Kirilloff, Vasquez bring home awards in final 2018 Twins prospect roundup
FOX Sports North
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex Kirilloff (1st round, 2016), OF, Cedar Rapids/Fort Myers
It should come as no surprise that Kirilloff, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2016, is our minor-league player of the year after he tore the cover off the baseball all summer long. The 20-year-old led Fort Myers to a Florida State League title, the team’s second in five years. Kirillof actually began the year at Low-A Cedar Rapids but was promoted to High-A in June after hitting .333/.391/.607 with 38 extra-base hits in 65 games for the Kernels. Kirilloff somehow improved those numbers at the next level, registering a .362/.393/.550 slash line and 45 RBI in 65 games at Fort Myers. The outfielder tallied 3+ hits in 18 (!!!) games this summer and went on hitting streaks of 9+ games five separate times.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Andrew Vasquez (32nd round, 2015), LHP, Fort Myers/Chattanooga/Rochester
Vasquez earned a September call-up to the Twins after dominating every level he was at. He led all Twins minor-leaguers with a 14.0 K/9 and finished sixth in the organization with a 5.14 K/BB ratio. In 69 2/3 combined innings at High-A, Double-A and Triple-A, the 24-year-old tallied a 1.29 ERA, 1.019 WHIP and six saves in seven opportunities. Vasquez, who stands an intimidating 6-foot-6 on the mound, hasn’t had an ERA over 2.00 at any level since he was pitching in rookie ball in 2015.
Akil Baddoo (1st round CBA, 2016), OF, Cedar Rapids
The 74th overall pick in 2016 hit for a sub-par .243 batting average but boosted his on-base percentage to .351 thanks to an organization-best 74 drawn walks. Baddoo drew multiple walks in 21 games, a skill the Twins will appreciate in the current strikeout-heavy era of baseball.
John Curtiss (6th round, 2014), RHP, Rochester
Curtiss converted on 10-of-12 save opportunities for Rochester and registered a 2-4 record, 2.77 ERA and career-best 13.5 K/9 in 55 1/3 innings pitched. He earned two promotions to the Twins this summer – one in April and against in September – and has allowed four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Most impressively, he performed the national anthem before a Red Wings game Sept. 2 (pictured above).
Nick Gordon (1st round, 2014), SS, Chattanooga/Rochester
Gordon was our pick for the Twins’ minor-league player of the year in 2017, but a rough stint at Rochester prevented the repeat honor. Gordon started the year at Chattanooga and tore up the Southern League, hitting .333/.381/.525 and swiping seven bases in 42 games. He was called up to Triple-A Rochester on May 22 and started 99 games for the Red Wings, but the 22-year-old never found his groove at the plate. Gordon whiffed 82 times in 382 at-bats and was held to a .212/.262/.298 slash line in 99 games. Things got worse as the summer went on, as Gordon hit for a season-worse .189 batting average in August and didn’t earn a September call-up to the big leagues.
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Cedar Rapids/Fort Myers
Graterol sprinted up the Twins prospect rankings this summer en route to an 8-4 record, 2.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 9.4 K/9 in a career-high 102 innings pitched (19 starts) for the Kernels and Miracle. He progressed even further as the summer went on, allowing just six earned runs in his final six starts (34 2/3 innings).
Stephen Gonsalves (4th round, 2013), LHP, Chattanooga/Rochester
A highly touted prospect since he was selected by Minnesota in 2013, Gonsalves earned his way up to the big leagues after logging 120 2/3 innings with Chattanooga and Rochester. Opponents hit a mere .184 against the left-hander, and he tallied nine quality starts – eight with the Red Wings. Gonsalves has struggled in four starts with the Twins, but his great 2018 season in the minors is enough to earn him a chance at cracking the 2019 starting rotation.
Ryan Jeffers (2nd round, 2018), C, Elizabethton/Cedar Rapids
Heading into the 2018 draft, Jeffers wasn’t ranked in the top-200 prospects by MLB.com. But the Twins thought highly of the catcher out of UNC Wilmington, selecting him 59th overall in the second round. So far, it’s paid off for Minnesota. Only Kirilloff had a better batting average in the Twins’ organization than Jeffers this summer, who hit .344 in 64 games at Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. Jeffers starred in the postseason for the Kernels as well, going 6-for-16 (.375 average) with two homers and four RBI in four games.
After helping Oregon State to a national title this spring, Larnach was selected 20th overall by Minnesota. He lived up to the first-round hype in his first professional season, hitting .303/.390/.500 in 42 games with 13 doubles, 26 RBI and five homers for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. Larnach displayed great discipline at the plate as well, walking 21 times compared to 28 strikeouts.
Royce Lewis (1st round, 2017), SS, Cedar Rapids/Fort Myers
The Twins’ top prospect was promoted to Fort Myers in July after posting 23 doubles, nine homers and 53 RBI in 75 games while hitting .315 for Cedar Rapids. Lewis ended the season with 28 combined steals at the two levels, good enough to lead the Twins minor-league ranks. He also mashed 14 homers – 10 more than he did a season go. For the first time in his professional career, Lewis struggled a bit (in his standards, anyway), hitting for a .239 average in August with Fort Myers. Lewis turned things back around in the postseason, however, as he mashed three homers, scored six runs and tallied 15 total bases in six playoff contests with the Miracle, helping them win a league championship.
Jovani Moran (7th round, 2015), LHP, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids
After registering an insane 16.4 K/9 in 24 2/3 innings for Elizabethton last season, Moran ranked second among Twins minor-league relievers with 107 strikeouts in 2018. Splitting time at Low-A and High-A, Moran tallied a 9-3 record, 2.25 ERA and 12.7 K/9 in his second full professional season.
Rooker spent the entire 2018 season with the Lookouts and finished in the top-two among Southern League hitters in doubles (32) and home runs (22). A .254/.333/.465 slash line was encouraging for the second-year player, but there’s work to be done: Rookier fanned in almost 30 percent of his at-bats (150 of 503).