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Twins' top prospects starting slow, battling injuries

It's been a slow start for the top prospects.

The Twins have the second-best record entering play as of Tuesday, April 30. Meanwhile in the minor leagues, their prospect pool was well regarded as the eighth-best farm system in baseball, according to MLB.com, when they opened the season.

High rankings or not, Minnesota's top prospects aren't off to the best of starts due to simple struggles or injuries.

Here's how the top prospects have performed so far.

No. 1 Royce Lewis, shortstop

Lewis is off to a slow start in Class A+ Fort Myers. In 22 games, Lewis is hitting just .195 with three extra-base hits and an OPS of .538 in 87 at-bats.

This is technically Lewis' third season in the minor leagues since being drafted first overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. He split time at Fort Myers last season and put up better numbers than this year, slashing .255/.327/.399 (.726 OPS). 

But it's also important to remember he's still just 19-years-old, which is still on the younger side for the average player in his league. He also dominated rookie ball and Low-A ball in 2018, hitting .313 with an .853 OPS at Cedar Rapids, so it's not like he can't hit.

No. 2 Alex Kirilloff, first base

Kirilloff, who was the team's minor league player of the year in 2018, hasn't played a game this season because he's dealing with a wrist injury that's kept him on the injured list.

The Twins decided to move him from outfield to first base for the upcoming season, too. After missing all of 2017 with Tommy Johny surgery, Kirilloff rebounded for a big 2018 at the plate, slashing .348/.392/.578.

He's currently in Double-A Pensacola.

No. 3 Brusdar Graterol, starting pitcher

Graterol is off to a solid start in Pensacola. In five starts, he owns an ERA of 2.30 in 27 innings and has struck out 28 batters to 12 walks. Opponents are hitting a weak .148 against him.

The 20-year-old has a big fastball and was touching 100 mph in the winter league this offseason, according to the Star Tribune.

If he can keep putting up impressive numbers, he'll likely be headed to Triple-A Rochester by summer time.

No. 4 Wander Javier, shortstop

Javier was dealing with a quad injury when camp opened in February and has yet to pitch in a minor league game this season. Earlier this month, he reported to extended spring training where he's building up strength.

He also missed all of 2018 with a torn labrum, but MLB.com notes he'll report to Cedar Rapids once healthy.

No. 5 Trevor Larnach, outfield

Last year's top draft pick is also off to a mediocre start in Fort Myers, as he's slashing .256/.309/.337 and is still looking for his first home run of the season in 22 games.

The right fielder showed power between rookie ball and Cedar Rapids in 2018, with 19 extra-base hits in 42 games for a .500 slugging percentage.

No. 6 Brent Rooker, 1B/OF

Rooker's power is for real. After being drafted 35th overall in 2017, he owns a career slugging percentage of .494. 

He's currently playing at the Triple-A level and is slugging .464, but has a batting average of just .214 with 28 strikeouts in 16 games.

Although he still needs to be a more rounded hitter, it's likely he'll be the first player called up to the Twins, given his power and the fact he's already 24-years-old.

Other notables 

Nick Gordon (No. 10 prospect), who's still just 23 but has already played five seasons, has also yet to play this season. At the beginning of the month, Gordon was dealing with stomach issues that kept him shelved. It's unclear if that's still what's bugging him.

Lewis Thorpe, who's Minnesota's eighth-best prospect and the reigning minor league pitcher of the year, has an ERA of 6.91 in five starts at Rochester. He is, however, leading the International League in strikeouts. 

Blayne Enlow, another top pitching prospect (9th overall) has an ERA of 7.64 in Cedar Rapids in four starts.

Luckily, the Twins are off to a nice start and won't be rushing any of these players up to the big leagues anytime soon.

It's still early in the season and it's foolish to write any of these players off, and anyone with a betting hand would likely put some money on them turning things around. 

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