2021 Minnesota Twins Top 5 Prospectsby John Lepore March 2, 2021 6 comments
The Minnesota Twins have a solid system heading into 2021. Unfortunately, their future at shortstop, Royce Lewis, suffered an ACL tear and will miss the season. Not to worry though Twins fans, there are still a few guys on the farm that can make a major impact very soon. A couple of them will be up this season and get their first taste of the majors. So, aside from Lewis, let’s take a look at the Minnesota Twins Top 5 prospects.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
#1 – Alex Kirilloff – OF/1B
The 23-year-old was drafted 15th overall in 2015 out of High School. He has done nothing but hit. In 2019 at Pensacola in Double-A, Kirilloff slashed .283/.343/.413. While it wasn’t eye-popping, he did hit nine home runs and steal seven bases. The promising part is also in his ability to make contact, striking out only 18.5% of the time. Originally drafted as an outfielder, Kirilloff logged 35 games at first base for Pensacola. He will have some versatility but it may very well be his left-field job to lose in spring training since the Twins moved on from Eddie Rosario.
Kirilloff may see some time at first for the Twins as well. Miguel Sano is currently slated to man the position, but he hasn’t played more than 116 games in a season. Sano also struggled in the small sample size last year slashing just .204/.278/.478 while leading the league with 90 strikeouts in just 205 plate appearances. Don’t be surprised if Kirilloff supplants Sano at first base this season and runs with the opportunity. The kid can flat hit.
#2 – Trevor Larnach, OF
The big lefty was selected out of Oregon State in the first round of the 2018 draft. He doesn’t run well but has a strong arm that profiles well in a corner outfield spot. After being a doubles machine in 2019 at Advanced-A ball (26 doubles in 361 PAs), Larnach was moved to Double-A Pensacola. He played 43 games there and slashed an impressive .295/.387/.455 with seven bombs in 181 PAs. He is 6’4 and listed at 225 lbs with a quick bat.
Adjusting to major-league pitching remains to be seen. The Twins are in no rush to move Larnach up the chain. They have the aforementioned Kiriloff ready for the majors along with Max Kepler locked into right field for the next few years. It seems that by 2022 Larnach may be manning first base with Kiriloff in left field. Don’t expect the former Beaver up this season unless it’s a September call-up, but when he does get to the Show, expect fireworks.
#3 – Jordan Balazovic, RHP
The tall lanky righty was taken in the fifth round in 2016 out of High School. He has filled into his 6’5 frame and is listed at 215 lbs. Back in 2019, Balazovic made two stops in A-Ball. He threw 93.2 innings and had an impressive 129/25 K/BB rate while surrendering just four HRs. His fastball is considered heavy and he induces ground balls at a good clip. His fastball ranges from 94-97mph. Balazovic’s offspeed pitches play up with the differential in speeds and have above-average potential.
With the 2020 season a wash for the minor leagues, Balazovic should see extensive time at the Double-A level this season. If he refines his offspeed pitches and continues to dominate the competition, he could find himself in the rotation in 2022.
#4 – Jhoan Duran, RHP
The Twins acquired the big right-hander in 2018 from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Eduardo Escobar. Since coming over to the Minnesota system, Duran has thrown 151 innings and struck out 180 batters. He has also kept the ball in the yard, allowing only nine home runs in that time. Duran features an impressive fastball around 97 mph and can touch triple digits. He is working on a curveball which he throws about 82-85 mph. The Twins want to see him throw it for strikes though.
In the middle of the dominant fastball and work-in-progress breaking ball is what they call a “splinker”. As you may have guessed, it is a mix of a splitter and sinker, and Duran throws it anywhere from 88-94 mph. He is a big kid at 6’5 and 230 lbs. and has already logged over 100 innings in 2018 and 2019. Duran may see time in the majors this season, but more likely than not, he will wait until 2022. If he can control his curve and even slow it down a notch, he has the potential to be an ace.
#5 – Ryan Jeffers, C
When Mitch Garver struggled and then got injured last year, the Twins brought up their second-round pick from 2018. Jeffers had a successful run in his 62 PAs with the big club. He slashed .273/.355/.436 with three HRs and didn’t look overmatched at all at the plate. His Average Exit Velocity was 91.6 mph and his Hard Hit Rate was 42.9%. The MLB Averages were 88.0 mph and 37.0% respectively.
The Twins love what he brings behind the plate with a strong arm and high baseball IQ. He is a big kid at 6’4 and 235 lbs. and his power will be there. How much he will hit over a full season is still the question. With Garver likely back as the starter, Jeffers may have to wait to get regular playing time. The Twins have a ton of confidence in the 23-year-old backstop and the leash will be short for Garver if he struggles again to start the season.
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