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2018 MLB Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 08:02 PM
How about a postseason game thread? Any MLB postseason discussion can just go here.
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Article: Get To Know: Twins Infield Prospect Michael Helman

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 07:51 PM
While Twins 2018 draft pick Michael Helman is just 22-years-old, baseball has kept him on the move in recent years. The infielder from Li...
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Damning article in the Washington Post re: Pressly / Anal...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:50 PM
Very damning article for the (now former) coaching/analytics staff. Pressly is used an example of how the Astros use analytics & coac...
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Minnesota Wild Thread

Minnesota Wild Talk Today, 07:19 PM
Best in the West!  We need a thread to talk about these guys!   I'm really, really impressed with this team.  12 good forw...
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Article: A Tale of Two Paths for Twins

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:32 PM
Coming off a 78-win season, the Minnesota Twins took a step backward from their postseason berth in 2017. With the same core intact, and...
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Alex Kirilloff: More Than Just The "Other" Kernels First-Rounder

After standing in a line of about 20 people for a few minutes, a couple of guys finally got the autograph they wanted during the Cedar Rapids Kernels regular Sunday post-game autograph session. They had secured the autograph of Royce Lewis, the Minnesota Twins first-round pick in the 2017 MLB amateur draft and the first pick overall.

They stood for a moment and looked out at the area of right field where Lewis’ team mates were spread out, some standing by themselves and some in groups of two or three players, all signing autographs for a handful of fans that had gathered around them. One of the guys asked the other, “Where’s the other first rounder?”
Image courtesy of Steve Buhr
That’s right, the Kernels don’t have a first round pick on the field this season – they are in the enviable and rare position of having TWO of the Twins’ recent first round picks and both have been beating up on Midwest League pitchers through the first several weeks of the season.

Lewis has been everything you’d hope for as a Twins fan. He has put up a .373 batting average and .849 OPS in 83 at-bats through Tuesday’s game at Dayton., He carries a six-game hitting streak into Wednesday’s game. He has also hit safely in 16 of his 20 games.

That’s the kind of start that has a lot of people wondering how soon the first overall pick in the 2017 draft will be promoted to Class High-A Fort Myers.

Alex Kirilloff, the “other” first rounder the autograph hounds were looking for, was selected by the Twins in the first round (15th overall) of the 2016 draft and, while Lewis has rightfully been getting a lot of publicity, Kirilloff has also been making a strong case that his time in Cedar Rapids should not be an extended stay, either.

Kirilloff’s OPS of .851 is almost identical to that of Lewis, but they’ve taken different paths to establishing that number.

OPS is the sum of two other statistics, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and Lewis’ .OPS is composed of nearly equal on-base and slugging percentages. Kirilloff, on the other hand, is reaching base at a .327 clip, but his slugging percentage is a robust .524.

His batting average has climbed to within shouting distance of .300, and over half of his hits this season have been of the extra-base variety. Kirilloff has 12 doubles (second most in the Midwest League) and four home runs among his 30 hits. He is also taking a nine-game hitting streak into Wednesday night’s game.
Posted Image
Alex Kirilloff (Photo by SD Buhr)
Having first-round picks on the field is nothing new for the Kernels.
Since they began their affiliation with the Twins in the 2013 season, fans in Cedar Rapids have watched outfielder Byron Buxton (in 2013) and shortstop Nick Gordon (in 2015), as well as pitcher Kohl Stewart (in 2014). Of course, Lewis suited up for the Kernels for the final couple of weeks of the 2017 season, as well.
Buxton, Gordon and Lewis, as everyday position players, generated a lot of buzz at the ballpark, as befits a first-round pick, and Lewis continues to see a lengthy line of autograph seekers during the Kernels’ Sunday afternoon autograph sessions.

Any other year, you know Kirilloff would be getting that focus from fans and media.

But this is no ordinary year in Cedar Rapids.

Kirilloff bats third in a lineup that not only includes Lewis and himself, the two first round picks, but also typically includes a second-rounder (C Ben Rortvedt), two Compensation “B” round picks (IF Jose Miranda and OF Akil Baddoo), a fourth round pick (OF/1B Trey Cabbage), a Twins fifth rounder (3B Andrew Bechtold), a Mariners fifth round pick (C David Banuelos, obtained in a trade) and an eighth round pick (OF Shane Carrier). On top of those “slot pick” players, outfielder Jean Carlos Arias was an international free agent that signed with the Twins for a mid-six-figure bonus.

And that list doesn’t even include the pitching prospects.

He certainly gets his share of autograph requests, but there’s no doubt that sharing a field with Lewis and the other high-priced talent on the Kernels roster has resulted in Kirilloff playing in a broad shadow during the early part of the 2018 season, despite having one of the cleanest, most consistent and most productive swings you’re ever likely to see from a 20-year-old.

Spend a few minutes talking to the 20-year-old from Pittsburgh, though, and you can tell he is not the least bit bothered by his circumstances. Quite the contrary.

“It is a lot of fun,” Kirilloff responded, over the weekend, when asked his feelings about being a part of a lineup that is pretty much loaded with highly regarded position prospects. “We all have to still show up and do our jobs, but it’s a great group of guys that are even better people, as well. They’re fun to be around and an exciting team.”
Posted Image
Alex Kirilloff (Photo by SD Buhr)

At this point, you can understand if Kirilloff is just happy to be back taking meaningful swings at the plate after missing all of the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery. It would also be understandable if he had started off this spring a bit rusty, but there’s no rust in his swing.

“I had known it was not going to be easy, at first, taking a year and a half off from live at-bats,” he said. “I was expecting to take it one step at a time, to be honest. I learned a lot from spring training and kind of built on that and just continued to plug away this year. Hopefully, I can continue to build off of our start and my start, as well.”

Best of all, perhaps, there have been no lingering effects from his injury.

“The arm’s great. No problems. It’s been a blessing,” he confirmed.

It hasn’t all been easy, though. Cedar Rapids played several games in near freezing temperatures and occasional snow flurries during April and even had to sit through a six-day layoff caused by cold temperatures and snow. It’s not that they didn’t notice, he and his teammates just treated the inclement weather as one more part of learning to be professional ballplayers.

“It was just really cold here at the beginning of the year,” he recalled. “But, all of us were expecting that, being in Iowa.”

You might think that Kirilloff is anxious to quickly make up for the development time he lost by sitting out last season, but that’s not really at the forefront of his mind this spring.

“Just kind of maintaining for 140 games is the biggest key for this year,” Kirilloff said, adding, “and keeping my body healthy. Staying on an even keel throughout that whole stretch is going to be big. It’s a long season.”
Posted ImageAlex Kirilloff signing autographs during a Sunday post-game autograph session (Photo by SD Buhr)

Still, with such a hot start, you couldn’t blame Kirilloff if he got a bit antsy about whether his hot start might be earning an early promotion to Fort Myers. If that’s the case, you’d never know it.

“I’m content where I am,” he said. “Wherever that takes me, I’m going to play as hard as I can, whether I’m here or wherever else.”

That kind of level-headed approach to his baseball life probably wouldn’t come as a huge surprise to those who know the young man who married his wife, Jordan, just a few months after he was drafted by the Twins in 2016 and was home-schooled – not only with regard to the typical educational curriculum, but where baseball is concerned, as well.

“Yeah, my dad’s been a hitting instructor and a coach my whole life,” he said, smiling. “He’s always had his own hitting facility back in Pittsburgh, so I was raised in that environment as a kid. I’d go to work with him and be around that stuff all day long. So, he’s been a pretty integral part in my career and my life. Teaching me and developing me.

“He tells the story sometimes that the day I could stand up and walk, he put a bat in my hands. I kind of get a chuckle out of that.”

That might certainly explain that sweet swing.

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16 Comments

Nice story.It is great to learn that the lay off did not affect his ability.I am anxious for his rise and the conflict over who should start in the OF!

    • gagu and nclahammer like this
Photo
Tom Froemming
May 09 2018 11:45 AM

Thanks for this Steve. I appreciate your description of his swing. It's been fun to watch Alex hit here and there on MiLB.tv, it seems like every at-bat I catch he's driving the ball to the opposite field.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Here's to hoping they're all teammates in MN in a few years.

    • gagu and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this

 

Thanks for this Steve. I appreciate your description of his swing. It's been fun to watch Alex hit here and there on MiLB.tv, it seems like every at-bat I catch he's driving the ball to the opposite field.

Definitely a gap-to-gap swing with what seems like easy power. May not hit a ton of HRs in Cedar Rapids, since the RCF and LCF gaps are the deepest parts of the ballpark here, but he'll hit his share in his career. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

I have always been a big Kirillof believer.The article just reinforces how calm and cool he appears to be.I really like his power potential but would like to see a few more walks just to show he can make a pitcher work a little bit as well. The Twins got a good one there. 

 

Badoo is probably my favorite player on that team but Kirillof and Lewis are right there as well. It is a fun group to watch.If the other guys heat up they will be a really tough team to beat.

Thanks Steve.Great seeing this kid back on the field and doing so well.Can't wait for Javier to join them, hopefully soon. 

    • Dozier's Glorious Hair likes this

With a 1st inning single, Kirilloff's hit streak is at 10 games.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

So, how's his defense?

Sound like a kid with his head on squarely. Easy to root for guys like this.

 

So, how's his defense?

Pretty decent arm, covers RF just fine. Runs well, but I'd think a team would usually have someone faster to play CF. Catches pretty much everything hit into his area. Has one error this season and I honestly don't remember seeing it to know if it was a throwing error or misplayed ball. Maybe it was on the road. 

 

Has the tools and I'd think repetitions would be what he would need to get even better out there.

One quote by Kirilloff gave me pause:

 

:"I’m going to play as hard as I can, whether I’m here or wherever else.”

 

I hope he was referring to Cedar Rapids and perhaps the possibility of moving up the Twins' minor league ladder soon .. and not with another organization!

One quote by Kirilloff gave me pause:

:"I’m going to play as hard as I can, whether I’m here or wherever else.”

I hope he was referring to Cedar Rapids and perhaps the possibility of moving up the Twins' minor league ladder soon .. and not with another organization!


I'd assume he meant other stops in the Twins system, since even if he were called up today and never went back down, he wouldn't be a free agent until 2026.

 

One quote by Kirilloff gave me pause:

 

:"I’m going to play as hard as I can, whether I’m here or wherever else.”

 

I hope he was referring to Cedar Rapids and perhaps the possibility of moving up the Twins' minor league ladder soon .. and not with another organization!

Yeah, don't read too much into that quote without taking into account the context. We were discussing the topic of whether he thinks his hot start might have him on the radar for a quick promotion to Ft. Myers.

 

If I did a poor job of communicating the context of his comment, that's on me, not him. He gave me absolutely NO indication he was anything but happy with the Twins and his team mates in the organization.

 

Pretty decent arm, covers RF just fine. Runs well, but I'd think a team would usually have someone faster to play CF. Catches pretty much everything hit into his area. Has one error this season and I honestly don't remember seeing it to know if it was a throwing error or misplayed ball. Maybe it was on the road. 

 

Has the tools and I'd think repetitions would be what he would need to get even better out there.

 

That's really encouraging.It seems the power is real and an advanced hitting approach developed from a young age suggests he drives the ball with power to all fields and doesn't rely on trying to pull everything over the fence.Maybe won't hit as many HRs as he could if he tried to pull everything, but he'll get lots of XBH, a higher average, and plenty of HRs too. 

 

Maybe Justin Morneau could be a similar comp?Too lofty to hope for, but in terms of their styles.  

 

Morneau's average 162 game stretch was:

 

.280-.350-.830

37 2B - 2 3B - 26 HR - 103 RBIs

 

Some positionality differences and such, but Morneau was a guy with big time natural power who never really gave up on driving the ball to left-right center and using all parts of the field.Topped out around 30 HRs though had the potential for more...tons of XBH and generally Morneau hit for a pretty nice average...he certainly developed himself into a guy that was able to at least.  

 

That's really encouraging.It seems the power is real and an advanced hitting approach developed from a young age suggests he drives the ball with power to all fields and doesn't rely on trying to pull everything over the fence.Maybe won't hit as many HRs as he could if he tried to pull everything, but he'll get lots of XBH, a higher average, and plenty of HRs too. 

 

Maybe Justin Morneau could be a similar comp?Too lofty to hope for, but in terms of their styles.  

 

Morneau's average 162 game stretch was:

 

.280-.350-.830

37 2B - 2 3B - 26 HR - 103 RBIs

 

Some positionality differences and such, but Morneau was a guy with big time natural power who never really gave up on driving the ball to left-right center and using all parts of the field.Topped out around 30 HRs though had the potential for more...tons of XBH and generally Morneau hit for a pretty nice average...he certainly developed himself into a guy that was able to at least.  

Some of us have had the "comp" discussion regarding Kirilloff lately and maybe the most interesting comp I've heard suggested is Jason Kubel, pre-injury.

 

When you look at Kubel's Class A stats at Quad Cities as a 20-year-old, I could see Kirilloff putting up similar numbers if he were to play a similar number of games (115) at that level, which seems unlikely right now.

 

Kirilloff absolutely uses all fields and with pop. Plus, while he's already a pretty well put-together athlete, there's still room to build on his frame.

    • Dman and rdehring like this

 

Some of us have had the "comp" discussion regarding Kirilloff lately and maybe the most interesting comp I've heard suggested is Jason Kubel, pre-injury.

 

When you look at Kubel's Class A stats at Quad Cities as a 20-year-old, I could see Kirilloff putting up similar numbers if he were to play a similar number of games (115) at that level, which seems unlikely right now.

 

Kirilloff absolutely uses all fields and with pop. Plus, while he's already a pretty well put-together athlete, there's still room to build on his frame.

 

I like it.I was hesitant to use Kubel because of the way his career turned out and wanted to use a more positive comparision of what production could like *something* like at the MLB level if Kirrilloff continues to perform--I use something loosely as Morneau is a lofty comparision, but I think there are some general similarities there in the types of ways both players hitting styles work and the kinds of things they look to do to be successful. 

 

I guess on this board pre-injury Jason Kubel is about as high of praise as you can receive though, sometimes I forget where I am :)

 

The biggest difference I see between the two is Kubel's 9.7 BB% and 11.3 K% compared to Kirrilloff's 4.3 BB% and 21.1 K%.The difference may slightly be the results of a different age in hitting with different focuses and less negativity towards strikeout's, but Kubel's average/power toolset combined with his low strikeout totals and good walk rate was why he was the second-coming pre-injury. That's an almost perfect hitter.

 

I guess you can't have everything in a comparision so I still feel it's as good as any, especially in trying to compare Kirrilloff to former prospects that have moved through the Twins system--but I do think the differences in BB%/K% profiles do to some degree make me want to put on the pre-injury Kubel hype train. 

 

I do like that they are both coming off about 50 games of experience in rookie ball and entering their first season of A ball at the same age 20 season.

 

Although while I say that and go back and check Kirilloff's total's thus far, I am greeted with a 3-4 3 run, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 strikeout performance by Kirilloff today--so maybe I should just shut up now ;) .

 

Kubel's A Season Per 162 Games (115 games):

 

Slash: .321-.380 - 501 -. 901

PGP: 85 runs -36 2Bs - 6 3Bs - 24 HRs - 97 RBI

 

Kirilloff A Season Per 162 Games (30 games):

 

Slash: .317-.354-.618-.974

 

PGP: 97 runs - 70 2B - 16 3B - 33 HR - 157 RBIs

 

119 XBH and 157 RBIs!!!!

______________________________________________________________________

 

Of course, Kubel went on to have a 22 year old season in AA/AAA 2 years later playing 127 games with:

 

Slash: .352-.414-.590-1.004 - 10.8 BB% 12,1K% 

Numbers: 96 runs - 42 2B - 4 3B - 22 HR - 100 RBI - and even 16 SB for his own measure. 

 

Per 162/pace: 123 runs - 54 2B - 5 3B - 28 HR - 128 RBI - 20 SB

____________________________________________________________________

 

It's still a little painful to see the kind of player Kubel could have been pre-leg injury.So yeah, overall the loose comparisons between the natural power in their swings that allow thing to them to hit somewhere close to 30 homers and a ridiculous amount of doubles and triples without sacrificing areas of their swing to generate that power enabling them to be able to maintain a .300+ average. 

 

The pessimist in me still can't get past the differences in their BB%/KK% profiles though.Kubel's above average walk rate combined with his borderline elite strikeout percentage which offers/offered a much stronger and more secure platform to launch the rest of the hit tool at higher levels and at the major league level.

 

So I guess I agree that Kubel and Kirilloff seem to have a chance to operate similarily with the bat once contact is made, but I think different levels of plate approaches keep Kirilloff from being on Kubel pre-injury level yet

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Thinking out loud: Are there any comparables we can think of for a guy with a 5-7 BB% and 20ish K%?

 

I checked the 2017 HR leaders list and there actually are some closer possible comparables than I thought there would be:

 

1. Jose Abreu--156g - 95 runs - 43 2B - 6 3B - 33 HRs - 102 RBI -- .304/,354/.906 -- 5.2 BB% - 17.6 K% - 4.2 WAR

 

2. Jonathon Schoop -- 160g - 92 runs - 35 2B - 32 HRs - 105 RBI -- .293/.338/.841 - 5.2 BB% - 21 K% 0 3.8 WAR

 

3. Ryan Zimmerman -- 144g - 90 runs - 33 2B - 36 HR - 108 RBI -- .303/.358/.931 -- 7.6 BB% - 21.9 K% - 3.3 WAR

 

4. Gary Sanchez -- 122g - 20 2B - 33 HR - 90 RBI -- .280/.345/.876 -- 7.5 BB% - 23 K% - 4.4 WAR

 

5. Eddie Rosario -- 151g - 79 runs - 33 2B - 27 HR - 78 RBI -- .290/.328/.835 -- 5.9BB% - 18K% -- 2.5 WAR

________________________________________________________________________

 

So if the power, contact, and hit skills are true and continue to play at a higher levels ... Jose Abreu seems like somewhat close to what we can think of a best possible scenario for Kirilloff's future projection. 

 

https://www.baseball...abreujo02.shtml

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