2022 Minnesota Twins Top 5 Prospects

2022 Minnesota Twins Top 5 Prospects

by February 18, 2022 1 comment

After winning the American League Central in 2019 and 2020, the Minnesota Twins took a major step back last year. The pitching was a big culprit with Kenta Maeda injured and having an off-year while Jose Berrios was shipped off to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline. Nevertheless, the Twins have a bunch of pitchers ready to make an impact over the next two years. Let’s take a look at who sits in the top 5.

Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.

1. Austin Martin, Centerfield/Shortstop

Hit: 65
Power: 45
Run: 55
Arm: 45
Field: 55
Overall: 55

Martin absolutely tore the cover off the ball at Vanderbilt. He was subsequently taken by the Toronto Blue Jays with the fifth overall pick in 2020. He started at Double-A for the Jays and was part of the Berrios deal sending him to the Twins system where he stayed at the Double-A level. Altogether in 2021, Martin slashed .270/.414/.382 with five home runs and 14 stolen bases in 93 games. He also struck out less than 20 percent of the time.

Martin has exceptional plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills. He simply doesn’t swing at pitches out of the zone and can take a walk. The power may never be there, but the Florida native could get into double-digits. Martin’s speed helps him on the bases and in the field although there is a question as to where his defensive home should be. He has split time between shortstop and centerfield but would likely be more of an asset in center due to his fringy arm. Either way, the right-handed hitter’s prowess at the plate will force him into the lineup as a leadoff hitter.

ETA: 2022

2. Joe Ryan, Right-Handed Pitcher

Fastball: 60
Slider: 55
Changeup: 50
Curveball: 50
Control: 55
Overall: 55

Another player that came over to the Twins from the AL East last year, Ryan arrived from Tampa Bay in the Nelson Cruz deal. The Twins saw enough to give him five starts at the major league level in September to the tune of a 4.05 ERA and an impressive 30/5 K/BB rate over 26.2 innings. He also allowed just 16 hits but was victimized by the long ball giving up four homers.

Ryan’s fastball is his bread and butter. He throws a four-seamer at 93-96 at the top of the zone with good spin. His slider sits in the mid-80s and he controls it well. The former Cal State product will have to improve on his average curve and change to give him a full arsenal, but there is promise here due to Ryan’s knack for pounding the zone. He will be in Minnesota’s starting rotation this year.

ETA: 2022

3. Jordan Balazovic, Right-Handed Pitcher

Fastball: 65
Slider: 55
Changeup: 55
Control: 55
Overall: 55

Balazovic was drafted in the fifth round out of an Ontario High School in 2016. The 6-foot-5 righty pitched all of last year at Double-A Wichita. He had a solid 3.62 ERA while striking out 102 in 97 innings over 20 starts. He has been improving his strikeout total since 2017 which is promising and to see him still set down more than a batter per inning at Wichita means the gains he made are sustainable.

One of the reasons Balazovic increased his strikeout numbers is because he added strength to his lanky frame. His fastball now sits in the mid-90s and has good life at the top of the zone. His slider is almost like a slurve but with harder bite to it and his changeup is has come along as a solid offspeed offering. Balazovic has good command of his three pitches and knows how to work the edges of the plate to reduce hard contact. He should be vying for a rotation spot once we get baseball going again in 2022.

ETA: 2022

4. Josh Winder, Right-Handed Pitcher

Fastball: 60
Slider: 55
Changeup: 55
Curveball: 50
Control: 55
Overall: 55

This is probably not a name you would have expected here. However, Winder pitched well between Double-A and Triple-A last year. In 14 starts, the right-hander had a 2.63 ERA and a 0.944 WHIP. He struck out 80 and walked just 13 in 72 innings. Keeping the ball in the yard is where he needs to improve as he surrendered nine homers.

Winder was a seventh-round pick out of the baseball hotbed that is the Virginia Military Institute. He added a little weight to his 6-foot-5 frame and now hums his fastball up to 98, sitting 93-96. The slider and changeup have come along well and Winder’s repeatable delivery and good mechanics allow him to pound the strike zone. At 25 years old, he should be in camp with a shot at the major league rotation for the Twins.

ETA: 2022

5. Royce Lewis, Shortstop

Hit: 55
Power: 50
Run: 65
Arm: 55
Field: 55
Overall: 55

The former first-round pick hasn’t played a meaningful baseball game in two years. Between COVID in 2020 and a torn ACL in 2021, Lewis will have to try to pick up where he left off in the Arizona Fall League in 2019 when he had a .975 OPS with three homers and five steals in 22 games.

Lewis is still only 22 years old, so he has time to live up to being the first overall pick in 2017 out of High School. He has been primarily a shortstop so far in his minor league career and the Twins believe he can stay there. Lewis is athletic with very good range and a solid arm. If his bat can develop and he can shake off the rust, Lewis could be Minnesota’s starting shortstop in 2024.

ETA: 2024

What Does the Future Hold?

There are three other intriguing arms in Minnesota’s system. Simeon Woods Richardson came over with Martin from the Jays in the Berrios deal. He seemed to have lost the strike zone a bit after the 2020 shutdown, but he is still just 21 and should develop. Jhoan Duran is a big boy (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) with a big power repertoire, hitting triple-digits occasionally. The worst-case scenario is that Duran is a dominant bullpen piece. Matt Canterino has a solid pitch mix and a very unorthodox delivery. He may be another bullpen piece but has starter upside due to his four-pitch mix.


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