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Twins Minor League Report (4/5): Powerful Pitching Performances

Jorge Alcala, Brusdar Graterol, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, oh my. What appeared to be an exciting night of pitching on paper turned out to live up to the billing and then some.

That quartet of prized prospects combined to throw 18 2/3 innings of two-run ball, gave up just 10 hits, walked only three batters and struck out 25.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Jordan Balazovic)
Several hours after the Twins game, Darren Wolfson tweeted that RHP Zack Littell is going to be called up on Saturday.

AM update: Scratch that.

Rochester at Lehigh Valley

Game 1: Pensacola 7, Mobile 0 (7 innings)
Box Score

Jorge Alcala: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 65.4% strikes (49 of 75 pitches)
HR: Jimmy Kerrigan (1)
Multi-hit games: Luis Arraez (2-for-3, BB)

With Opening Day being rained out, this scheduled seven-inning game as the first leg of a doubleheader served as Pensacola’s debut game as a Twins affiliate. Nice way to get started.

Jorge Alcala and Jovani Moran combined to pitch a shutout. Alcala gave up just three hits over five innings while Moran gave up one hit over his two frames. Neither pitcher issued a walk.

Taylor Grzelakowski had a big two-run double to break the scoreless tie in the fourth and Jimmy Kerrigan added a two-run homer later that inning.

Game 2: Pensacola 4, Mobile 3 (8 innings)
Box Score

Brusdar Graterol: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 58.7% strikes (44 of 75 pitches)
HR: None
Multi-hit games: Luis Arraez (2-for-4)

Brusdar Graterol’s first pitch of the evening was only 99 mph. What gives? He would end up hitting triple-digits, and more importantly, pitched a great game. Just one run on three hits and a pair of walks over 4 2/3 innings for Graterol, and he struck out six batters.

Taylor Grzelakowski gave the Blue Wahoo’s a lead in the top of the first with an RBI single. Jordan Gore drove in another run in the fifth. Andro Cutura protected the lead, recording the final out of the fifth inning before pitching a scoreless sixth, but Cody Stashak, one of the most reliable relievers in the entire system last season, gave up a game-tying home run in the bottom of the seventh, which was scheduled to be the final inning.

Pensacola scored two runs in the top of the eighth thanks to another Grzelakowski RBI and a wild pitch. That gave the Stashak a two-run lead to work with, but the bottom of the eighth opened with the bonus runner (this was technically an extra inning, remember) scoring from second on a single.

Stashak got the next batter to strike out swinging, then Dusten Knight took over. Ground out, strikeout looking and game over. Blue Wahoos 2-0 as a Twins affiliate, great way to get things started.

Fort Myers 4, Charlotte 3
Box Score

Jhoan Duran: 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 61.4% strikes (35 of 57 pitches)
HR: None
Multi-hit games: Travis Blankenhorn (2-for-4)

Speaking of 100 mph fastballs, Jhoan Duran also hit 100 mph multiple occasions. I think it’s safe to declare the pitch to contact era officially dead.

Duran came out with guns a-blazing, pitching four no-hit innings while striking out four batters. In his first four minor league seasons, Duran’s career high in innings is only 100 2/3. So it makes sense, with a five-month regular season ahead, that the organization would aim to limit the fireballer’s workload.

Fort Myers built a lead thanks in part to Trevor Larnach’s big two-RBI double. Unfortunately, Duran’s exit opened the door for the Stone Crabs to get back into this game. It was all tied up heading into the bottom of the eighth inning when Royce Lewis hit a leadoff triple. He eventually scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball.

Tom Hackimer, whose 2018 season ended prematurely due to injury, was back on the mound tonight. He got the final out of the eighth inning and took care of business in the ninth to secure the one-run Miracle victory.

Cedar Rapids 10, Peoria 4
Box Score

Jordan Balazovic: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 71.1% strikes (54 of 76 pitches)
HR: Trey Cabbage (1)
Multi-hit games: Trey Cabbage (3-for-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) Ben Rodriguez (3-for-5, 3 RBI), DaShawn Keirsey (2-for-4, 3 RBI)

Among all the great starting pitching performances tonight, Jordan Balazovic was by far the most dominant. He absolutely pounded the strike zone, throwing over 70% of his pitches for strikes.

Balazovic recorded a strikeout to open the game, but ran into some trouble in the first inning. He gave up a double, then a single, but erased the scoring chance by inducing an inning-ending double play. After a 1-2-3 second inning, Balazovic gave up a run-scoring triple. He turned it up after that.

The 6-foot-4 Canadian right-hander blew the Chiefs away, striking out all three batters he faced in both the fourth and fifth innings. He ended up with nine strikeouts and no walks.

Still, Balazovic exited this game with Cedar Rapids leading just 3-1. The bats broke loose in a five-hit, three-walk, five-run fifth inning.

Trey Cabbage hit his first home run of the season, to go along with two other hits. Ben Rodriguez also had a three-hit day, Chris Williams reached safely three times as well, tallying a hit and a pair of walks.

Yunior Severino drew just 17 walks in 50 total games last season but somehow managed to rack up four walks just in this one game tonight. He also had a single.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Luis Arraez, Pensacola

Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed

1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-2, 3B, 2 BB, 2 R
3. Brusdar Graterol (PNS): 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 1-for-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI
7. Jhoan Duran (FM): 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K
10. Akil Baddoo (FM): 0-for-3, BB, R, SB, K
13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 0-for-3, BB, K
15. Yunior Severino (CR): 1-for-1, 4 BB, 3 R
16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 0-for-4, BB, R, SB, K
19. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K

Rochester at Lehigh Valley, 4:35 pm CT (Chase De Jong)
Rochester at Lehigh Valley, Game 2 (TBD, bullpen game)
Pensacola at Mobile, 7:05 pm CT (Devin Smeltzer)
Fort Myers at Charlotte, 5:00 pm CT (Tyler Watson)
Cedar Rapids at Wisconsin, 4:05 pm CT (Cole Sands)

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.

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Looking at box scores only, I would have named Trey Cabbage as my hitter of the day.


Me too... single, double, homer... big game... 


Arraez does have a tendency to possibly get overlooked just because it's a ton of singles. 

    • dbminn likes this


His pitching motion seems a lot like Justin Verlander’s.

Not as disciplined and precise, but yes, Jordan Balazovic does look like he's doing a good impersonation of Verlander's throwing motion. Not a bad guy to emulate. Let's hope he refines his game the same way that Verlander has done. On the other hand, then the Twins won't be able to afford him...

Take a look at the bullpen usage chart heading into today. The Twins need some length. To everyone questioning the Littell callup, who would you rather have seen them promote in this situation?


Considering his 2018 and his nice spring, I would have thought about Eades.
Apr 07 2019 06:10 AM

Not as disciplined and precise, but yes, Jordan Balazovic does look like he's doing a good impersonation of Verlander's throwing motion. Not a bad guy to emulate. Let's hope he refines his game the same way that Verlander has done. On the other hand, then the Twins won't be able to afford him...

If that’s what we have to worry about, I’m fine with that.

Between Brusdar, Duran and Balazovic, there is some serious talent to keep tabs on. Fun.

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