Trades provide Twins farm system plenty of players packed with potential
Have a seat. Catch your breath. The trade deadline has come and now is gone.
The Twins, during a dizzying week of transactions, turned five major leaguers into a whopping 11 minor leaguers. Its reflective of the teams still-new regime, led by Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine: There will be no fence-sitting at the trade deadline.
The Twins chances of reaching the postseason were slim, so they spun current value into future assets by dealing Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, Zach Duke and Lance Lynn all but Pressly eligible for free agency after the season for second baseman Logan Forsythe and 11 prospects.
At the deadline, you have two choices to make, Falvey said. Youre either in and pushing and grabbing players to push toward the finish or youre arent. I dont think we wanted to get caught in the middle.
So lets focus on the 11 players the Twins currently are trying place all over their farm system. The group lacks a true blue-chip prospect but, as a whole, has been rated favorably by various evaluators.
CBSSports.coms Mike Axisa gave the Twins a B grade for their work, mentioning in particular sending Escobar to Arizona for righthander Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad, and trading Pressly to Houston for righthander Jorge Alcala and outfielder Gilberto Celestino. ESPNs Buster Olney gave the Twins a B-plus.
According to Baseball America, of the 69 prospects dealt over the six weeks before the deadline, Alcala was the eighth-best. The 23-year-olds fastball has touched 100 miles per hour, and he throws a good slider. Some believe Alcala could wind up as a reliever, but the Twins will develop him as a starter.
Celestino, 19, was the 13th-best prospect dealt. The Twins view him as a good overall player who has a chance to be a good hitter. Houston signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $2.5 million in 2015, so he has been highly regarded.
Duran was next, at 15th. The 20-year-old is effective right now with a mid-90s fastball that has heavy sink but is developing a good curveball. He announced his arrival with authority Monday with seven no-hit innings for Class A Cedar Rapids. While some feel that Alcala is a much better prospect than Duran, the Twins believe the gap is closer than that.
We got some real power arms back that we feel can creep to the top of the rotation, Falvey said. Not to say that would be the only approach this deadline. But when we found opportunities with different clubs whether its Jorge Alcala or Jhoan Duran, others, those are guys with real stuff, ceiling and a chance to impact our future in the not too distant future.
The Twins also are high on righthander Luis Rijo, who came over with Tyler Austin from the Yankees in the Lynn deal. Rijo, 19, has a long way to go, but he throws the full mix of pitches and has flashed good control, and the Twins love his makeup.
Maciel, 19, is fast and controls the strike zone well, making him a leadoff prospect if he can get stronger he is listed at 170 pounds and hone his hitting skills.
Two players who could appear for the Twins before the season is over are righthander Chase De Jong, who came over with first baseman Ryan Costello from Seattle for Duke, and outfielder-first baseman Tyler Austin, who came over with Rijo from the Yankees for Lynn.
De Jong, 24, pitched in seven games for Seattle in 2017, going 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA. He has a fastball that can reach 94 mph, but his key is mixing his secondary pitches effectively.
Austin, who turns 27 on Sept. 6, has power. He has hit two home runs one 454 feet, the other 421 since joining Class AAA Rochester. Contact has been his issue in the majors. He has batted .230 with 15 home runs and 106 strikeouts in 85 games with the Yankees since debuting in 2016.
Contact also will determine the future of outfielder-first baseman Luke Raley, who came with Forsythe and lefthander Devin Smeltzer in the Dozier trade. The lefthanded-hitting Raley batted .275 with 17 home runs for Class AA Tulsa, with 24 walks and 105 strikeouts in 93 games.
Smeltzer, 22, recently was sent to the Tulsa bullpen but has a 2.70 ERA in his past seven outings. He throws in the low 90s and doesnt strike out a lot of batters.
The last two prospects the Twins received, De La Trinidad and first baseman Ryan Costello, are viewed as organizational role players.
One challenge of adding so many minor leaguers to an organization is finding room for them.
We were able to make it work, said Jeremy Zoll, Twins director of minor league operations. We had a little bit of roster flexibility.
And it will be worth the logistical headache if a few of the acquisitions reach the majors.