Winter is finally coming to a close and Spring Training is almost here! While we wait for the first games to start, let’s take a look at which prospects we will see with the Twins in Fort Myers.
- Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (My rank: No. 1)
- Nick Gordon, SS (My rank: No. 2)
- Jake Reed, RHP (My rank: No. 21)
- Aaron Slegers, RHP (My rank: No. 30)
- Niko Goodrum, OF (My rank: No. 45)
Now, by nature of the NRI, none of these five are likely to grab a spot on the Twins roster straight out of Spring Training. That being said, I think Reed, Gordon and Gonsalves will all make their big league debuts at some point this season. Reed I think has the quickest path to Minneapolis, but barring injuries, he’s not going to provide much fantasy value right off the bat. At best as a middle reliever he should provide a low-ish ERA and a decent K/9.
The same goes for Gonsalves, who unless the Twins suffer catastrophic injuries to their currently projected rotation of Ervin Santana-Hector Santiago-Kyle Gibson-Jose Berrios-Tyler Duffey/Phil Hughes will likely be limited to just a few spot starts throughout the season.
Gordon is my pick of the five NRIs to have the biggest fantasy impact this season, but I wouldn’t be rushing to get him if you are looking for someone who will be a cornerstone to a playoff push. Although he has the better offensive potential, I think we are going to likely see Engelb Vielma make the trip to the majors before Gordon. The earliest I see Gordon joining the Twins would be around late June/early July, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see him until after Minnesota trades away Brian Dozier. The Twins aren’t competing in 2017, so there’s no rush on promoting their top prospects.
Prospects on the 40-Man Roster
- Fernando Romero, RHP (No. 4)
- Felix Jorge, RHP (No. 7)
- Daniel Palka, OF (No. 8)
- Adalberto Mejia, LHP (No. 10)
- J.T. Chargois, RHP (No. 11)
- Mitch Garver, C (No. 16)
- Engelb Vielma, INF (No. 19)
- Mason Melotakis, LHP (No. 22)
- Pat Light, RHP (No. 24)
- Zach Granite, OF (No. 31)
- Randy Rosario, LHP (No. 34)
Three of these guys — Mejia, Chargois and Light — already made their MLB debuts last season, and likely will remain with the team coming out of Spring Training. Of those three, Chargois is the one I’d want to pick up for this year. This is a guy who could end up the Twins closer at some point this year, and this article on Fangraphs by Brandon Warne does a great job of describing why Chargois is likely the guy to own in the Twins pen this season.
Looking at the remaining pitchers listed here, there isn’t a lot to be excited for right now looking to this year. Like I mentioned earlier when discussing Gonsalves, the Twins pitching rotation — for better or worse — is pretty much set at this point, and Romero, Jorge and Rosario are all playing as starters right now. There is a small chance the Twins could pull a page out of the White Sox book and throw one of these guys into the pen in a setup/closer role before transitioning to the rotation a la Chris Sale, but I don’t see any reason for the Twins to do that at this point.
Mitch Garver seemed like a guy who could be fighting for the starting catcher role in Spring Training…but then the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year deal. Garver could soon find himself overtaking John Ryan Murphy for the second-string job, but his fantasy potential for this year is looking limited at the moment.
If an outfield spot opens up, I like Palka’s chances over Granite for taking that spot. Granite hits for a better average and has more steal potential than Palka, but I’ll take Palka’s power potential every day of the week — especially because he has some stolen base potential too (24 steals in 2015).
I mentioned Vielma earlier when talking about Nick Gordon, and if he does make it to the big leagues this year, it’s going to be because of his glove, not his bat. Over five seasons in the minors, Vielma has hit .264/.327/.309 while averaging 15-16 stolen bases — good enough along with his defense to someday get him to the big leagues, but not likely someone to count on for fantasy purposes this year. He turns 23 in June, so while his offensive potential right now isn’t very high, he could still put things together down the road.
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.