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Game Thread Twins @ Astros, 7:10pm CDT 4/23/2019

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Article: Can Ryne Harper Continue His Early-Season Success?

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Ryne Harper is not a traditional rookie. As a 30-year old, he took the long-road to the big leagues and he has made his presence felt so...
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Article: MIN 9, HOU 5: Bats Thrive, Pitching Survives

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Half the game was a party. The other half was torture. But the underdog Twins won an important game versus the Astros on Monday night tha...
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Article: Get Buck in Here – Moving Time?

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Your 2019 Minnesota Twins are off to a solid start. As of this writing they are in sole possession of the AL Central lead and own the thi...
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Nick Burdi

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I saw a couple weeks ago that Nick Burdi was doing great with the Pirates.I know it has been a while since the Twins lost him in the Rule...
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Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #6 Brent Rooker

After winning the SEC triple crown and dominating the lower levels of the minor leagues in 2017, Brent Rooker was ready for a challenge. The Twins sent him straight to Double A for his first full season of pro ball. It was a tall order. Early on, it was looking as though that aggressive assignment may have been a mistake, but Rooker eventually powered through.
Position: 1B/LF
Age: 24 (DOB: 11/1/1994)
2018 Stats (AA): 503 PA, .254/.333/.465, 22 HR, 79 RBI
ETA: 2020
2018 Ranking: 7

What's To Like

Power. Rooker’s strong, but it’s not like he’s biggest guy around. Still, his in-game power is drool-inducing. He tied for the Southern League lead in doubles (32) and hit 22 homers in 2018, the most of any Twins minor leaguer. Rooker also led the Southern League in line-drive rate at 26.0 percent and he had the sixth-lowest groundball rate in the league at 34.3 percent, according to FanGraphs.

The real kicker is it took him two months to really get going. Through May, Rooker was hitting just .240/.282/.411 (.693 OPS) in 49 games. He eventually found his footing. Over his final 81 games, he hit .264/.362/.498 (.860 OPS) with 15 home runs, 52 RBI and 48 runs.

The big difference as the year progressed was in Rooker’s strike zone awareness and plan of attack. This is a guy who loves to hit, and can be caught being too aggressive at times. He walked in just 4.9 percent of his plate appearances through those first two months, but from that point forward he posted an impressive 12.7 BB%.

What's Left To Work On

There’s a lot of swing and miss in Rooker’s game, which is often cited as a concern, but the bigger issue may be his defense. Trying him out in left field is a bit of a stretch, but he’s not particularly stellar at first base either. It’s not that Rooker’s some out of shape beer league softball player, he definitely has some athleticism, but there’s just a stiffness to the way he moves. The Twins have given him 77 starts in left field and 55 at first base so far, maybe he would be better off focusing on one position?

Back to the strikeouts, seeing 150 Ks on Rooker’s ledger is certainly eye-opening, but a 26.4 K% isn’t going to cripple his value. The concern, of course, is that rate will escalate as he climbs the ladder. To his credit, Rooker did cut his strikeout rate from 28.8 percent through June (313 PAs) to 23.5 percent from there forward (255 PAs), but that’s going to be an area he needs to continue to keep under control.

While he eventually heated up after a slow start, Rooker cooled off again at the end of the season. In his final 30 games, he hit just .173/.298/.264 (.561 OPS). He was slated to get some more looks in during the Arizona Fall League, but was forced to sit out due to an ankle sprain.

What's Next?

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Rooker back in Double A to start the year, but he should see plenty of time in Rochester this coming season. If all goes well and a need arises, he’s a candidate to make his major league debut sometime in 2019. There’s already a bit of a roster jam at 1B/DH on the big club, but an injury could blow the doors wide open for Rooker’s arrival.

Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects

Honorable Mentions

20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
18. LaMonte Wade, OF
17. Zack Littell, RHP
16. Gilberto Celestino, OF
15. Yunior Severino, 2B
14. Ben Rortvedt, C
13. Ryan Jeffers, C
12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
11. Nick Gordon, SS
10. Akil Baddoo, OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
6. Brent Rooker LF/1B
5. Coming soon

Learn more in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It’s available in paperback or as an eBook.


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43 Comments

I haven't seen Rooker play, but that K number is very alarming. For those that have seen him, is he not patient and just swings at too many bad pitches? Or does he just have too many holes in his swing?
    • mikelink45 likes this

They should focus on having him learn how to play 1B, as he'll be a poor fielder in the outfield if he ends up playing there. 

    • beckmt, mikelink45, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

 

I haven't seen Rooker play, but that K number is very alarming. For those that have seen him, is he not patient and just swings at too many bad pitches? Or does he just have too many holes in his swing?

 

As Tom said, Rooker is agressive at the plate so I think it's more that he swings at pitches he shouldn't.  

If a player's Twitter game was considered a 6th tool, Rooker would easily be the #1 prospect for the Twins! Highly enjoyable social media follow for those that are into that sort of thing.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, ChrisKnutson and 1 other like this

The K rate on Rooker makes me nervous. He seems to have no defensive instincts, and he needs to be a much much better hitter to be a primary DH IMHO. But here's the thing that really worries me: his first 50 games were a little rough. His last 30 games were awful. So he's really staking last season on 50 games in the middle? Hmm.

 

I'd start him back in AA. Not sure he deserves to be ranked this high without better contact rates or more defensive utility.

    • bluechipper, mikelink45, chpettit19 and 3 others like this

Will Rooker be in spring training with the Twins?If so, get him working with Tom Kelly at first base.This kid looks to be somewhat athletic, gotta be able to get him to be at least an acceptable first baseman.

I've learned to be skeptical of high strikeout power bats in the minors.It seems very tough to make the jump to the majors without a bit better contact rate.

 

That said, I like the reports that I've heard on how much effort he puts into studying and improving his swing, and he seems to be a guy who can make adjustments.There's a pretty good optimistic case to be made, but I expect the adjustment period to the majors to be rough.Hopefully he makes it through.

    • DocBauer and DannySD like this

 

Will Rooker be in spring training with the Twins?If so, get him working with Tom Kelly at first base.This kid looks to be somewhat athletic, gotta be able to get him to be at least an acceptable first baseman.

 

Rooker was a non-roster invite to spring training.

 

Tom Kelly hasn't traveled to spring training in 3-4 years. 

    • Thrylos, caninatl04 and Respy like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 08 2019 08:47 AM

 

The K rate on Rooker makes me nervous. He seems to have no defensive instincts, and he needs to be a much much better hitter to be a primary DH IMHO. But here's the thing that really worries me: his first 50 games were a little rough. His last 30 games were awful. So he's really staking last season on 50 games in the middle? Hmm.

 

I'd start him back in AA. Not sure he deserves to be ranked this high without better contact rates or more defensive utility.

 

I know I've posted this before, but Rooker improved each month:

 

K%

April - 29.6

May - 28.6

June - 28.0

July - 24.2

August/Sept - 22.8

 

BB%

April - 2.2

May - 7.0

June - 11.2

July - 13.3

August/Sept - 13.4

 

Heading into the draft Rooker was known to be obsessive about crafting his hitting technique, he's a great candidate to always be able to adjust. And his last month isn't much to be worried about, his strikeout and walk rates were peaking at that time but he had insanely bad luck with a .210 BABIP.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, scottz and 12 others like this

I am disappointed in Rooker.I looked for a quicker rise and more consistency.His age is becoming a question too.He is 24 according to the article and if the prognosis and the roster keep him in the minors for two more years he will be almost at that magic peak period of 27 - 31.The really good ones are up much earlier and the trend - Soto, Acuna, and many more is to be up closer to 20 than to 27.That does not mean he will not eventually have value, but one of the reasons to draft college players is their quick movement to the majors.Look at this list of 25 and younger players!

https://sportsnaut.c...s-25-and-under/  

    • h2oface and Tomj14 like this

 

I am disappointed in Rooker.I looked for a quicker rise and more consistency.His age is becoming a question too.He is 24 according to the article and if the prognosis and the roster keep him in the minors for two more years he will be almost at that magic peak period of 27 - 31.The really good ones are up much earlier and the trend - Soto, Acuna, and many more is to be up closer to 20 than to 27.That does not mean he will not eventually have value, but one of the reasons to draft college players is their quick movement to the majors.Look at this list of 25 and younger players!

https://sportsnaut.c...s-25-and-under/  

 

Pretty unfair to be comparing him to Acuña and Soto.That was never even close to the expectation for Rooker (or it never should have been).I don't know what you were expecting from a college senior drafted 35th overall, but so far he's progressed pretty well, though the question marks that were always there haven't magically disappeared either.

    • birdwatcher, Ben Noble, dbminn and 6 others like this

Our rankings:

 

Seth (7), Nick (5), Tom (5), Cody (8)

    • gman and caninatl04 like this
Photo
nicksaviking
Feb 08 2019 09:08 AM

 

I am disappointed in Rooker.I looked for a quicker rise and more consistency.His age is becoming a question too.He is 24 according to the article and if the prognosis and the roster keep him in the minors for two more years he will be almost at that magic peak period of 27 - 31.The really good ones are up much earlier and the trend - Soto, Acuna, and many more is to be up closer to 20 than to 27.That does not mean he will not eventually have value, but one of the reasons to draft college players is their quick movement to the majors.Look at this list of 25 and younger players!

https://sportsnaut.c...s-25-and-under/  

 

Getting called up after only one full season in the minors seems like pretty unrealistic expectations. There has been one player from the 2017 draft who has gotten called up to the majors, Kyle Wright. He went 4th overall and has pitched a total of 6 innings. By these standards Keston Hiura and Brendan McKay are failures as well.

 

Had the Twins not signed both Nelson Cruz and CJ Cron, I'd be pretty confident that the Twins would give Rooker every chance to earn a spot on the team out of spring training. Or if they were doing the service time bit, call him up a couple of weeks after the season started.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, 70charger and 6 others like this
Photo
SF Twins Fan
Feb 08 2019 10:18 AM
I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts in AA for a month or so and then moves up to AAA if he’s doing well. I’d stick him at one position (1st) and let him learn and get as many reps as he can.
    • Twins33, beckmt, DocBauer and 1 other like this

I also think he needs a month or two in AA.Then see what happens.

Tom and I went back and forth a bit on the phrase 'make-or-break year' in regards to another prospect. IMO, if there's such a thing...Rooker in 2019 would be it.

 

He's a bad corner outfielder or (maybe) an average first-baseman. He's 24. The bat needs to go from good/promising to leaderboard quality...fast.

    • birdwatcher and h2oface like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 08 2019 11:02 AM

 

I know I've posted this before, but Rooker improved each month:

 

K%

April - 29.6

May - 28.6

June - 28.0

July - 24.2

August/Sept - 22.8

 

BB%

April - 2.2

May - 7.0

June - 11.2

July - 13.3

August/Sept - 13.4

 

Heading into the draft Rooker was known to be obsessive about crafting his hitting technique, he's a great candidate to always be able to adjust. And his last month isn't much to be worried about, his strikeout and walk rates were peaking at that time but he had insanely bad luck with a .210 BABIP.

 

This is why I'm not too worried about him. He does seem like a guy that needs to swing and miss a lot in order to get a feel for what to not swing at, but he certainly adjusts. 

 

What I like is that he's probably faced some of the best stuff in AA, and the AAA adjustment shouldn't be that bad. I suspect however, that his first go in MLB will not be pretty. 

    • Twins33, nicksaviking, 70charger and 3 others like this

I think that it will serve the Twins to give Rooker more time in the outfield.The reason?

 

If you exclude Rooker, other than 19 year old DSL league Frankie Martinez who is a switch hitter, the top 13 OFs in OPS in all levels of the organization are LHH and many LH throwers as well.

 

Also, other than maybe Chris Williams (8th round pick in 2018) Rooker is pretty much it as far as right hand power prospects go.

 

As a fielder, he is better at the OF than Wilingham, Arcia, and Grossman, and the Twins have trotted all of those out there before...

    • scottz, diehardtwinsfan, h2oface and 4 others like this

 

I am disappointed in Rooker.I looked for a quicker rise and more consistency.His age is becoming a question too.He is 24 according to the article and if the prognosis and the roster keep him in the minors for two more years he will be almost at that magic peak period of 27 - 31.The really good ones are up much earlier and the trend - Soto, Acuna, and many more is to be up closer to 20 than to 27.That does not mean he will not eventually have value, but one of the reasons to draft college players is their quick movement to the majors.Look at this list of 25 and younger players!

https://sportsnaut.c...s-25-and-under/  

He has already played at 3 levels and skipped Single A all together.Last year was his first full season.He is moving quickly.

 

At the very least, he should get a Sept call up this season.

 

I don't think he should be considered an elite prospect like many of the under 25 players. 

    • Twins33, SF Twins Fan and caninatl04 like this
Photo
birdwatcher
Feb 08 2019 11:32 AM

 

I am disappointed in Rooker.I looked for a quicker rise and more consistency.His age is becoming a question too.He is 24 according to the article and if the prognosis and the roster keep him in the minors for two more years he will be almost at that magic peak period of 27 - 31.The really good ones are up much earlier and the trend - Soto, Acuna, and many more is to be up closer to 20 than to 27.That does not mean he will not eventually have value, but one of the reasons to draft college players is their quick movement to the majors.Look at this list of 25 and younger players!

https://sportsnaut.c...s-25-and-under/  

 

 

Statistics tell us that prospects selected in this range generally have maybe a 50% chance of even sniffing the bigs and maybe a 30% shot at being better than league average. There is one, possibly two position players on that under 25 list that did not have higher expectations attached to them on their signing dates.

 

Personally, I've had a lingering suspicion that people have been harboring unrealistic expectations for Rooker all along based on fantasies about his light tower power persona. I have a nagging suspicion that a #6 ranking here is a bit generous. 

 

I admit to knowing nothing, but I'm more excited about a few others on this list. Miranda, Rortvedt, Gordon...

    • markos, SF Twins Fan, Minny505 and 1 other like this
Photo
Hosken Bombo Disco
Feb 08 2019 11:46 AM

Statistics tell us that prospects selected in this range generally have maybe a 50% chance of even sniffing the bigs and maybe a 30% shot at being better than league average.

But what about those same prospects who then advanced and have hit well in AA? Wouldn't your percentages be higher for those?
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birdwatcher
Feb 08 2019 11:54 AM

 

But what about those same prospects who then advanced and have hit well in AA? Wouldn't your percentages be higher for those?

 

 

I don't know. My intuition says that a guy like Rooker may not have his flaw(s) fatally exposed until he reaches the higher levels. Rooker's power is so very intriguing. I'd surmise that the organization is going to give him every chance to improve in the field and hone his skills at the plate. My wild guess is that if we were flies on the wall in the room with Steils and his people, they'd be expressing more reservations about Rooker than we'd like to hear.

    • scottz and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

I don't know anything about Rooker, or really, anything about any of these prospects other than their stats and the stuff I read on here, fangraphs, or other prospect-discussion sites. So I have no insight on any specific player.

 

However, it seems like the power hitter prospects who struggle are the ones where it is written that they sort of fall in love with the power. The 'how far can I hit this one' sort of guys. I'm not sure if that is accurate, but that's my from afar and reading between the lines hot take. Rooker, at least in the early going here, doesn't seem to be obsessed with his own power, but seems like he's trying to become a better hitter with power. So maybe he's the power hitting, high swing and miss exception that becomes a power hitting, acceptable swing and miss hitter. Again, no knowledge hot take.

 

So we'll see. Good luck, Mr. Rooker.

    • birdwatcher, gagu, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this

 

I know I've posted this before, but Rooker improved each month:

 

K%

April - 29.6

May - 28.6

June - 28.0

July - 24.2

August/Sept - 22.8

 

BB%

April - 2.2

May - 7.0

June - 11.2

July - 13.3

August/Sept - 13.4

 

Heading into the draft Rooker was known to be obsessive about crafting his hitting technique, he's a great candidate to always be able to adjust. And his last month isn't much to be worried about, his strikeout and walk rates were peaking at that time but he had insanely bad luck with a .210 BABIP.

It's not the BA or even the OBP that's disturbing about those last months.It's the grand total of 2 home runs in his last 32 games. While the K% was bottoming out, the game power all but disappeared. Could be a case of one step backwards to go two steps forward. But, the forward steps will need to happen fast now, IMO.

    • birdwatcher likes this

 

Statistics tell us that prospects selected in this range generally have maybe a 50% chance of even sniffing the bigs and maybe a 30% shot at being better than league average. There is one, possibly two position players on that under 25 list that did not have higher expectations attached to them on their signing dates.

 

Personally, I've had a lingering suspicion that people have been harboring unrealistic expectations for Rooker all along based on fantasies about his light tower power persona. I have a nagging suspicion that a #6 ranking here is a bit generous. 

 

Agreed although I think the #6 ranking is perfectly fine.The guys behind him have plenty of question marks or are far enough away that they still have a lot of downside risk.

 

I don't have a great feel for what kind of percentages we should apply to different outcomes, but once a hitter has spent at least a full season at AA or above, I think the projection systems like Steamer and ZiPS start to give a pretty good idea of the median short term expectation (I'm less convinced that projection systems do a good job for minor league pitchers at any level).And you can ballpark a projection for modest improvements from there.

 

Rooker's rate stat projections on Fangraphs from Steamer (the Twins always seem to be one of the last released for ZiPS) are solid for a rookie.So it looks like based on his stats the median projection should be for a bit above average offensive projection a couple years down the line.This would probably be enough to be a marginal major leaguer at 1B or DH but you're probably looking at a more optimistic end of his projection if he's going to be a long term starting DH.

 

This is pretty much in line with expectations when he was drafted, and the floor has maybe moved up a bit.

    • birdwatcher, markos, Hosken Bombo Disco and 1 other like this

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