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Three-Bagger: 40-Man Additions, Paul Molitor & Tyler Jay

The Minnesota Twins shuffled their roster in preparation for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Their manager is riding high after a remarkable rebound. And a potential budding bullpen ace just finished up in the Arizona Fall League.

Here's some food for thought go along with the holiday feasting ahead.
Image courtesy of Troy Taormina, USA Today
* Monday marked the deadline for MLB teams to protect prospects from exposure to the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. The Twins, somewhat surprisingly, added only three: RHP Zack Littell, LHP Stephen Gonsalves and LHP Lewis Thorpe.

The first two names were essentially givens. Littell and Gonsalves are among the organization's best pitching prospects and both are almost big-league ready. Either one could be up in the majors as soon as the first half of 2018, so they weren't going to make it through the Rule 5 untouched.

Thorpe is a bit of a different case. He's 21 and has only made one appearance above Single-A. Injuries and illness wiped out his entire 2015 and 2016 seasons, so the left-hander has less than 200 innings of professional experience. However, he has been really, REALLY good in that small amount of playing time, posting a 2.94 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while averaging 10.6 K/9. It's not too difficult to envision another club trying to stash him in their bullpen all year, and that's a risk the Twins couldn't take.

The tricky thing is that now Thorpe's option clock is set into motion, so they'll potentially have to roster him or lose him by age 25. Usually not too big of a deal, but with all the lost time Thorpe is behind on development and needs to get caught up in a hurry.

The Twins left several prospects unprotected, with these pitchers being the most notable: Nick Burdi, Jake Reed, Kohl Stewart. The first two are fireballing relievers who could help a big-league bullpen now (well, for Burdi it's as soon as he completes rehab from mid-season Tommy John surgery). So they're at high risk.

Stewart, the fourth overall draft pick just four years ago, has reached Triple-A and has a 3.10 ERA in the minors, though his secondary numbers haven't been good at all. It's conceivable someone gambles on his athleticism and heavy sinking stuff, but the righty just hasn't shown enough.

I do wonder if the front office that drafted Stewart would've been bold enough to risk losing him for nothing right now.

* Paul Molitor has only been a big-league manager for three years, but he's been around the game long enough to know how it goes. Coming off the worst season in franchise history, and with a regime of outsiders taking over baseball operations, he knew his outlook was grim despite the undying support of ownership.

Anything less than a clearly and undeniably excellent year was going to give Derek Falvey and Thad Levine an easy excuse to install their own guy. But as it turned out, Molitor delivered nothing less.

His season started on a note of redemption and ended on an even bigger one: The St. Paul native was named Manager of the Year last week after leading his team back to the postseason.

Of course, by that point Molitor had already procured the prize he really wanted, a new contract. He inked a three-year deal one week after losing to New York in the AL Wild Card Game, meaning Minnesota is now entrusting the 61-year-old skipper to oversee its impending prime window of contention.

It's a terrific story for a Hall of Famer who's never strayed far from home. Whatever you think of his tactical shortcomings, it's clear Molitor has the belief of his clubhouse, and it's also important to remember that in terms of total managerial experience, he remains one of the greenest in the game. He's still learning, and in 2017 he will have new hand-picked pitching and bench coaches to lend support. (Is Derek Shelton anti-bunt??)

* If the past few years (and especially this latest postseason) are any indication, the new model for winning in baseball will call for dominant bullpens with multiple high-powered weapons who can consistently shut down the late innings.

Cleveland's Andrew Miller is the prototype, but increasingly we are seeing teams deploy their best relievers outside of the closer role, often asking for more than three outs with games in the balance. It stands to reason that if MLB continues trending toward shorter starts and more relief innings, these kinds of bullpen aces will keep rising in value.

We'll all be surprised if the Twins don't make a concerted effort to add someone who might fill this role externally, but as far as players already in the organization, one name stands out as a potential fit the mold.

Things looked grim for Tyler Jay this summer, when he was again hampered by shoulder issues, and rumors of thoracic outlet syndrome began to circulate. However, those rumors proved false and he was able to return to the mound at Class-A Ft. Myers late in late August with a dominant display (6 IP, 4 H, 10 K, 0 BB).

Still needing to build up his workload after all the missed time, Jay headed to the Arizona Fall League, which just wrapped up. His stuff impressed even though he struggled some with control (11/5 K/BB in 9 2/3 innings). Most importantly, he took the mound regularly, logged his innings, and reportedly felt good.

It sounds like he hasn't yet regained his mid-90s fastball velocity but he has it in him, and when commanding that pitch along with his powerful slider and solid curveball he's got the makings of a valuable late-inning weapon.

The 23-year-old southpaw will absolutely be one to watch next spring.

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18 Comments

It's surprising to me that Falvine didn't protect more guys from the Rule V draft. But it also makes me hopeful that they're planning for a busy offseason, since they left so many empty spots on the 40-man roster!

    • glunn and Sconnie like this

 

It's surprising to me that Falvine didn't protect more guys from the Rule V draft. But it also makes me hopeful that they're planning for a busy offseason, since they left so many empty spots on the 40-man roster!

 

Tells me they plan to be active in free agency, particularly in the bullpen. It's important that they still have a few guys on the 40-man that could be DFAd without too much concern if they add even more players via trades or free agency. And, they could still take someone in the Rule 5 draft if they want to acquire more talent that way. 

    • glunn, Cory Engelhardt, hugelycat and 1 other like this

 

Tells me they plan to be active in free agency, particularly in the bullpen. It's important that they still have a few guys on the 40-man that could be DFAd without too much concern if they add even more players via trades or free agency. And, they could still take someone in the Rule 5 draft if they want to acquire more talent that way. 

That's an interesting thought, Seth.Will there be someone available at pick #20 something in the Rule 5 who thy like better than Reed, Stewart or Diaz?I don't know what's out there, however, based on history one wouldn't expect that..On the other hand, could they work a deal and trade a prospect to someone for the #1 or #2 Rule 5 pick...someone they really like?

I hope you are right, but I think Tyler Jay is going to be in the minors and build up his arm and resume.I am most hopeful that the young arms we got up here last year are going to grow from their time in the majors and Curtiss and Busenitz will blossom as really dependable - maybe even excellent -bullpen arms.And if Hildenberg builds on his first year he will be a star.

 

I cannot see a Rule V - basically the FO just flooded the Rule V market with the type of players we might have picked up in the past.I suspect they are looking at a Free Agent and trade, but I really cannot get a read on them yet.

 

That's an interesting thought, Seth.Will there be someone available at pick #20 something in the Rule 5 who thy like better than Reed, Stewart or Diaz?I don't know what's out there, however, based on history one wouldn't expect that..On the other hand, could they work a deal and trade a prospect to someone for the #1 or #2 Rule 5 pick...someone they really like?

 

Of course, pick 20 in the Rule 5 draft could be the 10th selection in the Rule 5 as lots of teams pass (though it makes little sense to me to pass). I think they just like the flexibility and are willing to lose those three (or others like Burdi, Eades, Bard, etc) to have that flexibility. 

    • Danchat and nater79a like this
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ashburyjohn
Nov 22 2017 08:46 AM

Of course, pick 20 in the Rule 5 draft could be the 10th selection in the Rule 5 as lots of teams pass (though it makes little sense to me to pass). I think they just like the flexibility and are willing to lose those three (or others like Burdi, Eades, Bard, etc) to have that flexibility. 

I don't rule out the Twins picking someone with the intention to flip him to one of the bottom feeders for some kind of consideration (Int'l signing pool money, etc).

 

Mostly I just wanted to use the term bottom feeders to describe some other team for a change. ;)

    • Sconnie and Doctor Wu like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 22 2017 08:54 AM

 

I don't rule out the Twins picking someone with the intention to flip him to one of the bottom feeders for some kind of consideration (Int'l signing pool money, etc).

 

Mostly I just wanted to use the term bottom feeders to describe some other team for a change. ;)

 

This... I don't think a contending team would be wise to try and keep a guy who isn't major league ready on the roster all season long. But if they can pick up 250k in international dollars to make an Otani deal sweeter, they should.

    • Sconnie likes this

I'm quite surprised Jake Reed wasn't protected.He had a good year at AAA last season.  

Do you think Thorpe gets moved to the Bull Pen to try to simplify/speed up his development plan?

 

Do you think Thorpe gets moved to the Bull Pen to try to simplify/speed up his development plan?

 

No chance. He's a potential top of the rotation starter. 2017 was about staying healthy, 2018 is about building up innings, and 2019 is when he breaks in. (Barring additional injuries).

    • diehardtwinsfan and howieramone2 like this

 

Do you think Thorpe gets moved to the Bull Pen to try to simplify/speed up his development plan?

 

No. He's top 3 pitcher prospect in system. I won't be surprised if he's the no-doubt number 1 next year. 

 

It sucked having him out for two years after i saw him: http://twinsdaily.co...impressed-r2962

 

Can't wait to see what he can do next season.

    • diehardtwinsfan and MN_ExPat like this

Stewart has been bypassed. Reed was a question that I would enjoy hearing an answer, but the need to protect relief...well, is Reed better than, say, Boshers...or Pressly?

 

Have four open roster spots (considering names you COULD drop for free agent acquisitions) is what I found...amazing.Which means the Twins do feel comfortable with some roster moves to fill their holes. 

 

And, ultimately, I was a bit uncomfortable having 10+ roster spots on the 40-man filled with players who MAY NOT possibly contribute much in 2018, especially if there is a smidgen of thought that the Twins, in a division where they are currently ahead of three teams, can win or go Wild Card. Sure, they need two starters, a solid bench bat/utility guy, and more comfort in the bullpen.

 

And they have to answer the questions on what to do with Mauer, Dozier, Hughes and, possibly, Sano.

 

Of course, pick 20 in the Rule 5 draft could be the 10th selection in the Rule 5 as lots of teams pass (though it makes little sense to me to pass). I think they just like the flexibility and are willing to lose those three (or others like Burdi, Eades, Bard, etc) to have that flexibility. 

 

 

CorrectThey'd most likely pick higher than the 20th pick.Also, a handful of teams may not even have an open 40-man spot to make a pick which is the reason they'd pass.

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yarnivek1972
Nov 27 2017 10:39 AM
Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall part of rule 5 being once you lost a guy, you could protect some more. Is that something I imagined or an actual rule?

If true, the gamble is lessened because you really only risk losing one of them. So, say someone takes a flier on Burdi, knowing they can stash him on the DL for at least a couple months. You still would retain other guys you really would like to get a further look at. Unless, I am just remembering wrong.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall part of rule 5 being once you lost a guy, you could protect some more. Is that something I imagined or an actual rule?
If true, the gamble is lessened because you really only risk losing one of them. So, say someone takes a flier on Burdi, knowing they can stash him on the DL for at least a couple months. You still would retain other guys you really would like to get a further look at. Unless, I am just remembering wrong.

Not exactly sure what you mean but you can lose as many guys as other teams are willing to take. There is no extra protection. So the Twins can lose every player they left unprotected, unless the other team returns them and the Twins want them back.
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ashburyjohn
Nov 27 2017 01:53 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall part of rule 5 being once you lost a guy, you could protect some more. Is that something I imagined or an actual rule?

What you are probably thinking of is that there is a AAA phase to the rule-5 draft. After the major league phase, teams also protect players on the 38-man AAA reserve roster. An additional 37 are protected in the AA phase. Don't ask me how they picked these numbers.

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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 27 2017 05:58 PM

 

What you are probably thinking of is that there is a AAA phase to the rule-5 draft. After the major league phase, teams also protect players on the 38-man AAA reserve roster. An additional 37 are protected in the AA phase. Don't ask me how they picked these numbers.

N

N-2

N-3

 

 

    • ashburyjohn and Riverbrian like this
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ashburyjohn
Nov 27 2017 08:46 PM

N

N-2

N-3

Attached Image: no-answer.gif

 

I can't argue with facts.


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