February 12, 2016

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2016: 30, 29, 28, 27, 26

Also in this series: 31-35, 36-40.

30. Ryan Eades | Starter | DOB: 12/91 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2013-2

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     RK+    10      0     4.60      15.2      13      0      13     12
2014     A-     26     25     5.14     133.0     147     11      98     50
2015     A+     20     20     3.11     118.2     109      5      80     38

Ryan Eades was the 43rd overall pick in the 2013 draft out of LSU and the Twins gave him a $1.3 million bonus to sign, at which point they seemingly regretted the pick immediately. Early quotes from team officials lacked any semblance of enthusiasm and Baseball America, which relies partly on opinions from within an organization to rank that team's prospects, showed him no love. And then Eades flopped in his full-season debut at low Single-A, posting a 5.14 ERA in 133 innings.

Seemingly an afterthought 18 months after being a second-round draft pick, Eades bounced back somewhat at high Single-A last year with a 3.11 ERA and just five homers allowed in 119 innings. However, his strikeout rate fell even further to 6.1 per nine innings and his control remained sub par. For an experienced college starter and consensus top-100 draft prospect to post a 4.21 ERA with 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings versus rookie-ball and Single-A hitters is very discouraging.

Not so long ago Baseball America wrote that Eades "looked the part of a front-line starter" and on some level the Twins must have agreed to invest a top-50 pick and $1.3 million in him, but at this point there's nothing special about his performance or raw stuff. And at 24 years old it's time for Eades to sink or swim beyond Single-A. As a fly-ball pitcher with shaky control and a mediocre strikeout rate the odds are stacked against him. What a weird pick.

29. LaMonte Wade | Center Field | DOB: 1/94 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2015-9

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2015     RK+    284     .312     .428     .506      9     22     46     34

Ninth-round draft picks from major college conferences who fare well in rookie-ball after signing generally shouldn't be given much attention, but LaMonte Wade is worth watching as a possible late bloomer. He didn't hit much in his first two seasons at the University of Maryland, but batted .335/.453/.468 with more walks than strikeouts as a junior to get the Twins' attention and then upped his production even further in his pro debut.

Wade hit .312/.428/.506 in 64 games in Elizabethton, going 12-of-13 stealing bases, drawing 46 walks compared to 34 strikeouts, and smacking nine homers after totaling seven homers in three college seasons. He ranked second in walks and third in on-base percentage among Appalachian League hitters and was impressive enough that the Twins gave Wade a season-ending promotion to low Single-A.

He's unlikely to stick in center field defensively, so for Wade to emerge as a legitimate prospect he'll need to maintain his offensive production against more experienced competition. His power development is particularly important if he profiles as a corner outfielder long term. For now he's merely a low-minors center fielder with good speed, excellent plate discipline, and more intrigue than most ninth-round picks.

28. Felix Jorge | Starter | DOB: 1/94 | Throws: Right | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     RK+    12     12     2.95      61.0      56      2      72     18
2014     RK+    12     12     2.73      66.0      58      2      61     14
         A-     12      8     9.00      39.0      57      9      23     20
2015     A-     23     22     2.79     142.0     118     11     114     32

Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $250,000 as a 16-year-old in 2011, right-hander Felix Jorge emerged as a prospect worth watching on the strength of 12 rookie-ball starts in 2013. He was promoted to full-season competition at low Single-A to begin 2014 and got clobbered, giving up 40 runs in 39 innings before a demotion back to rookie-ball. Jorge got back on track there and took a second crack at low Single-A last year.

His second go-around in the Midwest League went far better, as Jorge tossed 142 innings with a 2.79 ERA and 114/32 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .225 batting average. Among all Midwest League pitchers with 100-plus innings Jorge ranked in the top dozen in ERA, walk rate, and K/BB ratio. Jorge certainly pitched well enough to warrant a second-half promotion to high Single-A, but the Twins may have decided to take things slowly for a while.

Jorge works with a low-90s fastball and gets positive reviews for his off-speed stuff, which helps explain how he was more effective versus lefties than righties in 2015. His upside doesn't appear to be huge and whenever a young prospect gets demoted backward it takes a big dent out of his perceived stock, but if not for the ugly 39-inning stint at low Single-A he'd be looking pretty good right now.

27. Lewin Diaz | First Base | DOB: 9/96 | Bats: Left | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2014     DSL    174     .257     .385     .451      5     18     26     24
2015     RK     127     .261     .354     .369      1      9     14     24
         RK+     53     .167     .245     .375      3      4      3     17

Signed by the Twins out of the Dominican Republic for a $1.4 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2013, first baseman Lewin Diaz drew attention for his long-term power potential and massive 6-foot-4 frame. He had a strong pro debut in the Dominican summer league in 2014, batting .257/.385/.451 with 18 extra-base hits and 26 walks in 43 games, and then made his American pro debut last season between two levels of rookie-ball.

Diaz fared pretty well in the pitcher-friendly Gulf Coast League, batting .261/.354/.369 with nine extra-base hits and 14 walks in 33 games for an OPS that was 75 points better than the league average. He struggled following a promotion to the Appalachian League. As an 18-year-old facing lots of college pitchers Diaz hit just .167 with a 17/3 K/BB ratio in 14 games, although he did manage three homers.

At some point it ceases making sense to parse through small samples of games across multiple levels for an 18-year-old, but Diaz has batted .244/.353/.409 with 30 extra-base hits and 43 walks through 90 career games overall. Those aren't jaw-dropping numbers, particularly from a big-ticket signing who'll need to drop jaws offensively to make an impact, but so far he's been an above-average professional hitter at an age when many prospects are in high school.

26. Luke Bard | Reliever | DOB: 11/90 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2012-1

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     RK+     7      2     1.08       8.1       2      0       6      6
2015     A-     28      0     2.41      52.1      45      1      47     15

In the 2012 draft the Twins took Byron Buxton at No. 2 overall, Jose Berrios at No. 32 overall, and then went heavy on college relievers. Luke Bard was the first college arm targeted at No. 42 overall following a great career at Georgia Tech. Initially the Twins planned to turn Bard into a starter, but constant shoulder and elbow injuries pushed that notion aside and simply made it nearly impossible for him to stay on the mound regardless of role.

Bard's final college season was cut short by an injury and after turning pro he threw seven innings in 2012 and 12 innings in 2013 before missing all of 2014. At age 24 and heading into his fourth season he'd thrown a total of one inning above rookie-ball, so the Twins sent him to low Single-A and he had an encouraging bounceback campaign. Working about twice per week and never with fewer than two days off, Bard logged 52 innings with a 2.58 ERA and 47/15 K/BB ratio.

He was a 24-year-old facing much younger competition, but in terms of lacking actual on-field experience he more or less fit in with the rest of the Midwest League. Not only did he pitch well, holding opponents to a .234 batting average and one home run, Bard's velocity returned to the mid-90s and he did his best work in August and September with a 21/5 K/BB ratio. He needs to handle the workload and make up for lost time, but Bard is at least back on the prospect radar.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Postmates, where you can use the promo code "wtrq" for $10 off fast, on-demand, hassle-free food delivery from your favorite restaurants.

February 10, 2016

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2016: 35, 34, 33, 32, 31

Also in this series: 36-40.

35. Travis Harrison | Right Field | DOB: 10/92 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2011-1

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2013     A-     537     .253     .366     .416     15     43     68    125
2014     A+     537     .269     .361     .365      3     37     64     86
2015     AA     479     .240     .363     .356      5     32     65    102

Travis Harrison was touted as a power-hitting third baseman when the Twins selected him 50th overall in the 2011 draft with the compensatory pick they received for losing Orlando Hudson to free agency, but neither of those descriptions have been accurate as a pro. He showed modest power in the low minors, but then managed just three homers in 129 games at high Single-A in 2014 and five homers in 115 games at Double-A last year.

His lack of pop is especially troubling because Harrison was quickly moved away from third base and played exclusively right field last season, raising the bar for his offensive output. To get a sense for how little power he's shown, consider that Harrison's combined isolated power for 2014 and 2015 was .106. Denard Span's career isolated power is .108 and Kurt Suzuki's is .114. You get the idea.

Harrison narrowly clings to a spot on this list for two reasons. One is that he's still very young, playing last season at Double-A as a 22-year-old. He certainly wouldn't be the first prospect who needed some time to turn power potential into actual power. Beyond that, within his poor overall production Harrison has drawn 60-plus walks in each of his three full seasons while keeping his strikeouts in check.

34. Yorman Landa | Reliever | DOB: 6/94 | Throws: Right | Sign: Venezuela

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     RK+    12     12     2.78      55.0      46      1      46     29
2014     A-     13      0     2.88      25.0      18      1      30     13
2015     RK      7      0     0.00       9.0       3      0       9      2
         A-     15      0     1.67      27.0      18      1      31     14

Yorman Landa signed with the Twins out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2010 and has yet to pitch above low Single-A, but the right-hander was added to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Landa's numbers have been good at every stop, including a 2.53 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 181 career innings, but he's thrown more than 40 innings in a season just once thanks to injuries.

Shoulder surgery ended his 2014 season and sidelined Landa for the first two months of 2015, but he returned to throw 36 innings with a 1.25 ERA and 40/16 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .167 batting average and one homer. Keeping the ball in the ballpark has been a major strength for Landa, a ground-ball machine who's allowed just four homers in 784 plate appearances as a pro. Last season opponents slugged .228 off Landa, including zero extra-base hits by lefties.

Landa works in the mid-90s with his fastball and generates strikeouts with his slider. His control definitely needs work, as he's issued 104 walks in 181 innings and has never walked fewer than 4.0 batters per nine innings in a season. Based on a typical promotion schedule Landa wouldn't be in the Twins' plans until mid-2017 at the earliest, but since he's already on the 40-man roster a quicker call-up is always possible.

33. Stuart Turner | Catcher | DOB: 12/91 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2013-3

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2013     RK+    142     .264     .340     .380      3      8     12     22
2014     A+     364     .249     .322     .375      7     25     31     61
2015     AA     379     .223     .322     .306      4     18     45     69

Despite a big 2013 season at the University of Mississippi most pre-draft scouting reports called Stuart Turner's offensive upside into question, with Baseball America noting that "scouts don't like his swing and question his ability to sting the ball consistently." Three years later Turner has hit just .242/.326/.347 in 226 pro games while getting progressively worse as he moves up the organizational ladder.

Turner was a third-round draft pick with a good defensive reputation and various Twins officials have said some complimentary things about him over the years, which has convinced a segment of the fan base that he's locked in as the team's catcher of the future regardless of how poorly he actually performs. However, while good defense behind the plate may get Turner to the majors at some point his lack of production is a huge red flag.

Last season at Double-A he batted just .223 with four homers and 18 total extra-base hits in 98 games, with the only bright spot being a good walk rate. There were 73 hitters in the Southern League with at least 300 plate appearances and only nine had a lower OPS than Turner. This may be a make-or-break season, because at age 24 he needs to show that he's capable of developing into more than a strong-armed, weak-hitting backup catcher.

32. Mason Melotakis | Reliever | DOB: 6/91 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2012-2

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     A-     24     18     3.16     111.0     106      6      84     39
2014     A+     25      2     3.45      47.0      50      3      45     23
         AA     13      0     2.25      16.0      17      0      17      3

One of several college relievers selected by the Twins in the early rounds of the 2012 draft and turned into pro starters, left-hander Mason Melotakis fared reasonably well as a starter in the low minors before being moved back to the bullpen in 2014. He began the season at high Single-A and ended it at Double-A, throwing a total of 63 innings with a 3.14 ERA and 62/27 K/BB ratio to possibly put him in the mix for a 2015 call-up to the Twins.

And then he underwent Tommy John elbow surgery, knocking him out for all of 2015. After a year of rest and rehab the Twins deemed Melotakis recovered enough to add him to the 40-man roster and protect him from the Rule 5 draft, which is a sign that he could re-enter their plans pretty quickly with a strong start this year. His last action came in late 2014 at Double-A, where he posted a 17/3 K/BB ratio in 16 innings.

As a starter Melotakis didn't miss enough bats to be viewed as having much upside, but shifting back to the bullpen boosted his fastball from the low-90s to the mid-90s and when combined with a quality breaking ball gives him late-inning potential. He'll be racing fellow top-40 prospects Jose Berrios, Adam Walker, Taylor Rogers, and J.T. Chargois to join Byron Buxton and Tyler Duffey as the third member of the 2012 draft class to reach the majors.

31. Mitch Garver | Catcher | DOB: 1/91 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2013-9

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2013     RK+    225     .243     .313     .366      2     19     19     31
2014     A-     504     .298     .399     .481     16     46     61     65
2015     A+     520     .245     .356     .333      4     29     69     82

Mitch Garver and Stuart Turner were competing to see who'll emerge as the Twins' catcher of the future and the answer last year at least was neither, which perhaps played a part in the team trading for 24-year-old catcher John Ryan Murphy. Garver was a ninth-round draft pick out of the University of New Mexico in 2013 and had a fantastic season at low Single-A in 2014, but his production fell off a cliff at high Single-A last year.

Garver had a horrible first two months and even after getting somewhat back on track in June, July, and August his overall numbers included losing 53 points of batting average and 148 points of slugging percentage compared to 2014. The good news is that he continued to draw a bunch of walks and control the strike zone well, but 24-year-olds who struggle at Single-A generally need to have their prospect stock re-calibrated.

He's always been able to draw walks, control the strike zone, and throw out runners, which is a combination that could get him to the big leagues as a backup even if the rest of his offensive game stagnates. Whatever the case it's time for Garver to sink or swim against a higher level of competition, because he's actually slightly older than Murphy and dangerously close to "too old for a prospect" status despite never playing a game above Single-A.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Postmates, where you can use the promo code "wtrq" for $10 off fast, on-demand, hassle-free food delivery from your favorite restaurants.

February 8, 2016

Gleeman and The Geek #234: Carlos Quentin and The Lost Recordings

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and the Geek" episode included Carlos Quentin's minor-league deal with the Twins, Winter Meltdown highs and lows, Terry Ryan's quotes about Ricky Nolasco and Danny Santana, what happened to Episode 233, Tim Laudner's anti-stats stance, Miguel Sano's non-weight loss, Byron Buxton's still-strong prospect rankings, and changing recipes at 612 Brew.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 234

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.


This week's show is sponsored by Casper mattresses, which offers a 100-day free trial with free shipping and returns. And you can get an extra $50 off by going to Casper.com/Gleeman and entering in the promo code GLEEMAN.

February 5, 2016

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2016: 40, 39, 38, 37, 36

Also in this series: 31-35.

40. Pat Dean | Starter | DOB: 5/89 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2010-3

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     AA     22     22     4.68     125.0     151     12      61     17
         AAA     6      6     2.02      40.0      38      0      22      5
2014     AA     26     26     4.81     144.0     192     20      83     31
2015     AAA    27     27     2.82     179.0     170     10      98     36

Pat Dean was the Twins' third-round draft pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky, but after posting a 4.30 ERA in 600 innings through his first five pro seasons he appeared to have little chance of reaching the big leagues. Dean changed that last season at Triple-A by throwing 179 innings with a 2.82 ERA, which convinced the Twins to add him to the 40-man roster for the first time at age 26.

Unfortunately a deeper look at Dean's performance shows that not much actually changed. He managed just 4.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which is an absurdly low total and worse than his career mark of 5.3. He allowed just 10 homers in 715 plate appearances, but that screams fluke given that Dean has always been a fly-ball pitcher. There's no doubting that he had a nice 2015 season, but there's also no real reason to be optimistic about his future.

He's a soft-tossing left-hander with good control and no ability to miss bats. For whatever reason that player type always seems to intrigue the Twins, but translating that skill set into getting MLB hitters out is a tall order to say the least. Dean has a decent chance of reaching the majors this season simply by virtue of being on the 40-man roster and readily available for a call-up, but he'll be 27 years old in May and profiles as a fifth starter or long reliever.

39. Chris Paul | Left Field | DOB: 10/92 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2015-6

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2015     RK+     96     .302     .375     .488      3     10      4     15
         A-      47     .244     .277     .356      0      4      0     13

Picked in the sixth round of last year's draft out of the University of California as a "senior sign" who required a modest $50,000 bonus, Chris Paul debuted in rookie-ball and then moved up to low Single-A to finish the year. He hit .282/.343/.443 with three homers in 33 games overall, but that came with an ugly 28/4 K/BB ratio that can often be a red flag for experienced college players facing low-minors competition.

Paul's college career was an odd one. He struggled for three seasons, failing to crack a .700 OPS in any year while playing sporadically, and then broke out as a senior by hitting .325/.404/.562 with nine home runs in 54 games. However, even his senior success included a 43/26 K/BB ratio that's poor by college star standards and in total he struck out 112 times compared to 46 walks in four years at California.

Being the best hitter on a good Pac-12 team is definitely nothing to sneeze at and Paul predictably knocked around rookie-ball pitchers, but it's hard to envision him continuing to fare well against more experienced competition without a dramatic change in approach. Double-A or Triple-A arms tend to slice up undisciplined hackers and as a left fielder/first baseman who's already 23 years old Paul will need to hit his way into the Twins' plans.

38. Ryan O'Rourke | Reliever | DOB: 4/88 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2010-13

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2013     A+     17      0     2.22      28.1      19      3      21      8
         AA     17      0     4.67      17.1      15      0      19      7
2014     AA     50      0     3.98      40.2      36      5      52     16
2015     AAA    20      0     5.93      13.2      13      1      22      7
         MLB    28      0     6.14      22.0      16      3      24     15

Ryan O'Rourke was a surprise call-up when the Twins promoted him from Triple-A in July. The former 13th-round draft pick had never appeared on any top prospect lists, went unpicked in the Rule 5 draft, and had a 4.70 career ERA at age 27, including a 5.93 ERA for Rochester at the time of his call-up. He got the unexpected chance because the Twins wanted a new left-handed option in the bullpen and O'Rourke has one truly standout skill: He's death on left-handed hitters.

O'Rourke moved to the bullpen full time in 2012 and from that point until his call-up to the Twins he struck out 47 percent of the left-handed hitters he faced while holding them to a .151 batting average and .199 slugging percentage. Last year at Triple-A he faced 36 lefties and struck out 20 of them while allowing five hits. Two years ago at Double-A he faced 74 lefties and struck out 42 of them while allowing eight hits. During that same two-year span righties hit .340 off O'Rourke.

He appeared in 28 games for the Twins and struggled overall, but when asked to simply face one or two left-handed hitters he thrived. O'Rourke struck out 19 of the 49 lefties he faced with the Twins, holding them to a .171 batting average and .268 slugging percentage. He can absolutely, without question shut down lefties in the majors, but it's unclear if he's capable of being usable versus righties and the Twins may not want to devote a spot to a pure southpaw specialist.

37. Daniel Palka | Right Field | DOB: 10/91 | Bats: Left | Trade: Diamondbacks

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2013     RK     241     .302     .386     .502      7     27     29     45
         A-      55     .340     .418     .574      2      5      7     16
2014     A-     521     .248     .332     .466     22     50     56    129
2015     A+     576     .280     .352     .532     29     68     56    164

Chris Herrmann is a 28-year-old catcher with a poor defensive reputation and a .181 batting average as a major leaguer, so sending him to the Diamondbacks in November was one of those "good trade, who'd we get?" type of deals. For the Twins to get a player with some semblance of upside in return is a minor miracle and 24-year-old former third-round draft pick Daniel Palka certainly qualifies.

Palka put up big power numbers in college at Georgia Tech and that's continued as a pro with 22 homers in 118 games at low Single-A and 29 homers in 129 games at high Single-A. He was old for the level of competition and the environment was hitter-friendly, but last season Palka ranked fourth among California League hitters in homers and was the league's only 20-20 player while hitting .280 with an .885 OPS that was 150 points above average.

He also struck out 164 times in 129 games, which is a scary amount for a 23-year-old former college star facing Single-A pitching and suggests maintaining a decent batting average will be difficult. Palka has power and that typically goes hand-in-hand with strikeouts, but as a corner outfielder/first baseman without an outstanding walk rate he'll need to improve his contact skills to emerge as more than a quasi-prospect.

36. Lachlan Wells | Starter | DOB: 2/97 | Throws: Left | Sign: Australia

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2015     RK     10      9     2.09      47.1      35      4      49     11

For the past decade the Twins have frequently signed teenage prospects from Australia, investing millions into a country they view as an underutilized source of talent. So far the payoff has been modest, with Grant Balfour, Liam Hendriks, and Luke Hughes qualifying as the best of the bunch to reach the majors as Twins. Lewis Thorpe has a chance to top that list if his return from elbow surgery goes well and Lachlan Wells is the latest Australian signee on the prospect radar.

Signed as a 17-year-old for $300,000 in 2014, the diminutive left-hander made his America pro debut last season in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and impressed with a 2.09 ERA and 49/11 K/BB ratio in 47 innings. He's grown a lot physically and added some velocity since signing with the Twins, but Wells' fastball still tops out in the low-90s. His changeup is viewed as a plus pitch and at just 19 years old there's still plenty more room for projection.

Wells' twin bother, left-hander Alexander Wells, opted not to sign with the Twins last year and instead took the same $300,000 offer from the Orioles. He's yet to officially begin his American pro career. As for Lachlan Wells, he's likely several years from entering the Twins' plans even if everything goes well and may not even face full-season competition until 2017. So far so good, though, and as usual the Twins have intriguing Australian prospects in the farm system.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Postmates, where you can use the promo code "wtrq" for $10 off fast, on-demand, hassle-free food delivery from your favorite restaurants.

January 25, 2016

Gleeman and The Geek #232: Meltdown Preview (and Melting Down)

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and the Geek" episode included Twins Daily's upcoming "Winter Meltdown" event featuring Carl Pavano, ZiPS projections for the Twins' starting rotation, avoiding arbitration with Kevin Jepsen, Family Feud, claiming Mike Strong off waivers, Terry Ryan's quotes about free agency, Justin Upton signing with the Tigers, and arguing until we can't argue any more.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 232

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Postmates, where you can use the promo code "wtrq" for $10 off fast, on-demand, hassle-free food delivery from your favorite restaurants.

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