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Charley Walters: Twins-Saints partnership talks quietly o...

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Twins Defeat Gophers In Frigid Affair

FORT MYERS - It seemed like such a great idea. Then came the first pitch.

The Twins opened their 2020 preseason last night by defeating the Gophers 16-0 in a shortened seven-inning game. The idea around the event was exciting, and led to several fun developments. But the weather, conflicting schedules and the reality of the competition made the event land with a thud.
The best moments for everyone seemed to be the pregame discussions. Several Twins or Twins alumni took time to speak with the Gophers players, including Sergio Romo and Tony Oliva. Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Rocco Baldelli and John Anderson had their own gathering along a baseline to catch up, too. If nothing else, it’s nice to see visuals connecting the University’s historic baseball program to the Twins.

Excitement for the game was high, if for no other reason than baseball was back. A home opener on a Friday night works for everyone, and the Twins cut ticket prices in half for the event, using it as a soft open to Hammond Stadium’s season.

Finally, the Twins also used the event to highlight their deep farm system. The first six batters in the Twins lineup represented six of our recently announced top 20 Twins prospects. The Twins top prospect, Royce Lewis, led off. He was followed by top catching prospect (and seventh overall) Ryan Jeffers. Batting third was Twins Daily’s #3 prospect, Trevor Larnach. Our ninth prospect, Brent Rooker, hit cleanup. Finally, the top six were rounded out by Travis Blankenhorn and Gilberto Celestino, our eighteenth and twelfth best prospects.

That’s an exciting lineup to roll out prior to Grapefruit League play. Several of those guys are likely to have big league careers, and will be depended on to help extend this Twins’ team’s competitive window. Those links above are worth clicking over to - you're going to excited about some of these guys. So this lineup was a must see if you follow the Twins farm system.

Unfortunately, a few factors, some controllable and some not, but a damper on the festivities.

Those lucky enough to be in Florida in February will get little sympathy from Minnesotans, but it was cold, and it got cold fast. The high for the day was 70 degrees, but that was about 7 AM. All day the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. By game time it was 59 degrees, cloudy and dark, with a cold wind gusting in from left field to pummel the often underdressed crowd. There was no way to avoid it.

You can’t control the weather, but the Twins and Gophers will likely look at what they can do with the Gophers’ schedule if this event is to be repeated. The Gophers had to treat this as an exhibition game; they left their three best starting pitchers at home since a three-game set versus TCU started today. You can’t blame them; they had an overnight flight back to Minnesota to play in today’s game.

As a result of all of the above, shivering fans watched an undermanned collegiate team face the Twins minor league All-Star team. The results were predictable: there were four runs scored in each of the first three innings of the game. It didn’t help that in the second inning, Rooker got hit by a pitch squarely in the helmet and had to leave the game. Per MLB Twins beat reporter Do-Hyoung Park, he cleared concussion protocol and is fine. Both teams decided in the sixth inning that the game would be stopped after the seventh inning, the length of a college game, rather than play through the ninth. The crowd was not disappointed with the decision.

The larger realities around the event still made it worth attempting, and perhaps some tweaks and better weather will help if the event is deemed to be worth repeating. The game is an unwelcome but probably necessary reminder to both Twins/Gophers players, management and fans about the reality of baseball: it doesn’t always go the way you hope.

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I think it's a great idea if they can improve how they do it. It's a way to highlight the gophers and they need to have respect from the fans. I know that losing 16 to 0 doesn't make that look great but the way that it was handled and if they make it into a fun event with a little more mixing of players and fans it can be a great way to kick off both team seasons or they can do it a little later if they want so that the gophers don't have to go on and all night flight to play their game tomorrow.
    • Rich likes this

When these two teams played 3 years ago, the Twins won a one-run game (maybe 2-1 or something). 


And the Gophers would never throw their best starters in an exhibition game, even if the schedule was different. That said, it would have been fun to see former Twins draft pick Max Meyer throwing 95-99 at the Twins prospects... My hope is that Meyer will be available still when the Twins make their first-round pick in June!


it's too bad it got out of hand early with the Gophers pitcher walking (and hitting) guys (probably really nervous), but i wish the Twins and Gophers would do this every year instead of every three years. 


And I wish it would have been on TV!

Feb 22 2020 09:54 AM

Seven innings is not the length of a college baseball game.

    • Dantes929 likes this


Seven innings is not the length of a college baseball game.


Correct. College games are 9 innings, unless there is a double-header. Then it's two seven inning games, same as minor league baseball. 

    • Dantes929 and JoshDungan1 like this

It's good to see Minnesota's top college and pro teams in a 7 inning game. Granted the weather was cold for Florida and I would also have liked to see it on TV but it was available on MLB.tv audio. The Gophers had 1 hit so they were no competition for the Twins. Hope they do it again.

Feb 22 2020 11:31 AM
Whoa! 59 degrees AND wind? Can't be outdoors in those conditions. What to do?
Feb 22 2020 11:36 AM
The weather conditions at Hammond Stadium would have been considered terrible in Minnesota. Too warm to go ice fishing!
    • DocBauer and JoshDungan1 like this
Feb 22 2020 11:44 AM

Was there not a time when the teams switched pitchers in this event (i.e. Twins pitchers throwing to Twins hitters)?


Also - were the Gophers allowed to use their aluminium bats?


Was there not a time when the teams switched pitchers in this event (i.e. Twins pitchers throwing to Twins hitters)?


Also - were the Gophers allowed to use their aluminium bats?

My understanding is the guidelines for aluminum bats make their performance about the same as wood bats anyway. 

I know a top pitcher for a good D1 school on a good day with a little luck can hold down a team like the Twins fielded yesterday but even 4th-6th pitchers are going to be better than batting practice.Weather was unfortunate but I think both sides would have enjoyed the game otherwise. Early days and no one really cares about the results. Ironically I then ask whether there is a box score for the game. Which of the Twins did well? How long did Dobnak go and how did he look?

Go all in on the exhibition aspect of the game. Throw all the players into a draft pool, have two team captains, and do a schoolyard pick. How fun would it be for the college guys to play with half your team being your guys and half pros? Pitchers can only go one or two innings, lineups must alternate college/pro players, same for pitching changes. Just have fun with it!
    • glunn and 70charger like this
Alex Schieferdecker
Feb 22 2020 01:27 PM

For someone who does not follow the Gophers at all, who are their top three pitchers? I assume Max Meyer is #1, who are the others? Beyond Meyer do the Gophers have other credible MLB prospects?

Feb 22 2020 08:27 PM

My hope is that Meyer will be available still when the Twins make their first-round pick in June!


It will be interesting to see how these Twins handle a late first round pick, because it's pretty clear they steer clear of pitchers early.Twins have the 27th pick.That might be late enough where a pitcher isn't out of the question.

Exhibition game!


Weather comparable to early season Minnesota games.


Remember that the Twins have only been training for a couple of weeks, too.





Feb 23 2020 09:38 AM

Was the game called due to weather or a skunk?

    • bighat likes this
Yeah....60 degrees is not “cold.” If that’s getting brought up as adverse conditions “beyond control,” like it was some kind of natural disaster....you soft. No matter where you’re from.

I went to the game.

It was cold, and while some were under-dressed, many people were well aware of the "chilly weather" and wore appropriate attire.

The gophers were extremely overmatched. What I thought was most interesting was that many Twins players were the same age as the Gopher players....the gap between AA baseball and college baseball is very, very large.


I think all the fans in attendance loved it. Goldie Gopher was there, tons of maroon and gold, and it must have been really fun for the Gopher players to get that kind of experience. Can you imagine telling your grandkids that you pitched to Hall of Famer Royce Lewis?


The only real problem with this game was that it was a night game. Without question it should have been planned for the daytime, just in case of cold weather.


    • 70charger likes this