Despite youth, Twins prospect Graterol thriving early in Double-A

The Minnesota Twins have positioned themselves as a playoff contender, but the team still has a number of promising prospects.

Every Thursday for the rest of the season, FOX Sports North will take a closer look at some specific young players in Minnesota’s farm system — as well as noting others who might be stepping up — measuring, highlighting and evaluating their progress.

This is the inaugural edition of the 2019 Young Twins Tracker.

 

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Nick Gordon, 2B/SS (age 23/Triple-A)

Season: n/a

Notable: Minnesota’s top pick in 2014, Gordon had been sidelined all season with a stomach issue before being activated from the injured list May 2.

 

Brusdar Graterol, SP (age 20/Double-A)

Season: 5 games (5 starts), 2-0, 2.30 ERA, 27.1 IP, 16 H, 1 HR, 12 BB, 28 K, .168 OBA, 1.02 WHIP

Notable: Not turning 21 until August, Graterol is one of the youngest players in Double-A. He allowed just one run in 17 1/3 innings over his first three starts. In his last outing, April 27 at Jacksonville, he gave up two runs in five innings.

 

Alex Kirilloff, OF (age 21/Double-A)

Season: n/a

Notable: Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2016 was activated off the injured list May 2 after being sidelined with a wrist injury. After missing all of 2017, Kirilloff hit .333/.391/.607 for Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2018 in 65 games before being promoted to High-A Fort Myers, where he batted .362/.393/.550. Thel left-handed hitting Kirilloff, who turned 21 in November, will be making his first foray in Double-A.

 

Trevor Larnach, OF (age 22/Single-A)

Season: 23 games, 90 AB, .244 BA, .297 OBP, .322 SLG, .619 OPS, 7 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 R, 13 RBI, 1 SB, 7 BB, 21 K.

Notable: Last year’s top draft choice is beginning the year in High-A after ending 2018 in Low-A. While he’s yet to homer, Larnach does lead the team in doubles and RBI.

 

Royce Lewis, SS (age 19/High-A)

Season: 23 games, 91 AB, .209 BA, .305 OBP, .253 SLG, .558 OPS, 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 11 R, 5 RBI, 5 SB, 13 BB, 21 K.

Notable: Lewis, who turns 20 in June, is back at High-A, where he played 46 games to end the 2018 season. While he’s been struggling to start the season, Lewis does have a pair of two-hit games over his last three contests.

 

Brent Rooker 1B/OF (age 24/Triple-A)

Season: 16 games, 56 AB, .214 BA, .279 OBP, .464 SLG, .743 OPS, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 6 R, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 5 BB, 28 K.

Notable: Rooker is playing in Triple-A for the first time. He had a three-hit game, with a homer, on April 13. Rooker, who has been playing left field, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and hasn’t played since April 26, when he was removed early from Rochester’s game without getting a plate appearance.

 

Lewis Thorpe, SP (age 23/Triple-A)

Season: 5 games (5 starts), 2-2, 6.91 ERA, 28.2 IP, 29 H, 4 HR, 10 BB, 38 K, .259 OBA, 1.36 WHIP

Notable: The left-handed Australian got rocked in his first two starts (15 runs, 17 hits in 8 2/3 innings), but has pitched better of late. On April 23 vs. Scranton he allowed just one run on three hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts in eight innings.

 

Others: Luke Raley, acquired last year from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier trade, is in Triple-A and playing right field. He’s slugging .487 with five home runs in his first 21 games. … Rochester 3B Randy Cesar, signed as a minor-league free agent this offseason, is hitting .321/.368/.556. He’s second in the International League with 10 doubles. … Pensacola LHP Devin Smeltzer, who also came over in the Dozier deal, has allowed three runs (two earned) in 30 innings. He’s given up just 19 hits and three walks while striking out 33. … Fort Myers OF Akil Baddoo (CBA pick, 2016) leads the team in home runs (3) and has three of the Miracle’s six triples. Baddoo is batting just .222 but has a .422 slugging percentage and four steals. … Miracle C Ben Rortvedt (2nd round, 2016) is batting .250/.375/.467 in 18 games. … Fort Myers RHP Jhoan Duran, who was acquired from Arizona in the Eduardo Escobar trade last year, had a 3.63 ERA over four starts. … Miracle RHP Bailey Ober (12th round, 2017) allowed two runs – none earned – in 24 innings on 18 hits with three walks and 26 strikeouts before being placed on the injured list May 1 with a right ulnar nerve subluxation. … Cedar Rapids RHP Jordan Balazovic (5th round, 2016) had a 2.18 ERA in four starts, with 33 strikeouts and only four walks in 20 2/2 innings. … Kernels1B Chris Williams (8th round, 2018) is hitting .263/.408/561 with five home runs, which is tied for fourth in the Midwest League. Williams led the Appalachian League in 2018 with 15 homers (in 62 games).

Statistics courtesy milb.com and baseball-reference.com

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns