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  1. Twins Minor League Report (5/9): Dobnak, Enlow Start Strong

    Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Thursday, starting with the transactions of the day.


    TRANSACTIONS

    • None.
    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester, Pawtucket
    Box Score

    Game postponed by rain.



    BLUE WAHOO BITES
    Pensacola 4, Mississippi 0
    Box Score

    Randy Dobnak went undrafted after four years of college. The Twins signed him in 2017. He spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids. After one month in Ft. Myers, he was promoted to Pensacola. On Thursday night, he made his second start for the Blue Wahoos. He threw six shutout innings. He gave up just one hit and walked one while striking out seven.

    Tyler Jay came on and struck out four batters in two scoreless innings. Alex Phillips threw a scoreless inning.

    Travis Blankenhorn led the offense. He went 3-for-4 and hit his third home run in 13 games since being promoted to the Wahoos. Mark Contreras went 1-for-2 with two walks. Luis Arraez was 1-for-3 with two walks. Miguel Sano went 0-for-5 in what is likely to be his final Double-A game before moving up to Rochester.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Ft. Myers, Tampa
    Box Score

    The game was postponed by rain. These teams will play a doubleheader on Friday.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 8, West Michigan 4
    Box Score

    Blayne Enlow had a rough game in his previous outing, but he came back strong on Thursday night. The right-hander was charged with only an unearned run on four hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out six batters.
    Jose Martinez came in and gave up three runs in the seventh inning. Carlos Suniaga worked the final two innings. He struck out five batters in two scoreless innings.

    The Kernels got contributions from the middle of the lineup. Their second and third hitters, Gilberto Celestino and Chris Williams both went 2-for-6. Their fourth and fifth hitters, Gabe Snyder and David Banuelos, each went 2-for-5 with a walk. The biggest hit in the game came when their sixth hitter, Jacob Pearson, emptied the bases with a three-run double. Snyder and Celestino each had a double. Banuelos had two doubles in the game.

    The team’s sixth through ninth hitters showed good patience. Pearson, Andrew Bechtold, Estamy Urena and Yeltsin Encarnacion each walked twice.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Randy Dobnak, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Travis Blankenhorn, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, BB, 2 K
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out.
    #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return
    #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch
    #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (95 pitches, 61 strikes)
    #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out
    #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out
    #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out
    #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List
    #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 2-6, 2B(4), SB(5)
    #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out


    MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Durham @ Rochester (6:05 CST) - RHP Chase De Jong (0-3, 16.20 ERA).
    Pensacola @ Mississippi (6:35 CST) - RHP Griffin Jax (2-0, 0.53 ERA)
    Tampa @ Ft. Myers (2:30 CST) - LHP Tyler Watson (1-3, 5.06 ERA), LHP Charlie Barnes (2-2, 7.99 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ West Michigan (6:05 CST) - RHP Tyler Palm (1-2, 2.60 ERA)

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

    • May 10 2019 04:16 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Twins Minor League Report (5/5): Balazovic Dazzles in Miracle Debut

    Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the awards and transactions of the day.


    AWARDS
    Every Sunday, the Twins announce their Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week. Here are this week’s winners.

    • Hitter of the Week: Chris Williams, C/1B, Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Twins eighth-round pick in 2018 out of Clemson, Williams his .333 (6-for-18) with three homers. He also walked six times.
    • Pitcher of the Week: Jorge Alcala, RHP, Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Acquired last July from the Astros, Alcala made one start last week. He threw five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, no walks and struck out eight.
    In case you missed any of them, Twins Daily named it’s Award winners for April.TRANSACTIONS
    • RHP Ryan Mason was activated from the injured list.
    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester, Pawtucket
    Box Score

    It was raining which caused this game to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 7th.

    BLUE WAHOO BITES
    Pensacola 9, Biloxi 2
    Box Score

    Things started out really well for the Wahoos on Sunday. The team’s first two hitters, Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff, each singled. Then Miguel Sano followed with a long, three-run home run. The team added a fourth, first-inning run on Jaylin Davis’s fourth home run of the year.



    Griffin Jax started the game. He gave up two unearned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings of work. Ryan Mason, fresh off the IL, worked the final 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run. He struck out three. Jax improved to 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA while Mason recorded his fifth save and kept his ERA at 0.00.

    Jaylin Davis went 2-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home urn of the year. Caleb Hamilton gave some extra cushion in the eighth inning when he hit a bases-clearing double, his sixth double of the year.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 0
    Box Score

    Jordan Balazovic was promoted to the Miracle over the weekend, and on Sunday, he made his Florida State League debut. It is hard to imagine that it could have possibly gone any better.

    Balazovic, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school near Toronto, threw seven perfect innings. Not just scoreless. Not even just hitless. Perfect. He needed 97 pitches to complete seven innings. No hits. No walks. And he struck out ten batters.

    His catcher, 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers, was impressed.

    “He (Balazovic) did amazing. He was in complete control from the beginning and he didn’t even really have his offspeed for the first couple of innings.” Jeffers continued, “He definitely settled in after one or two innings. He had his curveball, his changeup. He had it all working. We were able to throw any pitch in any count, and he was executing all day. It was something special for me to watch as a catcher. I’m putting down the signs, and he’s the one executing all the pitches. All credit to him for putting on such a great performance today.”

    Because of the pitch count, he was removed after seven innings and replaced by RHP Anthony Vizcaya. After getting the first out in the eighth frame, Vizcaya gave up a double off of the wall in left field to end the perfect game and no-hitter. He issued a walk after that, but he finished that inning with two strikeouts to end the threat. He worked a perfect ninth inning to complete the shutout. It was Vizcaya’s second save of the season.

    Jeffers was instrumental in the near-perfecto, but he also led the offense on Sunday afternoon. Jeffers started the season by going 1-for-17 (.059), but after going 4-for-4 on Sunday, he is now hitting .295. He added his second homer of the season as well. His approach throughout the early slump is part of what helped him start to take off since those early struggles.

    “Team-wide, we started out a little slow, but we are all starting to settle in, put good at-bats together and string them together. We’re putting up a lot of runs and hits consistently.”

    Of course, hitting in the Florida State League is never an easy thing. Big ballparks and high humidity have a tendency to subdue offensive production.

    Jeffers noted, “You just try to eliminate it from your mind. There’s nothing you can do about how big the parks are and how the ball doesn’t fly. You just continue to do what you do. You find consistent barrels and it will eventually drop. You’re going to find holes, and you’re going to find gaps.”

    Jeffers’ homer gave the Miracle a 1-0 lead. In the seventh inning, the Miracle added on. Royce Lewis doubled in Jeffers and Malique Ziegler to give them a 3-0 lead. In the top of the ninth, they added another on an RBI double off the bat of Jose Miranda.

    Lewis and Trevor Larnach each went 2-for-5 with a double. Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-4 with a double.

    The Miracle are now 20-10 on the season, and Jeffers is excited to be a part of this talented young team. “We feel really good right now as a team. We trust everyone on this team, everybody and the plate and everybody that we roll out on the mound. We’re just playing well and we want to keep it rolling.”

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 4, Dayton 0
    Box Score

    Most days, the pitching line from Cole Sands’ Sunday start would easily make him the Pitcher of the Day. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a terrific line. The right-hander from Florida State used 99 pitches to complete seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six batters. Before today, Sands' previous career high for innings pitched in a game was five.

    His catcher today, David Banuelos, noted that the only other time that the two had worked together this season was Sands' first start of the year, his first pro start. In that game, Sands threw five no-hit innings with eight strikeouts.

    Banuelos could tell early that Sands had his good stuff. "From the bullpen, I could see everything was working well. From when the first inning started, it was going to be a good day. He was throwing strikes, getting guys out with every single pitch. He was just attacking guys, getting ahead early and stuck with it through the whole game. Both our guys did well, him and Schulfer pitched well today. Our staff has done pretty well this entire year."
    Austin Schulfer worked the final two innings to complete the shutout.
    The Kernels got things going right away in the first inning. Chris Williams knocked in the first run with his first of two doubles on that day. He then scored on a Gilberto Celestino single. The next inning, Gabriel Maciel singled in Banuelos to give the team an early 3-0 lead. Banuelos added some insurance in the seventh inning when he hit a solo home run. It was his second long ball of the year.

    Banuelos said he's feeling good at the plate too. "I feel confident, trying to take it one day at a time and not press, and try to build off of it."

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Ft. Myers Miracle

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(3), 2 RBI, K
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, R
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(10), K
    #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return
    #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch
    #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch
    #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play
    #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 4-4, HR(2), 2 R, RBI
    #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play
    #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List
    #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, RBI
    #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Rained Out
    #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, BB, 2B(6), RBI, K


    MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Rochester - No Game Scheduled.
    Pensacola @ Mississippi (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.57 ERA)
    Ft. Myers @ Charlotte (5:30 CST) - TBD
    Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-0, 2.53 ERA)

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

    • May 06 2019 06:02 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. 2018 Killebrew Award Winner - David Banuelos (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

    David Banuelos was the fifth round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in June of 2017. This past offseason, he found himself in the middle of the Ohtani sweepstakes. The Minnesota Twins traded $1 million in international pool money to the Mariners and the Twins received the talented backstop.

    Banuelos came to spring training and spent the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids with the Kernels. He caught 68 games, and when the Kernels got to the playoffs, he was behind the plate. Touted for his work defensively, he proved the part.

    He also did tremendous work in the community.

    Ryne George is the Kernels Director of Community Relations and Entertainment. He is the person who organizes the community opportunities and with the players. Regarding Banuelos, George was very complimentary.

    “When David first arrived in Cedar Rapids back in April, he was pretty shy and kept to himself. A week or two into the season our first player appearance was inching closer and to my surprise David was the first one to sign up! From that moment on David ramped up his community appearances and by the end of the long season he did 16 of the 35 total player appearances for the Kernels. My goal is to get our players out in the community as much as possible while respecting their time and focus on baseball activities.”

    George continued, “With David being a catcher, I know games take a little more of a toll on his body so it’s extra special that he woke up early the day after a game and took the time to give back during his time here in Cedar Rapids. David made multiple visits to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, helped promote adoptable animals on the local news and was a vital piece in helping out with the Kernels “Catch with a Cop” youth program.”

    For his part, Banuelos enjoyed his experiences and opportunities to help others or make their days better.

    “Some of the things we did in Cedar Rapids included the Meals-on-Wheels program, catch with the cops, children’s hospital, and taking dogs from the shelter to the local news station to advertise adoption. Going around the community and giving back was an awesome experience. Helping make other people’s days is what it’s all about.”

    To win an award given in the name of Harmon Killebrew has special meaning to Banuelos.

    “It is an honor to win an award named after Harmon Killebrew. Knowing how much he gave back to the community, I thought, I can try and do the same and help make others days a little better.”

    However, for Banuelos has an additional level of special meaning because of a tie to Killebrew. “In high school, my really good friend Grant Hockin, a grandson of Harmon, would always tell me stories of his grandfather and all the things he would do.”

    The two went to high school at Damien High School in La Verne, California. The same school as several former big leaguers, including Mark McGwire. Hockin was Cleveland’s second-round pick in 2014 and pitched for the Low-A Lake County. In June, he underwent the second Tommy John surgery of his career. He had previously missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Twins 12th round pick in 2018, Jon Olsen from UCLA, also went to Damien High School.




    Previous Twins Low-A Killebrew Award winners:

    2011 - Ryan O’Rourke
    2012 - Corey Williams
    2013 - Niko Goodrum
    2014 - Tanner Vavra
    2015 - Jared Wilson
    2016 - Nelson Molina
    2017 - Hector Lujan
    2018 - David Banuelos

    Other 2018 Killebrew Award Recipients

    Rochester Red Wings - Jake Reed
    Chattanooga Lookouts - Chris Paul
    Fort Myers Miracle -
    Cedar Rapids Kernels - David Banuelos


    Congratulations to David Banuelos on earning the 2018 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

    • Sep 20 2018 08:35 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  4. Twins Minor League Report (9/8): Miracle Coast to Victory, Kernels Fall Late

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers 12, Daytona 2 (Game 2 of the FSL Championship Series)
    Box Score

    W: Griffin Jax (6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)
    HR: Royce Lewis
    Multi-hit games: Travis Blankenhorn (3-for-4, 2B, BB), Alex Kirilloff (2-for-5, 2B), Jose Miranda (2-for-5, 2B), Taylor Grzelakowski (2-for-5, 2B), Ryan Costello (2-for-4, BB)

    The Miracle lineup took all the suspense out of this one. They hung an eight-spot on the board in the first inning, followed that up with two more runs in the second and cruised to victory in Game 2 of the Florida State League Championship Series.

    Fort Myers had four runs and knocked out the opposing starting pitcher before they even recorded an out. Royce Lewis led things off by reaching on an error. He would come around to score. The Miracle batted around, and in his second at-bat of the inning Lewis hit a three-run homer.

    Griffin Jax set the tone in the top of the first by striking out the side, but he switched over into cruise control from there. He gave the Miracle 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball, giving up six hits while issuing just one walk. He finished with six strikeouts.

    Kevin Marnon took over from there and shut out the Tortugas over the final 2 1/3 innings. Marnon did exactly what you’d want from a pitcher in that situation. He threw 22 of his 29 pitches for strikes (75.9 percent).

    Lewis had the big blow, but this blowout was a great team effort. Five Miracle hitters had multi-hit games and Travis Blankenhorn reached safely in four of his five plate appearances. Fort Myers also combined to go 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

    Fort Myers now leads the series 2-0, meaning they’re just one victory away from winning the FSL title. Brusdar Graterol gets the start for the Miracle.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Peoria 5, Cedar Rapids 3 (Game 1 of the MWL Semifinals)
    Box Score

    SP: Bryan Sammons (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K)
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: David Banuelos (3-for-4, 2 2B), Michael Helman (2-for-5)

    Bryan Sammons was outstanding and the Cedar Rapids lineup built an early lead, but Peoria just wouldn’t go away. Sammons held the Chiefs to two hits over six shutout innings and struck out six batters. He exited with the Kernels up 2-0.

    Zach Neff took over in the seventh and pitched a clean inning. He went back out for the eighth but things didn’t go so well, as Peoria scored three runs in the top of the eighth to go up 3-2. Cedar Rapids managed to tie the game up in the bottom of the inning, but the Chiefs responded with two more runs off Jose Martinez in the ninth.

    The Kernels had plenty of opportunities to score more runs, as they tallied 12 hits and drew five walks on the night. They left the bases loaded in both the first and third innings. The sixth ended with runners on second and third base. They got a lead-off walk from Gabriel Maciel in the eighth, but he made the first out of the inning at home plate, trying to score on a double. They left the bases loaded up again that inning.

    Tough way to lose a ballgame, tough way to open up a series. The Kernels now face elimination tomorrow night at Peoria. If they survive, a decisive Game 3 will be played at Peoria Monday.

    STARS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Bryan Sammons, Cedar Rapids
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Travis Blankenhorn, Fort Myers

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

    1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
    2. Alex Kirilloff (FM): 2-for-5, 2B, 2 R
    6. Trevor Larnach (CR): 1-for-5, K
    8. Akil Baddoo (CR): 0-for-2, 3 BB
    13. Travis Blankenhorn (FM): 3-for-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, 3 R
    18. Ryan Jeffers (CR): 1-for-5, RBI, 2 K
    19. Jacob Pearson (CR): 1-for-1, RBI (as a pinch hitter)

    SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Fort Myers at Daytona, 4:35 pm CT: Brusdar Graterol
    Cedar Rapids at Peoria, 4:00 pm CT: Blayne Enlow

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.

    • Sep 08 2018 09:46 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  5. Twins Tied to Misael Urbina, Expected to be “Aggressive” Internationally

    Who is Misael Urbina?
    Minnesota is considered the favorites to sign Misael Urbina. To give a brief answer to the question above, he is a 15-year old outfielder from Venezuela. Scouts have called him an advanced hitter with an above-average hit tool and plus speed. MLB.com ranks him as the third overall prospect in their international class and they have plenty of positive things to say about him. He is a “line-drive hitter with a high baseball IQ.” They went on to say, “he’s already an advanced defender for his age.” They praised his instincts and makeup.

    One of the reasons he has been able to vault to the top of the class is because of his international experience. He has been taking part in the Venezuelan Winter League’s parallel program. This allows the young outfielder to to compete against professional players with more experience than he has.

    Baseball America has been following Urbina for some time. In February, MLB held a Venezuelan Showcase and Urbina was the only player to hit the ball over the fence during batting practice. At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, there is room for him to grow into his frame. However, BA said “his swing gets in and out of the hitting zone quickly, but he has good bat speed.” In one of the games being scouted, Urbina beat out an infield single in 4.20 seconds.

    Other Baseball America scouts said, his “athleticism sticks out in center field. A plus runner, Urbina showed a quick first step, gliding around the outfield with good instincts.” The same person went on to say, he “isn’t a pure hitter, but he has good bat speed and drove the ball for hard contact to all fields during BP.”

    Baseball America has video of him hitting at an MLB International Showcase

    Expected to Be Aggressive
    MLB.com believes the Twins are one of a handful of teams that will “be aggressive” during this signing period. Minnesota’s bonus pool for the current year is $6,025,400. That total ties them with other clubs like Miami, Milwaukee, and Tampa Bay. Team can also trade for an additional 75 percent of their bonus pool allotment. Since the Twins have just over $6 million, they could trade and end up with $10,544,450 in their final pool amount.

    During the Shoehi Ohtani sweepstakes last winter, the Twins missed out on the big prize. However, they were able to make multiple deals to send some of their international bonus pool money to other teams. Minnesota acquired catcher David Banuelos from the Mariners in exchange for $1 million in international bonus pool cap space. They also acquired outfielder Jacob Pearson from the Angels for the same amount of space.

    Banuelos has played 12 games for Cedar Rapids, where he is four months younger than the competition. So far this season, he’s hit .143/.234/.214 with 16 strikeouts and 4 walks. His only extra-base hit was a home run. Jacob Pearson is in extended spring training and has yet to appear in a game for the Twins system.

    Are you excited about the Twins adding a highly ranked prospect like Urbina? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    Around Twins Daily
    Week in Review: Down in the Dumps
    Twins Minor League Report (4/29): Diaz Delivers Walk-Off Home Run
    On Ryan Pressly’s Release Point, Pitch Mix

    • Apr 30 2018 08:14 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. Seth's Twins On Deck Podcast (Episode 5)

    Tune in live at 8:00 central time tonight when Seth will again be joined by five guests.

    Charlie Barnes was the Twins fourth-round pick out of Clemson. After signing with the Twins, he went to Elizabethton where he went 2-1 with a 1.19 ERA over six games and 22.2 innings. He moved up to Cedar Rapids where he went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA over 25.2 innings. In 48.1 combined innings, he walked 18 and struck out 46.

    Another new member of the organization is also a left-handed starter, Tyler Watson. The 6-5 southpaw was the 34th round pick of the Washington Nationals out of high school in 2015. He came to the Twins at the July 31 trade deadline in exchange for closer Brandon Kintzler. He reported to Cedar Rapids where he made five starts to close out the year.

    David Banuelos was drafted in the fifth round just last June by the Seattle Mariners out of Long Beach State. He came to the Twins this offseason in exchange for some international slot dollars. The catcher is known for his great defense, but he put up some strong numbers in his final collegiate season.

    Alex Robles was the Twins 30th round pick last summer out of Austin Peay in Tennessee. He was a two-way player all four seasons, and he was really good as a pitcher. However, as a pro, he is likely to play around the infield.

    So, we’ll get to know four new members of the Twins organization.

    In addition, we will be joined by another member of the Minnesota Gophers baseball program. Senior third baseman Micah Coffey hit .340/.396/.493 (.889) with 15 doubles, two triples, four homers and 46 RBI for the Gophers.

    If you have any questions for any of these guests, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I'll ask them during the show. If you are listening during the live show, I will also ask for questions on my Twitter feed, so you can ask questions there as well.

    You can listen live, or you can listen later. Either way, you'll want to listen and learn more about some Twins minor leaguers and more.

    PREVIOUS EPISODES

    While you're eagerly anticipating tonight's show, tune in to some of the previous episodes...

    Episode 1: Twins (LaMonte Wade, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Wells), Gophers (Luke Pettersen), MLB.com's prospect guru Jonathan Mayo.

    Episode 2: Twins (Aaron Slegers, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Royce Lewis), Gophers (Toby Hanson)

    Episode 3: Twins (Bryan Sammons, Ryley Widell, Zack Littell, Travis Blankenhorn), Gophers (Alex Boxwell)
    Episode 4: Twins (Zack Granite, Nelson Molina, Lewis Thorpe, Josh Rabe), and Baseball HQ prospect guru, Chris Blessing.

    • Feb 05 2018 07:26 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  7. 2018 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections - The Catchers

    We will start this series by looking at the Twins catchers. Jason Castro will be the starter. A year ago, he received a three year, $24.5 million contract, primarily for his pitch framing abilities. He responded with his best offensive season in four years. Chris Gimenez was his backup a year ago, but the Twins non-tendered him, and he remains a free agent. Could he come back? Could the Twins bring in another catcher to back up Castro? Or, could they finally give Mitch Garver a real opportunity? And how much depth is there in the Twins minor league system behind the plate?

    However, who will be the backup to Castro, and how will the rest of the catchers fit into the rest of the organization?

    Minnesota Twins - Jason Castro (30), Mitch Garver (27)

    Jason Castro was signed for his defensive presence a year ago, but he put up his best offensive numbers since his All-Star season in 2013. He’s the starter. As of right now, the back up catcher role is Mitch Garver’s. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2013 and again in 2017. Last year in Rochester, he hit .291/.387/.541 (.928) with 29 doubles and 17 home runs. His defense has come a long way since he was drafted in 2013 out of New Mexico. Frankly, it’s time for him to get a real shot. Castro bats left-handed. Garver bats right-handed. Garver can also play first base if needed and has enough bat to DH or pinch-hit when he isn’t behind the plate.

    Rochester Red Wings - Bobby Wilson (34), WIllian Astudillo (26)

    With so many pitchers with potential (starters and relievers) who should see time in Rochester in 2018, it was important to provide them with a catcher who can help them. The Twins quickly signed veteran Bobby Wilson who has spent parts of eight of the last ten seasons in the big leagues. He’s played 324 combined MLB games for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Rangers and Tigers. He spent 2017 on the Dodgers AAA roster.

    Astudillo is a 26-year-old Venezuelan who spent most of his career in the Phillies organization before signing with Atlanta for 2016 and Arizona in 2017 where he reached AAA for the first time. In 36 games for Reno, he hit .342/.370/.558 (.928) with 14 doubles and four homers. Plus, it’s hard not to like a guy who is built like, well, me.

    Chattanooga Lookouts - Brian Navarreto (23), Kevin Garcia (25), Brian Olson (25), Wynston Sawyer (26)

    The Twins added another minor league catcher who spent 2017 in the Dodgers organization (the Jeremy Zoll Effect?) in 26-year-old Wynston Sawyer. He spent 2010 through 2016 with the Orioles before playing last year for the Dodgers’ AA team in Tulsa. Brian Navarreto reached AA in 2017. He continues to be as good as anyone in the organization defensively but has not been able to turn the corner with the bat. Kevin Garcia had a real strong first half of the Miracle last year with the bat. He’s a good leader and solid behind the plate. Brian Olson missed a lot of time in 2017 due to a broken foot.

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    Ft. Myers Miracle - Ben Rortvedt (20), Mitchell Kranson (23), Caleb Hamilton (22)

    It’s possible that Rortvedt could start the year back in Cedar Rapids where he started the season very slow with the bat, but he showed his mental toughness in how he improved as the season went on. There’s no questioning his defensive ability. He is very good behind the plate with a strong, accurate arm. Kranson began 2017 in Cedar Rapids and spent the second half of the season with the Miracle. Don’t be surprised if he progresses similarly in 2018, spending half the season in Ft. Myers before moving up to Chattanooga for the second half. He’ll catch, play first base, maybe some third base, possibly some outfield and certainly DH. 2017 was Caleb Hamilton’s first season behind the plate and he impressed people with his improvement. Like Kranson, he can play all over. He played third base and left field for the Kernels, and Tommy Watkins said he wouldn’t have felt uncomfortable had he needed to play him at shortstop.

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    Cedar Rapids Kernels - David Banuelos (21), Rainis Silva (21), Andy Cosgrove (21), Bryant Hayman (25)

    Banuelos came to the organization from the Mariners in December in exchange for $1 million in international bonus money. He was Seattle’s fifth-round pick in 2017 out of Long Beach State. There are questions about his bat, but there are a lot of people who think that he is nearly big-league ready defensively. Rainis Silva spent part of 2016 in Cedar Rapids. He returned to Elizabethton in 2017, a step back, but it might be a case of one step back, and two steps forward because he finally hit with the E-Twins. He hit .356/.446/.446 (.892) in 30 games. Andy Cosgrove was the Twins 17th-round pick in 2017 out of North Carolina State. He hit .221 in 21 games in his pro debut. Hayman signed as an undrafted player after putting up monster numbers throughout his college career at Valdosta State. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2017 season due to surgery on his ACL.

    Extended Spring Training - Robert Molina (21), Jhon Alvarez (20), Kidany Salva (19), Kerby Camacho (20), Taylor Grzelakowski (24)

    In his second season at Elizabethton, Robert Molina hit .253 with six extra-base hits in 25 games. After three years in the DSL, Alvarez has spent two seasons in the GCL. He played 18 games and hit .205 (and he played in one game for the Miracle). Kidany Salva was the Twins 17th-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Texas. The Puerto Rican native hit .159 in just 17 games. Camacho was the team’s 11th-round pick in 2015 out of Puerto Rico. He missed all of 2016 due to suspension. He returned and posted a .706 in 21 games in the GCL. The Twins signed Grzelakowski from the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League last summer and he finished the year with 12 games in the GCL. He’s worked really hard, lost a lot of weight without losing power, so he could be a sleeper.

    Top Prospects: 1.) Mitch Garver, 2.) Ben Rortvedt, 3.) David Banuelos, 4.) Mitchell Kranson, 5.) Rainis Silva, 6.) Brian Navarreto

    So what do you think? Who will start the season as Jason Castro’s backup? Which prospects are you most excited about in 2018?

    Please feel free to discuss and ask questions in the Comments below.

    • Jan 10 2018 09:20 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  8. Get To Know Twins Outfield Prospect Jacob Pearson

    It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for Jacob Pearson, a native of West Monroe, Louisiana. He’s had a couple of life changes that are exciting. First, the 19-year-old learned that he was no longer a member of the Angels organization and would now be part of the Minnesota Twins organization. Then last weekend, he got engaged to his long-time girlfriend.

    Growing up in northeastern Louisiana, there really wasn’t a local major league team for him to follow. He was a fan of the team that people either love or hate.

    “When I was a kid, I grew up being a Yankees fan. I grew up watching Derek Jeter. Whenever the Yankees got Alex Rodriguez, I became a die-hard Yankees fan.”

    It didn’t take long for Pearson to become a star on the diamond. He hurt a shoulder labrum and had surgery, but he still played for the varsity his freshman year in high school. He was the team’s DH that season, and then he played in the outfield his final three seasons.

    It was after that freshman season that he first started hearing from colleges. “I had heard from Mississippi State my freshman year.”

    After his sophomore season, he was invited to participate in a Perfect Game event. “I went to Perfect Game just because I got an invite from them. We talked to a guy older than me, and he said you’ve got to go to that. So we went to it, and that’s when he found out we needed to go to stuff like that.”

    If you look at his high school stats from his final two seasons in high school, it’s easy to understand why college coaches were interested, and why pro scouts found their way to West Monroe.

    As a junior, he hit .479/.596/.873 (1.469) with ten doubles, three triples and four homers. Pearson noted, “We didn’t even think about major league teams until my junior year. I didn’t think that could be a reality until then. Before that, we were strictly talking to colleges.”
    As a senior, he hit .551/.620/1.134 (1.755) with ten doubles, six triples and ten home runs. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana.

    The draft was coming up and he was starting to hear from more and more teams. “I was hearing from about 15 teams that were really interested. We were thinking second to third round, so I’d say I went around where I was expecting to go.”

    Pearson went to the Angels in the third round, the 85th player taken in the draft. The Angels went above slot, giving Pearson a $1 million signing bonus, to keep him from his commitment to Louisiana State. While playing for LSU is a dream for so many from Louisiana and around the country, Pearson said that the decision wasn’t too hard.

    “It was tough at first, but just the idea of playing professional baseball overshadows it. I couldn’t pass it up. I was more than happy to be selected in the draft by the Angels.”

    The Twins were very interested in Pearson and contemplated drafting him with the first pick in the third round. Instead, they selected another top high school player from Louisiana, right-handed pitcher Blayne Enlow.

    “Yeah, we actually played together in a tournament showcase. We both committed to LSU together. We had known each other, and playing against each other in high school, we kind of grew together.”

    Pearson struggled some in his pro debut, but that means very little in the long term. Asked what he considers his biggest strength on the field at this time is, Pearson provided a thought-filled response.

    “I would say it’s my hit tool .My speed is a bit above average, but I would say it’s my hit, and my gears, my motor. My hitting started rough last professional season, but if you look at how it started and how it finished, it was a lot different. It was all good, and it gave me something to work on this offseason.”

    In his first 21 games, he hit .190/.247/.253 (.500). However, in his final 19 games, he hit .263/.356/.316 (.672).

    “Just seeing professional pitching from high school pitching, it’s a huge difference. So whenever you go into the offseason, you know what you can work on and what you need to work on. It gave me a list. I was rushing my rookie year, and I was trying to get hits and have a good average. But at the time, I wasn’t focused on the little things. This offseason I’m going to focus on the little things a little more, and I think it’s going to help me next year.”

    And then last week, he was suddenly no longer a member of the Angels organization. He was out for dinner with his brother-in-law when his agent called him.

    “‘You’ve just been traded to the Twins.’ My heart just kind of stopped. ‘Oh my gosh, are you kidding?’ “No, this is real. The Twins are going to call you any minute now, so just be ready to answer.’”

    Moments later, he received a call from the new Twins Minor League Director Jeremy Zoll. “He called and was very excited. He said he had talked to the amateur guys and they were really excited to have me. They had looked at me through my high school years, they just couldn’t make a deal before the draft. He said now they’ve got me, and they’re excited to get spring training started, and to have me in their organization.”

    One of the first people that Pearson reached out to was fellow LSU commit and now Twins teammate Blayne Enlow.

    “I texted him as soon as it happened, ‘Hey, I just got traded to the Twins.’ He was like, ‘There’s no way!’ So that was cool.“

    That’s a lot of information to process in a short time frame. Pearson said it took him a day to have it all sink in. “Once I had time to process it, it was very exciting.”

    Pearson has already started researching the Twins organization as he prepares for his 2018 season.

    “I’m pretty familiar. I’m familiar enough with the big things, but not the details yet like I was with the Angels. We had classes on everything, and I’d done my research, and right now I’m in the process of doing my research on the Twins and everything they have.”

    It’s likely that before spring training starts in early March, he will have an opportunity to go to Ft. Myers. It’ll be good for him to meet more of the players in the Twins organization as well as the coaching staffs. It’ll be good for him to get acclimated into the system.

    Based on his interests outside of baseball, he will fit in well when he gets to Minnesota.

    “I like hunting and I like fishing, but fishing is during baseball season, so I can’t really do that much anymore. I like deer hunting.” Pearson continues, “I love muscle cars. I don’t get to go out and buy them all, but I like to look at other people’s cars. And right now, I’m working on a building, so I like being handsy and crafty.”

    Pearson is an outdoorsman, a do-it-yourselfer, a gamer, known for his work ethic. He’s got plenty of work and development ahead, but he’s certainly a prospect that Twins fans can get excited about.

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    Jacob Pearson will be one of over 165 Twins prospects profiled in the soon-to-be-released Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2018. Check back to Twins Daily in the next couple of weeks to see when it is available.

    • Dec 15 2017 08:21 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  9. Reviewing Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospect Rankings

    But I thought it would be good to take a look at the Top 50 rankings in its totality to see what it is showing us. Are there any themes? Positions of strength, weakness, etc?

    With that, here is the full list of my preliminary Top 50 Twins prospects. Please note that this is not necessarily my final rankings. Those will appear in the prospect handbook.

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    (last year's rankings in parentheses, or how acquired)

    Here are a few themes from this prospect ranking:

    The New Guys

    On Wednesday night, the Twins traded $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Angels and the Mariners. In return, they acquired the Mariners fifth-round pick in 2017, catcher David Banuelos. From the Angels, the Twins acquired their third- round pick in 2017, outfielder Jacob Pearson. Immediately, I was getting asked where these two prospects would fit into my rankings.

    Well, I haven’t had a lot of time yet to research or talk to people, so these are subject to change. As you can see, I ranked Pearson #13, two spots below the Twins third- round pick, Blayne Enlow. Both players competed in Louisiana high schools before the draft. Pearson was the state’s player of the year.

    I ranked Banuelos #21. The Twins fifth-round pick this year was Andrew Bechtold, and he’s ranked a little further down the list, at #30 for now. Banuelos is a valuable prospect for a team in that really strong defensive catchers have a lot of value. The fact that there are question marks with his bat keep me from ranking him too much higher than this.

    The 2017 Draft

    It’s no surprise to see several Twins 2017 draft picks in a Top 50, but it is really nice to see the high impact prospects that show up at the top of the list. Royce Lewis is the new #1. Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow are also in my Top 10. That’s some quality talent brought in. But second-round pick Landon Leach probably should be higher than where I have him. Charlie Barnes is a high-floor player who could move up quickly. And, Bechtold is a guy who gets on base a ton, could hit for average and could develop some power. I’m also quite high on sixth-round pick Ricky De La Torre, who made the list. And, frankly, the more I research a guy like Derek Molina (14th round), the more I consider the idea of putting him near the back of this list. Then add in the acquisitions of Pearson and Banuelos, two guys that were in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects in the 2017 draft, and that’s a great job of bringing in talent!

    Relievers Too Low

    Those that have been following me for years know that I tend to rank relievers lower on prospect rankings than their potential value in the big leagues might be. Consider that I ranked Trevor Hildenberger #42 a year ago, knowing he had the ability to be a good MLB reliever, and my point is illustrated. I really struggled this year with ranking relievers. You see a bunch at the end because those are are guys that I think could get to the big leagues and be quality relievers. But, as we’ve watched Nick Burdi and JT Chargois and Mason Melotakis need Tommy John surgery and struggle to be healthy, it’s such a challenging job.

    So, John Curtiss is the highest ranked prospect for me this year. I believe he has the stuff to be a closer in time. Tyler Jay is next. When he was considered a potential starter, I had him in the Top 10 prospects. Now that he’s been moved to the bullpen (and fought injuries all year), he drops.

    Youth is Served

    It’s not unusual to see prospect rankings have a lot of very young, toolsy players ranked high. If you look at my prospects, particularly the #4 through #11 range, you see just that. They are easy to get excited about while at the same time understanding that they have a long way to go, and with that, a lot of development. Some will take those necessary strides forward. Some won’t. That’s the nature of player development. But with guys like Akil Baddoo and Brusdar Graterol in the mix, fans should start getting excited about what they could be.

    Experience is Served

    While tools and ceiling are important, floor should be factored in as well. For instance, Mitch Garver’s floor is major league backup catcher. I mean, he’s basically there already. His ceiling is quality starting catcher. He’s coming off of a terrific 2017 season in the highest level of the minors. There needs to be value in having played at the higher level. I subscribe to the thought that once a guy experiences good success in AA and/or AAA, he is pretty close. Luke Bard put up some crazy numbers in AA and then in AAA this year. Sure, he’s 27 and hasn’t played in the big leagues, but I still think he could become a solid MLB reliever.

    A Combination of Both

    There’s a reason that guys like Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Felix Jorge rank where they do. They’ve overcome the struggles of taking their talent and working hard and experiencing success and finding themselves putting up good numbers in the upper levels. They all have the potential to be quality major league starters, but they have worked up such that their floor is higher too.

    Trades Help Too

    While the Twins were surprising everyone with their turnaround success in 2017, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine never really wavered from their comments about continuing to build and continuing to look for talent, particularly pitching, everywhere.

    Since they’ve taken over, they have traded for Zack Littell, Dietrich Enns, Gabriel Moya and Tyler Watson. (as well as the two players this week) Two of those pitchers pitched in the big leagues in 2017. Moya jumped straight to the Twins after completing the Southern League playoffs. Littell went 19-1 and won the MiLBY for the best starting pitcher in the minor leagues this year. They also talked about being able to provide pitching in waves, and that’s where Tyler Watson fits in. He’s just 20 and pitched in low A. He isn’t a top prospect, but he’s got the size and the pitches to move up these rankings significantly.

    Injuries

    The Twins system is deep with talent, but there were a lot of injuries (several significant) in 2017. Alex Kirilloff had Tommy John surgery in spring training. Nick Burdi had surgery in June. JT Chargois missed most of the season with more elbow issues. Jake Reed and Stephen Gonsalves missed time early in the season with minor injuries.

    Luis Arraez tore his ACL in his third game of the season and missed the rest of the year. Kohl Stewart was on the DL a couple of times with knee problems. Tyler Jay missed most of the season with shoulder/neck/biceps injury.

    On the positive, Lewis Thorpe and Brusdar Graterol made their returns from Tommy John surgery and both appear to be back to their old selves. Tyler Benninghoff just returned from Tommy John late in the season.

    Depth

    While I don’t think the Twins farm system will rank near the top of the rankings that will come out in February, I do think this is a very exciting group of prospects right now. While aside from Royce Lewis, there may not be any Buxton/Sano/Berrios caliber prospects, there are a lot of very good prospects, guys who can play a significant role in the big leagues.

    There are quite a few players (including some pitchers) who have high-level ceilings, but obviously further development will be required to reach it.

    Who Could We See in 2018?

    Here are guys that have a legit chance to contribute in the big leagues in 2018:

    Stephen Gonsalves, Nick Gordon, Fernando Romero, LaMonte Wade, Mitch Garver, Zack Littell, John Curtiss, Felix Jorge, Zack Granite, Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, Gabriel Moya, Aaron Slegers Jake Reed, Luke Bard, JT Chargois, Tom Hackimer.

    Obviously, there needs to be opportunity. Not all of these guys will play in the big leagues, but they could. But as you look at that list, you see a lot of pitching, both starters and relievers, Who will be this year’s Trevor Hildenberger? Will any of these starters have a major impact on the Twins this year.

    Please feel free to ask questions or find your own story lines or trends within these rankings. Please ask questions and discuss whatever it is you’d like. I’ll try to answer questions throughout the day and throughout the weekend. And please, support the Twins minor league coverage at Twins Daily by purchasing the Twins Prospect Handbook 2018 in a couple of weeks. As has been the case in past years, it’ll be available in paperback (in time for Twins Fest) and electronically.

    Oh, and just for fun… wanna know who prospects 51-60 were for me? Here’s some exclusive bonus information for Twins Daily readers…

    Here you go: 51. Jordan Balazovic, 52. Mitchell Kranson, 53. Shane Carrier, 54. Hector Lujan, 55. Cody Stashak, 56. Victor Tademo, 57. Chris Paul, 58. Sean Poppen, 59. Edwar Colina, 60. TJ White

    • Dec 08 2017 05:38 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  10. Twins Acquire Two Prospects For International Bonus Money

    Marte Money
    Jelfry Marte had been signed by the Twins to a $3 million deal this summer. However, an issue found on his physical exam meant the deal was voided. With Marte’s money back in their international pool, Minnesota had $3.245 million to try and lure Ohtani to the Midwest. Last weekend, he informed the Twins that he wouldn’t be signing with them. This allowed the club to trade away some of their pool money to eager Ohtani suitors.

    Mariners Trade


    Catcher David Banuelos, a 21-year old Ontario, CA native, was drafted this year by Seattle in the fifth round out of Long Beach State. He spent all of this season in the Northwest League (Short-A) where he hit .236/.331/.394 with four home runs and eight doubles in 36 games. He made 26 starts behind the plate with a .982 fielding percentage. He threw out 18 potential runners and allowed 30 stolen bases.

    With his college experience, he is considered a strong defender. He shows the ability to get on base and he has some power from the right-side of the plate. He could develop into a big league catcher in the years to come.

    Angels Trade

    Outfielder Jacob Pearson, a 19-year old, was drafted this year by the Angels in the third round. Los Angeles had to go overslot and offer him a $1 million to lure him away from his LSU commitment. He spent all of last season in the Arizona League (Rookie) where he hit .226/.302/.284 with seven doubles and a triple in 40 games. He played center field and left field during his professional debut but 31 of his 40 starts came in left.

    His defensive skills are a weak spot at this point in his career but he’s still a teenager. The Twins hope he can continue to develop the right kind of speed and power combination to make him a legitimate threat at the plate.

    So how did the Twins do? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Dec 07 2017 10:12 AM
    • by Cody Christie