February 19, 2016
Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2016: 20, 19, 18, 17, 16
Also in this series: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40.
20. Tanner English | Center Field | DOB: 3/93 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2014-11 YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2014 RK+ 141 .316 .439 .474 3 10 18 27 2015 A- 443 .265 .359 .406 5 35 48 87
Tanner English was drafted in the middle rounds for his speed and range in center field despite not doing much hitting in college at South Carolina, but he's shown a lot more offensive promise than expected as a pro. He hit .316/.439/.474 in 32 rookie-ball games after signing in 2014 and then bounced back from a poor start last year to hit .298/.369/.456 in 59 games at low Single-A after June 1.
Last season's overall numbers were nothing special for a 22-year-old in the Midwest League, but English drew lots of walks without striking out a ton, showed much more power than he ever did in college, and swiped 37 bases in 104 games at an 84 percent success rate while continuing to draw positive reviews defensively. None of which makes him a top prospect, but he's certainly an intriguing player just two years after being a 11th-round draft pick.
If things go well this season English should be able to advance to Double-A, where the question will be whether he can keep hitting enough to potentially be a starting center fielder rather than profiling more as a speedy, athletic backup. Because of his varied skill set English won't have to hit much to reach the majors and another good season at the plate could plant him firmly in the Twins' plans.
19. Michael Cederoth | Starter | DOB: 11/92 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2014-3 YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2014 RK+ 11 10 3.55 45.2 41 1 42 18 2015 A- 11 6 4.08 35.1 33 2 37 18
Michael Cederoth was a standout closer for San Diego State in 2014, saving 20 games with a 2.28 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 52 innings while hitting triple-digits with his fastball. Many draft analysts felt he had a chance to move very quickly through the minors and perhaps make his MLB debut within a year, but the Twins picked him in the third round with the intention of making him a starter and he's yet to pitch beyond Single-A.
Cederoth had a strong rookie-ball debut after being drafted and moved up to low Single-A last year, but he struggled early on and was shifted to the bullpen in mid-May. He made five relief appearances and then was shut down with an undisclosed illness, missing the final three months of the season. He declined to give any details, saying only that it was "a personal illness I've had over the years" and "now it's completely taken care of."
Cederoth is 6-foot-6 with an equally big fastball, but through two pro seasons he's had a difficult time consistently throwing strikes and hasn't missed a ton of bats. Toss in the lost development time and this season looks to be pretty huge for his long-term outlook. If nothing else, the Twins should have a much clearer picture of whether he's better off continuing to develop as a starter or trying to get back on the bullpen fast track.
18. Engelb Vielma | Shortstop | DOB: 6/94 | Bats: Switch | Sign: Venezuela YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2013 RK 152 .237 .320 .260 0 3 15 23 2014 A- 459 .266 .313 .323 1 18 28 71 2015 A+ 501 .270 .321 .306 1 12 35 71
He makes Ben Revere look like a hulking slugger, but put Engelb Vielma at shortstop and eyes light up in a hurry. Widely regarded as one of baseball's best defensive minor leaguers regardless of position, Vielma is without question the premier defensive shortstop in the Twins' farm system despite not yet playing a game above Single-A. He draws rave reviews for his range, arm, and sure-handedness, making spectacular plays while also keeping his error count relatively low.
Vielma has also made strides offensively, although it's hard to imagine him ever developing into more than a bottom-of-the-order bat. His walk rate is low, but that has a lot to do with pitchers simply not fearing him and Vielma's strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests he's not undisciplined. Last season he hit .270 compared to the Florida State League average of .248 and in 2014 he hit .266 compared to the Midwest League average of .252. He also stole 35 bases in 120 games last year.
Make no mistake, Vielma's future depends on his defense. If he's a truly elite, Gold Glove-caliber shortstop then hitting .250 with zero power and a few walks would make him a viable starter. If instead his defense proves to be good rather than great or his bat fails to clear that very low bar then his future figures to be as a utility infielder. Whatever the case, in an organization that has struggled for decades to develop homegrown shortstops Vielma is already in the Twins' plans.
17. J.T. Chargois | Reliever | DOB: 12/90 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2012-2 YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2015 A+ 16 0 2.40 15.0 12 0 19 5 AA 32 0 2.73 33.0 26 1 34 20
Rice University had co-closers in 2012 and the Twins drafted both of them, picking J.T. Chargois in the second round and Tyler Duffey in the fifth round. Duffey reached the majors last season as a starter and now looks likely to be in the Twins' long-term rotation plans, but Chargois spent the season coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery after missing all of 2013 and 2014. And it was a helluva comeback.
Chargois struggled with his control, which was an issue for him before blowing out his elbow and is a common post-surgery problem for pitchers in general, but his raw stuff was electric. Nearly every appearance at high Single-A and Double-A had reports of triple-digit fastballs and Chargois totaled 53 strikeouts in 48 innings while holding opponents to a .212 batting average and one homer. And he got stronger as the year went on, dominating in August and September.
Chargois is 25 years old and has just 64 career innings under his belt thanks to all the missed time, so expectations should be held somewhat in check. However, his fastball velocity is truly elite and putting together a month or two of good work in the minors to begin this season could thrust Chargois into the mix for a call-up to the Twins given that he's already been added to the 40-man roster.
16. Jermaine Palacios | Shortstop | DOB: 6/96 | Bats: Right | Sign: Venezuela YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2015 RK 106 .421 .472 .589 1 12 9 11 RK+ 145 .336 .345 .507 2 18 3 20
Jermaine Palacios signed with the Twins out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2013 and made his pro debut the next season, hitting .270/.404/.399 with 14 steals and nearly as many walks (35) as strikeouts (37) in 49 games in the Dominican summer league. That convinced the Twins he was ready for more at age 18, so he started last season in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and hit .421 in 26 games to force a promotion.
Bumped up to the Twins' advanced rookie-ball team in the Appalachian League, he batted .336 with 18 extra-base hits in 31 games. Add it together and Palacios batted .370 with 30 extra-base hits in 57 games of rookie-ball competition as an 18-year-old shortstop. Baseball America rated him as the third-best prospect in the Appalachian League, praising his "plus bat speed and calm, controlled at-bats."
Reviews of his defense aren't as positive and he committed a bunch of errors last year, although there seems to be some hope that Palacios can play shortstop for at least a while. Most standout rookie-ball performances come and go without meaning a whole lot, but Palacios is a very young middle infielder with a .327/.401/.489 hitting line through 106 career games and the skill set is there to develop into a major leaguer.
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