Minnesota Twins

Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2021: Introduction – Minnesota Twins – Articles

It’s that time again. With the arrival of a new year, we like to take stock of the Twins’ organizational talent by revisiting and updating our rankings of the franchise’s top 20 player assets.On Tuesday, the countdown begins. Today: an introduction, preview, and look back at past rankings.

Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This will be my fourth time compiling and publishing these rankings, which always publish right around New Year’s Day. You can find the previous lists (and some reflections) below, but here are the links if you want to quick-jump to past installments:Here’s a breakdown of the methodology and caveats for this exercise:

  • Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally).
  • Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we’re using here. But for the purposes of this list, we’re analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors.
  • The idea is to assess players’ importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this regard, it’s not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that’s dependent on another team’s situation and needs. (For instance, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. would be more valuable to many other teams than they are to the Twins, who are rich with short-term and long-term corner outfield depth.)
  • This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2020.
  • Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion?

Before we proceed, a note that will hopefully but these rankings in the proper context:

Two years ago, I had Fernando Romero ranked as the sixth-most valuable player asset in the Twins organization. Last month, he was released so he could go play in Japan.

It’s obviously an extreme example, but illustrates a simple reality: these rankings are subjective and timebound. That’s what makes them worthy of putting together each year. It’s interesting to track the ups and downs, and to debate where different players might fit in or how their stock has changed.

You’ll see many examples of dramatic rises and falls from the past three years by looking over these previous lists:


  1. Ryan Jeffers, C

  2. Eddie Rosario, OF

  3. Michael Pineda, RHP

  4. Nelson Cruz, DH

  5. Tyler Duffey, RHP

  6. Jake Odorizzi, RHP

  7. Trevor Larnach, OF

  8. Jhoan Duran, RHP

  9. Taylor Rogers, LHP

  10. Miguel Sano, 3B

  11. Luis Arraez, 2B

  12. Alex Kirilloff, OF

  13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP

  14. Byron Buxton OF

  15. Mitch Garver, C

  16. Royce Lewis, SS

  17. Brusdar Graterol, RHP

  18. Jose Berrios, RHP

  19. Max Kepler, OF

  20. Jorge Polanco, SS


20. Nick Gordon, SS

  1. C.J. Cron, 1B

  2. Adalberto Mejia, LHP

  3. Jake Cave, OF

  4. Wander Javier, SS

  5. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP

  6. Miguel Sano, 3B

  7. Kyle Gibson, RHP

  8. Trevor May, RHP

  9. Mitch Garver, C

  10. Taylor Rogers, LHP

  11. Max Kepler, OF

  12. Eddie Rosario, OF

  13. Jorge Polanco, SS

  14. Fernando Romero, RHP

  15. Brusdar Graterol, RHP

  16. Alex Kirilloff, OF

  17. Byron Buxton, OF

  18. Jose Berrios, RHP

  19. Royce Lewis, SS


  1. Alex Kirilloff, OF

  2. Trevor May, RHP

  3. Wander Javier, SS

  4. Jason Castro, C

  5. Tyler Duffey, RHP

  6. Taylor Rogers, LHP

  7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP

  8. Nick Gordon, SS

  9. Fernando Romero, RHP

  10. Trevor Hildenberger, RHP

  11. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP

  12. Ervin Santana, RHP

  13. Brian Dozier, 2B

  14. Max Kepler, OF

  15. Jorge Polanco, SS

  16. Eddie Rosario, OF

  17. Miguel Sano, 3B

  18. Jose Berrios, RHP

  19. Royce Lewis, SS

  20. Byron Buxton, OF

As mentioned, we’ll start rolling out the 2021 rankings tomorrow with my choices for Nos. 16-through-20. But first, I thought I’d muse a bit on the last three years of rankings, and what insights or lessons we might take away from them.

The Fall of Rosario

In the first edition of these rankings, following the 2017 season, Rosario was pegged as the organization’s fifth-best asset. The next year he dropped to eighth, then 19th, and now he’s been non-tendered. This reflects broader implications of MLB’s compensation system, and how it degrades player asset value en route to the open market. But Rosario also contributed to his own drop, by stagnating if not declining in the midst of his purported prime.

Among the top seven players listed in 2018’s rankings, Rosario is the only one gone. All others will be in this year’s top 20. (Spoiler alert WOMP WOMP.)

The Rise (and Departure) of Graterol

Brusdar Graterol shows how premium assets can emerge out of nowhere. He wasn’t on the 2018 list, and not really even on the radar at that point – an oft-injured teenager who’d thrown zero innings above rookie ball. His meteoric ensuing season launched him to No. 5 on the 2019 list, and in 2020 he moved up a spot to No. 4.

Sadly, Graterol is now gone, although I’m guessing he’s not so sad about it, World Series ring and all. The Twins took advantage of Graterol’s sky-high stock by trading him for another highly valued asset in Kenta Maeda.
Maeda is on this year’s list. And, not to give anything away, but he’s higher than the guy he replaced. Guess you’d call that a win.

Steady José

Only one player has appeared in the top three for all three years of rankings. That’s José Berríos, the top pitching prospect turned good (at last) who continues to prove his worth. The right-hander never quite ascended to bona fide Ace™ status, but has been a consistent top-shelf starter with almost unrivaled durability. He has also been a supreme bargain, though that’s finally starting to change as he inches toward free agency.

Will the ticking service clock and rising pricetag bump him from his entrenched position in the top three this year?

Riding with Buxton and Sanó

Had these rankings existed in the five years before I started them, there’s no doubt Byron Buxton and Miguel Sanó would’ve annually ranked near the very top. The Twins framed their entire rebuild around the two centerpieces. Buxton and Sanó were among the franchise’s highest-profile amateur acquisitions of all time, and they both fueled the hype by emerging as top prospects in the game.

The major-league chapter hasn’t quite followed the same storybook formula. Things looked bright early on; I had them ranked first and fourth coming off an impressive 2017 campaign in which they helped return the Twins to contention. But Buxton and Sanó fell to third and 14th the following year. Most recently they were seventh and 11th. Meanwhile, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco have risen above them as essential building blocks, merely because they are dependable and durable fixtures with good contracts.

In a nutshell, that probably explains why the Twins have flirted with greatness rather than fully realizing it during the past couple seasons.

Flawed and subjective as they might be, these rankings do tell an illuminating tale over time. I look forward to breaking down and debating this year’s list, starting tomorrow night.

BONUS CHALLENGE: If anyone dares take a shot, I’d like to see some predictions for how this year’s top 20 will shake out. Share yours in the comments and if someone gets it right (or even close) I’ll give a major shout-out in the final edition.

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