TPS .061
  • 23 years old – (LoA Cedar Rapids / HiA Fort Myers)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • UTR Mention (May 9th)
  • I highlighted Van Steensel’s journey to the Twins when he made a mention back in May. There were many times this season where he just missed the cut as the relief pitcher of the day. In making 39 appearances in 2014 after being away from the minor league for 2 seasons, the right-hander could be late-bloomer. 
5. RHP Kuo Hua Lo – (5) cSR/TPS .077
  • 21 years old – Appy League Elizabethon
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • Taiwan native with good velocity and control that repeated the Appy League with comparable results. 
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers  
 
 1. RHP John Curtiss – cSR/TPS .068
  • 21 years old – Appy League Elizabethon Twins
  • 6th round – 2014
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (August 7thAugust 13th)
  • Considered a possible 1st round pick coming out of the University of Texas after the 2011 season, Curtiss dropped to the 6th round in 2014, a year removed from Tommy John surgery and after serving as the Longhorn’s closer this past Spring. Projected as a starter, Curtiss throws a mid 90’s fastball with a great deal of effort and average secondary offerings.
2. RHP Williams Ramirez – cSR/TPS .071
  • 22 years old – (DSL Twins)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • UTR Mention (June 13th)
  • One the better Twin arms in only his second year in the Dominican League. Ramirez turned 22 toward the end of the season so his development clock should speed up next year in the GCL He had 81 strikeouts over 74.2 innings and went 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA.
3. LHP Stephen Gonsalves – SP/TPS .078
  • 20 years old (Appy League Elizabethon / LoA Cedar Rapids)
  • 4th round – 2013
  • Ranked
    • #13 by Baseball America
    • #14 by MLBPipeline
    • “Prospect on the Rise” by Baseball Prospectus
  • Gonsalves, a high school arm, was another pitcher which could have gone higher in the draft but may find that falling to the Twins could be the best thing to happen to him. The Twins were very happy to pick-up a kid that some are comparing to Madison Bumgarner. He has excellent command and control for his mid 90’s fastball and a change-up that could surpass his curveball as a plus pitch. He made 8 starts (36.2 IP) at Cedar Rapids and finished with 3.19 ERA and 4:1 K:BB ratio.
4. LHP Lewis Thorpe – SP/TPS .078
  • 18 years old – (LoA Cedar Rapids)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked
    • #7 by Baseball America
    • #8 by Baseball Prospectus
    • #9 MLBPipeline
  • Thorpe was just nudged out by Gonsavles for the #3 spot by the narrowest of margins according to my postseason secondary ranking score, “Aggregate Performance Score” (APS). But next year, the left-hander could be on top of my list as he improves a plus mid-90’s fastball with tons of movement and near plus change-up.
5. RHP Onesimo Hernandez – cSR/TPS .079
  • 22 years old – (GCL Twins)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • Had a successful debut in his first season in the United States. Hernandez needs to step on the gas in his development as he turns 23 before the start of the 2015 season.
 
 
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP Cameron Booser – RP/TPS .036
  • 22 years old – Appy League Elizabethon
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • Booser could be a  steal when the Twins swooped him up for a mere $10,000 as a free agent. A series of injuries extending from high school through college kept the lefty off the draft boards. Another injury limited the leftie to only 3.2 innings in 2013, but it appears to have things back on track this season. His fastball was in the mid-90’s late in the season and there is reports that it has hit 99 mph in instructional leagues.
2. RHP C.K Irby – RP/TPS .052
  • 22 years old – Appy League Elizabethon
  • 10th round – 2013
  • Kirby flashes a plus fastball and above average curveball in repeating at Elizabethton in 2014
3. RHP Brandon Peterson – (12) cSR/TPS .053
  • 22 years old – (LoA Cedar Rapids / HiA Fort Myers)
  • 13th round – 2013
  • UTR Mention (June 2nd)
  • A closer during his collegiate career at Wichita State, Peterson bring a lot to the mound as a relief pitcher with a fastball/slider combo that can run in the upper 90’s. He stakeout 84 batters over 57.2 innings in 2014 and posted a 1.56 ERA. He was named the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year for 2014. The Twins should have a solid set-up guy in Peterson.
 
 2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
SP Brett Lee – Regressed in 2014 after posting a decent 2013 by finishing in the top 10 in walk rate in the Midwest League with Cedar Rapids. At 6’4″ 200 lbs, the left-hander throws a solid fastball and was tagged for a possible breakout after finishing the 2013 season strong. Lee threw 106.1 innings in 2014 without surrendering a home run but didn’t miss too many bats, only  striking out 54 hitters. Grade C
 
RP Brandon Bixler – The left-hander made the list above as a Top relief pitcher. His control issues caused a recession in his TPS rate from 2013, but over his 2 seasons as a pro, there is some promise. Bixler has averaged a K/9 rate of 10.0, keeps the ball in the park with only 2 home runs in 96 innings. Grade B-

One Response to 2014 Minnesota Twins

  1. Pingback: Minnesota Twins – 2015 UTR Organizational All-Stars – Top 5 Hitters | Under The Radar Minors

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