This Twins 18-year-old prospect is throwing heat

May 12th, 2024

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It’s fun to be able to check Statcast data from the Minor Leagues on Baseball Savant these days, thanks to this year’s new update -- and though it’s incomplete due to the fact that not all parks are equipped with the necessary tracking technology, it gives us the benefit of keeping up with , the organization’s No. 7 prospect.

Soto is pitching in full-season ball with Single-A Fort Myers at just 18 years old after he was selected with the No. 34 pick in last summer’s MLB Draft. There was plenty of excitement from both within and outside the organization to see how his stuff that approached 100 mph in Spring Training would translate to competitive action -- and he hasn’t disappointed.

Among the subset of players being tracked by Statcast in the organization, Soto’s four-seam fastball ranks sixth in average velocity among individual pitches, at 95.4 mph. That trails only the four-seamer (99.8 mph) and splitter (96.7 mph) from a rehabbing Jhoan Duran, the four-seamer (97.0 mph) and sinker (96.3 mph) from the notoriously hard-throwing Jorge Alcala and the four-seamer (96.0 mph) from Triple-A reliever Ryan Jensen.

We’d gotten a taste of that during this spring’s inaugural Spring Breakout game, during which an admittedly amped-up Soto topped out at 98.5 mph in a wild inning. And while he hasn’t thrown harder than 97.5 mph in a game for the Mighty Mussels, Soto doesn’t turn 19 until Aug. 31, and the focus for any pitcher at this level (and particularly one of his age) is simply learning.

“It’s just fun being around all those guys,” Soto said after the Spring Breakout game. “I was around Pablo López, Duran a little bit. Just being around those big guys, you learn a lot from them on the weight room side and on the baseball side, as well.”

A focus for Soto has been in harnessing a sinker and a slider to go with his power fastball, and he noted this spring that he’d want the sinker to be as hard as the four-seamer. That’s tracking to this point, with his 95.1 mph sinker average close to his 95.4 mph four-seamer. He’s also showing encouraging control, with 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 20 innings with Fort Myers.

It’s going to be a slow burn in Soto’s development, for sure, given his youth, but as far as power arms go in translating to competitive action, there’s plenty of promise in Soto’s stuff. That was most apparent in a four-inning hitless outing with seven strikeouts in Clearwater on April 13.

Let's take a look at some standouts from the Twins' other Minor League affiliates:

Triple-A St. Paul: If the Twins ever need more center-field depth, it sure looks as though they’re covered with how keeps tearing up the competition in Triple-A. After going unprotected (and unselected) in the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason, Keirsey was named the organizational Player of the Month for April. He’s slashing .294/.380/.551 with a team-leading six homers and nine steals.

Double-A Wichita: The time will soon come for us to take a deeper dive on , the Twins’ eighth-round pick in the 2022 Draft. The 23-year-old right-hander was promoted to Double-A last Monday and he has continued an eye-popping season in which -- this is a real stat -- he has zero walks in 29 1/3 innings. Matthews, ranked the club's No. 20 prospect, also has 37 strikeouts and a 1.23 ERA across five starts. That’s simply remarkable.

High-A Cedar Rapids: How about the continued breakout season for Rubel Cespedes? He is a corner infielder and is considered on the older side for this level at 23, but the monster numbers speak for themselves. He has a .337/.421/.596 slash line with a team-leading five homers and a Midwest League-leading 33 RBIs.