Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Minnesota Twins

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The Twins have one of the best minor league systems in baseball and the majority of the upper-level talent should reach The Show in 2015 — significantly improving the big league product. Impressively, Minnesota has high ceiling talent both in the field and on the mound.

The Top 5 Freshman for 2015

1. Miguel Sano, 3B: Minnesota will heavily rely on sophomore hitter Kennys Vargas to provide pop in 2015 so the lineup could certainly use some additional thump. After a little additional seasoning, Sano could be that man. In fact, he’d probably already be in the Majors if not for the Tommy John surgery he underwent last year. Incumbent third baseman Trevor Plouffe has been competent at the hot corner for the past few seasons but he’s really only been above replacement level for one season out of the past four. Once Sano reaches the Majors, he has the skill to hit 30+ home runs and to be a true offensive threat for the Twins.

2. Alex Meyer, RHP: The Twins starting rotation features significant depth, which could keep Meyer in the minors longer than he needs to be. The tall right-hander spent all of 2014 at the Triple-A level and made 27 starts. Now 25, only his command and control are holding him back and he posted a walk rate of 4.42 BB/9 last year. Despite the rough edges, Meyer arguably has a higher ceiling than any other pitcher in the Twins organization.

3. Byron Buxton, OF: Like with Miguel Sano, injuries significantly cut into Buxton’s development time in 2014 and slowed his ascent to The Show. The Twins could use the rookie’s presence in the lineup as they might open the year with converted infielder Danny Santana in centre field (unless he’s needed at shortstop) and he likely played about his head in 2014, especially when you look at his 19-98 BB-K rate and .405 BABIP. Other 40-man roster outfielders Jordan Schafer and Aaron Hicks are not better options. Buxton will likely open the 2015 season at Double-A and his talent could carry him to the Majors around the All-Star break.

4. Jose Berrios, RHP: An often overlooked pitching prospect, this former 32nd overall selection out of Puerto Rico reached Triple-A in just his third season in pro ball. Berrios, 20, will return to Triple-A to being the 2015 season. He has good stuff and his strong control helps his stuff play up even more. The big concern with Berrios is his lack of size and he’s already battled through some injuries. With the Twins’ pitching depth, it’s possible that the young hurler could begin his big league career in the bullpen and he would have high-leverage potential in that role.

5. Jorge Polanco, IF: Injuries at the big league level forced Polanco to the Majors in 2014 despite the fact that he was playing at the A-ball level. He appeared in just five games before returning to the minors so his next stay should be significantly longer. The shortstop position is a bit of a mess entering 2015. Danny Santana would likely be the best current option for centre field but that would leave the infield gig to either Eduardo Escobar or Eduardo Nunez and neither option is overly enticing but the former has the best chance to be replacement level or a tick above — especially when considering his defensive contributions. Once Polanco hits the Majors he should provide a respectable batting average, gap pop and some stolen bases.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Kent Hrbek
Kent Hrbek

When do you think Jorge Polanco is up for good? And do you think he becomes a starter at 2B or SS? Kiley seems to like him (50FV).