Minnesota Twins 2021 Top 50 Prospects

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

The Minnesota Twins and their farm system have both been highly regarded for quite some time due to their depth and their ability to build a solid foundation within. Over the years, they turned their inability to spend on marquee free agents into gold by creating their own strong core of players set to break out, while establishing a routine of development to move onto the next. Essentially, they spent money on themselves so that they wouldn’t necessarily have to spend an excess of money on others. It’s something that all smaller markets should consider because, if it’s done right, it makes those free agents actually want to come and play for the smaller market team.

There was some reshuffling in 2020 as well, since Covid-19 hit the world hard, and baseball wasn’t an exception to the pandemic. While the Twins may have changed things geographically, their ideals have remained the same. Here is a list of their new minor league affiliates, as 2021 and beyond present some exciting possibilities for the Twins.


Minnesota Twins affiliates:
AAA: St. Paul Saints
AA: Wichita Wind Surge
A+: Cedar Rapids Kernels
A: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
Rookie: GCL Twins
Foreign Rookie: DSL Twins

Note: International Players Signing Day was held on January 15, 2021 and the Twins made a nice run at some exciting new prospects. Due to the short time between then and the release of this Top 50 List, a further, in depth review of these players will be withheld until a later date. Until then, here is a complete list of the players that were signed by the Twins:

Danny De Andrade, SS, Venezuela
Freddy La Flor, SS, Dominican Republic
Reynaldo Madrigal, SS, Dominican Republic
Rafael Cruz, SS, Dominican Republic
Luis Rodriguez, SS, Dominican Republic
Andres Centeno, OF, Venezuela
Santo Martinez, SS, Dominican Republic
Jose Olivares, RHP, Venezuela
Deiner Contreras, C, Venezuela
Oscar Paredes, RHP, Venezuela
Ismael Perez, OF, Dominican Republic
Giovanny Rivero, C, Venezuela
Denyerbe Gervis, SS, Venezuela

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

Also note that with no Minor League Baseball in 2020, there isn’t that much to go on for 2021. Players that needed to show growth or get the practice they required were instead placed in a summer camp of sorts and facing players within their own organization. And while the idea in and of itself is good for the scouts within the organization, for anyone outside scouting or learning it leaves an enormous cloud of doubt hanging over head because there was no official scoring or game data recorded. On top of that, there were minimal video and audio accounts of any ongoings, so everything that happened could have been rumors and whispers. This was an incredibly difficult piece to complete, but it was also something that gave me a better understanding of what transpired in 2020. Finally, the ability and timeframe of being able to contribute to the big league club is something that I use in order to assess. I hope you enjoy.

Here, also, is the Prospects1500 tiering system explained.

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

Tier 1:

1. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB
There’s not much else that I can say about Kirilloff that wasn’t already said in my Kirilloff Prospect Profile. You can give it a read if you already haven’t, but just know that he’s the real deal, he’s on his way to the Twins and we should all be happy and rejoice in the fact that it will soon be “Kirilloff Time”. This will likely be the final time that I ever get to write about him on this site as he will surely graduate to the majors at some point this upcoming season.

2. Royce Lewis, SS
Age: 21
Highest Level: AA
My former number one overall prospect gets dropped down to number two, simply because he has work to do before being ready for the Twins. He did do well during last season’s “Summer Camp,” but still needs to prove that 2019’s slump when he was promoted was a fluke and that he’s learned a thing or two. There are rumblings of him not being fit to be a shortstop long term, and even other rumors of him moving to the outfield. He also played third base in the Arizona Fall League awhile back, so there’s that too, as their minor league system is very weak at that corner infield spot. Will that happen? Only time will tell, but these are the things to keep in your head when building our own fantasy rosters for the future.

Tier 2:

3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: A+
The organization’s best pitcher is Jordan Balazovic, and he, quite frankly, could be the next big thing. Despite limited time at the Twins’ instructional camp over the summer, he still impressed the team and its management. Due to the hard work the put in on his onward at the camp, he apparently added some velocity to his pitches, showing that he made the most out of his situation. Look for him to continue to develop his already above average fastball and curveball en route to debuting for the Twins no sooner than the 2022 season.

4. Trevor Larnach, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
Quite a solid performer, Larnach sometimes gets forgotten among some of the best, yet he’s still got a ton of upside. He apparently thrived during the Summer Camp and has received a ton of praise from Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli, who loves the talent, mindset and strength of both he (Larnach) and Kirilloff. Larnach has the potential to be a starter for the Twins. It was promising in 2019 when he got promoted to AA and still batted over .300 in just under 200 plate appearances. Look for him to get called up to the big leagues by 2022, though a late 2021 tryout isn’t completely out of the question.

5. Jhoan Duran, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
The second pitcher on this list, Duran possesses a unique pitch that most hitters in the minors haven’t seen before. In case you missed it back in the summer, it’s essentially a fastball that has a break to it, fooling hitters into thinking it’s a plain old fastball. He’s the next big pitcher to be called up by the Twins, as I think he’ll be ready at some point in 2021. While my #3 Balazovic has the potential to be better (SP2 at his peak), Duran has the potential to help the big league club more currently and could be a mainstay in the Twins’ rotation if he doesn’t get traded for a proven starter before a debut.

Tier 3:

6. Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH
Age: 21
Highest Level: College
Taken in the first round and 27th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, Sabato flashes above average power and bat speed that should translate well in the majors due to his patience at the plate (61:72 BB:SO rate in two seasons with North Carolina). I’ve read some comparisons to Pete Alonso with regards to his strength, approach and output, but there’s still a big story to tell as he has yet to play in a professional game. That said, he’s one to keep an eye on in 2021 while he tries to enhance his defensive alignments and glove work to prepare for the majors. He’s a potential future DH or Miguel Sano understudy, but I wouldn’t expect to see Sabato until at least late 2022.

7. Keoni Cavaco, SS
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie
Consider Cavaco a long term investment with little or no reason to rush on cashing it in. Though he struggled mightily in his first full season, he was still able to spread the ball all over the field. He has yet to grow into his body, so the power potential is there to go alongside the speed that was there to begin with. He’s also got third base in his background too, which makes him even more intriguing a prospect. He came into the fall instructional camp in great shape and worked on his swing there, so it wasn’t a completely lost year for him. Just remember him going forward as there is massive upside.

8. Ryan Jeffers, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB
You could make the argument that no other prospect within the Twins’ system, over the past two years, has made as much steady progress as Jeffers. He has worked on his defensive game and arm strength, while learning how to call a game too. Last season, he replaced Mitch Garver for the Twins, and looks poised to become a viable member of the Twins going forward. While there are some holes in his game (he strikes out a decent amount), he’s not afraid to take a pitch and makes good contact. He struggled against breaking balls last year (.176 against them), and wound up chasing a lot of them down the stretch. If he can recognize those pitches a bit better, he’ll have a chance to be the primary catcher. If last season wasn’t an anomaly for Garver and he does struggle, look for Jeffers to take over.

9. Matt Wallner, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: A
Born and raised within the state of Minnesota, this homegrown talent hit 58 home runs over three years for Southern Mississippi before being drafted 39th overall in 2019. While he hits the ball hard, he struggles to make consistent contact, evidenced by his 26.4% strikeout rate over two levels in 2019. He throws hard and looks to be the right fielder of the future, if he can generate more consistent contact.

10. Gilberto Celestino, OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: AA (with the Astros farm system, but A+ with the Twins)
Here’s a player that I’m higher on than most, but it’s because of the well-roundedness potential that he brings to the table. After scuffling in 2019, he changed his mechanics, swing and body motions to bring his average up over 100 points by the time he was promoted to A+ ball in August. He is great with the glove, he has some power in his bat and he has the ability to run for speed too. I’m not calling him the total package, but he’s got the chance to be a 20/20 player here. A lot needs to go right for him, but if he can continue rolling with the adjustments he made in 2019, there’s a lot to be excited about here.

11. Brent Rooker, OF/DH
Age: 26
Highest Level: MLB
Here’s another player who will undoubtedly graduate from these lists in into the majors this season. He’s always had the power in his bat, as he likes to pull the ball, and swatted 14 home runs in his final season of AAA over 278 plate appearances. With Nelson Cruz potentially gone from the Twins, there’s an opportunity to be an everyday DH here, but he’ll need to lower his strikeout rate in order to elevate and level up in his output. For now, he’s a bat with potential with a bit more refining due to experience and patience in the majors.

12. Jorge Alcala, RP
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB
Playing for the Twins last season, Alcala impressed with his high 90’s fastball and his changeup that moved a lot. He looks to be like someone that can and will be trusted moving forward for the big league club, and time will tell if he’s made enough adjustments and refinements to overcome his low minor league K% – BB% from 2018 and all years previous to that. Indications are that he will start the year with Minnesota, all but guaranteeing that he will graduate from this list (only 25.2 career MLB IP).

13. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB
If you had asked me a year ago, there would have been no way that I would predict Blankenhorn to get the call up and a hit before Kirilloff and Larnach, but here we are, and 2020 never fails to disappoint. That being said, there’s plenty of reason to like him, one of which is the power and speed combo that he’s produced over his minor league career. Even more is that he got in some reps at third base during the Summer Camp scrimmages in 2020. With that spot being so thin, it’s another option for a call up.

14. Misael Urbina, OF
Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie
He’s someone that really could have used a 2020 season to continue his progress, but he still has the tools to put everything together. Quickness, patience, bat speed, contact skills. He should benefit from some sort of semblance in 2021 with organizational development. I’ll keep him at a tepid place on this list due to the quick progress the others in front of him have made, but I don’t blame you for putting Urbina much higher on your own lists.

Tier 4:

15. Matt Canterino, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: A
Underrated doesn’t begin to describe Canterino, as he possesses a unique curveball that breaks incredibly late, leaving batters puzzled. I feel like he’s destined to be a bullpen arm for a couple of reasons: 1) his odd delivery, which includes a pump motion that exudes a ton of energy and not great for long term stability, and 2) the Twins thought that he had pitched long enough this year, despite not actually pitching in a game.

16. Blayne Enlow, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: A+
Here’s another under the radar pitcher within the Twins’ system that gets overlooked by some, but really shouldn’t be. His fastball and curveball rate pretty high (Jim Callis called it the best curve within Enlow’s field of drafted players), and his slider and changeup are an improving work in progress. He and Balazovic were the asking price by the Rangers in the Lance Lynn to the White Sox deal, so there’s that added value in him as well.

17. Cole Sands, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
The numbers on Sands are eye opening, as he strikes out a lot of batters and doesn’t walk a ton. He throws his fastball in the high 90’s with a lot of movement, and he isn’t afraid to go after batters and blow it by them. His change up and sinker are at the tail end of being a work in progress, so 2021 is more of a putting everything he’s learned together and see if it works. He’s got some upside here with a decent floor.

18. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF
Age: 17
Highest Level: Rookie
Much like Urbina, Rodriguez is a long term investment, but the odds of him panning out as expected are a little less clear. He’s got the overall projected tools to compete and be successful, but there are a ton of variables that need to happen, such as his body filling out, his game translating onto the field and whether or not his debut is something that lives up to the hype. I think of Rodriguez a lot like Urbina, in that a few years from now the Twins could have some more stud outfielders waiting their turn. The only difference right now is that Urbina has a year of professional baseball under his belt.

19. Alerick Soularie, OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: Rookie
Great patience at the plate, Soularie makes terrific contact and is able to get himself on base. He’s a project in the making, because while he’s pretty good at a lot of things, he doesn’t excel in many categories. He doesn’t yet project to be powerful, speedy or even talented enough for the outfield. He played second base at Tennessee and may be a long term solution for the Twins up the middle.

20. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB
If there is one thing lacking on the pitching front within the Twins’ organization, it’s that they don’t have many good left handed pitchers. Thorpe comes in after struggling with the Twins in 2020 (if you like the color blue, go check out his baseball savant page), but he still has the potential to be better than his 2020 output. He had personal issues to deal with and was used out of the bullpen, thus not allowing him to get his velocity back to where it belonged. I’ll give him another shot in 2021 to prove that he’s the real deal.

21. Edwar Colina, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB
He throws as hard as anyone within the Twins’ farm system, but lacks the control needed to refine that velocity into something special. He did suffer from a Covid-19 setback in 2020, but there are a lot of reasons to like him going forward. Look for him to start the upcoming season in the minors to work on keeping the ball in the strike zone.

22. Nick Gordon, 2B/SS
Age: 25
Highest Level: AAA
Forever a minor league journeyman, the once heralded prospect is still hanging around with the club, but expectations have been dropped from future star to potential role player. He still does a lot of things well, but isn’t very exceptional at much. That’s okay though, because he can walk, make good contact and run the base paths. Think of him like a speedier version of Luis Arraez with a bit more speed, but a bit less with the bat.

23. Wander Javier, SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: A
Here’s the tale of another prospect who had all the potential for massive success, but injuries and time off will have hurt any progression. He ended up hitting .179 in 2019, but still has some power left in his bat. However, the Twins left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and he went unclaimed. The shine is wearing off this highly touted prospect, and Javier has an important upcoming year to prove he’s able to be the player the Twins thought he could be.

24. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B/SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: AA
One of the only true third baseman in the Twins’ farm system, Miranda has always showed good contact skills at the plate and an ability to put the ball in play. Never a power bat, he shows good plate discipline and waits for his pitch to hit. If he can zone in on where exactly he likes his pitches most, he might profile better with some added pop, making him a more viable and trustworthy hot corner replacement in a year or two. However, with only 36 professional home runs over four seasons of minor league ball, a lot needs to change in 2021. Not all is negative, however, as he played well at the plate during his time playing Winter Ball.

25. Bailey Ober, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA
One of my favorite prospects on the list (read more about him in my deep prospect dive from last April), his stats and bio mesmerized me earlier last season. He’s such a big and tall pitcher, yet he throws incredibly slow with a unique downward release, making it difficult for batters to recognize what’s coming at them. Fully healthy and ready to go, I like it when pitchers are able to change their entire approach because it shows me that they understand their bodies, the mechanics and the game itself. I’m high on him, and I think he’s capable of rising in these rankings.

26. Chris Vallimont, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: A+
He’s someone who the Twins are stretching out in order to give him the chance for long innings in the future. He’s gained velocity on his fastball over the years, and is working on a slider. If he can continue on that upward trajectory, then there’s a future here. I like that he’s gradually increased his yearly innings in his professional career, and maybe a year off did him good (327 innings pitched in four seasons). Not bad for a throw-in player from the Lewin Diaz deal years back.

27. Dakota Chalmers, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: A+
Chalmers has come a long way since his Tommy John surgery back in 2018. He has regained the velocity back on his fastball, and he gets a ton of spin rate on his curveball. If he can regain better command of the strike zone, he’s someone that could find himself at the back end of the Twins’ rotation or bullpen by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

28. Will Holland, SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: Rookie
After an impressive college career, Holland scuffled to put it together in Rookie Ball, batting under .200 over 145 plate appearances. Still, he grades well with some raw power and speed, and if he can put things together at the plate (he spent time working with Brent Rooker and was at the Summer Camp doing the same thing), he’s got the potential for double digit home runs and steals in him. He’s still got a long way to go, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

29. Kala’i Rosario, OF
Age: 18
Highest Level: High School
Looking for a deep sleeper? Look no further than the Twins’ fifth round draft pick from the 2020 Draft, who will be attending Al Baptist University to hone his craft. He’s got massive power potential in his bat, as some scouts have graded him at an 80 power. I get that there is a LONG ways to go before he ever does anything in the majors, but an 80 grade power bat warrants some attention, so here it is!

30. Gabriel Maciel, OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: A+
Great ball to bat skills as he’s hit .288 over his professional career. He has good vision at the plate too, as his career walk rate (8.9%) is pretty close to the strikeout rate (15.3%). Speed is his super power, as evidenced by his 69 career steals, though his 32 times caught stealing isn’t flattering. To put it all together, you’ve got someone that can get on base and aggressively move along those base paths with his speed. Sounds like the perfect lead off hitter in the making, if things work out.

31. Spencer Steer, 3B/SS/2B
Age: 23
Highest Level: A
Steer hit well against players much older than him in 2019, and spent his offseason refining his skills. His counting stats aren’t the greatest, but there’s some good bat-to-ball skills there.

32. Josh Winder, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: A+
Already 24 years old, Winder could have really used 2020 to take the next step in his development. With four pitches in his repertoire, it’s his change up that needed the most work to separate itself as a solid secondary pitch. He did spend most of the Covid-19 down time working out and was also in constant contact with the Twins’ organization. It remains to be seen how valuable his time off was when he steps to the rubber in 2021.

33. Yennier Cano, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: A+
Cano had a great 2020 in terms of development, as he worked out at Bartolo Colon’s academy, changed his physique and concentrated on his control. He’s been dominating in the Cuban Winter League and showing off his high 90’s fastball, his newly developed change up, a slider and a splitter to boot. Keep your eyes on him.

34. Yunior Severino, 2B
Age: 21
Highest Level: A
Severino is someone with all the potential in the world, but he unfortunately hasn’t produced when given the chance. He flashed decent power when he was first claimed by the Twins (eight home runs in 218 plate appearances), but 2019 was an injury riddled disaster, and time off in 2020 only hurt him. Chances are if he can’t get back on track in 2021, then he’s moving down a tier and probably into obscurity.

35. LaMonte Wade Jr., OF
Age: 26
Highest Level: MLB
He’s someone who will graduate this season, as he already has 96 at bats under his belt. He’s a speed first player who will be your last game substitute to help put the club in scoring position. Steals and runs count in fantasy leagues, but that’s solely where the value lies with Wade Jr.

36. Ben Rortvedt, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
The Twins curiously protected him before the Rule 5 Draft, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. His bat has never been his strength, since his framing and arm strength have always anchored him to whatever success he’s had. If he can somehow figure out how to improve his bat, he’ll be a Twin, possibly alongside Jeffers down the line.

37. Aaron Whitefield, OF
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB
He made the Opening Day Roster last year for depth, but was dropped from the 40-man roster and went unclaimed. Not great with the bat, but he has 179 steals over 6 seasons in and out of the minor leagues and the Australian Baseball League.

Tier 5:

38. Seth Gray, 3B/SS/OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: A
He spent the entire shut down at the Springfield Baseball Lab and even faced at bats against the Pirates’ J.T. Brubaker as part of his training. He managed to hit 11 home runs in 2019 and seems focused and determined to be better. He says he learned a lot about himself. I’m interested to see how that translates in 2021.

39. Gabe Snyder, 1B/OF
Age: 25
Highest Level: A
He hit 19 home runs in A ball in 2019, and walked a fair amount too. He’s your traditional power hitter that pulls the ball. His offseason transformation, alongside the aforementioned Seth Gray, will be in play once baseball resumes.

40. Zander Wiel, 1B
Age: 27
Highest Level: AAA
He will probably be forever a minor leaguer, but he deserves some recognition for mashing 24 home runs in 2019. If he can somehow replicate that in 2021, there’s a chance he gets the call for depth with the Twins. Otherwise, this could be the end of the line.

41. Griffin Jax, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: AAA
Jax doesn’t walk a lot of batters (5.2% walk rate over two levels in 2019), but he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters either. He has good numbers, but it remains to be seen how his game will translate in the majors.

42. Charles Mack, 3B/DH/2B
Age: 21
Highest Level: Rookie
He hit eight home runs and an additional nine extra base hits for Elizabethton in 2019 and is a third baseman to watch going forward. He’s quite young, so there’s some time to see what he can do.

43. Austin Schulfer, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA
Striking out 124 batters over 97.2 innings in 2019 is no small number, but the .207 batting average against him is. Keep an eye one this development, as he hasn’t shown that K/9 potential before.

44. Luis Rijo, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: A
A big part of the trading away of Lance Lynn awhile back, Rijo shows some potential with a mid 90’s fastball that helped him post an 8.3 K/9 in 2019 as a starter.

45. Jovani Moran, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
A tale of two cities here, as Moran possesses a 70 grade change up but a 40 grade command. He will either develop nicely or not at all.

46. Adam Bray, RHP
Age: 27
Highest Level: 27
He’s been compared to fellow Twin Randy Dobnak, in that he doesn’t overpower batters, but is able to find and work the strike zone well. He’s old, by traditional prospect standards, but at just under a strikeout per inning and a WHIP of 1.10 in 2019, there could be something there in 2021.

47. Donny Breek, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: Rookie
The Dutchman posted 38 strikeouts over 36 innings of Rookie ball, and is continuing his strong play in the 2020 Dutch Major League too.

48. Hector Lujan, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: A+
Lujan, who dominated A+ ball in 2019 but struggled when called to AA, could be running out of time to make any impact at the major league level at age 26.

49. Josh Mitchell, LHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: A+ (Royals organization)
An increase in velocity helped the 2020 Rule 5 pick up by the Twins elevate his game in 2019, making him an intriguing, yet rare, southpaw within the organization.

50. Jhonleider Salinas, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA (Rays organization)
Another 2020 Rule 5 pick up by the Twins this year, Salinas’ counting stats don’t seem to indicate that he’ll make much of an impact, if any, for the Twins. However, the fact that he was picked by them warrants some attention.

 




About Dave Funnell 29 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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