Gonsalves, Palka named Twins' MLB Pipeline Prospects of Year

LHP also made Team of the Year; OF belted 34 home runs with 90 RBIs

October 10th, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Stephen Gonsalves and outfielder didn't have as much hype as other Twins prospects heading into the season, but both had breakout years and were rewarded by being named MLBPipeline.com's Twins Prospects of the Year.

Gonsalves, ranked as Minnesota's No. 3 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, outshined other highly touted Twins Minor League pitchers such as Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart and Fernando Romero. The lefty went 13-5 with a 2.06 ERA in 24 starts split between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. He struck out 155, walked 57 and allowed only three homers. He was named the left-handed pitcher on MLB Pipeline's Team of the Year.

"He had a nice year," Twins manager Paul Molitor said after the Minor League season ended in early September. "Good numbers. He's on track, he's making progress, he's getting promoted, and he's doing the things you want to see a young kid do."

Gonsalves, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft out of San Diego's Cathedral High School, was even better at Double-A, going 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts. With his success, he should pitch at Triple-A Rochester in 2017 and could even make his Major League debut.

The 6-foot-5 lefty has a plus fastball and changeup, while he's improved his curveball and has been working on a slider. He has a career 2.13 ERA in 368 1/3 innings in four seasons in the Minors.

Palka, ranked as Minnesota's No. 20 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was acquired by the Twins in the trade that sent catcher to the D-backs last offseason. He made an immediate impact in his first season in Minnesota's organization, hitting .254/.327/.521 with 34 homers, 24 doubles and 90 RBIs in 133 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester.

Palka, who also has experience at first base, played mostly right field in 2016 and showed off his prodigious power at both levels, hitting 21 homers in 79 games at Double-A and 13 homers in 54 games at Triple-A. However, Palka needs to continue to improve his contact rate, as he struck out 186 times, including 86 times in 54 games at Triple-A.

Palka, 24, was considered a candidate to be a September callup but wasn't added to the 40-man roster. But he gives the Twins outfield depth heading into next year and should arrive in the big leagues at some point in '17.