With alternate sites coming to an end, MLB Pipeline is recapping the development highlights for the prospects involved for each organization.
Top position prospect: Royce Lewis, SS (No. 1 on Top 30)
The Twins could flip a coin for this category and picking either Lewis or No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff would be a completely correct answer. Kirilloff, of course, made his Major League debut in the playoffs, making history by being the first position player to record his first big league hit in the postseason. Twins fans won’t see Lewis in Minnesota until the 2021 season, but his progress on both sides of the ball at the alternate site in St. Paul was equally impressive.
“With Royce, the strides he continues to make defensively at shortstop really continue to exceed our expectations,” Twins assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll said. “The development he’s making at that position has been great to see. He’s been able to get in a lot of individualized work with our infield coordinator to improve his throwing, his throwing accuracy.”
At the plate, Lewis continued to build off of his Arizona Fall League MVP Award-winning performance (.353/.411/.565) last year and showed he should be ready to join Kirilloff in the big leagues early next year.
“Offensively, it’s been a lot of work on his lower half and his lower half direction,” Zoll said. “He performed well with the opportunities he had and he’s poised for a big step forward.”
Top pitching prospect: Jhoan Duran, RHP (No. 5)
When the Twins acquired Duran as one of two prospects (outfielder Gabriel Maciel was the other) in the Eduardo Escobar trade back in 2018, they got a big, 20-year-old right-hander who had reached full-season ball for the first time with exciting, albeit raw, stuff. He took a good step forward in his first full season with the organization, reaching Double-A and striking out 10.6 per nine innings in the process. That work continued this summer as he really worked on refining his breaking ball to catch up to his elite-level fastball and plus splinker (splitter/sinker hybrid).
“The biggest thing with him continues to be the command of his curve ball, and he made good strides there,” Zoll said. “That will be important for his continued growth and development. His ability to run it up to triple digits, along with his sinker and curve ball, his three-pitch mix will be up there with most once he does take that next step.”
Youngest prospect: Lewis
The Twins didn’t send their super-young guys, focusing mostly on players who were at Double-A or above at the alternate site. Lewis is slightly younger than No. 15 prospect Gilberto Celestino, one of the few in attendance who had yet to advance past Class A ball.
2020 Draft picks
No one from the Twins’ 2020 Draft haul was in St. Paul, though all four draftees are in Ft. Myers participating in the club’s instructional league program.
Right-hander Matt Canterino (No. 11) spent much of the summer working out at home in Texas while communicating with Twins pitching coordinators and coaches. But the 2019 second-rounder out of Rice joined his organization-mates in St. Paul toward the end and showed he wasn’t wasting time on his own. When he did throw at the alternate site, Canterino showed more consistent velocity, sitting 94-95 mph and a vastly improved changeup with more movement, giving him a legitimate four-pitch mix.
Like Lewis, Celestino (No. 15) focused on his lower-half mechanics in St. Paul. He’s long showed excellent contact skills, but didn’t start impacting the ball much until the second half of the 2019 season. That continued this summer as he continued to tap into more power. There’s more in the tank here as he keeps finding more consistency with his swing.