Twins

3 Under-the-Radar Twins Prospects to Keep An Eye On in 2024

Photo credit: @MightyMussels Twitter account

The Minnesota Twins dealt multiple prospects at the 2022 trade deadline. They traded prized prospects Steve Hajjar, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer, and Cade Povich. And they also moved interesting under-the-radar talents Sawyer Gipson-Long, Juan Nuñez, and Juan Rojas. In return, they got Tyler Mahle, Michael Fulmer, and Jorge López.

Encarnacion-Strand, Steer, and Gipson-Long have made their MLB debuts since departing Minnesota, and Hajjar and Povich will soon follow. Unfortunately, the players Minnesota acquired yielded little production. No player they acquired just a season and a half ago is still with the franchise.

The Fulmer trade was inconsequential, but whiffing on significant trades for players like Mahle and López can hinder franchises in the short- and long term. But Minnesota’s front office has rebounded, fielding a playoff team in 2023 despite adding unproductive players at the deadline a year before. The organization’s farm system is still recovering from losing four top prospects (Hajjar, Encarnacion-Strand, Steer, and Povich) and three who built out organizational depth (Gipson-Long, Nuñez, and Rojas). However, farm systems are vast and provide boundless opportunities for less-known prospects to jump onto the scene and enter the fanbase’s collective consciousness, which happened in 2023.

Royce Lewis, Edouard Julien, Louie Varland, and Matt Wallner were projected to break into the majors last season. The four young talents did that, forming arguably the best rookie class in franchise history. In turn, the quartet graduated from prospect status, further depleting the team’s farm system on paper. However, the Twins remain to have a top-heavy farm system, with Walker Jenkins (Keith Law’s 15th-ranked prospect), Brooks Lee (Law’s 31st-ranked prospect), and Emmanuel Rodriguez (Law’s 47th-ranked prospect) at the top.

Recently acquired Gabriel González (Law’s 96th-ranked prospect) is the only prospect who lands in the Top 100 before a moderately significant drop-off. That said, the Twins have many under-the-radar prospects who could become well-known before the end of the season. Here are three prospects you should keep your eye on this season.

Regi Grace

The Twins selected Grace in the 10th round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Madison High School in Madison, Mississippi. He spent his first three seasons in the Twins organization in the Florida Coast League before they promoted him to Single-A in 2022. In 2023, Grace broke out, progressing from High-A Cedar Rapid to Double-A Wichita. In 44 games between the two levels, the 24-year-old hard-throwing right-hander generated a 3.88 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 8.1% walk rate, and 29.1% strikeout rate over 73 2/3 innings pitched.

Grace’s high strikeout rate is what makes the older prospect intriguing. However, his walk rate ballooned from 5.6% at Higha-A to 10.6% at Double-A. Named the team’s Minor League Players Union Representative for the coming year, Grace must juggle his off-and-on-the-field responsibilities. If he can thrive in his second season at Double-A, don’t be surprised if the Mississippi native becomes part of the team’s bullpen mix in 2025.

Dalton Shuffield 

The Twins took Shuffield in the 10th round of the 2022 MLB Draft out of Texas State University. He was a college shortstop in the Twins system for one-and-a-half seasons. They signed him for only $20,000 out of college, and Shuffield has hit exceptionally well since joining the Twins minor league system. He reached Triple-A in his first half-season out of college, and Shuffield has hit .275/.375/.811 in four levels. However, Shuffield’s promotion to Triple-A was to fill out the roster toward the end of the season. In response, the 24-year-old utility player spent most of last season between Single- and Double-A.

Shuffield hit .264/.374/.772 between Single- and Double-A, driving six home runs while manufacturing an above-average 109 wRC+. Shuffield’s tendency to swing and miss is his most significant flaw. He struck out 27.1% of the time between Low-A and Double-A last season. The San Antonio native hits well and can adequately play all three outfield spots and second base. But if he ever wants to reach the majors, he must cut his minor league strikeout rate by at least five to seven percent and manufacture more power.

Tanner Hall

Hall is the final minor league player who could break out this season. Minnesota took Hall in the fourth round, 114th overall, out of the University of Southern Mississippi in 2023. Hall signed for $510,000, which was $76,000 under slot. The 22-year-old Louisiana native pitched well in college, producing a 2.48 ERA and striking out 124 hitters over 112 innings. Hall was also tenth among Division I pitchers in strikeouts and earned consensus All-American status in his last season at Southern Miss.

Hall must develop more velocity on his fastball to succeed in the minors and eventually reach the majors. Hall’s offspeed pitches, which are an above-average changeup, and a promising sweeper are his strengths. His complementary pitches should produce positive results as he progresses through Minnesota’s minor league system. However, Hall’s fastball topped out near 92 MPH in college and consistently hovered around 88-90. The Twins have continuously assisted young pitchers in sustainably increasing their velocity, which bodes well for Hall. His fastball already produces a significant amount of sink, so if he could sit around 93-94 MPH, he could skyrocket up Minnesota’s top prospect rankings.

Twins
Austin Martin Is Starting To Look Like Minnesota’s Chris Taylor
By Lou Hennessy - Apr 19, 2024
Twins
Should Jeffers and Vazquez Be Splitting Time Behind the Plate?
By Cody Schoenmann - Apr 18, 2024
Twins

How Can the Twins Rediscover Their Positive Vibes From Last Year?

Photo credit: @MightyMussels Twitter account

The vibes were immaculate at Target Field last fall. The Minnesota Twins had won a playoff game and a playoff series and had taken the Houston Astros […]

Continue Reading