Twins rookie evaluation: First impressions of 2022’s graduating prospect class

September 15, 2022

Every offseason, I rank the Twins’ top-40 prospects. And every season, a number of of them spend sufficient time within the huge leagues to graduate out of prospect standing by reaching MLB’s official Rookie of the 12 months award threshold of 130 at-bats or 50 innings as main leaguers, making them ineligible for future prospect lists.

This season, a graduating class of 5 Twins have seen sufficient MLB motion as rookies to perpetually shed their “prospect” labels. I can’t rank and write about them as prospects anymore, however that doesn’t make them any much less important or beneficial as a part of the Twins’ long-term plans.

Let’s check out how every of the graduating Twins prospects fared as rookies and the place their outlooks stand because the 2022 season winds down.

Jhoan Duran, RHP

Pre-2022 rating: No. 8
Pre-2021 rating: No. 4
Pre-2020 rating: No. 4

Simply six months in the past, Jhoan Duran was a career-long starter who had missed nearly all of the 2021 season with an elbow damage, placing his future in query. This spring, the Twins moved him to the bullpen and handed him an Opening Day job. He was instantly the Twins’ greatest reliever and really shortly emerged as one of many league’s greatest relievers, however even that sells Duran brief.

Duran is having one of many best, Most worthy rookie seasons by a reliever in trendy MLB historical past, posting a 1.72 ERA and 82-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 63 innings whereas main all relievers in Win Likelihood Added. The 24-year-old already has the next WPA whole than each rookie reliever since 1990 aside from Jonathan Papelbon, and surpassing him for the highest spot is inside attain.

Duran’s fastball velocity has grabbed headlines all season, and rightfully so. He leads the majors with a mean velocity of 100.7 mph and has thrown every of the 79 quickest pitches in Twins historical past, topping out at 103.4. However what units him other than different flame-throwers is a mid-90s curveball that’s equally dominant, holding opponents to a .110 batting common, with misses on half of all swings.

On a per-pitch foundation, Duran has the AL’s prime curveball and fourth-best fastball, an nearly unparalleled combo. Oh, and his third pitch, a sinker-splitter hybrid, is the primary 100 mph off-speed pitch in MLB historical past and has generated a whiff on one-third of all swings. It’s a humiliation of high-octane, swing-and-miss riches, and what’s outstanding is that Duran throws all of his pitches for strikes.

He’s walked simply 5.8 % of batters confronted, properly beneath the 8.2 % league common, together with only one multi-walk look. He relentlessly kilos the strike zone with arguably the most effective uncooked stuff on the earth, altering speeds and eye ranges in a method that just about appears unfair. Duran is destined to be one of many best relievers in Twins historical past if they will maintain him wholesome. He’s unreal.

Jose Miranda, 1B/3B

Pre-2022 rating: No. 5
Pre-2021 rating: No. 30
Pre-2020 rating: No. 39

Jose Miranda debuted on Might 2, changing the injured Miguel Sanó, however he hit simply .164 in his first 19 video games and was demoted again to the minors on Might 29 to make room on the roster for Royce Lewis’ return. Lewis tore his ACL a couple of hours later, and Miranda was again within the majors the subsequent day by way of what supervisor Rocco Baldelli has jokingly taken to calling “the phantom possibility.”

Seems, the reigning Twins minor league participant of the yr can hit somewhat bit. Miranda has batted .305/.366/.498 in 84 video games since his hours-long demotion, shortly progressing from part-timer to on a regular basis participant to middle-of-the-lineup staple. He’s proven loads of energy, with 14 homers and 20 doubles in 360 whole at-bats, and he’s executed so whereas putting out much less usually than the league common.

Miranda is a free-swinger, though not essentially undisciplined, and his stroll price has ticked up just lately as he’s adjusted to pitchers beginning to concern him a bit. He’ll probably by no means draw tons of walks, however Miranda chases far fewer non-strikes than, say, Eddie Rosario. And his means to drive fastballs and off-speed pitches to all fields actually stands out for a 24-year-old rookie.

It’s straightforward to check Miranda in the midst of the Twins’ lineup for a very long time, however the place he suits defensively is much less clear. Primarily a 3rd baseman within the excessive minors, Miranda has performed largely first base for the Twins resulting from Gio Urshela’s presence. Studying first base on the fly hasn’t all the time been fairly, however Miranda’s talent set might be a greater match there than at third base, the place he seems stretched.

Urshela is below workforce management for 2023. If he doesn’t return, the Twins may hand Miranda the third-base job within the hopes he could be satisfactory there, leaving open a much-needed lineup spot at first base or designated hitter for younger bats with even much less defensive chops. Both method, Miranda is a large developmental success story, going from marginal prospect to long-term constructing block in two years.

Joe Ryan, RHP

Pre-2022 rating: No. 2

Joe Ryan was a borderline top-100 prospect when the Twins acquired him from the Rays for impending free agent Nelson Cruz eventually yr’s commerce deadline. His minor-league numbers have been elite, however Ryan’s low-90s fastball and middling off-speed pitches created skepticism. Twins officers believed his fastball had distinctive motion and release-point traits that made it underrated.

They have been proper. Ryan has thrown his fastball greater than 60 % of the time via 29 begins for the Twins and opponents have hit .172 in opposition to it, whiffing on greater than 1 / 4 of swings. On a per-pitch foundation, Ryan’s fastball is MLB’s fourth-best thrown by a starter, behind Justin Verlander, Julio Urías and Carlos Rodón. All whereas averaging simply 92 mph, properly beneath league common.

Sadly, the skepticism surrounding Ryan has confirmed correct in at the very least one regard: His off-speed pitches haven’t been excellent. Ryan throws a slider largely to righties and a changeup largely to lefties, and each have been crushed for a slugging proportion above .500. His slider will get a lot of whiffs, suggesting it may be efficient, however too usually he hangs it and will get punished.

As a fly-ball pitcher with iffy secondary stuff, Ryan will all the time be inclined to homers. Nonetheless, other than serving up 5 house runs in a career-worst begin July 29 in San Diego, he’s allowed a really cheap 19 homers in his different 28 begins. That’s a recipe for achievement given the energy of his fastball and his means to refill the strike zone constantly.

Ryan has been an above-average starter, posting a 3.83 ERA in 5.4 innings per outing, in contrast the league common of a 4.03 ERA and 5.2 innings. Anticipating main enchancment from a 26-year-old is optimistic, however Ryan’s fastball is nice sufficient that merely bringing even one in all his off-speed pitches into average-ish territory would pay big dividends. Both method, it was an incredible commerce.

Josh Winder, RHP

Pre-2022 rating: No. 6
Pre-2021 rating: No. 15

Josh Winder has battled shoulder issues for a second straight yr, limiting him to 67 innings after logging 72 innings in 2021. When not on the injured record he’s pitched fairly properly, together with a 3.83 ERA in (nearly) 50 innings for the Twins, however Winder has missed fewer bats than anticipated and opposing hitters have teed off on the 25-year-old’s fastball regardless of mid-90s velocity.

His slider is a swing-and-miss weapon that slices up righties, however Winder lacks a pitch to neutralize lefties. His changeup and curveball flash the potential to be that pitch, however they each lack consistency for now, too usually turning him right into a two-pitch starter unable to place away hitters. Transferring to the bullpen is an possibility if accidents linger, however Winder will probably get extra probabilities to stay as a starter.

There’s little doubt that Winder has an MLB-caliber arm. He’s a 6-foot-5 right-hander with a mid-90s fastball and three usable off-speed pitches, one in all which is already a plus. What the Twins should decide is whether or not he can keep wholesome with a starter’s workload, and the way a lot upside he’d have as a starter if his slider stays his lone above-average off-speed providing.

As a result of if the Twins resolve he gained’t maintain up bodily as a starter, or doesn’t have front-line starter upside even when he’s wholesome, seeing what Winder may do as a fastball-slider reliever shall be very tempting. If wholesome, it’s exhausting to think about Winder not discovering success within the bullpen with a pared-down pitch combine, however it’s additionally powerful to move closing judgment on his starter ceiling and not using a bigger pattern.

Gilberto Celestino, OF

Pre-2022 rating: No. 17
Pre-2021 rating: No. 13
Pre-2021 rating: No. 14

Gilberto Celestino was clearly overmatched throughout final season’s 23-game debut, which was to be anticipated from a 22-year-old compelled into motion by accidents. He’s regarded rather more snug in his second style of the majors, capably filling a bench job by backing up all three outfield spots, however Celestino’s lack of energy and penchant for psychological errors leaves his future position in query.

Seemingly all the things Celestino put in play discovered a gap in April and Might, however the ball-in-play luck finally dried up and he’s hit simply .211 in 71 video games since June 1. His general .244/.312/.311 line and 82 OPS+ are cheap sufficient for a backup heart fielder, however provided that it’s connected to nice protection. And thus far he’s been nearer to good than nice within the area.

Celestino has above-average pace, however he runs into too many head-scratching outs on the bases and too usually takes circuitous routes to fly balls. He’s additionally nonetheless simply 23, with all of 75 profession high-minors video games, so smoothing out these tough edges could also be doable. If he can try this, he profiles as a top quality fourth outfielder. If he can try this and add some energy on the plate, he might be a good common.

Nonetheless, projecting considerably extra pop is optimistic as a result of Celestino hits the ball on the bottom quite a bit and infrequently pulls pitches, on the bottom or within the air. He’s disciplined for a younger hitter, hardly ever chasing out-of-zone pitches, so given his opposite-field-heavy method, a extra probably path to starting-caliber offense can be via a strong batting common and on-base proportion.

(Photograph of Jose Miranda: Julio Cortez / Related Press)

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