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  1. "Robot Umpires" Coming to Some Affiliated Parks Next Season

    Calling balls and strikes is no easy task, especially with more pitchers throwing in the high-90s or adding in the task of tracking the pitch’s movement. Fans sitting at home get a first-hand look at every pitch as it crosses the plate. Most of the time there can be multiple replays and the benefits of watching in slow-motion on a high definition screen. Fans know if a pitch is a ball or strike and they take to social media to berate the man behind the plate.

    Evidence also points to just how much umpires are missing calls. Following the 2018 season, Boston University did a study and found that an average of 14 ball-strike calls per game. For the entire 2018 season, MLB umpires missed 34,294 calls and those calls resulted in some other findings. Umpires have a two-strike bias and there are strike-zone blind spots. Clearly, baseball needs to find a solution to this problem.

    During the 2019 Arizona Fall League, MLB experimented with an automated ball-strike system (ABS). The technology was only present at one AFL field and it is similar to one used in the Atlantic League this season. With this system, the home-plate umpire wears an earpiece and is sent the “ball” or “strike” call. It’s obviously more complicated than that and there are some kinks to work out. Players are forced to figure out how the computer calls pitches at the different edges of the zone. There is also less pressure on catchers to frame a pitch because they can’t “steal” strikes from the computer.

    Minnesota’s top prospect Royce Lewis was in the AFL and got to see the ABS in action. “It kind of changes the whole game,” said Lewis. “It’s still tough, but anyone can catch it back there with electronic. I’d rather have the guys that are working hard and framing and building an element of their game to better themselves.”

    MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently told MLB Network that ABS will come to the minors in 2020 "in some ballparks."The league is continuing to find ways to improve the technology. He went on to say, "I only would go to an automated strike zone when we were sure that it was absolutely the best it can be."

    ABS likely will go through multiple trials in the minors before it will be big-league ready. It will be interesting to see what leagues will use the technology during the 2020 season. Technology is there and it seems inevitable for “robot umpires” to become part of America’s pastime.

    • Nov 06 2019 06:44 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. Twins AFL Report - Week 6: Rafters Win AFL Championship, Lewis Named League MVP

    (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

    Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-12, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K, SB; .353/.411/.565 (overall)

    Lewis got the start in center field in Monday’s 11-7 win over Glendale and after reaching base on a fielders choice in the top of the first, proceeded to steal his fifth base before being stranded on second. In the third inning with the Desert Dogs up 2-0, Lewis got the Rafters on the board with an RBI single before his teammates added four more to go up 5-2. Glendale took back the lead 7-5 going into the ninth inning however, but Lewis again sparked his team with an RBI double to make it 7-6 before they tacked on five more for the final of 11-7. It was another fantastic performance for Lewis, but it wasn’t the best one in this game from Twins prospects —we’ll get to that later.

    After a few days of rest, Lewis was back in center field on Thursday against the Mesa Solar Sox and batting third in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat of the game, but both teams were woefully deficient on offense throughout as this one ended in a 0-0 tie. The teams combined to go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 18 men on base, and struck out 18 times versus just two walks.

    Finishing out the regular season on Friday against Peoria, Lewis made the start at another new position in the AFL, but you’ll be pleased to learn it was at shortstop. He also batted cleanup in this abbreviated seven inning game and delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning that made the score 5-1 Rafters. As the shortstop, Lewis committed a fielding error on the first batted ball of the game and had only one other opportunity for the rest of it. He had this to say afterwards, as the Rafters still had one more game to go on Saturday:

    Lewis ended his impressive AFL season by being named the league’s MVP, adding further hardware to his mantle from an impressive fall campaign. He was named the hitter of the week once and also took home the MVP award during the Fall Stars Game where he hit a home run. He paced the league in hits (30) and runs scored (21) while also ranking top three in doubles (9), RBI (20), total bases (48), batting average (.353), slugging percentage (.565), and OPS (.975).

    If you have found yourself unimpressed with Lewis after the regular minor league season in which he admittedly struggled, my advice now is to get over it. This was the most outstanding showing by a Minnesota Twins prospect in the Arizona Fall League since I’ve been recapping it in this fashion as a blogger, which was long before your favorite website Twins Daily came into existence. Get excited, because no matter what position Lewis shows up in the majors at, he’s going to be an impact player. Don’t just take my word for it either:

    Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K; 1-2, 5.09 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (overall)

    Chalmers made his final start of regular season play in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs, finishing 3 2/3 innings. He allowed single runs in each of the first and second frames on RBI doubles before tossing a scoreless third inning after his offense gave him a 5-2 lead. Back out for the fourth a solo home run cut the lead to two and he walked a batter before picking up a strikeout to end his day. He mixed in four total strikeouts that pushed his total on the season to 25 in 17 2/3 innings to lead the Rafters staff. He threw 71 pitches on the game, with 42 going for strikes (59%).

    There was both good-to-great and bad-to-worse outings on Chalmers ledger during the AFL season, but after throwing just 34 2/3 innings in 2018 in his return from Tommy John surgery it’s hard to view his AFL performance as anything but positive. He showed a consistent high-90’s fastball and swing and miss breaking ball, and when he had command of them was dominant. That’s nothing new in relation to his prospect profile, but it was a solid step toward the 2020 season which will tell a lot more as he distances himself further from his surgery.

    Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall)

    While a knee injury Rortvedt had been playing with during the latter portion of the 2019 season ultimately put an end to his time in the AFL. Before that he had continued to showcase his defensive chops as a catcher while also bringing an improved bat. He’ll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and after reaching Double-A in 2019 will be looking to solidify his place near the top of the minor league depth chart among Twins catchers.

    Luke Raley: 3 games, 3-for-10, R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K; .244/.312/.439 (overall)

    After an impressive week 5 showing, Raley continued his emergence in the first game of week 6 with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate that out-shined his MVP teammate as alluded to above. His two hits included a two-RBI single in the third that made it 5-2 at the time, then his three-run home run in the ninth punctuated a six-run inning for the Rafters as they went back ahead for good 11-7. He also drew a walk in the sixth inning with the score tied at five, but while attempting to score the go-ahead run from third on a grounder he was thrown out at home.

    In Thursday’s 0-0 pitching duel with Mesa, Raley batted sixth in the lineup and was in right field. He finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout but reached base in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch.

    Closing out the regular season on Friday against the Javelinas Raley batted fifth behind Lewis and also finished 1-for-3. His single led off the second inning against top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley and the inning ended with him stranded on third.

    After missing several months of the minor league season due to an ankle injury, the AFL was mostly about making up time for Raley. It took him some time to get going but when he did, he was a force in the Rafters lineup. Over his final 10 games he had at least one hit in eight of them, and they included two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. His OPS in that time frame was over 1.000 as he slashed .333/.400/.639. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December, I expect Raley will get protected and should debut with the Twins at some point during the 2020 season.

    Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, K; 0-1, 6.55 ERA, 2.09 WHIP (overall)

    Gomez saw his final action of the AFL season in Monday’s victory over Glendale, but it didn’t end as he probably would have liked. Coming on in relief of Chalmers in the fourth inning, Gomez inherited a runner in scoring position and walked his first batter before getting a ground out to keep his team up by two runs. Back out for the fifth inning Gomez got the first two hitters before trouble began to brew. He would walk the next three hitters to load the bases and end his outing. Two of those runners ended up coming around to score after his exit, to tie the game at five.

    After a fantastic minor league season that saw him come in third in Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting, Gomez got a nice reward and challenge by being sent to the AFL after spending less than half of the year in Fort Myers. While his 15 strikeouts in 11 total innings was nice, he also allowed runs in six of nine appearances and gave up nine free passes. I’d project he’ll start the 2020 season back with the Miracle, but if he shows improved command could again find himself promoted midsummer.

    Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 0-1, 7.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall)

    Moran’s final appearance of the AFL season came in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Glendale when he entered the game to start the eighth inning with the Desert Dogs up 6-4. The left-hander delivered a one-two-three inning, striking out two in the process to end his season on a high note. He needed just twelve pitches and got both of those K’s on 94 MPH fastballs that hitters swung through near the top of the zone.

    Moran’s showing in the AFL was very similar to Gomez’s, in that he racked up strikeouts (14 in nine total innings) but also gave up walks and runs in bunches. His final outing this week was the first on the season that he did not issue at least one walk. Moran pitched with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for all of the 2019 season but did miss a few months during the summer with two separate trips to the injured list. He made up some innings in the AFL, but I’d expect him to be back with Pensacola at the start of the 2020 season looking to rediscover his magic from 2018.

    Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, H; 1-0, 1 Save, 1.38 ERA, 0.54 WHIP (overall)

    Neff was called upon two more times in the season’s final week, appearing in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs and Thursday’s tie against the Solar Sox.

    In Monday’s contest Neff was summoned with two outs in the fifth inning after Gomez had loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. He allowed a two-run single to the first batter he faced that tied the game at five, but then got a lineout to end the inning. Starting clean in the sixth inning, Neff delivered a one-two-three frame, getting two ground outs and an infield pop out on thirteen pitches. He was charged with a blown save for giving up the game-tying hit in the fifth.

    In Thursday’s scoreless tie, Neff was called upon for the eighth inning and again delivered a one-two-three outing, getting each batter to pop out in the infield and requiring only five pitches to do so.

    That was the theme for Neff during the AFL season, recording outs in uber-efficient fashion and limiting baserunners. His 0.54 WHIP in league play ranked second on his team, and he recorded 12 strikeouts compared to just one walk in nine appearances and 13 innings pitched. He’s certainly raised his profile with his performance against the top competition of the AFL and will look to continue that into the 2020 season. Perhaps with a bump to Double-A to start the year on the merits of his AFL showing.

    AFL Championship Game

    As the East division champions for the second year in a row, the Salt River Rafters had one more game to play on Saturday for all the marbles in the AFL Championship against the West division winning Surprise Saguaros.

    On the mound to start the game for the Rafters was the Twins very own Dakota Chalmers, and he came out in the first inning determined to give his team his best effort. He needed 24 pitches and had full counts to three of the four hitters in the opening frame, but after walking the first hitter of the game he came back to finish off the next three with strikeouts. In the second he again walked the leadoff man, this time on four pitches, but needed just six more in the inning to get the three outs and keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the third a leadoff walk would finally catch up to him as that batter stole second base and then came around to score on a single and early 1-0 lead for Surprise. After that single Chalmers was lifted and finished with a line of one earned run on one hit and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, along with striking out three.

    The Rafters lineup picked him up in the top of the fourth however, as they erupted for five runs of their own to put the game out of reach. Royce Lewis led off the inning but grounded out before a hit batter, wild pitch, and single tied the game at one. Luke Raley and Colton Welker then drew walks to load the bases, and two batters later with two outs, Marlins outfield prospect Jerar Encarnacion broke it open with a grand slam and 5-1 lead that would stand until the end.

    Lewis tallied two hits in five at-bats on the game, including a double in the seventh inning and single to lead off the ninth. After that double in the seventh, Lewis got caught in a rundown between home and third on a comebacker to the pitcher for the inning's second out, but it would not matter. Lewis played third base and batted second in the lineup for the game.

    Luke Raley started the game in left field and batted fifth in the lineup, finishing 0-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch in the second inning. Raley was on third base when Encarnacion blasted the game-winning grand slam.

    Reliever Zach Neff also got into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he was brought on to face the left-handed hitting top of the Saguaros lineup with two outs. He allowed a double on a 3-2 breaking ball that he left over the heart of the plate but got the next hitter to chase a fastball out of the zone for an easy ground ball to first.

    The Rafters then took care of business in the ninth to bring home the hardware!

    Congratulations to all of the Minnesota Twins prospects, and those of the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks on a great season and thanks for following along during the AFL season with me!

    Other AFL and Minor League Links:

    -MLB Pipelines AFL Championship Game recap.

    -The Rafters home complex, Salt River Fields, was home to the automated ball-strike (ABS) system throughout AFL play, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with several players and prospects, including Royce Lewis, on how the system fared during the season.

    -Pensacola Blue Wahoos Senior Writer Bill Vilona on Royce Lewis and winning the AFL MVP award.

    -Vilona also caught up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer to recap his dream season that started with the Blue Wahoos.

    -MLB.com’s Jim Callis details eight players who stood out during the AFL Championship Game.

    -The Athletic’s Dan Hayes caught up with Royce Lewis to talk about his so-called struggles during the minor league season, his success in the AFL, and what he’ll be doing during the offseason (paywall).

    Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

    • Oct 30 2019 08:06 AM
    • by Steve Lein
  3. Catching Up With Fall League MVP Royce Lewis

    As has been customary on teams Lewis plays on, a championship was the culmination of all the hard work for the Salt River squad. Contributing two hits in the trophy clinching victory, Lewis ended on the same high note he’d played at throughout the fall slate. Still fresh with emotion and reflection following the action, I caught up with the 2017 draft pick to check in.

    Twins Daily: After dealing with somewhat of a frustrating season, how excited were you to get a reset in Arizona and have a chance to showcase your ability against some of the best prospects in baseball?

    Royce Lewis: I was more excited for the multitude of reps I would be getting against some of the most dominant pitchers.

    TD: With the Fall League being composed of talent from multiple levels, how did you feel it stacked up against what you saw at Pensacola this year? Was it a step up or did it feel somewhat like an All-Star team collection of talent?

    RL: It felt like I was playing in a Futures Stars game each and every day!

    TD: What do you feel like you can attribute the level of success you saw in the Fall League to? An MVP is incredibly impressive. How were you able to continue a high level of production against that level of talent, through the entire schedule.

    RL: I was able to be more consistent and get hits with runners in scoring position. I consistently put myself in the right situations, in the right counts, and at the right times.

    TD: A few different outlets have touched on your swing. It’s one of the smoothest to the ball, but the main talking point is your leg kick. Have the Twins tweaked it at all, or do you feel like it will need to evolve as you continue towards the majors?

    RL: They (the Twins) started to begin to making adjustments in the beginning of the season and in the second half let me go back to being more like myself. You can always evolve, no matter how good you are, in every attribute in every skill of the game so I think everyone is always making adjustments and minor tweaks!

    TD: Now with something like 9 months of baseball behind you in 2019, how would you define and categorize your season? What were you proud of and where do you want to work on adjusting for 2020?

    RL: It was a great season of ascension and growth. I was proud of my ability to stay healthy and in shape. As usual continue working on all parts of my game to be better each and every day.

    TD: Looking at just your experience in Arizona, what’s something you feel like you can take away and utilize specifically to help your game reach the next level?

    RL: I enjoyed showcasing my ability to play multiple positions on the field, like fellow teammate Luis Arraez.

    TD: With Spring Training 2020 a few months out, what are you looking forward to providing some relaxation this offseason? Obviously, you’ll have plenty of baseball activities to get you ready for the year ahead, but what is 20-year-old Royce looking forward to off the field?

    RL: Fantasy football, sleeping in without an alarm, and eating the house down!!!

    Lewis will almost assuredly begin 2020 at Double-A Pensacola, but as with any elite prospect, the stop in Triple-A could be an abbreviated one. The Twins should be the favorites to repeat in the AL Central Division, and adding a talent like Lewis down the stretch may provide quite the boost to a team already poised to be very good.

    • Oct 29 2019 10:49 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
    • Oct 28 2019 05:38 AM
    • by John Bonnes
  4. Twins AFL Report - Week 5: Raley Locks In

    (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

    Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall)

    Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories.

    In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion.

    In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak:

    Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game.

    Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded.

    After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time.

    To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

    Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall)

    Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun.

    Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall)

    As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

    Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall)

    Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week.

    He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat:

    2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead.

    3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead.

    5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River.

    7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night.

    In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win.

    Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall)

    Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame.

    Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall)

    The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out.

    In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out.

    Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall)

    Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game.

    Other AFL and Minor League Links:

    -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week.

    -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday.

    -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization.

    Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

    • Oct 23 2019 08:05 AM
    • by Steve Lein
  5. The Defensive Future of Royce Lewis

    Lewis was drafted as a shortstop and the Twins have given him every opportunity to stick at one of the most important defensive positions. Through three professional seasons, 94.7% of his defensive innings have been played at short. He has been charged with 48 errors in 1076 chances for a .955 fielding percentage. This might not seem terrible, but Jorge Polanco had a .957 fielding percentage this year and there were plenty of people critical of his defense this year.

    Even with Minnesota continuing to use Lewis at shortstop, there is no guarantee he stays there long-term. As Matthew Trueblood wrote, there have been some “dubious recent scouting reports” about his shortstop play. Lewis could be entering a critical time for his defensive future and shortstop might not be his position in the years ahead. In fact, he has yet to log a defensive inning at shortstop in the AFL.

    Third Base
    Minnesota currently has Miguel Sano at third base, but there have been questions about his ability to stick at that position long-term. In fact, he might be better suited for first base or even designated hitter. If there was an opening at third, Lewis might be given the opportunity to take over the hot corner.

    In 11 of his 18 AFL games, he has started at third base and he has yet to be charged with an error. His time at third was almost nonexistent before the AFL started. During his professional career, he had played four innings at third base and he had yet to start a game at that position.

    It’s also not like there is a better shortstop prospect ahead of him on his AFL roster. Tampa’s Vidal Brujan has played the majority of the time at short and his own organization rarely uses him at that position (377 2/3 innings over five seasons).

    Minnesota’s current outfield looks strong if Bryon Buxton, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario are all healthy and on the field. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen very often in 2019 and one must wonder what the future holds for the team’s outfield trio. It also seems possible for one of these players to be dealt for starting pitching help before the beginning of next season.

    Lewis has played four games in center field during his career and three of those contests have been in the AFL. That still hasn’t stopped him from making a highlight reel catch.

    Outfield seems like a good back-up plan for Lewis if he doesn’t pan out at either one of the infield positions mentioned above. He has the athleticism to shift to the outfield, but it would take a lot of work to get him accustomed to chasing down fly-balls.

    Where do you think Royce Lewis will play defensively in the future? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.


    • Oct 21 2019 07:38 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. Twins AFL Report - Week 4: Lewis Named Fall Stars MVP

    (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

    Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall)

    Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday.

    Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single.

    While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded.

    In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game.

    In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won:

    Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall)

    The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman.

    While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing.

    Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall)

    Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers.

    Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall)

    Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth.

    Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play.

    Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks.

    Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall)

    Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win.

    In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss.

    Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall)

    The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun.

    Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall)

    Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone.

    The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase.

    Other AFL and Minor League Links:

    -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner.

    -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game.

    -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run.

    Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

    • Oct 16 2019 12:58 PM
    • by Steve Lein
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. ALDS Takeaways, Part 2: Miguel Sanó and the Athleticism Gap

     Three games should hardly form the basis of a team’s offseason mentality, but this five-part series will explore five takeaways from the ALDS series that seem both clearer and more important now than they did a week ago. Here is the link to Part 1.  
    Neither hit was Sanó’s fault, exactly. The smart money says he was instructed to move off the line before the Gardner single by the Twins dugout, to better align him with the rest of the shifted infield. The Torres ball was hit hard, and the team hadn’t had a shift on against Torres, so Sanó was a step further from the line than he might have been otherwise.

    (It’s a story for another time, but the Twins were on track to shift more often against right-handed batters than any other team in baseball until about mid-August, and then they plunged into the middle of the pack. That paradigm shift is somewhat inscrutable, at least for the moment.)

    Still, they each demonstrated something true about Sanó, something the Twins will have to reckon with this winter on a large scale: he’s a below-average third baseman, especially when a particular play puts a premium on quick reaction and a good first step.

    At Baseball Prospectus Night at Target Field in August, GM Thad Levine said the team tried to keep Sanó at third whenever they could in 2019, believing he remained more engaged with the game both day-to-day and plate appearance-to-plate appearance when manning the hot corner. That might be so, and it might have been sufficient justification for lining things up that way throughout this season, but in 2020, they need to find a way to keep him engaged and his production maximized while slotting him in at first base every day. As a team, and especially as an infield, they suffered from a fatal dearth of athleticism and defensive prowess in the ALDS. That was thrown into particularly sharp relief by the dazzling play of the Yankees’ very strong defensive infield.

    Sliding Sanó over to first base diminishes the value of his strong arm, but his range and hands would be fine there with a solid winter of work. The team ought to encourage him to play in the Dominican Winter League (but to stay far away from podiums, of course, should he win another championship there), and to work to become the best defensive first baseman he can be. As demonstrated by everyone from Albert Pujols to Mitch Moreland, it can be better to be an overqualified first baseman than to be an under-qualified defender elsewhere on the diamond, and there are more ways to stay intimately connected to the action at first base than it might seem.

    Of course, that move would squeeze C.J. Cron out of the picture. That’s somewhat regrettable, because he put together some brilliant at-bats for the team and (when healthy) added tremendous power for a bottom-of-the-order hitter. However, on balance, it’s the right choice. Cron’s thumb injury hampered him so much throughout the second half that he’s no sure bet to bounce back in 2020, and his arbitration salary will be inflated by his strong power numbers.

    Swapping Cron for Sanó and finding a replacement at third base who brings more athleticism is necessary, but not sufficient. The team needs better athletes in the outfield, too, unless Byron Buxton has a fully healthy season next year—and at this point, betting on that outcome would constitute malpractice. Trading Eddie Rosario, while a painful proposition, certainly has to be a consideration, but his likely replacements in left field are Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, and neither of them is an above-average defensive outfielder, either.

    This is where Royce Lewis might soon enter the frame. His encouraging offensive showing in the Arizona Fall League and dubious recent scouting reports on his future at shortstop allow one to envision him reaching the parent club as a third baseman (he’s played there most of the time in the AFL) who moonlights as a speedy outfielder, by the middle of next season. One way or another, though, the team has to upgrade its defense, and that starts with Sanó changing mitts.

      For Part 1 of this series, click here. 

    • Oct 11 2019 04:17 AM
    • by Matthew Trueblood
  10. Twins AFL Report - Week 3: The Lewis and Chalmers Show

    (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

    Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall)

    It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game.

    In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game.

    He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback.

    While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7.

    Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early.

    With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games.

    This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week:

    Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall)

    After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale.

    He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day.

    In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River.

    Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall)

    Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know.

    Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall)

    While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs.

    Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning.

    In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win.

    Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall)

    The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday.

    He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game.

    Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall)

    Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts.

    His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2.

    Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall)

    Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season.

    In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field.

    It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one.

    Other AFL and Minor League Links:

    -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up).

    -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday:

    Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

    • Oct 09 2019 07:39 AM
    • by Steve Lein
  11. Twins AFL Report - Week 2: Lewis Continues Hot Start

    To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading!

    (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

    Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall)

    Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale.

    He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended.

    After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3:

    In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways.

    In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona.

    Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall)

    Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward.

    That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day.

    He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts.

    Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall)

    Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests.

    In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts.

    He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching.

    He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week.

    Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall)

    Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other.

    In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one.

    That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River.

    Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs.

    Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall)

    Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame.

    In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River.

    Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall)

    The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that.

    Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three.

    Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall)

    Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa.

    He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts.

    On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches.

    If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with.

    Other AFL and Minor League Links

    -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall)

    -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development)

    Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

    • Oct 02 2019 08:11 AM
    • by Steve Lein
  12. Week in Review: Powerful Ending

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/23 through Sun, 9/29


    Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 101-61)

    Run Differential Last Week: +16 (Overall: +185)

    Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (7.0 GA)

    Magic Number: 0

    101 wins. 307 home runs, a new MLB record. The first AL Central title since 2010. It's been a magical year for the Twins and they closed it out in style, taking care of business against the dregs of the division and even scoring a lopsided win with their "hangover lineup" following Wednesday night's official clincher.

    The final week of the regular season did not, unfortunately, see much tangible progress on the player health front.

    In fact, the Twins suffered yet another blow when Luis Arraez went down in Minnesota's meaningless second-to-last game. The rookie infielder collided with Willian Astudillo as the two converged under a pop-up to the mound, and Arraez twisted his ankle before crumpling to the ground in a heap. He was carted off the field in obvious pain, but got relatively good news with his diagnosis: a Grade 1 ankle sprain (the least severe type). Arraez's status for the ALDS is very much in doubt, but there's still a possibility he could return, which seemed out of the question as he tearfully left the field.

    Meanwhile, Max Kepler still has not swung in a game since the Cleveland doubleheader more than two weeks ago. Marwin Gonzalez also did not play all week after being scratched with oblique tightness ahead of Tuesday's game. But Rocco Baldelli expressed confidence that both will be ready to go by Friday's Game 1 tilt in New York.

    Ehire Adrianza, who hasn't played since tweaking his own oblique on September 12th, seems much more questionable. The lack of recent in-game reps, plus the likelihood of being less than 100%, cast serious doubt on his viability for the first-round playoff roster.

    The number of injury concerns heading into the postseason is quite troubling for a club that's already certain to be without Byron Buxton (shoulder surgery), Sam Dyson (shoulder surgery), and Michael Pineda (suspension). But alas, they now have four days to get as healthy as they can.


    Jose Berrios is a goal-setter. It's one trait that has helped drive him to such impressive success in his young career. This season, he had his sights set on 200 innings, and in his final start he achieved it. By tossing six innings of two-run ball in Friday night's rain-shortened victory over Kansas City, Berrios crossed this targeted threshold, becoming the fourth Twins pitcher to do so in the past 10 years.

    Berrios finishes the season with numbers that are altogether pretty similar to 2018: 14-8, 200.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9. Even the pattern of his performance mirrored the previous campaign: a stellar first half leading to an All-Star appearance, a sluggish drop-off in the latter part of the summer, and a rebound in late September.

    The difference, of course, is that this time around he'll get an opportunity to extend his season. Berrios is expected to take the mound for Game 1 at Yankee Stadium on Friday in the biggest challenge of his career to date. In this regard, his aforementioned resurgence offers some reassurance.

    After uncharacteristically completing six innings just three times in nine starts after the start of August, Berrios did so five of his last six turns, posting a solid-yet-unspectacular 4.34 ERA during that span. In his final starts, the righty saw his whiff rate and velocity both return to comfortable levels.

    [attachment=13204:Screen Shot 2019-09-28 at 1.11.59 PM.png]

    In the surprise twist of the season, it's looking likely that Randy Dobnak will get the ball for Game 2. This would allow an extra day of rest for the bullpen ahead of Game 3, in the event of a short outing from Dobnak, while also moving Jake Odorizzi's start away from Yankee Stadium, which can be treacherous for fly ball pitchers.

    Dobnak's improbable postseason nod is well-earned, as he put up a 1.59 ERA and 1.13 WHIP as a rookie and delivered his finest effort yet on Wednesday, when he fired six innings against the Tigers while allowing just one unearned run on one hit.
    It might feel natural to dismiss Dobnak as a mere heartwarming story and overperformer being thrust into this situation out of necessity. To an extent, that's accurate. But his outstanding MLB debut does not carry the indicators of an unsustainable fluke. He's hammering the strike zone with heavy sinking stuff that's inducing grounders at an elite rate, while also missing more bats than Berrios or Odorizzi. In his final start against the Tigers he generated 15 whiffs on 78 pitches, which is fairly remarkable even in light of Detroit's ineptitude.

    If these are Minnesota's three starters for the playoffs, set to be combined with a heavy dosage of relief work, then the Twins can be feeling a little better about their chances of keeping a potent New York lineup somewhat in check.

    Of course, their fortunes in the ALDS are likely to hinge on their bats. It was an uneven week on that front, as the offense went through some perturbing quiet spells even before the rollout of backup-heavy post-clinch lineups. There were some positive signs though, like Astudillo putting together a late burst (7-for-18 with a homer and six RBIs after hitting .231 through the first three weeks of September), C.J. Cron hitting his hardest homer of the season in the final game, and Jonathan Schoop finishing on a high note (6-for-19 with a homer and three RBIs). Schoop will obviously be thrust into a far more prominent role in the playoffs if Arraez can't go.


    The Twins keep trying with Kyle Gibson. They clearly want to find a way to justify a postseason roster for their long-tenured clubhouse leader, but Gibson just isn't giving them much to work with. He appeared in relief three times last week, allowing five hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings. This amounted to only one run, and to his credit the swing-and-miss stuff has still been there -- he struck out seven and induced 17% swinging strikes in those appearances -- but with these kinds of erratic showcases against bottom-tier offenses, how can you feel any confidence? How can he?

    In five outings since shifting to a relief role, Gibson has a 7.50 ERA and 2.83 WHIP, with opponents reaching base at nearly a .500 clip. I just don't see how you can credibly run him out against the Yankees in any situation. And it pains me to say that because I'd love to see him be part of this so much.

    Then again, given how hittable Martin Perez has been, maybe loyalty wins out as the deciding factor. The final spot on the pitching staff could very well come down to those two. Neither has made a very inspiring case in the final weeks.

    Health is going to be the key for Minnesota's lineup heading into the playoffs. It's entirely possible the Twins could trot out a lineup on Friday that is missing Kepler, Gonzalez, and Arraez -- three essential lefty-swinging catalysts with righty Luis Severino the likely opposing starter. And the probable absence of Adrianza inhibits their ability to supplement via depth. Needless to say, the Twins need their remaining healthy horses to carry the load. There's mounting urgency for Eddie Rosario to rise to the occasion.

    The final week of 2019 for Rosario epitomized his season as a whole. He had some loud knocks -- a homer and a double, with five RBIs -- but that production covered up a general lack of effectiveness. In 16 plate appearances he had only one other hit and one walk, good for a .250 on-base percentage with one run scored. For the season, Rosario finishes with some nice counting numbers (32 HR, 109 RBI) but he also posted his lowest OPS in three years with a significant defensive downturn.

    By WAR, Rosario was the 11th-most valuable position player on the Twins this year. But we all know he can step up and become one of their most valuable in a hurry. Next week he'll have his chance to change the lasting narrative in what's been a roundly disappointing campaign.


    There's only one storyline now: October baseball. The Twins have until 10:00 am on Friday to lock in their ALDS roster, and some of their decisions might come down to the wire. Can Arraez heal fast enough to be an option? What about Adrianza? Will the internal optimism around Kepler and Gonzalez prove valid?


    The Twins announced their official Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year on Sunday: Trevor Larnach and Dobnak, respectively. These choices matched our top hitter and starting pitcher selections at Twins Daily, so clearly, we agree! Cheers to these two on their tremendous accomplishments this year. It's likely one and perhaps both will play a significant role for the Twins next year.

    On another note: What's up with Baseball America souring on Royce Lewis? He's performing extremely well in the Arizona Fall League; last week we featured his offensive and defensive highlights right out of the gate, and he's hitting .364 with a 1.287 OPS with three homers and 10 RBIs through six games, but in BA's newly released league-by-league top prospect rankings, Lewis is all the way down at No. 18 in the Southern League. That's solidly behind Brusdar Graterol (9), Larnach (11), Alex Kirilloff (12) and even former Twins prospect Lewin Diaz (13).

    I gotta be honest: I'm not exactly sure what BA is going for with these rankings. Are they meant to be an isolated snapshot in time? Because that's the only scenario in which I could remotely understand a list that puts Lewis five spots behind Diaz. I mean – two months ago, one was traded for Sergio Romo while the other was being bandied as a centerpiece for Noah Syndergaard. Yes, Lewis had a quiet season offensively, but he also started it as a teenager and finished it in Double-A.

    If the negativity was centered on Royce's glove, that might make a little more sense, but BA's Matt Eddy calls him "a strong defensive shortstop with confident hands and a terrific arm." (Notable because ESPN's Keith Law recently offered up the exact opposite take: "Lewis can’t play SS. He has to move somewhere and CF makes the best use of his skills.")

    Eddy also states that Lewis "plays with flair, and he rubbed multiple observers the wrong way with confidence that borders on arrogance." This really hits me oddly because I've almost always seen the 20-year-old's character and makeup portrayed as an immense strength. If little incidents like bat flips or doing pushups at second base (which was in fact intended to chide himself) are starting to materially affect his perception, and even seeping into his coverage at reputable prospect websites like Baseball America, that's a damn shame.

    In any event, it'll be very interesting to see where Lewis lands across major offseason lists, given the obvious variance of opinion around him.


    The American League Division Series is on tap! Action gets underway on Friday. You can expect all kinds of previews and breakdowns here at Twins Daily, so stay tuned.

    TUESDAY, 10/8 (if necessary): YANKEES @ TWINS
    THURSDAY, 10/10 (if necessary): TWINS @ YANKEES

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game RecapsAs a final note, I want to thank everyone who has read this column regularly over the course of the season, and especially those who interacted or offered positive feedback. I hear a lot of nice things about this running series, which is cool because I enjoy putting them together. Week in Review will be back next season, but in the meantime I'll have plenty to say about the upcoming playoff run and all that comes after.

    Speaking of which, the 2020 Offseason Handbook isn't too far off...

    • Sep 29 2019 09:04 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  13. Twins AFL Report - Week 1: Royce Rollin'

    Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season!

    (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

    Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall)

    Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season.

    Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other.

    He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day.

    In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run:

    After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game.

    In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run:

    Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall)

    Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety.

    Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall)

    Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game.

    In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made.

    I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year.

    Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall)

    Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week.

    In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game.

    In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note.

    Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall).

    Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings.

    He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding.

    Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall).

    The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out.

    In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4.

    Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall).

    The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center.

    Other AFL and Minor League Links:

    -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona.

    -For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline:

    Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

    • Sep 25 2019 04:23 AM
    • by Steve Lein
  14. Royce Lewis Opening Options with AFL Flexibility

    Overall 2019 was a down year for Minnesota Twins top prospect Royce Lewis. While calling it a down year, it is labeled so with a bit of hesitancy. While it is an absolutely appropriate label as Lewis slashed .236/.290/.371 between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola. There are more factors to a prospect's development at times than pure and linear statistical output.

    Lewis is also only 20-years-old and had other outside influences contributing to a lower production at the plate. He did struggle with an oblique strain early in spring training and also has been tinkering with his approach at the plate. All of which seem to have contributed to a lower output at the plate.

    Regardless of how we frame Lewis’ 2019 numbers, they did cause Lewis to stumble a bit lower on national prospect rankings, but he is still clearly one of the best prospects in baseball. Something that now is being showcased in the Arizona Fall League. Offensively Lewis has been doing things like this:

    And defensively like this:

    And that is where the heads begin to turn. That is Lewis in center field. Which isn’t all that strange, but the shortstop hasn’t in four games started at his regular position once and has seen all his time split between center and third base.

    So what does this all mean? We ultimately have no idea, but we can sure have some fun speculating. So let’s start with the most exciting option first.

    The Twins really like his bat now

    It is no secret that the Twins have a really good lineup right now. Maybe the Twins would like to add their former number-one pick to that lineup. The problem is that right now the middle infield spots look to be secured by Jorge Polanco and the emergence of Luis Arraez.

    Third base is also technically occupied, but it seems possible the Twins could roll with an infield that puts Lewis at the hot corner. And then goes around the horn with Lewis-Polanco-Arraez-Sano.

    Lewis could also wiggle his way into a crowded outfield situation. There is plenty of speculation about Byron Buxton’s long term ability to stay healthy. There is also a good dose of speculation surrounding Eddie Rosario as a trade piece in trying to bolster the Twins pitching staff.

    It seems absolutely plausible that at some point there will be a new face in the 2020 starting outfield compared to this year’s go-to group. It makes imagining a starting group next season as three of Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, and Lewis (or name your outfielder) feel very realistic.

    This scenario does feel like a stretch as I write it. Lewis’ scenario feels like one that no matter what he does in the AFL or spring training he will find more time in the minors in 2020. Since he has already made it to Double-A we also know that a promotion to the majors can happen quickly once a talented player hits that level. So while we as fans aren’t used to seeing 21-year-olds in the big leagues we know it isn’t impossible either.

    Versatility is King

    If there is anything we have learned about baseball in 2019, next to guys who can hit the baseball really far, it is that teams value defensive versatility. Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, and Willians Astudillo are all guys on the Twins roster that greatly increase their value by their ability to field multiple positions.

    Generally superstars (which I think we all hope Lewis becomes) find one position and are able to lock into it. That may still be true, but maybe we are seeing that the Twins will also value that versatility out of even a superstar.

    This is AFL specific

    The last and least exciting option is this. This is just how the roster of the Salt River Rafters has worked best when it comes to day-to-day lineups to this point in the AFL season. So while Lewis is still viewed as a shortstop it just works best with the players on the roster to have him see time at third or in center.

    Lewis is still a better prospect than Arizona Diamondbacks Geraldo Perdomo who has seen time at short instead of Lewis. Which maybe only fuels speculation about what is happening in Arizona right now and what it means about the long term fate of Lewis and other Twins players.

    Do-Hyoung Park recently wrote that he has been told Lewis will return to his regular work at shortstop after the AFL. Which adds to this being the likely reasoning behind what we are seeing from Lewis. Not to mention Steve Lein wrote that this exact situation was a very strong possibility in his AFL preview not quite a week ago.

    Time will tell where Lewis plays once he gets a shot in the majors. Right now we can enjoy improved production at the plate from him as in four games Lewis has slashed .333/.412/.800 with a 1.212 OPS and two home runs. Lewis continues to look like one more very talented bat that isn’t far from plugging in somewhere and working to keep playoff-level baseball in Minnesota.

    • Sep 24 2019 05:24 PM
    • by Nate Palmer
  15. Arizona Fall League Preview: Royce Lewis Headlines Twins Prospects

    Each MLB team typically sends seven players to the AFL (there are exceptions), and they are split up amongst the six teams that make up the league. The Minnesota Twins prospects will again be on the roster of the Salt River Rafters, with pitchers Dakota Chalmers, Moises Gomez, Jovani Moran, and Zach Neff being joined by position players Royce Lewis, Ben Rortvedt, and Luke Raley. It will be Raley’s second time going to the AFL, though his season was cut short there in 2018. They will join prospects from the rosters of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays.

    Last season, the Twins were represented in the AFL by pitchers Adam Bray, Griffin Jax, Hector Lujan, and Devin Smeltzer with position players Travis Blankenhorn, Jaylin Davis, and Luke Raley joining them (Brent Rooker was supposed to be there but ended up being kept out due to injury). Devin Smeltzer and Jaylin Davis went on from the AFL to make their major league debut during the 2019 season, though in Davis’ case it was with the San Francisco Giants and not the Twins.

    Each week I’ll be recapping the action for all the Twins representatives during their time in the desert of Arizona, so who are the players they sent? How have their careers gone thus far and what will I be looking for from each of them in the AFL as we head into October?

    2019 Minnesota Twins Prospects in the AFL:

    Royce Lewis, IF (20 years old)

    The number one overall selection from the 2017 draft began his professional career by excelling in his first two seasons all the way up to the high-A level and validating his status as an elite prospect. While he continued his ascent to Double-A during the 2019 season, it could be considered one where he endured his first real struggles. His OPS on the season was just .661 while he had gone .788 and .803 the years prior.

    It hasn’t affected his stock too much among prospect evaluators, as he still remains a top-20 prospect on multiple lists and will show you flashes of all his tools when you watch him play, but it’s also typical for a top prospect to go through some growing pains when pushed until they’re challenged. Beginning the season as a 19-year old, Lewis was the second youngest player in the Florida State League, and he continued to be near the top of the Double-A list when he was promoted to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, resulting in him not taking an at-bat against a younger pitcher the entire season.

    A large reason for the drop in overall numbers this year was his struggles against same-sided pitchers. While he crushed lefties to the tune of a .315/.351/.500 triple slash line, that dipped to .211/.271/.331 against right-handers. His only month of the season where his OPS was above .700 was July, where it was a solid .788.

    The AFL will be a great environment for Lewis to finish his 2019 season, among his top prospect peers where he can continue to learn and be challenged. Despite him being a shortstop to this point in his career, what would not surprise me given how AFL rosters are put together and utilized, is if Lewis spends most of his time on the diamonds in Arizona elsewhere, whether at other infield spots or the outfield (as of publishing this article, Lewis is the starting third baseman in the season opener).

    Ben Rortvedt, C (21 - turns 22 on 9/25)

    It took a few seasons for Rortvedt’s bat to start showing it’s potential to go along with his strong defense behind the plate, but that changed some during the 2018 season where he had an OPS of .710 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Fort Myers. He then came out hot to start the 2019 season with the Miracle and after just 24 games moved up to the Blue Wahoos.

    He was a monster with his bat over the first two months of the season, hitting a combined .274/.377/.487 through 35 games, but cooled off as the season wore on by hitting just .213/.302/.300 after that. He did maintain a strong walk rate throughout the year however, as he drew a free pass in 11.9% of his plate appearances.

    Before the year started, he also was somewhat of a poster-boy for the Minnesota Twins seemingly unorthodox catcher development program pointed out during spring training, and that’s because he was already a stellar defender employing some of those practices. He’s thrown out 43% of basestealers over his career but was even better than that in 2019 by catching 30 out of 58 attempts (52%). He gets rave reviews for his receiving and even if the bat never becomes more than average, that defense would make him a strong backup catching option for the Twins in the future.

    Rortvedt is the exact type of player I think the AFL is perfect for. A prospect at the high-levels of the minors that can contribute soon, playing a demanding position with a bunch of his peers that he can talk shop with, and his parent MLB team perhaps needing another option in the near future. While he likely won’t alter any internal opinions unless he torches the league, Rortvedt can establish himself high on the depth chart in 2020 when a need behind the plate arises in the majors with a strong showing.

    Dakota Chalmers, RHP (22 - turns 23 on 10/8)

    Chalmers came to the organization at the 2018 deadline when the Twins sent Fernando Rodney to the Oakland Athletics. He didn’t pitch for the Twins until late this year however as he had undergone Tommy John surgery before he was acquired. He can throw in the upper 90’s and has a swing-and-miss breaking ball that can give opposing hitters fits —when he throws them for strikes, which has been his battle as a prospect thus far. While he struck out 12.5/9IP in his 34 2/3 innings this season, he also walked 6.0/9IP and is likely his biggest emphasis in the AFL this fall.

    There’re a couple of categories Chalmers falls into as a prospect heading to the AFL, those being he needs to throw some innings to make up development time, and also needs protecting on the 40-man roster if the Twins don’t want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft this December. He’s probably the only pitching prospect from the Twins that could make traditional starts for the Rafters this season, and will look to build upon the success he had with Fort Myers in his final three starts where he was 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA and .440 OPS against in 16 1/3 innings where he struck out 23 and walked seven.

    Moises Gomez, RHP (22)

    Gomez came in a number three on Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year award balloting on the strength of a fantastic season spent between the Kernels and Miracle. In 32 appearances he pitched 52 2/3 innings, allowing just 28 hits and 21 base on balls while striking out 78 (13.3/9IP). He surrendered just a .155 batting average against and racked up 10 saves.

    As an international signing during the 2014 season, Gomez will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason. While I don’t think he’s a large risk to lose as he’s only reached high-A to this point, the AFL will serve as a good barometer for if the Twins will push him to start the 2020 season. The Twins have seen plenty of relievers rise from Double-A (or even Fort Myers) to the majors the past two seasons, and Gomez could be one to watch for next year.

    Luke Raley, OF (25 as of 9/19)

    It will be the second year in a row in the AFL for Raley, but hopefully this time he’ll be able to stick around a bit longer as his time there was finished after just four games in 2018. Raley was perhaps the prospect center piece (at the time) of the Twins trade of Brian Dozier to the Dodgers that also brought in Devin Smeltzer, and that was due to the breakout of his bat.

    His 2019 season in Triple-A was cut very short thanks to an ankle injury that kept him out from May until August, when he returned only to play a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. He was a force in the middle of the Red Wings lineup at the beginning of the year, clubbing seven home runs in 33 games while batting above .300.

    Despite being on the bigger side, Raley is able to sneak up on opponents with his overall athleticism and is a solid corner outfield defender with a strong arm. He’ll rack up a healthy amount of strikeouts with a big swing geared for power, but also shows a good approach at the plate and attacks pitches he can mash.

    He’s another guy that is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December in an organization full of young outfielders, so if he’s going to earn a 40-man roster spot he likely needs to take advantage of his time in Arizona and work himself back into the grind of a season.

    Jovani Moran, LHP (22)

    Moran is a bit of a personal favorite of mine, stemming back to his 2017 and 2018 seasons where he struck out every hitter he faced in the Applachian, Midwest, and Florida State Leagues. That’s a slight exaggeration, but for any pure reliever to strike out 16.4/9IP or over 100 hitters in the course of a season in the minors is impressive. He was the runner-up to Andrew Vasquez in our 2018 Relief Pitcher of the Year award, and while he wasn’t as impressive during 2019 at Double-A there was still a lot to like.

    He struck out 50 in 34 1/3 innings (13.1/9IP) and after a rough May that resulted in a month-long trip to the injured list, he returned to his dominant ways. From his return on July 5th through the end of the season he posted a 2.78 ERA, .550 OPS against, and struck out 30 over 22 2/3 innings. He had reigned in his control with Fort Myers to end 2018 with a 2.3BB/9IP walk-rate in his time there, but it jumped to a career high 6.0BB/9IP in 2019.

    He’ll need to work on getting that control back in the AFL, a league where that problem could be magnified by the skill level of his competition. He’s demonstrated he can miss bats with all of his pitches due to the movement he gets and may just need to learn that he can also get away with that inside the strike zone, as he’s allowed only six home runs in 158 career innings. Moran will also be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but as a pitcher who doesn’t bring elite velocity, I find it unlikely for him to be picked unless he blows hitters away in the AFL like he has in the past. But of course, if he does that it wouldn’t surprise me that he gets protected.

    Zach Neff, LHP (23)

    Neff was drafted by the Twins in the 31st round of the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State after spending his first three seasons in college at Austin Peay and worked his way up to Fort Myers during the 2019 season. He also appeared at #5 in our Relief Pitcher of the Year voting for his efforts.

    He’s not overpowering by any means with a fastball that flirts around 90MPH, but still managed to post a strong strikeout rate of 11.0/9IP on the year thanks to a solid three-pitch mix. As a left-handed pitcher you might expect him to rack up most of his numbers against same-sided hitters, but he actually fared better against righties with a .569 OPS allowed vs. .622 against lefties.

    Neff is an intriguing choice to send to the AFL, as it will be by far the stiffest competition he has faced and is not eligible for the Rule 5 draft until the 2021 season, but as a 23-year old with four years of collegiate experience it shouldn’t be a huge adjustment. I’ll be watching to see if he can pitch himself to Double-A to start the 2020 season, or if he’ll end up back in Fort Myers to keep improving.

    Good luck to all seven of the Minnesota Twins prospects participating in the AFL this year, and I’m looking forward to following along with everyone here at Twins Daily! Hopefully Lewis and company can push Salt River to the championship game again this season!

    I’ll be doing a recap of everyone’s performance on a weekly basis, but if there is anything specific you would like to see included in these recaps, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to see if I can work them in. If you’d like to get an idea of what to expect, here is the final recap from the 2018 AFL season.

    Other AFL and Minor League Links:

    - With the MiLB seasons coming to a close in September, Baseball America released several postseason lists, including:

    - MLB.com also released their end of year Top 100 prospect list. Twins included are Royce Lewis (#9), Alex Kirilloff (#16), Brusdar Graterol (#54), Jordan Balazovic (#77), and Trevor Larnach (#78).

    -MLB Pipeline also put out a list of the top prospect each team has sent to the AFL, with Royce Lewis represented for the Twins and is one of two former #1 overall picks playing this season (Mickey Moniak)

    -On 9/19 MLB/MiLB.com also put out a list of sleeper prospects for each team in the AFL, highlighting Ben Rortvedt for the Twins and his arm to throw out runners.

    -Recap and interview with Royce Lewis after his big game on Thursday night that included:

    Please feel free to ask any questions about the AFL or the players who are there!

    • Sep 20 2019 10:52 AM
    • by Steve Lein
  16. Twins Minor League Report (9/8): Do or Die

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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)

    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

    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
  17. Twins Minor League Report (9/4): Postseason Baseball with a Heaping Helping of Taters

    LHP Bryan Sammons transferred to Fort Myers
    LHP Andrew Vasquez transferred to Rochester
    RHP Jordan Balazovic promoted from Fort Myers
    RHP Dakota Chalmers promoted from Fort myers

    Biloxi 11, Pensacola 10
    Box Score

    What an absolute doozy. Jhoan Duran drew the start for the Blue Wahoos and it could have definitely gone better. He made it to just one out into the fifth inning, and despite striking out six and walking one, he allowed four earned runs on eight hits. This game was all about offense though, so let’s fast forward to where things got crazy.

    Despite there being 20 runs and 28 hits through the first nine frames, Pensacola had no home runs. Down 9-5 with no outs and only owning their final three outs, Alex Kirilloff stepped in for the away team. Minnesota’s #2 prospect launched a grand slam into the night and tied this one. After a ball to start the at-bat for top prospect Royce Lewis, he launched a solo shot of his own and the Blue Wahoos owned their most important lead of the night.

    Alex Phillips came on to close it out in the ninth and came one errant pitch from getting it done. A leadoff single turned into a runner on second following a one-out wild pitch, and the runner came around to score on a two-out single a couple of batters later. The game that had everything was now headed to extras.

    After going down in order during the top half, Pensacola tasked Jovani Moran with getting them to the 11th. Moran worked around a leadoff walk by getting a ground ball double play from the next batter, but a walk off homer, while needing just one more out, did him in. Griffin Jax will look to send the series back to Florida all knotted up after a win tomorrow night.

    Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 1
    Box Score

    Luis Rijo earned the game one start for Cedar Rapids and he gave the home team everything they could ask for and then some. Working six innings, he allowed just two runs (one earned) while striking out six and issuing zero free passes. Down just one run when he left the contest, Rijo put the Kernels in striking distance to take game one of their postseason run.

    Unfortunately the Tyler Webb solo shot in the bottom of the third inning was the only production that Cedar Rapids mustered. The five hits were scattered and the home field advantage didn’t provide a lift in the ninth as Kernels hitters went down in order on strikes.

    Seth Gray was the lone Cedar Rapids hitter to rack up multiple hits, and only Gabe Snyder joined him by reaching base more than once on the evening. Tomorrow, Matt Canterino will look to draw things back even on the road, and the Kernels will attempt to play a more crisp game after having three errors tonight.


    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Luis Rijo (Cedar Rapids) 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 2-5, 2B, HR(GS), 2 R, 4 RBI, K

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, K
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 2-5, 2B, HR(GS), 2 R, 4 RBI, K
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Minnesota) - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 1-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB, K
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K
    #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - 4.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 1-5, K
    #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - Defensive replacement
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K
    #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 1-3, R, 2 BB


    Pensacola vs Biloxi (6:35PM CST) - RHP Griffin Jax
    Cedar Rapids vs Quad Cities (6:35PM CST) - RHP Matt Canterino

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Wednesday’s games or any other minor league topics you would like.

    • Sep 05 2019 07:47 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  18. Twins Minor League Report (9/2): Minor League Season's Final Day

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


    • Rochester announced their 2019 team awards, voted by their fans. Congratulations to all three!
    • Wilin Rosario was named the team’s MVP.
    • Zander Wiel was named the most popular.
    • Jake Reed was named the Most Civic-Minded for the second straight year for his work in the community. He volunteered his time at various events and programs throughout the Rochester area, including heavy involvement with Rochester Challenger Baseball..
    • Rochester announced that infielder Joe Cronin joined them from Pensacola. LHP Denny Bentley was transferred to the Elizabethton roster after pitching on Sunday.
    • Pensacola announced that they have received infielder Jose Miranda from the Miracle for their playoff roster.
    • Darren Wolfson has reported that Trevor Hildenberger will be joining the Twins in Boston on Tuesday. He likely isn’t the last player who will be added to the Twins September roster. (according to Doogie's new The Scoops podcast, the Twins will also recall Ryne Harper and Fernando Romero.)

    Rochester 4, Syracuse 8
    Box Score

    The Red Wings end their season with a .500 record, 70-70. With several players already up with the Twins, the Red Wings used several players from lower levels to fill their roster.

    The game was a bullpen game. Jake Reed made the start. He gave up two runs on four hits over the first two innings. He struck out four batters. Next in was Alex Schick who spent most of the second half of the season in Cedar Rapids. He gave up one run on two hits over three innings of work. Sam Clay came on and gave up five runs on six hits and a walk in just 1 2/3 innings. Trevor Hildenberger allowed two inherited runners to score and then recorded the next four outs, two on strikeouts. Ryne Harper struck out three, and walked one, in the final inning.

    Drew Maggi led the offense. He went 3-for-4. Ramon Flores was 2-for-4. The Red Wings had a couple of milestone homers. Brandon Barnes hit his 30th International League home run of the year. Wilin Rosario hit his 20th home run of the year.

    Pensacola 8, Montgomery 0
    Box Score

    The Blue Wahoos finished their schedule with a strong all-around game.

    As we like to do, if a team throws a shutout, we’ll start with the pitching update. It is most impressive because they only had their starter, Bailey Ober, go three innings before much of the bullpen got an opportunity. Ober continued his impressive run with three scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit and struck out three batters. Anthony Vizcaya gave up one hit and struck out two batters in his inning. Jovani Moran then struck out four batters over two scoreless innings. Andrew Vazquez and Tom Hackimer each struck out the side in their inning. Marcos Diplan finished it off with a scoreless ninth inning.

    The bats came out for the final game as well. They also weren’t afraid to take their walks. Trevor Larnach went 1-for-2 and walked three times. Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis each had a single and two walks. Jose Miranda made his Double-A debut and went 3-for-5 with a double. Travis Blankenhorn, Ryan Costello, Caleb Hamilton and Taylor Grzelakowski each had two hits.

    Also of note, after playing centerfield on Sunday, Royce Lewis split Monday’s game between second base and third base.

    The Blue Wahoos end their regular season with an overall record of 76-63.

    Cedar Rapids 9, Beloit 3
    Box Score

    Gabe Snyder has had a very strong first full season in professional baseball. He ended his regular season strong. The Midwest League’s postseason All Star first baseman went 2-for-5 with his 19th home run and three RBI. Seth Gray and Chris Williams each had two hits in the game. Wander Javier hit his 11th homer of the season.

    It was a bullpen game for the Kernels as they prepare for their playoff run. Brian Rapp gave up one run on three hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out three batters. JT Perez came on and gave up two runs (1 earned) on two hits and a walk over two innings. Nate Hadley got the next four outs. Austin Schulfer struck out the side in the eighth inning. Dylan Thomas gave up two hits and a walk in the ninth inning but did not allow a run.


    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Bailey Ober, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jose Miranda, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 1-4, 2 BB, R, 2 K
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, 2 BB, R, RBI
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 1-2, 3 BB, R, 2 RBI
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, R, 2 RBI, K
    #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 3-4, 2 R, 2B(13)
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, BB, R, K
    #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 2-6, R


    Pensacola vs Biloxi - No game on Tuesday. Their series begins in Biloxi on Wednesday.
    Cedar Rapids vs Quad Cities - Not game on Tuesday. Their series begins on Wednesday in Quad Cities. Luis Rijo the likely Game 1 starter.

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Monday games or any other minor league topics you would like.

    • Sep 03 2019 09:44 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  19. Twins Minor League Report (8/30): Steer Plays Hero in Kernels Walkoff... Again!

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


    • Seth Gray was promoted from Elizabethton to Cedar Rapids. Albee Weiss was sent from Cedar Rapids to Elizabethton.
    Rochester 6, Syracuse 1
    Box Score

    The Red Wings utilized a bullpen game on Friday night. Conceivably, it was a bullpen game in which as many as five of the pitchers could be in a Twins uniform on Sunday, or certainly by Tuesday.

    Devin Smeltzer started and went the first two innings. He gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out three batters. Zack Littell struck out two and walked one in his inning. Brusdar Graterol struck out two in his perfect inning. Sam Clay gave up one run on four hits and a walk over two innings. He struck out five. Trevor Hildenberger faced six batters and got all six of them out. Ryne Harper got the ninth inning. With one out, he gave up two hits and a walk to load the bases. He ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts.

    Brandon Barnes went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs in the game. Ronald Torreyes went 2-for-3. Zander Wiel knocked his 24th home run.

    Game 1 - Pensacola 3, Montgomery 2
    Box Score

    Bryan Sammons put together another good start for the Wahoos. The lefty gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six batters. Anthony Vizcaya got the final four outs, two on strikeouts, to record the win.

    Royce Lewis got the scoring going with a solo home run in the top of the first inning. It was his second AA homer. In the fifth inning, Joe Cronin tied the game with his fifth Pensacola homer. In the top of the seventh, Travis Blankenhorn singled in Alex Kirilloff with what proved to be the winning run.

    Larnach and Ryan Jeffers were each 2-for-3 with a walk. Lewis and Blankenhorn were 2-for-4.

    Game 2- Pensacola 1, Montgomery 2
    Box Score

    Griffin Jax started for the Wahoos. He gave up two runs on three hits over five innings. He walked on and struck out five batters. Jovani Moran struck out one in a perfect inning.

    Pensacola’s offense didn’t get much going. Travis Blankenhorn went 1-for-2 with a walk and his 18th home run. He also stole his 11th base.

    The two teams will not play on Saturday so that the Biscuits can attend the funeral of their teammate Blake Biven’s wife, child and mother-in-law.


    Ft. Myers season was complete following their game on Thursday because of Hurricane Dorian.

    Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1
    Box Score

    For the second time this week, Spencer Steer has provided the Kernels with a walk- off win at home. It’s the third walk-off win this week for the Kernels.

    The Kernels got some strong pitching in this game. Andrew Cabezas started and gave up five hits and three walks but no runs over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three. JT Perez came on and got all four batters he faced out. Nate Hadley gave up a game-tying run, but struck out five batters over the final two innings.

    DaShawn Keirsey provided the offense early. He had three hits. Gabe Snyder drove in Daniel Ozoria with a triple in the seventh inning to start the scoring. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Ozoria reached on an error and ended up at second base. Steer followed with the winner.


    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Andrew Cabezas, Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Travis Blankenhorn, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - Game 1 (2-4, HR (2), R, RBI), Game 2 (0-2, BB, K, SB (6)
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Game 1 (1-4, R), Game 2 (Did Not Play)
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Rochester) - 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (13 pitches, 10 strikes)
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - Game 1 (2-3, BB, K), Game 2 (0-3, K)
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Play
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch
    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Season Complete
    #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Injured List
    #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Season Complete
    #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (lower leg contusion)
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - Game 1 (2-3, BB), Game 2 (1-3, K)
    #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 1-4, BB, 2 R, RBI
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, BB, 2B(2)
    #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Injured List
    #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured (Tommy John)
    #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - Season Complete
    #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - Game 1 (2-4, RBI, K), Game 2 (1-2, BB, HR (18), R, RBI, SB(11)

    Syracuse @ Rochester (5:05 CST) - TBD
    Pensacola @ Montgomery - Game moved ahead to a doubleheader on Friday, allowing the Montgomery team to attend the funeral of Blake Biven’s wife, baby and mother-in-law.
    Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:30 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (7-2, 2.68 ERA)

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Friday games or any other minor league topics you would like.

    • Aug 31 2019 05:03 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  20. Twins Minor League Report (8/23): Jhoan Duran Flirts With No-No, Strikes Out 11

    RHP Blayne Enlow was activated off the IL and started for Fort Myers.
    IF Jake Hirabayashi was assigned to Cedar Rapids while the Kernels placed 2B Yunior Severino on the IL with a thigh strain.
    Elizabethton transferred RHP Casey Legumina on the 60-day IL retroactive 8/22.
    The GCL Twins transferred OF Bryson Gandy to the 60-day IL.

    Syracuse 5, Rochester 1
    Box Score

    Randy Dobnak: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 57.6% strikes (49 of 85 pitches)
    HR: Ramon Flores (3)
    Multi-hit games: None

    Willians Astudillo started this game at third base and finished it in right field. He was also 1-for-4 with a strikeout. It was a quiet night for the Red Wings lineup, as Ramon Flores’ home run was their only extra-base hit.

    Randy Dobnak pitched well enough to give Rochester a chance, holding the Mets to two runs over five innings. Fernando Romero had a tough night in relief, walking three batters and giving up three runs in his inning of work.

    Pensacola 3, Jackson 2
    Box Score

    Jhoan Duran: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Royce Lewis (3-for-4, 3 2Bs), Travis Blankenhorn (2-for-4, 2B)

    Jhoan Duran entered this game with a 7.13 ERA over his first 24 innings with Pensacola. He did a 180, got pointed in the right direction and was an absolute beast tonight for the Blue Wahoos.

    Duran carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, completed eight shutout innings and struck out 11 batters in what was an eye-opening performance. We’re getting very late in the minor league season, so it would be great to see him finish strong. Tonight was certainly a giant leap toward that direction.

    For most of Duran’s outing, he was protecting a one-run lead. Travis Blankenhorn hit an RBI double in the second inning and that was it through six frames. In the seventh, the rehabbing LaMonte Wade hit an RBI double and scored on a Royce Lewis double, one of three two-baggers for Royce on the evening.

    Those insurance runs proved to be massive, as Jackson rallied back to score two runs in the top of the ninth.

    Fort Myers 8, Palm Beach 3
    Box Score

    Blayne Enlow: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 65.9% strikes (56 of 85 pitches)
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (2-for-4, 2 2Bs, BB), Yelstin Encarnacion (2-for-4, BB)

    Fort Myers jumped all over Palm Beach, scoring three runs in the first inning and five more in the second. That created a low-stress return to the mound for Blayne Enlow, who was making his first start since Aug. 10.

    Enlow picked up the victory after throwing 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. Four different Miracle hitters reached safely three times in this game. Jose Miranda had a pair of doubles and a walk. Yelstin Encarnacion also had two hits and a walk. Gabriel Maciel had a double and drew a pair of walks while Andrew Bechtold also had a hit and walked twice.

    Clinton 6, Cedar Rapids 3
    Box Score

    Tyler Palm: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 60.3% strikes (47 of 78 pitches)
    HR: Matt Wallner (1)
    Multi-hit games: Wallner (2-for-4, 2B, HR, HBP), Wander Javier (2-for-4, BB)

    Matt Wallner hit his first home run with the Kernels, his seventh on the season overall. Wander Javier reached base safely three times, but the rest of the Cedar Rapids lineup struggled to get much going.

    This was a tight game through most of the middle innings, thanks to a couple of clean frames from Austin Schulfer, but Clinton tallied two runs in the eighth and the Kernels could not answer.

    Elizabethton 6, Danville 5
    Box Score

    Owen Griffith: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K
    HR: Seth Gray (10), Charles Mack (7)
    Multi-hit games: Gray (3-for-5, 2B, HR), Kidany Salva (2-for-4)

    E-Town entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 5-4, but Willie Jo Garry Jr. sparked a rally with a one-out single. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch before Ruben Santana walked. Seth Gray stepped to the plate with the Twins down to their final out. He delivered a walk-off two-run double.

    Gray, the Twins fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, also hit his 10th home run, becoming just the fourth Appy League hitter to reach double digits in dingers this season.

    GCL Red Sox 1, GCL Twins 0 (8 innings)
    Box Score

    Jesus Toledo: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: None

    The GCL Twins got just two hits in this game, both singles. The rehabbing Luke Raley accounted for one of them. He also had an outfield assist. Jesus Toledo struggled with his control, walking three batters, but he managed to pitch three scoreless innings.

    Junior Navas followed suit with three shutout innings of his own before Niall Windeler pitched a scoreless seventh. The only run of this game was scored on a solo homer by the Red Sox in the bottom of the eighth inning. This game actually ended on a single to the next batter, as it was called early due to weather.

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Jhoan Duran, Pensacola
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Seth Gray, Elizabethton

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

    1. Royce Lewis (PNS): 3-for-4, 3 2Bs, RBI
    2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 1-for-4, E (fielding)
    4. Trevor Larnach (PNS): 1-for-3, BB, K
    5. Wander Javier (CR): 2-for-4, BB, R
    7: Keoni Cavaco (GCL): 0-for-4, 2 K
    9. Jhoan Duran (PNS): 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K
    10. Blayne Enlow (FM): 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 65.9% strikes (56 of 85 pitches)
    13. Ryan Jeffers (PNS): 1-for-4, 2B, R, K
    15. Matt Wallner (CR): 2-for-4, HR, 2B, HBP, R, 3 RBIs
    18. Jorge Alcala (ROC): 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 40% strikes (2 of 5)
    20. Travis Blankenhorn (PNS): 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, K

    Rochester at Syracuse, 6:05 pm CT (TBD)
    Pensacola vs. Jackson, 6:05 pm CT (Bryan Sammons)
    Fort Myers at Palm Beach, 4:30 pm CT (Chris Vallimont)
    Cedar Rapids vs. Peoria, 6:35 pm CT (Andrew Cabezas)
    Elizabethton vs. Danville, 5:30 pm CT (TBD)
    GCL Twins vs. GCL Red Sox, 9:00 am CT (TBD)

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

    • Aug 24 2019 07:08 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  21. Twins Minor League Report (8/15): Tortuga (Rehab) Time

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


    • Before Thursday’s game, the Twins activated RHP Michael Pineda and RHP Randy Dobnak was optioned to the Red Wings.
    • Following the Twins win in Texas, Devin Smeltzer was optioned to AAA Rochester. A corresponding move will be made on Friday. Who will it be?
    • Edouard Julien (Elizabethton) and Seth Pinkerton (GCL) were moved to the 60 day injured lists.
    Rochester 7, Indianapolis 3
    Box Score

    The Red Wings got off to a fast start and used a big fourth inning to help lefty Charlie Barnes to his first Triple-A win.

    In his second Red Wings start, Charlie Barnes gave up two runs on seven hits over five innings. He struck out five without walking any. Jake Reed came on and pitched a scoreless sixth inning. He gave up one run in the seventh. Sam Clay got the final two outs or that seventh inning and worked two more scoreless innings to record his second Red Wings save.

    Already up 3-0, the Red Wings scored four runs in the fourth inning. The big blow was a three-run homer off the bat of Ramon Flores. It was his second homer since joining the Red Wings recently. Flores also had a single and a walk. Tomas Telis went 3-for-4. Zander Wiel went 2-for-5 with his 33rd double. Mike Miller went 2-for-4.

    Pensacola 13, Chattanooga 0
    Box Score

    Willians Astudillo began his rehab assignment with the Blue Wahoos. He batted second and was the catcher. He helped get things going on the right note right away. In the first inning, he hit a long home run to put the Wahoos on the scoreboard. Soon after, Ryan Jeffers knocked his third Pensacola homer, a two-run shot.

    After that, the offense just kept putting up runs. Royce Lewis went 2-for-4 and scored three runs. Trevor Larnach went 2-for-4 with a walk and his third double and drove in two runs. Ryan Costello went 2-for-5 with his second double and sixth home run. Mark Contreras added his ninth homer.

    Astudillo homered in his first plate appearance. His second plate appearance resulted in a walk. He hit into a double play before being replaced by Caleb Hamilton.

    Marcos Diplan was the opener in this game. He gave up a hit and walked one without giving up a run in the first inning. Edwar Colina came in and struck out four batters over three scoreless innings. Gabriel Moya worked the next three innings and struck out three batters. Anthony Vizcaya completed the shutout with two innings.

    Ft. Myers, St. Lucie (Cancelled)
    Box Score

    The final game of the Miracle vs. Mets series was called due to rainy conditions. The game will not be made up.

    Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 1
    Box Score

    The Kernels got a great start, a couple of home runs and then held on for a nice win in Wisconsin.

    Luis Rijo continues to pitch really well for the Kernels. On this night, he tossed seven shutout innings. He gave up just two hits. He didn’t walk a single batter and he struck out nine. He improved to 5-7 on the season and reduced his season ERA to 2.63.

    Gilberto Celestino has been red hot for nearly two months now. He got the Kernels off to a fast start with a first-inning solo homer. It was his tenth of the season. He went 2-for-2, walked and was hit by a pitch as well. In the fourth inning, Wander Javier hit a long home run, his ninth of the season, to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead. That was about it for the Kernels offense as they had just five hits in the game.

    Austin Schulfer pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He gave up one run in the ninth inning but stranded a runner to record the save. It was the first save of his professional career.

    E-Twins 3, Danville 4
    Box Score

    Sawyer Gipson-Long started and gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out five. Ryan Shreve worked the next four innings and gave up just three hits. He gave up no runs, walked none and struck out three. Osiris German came into a tie game in the bottom of the ninth. He got two outs, but he hit a batter and gave up two hits to take the loss.

    Ruben Santana led off and led the offense by going 4-for-6 with a stolen base in this game. Max Smith went 3-for-4 with his third stolen base. Anthony Prato went 2-for-3 with a hit batter and his sixth double. Will Holland added his sixth home run.

    GCL Twins, GCL Braves
    Box Score

    For the second straight day, the GCL Twins were postponed by rain. The games will not be rescheduled.


    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Luis Rijo, Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ryan Costello, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 2-4, 3 R, RBI, SF, SB(4)
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, BB, R, K
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 2-4, BB, 2B(3), 2 R, 2 RBI, K
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, BB, HR(9), R, RBI, K
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - Rained Out
    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Rained Out
    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Injured List (hamstring)
    #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (lower leg contusion)
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 1-1, HR(3), HBP, R, 2 RBI
    #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 3-5, 2B(10), HR(3), 2 R, 3 RBI
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) - 0-3, 2 BB, K
    #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Injured List
    #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured (Tommy John)
    #18 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - 1-3, BB, 2B(13), R
    #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 1-5, 2 RBI, K

    Rochester @ Indianapolis (6:05 CST) - RHP Kohl Stewart (6-5, 5.68 ERA)
    Chattanooga @ Pensacola (6:35 CST) - TBD
    Ft. Myers @ Jupiter (5:30 CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (6-3, 2.76 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (7:05 CST) - RHP Matt Canterino (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
    Elizabethton @ Danville (5:30 CST) - LHP Ryley Widell (1-5, 7.30 ERA)
    GCL Red Sox @ GCL Twins (11:00 CST) - TBD

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Thursday games or any other minor league topics you would like.

    • Aug 16 2019 04:28 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  22. Twins Minor League Report (8/14): Prospects in Pensacola

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


    • RHP Ryan Eades was DFAd by the Twins and claimed by the Baltimore Orioles.
    • RHP DJ Baxendale was activated by the Red Wings, and RHP Cody Stashak returned from the Twins.
    • C Ben Rortvedt was placed on the Pensacola injured list. C/1B Taylor Grzelakowski returned to the Blue Wahoos from Ft. Myers.
    • RHP Jose Martinez was activated from the IL. RHP Alex Schick went on the IL with a hamstring injury.
    Rochester 3, Indianapolis 5
    Box Score

    Griffin Jax made his second start for the Red Wings. He gave up five runs (three earned) on seven hits in four innings. He gave up runs in three of the four innings he pitched. He did not walk or strike out anyone.

    Preston Guilmet and Ryan O’Rourke each tossed two scoreless innings. Guilmet gave up two hits, walked one and struck out three. O’Rourke gave up one hit and struck out three.

    Wynston Sawyer returned and led the offense. He went 4-for-4 in the game. Zander Wiel hit his 21st home run of the season in the ninth inning, but the rally came up short.

    Pensacola 9, Chattanooga 7
    Box Score

    Pensacola put up big, crooked numbers in two of the innings and held on when the Lookouts had one big inning.

    Alex Kirilloff led the way. He went 3-for-5 and hit his eighth home run in the first inning to put the Wahoos on the scoreboard. He also stole his sixth base. Trevor Larnach went 3-for-4. Royce Lewis went 2-for-5 and stole his third base. Jimmy Kerrigan was 2-for-5 and stole his 13th base. Caleb Hamilton was 1-for-2 with two walks.

    Lefty Bryan Sammons started and gave up two runs on six hits over the first six innings. He walked two and struck out five batters. Tom Hackimer started the seventh inning. He recorded just one out and was charged with four runs on two hits and two walks. Jorge Alcala came on and gave up one run on two hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings. Brusdar Graterol came on and got the final out of the eighth inning. He walked the leadoff batter in the ninth inning, but picked him off. He then walked a second batter before getting the three outs. It was the first save of Graterol’s professional career.

    Seth Aside (because I get asked a lot): I have no doubt that Brusdar Graterol will be called up on the last day of August, if not sooner, assuming he remains healthy.

    Ft. Myers 2, St. Lucie 1
    Box Score

    The Miracle put together a well-pitched game, and a couple of Florida State League “Firsts” helped them to the win.

    Tyler Watson started and gave up just one run on six hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out six. Johan Quezada came in and got out outs. Moises Gomez got the final five outs of the game, four on strikeouts.

    The Miracle got on the board in the third inning. Jacob Pearson knocked his first home run for the Miracle. He went 3-for-4 in the game and also stole his sixth base. In the seventh inning, Yeltsin Encarnacion crushed his first Miracle home run, and it proved to be the game-winner.

    Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 3
    Box Score

    The Kernels fell behind early, but runs in the eighth and ninth innings tied the score. However, they fell on an infield hit in the bottom of the ninth.

    In the eighth inning, a Wander Javier single scored Daniel Ozoria. Then in the top of the ninth inning, Trevor Casanova lofted a fly ball deep enough to score Spencer Steer with the tying run.

    Ozoria led the offense. He went 2-for-2 and was hit by a pitch. He stole his 10th and 11th bases.

    Kody Funderburk started for the Kernels. The left-hander started with four scoreless innings before giving up two runs in the fifth frame. In his 4 2/3 innings, he gave up the two runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out five. Jose Martinez gave up two hits but no runs over the next 1 1/3 innings. He struck out two. Dylan Thomas tossed two scoreless innings. Nate Hadley came in for the ninth inning, but with two outs, he gave up an infield single that scored the winning run.

    Box Score

    No Game Scheduled.

    GCL Twins, GCL Braves
    Box Score

    The GCL Twins were postponed by rain… again. The two teams are scheduled to play two games on Thursday.


    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Tyler Watson, Ft. Myers Miracle
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Alex Kirilloff, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 2-5, R, K, SB(3)
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 3-5, HR(8), 2 R, 2 RBI, K, SB(6)
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K (13 pitches, 5 strikes)
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 3-4, R, RBI, K, SF
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, BB, RBI, K
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 0-4, BB, R, 2 K
    #18 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (25 pitches, 17 strikes)
    #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - 2-5, 3B(5), R, RBI, K, CS

    Rochester @ Indianapolis (6:05 CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes (0-0, 8.31 ERA)
    Chattanooga @ Pensacola (6:35 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina (3-0, 2.52 ERA)
    St. Lucie @ Ft. Myers (6:00 CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (6-3, 2.76 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (7:05 CST) - RHP Luis Rijo (4-7, 2.84 ERA)
    Elizabethton @ Danville (5:30 CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (0-1, 5.65 ERA)
    GCL Twins @ GCL Braves (DH @ 9:00 CST) - TBD, TBD

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Wednesday games or any other minor league topics you would like.

    • Aug 15 2019 07:20 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  23. Twins Minor League Report (8/9): Chris Vallimont Flirts With No-No, Pensacola Goes On Homer Binge

    Twins recalled RHP Cody Stashak from Rochester.
    LHP Charlie Barnes promoted to Rochester.
    RHP Bailey Ober promoted to Pensacola.

    Louisville 3, Rochester 1
    Box Score

    Adam Bray: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 59.7% strikes (40 of 67 pitches)
    HR: Tomas Telis (8)
    Multi-hit games: None

    A great pitching performance from the Red Wings staff was squandered by a quiet night from the bats and a slip up from Fernando Romero.

    Adam Bray pitched four shutout innings before Jake Reed followed with a pair of clean frames of his own. Romero gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits over 1 2/3 innings. The only Rochester run came on a homer from catcher Tomas Telis.

    Pensacola 8, Mobile 5
    Box Score

    Edwar Colina: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 56.7% strikes (51 of 90 pitches)
    HR: Alex Kirilloff (7), Trevor Larnach (4), Ryan Costello (5), Mark Contreras (8), Royce Lewis (1)
    Multi-hit games: Kirilloff (2-for-4, HR, HBP), Larnach (2-for-4, HR, BB), Travis Blankenhorn (2-for-5, 3B), Jordan Gore (2-for-4)

    What a first inning for Pensacola. Alex Kirilloff led things off with a home run, Travis Blankehorn added a one-out triple and Trevor Larnach brought him around on a two-run homer. The Blue Wahoos continued to serve up tater trot hotdish, as Ryan Costello, Mark Contreras and Royce Lewis would all also homer. It was Lewis’ first Double-A home run.

    Edwar Colina lasted just 3 1/3 innings, but the Pensacola pen stepped up. Jovani Moran (five outs), Jorge Alcala (six outs), Andrew Vasquez (two outs) and Jonathan Cheshire (four outs) combined to cover the final 5 2/3 innings. That quartet gave up just three hits and Vasquez was the only one of them to surrender a run.

    Jupiter 9, Fort Myers 1
    Box Score

    Chris Vallimont: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 67.9% strikes (55 of 81 pitches)
    HR: Ernie De La Trinidad (3)
    Multi-hit games: None

    Life comes at you fast. Chris Vallimont carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and the Miracle ended up getting blown out. Baseball can be cruel sometimes.

    Vallimont, who came over from Miami along with Sergio Romo in the Lewin Diaz trade, didn’t make the best first impression with his new org, giving up six runs over 2 2/3 innings in his first start. Tonight, he was brilliant.

    Entering the eighth inning, the only baserunner Vallimont allowed reached on a walk. Unfortunately, his first pitch of the eighth inning was hit into left field for a single. The next batter hit a double and that was it for Vallimont.

    Joe Record, who was recently named Twins Daily’s Reliever of the Month for July, couldn’t stop the skid, and the Hammerheads ended up scoring eight runs that inning. Ouch.

    Kane County 10, Cedar Rapids 9
    Box Score

    Matt Canterino: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 62.3% strikes (38 of 61 pitches)
    HR: Gabe Snyder (14)
    Multi-hit games: Tyler Webb (4-for-5), Snyder (2-for-5, HR)

    Cedar Rapids entered the top of the ninth inning trailing 6-4. Spencer Steer hit a two-run double to tie the game and Gabe Snyder added a sacrifice fly to put the Kernels up. The Cougars managed to answer and these two teams continued to go blow-for-blow in extras.

    Both teams scored in the 10th inning, Cedar Rapids added another run in the 11th, but Kane County answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to win on a walk-off.

    Johnson City 8, Elizabethton 7
    Box Score

    Ryley Widell: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K
    HR: Willie Joe Garry Jr. (4)
    Multi-hit games: Matt Wallner (3-for-5, 2B), Janingson Villalobos (2-for-4), Charles Mack (2-for-5)

    This was a back-and-forth affair. E-Town fell behind 4-1, stormed back to take the lead in the fourth inning, gave it up and fell behind 7-5 in the sixth, tied the game in the bottom of that inning thanks to a Willie Joe Garry Jr. two-run homer, but then relinquished the lead for good in the top of the seventh.

    Frandy Torres did his best to keep the E-Twins in it, closing things out with four strikeouts over three no-hit innings.

    GCL Twins 5, GCL Red Sox 2 (8 innings)
    Box Score

    Donny Breek: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Malique Ziegler (2-for-4), Francisco Martinez (2-for-4, 2B)

    Scheduled to be Game 1 of a doubleheader, this game was only supposed to go seven innings. The Red Sox managed to knot things up at 2-2 in the bottom of that inning, forcing this one into extras. Though it was only the eighth inning. Minor league doubleheaders get weird.

    Anyway, Victor Heredia, Malique Ziegler and Franscico Martinez all recorded hits to open the top of the eighth and the Twins managed to tally three runs that inning. Donny Breek gave up one unearned run over his 5 1/3 innings, dropping his ERA to 0.59. Bradley Hanner gave up one run over the final 2 2/3 innings.

    To make things all the more weird, game 2, which was the makeup of a game originally scheduled for last Sunday, was suspended in the bottom of the first inning and will be completed tomorrow. Third time’s the charm?

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Chris Vallimont, Fort Myers
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Alvor Larnilloff, Pensacola (I couldn't pick one, you decide between Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach)

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

    1. Royce Lewis (PNS): 1-for-4, HR, BB, R, 3 RBI, 2 K
    2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 2-for-4, HR, HBP, 2 R, RBI, K
    4. Trevor Larnach (PNS): 2-for-4, HR, BB, R, 2 RBI
    5. Wander Javier (CR): 1-for-4, 2 BB, 2 R, E (throw)
    7: Keoni Cavaco (GCL): 0-for-4, R, K
    15. Matt Wallner (ELZ): 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, K
    16. Ben Rortvedt (PNS): 0-for-4, BB, 2 K
    18. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 59.0% strikes (23 of 39 pitches)
    20. Travis Blankenhorn (PNS): 2-for-5, 3B, R

    Rochester vs. Louisville, 6:05 pm CT (Charlie Barnes)
    Pensacola at Mobile, 7:05 pm CT (TBD)
    Fort Myers vs. Jupiter, 5:00 pm CT (Blayne Enlow)
    Cedar Rapids vs. Beloit, 6:35 pm CT (Tyler Palm)
    Elizabethton vs. Johnson City, 5:30 pm CT (Tyler Benninghoff)
    GCL Twins vs. GCL Red Sox, 9:00 am CT (TBD)

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

    • Aug 10 2019 06:34 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  24. Twins Minor League Report (8/1): Kirilloff Drives in Five, Graterol Continues Comeback

    OF Ramon Flores signed by Minnesota and assigned to Rochester.
    3B Jake Hirabayashi assigned to Rochester from GCL Twins.
    RHP Anthony Vizcaya placed on the 7-day IL with Pensacola.
    RHP Marcos Diplan acquired in trade with/ MIL and assigned to Pensacola.
    RHP Kai-Wei Ten to SF as part of the Sam Dyson deal.
    RHP Carlos Suniaga on 7-day IL with Pensacola.
    RHP Josh Winder on 7-day IL with Pensacola.

    Rochester 5, Scranton/WB 3
    Box Score
    Kohl Stewart got the nod for the Red Wings on Thursday afternoon. He pitched into the sixth inning (5 2/3 innings) and held the RailRiders to one run on six hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Jake Reed struggled in taking over for Stewart. He allowed two earned runs without allowing a hit. He struck out three and walked one in 1 1/3 innings.

    In the second inning, Alejandro De Aza got the scoring started with a solo-home run, his fourth long-ball of the year. Rochester added another in the fourth. De Aza and Zander Wiel both singled before Ramon Flores doubled in a run. De Aza was in the middle of the action in the fifth inning as well. Tomas Telis singled with two outs and De Aza cracked his second home run of the day. Jake Cave added his seventh home run in the seventh.

    Fernando Romero and Sam Clay finished off the game with two scoreless innings. Romero pitched 1 2/3 innings and limited Scranton/WB to one hit while striking out two and walking one. Clay was asked to get only one out and he recorded his first save.

    Pensacola 11, Birmingham 8
    Box Score
    Pensacola needed every one of Alex Kirilloff’s five RBIs in this one as they battled through a slugfest. Kirilloff finished 2-for-5 with his 14th double and his fifth home run, a three-run shot. Ivan De Jesus Jr also had a big night at the plate by going 3-for-4 with four RBIs including a three-run home run. Ben Rortvedt drove in a pair of runs with two outs in the inning. Overall, the club went 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

    Griffin Jax started and got roughed up. He allowed five runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Jorge Alcala pitched out the of the bullpen and surrendered one run on two hits with a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings. Andrew Vasquez blew the save but was credited with the win. He allowed two runs in two innings and struck out three. Jonathan Cheshire earned his first save since joining the Twins organization with a perfect ninth inning.

    Ft. Myers 3, Dunedin 0 (Game 1- 7 Innings)
    Box Score
    Cole Sands was outstanding even with a weather delay that impacted the start time of Game 1. He pitched six shutout innings and limited Dunedin to two hits. He struck out seven and walked one. Joe Record earned his third save with a perfect seventh inning.

    CJ Cron, on rehab assignment, got things started in the third inning with a solo home run. Jose Miranda also scored in that inning on a wild pitch. Miranda was also involved in the final run of the game. Jacob Pearson drove him in for an important insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. Andrew Bechtold reached base three times and was the lone Fort Myers batter with multiple hits.

    Ft. Myers 2, Dunedin 6 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
    Box Score
    Fort Myers got smoked for six runs in the third inning and it was tough to mount a comeback. Chris Vallimont was charged with all six earned runs as he couldn’t make it out of the third inning. Melvi Acosta pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings by striking out two.

    Gabriel Maciel got the Miracle on the scoreboard with a run-scoring triple in the fourth inning. Ernie De La Trinidad and Yelstin Encarnacion both doubled in the fifth to score another run but that was it for the Miracle.

    Cedar Rapids 4, Beloit 2
    Box Score
    Cedar Rapids and Luis Rijo allowed two runs in the first inning but that’s where the scoring stopped for the Snappers. Rijo settled in after the first and threw five straight scoreless frames. He compiled three strikeouts and one walk. He has pitched six innings or more in every start since July 4.

    Alex Schick and Rickey Ramirez combined for three shutout innings to end the game. Schick picked up his fourth win as he recorded four strikeouts out of the six outs he was asked to collect. Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth inning and added a strikeout.

    Tyler Webb led off the third inning with a single before Daniel Ozoria knocked his first home run of the season. The game remained tied until the ninth inning. Webb struck out to start the inning but reached first on a wild pitch. Ricky De La Torre walked to move a runner into scoring position. Ozoria bunted both runners over and then two batters later Gabe Snyder doubled, his 20th, to plate two runs.

    GCL Twins 3, GCL Braves 2
    Box Score
    Brusdar Graterol continued his comeback by making his second appearance in the GCL. He faced the minimum in the first inning as he allowed a single and then erased that runner on a double play. He was able to hit over 100 mph again. In his second inning, the first batter flew out to center. Then he struck out each of the next two batters on three pitches and they were all swinging strikes. Would the Twins consider adding him to the bullpen for the stretch run?

    With two outs in the third inning, Taylor Grzelakowski walked before moving to second on a Jesus Feliz single. Victor Heredia doubled, his third of the year, to drive in both runners. The GCL Twins added to their lead in the fourth when Sergio Toribio singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a ground out moved him to third, Yunior Severino drove in what turned out to be the game winning run.

    Regi Grace took over from Graterol and was credited with his first win. He pitched four innings and allowed one run, a solo home run, with four strikeouts and three walks. Petru Balan came in for the top of the seventh, but he walked the first two batters and was removed. Bradley Hanner stepped in to finish the game with three shutout innings. He struck out two and walked one.

    TD Pitcher of the Day- Cole Sands, Fort Myers (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 7 K, BB)
    TD Hitter of the Day- Alejandro De Aza, Rochester (3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, K)

    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) – 1-4, R, K
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) – 2-4, 5 RBI, HR, 2B, 2 R, K
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (GCL Twins- Rehab) – 2.0 IP, H, 0 ER, 2 K
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) – 0-4, 3 K
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Fort Myers) – Did not pitch
    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL) – 1-4, 3 K
    #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – Injured list
    #9 - Jhoan Duran (Fort Myers) – Did not pitch
    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch
    #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Minnesota) – Did not pitch
    #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – 0-5
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) – Did not play
    #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) – 1-6, R
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) – 1-4, R, RBI, BB, K
    #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) – 1-3, 2 RBI, R
    #17 - Akil Baddoo (Fort Myers) - Injured List (Tommy John surgery)
    #18 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – 1.2 IP, ER, 2 H, K
    #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL) – Did not play
    #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) – Injured list

    Rochester @ Pawtucket (6:05 CST) – TBD
    Pensacola vs. Birmingham (6:35 CST) – RHP Jhoan Duran (3-9, 3.04 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30 CST) – LHP Tyler Watson (1-4, 3.88 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:30 CST) – TBD
    Elizabethton vs. Bristol (5:30 CST) – TBD
    GCL Twins vs. GCL Red Sox (11:00 AM CST) – TBD

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

    • Aug 02 2019 05:57 AM
    • by Cody Christie