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  1. Twins Minor League Report (6/29): Not Joshing Around

    TRANSACTIONS
    RHP Cody Allen transferred to A+ Fort Myers from AA Pensacola
    RHP Zack Littell optioned to AAA Rochester from the Twins

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 9, Pawtucket 6
    Box Score

    Preston Guilmet: 2 ⅔ IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 66.0% strikes (33 of 50 pitches)
    HR: Jaylin Davis (4), Wilin Rosario (9)
    Multi-hit games: Wilin Rosario (2-for-5, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI), Zander Wiel (2-for-4, RBI), Tomas Telis (3-for-4, 2B, R), Ronald Torreyes (3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI)

    The Red Wings won another game and have clawed their way back to one game under .500 despite their slow start.

    The Red Wings ran a bullpen game and the five pitchers used combined for four earned runs while punching out eleven batters.

    Every Red Wings batter reached base in some way and all but one did so by getting a hit. In total, they had six extra-base hits in the game.

    Jaylin Davis continued to terrorize AAA pitchers as he blasted his fourth AAA home run in just his twelfth game at the level. Unfortunately for him, there are other outfielders on the 40-man roster so a callup in the near future seems unlikely, but it is still great to see him hit well.

    Video evidence of Wilin Rosario capping off a clutch six run 8th inning:



    BLUE WAHOO BITES
    Pensacola 5, Biloxi 1
    Box Score

    Griffin Jax: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 68.3% (56 of 82 pitches)
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Lewin Diaz (2-for-4, 2 2B, R), Jimmy Kerrigan (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R)

    In the least surprising event of the day, Griffin Jax had another great outing. His ERA on the year now sits at an astonishingly low 1.67.

    Lewin Diaz continues to rake at the plate as he hit a pair of doubles in the game. His AA OPS sits at .977 now and really I am running out of ways to compliment how well he is doing at the plate. All I can do is pray for whatever poor pitcher has to face him next.

    Travis Blankenhorn collected an RBI single in the fifth inning and then ended the game with this great play at second base:



    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Game one: Ft. Myers 2, Bradenton 5 (8 innings)
    Box Score

    Tyler Watson: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 77.3% strikes (51 of 66 pitches)
    HR: Royce Lewis (6)
    Multi-hit games: None

    The Miracle lost the first game of their doubleheader in extra innings against the Bradenton Marauders.

    Royce Lewis cracked his sixth home run of the year as he continues to fight through the slump that he has been in for basically the entire season. He has shown signs of breaking free and the recent power surge could be him getting back to the old Royce Lewis we all know and love.

    Cody Allen came in to the game in the seventh inning and threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout and topped out at 91 MPH on the fastball. The Twins obviously are interested enough in potentially coaxing the old Cody Allen out of him and how he performs in the coming weeks will affect how the Twins work the trade deadline.

    Game Two:
    Ft. Myers 1, Bradenton 4 (7 innings)
    Box Score

    Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 62.2% strikes (51 of 82 pitches)
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Royce Lewis (2-for-4)

    The Miracle also unfortunately dropped the second game of their doubleheader against Bradenton.

    The Marauders became one of the few teams that could actually slow down Jordan Balazovic. I suspect foul play or at the very least some good old-fashioned voodoo as Balazovic has been a buzzsaw for most of the season

    Royce Lewis built off his home run in the prior game by having a multi-hit game, yet another potential sign that good things are in store in the second half for the young shortstop.

    Despite slapping seven hits and drawing three walks, the Miracle were only able to put up a single run as they went just 2-for-11 with RISP.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 6, Kane County 0
    Box Score

    Josh Winder: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 67.4% strikes (64 of 95 pitches)
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Jacob Pearson (2-for-4, 3B, R, RBI), Gilberto Celestino (2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI), Estamy Urena (3-for-4, 2B, 2 R)

    It was all Cedar Rapids in their impressive 6-0 shutout of Kane County.

    Josh Winder was spectacular as he threw eight shutout innings while punching out eight. Kane County’s hitters were utterly baffled all night as Winder navigated their lineup with the ability of a grizzled mariner through a stormy sea.

    The Kernels set the tone early as they put up a four spot in the very first inning thanks to a Yeltsin Encarnacion single and a Gilberto Celestino bases-clearing double. Although, they really just needed the one run with the way Winder tossed the ball in the game.

    E-Town E-Notes
    Elizabethton 8, Greeneville 1
    Box Score

    Andriu Marin: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 64.4% strikes (47 of 74 pitches)
    HR: Albee Weiss 2 (2), Anthony Prato (1)
    Multi-hit games: Albee Weiss (2-for-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI), Matt Wallner (2-for-5, 2 R)

    The young Twins gave the business to Greeneville in an 8-1 rout.

    Andriu Marin and Ryan Shreve combined for nine innings without any earned runs and a combined fourteen strikeouts, an outstanding pitching showing from the both of them.

    There were many Elizabethton batters who performed well in the game, but Albee Weiss stands out as he blasted his first two home runs of the year to help lead the offensive charge. In total, all but two Elizabethton batters reached base safely via a hit and thirteen total hits rained down from the bats of the other Twins.

    GCL Twins Takes
    GCL Twins 0, GCL Red Sox 2
    Box Score

    Miguel Rodriguez: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K,
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Victor Heredia (2-for-2, BB)

    Four GCL Twins pitchers threw in the game and they combined for a total of twelve strikeouts.

    Keoni Cavaco was absent from the lineup after being pulled early from the game yesterday. It is only speculation, but I assume they are playing it safe with the recent first-round draft pick.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Josh Winder
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Albee Weiss

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 3-for-8, HR, R, RBI, K (Two games)
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 0-for-3
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Injured list
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, BB, K
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, R, BB, K
    #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-for-2, R, 2 BB, 2 K
    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch
    #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - With the Twins
    #9 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch
    #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Tommy John surgery, out for year
    #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - 1-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K
    #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured list
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-7, BB, 2 K (Two games)
    #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - 0-for-3, BB
    #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured list
    #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI
    #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - 2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2K
    #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Did not play
    #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did not pitch
    #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-7, K (Two games)

    SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Pawtucket @ Rochester (12:05 P.M.) - RHP Kohl Stewart
    Pensacola @ Mississippi (5:05 P.M.) - RHP Andro Cutura
    Bradenton @ Fort Myers (12:00 P.M.) - TBD
    Kane County @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 P.M.) - RHP Andrew Cabezas
    Elizabethton @ Greeneville (4:00 P.M.) - RHP Cody Laweryson

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

    • Jun 30 2019 11:24 AM
    • by Matt Braun
    • Jun 23 2019 08:17 PM
    • by John Bonnes
  2. Twins Sign RHP Cody Allen (Minor League Deal)

    Cody Allen had a few really good years in Cleveland. Many assumed that his connection with Twins CBO Derek Falvey made him a realistic offseason target for the Twins. Instead he signed with the Angels.

    Things did not go well for Allen in Anaheim. He was designated for assignment before being given his outright release last week.

    In 25 games for the Halos, he posted a 6.26 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP. In just 23 innings, he had 29 strikeouts but also walked 20 batters.

    From 2013 to 2017 (five seasons), he never posted an ERA over 2.99. He was Cleveland's closer a couple of those years and a key late-inning reliever. He posted 145 saves for them

    Jon Heyman was the first to tweet the news.



    Dan Hayes posts an update with a good reason for the signing.



    "There is no timeline."

    The Twins don't have to push him to the big leagues to see value.

    "They want to get their hands on him."

    Derek Falvey came to the Twins with a reputation as being a pitcher guru from his days in Cleveland. Wes Johnson is being given a lot of credit for the Twins pitching successes in 2019.

    It will be interesting to see when Allen arrives with a Twins affiliate and which affiliate that is. How quickly will he get to Rochester? And, the strikeouts certainly indicate that there is some stuff remaining for the still-just-30-year-old.

    As with RHP Drew Hutchinson, who signed a minor league deal with the Twins on Friday, signing Allen to a minor league deal is a no-risk, potentially good reward deal. If he never finds his velocity and isn't good in the minors, the Twins are not obligated to call him up. If he finds his stuff again, the Twins could have added a low-cost late inning reliever for the season's final weeks.

    • Jun 23 2019 02:34 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. Waiting Game to Play Out Differently in Minnesota?

    Both Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison were coming off strong showings during the 2017 season. Any indications that they’d need to settle for bargain basement deals in the final hours of the free agency cycle were not apparent throughout the winter. The Twins were able to take advantage of both players and the market last season, but the deals went poorly for all involved. There’s an opportunity for things to be different this time around, and it’ll be worth monitoring to see what the reaction is.

    After Lynn and Morrison flopped, story lines down the stretch emerged that the Twins would shy away from one-year deals or rogue agent type players. After being non-tendered, Minnesota’s first two acquisitions, Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron, were both brought in on one-year pacts. All things are not always created equal however, and this is an instance of that. Cron had a career year in 2018 but was sent packing by the Rays. Grabbed by a system owning familiarity with his background, it had to feel like a nice spot for C.J. And Schoop is on a one-year bounce back opportunity after being an All Star in 2017.

    More with something to prove rather than a level of scorn, guys like Schoop, Cron, and even Parker could funnel that energy into a Twins club that has improved over the course of this offseason. Given the decline in talent that the Indians have seen, any level of motivating factors outside the field of play may serve to close the gap.

    There’s still just over a month until pitchers and catchers arrive at sunny Fort Myers for spring training. Obviously, the biggest names should have new homes by then, so things will have to start moving sooner or later. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado aren’t taking one-year deals because teams may be waiting them out, but Minnesota could end up striking late again on someone like Dallas Keuchel or Cody Allen.

    Should the Twins emerge as a landing spot for a bigger name, I’d imagine it would come in the form of a price drop but still a longer-term pact. Allen or another reliever could be acquired on a one-year deal that wouldn’t come with baggage if the money ends up being right. For the former Cleveland closer, there’s probably a good deal of relationship equity in place with this Twins organization.

    When the dust settles, I’d certainly hope that Minnesota has another move in them. If they learned anything from last year however, grabbing the guys who feel the process did them a disservice isn’t a good bet. The clearance rack is a fun place at Target, but we’ve seen how human commodities work out at Target Field. Jumping in on a market for guys who shouldn’t still be angling for a role, and compensating them at a level that suggests you believe they’ll advance their own and your cause, may be the bow this team needs to place on jumping the gun into relevancy.

    • Jan 10 2019 08:38 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  4. Spending the Twins' Excess Cash

    Payroll and spending are significant points of contention for small and mid-market clubs across Major League Baseball. Fans should always implore billionaire owners turning exorbitant profits to dole out more cash. Spending for the sake of doing so isn’t wise but asking for more talent to be acquired during competitive cycles is certainly a fair ask. Right now, the Twins find themselves amid a terrible division with a leading team that has taken substantial steps backwards. Given the internal talent and proximity of prospects, a window of opportunity has certainly begun to crack.

    Thus far the organization has acquired the services of Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron, Nelson Cruz, and Parker this offseason. That’s a nice foursome of talent and there’s no denying the roster is in a better place now than it ended a season ago. Given the amount of deficit between year over year payrolls however, there’s real need for the dollars to be put to work.

    On the free agent front there’s a dwindling number of options for Minnesota left to explore. Offensively things look all but set, and there should be plenty of reason to be content with that notion. If we’re talking about pitching additions, then there’s still opportunity to do more. Right now, Rocco Baldelli has four of the five rotation spots all but set in stone, with ample possibilities when thinking about how to round it out. That group could be bolstered with the depth addition of a veteran starter, and that’s an area to explore. A more pressing need still would be in the form of a reliever capable of possessing a high amount of reliability.

    Assuming the Twins won’t be vying for the services of Adam Ottavino or Craig Kimbrel, the duo of Cody Allen and Brad Brach are plenty intriguing to this writer. Allen is just 30 years old and while he’s coming off a down year, the numbers prior to that are all promising. Dating back to 2012, the Indians former closer had never posted an ERA north of 2.99 until he was hit with a 4.70 mark in 2018. The strikeout stuff is there (11.5 K/9 career) and his 3.5 BB/9 rate is hardly a concern. Velocity loss was a real thing for Allen last season, but his durability remained in- tact and a bounce-back year could be in store. If he could be had on a one-year deal worth something like $10 million that’s a contract Minnesota should sign up for.

    Another former closer, Brad Brach is nearly three years older, but should be available on a bit lesser of a deal. His strikeout rates aren’t as high (9.5 K/9 career) and his 4.0 BB/9 is a tad high. However, he too has shown an ability to be a durable back-end option, and his 1.52 ERA down the stretch for Atlanta helped to calm some questions about what went wrong in 2018 with Baltimore (4.85 ERA). Pairing Brach with Parker and Addison Reed would give the Twins a trio of established vets that all have an ability to emerge as better than they’ve recently been. Coming off a $5.16 million payday in 2018, netting Brach at $6 or $7 million on a one-year pact seems doable.

    Should Falvey target either of the relievers, Minnesota’s payroll creeps up near $110 million. Adding a starter probably does a bit more for the overall total, and a Keuchel acquisition would certainly push things near the $120 million total. It’d be a shock if the Twins were in on the former Astros ace, but this could be a situation in which they emerge as somewhat of a surprise suitor. Keuchel would represent a boost to the rotation, and a $20 million average annual value wouldn’t break the Twins bottom line. He’s not the 2015 version of himself at this point, but he’d be an anchor in the rotation and has long been a command wizard while giving up a bit on the strikeout front. The Twins could offer Dallas a three-year $60 million contract and feel good about what they’d be getting.

    Any way you cut it, I’m coming up with a number somewhere between the $110-120 million range should the organization add another free agent. A desired step back in payroll from the highest in history is a fair ask, but relative to revenues, it’s much more sensible to at least continue with the same water mark. In closing whatever deficit would be left, Minnesota has three key internal options that could be looked at in terms of spending.

    Jose Berrios will soon embark upon his age 25 season and has already compiled just under 400 big league innings. He made his first All-Star game in 2018 and has the makings of a staff ace. The Puerto Rican native is in the final year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent in 2023. If I’m the Twins, now is the time to make sure you’ve got cost savings on this type of a talent. An extension buying out his arbitration years would give Berrios a nice payday, while giving the team some long-term savings. Another payday could then still happen as Berrios would be 29 when he hits free agency for the first time.

    The two more polarizing options internally come in the form of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Both former top prospects have flashed what was once expected of them, but neither has put it all together. A new coaching staff in place, and yet another offseason of reset, this is probably the last time the Twins will be in an advantageous situation regarding either of their contracts. Both players hit arbitration for the first time in 2019, with Sano becoming a free agent in 2022 (with Buxton a year later due to his service time manipulation in 2018). Should the Twins have belief that the best is yet to come, now is the time to strike.

    An extension for Sano would come on the heels of a season in which he posted just a .679 OPS, was demoted to Single A, and played in just 71 games. It would be reflective of a belief that there has been buy-in to the conditioning program this winter, and that the new manager would be able to unlock and develop his potential. Should the Dominican post another .916 OPS like his rookie year, or .859 mark as an All-Star in 2017, any chance of a team-friendly deal likely goes out the window.

    The same logic applies to Buxton in that we saw 28 dismal games and there’s only room to go up from there. Byron was both hurt and ineffective for the majority of 2018. Coming off a September in which he felt scorned, a nice payday would likely help to smooth things over with the front office. Although he’s yet to display his September 2017 performance over a long stretch, that type of talent is the thing MVP’s are made of. Should Baldelli be able to get even a high percentage of his potential from the Georgia native, Minnesota will be looking at a player excited about hitting free agency as soon as possible.

    Putting a bow on all of this, Minnesota has a good chunk of change yet to dole out. Grabbing one more free agent and then allocating the extras to some expected cornerstones would be a nice way to wrap up the period in which there is no baseball. We have another month or so until players report to spring training, but how the front office decides to navigate that journey remains one worth watching.

    • Jan 10 2019 09:13 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  5. Turning Trevor May Into Andrew Miller

    One of the most important pieces to Cleveland's playoff run was relief pitcher Andrew Miller, the ALCS MVP. He was once a starting pitching prospect before finding his home as a bullpen arm. Now he might be one of the most valuable assets in baseball.

    Miller was the sixth overall pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2006. He debuted with the club later that same season after making only three minor league appearances. His stay in Detroit was short as he was one of the key prospects sent to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera. He bounced around to the Red Sox and Orioles organizations before finding himself in Yankee pinstripes.

    After arriving in the Big Apple, he posted a 1.90 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 61.2 IP during the 2015 season,. Opponents hit .151/.237/.239 against him. It was hard to build off that season but the 2016 campaign was even better. He lowered his ERA to 1.45 and increased his SO/9 from 14.6 to 14.9.

    As Miller was dominating the American League, Minnesota's bullpen compiled the league's worst ERA while providing a -2.66 win probability added. Ryan Pressly pitched the most relief innings while Brandon Kintzler had the most saves. Trevor May (12.66 K/9) and Michael Tonkin (10.05 K/9) both posted K/9 totals over 10.0. These small positive signs were overshadowed by a major injury to Glen Perkins and ineffective play from Kevin Jepsen.

    May is an interesting figure in the Twins bullpen. Expectations were high for him heading into last year. He underwhelmed to the tune of a 5.27 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Under the previous front office, there was talk of turning May back into a starter but another year in the bullpen could give him the chance to adjust to being a full-time reliever.

    Miller's first full season as a reliever came in 2012, his age-27 season. May turned 27 in September and is just coming off his first year without making a start. One of May's biggest issues has always been his command. He walked 17 batters in 42.2 innings pitched (3.6 BB/9). Miller walks almost no one as he issued nine walks in 32 more innings than May.

    Besides the control issues, May would need to continue to miss bats. Miller strikes out batters at a higher rate than May and he makes it tough for batters to reach base. The Twins are clearly in rebuilding mode so May won't likely be recording any big outs in the playoffs anytime soon. This type of environment can allow bullpen arms to develop as they start to figure out their craft in an environment with less pressure.

    Can May be the next Miller? It's a lofty goal and 2017 will be a critical for whatever future role May will fill. What kind of role do you think May should fill? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Nov 21 2016 10:12 PM
    • by Cody Christie