Trio of Twins prospects impressing early in camp

Gordon, Gonsalves and Romero deliver in first Grapefruit League appearances

Trio of Twins prospects impressing early in camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Three of the Twins' top four prospects are in Major League camp this spring, giving the coaching staff and front office a glimpse of the future.

Shortstop Nick Gordon, ranked as Minnesota's No. 1 prospect and MLBPipeline.com's No. 50 overall prospect, headlines the group that includes left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 92 overall, and right-hander Fernando Romero, the organization's fourth-ranked prospect.

All three have seen early action and impressed, as Gordon debuted against the Red Sox on Saturday, going 1-for-1, while Gonsalves and Romero each threw a perfect inning against the Nationals on Sunday.

"It's exciting," Gordon, 21, said about his Grapefruit League debut. "It's something you always dream of, even if it's Spring Training."

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Twins manager Paul Molitor liked what he saw from Gordon, who doesn't have a tool that wows scouts, but is considered a strong above-average player across the board with solid bloodlines, as the son of Tom Gordon and brother of Dee Gordon. The youngest Gordon is expected to open the year at Double-A Chattanooga.

"I like that he was under control on a couple of defensive plays that he had," Molitor said. "I'll try to get him some time while I can, but I think he's going to be one of those guys in camp who is going to learn a lot from watching."

Top Prospects: Gordon, MIN

Gonsalves, 22, is regarded as the closest to the Majors of the trio, as he finished last season at Double-A Chattanooga, where he went 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts. The lefty made quick work in his first appearance, needing only 12 pitches to record three outs on Sunday.

"It went well," Gonsalves said. "I was nervous getting out there. Once I threw that first pitch and he came up hacking and I got that first-pitch out, it really calmed me down. It made it so much easier."

Top Prospects: Gonsalves, MIN

Romero, 22, hasn't received as much hype nationally as Gordon and Gonsalves, but much of that is because he missed the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. To make things worse, Romero also injured his left knee while doing box jumps while recovering from the elbow surgery, which required an operation to remove his meniscus.

But Romero rebounded from both surgeries with a strong 2016 season that saw him post a combined 1.89 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

It earned Romero a spot on the 40-man roster after the season and his first invite to big league camp. He shined in his debut, reaching as high as 98 mph while retiring all three Nationals batters he faced.

Top Prospects: Romero, MIN

"It was a good moment, a good feeling, a good emotion," Romero said. "I didn't feel any nerves. I'm 100 percent healthy, first of all, which is good."

Romero, who is working on his slider and changeup, has the kind of velocity found in frontline starters, which hasn't gone unnoticed by pitching coach Neil Allen and Molitor.

"I know a lot of people had been talking about him, and he's definitely caught Neil's eye," Molitor said. "It was good to see him out there. Obviously a very easy 97-98. He's trying to get that slider a little more consistent. He's confident, but kind of a loose attitude. He's not intimidated."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.