Minnesota Twins 2020 Top 50 Prospects

Trevor Larnach. Lakeland Flying Tigers vs. Fort Myers Miracle. Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Lakeland, FL. May 31, 2019. Photo credit Tom Hagerty/MiLB.com on Flickr (lakelandlocal)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. When I look at Twins prospects, and try just to project without any fear, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Here we go, it’s my time to dip into the player pool that is the Minnesota Twins farm system. It’s been an ongoing project of the organization to build from below with stability and promise, and this year’s crop does just that. I mentioned last year at this time that patience is key. After a very successful year in the majors, Twins fans may have that patience tested, or even pay off through trades, as they look to win a division title and advance in the playoffs. That being said, this list could look a lot different midseason, as they push towards that postseason berth. If I had to guess, I would say that at least one Top 10 Prospect on this list will be traded away to help upgrade the pitching staff at the major league level. With the recent signing of 3B Josh Donaldson, there is an influx of players at positions that are already occupied by steady major league talent, which could make it difficult to force a call up. However, nobody saw the quick rise of Luis Arraez in 2019, so anything is possible. Nevertheless, in all levels of their minor league system, the Twins are locked and loaded with raw and polished talent, making this one of the best systems in baseball. Let’s get right to it.


Here is a fresh new list of all of the Twins’ affiliates:
• AAA: Rochester Red Wings (International League)
• AA: Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Southern League)
• A+: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Florida State League)
• A-: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Midwest League)
• Rookie: Elizabethton Twins (Appalachian League)
• Rookie: GCL Twins (Gulf Coast League)

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster

For each player on the list, I put their highest level achieved in 2019. Some of the following players have had minimal major league experience, but are still considered minor league eligible players due to not enough qualified at bats or innings pitched.

*Editor note – with the recent trade of Brusdar Graterol to Los Angeles, he’s been removed from this list (formerly #3, Tier 2) and moved to the Dodgers Top 50 list. Jovani Moran has been added to these Twins rankings at #50. (2.10.20)


Tier 1

1. Royce Lewis, SS
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
Despite an overall porous 2019 season, where he slashed a combined .236/.290/.371 stat line over A+ and AA, Lewis still has the potential to be elite. He is a future 5 tool player with tremendous athleticism and work habits. I still believe in the talent that’s in there and feel that 2020 will be his year to shine. His performance in the Arizona Fall League was the best of any prospect in the tournament, leading all Lewis enthusiasts dreaming and drooling over what could be in 2020.

2. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
Unfortunately for him (and us as fans), Kirilloff had a down year as well, though his was due to a slow start and a couple of wrist injuries that put him on the shelf. Give him a full off season to heal and get ready, I am drooling at the mouth (well, not literally) thinking of what could be for Kirilloff. Power, discipline, aggressive are all words to describe his approach. I still think he is going to be their 1B of the future, and will therefore need time to adjust. It remains to be seen if there will be a place for him on the major league roster in 2020, or if consistent playing time in the minors is the way to go for him. Another option would be for him to be the top prospect moved to help acquire elite pitching for a playoff push.


Tier 2

3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
His breakout came in 2019, as he took on a hefty workload increase and continued to shine. Over both A and A+, he flourished with a 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 129 SO over 93.2 IP, which included a perfect game back in May for Fort Myers. The true test to see if these numbers are legitimate will be how he handles AA hitting. I’m guessing he will be given more innings to handle in 2020, and if all goes well, we could see him in my top 3 prospects heading into next season. Right now he’s got two pitches and is working on a third. I’m higher on him than others, but I do see him panning out like Graterol as a #2 starter.

4. Trevor Larnach, OF
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
Larnach was as steady as possible last season, jumping up from A+ to AA and continuing to hit for contact and batting over .300 for the season. While his overall home run numbers were down (13 in 2019 compared to 19 in 2018), what I did love were the number of doubles he hit, which to me, are an indication of future power. As he gets better accustomed to higher level hitting, I feel like he’ll be able to fully tap into his power, using his strong lower body to turn those doubles into home runs. He may be blocked by what the Twins already have in the outfield, but he could force his hand if he does get the chance this year. After all, Byron Buxton isn’t the healthiest player in the world.


Tier 3

5. Brent Rooker, OF
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA Rochester
It’s now or never for Rooker, as he’s been around since 2017 and is an old(er) old prospect at the age of 25. He’s got the tools with the bat as his 25 home runs last season displayed his power potential. However, he strikes out a lot, doesn’t have the footwork to play the field incredibly well and lacks speed. I could ultimately see him as a potential replacement for Nelson Cruz, if this is his final season in baseball. I’m not saying that he has the production potential of Cruz, but rather that he would benefit from not having to put on a baseball glove.

6. Keoni Cavaco, SS
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie Gulf Coast League
This projection is raw and purely based on the potential talent. I mean, isn’t that what we’re all here for? He seems like the “next Royce up”, in that he’s got an arm, he’s got some power and he’s got some speed. With a 20/20 floor, it’ll be necessary to ignore his 2019 struggles and look into what’s really there….a shortstop or corner infielder that should be able to pretty much do it all. I think he’ll be able to adjust, make more contact, feel comfortable and soar up major prospect lists.

7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
As part of the Eduardo Escobar deal with the Diamondbacks, Duran turned in a pretty positive and progressive 2019 campaign, making it up to AA by season’s end. Known for his velocity, he needs to reduce his walk rate. Other than that, he is projecting to be a nice mid rotation starter.

8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
He’s someone that could be up with the Minnesota Twins all season, and someone who has worked hard to overcome injuries from his past. Unfortunately, it’s those injuries that may have diminished his velocity somewhat, causing him to work on other pitches, like his curveball which seems to be getting better. Overall, he’s more of an end of the rotation type of pitcher with that being somewhat of his ceiling rather than his floor.

9. Matt Wallner, OF
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
A former pitcher now turned into outfielder, Wallner is just a big man with a big bat. He was one of the most powerful hitters projected out of the 2019 draft class and showed some pop for Elibathehton. If he can shake off his initial A Division struggles and limit his strikeouts, he has a chance for an eventual 30+ home run a year contribution in a few years.

10. Misael Urbina, OF
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: Rookie (Dominican Summer League)
A very intriguing prospect, Urbina was signed to a $2.5 million signing bonus in 2018. Only listed at 175 pounds in a 6’0” body, his power could be limited, but he is only 17 years old and has time to fill into his body. His power speed potential makes him worthy of someone to monitor and keep in the back of your mind for future reference.


Tier 4

11. Akil Baddoo, OF
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
This system is loaded with mid to lower rotation starters and outfielders, and Baddoo is yet another one on the list of guys with potential in a few years. The upcoming 2020 season will be a year of him having to prove his worth, since 2019 was a lost cause due to injury. He shows speed on the base paths, but hasn’t made consistent contact at all, as his batting average keeps dipping. I could see him being a Billy Hamilton-type player who is dangerous on the base paths….that’s if and when he actually does get on base. I have him here at #12, but he could be much closer to the bottom of this list with a disastrous 2020 season.

12. Wander Javier, SS
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
Speaking of boom or bust, we go to one of the most polarizing players within the entire system, and that is Wander Javier. He’s got all of the tools to succeed, but he hasn’t yet been able to bring them all together, even when he was healthy. His 2019, where he had 300 at bats, Javier posted a paltry .177/.278/.323 line, though he did hit 11 home runs. Last year at this time, he was the “unknown.” This year, he’s either “not that good” or “a year behind due to injuries.” Like Baddoo, this is a big year for a guy who wasn’t protected by the Twins on the 40-man roster.

13. Ryan Jeffers, C
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
The success of Mitch Garver certainly put a damper on any Jeffers call up for starting time, but that doesn’t mean Jeffers is any less of a catcher. His bat seems to be above average, and his defense, though not ready for the big leagues, did improve in 2019. He’s a few years away from being relevant, but, long term, the potential is there.

14. Matt Canterino RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
Canterino had a nice 2019 in A ball, striking 25 batters in 20 innings pitched and posting a WHIP well under 1. He’s always been a strikeout guy and can top the high 90’s with his fastball. He has one elite pitch, two very good pitches and a fourth rarely used pitch, that, when all put together, could result in him rising up my rankings (and yours) with more refinement. Whether or not he’s a starter or a reliever remains to be seen.

15. Gilberto Celestino, OF
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
If there’s one thing that’s holding him Celestino back from becoming a bigger name, it’s that he doesn’t display a ton of power. A .277/.349/.410 line doesn’t stand out as anything special, but, in 2019, he walked almost as much as he struck out, he stole 14 bases and had an above average exit velocity. He’s somewhat of an under the radar type of player who could surprise people in the near future.

16. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/OF
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
I wasn’t the biggest fan of his last year in my rankings, as I didn’t see much in the way of fantasy production, but rather that he was a poor man’s Nick Gordon. Instead, he went out in 2019 and hit for 8 more home runs than before, stole 5 more bases and raised his batting average 45 points, all while striking out less. It was a great sign in the right direction for a guy who could find his way up to the Twins later this year.

17. Nick Gordon, SS
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA Rochester
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once considered a highly touted prospect, he’s dropped in my rankings a lot since 2019 and probably more in others. The thing with him is that he hasn’t done much wrong in the minors, he just hasn’t gone above and beyond any expectations. He actually posted a decent stat line of .298/.347/.459 with 4 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Nothing wrong with that, and there is a place for batting average in fantasy baseball. I’m keeping him in my Top 20 for now, in that I hope the talent comes through for something more than this.

18. Bailey Ober, RHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
It’s an awkward marriage of size and velocity, as he stands at 6’9″ and 260 pounds, but throws his fastball in the mid 80’s . What else is unique is that he threw for 78.2 innings in 2019 over 3 systems and kept an ERA of only 0.69 and struck out 100 batters. Keep an eye on him this season. He reminds me a lot of “Dandy” Randy Dobnak as he rose up the Twins’ system. I had a tough time deciding on where and how to rank him. I originally had him in my 30’s, but moved him up considerably after some research. He’s someone that I would love to dig into a bit more later in the year and/or monitor once the season starts.

19. Jose Miranda, 3B
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
He struggled a bit in 2019, posting a .250/.300/.360 stat line, but he does make contact, he doesn’t strike out a lot, and has the defensive versatility to be a solid backup. I’m willing to give him a full year in AA to see if he can improve before I make any rash decisions on his future.

20. Cole Sands, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
A fifth round selection by the Twins in the 2018 draft, Sands has been plagued by injuries since then. If he could somehow stay healthy enough to work on his pitching, he could possibly move up the rankings. His 10.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 are highlighted with a fastball that registers in the 90’s. If he stays healthy, we could see him up with the Twins later this season.

21. Blayne Enlow, RHP
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
Nothing special here, but nothing bad either, Enlow combines a mid 90’s fastball with a curveball in the 80’s that misses the most bats. He has the basics to be a bottom of the rotation type of player, but with some work and development on more pitches, could become a lower mid-rotation pitcher as well.

22. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF
Age: 16
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Yes, I have a 16 year old on my list. 1) he signed for $2.5 million off the international market 2) he has power and speed potential 3) he will fill into his body with muscle 4) he costs next to nothing in all dynasty formats. That being said, only buy now if you are in the deepest of dynasty leagues where spots are readily available and can be used for an unlimited amount of time.

23. Devin Smeltzer, LHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Given that he is just under the minimum for innings pitched to lose minor league eligibility, and that he was pretty decent in his showings with the Twins last year, look for Smeltzer to graduate to major league status soon, given that the Twins may need some spot starters early in the season. He did well when he pitched for Minnesota in 2019.

24. Spencer Steer, 2B
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
After a great final year at Oregon, Steer came into the Twins’ organization and did what he does best, get on base. His .280/.385/.424 stat line shows promise in that he walked more than he struck out and showed some 10/10 potential. While those aren’t the greatest of totals, it still warrants attention in case improvements are made.

25. Griffin Jax, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA Rochester
One of the oldest prospects on the list, Jax has seen his career take off after having served in the Air Force a few years back. With a respectable 2.90 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 94 strikeouts in 127.1 innings over 2 levels last year, Jax pitches to contact using his technique rather than power to get batters out. Give him another year to develop and he’s at worst a spot starter for 2020. I’m very intrigued by his numbers and look forward to him helping the Twins in Minnesota in 2020.

26. Seth Gray, 3B
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
Someone to monitor from a distance, he is an athletic, powerful bat who needs to strike out less and make more contact. If he improves on these things, he’s someone to keep a watchful eye upon as he will undoubtedly move up the rankings.

27. Yunior Severino, 2B
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
Unfortunately here, Severino was hurt for a lot of 2019 with a thumb injury, derailing any progress he was to make. He’s got a big swing making him someone to monitor, given his middle infield eligibility, but he has zero speed, so counting on his home runs may limit his potential.

28. Luis Rijo, RHP
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
Great command with a soft approach to hitters, he throws low 90’s on his fastball, but is armed with a tough-to-hit curveball. We’ve probably seen what he can do by now physically, because he’s not going to grow much more, so refinement of what he does is key. Practice makes perfect, he could be a SP5 for the Twins down the line.

29. Ben Rortvedt, C
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
Where Jeffers succeeds, ’tis where Rortvedt fails, and vice versa. Hitting at a .238/.334/.379 clip in the minors won’t get you noticed for your bat, however Rortvedt is a much better defender and framer than Jeffers. If he could somehow get his bat going in 2020, he could possibly leapfrog Jeffers in the minor league catcher rankings, but it’s not the likeliest of outcomes given that he’s never hit for power or contact.

30. Edwar Colina, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AAA Rochester
He throws with pure brute and strength, but doesn’t get enough movement on his pitches to compliment the velocity, thus making it less than elite. He looked incredibly nervous upon his promotion to AAA Rochester last year, and had disastrous outings. There’s a lot to like about Colina, as he was moved to the bullpen in 2019, and being a spot start or a low leverage arm out of the bullpen is definitely in question for this season.

31. Josh Winder, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
Josh had a nice debut for A Cedar Rapids this year, throwing 125.2 innings, showing that he can throw for a full starter’s worth. During that time, he dominated the competition, posting a 2.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 118 strikeouts, while only walking 30 batters. The only thing that concerns me is his age, so it’s unclear how much better he could get. He has back of the rotation (at best) written all over him in my opinion.

32. Will Holland, SS
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie Elizabethton
Coming into 2019, after a very successful run in NCAA, Holland struggled to get on base in Rookie Ball, though the power remained. If he could improve on his contact skills and his infield defense, there’s a potential for 20/15 from the middle infield that could help you late in drafts, but for now, he remains a lottery ticket.

33. LaMonte Wade Jr., OF
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: MLB
I’ve never been a big fan of Wade, as he doesn’t well for average, doesn’t have power and is already in his 26th year. What he does do well is run, which is why he was called up to the Twins last year for speed off the bench. Steals are at a premium, and for a guy that walks a lot, that could possibly help in the deepest of “only” leagues.

34. Jorge Alcala, RHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Transitioning from starter to relief, Alcala saw his fastball reach new heights last year, due to an innings restriction. He gets batters out, he strikes them out, and he can over power them. I could see him getting fantasy players some Holds.

35. Yennier Cano, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
Admittedly, Cano is someone I knew little about when writing this piece, but looking at his profile intrigued me. He throws for power, touching in the high 90’s with his fastball, but is considered a ground ball pitcher for his secondary pitch and his inability to strikeout. It’s a unique mixture of power and movement. I’m going to keep an eye on him.

36. Cody Stashak, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Cody made some appearances for the Twins in 2019 after 2 solid bullpen seasons in the minors. Nothing new, nothing flashy, just someone who throws fastballs and breaking balls. I project him for effective middle relief for 2020 and beyond, and maybe the odd spot start.

37. Dakota Chalmers, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
A do or die season for him, Chalmers was added to the 40-man roster in the off season. Coming back from injuries is never an easy thing, but he’s someone to monitor and perhaps take a low-risk gamble on to bounce back in 2020. He should make it to the Twins at some point with, at least, a minor role.

38. Gabriel Maciel, OF
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
Not here just because we share the same birthday, but also because he knows the strike zone well, is able to get on base and has quick hands. He also has some nice speed in the outfield, which could eventually lead him into a backup major league role. With 22 stolen bases in 2019, speed is the name of his game. Highly graded for his speed, he did get caught 9 times in all of his attempts, so learning when and how to effectively steal could raise his dynasty price. Not known for his power, he did hit .283 last year, and if he can continue to make more consistent contact, he has some upside here.

39. Chris Vallimont, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
As part of the Sergio Romo deal, Vallimont was seemingly thrown in from Miami to help balance the sides, but he may end up tipping the scales. He had a very solid 2019 finishing with a 3.60 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 2 levels (and 3 teams) while striking out 150 batters over 127.2 innings pitched. A 29% strike rate and being stretched out so soon is a good sign for him to be a back end starter when he gets the eventual call to the Twins.


Tier 5

40. Edouard Julien, OF
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Edouard had a successful 2018 playing NCAA ball, but had Tommy John late in 2019. He’ll try and come back successfully post injury and build on a solid NCAA career.

41. Willie Joe Garry Jr., OF
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie Elizabethton
Underwhelming numbers that don’t match the skill set, Garry Jr. has the potential to move up the rankings due to his athleticism. He has a lot of work to do in order to become more fantasy relevant.

42. Caleb Hamilton, C
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA Rochester
Purely a defensive player, Caleb has struggled to make an impact with the bat at any level of ball. He can also play 3B, but isn’t likely to see much of any playing time in the majors until his bat takes the next progressive step.

43. Charles Mack, C
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Rookie Elizabethton
Former infielder who transferred over to catcher, Mack has some power and could catch on with the big league club IF he learns the position behind the plate.

44. Charlie Barnes, RHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA Rochester
Charlie struggled to start 2019 before finding success in AA, by limiting the hits and walks surrendered. He’s got some mid-relief potential due to his moving fastball and a changeup that deceives. He needs to lower the amount of base runners while in AAA in order to be in consideration to get the call.

45. Jeferson Morales, C
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Rookie Gulf Coast League
Another physically raw talented player who has the physical tools for success; he needs to put it all together to have any shot of making it. He’s got a good arm and some pop.

46. Landon Leach, RHP
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Rookie Gulf Coast League
A third round pick in 2017, Leach missed all of 2019 with shoulder issues. When healthy, he was able to throw his fastball at 95, while working on improving a breaking ball and changeup.

47. Tyler Wells, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: N/A
He had a solid 2018 campaign before having Tommy John surgery, missing all of 2019. If he can fully recover, all while improving his underwhelming fastball, he could move up. However, for a 25 year old minor leaguer in AA, that may be asking a lot at this time.

48. Trey Cabbage, 3B/1B/OF
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+ Fort Myers
A guy who can play multiple positions is nice, especially when he shows some power. Trey had a nice beginning of 2019, prompting a call up to Fort Myers, where he struggled. He did finish the year with 15 HR and 53 RBI, but struck out almost 3X as many times as he walked.

49. Jovani Moran, LHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Pensacola
A huge boom or bust prospect, Moran has very impressive numbers when healthy. His 13.1 K/9 jumps off the page right away, showing he can overpower when necessary. Unfortunately for him, health limited him to only 37.2 innings pitched in 2019. If he can stay healthy, and if he can limit the amount of free passes, he’s someone to keep an eye on possibly switching tiers.

50. Cody Laweryson, LHP *added 2.11.20
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Cedar Rapids
With mid to low velocity, Lawyerson uses a nice breaking ball to get outs. His 12.3 K/9 over 46.0 professional innings shows some promise, but most of that was in Rookie ball. He needs to do the same in A Ball in 2020 to get any consideration outside of this tier.




About Dave Funnell 12 Articles
Dave Funnell covers the Minnesota Twins minor leagues for Prospects1500. Located just south of Toronto in the city of Hamilton, he's an hour away from Buffalo (and the Bisons). He's been a fan of baseball his entire life and doesn't have a favorite team, which hopefully gives way for objectivty in analysis. Dave is in multiple keeper fantasy baseball leagues and is active on Twitter at @sportz_nutt51.

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