5. Max Kepler– First Base/Outfield
Date of Birth: February 2, 1993
Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent, 7/1/2009
The German lefty had a breakout season in 2015 and was one of the best hitters in Double-A. So good that he got a cup of coffee in the majors, and will compete for a big-league spot this spring, though he may start in Triple-A. Kepler figures to be a corner outfielder that most teams want, a guy who plays solid defense, is a good hitter, and has above-average power. He could fit well around power hitters like Sano and table setters like Gordon as he’s a good hitter with a little bit of speed. He’s also a guy that walks as much as he strikes out. I could see him carving out a solid career, and someone who can be the Twins number two or five hitter very soon. I’ll be even more confident in him if he has another solid 2016 and hits a little in the big leagues. He’s a lower grade A prospect.
4. Tyler Jay– Pitcher
Date of Birth: April 19, 1994
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (6th overall) of the 2015 draft
Jay made his debut in 2015 mostly pitching in relief, but that was just to see what he had and stretch his arm out slightly from his usual college innings. Jay has three above average pitches and could miss bats without walking many. He will be a good starter that gets outs and could be a borderline ace if everything pans out. He’s still a year or two away from the majors, but his ceiling is as one of the better lefties in baseball, and his floor isn’t dramatically worse, as a solid number two in most rotations. He’s a solid A-grade prospect that Twins fans should enjoy watching for years.
3. Jose Berrios– Pitcher
Date of Birth: May 27, 1994
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (32nd overall) of the 2012 draft
Berrios will compete for a rotation spot in 2016, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he won it. He’s another guy who could be a borderline ace after impressing at every level. He has an impressive K-BB ratio and held it at the AAA level, which is pretty impressive at 21. He should pitch many innings and can put together dominant starts that will help the Twins a lot over the course of the season. He’s a higher A-grade prospect, and is probably one of the 25 best prospects in baseball.
2. Nick Gordon– Shortstop
Date of Birth: October 24, 1995
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (5th overall) of the 2014 draft
I like Gordon more than most people, but I think he will be one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball in a few seasons and should stay that for most of his career. He’s above average at everything besides power. He more than held his own in the Midwest League last year. I think he’s one of the most underrated prospects in baseball despite his status of being a top 5 draft pick. He reminds of his brother, Dee, of course, but he’s a better hitter who won’t steal as many bases. More like 30-35 a year. He’s a higher A-grade prospect for me with an ETA of 2018.
1. Byron Buxton– Outfield
Date of Birth: Decmber 18, 1993
Acquired: Drafted in the first round (2nd overall) of the 2012 draft
Buxton made the majors in 2015, but he wasn’t very impressive. No need to worry though as arguably the top prospect in baseball (probably the second best) still looked good on defense and as a baserunner. Mike Trout had a bad first cup of coffee too. Buxton is one of the very few legitimate five-tool prospects that could put up many 20-20, and maybe even some 30-30 seasons and make amazing catches while keeping baserunners honest. His hit, field, and speed tools are his best strengths and I expect big things out of Buxton. He will start 2016 as Minnesota’s center fielder and is an A-plus prospect.