Top Twins prospects shine despite tough loss to Glendale

Minnesota's Nos. 2, 3 combine to impress on both sides of game

Top Twins prospects shine despite tough loss to Glendale

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A bright Twins' future was on full display Thursday night as two of the club's top three prospects starred at Camelback Ranch.

Nick Gordon (Twins' No. 2, No. 47 overall) went 3-for-5 and Stephen Gonsalves (Twins' No. 3, No. 85 overall) spun three innings of one-run ball, but Surprise came up short, falling 5-4 to Glendale.

Osvaldo Abreu, the Nationals' No. 19 prospect, put a damper on Surprise's night with a pair of clutch hits, including a two-run walk-off double. Abreu also tied the game with a base hit in the seventh and finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Gonsalves' strong year carried over into his Arizona Fall League debut. He posted a 2.33 ERA in 11 starts with Class A Advanced Fort Myers before he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga, where he was even better. The lefty, who landed on's Prospect Team of the Year, went 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts.

"Stephen is the best pitcher in the world," Gordon said. "Stephen works hard, every time we are in the locker room he goes about his business the way a professional should. He wants to be better and he is, every year, every day, he comes out better."

After giving up one earned run or fewer in 16 of his 24 total starts, Gonsalves was named the Twins' MLB Pipeline Pitching Prospect of the Year, and on Thursday night it was easy to see why.

Top Prospects: Gonsalves, MIN

Gonsalves navigated his way through the Glendale lineup, throwing 24 of his 34 pitches for strikes, giving up three hits in as many innings.

"I prepared well for this, threw a week before coming out here and then did a couple bullpens leading up to this," Gonsalves said. "I've got my pitching coach with me, who has been with me all year, so we were able to get right back into it. It felt good. I needed that little bit of rest, but it felt good coming back out."

While Gonsalves was doing the pitching, Gordon contributed with the bat. Brother of Marlins' second baseman Dee Gordon, the 20-year-old had 14 games with three or more hits during the regular season and now has two in as many AFL games.

"He had a great year," Gonsalves said. "Batting [.291] in the Florida State League, which is a hard league to hit in, and he's just carrying out that momentum, being able to put some hits together."

Several prospects took a week or two off after the season before heading out to Arizona, but Gordon simply took a quick 48-hour break before he got back to work, and he believes that work ethic is the reason for his hot start in the AFL.

"I worked out with my dad," Gordon said. His father, Tom Gordon, pitched 21 seasons in the Major Leagues. "He had me up as if we were in instructs. He definitely worked me, and now I thank him for that because now, transitioning to Arizona I'm always up early, hours before the game."

Francis Martes wasn't quite as sharp as Gonsalves, but he also wasn't as off as his line would seem to indicate. The Astros' top prospect lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits.

Top Prospects: Martes, HOU

"It actually was a really good outing for him," Gordon said. "Yeah, he got hit around a little bit, but he had some stuff that was working for him. You could tell that he's a guy that is going to come after guys. He's got a really live fastball."

Surprise got to Martes, the No. 29 overall prospect, early with a pair of two-out RBI singles in the first.

Gordon jump-started the offense with a single and scored the first run of the game via an RBI from Eric Wood (Pirates). Andy Ibanez (Rangers' No. 2) followed Wood with an RBI hit of his own and Surprise was well on its way to an 11-hit evening.

The Glendale offense got off to a slow start, tallying just one run -- a solo homer from Harrison Bader (Cardinals' No. 3, No. 85 overall) -- on three hits through six innings, but the offense starting clicking in the seventh.

Alex Verdugo (Dodgers' No. 3), Ramon Laureano (Astros' No. 29) and Abreu entered the frame a combined 0-for-6, but with the game entering the later stages, the trio of prospects stepped up.

Verdugo led off the inning with a triple and promptly scored on a Laureano single. The Astros' prospect then stole second, flashing the speed he used to steal 43 bases in 116 games this season. Two batters later Abreu came through with a clutch single, tying the game.

Surprise took the lead with one-run in the eighth, but Laureano and Abreu struck again in the ninth. Laureano led off the frame with a base hit and later scored when Abreu lined a walk-off double into the left-center-field gap.

William Boor is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.