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Minnesota Twins Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

The Twins saw a number of prospects provide key contributions this season, and there are still more coming. Who are the Twins' top 10 fantasy prospects?

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

With the playoffs in full swing, that means it will be time for teams to assess their needs for next season and start planning for a longer than hoped offseason. We're at the same point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and we're here to help you with the information you need as you prepare for your minor league drafts.

In previous years, we have done rather intensive top 10 prospect lists, including an organizational rundown, opportunities in the coming season, as well as the top fantasy prospects. However, we have found that a number of these topics are covered as we continue through the offseason, and specifically through profiles done as a part of our preseason redraft rankings. As a result, this year's top 10 lists will be primarily that: a list of the prospects with brief writeups rather than the 4000-8000 word opuses that have occurred in the past. We feel that this year's format will both suit the goal better (of providing fantasy relevant information and rankings) as well as allow us to move through them much more quickly so that they can be completed by the Christmas holiday.

The schedule itself is fairly basic: We cover a division, going in alphabetical order of city/location name. This means the next team after this post will be the Royals, and finish the division with the Twins. After that, we'll move on to the AL West. Once we've finished one league, we start over on the East Coast in the National League and do the same.

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat I provide every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the offseason, and so it is very possible that by the end of the offseason, how we view a player may be very different from where we had them originally.  We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

Something new I wanted to introduce this year is a tier system to help delineate where prospects are likely to fall on the overall top prospect list. We have not completed our top prospects lists yet, and will not likely do so until we are close to finishing all the prospect rankings. The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers which do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

#1 - Byron Buxton (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 22
ETA: 2016

Coming up through the minors, Byron Buxton was frequently compared to Mike Trout because he was a five tool center fielder with immense upside. While comparing him to Trout seems to be unfair, it is important to remember that Trout struggled when he was called up in 2011 similar to how Buxton struggled this year. The fact Buxton struggled in the big leagues shouldn't surprise anyone considering he had limited experience in the upper minors and was shaking off the rust from missing nearly all of 2014. Buxton showed signs of life, as he posted a .829 OPS over his last 19 games. He's still must own in every format as a player with a chance to put up special numbers across the board.

#2 - Jose Berrios (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 21
ETA: 2016

Jose Berrios has fairly quietly risen up the minors to become one of the top pitching prospects in the game. After struggling a little in 2013, Berrios has been outstanding at every stop the past two seasons. This year he split his season in AA and AAA, racking up 175 strikeouts with a combined ERA under 3.00. Berrios may not have the elite upside of a Lucas Giolito, but he's going to likely be a #2 starter and comes with a higher ceiling than most other pitching prospects because he doesn't have a true weakness. Despite his youth there isn't much more left for him to prove in the minors after dominating AAA in 76.2 IP. He's worth owning in any format as a guy capable of putting up numbers in every category but saves.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

#3 - Nick Gordon (SS)
Age on Opening Day: 20
ETA: 2018

Nick Gordon was awful in April and May, causing him to fall down some midseason prospect lists after being highly rated coming into the season. However a second half surge with OPS marks of .711, .772, and .791 in June, July, and August were enough to get him back in the conversation of top shortstop prospects. Dee Gordon's younger brother doesn't quite have the same speed- he only stole 25 bases this season, but he projects to have more power. He's more of a level at a time guy at the moment, but is worth owning in most formats due to projecting as one of the better shortstops in the league.

#4 - Max Kepler (OF/1B)
Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2016

Max Kepler was a fairly high profile international signee, but instead of being from Latin America he comes from Germany. He's one of the more interesting prospects in the game, not just because of his background, but because he plays all three outfield positions and first base- the rare centerfielder/first baseman. Kepler had 19 steals this season while hitting .318 in the minors. He doesn't have a ton of over the fence power right now, but could develop more to turn some of his doubles and triples into homers. He made his big league debut at the end of the season and will likely be back for good this season. I would recommend owning him in moderately sized minor league formats or AL only leagues because of proximity to the majors, versatility, and all category ability.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#5 - Tyler Jay(LHP)
Age on Opening Day: 21
ETA: 2018

Tyler Jay was the sixth overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft despite the fact he was used out of the bullpen for the University of Illinois. That fact leads to some major question marks about his ability to stick as a starter. I consider his ETA as 2018 as a starter because he needs to build up his innings and adjust to starting regularly in addition to the regular development needed from a normal starter, but he could see the bigs as soon as 2016 as a reliever. Jay has the pitches to be a difference making starter, but he's a big unknown. I would only own him in deeper leagues right now since he's going to need time.

#6 - Jorge Polanco (SS)
Age on Opening Day: 22
ETA: 2016

Jorge Polanco is a solid prospect that can stick at short or possibly move to second. He's not the potential impact guy that Gordon is, but he could still be an above average player that hits .280 with 5-10 homers and 20 steals. That's not a bad prospect at all, but at the same time he might be more valuable to the Twins than your fantasy team. I'm not going to own Polanco except in very deep leagues and AL only leagues because of that.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#7 - Kohl Stewart (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 21
ETA: 2018

Kohl Stewart was drafted 4th overall in 2013 and given a large bonus to keep away from playing quarterback at Texas A&M. Since then he's seen his stock go up and down a little in part due to a shoulder issue. He's got the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter, but shoulder issues at a young age are concerning and the fact he doesn't strikeout nearly as many hitters as his pure stuff suggests is also concerning. He's more of a deeper league target at the moment, but if he figures out how to miss more bats he will move up this list in a hurry.

#8 - Alex Meyer (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 26
ETA: 2016

Alex Meyer has great stuff but struggles with his command, leading to big league hitters and upper level minor leaguers hitting him hard. He moved to the pen and started to see better results. His value at this point is higher as a reliever that racks up strikeouts, but there is still a small possibility that he ends up starting again. I'm not going to own him now in anything but the deepest AL only leagues, but he's worth keeping an eye on.

#9 - Stephen Gonsalves (LHP)
Age on Opening Day: 21
ETA: 2017

Stephen Gonsalves may not have the best stuff, but he dominated Low A in 9 starts before a very strong season in High A. He projects as a #4 starter because he only has an average fastball, but he nearly struck out a batter per inning and could be one of those guys that manages to get by with his pitchability rather than pure stuff. He's a guy I'm looking at only in very deep leagues at this point, but if he can replicate his 2015 numbers in AA he will move up.

Tier 5 - We Ranked Ten Prospects, We Really Did

These prospects generally will be useful in the deepest of formats. Think 24+ teams for mixed leagues and single-league formats with more teams than the league it uses. In many cases, these will be part-time players or utility-types when they get to the majors.

#10 - Lewis Thorpe (LHP)
Age on Opening Day: 20
ETA: 2019

Australian native Lewis Thorpe has major upside, but he's far from the big leagues and missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery. He's got an impressive 11.2 K/9 rate over his two minor league seasons, but that's the reason a raw pitcher coming off a major injury got this spot. He's only worth owning in very deep leagues right now, but his fantasy potential is certainly there.