Down on the Farm – Twins Prospect Update
With another loss to the Blue Jays last night, the Minnesota Twins dismal season record was brought to 11-32, good for worst in all of baseball and a game worse than the obviously-tanking Atlanta Braves.
The Twins stand 14.5 games behind the first place Chicago White Sox and 10 games behind the fourth place Detroit Tigers. Essentially, the Twins are done this season and the only hope Twins fan can have is A) Terry Ryan blows it up in July, and/or B) prospects come up to perform and give fans hope for the future.
According to MLB.com's 'MLB Pipeline,' the Twins had the fifth best farm system in baseball at the start of the season. Let's take a look and check up on some of their top prospects.
Byron Buxton - CF, Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Although technically not a prospect, this list of future players has to start with Byron Buxton. He was the Twins' top prospect for two years and the top prospect in baseball until this season. After struggling in the majors with a slash line of .156/.208/.289/.497 and 24 strikeouts in only 45 at-bats, Buxton has turned it around batting lead-off in the minors as his slash line has been .315/.370/.500/.870 to go along with 10 extra base hits and 4 steals. If he continues to produce like this in AAA, Ryan will have no choice but to call him back up and hope that he will be in the majors for good, as long as he stays healthy. Something to remember on Buxton is that he is only 23 and, health permitting, still has the potential to have a great, high-impact, career after playing less than half a season in the big leagues.
Jose Berrios - RHP, Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Berrios, the #15 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, had a cup of tea in the majors earlier this season, but after four starts that lasted a combined 15 innings and a 10.20 ERA, Berrios got sent back to Rochester. However, in his one start he has shown why he got called up at the end of April in the first place, going five innings giving up one run with eight strikeouts but five walks. In order to be successful in the big leagues, the high school shortstop from Puerto Rico needs to improve on the control of his mid-90s fastball, curveball and change-up. Expect to see him again later this season.
Max Kepler - OF, Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Kepler also got a taste of the majors this season, but his time was very short as he was up for only nine games. Since returning to triple-A Kepler has played fairly well, hitting .275/.361/.451/.812 with a whopping 6 triples. Kepler has turned it on as of late though, going 3-5 in back-to-back games last week, one of which included a double, triple, and a home run with three RBI's.
Tyler Jay - LHP, Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
Jay was the #6 overall pick by the Twins in the 2015 draft after a stellar junior season at the University of Illinois. With a good fastball and top-notch slider Jay has succeeded so far in Fort Myers going 3-3 with a 2.79 ERA, 36 strikeouts, and a 1.16 WHIP. In his last start, Jay went 6.0 innings giving up one run with six strikeouts in 4-0 loss to Dunedin. If starting doesn't work out, Jay could be moved to the bullpen. Expect to see Jay in two years as the key for his advancement will be increased innings and improvement in his curveball and change-up.
Nick Gordon - SS, Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
Gordon is another early pick of the Twins, as he was drafted fifth overall in the 2014 draft. The younger brother of suspended Miami Marlins star Dee Gordon, and the son of longtime reliever Flash Gordon, Nick has a high floor to go along with a moderately-high ceiling. The left-handed hitting Gordon has done well so far this season in Fort Myers with a slash line of .312/.349/.442/.791 and has stolen 6 bases. Gordon struggled last series against Tampa going 1-11, but was hitting .331 prior to that series. Expect Gordon to progress with Jay if he keeps hitting like he is and be up to Minneapolis in 2018.
Stephen Gonslaves - LHP, Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
Drafted out of high school in 2013, Gonslaves is the surprising left-hander that is outperforming his left-handed counterpart Tyler Jay in the Fort Myers rotation. After a breakout 2015 campaign where he was third in the Minors in ERA, Gonslaves has continued pitching extremely well as his plus-fastball and changeup, with projectable power curve and slider, has led him to a 5-1 record in 8 starts, a 1.89 ERA, and 43 strikeouts to go along with a 0.90 WHIP. Gonslaves had a rough start Friday giving up four runs in five innings, but prior to that outing, he had only given up three runs in 36.2 innings across six starts while striking out 32. Gonslaves could be in the rotation next season but with the right progression could get a taste come September as the Twins will be out of the playoff race.
Adam Walker - OF/DH, Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Walker has some of the rawest pure power in all of minor league baseball but like some of the raw power hitters before him that comes with a low average and a lot of strikeouts. At 6' 5, 225, Walker has the perfect body for a major league power hitter and so far this season he has 9 home runs and 4 doubles in 36 games. However that goes with a .234 average and 63 strikeouts. In order to live up to his power potential, Walker will have to cut down on the strikeouts and swings out of the zone so that he can see pitches that he can hit out of the park.