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Twins 2019 Minor League Hitter of the Year

Throughout this week, Twins Daily has handed out our 2019 minor league awards. Today we continue the series by looking at the top hitters in the Twins organization this season. There were a lot of strong performances, and unlike last year, the vote was not unanimous. In fact, it was closer than you probably think and has a chance to create a lot of discussion.

Previous 2019 Awards
Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year: Matt Wallner
Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year: Cody Laweryson
Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Vizcaya
Today: Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year: Randy Dobnak
Minor League Hitter of the Year: See below…

Previous Twins Daily Minor League Hitters of the Year:
2012 - Oswaldo Arcia
2013 - Miguel Sano
2014 - Mitch Garver
2015 - Max Kepler
2016 - Daniel Palka
2017 - Mitch Garver
2018 - Alex Kirilloff
Image courtesy of Daniel Venn, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (graphics by Finn Pearson)
Before we get to the Top Eight, let’s take a look at the others who received votes. This year’s group is interesting. You’ll see players who spent time at a couple of levels. You’ll see a couple of players who finished the season elsewhere. We have some minor league veterans who signed, looking for an opportunity, and there are a few of the top prospects.

The six Twins Daily Minor League writers were asked to vote for the various awards. For the hitter of the year, we each voted for eight players. The player who was voted as #1 received eight points, #2 received seven points and so on with the #8 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below.

Short profiles of our top eight are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes.


Honorable Mention
  • Tomas Telis - Rochester Red Wings - 82 games, 101-306, .330/.364/.490 (.946), 21-2B, 2-3B, 8 HR, 44 R, 46 RBI
  • Travis Blankenhorn - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 108 games, 122-440, .277/.321/.466 (.787) with 22-2B, 2-3B, 19 HR, 56 R, 54 RBI
  • Luis Arraez - Rochester Red Wings - 54 games, 73-212, .344/.409/.401 (.810) with 10-2B, 1-3B, 0 HR, 26 R, 22 RBI.
  • Jake Cave - Rochester Red Wings, 48 games, 69-146, .352/.393/.592 (.984) with 18-2B, 4-3B, 7 HR, 37 R, 39 RBI
  • Spencer Steer - Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels, 64 games, 70-250, .280/.385/.424 (.809) with 18-2B, 3-3B, 4 HR, 40 R, 33 RBI
  • Nick Gordon - Rochester Red Wings, 70 games, 87-292, .298/.342/.459 (.801) with 29-2B, 3-3B, 4 HR, 49 R, 40 RBI
  • Gilberto Celestino - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle, 125 games, 133-480, .277/.349/.410 (.759) with 28-2B, 3-3B, 10 HR, 58 R, 54 RBI.
Minor League Hitter of the Year

Here are the top eight vote getters for Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year:

8. Gabe Snyder – Cedar Rapids Kernels - 114 games, 110-424, .259/.338/.462 (.800), 21-2B, 4-3B, 19 HR, 63 R, 58 RBI

Snyder really had an impressive season. He was a Midwest League All-Star at the midseason and for the postseason. The burly first baseman was relatively consistent and quite productive at the top of in the middle of the Kernels lineup most of the year, but he was not on the team’s opening-day roster. That said, he was called up very quickly and made his debut on April 11th, the team’s eighth game. At 6-5 and 235 pounds, Snyder looks the part at first base and has the power to hit the ball a long way. The 24-year-old was the #MNTwins 21st-round pick in 2018 out of Wright State.

7. Ryan Jeffers – Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 103 games, 97-368, .264/.341/.421 (.762) with 16-2B, 14 HR, 48 R, 49 RBI.

Jeffers was a surprise (to many) second-round pick for the Twins in 2018 out of UNC-Wilmington. He dominated at Elizabethton before ending his 2018 with 36 games in Cedar Rapids. Despite limited time in the Midwest League, Jeffers made the jump to Ft. Myers to start the 2019 season. After a slow start, he really got things going. In 79 games with the Miracle, he hit .256/.330/.402 (.732) with 11 doubles and ten homers. He earned a promotion to Double-A Pensacola where he hit .287/.374/.483 (.856) with five doubles and four homers in 24 games. The night that he was promoted to Pensacola, he didn’t start, but in the 14-inning game, he hit a walk-off double.



6. Wilin Rosario – Rochester Red Wings – 105 games, 124-413, .300/.339/.504 (.843) with 24-2B, 20 HR, 71 R, 91 RBI

From 2011 through 2015, Rosario hit 71 home runs for the Colorado Rockies. He hit 28 homers in 2012 and another 21 homers in 2013. He spent some time in Korea and then in Japan. This past offseason, he wanted to get back to playing in affiliated ball and the Twins gave him an opportunity. He made the best of it by putting up fantastic numbers in Rochester. He hit for average. He hit for power. The Red Wings named him their team MVP this season. He did some catching early in the season, but he was mostly the team's DH.

5. Brent Rooker – Rochester Red Wings – 65 games, 64-228, .281/.398/.535 (.933) with 16-2B, 14 HR

After a strong showing at Double-A Chattanooga in 2018, Rooker got his first big league spring training invitation and started the season at Triple-A Rochester, just one step away from the big leagues. It is fair to say that things started slowly for the slugger. In 16 April games, he hit just .214 and struck out 28 times in 56 at bats. After that, things changed. In 49 games from May 1st on, he hit .302/.432/.558 (.990) with 14 doubles and 10 homers. Along with the improved hitting, walk rate and power, he also reduced his strikeout rate from 45.9% in that first month to just 31.5% the rest of the season. Unfortunately, a mid-July injury prematurely ended his season.

4. Lewin Diaz – Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 90 games, 100-340, .294/.336/.553 (.889) with 27-2B, 2-3B, 19 HR, 46 R, 62 RBI

2018 was a frustrating year for Diaz. He had worked really hard and lost some weight, but he struggled in Ft. Myers until his season ended with a wrist injury. In 2019, he came to camp in even better shape and the work paid off. He returned to the Miracle where he hit .290/.333/.533 (.860) with 11 doubles and 13 homers in 57 games. He was again named a Florida State League All-Star and soon moved up to Pensacola. In 33 games, he hit .302/.341/.587 (.928) with 16 doubles and six homers. Then came the trade deadline and he was dealt to the Miami Marlins in exchange for RH RP Sergio Romo, RHP Chris Vallimont and Cash. In 31 more games for Jacksonville, he added six doubles and eight home runs.

3. Zander Wiel - Rochester Red Wings – 126 games, 119-469, .254/.320/.514 (.834) with 40-2B, 5-3B, 24 HR, 86 R, 78 RBI

Zander Wiel has quietly put together a strong resume, moving up one level each year. While he ended the 2018 season with a few games with the Red Wings, he was a very productive hitting in their lineup in 2019. As you can see, the Vanderbilt product (12th-round pick in 2015) was an extra-base machine. He plays a good first base and generally puts together good at-bats, though he will strike out a lot.

2. Jaylin Davis - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 99 games, 109-366, .298/.391/.563 (.954) with 20-2B, 1-3B, 25 HR, 73 R, 67 RBI

Jaylin Davis had an incredible 2019 season, and it will continue through the end of the MLB season. His season began in Pensacola with the Blue Wahoos. In 58 games, he hit .274/.382/.458 (.840) with nine doubles and ten home runs. He was promoted to Rochester and just took off. In 41 games, he hit .331/.405/.708 (1.112) with 11 doubles, a triple and 15 home runs. The Twins wanted to add bullpen, and Davis headlined a trade in which the Twins sent three prospects to the Giants for Sam Dyson. He went to AAA Sacramento where he hit .333/.419/.686 (1.105) with six doubles and ten homers in just 27 games. And then, he got The Call. He joined the Giants in St. Louis and singled in his first at-bat. Obviously for this Twins award, only his numbers with the Twins were to be considered, and those numbers were incredible. Davis was the Twins 24th-round draft pick in 2015.

Hitter of the Year

Trevor Larnach – Ft. Myers/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 127 games, 147-476, .309/.384, 458 (.842) with 30-2B, 1-3B, 13 HR, 59 R, 66 RBI.

Trevor Larnach was named the Florida State League Player of the Year last week. As we end our week of Twins Daily Minor League awards, he has now been named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year by our panel. I’m sure the honor are pretty equivalent. But it is very deserved.

Trevor Larnach grew up in California. Following his high school career, he was the 40th-round pick in the 2015 draft by the Padres by chose to attend Oregon State. It was a decision that proved wise for him. Three years later, he had the opportunity to play hero and win a College World Series title.

In June 2018, he was also the 20th overall draft pick of the Minnesota Twins. He split the remainder of that season between the Elizabethton Twins and Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Despite just 24 games with the Kernels, he began 2019 with the Ft. Myers Miracle. Larnach put together a strong season. In 84 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .316/.382/.459 (842) with 26 doubles, a triple and six home runs. He was promoted to the Blue Wahoos where he hit .295/.387/.455 (.842) with four doubles and seven homers in 43 games.

His 147 hits led the organization, as did his .309 batting average (for anyone with over 300 plate appearances).

The Ballots

In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers:
  • Seth Stohs – 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Trevor Larnach, 3) Zander Wiel, 4) Lewin Diaz, 5) Wilin Rosario, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) Spencer Steer, 8) Travis Blankenhorn
  • Matt Braun - 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Lewin Diaz, 3) Trevor Larnach, 4) Luis Arraez, 5) Jake Cave, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) Ryan Jeffers, 8) Travis Blankenhorn
  • Cody Christie – 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Trevor Larnach, 3) Zander Wiel, 4) Wilin Rosario, 5) Lewin Diaz, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) Tomas Telis, 8) Gabe Snyder
  • Tom Froemming – 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Trevor Larnach, 3) Lewin Diaz, 4) Ryan Jeffers, 5) Gabe Snyder, 6) Zander Wiel, 7) Wilin Rosario, 8) Travis Blankenhorn
  • Steve Lein – 1) Trevor Larnach, 2) Jaylin Davis, 3) Zander Wiel, 4) Lewin Diaz, 5) Brent Rooker, 6) Gabe Snyder, 7) Travis Blankenhorn, 8) Gilberto Celestino
  • Ted Schwerzler – 1) Brent Rooker, 2) Zander Wiel, 3) Wilin Rosario, 4) Tomas Telis, 5) Travor Larnach, 6) Ryan Jeffers, 7) Nick Gordon, 8) Gabe Snyder
Feel free to discuss. What do you think? Do you agree with our rankings? How would your ballot look?

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31 Comments

 

For these awards, not at all. Performance vs. league average/scoring environment I do try to account for somewhat, but not age. Can't fault a guy for where the Twins put him.

 

When it comes to prospect rankings, however, stuff like age/level plays a massive role.

 

Can't you just a little, though? If he was a better hitter, he would have gotten a promotion.

 

I'm not saying I'd weight it like I would the prospect ratings, but when you're naming the Minor League Hitters of the Year, ignoring it completely seems a bit off because it suggests a player is better than they really are. Like all twins minor leaguers, I'm rootin' for the guy, but...I dunno if he belongs on the list.

Can't you just a little, though? If he was a better hitter, he would have gotten a promotion.

 

I'm not saying I'd weight it like I would the prospect ratings, but when you're naming the Minor League Hitters of the Year, ignoring it completely seems a bit off because it suggests a player is better than they really are. Like all twins minor leaguers, I'm rootin' for the guy, but...I dunno if he belongs on the list.

Just looking at his monthly breakouts... Snyder started well then hit a slump at exactly the wrong time, otherwise I think he would have gotten a mid-season promotion to high-A. Then he turned it around, and produced the season he did. It all comes down to timing, sometimes.

 

It's only his second year in the pros, so there are competing motivations how quickly to move him. He's both old (calendar) and young (pro experience).

    • DocBauer likes this
Hello, my name is Byron, and I'm a Twins fan and Twins milb fan.

(This where everyone know inclined to say "hello, Byron, lol)

I love the prospect lists as well as the monthly and year-end lists! And I thank everyone for all the time, effort and thought that goes in to daily reports and these special lists.

#1] I am ashamed to admit that when I looked at past winners I had totally forgotten Oswaldo Arcia and who he was. Just not like me.

#2] I completely understand and appreciate that these hear end lists are NOT a prospect ranking. So when I read said lists, and the performances of pitchers and hitters listed, and I DON'T see top prospect names listed due to injuries and the such, it makes me feel all the mkre warm and fuzzy about the depth of tne system.

I have no problem with Larnach as #1, but agree Davis would be there with more time in the system.

I am both excited and chagrined when I look at what Wiel did this season, and his steady but under the radar progress through the system, and wonder not only if their is a place for him on the roster in the future, but whether there is even room for him on the 40 man.

Going to agree with Mike that I think Jeffers is on a fast track. I don't know about next season as there is not only his bat to continue improving, but his catcher skills as well. From day 1 I've heard the FO likes him behind the plate. If their love is substantiated, what a surprise steal he may turn out to be!

Just wanted to comment a bit on honorable mention Blenkenhorn. From the outside looking in following him from day 1, I see a very talented ballplayer who has yet to put it all together. Despite steady progress and development, be remains a player without a position. The potential to play 2B and 3B seems to be there. He seems to be solid in the OF as well. The TALENT is there to play almost anywhere. And I understand part of the milb process is working guys in different places to increase their value and find their best spot, eventually. And versatility is important. But I sometimes wonder if a player can be moved around too much.

I have made comments in different threads that I believe the Twins organization has enough depth EVERYWHERE, that they could hold on to their top 4 prospects and STILL make a very attractive package of prospects to a team looking to trade a quality SP in a re-build. While I am not anxious to move Blenkenhorn, we're I a potential trade partner, this is one prospect I'd have my eye on. By no measure has he arrived yet, but there is just so much athleticism and potential available that he could be really nice in a year or two.

My point is that Davis has a lot of company in similar performance (rate-wise) in triple-A, and there's not many for Larnach in the FSL so that became more impressive for me. Larnach was also just as good as Davis in the Southern League.


Was Larnach as good as Diaz in the Southern League? Or the Florida State League?

 

Seth reached out to me after seeing my ballot. He likely thought I was crazy, and there’s probably no denying that. My thought process was to leave both Davis and Diaz off in an attempt to award someone still within the organization. Unquestionably though, Davis has the best year among hitters that player on the Twins farm IMO. My goal wasn’t to slight Jaylin or Lewin by any means.

 

Ted.I'm not doubting because I'm not a writer, but I'm just curious.I'd love to hear your write-up per player there.This list is about right though.Would love to see Blank get more love.He seems to really have matured and figured some things out.Let's keep feeding him some consistency.

Jeffers, I don't think I'd say he was a steal, but I'd say he could turn out to be a reach that really paid off.

 

Regardless, I'm excited to see the Twins come October, but I'm sad to see the MiLB season end.

 

Thanks guys for all the the work you do to get us MiLB rubes some Twins reading material.

 

Was Larnach as good as Diaz in the Southern League? Or the Florida State League?

 

This is a fair point to explore, but again, for me the time in the organization (and each league in this case) is a big factor. 

 

Diaz slugged extremely well in the FSL (and then the SL), and .290 batting average isn't shabby either. But Larnach had a .382 OBP versus .333 for Diaz. 

 

Different methods, similar performance in advanced metrics. It's a what's your preference thing.

 

If we had a most improved award, Diaz certainly would win this comparison as he was flat out not good in the FSL last year, but Larnach is my guy based on all the other considerations. 

 

I still had Diaz 4th, so it's not like I forgot about him!

    • glunn and Dman like this

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