Rookies Jose Miranda and Jhoan Duran were among the brightest storylines of the season as they established themselves as cornerstones of this team’s future. The brief cameo that Royce Lewis made at the MLB level was unforgettable. A pair of hometown kids in Louie Varland and Matt Wallner finished the season in the Majors.
Who could be next?
3 PLAYERS WHO FORCED THEIR WAY ONTO THE RADAR
Before the season, Rodriguez was singled out as a must-watch prospect at the Twins’ Minor League complex for his batting practice sessions alone, with his prodigious power heralding big things to come -- if he could translate it to the field. He did.
As a 19-year-old in Class A, Rodriguez showcased five-tool ability in center field by hitting .272/.492/.551 (a 1.043 OPS) with nine homers, 11 steals and more walks (57) than strikeouts (52) before he tore his meniscus in June while sliding into a base. The strikeout rate remains high, but he’s still so young and talented, rising all the way to No. 3 in the Twins’ system and No. 92 in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100.
Brooks Lee, SS
The Twins were thrilled when the shortstop from Cal Poly fell to the No. 8 selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, allowing them to nab the 21-year-old considered by many evaluators to be the most polished hitter in his Draft class. He backed up that reputation by hitting .303/.388/.451 with a 14 percent strikeout rate in his first pro season, making it all the way up to Double-A in a month and a half, already posturing MLB’s No. 32 prospect to impact the Twins in the next year or two.
Marco Raya, RHP
It’s been impossible to miss the buzz around Raya, the Twins’ 2020 fourth-rounder. Though he entered ‘22 a relative mystery because he still hadn’t seen live action due to a shoulder strain, the Twins loved the polish of his arsenal and his added velocity. That translated to a 3.02 ERA in 19 outings with Class A Fort Myers, including 76 strikeouts in 65 innings. He’s only 20, with a promising foundation to build on as he advances up the system.
2 POSSIBLE BREAKOUT PLAYERS TO WATCH
David Festa, RHP
The Twins have already struck gold with a late-round pitcher, turning Bailey Ober from a 12th-round pick in 2017 to a potential rotation mainstay. Can Festa follow in his footsteps? The lanky 13th-round pick out of Seton Hall in ‘21 has made huge strides with his fastball, which paired with his high-spin slider to give him a 2.43 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings across Class A and High-A.
Noah Miller, SS
Miller’s offensive stats were still underwhelming in his second professional season, with a .627 OPS in Class A, but the Twins like the work Miller has been putting in behind the scenes in his approach, conditioning and swing mechanics, which they hope will combine with Miller’s exceptional instincts, IQ and awareness to pave a strong future. Still only 19, the former No. 36 selection still has a ton of development to go, with the tools to succeed.
1 BIG QUESTION FOR 2023
The Twins hoped that Martin and Balazovic -- who both entered the season ranked among the organization’s top five prospects -- could have impacted the Majors in ‘22. Instead, they struggled considerably and saw their prospect status take big hits. Martin is off to a strong start in the Arizona Fall League, while Balazovic, recovered from a knee injury, did regain some of his form in September. It’ll be imperative for them to have strong ‘23 seasons.