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Minnesota Twins Top 36 Prospects

Apr 01, 2023

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Minnesota Twins. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the "position" column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but I use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team's list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Our 36th-ranked draft prospect as a high schooler in 2019, Lee was a coveted prospect as a prep player, but his strong commitment to Cal Poly (where his dad coaches) and some general concerns about his physical longevity due to a back issue pushed the industry's assessment of him down, so he went to school. Knee and hamstring surgery effectively knocked him out for the 2020 season, then Lee hit .341/.384/.626 in 2021 and had a huge summer on Cape Cod, with six homers in just 21 games. He continued to play well as a junior, when he showed better barrel feel from the left side than he did as a sophomore and walked nearly twice as much as he struck out. Before the 2022 draft there was again buzz that some teams were off Lee because of his medical, and also that Lee and his family preferred that he stay as close to home as possible by joining a team that trains in Arizona. He fell deep enough in the draft's top 10 that the Twins, who were otherwise on Cam Collier, felt compelled to pop him even though they weren't a fit in this regard. Minnesota sent Lee to High-A almost immediately and he raked there, blowing scouts away and solidifying his place among the game's top 20 prospects. He's performing at an above-average level at Double-A so far in 2023.

Lee has fantastic breaking ball recognition, and he can let pitches travel deep before deciding whether to swing. Even when he has to shorten up to protect, the strength in his hands enables him to do extra-base damage. He is much more adept at doing this from the left side; his righty swing is relatively grooved. When Lee does take a comfortable hack, he shows you plus raw power, but his style of hitting is very balanced, and he doesn't sell out for huge pop all the time.

This sort of offensive player would be a good everyday third baseman and a star shortstop. Lee played short at Poly, but based on his size (Brad Miller is a fair body comp), straight line speed (he's heavy-footed from home to first, in the 4.5s) and his medical, clubs tend to have him projected to third base. This projection is a little more bullish about him staying at short, at least for a while, largely based on Lee's feel for the position. He has quick actions and his lateral agility is better than his long speed on the bases. He's also adept at positioning his body to be ready to throw as he fields the baseball, his transfer is quick, and his internal clock is well-calibrated. He finds creative ways to make timely, accurate throws, and even though it sometimes looks awkward and like Lee is making the play harder than it needs to be, he makes a lot of flashy plays for a bigger dude. It's tough to account for what sort of long-term impact Lee's injury history might have on his defense, and Carlos Correa‘s presence is also a factor, but in a vacuum he projects as an above-average everyday shortstop who does everything well except run.

The first overall pick in 2017, Lewis’ career has been marred by persistent injury. After coasting through the lower levels of the minors, Lewis hit some speed bumps in 2019, rebounded in the Fall League, and then proceeded to miss most of the next three seasons because of the pandemic and two ACL tears. He began to play again in extended spring games at the end of April 2023 and rehabbed for just a few weeks before rejoining the big league team just before Twins list publication.

Recall that Lewis basically hasn't played for three years and that when we last saw him, there were still several aspects of his profile that weren't settled. His swing has often morphed to try to keep Lewis on time without detracting too much from his athleticism and manage his strikeouts without neutering his power. His current swing looks like it did in 2022, designed to do a lot of dead-pull damage. He's going to strike out a lot but Lewis will also generate big power on contact, and while he's mostly doing it to his pull side, he is dangerous all over the zone and will occasionally get extended and laser an outer edge pitch the other way.

Also remember that when we last saw Royce consistently, he was not a lock to remain at shortstop. The Twins had him playing only short until 2022, when he was suddenly thrust into three other positions (left field, center field, third base), then he was pressed into big league duty in center after he had played just two minor league games there. Lewis re-tore his ACL making a play at the wall in his third big league inning. He saw time at both shortstop and third base while rehabbing, and the Twins current roster situation means they need him to play third right now. His arm stroke is atypical and deliberate, and he one-hops throws to first pretty often, but Lewis tends to find a way to use his brand of effort and athleticism to make plays, including some highlight reel ones. Lauded for his effort and affability, the combination of Lewis’ makeup and athleticism kept him firmly entrenched among the Top 100 even while he was hurt for long stretches of time. He's back and ready to make an immediate impact on Minnesota's playoff push, likely playing a valuable multi-positional role that has him in the lineup every day throughout the course of his career.

Julien hit 17 dingers and slashed .278/.398/.556 as a freshman at Auburn, then was ruled draft-eligible as a 20-year-old sophomore not because of his age, but because he had attended a year of secondary school in Canada before heading to college, which made him three years removed from high school. He was suddenly a young-for-the-class college bat who might have gone very high in the draft if he’d hit like he had the year before and gotten better at second base. Unfortunately, he did neither. Julien's stock fell early during the 2019 college season as he struggled badly, then he got hot during a tumultuous postseason run; the Twins drafted him on Day Three. Julien tweeted he was going back to school, then went to the Cape and had a great two weeks, after which the Twins’ offer rose to just shy of $500,000, inspiring him to sign. He had Tommy John in August of 2019 and rehabbed during a 2020 season that he would have missed anyway.

Julien finally got underway in pro ball in 2021 and since then, he's had two good seasons en route to a 40-man roster spot, offseason placement on the Top 100 prospects list, and a 2023 big league debut. He's been as patient as any hitter in the minors and has walked at a 19% career rate; he has a .437 career OBP. When Julien does swing, he does so with bad intentions, taking a high-effort rip capable of putting balls out to all fields. He's going to reach base a ton and hit for power. It's enough that Julien comfortably projects as an everyday second baseman if it turns out he can stay there, and even though he has experience at other positions, second base is the only one he played in 2022. Julien has been without a true defensive home since college and didn't look great at the keystone during a prolonged look in the 2022 Arizona Fall League. He may just be a DH, which would obviously make it tougher for him to profile, but there may be elite on-base ability here and that, plus the power, will be enough for Julien to make an impact that way, too.

Varland, whose brother Gus is a Brewers pitcher, played college ball at Division II Concordia, where he topped out at 92 mph. He made adjustments to his arm path to address what he described to FanGraphs’ David Laurila as "a severe case of elbow climb," allowing him to add a few ticks of velocity to his fastball, which averaged 95 mph in 2022 and has been up to 99 early in 2023. While Louie's delivery looks like it hurts, he's never had trouble throwing starter-quality strikes and has maintained his velo boost across multiple seasons, reaching Minnesota for 26 innings in 2022 and quickly establishing himself in the rotation in 2023. Mechanical look is a component in our starter/reliever projections, but Varland's consistency merits a sort of override, and his long-term projection has shifted from that of a single-inning reliever to a nasty four- or five-pitch starter.

Most remarkable is Varland's slider feel in the wake of his mechanical violence. Everything finishes to his glove side, usually off the plate or below the zone where hitters can't do damage. There is a wide velo range and shape variability to Varland's cutters and sliders, which is maddening when you’re trying to decipher how many different breakers he has but ultimately effective for keeping the baseball off of hitters’ barrels. Every pitch plays like an average or better offering, and Varland throws them all for strikes at a high clip. He certainly has more long-term relief risk than an identically talented pitcher with a lovely, effortless delivery, but his stuff is comparable to lots of the relief-risk prospects on the Top 100 (guys like Drey Jameson and Wilmer Flores) and Varland has performed better from a strike-throwing standpoint than many of that cohort, so he slots in at the head of a cluster that includes those sorts of prospects.

In the draft, the Twins have targeted big-framed, projectable college pitching — like Festa and Cade Povich, who they traded last summer — from mid-tier schools that don't tend to max out their pitchers. Since turning pro, the 6-foot-6 Festa's velocity has grown year-over-year for the last two years without compromising his ability to throw strikes. Festa averaged 91-93 mph and was up to 96 at Seton Hall, then sat 92-95 in his early post-draft pro outings. The 2022 season was Festa's first full campaign and he posted a 1.11 WHIP across 103.2 innings spent mostly at High-A while his velocity again took a leap, as his heater averaged 95-96 across the entire campaign.

Festa's early 2023 look indicates that he has taken another step forward. He's routinely touching 98, his slider also has premium velocity in the upper-80s, and Festa is great at killing the spin on his mid-80s changeup. He hammers the zone (especially with his fastball) with stuff that has enough movement to stay off barrels in there and to miss bats entirely when he's locating in enticing, chase-inducing locations. Again, this is a (fairly) small school arm with just one full season under his belt and he's already reached (and has the stuff to dominate) Double-A. He has freaky feel for strikes for a 6-foot-6 guy, and his velocity keeps climbing and climbing without detracting from that ability. He's a powerful on-mound athlete who generates plus extension, helping his stuff jump on opposing hitters, and even though they’re more average-to-above average pitches from a visual evaluation standpoint, both Festa's slider and changeup played like plus pitches in 2022. Less than two years ago, he was a late draft pick who signed for just $125,000, but now Festa is in the upper levels of the minors with three above-average pitches, an inning-eater's frame, and plus strike-throwing ability. An offseason Pick to Click, Festa's early-season look is strong enough to move him into the overall Top 100. The Twins’ glut of optionable young pitchers on their 40-man ultimately makes it unlikely Festa debuts this year.

Rodriguez did not make the offseason Top 100 despite the ridiculous slash line (.272/.492/.551, 196 wRC+) he posted in a month and a half of play during his injury-shortened 2022 because his hit tool was extremely suspect when you looked under the hood, or even just at his strikeout rate at such a low level. So far in 2023 those concerns have proven prescient, as Rodriguez is striking out nearly 40% of the time in the early going with High-A Cedar Rapids and his batting average is well beneath the Mendoza Line.

There is still a lot to like here, though. For one, when Rodriguez first began to get noticeably bigger and stronger throughout 2020 and 2021, it became less clear whether he’d be able to play center field, and the torn meniscus he suffered in 2022 clouded things further. He still looks really good out there. He's not a burner, but his reads and routes are decisive and advanced, especially his comfort going back on balls over his head and into the gaps. Also, part of the reason Rodriguez strikes out so much is because of his tendency to run very deep counts. He is patient and has terrific breaking ball recognition, so he's walked a ton so far in pro ball, but there's zero sign of a two-strike approach here, and Rodriguez could stand to shorten up and be in better position to spoil tough pitches with two strikes rather than try to do damage all the time. Rodriguez's swing is long and has big natural uppercut, which weaponizes his strength and power. It's also part of why he has in-zone whiff issues against fastballs that will likely worsen as he climbs the minors. Because he's built like a little tank and isn't a long-levered guy, Rodriguez is on time more often than a lot of other hitters who swing like this. His swing is long, but his levers are short, and so he has a better chance of getting by with this swing.

Even with a nearly bottom-of-the-scale hit tool, Rodriguez's defense, on-base skill, and playable power will help to make him a fourth outfielder. His offensive skill set is similar to that of George Valera, who also missed a bunch of time early in his career and was tougher to evaluate as a result, but Rodriguez is a better defender. There are some similarities to Brian Goodwin (ditto Rodriguez being the superior defender, though) and to Bradley Zimmer (longer levers) and Trent Grisham. On the whole, Rodriguez is a platoon/fourth outfield prospect who needs a lefty-mashing partner. He’ll likely have a big power-hitting season or two as well as some other very frustrating ones.

Raya was a beneficiary of the Scouting Halo Effect, as he was part of a high-level scouting run that included a huge college tournament in Houston just before the 2020 shutdown. The Twins got a deal done for just over $400,000, and it's astounding considering how far Raya has come despite beginning his career by missing 2020 due to the pandemic and 2021 because of a shoulder strain.

When he was throwing quarantine bullpens and healthy on the Fort Myers backfields, Raya would show you a mid-90s fastball and great natural breaking ball depth, but he didn't have the opportunity to demonstrate that he could do that throughout a whole season until 2022, when he pitched 65 innings across 19 outings. He rarely exceeded four innings in a given start but was healthy all year and sat 94-96 while mixing in two good breaking balls with Low-A Fort Myers. That's how Raya has looked again early in 2023 with High-A Cedar Rapids.

You see deliveries like Raya's all over baseball, a drop-and-drive style with a very short arm action and a vertical slot that imparts riding life on the ball. Things are simple and concise enough for Raya to have a consistent release and live around the zone. He's undersized but athletic, and projects to have starter-level command. His low-80s curveball has huge finish and plays nicely off his fastball, and Raya also throws a lot of two-plane sliders similar in velocity to his curves. Both breaking balls are way ahead of Raya's changeup, but even if that pitch never develops, his curveball has enough north/south movement to act as a platoon-neutral pitch and give him a weapon against lefties. There are three above-average offerings here, and so long as Raya can maintain his level of stuff across literally twice as many innings as he's been able to so far, he’ll be a mid-rotation starter.

Wallner hit for power during all three years of his college career at Southern Mississippi, even while pitching part-time as a freshman and sophomore. While some scouts thought he had pro potential as a hurler, an arm injury kept him off the mound during his junior year and Wallner's huge raw power carried most of the water for his draft profile. He had some of the most explosive raw thump in the 2019 draft class, drawing 70 or 80 grades from scouts.

The 2021 season was Wallner's first full pro campaign, and he hit 15 homers in just 66 games (slashing .264/.350/.508) as an old-for-the-level 23-year-old at High-A. His season was interrupted by a broken hamate, which can sometimes sap power output for many months after surgery to remove the broken bone, but Wallner slugged .465 in the 50-ish games he played after returning from surgery and kept on hitting for power against Fall League pitching. He then proceeded to lead all the minor leagues in hard-hit rate in 2022. By a lot. Wallner had a 60% hard-hit rate last year, nearly eight percentage points better than Rays prospect Curtis Mead, who was second. Wallner was at or near the top of every measurable power category in the minors last year and slashed .277/.412/.542 with 27 homers in a season split between Double- and Triple-A. He tallied 63 extra-base hits in just 128 games and made his big league debut in September.

Why isn't this guy just a top 100 prospect? Well, Wallner is a liability on defense and his hit tool is pretty flimsy. While he has thunderous, impact power, there are fair questions about whether or not he’ll get to it against big league stuff because of how often he swings and misses. He is often underneath high fastballs and over the top of offspeed stuff, even when both are finishing in the zone. His 70% Z-contact% last year would have comfortably ranked last among qualified big league hitters (Josh Donaldson's 75.5% mark was dead last in 2022). A below-average athlete with poor body control, Wallner is a bumbling outfielder and baserunner. It's possible he’ll experience late growth in these areas because, after all, we’re talking about a former two-way player who has missed significant time due to the pandemic and injury, but these will likely be long-term flaws in Wallner's game. Still, there is so much playable power here that Wallner is likely to be a strong-side platoon option as a RF/DH who has some years with 25-30 bombs.

The fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, Martin was seen by many teams as the best pure hitter in the class, but his position and power projection were both questions that went unanswered during his draft spring, which was shortened by the pandemic. A contact machine, he struck out just two times over 69 plate appearances during his COVID-shortened 2020 college season, but Martin struggled at shortstop and only had a few games in center field before the shutdown, not enough for teams to know whether or not he could actually play there. The Blue Jays drafted him and sent him directly to Double-A in 2021, and amid a trade to Minnesota as part of the José Berríos deal, that is where Martin spent both 2021 and 2022.

While his strikeout rates trended back into a superlative place during his two seasons at Double-A, Martin still doesn't have a clear position, and injuries and many swing tweaks continue to make it tough to project how much power he's going to have and whether it will be enough for him to profile as an impact player at the positions he's capable of playing. The Twins initially tried him in center field after acquiring him in 2021, but he spent most of 2022 at shortstop, which he doesn't have the range, hands, or actions to play. Martin is an average runner, so center field isn't likely in the cards, either. Instead, a combination of second base and left field makes the most sense based on his physical ability. He played second base during 2023 big league spring games until a sprained UCL sidelined him for the rest of Grapefruit League action and kept him on the shelf for the first couple months of the season. A source tells FanGraphs he may be back within a week of list publication. Martin also dealt with a wrist issue in 2022, which may have masked his power output during that campaign.

While several aspects of his profile are either middling or murky, Martin is going to hit. He tracks pitches well, his swing is compact, he can move the barrel around most of the zone, and Martin has lovely inside-out feel that allows him to pepper the oppo gap. Martin doesn't look like an impact player, but he’ll hit for lots of contact and projects to be a versatile enough defender to play a core two- or three-position role.

Prielipp was included in the Twins Imminent Big Leaguers prospect list on the off chance that he raced to the majors to meet the Twins’ bullpen needs, like White Sox lefty Garrett Crochet did a few years ago. I called it "bold and arguably stupid" to even consider that a possibility because Prielipp hadn't pitched in an actual game setting for a couple of years due to TJ, and in the days after his first start of the 2023 season, Prielipp felt tightness in his forearm and was shut down again to confirm my stupidity. As a wild freshman at Alabama, Prielipp looked like a potential eventual top five pick because of the quality of his stuff, primarily an upper-90s fastball and a devastating slider. He dealt with a couple periods of injury culminating in Tommy John surgery late in May of 2021, which kept him out for the entire 2022 college season. He threw a bullpen for scouts near the end of the college calendar and then threw again at the 2022 Combine, in both instances sitting 92-94 mph (regularly 94 and up to 95 at the Combine) with a more consistently short arm action than he showed before he blew out. Prielipp's slider was arguably the best pitch in the whole draft, but he came with more relief risk than most of the other college pitchers projected to go in the first two rounds, and he ultimately went in the second.

Prielipp did not pitch at an affiliate after signing with the Twins but was nails during 2023 spring training. Specifically, his slider was spinning with its usual 3,000-ish rpm, but it had added a few ticks of velocity and suddenly resided in the upper-80s, which is rare for a pitch that spins that fast. Prielipp's changeup also looks better now than it did in college. The shorter arm action has helped him sell it better than he was able to at ‘Bama, arguably giving Prielipp a greater chance to start than was perceived just a year ago. If you thought Prielipp was likely to wind up as a reliever anyway (which, pre-arm action change, was the overwhelming sense here at FanGraphs), then a fast track scenario in the bullpen makes more sense. I still think the bullpen scenario is more likely. Prielipp was already likely to be on a strict innings limit coming off the surgery, so missing a month to deal with this new forearm tightness doesn't alter his season a ton so long as his stuff is intact when he returns.

Woods Richardson was a two-way high school prospect who created varied opinions as a draft prospect because he was young for the class but not all that physically projectable. The Mets gave him about $1.8 million as their second rounder; Woods Richardson was flipped to Toronto as part of the Marcus Stroman trade and then came to the Twins at the 2021 deadline as part of the José Berríos deal. His fastball lost a couple of ticks in 2021 and has settled into the 90-93 mph range across the last few seasons. Luckily, Woods Richardson's command and the ride and deception created by his perfectly overhand trebuchet delivery help his fastball punch a little bit above its weight class. It also pairs nicely with his mid-70s overhand curveball, which Woods Richardson uses in concert with his fastball to get ahead of hitters before trying to finish them with either his slider or changeup. It's pretty curt for an upper-70s slider, which is slow by today's standards, but again Woods Richardson's command enables it to play like an average pitch.

If there's a concerning regression here, it's that SWR's changeup, once projected as a plus pitch, has looked pretty generic coming out of the gate in 2023. It lacks the powerful tailing action it has shown at peak. It's usually hard for pitchers with a due north arm slot like Woods Richardson's to turn over their changeup, and as his velocity and the whip and looseness of his arm action have slipped, so too has the pure quality of his cambio. A rebound in this area will be a key for him to hit his ceiling. There's no plus pitch here, but there are four viable offerings that all move in different directions as well as sentient command of them all, so SWR continues to project like a no. 4/5 starter.

Salas was ranked ninth in the 2019 international amateur class and actually got his first pro reps in Venezuela during the winter of 2020 when his would-be stateside debut was delayed because of COVID. Salas hit well in 2021 and 2022, spending the latter season split between the Florida State and Midwest Leagues before wrapping the year in the Arizona Fall League, where he looked talented but exhausted, which was especially noticeable in his defense. Over the winter, Salas was traded to Minnesota as part of the Pablo López/Luis Arraez deal.

He's really struggling out of the gate in 2023, as he's shown a dramatic uptick in his strikeout rate with High-A Cedar Rapids even though he hit pretty well in the Midwest League at the end of 2022 while still with Miami. Salas is seeing a lot of letter-high fastballs, which he both struggles to lay off of and to contact. His in-zone miss rates have still been very favorable in 2023, but his chase rates are up and this seems to be where his extra strikeouts are coming from. Is this a slump from which Salas can emerge or were we tricked into thinking he was good in the first place? He was viewed as a potential everyday player if you thought he could stay at shortstop, and more of a Josh Rojas type of infield prospect if you though he couldn't. He's definitely trending toward the latter, but we’re still talking about a very physical 20-year-old switch-hitting infielder with above-average bat speed. The Midwest League is miserable to hit in early in the year and Salas is young for the league. While his late 2022 look was enough to pull him off the Top 100 list, he still projects as a useful part-time big leaguer — he won't just be Ethan's brother. Avenues to a true everyday role could come from Salas developing more power than I project here. He is already quite physical for a player his age and doesn't have much room for more weight and strength without detracting from his mobility, so there's less future pop forecast here than there is for most 20-year-olds. The Josh Rojas comp feels apt on offense but Salas should become a slightly a better defender.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised for a bit stateside, Mercedes eventually settled in the D.R., where he became a prototypical right field prospect with plus potential power and arm strength. The Twins signed him for $1.7 million in January of 2022 and he had a raucous first pro season in the DSL, slashing .355/.420/.555 and swiping 30 bags. He began 2023 in extended spring training and was easily the most impressive prospect at Twins camp.

Mercedes’ hitting hands are incredibly explosive and work in a path similar to Ty France and Jose Miranda. This is one of those hitters who strikes the baseball with such force that it sounds different coming off their bat than other players their age. There's a gap between his raw and game power because he's a little chase-prone and will make suboptimal contact by swinging at pitches he should take, but Mercedes has feel for the barrel and his flexible lower half helps him adjust to vertically-oriented pitches. Even though he's quite physically mature, Mercedes does run well and he popped a few 4.2s during my time in Fort Myers. His reads and routes in center field aren't crisp right now but he has the speed to be developed there and hope that they improve. Things were rough enough from a feel and instincts standpoint that I haven't changed Mercedes’ projected position, but I have upped his long-term grade in right field, as he has special speed for a corner defender. From a tools standpoint, Mercedes is on par with high schoolers who go in the middle of the first round. Unless his issues with chase end up having a big impact on his hit tool, this is a player who actually has five-tool potential.

Built like an NFL cornerback, the sinewy Castro generates real pull-side thunder with his hands and does so in a short distance. He's not an especially loose athlete or rotator, but his combination of present power and body projection make him a high-ceiling corner outfield prospect. The Twins gave him a sizable $2.4 million bonus in January and international scouts have big expectations for his showcase tools as Castro fills out. He’ll likely trend to a corner outfield spot as that happens, putting pressure on the hit tool to be a 40 or better so Castro can get to all of this projected power.

The scintillating Chivilli was ranked seventh in the 2023 international amateur class and signed for a little over $2 million in January. He has a long-levered, projectable frame, runs a 6.5 60-yard dash, has a 70-grade arm, and also has exciting bat speed. He's also shown a relatively mature two-strike approach in games, and tracks pitches well, but most scouts see him as a power-over-hit sort of prospect. As well-rounded as he is exciting, Chivilli has big long-term ceiling and talent commensurate with a sandwich round high school draft pick. He spent the first half of 2023 working out at the Twins complex in the Dominican Republic and will spend his first pro season in the DSL.

The twitchy little Schobel hit .362/.445/.689 with 19 bombs as a draft-eligible sophomore at Virginia Tech and signed for $1 million as the Twins’ second rounder. He's a powerful low-to-the-ground athlete with a very good arm for a 5-foot-9 guy, and his range and arm looked like a clean shortstop fit when he was in college, though because he's at Cedar Rapids with Noah Miller, Schobel has played more second and third base so far in 2023.

The majority of Schobel's impact contact happened to his pull-side when he was in college, and he actually struggled to cover the outer third of the plate. In pro ball it has been the opposite, and while Schobel's over-the-fence pop is still going to stem from the hanging breaking balls he yanks to left field, he's become much better at getting on top of fastballs up and away from him and slashing them to right. There doesn't appear to have been a swing change here, but Schobel's plate coverage has leveled up and he's making roughly an average rate of contact compared to starting big league middle infielders. Don't expect Schobel to hit close to 20 homers in the majors or anything like that, but he's a well-rounded player whose true defensive ability is somewhat masked by the Twins’ developmental needs in the minors right now and is very likely to be an oft-used big league piece in a few years.

Canterino has an obvious starter's pitch mix on paper but has the visual look of a reliever because of his delivery's violence and his build, both of which are atypical for a starter. Scouts and analysts have had conflicting opinions about his ultimate role dating back to college, with the former much more likely to project him in the bullpen than the latter. He was healthy and holding plus stuff across 100-120 innings pretty consistently until 2020, but Canterino started to have frequent elbow issues in 2021 that culminated in a TJ near the end of the 2022 season, making him likely to miss all of 2023. He hasn't thrown more than 37 innings in any season since 2019 and he's very likely to be deployed in relief when he returns, as Canterino is now on the Twins’ 40-man roster and only has so much time to rebuild starter's stamina while his options dwindle. When healthy, he was sitting 94-95 mph with feel for consistent letter-high location, a mid-80s power slider, and a pronating, Devin Williams-style changeup with big arm-side fade and sink. All three pitches are plus, the changeup most comfortably so. He’ll be a very nasty bullpen piece if his stuff returns to pre-surgery levels.

Miller had a pleasing heuristic profile as an amateur, a switch-hitter with advanced feel to hit (especially for a Wisconsin high schooler) and a shot to stay at shortstop. He had a pretty vanilla first full pro season on paper and that has continued at the start of 2023, but the visual report is largely the same: Miller's bat-to-ball skills are real and he does enough at shortstop to keep developing there, but he isn't especially toolsy or athletic in the ways most impact big leaguers are. He has quick, smooth hands, great bat control, and feel for contact from both sides of the plate, but he isn't an especially strong or explosive hitter, and he hits a lot of soft serve grounders and line drives. Similarly, on defense, he has hands suitable for short, can throw accurately from all kinds of different platforms (especially to second base) and has a quick exchange, but his range and max-effort arm strength are both below what is typical of a big league shortstop. He’ll likely be fine there, and because many of his teammates deserve reps at the position, Miller's begun to see a little playing time at second base in 2023. Barring an unforeseen change to his physicality, MIller's ultimate role is likely to be that of three- or four-position utilityman akin to Ryan Goins.

Henriquez was part of the 2022 Mitch Garver trade, coming over from Texas along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa that March. Assigned to Triple-A St. Paul, he had his second straight season with an ERA just over 5.00 (and FIP just over 4.00) before getting his first big league cup of coffee at the very end of the 2022 campaign. Injured during 2023 spring training (right elbow inflammation — he was prescribed a PRP injection and rehab), Henriquez began the season on the IL. It was the first ever IL stint for the diminutive Henriquez, who has long faced durability questions because of his size, but who had maintained 93-95 mph velocity across about 100 innings for each of the last couple of years without medical incident. He looked totally fine when he returned to rehab in extended spring at the very end of April, sitting 95-96.

Henriquez's delivery is well-balanced and controlled over his landing leg, and it isn't especially violent. His looseness and athleticism combined with his perfectly reasonable walk rates helped drive starter projection here at FanGraphs despite his size while Henriquez was in the low- and mid-minors. His recent injury, the Twins’ roster makeup (they have many optionable starters at St. Paul), and Henriquez's recent struggles to throw his fastball for strikes have moved him into a long relief role now that he's back from injury. Henriquez began to take a slider-first approach to pitching in 2022, throwing the mid-80s offering 41% of the time and for strikes 70% of the time. Contrast that with his middling 63% strike rate with his fastball. His upper-80s split/change has sinking, fading action and is aided by Henriquez's consistent arm speed, though it doesn't always finish with sink and can sometimes sail on him. He will double and triple up on both his slider and changeup pretty frequently, and occasionally dump in a low-80s curveball. It's a starter's mix, but the fastball command points to a relief role for Henriquez. His repertoire is deep enough that he can be handed a multi-inning job.

Headrick isn't going to blow you away with stuff, but he has remarkably consistent command of his three-pitch mix, especially of his fastball and changeup, which both pepper the arm side of the plate almost exclusively. His size and awkward arm stroke create weird shape and angle on his fastball, which helps it to avoid being crushed despite his 30-grade velocity. He's carved up minor league hitters all the way up the ladder, was added to the Twins’ 40-man during the offseason, has pitched well at St. Paul to start 2023 (lots of 90-92 mph with the fastball, increased slider usage) and made his big league debut. Twins fans are familiar with this sort of backend starter prospect, one who finds a way to compete and succeed despite not throwing very hard. Headrick is ready to contribute in a spot starter capacity right now, but his strike-throwing stability will help him root into a backend role over time.

The youngest player in the Luis Arraez/Pablo López swap, Chourio is a projectable, switch-hitting outfielder who has precocious feel for contact. Chourio's swing is pretty simple and conservative, and doesn't have a lot of big movement or an elaborate finish. He might grow into strength-driven power that allows him to have relevant in-game juice while retaining his current swing, and balancing this while also remaining in center field will be the key to Chourio hitting his ceiling. He's started to add good weight and looked stronger early on in 2023 as part of the Twins’ extended spring training contingent, though, at least during my looks, he wasn't playing center field. The defensive question will be answered in time. For now, Chourio's foundation (bat-to-ball skills, physical projection) is in line with that of a $1 million amateur prospect.

De Andrade signed for $2.25 million in 2021 and was among the more well-rounded hitters in that international class, touting a collection of potential 50-grade tools and infield ability. After two average offensive seasons in the DSL and GCL, he was assigned to the Florida State League as a 19-year-old in 2023 and has played pretty well there amid an uptick in his strikeout rate. De Andrade's underlying data suggest his strikeouts will trend in a better direction going forward, though scouts now think he's filled out to the point where he’ll be limited to second and third base on defense. He's played both left-side spots so far in 2023. Unless his hit tool gets there, it's tough to find a plus tool here on which De Andrade would be able to hang his everyday third base hat, so he's instead projecting more like a two-position reserve infielder.

The 2019 Area Code Games home run derby champ, the Twins signed the lantern-jawed Rosario away from a Cal Baptist commitment for just over $300,000. This is exactly the sort of prospect who the Florida State League punishes. Rosario swings with incredible force and has big raw power for his age, but the hitting environment there suppressed his line to a slightly-above-average .239/.320/.408 in 2022. He still managed to crush 12 homers through the Florida humidity, and his underlying exit velos (most notably a 113 mph max) reinforce the visual evaluation of the power. Rosario struck out at a scary clip, though, enough that one can consider him a lower-probability prospect whose bat might bottom out altogether. His high-effort swing has zero precision and a flat, almost downward-cutting angle that generates lots of opposite field contact.

Still, he has too much power to dismiss entirely and he's started to show an ability to make adjustments. So far in 2023, Rosario has narrowed his approach. He's swinging and striking out less, and walking more often. His swing will always cause him to strike out a lot, so the on-base piece needs to improve to help his overall offensive profile stay afloat in right field. Rosario runs well underway and has plus range in the outfield and a plus arm, but his hands and ball skills are comfortably below-average and he sometimes mishandles the rock. He's not the same style of hitter, but the hope is for Rosario to profile in a role similar to the one Harold Ramírez plays for the Rays and not end up tracking like an Aaron Sabato sequel.

Knuckleballer alert! Lewis doesn't throw many of them but he does incorporate a knuckler into his mix, though he is mostly a prospect for other reasons. He gets an unusual number of in-zone whiffs on his 90 mph fastball because he tilts out like Michael Wacha, creating a vertical arm slot that imparts riding life on the baseball, and his fastball is averaging 20 inches of induced vertical break early in 2023. Lewis also commands the heck out of his little 80-82 mph slider and turns over a fair changeup from that vertical slot, which is rare but also Wacha-esque (though Lewis’ isn't as nasty). This is a backend starter's mix and command that will be stress-tested at the upper levels of the minors.

Cardenas was a three-year starter at UCLA whose sophomore year was cut short by COVID. His numbers trended down from his freshman season and he didn't improve very much as a receiver in college, so he fell to the 2021 eighth round. His receiving and ball-blocking still need to improve, and Cardenas’ high crouch makes it tough for him to move around deftly back there, but he has the requisite arm strength for the position and better contact skill than the average catcher. His leg kick and the way his hands load are evocative of Justin Turner, his stroke is compact, and his lower half is flexible and athletic. His big league future will be dictated by what kind of strides Cardenas can make on defense, and he's in an org that has made borderline defensive catchers into viable backstops.

After a rough first season there, Olivar had resounding success repeating the GCL in 2022 and won the league's MVP as he slashed .349/.442/.605. He's not the second coming of Pudge Rodriguez, but Olivar is an interesting bat-first catching prospect with a power-over-hit profile. His frame is muscular, bordering on maxed out, and will need to be kept in check as he traverses the minors, especially since we’re talking about a currently below-average receiver who is on the fringe of staying at the position. Olivar has the arm to catch, but will need to develop as a pitch framer. The Twins have given him run at several other positions, including second base and center field, though no infield time yet in 2023. Occasional time in the outfield might enable him to back into some positional versatility and give him a better chance of contributing to a roster if he isn't just the primary catcher. A fantastic lower-level prospect and one of several bat-first catching prospects in a system that tends to coax enough out of their gloves, Olivar is a high-variance youngster with some clear developmental checkpoints to hit. The 2023 season is his 40-man evaluation year but it's unlikely the Twins promote him aggressively unless he suddenly recreates his 2022 line. A current IL stint due to a hamstring strain will make that more difficult to do.

The Twins have pushed Adams pretty quickly, assigning him to Double-A Wichita at the start of the 2023 slate, his second full season. He's added a couple of ticks to his fastball since his draft spring with Sac State and now sits 92-94 mph. Formerly a fastball/changeup guy almost exclusively, Adams has also emphasized a mid-80s cutter that has become his go-to secondary pitch, more as a way of inducing weak contact than missing bats. The changeup, which Adams commands at or below the very bottom of the strike zone, is still his best long-term weapon for inducing whiffs, but he's definitely more of a groundball guy overall. He's moving fast as swingman prospect.

Sands has a four- or five-pitch mix and a quick-paced, short-armed delivery that disrupts timing. A lack of fastball movement and command, as well as an inability to build a starter's innings foundation (due to mostly non-arm injuries), push him to the bullpen, but Sands’ breaking ball has big bend and his splitter really dives. While it looks pretty, Sands’ slider has been hittable in the zone and he has started to prioritize a harder, cuttery breaking ball over time, and now that he's back in the big leagues, you can see that it has more horizontal movement and less vertical action than it did last year. Results have been mixed so far, as Sands’ augmented breaker is generating fewer whiffs. Ideally his breaking ball and split will both be able to miss big league bats. Sands is likely destined for a long relief role in which he pitches heavily off of all his secondaries.

Severino was part of the group of prospects cut loose from the Braves for their previous regime's malfeasance, and while he's performed at an above-average level since hooking on with the Twins, he's fallen down the defensive spectrum and is striking out a ton. Still, Severino has big switch-hitting power, especially from the left side. He can't really play defense anywhere, but he could be a dangerous bench weapon who can do damage from both sides of the plate.

Recent hitters producing premium exit velos in the DSL have developed with mixed results in subsequent seasons, with names like Maikol Escotto floating around as cautionary tales, reminders not to fixate on metrics at this level at all, and to take anything that relies on physical maturity (like hitting the ball hard) with a large grain of salt. Rodriguez's 2022 DSL performance was incredible. He led the league in homers and his underlying exit velos and barrel rate are both huge for a player his age, while his hard-hit rate was close to the major league average. Indeed Rodriguez has big power but he also comes with swing-and-miss risk that, because he's already near the bottom of the defensive spectrum, makes him a risky prospect. This is a traditional right fielder's skill set a great distance from the big leagues, likely requiring bat-to-ball improvement to be the impact player his exit velos might lead one to believe he's already projected to be.

Peguero hung around the bottom of Reds prospects lists for several years with the hope that the lanky young righty would add velocity. That finally arrived in 2021, with Peguero experiencing a three-tick velo bump and sitting 96 mph. He was traded to Minnesota prior to the 2022 season along with Sonny Gray and it looked as though he’d make his big league debut, but lower back issues stymied his season and were again the reason Peguero was on the shelf to start 2023. He's made a few appearances just before list publication and looks fine. His fastball is again in the 94-96 range and he now has a sinker variant that wasn't there before. His slider's shape is inconsistent and sometimes just floats toward the zone and backs up on Peguero, so he probably fits best as an up/down guy unless he and the Twins can tighten his slider the way they seem to have his fastball.

Laweryson has carved through the minors even though his fastball resides in the upper-80s. He reached Triple-A with a career ERA around 2.60 and a WHIP just above 1.00 with 30-grade fastball velo because of his command and the "round-up" elements his heater enjoys, mostly its uphill angle. None of his pitches are especially nasty, not his upper-70s slider nor his low-80s changeup, but all three of Laweryson's offerings pepper the strike zone with extreme regularity. He threw each of them for strikes about 70% of the time in 2022. It will be tough for him to seize a consistent big league job due to his lack of stuff, but if you need someone to come up and throw strikes in a spot start capacity or give you multiple innings out of the bullpen, Laweryson is a great option.

Brink was drafted by the Cubs in 2014, released in 2017, then pitched in Independent ball until the end of 2019 when he signed with the Brewers. Brink was then a minor league Rule 5 pick in consecutive years by St. Louis (just months after he signed with Milwaukee) and Tampa Bay. He didn't pitch in affiliated ball in 2017, 2018, or 2020, then went straight to Double-A in 2021 with the Rays, and pitched at Double- and Triple-A in 2022 on a minor league deal with the Padres. He was sitting 94-97 mph and touching 99 throughout 2022 and, now that he's with Minnesota, his fastball appears to have added more riding life and carry based on spring pitch data, which could give the wild Brink the in-zone margin for error he needs to survive in a big league role. Mechanical inconsistency impacts his fastball command, as well as the shape and quality of Brink's slider. At best, it's a plus mid-80s bender with two-plane wipe; at worst, it's nowhere near the zone. He's a likely up/down reliever whose epic journey merits a big league cup of coffee.

Balazovic has been out of sorts since minor league play resumed after the 2020 shutdown. His strikeout and walk rates have trended in the wrong direction since their incredible 2019 peaks, and opposing hitters absolutely tee’d off on all of Balazovic's pitches except his curveball in 2022. He seemed to have been moved to the bullpen at the onset of 2023, but he's stretched out to as many as four innings per outing closer to Twins list publication. His velocity has been stable, still sitting 93-95 mph and topping out at 97, and Balazovic tries to rush it past hitters way above the zone. If it's anywhere near it, hitters seem able to hit it, and Balazovic has had to work very inefficiently as a result. He's still using a fastball-heavy approach and it feels like he needs a move to the bullpen to be an effective big league arm.

Morris transferred from Colorado Mesa to Texas Tech for his fourth year of school as the Red Raiders tried to Voltron together a weekend rotation made up of transfers. He showed a four-pitch mix headlined by a vertical fastball/slider combo, with both capable of missing bats. His fastball only sits 92-94 mph, but it plays up due to secondary traits and because Morris’ delivery is really weird. Most pitchers with cross-bodied deliveries have a low arm slot but Morris’ is vertically-oriented. It's an uncomfortable look, but Morris threw a starter-quality rate of strikes in 2022 and has a shot to pitch at the back of a rotation based on his current look. It's feasible he's only scratching the surface of his pitch design potential, as arms tend to get better after they leave Texas Tech.

Mendez signed at a later age than most international prospects (age 22) and did so when the window for the 2019-2020 signing period was extended into October of 2020 to accomodate for some COVID-related changes to that process. He spent 2021 getting his feet wet on the complex and was of interest because of his mid-90s fastball, while his slider and changeup were both crude. While his ascent through the low minors has been slow due to his command, Mendez's slider has progressed and he has a shot to be a standard two-pitch middle reliever down the road.

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Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Catching DepthCarlos Silva, CAlex Isola, CPat Winkel, CAndrew Cossetti, C

Silva (not the 280-pound righty who also once played for the Twins) signed for $1.1 million in January as a power-hitting catcher with a maxed frame. Isola, Winkel, and Cossetti are all bat-first catchers who have work to do behind the plate.

Upper-Level Depth RelieversBlayne Enlow, RHPJaylen Nowlin, LHPKody Funderburk, LHPCarlos Luna, RHPJose Bravo, RHPSean Mooney, RHP

Enlow is carving Double-A even though his fastball has lost nearly three ticks from last year. He's commanding his heater up and to his arm side, and righties struggle to parse his in-zone breaking ball from his heater when he sets it up there. He could still be a low-leverage multi-inning reliever. Nowlin, 22, is starting at High-A Cedar Rapids right now, sitting 91-93 mph with a good slider. An eventual bullpen move might give him viable big league heat. Funderburk sounds like one of your old man's fake swears, but he's a 26-year-old lefty with a sneaky low-90s fastball and a fair slider. Luna, 26, is a great upper-level emergency depth arm with command of a bunch of 45-grade pitches in his slider, changeup, and riding 90 mph fastball. Bravo, 25, has six pitches if you count his four- and two-seamer as different offerings, the best of which is a power mid-80s changeup. Mooney, 25, had success as an older starter at Double-A in 2022 thanks to his three pitches’ big breaking action. He sits 92 and mixes in an average slider and changeup, but he hasn't pitched for a while due to shoulder tendinitis.

Younger Guys With UpsideAnderson Nova, OFRafael Cruz, 3BBryan Acuna, 3BAlejandro Hidalgo, RHP

Nova, 18, is a mature-framed, lefty-hitting outfielder with sizable present power. Cruz, 19, is a SS/3B with plus bat speed and a very raw overall game. Acuña comes from the talented Acuña family. He has plus bat speed, but his plate coverage isn't very good, and I consider him to have a high-risk hit tool. Hidalgo came over from the Angels in the Gio Urshela trade and has struggled. At peak, he’ll sit 94 mph, touch 97, and show you a hammer curveball, but his velo and strike-throwing have been absent for the last year or so.

Corner College BatsBen Ross, UTILJorel Ortega, 3BAaron Sabato, DH

Ross comes from Division-II Notre Dame College in Cleveland and is playing all over the diamond in the Midwest League, a potential super utility guy with vanilla offensive tools. Ortega, a Day Two pick from Tennessee in last year's draft, is crushing Low-A right now, but he should be after seeing SEC pitching for a couple of years. He hit 18 bombs last season and has big league physicality and power, which he most readily taps into when he can get extended and blast pitches up and away from him. Sabato, a former first rounder, produced some of the highest peak exit velocities in the minors last year, but he swings and misses a ton and is at the very bottom of the defensive spectrum.

System Overview

The AL Central-leading Twins have an above-average farm system thanks largely to their ability to acquire and develop pitching, and in spite of some recent early-round whiffs in the draft (like Alerick Soularie, Aaron Sabato, Keoni Cavaco, and Noah Miller, who is just okay). They target soft-tossing strike-throwers, often from smaller college programs, whose fastballs have underlying traits that will either enable them to play at a serviceable level if they sit 90 mph forever or really blow up if they start to throw harder. The players who break out (like David Festa and perhaps traded lefty Cade Povich) tend to be the more athletic, bigger-framed guys, while slower twitch guys like Bailey Ober and Brent Headrick have hovered around 90.

Because the Twins have had mixed success at the big league level during the last five years, they’ve made some sellers trades that have pulled prospects into the org from other systems. They cover the complexes pretty heavily and have been ready to pounce when the opportunity to do so has presented itself, most recently by plundering Byron Chourio from the Marlins. Even when they’ve made deals from a place of neutrality, like the Arraez/López trade, they’ve tended to get multiple prospects back in return, which has helped keep the system fairly deep. This is despite the buyers trades they made for relievers at last year's deadline. In particular, the four-for-one swap with Baltimore that netted Jorge López cuts pretty deep right now because Yennier Cano is out-pitching López on his own so far in 2023. The Twins clearly had holes to fill last year and you have to give up something to get something, but you shouldn't give up something, something, something, and something.

Minnesota is once again leading a weak division and is in position to add to the big club at the deadline. They are flush with fairly young, left-handed hitting power bats who aren't "prospects" anymore, but the group that includes Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, and 30-year-old Max Kepler strikes me as the well most likely to be drawn from in trade discussions because of their collective redundancy. The optionable starters on the 40-man are similarly deep.