MINNEAPOLIS -- After taking a look at players on the rebound and newcomers as part of the Twins Spring Training preview, it's now time to analyze the organization's top prospects.
The Twins have one of the top farm systems in baseball, placing six players in MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, tied for the second-most in baseball. The Twins also had six prospects among the top 100 in last year's list. Here's a look at those prospects and their potential impact in 2016 and beyond:
CF Byron Buxton: The 22-year-old center fielder fell from the No. 1 overall prospect in 2015 to No. 2 behind Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager this year, but Buxton still has all the tools that make him such an elite prospect. The "demotion" probably resulted from his struggles at the plate during his limited time in the Majors last year and his injury history over the last two seasons. Buxton is likely to be the club's Opening Day center fielder if he produces this spring, as the Twins traded Aaron Hicks to the Yankees to make room for Buxton.
RHP Jose Berrios: A lithe six-feet tall right-hander, Berrios makes the most of his small frame, as he's been climbing prospect lists in recent years and was ranked No. 19 overall by MLBPipeline.com. Berrios led all Minor Leaguers with 175 strikeouts in 166 1/3 innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester last year. The 21-year-old will compete for a spot in the rotation this spring, but he is more likely to open the year at Triple-A.
OF Max Kepler: Ranked as the No. 44 prospect, Kepler is coming off a breakout year at Double-A Chattanooga, where he was the Southern League MVP after hitting .322/.416/.531 with 9 homers and 32 doubles in 112 games. The 22-year-old got his first call to the Majors in September, and he will compete for a spot in the outfield this spring. But like Berrios, he's more likely to open the year in Rochester.
LHP Tyler Jay: The 21-year-old southpaw was the No. 6 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he finished his first pro season with a 3.93 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings with Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He was regarded as a player who could reach the Majors quickly as a reliever, but the Twins are converting him to a starter this season. Jay was the No. 60 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
SS Nick Gordon: The brother of Marlins second baseman and National League batting champion Dee Gordon and son of former All-Star pitcher Tom Gordon, Gordon shook off a slow start at Class A Cedar Rapids to finish with a strong second half. The 20-year-old, ranked as the No. 91 overall prospect, is regarded as a strong defender at shortstop, but he needs to develop power. He's likely to start the year at Class A Advanced Fort Myers, where he'll be able to avoid the early-season cold weather.
INF Jorge Polanco: The 22-year-old has reached the Majors briefly each of the last two years, and he produced a .288/.339/.386 slash line between Double-A and Triple-A last season. Polanco, ranked as the No. 97 prospect, split time between shortstop and second base in 2015, but he is more likely to project as a second baseman going forward. He's expected to open the season with Rochester.