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Minnesota Twins Top-10 Fantasy Prospects

The Twins system is no longer viewed as a juggernaut, having slipped from arguably the best heading into 2015 to the back-end of the top-ten in 2016, and into the middle-of-the-pack for 2017. With so many prospects having graduated (for better or worse), how much help is on the way?

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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 that must be rehashed 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 off-season, and so how we view a player may evolve significantly over time. 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

The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing players 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 that do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

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

The Twins don't have anyone in this tier.

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.

#1 - Tyler Jay (LHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 21
ETA: 2018

Jay is a somewhat divisive prospect, due to his smaller build (he's listed at 6'1", 185 pounds) and his lack of experience as a starting pitcher (he was a reliever throughout his college career). That lack of ideal size couple with a short resume leads some to wonder whether he is built to succeed as a starter while throwing 180-plus IP. In my mind, there is no question that he has the stuff to do so, featuring a 92-94 fastball (reaching into the upper 90s at times), a plus to plus-plus slider in the upper-80s that racks up whiffs, a solid-average change-up, and a promising curveball. Factor in  average or better control, and the questions about his size seem a bit less serious. Jay has the upside of a second or third starter, and could debut this year if the Twins ease him along as a reliever to manage his innings.

#2 - Stephen Gonsalves (LHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 22
ETA: 2017

There are no concerns about Gonsalves' build, as the 22-year-old checks in at 6'5" and 213 pounds. He was dominant in the minors last season, pitching to a 2.06 ERA in 140 IP between High-A and Double-A, and striking out 10 batters per nine. His fastball sits in the low-90s with movement, but his change-up is his best pitch - it moves a bit like a splitter, and is difficult to pick-up out of his hand. Gonsalves has also shown promise with a curveball, as well, and his ability to have that as a workable third pitch will determine his ceiling. With his fastball, change-up, and average command, however, he has a high floor, and should reach the Majors this year.

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.

#3 - Nick Gordon (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 21
ETA: 2018

It's occasionally difficult to separate real world prospects from their fantasy selves, and that is the case with Gordon. The 21-year-old is probably one of the 50 best prospects in the Majors, due to his top-flight defense at shortstop - but his offensive profile limits him somewhat, even though he's a lock to stick at the position. Gordon has an above-average hit tool and above-average to plus speed (though, his base-running is limited due to poor reads and/or jumps), so it's easy to see him hitting .280-plus with 20-plus steals. However, his power is below-average at best, and is limited further due to his batted ball profile (lots of grounders and slap-and-dash). It's difficult to see him hitting more than 6 home runs, barring an unforeseen change in his swing.

#4 - Alex Kirilloff (OF)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 19
ETA: 2020

The Twins selected Kirilloff 15th overall in the 2016 draft, on the strength of his average or better tools across the board, and surprising polish for a high school product. He flashed all of that in his professional debut, batting .306/.341/.454 with 7 HR in 232 PA in the Appalachian League, and drawing praise for his contact skills (he struck out in just 13.7% of his PA). Kiriloff has an above-average hit tool, making consistent, hard contact to all fields, and the potential for above-average to plus power. He only attempted one steal as a professional, but all reports indicate that he could be a factor on the bases, as well. Kirilloff's ultimate ceiling is a middle-of-the-order bat - a true right-fielder profile.

#5 - Kohl Stewart (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 22
ETA: 2017

Stewart is ranked this high for what he could be, despite that player having yet to show up in the minors. The 22-year-old has done a fine job of limiting hard contact as a professional, and keeps the ball on the ground with his low-90s sinking fastball and hard slider. He also throws a power curveball that plummets through the zone, and picks up a fair amount of whiffs. However, Stewart struck out just 91 batters in 143.2 IP last year, and that represents a dramatic improvement from 2015. His stuff suggests a top of the rotation pitcher with plenty of strikeouts, but he has yet to be that guy. He's undoubtedly young enough to improve, but there's a large gulf between his ceiling and floor.

#6 - Fernando Romero (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 22
ETA: 2018

Romero missed most of 2014 and all of 2015 as the result of Tommy John Surgery, which is a disconcerting start to a professional career. However, he showed precious little rush in 2016, as he dominated Single-A and High-A to the tune of a 2.09 ERA in 90.1 IP (with 90 strikeouts and just 15 walks). The 6' tall righty sits in the mid-90s with an elite fastball (occasionally hitting triple digits), and uses a high-80s slider as his strikeout pitch (though, he picks up plenty of swings and misses with the fastball). His change-up is a fringe-average to average offering, as well, giving him perhaps the highest upside in the Twins organization. Romero needs to stay healthy, and prove that he's durable enough to throw 180-plus innings (a question due to his size) - if he can, he could be a top-10 prospect in all of baseball this time next year.

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 - Ben Rortvedt (C)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 19
ETA: 2020

This is an ambitious ranking, based wholly on scouting reports. The 19-year-old has all of the tools to stick behind the plate, which helps to put him on our radar immediately given positional scarcity. His offensive potential is, of course, what sets him apart, as he has an average hit tool, above-average power, and a sound approach at the plate, which could eventually see him become a top-ten fantasy asset at his position. He's a few years away, but he has the potential to bat .270 with 20-plus home runs.

#8 - Adalberto Mejia (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 23
ETA: 2017

Mejia is not a terribly exciting prospect, as his ceiling falls a bit short of a mid-rotation profile. However, he has a fairly high floor, leading most to believe that he should have little problem becoming a fixture in the back of the Twins rotation. Checking in at 6'3" and 240-plus pounds, Mejia has the sort of build that suggests durability, and above-average command of three average pitches, in his fastball, slider, and change-up. All of his pitches can play up at times, too, due to his ability to pound the bottom of the strikezone. He won't pick up too many strikeouts at the highest level, but he'll soak up innings with average-ish peripherals - and he should be given that opportunity this year.

#9 - Travis Blankenhorn (3B)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 20
ETA: 2019

Blankenhorn is another player with a relatively high floor, though his position remains a bit up in the air. He played second base this past season, but seems better suited for a corner position (and he has a great deal of experience at third, where most think he can stick). Offensively, it's a solid yet unspectacular profile, as he has an average to slightly above-average hit tool, and average to slight above-average power. Blankenhorn should be able to hit .270 with 15-plus home runs, which would like quite good at third (and less so in the outfield or at first).

#10 - Wander Javier (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 18
ETA: 2021

This is an interesting way to wrap-up the list, as Javier is an about-face from so many players listed ahead of him. The Dominican shortstop will not turn 18 until December 29, and has just 30 PA as a professional (in which he hit .308/.400/.654 with a couple of home runs). That being said, he probably has the highest ceiling of any Twins position player, as a true shortstop that has average or better hit, power, and speed tools ('s Prospect Pipeline even suggested that he could eventually have above-average hit and power tools). Javier is several years away, so there's risk - but there's a great deal to like here.