February 10, 2016
Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2016: 35, 34, 33, 32, 31
Also in this series: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 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.
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