Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Zulgad: Is MLB really making return about dollars and cents?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:11 PM
https://www.skornort...lars-and-cents/   The owners have made their proposal to the players. The players association will now have t...
Full topic ›

Recent Proposal

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:45 PM
https://theathletic....=freedailyemail   The players have rejected the owners last proposal, the players have proposed a longer seas...
Full topic ›

Watch the Live Play-by-Play of the Minnesota Twins (34-21...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:45 PM
Thank You We were fortunate enough again to have another news outlet cover our "Virtual," Twins and yesterday it was WCCO. Thank you for...
Full topic ›

Cosmetic Changes at TF

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:23 AM
I went down to Target Field with the family this weekend (got some Glam Doll donuts and played on the grass by the LRT station for my bir...
Full topic ›

Rent the Blue Wahoos' stadium for whiffle ball and ov...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 07:08 AM
Kind of unbelievable, but I guess they might as well make money somehow now that baseball is shut down.   https://www.washingt...all...
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs

Internal Reinforcements: Which Twins Prospects Appear to Be Most Prepared to Contribute in 2020?

A lot of Twins fans are rather frustrated with how the offseason has been going so far. Possibly all of us expected big deals to have been signed by now, tackling the team’s biggest issues. Well, they haven’t been made yet. So, what can they do to solve their problems from within?
Image courtesy of © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Working out trades is still very much on the table, too. But maybe some of the prospects to be involved in them could, instead, effectively fill some of those gaps now. Not giving up much of the organization’s long-term future could be useful in a division full of teams that are investing hard on what lies ahead of them.

First, we should point out the current obstacles the Twins have to become more than a great regular season ball club. I narrowed it down to two major areas, if you will, namely starting pitching and infield defense and gaps. Are there good enough options already in the organization?

Starting pitching
After bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, two of the most dependable pitchers in the league this year, Minnesota still has two spots to fill. The free agency path hasn’t been taken yet, as multiple targets have signed somewhere else. Hyun-jin Ryu is still available and the Twins are reportedly in on him. There are also plenty of trade targets to be explored, but the Twins have at least one arm that could step up right now.

Lewis Thorpe was among the most dominant pitchers in Triple-A last season. Among the 73 pitchers who logged 90 or more innings in Triple-A last season, Thorpe had the highest K/9 (11.12), swinging strike rate (14.5) and was second in K% (29.5). His first stint in the majors wasn’t exactly brilliant overall, but he did display some very exciting stuff, like his 1.95 FIP and 4.50 K/BB as a reliever. His pitch arsenal needs to be worked at, but he’s already got a Sergio Romo-esque slider, which resulted in a .199 WOBA and 44.6% Whiff%, both better than Romo’s slider itself.

He’s bounced back very well from his Tommy John surgery (2015), logging 336 innings (including MLB) since coming back, in 2017, while posting a 3.91 ERA. Besides, throughout his minor league career, Thorpe has always shown a much-needed feature for this current Twins roster: he can be a serious threat to right-handed batters. If you think of how Wes Johson was able to transform 28-year-old Martín Pérez, however briefly, into a great pitcher during the first half of the season, it becomes fun to imagine what he can shape this 24 year old Ausie lefty into in the near future.

Infield
Rumors of a possible Josh Donaldson signing with the Twins heated up these past days. Reportedly, Minnesota is willing to offer him a four-year deal, which would be concluded at his age 37 season and would very likely hit the nine-figure price. Worthy or risky? Your call. The fact is that the competition is fierce and the Braves were seemingly given the benefit of having the final offer. So, what if the former MVP doesn’t land in the Twin Cities?

A couple of options come to mind. Brent Rooker got off to a slow start in Triple-A, but ended up hitting .319/.463/.572 (1.036 OPS) over his final 41 games/177 plate appearances with Rochester. In his three seasons since being drafted out of Mississippi State in 2017, Rooker has never had a wRC+ lower than 124. Even though he’s spent his whole 2019 playing as an outfielder, he spent his 2018 playing slightly more first base. He could fill in nicely there for the Twins, especially after the official departure of C.J. Cron to the Tigers this morning.

But that wouldn’t solve Minnesota’s biggest issue on the infield, which is the weak defense in the left side. While having a great season offensively, Miguel Sanó was worth -5 DRS and -6.7 UZR playing at the hot corner. Jorge Polanco, despite showing some clear signs of improvement on defense, was worth only 1 DRS and -9.1 UZR.

If ultimately Sanó’s presence on third is untenable, there’s a possible solution that could be experimented. Nick Gordon was once one of the club’s most prestigious prospects. But since having a terrible start at Triple-A in 2018, when he slashed .212/.262/.283 (.544 OPS), he’s been somewhat forgotten by a number of fans. He had a tremendous bounce back year in 2019, batting .298/.342/.459 (.801 OPS) in 70 games for Rochester.

He’s played only one game at third base his entire career, but calling him up could give Rocco Baldelli a lot of options, like moving Polanco to second and Luis Arráez to third, where he had his best defensive metrics this year, with 7.8 Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) in 130 innings. Should none of the above be the way to go, Baldelli could make utility player Marwin Gonzalez the everyday third baseman and benefit from his stellar defense at the position (4 DRS, 2.6 UZR, 18.9 DEF).

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • nclahammer, ToddlerHarmon and Dave The Dastardly like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

20 Comments

Just use MarGo at 3rd and then you have Gordon as a utility man.
Pitching is gonna kill this club.
    • SF Twins Fan likes this
Photo
RochesterDave
Dec 22 2019 07:14 AM
Having watched Nick Gordon for the last two years here in Rochester, I would be most surprised to see him as a viable SS for the Twins. His arm and lack of instincts preclude him from a starting position on a playoff bound team, IMHO. For a few years, Nick was the Twins 4/5 prospect, but now, even after his “bounce back” 2019 year, I think his placement as a 14/15 prospect is quite accurate. Right now from what I have observed (and I have seen the Twins in person many times) , Polanco is a far better shortstop than Nick.
    • ashbury, birdwatcher, rukavina and 5 others like this

If we miss on Donaldson I'd like to see the Twins go after a great fielding SS.Sign Jose Iglesias as a FA or look to make a blockbuster deal with Colorado and add Trevor Story and Jon Gray.Not sure what we would give up...Probably a mix of major and minor league talent.Getting Story, a young, All Star SS would solve a LOT of problems for the Twins.Why would the Rockies do it ?Well, it depends on who the Twins would give up,(it would not be cheap) but if they are REALLY considering trading the face of their franchise (Arenado) why not deal Story to keep Arenado and put top prospect Brendon Rogers at SS ?  

    • brvama, alphanumeric and terrydactyls1947 like this

Until the big deal is announced I am ready to consider all the in house options.I like a mix of Graterol/Thorpe/Dobnak/Smeltzer - in that order for rotation spots (and all will be needed both will Pineda is on suspension and when the injury bug hits.The question I have is how far away is Balazovic? Based on all the articles he ranks with Graterol as a real top pitching prospect. 

 

For the infield I am fine with Rooker, but wonder where Raley and Kiriloff are in the 1B mix.Moving Arraez to third and Sano to first does sound like a good idea.  

 

I like Kiriloff and Wade in the OF mix.  

    • brvama, DocBauer, birddog and 2 others like this

I think Gordon's bat is ready now, but I expect him to be the first middle infielder to get a callup, not so much to make the club out of spring training. I agree, he's stretched at SS so I don't think the Twins are likely to bump Polanco to 3B to plus Gordon in, and I think they like Arraez at 2B. But he's still a nice player and I expect him to contribute in 2020. If he gets dealt, I think a team is going to be pretty happy with him.

 

Rooker is also damn close...I wish he'd been healthier last year. It would have been good to see if he could have finished strong. The Ks are a concern, but the power is legit. Adam Dunn clone? Young Adam Dunn was a really good offensive player and awful defensively. His usefulness collapsed once he stopped playing in the field, and you have to wonder if he should have been transitioned to 1B earlier. Rooker getting more run there might be the smartest play for him. Maybe with more time he can be an average 1B instead of being a bad corner OF? Still not sure he can make enough contact to make his power play enough in MLB, but he could be an effective "three true outcomes" guy.

 

I'm definitely high on Thorpe. I really think he's poised to make the leap and I'd like him to be in the rotation to start the season filling in for Pineda. Let's see how he does with a defined role and not on the Rochester shuttle. He's got the stuff, but he needs refinement and innings.

 

Both Kirilloff and Larnach are close and could leap past other guys quickly, a la Arraez. Kirilloff had a bunch of nagging injuries and that dragged him down a bit last year, but healthy he will absolutely rake. Larnach impressed with his ability to adjust to a new level and keep on hitting. Either one is a fine choice to take the next leap (I like Kirilloff more; while Larnach had the better overall year last season, Kirilloff has shown a higher ceiling and at a younger age, even with the one major injury).

    • brvama, Blackjack, Dman and 1 other like this
With the current rotation, we are about equal to last year. Bullpen is better, but our offense has regressed IMO. Sign Donaldson and he can move to DH at the end of the contract. Except for 2018, Donaldson has been pretty healthy over his career.

I would like to see the brass target Cueto, Gray from Colorado, Rich Hill.

At the moment Thorpe, Dobnak, and Romero (out of options) seem like they have a decent chance to make the opening day roster. I'm also expecting Kirilloff, Graterol, Rooker, and possibly Alcala to be with the Twins by early to mid Summer.

 

I can see Smeltzer, Stashak, Gordon, Raley, Blankenhorn, Colina, Jax, and Jeffers/Rortved getting called up due to injuries at the major league level. A couple of sleeper candidates to get called up are Moran and Clay due to the Twins lack of left handed relief options.

 

Guys who are clearly on the path to the majors and could force their way up early with big numbers include Lewis, Larnach, and Duran. 

Photo
MMMordabito
Dec 22 2019 10:54 AM
Gordon has gone from getting drafted ahead of Aaron Nola to having his fans hoping he is possibly called up to be a backup utility infielder.
Let’s be honest, the Twins aren’t signing Ryu.

Also, it’s a stretch to say “the Twins are in on him,” based on that Tweet (I don’t think they deserve that much credit). It says they are known to be “in the starter market.” That means nothing in terms of being serious about throwing a legitimately competitive offer at Ryu.

We all know the song and dance at this point. Throwing some random low-ball deal at someone isn’t “being in on them.” Not a fan of the media propagandizing to made it sound like they are trying in earnest, when they clearly aren’t.

I’m honesty starting to wonder whether media members see some incentive (viewed favorably by members of the organization, etc.). Or, if people feel it makes them appear enlightened. At this point, you know it’s not a reader demand thing (90% of Twins fans are getting physically ill from all of the rationalization of inactivity).

You could make quite the social study in media influence out of this Twins offseason.
    • D.C Twins likes this

The Twins should just pen in Graterol as one of the top 4 starters, particularly with Pineda suspended for the first 40 games.Even if he hits some bumps along the way they should stick with him.

 

Thorpe and Dobnak and Smealtor should compete for the 5th rotation spot.

 

I would also seriously consider keeping Jordan Balazovic with the big league club, skipping a couple of levels in the minors.  

 

It would be nice to sign one of the top starters in the free agent market, but it is looking like it isnt going to happen.But with some patience I think Berrios-Odorizzi-Pineda-Graterol-Dabnek could become a solid 1-5 rotation that still ahs other options if one or more of them do not work out.

    • brvama likes this

Can't miss prospects like Gordon who appear to have missed are part of the reason I want to see a major trade to get the impact SP we need. Our window for winning the division seems to close a bit with every move the White Sox make. I don't see them challenging us this year yet, but in 2021 they could be the team to beat especially, if they stay aggressive and we stand pat. Some of our young prospects may be able to step up--but maybe they won't.

 

The asking price will be more than we want to pay, but get the impact starter(s) we need to complement the bomba squad and the now apparently strong relief corps. I am still fairly confident it will get done. Barring major injuries, it looks apparent we win the division again; however, barring major trade(s) for impact starting pitching it also looks apparent we are once again swept by the Yankees or Astros.

Photo
twinstalker
Dec 22 2019 12:25 PM

Certainly, the last thing Gordon has ever been is "can't miss." Jorge Polanco is a bad MLB shortstop, but if you want to make it worse for the Twins, put Gordon there instead. Further, Gordon will not hit for years. Do you not think the Twins would have dealt him by now if anyone would give up something?

 

Putting my Gordon love aside for the moment, I think Kirilloff (especially) and Larnach will be up this year. Kirilloff may be the 1B solution and may be ready somewhat immediately (after a necessary month at AAA to work on, um, defense and fundamentals and maturing). And I think that's why the Twins are reluctant to trade him. Larnach looks to be a suitable and apt replacement for Rosario.

 

I'm sort of in the camp where you don't trade away your prospects. You scout and develop them better. You save your money until it gives you the opportunity to make a big and obvious splash. Maybe that splash is next year instead of this year due to bad ju ju this offseason--sometimes not everything is in your and your wallet's control. In the meantime, use the this-year $$$ to make small upgrades.

 

 

    • brvama and DocBauer like this
I haven't seen enough of AK or Larnach, but from what I've seen, they're both very close to not just breaking through, but smashing their way in. They both flash power and are at a point where they could add elite power, at which point Bellinger, Yelich Connors come into play. Both would need to take a major jump in that regard of course, and it's unlikely either will. But if I had to predict, it would be one of them. Larnach has the more natural pull stroke, so I give him the slight edge to make that jump like Kepler did.

Oddly, I'd pick Tortuga next. He already has an elite skill and already started adding power. Like Arraez, he's hit at every level, even showing he can hit for stretches in the bigs. A healthy season, better approach, and 1 more step forward makes him very valuable.

Thorpe never regained his velo after TJ did he? If he gets back to mud 90s heat, he jumps up big time.

 

Certainly, the last thing Gordon has ever been is "can't miss." Jorge Polanco is a bad MLB shortstop, but if you want to make it worse for the Twins, put Gordon there instead. Further, Gordon will not hit for years. Do you not think the Twins would have dealt him by now if anyone would give up something?

 

Not really. Twins aren't going to sell low on a guy they think can still be an asset unless they have to. Gordon was having a fine season before the injury bug hit him; lest anyone forget, he probably would have been the one called up instead of Arraez if he hadn't gotten hurt. I don't understand the "Gordon won't hit for years" comment: his hit tool is the strongest part of his game, and he should hit for average immediately. if it's a reference to not making the majors, the only thing really stopping him at this point is Polanco & Arraez are established in front of him and in the short term Adrianza is a more certain bet with more positional flexibility. But there's a real possibility the Twins might have moved on from Adrianza in the offseason if Gordon had gotten through the season healthy.

 

Right now, teams are offering a bag of used balls for Gordon, hoping the Twins are foolish enough to dump him. I'm glad they didn't bite on it. There's no point in dealing him for some janky reliever; there's plenty of those on the market and all they cost are money, which the Twins have plenty of right now. And if Gordon hits like he did last year and plays a full season, he's got real value, and there's no reason to think he can't do it.

    • brvama and DocBauer like this

Thorpe is a back of the rotation starter at best.Not sure his upside if he moves to the pen.  

 

I do not consider someone who made the majors a "prospect" any more, by definition.He made it :) He is a major leaguer and part of the MLBPA.

 

From the ones who did not play in the majors in 2019,as far as position players go, Rooker and Raley are the too most likely to surprise with their contributions in 2020.As far as pitchers go, Jhoan Duran is the obvious pick, with potentially Ryan Mason and Bailey Ober contributing in the pen.

While I believe there is a very good chance we see both Kirilloff and Larnach at some point in 2020, and with all due respect to Rooker who I have doubts but hopes for, Raley is the position player closest to help IMO. Been banging his drum for some time now so I'm either going to look really smart or really stupid. He seems to be able to hit with some patience and power, runs well enough to even play some CF. I think He gets forgotten about by some because he didn't come up through the Twins system initially. Thorpe, Dobnak, Smeltzer and Graterol have already contributed, at least to some degree, and all 4 will make contributions this year. Unfortunately, despite pure stuff, the time frame for Graterol is a bit up in the air as he needs to remain a starter. But he needs some nurturing. But I believe taking a little time and using him wisely this year will end up paying huge dividends. Really anxious to see what Alcala and Duran do this year. Alcala could be knocking on the door pretty hard really soon. And I believe we have established that Romero does, in fact, have an option left.

Let the SPIN BEGIN!!!!

 

The Twins should just pen in Graterol as one of the top 4 starters, particularly with Pineda suspended for the first 40 games.Even if he hits some bumps along the way they should stick with him.

 

Thorpe and Dobnak and Smealtor should compete for the 5th rotation spot.

 

I would also seriously consider keeping Jordan Balazovic with the big league club, skipping a couple of levels in the minors.  

 

It would be nice to sign one of the top starters in the free agent market, but it is looking like it isnt going to happen.But with some patience I think Berrios-Odorizzi-Pineda-Graterol-Dabnek could become a solid 1-5 rotation that still ahs other options if one or more of them do not work out.

 

You are not wrong....but I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit....

Photo
SF Twins Fan
Dec 23 2019 01:19 PM

 

If we miss on Donaldson I'd like to see the Twins go after a great fielding SS.Sign Jose Iglesias as a FA or look to make a blockbuster deal with Colorado and add Trevor Story and Jon Gray.Not sure what we would give up...Probably a mix of major and minor league talent.Getting Story, a young, All Star SS would solve a LOT of problems for the Twins.Why would the Rockies do it ?Well, it depends on who the Twins would give up,(it would not be cheap) but if they are REALLY considering trading the face of their franchise (Arenado) why not deal Story to keep Arenado and put top prospect Brendon Rogers at SS ?  

 

Trading for Trevor Story makes me very nervous based on his home and away splits.

    • ashbury likes this