MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Twins' season draws to a close, two of the the club's top prospects were tabbed as the best in Minnesota's system for the 2018 season.
Minnesota announced on Sunday that 20-year-old outfielder Alex Kirilloff was named the 2018 Sherry Robertson Award winner as the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. Lewis Thorpe, a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher, was awarded the Jim Rantz Award as the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
It was a breakout year for Kirilloff, who not only climbed up a spot in Minnesota's top prospects list, but also shot up to No. 30 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects. Kirilloff hit .348 in 512 at-bats while splitting time between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He racked up 44 doubles, seven triples, 20 homers and 101 RBIs in 130 games. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound outfielder led all qualified Minor Leaguers in doubles and tallied the seventh-most RBIs. During the Major League All-Star break, he played in the SiriusXM Futures Game for Team USA.
Kiriloff was able to emerge as one of the top prospects in baseball despite missing the 2017 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Thorpe also made a leap for the Twins and found success while adjusting to his first stint of Triple-A ball. He spent time at Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester, posting an 8-7 record and 3.54 ERA over 129 2/3 innings across the two teams. He struck out 157 batters while walking 36 and held opponents to a .250 batting average.
Thorpe, a Melbourne, Australia native who pitched for the World Team at the Futures Game, missed all of 2015 and 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. In four starts at Rochester this season, he posted a 3.32 ERA and struck out 26 batters over 21 2/3 innings.
Past recipients of Minnesota's Minor League awards include Joe Mauer (2003), Max Kepler (2015) and Jose Berrios (2014, 2015).
Santana set to play winter ball
For the first time since 2009, Ervin Santana will play in the Dominican Winter League in hopes of bouncing back from a rocky 2018 season.
Santana last played in the league during the 2008-09 campaign while he was still a member of the Angels. He missed much of this season due to a finger injury on his throwing hand, but said that the hand is starting to feel better and that he will pitch for Tigres del Licey -- the same club he pitched for in 2008-09.
In five starts this season, Santana went 0-1 with an 8.03 ERA. On Sept. 8, the Twins shut him down for the season after his finger continued to bother him. This season was the last in Santana's four-year, $55 million contract that he signed with the Twins in 2015. He has a $14 million club option for the 2019 season, which the Twins are not expected to pick up.