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2019 Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Stars

The Minnesota Twins' minor league season has been done for about a month. At Twins Daily, we have handed out a lot of awards since then. We conclude that series today by presenting the Twins Daily 2019 Twins Minor League All-Star team. Scroll down to find out who made the 13-man team.

Quickly, here is a list of the Twins Daily 2019 minor league awards:And here are the Twins Harmon Killebrew Awards for 2019:
Image courtesy of various photographers (Graphics by Finn Pearson)
Today, we would like to announce our choices for 2019 Minnesota Twins All-Stars. Our Twins Daily minor league report writers were asked to vote for a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, three outfielders, a DH, a left-handed starting pitcher, a right-handed starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever and a right-handed reliever. The player at each position who received the most votes takes the spots. There were some ties, and in those cases, we each voted for the player(s) to break the ties.

Read through our choices for each position. Check out how each of our writers voted. And then discuss and cast your votes as well.

Let’s get started. (Note - all photos below from Seth Stohs, Twins Daily, unless noted.)

The Twins Daily 2019 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Star Team

Catcher: Ryan Jeffers - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Acquired: 2nd round draft pick in 2018 from UNC-Wilmington
2019 Stats: .264/.341/.421 (.762) with 16 doubles, 14 homers and 49 RBI

Some were surprised when the Twins used a second-round pick in 2018 on the talented catcher. However, he has proven a lot of people wrong to this point. Known more for his bat, there are mixed reviews on his defense still. Few question his bat. He’s got a good approach at the plate, but he can provide some thump to a lineup too. He definitely likes proving people wrong.

ETA - May 2021

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First Base: Zander Wiel - Rochester Red Wings
Acquired: 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt
2019 Stats: .254/.320/.514 (.834) with 40 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers and 78 RBI

Wiel has quietly been very productive as he has moved up the organizational ladder one level per season. He was on this team in 2016 and 2018 and was an easy choice again in 2019. He played first base most every day for the Red Wings, and he hit a ton of extra-base hits. His 69 extra-base hits led the International League.

ETA - May 2020

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Second Base: Travis Blankenhorn, Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Acquired: Twins 3rd round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania
2019 Stats: .277/.321/.466 (.787) with 22 doubles, 2 triples, 19 home runs and 54 RBI.

Blankenhorn returns to the Twins Daily All-Star team for the first time since 2017. After a tough 2018, he returned to Ft. Myers, but within a month, he was promoted to AA Pensacola. He hit 18 doubles and 18 homers after his promotion to the Blue Wahoos. The 23-year-old remains one of the best athletes in the organization.

ETA: July 2021

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Third Base: Spencer Steer - Elizabethton Twins, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Acquired: Twins 3rd-round in 2019 out of the University of Oregon
2019 Stats: .280/.385/.424 (.809) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 33 RBI.

The Twins drafted Steer as a shortstop, and he played there for a handful of games while with the Elizabethton Twins after the draft, but he spent most of his time playing second base and third base for the Kernels. While he struggled at times for the Kernels, he provided extra-base hits and a couple of walkoff hits for the team.

ETA: June 2023

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photo by Steve Buhr

Shortstop: Nick Gordon - Rochester Red Wings
Acquired: 1st round pick in 2014 out of high school in Florida
2019 Stats: .298/.342/.459 (.801) with 29 doubles, 3 triples, 4 homers and 40 RBI

It was a frustrating 2019 season for Gordon. He missed the first month of the season with a stomach issue, and he missed the final month of the season with a knee injury. He kept a positive attitude throughout it. However, in between he put up some real solid numbers. He hit for average, got on base, and hit a lot of doubles. He returns to our All-Star team for the first time since 2016.

ETA: June 2020

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Outfielder: Trevor Larnach - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Acquired: Twins 1st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Oregon State
2019 Stats: .309/.384/.458 (.842) with 30 doubles, 1 triple, 13 homers and 66 RBI

Larnach had a very impressive professional debut in 2019. He homered in his first big-league spring training at bat. He began the season with Ft. Myers and was promoted to Double-A Pensacola after the All-Star Game. He was the Florida State League Player of the Year and Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year.

ETA: July 2020

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Outfielder: Jaylin Davis - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Acquired: Twins 24th round draft pick in 2015 out of Appalachian State
2019 Stats: .298/.391/.563 (.954) with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 25 home runs, 67 RBI.

What a year for Jaylin Davis! He began in AA Pensacola, but when he moved up to AAA Rochester, he began destroying the baseball. His numbers above are remarkable, but then consider that he spent the final month of the minor league season in the Giants organization after a trade. He continued to hit AAA pitching for Sacramento before being called up to the Giants for September. Last night, his first MLB homer was a walkoff winner for San Francisco. He's been struggling a bit in the big leagues, but hey, he got to meet Willie Mays.

ETA: September 2019 (with Giants)

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Outfielder - Brent Rooker - Rochester Red Wings
Acquired: Twins 1st-round (compensation) draft pick in 2017 out of Mississippi State
2019 Stats: .281/.398/.535 (.933) with 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBI.

Rooker has made this All-Star team each of his three seasons since being drafted in 2017. He got off to a slow start in Rochester in 2019, but when the calendar turned to May, Rooker took off. He cut his strikeout rate, increased his walk rate and started to hit for power. Unfortunately a late season injury ended his season prematurely.

ETA: June 2020

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Designated Hitter: Gabe Snyder - Cedar Rapids Kernels
Acquired: Twins 21st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Wright State
2019 Stats: .259/.338/.462 (.800) with 21 doubles, 4 triples, 19 homers and 58 RBI

Snyder was not even on the Kernels opening day roster when the season began. Sure, he joined the team about a week later, but he took off right away. He was a Midwest League All-Star at the midseason, and he was on the postseason All-Star roster. The burly 2018 draft pick provided power to the Kernels lineup throughout the season.

ETA: July 2022

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Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Randy Dobnak - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings
Acquired: signed as undrafted free agent from Utica Unicorns (USPBL) via Alderson-Broaddus College
2019 Stats: 12-4, 2.07 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.3 K/9

No doubt 2019 has been a bit of a whirlwind for Randy Dobnak. 26 months ago, the Twins signed him, shortly after he got engaged while playing in the United Shores Professional Baseball League. He spent all of the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He began 2019 in Ft. Myers before moving up to Pensacola, and then Rochester, and then back to Pensacola and then back to Rochester. And almost exactly two years after signing, he made his MLB debut. Frankly, he’s been impressive and he pitched six innings of one-hit ball in his final start of the season and will likely make the Twins postseason roster… after getting married on Saturday. And hey, he and his fiance are asking people who want to give gifts to them to instead donate to St. Judes. You can click here to do that. Dobnak was the Twins Daily choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year.

ETA: August 2019

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Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer - Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins
Acquired: Trade from Dodgers (with Luke Raley, Logan Forsythe for Brian Dozier) in July 2018.
2019 Stats: 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

When the Twins acquired Smeltzer from the Dodgers at the 2018, most Twins fans probably said, “Who?” The bespectacled southpaw was mostly known for being a childhood cancer survivor. And, he has done so much good, including his Catch Cancer Looking t-shirt campaign. However, none of that alters the fact that he had a tremendous season. He came to the Twins after the Dodgers moved him to the bullpen. He pitched the rest of last season, including in the Arizona Fall League, out of the bullpen. This spring, he returned to starting, and he returned to AA. After a month, he moved up to AAA and continued to pitch well. He made his MLB debut with six shutout innings against Milwaukee in late May and pitched well most of the time in the big leagues. He went back and forth but continued to pitch well all season.

ETA: May 2019

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Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
Acquired: signed as undrafted free agent in April 2014 from Venezuela
2019 Stats: 1-4, 10 saves, 2.91 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 13.3 K/9

Gomez has been in the organization a long time, and he has had his struggles at times. He figured some things out in 2019 with the Kernels and then with the Miracle. The 22-year-old from Venezuela has been able to throw more strikes and missed a lot more bats. He has a power arm and some mix. He had a breakout season and it is continuing as he is pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

ETA: August 2021

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Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
Acquired: Twins 31st-round pick in 2018 out of Mississippi State
2019 MiLB Stats: 6-3, 8 saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 11.0 K/9

After three seasons at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State. Following his senior season, the Twins drafted him. He began 2019 where he ended 2018, with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He was promoted to Ft. Myers in the second half where he continued to pitch well. He showed good control, mixed his pitches well and recorded a lot of strikeouts. He is also pitching for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

ETA: September 2021

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------------------------------------------------------------------
PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars

Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker.
RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos.

Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF:LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker.
RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez.

Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker.
RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez.

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The Votes
So there you have it. The fourth annual Twins Daily Minor League All Star team. Who would get your vote? Below are the votes/selections of our 2019 Twins Daily minor league writers:

Seth: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Ryan Costello, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Lewin Diaz, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff.
Cody: C: Wilin Rosario, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Wander Valdez, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, DH: Lewin Diaz RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Anthony Vizcaya, LH RP: Sam Clay.
Tom: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Lewin Diaz, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Ryan Costello, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Jordan Balazovic, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Zach Neff.
Ted: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Wilin Rosario, 2B: Nick Gordon, 3B: Wander Valdez, SS: Spencer Steer, OF: Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Zander Wiel, DH: Travis Blankenhorn, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Melvi Acosta, LH RP: Sam Clay.
Steve: C: Tomas Telis, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Drew Maggi, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Jordan Balazovic, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff.
Matt: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Gabe Snyder, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Jake Cave, Alejandro de Aza, Trevor Larnach, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Bailey Ober, LH SP: Lewis Thorpe, RH RP: Derek Molina, LH RP: Zach Neff.

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18 Comments

Enjoyed the read and list. Just a suggestion-it would be interesting to see the runner-up listed also. Nevertheless thanks for this.

Those are always fun.Here is my vote (with notes regarding the differences than the above consensus) :

 

C Tomas Telis (had the best season of any minor league catcher.Not a prospect, but this is not about prospects)
1B Weil
2B Blackenhorn
3B Wander Valdez (short season performance should count and he was the best 3B in the minors)
SS Gordon
OF Rooker, Larnach, Luke Raley (need to have a centerfielder)
RHSP Bailey Ober, LHSP Juan Pichardo(I draw the line for players who were in the minors all season; otherwise Arraez and Duffey should be in the list; Smeltzer and Dobnak will likely make starts in the MLB post-season...)
RHRP Gomez,LHRP Neff

 

 

    • Steve Lein and DocBauer like this

Nice list. Fun.

 

1B is Diaz over Wiel, about any way you could possibly measure it...except 'current organization'.

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Twins_Fan_For_Life
Sep 26 2019 12:12 PM
Look at how many times Arraez made the list in past years.
    • Steve Lein, scottz and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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Tom Froemming
Sep 26 2019 01:12 PM

 

C Tomas Telis (had the best season of any minor league catcher.Not a prospect, but this is not about prospects)

Based on raw numbers, but if you attempt to adjust for league averages/hitting environment Jeffers beats him out.

 

Nice list. Fun.

 

1B is Diaz over Wiel, about any way you could possibly measure it...except 'current organization'.

Diaz should have definitely been honored, whether it be at 1B or DH.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
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Twins_Fan_For_Life
Sep 26 2019 04:16 PM
Look at how many times Arraez made the list in past years.

Thanks for the effort to all of the TD selectors.

 

I have to lean towards Celestino in the OF. He was excellent after June 1. Gives the All-Star Team a true CF too. Rooker as DH. Apologies to Gabe Snyder but he was a 24 year-old in A ball.

 

A lot of SP to choose from. I would have voted for Balazovic over Smeltzer but both are deserving. Rijo and Sands pitched extremely well too. Add in Ober, even though he didn't get to throw enough innings. Oh... and Graterol and Duran. Whew!

    • DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and operation mindcrime like this

From Rochester: Raley and Rooker were having great seasons and both of them got seriously hurt. Raley was done before June and Rooker missed the last month. When Wynston Sawyer went down, they called on Tomas Telis and that guy was arguably the Wings best hitter .

Gordon was having a breakout AAA season when he fouled a ball off his ankle. I watched as he tried to shake it off...finally walking to first base...and then buckling and not being able to make it back to the dugout without help. I knew then, it was curtains for him

 

We've probably beaten the subject of Jaylin Davis to death...but he was Mr Excitement for 41 glorious games. He will be missed. Wiel was an extra-base machine. He had two flaws...he struck out too much and he had a nervous habit of grabbing himself before every pitch.When you watch every game, this became somewhat of an embarrassment., Hopefully next year he can keep both hands on his....bat....

 

Wings had some awful pitchers...real awful...but also a few good ones and the Twins now have them.

For those who are frustrated with Romero...trust me, he was one of the worst to suit up. And he had company. Twins ended up releasing more pitchers this season than any other I can remember since they became our parent.

 

The farm overall looks pretty solid.

    • glunn likes this

 

Look at how many times Arraez made the list in past years.

 

Every year he was healthy. 

    • Steve Lein, glunn, scottz and 2 others like this

 

A lot of SP to choose from. I would have voted for Balazovic over Smeltzer but both are deserving. Rijo and Sands pitched extremely well too. Add in Ober, even though he didn't get to throw enough innings. Oh... and Graterol and Duran. Whew!

 

All of those pitchers you mentioned were right-handed, so they were in the category with Dobnak, not Smeltzer. 

 

From Rochester: Raley and Rooker were having great seasons and both of them got seriously hurt. Raley was done before June and Rooker missed the last month. When Wynston Sawyer went down, they called on Tomas Telis and that guy was arguably the Wings best hitter .

Gordon was having a breakout AAA season when he fouled a ball off his ankle. I watched as he tried to shake it off...finally walking to first base...and then buckling and not being able to make it back to the dugout without help. I knew then, it was curtains for him

 

We've probably beaten the subject of Jaylin Davis to death...but he was Mr Excitement for 41 glorious games. He will be missed. Wiel was an extra-base machine. He had two flaws...he struck out too much and he had a nervous habit of grabbing himself before every pitch.When you watch every game, this became somewhat of an embarrassment., Hopefully next year he can keep both hands on his....bat....

 

Wings had some awful pitchers...real awful...but also a few good ones and the Twins now have them.

For those who are frustrated with Romero...trust me, he was one of the worst to suit up. And he had company. Twins ended up releasing more pitchers this season than any other I can remember since they became our parent.

 

The farm overall looks pretty solid.

 

Telis was very good... So was Wilin Rosario... And yes, when Sawyer was healthy, he hit well too. I believe all three will be free agents following the World Series. 

    • glunn and Aerodeliria like this
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clutterheart
Sep 26 2019 08:37 PM
Blankenhorn's reemergence has been fun to watch.

Still young and in AA
    • dbminn likes this
I think I agree with dbminn on Celestino to give the team a true CF, bump Rooker to DH and bump Snyder to the bench. I also like Thrylos's choice for Raley as the CF, but I'd probably pick Celestino due to how much time Raley missed. Dobnak is the clear RHSP choice, but an awful lot of deserving choices behind him. These lists are a lot of fun, but one of the really neat things is how many top prospects aren't even included on this team. Makes you feel good as a fan.
    • dbminn likes this
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Aerodeliria
Sep 26 2019 11:20 PM

 

Telis was very good... So was Wilin Rosario... And yes, when Sawyer was healthy, he hit well too. I believe all three will be free agents following the World Series. 

What if we keep Telis and let Castro go?

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specialiststeve
Sep 27 2019 07:25 AM

Understand the love for Davis but he is no longer a Twin so... makes little sense he be on the list. There are others "still" in our organization that are deserving and would mean a bunch to them...

 

What if we keep Telis and let Castro go?

 

Castro will go anyways.He is a free agent after the season.Telis has appeared in 122 MLB games and has a slashline of .207/.258/.241 with an OPS+ of 56.Hitting AAA pitching does not mean you can be a major leaguer.Astudillo will likely be the back up, unless the Twins sign a low cost defense first free agent to keep the spot warm for Jeffers who is about a year or so away

 

What if we keep Telis and let Castro go?

 

I fully expect Jason Castro to be back in 2020, though he'll probably see what other offers are out there. 

 

And no, not Telis over Castro.

    • Sconnie, DocBauer and dbminn like this
I really like Jeffers bat, so much so that in a couple of years that bat should be good enough to hit in the big leagues...maybe even sooner! However, after seeing him behind the plate a number of times over the last 2 years he has a ways to go to stick at catcher. Mobility, framing, blocking have to greatly improve and his arm strength and pop time seem below average at best. He has only thrown out 26% of the would be base stealers and that includes a game this season when he was credited with throwing 2 runners out but never made a throw either time. Pitcher threw to first, runner took off, 1-3-6 putout both times but it goes down as caught stealing stat for Jeffers, not a pick off. Never understood those type of things, and makes stats deceiving sometimes. Anyway I really like his bat but think he will eventually move to 1B and/or DH in the show, unless he improves greatly behind the plate.

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