Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where sometimes it’s all about framing. Let’s get to it:
*Baseball Prospectus on Wednesday released its list of the top 101 prospects, and depending on how you want to look at it the list has both relatively bad and good news for the Twins.
If you’re framing it only in terms of the top 101, you might view it as a negative that the Twins only have three players on the list. That’s not bad in a vacuum, but they’ve had more prospects on similar lists in recent years.
If you want to re-frame the list, though, you’ll find that all three of those top 101 players are also in the top 40. So what the Twins might lack in quantity they are making up for in perceived quality. Those three: shortstop Royce Lewis (No. 8); RHP Brusdar Graterol (No. 33) and outfielder Alex Kirilloff (No. 39).
Lewis has earned his place on this list by turning in two very good professional seasons since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2017. He cooled off a little once he reached high-A ball in Fort Myers, but he had barely turned 19. He’s on a promising arc and is making the Twins look smart for choosing him instead of Brendan McKay (No. 42 on the list) or Hunter Greene (No. 75) with that much-debated top pick.
Graterol and Kirilloff also turned in big years in 2018, and like Lewis they made it as far as Fort Myers at relatively young ages. Having three prospects in the top 40 is a very good thing.
If there’s a secondary concern on this list beyond depth, though, it’s that none of the Twins’ best prospects seem particularly close to helping the major league club given that none has even had a sniff of Class AA yet.
While some former prospects have graduated to big league status (like Fernando Romero), the absence of guys closer to the majors on this list like Stephen Gonsalves or Nick Gordon means that at least in the eyes of Baseball Prospectus there doesn’t figure to be an influx of more top-end young talent at Target Field in 2019.
And sadly, there is no Willians Astudillo on the list. Major oversight.
Also, if you want to feel really old just scan the top of the list for the sons of players you might remember vividly: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 1 overall), Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 3) and Bo Bichette, son of Dante (No. 12).
*If the NHL season ended today — which it does not, though it will feel like it with a weeklong break for the Wild — Minnesota be the No. 3 team in the Central Division and face No. 2 Nashville in the opening round of the playoffs. That would be interesting, for sure, for Wild GM Paul Fenton, who came here after being an assistant GM with the Predators.
*It should be fun — and by that I mean not fun at all — for Pittsburgh fans and media members to analyze Antonio Brown’s cryptic Thursday morning tweet.
*If the Wolves have any hopes of making the playoffs — and perhaps any hopes of keeping their roster intact leading up to Feb. 7 trade deadline — the next six games are huge starting Thursday against the LeBron-less Lakers. They then have two against Utah, and a game with Denver sandwiched between two against Memphis. Getting a win over the Lakers, and saving something in the tank for a back-to-back Friday at a Utah squad the Wolves are chasing, is important.