Gameday: Twins Versus Gophers (Exhibition)
Image courtesy of GophersSports.comThose that have listened to my Twins On Deck podcast know that I try to chat with a Gophers player each episode. Consistently, those guests have said that this Gophers team could have a real strong offense with several veteran players. The pitching has a lot of talent, but they’re quite young. In their first weekend of games, five Gophers pitchers made their college debut.
Here are some quick notes on some of the players you’ll likely see tonight.
Luke Pettersen - (Episode 1, Episode 7) - It’s a last name that is familiar to Gophers and Twins fans. Pettersen is a college senior from Minnetonka High School. Last year, the second baseman led the Gophers with a .354 batting average. He hit .400 (8-20) in the Gophers season opener with a couple of doubles. You remember Luke’s older brother AJ Pettersen who was a starting infielder for the Gophers and reached AA after being drafted by the Twins.
Micah Coffey - (Episode 6) - Coffey has mostly played first base so far this season. The senior from Illinois hit .340 last year for the Gophers and .370 in Big 10 play. He was named second-team All Big Ten. When the Twins and Gophers played in 2015, Coffey pinch hit and went 0-1. He played last summer in the Cape Cod League.
Jordan Kozicky - In the Gophers season opener on Friday at Georgia Tech, sophomore Kozicky homered in his first two at-bats. And it was his 21st birthday. He was a freshman All Big 10 a year ago and hit .325 with four homers. The Minneapolis Southwest grad redshirted his first year, so he is draft-eligible this year.
Toby Hanson - (Episode 2) - Hanson was a third-team All Big Ten selection a year ago and led the team with 57 RBI. He hit .319 with 23 extra base hits. The Delano grad played a lot of right field in the team’s opening weekend in Georgia. He started the exhibition against the Twins his freshman season and went 0-2.
Cole McDevitt - McDevitt was a first-team All Big Ten performer last year when he hit .296 (.314 in Big 10 play). The catcher is a junior who went to high school at Eastview. His brother, Ty, is the Gophers pitching coach. When he hasn’t caught, he’s had time at first base and DH already this year.
Terrin Vavra - Twins fans are aware of the Vavra name. Terrin’s father Joe was a long-time coach for the Twins, serving in several roles. His older brothers, Tanner and Trey, were both drafted by the Twins in recent years. Terrin may be the best of the group. He’s been the Gophers starting shortstop since his freshman season. A junior now, Vavra hit .308 in 2017 for the Gophers, but he turned it on in Big 10 play, hitting .395. Last summer, he played in the Cape Cod League.
Eduardo Estrada - Estrada was Mr. Baseball his senior season at Litchfield High School. Estrada played in the infield in high school and he’s moved around a bit in college. He’s now in the outfield, though he’s probably best at DH.
Alex Boxwell - (Episode 3) Boxwell is a senior from Coon Rapids. He missed a lot of time last year with injury. He returned but wasn’t at 100 percent. In fact, he was supposed to go to the Cape Cod League but didn’t because of the injury. Boxwell led the Gophers in home runs (6) and stolen bases in 2017.
Ben Mezzenga - A junior from Totino-Grace, Mezzenga got an opportunity to play 50 games last year and hit .296, but he got on base at a .415 clip. A good outfielder, Mezzenga is a speed guy
Eli Wilson - Wilson is back for his sophomore season. A year ago, he hit .319 in 24 games for the Gophers. His father, Dan Wilson, was an All American catcher for the Gophers who had a great career and still works in the Mariners organization.
Riley Smith - Riley Smith is in his junior season. He Oklahoma native played in just 23 games last year after playing 36 games as a freshman.
As for pitching, it’s hard to know who the Gophers will have pitch against the Twins. They likely won’t have their top pitchers pitch as they’ll pitch in their weekend series in Port Charlotte where they’ll play Boston College, Chicago State and Mount St. Mary.
Nick Lackney, a junior left-hander, threw six shutout innings against Kennesaw State in his first start. Brett Schulze threw four innings of shutout ball against Georgia Tech in his season debut. He is a sophomore. As I mentioned, five freshman pitchers debuted over the weekend. Josh Cullver, from Omaha, recorded a three-inning save in the first win. Woodbury’s Max Meyer, who the Twins drafted in 2017, made his debut on the mound and the next day at the plate. He’ll pitch and hit for the Gophers. Ryan Duffy is a lefty from South St. Paul. Patrick Fredrickson is a 6-6 freshman from Washington. Sam Thoresen is a right-hander from Minnetonka.
Reggie Meyer was a freshman when these two teams played. He gave up a home run to Jorge Polanco in that game.
The Twins and Gophers will play an exhibition game. It’ll be a good opportunity for both teams. It’ll be a memory that will last a lifetime for the Gophers players.
Zack Granite - CF
Gregorio Petit - 2B
Nick Gordon - SS
Chris Heisey - DH
Brock Stassi - 1B
Nick Buss - LF
Ryan LaMarre - RF
Jordan Pacheco - C
Taylor Featherston - 3B
Stephen Gonsalves - SP
Luke Pettersen - 2B
Micah Coffey - 1B
Jordan Kozicky - 3B
Toby Hanson - RF
Cole McDevitt - C
Terrin Vavra - SS
Riley Smith - LF
Alex Boxwell - CF
Gabe Knowles - DH
Jeff Fasching - SP
- glunn, Oldgoat_MN, KirbyDome89 and 2 others like this