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Comments on 41 MLB baseball I visited with 5 to go

Other Baseball Today, 04:35 PM
I've been to 41 MLB parks with 40 since 1993. I missed 5 or 6 starting in the early 1990s when I landed my first computer job and then jo...
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Twins Spotlight Episodes

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:57 PM
I'm going to try to keep a running list of all of the Twins Spotlight episodes here. Feel free to discuss any of them, ask questions or l...
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Twins Minor League Signings

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 06:56 AM
I thought I should set up a thread for minor league signings. Use this thread to post when the Twins sign a minor leaguer or when a forme...
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Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Today, 07:19 PM
Free agency is likely going to be a really slow burn this year, but I still think it's worth having a thread to discuss signings. ...
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Kim Ng - First Woman to be Hired as GM in Baseball History

Other Baseball Yesterday, 06:34 PM
Monumental hire by the Marlins. Congrats to them and good luck to HER!
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Twins Minor League Notebook

Twins minor league camp doesn’t officially start until the middle of this coming week, but I have spent parts of the past three days down on the minor league fields. Here are a handful of notes.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
First and foremost, the Twins minor league academy has been a tremendous success for a number of reasons:

First, they have been able to conduct camps throughout the offseason. In the fall, there are camps for position players to work on their speed and agility or other specific areas of their game. In January, there are pitch camps for control or velocity. Rehabbing players are also there a lot in the offseason. They are able to do that because there is comfortable lodging for the players without sending them to a hotel. And the players are taking advantage of it.

Also, players have been coming to Ft. Myers well before spring training. By the first week in January, minor leaguers start to arrive. In fact, I was told by several people that only three or four of the minor leaguers have not already shown up to camp despite the fact that the official report day is still three or four days away. That is incredible.

And the players are coming into camp in really good shape and ready to go. While the practices aren’t official, there is a real level of formality to it. Coaches are assigned. Conditioning is done. Stretching. Base running. Bullpens. Batting practice. Grounders are being taken and fly balls are being caught. It’s as if practice had already started.

The only difference is they aren’t wearing uniforms. They’re dressed in warmup attire, which is really creating issues for me in identifying most of the new players. I’ll adjust, don’t worry.

Anyway, what is impressive is that they aren’t just in early spring mode. They’re working on things. Infield coordinator Billy Boyer is working with the infielders on specific things, on taking grounders or throws to the bases from various positions, simulating their shift positions. Hitters aren’t just taking batting practice and crushing fastballs. They are already hitting nasty sliders off of the pitching machine. Pitchers are working on location and their pitches, but they’re doing it in a fun, competitive mode.

For instance, here is a video of Blayne Enlow and Jordan Balazovic. They go back and forth and simulate an 0-2 count on a hitter. What will they throw? What will the location be?

I did see Bailey Ober throwing some impressive breaking balls too. Here he is working along-side Enlow.

And Matt Canterino’s bullpen was very workmanlike. He was throwing all of his pitches; fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. All looked to have the potential to be plus pitches (based on this bullpen session, at least).

By the way, one name to kind of keep in the back of your mind during the 2020 season is RHP Jon Olsen. He was the Twins 12th round pick in 2018 from UCLA. He had Tommy John surgery that spring and rehabbed from that and other arm issues in 2019. But he appears to be healthy and really had an impressive bullpen.

Posted Image

On Saturday morning, I did a 25-minute radio spot on Bison 1660 in Fargo from the back field, trying to stay out of the wind. You can listen to that here.

But following that interview, I walked to Bill Smith Field. That is the field behind the academy where the GCL Twins play.

As I was approaching the field, I heard hollering. And then I see a ball launched out of the park. And then another ball well beyond the fence in left center field. That’s when I realized who was hitting in the cage. It was Twins 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco. For good measure, he hit the next ball even further. I had also seen him the day before fielding ground balls at shortstop. Very impressive defensively. And he is a big, strong kid. He has the hands and speed for shortstop, but he’s got the size to be a third baseman. Definitely one to watch progress. After his round of batting practice. He and fellow young prospect Jesus Feliz posed for a photo.

Posted Image

Speaking of top picks, it was great to watch Forest Lake’s own Matt Wallner take some batting practice. The young man is impressive. He’s tall and strong, and he can hit the ball a long way. In just observing, he appeared to be very coachable as well. Later, he came up and introduced himself and it was a Minnesota Nice conversation.

It was good to see Taylor Grzelakowski on the field and healthy. He had a tough year last year in Pensacola. He played through a lot of pain before finally having a second ankle surgery in June. He said that his offseason and rest really helped it recover.

I tell you what, there are a lot of great stories to be told on the minor league side of the complex. Hopefully I can get to some of them.

One name in camp that Twins fans will find interesting. Levi Michael is back in the organization. The 2010 first-round pick spent seven seasons in the Twins organization. He split time between AA and AAA with the Mets in 2018 and did the same in the Giants system in 2019.

Alright, I’m sure there is more and there will continue to be more. But feel free to ask questions and I’ll try to answer, or I’ll try to watch that player/those players more closely.

  • birdwatcher, NoCryingInBaseball, mikelink45 and 13 others like this

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Mar 01 2020 09:50 AM
Seth- I really appreciate this report. Thank you.
    • TL, DocBauer, PDX Twin and 1 other like this

Thanks for the report. While I am not familiar with most of these names, it will be interesting to see how many get to Minn in 2021 and 2022.

Mar 01 2020 10:12 AM

Seth, thanks for the reminder on Olsen.Looking forward to seeing his progress.

    • DocBauer likes this

Love this stuff. It does remind me that it would (hopefully will) be great to see these guys compensated a bit better while they pursue their dream. Some mentioned in this article got big signing bonuses, but that's not the case for most that Seth is watching on these back fields. And yet they show up early. Just goes to show you how much most of these guys love the game and what they're willing to go through to stay in it.

    • SQUIRREL, DocBauer, JoshDungan1 and 1 other like this

This was fun - thanks! Looking forward to reading whatever stories you are able to make time for.

Mar 01 2020 01:45 PM
Very informative. Thank you for your insights.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone... if there are certain players you have questions about, feel free to ask. If there are players you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. 

Pulling for infielder Levi Michael. A Twins 1st round pick in 2011 that didn't pan out, is back after a year in the Mets organization and a year in the minors with the Giants. Hope he plays well and gets a chance to get some MLB at bats. Go Twins.

    • Sconnie and RaymondLuxuryYacht like this
Love these updates, Seth. Thank you!

I had also forgot about Olsen. This year's version of Cole Sands?

Thanks Seth

When do the minor league spring training games start?

Mar 01 2020 07:40 PM
What could the 2020 season have in store for Akil Baddoo?
    • SteelDodo likes this
Doctor Gast
Mar 02 2020 09:30 AM

Thanks Seth, this year looks very promising!

Thanks for the update Seth.I'd love to hear how Tyler Wells is progressing after TJ.


    • Sconnie likes this

hope springs eternal for those of us in Rochester, who are still waiting for that elusive championship that has passed us by since 1997. New manager Toby Gardenhire looks to give us a bit of a youthful burst of energy and enthusiasm that was totally missing during the past two years with Skinner. (not a favorite) the organization last year was very deep at the A and AA levels. Some of that talent should be ready for AAA this year, along with hopefully a few veterans to show them the way.

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