With July 31 approaching, the AL Central-leading Twins have reportedly shown interest in an array of pitchers who are potential trade candidates. The club has been connected to Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Marcus Stroman, Ken Giles and Kirby Yates in the rumor mill over the past few weeks. However, if the Twins are going to make win-now moves this month, it doesn’t appear they’ll come at the expense of any of their absolute best prospects. Shortstop Royce Lewis, outfielder Alex Kirilloff and right-hander Brusdar Graterol are “off limits” in trade talks, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune.
It’s especially unsurprising the Twins don’t seem to want to give up the 20-year-old Lewis, whom they drafted first overall in 2017 and then signed to a record bonus for a high schooler. Two years later, FanGraphs (No. 2), MLB.com (No. 7) and Baseball America (No. 10) all regard Lewis as a top 10 major league prospect. ESPN’s Keith Law, who just released his latest top 50 (worth checking out in full), is somewhat less bullish on Lewis. In ranking Lewis 34th, Law explains that “massive” mechanical changes the player has made at the plate haven’t benefited him. Lewis, for what it’s worth, has only hit .239/.288/.373 (95 wRC+) in 358 plate appearances at the High-A level this season. Beyond that, Law’s skeptical of Lewis’ ability to stick at short, writing he’s likely a better fit to play center field.
In Law’s estimation, Kirilloff (No. 15) is a superior prospect to Lewis. The other prospect gurus are similarly high on Kirilloff – BA ranks him 11th, MLB.com 13th and FanGraphs 26th. The 15th overall pick of the Twins in 2016, Kirilloff has made a 216-PA debut with Double-A Pensacola this season and slashed .283/.366/.429 with four home runs. That doesn’t look like a world-beating line, but by wRC+, the 21-year-old Kirilloff’s production has been 33 percent better than the Southern League average. Furthermore, even though Kirilloff hasn’t been particularly powerful this year, there aren’t many concerns over him developing into a solid power hitter in the majors, according to Law.
Graterol, meanwhile, didn’t crack Law’s rankings, though he’s in the top 50s of Baseball America (No. 36) and MLB.com (No. 50). FanGraphs places him just a few spots outside (53rd). BA credits Graterol, 20, with possessing “wipeout stuff,” adding there’s room for him to improve his command. Like Kirilloff, Graterol’s in the midst of his first Double-A action. He owns a superb 1.89 ERA/3.28 FIP with 8.69 K/9, 3.59 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent groundball rate in nine starts and 47 2/3 innings thus far.
Although the Twins don’t look willing to move any of Lewis, Kirilloff or Graterol, that shouldn’t necessarily preclude them from adding impact MLB talent before the deadline. The club does boast FanGraphs’ seventh-ranked farm system, two more top 100 prospects at MLB.com (93rd-rated outfielder Trevor Larnach and 99th-ranked righty Jordan Balazovic), and likely plenty more farmhands who’d pique the interest of other teams in negotiations.