Friday, May 5, 2017

Minnesota Twins Down on the Farm

After taking a look at some of the best and worst performances for the month of April by the major league squad, today let's take a look at the Minnesota Twins farm system and who's impressed thus far. Jose Berrios has been dominating, but he really has no business being in AAA at this point so his great month isn't covered.


The Good:


Nick Gordon, SS, Double A

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 4th

The former top 5 draft pick and brother of Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Nick Gordon had been a solid prospect coming into this season. There were some rumblings about the Twins potentially moving him to second base this season, and he's played about 1/3 of his games at that position. At some point, he may be moved off of shortstop completely but at this point he's still getting playing time there.

In 23 games for the Chattanooga Lookouts, his bat has been impressive. He's hitting .326/.393/.463 with 7 extra base hits and 11 walks in just over 100 plate appearances. Considering the Twins continue to use Jorge Polanco at shortstop it seems odd that the team would think Gordon can't stick there long term, but getting Gordon experience at both middle infield positions is unlikely to hurt him.

As one of AA's youngest regulars, if Gordon can continue to hit like he has in the season's first month he could make his major league debut at some point this season. At the very least, he should emerge as one of the game's top prospects if his bat is truly turning the corner.

LaMonte Wade, OF, Double A

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 7th

Gordon's teammate in Chattanooga, LaMonte Wade came into the season a bit under the radar despite doing nothing but hit since being drafted in 2015. In 24 games this season, he's hitting .282/.398/.451 with 14 walks and just 12 strikeouts.

He continues to show remarkable plate discipline and he still is a potential 20-20 player with 100+ walks in the future. As Wade continues to put up great numbers offensively as he moves up the organizational ladder, it's clear he's going to be major league ready in the very near future.

Eddie Rosario's job may not be safe beyond this season, which is a good problem to have.

Fernando Romero, SP, Double A

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 3rd

The final standout performance from Chattanooga, Fernando Romero is a 22-year-old flame thrower who's coming back from Tommy John Surgery just two years ago. He's pitched in 5 games, throwing 24 innings thus far, with a 2.96 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

He's one of the few Twins pitching prospects with the upside of a true number one starter, although anyone with arm injuries at the age of 20 is a major risk. A lot of pitching prospects have come back from Tommy John surgery and it's not nearly as career threatening as it was even a decade ago. However, the Twins will certainly be watching Romero's innings this season as they hope to see him on the big league squad sometime in 2018.

Pairing him with Jose Berrios in a future rotation gives the Twins some real hope.

Lachlan Wells, SP, Single A

Preseason Prospect Ranking: N/A

Originally signed out of Australia while the Twins were still trying to build a pipeline there, Wells is beginning to emerge as a legitimate starting pitching prospect. He made 12 starts last season, going 6-4 with a 1.77 ERA in just over 70 innings of work.

As a 20-year-old this season, Lachlan Wells is one of the youngest players in the Florida State league. He's pitched very well for the Fort Myers Miracle this season, with 24 strikeouts and just 5 walks in 22 innings pitched. He has a 3.68 ERA while facing hitters 3 or 4 years older than him on average.

Jermaine Palacios, SS, Single A

Preseason Prospect Ranking: N/A

After excelling with his bat in the Dominican Summer League and then again at a few rookie league levels between 2014 and 2015, Jermaine Palacios garnered our attention as a potential future middle of the order bat at a premium defensive position.

After he hit just .222/.276/.287 in 71 games for Cedar Rapids last season, it seemed possible he wasn't capable of hitting better pitching and nobody gave him a second look this off-season. As a 20-year-old repeating with Cedar Rapids, Palacios is off to a much better start and his bat that was so potent in 2015 seems to have returned.

In 23 games he's hitting .392/.427/.567, including an astounding 5 triples already in just under 100 at bats. He's also played exclusively at shortstop, which suggests he has a chance to stick at that position long-term. If he can continue to swing the bat and is at least an average defensive shortstop, he could be the next great Twin. Not bad for a kid most people have never heard of.

Aaron Whitefield, OF, Single A

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 18

When ranking Aaron Whitefield this winter, we mentioned his breakout 2016 season and suggested his 2017 season would be a make or break year as he faced better competition. Playing with Jermaine Palacios and Cedar Rapids, Whitefield is hitting .310/.322/.607 with 5 home runs and 4 steals in just 23 games.

He's struck out 20 times and walked just 2, which suggests he's going to be a strikeout prone power hitter at the next level. However, if he's a 30 steal threat and an above average defender at a corner outfield position with big time power, his strikeouts won't matter much. With a massive size/speed combination, Whitefield should be on scouts radars by now if he wasn't already.