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We've resisted in the NL for 47 years now and with a 26th player added it may be delayed even longer. When offense is slacking they talk...
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Forget adding SP, let's talk about keeping what we have

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Let's stop talking about adding more SP for a moment and recognize what we have and keeping it. There have been various discussions about...
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Donaldson Signing PC?

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Anyone heard what the timeline is for the Twins officially announcing this deal?I assume a press conference will be held with Donaldson i...
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Front Page: Buzz on Baseball's Worst Scandal in Decades

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In early November Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers shocked the baseball world by revealing that his former team had been cheating. Th...
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Post-Donaldson Trade - Status of Top Prospects

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 08:25 PM
Lewis and Kirilloff are blocked by Donaldson, Polanco, Arraez and Sano. Without a trade or an injury, I don’t see an opening for our top...
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2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospect List: 1-5

Over the past two weeks, we have been counting down our Top 40 Midseason Minnesota Twins Prospect Rankings. There are many different types of prospects. There are young guys with high ceilings with a long ways to get to the big leagues. There are solid prospects who are close to being able to contribute in the big leagues who may not have high ceilings, but they have a high likelihood of reaching the big leagues.

Today, we conclude the series by looking at our choices for the Top 5 Minnesota Twins Prospects and it is a good combination of those things. There is a pitcher who could be in the big leagues for a long time as a mid-rotation starter, debuting soon. There is a young, potential big league shortstop who is one stop from the big leagues but still has question marks surrounding him. There is a very young pitcher with upside as high as we’ve seen in the Twins system in a long time. And there are two really young hitters with huge upsides who are several steps from the big leagues and could still get there relatively quickly.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (graphics by Finn Pearson)
Continue reading, and then discussing, the Twins Daily choices for the Top 5 Minnesota Twins prospects.

5. Stephen Gonsalves – LH SP
Age: 24
ETA: 2018
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 78.2 IP, 3.32 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, 1.73 K:BB
2018 Ranking: 4 | 2017 Ranking: 2
Seth: 6 | Tom: 6 | Cody: 5

Last offseason, Gonsalves was added to the Twins 40-man roster. Not a surprise at all as he has been one of the organization’s top pitchers each of the last three seasons. He was the Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2016and 2017, and he was the runner up in 2015to Jose Berrios (who also won in 2014). It was a surprise to many when the Twins had Gonsalves start his 2018 season in Chattanooga. He had ended 2016 there, and spent most of 2017 dominating the Southern League. He even made a handful of starts in Rochester. As one would expect, he pitched well. He went 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA in his first four starts and moved up to Rochester despite issuing ten walks in 20 1/3 innings.

The walks have been the story and the concern in 2018, but over the course of his career control hasn’t really been a big issue. Gonsalves has certainly had his good and bad moments during his starts in Rochester. In his first two starts, he gave up a total of one run on four hits in 14 1/3 innings. He didn’t get out of the second inning in his third start. He won his next two starts by throwing a combined 10 1/3 innings. Over his next three starts, he once didn’t get out of the first inning and gave up nine earned runs in four innings. But now in his past four starts, he has given up just one run (0.42 ERA) in 21 2/3 innings. In 58 1/3 innings with the Red Wings, he has 60 strikeouts. However, he also has walked 39 batters.

The long, lanky left-hander is going to pitch in the big leagues, and likely for a long time. He’s got a fastball that he changes speeds on and gets varying amounts of movement. He typically sits in the upper-80s and low-90s. He has topped out around 94 in the past. He’s got a plus changeup, and a slow curveball, similar to that of David Wells. He’s also added a cutter/slider over the last couple of seasons that can be a great pitch for him. Gonsalves is a good athlete and fields his position well.




4. Nick Gordon – SS/2B
Age: 22
ETA: 2018
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .282/.318/.435 (.753 OPS), 19 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 61 K, 16 BB
2018 Ranking: 3 | 2017 Ranking: 4
Seth: 4 | Tom: 3 | Cody: 4

Like Gonsalves, Nick Gordon went to his second straight big league spring training. Like Gonsalves, it was surprising to many when Nick Gordon began the 2018 season back in Chattanooga. Maybe it was gaining strength to avoid a second-half slump. Maybe it was working on his struggles against left-handed pitching. Maybe it was to continue working on some things on the defensive side of the game. In 42 games, he hit .333/.381/.525 (.906) with 18 extra base hits.

“They pretty much have a plan for me, and I trust what they have.” Gordon continued, “There was a thing that I have to develop and get better that I know as well. It’s all about learning, becoming a better player, a better teammate, all those things. It all goes into being a great player regardless of AA or AAA. Whenever they felt I was ready for AAA, they made that decision.”



He was promoted to Rochester where he has now played in 45 games. He has hit .236/.255/.354 (.609). A new level means a higher level of competition. But there is little question that Gordon will hit. He may even develop into a 12 to 15 home run guy. He’s got good speed and runs the bases well. Defense is where there are typically questions with Gordon. While he has primarily played shortstop throughout his career, most believe that second base is his position in the future. While he’s got good speed, some question his range. He has a good shortstop arm.

Gordon will need to be added to the Twins 40-man roster this offseason, though it is possible (if not likely) that he will be added and called up during this 2018 season.

3. Brusdar Graterol – RH SP
Age: 19
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): 50.2 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 4.92 K:BB
2018 Ranking: 9 | 2017 Ranking: NR
Seth: 2 | Tom: 5 | Cody: 3

Few have risen up the Twins prospect charts in a manner as quickly as Brusdar Graterol. He certainly has a unique story. Signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Graterol impressed with an upper-90s fastball. But after just 11 innings, he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2015 and the entire 2016 season recovering. However, it was at Instructs in 2016 that he returned to the mound and reports indicated he was popping triple-digits. He pitched well in the short-season leagues last year, starting in the GCL but eventually moving up to Elizabethton.

He began this season in extended spring training, but before April came to a close, he was moved up to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He made eight starts for the Kernels and posted a 2.18 ERA. He was our choice for Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month in May. He moved up to Ft. Myers in mid-June where he has made two starts for the Miracle, as a 19-year-old.

So the stats are good, but Graterol is all about his right arm and its immense potential. The first thing you’ll notice is the fastball. It’s fast. If you watch him make a start, you are likely to see double-digit pitches hitting triple digits, including some at 101 mph. He also has a darting slider that can be absolutely devastating if he stays on top of it. And, on top of that, he’s got an upper-80s or low-90s changeup with good sinking movement. He throws with a smooth, easy delivery. In other words, it doesn’t look like he’s airing it out.The fastball is elite. The secondary pitches can be elite, but as a 19-year-old, they can be inconsistent.



Graterol has the special kind of talent that makes people notice. While he won’t turn 20 for another six weeks, he could work his way up the system quickly.

Side/Seth Note - in my 15 years of following the Twins minor league system, I have not seen a pitcher with the amount of upside that Brusdar Graterol has coming through the system. That includes Fernando Romero, Jose Berrios and - the one that gives me pause - Francisco Liriano.


2. Alex Kirilloff – OF
Age: 20
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .325/.376/.558 (.935 OPS), 22 2B, 6 3B, 14 HR, 62 K, 26 BB
2018 Ranking: 5 | 2017 Ranking: 3
Seth: 3 | Tom: 2 | Cody: 2

When the Twins drafted Alex Kirilloff with the 15th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Plum High School in Pennsylvania, there were many scouts who felt the Twins got a steal. There were many who believed that Kirilloff might just be the best, most pure prep hitter in that draft. Kirilloff’s career began by jumping straight to Elizabethton where he hit .306 with nine doubles and seven home runs in 55 games. Unfortunately, at the end of the season, he hurt his elbow. He tried to get treatments and came to spring training in 2017. However, it wasn’t better, and the decision was made for him to have Tommy John surgery in March which cost him the rest of his 2017 season.
Kirilloff was cleared for full-go baseball activities in November. However, there were many questions about how he would return from the surgery and after missing so much time. In his first three games for the Kernels this spring, he went 1-for-12. In his next 62 games for Cedar Rapids, the 20-year-old hit .346/.407/.633 (1.040) with 20 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. He was named an All Star. Recently, he was named to this weekend’s Futures Game, representing the Twins and Team USA. In an interview with Jeff Johnson of The Gazette (in Cedar Rapids), Kernels manager Toby Gardenhire described Kirilloffas “Probably the best player in the league. Fun to watch.”

The day after the Midwest League All-Star Game, Kirilloff was promoted to Ft. Myers. He went 1-for-6 in his first Miracle game, but he followed that with a 4-for-5 game which included a home run and five RBI. The next day, he had three more hits. He’ll experience more ups and downs with the Miracle, but the kid is a natural hitter. He has a good idea of the strike zone. He’s a good combination of understanding the strike zone and being aggressive. He’s got a great swing with a lot of power potential. Most of it to this point has been to the opposite field, but he can turn on a ball from time to time. He is a solid outfielder. While he played center field in high school, he’s played right field in pro ball, and that’s where he should be. He’s got average speed for a corner outfielder, and despite the Tommy John surgery, he’s got a strong arm.




1. Royce Lewis – SS
Age: 19
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (Low-A): .318/.371/.484 (.855 OPS), 23 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 48 K, 24 BB
2018 Ranking: 1 | 2017 Ranking: NR
Seth: 1 | Tom: 1 | Cody: 1

There were several names mentioned before the Twins were officially on the clock, ready to make the #1-overall pick in the 2017 draft. Brendan McKay. Hunter Greene. Kyle Wright. MacKenzie Gore. Obviously it’s far too early (maybe 10-15 years too early) to declare a winner, but it is clear that the Twins (and the fans) are happy that Sean Johnson and his staff selected shortstop Royce Lewis out of JSerra Catholic High School in Aliso Viejo, California. The Twins gave him $6.7 million to keep him away from UC-Irvine and join the Twins organization.

Lewis began his pro career in the Gulf Coast League. He got off to a fast start, hitting a home run in his first pro at bat. After 36 games, he was promoted. Not to Elizabethton, but to Cedar Rapids. He had four hits in his first game, and four, multi-hit games in his first seven games with the Kernels (including two, four-hit games).
He began this 2018 season with the Kernels. He has played well throughout the season, but he has really improved his game over the past six weeks.



Lewis is a tool shed of talent. Lewis and his high leg kick has the potential to be a really good hitter, a line drive hitter who uses the whole field well. While he isn’t one to walk a ton, Lewis knows the strike zone pretty well and generally takes really quality at bats. Sometimes he is patient. Sometimes he is aggressive. And while the 6-foot-2, 190 pound infielder is long and lanky, he is strong. He worked out at Scott Boras’s facilities throughout his offseason, and he’s continued to work to gain strength throughout the season. As you can see from the above statistics, it’s paid off. He has a lot of power potential. He could become a 20 home run a year guy, maybe more. As it relates to Lewis, the sky appears to be the limit, so I almost hate to put any limitations on him. Speed? Well, he may not be as fast as Byron Buxton (though it’s close), Lewis can fly. He continues to work on base-stealing skills, but he’s got good instincts and runs the bases well.

There are questions with his defense, but observers have pointed out that he is more advanced defensively than some of the pre-draft reports indicated. There is more of a belief that he will be able to stay at shortstop. He’s got really good range, on ground balls and on pop ups. He’s got a good arm, not Shawon Dunston-like arm strength, but he can make the necessary throws from the position.

Intentionally, I saved the character and charisma comments regarding Lewis until last. Sometimes it seems like that is the first thing people want to say. People that know him or have met him or have even had a brief encounter with him at that stadium, receiving an autograph or a picture understand that he is as genuine as it gets. But sometimes it seems to overwhelm his immense talent and athleticism and baseball acumen. But the personality and leadership are real. As his high school coach Brett Kay said in an interview before the draft, “They didn’t make charts that can measure his makeup and competitiveness.”



The only question right now about Lewis is why he isn’t yet in Ft. Myers playing for Ramon Borrego (his GCL Twins manager a year ago). I don’t have an answer for that. It’s hard to argue that he is making adjustments during the last six weeks to add power which will help him at the next level and beyond.

Are comparisons to Derek Jeter fair? Probably not. But are there a lot of physical and personality traits that are similar to the future, first-ballot Hall of Famer? Absolutely. That’s the level of talent that Royce Lewis has.

PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS:

2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 36-40
2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 31-35
2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 26-30
2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 21-25
2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 16-20
2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 11-15
2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 6-10

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74 Comments

 

Reality check re: Mauer and college

 

Ha ha correct. Yeah, he grew until he was after-college age. That would be more accurate.

https://www.fangraph...midwest-league/

 

This is a fun article if you want to read some gushing praise of Lewis and Kiriloff from opposing Midwest League broadcasters.

    • jkcarew likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jul 13 2018 03:16 PM

I try to keep in mind that the higher up a player goes, the more and better information we have on them, and that also means there are more opportunities to poke holes in their game.

 

When you take a look at some of the guys who've made it as high as Triple A, you see players who've already had their biggest weaknesses start to get exposed. That just doesn't happen yet while they're at the lower levels. But it's not like anything done below Double A should be ignored, or that the guys at the higher levels are never going to get over those issues that have arisen, so it's difficult to weight those kinds of things.

    • ashbury and nater79a like this
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Tom Froemming
Jul 13 2018 03:37 PM

 

Would it be possible to get an additional post showing each of Tom's, Seth's and Cody's individual top 40 lists so we can do a little side-by-side comparison?  

Could piece it together, I guess, based on the ranking below the capsules but that seems a little cumbersome for 40 slots.

 

Always find it fun and interesting to see how you guys rank the players differently.

 

I may reveal my top 50 on YouTube and then share it in the forums here at some point, maybe not. I don't really feel like it needs its own post here since I feel really good a bout how this series went and, to be honest, I always look back at the consolidated lists and think they're actually better than my own.

 

But for now I will give you the names on my personal top 50 that did not make the cut on the consolidated list:

 

37. Jovani Moran

38. Zander Wiel

39. Charlie Barnes 

42. Tyler Benninghoff

44. Andrew Vasquez

45. Carlos Aguiar

46. David Banuelos

47. Michael Montero

48. Tom Hackimer

49. Alberoni Nunez

50. Trey Cabbage

 

Misael Urbina hadn't signed when I compiled these rankings. I think I'd have felt comfortable putting him at No. 16.

    • Thrylos, Mike Sixel, Dman and 2 others like this

 

I like these five.There is a real separation between them and the other 35 in my reading.What concerns me is the ability of the Twins to get them to the big leagues with success.It was not long ago we had Sano, Buxton, Berrios in that top slot position and so far we have succeeded with one of them.  

 

I think we need a review of the system that is in place and start evaluating whether it is as good as we need. 

 

I'm frustrated with Buxton and Sano right now too, but seeing you put it in numbers (1 of 3) makes it seem okay, in a sense. Most prospects doing turn out.

 

That said, my real reason for commenting is this. I think the Twins already did that review of the system you're speaking of (and Seth has a comment detailing it).

 

All three names you mention debuted under Terry Ryan before June 2016. He has since been let go and replaced due to a publicly acknowledged "total system failure."

 

These things take time.

 

I may reveal my top 50 on YouTube and then share it in the forums here at some point, maybe not. I don't really feel like it needs its own post here since I feel really good a bout how this series went and, to be honest, I always look back at the consolidated lists and think they're actually better than my own.

 

But for now I will give you the names on my personal top 50 that did not make the cut on the consolidated list:

 

37. Jovani Moran

38. Zander Wiel

39. Charlie Barnes 

42. Tyler Benninghoff

44. Andrew Vasquez

45. Carlos Aguiar

46. David Banuelos

47. Michael Montero

48. Tom Hackimer

49. Alberoni Nunez

50. Trey Cabbage

 

Misael Urbina hadn't signed when I compiled these rankings. I think I'd have felt comfortable putting him at No. 16.

 

Thanks, Tom!

 

Some nice names there.Didn't realize Vasquez and Moran didn't make the consolidated cut. 

Those are a couple of exciting arms.

 

Just want to set the record straight a little here, lest anyone take these highly subjective and questionable "scouting reports" as gospel.

Kirilloff was coming back from an entire season lost to elbow surgery this spring. Plenty common for a guy to experience some initial hiccups in the wake of such an ordeal. Claiming he has a "Ben Revere arm" on the basis of such anecdotal evidence is ridiculous. His arm ain't great but drawing comparisons to one of the worst OF throwers in franchise history is an exaggeration deserving of dismissal. FWIW, BA rates Kirilloff's arm as a 50 on the 20-80 scale — basically average. 

 

Gonsalves' curveball is most definitely not his best pitch. I don't even know where you'd come up with that. His change is widely viewed as his best pitch and his curve is in fact generally considered the weak link in his repertoire. In a Strib profile on him this past spring it was noted that "some scouts believe (his curveball) might prevent him from being a true staff ace" and Gonsalves himself noted that "I’ve read a lot of bad stuff about my curveball. I know it needs work.”

 

Re: Kirilloff: I am claiming that he has a Ben Revere arm based on what I saw.Nothing anecdotal about it.100% fact that he was double and triple bouncing balls from right to first this ST.As well as taking horrible routes.Plenty of eye witnesses in the back fields.Not sure if the arm improved since then.Will find out next time I see video. Got any evidence other than hearsay that he has an average arm?

 

Re: Gonsalves:Mea cupla, I got lazy.I should have clarified that like Duffy, whose best pitch is the curveball, Gonsalves has an average at best fastball and his best pitch is a secondary pitch (of course it is his change up.) The problem is that, like Duffey, if you do not have an above average at least fast ball with good control and command, you will not survive in a major league rotation for long.Maybe Duffey is not a good comparable because he is arighty. Still they both have average to below average fastballs.Matter of fact Gonsalves's fastball command worsened this season.

I've had people tell me that he could be up next summer... the concern is building him up and getting him innings. But his stuff is that good, and he's so strong in his lower half. He could be a guy that eventually builds into being able to eat a lot of innings because of his strength. Obviously we'll see how it plays out, but his 'distance from the big leagues' may not be as far as we'd normally think.


Pitching about 5 innings every 7 days. You would think they would want to change this very soon if they think he’ll be that accelerated. It’s exciting to think that the Twins could have a 20 year old starter. Can’t remember the last time that happened.

Re: Kirilloff's arm, again anecdotal, but I did see him one hop a throw to 3rd to throw out a player trying to tag up from second on a fly to moderately deep right field on 6/10/18.  The runner was the opposing team's catcher, but it was a nice throw, and the scout seating next to me was impressed.  So that throw looked average. 

    • Thrylos, Mike Sixel and gagu like this

 

. It’s exciting to think that the Twins could have a 20 year old starter. Can’t remember the last time that happened.

 

It was a long long time ago.Even Santana and Liriano were 21 each when they started a game with the Twins.El Guapo pitched in relief as a 19 year old in the 1990s but you have to go all the way to 1971 for a 20 year old to make a start with the Twins.He is hereby circled, in his second season with the Twins.Stated as a 19 year old in 1970.

 

Only 9 times since the Twins moved to Minnesota have started 20 year old or younger.And only 7 pitchers.Here they are:

Bert Blyleven in '71 20
Bert Blyleven in '70 19 
Tom Hall in '68 20
Jim Olom in '66 20
Dave Boswell in '65 20
Dave Boswell in '64 19 
Jim Roland in '63 20
Jim Manning in '62 18
Gerry Arrigo in '61 20

    • mikelink45, caninatl04 and jkcarew like this

 

This. It is NOT natural for a still growing person to throw that hard.The growth plates and ligaments are still tender. In nearly every single case of young flamethrowers they will need TJ eventually. 

A few things worth mentioning regarding this...

 

1) Graterol is almost certainly done growing, so growth plates are not an issue.

2) Age does not appear to be related to the likelihood of UCL reconstruction in most studies that I am aware of. The UCL is certainly fully formed by this time, and doesn't change considerably in it's constitution after probably 12-13 years of age.

3) Fastball velocity does not appear to be related to likelihood of undergoing TJ

4) About 15% of minor league and 25% of major league pitchers have undergone TJ (so 'nearly every single case' is probably a bit of an overstatement).

 

Here is a portion of an article abstract from the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery in 2016 (Volume 25, Issue 4, April 2016, Pages 671-675 Keller et al.)

 

 

Background

The number of Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers requiring ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstructions is increasing. Recent literature has attempted to correlate specific stresses placed on the throwing arm to risk for UCL injury, with limited results.

 

Methods

Eighty-three MLB pitchers who underwent primary UCL reconstruction were evaluated. Pitching velocity and percent of pitch type thrown (fastball, curve ball, slider, and change-up) were evaluated 2 years before and after surgery. Data were compared with control pitchers matched for age, position, size, innings pitched, and experience.

 

Results

The evaluation of pitch velocity compared with matched controls found no differences in pre-UCL reconstruction pitch velocities for fastballs (91.5 vs. 91.2 miles per hour [mph], P = .69), curveballs (78.2 vs. 77.9 mph, P = .92), sliders (83.3 vs. 83.5 mph, P = .88), or change-ups (83.9 vs. 83.8 mph, P = .96). When the percentage of pitches thrown was evaluated, UCL reconstructed pitchers pitch significantly more fastballs than controls (46.7% vs. 39.4%, P = .035). This correlated to a 2% increase in risk for UCL injury for every 1% increase in fastballs thrown. Pitching more than 48% fastballs was a significant predictor of UCL injury, because pitchers over this threshold required reconstruction (P = .006).

 

Conclusion

MLB pitchers requiring UCL reconstruction do not pitch at higher velocities than matched controls, and pitch velocity does not appear to be a risk factor for UCL reconstruction. However, MLB pitchers who pitch a high percentage of fastballs may be at increased risk for UCL injury because pitching a higher percent of fastballs appears to be a risk factor for UCL reconstruction.

 

 

I recognize it is wordy, but basically it showed no directly correlation between fastball velocity and TJ surgery. It did, however, show a relationship between percentage of fastballs and TJ. Other studies have shown similar results, with some studies conflicting. As always, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

 

 

    • SQUIRREL, Seth Stohs, Mike Sixel and 3 others like this

Seen some comments here on about Kirilloff's arm strength, so...

 

I recently posted a question to MLB Pipeline Inbox about the long term defensive fit for the young Twins outfielders Kirilloff, Larnach and Rooker.

 

Here is what they responded with.Check it out...kind of interesting.

 

https://www.mlb.com/...6?tid=151437456

    • SQUIRREL, Seth Stohs, Thrylos and 5 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jul 14 2018 06:33 AM

 

A few things worth mentioning regarding this...

 

1) Graterol is almost certainly done growing, so growth plates are not an issue.

2) Age does not appear to be related to the likelihood of UCL reconstruction in most studies that I am aware of. The UCL is certainly fully formed by this time, and doesn't change considerably in it's constitution after probably 12-13 years of age.

3) Fastball velocity does not appear to be related to likelihood of undergoing TJ

4) About 15% of minor league and 25% of major league pitchers have undergone TJ (so 'nearly every single case' is probably a bit of an overstatement).

 

Here is a portion of an article abstract from the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery in 2016 (Volume 25, Issue 4, April 2016, Pages 671-675 Keller et al.)

 

 

Background

The number of Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers requiring ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstructions is increasing. Recent literature has attempted to correlate specific stresses placed on the throwing arm to risk for UCL injury, with limited results.

 

Methods

Eighty-three MLB pitchers who underwent primary UCL reconstruction were evaluated. Pitching velocity and percent of pitch type thrown (fastball, curve ball, slider, and change-up) were evaluated 2 years before and after surgery. Data were compared with control pitchers matched for age, position, size, innings pitched, and experience.

 

Results

The evaluation of pitch velocity compared with matched controls found no differences in pre-UCL reconstruction pitch velocities for fastballs (91.5 vs. 91.2 miles per hour [mph], P = .69), curveballs (78.2 vs. 77.9 mph, P = .92), sliders (83.3 vs. 83.5 mph, P = .88), or change-ups (83.9 vs. 83.8 mph, P = .96). When the percentage of pitches thrown was evaluated, UCL reconstructed pitchers pitch significantly more fastballs than controls (46.7% vs. 39.4%, P = .035). This correlated to a 2% increase in risk for UCL injury for every 1% increase in fastballs thrown. Pitching more than 48% fastballs was a significant predictor of UCL injury, because pitchers over this threshold required reconstruction (P = .006).

 

Conclusion

MLB pitchers requiring UCL reconstruction do not pitch at higher velocities than matched controls, and pitch velocity does not appear to be a risk factor for UCL reconstruction. However, MLB pitchers who pitch a high percentage of fastballs may be at increased risk for UCL injury because pitching a higher percent of fastballs appears to be a risk factor for UCL reconstruction.

 

 

I recognize it is wordy, but basically it showed no directly correlation between fastball velocity and TJ surgery. It did, however, show a relationship between percentage of fastballs and TJ. Other studies have shown similar results, with some studies conflicting. As always, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

 

I love reading your posts...

 

I learned something today. Thanks... I always thought the breaking pitches led to more TJS... bit surprised that it appears to be the other way around.

    • Heezy1323 and gagu like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jul 14 2018 07:03 AM

Gonsalves walk rate this season is certainly concerning, but I really think people are under valuing him. His career minor league ERA is under 3. His K rate is over 9, and his career hit/9 is under 7. Even with the high walk rate this year, his career walk rate is just a bit over 3. He's got a lot of potential, and certainly more than a mid rotation guy even if that is his most likely outcome.

 

My guess on the walks is that they have him throwing that curve more in order to refine his command on the pitch. Maybe I'm wrong, but that, to me at least, would seem logical since the pitch is his weakest and is likely preventing him from being a top half of the rotation guy. It will be interesting to see if that walk rate is trending in a particular direction over the course of this season. 

    • caninatl04 likes this

I recognize it is wordy, but basically it showed no directly correlation between fastball velocity and TJ surgery. It did, however, show a relationship between percentage of fastballs and TJ. Other studies have shown similar results, with some studies conflicting. As always, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

Completely aside from the topic discussed here, but I wonder if any MLB team's analytics department has ever added an MD with top notch analytical skills and a medical-generalist's mindset, to investigate any number of topics that would pay huge dividends if something was discovered - for instance along the lines of physiological cues that would guide drafting for talent development or for injury avoidance - I don't mean just sifting data on players, but locating studies that tell a team what new data to try to collect, things a non-medical layman might not know how to look for in the literature.

    • 70charger likes this

 

I love reading your posts...

 

I learned something today. Thanks... I always thought the breaking pitches led to more TJS... bit surprised that it appears to be the other way around.

There are some studies that seem to show that a slider places more stress on the elbow, but I haven't seen any studies that directly relate slider % to need for TJ.

 

I think of this in a similar way to the current concussion situation. We are realizing that it's not necessarily the 'big hits' that cause CTE down the road, its the collection of numerous 'subconcussive blows' that end up being the problem. Similarly, it's (usually) not just a single pitch that injures a UCL, rather a collection of thousands of incidents of 'micro damage' done over time that eventually adds up to the ligament being insufficiently strong to support a pitcher's elbow. There may be one pitch that causes the ligament to finally 'tear', but IMHO the ligament is very rarely normal one pitch, then completely torn the next. 

 

Completely aside from the topic discussed here, but I wonder if any MLB team's analytics department has ever added an MD with top notch analytical skills and a medical-generalist's mindset, to investigate any number of topics that would pay huge dividends if something was discovered - for instance along the lines of physiological cues that would guide drafting for talent development or for injury avoidance - I don't mean just sifting data on players, but locating studies that tell a team what new data to try to collect, things a non-medical layman might not know how to look for in the literature.

There are many MLB team physicians that are very active in baseball/throwing related research, though essentially all pro team physicians (as far as I am aware, anyway) maintain a practice that probably limits their ability to spend the needed time on such concerns specifically for an MLB team. However, there are many situations (Rush in Chicago, Hospital for Special Surgery and Columbia in NY, Kerlan-Jobe clinic in LA, Andrews Institute in Pensacola for example) where physicians are part of a team of athletic trainers, biomechanists, research assistants, surgeons/physicians in training, strength and conditioning coaches and others that are studying things like you mention. In most of these situations, this is academic research that is published in the geeky journals I read. I would assume there are some things going on within teams that produces proprietary information, but I'm not privy to that info. More likely (I suspect) is that the teams use the data produced by those mentioned above and apply it to their draft/development strategy as their internal people prefer. 

 

I try to keep in mind that the higher up a player goes, the more and better information we have on them, and that also means there are more opportunities to poke holes in their game.

 

When you take a look at some of the guys who've made it as high as Triple A, you see players who've already had their biggest weaknesses start to get exposed. That just doesn't happen yet while they're at the lower levels. But it's not like anything done below Double A should be ignored, or that the guys at the higher levels are never going to get over those issues that have arisen, so it's difficult to weight those kinds of things.

 

Or it does and they then don't get to AA or AAA. 

 

This post fro Tom is very important... it is why we have to factor in the level, and age, and tools and so many other factors. 

 

Guys are often 5-tool prospects in the rookie leagues and even A ball, but as those things get exposed more and more, they may be a 3-tool player in AA and AAA... If they're still a four or five star prospect at AA And AAA, that's pretty exciting, because if they get to the big leagues as a three-star player, that is a very valuable player. Even a two-tool player can have value. 

 

That was a lot of rambling, but it's just the reality of prospect-watching. 

    • gagu likes this

 

Re: Kirilloff's arm, again anecdotal, but I did see him one hop a throw to 3rd to throw out a player trying to tag up from second on a fly to moderately deep right field on 6/10/18.  The runner was the opposing team's catcher, but it was a nice throw, and the scout seating next to me was impressed.  So that throw looked average. 

 

Yeah, I may have been watching Kirilloff this spring and I did see a couple of throws that, well, the release point wasn't good, so it took some bounces and rolled a bit. I'm sure he was still adjusting to throwing in game situations... Because watching on milb.tv, I've seen him make some very strong throws and talking to others who have seen him more regularly say that he's got a very strong arm.

 

I don't think he's going to be a great outfielder defensively. He's not as fast as Kepler, to be sure. But he's far from slow. If anyone has seen him run out a triple, he can really run. I'd almost compare it to Michael Cuddyer as a young player. He wasn't a sprinter, but once he got going, he could move. 

    • gagu likes this

 

Would it be possible to get an additional post showing each of Tom's, Seth's and Cody's individual top 40 lists so we can do a little side-by-side comparison?  

Could piece it together, I guess, based on the ranking below the capsules but that seems a little cumbersome for 40 slots.

 

Always find it fun and interesting to see how you guys rank the players differently.

 

 

My top 40:

1 - Royce Lewis

2 - Brusdar Graterol

3 - Alex Kirilloff

4 - Nick Gordon

5 - Trevor Larnach

6 - Stephen Gonsalves

7 - Akil Baddoo

8 - Brent Rooker 

9 - LaMonte Wade

10 - Blayne Enlow

11 - Wander Javier

12 - Travis Blankenhorn

13 - Lewis Thorpe

14 - Zack Littell

15 - Ryan Jeffers

16 - Yunior Severino

17 - Jose Miranda

18 - Tyler Wells

19 - Luis Arraez

20 - Jordan Balazovic

21 - Ben Rortvedt

22 - Jacob Pearson

23 - Lewin Diaz

24 - Jean-Carlos Arias

25 - Jake Cave

26 - Griffin Jax

27 - Andrew Bechtold

28 - Landon Leach

29 - Aaron Whitefield

30 - Tyler Jay

31 - Kohl Stewart

32 - John Curtiss

33 - Aaron Slegers

34 - Zack Granite

35 - Victor Tademo

36 Tyler Watson

37 - Felix Jorge 

38 - Charlie Barnes

39 - Chris Paul

40 - Gabriel Moya

41 - Jaylin Davis

42 - Trey Cabbage

43 - DeShawn Keirsey

44 - Ricky De La Torre

45 - Jovani Moran

46 - Edwar Colina

47 - Andrew Vasquez

48 - Lachlan Wells

49 - Zander Wiel

50 - Tyler Benninghoff 

 

Jean Carlos Arias is definitely my highest-ranked guy that didn't make our Top 40. 

 

I think that the issue here is that your #3 might be my #5.I always refer to a #X starter in a championship level team, not the average baseball team.And I don't see Gonsalves as a #3 starter in a champion.That is Jose Berrios territory...

 

And then we have to remember that Les Straker was the #3 starter on the 1987 World Series championship team... Bet he didn't rank real high in prospect rankings (if they had been a big deal back then). And yes, things have changed over the last 30 years, but the concept is the same... The key is to get them to the big leagues, not worry too much about if a guy is a 3 or a 4 or a 5 starter. Get them there and hope they become the next Corey Kluber, or Jose Berrios... and then remember that sometimes it takes awhile to peak, like Carlos Carrasco or maybe Kyle Gibson. 

    • SQUIRREL, gagu and caninatl04 like this

Pitching about 5 innings every 7 days. You would think they would want to change this very soon if they think he’ll be that accelerated. It’s exciting to think that the Twins could have a 20 year old starter. Can’t remember the last time that happened.


Not sure about last time but i think Blyleven was 19 as a rookie.

How old was Liriano?

Not sure about last time but i think Blyleven was 19 as a rookie.
How old was Liriano?


See above. Thrylos gives a great summary of the youngest Twins starters.

 

Re: Kirilloff: I am claiming that he has a Ben Revere arm based on what I saw.Nothing anecdotal about it.100% fact that he was double and triple bouncing balls from right to first this ST.As well as taking horrible routes.Plenty of eye witnesses in the back fields.Not sure if the arm improved since then.Will find out next time I see video. Got any evidence other than hearsay that he has an average arm?

 

Re: Gonsalves:Mea cupla, I got lazy.I should have clarified that like Duffy, whose best pitch is the curveball, Gonsalves has an average at best fastball and his best pitch is a secondary pitch (of course it is his change up.) The problem is that, like Duffey, if you do not have an above average at least fast ball with good control and command, you will not survive in a major league rotation for long.Maybe Duffey is not a good comparable because he is arighty. Still they both have average to below average fastballs.Matter of fact Gonsalves's fastball command worsened this season.

In spring training?I don't think that's fair.He's a 20 yo seeing his first action after a year off due to surgery to his throwing arm.And what you described is the literal definition of "anecdotal".

    • SQUIRREL, ashbury, birdwatcher and 1 other like this

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