Twins

The Twins Have Two Untouchable Prospects This Offseason

Photo Credit: Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to off-season baseball discourse is the misevaluation of prospects and their worth to a team. When wild trade ideas are thrown around, it’s common to hear something along the lines of “It’s going to take a team’s No. 1 or 2 prospect to get that done.”

But the fact of the matter is that not every organization’s top prospects should be valued in the same way. There’s more nuance to making a deal, especially with high-profile players swapping teams.

That’s part of why I hate hearing the names Brooks Lee and Walker Jenkins thrown around like they’re just run-of-the-mill options who could reel in a star player with a year or two left of team control. Lee and Jenkins two aren’t just top prospects. They’re building blocks for the Twins.

Don’t be mistaken, every team should listen to offers on every player. They would be foolish not to. But these two stars in Minnesota’s system are still ascending, and the scenarios that led them to the organization were so incredibly fortunate that it should make them as close to untouchable as anyone in the game.

Take Lee, for example. Going into the 2022 draft, many believed he could be a possible first-overall pick. He had advanced development as a college star, an elite hit tool from both sides of the plate, and the ability to play multiple infield positions. Lee crushed in three years at Cal Poly, where he starred under his dad’s coaching and looked like an enticing option at the top of the draft board. Fortunately for the Twins, he slipped to their pick at No. 8 overall, and he has caught people’s attention at each minor league level since.

“Lee has fantastic breaking ball recognition, and he can let pitches travel deep before deciding whether to swing. Even when he has to shorten up to protect, the strength in his hands enables him to do extra-base damage,” said Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs in his mid-season prospect rankings. “When Lee does take a comfortable hack, he shows you plus raw power, but his style of hitting is very balanced, and he doesn’t sell out for huge pop all the time.”

That advanced approach, combined with projectable in-game power and a future home on the left side of the infield, make Lee a juggernaut near the top of Minnesota’s prospect board. And he landed in the club’s lap unexpectedly.

There may be uncertainty surrounding Lee’s future positional home in the major leagues. Carlos Correa is locked into shortstop for the foreseeable future. Royce Lewis established himself as a fixture at the hot corner for the time being. And Edouard Julien burst onto the scene at second base this year. But regardless of where he ends up playing, his biggest value to the Twins is almost certainly going to be donning their uniform for six or more seasons rather than another team’s. Lee’s value is sky-high right now, but that doesn’t mean the Twins should liquidate it.

You could make a similar argument for Jenkins, who now finds himself atop most rankings for Minnesota’s prospects. And his path to the organization may be even luckier than Lee’s.

Five exciting players headlined the 2023 draft. Each exudes superstar potential that would make them consensus top choices in nearly any other draft over the past 15 years. As expected, these players were taken with the first five selections, with Jenkins landing in the suddenly-charmed Twins at fifth overall. And the club was thrilled to have him.

“Gatorade’s North Carolina player of the year in both 2022 and 2023, Jenkins is built to hit for power, with a strong 6-foot-3 frame and a quick left-handed stroke,” read MLB Pipeline‘s profile. “He already shows the ability to turn on quality fastballs and drive them out of the park to right field, and his pop extends to the opposite field as well.”

Need I remind you that the Twins would have had the 12th overall pick had they not been rewarded No. 5 in the inaugural MLB draft lottery? Instead, they lept seven spots and took a player who many are dubbing a generational talent. Talk about sweet serendipity.

Yes, it will most likely be a while before fans see fruitful results from Jenkins at Target Field. At just 18 years old, he still has a ton of growth ahead of him. But if all goes as projected, he could be the most exciting outfield prospect in the organization since Byron Buxton.

These two players represent unbelievable surprises that can lead the next generation of Twins teams for years to come. They’re the kind of blessing that the universe bestows upon the lucky few.

And the Twins should count their blessings, not trade them.

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