Twins Most Impactful Roster Additions Will Likely Come from St. Paul
Image courtesy of Michael McLoone, USA TodayDerek Falvey talked to media members on a Zoom call on Tuesday afternoon about a variety of topics including the upcoming trade deadline and how the prospects in St. Paul could develop and contribute as soon as needed.
He also reiterated that the Twins goal for the 2020 season remains the same as it was when they arrived in Ft. Myers in February.
““They’re going out there to compete every night to win this World Series. That’s the goal. That hasn’t changed from the day we showed up in Ft. Myers to the day we restarted here in Summer Camp.”
The trade deadline is obviously different in this 2020 season in which so many things are different. There was no July 31st trade deadline as the season wasn’t even a week old at that time. There is, however, a trade deadline on August 31st. At Twins Daily and elsewhere, you will find articles on who the Twins should consider adding or not, which positions do the Twins need help and more.
While many believe that the trade deadline will be quieter than normal, in large part due to more teams being in some sort of contention still, there will be players that could be dealt in the right deal.
Falvey noted, “If there are ways to help our club and opportunities that present, certainly, but we are going to do it on the backs of a lot of the people that are already in the organization.”
Now, as you know, the only players who can be traded are players on the 60-player pools. Of course, the Player To Be Named Later could very possibly be a popular name heard over the next week. Teams are not going to want to trade their top prospects for an impending free agent.
One of those things that teams, front office members, media types say or write each year is that getting Player X or Pitcher Y back is as good as making a trade. A lot of fans hate that, but this year in particular, it is true for the Twins.
Consider this group of players could also return within the next couple of weeks:
- Michael Pineda’s suspension is complete and he should be inserted into the Twins rotation. He’s been progressing nicely in St. Paul, working in simulated or intrasquad games the past month. We may easily forget that when his suspension kicked in late last year, he was clearly the Twins top starting pitcher. If he can come back near that form, that is going to be impactful. Falvey said that he was hitting 94 this past weekend.
- Josh Donaldson should be returning, potentially as early as the next homestand sometime. He has now been getting at bats in intrasquad games in St. Paul and still getting his ground ball work in at Target Field too. Falvey acknowledged that they have been “slightly conservative” but for good reason. “He has had a history with calf issues in the past. He has had a history at one point in time maybe rushing it back a bit to try to get back on the field as quickly as possible.”
- Byron Buxton is feeling “much improved” according to Falvey. “He’s on a good track. He’s on a good course.”
- Mitch Garver - He’s been getting treatment and improving, but his return will not be in ten days. “He’s focused more on the recovery part right now than he is on the rehab exercises.”
- Cody Stashak - According to Falvey, he was feeling good through rehab, but did experience some not-unexpected soreness.
- Jake Odorizzi - He is with the team. He is feeling better, but there is still bruising and soreness. Reports to Falvey indicate that he is getting better day-by-day, but he’s not able to let loose at 100% yet.
- Zack Littell - He’s had his forearm and elbow checked out. Falvey noted that if not for a need in the bullpen at the time, he may have just been able to miss three or four games.
MINOR LEAGUERS KEEP WORKING, PROGRESSING
Let’s start with some good news.
Derek Falvey announced yesterday that Nick Gordon has cleared COVID testing protocol and the Orlando native will soon head to Ft. Myers to begin the rehab process.
“We’ll anticipate seeing him progress from a strength and conditioning standpoint first, and then we’ll go into baseball activities. That could take a few weeks.”
At that point, he can head to St. Paul and be added into the 60-player pool.
The players in St. Paul have been there for about six weeks. Aside from those who have been called up to the Twins or took a road trip with the team on the taxi squad, things can get a big monotonous.
Derek Falvey said he spoke this week with the coaching staff and some of the players and it isn’t necessarily easy.
“It feels quite a bit like Groundhog Day. There’s no way around that. They don’t play another team. They face each other every day. We’re trying to come up with some fun ideas to have some interesting competitions which our guys have really adapted to.”
In talking with some of the players, they have worked to avoid boredom away from the ballpark with going on some hikes, playing video games and streaming television and movies.
But the important stuff is that they are working and able to improve under a structured system. They are really able to focus on areas of their game.
“We spend some days focused on individual skill development, in a way that we normally wouldn't over the course of the regular season.” Falvey continued, “I’ve always wanted that to some degree. Our minor league seasons, they play a game every night. Sometimes you can’t focus as much on the individual skill development.”
But they are playing games. Yes, intra-squad games or simulated games for pitchers. And, although to this point we can’t watch those games anywhere on TV or online, we do know there are some very talented prospects there. Let’s start with the hitters. Falvey said they are all doing well.
“In terms of the games, really a lot of our guys have looked good. Ryan Jeffers, before he came over, was swinging the bat well. I think Trevor Larnach has continued to progress. Alex Kirilloff. Royce Lewis. All of these guys on the offensive side, some of our premium prospects, have really swung the bat well.“
In addition, Travis Blankenhorn provides some versatility and power. With such a left-handed heavy lineup, Brent Rooker and maybe Zander Wiel and their power potential could be options as well.
Speaking of Royce Lewis, since Byron Buxton’s injury, I have heard many people ask if Royce Lewis is getting any time in center field in St. Paul. Since he went to the Arizona Fall League last year (where he was named league MVP) and played centerfield and third base and second base, Twins fans are curious about his future position.
A source in the state’s capital city tells me that Lewis has only practiced and played shortstop at CHS Field and has been told there is no plan to alter that any time soon.
There are several really exciting arms in St. Paul too. Falvey went into some detail on two pitchers who are on the 40-man roster and made a strong impression at Summer Camp.
“Jhoan Duran has thrown the ball well for a good portion of camp. We’ve been really careful with him just to make sure, for all the pitchers, and for a lot of reasons as we look at challenges for pitchers with the second restart across the game, making sure that we’re being particularly careful. Dakota Chalmers’ stuff has looked really good. Command still remains an area of focus for him.”
In addition, when discussing players that may be able to contribute to a September run, he mentioned a name the Twins fans are starting to hear more and more often. “Edwar Colina came back and he’s throwing the ball well, as well.”
Of course, aside from rehab players and some hardship cases such as international players unable to travel, the Twins minor league facilities in Ft. Myers are not yet open. That’s true across MLB organizations.
At this point, there still aren’t any official plans for fall or winter leagues or the option for teams to bring in players for camps. There is no timeline. There are, however, discussions on if, when and how something can happen for all those minor league players who are currently at their homes working out, trying to remain ready when needed.
Falvey said, ““I hope we’ll be doing something for them toward the end of this year. To this point, we’ve had some conversations with Major League Baseball about the potential for what the Fall can look like. There have been rumors about the Arizona Fall League and the Instructional League and different things that we can do for those players.”
Right now, the only players that teams are allowed to work with (except rehab players) are guys in the 60-player pools. They can’t bring in players to do anything, or even allow players who want to just be there to work out in Ft. Myers.
For those players, at this time, they are doing some work remotely. Falvey said that they have and are “building some developmental plans and training plans throughout our system for players who aren’t here.”
Until they are allowed to do more, their hands are tied.
Lewis Thorpe has joined RHP Juan Minaya and UT Willians Astudillo on the Twins taxi squad in Cleveland in case there is a need.
The rest of the players, those in St. Paul, will get up and go to work at CHS Field again tomorrow, and the next day, trying to avoid boredom, and more importantly, trying to improve and be ready when called upon.
So to summarize, the Twins will take and make phone calls with other MLB teams over the next week. They will listen. If there are deals that make sense for the Twins in 2020 and beyond, a deal could be consummated. If not, the Twins have some talented veteran hitters and pitchers who could return from injury or suspension in the very near future and contribute mightily. They also have some great hitting and pitching prospects who are ready, or nearly ready, if an opportunity presents itself.
It should be an exciting week, but more important, it should be an exciting next month, or hopefully two, for the Twins and their fans!
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