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Where Twins' Top 30 prospects are starting season

MLB.com

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Twins' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Royce Lewis (MLB No. 20), SS -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
2. Fernando Romero (MLB No. 68), RHP -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
3. Stephen Gonsalves (MLB No. 79), LHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
4. Nick Gordon (MLB No. 81), SS/2B -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
5. Wander Javier, SS -- Extended spring training
6. Alex Kirilloff, OF -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
7. Brusdar Graterol, RHP -- Extended spring training
8. Brent Rooker, OF/1B -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
11. Akil Baddoo, OF -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
13. LaMonte Wade, OF -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
14. Travis Blankenhorn, 3B -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
15. Zack Littell , RHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
16. Tyler Jay, LHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
17. Felix Jorge, RHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) - DL
18. Kohl Stewart, RHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
19. Mitch Garver, C -- Minnesota Twins (MLB)
20. Andrew Bechtold, 3B -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
21. John Curtiss, RHP -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
22. Tyler Watson, LHP -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
23. Luis Arraez, INF -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv) - DL
24. Ben Rortvedt, C -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
25. Jacob Pearson, OF -- Extended spring training
26. Jake Cave, OF -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
27. Zack Granite, OF -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
28. Jose Miranda, INF -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
29. Landon Leach, RHP -- Extended spring training
30. Yunior Severino, 2B -- Extended spring training

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Twins' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Royce Lewis (MLB No. 20), SS -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
2. Fernando Romero (MLB No. 68), RHP -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
3. Stephen Gonsalves (MLB No. 79), LHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
4. Nick Gordon (MLB No. 81), SS/2B -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
5. Wander Javier, SS -- Extended spring training
6. Alex Kirilloff, OF -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
7. Brusdar Graterol, RHP -- Extended spring training
8. Brent Rooker, OF/1B -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
11. Akil Baddoo, OF -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
13. LaMonte Wade, OF -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
14. Travis Blankenhorn, 3B -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
15. Zack Littell , RHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
16. Tyler Jay, LHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
17. Felix Jorge, RHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) - DL
18. Kohl Stewart, RHP -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
19. Mitch Garver, C -- Minnesota Twins (MLB)
20. Andrew Bechtold, 3B -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
21. John Curtiss, RHP -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
22. Tyler Watson, LHP -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
23. Luis Arraez, INF -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv) - DL
24. Ben Rortvedt, C -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
25. Jacob Pearson, OF -- Extended spring training
26. Jake Cave, OF -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
27. Zack Granite, OF -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
28. Jose Miranda, INF -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
29. Landon Leach, RHP -- Extended spring training
30. Yunior Severino, 2B -- Extended spring training

Twins prospect coverage | Twins Top 30 prospects stats

Team to watch
When everyone is healthy, Double-A Chattanooga leads the way with nine Top 30 prospects, but the ceiling in Class A Cedar Rapids is just too much to pass up. It starts with top prospect, and 2017 No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis, but it also includes 2016 first-rounder Alex Kirilloff, the outfielder who missed 2017 because of Tommy John surgery, and 2017 third-rounder Blayne Enlow, the exciting right-hander, who got $2 million to sign last summer. All three are in the organization's top 10.

Where baseball's top prospects are starting the 2018 season

Teams on MiLB.TV
Rochester Red Wings
Cedar Rapids Kernels

New faces
A third-round pick of the Angels last June, toolsy outfielder Jacob Pearson struggled a bit during his pro debut in the rookie-level Arizona League. But the Twins liked his power-speed potential heading into the Draft and were happy to get him in return for international bonus pool money. He'll hang back in Extended spring training awaiting assignment.

Outfielder Jake Cave had a chance to stick with the Reds as a Rule 5 pick, but was sent back to the Yankees. He made it up to Triple-A in New York's system last year, one of his best. But when the Yankees designated him for assignment, the Twins swooped in and acquired him for right-hander Luis Gil. He'll start the year in Rochester.

Infielder Yunior Severino was one of the players declared a free agent by Major League Baseball in the wake of the Braves international signing scandal. The Twins were thrilled to bring him into the fold for $2.5 million and will likely send him to a rookie level later this summer.

On the shelf
Right-hander Felix Jorge was slated to begin the year with Chatttanooga, but triceps soreness will delay his 2018 debut. Second baseman Luis Arraez tore his ACL three games into his 2017 season and is still working his way back. The hope is he'll join Fort Myers in mid-May.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Minnesota Twins

Prospect Q&A: Twins' Brent Rooker

MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Twins camp, it was Minnesota's No. 8 prospect, Brent Rooker.

Rooker was a 38th-round Draft pick of the Twins as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, but opted to return to Mississippi State for one more season. The move paid off as he won the SEC triple crown and was taken, again by the Twins, with the 35th overall selection in the 2017 Draft. He kept on hitting during his pro debut, finishing with 18 homers in just 62 games.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Twins camp, it was Minnesota's No. 8 prospect, Brent Rooker.

Rooker was a 38th-round Draft pick of the Twins as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, but opted to return to Mississippi State for one more season. The move paid off as he won the SEC triple crown and was taken, again by the Twins, with the 35th overall selection in the 2017 Draft. He kept on hitting during his pro debut, finishing with 18 homers in just 62 games.

• Twins camp report

MLB Pipeline: I like to start things off with 2017 draftees by asking about what their first Spring Training has been like. Has it been more or less what you expected?

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

Rooker: Honestly, camp has been pretty much what I was expecting, just having been around guys who have been in pro ball and are in pro ball. I had a pretty good picture of what my first Spring Training would look like. It's trying to get back in the rhythm of things, trying to get comfortable at the plate again, trusting that the work you put in during the offseason will start to play off. Once you get back into a game setting, it's just trusting your ability and trusting what you worked on.

MLB Pipeline: Last year, you had the longest season you've had in your life, between college ball and your pro debut. Did you shut down at all, and when did you start picking things back up?

Rooker: I ended up playing 133 games last year from college and the summer combined. It's definitely the longest season I've had. I went home for two weeks after we got done here in the Florida State League. Then I had to come back for a modified instructs; the hurricane kind of messed up the typical instructs. There were around 15 hitters and we did a mini-camp in the mornings, then had the afternoons off. Nothing too taxing, but something to continue the work I had put in during the season. From there, I probably took a week or two off from lifting and probably a month from hitting, then picked it back up.

MLB Pipeline: It didn't seem like you were tired and you hit throughout your pro debut. Were you surprised at how well your body held up?

Rooker: Honestly, I was. I talked to some people about when you get to late August, especially down here when it's 100 degrees every day. People would ask me, "How does your body feel?" My answer always was, "Surprisingly, it feels better than I expected it to." The college season starts the second week of February and you're going all the way through the first week of September, so that's a long process of constant playing. You're kind of expecting yourself to wear down towards the end, but I was able to hold together pretty well. My body felt good towards the end. I think having several changes of scenery contributed to that, being able to go from college ball to the Appy League and then finally coming down here for the last little stretch. Nothing ever got too monotonous. The new year this year, hopefully I'll be in the same spot for an extended period of time if things go like I want them to. It'll be a new test for me, something I've never done before. I'm looking forward to it. I have confidence in my ability to stick to my training regimen and keep myself healthy so I feel good throughout the season.

MLB Pipeline: You said "if things go like I want them to." What does that look like for you?

Rooker: Ideally, I would love to start at Double-A Chattanooga. Obviously, that's not my decision. That'll be up to the guys in the office over here. Whatever decision they make, it's my job to show up to the field every day and do what I can do to continue getting better step-by-step, incrementally. You always hope to start at the higher level. That's nothing different for anybody. But you have to take any decision that is made and hit the ground running.

MLB Pipeline: You were drafted in 2016, but made the decision to head back to Mississippi State, and it clearly worked out for you. Was there any point in time where you worried about if you had done the right thing?

Rooker: Yeah, every time we were doing conditioning in the fall. Every single Tuesday and Thursday when we were running gasses in the fall during college ball, that thought slips into your mind: All I had to do was sign a piece of paper and I wouldn't be on this 15th 100. In all seriousness, it never really did. I knew going back to Mississippi State and playing another year in the SEC was never going to be a bad decision because the experience you can have there, the type of competition you can play, the type of development that can take place playing that type of competition. No matter what happened, it was never going to be the wrong decision. I was confident in that when I was making the decision that summer in the Cape when I was deciding what I was going to do. I wouldn't trade that last year at Mississippi State for the world. I feel very fortunate to have had that fourth year there.

MLB Pipeline: And you came back to the team that had drafted you in 2016 anyway.

Rooker: It all came full circle and all worked out. I had a relationship with some of the guys in the front office already from that first Draft in 2016, some of the scouting guys. Obviously, some of the higher-ups in the front office turned over, but some of the scouting guys I had already known, so that made the transition pretty easy.

MLB Pipeline: The level of competition in the SEC is so good. So many of the pitchers go on to the pro game. Did that automatically give you a better sense of what the level of competition would be like here?

Rooker: Every college pitcher taken in the first round in 2017, I had faced in college, with the exception of Brendan McKay, who technically was taken as a first baseman. So I didn't count him, but every other pitcher taken I had faced, either in conference play or in the Cape Cod League. Having that kind of experience, being able to see those guys week in and week out will do nothing but pay dividends once you get to this level, where every guy is that good. You have an idea of what you're getting into and what kind of plan you need to have success against them.

MLB Pipeline: You've played both first base and the outfield. It seems like the Twins are committed to giving you a lot of time in the outfield, but do you have a preference?

Rooker: I don't. When they ask me what I want to do, I say, "Whatever gets me in the lineup faster." I'll play left field, first base, right field, I'll DH. Whatever gets me in the lineup and allows my bat to contribute as quickly as possible. I'm very confident that I'm going to continue to hit as I make my way up. I'm doing a lot of time in left and at first, giving myself the option that wherever they need to plug me in in the future, I'll be able to handle it.

MLB Pipeline: From last summer, you got a sense of what works and what doesn't. What are the finishing touches you need to make the move to the upper levels and beyond?

Rooker: The broad answer is to continue to learn from every at-bat. In Spring Training, I've felt that with every at-bat, something else has clicked, a little thing has fallen into place as I continue to get ready for this season. It's going to be taking every at-bat during the the season and learning something from it and move forward, be able to build my offensive approach and build on my swing. It's a process of never stopping the learning. When you talk about finishing touches, it's going to be about being able to compete against those frontline starters every day, to be able to formulate a plan to beat those guys with plus-plus stuff. That takes not only the ability to have a good swing and put your body in a good position to hit, but also to read the advanced reports, watch video so you can formulate a plan and win those matchups.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Minnesota Twins

Prospect report: Twins camp

MLB.com

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Twins.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On paper, the Twins have one of the more interesting farm systems, especially in terms of young, high-upside talent. Until the start of camp, that's all they were for new farm director Jeremy Zoll, names on paper.

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Twins.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On paper, the Twins have one of the more interesting farm systems, especially in terms of young, high-upside talent. Until the start of camp, that's all they were for new farm director Jeremy Zoll, names on paper.

Twins Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with Brent Rooker

Zoll came over from the Dodgers, so he knows a thing or two about having a deep system. But it was all in theory until he was able to get to Fort Myers and start putting faces, and skills, with names.

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

"It's one thing to look at guys on a stat sheet, read the scouting reports and watch video, but then to be able to meet them in person, have conversations with them, get to watch them on the field and start to create your own mental representations really helps," Zoll said. "I'm very excited we're rolling here."

It's easy to see why Zoll and his staff are fired up about the start of the 2018 season. The Twins don't have a top 10 system now, according to MLB Pipeline, but they aren't far off. And with the high-end talent they have, seeing them climb way up those rankings by next year, if not sooner, is an easy projection to make.

"I think we have a ton of talent in the system," Zoll said. "If it's not top 10 right now, it's because we have so many younger, high-upside players. We expect that group to take some pretty big steps forward in 2018 and really make a name for themselves."

It's a big reason why prospect fans should plan trips to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, now. At certain points during the season, as many as seven of the team's top 20 prospects could call the Midwest League home. It starts with No. 1 prospect and last June's No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis. The Twins haven't ruled out pushing him aggressively after he made it to Cedar Rapids last summer, but the safe bet is a start back there.

Fellow shortstop Wander Javier should be on the roster as well. Alex Kiriloff, the team's top pick in 2016 who missed last year following Tommy John surgery, should bring his advanced bat skills there, as should toolsy outfielder Akil Baddoo and third baseman Andrew Bechtold, another '17 draftee. On the mound, seeing 2017 draftee Blayne Enlow and fellow right-hander Brusdar Graterol seems to be a certainty.

"Our Cedar Rapids group is going to be really good, regardless of how that Opening Day roster shakes out," Zoll said. "Over the course of the season, the guys we expect to get there at some point, are all exciting names we expect to make some splashes in Cedar Rapids. That's going to be a really exciting team. That's one affiliate we'll want to spend a lot of time with."

Javier dealing with shoulder issue

The only thing that could hold some of that group back, aside from an organizational decision to keep some in extended Spring Training to manage things like innings, is injury. Javier, the club's No. 5 prospect, has been dealing with a left shoulder issue, keeping him out of action in Minor League camp.

"He hasn't been swinging this week," Zoll said. "We're expecting him to be back at some point soon, though that's still a little up in the air. He had been looking really strong early in camp and had good ABs in live BPs, drove a home run to right-center field off a pitcher that's a couple of years older than he is. We're excited and hoping to get him going real soon."

Video: Gordon, Thorpe on excitement going into 2018 season

Camp standouts

Baddoo, ranked No. 11 on the Top 30, showed vast improvement from his debut summer after being drafted in '16, hitting particularly well in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He showed up in Fort Myers primed to pick up where he left off.

"He's stood out in a lot of ways," Zoll said. "He took huge steps forward in 2017, and he's come in ready to go this spring. He's really competitive in the box, has had quality at-bats. We're excited about his package of zone discipline and damage that he's going to be able to provide."

Closer to the top of the system is fellow outfielder and No. 13 prospect LaMonte Wade. He just moved over to Minor League camp after making a very strong impression on the big league side. Looking more like a fourth outfielder for much of his pro career, some tweaks at the plate could have him poised to perhaps be more than that.

"People are pumped about some of the mechanical adjustments he's made in the box," Zoll said. "We're really excited about how he's leveraging the baseball right now. He could take a big step forward in 2018. He's always had the zone discipline and we feel like there's going to be some extra juice this year."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Minnesota Twins

Gordon, Wade top list of 6 Twins reassigned

MLB.com

Twins No. 4 prospect Nick Gordon and No. 13 prospect LaMonte Wade were among six players the team reassigned to Minor League camp on Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota also reassigned right-handers Jake Reed and Myles Jaye, catcher Jordan Pacheco and outfielder Nick Buss.

Twins No. 4 prospect Nick Gordon and No. 13 prospect LaMonte Wade were among six players the team reassigned to Minor League camp on Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota also reassigned right-handers Jake Reed and Myles Jaye, catcher Jordan Pacheco and outfielder Nick Buss.

Gordon -- also ranked the No. 80 prospect in baseball and the No. 10 shortstop according to MLB Pipeline -- had been impressive at the plate during Spring Training, hitting .409 with a 1.071 OPS in 22 at-bats. The 22-year-old middle infielder was drafted fifth overall by the Twins in 2014 and is the younger brother of the Mariners' Dee Gordon.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Wade, a 24-year-old outfield prospect the Twins took in the ninth round of the 2015 Draft, had also been solid in his Spring Training game action. He was hitting .304 with an .860 OPS in 23 at-bats.

The Twins now have 40 active players remaining in camp, including nine non-roster invitees. They have 17 pitchers, four catchers, 12 infielders and seven outfielders.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Minnesota Twins, Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade

Romero, Gonsalves among Twins optioned

Club sends several young pitchers to Minors; Morrison returns to lineup
MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Twins adding Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn to bolster their rotation this spring, the club optioned several of their top young pitchers before Tuesday's 7-5 loss to the Orioles, including lefties Adalberto Mejia and Stephen Gonsalves, right-handers Aaron Slegers and Fernando Romero and reliever John Curtiss.

Romero, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 68 overall per MLB Pipeline, was sent to Double-A Chattanooga, while the other four were optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Mejia lost his prospect status and his rookie eligibility last year after posting a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts with Minnesota, but Gonsalves is ranked as the club's No. 3 prospect and Curtiss is ranked 21st. Slegers is not among Minnesota's Top 30 prospects.

View Full Game Coverage

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Twins adding Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn to bolster their rotation this spring, the club optioned several of their top young pitchers before Tuesday's 7-5 loss to the Orioles, including lefties Adalberto Mejia and Stephen Gonsalves, right-handers Aaron Slegers and Fernando Romero and reliever John Curtiss.

Romero, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 68 overall per MLB Pipeline, was sent to Double-A Chattanooga, while the other four were optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Mejia lost his prospect status and his rookie eligibility last year after posting a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts with Minnesota, but Gonsalves is ranked as the club's No. 3 prospect and Curtiss is ranked 21st. Slegers is not among Minnesota's Top 30 prospects.

View Full Game Coverage

"The equation changes when you make additions and it has a trickle-down effect on people," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The moves today made sense even without the addition of Lance to some degree, but you put all those things together when you make those kinds of choices."

• Twins introduce Lynn before stellar debut

Mejia, 24, had the best chance of the group of making the club heading into spring, but with the Twins likely to open with a four-man rotation, he was hurt by the additions of Odorizzi and Lynn to join Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson. Right-hander Phil Hughes was also sharp against the Yankees on Monday, and the Twins will continue to give Hughes a long look, as he's under contract for the next two seasons and is healthy after a second surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome.

"Any time you get a young pitcher in the room and you tell them they're going to the Minor Leagues, it's tough," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "When you look at where we're at with our depth, we feel like Phil is fully healthy, which is really good to see, and is getting back to where he needs to be. I think him looking good has helped us and we've talked about using four starters out of the gate and for the vast majority of April."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Romero, 23, had the most impressive spring of the five, throwing eight hitless innings, including three perfect frames against the Rays on Sunday. He'll be stretched out on the Minor League side and is headed back to Double-A, as he's never pitched at Triple-A before.

"He's not unlike Lance in some ways, as a competitor," Falvey said. "He understands where things are. He's somebody we believe has a high ceiling. But we're running out of innings for starters and we need to get guys ready on the Minor League side."

Gonsalves, 23, made two Grapefruit League appearances, allowing one run in 3 2/3 innings, and also threw two scoreless frames against the University of Minnesota. Slegers, 25, saw action in four games, including three starts, and posted a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings. Curtiss, 24, allowed one run in five innings, but walked four, so working on command will be important for him going forward.

Video: UM@MIN: Gonsalves fans Vavra in the 2nd

Camp battles
Outfielder Zack Granite, competing with Robbie Grossman for the fourth outfielder role, helped his cause by drawing a walk in the second and dropping down a perfectly executed RBI bunt single with two outs in the third to cap a four-run inning.

Injury updates
• First baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison returned to the lineup on Tuesday against the Orioles after suffering a right glute strain on Wednesday. He flied out to left in his first at-bat, singled in the fourth inning and walked twice.

• Left fielder Eddie Rosario, who has been out since March 4 with triceps tendonitis, will begin his throwing program on Wednesday and will serve as designated hitter on Friday. There's no timetable for his return to left field, but he's expected to be ready by Opening Day.

• Utility infielder Ehire Adrianza, who was out since March 6 with a left calf strain, returned to action on Tuesday, replacing Jorge Polanco at shortstop in the fifth inning. Adrianza went 0-for-2.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Ehire Adrianza, John Curtiss, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Granite, Adalberto Mejia, Logan Morrison, Fernando Romero, Eddie Rosario, Aaron Slegers

Three ranked prospects among 6 sent down

Pitchers Jorge, Thorpe, Littell optioned to Minors by Twins
MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins made their first cuts of Spring Training before their game against the Red Sox on Wednesday, optioning Dietrich Enns and Felix Jorge to Triple-A Rochester, optioning Lewis Thorpe and Zack Littell to Double-A Chattanooga and reassigning catchers Brian Navarreto and Wynston Sawyer to Minor League camp.

The moves, which help Enns, Jorge, Thorpe and Littell get stretched out as starters at Minor League camp, leave the Twins with 53 players in camp, including 26 pitchers and five catchers. Minnesota is still expected to break camp with four starting pitchers, eight relievers and two catchers.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins made their first cuts of Spring Training before their game against the Red Sox on Wednesday, optioning Dietrich Enns and Felix Jorge to Triple-A Rochester, optioning Lewis Thorpe and Zack Littell to Double-A Chattanooga and reassigning catchers Brian Navarreto and Wynston Sawyer to Minor League camp.

The moves, which help Enns, Jorge, Thorpe and Littell get stretched out as starters at Minor League camp, leave the Twins with 53 players in camp, including 26 pitchers and five catchers. Minnesota is still expected to break camp with four starting pitchers, eight relievers and two catchers.

• Twins' Top 30 Prospects

Thorpe is the highest rated prospect of the group, as he's the club's No. 12 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. Littell is ranked 15th, Jorge is ranked 17th and Enns is not among the club's Top 30 prospects.

"They're guys who need to get out on the mound more to prepare for their seasons," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We're trying to get as many guys stretched out as possible as starters. Keeping them over here is mathematically impossible."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Enns, who came over to Minnesota along with Littell in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to the Yankees at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, has Major League experience, posting a 6.75 ERA in two appearances (one start) with the Twins. The 26-year-old posted a combined 2.05 ERA in 57 innings in the Minors last year, but he gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings this spring.

Jorge, 24, also made his debut last year, making two starts for the Twins, allowing nine runs in 7 2/3 innings. But he had a combined 3.68 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last year and gave up one run over three innings this spring.

Thorpe, 22, remains an intriguing prospect who was on an impressive trajectory until missing the 2015 and '16 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But he returned last season to post a 2.93 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 83 innings between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. He gave up three runs over 2 1/3 innings this spring and is opening the year at Double-A for the first time.

"He needs to go down and there build up his innings," Molitor said. "He's a guy I didn't know a lot about other than good reports and word of mouth."

Video: MIN@HOU: Littell K's Reed to lock down the save

Littell, 22, is coming off an impressive season that saw him go 19-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) between Class A Advanced and Double-A last year. He was a candidate to open at Triple-A Rochester for the first time, but the Twins have a lot of depth there with fellow prospects Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Aaron Slegers expected to open at Triple-A. Littell fared well this spring, giving up one run in five innings, showing off his sinker that gets above-average ground-ball rates.

"I told him I was impressed by him this camp," Molitor said. "I complimented his work ethic and mound presence. Obviously, you know about a guy coming in but it was good to get eyes on him and build him up because I felt good about what he did here."

Minnesota Twins, Felix Jorge, Zack Littell, Lewis Thorpe

Molitor excited about talented pitching quartet

Romero, Gonsalves, Littell, Slegers represent Twins' potential future rotation
MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Twins brought a glimpse of the future to Clearwater against the Phillies on Monday, as pitching prospects Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell and Aaron Slegers made the trip north to be available to pitch against the Phillies in relief of Kyle Gibson.

Slegers pitched two innings in the 4-3 loss, surrendering two runs on three hits, while Romero threw a perfect seventh inning with three strikeouts and Gonsalves pitched his way out of trouble with a scoreless eighth. Littell didn't see action.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Twins brought a glimpse of the future to Clearwater against the Phillies on Monday, as pitching prospects Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell and Aaron Slegers made the trip north to be available to pitch against the Phillies in relief of Kyle Gibson.

Slegers pitched two innings in the 4-3 loss, surrendering two runs on three hits, while Romero threw a perfect seventh inning with three strikeouts and Gonsalves pitched his way out of trouble with a scoreless eighth. Littell didn't see action.

Romero (No. 68) and Gonsalves (No. 78) rank among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, and Romero is the club's second-ranked prospect, Gonsalves is third and Littell is 15th. Slegers is the only one of the four with Major League experience and isn't among the club's Top 30 prospects, although he retains his rookie status this year.

None of the four figure to make the Opening Day roster -- they're all expected to be part of the rotation at Triple-A Rochester -- but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he's excited about the future of the rotation and pleased to have some depth with up-and-coming starters who could find their way into the mix this season.

"Those guys are another year into their professional careers, and while most likely they won't be here at the start, we feel good about our options going forward," Molitor said. "It's just difficult to get these guys extended and get them innings. Once Minor League camp opens, we have to make sure they're in shape to get extended once the Minor League season starts."

Here's a deeper look at the four:

RHP Fernando Romero
2017 stats:
11-9, 3.53 ERA with 120 strikeouts, 45 walks and four homers allowed in 125 innings with Double-A Chattanooga

Video: Top Prospects: Fernando Romero, RHP, Twins

The skinny: Romero, 23, easily has the best pure stuff of the group, with a fastball that can reach triple-digits to go along with a plus-slider and a changeup. The 6-foot, 215-pounder has dealt with injury issues in the past, including Tommy John surgery and knee surgery that forced him to miss the 2014 and '15 seasons. He also ended last season on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement. The Twins believe he maintains his velocity and repeats his delivery enough to remain a starter, but they could be tempted to use him in relief this season to bolster the bullpen and give him his first taste of the Majors as a reliever.

LHP Stephen Gonsalves
2017 stats:
9-5, 3.27 ERA, 118 strikeouts, 31 walks and 11 homers allowed in 110 innings between Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester

Video: Top Prospects: Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins

The skinny: Gonsalves, 23, has a fastball that sits in the low 90s but has good command and can be deceiving, as is evidenced by his 514 strikeouts in 478 1/3 innings in the Minors. The 6-foot-5, 213-pounder possesses a plus-changeup, and he's working to improve his curveball. He reached Triple-A last year but had a 5.56 ERA in 22 2/3 innings there, so he'll look to improve at that level and is expected to make his Twins debut at some point this season. He's also had minor shoulder issues in the past but is currently healthy.

RHP Zack Littell
2017 stats: 19-1, 2.12 ERA, 142 strikeouts, 41 walks and eight homers allowed in 157 innings between Class A Advanced (Yankees) and Double-A (Yankees, Twins)

Video: MIN@HOU: Littell K's Reed to lock down the save

The skinny: The first thing that jumps out about Littell, 22, is his line from last season, and dating back to 2016, he's 28-2 over his last 30 decisions in the Minors. Littell, who was acquired along with Dietrich Enns from the Yankees for Jaime Garcia at last year's Trade Deadline, has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a curve that flashes plus and a changeup. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has a great feel for pitching and gets plenty of downward plane on his pitches, inducing a 53 percent ground-ball rate that rates above average despite his below-average fastball velocity. He's expected to open the year at Triple-A.

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RHP Aaron Slegers
2017 stats: 15-4, 3.40 ERA, 119 strikeouts, 29 walks and 11 homers allowed in 148 1/3 innings with Rochester

The skinny: At 6-foot-10, 245 pounds, Slegers is the tallest pitcher in the organization and has allowed only 38 homers in 601 career innings. He also had a ground-ball rate of 44.5 percent at Triple-A last year and has great control, walking two batters per nine innings in his career. His fastball averaged 91.5 mph last year and he also mixes in a slider and a changeup.

Video: MIN@BOS: Slegers on his first Spring Training start

He was impressive in his Major League debut last season, allowing two runs on two hits against the Indians on Aug. 17, but pitched sparingly down the stretch and finished with a 6.46 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. He projects more as a back-end starter, but gives the Twins depth this season, as he doesn't have much more to prove at Triple-A.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, Fernando Romero, Aaron Slegers

Twins getting early look at young pitchers

Team's No. 3 prospect Gonsalves delivers two scoreless innings in walk-off win over University of Minnesota
MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are using the early part of Spring Training to get a look at their pitching prospects, as lefty Stephen Gonsalves threw two innings against the University of Minnesota in an exhibition on Thursday, while right-hander Aaron Slegers will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday at JetBlue Park.

Gonsalves, the No. 78 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, looked sharp against the Gophers, throwing two scoreless innings with a strikeout in the Twins' 2-1 walk-off win. The lone hit he allowed was a leadoff infield single and he later had the runner picked off, only for the Twins to fail to execute the rundown.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are using the early part of Spring Training to get a look at their pitching prospects, as lefty Stephen Gonsalves threw two innings against the University of Minnesota in an exhibition on Thursday, while right-hander Aaron Slegers will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday at JetBlue Park.

Gonsalves, the No. 78 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, looked sharp against the Gophers, throwing two scoreless innings with a strikeout in the Twins' 2-1 walk-off win. The lone hit he allowed was a leadoff infield single and he later had the runner picked off, only for the Twins to fail to execute the rundown.

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"I felt great," Gonsalves said. "It felt good to get out there. But it's a process and I'll keep going and keep working. I just want to use my fastball to get ahead. I struggled with it a little bit in the first inning today but I was a little anxious and rushing to the plate. But I talked with [pitching coach] Garvin [Alston] about how to fix it and I threw only eight pitches in the second inning."

Video: UM@MIN: Gonsalves fans Vavra in the 2nd

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Thursday's roster didn't feature any regulars for the Twins, but Slegers will have several familiar faces such as center fielder Byron Buxton, shortstop Jorge Polanco, right fielder Max Kepler and left fielder Eddie Rosario playing behind him on Friday.

"We're going to start getting some guys in there starting tomorrow," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But up until that first week, it'll be a little hit or miss putting [lineups] together. I'm glad they don't have the rule requiring regulars until March 1."

Slegers, 25, got a taste of the Majors last year, posting a 6.46 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, including an impressive start against the Indians in his debut, allowing two runs on two hits over 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 17.

Video: CLE@MIN: Slegers tosses 6 1/3 strong frames in debut

Slegers, a 6-foot-10, 245-pounder, has put impressive numbers in the Minors with a career 3.50 ERA in 106 appearances (97 starts). He went 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA and 119 strikeouts and 29 walks in 148 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester last season.

Like Gonsalves, Slegers is expected to open the season at Triple-A, as the Twins have added depth to their rotation this spring, trading for Jake Odorizzi and signing Anibal Sanchez. But Slegers can help his cause with a solid spring against Major League competition.

Dark-horse candidates vying for Twins' roster

Other pitchers expected to throw on Friday include left-handers Dietrich Enns and Gabriel Moya and right-handers Felix Jorge, Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss and Tyler Kinley. Moya, Busenitz, Curtiss and Kinley, a Rule 5 Draft pick, are competing for spots in the bullpen, while Enns and Jorge are starters.

The lineup won't have starters such as first baseman Joe Mauer, second baseman Brian Dozier and third baseman Miguel Sano, as they'll be eased into Spring Training games. Dozier returned Wednesday after missing three days with a kidney stone, while Sano continues to work on his conditioning after undergoing offseason surgery to place a titanium rod in his left shin.

WORTH NOTING
• Emma Charlesworth-Seiler served as first-base umpire on Thursday and is one of two women umpires in Minor League Baseball. The other, Jen Pawol, was the home-plate umpire for Friday's Tigers game against Florida Southern College.

• First baseman Brock Stassi, who is expected to add depth at Triple-A Rochester, drove in the game's first run with an RBI single with two outs in the first. Catcher Brian Navarreto went 2-for-2, including a single in the ninth to help set up the walk-off wild pitch with the bases loaded. LaMonte Wade scored the winning run after drawing a leadoff walk.

Video: UM@MIN: Wade scores on walk-off wild pitch

• Gophers leadoff hitter Luke Pettersen, the younger brother of former Twins Minor Leaguer A.J. Pettersen, went 2-for-5.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves, Aaron Slegers

Twins Top 30 features 4 Top 100 prospects

MLB.com

To say the Twins were ahead of schedule in 2017 would be a vast understatement. The Twins became just the second team since the Draft was instituted in 1965 to make the playoffs in the same season they had the No. 1 overall pick.

Twins Top 30 Prospects list

To say the Twins were ahead of schedule in 2017 would be a vast understatement. The Twins became just the second team since the Draft was instituted in 1965 to make the playoffs in the same season they had the No. 1 overall pick.

Twins Top 30 Prospects list

They did it with a young core of talent that should be there for a long time, led by former top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, along with players like Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. And there's even more good news down on the farm.

:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::

The Twins currently don't have a top 10 farm system and have four members on the Top 100. But it's easy to see any of the next five or six players on the new Top 30 working their way onto that list over the course of 2018, and this being one of the best systems in baseball by the end of the season. There's as much upside among the non-Top 100 set in this system as perhaps in any other in baseball.

Some of it came from international efforts, with Wander Javier and Brusdar Graterol poised to jump on the national prospect radar. Some came from the Draft, with 2016 first-rounder Alex Kirilloff and 2017 draftees Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow ready to breakout. And that doesn't even include that No. 1 pick, Royce Lewis, who is already firmly on the Top 100 and jumped on a fast track by handling a push to the Midwest League during his summer debut.

There's also solid talent up and down the organization. Five members of the 2017 Draft class landed on the Top 30 and are just starting out, though Rooker should move faster than most. On the flip side, three of the top four, all Top 100 prospects -- Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves and Nick Gordon -- should make some kind of impact at Target Field this year.

All of this adds up to one simple conclusion: What the Twins accomplished in 2017 not only wasn't a mirage, but it's a success that very well could be long-lasting because of what is a very strong and deep farm system.

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.

Jump: Brusdar Graterol, RHP (2017: NR | 2018: 7)
Fall: J.T. Chargois, RHP (2017: 11 | 2018: 24) | Ben Rortvedt, C (2017: 12 | 2018: 25)

Best tools
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.

Hit: 60 -- Royce Lewis
Power: 60 -- Brent Rooker
Run: 70 -- Royce Lewis
Arm: 60 -- Andrew Bechtold (Wander Javier)
Defense: 55 -- Ben Rortvedt (Nick Gordon, Andrew Bechtold, Zack Granite)
Fastball: 80 -- J.T. Chargois
Curveball: 60 -- Blayne Enlow
Slider: 60 -- J.T. Chargois
Changeup: 60 -- Stephen Gonsalves
Control: 55 -- Felix Jorge (Gonsalves, Enlow, Zack Littell)

How they were built
Draft: 19
International: 8
Trade: 3

Breakdown by ETA
2018: 12
2019: 3
2020: 6
2021: 8
2022: 1

Breakdown by position
C: 2
1B: 1
2B: 3
3B: 2
SS: 3
OF: 6
RHP: 9
LHP: 4

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Minnesota Twins

Garver aiming to crack Opening Day roster

Catcher in prime position to grab backup role after 5 solid Minor League seasons
MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After five strong seasons in the Minors, Mitch Garver has put himself in prime position to make the Twins' Opening Day roster for the first time as backup catcher to Jason Castro, especially with last year's backup Chris Gimenez signing with the Cubs on a Minor League deal.

But the 27-year-old will have to earn the job. Garver met with manager Paul Molitor and the front office on Thursday, and they reiterated he'll be competing this spring with non-roster invites such as Bobby Wilson and Willians Astudillo.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After five strong seasons in the Minors, Mitch Garver has put himself in prime position to make the Twins' Opening Day roster for the first time as backup catcher to Jason Castro, especially with last year's backup Chris Gimenez signing with the Cubs on a Minor League deal.

But the 27-year-old will have to earn the job. Garver met with manager Paul Molitor and the front office on Thursday, and they reiterated he'll be competing this spring with non-roster invites such as Bobby Wilson and Willians Astudillo.

"We want to give him an avenue to win the job," Twins general manager Thad Levine said. "But absent of him winning that, he's not going to be on this club. He needs to go out and seize this opportunity. We did feel some degree of honor bound to give him an opportunity, then it would be up to him to make the most of it."

Garver has been known for his offense since he was chosen in the ninth round of the 2013 Draft out of the University of New Mexico, slashing .271/.364/.429 in 508 career games. He's fared even better at Triple-A, with a .298/.386/.529 slash line and 18 homers in 110 games.

Video: CWS@MIN: Garver cracks first career double

He's had to work on his defense over the years, and pitchers who have been with him since he was in the low Minors stress that he's made the necessary improvements to be a Major League catcher.

"He's taken huge strides," reliever Trevor Hildenberger said. "I first saw him in [Class A Advanced] with the Miracle and he was good, but more as a thrower I'd say. But his receiving skills, he just keeps stepping it up, and same with his blocking. And stealing strikes, especially on fastballs low, he's gotten a lot better with my sinker. And his throws have not only become more accurate, but more consistent."

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Garver credits the hard work he puts into the offseason for helping him improve defensively, and learning from coaches and fellow catchers along the way. Garver got his first taste of the Majors last year, getting called up in mid-August and playing in 23 games, and said Castro and Gimenez were big influences on him.

"I think there's a lot of room to improve, but I feel like I can catch at the big league level and control a pitching staff," Garver said. "It's just a matter of getting those reps and being more comfortable on that stage and picking up everything I learned from Jason and applying it to a game."

Video: TOR@MIN: Garver doubles off third baseman in the 6th

Garver played only sporadically after getting called up, starting four games at catcher. He slashed .196/.288/.348 with three triples, but made the postseason roster for the AL Wild Card Game. The Twins know he's a better offensive performer than he showed in that brief stint, and if he makes the club as expected, he'll get a bulk of his playing time against lefties this year.

"We probably didn't see him at his best when he came up," Molitor said. "It's not surprising, but he had to make some adjustments. But we think there's a lot in there. He's not a young kid anymore. He's got the right mindset about what he needs to do."

Garver said he's excited to show what he can do this spring and knows the door is open for him to claim a spot on this year's roster as one of only a few position battles in camp.

"It's a different feeling," Garver said. "I'm just trying to get in the baseball mood right now and fine tune some things. Once I get into the games, it'll be fun to see how some of the things I've worked on work out."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Mitch Garver

Prospect Gordon among Twins' NRIs at camp

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins announced Tuesday they've invited 13 non-roster players to Major League Spring Training, including shortstop prospect Nick Gordon, who heads to big league camp for a second straight year.

Gordon is joined by right-handers Myles Jaye, Michael Kohn and Jake Reed; catchers Willians Astudillo, Brian Navarreto and Bobby Wilson; infielders Taylor Featherston, Gregorio Petit and Brock Stassi; and outfielders Nick Buss, Ryan LaMarre and LaMonte Wade. Of the 13, eight have Major League experience, while Gordon, Reed and Wade are considered among Minnesota's top prospects.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins announced Tuesday they've invited 13 non-roster players to Major League Spring Training, including shortstop prospect Nick Gordon, who heads to big league camp for a second straight year.

Gordon is joined by right-handers Myles Jaye, Michael Kohn and Jake Reed; catchers Willians Astudillo, Brian Navarreto and Bobby Wilson; infielders Taylor Featherston, Gregorio Petit and Brock Stassi; and outfielders Nick Buss, Ryan LaMarre and LaMonte Wade. Of the 13, eight have Major League experience, while Gordon, Reed and Wade are considered among Minnesota's top prospects.

The announcement comes later in the offseason than usual, but it's been an untypical offseason with several top players still unsigned. The Twins are still looking to sign a starting pitcher before pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13, and have 53 players scheduled to report to Spring Training.

Gordon, ranked as the No. 80 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, is expected to open the season at Triple-A Rochester, but is considered close to the big leagues after a strong year at Double-A Chattanooga. The younger brother of the Mariners' Dee Gordon and son of former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon, he can handle shortstop or second base and could make his debut this season. His future will ultimately be dictated on how the Twins handle their middle infield going forward, with second baseman Brian Dozier in the last year of his contract and Jorge Polanco trying to establish himself as a long-term starter at short.

Video: CLE@DET: Jaye tosses scoreless relief outing in debut

Of the three right-handers, Reed is one of the club's better relief prospects, while Jaye was signed to a Minor League deal after a brief appearance in the Majors with the Tigers last year and Kohn was brought back after pitching in the Minors with Minnesota in 2017. Jaye can start or relieve, while Kohn has pitched in parts of five seasons in the Majors as a hard-throwing reliever. Kohn originally signed with the Twins last summer after a tryout based on the recommendation of former Angels teammate Torii Hunter.

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As for the catchers, Wilson, who has played parts of eight seasons in the Majors, was brought in to compete for the backup role with Mitch Garver. Astudillo has had strong numbers offensively throughout the Minors, hitting .311/.350/.401 in eight seasons, while Navarreto has been in Minnesota's system since 2013.

Featherston, Petit and Stassi all have Major League experience. with Stassi more of a corner infielder/outfielder. They add to Minnesota's infield depth behind backups Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza.

Video: LAD@CWS: Wilson homers to left-center field

Among the outfielders, Buss and LaMarre were both brought in this offseason and have played in the big leagues. Buss is a corner outfielder who won the batting title in the Pacific Coast League last year, while LaMarre can handle center. Wade is a fast-rising prospect in the organization who is likely to start the season at Triple-A, but is close to reaching the Majors with his combination of athleticism and plate discipline.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins