Perhaps there's still some frustration that the Minnesota Twins didn't add more pitching this offseason, but there's still reason to believe that the team's 2019 season was just the tip of the iceberg in a long run of success.
While players such as Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano enjoyed breakout seasons, there's still another wave of prospects waiting to get their chance at the major league level – whether it be in Minnesota or somewhere else after a big trade.
The latest evidence of this came in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospect rankings, which saw five Twins prospects make the cut. Minnesota's representation on the list was tied for second in the majors behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who had six prospects on the list, including No. 1 prospect Wander Franco.
With Minnesota pushing for their first World Series since 1991, it's interesting to see where these prospects stand and when they could arrive with the Twins.
The one prospect to keep an eye on this year will be Kirilloff, who ranked 32nd on the list but could be the most likely prospect to arrive in Minnesota this year. His 2019 season wasn't the greatest stat-wise (.283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 43 RBI), but he was also dealing with a wrist injury through the early months of the season.
Once he got over his physical ailments, he showed the form that helped him produce monster numbers between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers in 2018 (.348/.392/.578, 20 HR, 101 RBI) and his huge month of August (.311/.351/.500 5 HR, 19 RBI) helped Double-A Pensacola make a playoff push.
With a swing that reminds The Athletic's Jim Bowden of Christian Yelich, Kirilloff will be pushing for a major league roster spot sooner than later. If the Twins opt to trade Eddie Rosario for pitching or the Sano experiment at first base doesn't work out, Kirilloff could have a major impact for the 2020 Twins when he arrives.
While Kirilloff showed signs of life after an early season struggle with injuries, Lewis never seemed to get out of the gate after suffering an oblique injury early in spring training. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft ranks ninth on MLB Pipeline's list, however, and still has a boatload of upside coming into his third professional season.
Lewis remains a steady defender at shortstop that would be an upgrade over Polanco, who finished tied for last among all MLB infielders in Statcast's outs above average metric at -16. While the Twins could use some help with their infield defense, Lewis also projects as a potential center fielder, where he played during the Arizona Fall League.
The big question with Lewis is his bat as he struggled between High-A and Double-A (.236/.290/.371, 12 HR, 49 RBI) but rebounded nicely to win MVP honors in the AFL by hitting .353/.411/.565 with 3 HR and 20 RBI for Salt Lake. Still, the 20-year-old has been in consecutive MLB Futures Games and could generate more buzz if his hot finish translates to the early part of this season.
While Kirilloff may be the prospect with the best chance to make his way to Minnesota this season, Larnach may not be far behind. Larnach was the Twins' first-round pick (No. 20 overall) in the 2018 MLB Entry Draft and keeps getting better.
One of Larnach's most impressive attributes is his ability to drive the ball, which saw him crush 19 home runs during his final season at Oregon State. After an impressive half-season in the Twins' organization last year, Larnach went full throttle in 2019, winning the Florida State League Player of the Year Award despite playing half a season (.316/.382/.459, 6 HR, 44 RBI) in Fort Myers and putting up more impressive numbers (.295/.387/.455, 7 HR, 22 RBI) upon his promotion to Pensacola.
Ranked 81st on MLB Pipeline's list, Larnach could continue a meteoric rise if he hits like he did in 2019.
As most Twins fans read down this list, there may be some that are screaming "What about the pitching?" Those looking for impact pitching were disappointed in free agency, but the final two prospects on the pipeline list may have been why the Twins were reluctant in dealing out four- and- five-year deals to make room for what's next.
The name that everyone will know is Graterol, who fired up the hype train last summer and rode it all the way to Minnesota. Viewed as a starter at the beginning of the season, Graterol was dominant at Pensacola (6-0, 1.71 ERA in 12 games) and started finding success as a hard-throwing reliever once he returned from a shoulder impingement injury.
With a fastball that clocked at 103.8 mph last season, Graterol made a cameo in the Twins' bullpen during the stretch run and will start in the 'pen in 2020. The Twins still view him as a starter in the long term, but getting him experience at the MLB level and having the chance to stretch him out late could benefit the No. 83 prospect on the list.
Balazovic was the other representative for the Twins in last summer's futures game as he began to take off in Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. The No. 86 prospect on the list stands at 6'5" and 215 pounds, which helps him throw a 95-97 mph fastball with impeccable control, which is what makes him such an intriguing prospect.
The 21-year-old Canadian walked just 25 batters in 93.2 innings last season and unlike previous Twins pitchers that could induce weak grounders but not miss bats, Balazovic registered a 12.4 K/9 ratio and 5.16 K/BB ratio.
With Graterol, Balazovic and the unranked Jhoan Duran (who was ranked 96th in Baseball America's list), the Twins have an intimidating trio taking the mound if they can weather the storm at the major league level for another season or two.