Thursday, January 30, 2014

Twins Prospects: 5-1

Here is part 10 and final installment of my prospect list I hope you enjoyed the earlier parts.  Today I will be bringing you prospects 5-1.  I brought you 5 a day until we got all the way to number one.  This took awhile so I hope you kept checking back here for daily looks at who I had in certain spots and what I think of them.  I am sure you  disagreed with some and if so by all means leave me a comment in the comment section.  If you prefer you can also shoot me an email at  Also if you prefer you can hit me up on twitter @texastwinsfan so whichever way you prefer let me know what you think of my list.

List can also be seen at

5. Lewis Thorpe LHP 11/23/95   18 Signed as a Free Agent in 2012 out of Australia
2013 stats: 4-1  2.05 era  12 games  8 starts  44 inn  32 hits  6bb  64k
2013 team: Gulf Coast League Twins
2014 team: Elizabethton
ETA: 2017

The left handed fireballer from Australia really came out of nowhere in 2013 after being signed as a free agent for 500,000 in July of 2012.  The Twins have had some really good luck out of Australia as they got major leaguers in Luke Hughes and Liam Hendriks from the land down under.  If you just look at pure upside he is best player ever signed out of Australia.  The problem with projecting someone this high is he is so far away as he would likely need five promotions to make it to the Twins.  He also has so young and so limited experience that we don’t know if 2013 was a fluke or if it was just the tip of the iceberg because he only pitched in 44 innings so far as a professional.  The reason I don’t have a problem projecting him this high is because of all the experience he has in the Australian Baseball League which he has a ton of experience in.  The other reason I don’t have a problem with it is prospect lists are all about projections and his upside is that of an ace and as Twins fans well know that is hard to find.  In 2013 Thorpe went 4-1 with a 2.05 era in 44 innings in which he just gave up 32 hits.  The most impressive thing was he had just the six walks in those 44 innings while striking out an impressive 64 guys.  Thorpe is young and continues to grow as he is 6’1 and a razor thin 160 pounds so he needs to get stronger.  He has picked up velocity on his fastball as he normally hits 92-93 and touches 95.  He has a really good changeup and also throws a curve ball and a slider.  Right now he is getting by with his fastball that he can blow guys away with.  This year and especially when he gets to full season he is going to need to improve that curveball and slider as starting pitchers can’t get by only having two pitches.  The curve and slider show potential and is something he needs to work on.  I look for him to throw 95-96 consistantly as he gets stronger and stronger and if he can develop those breaking pitches he has the chance to be special.  Being he is so far away it is a work in process as he has a ton of things he needs to improve on.  One thing I love about him is his control as he only walked six batters in those 44 innings which is unheard of.  I don’t expect the walk totals to be that low going forward, but if he can limit it to 2-3 walks per nine innings he will have much success.  I have not been this excited about a pitching prospect in a long time.  If Twins fans can be patient with him they won’t be sorry as I view he is the future for Twins pitching as I feel he is an ace in the making and Twins fans should keep an eye on the stud pitcher.

4. Kohl Stewart RHP 10/7/94   19 1st round pick in 2012 out of HS in Texas
2013 stats: 0-0 1.35 era  7 games  4 starts  20 innings  13 hits  4bb  24k
2013 teams: GCL Twins, Elizabethton
2014 team: Cedar Rapids
ETA: 2017

When the Twins drafted Kohl Stewart with the fourth pick in the 2013 draft there was excitement about his upside, but there was a question of signablity as he had a full ride playing quarterback at Texas A&M.  The questions about signing him disapated on draft night when in an interview the Houston native stated how excited he was to be part of the Twins organization and how he planned on signing.  That took a lot of the pressure off both sides and they were able to come up with a figure that worked for both sides.  The two sides ended up coming up with a figure of just over 4.5 million or just about slot to get the big right hander signed with the Twins.  He did not pitch much in 2013 due to protecting his arm and also have a freak accident where he just his foot on a rock that cost him some time.  He started out in the GCL and in 16 innings he gave up three runs on twelve hits along with three walks and sixteen strikeouts for a 1.69 era.  Late in the season he got a callup to Elizabethton where he got one start and pitched four shutout innings on just one hit with a walk and eight strikeouts.  Overall, he worked just 20 innings for the Twins after work 40 during the high school season.  The Twins are going to be very careful with him as they are going to watch his innings very aggresively.  I think he likely starts the season in extended spring training and then when the weather warms up he goes up to Cedar Rapids.  He might start the year in Cedar Rapids, but what i am sure about is I don’t expect to see him pitch much more than 100 innings in 2014 and will probably skip him from time to time to save his arm.  Stewart’s best quality in my opinion is his atheticism as he can do everything  you want out of a pitcher.  Stewart has a cockiness about him that scouts love because he believes no body can get a hit off of him and me personally I love that about him.  He throws his fastball in the 92-94 range, but keep in mind he has never worked soley on baseball before so when he works on mechanics and he gets stronger I expect his velocity to get up to the 96-97 range.  His best pitch is his slider that can be nasty at times.  He also throws a changeup and a curve ball that have some work to be done on.  He is also experimenting with a sinker that if he can perfect can create more ground balls.  Stewart is so young, but also so talented that has the ability to be a top of the line starter.  The problem is he is so far away that things can happen so there is really no way to know how good he can be.  I am really excited to see how he does in Cedar Rapids this year to see how he responds to some tribulations for the first time.  I really think barring injury that Kohl Stewart has big time starter written all over him and it will be exciting to see him develop for the Twins.

3. Alex Meyer RHP 1/3/90   24 1st round pick by Wash in 2011 draft from Kentucky.  Acquired by Twins in 2012 for Denard Span
2013 stats: 4-3  2.99 era  16 starts  78.1 inn  67 hits  32bb  100k
2013 teams: GCL Twins, New Britain
2014 team: New Britain
ETA: 2014

When the Twins traded Denard Span to the Nationals after the 2012 season most people when they heard the return for Span they were like Alex who?  Well a year later just about every Twins fan knows exactly who Alex Meyer is.  I can tell you exactly who Alex Myer is in two words I would say the future.  That is exactly what Alex Meyer is for the Twins as he is the future for what the Twins want to become.  If the Twins are going to remain competitive with the Tigers they need to be able to compete in the pitching staff.  Alex Meyer has it all and is turning the tools into skills and figuring out what it takes to become a top of the line starter.  When the Twins acquired Meyer there were some questions if he could throw enough strikes in order to be effective.  Even though he missed a couple months due to a shoulder injury, but he showed in Arizona that he has figured everything out.  In 2013 he went 4-3 with a 2.99 era in 78.1 innings.  In just over 78 innings he gave up just 67 hits so that is a good indication that he does something that not many Twins starters have done since Johan Santana left and that is miss bats.  He did walk 32 guys in 2013, which needs to improve to be successful.  Being 6’9 it can be hard sometimes to repeat his motion so that will always be a problem, but if he can limit his walks to 2-3 walks per nine innings then he will be fine.  In a word Alex Meyer throws gas as he generally sits between 95-98 with an occasional 100.  He throws a nasty slider that can be at times unhittable.  He also throws a nice curve ball that is very good and a change up that is ever improving.  He has four above average pitches and he is gaining more and more control over those pitches which will only help him.  As much as those other pitches are important his fastball is his bread and butter pitch and there are a lot of hitters that will be blown away by it.  However, once he gets to the majors a straight fastball will not be enough for him.  That is why those breaking pitches are so important in order to get guys off his fastball.  If he can develop his change up it will make his fastball look like 110.  At 6’9 he has long arms and legs that fly at you when he is in his delivery which can be overwhelming.  Alex Meyer has to keep up with what he is doing and continue to work hard.  I look for Meyer to be up with the Twins by mid season and don’t look for him to leave Minnesota again and that is exciting to think about.  The future for Alex Meyer is so bright and it won’t be long till Twins fans won’t have to dream about it as it will happen period.

2. Miguel Sano 3b 5/11/93   20 Signed as a Free Agent in 2009 from DR  
2013 stats:.280 avg  35hr  103rbi  30doub  5trip  11sb  86 runs  65bb  142k .382/.610/.992
2013 teams: Fort Myers, New Britain
2014 team: New Britain
ETA: 2014

Miguel Sano was going to be one or two on just about everybody’s list and would be number one on just about every other organizations top ten.  There was a prediction of greatness even before the Twins signed him for 3.15 million in 2009.  He is probably the most powerful hitter prospect in all of minor league baseball.  He is very athletic and has quietly started to quiet his critics about his defense through hard work.  He has started to get more selective as pitchers quit pitching to him.  In the past he would chase pitches out of the strike zone and help out the pitchers, but he is starting to stop chasing those pitches.  He still strikes out at an alarming rate, but he has developed an eye to go with it.  After signed after the 2009 season he split the 2010 season between the DSL Twins and the GCL Twins and hit .307 with seven homeruns and a .870 OPS.  In 2011 he moved on to Elizabethton and put up huge numbers.  He hit .292 with 20 home runs with a impressive .988 OPS.  He moved on to Beloit in 2012 and hit 28 homeruns with 100 rbi’s and a .893 OPS.  Then he ramped that up in 2013, but he struggled a bit in New Britain after dominating in Fort Myers.  At Fort Myers he hit .330 with 16 homeruns and a 1.079 OPS.  He moved up to New Britain and continued to hit for power but his average suffered.  The 142 strikeouts that he had in 2013 was a problem, but the 65 walks was similiar to what he did in 2012.  Sano is a big guy at 6’4 and 250 pounds so he is not going to be the most nimble guy defensively.  I saw him live when he was in Beloit in 2012 and was impressed with the athleticism he showed for a guy his size.  Most of the errors are mental not physical because he would make plays that are difficult and then will boot an easy one.  He also has a very strong arm and is finally being able to control it as most of his errors were throwing errors compared to the fielding variety.  For a guy his size he runs pretty good and can hit some triples that you don’t expect of someone his size.  Earlier in his career he had problems with maturity and even last year he was benched in New Britain for a week for showing up a former teammate.  However, Sano is going to always be a little cocky the thing is he needs to respect his opponents a little bit better.  Sano will always hit for power as he hit 19 homeruns in New Britain while only hitting .236.  He needs to cutdown on his strikeouts, but because of the type of swings he makes he will always strikeout atleast 100 times, but the key is getting close to 100 walks a year to go with that.  There is no denying that Sano has superstar written all over him and will in all likelyhood be a future All-Star.  Sano will likely start 2014 in New Britain and by July I expect him to be back in Minnesota looking to make an impact.  I can’t be more excited about a prospect than I am about him as I see Miguel Cabera type of power without the hitting abilities that Cabrera has.  I think he will be a perrenial 30-35 homerun guy who will a few times hit in the 40’s.  Twins fans should be really excited about him as we have been waiting for him for years it seems and finally the future appears to be arriving.

1.  Byron Buxton CF 12/18/93  20 1st round pick in 2012 draft out of HS in GA
2013 stats:.334 avg  12hr  77rbi  19doub  18trip  109runs  55sb  76bb 105k  .424/.520/.944
2013 teams: Cedar Rapids, Fort Myers
2014 team: New Britain
ETA: 2015

When the Twins had the number two overall selection in the 2012 draft the smart money was that the Twins should take a pitcher with Denard Span and Ben Revere in their 20’s and controlling center field and uber prospect Aaron Hicks knocking on the door.  However, the Twins have always taken who they feel is the best player available and they did that again when they selected Buxton out of a small high school in Georgia.  Things got interesting when Houston passed on Buxton to take Carlos Correa due to saving money for later even though most felt Buxton was the most talented player in this draft.  The Twins had no problem taking Buxton as they said it will all work itself out.  Well less than two years later Span and Revere are no longer in the organization and Hicks is not a sure thing and if he makes it he will be a corner outfielder.  The reason for that is because of Buxton who is pretty much the number one prospect in all of baseball no matter what list you read.  He is a true five tool player as he can hit for average, steal bases, good arm, good defense, and developing power.  There was no way to know how quickly he would pick it up as he did not face a ton of bigtime competition in high school.  After signing in 2012 he split the season between the GCL Twins and Elizabethton and was not that exciting.  He hit .248 wiht a .344 obp which is nothing to sneeze about, but nothing to get incredibly excited about.  Then 2013 happened and Byron Buxton took how like a rocket and dominated minor league baseball unlike anything I have ever seen.  In between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers he hit .334 with 59 xtra base hits including 12 homeruns.  He also stole 55 bases to boot and had a slash line of .424/.520/.944.  With that performance he rose like nothing anyone had ever seen and became the clear cut number one prospect in all of baseball.  He does everything really well and has a good head on his shoulders so when i critique I feel like i am nitpicking as he is so good already and he is just 20 years old.  A couple things I would like to see him improve on is although he walks a ton and has a great eye at the plate he also strikes out more than I would like as he struck out 105 times in 2013.  As a likely leadoff man you would like to see his strikeouts go down 25 percent from what it was in 2013 and I believe it will.  The other thing is for him to become a better basestealer and that seems like crazy talk for someone that stole 55 bases last year, but he did get caught 19 times.  Just as important to a basestealer as stolen bases is his success rate as you don’t want to ruin too many innings by getting thrown out.  Those are minor fixes that I think he will make.  I expect him to start 2014 in New Britain and regardless if he gets up to Minnesota this year or not I expect him to begin 2015 as the Twins opening day center fielder.  He has all the tools to be special and the drive to acheive it.  I really have very little doubt that Buxton is going to be a superstar at the major league level.  Twins fans should get used to seeing him at Target Field as he is going to be patrolling center field for a long time and help bring back a World Series title to Minnesota.

I hope everyone enjoyed my look back from 50 until 1 and I don’t expect you to agree with me on all the picks but i hope you leave me a comment what you thought of the list overall or shoot me an email at or tweet me at @texastwinsfan Thanks for reading and have a great day.

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