Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Harold Baines and Lee Smith are Hall of Famers

Other Baseball Today, 01:25 AM
MLB announced tonight that a 16-person committee decided that DH Harold Baines and RP Lee Smith are now Hall of Famers.   Here is th...
Full topic ›

Jonathan Schoop or Ian Kinsler?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:25 AM
Did the Twins make a mistake jumping the gun on the Schoop signing?   Ian Kinsler just signed with San Diego for 2 years $8M total....
Full topic ›

Article: Twins Trying to Sustain Excellence

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:25 AM
If you’re feeling a bit underwhelmed at the close of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, I’m sure you’re not the only Minnesota Twins fan i...
Full topic ›

Article: Now Available! 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:41 PM
UPDATE- The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is now available!Paperback versions of the 161 page book will cost $17.99 this year.El...
Full topic ›

Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:32 PM
According to the Star Tribune, Byron Buxton is displeased with the Twins after not being called up in September of 2018. According to Byr...
Full topic ›

The 6 Best Developments for the Minnesota Twins in 2018

It wasn't all bad.

Yes, the Twins' 2018 season was a huge letdown, with alarming developments on multiple fronts, but amidst the wreckage there were some genuinely uplifting stories playing out.

Today we highlight six important ones that brighten the franchise's future outlook.
Image courtesy of Winslow Townson, USA Today
#1: Jose Berrios Blossoms

In some ways, Berrios simply solidified his status after emerging in 2017. His ERA and FIP were nearly identical. His peripherals mainly held steady. There wasn't a huge difference in his overall performance between the two seasons, but backing up his breakout was an accomplishment on its own, especially with Berrios pushing his innings total to a career-high 192.

That last part is very important. Berrios as at a critical juncture for any young pitcher, pushing his body to new limits in assuming a full MLB starter's workload. His arm is responding well to say the least; in his final outing on September 28th, Berrios averaged his highest fastball velo of the year (per Brooks Baseball) while tying his season-high for swinging strikes (17).

He was an All-Star at age 24, and has established a high-caliber baseline with room for growth. In my mind, striking a long-term deal with Berrios is one of the club's foremost priorities this offseason.

#2: Kyle Gibson Officially Turns the Corner

Like that of Berrios, Gibson's story isn't entirely new to the 2018 season. He started figuring it out late last year, but has teased us with glimmers of success in the past. He needed to prove it here in 2018, and did just that.

He threw his fastball and slider harder than ever, pushing his whiff rate to a career-high 11.5%. (Prior to 2017, he'd never reached double-digits.) Like Berrios, he set a new personal record for workload, coming just three frames short of 200. He stayed healthy from front to back, and delivered 18 quality starts in 32 turns.

His persistently mediocre control makes Gibson more of a quality mid-rotation type than a frontman, but that he's better than most in that category. And the Twins conveniently have him under control for 2019, his age-31 season.

#3: Mitch Garver Catches On

The Twins have much vested in Garver. With Jason Castro's contract expiring after 2019, the organization has little else in the short-term pipeline at catcher. They really needed the 27-year-old to show something this year and thankfully he was up to the task.

Our TD panel recently named Garver 2018 Twins Rookie of the Year after he posted a .749 OPS at a position where the AL average was .658. He showed exactly the kind of progressive improvement you hope to see in a first full year, shaking off a slow start to hit .293/.361/.476 in his final 55 games. He also put up a 32-to-18 K/BB ratio during that span. Garver's combination of power and discipline give him a sustainable formula for offensive success going forward.

His defense also came along over the summer, though not quite as convincingly. Garver finished as one of the league's worst pitch framers and committed more than a couple head-scratching mental gaffes. But as he began to see more steady playing time following Castro's knee injury, Garver appeared to grow more adept. Paul Molitor spoke in late August of an "overall sense that my pitchers have gotten a lot more comfortable throwing with him as this season has gone on.”

Of course, Garver's year did end on a bit of a somber note, as a concussion with lingering effects cost him much of September. But he made it back for a couple starts in the final week (albeit not at catcher), alleviating some concern.

#4: Jake Cave Emerges

Narrowly behind Garver in our ROTY balloting was Cave, who also turned in standout offensive production while playing most his defensive innings at a premium position. The outfielder was a pleasant surprise after being acquired in March from New York, where he was squeezed out of a roster already drenched in power.

Cave had turned a corner in that regard last year in the Yankees system, hitting 20 homers after totaling 19 in his first four pro seasons, and in 2018 he proved it legit. In his first exposure to MLB pitching, the 25-year-old tallied 32 extra-base hits (13 bombs) to finish with a .481 slugging percentage in 91 games.

He achieved these numbers through an extremely aggressive approach, striking out 33% of the time with minimal patience, but it worked out for him because – like fellow free-swinging outfielder (and Twins Daily 2018 MVP) Eddie Rosario – Cave hit the ball hard consistently. Only 8.6% of his contact qualified as "soft" (per FanGraphs), lowest on the team.

Already, Cave has established himself as a valuable fourth outfielder and it's not hard to envision him becoming a quality starter. The Twins control his rights for the next five years. Great get.

#5: Top Prospects Elevate

All too often over the past eight years, Twins fans have been sold hope, as the system excelled and the major-league team flopped. So if you're having a hard time getting jazzed up about this, I get it. After all these years, Minnesota's vaunted pipeline still hasn't produced the desired impact, and now we're coming to grips with a realization that some young players who seemed destined for stardom may fall well short.

But don't let that completely douse your enthusiasm over what happened on the farm this year – specifically in Fort Myers, with the organization's top three minor-leaguers. MLB Pipeline has shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff ranked as the seventh- and 10th-best prospects in baseball, respectively.

The last time the Twins had two of the top 10 overall prospects? Well, it was only five years ago, when Byron Buxton was first and Miguel Sano was fourth, which... isn't gonna help with the dampered enthusiasm. But these are their own players, and they are incredibly talented – as is MLB.com's No. 70 prospect Brusdar Graterol, a fireballing 20-year-old righty.

Any or all of these three could feasibly start next year in Double-A, putting them in range of a 2019 big-league debut. With Buxton and Sano on wayward paths, it sure helps to have another elite wave of youthful upside on the way.

#6: Trevor May Returns Triumphantly

I wrote earlier this week about May's phenomenal return to the Twins bullpen, which produced career highs in velocity, whiffs, K/BB rates, and just about every other metric.

"I’m not a guy who’s gonna sit here and mope about how hard I worked and now it’s not gonna happen,” said a dejected yet determined May in spring of 2017, when his torn UCL was announced. True to his word, he went back to work and he made it happen.

The righty underwent Tommy John surgery, spent about 16 months recovering and rehabbing, then returned to the major-league mound on July 31st. He allowed a run in that game, and then was essentially lights-out the rest of the way (excepting one clunky appearance as "opener").

He finished the year as closer, looking fantastic, and I don't think the Twins would be crazy to just leave him there. But they may opt for a more experienced guy who could slide May into a (potentially more valuable) fireman role. Either way, the 29-year-old surpassed all expectations in his return and his presence makes a huge difference in this bullpen's outlook.

Let's hear your takes. What was the most promising development for the Twins in 2018, from your view?

  • gagu and nclahammer like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

20 Comments

Photo
mickeymental
Oct 10 2018 11:58 PM

#7: astudillo.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, LimestoneBaggy and 10 others like this
Photo
tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 11 2018 06:16 AM

#6 Taylor Rogers. Talk about "lights out"! He has an incredible string of shutout innings going..

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, LimestoneBaggy and 9 others like this
Photo
tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 11 2018 06:17 AM

#7 Trading Lynn and Rodney and actually receiving some prospects.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, Teflon and 8 others like this

Agreed on Gibson & Cave.

 

Other than a 1 K/9 bump and a small BABIP-driven decrease of WHIP and more innings with the Twins, Berrios's 2018 was identical with his 2017, and still included a drop in performance in the second half and much worse performance when facing opponents with winning records.Baby steps; not quite a blosom.Still a 3, until he can perform against the world the way he did against the Tigers, Royals, and White Sox, the jury is still out.

 

Other notable on field positives:

 

Polanco, suspension and all, improved this season and was ranked 9th wOBA and 10th in wRC+ among SSs with 300+ PA while having fairly average (+3 +/-, -1 DRS) defense in SS before entering his prime

 

Taylor Rogers put himself some crazy numbers and quietly ranks among the top 5 LHRPs in categories such as WPA, ERA, FIP, & WHIP, even thought RHB are still hitting him hard, esp. away (.929 OPS against RHB away) and that masked his elite K% and K-BB% against LHB

 

Taylor and Astrudillo are SSS.Parmelee was there once upon a time.

 

The most hopeful event for the 2018 Twins happened just after the season ended:They will have a new manager from now on, hopefully someone who will light a fire under his players, will not play favorites with veterans/buddies, and be an astute manager of the bullpen

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN, JaleelWhite FanClub and 5 others like this
Those are good additions to our memory bank. Now of course we should consider trading Gibson and figure out how to make those high-ranked prospects turn out to be high-ranked professionals in the major leagues.
Those are good additions to our memory bank. Now of course we should consider trading Gibson and figure out how to make those high-ranked prospects turn out to be high-ranked professionals in the major leagues.

Agree on all three, Nick.Also am of the opinion that the Twins may have found a diamond in the ruff, Astudillo.May never be more than a super utility player, but love his enthusiasm.

    • Oldgoat_MN, gagu, IaFan1 and 1 other like this
Photo
yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2018 07:22 AM

Agreed on Gibson & Cave.

Other than a 1 K/9 bump and a small BABIP-driven decrease of WHIP and more innings with the Twins, Berrios's 2018 was identical with his 2017, and still included a drop in performance in the second half and much worse performance when facing opponents with winning records. Baby steps; not quite a blosom. Still a 3, until he can perform against the world the way he did against the Tigers, Royals, and White Sox, the jury is still out.

Other notable on field positives:

Polanco, suspension and all, improved this season and was ranked 9th wOBA and 10th in wRC+ among SSs with 300+ PA while having fairly average (+3 +/-, -1 DRS) defense in SS before entering his prime

Taylor Rogers put himself some crazy numbers and quietly ranks among the top 5 LHRPs in categories such as WPA, ERA, FIP, & WHIP, even thought RHB are still hitting him hard, esp. away (.929 OPS against RHB away) and that masked his elite K% and K-BB% against LHB

Taylor and Astrudillo are SSS. Parmelee was there once upon a time.

The most hopeful event for the 2018 Twins happened just after the season ended: They will have a new manager from now on, hopefully someone who will light a fire under his players, will not play favorites with veterans/buddies, and be an astute manager of the bullpen



Rogers has been pretty dominant vs LHB since coming into the league 3 years ago. He’s getting better vs RHB, but he’s a long way from prime Andrew Miller territory.

 

Agreed on Gibson & Cave.

 

Other than a 1 K/9 bump and a small BABIP-driven decrease of WHIP and more innings with the Twins, Berrios's 2018 was identical with his 2017, and still included a drop in performance in the second half and much worse performance when facing opponents with winning records.Baby steps; not quite a blosom.

Couldn't agree more.Berrios, I'm glad we have him and optimistic for further growth.But if we're needing/asking him to be a 1...he ain't that close yet.He was certifiably bad against good teams.2018 was baby steps...but baby steps in the right direction.

    • LA VIkes Fan and IaFan1 like this

I think Polanco's consistency with the bat was another big one. No sophomore slump, which is rare.

    • Danchat, bluechipper, LA VIkes Fan and 2 others like this

I'm a little nervous that Cave will fall off next year; the .368 BABIP and the 33% K rate make me nervous about the sustainability of his approach, especially now that teams will have plenty of tape on him. Still a fine pickup, but I think I would have put Rogers emergence as a guy to be counted on in the 'pen might end up being more notable. feels like the only issue for Rogers is whether or not his ability to keep the ball in the park this year was fluky or a sign for the future. but even if he regresses a little there, he's still a guy who can be an important piece in the bullpen.

 

I'm really happy for Gibson, a guy I bashed relentlessly for most of this season. I called him The Tease for months. I'm happy to be proven wrong about him. I think his success this year IS sustainable, because it's the result of a different approach, not just a little luck. Changing up his pitch mix and his approach really did change his results and he was a consistent pitcher all year. This should be repeatable, and I'm happy to have him in the rotation next year.

 

 

    • ashburyjohn, nicksaviking, Oldgoat_MN and 3 others like this

Of 86 catchers in MLB with >50 PA we had Astudillo at #1 in wRC+ and Garver was 18th.

Wilson and Castro were 77th and 78th, respectively.

Hopefully Garver will continue to improve, as he did this year, with more playing time.

 

Astudillo, well, if he stays anywhere near where he was this year he will be a fan favorite for everyone. Fortunately he could regress quite a bit and still be a valuable asset.

 

    • Mike Sixel, gagu, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

 

#7 Trading Lynn and Rodney and actually receiving some prospects.

Have to be honest, still don't know why the Yankees wanted Lynn. That is quite possibly the only head-scratcher of a move that Cashman made all season.

 

I'm a little nervous that Cave will fall off next year; the .368 BABIP and the 33% K rate make me nervous about the sustainability of his approach, especially now that teams will have plenty of tape on\ him.

 

His BABIP was consistent to that of all his minor league career, so I do not see much of problem.K% will improve hopefully with maturity as a hitter 

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

To me, the  best development of 2018 is the  progress of Eddie Rosario.  Now he can be depended on to be an All-Star caliber performer, both at bat and in the field

    • Oldgoat_MN, DocBauer, IaFan1 and 2 others like this

 

To me, the  best development of 2018 is the  progress of Eddie Rosario.  Now he can be depended on to be an All-Star caliber performer, both at bat and in the field

He probably would have made the list if A) his second half wouldn't have dragged his stats down and B) his 2017 season was actually better offensively.It's hard to believe, but his OPS dropped from .836 to .803. I think a lot of us failed to realize how good Eddie's 2017 season was.

    • Mike Sixel, gagu and Shaitan like this

I've always liked Trevor May, I was excited to be at his first game back. Hope he takes another step forward back from his injury next year. 

 

Tyler Austin strikes out too much but other than that I thought he was decent at the end of the year. With Joe Mauer likely retiring we'll need a first baseman and I don't see a big free agent signing there. He certainly doesn't get cheated when he hits the ball, would be interesting to see what he could do with a full season. 

    • birdwatcher and Oldgoat_MN like this
Absolutely love and agree with the OP. Also have to add:

7) Rogers really emerging was outstanding and helps bring real hope to the bullpen.

8) Astudillo! And not just because he's a good and fun story. Absolutely there are questions about sustained offensive viability. But he's only 26, not ancient for a catcher finally getting his shot. (Younger than Garver, I believe). He's been a career .300 hitter in his milb career, and the same contact, no BB no SO hitter for his career. He also doesn't fit any traditional category. By that I mean, not the bug target behind the plate with ML quality defense that plays NOW in his early 20's. And his power didn't start to come in to play until this season. Despite positional flexibility/ability, he also isn't an ever day player at another position. What he is, is a nice guy who can do a lot of things for you.

9) This is a somewhat grudging nod to Austin. No insult intended. I just don't know what we have here yet. But I thought he looked solid at 1B and his power is legit. If he can just produce a fraction more contact, I could easily live with a mediocre BA and some SO hitting 5th-7th with some big power.
This may not fall directly under the title of a development, but I liked the results of the draft. If nothing else, Falvine can draft-- that's two in a row.

 

His BABIP was consistent to that of all his minor league career, so I do not see much of problem.K% will improve hopefully with maturity as a hitter 

 

 

Not consistently at the extreme he posted his season though. Minors BABIPs tend to be about 15 points higher than in the majors. His high minors BABIP (AA/AAA) in 1,900 plate appearances was .344.

 

Without digging in any further I might expect his to be in the neighborhood of ~.330, and even that's being optimistic as only 34 qualified batters hit that mark. That's a pretty dramatic difference from the unsustainable mark of .368 he had this season.

 

Hopefully his strikeout rate will improve, a few more balls in play will offset the BABIP drop, and with the decent speed he's got that will turn into a good chunk of xbh's.


Similar Articles


by John Bonnes , 09 Dec 2018
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 06 Dec 2018
Photo


by Seth Stohs , 04 Dec 2018
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 29 Nov 2018
Photo


by Seth Stohs , 29 Nov 2018
Photo