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2018 Elizabethton Twins Roster Preview

In 2017, the Elizabethton Twins won the Appalachian League championship. The team will begin their quest to defend the title on Tuesday night when they host the Burlington Royals at Joe O’Brien Stadium in Elizabethton.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Yunior Severino)
Led by manager Ray Smith, Elizabethton won its seventh Appy League title in 2017. Smith, who was signed by the Twins as an undrafted free agent in 1977, enters his 32nd season in the Elizabethton Twins coaching staff, his 25th as the manager. He played in 63 games for the E-Twins during that 1977 season. He played in 83 games for the Twins between 1981 and 1983. He comes into the season with an overall managerial record of 977-648.

Former Twins first-round draft pick (1980) Jeff Reed, who played for the Twins from 1984 through 1986, enters his 17th season as the Elizabethton hitting coach. The 17-year major league veteran also works with the E-Twins catchers. Pitching coach Luis Ramirez has been with Elizabethton the past three seasons. Before that, he was the GCL pitching coach for two years. He came to the Twins organization in 2006 as the pitching coordinator for the Twins at their Venezuelan Academy. For the first time, Elizabethton will have a fourth coach on staff. Takashi Miyoshi has spent the past seven seasons coaching in independent leagues

Prospects To Watch

The Elizabethton Twins Opening Day roster (including the DL) includes just one player who ranked in the preseason Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect rankings.

Yunior Severino was our choice for the Twins #18 prospect. The infielder from the Dominican Republic signed a year earlier with Atlanta. However, when MLB announced sanctions on the team for illegal practices, Severino became a free agent. After a solid showing as a 17-year-old in the GCL last year, the Twins signed him as a free agent for $2.5 million. Severino is a good athlete with a strong swing from both sides of the plate. He has some power potential. Defensively, he could play shortstop, but he’ll likely mostly play second base. The reason is, at least in part, because of Ricky De La Torre. The Twins sixth-round draft pick out of high school in Puerto Rico is a very talented shortstop. On a roster where most of the players are 21 or 22 years old, the two 18-year-olds will form a very talented, athletic keystone combination.

2018 first-round draft pick, Trevor Larnach, will likely join the E-Twins at some point following the Oregon State College World Series run. Even if his stay is fairly short, we should anticipate him spending some time in eastern Tennessee. Second-round pick Ryan Jeffers will also begin his professional career with the E-Twins. (if you missed it, read Ted’s Q&A with Ryan Jeffers here)

THE ROSTER

Before jumping into the roster, it should be noted that there have been a couple of injuries. You're all aware of the Wander Javier shoulder surgery that cost him this entire season. In addition, lefty Riley Widell, who pitched for Elizabethton last year, came down with mono this spring, so he's been gradually regaining his strength. Miguel DeJesus, who missed the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, could also surface with the E-Twins this summer. Outfielder Matt Albanese is also on the DL to start the season.

The Pitchers

RHP Jacob Blank (22) - 22nd round pick in 2018 from Division II National Champion Augustana

RHP Christian Broussard (21) - 22nd round pick in 2017, from Cal St-Los Angeles

RHP Andrew Cabezas (21) - 18th round pick in 2018 out of Miami

LHP Kody Funderburk (21) - 15th round pick in 2018 from Dallas Baptist University

RHP Juan Gamez (24) - 31st round pick in 2016 as a catcher from NDSU. Moved to pitcher that summer.

RHP Pedro Garcia (22) - signed October, 2015, from Dominican Republic

RHP Moises Gomez (21) - signed April, 2014, from Venezuela

RHP Blair Lakso (23) - undrafted free agent signed in August, 2016, from U of Buffalo

RHP Derek Molina (20) - 14th round pick in 2017 out of Merced College

LHP Tyler Palm (23) - signed about a week ago from the United Shore Professional Baseball League. Tallest pitcher on the roster at 6-9.

RHP Seth Pinkerton (21) - 20th round pick in 2018 from the U. of Hartford

RHP Johan Quezada (23) - signed September, 2012, Dominican Republic. 6-6 pitcher has missed most of last two seasons with shoulder injury.

RHP Ricky Ramirez (21) - 15th round pick in 2017 from Fresno State

RHP Brian Rapp (22) - 26th round pick in 2018 from Boston College

RHP Austin Schulfer (22) - 19th round pick in 2018 out of UW-Milwaukee

RHP Carlos Suniaga (21) - signed in September 2014 out of Venezuela

RHP Josh Winder (21) - 7th round pick in 2018 from Virginia Military Institute


A few of these guys have already seen some time in Cedar Rapids. Carlos Suniaga was just sent to the E-Twins over the weekend. Most likely, the organization would like to see him start and he’s been working out of the bullpen for the Kernels. Derek Molina and Ricky Ramirez have already seen some time with the Kernels as well.

At the rookie levels, it is difficult to know the roles of players, especially pitchers. The pitchers drafted out of college this year have likely already thrown a lot of innings, and have been throwing since January. So, the Twins will limited their innings and starters may work out of the bullpen. That’s also why the rookie level events can have up to 35 players on the roster.


The Catchers

Trevor Casanova (21) - 13th round pick in 2018 out of Cal St-Northridge

Andrew Cosgrove (21) - 17th round pick in 2017 from North Carolina State

Ryan Jeffers (21) - 2nd round pick in 2018 out of UNC-Wilmington

Chris Williams (21) - 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson University


The Twins drafted a lot of college catchers in 2018, and the first three they selected are all going to be in Elizabethton. As these guys adjust to the professional baseball game, they will all catch probably twice a week, at least early in the season. They may get extra at bats by DHing or playing some at another position.


The Infielders

Ricky De La Torre (18) - 6th round pick in 2017 out of high school in Puerto Rico

Hunter Lee (22) - 27th round pick in 2018 out of High Point University

Ariel Montesino (22) - signed May 2013 from the Dominican Republic

Yunior Severino (18) - Free agent from Atlanta from the Dominican Republic. Played for GCL Braves last year.

Alex Robles (22) - 30th round pick in 2017 from Austin Peay University


Robles was a two-way player all four years in college. The organization has decided to have him start his career as a hitter, knowing they could move him to the mound later. He has already spent a couple of weeks with both the Ft. Myers Miracle and Chattanooga Lookouts. Montesino split 2017 between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids and sprinkled in a couple of games with Ft. Myers. This is the fourth season he will have spent time with the E-Twins yet remains just 22. Lee is a 5-9 second baseman who was all Big South this year. He had a 28 game hitting streak earlier in the season. As mentioned above, Severino and De La Torre are the two big prospects on this opening day roster, in part, because of their relative youth, along with their immense talent.


The Outfielders

Jared Akins (21) - 13th round pick in 2017 from Fresno State

Colton Burns (22) - 18th round pick in 2017 from UC-Santa Barbara

DaShawn Keirsey (21) - 4th round pick in 2018 out of Utah

Lean Marrero (20) - 16th round pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico

Albee Weiss (22) - 23rd round pick in 2018 from Cal St-Northridge


As mentioned Trevor Larnach will likely join the E-Twins in the next two or three weeks. Keirsey is the very talented fourth-round pick that may have still been available because he missed lots of time with injury. Marrero spent a few weeks in Cedar Rapids last year, until he suffered a broken hamate bone which cost him the rest of his season. Akins and Burns played at strong college programs. Both have very good size and tools, but they need patience. It was strange when the Twins drafted a second catcher from Cal State-Northridge in this year’s draft, but Weiss has already been moved to the outfield.

So there you have it, the Opening Day roster of the Elizabethton Twins. There are 30 players listed above, and as mentioned, more will likely be added in coming days as more players (Trevor Larnach, Cole Sands, etc.) sign.
For more information on the 2018 Twins draft picks, please click here (links at bottom of article).

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9 Comments

Little bit of a different roster this year.Not a lot of top prospects, big names like Rosario-Sano, Romero-Graterol, etc.  

 

Doesn't mean they won't be very good and come Labor Day several of these names are very familiar to all of us.

 

Is going to be interesting to see how all the catchers get games behind the plate.Gotta believe that one will be off to Iowa very soon. 

    • caninatl04 likes this

Gonna have some pressure to move some of these guys up to Cedar Rapids, perhaps in a month, when some action happens on the Kernels roster (and thus other rosters).

 

Is Kody Funderburk related to '80s Twin Mark Funderburk?

 

Is Kody Funderburk related to '80s Twin Mark Funderburk?

Don't think so Kody is from Az. http://articles.orla...e-orlando-twins

 

Gonna have some pressure to move some of these guys up to Cedar Rapids, perhaps in a month, when some action happens on the Kernels roster (and thus other rosters).

 

Kirilloff will likely be promoted to Ft. Myers by Thursday or Friday. The Kernels play again on Thursday. I don't know how hurt Matt Albanese is, but if he's not too hurt, I could see him moving up to Cedar Rapids to take Kirilloff's spot. 

 

then again, Marrero was in CR last year, so he could, and Akins and Burns were college draft picks last year, so they could move up too. Larnach will be there in a couple of weeks probably, though he likely won't be in E-Town for more than a month before moving up to CR.

Questions on a few players (assuming they are all still with the organization):

 

Pitchers -Matt Jones, Landon Leach, Tyler Benninghoff. Could any of these surface in E-Town?

 

Position players: 

Catcher Janigson Villalobos

Infielders:Emmanuel Morel, Kolton Kendrick, Victor Tademo

 

Any thoughts?

 

    • Dman likes this
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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Jun 18 2018 01:52 PM
Great summary, Seth. Thanks
    • caninatl04 likes this

 

Questions on a few players (assuming they are all still with the organization):

 

Pitchers -Matt Jones, Landon Leach, Tyler Benninghoff. Could any of these surface in E-Town?

 

Position players: 

Catcher Janigson Villalobos

Infielders:Emmanuel Morel, Kolton Kendrick, Victor Tademo

 

Any thoughts?

 

Jones - GCL, Leach - GCL (DL), Benninghoff - GCL.(I would think all three could possibly move up.

Villalobos - GCL. 

Morel - GCL (DL). 

Kendrick - Released

Tademo - GCL.

    • nater79a and caninatl04 like this
Really excited to see the two youngsters up the middle. We may quickly get to the point where we could have a ML team full of 2nd basemen and shortstops.