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  1. Meanwhile, in St. Paul...

    The St. Paul Saints are the defending champions of the American Association. However, they are starting their 2020 season by playing their home games in Sioux Falls.

    The Twins were able to use the Saints’ home ballpark, beautiful CHS Field, for their ‘taxi squad’, the players in the 60-player pool not on the active roster. The group is far enough away and in a separate location to keep the number of people in a stadium at any given time at a minimum. The group is close enough to Target Field that if the Twins have an injury or a positive COVID test, they can easily promote a player from this group to help out during the season without shipping him on a plane across the country. .

    On Sunday, a day after he addressed the group at Target Field, Rocco Baldelli traveled across the Mississippi River to briefly address the group of players who make up the taxi squad, or the remainder of the 60-man player pool not on the active roster.

    The Message?

    Be ready. You never know.

    Later on Sunday night, Baldelli told media, “The talk went very well. I think the message is that our group in St. Paul is going to be a huge part of our season. (That) is important to know. We know the situation we’re in. We know that these are uncertain times. We also know that if we are playing in September, or hopefully even after that in October, there’s going to be one or more or many of those players on our team, and potentially contributing in a big way.”

    He continued, “There’s no way to ever know who those guys are going to be. But I would bet on that happening. We always want to think that things are going to work out in an optimal way. Everyone’s always going to be healthy. Everyone’s always going to perform. We hope for that. But we also know that we’re always going to have to adjust and part of our adjustments is going to be looking at our group in St. Paul, calling those names, bringing those guys in. And not just having them there as bystanders. Not just there as a support group, but actually counting on them for production and helping us win.”

    Baldelli noted that during this “Summer Camp” there will likely be around 20 players working out in St. Paul. That number is subject to change from day to day with guys occasionally spending time at Target Field. When the Twins regular season begins, they will have a 30-player active roster, so the others on the 60-player roster will be in St. Paul.

    The group was told not to be surprised if five to ten of them get MLB time this season. They were also told not to be surprised if two or three of them wind up starting games in the playoffs in the Twins make it.

    And like the big leaguers, they were told to follow the protocols presented to them. Follow them for yourself. Follow them for your teammates. Follow them because “we” believe that this is a special team and a special year, a year that anything, including the World Series championship can happen.

    Baldelli said later on Sunday, “They’ll be over there working on different things. It mainly will be just workouts because it’s hard to do much else, play competitive games and such with a number like that.”

    JP Martinez is leading the group in St. Paul. Martinez was drafted by the Twins in 2004 and spent four seasons pitching in the system, reaching AAA. He rejoined the organization as a pitching coach at the facilities in Ft. Myers. He spent a season as pitching coach in Cedar Rapids. Last year, he became the assistant minor league pitching coordinator, a role he really enjoyed. With Pete Maki moving up to the big league bullpen coach job for the 2020 season, Martinez is going to be given a lot of responsibility.

    Baldelli said, “JP will be organizing and coordinating the workouts. We’ll be talking to him a lot. We already have to get everything lined up. I will also note that it will not be a situation where we hand the schedule over to them and ask JP to simply follow a schedule. They have to make it work. Every day you’ll have to make a with the group that you have. The group is going to change obviously when we’ve got guys here with us. So JP’s going to be, not just following what we send over. When I say organizing, he’s truly going to be organizing and coordinating.”

    But Martinez certainly isn’t doing it on his own. Martinez’s background is in pitching, but he’ll be working with Cibney Bello and Mike McCarthy.

    Bello was set to be the Rochester Red Wings pitching coach in 2020. He pitched for five seasons in the Mariners organization and three more seasons of independent baseball. He’s in his fifth season in the organization and has been a pitching coach in the GCL, in Cedar Rapids and in Pensacola. McCarthy pitched six seasons in the Red Sox organization before joining the Red Wings as their bullpen coach in 2018.

    The position players will also be getting plenty of attention.
    Donegal Fergus was hired as the Twins minor league hitting coordinator this offseason, highly recommended out of UC-Santa Barbara. Billy Boyer is in his second season as the Twins minor league infield and base running coordinator. Matt Borgschulte was scheduled to be the hitting coach for Rochester in 2020. This is his third season in the organization.

    As far as what the players will be doing, it’s a lot like what’s happening at Target Field, just without cameras and media. The first workout there was last Thursday, but it was only for those players who had already received the results of their COVID tests. Some players were first tested last Monday, others on Tuesday, so results came in on Thursday or Friday.

    Most of the players walk to the ballpark. They are usually split into groups of four or five players and have different scheduled activities from hitting, to working out in the weight room, bullpens and other activities. The are using the visitor’s clubhouse, but as with the players at Target Field, they only get about five minutes to get ready and get outside.

    Some of the Twins top prospects are in St.Paul, but there is a lot of talent there. As mentioned, this list is subject to change. These are the players not on the 40-man roster,and some of the younger guys on the 40-man roster. Some of them are currently working at Target Field.

    Pitchers
    Jhoulys Chacin
    Sam Clay
    Edwar Colina
    Danny Coulombe
    Ryan Garton
    Cory Gearrin
    Caleb Thielbar
    Dakota Chalmers (40)
    Jhoan Duran (40)

    In his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson said that the team would be stretching out ten pitchers who are currently at Target Field. They will also be stretching out Chalmers and Duran, building up their arm strength with the hopes of them being starters down the line.

    Catchers
    Juan Graterol
    Ryan Jeffers
    Tomas Telis

    Infielders
    Royce Lewis
    Drew Maggi
    Jack Reinheimer
    Wilfredo Tovar
    Zander Wiel
    Travis Blankenhorn (40)

    Outfielders
    Lane Adams
    Alex Kirilloff
    Trevor Larnach
    Brent Rooker
    Gilberto Celestino (40)

    • Jul 07 2020 09:25 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Twins Roster Decisions and Player Development

    The Twins 60-man player pool includes the 38 members of the 40-man roster (including Michael Pineda and Fernando Romero who are both on the restricted list). The ‘taxi squad’ includes some of the organization’s top prospects, at least those who are playing at the upper levels of the minor leagues such as Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker and Jhoan Duran. The group also includes several of the minor league veterans that were still in big league spring training in March.

    My initial thought after looking at the roster was that there are some very talented top prospects included, but several others (including RHP Jordan Balazovic) are not on the roster at this time. There are also a lot of replacement level minor league veterans with MLB service time that are included. What does that tell me? That this organization wants to win right now. While some other organizations are filling their roster with prospects, the Twins are going with veterans who can fill in if needed right now. Those guys are also the type of player that can be utilized, then DFAd and you won’t have to worry about losing them.

    But, rather than just trusting my own opinions, let’s find out what Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli had to say.

    Falvey began by saying that the first step was simply to read and fully understand the rules of the 60-man roster. Since this is new concept, it is important for the team to know the rules, especially those that are different from a “normal” season. How do you add or remove someone from the 60-man roster? How does the addition of a COVID-IL affect their ability to alter the roster?

    With that in mind, Falvey explained, “We focused on the group we had at the end of major league camp in Spring Training. I think every team has a different reason or rationale for bringing in this subset of players. We felt like our focus had to be on this Major League team. Making sure that we had the right depth. Making sure that we have development opportunities for our top prospects as well. We just happen to have quite a few of our upper tier prospects, as noted by several publications, that happen to be in the upper levels and were in spring training with us.”

    Baldelli added, “From a process standpoint, our focus is how do we fill it with guys that we think will help support the major league team in the event that we have issues at the major league level during the course of the year.”

    He accentuated those thoughts later by saying, “I think what we’re learning is that depth is going to be very important in a lot of different ways. The best ways that we can back up our major league group is to have quality, ready and able, upper level advanced guys, guys that have had big league time. Guys that we can rely on, not just for game action, but also for some prep work too.”

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Twins 60-man roster includes several players from my personal updated (post-draft) Twins prospect rankings:

    Royce Lewis (1), Alex Kirilloff (2), Trevor Larnach (3), Jhoan Duran (5), Ryan Jeffers (6), Gilberto Celestino (11), Edwar Colina (12), Lewis Thorpe (13), Brent Rooker (14), Travis Blankenhorn (20), Dakota Chalmers (22), Randy Dobnak (23), Devin Smeltzer (26), LaMonte Wade, Jr. (29), Nick Gordon (34), Sean Poppen (38), Jorge Alcala (39).

    Again, the biggest name that is missing would be Jordan Balazovic (4). However, starting pitching prospects such as Blayne Enlow (10), Cole Sands (16), and 2019 second-round draft pick Matt Canterino (8) are not on the list either. Neither is 2020 first-round pick, 1B Aaron Sabato (9) or 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco (7) and 2019 Competitive Balance pick Matt Wallner (15)

    A case could have been easily made for including Sabato and Wallner, two very powerful bats, and Canterino. However, none were added at this time.

    “We didn’t focus on anyone from this year’s draft, or even last year’s draft. We hope there are some development opportunities for them down the line,” said Falvey.

    Those players will continue to receive some remote coaching as available. Other than that, the players are responsible for finding time to get their work in.

    When news of positive COVID-19 tests were found at team complexes in Clearwater and Dunedin last week, MLB shut down all team’s spring training facilities.

    According to Derek Falvey, “Two specific things came out of that. Shut everything down from a workout standpoint. Do a deep clean, making sure everything is in a good place. Reopen the facilities after those things are done. We’ve done all of those bits and pieces, gone through the testing protocols.”

    So the Twins now have some players that are rehabbing at their Ft. Myers facilities. Also, there are still players from Venezuela that couldn’t go home in March that remain at the Twins academy. The team has staff there providing meals and such.

    However, the Twins (and all MLB organizations) can’t have minor league workouts or activities, so the teams wait for that to be allowed. Players wait and keep trying to work on their games.

    Falvey noted that the team doesn’t currently have plans for the short term return of player development, but there’s no question they understand its importance and hope it can return to normalcy soon.

    “We obviously are focused on developing all of our minor leaguers throughout the course of this year. We are just limited in what we can do at present. It’s my hope, if we can continue to proceed down the path at the major league level, we can at some point focus on how we can potentially (provided) some further development on some other players who aren’t part of the 60”

    Which presents a great opportunity to the prospects on the 40-man roster or on the ‘taxi squad”

    Baldelli said, “I think there are a lot of positives about having good, young prospects involved and keeping them active and doing things. Every team is doing things with different objectives in mind. We spent a lot of time on it. We also have a couple of spots that are still available that we can still work with as we continue to see how this plays out and see what we need to do.”

    That’s important to remember. For instance, on Monday the Miami Marlins officially signed former Gophers righty and #3 overall pick in the 2020 draft Max Meyer and added him to their 60 player pool. Maybe Jordan Balazovic will get a call in the coming days or weeks.

    Regarding the likes of Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Ryan Jeffers and other prospects, Derek Falvey hopes that this is a great spot for them to develop and improve.

    “We felt that putting them in this environment and being around guys who are going to continue to develop to the major leagues, that was the best way to advance their development this year given the circumstances and the absence of games. It was better for them to be playing and be around our coaches and getting a little more hands-on instruction. The short-term answer is they’re part of the group. They’re going to continue to go through the workouts. They’ll intrasquad just like everybody else. Hopefully we can use this time to advance their overall development.”

    While there will be larger groups of players and staff at Target Field than at CHS Field, there will likely be five to six coaches in St. Paul at any given time. (The team will announce the staffs for spring training 2.0 after they get back the results of COVID testing in case they need to alter their current staffing plans)

    According to Falvey, ““We bring our hitting coordinators, our pitching coordinators, and make sure we have everything covered where we’re not missing anything as that group of 20 some players starts their workouts.”

    And what will those players be doing in St. Paul besides just practicing and working out? Rocco Baldelli laid out some of the plan and in doing so highlighted why this is such a great opportunity for these prospects. It could be a great opportunity to grow as a player.

    “The sim games and the intrasquading, we’ll allow for a competitive environment once everyone gets up and going. And truthfully, this could be one of the better learning experiences for some of these guys. It’s something they really couldn’t get during a season. A lot of times during the season you’re spending your time on performing, not taking chances, not trying something new and really learning and growing. This could be an opportunity for some of our guys to make some adjustments that they wouldn't normally be able to make.”

    The primary goal of the taxi squad is to provide depth to the big-league roster as needed throughout the summer. For many of the prospects, the odds of getting ‘called up’ may be low, but the opportunity to develop is potentially immeasurable.


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    • Jun 29 2020 11:49 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. Chances for Each Twins Top Prospect Impacting the 2020 Roster

    Each prospect below was ranked on a scale from Unlikely to Possibly to Probably to Definitely. Things considered were inclusion on the 40-man roster, prospect status, and 2019 performance.

    Royce Lewis, SS
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 1
    Lewis is widely considered the team’s top prospect and he is coming off a season with some mixed results. He might have redeemed himself with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. Overall, he’s only played 33 games above High-A, so the Twins might have to be in a pinch to call him up. His speed is elite so he could be an intriguing pinch running option if the team needed him for that role.
    2020 Impact: Unlikely

    Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 2
    If the 2020 season had played out as planned, Kirilloff seemed like a lock to make his big-league debut even if it came as a September call-up. He dealt with a wrist injury last season, but he was still able to play over 90 games, all at Double-A. With a healed wrist, he should be back to mashing like he did in 2018 when he was the team’s minor league hitter of the year.
    2020 Impact: Possibly

    Trevor Larnach, OF
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 3
    Larnach is coming off a tremendous first full season in the Twins organization. He relied on his college experience to mash the ball at High- and Double-A. Unfortunately for him, there are quite a few players standing in the way of him making his debut. Players like Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker seem more likely to get a chance before Larnach.
    2020 Impact: Unlikely

    Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 4
    Balazovic is the team’s best starting pitching prospect, but he has only thrown 73 innings above the Low-A level. He had a tremendous 2019 season with a 2.69 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP, but it was probably a stretch for him to make his debut in 2020 even if there were 162 games. If the Twins need him as a starter this season, that might be bad news for the big-league squad.
    2020 Impact: Unlikely

    Jhoan Duran, RHP
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 5
    Duran takes Brusdar Graterol’s role as the big flame thrower in the Twins system. However, many believe Duran has a better shot to stick as a starting pitcher. For the 2020 season, Duran could be used in a similar role to Graterol last year. Enter late and throw gas out of the bullpen.
    2020 Impact: Probably

    Ryan Jeffers, C
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 6
    Jeffers is coming off a tremendous 2019 season where he established himself as not only the top catching prospect in the Twins system, but also one of the team’s best overall prospects. Minnesota already has Mitch Garver, Alex Avila and Willian Astudillo penciled into the 30-man roster, but an injury could mean he debuts this season.
    2020 Impact: Possibly

    Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 8
    Heading into spring, Thorpe had a chance to make the Twins starting rotation. The only thing that prevented that was some time away from camp as he dealt with some personal issues. He is the best left-handed starting pitching prospect in the organization and he already has big-league experience so it’s a no brainer that he will impact this year’s team.
    2020 Impact: Definitely

    Gilberto Celestino, OF
    Twins Prospect Ranking: 9
    Celestino is an elite defensive outfielder and that might be his best chance at impacting the Twins this year. He’s already on the team’s 40-man roster so that could put him ahead of players like Kirilloff, Larnach and Rooker. His offensive skills set might not be big-league ready, but there’s no question he could impact the game on the defensive side of the ball.
    2020 Impact: Possibly

    Other Pitching Prospects 2020 Impacts
    Dakota Chalmers, RHP: Possibly
    Randy Dobnak, RHP: Definitely
    Sean Poppen, RHP: Possibly
    Fernando Romero, RHP: Possibly
    Devin Smeltzer, RHP: Definitely
    Cody Stashak, RHP: Definitely

    Other Hitting Prospects 2020 Impacts
    Travis Blankenhorn, UTL: Probably
    Nick Gordon, SS/2B: Possibly
    LaMonte Wade Jr, OF: Probably
    Brent Rooker, OF: Probably

    Which top prospect will have the biggest impact on the Twins this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Jun 29 2020 01:34 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Minnesota Twins Post-Draft Top-20 Prospects: 1-5

    5. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    2019 MiLB Stats: 5-12, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 136 K, 40 BB, 115.0 IP
    The Twins might have stolen Duran from the Diamondback organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was never going to be part of the long-term solution in Minnesota and Duran could be one of the answers to some of Minnesota’s pitching woes. Duran throws multiple fastballs with a four-seamer that can reach triple digits and consistently sits in the high-90s and a two-seamer that acts like a splitter which hits over 90 mph.

    Last season, Duran really put himself on the prospect map by showing plus velocity and multiple pitches as a starter. He was almost two year younger than the average age of the competition in the FSL and that number jumped to 3.3 years younger in the Southern League. Even with the age gap, he struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings and his walk rate dropped from 3.6 BB/9 to 2.2 BB/9 after his promotion.

    4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    2019 MiLB Stats (A, A+): 8-6, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 129 K, 25 BB, 93.2 IP
    Balazovic is good. Like, really good. He has the chance to be better than any pitcher in the current Twins rotation and that’s something the Twins have struggled to produce from the farm system for many years. The kicker is… He was a fifth-round draft pick under the previous front office regime. Talk about a going away present.

    He can hit the high 90s with his fastball and there is some sinking action on the pitch to induce groundballs. Add in a change-up in the mid-80s and that’s a recipe for disaster as a hitter. He made hitters look foolish in the MWL last season as he struck out 33 batters in just over 20 innings. Yes, that is over 14 strikeouts per nine innings. He took the jump to the FSL in stride and struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings. In some organizations, he’d be the top prospect and that tells you how good the players are ahead of him.

    3. Trevor Larnach, OF
    2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .309/.384/.458, 13 HR, 30 2B, 124 K, 57 BB, 127 G
    In his second professional season, Larnach destroyed the baseball across two levels and an argument could be made for him to be the best prospect in the Twins organization. He’s had success in college and as a pro and that could help him to advance through the Twins system. Last season he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and the Florida State League named him their Player of the Year.

    His 147 hits were the most in the Twins system and he seemed to get better as the season progressed. From August 2 through the season’s end, he had a .969 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 28 games. He’s added a lot of weight throughout college and his professional career and this will only help with his power numbers in the future. On the defensive side, he’s slotted in to be a corner outfielder and he seems likely to play that position throughout his professional career.

    2. Alex Kirilloff, OF
    2019 MiLB Stats (AA): .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 18 2B, 76 K, 29 BB, 94 G
    Any prospect would have a tough time living up to the numbers compiled by Kirilloff in 2018. He dominated two levels of the minor leagues by hitting .348/.392/.578 with 71 extra-base hits in 130 games. The 2019 season was a different story as he missed time at season’s start with a wrist injury and then ended up back on the injured list with the same injury. From that point forward, he made his presence felt in the Southern League.

    In August, Kirilloff crushed the ball to the tune of a .311/.351/.500 slash-line with five home runs in and five doubles in 26 games. He really found his stride in the playoffs as he hit home runs in the Blue Wahoo’s first four playoff games and posted a 1.435 OPS during the team’s semifinal appearance. He and Larnach have been compared to each other but Kirilloff is younger and it’s scary to think about the outfield these two could occupy in the years ahead.

    1. Royce Lewis, SS
    2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .236/.290/.371, 12 HR, 26 2B, 123 K, 38 BB, 127 G
    An argument can be made for any of the Twins top three prospects to be the best in the system. Lewis was the number one overall pick back in 2017 so it is going to be hard to ignore his prospect status no matter what he does in the minor leagues. Some might question the mechanics of his swing and some might question his eventual defensive position. His athleticism and skills are hard to ignore no matter what scouts might say about him.

    Even with a down season, the Twins sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League and he dominated over the course of 95 plate appearances. He hit .353/.411/.565 with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. Because of other players on the roster, he was asked to play positions besides shortstop, and he lived up to the challenge. Kirilloff and Larnach might beat him to the big-leagues, but Lewis could be a once-in-a-generation talent.

    PREVIOUS TOP-20 POSTS
    Prospects 16-20
    Prospects 11-15
    Prospects 6-10

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    • Jun 17 2020 05:44 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  5. Reviewing Minnesota's Recent First Round Picks

    2019: Keoni Cavaco, SS (13th overall)
    Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospect Ranking: 8
    2019 Season (Rookie): .172/.217/.253 (.470 OPS), HR, 4 2B, 35 K
    Cavaco flew up draft boards in the weeks and months leading up to the draft and the Twins saw enough in him to make him their first-round pick. He clearly had some struggles in his first professional season as he struck out in over 40% of his at-bats. His athleticism and other tools are hard to ignore, so Twins fans might have to be patient with him as he moves through the system.

    2018: Trevor Larnach, OF (20th overall)
    Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospect Ranking: 3
    2019 Season (A+/AA): .309/.384/.458 (.842 OPS), 13 HR, 30 2B, 124 K
    Larnach was drafted in the midst of a tremendous College World Series run that saw him hit a walk-off home run that helped Oregon State win the championship. Last season was a breakout campaign for the former first rounder. The Twins named him their Minor League Player of the Year and he took home the same honors from Twins Daily. He would also be named the Florida State League Player of the Year and he led the Twins organization in hits (147).

    2017: Royce Lewis, SS (1st overall)
    Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospect Ranking: 1
    2019 Season (A+/AA): .236/.290/.371 (.661 OPS), 12 HR, 26 2B, 123 K
    When a team has the number one pick, it’s imperative not to miss on the player. Lewis had some struggles last season with his swing and there are questions about his long-term defensive position. Following the season, he went to the Arizona Fall League and put some of those concerns to rest as he was named the league’s MVP. He is almost unanimously considered the team’s best prospect and all three major prospect rankings have him as a top-30 prospect in all of baseball.

    2016: Alex Kirilloff (15th overall)
    Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospect Ranking: 2
    2019 Season (AA): .283/.343/.413 (.756 OPS), 9 HR, 18 2B, 76 K
    It was going to be hard for any player to live up to the season compiled by Kirilloff back in 2018. He was arguably one of the best hitters in all the minors that season. His 2019 campaign included multiple stints on the DL with a wrist injury and this can be a tough injury to overcome in the middle of a season. He ended the year on a tear by hitting .319/.371/.496 (.867) and he crack home runs in Pensacola’s first four playoff games.

    2015: Tyler Jay (6th overall)
    Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospect Ranking: No longer in the organization
    The previous front office regime had hopes for Jay by taking him this high in the draft. As a hard throwing college arm, the Twins hoped to be able to turn Jay from a reliever into a starter. This experiment didn’t exactly go as planned and the Twins traded Jay last June to the Cincinnati Reds for cash. It was just announced this week that Jay was one of the players released from the Reds organization, so he is currently searching for a new organization.

    What do you think of Minnesota’s recent first round picks? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Jun 05 2020 09:29 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. Miranda Searches for New Heights in 2020

    Along with his work in preparation for his 2020 baseball seasons, Jose Miranda also got to spend a little time with his cousin, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Yes, the same Lin-Manuel Miranda who won awards for his Broadway play In the Heights and later gained international renown for writing and starring in the immensely popular play Hamilton.

    According to Jose Miranda, “My dad is his dad’s cousin.”

    While they have only met and conversed a handful of times (the 40-year-old Lin-Manuel grew up in New York but frequently visited Puerto Rico), they had a nice chat this past offseason. “He’s friendly, humble. If you see him, you would never guess he was famous like that.”

    Posted Image
    Photo by Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY

    “I like music. Not into singing or doing some instrumental, but I like reggaeton, music in Spanish.” Jose Miranda then added, “Sports was my primary thing since growing.”

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    Jose Miranda grew up in Puerto Rico. He was born in the village of Manati in the north central part of the island. He said he spent one semester of his ninth grade year with his mom in Miami. He returned to Puerto Rico and attended Leadership Christian Academy in Guaynabo, a city just south and west of San Juan and just east of Bayamon.

    Miranda became well-known as a baseball prospect nationally. He had a pretty good sense of where he might be drafted, and thought he knew which teams were most likely to select him.

    “I was expecting to go in the second round or the third round. I had communications with three or four teams. I think the Twins weren’t the favorites. I thought I was going to go to the Phillies or the Blue Jays. They were talking to me more.”

    A lot of times, teams will know who they want and then try to act as if they are uninterested, hoping that the player will get to them. The Twins were thrilled that Miranda was still available when they made their first of two straight Competitive Balance picks after the second round of the 2016 draft.

    As Twins Hall of Famer Brad Radke said that night, “With the 73rd selection of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Minnesota Twins select Jose Miranda, a shortstop from Leadership Christian Academy, Puerto Rico.”

    Of that night, Miranda noted, “That was my first goal. I worked so hard for that. I wanted to be in the first few rounds. My senior year, I was just working out, working out, working out, working out, playing, playing, and then I got called, and my dream came true, and now my dream is to get to the bigs.”

    Because of uncertainty in where he might be drafted, the Miranda family did not have a big party. The first two rounds and the Competitive Balance picks are made on the first night of the draft. The third round through the tenth round picks are made on Day 2. So Miranda was at home with his dad and his grandma. However, news of his selection traveled quickly.

    “My phone blew up. Texts from everyone. Twitter. Instagram.”

    One pick later, the Twins selected outfielder Akil Baddoo with the 74th pick, the fourth straight high school hitter that the Twins drafted that year. The Twins had drafted outfielder Alex Kirilloff with the 15th overall pick. Their second-round pick was catcher Ben Rortvedt. The group remains close.

    “We communicate, and we talk a lot. We’re friends.. I talk more with Akil Baddoo, but I talk to every one of those guys. They’re super cool, and they like to work.”

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    There is a pride that you hear in the voice of players who grew up in Puerto Rico. And the Twins have drafted and signed many players from Puerto Rico. In talking to Jose Miranda, it is quite clear he is proud to be from Puerto Rico.

    “For me, if I was born again, I’d want to be born in Puerto Rico. It’s my island. It’s where I grew up. I love it. My family is there. It's such a small island. Everyone is rooting for you when you’re here. I love it. ”

    The Puerto Rican players will often get together for dinners or just hang out and talk about baseball. Having that support from the players who have made it to the big leagues and from the island is motivating.

    “It’s a motivating thing because we know they were here before. They went from the minors, from rookie ball to the bigs. They tell us, you’ve got to trust the process, and if you do things right, you will get promoted to the bigs. One day, you’re going to play up here with us. That’s the main goal.

    Posted Image

    Jose Miranda has been moving up the Twins organizational ladder one level at a time. Following the draft, he played 55 games for the GCL Twins. In 2017, he played in 54 games for the Elizabethton Twins and hit .283 with eight doubles and 11 home runs.

    He moved up to full-season ball in 2018. He played in 104 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He hit .277/.326/.434 (.760) with 22 doubles and 13 home runs. He ended the season with 27 games in Ft. Myers where he helped the Miracle to the Florida State League championship.

    He began 2019 with the MIracle. In 118 games, he hit .248/.299/.364 (.663) with 25 doubles and eight home runs. Statistics in the Florida State League always have to be taken with a grain of salt, especially with a 21-year-old.

    “It’s pretty hard. Sometimes you hit some balls that you think are going to go or they’re going to fall, but they get there and they catch them. Sometimes you get frustrated, but it just is what it is. It’s a tough league, but you have to live with it.”

    That’s where a player needs more than just tools and physical strength. It’s where players can get challenged with the mental aspects of the game.

    “Just got to stay hard in your mind, strong. Just stay positive. Keep working. You’ve just got to keep working, and you can’t stop working.”

    Starting pitchers Jordan Balazovic and Dakota Chalmers were promoted from Ft. Myers to Pensacola for their playoff run. Jose Miranda was the lone hitter that was promoted for the Southern League playoffs. He went 3-for-5 with a double in his one regular season game. Then in five playoff games for the Blue Wahoos, Miranda hit .368/.429/.526 (.955).

    “I think I had a little more confidence going into the offseason. In my mind, I was like, at least I finished in Double-A. It was a little jump. It was at the end, but I finished at Double-A.”

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In his career, Miranda has split time between third base and second base, with an occasional game played at shortstop. However, he has begun to play more third base. While his third base-second base mix was about 50/50 in 2018, he played third base nearly two-thirds of the time in 2019. Most scouts believe that is the position he is most likely to play.

    For his part, Miranda doesn’t mind playing either position. “I feel comfortable at both. If you can tell me now which one I want to play, I don’t have an answer right now. I like to play both, or all three. I like to play shortstop too. But right now it’s more third and second. Whatever they want me to play, I’ll play it.”

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    2020 will be a big year for Jose Miranda. Following the season, he will be Rule 5 draft-eligible if he is not added to the Twins 40-man roster.

    To prepare for the season, he really worked hard. “First of all, I was working on my body because I wanted to lose some weight. Last year I felt a little sloppy, a little slow. So I told my trainer we had to work on my weight to get a little faster, to gain a little agility. And then my swing, and my swing mechanics.”

    When asked for his goals, he didn’t mention numbers and statistics. “One of my main goals is just to stay healthy for the whole year. Stay healthy, and then control what I can control.”

    Off the field, Miranda has some very exciting news as well. He will soon become a father. “We’re having a baby. Super exciting.”

    Miranda’s girlfriend is due in April. She is in Puerto Rico but hopefully about a month after the baby is born, mother and child will come to the States to be with Jose.

    A big year indeed!

    • Mar 10 2020 07:21 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  7. Are Twins Top Prospects Being Held Back by Loaded MLB Roster?

    Trio of Top Prospects
    Most outlets, including Twins Daily, have some combination of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach as the to -three prospects in the Twins organization. All three players finished last season at Double-A which usually means a player is getting close to making his big-league debut. Of the trio, Larnach is coming off the best season as he was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year.

    A wrinkle in that plan is the fact that none of the players are on the 40-man roster. Not like a spot couldn’t be opened for him if it was needed. Larnach is actually the oldest member of the trio and his college experience could help him to move up quickly. Kirilloff needs to be added to the 40-man roster next off-season so it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to be added at some point this season.

    If everything is going well for the Twins, none of their top-3 trio will debut until September or later.

    Pitching Options
    Lewis Thorpe is going to be a key contributor to the 2020 Twins roster and other pitching options have an opportunity to make their mark. Randy Dobnak already started a playoff game for the Twins but the club added multiple other playoff- caliber starters. Players in the ilk of Donbak, Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer have already gotten big-league opportunities on a 101-win team and this season could also provide opportunities on a team destined for less than 100 wins.

    Outside of the trio vying for the fifth starter spot, the Twins have other prospects attempting to make the roster. Sean Poppen could be a breakout candidate for the club and his stuff could be more than capable at the big-league level. Other top prospects like Jhoan Duran, Blayne Enlow, and Edwar Colina also have a shot at making an impact, but it will be tough in a loaded MLB bullpen.

    40-Man Roster Options
    Last season, few people would have expected the impact Luis Arraez made on the big-league roster. One season later and the Twins are relying on Arraez to be a regular in the team’s batting order. Like Arraez, there are other members of the 40-man roster that could impact the 2020 version of the Twins.

    Travis Blakenhorn has a chance to play a significant nubber of games for the Twins and be an impact player throughout the 2020 season. That’s why this spring with Josh Donaldson is so important. He could impact Minnesota’s roster throughout Donaldson’s tenure with the club. Other prospects like Brent Rooker have a shot at impacting the team’s roster.

    Do you think prospects are being held back? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Mar 04 2020 10:15 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  8. Twins 4, Red Sox 1: Homers Help in Twins Win

    Homer Bailey signed a one-year deal with the Twins around the holidays. On Friday, he made his first appearance of spring. He worked two innings. He didn’t allow a run.

    He got two quick outs in the top of the first inning. JD Martinez hit a fly ball to right center. Bailey started walking off the field, thinking the inning was over. But the wind was blowing hard from left to right and the ball just kept going. LaMonte Wade leapt at the wall and robbed a home run. However, when his arm hit the wall, the ball trickled away. Martinez ended up on third base. But soon after, Bailey got a lazy fly ball to center for the third out.

    “I was actually walking off the mound, thinking it was a right-center gap, guy’s going to catch it on the run, inning over. Then you look the flag pole you see everything was drifting off to right field quite a bit. Big deal.” He continued, “I say ‘Big Deal, but if the next guy gets a single, I’m (upset) about it.”




    Kepler Returns

    Max Kepler also played in his first game for the Twins this spring. He’s been dealing with what has been called a “minor back issue.” He led off and played right field. He went 0-for-2, but he hit the ball on the nose at least once.

    Following the game, Baldelli said, “Max has been ready to go for a little while. He was happy - he was smiling - to be on the field. Hit a ball good, and made a couple of nice plays in the field, and we got him out of there.”

    Posted Image


    Kirilloff Launch

    In the sixth inning, Alex Kirilloff entered the game for Kepler, and he hit a single in his first at-bat. He later scored on an Eddie Rosario double.

    In the seventh inning, he came to the plate with Juan Graterol on first base.

    The new father got a pitch to his liking. “I just got a fastball in and was able to time it up, get the barrel on it and get a good swing on it.”



    Baldelli,”He's a pretty gifted young hitter. This is a guy that's always had good at- bats, can find the barrel on different pitches in the zone. He can do some pretty nifty things the way he attacks the ball. He would have what you probably call the opposite of a grooved swing. He can do different things, and find different angles, and find the barrel. So, he hit that one really well. We were just talking about him a little bit in the dugout right as he was taking the swing, and we saw it. Got a chance to see it live. Really nice.“

    On Saturday night, the Pirates come to Hammond Stadium to play the Twins. Baldelli said that Kirilloff is scheduled to play against his hometown team. “That's always fun, anytime anyone gets a chance to play...and the game's probably on, really all the games are on TV now. For a while, it was when you played the team from the hometown, that's when everyone got a chance to see you play, everyone from back home. So that's always a fun thing.”


    Nick Gordon Update

    Nick Gordon is yet to play in spring training games. He is working and at the ballpark each day. He is experiencing a gastrointestinal issue again this spring. Baldelli said after the game, “I can’t tell you that it’s the exact same issue but the way that it’s probably affecting him is probably somewhat similar.”

    “He’s been regaining strength and trying to gain some weight and start to feel better before he starts getting back to full baseball activities. So I can’t tell you that he’s fully there yet. We’re not pushing him to get him out on the field as fast as possible. It’s February. There’s no rush to really get him out there until he feels 100 percent and his body’s functioning right.”

    It’s really unfortunate for Gordon because there is no doubt he would be getting a lot of playing time this spring.


    Josh Donaldson Talking Shop

    Josh Donaldson went 1-for-3 on Friday. It was his first hit of the spring. He hit a double to the right-center field gap. So if you were worried about him not ever getting a hit during his career with the Twins, you can sigh a deep breath.

    Today was my first full day in Ft. Myers and at spring training, so I am last to this. However, what was really impressive to me, a half-hour after the game, we left the manager’s office and into the clubhouse. At a table, Donaldson was holding court with three Twins minor leaguers, talking hitting. Now I didn’t stand there and observe, but in the six seconds that I did see, all three players were glued to his every word.

    • Feb 29 2020 06:50 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  9. Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: Recap

    Twins Daily's Top 20 Twins Prospects of 2020

    20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B: Strong infield D and contact swing keep him on Top 20 radar.
    19. Cole Sands, RHP: Tremendous pro debut in 2019 with 5-to-1 K/BB ratio in A-ball.
    18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF: The innate power is finally starting to show up in games.
    17. Misael Urbina, OF: Standout athlete flashing every tool as an unrefined teenager.
    16. Edwar Colina, RHP: Big arm, wicked slider. If he keeps sharpening control, watch out.
    15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Freshly drafted righty shows big potential with funky delivery.
    14. Matt Wallner, OF: Former MN prep star fared well during first exposure to pro ranks.
    13. Wander Javier, SS: Disastrous 2019 season doesn't fully diminish shortstop's shine.
    12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Skills came together during spectacular second half in A-ball.
    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Keeps missing bats at the highest levels. His upside endures.
    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Progression has been gradual, but steady. Could turn a corner.
    9. Brent Rooker, OF: Immense power just might offset K's and lack of defensive value.
    8. Keoni Cavaco, SS: All projection at this point, but toolsy teen offers plenty to dream on.
    7. Ryan Jeffers, C: Two-way standout at catcher has impressed at every stop through AA.
    6. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Hard-throwing whiff machine could impact 2020 Twins as a reliever.
    5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Sturdily built sterling performer has makings of a long-term SP.
    4: Brusdar Graterol, RHP: The now-departed young flamethrower was an ultra-rare talent.
    3. Trevor Larnach, OF: Hits for average and power, shaping up as prototypical star RF.
    2. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Remains one of the best pure hitters in the minors. Handled AA at 21.
    1. Royce Lewis, SS: Pure ability too blinding to look past, but there is work to be done.

    POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN

    C: 1
    IF: 5
    OF: 6
    RHP: 7
    LHP: 1

    Two obvious areas of deficiency in the breakdown above: catcher and left-handed pitching. That's not by coincidence – they are notoriously tough spots to amass impact talent – but I don't see these scarcities as particularly alarming for the Twins.

    Pitching is pitching. Yeah, it might be nice to have a few more southpaws in the mix, but a righty-heavy staff isn't such a detriment right now for the Twins, and the MLB-ready Thorpe looms large as a lefty threat.

    As for the catcher position, Ben Rortvedt is right on the fringe of this list in our honorable mentions, and in the Graterol trade, the Twins acquired a 20-year-old catcher named Jair Camargo who is at least kind of intriguing.



    Oh, yeah... Graterol.

    THE LOSS OF GRATEROL

    After tabulating votes two weeks ago, we had our Top 20 list fully compiled and finalized. Rollout on the site was already underway when news of the Kenta Maeda trade surfaced. At that point, our options were to reset on the fly, or just run the rankings as planned. We chose the latter, because it seemed valuable to provide context as to what the Twins gave up for Maeda. Graterol was, from our panel's view, the organization's No. 1 pitching prospect before departing.

    But those rankings didn't necessarily reflect a future in the bullpen, which now seems firmer than ever. And even with all the noise filtered out, Graterol wasn't separated from Balazovic or Duran by much. The Twins have developed three upper-echelon – albeit not quite elite – pitching prospects, giving them the luxury to part with an undeniably stellar talent like Graterol.

    And, if you're wondering which player now slides into our Top 20, with everyone else bumping up a spot in his absence? It's Rortvedt, who was just mentioned.

    FEELING THE DRAFT

    Graterol wasn't the only valuable asset Minnesota lost in the Maeda trade. The Twins also forfeited their Comp B pick in the coming MLB Draft (67th overall), and based on how they've drafted as of late, this could deprive them of a pretty special player. Scouting director Sean Johnson is running a ridiculously effective unit for Minnesota.

    The top three players on our prospect list (Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach) are first-round picks from successive years (2016-2018). All are consensus Top 100 guys. That says a lot. The Twins have also shown some ability to unearth gems beyond the first wave, like prospect No. 10 Enlow (76th overall), No. 9 Rooker (39th), and No. 7 Jeffers (59th).

    Add in the fact that signing Josh Donaldson cost the Twins their third-round pick (99th overall), and the toll taken on this year's draft class by these win-now moves is considerable. You won't find me complaining, but it's something to keep in mind.

    WATCH THE THRONE

    The top two spots on our list remain unchanged from last year, but Lewis and Kirilloff have definitely loosened their grips – especially Lewis at No. 1.

    His youth, athleticism, pedigree, and makeup were enough to keep the shortstop locked in as the leader and our list, and he's still in a healthy position on most national rankings. But between the scant production last year – .236/.290/.371 with poor plate discipline – and the echoing questions concerning defense and swing mechanics, there's vulnerability here.

    Any number of players from the list could plausibly take over that top billing a year from now. Kirilloff, Larnach, Balazovic, and Jeffers feel most viable to me, if Lewis were to slip. Of course, there's also a plenty good chance Lewis rebounds in a huge way to re-stake his claim among the game's elite young talents.

    WHERE THEY STAND

    Baseball America released its ranking of MLB farm systems last week and had the Twins eighth. Bleacher Report has them sixth. By just about any measure, Minnesota boasts a top-10 system in the game, with a majority of its best talents rapidly approaching MLB-readiness. With the Twins bursting through their contention window, the timing could not be better.

    Strap in folks. Fun times are ahead.

    On a final note, I'd like to say that while I was researching and compiling entries for this series, two of my most invaluable resources were Tom Froemming's YouTube channel and Twitter page. If you enjoy Twins minor-league coverage and aren't following both, I highly recommend doing so. Tom puts together so much awesome video content and analysis.

    PAST TWINS DAILY TOP PROSPECT LISTS:

    TD 2019 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects
    TD 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects
    TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects
    TD 2016 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects
    TD 2015 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects

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    • Feb 20 2020 06:47 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  10. Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #2 Alex Kirilloff

    Age: 22 (DOB: 11-9-1997)
    2019 Stats (Double-A): 411 PA, .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 43 RBI
    ETA: 2020
    2019 Ranking: 2
    2018 Ranking: 5

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: 31 |MLB: 32 | ATH: 25 |BP: 86

    What’s To Like
    Kirilloff’s best tool has always been his hit tool and that is what is going to make him a regular at the big-league level. He started the year on the injured list with a wrist injury and it took him some time to find his swing again. After posting a .682 OPS in May, he hit .327/.400/.510 in June before landing back on the IL because of the same wrist injury.

    Again, he returned from injury and it took time to find his swing again. However, he was able to end the year strongly as he hit .319/.371/.496 over the season’s final 28 games. This hot hitting followed him into the postseason as he clubbed four home runs in the team’s first four playoff games. It wasn’t enough to help the Blue Wahoos, but it was nice to see Kirilloff getting back into form.

    Kirilloff has a strong knowledge of the strike zone and he can spray the ball to all fields. His 2018 spray charts (from Baseball Savant) should be hanging in a museum. His wrist injury clearly impacted his ability to turn on the ball last season as almost all of his doubles are to the opposite field.
    [attachment=13493:Alex Kirilloff Spray Chart.png]
    Even though he missed an entire season due to Tommy John, he is still facing older pitchers in nearly 96% of his at-bats. After a full off-season to get his wrist healthy, Kirilloff should be driven to prove that 2019 is behind him.

    What’s Left To Work On
    Kirilloff is such a strong hitter that he rarely is forced to draw walks. Last season, he had 29 walks compared to 76 strikeouts. He is going to continue to face more advanced pitchers and it could help for him to draw more walks and cut back on strikeouts. He’s a smart hitter and his knowledge of the strike zone should help him as he moves up the ladder.

    He has shown power potential, but there is room for him to continue to grow. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he has added muscle since signing with the Twins. During his season rehabbing from Tommy John, he was able to add a lot of strength. He will be in his age-22 season this year, so he is getting close to the point where he could really start hitting his stride.

    Defensively, he played over 300 innings at first base last season, a first for him in his professional career. Kirilloff will need to continue to get reps at first base if that is going to be his path to the big leagues. He is athletic enough to handle first base or he has the ability to stick at a corner outfield spot, especially since he has a good arm.

    What’s Next
    There is certainly a chance for Kirilloff to make his big-league debut in 2020, but it will likely take an injury (or two) for him to get that opportunity. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and there are other players ahead of him on the depth chart. If he does debut, it will likely be due to the fact that he is healthy and hitting the cover off the ball. He could start the year in Pensacola or get the bump up to Rochester and by 2021, he should be a regular in Minnesota’s line-up.

    Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
    Honorable Mentions
    20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
    19. Cole Sands, RHP
    18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
    17. Misael Urbina, OF
    16. Edwar Colina, RP
    15. Matt Canterino, RHP
    14. Matt Wallner, OF
    13. Wander Javier, SS
    12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
    9. Brent Rooker, OF
    8. Keoni Cavaco, SS
    7. Ryan Jeffers, C
    6. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
    3. Trevor Larnach, OF
    2. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B

    Stop by tomorrow for prospect #1!
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Get to know more about Kirilloff and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

    ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)

    ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99)

    The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.

    • Feb 17 2020 08:48 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  11. Twins Trade Suggests More Pieces to Move

    Right now, much of the Graterol swap for Kenta Maeda remains up in the air. The Boston Red Sox are holding up the deal after seemingly being the only people in the room unaware that Minnesota’s hurler had Tommy John and was likely ticketed for relief work. Assuming newly appoint GM Chaim Bloom finds his own feet, things will work out as planned.

    The Twins clearly didn’t see Graterol as their best pitching prospect, or their third best overall. That should be a reminder the national lists are for public consumption and not utilized in negotiations. With other redundancies on the farm, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should have near-immediate opportunity to make similar decisions this summer should they so choose.

    Graterol was tabbed as expendable over the likes of Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic. How they evaluate outfielders and first basemen could ultimately swing moves as well.

    Right now, both Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff look destined to play a first base role at the major league level. Plenty has been made regarding concerns about Rooker’s footwork or adaptation to first, but it’s probably an initiative they’ll heavily push this year. He’s an older prospect at 25, and while he’s always been bat-first, being a DH exclusively would be suboptimal.

    We’ve seen Kirilloff’s stock slide some over the last year, and despite a down 2019 due to wrist issues, that’s more due to the assumed positional switch as well. First base makes him less impactful than corner outfield, and also puts him in a spot where Minnesota is currently flush with options. I’d certainly be shocked to see him move, but if there’s a big fish to acquire, that’s a nice centerpiece in Minnesota’s back pocket.

    The outfield is another area in which Minnesota could look to shed pieces. I’d imagine if there was any legitimate interest in Eddie Rosario this offseason, we would’ve seen something take place there. However, Royce Lewis could still be ticketed for the grass, and Byron Buxton’s name has come up in previous discussions. Also, 2019 competitive-balance round, 39th overall, pick Matt Wallner could be an option in a year or two, and the duo of Akil Baddoo or Gilberto Celestino may emerge. The next few months of evaluation should provide clarity.

    It’s unquestionable that Graterol was a very good asset for Minnesota. Their evaluation determined his future contributions were capped though, and it will be that line of thinking that ultimately determines the next set of decisions. Acquiring a top-three starter like the Twins did in Kenta Maeda is a great move. If there’s another addition that pushes a club this good into a true World Series contender role though, they’ll have bullets to fire from a top-10 farm system.

    It appears Falvey and Levine have their gun cocked and loaded. They won’t be afraid to pull the trigger.

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    • Feb 06 2020 08:20 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  12. Twins Announce Non-Roster Spring Training Invites

    Let’s start with the veterans brought in on minor-league contracts:

    Left-Handed Pitchers

    • Blaine Hardy: The lefty has spent parts of each of the past six seasons with the Detroit Tigers. In 233 games (13 starts), he tossed 289 2/3 innings and has a career ERA of 3.87 despite missing time in 2019 with injury.
    • Daniel Coulombe: The 30-year-old southpaw pitched in 153 games between the Dodgers and A’s between 2014 and 2018, including 72 games for the A’s in 2017. He split 2019 between the AAA affiliates of the Brewers and Yankees.
    • Caleb Thielbar: The soon-to-be-32-year-old from Randolph, Minnesota, was the Twins Most Outstanding Rookie in 2013 and played parts of three seasons with the Twins. After spending 2016 and 2017 with the St. Paul Saints, he has pitched well in AAA for the Tigers and Braves the last two years and was throwing harder for Team USA in the Premier12 tournament last fall.
    Right-Handed Pitchers
    • Ryan Garton: The hard-throwing, 30-year-old right-hander has pitched in 59 big-league games for the Rays and Mariners between 2016, 2017 and 2019.
    • Jhoulys Chacin: Initial plan for the veteran hurler is likely to fill Michael Pineda's rotation spot until his suspension ends. Read more about him here.
    Catchers
    • Tomas Telis: The 28-year-old Venezuelan played parts of five seasons (2014-2018) in the big leagues with the Rangers and Marlins. He hit .330 last season with the Rochester Red Wings but didn’t get a promotion to the Twins.
    • Juan Graterol: The 30-year-old, also from Venezuela, has spent parts of each of the past four seasons in the big leagues, with the Angels (2016-2018) and the Reds in 2019. He also played three games for the Twins in 2018. As you recall, he started the final game of that 2018 season for the Twins behind the plate, and was replaced in the ninth inning by Joe Mauer.
    Infielders
    • Wilfredo Tovar: The 28-year-old infielder returns to the Twins organization. He spent the 2016 season with the Red Wings. He had played nine games for the Mets between 2013 and 2014. He returned to the big-leagues in 2019 and played in 31 games for the Angels (.193 with 5 doubles).
    • Jack Reinheimer: The 27-year-old played two games for the Diamondbacks in 2017 and then 21 games for the Mets in 2018. He played for the Orioles’ AAA affiliate in 2019. He can play all three non-first base infield positions as well as in the outfield if needed.
    The Prospects

    We continue with the list of Twins minor league prospects who have been invited to spring training. These players are deemed relatively close to the big leagues and will be given an opportunity to spend the first three or four weeks learning from the big-league coaching staff and being seen by the big-league coaching staff. It’s a good chance to make an impression while also seeing how the current big leaguers, especially the veterans like Nelson Cruz, get themselves ready for a season.
    • Royce Lewis, SS: For the second straight year, the Twins top prospect will get to start camp with the big-league club. Last year, he missed time due to injury, but talked about what a great learning experience it was. He’s looking to put together a strong 2020 season.
    • Alex Kirilloff, OF: Before the Donaldson signing, Kirilloff may have been a contender for some time at first base for the Twins. He should continue to play the corner outfield spots and first base in 2019. This is his second invitation to big-league camp.
    • Brent Rooker, OF: This is the second big-league spring training for Rooker as well. The powerful outfielder may have arrived in Minnesota in 2019 if not for a late-season injury. After a slow start in AAA, Rooker mashed until the injury, showing the elite power he possesses.
    • Ben Rortvedt, C: He was the Twins second-round pick in 2016. He reached AA in 2019. Unfortunately his season ended with a knee surgery during the Arizona Fall League. His defense can be very strong, which is why this is the 22-year-olds second big league camp.
    • Ryan Jeffers, C: Drafted in the second round in 2018, Jeffers has already rocketed to Double-A and positioned himself for a big-league call-up in the near future. His offense has been outstanding, but the high marks he earns on the defensive side might be even more encouraging.
    • Trevor Larnach, OF: The outfielder was the Twins first-round pick in the 2018 draft from Oregon State. He began the season in Ft. Myers where he was a midseason and postseason All-Star and the league’s most valuable player despite moving up to Pensacola in the second half where more of his power potential played. Like Kirilloff, Larnach has a chance to be a special hitter.
    • Edwar Colina, RHP: The right-hander from Venezuela may be the least known name on this list, but that won’t be for long. Colina is a starting pitcher. The 22-year-old hit triple digits pretty much every game. He made ten starts in Ft. Myers, made seven appearances (4 starts, 3 “primary” appearances) in Pensacola and pitched twice for Rochester. This is his first big-league spring training.
    • Griffin Jax, RHP: The right-handed pitcher was a third-round draft pick in 2016 and has posted a 3.18 ERA across four minor-league seasons. Worked his way up to Class-AA Pensacola last year, where he was outstanding with a 2.67 ERA in 20 starts.
    • Charlie Barnes, LHP: The southpaw, known for his standout changeup, has been durable and mostly effective in 300 pro innings since coming aboard in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.
    • Jake Reed, RHP: The hard-throwing veteran reliever is back for the fifth straight year as a non-roster invite. He was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2015 from Oregon. He moved up quickly and has spent the past four years in Rochester, awaiting a call to make his MLB debut.
    • Sam Clay, LHP: The lefty was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2014 from Georgia Tech. He split the 2019 season between Pensacola and Rochester. He has remarkably allowed just one home run over the past three seasons.
    Who among these players has the best chance to make the team? Who are you excited to follow when spring training gets underway in just a couple short weeks?

    • Feb 04 2020 05:09 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  13. 3 Twins Prospects Impacted By Josh Donaldson's Signing

    Here are three players whose path to the major leagues could be altered because of Donaldson’s signing.

    Brent Rooker, OF/1B
    Rooker was Minnesota’s supplemental first-round pick back in 2017 and his college experience helped to push him all the way to Triple-A last season. He was limited to 67 games due to a right groin contusion. Prior to the injury, he was having one of his best professional seasons as he was hitting .281/.398/.535 while being nearly three years younger than the competition at Triple-A. Rooker is already on the 40-man roster so there is certainly a chance he makes it to Target Field this season. With the addition of a 26th roster spot for 2020, he would be an intriguing option as a bench bat later in the season.

    Donaldson Impact: With the addition of Donaldson, there would likely need to be multiple injuries for him to get an extended look at the big-league level.

    Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
    Like Rooker, Kirilloff missed time during the 2019 campaign due to injury. A wrist injury kept him out for the first month of 2019 and it continued to bother him throughout parts of the season. He told MiLB.com, “It takes a little bit more time to warm it up and get it going than usual…Just being able to mentally tell yourself and your body that your wrist is completely fine again is another step to take as well.” Kirilloff is widely considered one of the organization’s top prospects, but he will likely spend 2019 between Double- and Triple-A. He’s still a prospect to watch during the up-coming season.

    Donaldson Impact: Kirilloff could have been a candidate to take over at first base, but now he can prove he’s healthy and swing his way onto the 40-man roster.

    Trevor Larnach, OF
    Minnesota made Larnach the 20th selection in the 2018 MLB Draft and he spent little time making his mark on the organization. During his first full professional season, he hit .309/.384/.458 with 44 extra-base hits on his way to being named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. The Florida State League is usually considered a tough hitting environment and Larnach posted an .842 OPS across 84 games. Larnach, along with the names above, are a trio of prospects more known for their bats than their defense. If Rooker and Kirilloff are healthy, they could get a big-league opportunity before Larnach has a chance.

    Donaldson Impact: If Minnesota is higher on Rooker and Kirilloff than Larnach, he could be the key prospect included in a deal to acquire a starting pitcher before the season’s start or at the trade deadline.

    If you want to learn more about the players discussed above, make sure to pick up a copy of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. There are profiles and scouting reports on nearly 170 players in the Twins farm system along with articles and prospect rankings.

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    • Jan 21 2020 06:32 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  14. Is Eddie Rosario Facing a Make-or-Break Year With the Twins?

    According to FanGraphs, Eddie Rosario has provided the Twins $83.7 million worth of value over the course of his five big league seasons. His best season was 2018 when he accumulated a 3.5 WAR and FanGraphs valued him at $27.6 million. He was worth $20.6 million in 2017 and $19.6 million in 2015, his rookie season. These are some great seasons, especially since the Twins have only paid him $5.89 million throughout his career.

    Last season was Rosario’s least valuable season besides the 2016 campaign where he was limited to 92 games. He set career highs in home runs and RBI while having less than 90 strikeouts for the first time. Even with those positives, his defensive decline is drastically impacting his value to the Twins.

    SABR’s Defensive Index ranked Rosario as the third worst AL left fielder last season with a -5.7 SDI. Only Seattle’s Domingo Santana and Boston’s Andrew Benintendi ranked lower than Rosario. Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, a newly released statistic, ranks Rosario even worse. Among the 92 qualified outfielders his -17 OAA is the lowest total by four outs.

    Even with his positive offensive numbers, FanGraphs puts Rosario’s value at $9.3 million last season. He will cost the Twins nearly $8 million in 2020 and his salary would increase for 2021, his age-29 season. It could be getting to the point where Rosario’s on-field value doesn’t match the salary he is being paid. Minnesota’s front office is smart enough to look at his overall value and it could be in the best interest of the team to cut ties with Rosario.

    Back in 2016, the Twins went through a similar situation with Trevor Plouffe. He was projected to earn $8.2 million in his final year of arbitration. Instead Minnesota cut ties with him, because the roster had other first base/DH options and Miguel Sano was ready to take over at third base. Plouffe had been limited to 84 games in 2016 and he would only play 107 more games at the big-league level.

    To take the place of Rosario, the Twins could have other prospects waiting to take over a corner outfield spot. Players like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach could both be ready for a full-time role on the 2021 Twins. Each would be making the minimum salary and they could be able to provide more value without being as much of a defensive liability.

    Rosario has provided some dramatic moments throughout his Twins tenure, but his days in a Twins uniform could be numbered. Do you think the Twins keep Rosario beyond the 2020 season?

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    • Jan 20 2020 02:19 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  15. Looking Way Ahead: Who Needs to be Added to the 40-Man Roster... in November

    Admittedly, so much can and will happen between now and November. There will be spring training, a 162-game regular season and a 140-game minor-season. There will likely be trades. The 26-man active roster will be enacted for the first time. There will be injuries. There will be breakouts. And there will be players who struggle adjusting as they move up the ladder.

    So primarily this is a fun exercise, an opportunity for you to read and see listed the players who need to be added. However, every year we also try to consider if there will be a logjam on the 40-man roster, and maybe some players who will be eligible could be considered as trade candidates.

    So, here is a quick reminder of what players will be eligible for the 2020 Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. Here is this year’s criteria:

    • Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2016 (during the minor league season).
    • Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2017.
    • Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again.
    • Players drafted or signed during the 2014 season became free agents after the World Series was complete.
    But back to the players needing to be added or risk losing to the Rule 5 draft,.. In 10 months. I’ll break them into a few categories. The Givens are players that I think have to be added or there is a high likelihood that they will be selected by another team. The next category will be Possibly. I think there is a chance these guys could be added depending upon how many players the team chooses to add. Because we are so far out, I chose to add more names, so I included some that may be On the Bubble at this point. And then of course I jotted down the other players that are eligible. The final group is comprised of the players will be free agents at the conclusion of the World Series unless added before then.

    The Givens

    If I had written this article one year ago, I certainly would have had Wander Javier in the Givens category. Injuries can certainly alter perspective. The numbers game, mid-season acquisitions and other players stepping up can also be a factor. In addition, some of these guys could get called up before the season ends and won’t be on the list.
    • OF Alex Kirilloff - 1st round pick in 2016 from high school in Pennsylvania. Top prospects are going to get protected. They won’t be non-tendered. Kirilloff won’t be non-tendered. In fact, there is a decent chance he gets called up during the season.
    • RHP Jordan Balazovic - 5th round pick in 2016 from secondary school in Ontario. A Top 100 prospect coming into the 2020 season. Should spent most of 2020 in Pensacola.
    • OF/1B Brent Rooker - Competitive Balance A pick in 2017 from Mississippi State. Likely to be called up in-season, but if not, he is likely to be added.
    • RHP Edwar Colina - Signed from Venezuela in late September 2015. Colina wasn’t a big prospect when he was signed, now he’s hitting triple-digits and has the pitches to potentially be a starter.
    Possibles
    • SS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster this offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. Again, by season’s end, he’s a candidate for the Givens section.
    • C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the season at Pensacola before a knee injury. Terrific defensively and very strong.
    • 3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles to third base.
    • OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and a great power-speed combination.
    • RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up fantastic numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance.
    • RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020.
    • RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5.
    • LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, if not 2020.
    • RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He’ll rehab most of the year which means he’ll be closer to his return. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level?
    --------------------
    To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too.
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    On the Bubble
    • OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense.
    • LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches.
    • 2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup.
    • LHP Lachlan Wells - Wells was well on track to be added a couple of years ago but Tommy John surgery cost him some development time. He missed the 2018 season and returned in the second half of 2019. Can he return to form in his first full season back?
    • LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester).
    • RHP Tom Hackimer - Twins 4th round pick in 2015 from St. Johns, the side-winder had surgery after the AFL in 2018. He pitched briefly for the Miracle before finishing the season in Pensacola.
    • 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. If he takes another step, he could be added.
    • 1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He should get a shot in 2020 during that season.
    Others in their first year of eligibility:
    • Tyler Benninghoff, Matt Jones, Kidany Salva, Jared Akins, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Petru Balan, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Taylor Grzelakowski, Jimmy Kerrigan, Fernando Martinez, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Frandy Torres, Janigson Villalobos.
    Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020.
    • Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Joe Cronin, Miguel De Jesus, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone, Moises Gomez, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Alex Schick, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Aaron Whitefield, Malique Ziegler.
    These players will become free agents at the conclusion of the 2020 World Series unless added to the 40-man roster.
    • Sam Clay, Andro Cutura, Randy LeBlanc, Jose Martinez, Jake Reed.
    Again, this is mostly an exercise in looking ahead, information for you to consider throughout the 2020 season. It’s also something where, as the Twins talk trades and potentially see a 40-man roster crunch next offseason, maybe this information comes into play.

    And frankly, it will just be kind of fun to see which of these players move up or down the list and how this list looks different in November.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too.

    Posted Image

    • Jan 17 2020 08:23 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  16. Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2020: Part 3 (6-10)

    First, to reiterate the parameters and stipulations:

    • Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally).
    • Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we're using here. But for the purposes of this list, we're analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors. (Sorry Willians.)
    • The idea is to assess their importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this regard, it's not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that's dependent on another team's situation and needs. (For instance, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr. would be more valuable to many other teams than they are to the Twins, who are rich with short-term and long-term corner outfield depth.)
    • This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2019.
    • Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion?
    Any questions or quibbles, holler in the comments. Let's continue the countdown.

    TOP 20 MINNESOTA TWINS ASSETS OF 2020 (6-10)

    10. Luis Arraez, 2B
    2019 Ranking: NR

    Last offseason, the Twins briefly considered exposing Arraez to the Rule 5 draft but thought better of it, adding him to the 40-man roster one day after doing the same for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade, Jr. It was a wise decision to say the least.

    The scrappy and perpetually overlooked Arraez raked everywhere in 2019. He batted .342 at Double-A, .348 at Triple-A, and most impressively, .342 during a 92-game major-league debut that saw him finish sixth for AL Rookie of the Year. At age 22, Arraez was a disciplined OBP force, bringing balance to an aggressive and power-laden lineup. He showed solid defense at second and even looked capable in left. The upward trend with his power – he hit four homers with the Twins after totaling six in 367 minor-league games – hints toward offensive upside yet to be tapped.

    9. Alex Kirilloff, OF
    2019 Ranking: 4

    Kirilloff didn't have a bad year in 2019. Taking on Double-A as a 21-year-old, he batted .283 with a .756 OPS in 94 games. Perfectly solid numbers given the context. But he didn't nearly match the excellence of his breakout 2018 campaign, and lost extensive time to a wrist injury, which is a tough developmental blow for a young player who missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John.

    Kirilloff remains the best pure hitting prospect in the organization, but the luster has worn off slightly and his indispensability has diminished somewhat with the continued rise of Trevor Larnach and others. This explains why Kirilloff ranks as a Top 10 asset rather than a Top 5 asset this time around, but he's still plenty valuable and exciting.

    8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    2019 Ranking: NR

    The same thought process that led to Jhoan Duran ranking 13th applies here: "Pitching prospects with high ceilings that are close to the major leagues are valuable to every franchise, and especially to the Twins in this moment." Balazovic is a bit further from the majors than Duran, having finished at High-A in 2019, but he's on a higher prospect tier. In fact, Balazovic is the best pitching prospect in the system who has yet to reach the majors.

    Duran has great stuff, but he lacks the consistent results to back it up. This is where Balazovic separates. Since joining the organization as a fifth-round pick in 2016, the right-hander has simply performed, registering a 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9 rate through his first 228 innings as a pro. At 6'5" and 214 lbs, he's a big sturdy athlete with a mid-90s fastball and advanced command. He was absolutely sensational in 2019, with a 2.69 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 12.4 K/9 rate between two levels of A-ball at age 20, so his stock is riding high. Can he build upon it?

    7. Byron Buxton, OF
    2019 Ranking: 3

    A healthy Buxton can be one of the most impactful difference-makers in Major League Baseball. This was the premise for ranking him No. 1 two years ago, and No. 3 last year. It was reinforced in 2019 when he was on the field, as the center fielder accrued 2.7 fWAR in just 87 games with an .827 OPS, 44 extra-base hits, 14 steals, and almost unparalleled defensive value.

    Alas, the overriding story of Buxton's season was, once again, injury. And it's one that spills over into 2020, as the 26-year-old is currently in the process of rehabbing from significant shoulder surgery. He's opened four different seasons with the Twins and played 100 games in only one of them. The mounting physical uncertainties make it impossible to trust his reliability going forward, making him feel like more of a bonus factor than centerpiece crux. And while free agency is still three years away, it's no longer a tiny blip on the horizon.

    With that said, if he can find a way to make it happen, a full healthy and productive season from Buxton will be more pivotal to Minnesota's championship hopes than any ace pitcher the Twins could sign or trade for. I firmly believe that.

    6. Mitch Garver, C
    2019 Ranking: 11

    Is Garver the best catcher in baseball? Is he one of the best offensive backstops in MLB history? Will he be an MVP contender for years to come? Based entirely on the sample of his 2019 season, the answer to all those questions would be "yes," and he'd be No. 1 in these rankings with a bullet. But that sample amounts to only 93 games, and is so wildly out of line with his previous track record that it's tough to know exactly how to weight it.

    Garver has shown a knack for improving himself and disproving doubters, transforming from ninth-round draft pick to fringy catching prospect to bona fide big-league starter, but the leap last year was drastic by any standard. Thirty-one homers and a .995 OPS in 93 games, from a CATCHER (one with noticeably improved defense), is nuts. But it remains to be seen whether Garver was playing out of his mind for six months with a juiced ball, or setting a new norm. It bears noting that he turns 29 next week, making him the oldest player in this Top 10 by a sizable margin, and the only one who's not on the front end of his physical prime.

    Regardless, Garver has clearly established himself as a long-term building block, with four years of team control remaining.

    RECAPPING THE RANKINGS SO FAR:

    20. Ryan Jeffers, C
    19. Eddie Rosario, OF
    18. Michael Pineda, RHP
    17. Nelson Cruz, DH
    16. Tyler Duffey, RHP
    15. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
    14. Trevor Larnach, OF
    13. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    12. Taylor Rogers, LHP
    11. Miguel Sano, 3B
    10. Luis Arraez, 2B
    9. Alex Kirilloff, OF
    8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    7. Byron Buxton OF
    6. Mitch Garver, C

    Check back in tomorrow for Part 4.

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    • Jan 08 2020 02:36 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  17. 4 Twins Prospects to Watch in 2020

    Here are four prospects to watch in 2021 for different reasons. One player could be a contributor in 2020, one was a rising prospect this season, one prospect saw his stock decline, and another has a chance to be jump on the radar next year.

    2020 Contributor: Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
    Late in spring training, he suffered what was called a minor wrist injury and it would keep him out of action until May and then he missed more time in June. He was limited to 94 games and saw his OPS drop to .756 as he had for 29 extra-base hits. As the season progressed, he showed signs of the player he was in 2018. During the month of August, he hit .311/.351/.500 (.851) with five home runs and five doubles. The five home runs were more than double the total he had in any other month of the season.

    Minnesota’s starting first baseman from last season, C.J. Cron, was non-tendered earlier this off-season and this could be an opportunity for Kirilloff to take over at first base. The Twins drafted Kirilloff as a corner outfielder, but he played over 300 innings at first base last season. He was charged with five errors in 266 chances for a .981 fielding percentage. While Minnesota might give Kirilloff a long look in spring training, it seems more likely for the club to use another internal option at first base like Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver and/or Marwin Gonzalez.

    Riser: Jhoan Duran, RHP
    Duran pitched most of 2019 at High-A and he was able to make seven Double-A starts where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. The 2020 season will be important for Duran to prove he can be a long-term starter as some are starting to look to him as a relief pitching option. His delivery can be inconsistent, but he threw strikes on 64.7% of his pitches. Even with these concerns, he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second straight season. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020.

    Faller: Wander Javier, SS
    Javier originally signed with the Twins back in 2015 for $4 million and he has been slowly working his way through the Twins system. He spent 2016 in the Dominican Summer League and jumped to Elizabethton in 2017. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all the 2018 season. Last year he played the entire year at Cedar Rapids and hit .177/.278/.323 (.601) with 21 extra-base hits. Minnesota left him off their 40-man roster and exposed him to the Rule 5 Draft. He wasn’t selected and this means he will stay in the organization. Now, he will have plenty to prove next season and he still has plenty of promise.

    One to watch: Misael Urbina, CF
    Urbina signed with the Twins during the international signing period back in 2018. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League and hit .279/.382/.443 (.825) in 50 games. He has great speed and was able to show that with five triples and 19 stolen bases last season. On the defensive side, he uses his speed to be a good to be a strong defender in center field and he continues to improve with his arm. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with Urbina. Will they move him to Elizabethton like they did with Javier?

    What prospects will you be keeping an eye on this coming season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Feb 06 2020 09:54 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  18. Top Ten Twins Prospects of the Decade

    While I am still working toward completing the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook, I am putting together my official 2020 Twins preseason Top 50 prospect rankings. In the Handbook, you can see my official prospect rankings dating back over 15 years.

    But I thought it might be fun to look back at the past decade and try to rank the top Twins prospects of the decade. To do so, I considered several sources. First and foremost, I looked at my Top 30 Twins prospect rankings from the last ten years. I also considered how the players ranked nationally. And then, I tossed in some opinion too.

    I hope you enjoy the rankings, and just as much, I hope you have some good memories as you think back to prospects past, guys who made it and guys who didn’t. Let’s start with some guys who just missed the list:

    Honorable Mention

    • Max Kepler - Baseball America ranked him #30 before the 2016 season. One of the best European players of all-time already, Kepler signed in 2009. His 2015 season was one of the best that I can recall.
    • Wander Javier - Signed to a $4 million signing bonus in 2015, he has shown talent and athleticism. He just hasn’t had the ability to stay on the field much. Baseball America ranked him #95 prior to the 2018 season.
    • Jorge Polanco - Another international signing from 2009, Polanco is the longest-tenured player in the Twins organization, a few days longer than Max Kepler. Polanco was signed as a smooth infielder, but when he reached Cedar Rapids, it was his bat that took off. Before the 2016 season, he ranked #99 by Baseball America.
    • Fernando Romero - Before the 2018, MLB.com ranked Romero the #68 prospect in baseball. He made his debut that season. He missed two years of development due to Tommy John surgery or it’s quite possible that he would have had more time to rank high nationally.
    • Brusdar Graterol - Like Romero, Graterol missed about two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, but when he came back, he was hitting triple digits and people noticed. After staying healthy throughout the 2018 season, he ranked #33 by Baseball Prospectus and #55 by Baseball America. He should rank high again in 2020.
    • Oswaldo Arcia - The Twins signed Arcia early. He put up huge numbers in the lower levels and then flew up the ladder. Baseball America ranked him #43 before the 2013 season. He hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2016. He’s just 28 years old.
    • Brent Rooker - The Twins liked Rooker enough to draft him twice. Since the 2017 draft, he has moved up the ladder very quickly and is at the cusp of the big leagues.Baseball America ranked him #92 before the 2018 season. He spent 2019 in Rochester.
    • Eddie Rosario - Rosario was the Twins fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and he has been hitting ever since. While Baseball American never put him in their Top 100, Baseball Prospectus ranked him #87 in 2012 and #60 before 2014.
    • Kohl Stewart - The fourth-overall pick in the 2014 draft was a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus before the 2014 and/or 2015 season, ranking 28th on BP’s pre-2015 rankings. He struggled to get strikeouts but limited damage. He signed with the Orioles earlier this week.
    • Joe Benson - Benson was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2006. A great athlete, he had great speed and power potential. He ranked 100th by Baseball American before the 2011 season and 99th before the 2012 season. He spent that September with the Twins and never got back to the big leagues.
    • Lewis Thorpe - The Twins signed him from Australia. Baseball Prospectus ranked him #101 in 2014 and #91 before the 2015 season. He missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. Since his return, he has pitched well and debuted in 2019.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    #10 - Stephen Gonsalves

    The Twins selected Gonsalves from his southern California high school in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. While he wasn’t a flamethrower, Gonsalves simply put up numbers. In Low A, he went 8-4 with a 1.96 ERA. He had 121 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings. In Ft. Myers, he went 12-6 with a 2.48 ERA. In 145 innings, he struck out 121 batters. In AA, he went 19-4 with a 2.35 ERA. He had 213 strikeouts in 184 innings. In AAA, he went 10-6 with a 3.46 ERA. He had 119 strikeouts in 125 innings. He went 2-2 with the Twins late in the 2018 season. He missed most of 2019 with forearm and elbow issues. The Twins tried to sneak him through waivers after the season, but the New York Mets claimed him. Before the 2017 season, he ranked #99 by Baseball America. A year later, he ranked #97. MLB.com ranked him #78 before the 2018 season.

    Seth Rankings: 2014 (13), 2015 (15), 2016 (6), 2017 (1), 2018 (2), 2019 (10)


    #9 - Nick Gordon

    Gordon was the Twins top pick, fifth overall, in the 2014 draft. Along with genetics, he has a lot of talent. He’s got a smooth, line-drive swing and uses the whole field well. He’s athletic. He’s not as fast as his brother Dee, but he does have a little more power (though not much). He had a solid season in Rochester in 2019. Unfortunately he missed a lot of time with a knee injury. Prospect rankings love him. He was a Top 100 prospect before the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons. He ranked #33 by MLB.com before the 2015 season. He ranked #35 by Baseball Prospectus before the 2018 season.

    Seth Rankings: 2015 (4), 2016 (4), 2017 (4), 2018 (3), 2019 (12)


    #8 - Kyle Gibson

    Gibson was the Twins first-round draft pick in 2009 (21st overall) out of Missouri. He made his pro debut in 2010 and pitched in Ft. Myers, New Britain and Rochester. He was on the verge of his big league debut. Before the 2011 season, Baseball America ranked him as the #34 prospect in baseball. Unfortunately, in late 2011, he had Tommy John surgery. He returned late in 2012. Before the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked him #68. Baseball Prospectus ranked him #64 and MLB.com had him ranked #49.

    Seth Rankings: 2010 (5), 2011 (1), 2012 (7), 2013 (6)


    #7 - Aaron Hicks

    Hicks was the 14th overall pick in 2008. He began appearing on prospect rankings in 2009. His prospect status peaked before the 2010 season when Baseball America ranked him #19 and Baseball Prospectus ranked #26. While he dropped out of the Top 100 before the 2012 season, he jumped back in before the 2013 season when he made his MLB debut. His combination of power and speed with a big arm and great centerfield defense made him intriguing to the Twins and scouts around the game. It took a little time for it to come together, but it certainly did.

    Seth Rankings: 2010 (1), 2011 (3), 2012 (4), 2013 (5)


    #6 - Alex Meyer

    It was well known that the Nationals really wanted Denard Span from the Twins, enough that they were willing to deal former first-round pick Alex Meyer straight-up for him following the 2012 season. At the time, Meyer was a consensus Top 100 prospect. At 6-9 with a fastball in the upper-90s, teams knew he was raw but had potential to become a top-of-rotation starter. A year later, he ranked even higher, and before the 2015 season, he was the 14th prospect (overall) by Baseball Prospectus. He pitched in four games for the Twins before being traded at the July 2016 deadline. He retired from baseball after a series of shoulder injuries after the 2019 season .

    Seth Rankings: 2013 (4), 2014 (3), 2015 (6), 2016 (14)


    #5 - Alex Kirilloff

    Kirilloff was the Twins top pick in 2016 (15th overall) out of high school. MLB.come ranked him #98 after that season, but he missed the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2018 and put together one of the best minor league seasons you’ll ever see, splitting his season in half between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He hit for average (.348) and power (44 doubles, 7 triples and 20 home runs). Before the 2019 season, MLB.com ranked him #9 while Baseball America ranked him at #15.

    Seth Rankings: 2017 (3), 2018 (5), 2019 (2),


    #4 - Jose Berrios

    Berrios was the Twins supplemental first-round draft pick (#32 overall) in the 2012 draft. While he was a high draft choice, he was seen as a very raw prospect. Some saw him as a back-of-rotation starter. But as Berrios continued to put up strong numbers throughout the minor leagues, and his workouts became well known, his prospect status rose. He was Top 100 by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. Before the 2015 season, all three national sites put him in their Top 50 prospects and kept him there before the 2016 season too. MLB.com and BP ranked him in their Top 20 before 2016.

    Seth Rankings: 2013 (8), 2014 (7), 2015 (3), 2016 (2)

    Posted Image
    photo by Steve Buhr


    #3 - Royce Lewis

    Lewis was the first overall pick in the 2017 draft out of JSerra High School. He put up strong numbers that summer between the GCL and Cedar Rapids. Before the 2018 season, he ranked between #20 and #27 in the three national rankings. In 2018, he put together a strong season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, helping both to the playoffs and the Miracle to a Florida State League title. He showed he can play shortstop, hit and hit for power. Before the 2019 season, he was Top 10 in each. MLB.com ranked him highest at #5. He struggled with the bat in 2019, so he’ll likely drop some in the rankings, but he will still be in the Top 50 and should be much higher.

    Seth Rankings: 2018 (1), 2019 (1)


    #2 - Miguel Sano

    The Twins signed Sano in October 2009 from the Dominican. He was already the star of a documentary telling his unusual story and making him a known commodity around the baseball world. Before even playing a game as a pro, Baseball Prospectus ranked him #35. Even after missing the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery, Sano remained one of baseball’s top prospects. Baseball America ranked him in their Top 100 each year from 2010 through 2015. Four of those years he was Top 20, and twice he was in their Top 10. Baseball Prospectus also ranked him six straight seasons. He never got into their Top 10, but three of the years he ranked between 12 and 14. Lowest they ranked him was #31. MLB.com didn’t add him to their Top 100 until before the 2012 season. At that time, he ranked #23. Before the 2014 season, he reached #4 in their rankings. What made Sano so intriguing was his power potential, and we certainly have seen that!

    Seth Rankings: 2010 (3), 2011 (2), 2012 (1), 2013 (1), 2014 (2), 2015 (2)


    #1 - Byron Buxton

    Byron Buxton was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft out of high school in Georgia. Buxton was as toolsy as any player or prospect. He hit. He had some power. He played elite defense and had a strong, powerful arm. Not only did he have all the tools, but he put up huge numbers. In 2013, he hit .334 with 19 doubles, 17 triples and 12 homers between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He also stole 55 bases. Baseball America named him the minor league player of the year. Before the 2014 season, he was the consensus #1 prospect in baseball. He continued to impress as he climbed the ladder. Before the 2015 season, he ranked #1 by MLB.com and BP while Baseball American ranked him #2. Before the 2016, he ranked #2 across the board. In 2017, he won the American League Platinum Glove Award. In 2019, we saw him put it all together for the first half of the season. When he is healthy, he is as talented and impactful as any player in baseball … not named Mike Trout, of course.

    Seth Twins Rankings: 2013 (2), 2014 (1), 2015 (1), 2016 (1)


    --------------------------------------------------------

    So there you have it… My Top 10 Twins Prospects of the Decade. What do you think? It really is an impressive group of prospects and many of them (and some of the Honorable Mentions too) have achieved success in the big leagues.

    Another theme is that the Twins have seen injuries affect so many of these players’ careers. Tommy John for pitchers and hitters. But the Twins have had a lot of talent and still more talent on the way.

    How would you rank these prospects? Did I miss anyone?

    • Dec 31 2019 09:34 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  19. Alex Kirilloff Should Make his Twins Debut in 2020

    Kirilloff experienced an up and down 2019 campaign compared to his stellar 2018 at A/A+ where he hit .348/.392/.578 (.970) with 20 home runs. The 2019 season was riddled with injuries, resulting in only 94 games played and 150 fewer plate appearances. He still put together a pretty average line of .283/.343/.413 (.756) but the .
    165 point drop off in slugging is a bit concerning. Along with the drop off in plate appearances, Kirilloff had 26 fewer doubles, five fewer triples, and 11 fewer home runs.

    Nonetheless, Kirilloff has shown he has the ability to be an excellent hitter and he was still solid last season despite constant injuries and being one of the youngest players at AA. His final month was great as he slashed .311/.351/.500 (.851) in 26 games and tacked on his final five home runs.

    Could Kirilloff make the opening day roster?

    Alex Kirilloff will likely enter spring training fighting for a roster spot depending on what takes place this offseason. Will C.J. Cron be coming back? Could the Twins trade a starting outfielder? I don’t know, but if Cron or any of the three outfielders aren’t here to start 2020, then Kirilloff could win a starting spot on the roster. I doubt he makes the roster as a bench player because the Twins would rather have him get consistent at-bats in the minors so it's starter or minor leagues.

    He could take Cron’s spot because it appeared he was being groomed to do just that last season. The Twins began experimenting with him as a first baseman, and he played 35 games there while still playing 49 in the outfield. At first base he did fine for his first season with five errors in those games to give him a .981 fielding percentage. He will never be an elite fielder so if he is going to be a star then his bat will have to do most of the work.

    When is it most likely he makes his debut?

    If I had to project when I think Kirilloff will actually be up with the Twins, I would say late August or early September. If Cron or an outfielder is gone for the 2020 season I would expect the Twins to find a veteran placeholder like Avisail Garcia rather than immediately rely on a rookie. If Alex Kirilloff is performing well enough in the minors during the season to the point where he just has to be called up, I don’t think the Twins will hesitate to do so. They know the type of player he could become if everything breaks right. There is a reason he has earned some comparison to Joey Votto.

    He may not make it until late in the season, but I definitely expect we will see Alex Kirilloff wearing a Twins uniform before the season is over. When do you hope to see Kirilloff make his debut? What do you expect from him when he does finally make it to the majors? Leave a comment below.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.

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    • Nov 07 2019 09:22 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  20. Mark Contreras Named 2019 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Winner

    Contreras was drafted by the Twins in the ninth round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft from the University of California, Riverside. He spent all his pro debut in Elizabethton hitting .275/.319/.421 (.740) while logging innings at all three outfield positions. During the 2018 season, he played the majority of the season as the left fielder in Fort Myers with a .689 OPS.

    He’d start the 2019 campaign back in Fort Myers but 85 of his 112 games came in Pensacola. Miracle. In 182 total chances, he made no errors and recorded 13 outfield assists. For the Blue Wahoos, Contreras played 46 games in left field, 16 in center field, and seven in right field, totaling 576.1 innings in the Pensacola outfield while maintaining a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

    “It’s crazy to think that I just won the Gold Glove for all the minor leagues in left field,” Contreras said. “It’s an honor to be recognized for my defense. It’s awesome and it just goes to show that the hard work is paying off. Everything we did during spring training with the outfield coordinator got us ready to do the right things.”

    So, what does the award mean to him?

    “It means a lot. At a young age, every coach I had said ‘Defense helps wins games,’” Contreras added. My Pops always told me if it’s not working with the bat today, you can always go out there and make a play and change the momentum. It means a lot that it’s not only just offense getting recognized, it’s defense.”

    Contreras got to play with some very good players in 2019 and the culture seems to be changing in the Twins organization.

    ““It’s a great group of guys. We work hard in spring training with one goal in mind, to play hard and showcase that the Twins aren’t just about winning in the big leagues, but across the minor league system. A lot of the Blue Wahoos from Opening Day ended up making their big-league debuts. It shows that it’s a great group of guys out there doing their jobs and we all are a big family. To say that we made the playoffs again, that’s awesome. That’s the end goal. It was a great year as a whole.”

    Contreras is still working hard this week even after winning one of the minor league’s top honors.

    “I’m going back to Fort Myers in November for [off-season instructional] camps,” Contreras said. “It keeps us on our toes and working on the right things in the off-season. It tunes us up for what the organization expects us to show up with in spring training. It’s very helpful to get pointers and work with the coordinators one-on-one. I really enjoy it and it keeps the players on the right track and gives me an understanding of what I need to keep working on.”

    Congrats to Contreras on the honor.

    • Oct 15 2019 04:17 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  21. Leading Off Podcast: Offseason SZN is Upon Us

    Hey everyone, your favorite or probably least favorite duo is back with another podcast! This is our first official episode during what we expect to be a fun offseason, and we previewed it all here. We included some free agent targets, 40-man roster questions, building a rotation, and much more so check it out.

    Click this link to go to the Spotify playlist!
    https://open.spotify..._S26GtGfBm_Smyg

    Time stamps

    2:10 The baseball is different?

    6:45 The offseason is here...what now?

    14:15 Twins have some free agents

    27:40 40-Man roster questions

    42:00 discussing some free agent targets

    55:00 Fan questions

    • Alex Kirilloff or Rosario on opening day?
    • Realistic starting rotation?
    • Which SP is likely to sign with Twins
    • A genie question

    • Oct 14 2019 09:59 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  22. Can the Twins Become the New Astros? Part 2

    Click here for Part 1 of this series.

    Building the Farm

    While Houston’s farm system isn’t as strong as it once was, Jeff Luhnow and company did a great job of using their high draft pics to add invaluable pieces like SS Carlos Correa and 3B Alex Bregman to rebuild the farm. While they added plenty of major league talent, rebuilding the farm also gave the Astros the prospect capital they needed to add key pieces such as Verlander in 2017, Gerrit Cole and Pressly last season, and Zack Greinke this year. Repeated success and the corresponding lower draft position along with several trades have weakened Houston’s farm, but they have been able to add high-end talent without giving up too much and the whole point of having a good farm system is to eventually have success at the highest level, a tradeoff I’m sure the Astros would take ad infinitum.

    While the Twins struggles since 2010 were not as intentional as Houston’s, Minnesota received plenty of top 10 draft pics due to their struggles. Ryan and company’s results are a bit of a mixed bag up to this point. With the second pick in the 2012 draft, the Twins picked Byron Buxton immediately after the Astros selected Correa, and although he has suffered several injury setbacks and taken some time to establish himself in the big leagues, Minnesota did well with that pick (if you disagree, look at the pics who followed Buxton). They also selected Jose Berrios with a supplemental first-round pick in that draft, along with Tyler Duffey in the fifth round and Taylor Rogers in the 12th.

    After the 2012 draft the results weren’t quite as sterling for the Twins. In 2013 they picked high school righty Kohl Stewart (SP), with the fourth overall pick, and although he has reached the majors his upside is extremely limited and he has to be considered a disappointment at this point. The verdict on 2014 fifth overall pick Nick Gordon is still out. He has yet to reach the majors, but had a good year in Triple A that was shortened due to injury, however questions about his ability to remain at shortstop remain. Hindsight is 20/20 but both Aaron Nola and Trey Turner were available.

    With the sixth overall pick in 2015 Minnesota selected Tyler Jay, a college reliever that the Twins tried to turn into a starter and was a complete failure (he’s no longer in the organization), but 2016 first rounder, outfielder Alex Kirilloff (No. 15 overall), has become a top prospect who should join the Twins soon.

    Of course, the Astros also wasted a top pick on pitcher Mark Appel who was a bust and the Twins did hit on some later round picks, but given the high draft position that Minnesota had from 2012-15, the results have been underwhelming. Falvey and Levine are too early in their tenure to put too much stock in their draft picks but they were gifted the number one overall pick in their first year. They selected shortstop Royce Lewis, who is very high on most national prospect lists despite a somewhat disappointing 2019, although he has been much younger than his competition and is off to a great start in the Arizona Fall League. Last year’s first-round pick, College World Series hero Trevor Larnach, has had a promising start to his career as well. The Twins went for a high-risk, high-reward high school prospect in this year’s draft, selecting SS/3B Keoni Cavaco who has a long road to travel before reaching Minnesota.

    The FO has done a lot to bolster the farm through trades. They gained the most at the 2018 trade deadline due to being out of contention, unlike 2017 where they were surprise contenders, although they did pick up Zack Littell that year, picking up multiple prospects including pitchers Johan Duran, Jorge Alcala, and Dakota Chalmers and outfielders Gilberto Celestino, Gabriel Maciel, and Luke Raley. They gained several other smaller pieces as well, including Devin Smeltzer, and greatly improved the overall depth of the system.

    Even while being obvious buyers at the deadline this season the FO was clearly hesitant to let go of top prospects like Lewis and Kirilloff to obtain a top-notch starter, though they even managed to add a pitching prospect, Chris Vallimont, in the Sergio Romo trade. They have built one of the best farm systems in baseball and seem keen to keep it that way. While teams like the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox were willing to part with some of their best prospects, teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and to a lesser extent Houston, have been less willing to give away prized prospects. This has allowed the Dodgers to be good for a very long time, and both the Dodgers and the Astros seem to have new stars come out of their system almost every year. Falvey and Levine like to talk about the long-term future for the organization and seemed poised to follow a similar path.

    The Young Core

    Although Houston did a lot to improve their club through drafts and trades, a few key pieces of the future World Series champs were in the organization when Luhnow took over. One of the most important pieces of the Astros run of success has been Jose Altuve, an undersized player who puts up big numbers while playing second base. Along with Altuve, Houston had also drafted outfielder George Springer prior to the new FO and he has also been a huge cog in their always potent lineup, batting leadoff for the World Series run. But outside of Altuve and Springer, most of Houston’s players came from within the system after Luhnow took over or were acquired through trades and free agency.

    Falvey and Levine were fortunate to inherit a pretty impressive young core to build around. A lot of the credit should actually go to former GM Bill Smith, who in his short tenure was able to sign Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler in one international signing period. As previously noted, both Buxton and Berrios were drafted under Ryan, as were Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario. The new FO does deserve credit for extending both Polanco and Kepler to team-friendly deals prior to their breakout seasons this year and it is possible that they will seek more extensions with some of the others this offseason.

    • Oct 17 2019 05:36 AM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  23. Leading Off Podcast: Alex Kirilloff Time?

    Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5n8sCVvjqbedPf1qDCu2oI

    Hey everyone, we're back after a pretty interesting week. We discuss everything that happens including the Pineda suspension and the blockbuster Ryan LaMarre trade along with much more.

    Time stamps:

    2:20 Week in review

    8:30 Michael Pineda suspended. How can the Twins replace him?'

    18:00 With Pineda out, how are playoff hopes looking?

    24:00 Chances of a Kirilloff promotion?

    31:30 Discussing all 4,963 of the injuries

    39:30 Fan questions

    54:45 Martin Perez... again

    66:45 Looking ahead

    76:20 Reading mean tweets

    Link: https://open.spotify...jqbedPf1qDCu2oI

    Let us know what you think!

    • Sep 09 2019 10:17 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  24. Week in Review: Ups and Downs

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/2 through Sun, 9/8

    ***

    Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 88-55)

    Run Differential Last Week: -6 (Overall: +168)

    Standing: 1st Place in the AL Central (5.5 GA)

    Willians Watch: 5-for-14, RBI, R


    HIGHLIGHTS

    Eddie Rosario might have had one of the biggest Twins highlights of the year with his game-saving throw off Boston’s Green Monster. He helped save the game and put the Twins up 6.5 games entering their critical three-game weekend series against the Indians.



    Rosario’s game-saving throw capped off a tremendous road trip for the Twins where the club won eight of 10 games with 104 hits, 63 runs, and 19 home runs. This included breaking the single-season MLB home run record before Minnesota headed home to face Cleveland in a critical three-game set.

    On Friday night, Minnesota ended up falling in extra-innings to the Indians, but one of the coolest moments happened earlier in the game. Carlos Carrasco has been battling leukemia throughout the 2019 campaign and he recently returned to action. When Miguel Sano stepped to the plate in the eighth inning, he tipped his helmet to the pitcher fondly referred to as “Cookie.” Sano would strike out in the at-bat, but it shows that some things are bigger than the game.



    Not knowing his suspension was coming on Saturday, it was impressive to see Michael Pineda in what could be his last time on the Target Field mound. He went six strong innings by allowing one run on four hits and striking out a season-high 10 Cleveland batters. In his last 10 starts (59 1/3 innings), he posted a 2.88 ERA with a 65-to-13 strikeout to walk ratio, but now he’s done for the year.

    LOWLIGHTS

    Pineda’s suspension might be the biggest lowlight in the Twins season, especially since it sounds like he deliberately took the drug without consulting the Twins medical staff. In case you missed it, Pineda took hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic, that he obtained from a close acquaintance. He does become the first MLB player to appeal the suspension and have it reduced from 80 games to 60 games. It was still a crushing blow to Minnesota’s playoff hopes.

    With Pineda out of the picture, Berrios and his recent struggles take on an even bigger importance. Many have been calling for him to get some time off and he had his start pushed back a day last week, but the results weren’t much better. At one point in the game, he retired 11 of 13 batters and this included a web gem play by himself. However, he allowed six earned runs on eight hits (two Mookie Betts home runs) with six strikeouts and three walks. Berrios likely has three more starts before the playoffs and the Twins need to find a solution to what ails him.

    Rosario, a core piece of Minnesota’s line-up, might have provided the biggest defensive play of the week, but he looked lost at the plate with almost no plate discipline. He’s always been a free swinger and that has certainly been the case in recent weeks. Over his last 24 games, he is hitting .235/.252/.392 with 19 strikeouts and three walks. For a player with a career .309 OBP, it’s been tough to watch some of his at-bats, especially his approach at the plate.

    TRENDING STORYLINE

    On Saturday, Mitch Garver helped the Twins to victory with two home runs and he also joined the franchise record books. Garver has hit all his homers as a catcher so his 27th and 28th home run moved him past Earl Battey’s 1963 total of 26.



    What Garver has done is truly impressive because of the limited number of games he has played this year. Battey played 147 games during his record-setting season and Garver’s 28 homers have come in a half-time role where he just cracked the 80 games played mark. He added another home run on Sunday, but it came as the designated hitter.

    Minnesota is also closing in on the single-season home run record for catchers in baseball history. Three MLB teams have accumulated 43 homers from the catcher’s position and Minnesota finished play on Sunday with 41 catcher home runs on the year.

    Another record within Minnesota’s reach is the most players in franchise history with 30 or more homers in a season. Right now, Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have already crossed the 30-homer plateau. Garver is one homer away and Rosario is two short of 30. Sano is also sitting at 27 long balls, so there is a realistic chance for five players to finish with 30 home runs or more.

    DOWN ON THE FARM

    Playoffs were the name of the game in the minor leagues as two Twins affiliates, the Kernels and the Blue Wahoos, attempted to advance. Alex Kiriloff and Royce Lewis came up big in Pensacola’s first playoff game, but they can’t play both sides of the ball.



    Kirilloff has been a one-man wrecking crew during postseason play as he homered in the Blue Wahoos’ first four playoff games. The Blue Wahoos pushed Biloxi to a decisive fifth game on Sunday night. Cedar Rapids fell in their first game of the best-of-three Western Division Championship, which means the club needs to roll off two straight wins to advance.

    Check out Sunday’s Minor League Report to see how the clubs fared and if Kirilloff was able to continue his home run streak.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    Minnesota will get an off-day on Monday before facing a strong Washington team for three games. Currently, the Nationals hold a three-game lead on the NL’s top Wild Card spot, so they have plenty to play for with the hot Arizona Diamondbacks making a quick move toward the top. Luckily, the Twins will avoid Max Scherzer as he isn’t scheduled to start in the series, but the trio of Sanchez, Strasburg and Corbin will be tough.

    Following the Nationals series, the Twins head to Cleveland for their final three games with the Indians. Cleveland faces off with the Angels for three games and has an off-day on Thursday. If Cleveland were able to sweep Los Angeles and Minnesota lost three to Washington, the division lead could be down to 2.5 games entering next weekend.

    Buckle up, Twins Territory.

    TUESDAY, 9/10: NATIONALS @ TWINS – RHP Anibal Sanchez vs. RHP Jose Berrios
    WEDNESDAY, 9/11: NATIONALS @ TWINS – RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. LHP Martin Perez
    THURSDAY, 9/12: NATIONALS @ TWINS – LHP Patrick Corbin vs. RHP Kyle Gibson
    FRIDAY, 9/13: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Randy Dobnak vs. RHP Aaron Civale
    SATURDAY, 9/14: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jake Odorizzi vs. RHP Mike Clevinger
    SUNDAY, 9/15: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jose Berrios vs. RHP Shane Bieber

    Catch Up on Twins Daily Game Recaps

    • Sep 09 2019 09:54 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  25. Twins Minor League Report (9/8): Do or Die

    TRANSACTIONS
    IF Ryan Costello placed on 7-day IL with Pensacola.
    RHP Bailey Ober placed on 7-day IL with Pensacola.
    IF Joe Cronin transferred to Pensacola from Rochester.
    LHP Bryan Sammons promoted to Pensacola from Fort Myers.

    BLUE WAHOO BITES
    Pensacola 4, Biloxi 8
    Box Score
    If this was a best of three series like in Cedar Rapids, Pensacola would have already been eliminated, but the club managed a comeback in the series, and they would need a dramatic comeback in this game. Bryan Sammons started on the mound and put the club in position to have the lead. He pitched 4 2/3 innings by scattering two runs (both home runs) and adding in five strikeouts.

    Anthony Vizcaya took over for Sammons and he allowed the game-tying run. Over 2 1/3 innings, he allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts. Former top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves struggled on the mound as he didn’t record an out and allowed three earned runs. Alex Phillips tried to stop the bleeding.

    Offensively, Mark Contreras tripled with two outs in the second and scampered home after a throwing error by the shortstop. This briefly gave Pensacola the lead at 1-0. In the fourth frame, Ryan Jeffers led off with a double and came in on a Contreras ground out. Jose Miranda walked in the inning and eventually scored on a Caleb Hamilton double that took back the lead for Pensacola at 3-2. Jeffers had another big hit in the eighth as he took the lead back with a solo home run.

    Pensacola wouldn’t have their season end quietly in the ninth. Jimmy Kerrigan coaxed a six-pitch walk with two outs in the inning that saw the Blue Wahoos down to their last strike. Alex Kirilloff followed with a single, but he too had been down to his last strike. Royce Lewis stepped to the plate with two runners aboard and he already had three hits on the night. Unfortunately, he struck out swinging.

    Congrats to the Blue Wahoos on a terrific season.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 3, Clinton 2
    Box Score
    Kody Funderburk started for Cedar Rapids, but in a do-or-die game, pitchers can have a short leash. He made it into the fourth inning (3 1/3 innings) by allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks. From there the Kernels’ bullpen was unreal. Dylan Thomas and Rickey Ramirez combined for 5 2/3 shutout innings with each pitcher limiting Clinton to one hit.

    Cedar Rapids got on the board in the second inning after back-to-back one-out hits. Tyler Webb got into scoring position with a double before DaShawn Keirsey drove him in with a single. Keirsey was left stranded at second after a wild pitch, but the Kernels had tied the game at 1-1.

    The Kernels found themselves down a run in the bottom of the ninth with the season on the line. Matt Wallner reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop and was replaced by pinch runner Daniel Ozoria. Seth Gray moved the runner to third with a single before Webb drove in the tying run. Cedar Rapids still had yet to make an out in the inning. Keirsey came up with his second big hit of the night to keep Cedar Rapids alive.


    The last five home wins at home for Cedar Rapids have ended with a walk-off single in the ninth. They will need to win a decisive game on Monday to advance the Midwest League Championship Series.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    TD Pitcher of the Day- Rickey Ramirez, Cedar Rapids (3.0 IP, H, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB)
    TD Hitter of the Day- Ryan Jeffers, Pensacola (3-4, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 R)

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) – 3-5, K
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) – 1-4, BB
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Minnesota) – Did not pitch
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) – 0-4, 2 K
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 0-3, BB, 2 K
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) – 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI
    #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) – 1-4, R
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 0-4, K
    #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) – 0-3, BB, 2 K

    MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Cedar Rapids vs. Clinton (6:35 CST) – RHP Tyler Palm (4-11, 4.06 ERA)

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.

    • Sep 08 2019 08:27 PM
    • by Cody Christie