Minnesota Twins 2024 top-20 prospects: Walker Jenkins, Brooks Lee lead the way

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Minnesota Twins 2024 top-20 prospects: Walker Jenkins, Brooks Lee lead the way

The top of the Twins’ system is strong for a team that’s contending, with several guys offering the upside of being able to start for a contender. They’re a little worse off for some injuries and for some high picks and trades that haven’t worked out, including nothing from their first-rounders from 2019 and 2020, very little coming from the trades that sent away José Berríos and Luis Arraez (in terms of prospects), and the trade that sent three solid prospects to Baltimore for Jorge López.

Twins 2024 top 20 prospects

(Note: Seasonal ages as of July 1, 2024. Scouting grades are on the traditional 20-80 or 2-8 scouting scale.)

1. Walker Jenkins, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 15)

Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Jenkins was the No. 5 pick last year and part of the quintet of prospects who could have gone first overall in a typical draft, so the Twins picked the right year to select fifth. Jenkins earns a lot of comparisons to Larry Walker for his size, athleticism, and sweet left-handed swing, leading to hopes he can be another power-hitting right fielder with strong on-base skills and some speed as well. It’s about as textbook a swing as you’ll see, with elite bat speed and great hip rotation for hard contact and what should end up as 25-30 homer power, if not more.

He had zero issues in pro ball with contact or plate discipline, although he didn’t show much of the power yet, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he took a year or two to grow into that part of his game. He played center in every game when he played the field except for one in right, but given his size I think he’s going to end up in a corner, just like his namesake. It may not be a straight line to stardom but I believe Jenkins’ swing and bat speed will carry him for now while we wait for the power to arrive.

2. Brooks Lee, SS/3B (2024 top 100 ranking: 31)

Bats: B | Throws: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 205 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Lee was the No. 8 pick in the 2022 draft, a very advanced hitter who’d been on scouts’ radar as a top prospect since he was in high school. He confirmed that by going to Double A to start his first full pro season and hitting .292/.365/.476 there before an August promotion to Triple A, setting him up to reach the majors this year. He’s a switch-hitter with some effort to the swing, showing a big split last year between his production from the left side (.287/.366/.494) and right side (.231/.266/.337), with a history of high contact rates, especially on fastballs in the zone. He’s boosted his contact quality in the last year and hits a ton of line drives, as his swing finishes with enough loft to often put him in the ideal launch-angle range for line-drive contact.

He’s mostly played shortstop in the minors, getting just seven starts at the hot corner last year, but his long-term position is more likely to be off shortstop — probably third base, as he has plenty of arm for the left side of the infield and soft enough hands for third. He should hit for a .280-.300 average with strong OBPs and homer totals in the teens, playing above-average or better defense at third or second base, or 45 defense at shortstop if he’s forced to stay there by injuries or other circumstances.

3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 47)

Bats: L | Throws: L | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Rodriguez missed about 2/3 of the 2022 season after a knee injury, but he impressed scouts with his power and approach in the limited time he played. He showed more of the same in a full season of work in 2023, moving to High A as a 20-year-old and hitting .240/.400/.463 with 92 walks in 99 games, although now it’s time for him to swing more often and convert those good counts into damage. He started out 2023 in horrific fashion, with a .163 average and 38.5 percent strikeout rate through the end of May, so the season line may not do him justice.

He’s got a big leg kick, and when he swings, he swings pretty hard, with plus game power already and high exit velocities for his age, offering the possibility of a 30-homer corner bat with high walk totals. He’s a 55 runner who plays center now, with a body that’s probably going to slow down and push him to a corner as he gets into his 20s, with maybe average range up the middle as it is. He doesn’t chase much, with his high strikeout total more a function of running deep counts than poor recognition — he saw 4.29 pitches per PA last year, putting him in the top 5 percent of all minor-league players with at least 400 PA, but needs to swing a little more at good strikes. There’s real upside with the bat if he translates the selectivity into more of the hard contact he’s already making when he does deign to swing.

4. Gabriel Gonzalez, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 96)

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 165 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Gonzalez went to the Twins in the January trade that sent Jorge Polanco to Seattle, the one significant prospect heading to Minnesota in that swap. Gonzalez offers some real upside with the bat if he can stop swinging at everything within a half-mile of the strike zone. He’s up there to do damage and has such good hand-eye coordination and feel for the barrel that he can hit pitches anywhere in the zone and, to some extent, just outside of it, so he swings early and often. He mashed in Low A, hitting .348/.403/.530 with just a 13.7 percent strikeout rate. When he reached High A, however, pitchers exploited his tendency to chase pitches out of the zone, and he slipped to .215/.290/.387 — still showing power and hard contact, but also swinging at more than a third of non-strikes he saw.

His contact quality improved last year over 2022, and he did hit for more power (ISO .147 to .178), although that has to continue to improve so he can get to that 25+ homer range, as he’s a below-average runner and will be limited to a corner outfield spot. There’s above-average upside here given the pure hit ability and potential for 60 or better power; with his defensive limitations and the odds that he’ll never walk 50 times in a season, though, he has to get there to be more than an extra outfielder.

5. Marco Raya, RHP

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Raya’s a smaller right-hander who might have the best pure stuff in the Twins’ system, but he’s had trouble staying healthy and doesn’t pitch that much when he is on the mound, maxing out at 63 pitches in a single appearance in 2023. It’s 94-97 mph with a four-pitch mix; both the slider and change miss bats while the fastball has good life to at least limit hard contact. He missed 2021 with shoulder soreness and now has thrown 127 2/3 innings in the last two years. You have to develop him as a starter because of the upside, but you can’t reasonably project him in that role when he’s had this much trouble staying on the mound.

Austin Martin has had trouble staying on the field as a pro. (Brace Hemmelgarn / Minnesota Twins / Getty Images)

6. Austin Martin, IF/OF

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 185 | Seasonal age in 2024: 25

Martin has yet to play 100 games in any minor-league season, missing time in each of the last three years, with his 2023 issue a torn UCL that kept him out until the start of July — although the injury may explain the throwing issues he’s had for several years. Once he returned, he showed his usual elite bat-to-ball skills and patient approach, but with little more than medium-quality contact at his best. The Twins have worked to get him to hit more line drives, which did happen last year, and to look for occasional pitches to pull, which also happened, but at the end of the day, he’s a slasher who’ll put the ball in play and run. He hit .260/.381/.398 in 67 games in Triple A, and that’s probably about the ceiling for the bat. He’s shown he can play second, center, or left, while he’s an emergency backup at short, which should get him a utility role in the majors right now, perhaps platooning with Edouard Julien at second and backing up Byron Buxton in center.

7. Charlee Soto, RHP

Bats: B | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 18

Soto was the Twins’ second pick, 34th-overall in the 2023 draft, earning a bonus just under $2.5 million after a spring where he’d show three plus pitches … if you saw him at all, as he pitched somewhat infrequently for a Florida high schooler. He’s hit 98 mph with some life to it, probably more for sink than ride up top for whiffs, and can both spin a hard slider and show a split-change with late fade. He didn’t turn 18 until after the draft, so the Twins gave him the summer off. He’s inexperienced and it can show on the mound in terms of command and sequencing. It’s probably No. 2 starter ceiling, depending of course on him staying healthy with this kind of arm strength at his age.

8. David Festa, RHP

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 185 | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

Festa’s a 6-6 right-hander whom the Twins popped in the 13th round in 2021 out of Seton Hall. He’s developing into a potential back-end starter if he just gets another half-grade of control. He’s always had a 55 or better changeup and his velocity has ticked up in pro ball to the mid-90s, while the slider has developed enough to be a weapon versus right-handers, so he showed no platoon split whatsoever in 2023.

9. Danny De Andrade, SS

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 190 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Signed for a $2.2 million bonus in January 2021, De Andrade hit .244/.354/.396 in Low A as a 19-year-old last year, with some strong batted-ball data that points to better results as he gets out of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He’s become a more selective hitter since the Twins signed him, both in terms of swinging at strikes and picking up pitch types, and showed some power last year to left and to center, enough to project him to 15-18 homers as a ceiling. His defense earns mixed reviews, with some scouts saying he’s a definite shortstop and others saying he has work to do on routine plays. If he’s a shortstop, this bat will play, with adequate contact quality already and room left for him to fill out.

10. Tanner Schobel, IF

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 5-9 | Weight: 170 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Schobel hit well in High A but got a little pull-happy in Double A, although he continued to keep his contact rate up enough at the higher level to see a utility future. He’s capable at third and in either outfield corner, can fill in at second, and could stand at shortstop, his college position at Virginia Tech, in an emergency, although he’s not the classic utility infielder who can play regularly up the middle. He destroyed lefties last year — .298/.456/.476 in a small sample (114 PA) — which adds to his bench value.

11. Connor Prielipp, LHP

Bats: L | Throws: L | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Prielipp had Tommy John surgery in 2021 as a sophomore at Alabama, then re-injured the ligament and underwent some sort of surgery last July, throwing just 6 2/3 innings before his season ended. He’d looked very promising in spring training of 2023 before his elbow flared up again, showing his old velocity and the plus slider that had him tabbed as a potential 1-1 guy for 2022. Between the pandemic and the twin elbow surgeries, he’s thrown 34 2/3 innings in four calendar years, so on top of keeping him healthy, the Twins also have the challenge of figuring out how to build him back up for regular work. He should return at some point this year.

12. C.J. Culpepper, RHP

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 193 | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Culpepper is 94-97 mph with a full arsenal, although his slider and curveball blend together, showing enough changeup to get lefties and righties out. He was a college product and too advanced for Low A, while his strikeout rate dropped to barely 20 percent after a promotion to High A, making it hard to see him sticking as a starter with his current stuff. He has to tighten up the command and control to project as a No. 5, with a swingman/relief role more likely.

13. Ricardo Olivar, C/OF

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 176 | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Olivar has the bat to play in the majors, hitting everywhere he’s been with a sound approach and good, if not elite, contact quality. The question is where he’ll play, as he’s not great behind the plate and might have a 45 arm, with just a 12 percent caught stealing rate in three years in the minors. If he can’t catch, it’s left field or maybe first base, and that’s obviously a very different profile for a hitter. I’m splitting the difference here, since he’d be a top-10 Twins prospect if everyone felt confident he’d remain a backstop.

14. Yasser Mercedes, OF

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 175 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Mercedes is a toolsy center fielder with a better-than-even chance to stick there, showing some swing and miss due to an inconsistent swing path at the plate. There’s power coming here and he’s at least a 55 runner, so if he can tidy up his two-part swing to get more consistent contact — and stay healthy, which was an issue in 2023 — he could be a regular.

15. Byron Chourio, OF

Bats: B | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 171 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Chourio was part of the Luis Arraez-Pablo López trade last offseason, making his U.S. debut in 2023 with a .262/.415/.298 line as an 18-year-old in the Florida Complex League. He’s lean right now and obviously isn’t making hard contact, but he’s a switch-hitter with a sound swing, there’s projection to his 6-2 body, and he’s a good athlete who might stick in center.

Luke Keaschall came to the Twins from Arizona State. (Zac BonDurant / Icon Sportswire via Associated Press)

16. Luke Keaschall, 2B

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 190 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Keaschall was the Twins’ second-round pick last July, a second baseman at Arizona State who rarely struck out and showed some power at elevation. He’s a 55-60 runner who might be able to shift to center field, while at the plate, he shows very good zone awareness but glides over his front side, reducing his potential power with wood until someone corrects it.

17. Brandon Winokur, OF

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Winokur is a 6-6 toolshed who could be a monster on both sides of the ball … if he hits. It’s a 70 arm, maybe 70 raw power, and plus speed, but he swung and missed too much in high school and his giant frame gives him a lot of plate to cover. The Twins went over slot to sign him in the third round last season, a solid bet on upside, although it’s a low-probability bat. He slugged .546 in 71 PA in the FCL, with 23 strikeouts and four walks.

18. Cory Lewis, RHP

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 220 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Lewis has a funky arm action where he comes straight over the top, so most of his stuff is very north/south, but the interesting thing about him is that he throws a true knuckleball as one part of his arsenal. He’s 88-93 mph with a very vertical breaker, maybe an up-and-down reliever as is, but if he commits to the knuckleball he’s a different guy, although I am biased towards knuckleballers and believe MLB should have a rule that there always be at least one on a major-league roster.

19. Jose Rodriguez, OF

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 196 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Rodriguez is a bad-bodied outfielder who can hit and might be a 45 defender in left field if he works at it, which is a really tough row to hoe for a prospect. He’s got a very sound swing, getting the bat to the ball consistently on time, with the launch angle for at least strong line-drive contact and potentially 55 or better power down the road. If he hits, he’ll creep up the list, but there will always be concern that the lack of any other tools will keep him from the majors.

20. Bryan Acuña, SS/2B

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 176 | Seasonal age in 2024: 18

Yet another Acuña brother, Bryan signed with the Twins for $650,000 in January 2022 and came to the U.S. last year, hitting just .185/.327/.227 in the Florida Complex League … but he’s got tools and projection beyond just the famous surname. He’s a 55 runner who’ll probably end up at second base because he’s had issues with routine plays and throws from shortstop. He’s physically immature even for an 18-year-old, which may be why he struggled so badly in the FCL after a solid debut in the Dominican Summer League, as he’s hardly impacting the ball at all. He’s got a baby face and looks like he’s barely developed the kind of physical coordination needed to control the bat head on an all-out swing. I wouldn’t be shocked if he broke out at the plate at age 20 or 21, once he gets a lot stronger. I’d still have him here even if his name were Bryan Jones.

Others of note

Jose Salas, whose younger brother Ethan Salas is now the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, was abysmal in his first year with the Twins, hitting .190/.265/.272 in 93 games in High A around some injuries, playing mostly second base with a little third and short. It’s not a great swing from either side, with his hands always in different positions as he gets his bat started, and he’ll need some work to get back to prospect-dom.

Kala’i Rosario is a big slugger from Waiākea on the Big Island of Hawaii, finishing in the top 10 among all High-A hitters in homers (21) and walks (75). It’s all bat, and even at that he punched out just under 30 percent of the time last year. The track record of three true outcomes guys with no defensive value is not strong, so while he’s a prospect, he’s got a low probability of being more than an up-and-down guy.

Matt Canterino is on the 40-man roster and should be ready to pitch this spring training after August 2022 Tommy John surgery; his stuff has always been big-league quality, but like a lot of Rice pitchers, he’s had trouble staying healthy in pro ball, with 85 total minor-league innings since he was drafted in 2019. He’s got the fastball and two breaking balls that might all be plus if he just moves to the bullpen and doesn’t have to pace himself or worry about his elbow breaking.

2024 impact

Martin has a role to play on the 2024 Twins as a platoon/bench guy. I would really love to see Canterino get healthy enough for a shot in the major-league bullpen, as he’s had a rough few years of injuries, and the stuff would play in the big leagues right now if it’s back to where it was pre-Tommy John.

The fallen

Simeon Woods-Richardson came over with Austin Martin in the trade that sent José Berríos to Toronto, but his stuff has backed up over the last few years and he’s had no success above Double A, with a 4.91 ERA and 61 walks against 96 strikeouts in 113 2/3 Triple-A innings last year. The Twins’ first-round picks from 2019 and 2020, Keoni Cavaco and Aaron Sabato, are both non-prospects at this point, with Sabato failing to hit anywhere above Low A despite a solid year-plus of production in the ACC as an amateur.


Let’s see what De Andrade can do out of the swamp and in High A, in better hitting environments but against better pitching as well.

(Top photo of Walker Jenkins: Cliff Welch / Icon Sportswire via Associated Press)