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  1. Twins Add Balazovic, Rortvedt and Ober to their 40-Man Roster

    Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker and Edwar Colina would have been obvious additions to the 40-man roster on Friday, but the Twins added them during the season.

    That left Jordan Balazovic as the one easy choice for them to add to their 40-man roster, and on Friday they did. In addition, they added catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-hander Bailey Ober as well.

    That said, there are a lot of good prospects that were left off of the roster still. The Rule 5 draft will take place December 10th, and players such as Akil Baddoo, Jose Miranda, Yunior Severino, Wander Javier, Luis Rijo, Gabriel Maciel, Griffin Jax, Tyler Wells, and Charlie Barnes were left unprotected. For a more complete list, click here.


    BACK TO BALAZOVIC

    The 22-year-old right-hander was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2016 out of St. Martin Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto). His area scout that signed him was Walt Burrows. After an impressive debut in the GCL that summer, he really struggled at the same level in 2017.

    However, he was a new pitcher in 2018. In late May, he moved up to Ceadr Rapids and was quite impressive. He went 7-3 with a 3.94 ERA. In 61 2/3 innings, he had 78 strikeouts with just 18 walks. The season pushed his prospect status very high, reaching into the top ten among Twins prospects and even into some national Top 100 lists.

    In 2019, he spent the first month with the Kernels. He went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in four starts before moving up to the Miracle. In his first Miracle start, he tossed seven no-hit innings and struck out ten batters. He went 6-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 more games. Combined, he had 129 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 93 2/3 innings. His season ended with a playoff start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.



    When Deron Johnson drafted Balazovic, he saw a lanky pitcher with raw ability and a strong understanding of pitching. Johnson later told me that when he saw him again in 2018, he was now touching 95 and his breaking pitches were much sharper.

    Balazovic was added to the Twins alternate site roster for the final month of the season.

    Also, it's pronounced (buh-law-zuh-vic)...

    More on Jordan Balazovic:BACKING BAILEY

    When it comes to putting up numbers, Bailey Ober has done just that. He was the Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston where he was the country's Freshman of the Year. Unfortunately, the 6-9 righty had Tommy John surgery which cost him a season and his recovery pushed him down in the draft.

    He has missed time since joining the Twins organization too. However, when he has pitched, he has been really good. In 2018, he went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA in Ft. Myers before moving up to AA Pensacola where he went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Combined, he struck out 100 and walked just nine batters in 78 2/3 innings.

    More On Ober


    BACKSTOP BEN

    Ben Rortvedt has also been added to the Twins 40-man roster. The Verona, Wisconsin, native was the first of two straight second round picks in 2016, one pick ahead of Jose Miranda.

    He has been invited to big-league spring training the past two seasons. In 2019, he started in Ft. Myers. After 24 games, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he played in 55 games. Combined, he hit .239/.332/.355 (.687) with 16 doubles and seven homers before an late-season knee injury ended his regular season. He attempted to play in the Arizona Fall League but was unable to and had knee surgery.

    Rortvedt is strong and athletic behind the plate. He's got good agility and a strong arm. He's really improved on his pitch framing in recent seasons as well. He's smart, works well with pitchers and is able to call a strong game.

    More On Rortvedt
    Posted Image


    What are your thoughts on the Twins additions to the 40-man roster?

    The roster currently has 37 players on it: 19 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders and eight outfielders.

    • Nov 23 2020 12:08 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Who Should the Twins Protect from the Rule 5 Draft?

    As Nick wrote earlier this week, this will be an offseason filled with uncertainty. How much will payroll be decreased? When will free agents sign? Will anything much happen before February?

    Will there be Winter Meetings? Well, certainly there won’t be a big gathering in a hotel as there normally is. But there certainly will be a Rule 5 draft… right?

    And with that, teams have until November 20th to add players to their 40 man roster. With teams less likely to spend big money in the offseason, could acquiring players in other ways, including the Rule 5 draft, be an option? On the other side, will teams wanting to cut back want to spend $100,000 to add a player that may or may not be offered back to their previous team for $50,000?

    Since the completion of the World Series, the Twins have been able to remove their free agents from the 40-man roster. Sergio Romo also became a free agent when the Twins declined his option for 2021. The Twins have claimed pitchers Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell.

    Nick Gordon will need to come off of the 60-Day Injured List, and when that happens the team will be at 34 players on their 40-man roster. Will he stay on the 40-man roster? If not, he would need to clear waivers, and even if he did, he would become a minor league free agent.

    Also before then, teams will need to offer 2021 contracts to their current arbitration-eligible players. If they don’t, those players will become free agents as well. Certainly Eddie Rosario is the most likely to be non-tendered, but the team has several arbitration-eligible players.

    With that as the backdrop, the Twins could potentially add as many as eight or even nine players from their system to their 40-man roster (pending others being removed from the 40-man).

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

    • Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2016 (during the minor league season).
    • Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2017.
    • Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again.
    • Players drafted or signed during the 2014 season became free agents after the World Series was complete.
    So, let’s take a look at the eligible players, starting with The Givens:


    THE GIVENS

    When I first reviewed which players might need to be added to the 40-man roster (last January), I felt that there were four “Givens.” Three of them made their MLB debut in 2020.

    Alex Kirilloff (#1) - The 2016 first-round pick was added to the Twins rosterfor the 2020 playoffs. He became the third player to make his MLB debut in the playoffs, the first ever to start a game in that scenario. (The other two were A’s Mark Kiger and Royals Adalberto Mondesi) Kirilloff is such a natural hitter, he was an easy choice to add. It’s done.

    Brent Rooker (#3) - The Twins Competitive Balance pick after the first round in 2017 from Mississippi State has provided a lot of power with his bat since the team drafted him. A few weeks before Kirilloff, Rooker made his big-league debutand hit well. He knocked his first home run in a game in St. Louis. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and needed season-ended surgery. But again, was an easy choice then, and it happened in-season.

    Edwar Colina (#4) - Colina was the one maybe surprising name to some that he would have been included in the Given category. He was signed in late September of 2015 and has slowly but consistently worked his way up the organizational ladder. But when a pitcher hits triple digits with a fastball and is known to have “the best slider in the organization,” he’s a given. He was added to the 40-man roster and called up on the final weekend. His one game did not go well, but that shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion on his upside.

    So, ,who was Given #2 when this was done in January?
    • RHP Jordan Balazovic - The right-hander from Canada remains an easy choice to be added to the Twins 40-man roster. He’s 6-5 and lean, though he has also added strength and velocity to his frame over the past couple of seasons. People believe that he can be a starting pitcher, which is a key point.
    OTHER POSSIBLES

    This is where it gets more difficult. When so few players get selected in the Rule 5 draft, is it necessary to protect as many players? Or, are so few players selected because more (or the right) players get added to 40-man rosters.

    Of course, making it even more difficult to determine who should be added is the fact that there was no minor league season. These players did not get a typical, normal opportunity to earn a spot on the 40-man roster or not. So, for me, I saw many of the players for a week in spring training. They had a few more days of spring training after I left there before they were sent home. They were quarantined and there was no minor league season. A few of these players were at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. Approximately 60 players were invited to the instructional league. Those are the new points for the Twins to factor into their decisions. That’s not a lot.

    While I have this group ranked by how I would consider adding them, I think the Twins should have a good conversation to consider each. (which they most certainly have)
    • OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and great power-speed combination potential. Had there been a 2020 season, he likely would have began as a DH before gradually moving back to center field.
    • C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the 2019 season at Pensacola before a knee injury ended his season. Terrific defensively and very strong. Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are likely going to be the big-league catchers. Williams Astudillo may or may not remain on the 40-man roster and in the organization. Tomas Telis has been re-signed on a minor league contract. Rortvedt should be considered for a roster spot.
    • SS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster last offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. The hope would have been that after a strong 2020 season, he would have been a Given. He didn’t play in 2020, another missed season. But, they have invested in him and he is still young and still immensely talented.
    • RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5. Of all the players left off the Twins 40-man roster last year, Rijo was the one I was most worried about losing. Still young, he was throwing 95 at times in 2019 with three pitches. Now he’s a year older, hopefully more mature and strong.
    • 3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles much more as a third baseman. He’s got good size and strength and could develop into a power hitting option.
    • RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020. He was invited to big-league spring training, but he was not in the Twins player pool. But he is another guy who profiles as a starter, which matters.
    • 2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup. He got into several games in spring training and did a nice job.
    • OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense. Twins bench coach Mike Bell is very familiar with Maciel and his potential.
    • LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester). Barnes was invited to Twins spring training and had a nice showing. Originally, he was not added to the player pool, but he was added later in the summer and got a couple of weeks of work in that atmosphere.
    • RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up video game numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance. He did not work at the Twins alternate site or participate in instructional league.
    • LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, and because of that, he probably profiles well as the type of player that does get selected in the Rule 5 draft.
    • RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed most of that year and had all of 2020 to keep working his way back to full strength without rushing. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level? If so, he’s worth a roster spot.
    • LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers in 2019 before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches.He has proven strong and durable as well.
    • 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. 2020 was a big year for him as he was starting to really come into his own. Hopefully that can happen in 2021.
    • 1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He was invited to Twins spring training and performed well. He also spent the 2020 season at the Twins alternate site in 2020.
    Others in their first year of eligibility:
    • Tyler Benninghoff, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Jimmy Kerrigan, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Janigson Villalobos.
    Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020.
    • Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone,Tom Hackimer, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Lachlan Wells, Aaron Whitefield.
    SUMMARY

    The Twins again have several interesting options for guys who could be added to the 40-man roster or potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Like the rest of the offseason, it’s hard to feel confident about anything that’s going to happens and that includes what the Rule 5 draft might look like.

    PREDICTION
    If forced to make an official prediction, I think that the Twins will only add Jordan Balazovic and Ben Rortvedt to the 40-man roster in two weeks. Balazovic is the given. I just think that having strong catchers is important, and Rortvedt fits that category with his defense, and there is still offensive potential too. I think they’ll be busy in free agency and will want those roster spots available to them. They may be busy with trades too, including some of these players mentioned on the Possibles list.

    What do you think?

    • Nov 19 2020 06:10 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. Designated Hitter Gets New Wrench for Twins in 2021

    The Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal is hearing that the DH will revert back to an American League only rule in 2021. Despite the success of the change during the 2020 sprint, this is a change that would need to be collectively bargained and will likely need the 2022 CBA to institute it full time. Disappointing as that is for fans not wanting to see pitchers be automatic outs in the National League, the decision has rippling effects for the Twins.



    There’s arguably no bigger decision for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to make this offseason than whether they believe Cruz has more production to dole out. At some point the aging process wins out, and unfortunately, it’s not often a gradual process. If Cruz remains consistent, he’s one of the most feared hitters in baseball. If not, he provides no other value outside of clubhouse leadership, and paying him like a coach would be far more beneficial for the sake of payroll expenditures.

    Thanks to Major League Baseball deciding the National League will go back to pitcher’s hitting for one more year, Nelson Cruz’s free agent suitors have officially been cut in half. All of those National League teams that scrambled to find a DH-bat this year will no longer face that issue in the season ahead. Many of the American League organizations already have that role filled, and that definitely tips the scales in the Twins favor should they want to retain the services of the Dominican star.

    I still think one of the biggest questions in relation to this offseason is where the buck will cease being passed when it comes to a shortage of dollars. If teams are going to decrease payroll across the board, it would only make sense that players would see paydays being muted as well. While the arbitration process is relatively static, that means guys on the free agent market would be forced into dealing with what the market bears, as opposed to what they’d traditionally find as worth.

    In a normal situation Nelson Cruz may command something like $15 million per year with a full boat of 30 teams vying for his services. With less than half of that being the reality, and less dollars to go around as a whole, the avenue for him to return may get a bit clearer.

    Traditionalist or not, it’s disappointing that we’re going to get expanded Postseason and changed rules for extra innings out of this season, but we’ll still see pitchers hitting on a nightly basis despite being well in over their heads. As goofy as that is, maybe it means Minnesota isn’t forced into deciding Brent Rooker is their starting DH out of the gate next season, and if the belief is Nelson can still get it done, having him back would be a must.

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    • Oct 22 2020 01:16 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  4. Twins Early Offseason Outline: The Future is Now

    Alex Kirilloff is Here to Stay
    Minnesota made it clear how highly they thought of Alex Kirilloff by having him on the postseason roster and starting him in an elimination game. There are a couple different ways to get Kirilloff in the line-up as a regular in 2021.

    Eddie Rosario is in his final year of arbitration and he is scheduled to get a raise to around $10 million. He likely isn’t worth that much especially if the Twins are trying to cut costs. If Rosario isn’t offered arbitration, the Twins could start next year with an outfield of Kirilloff along with Byron Buxton and Max Kepler.

    Kirilloff also can slide in at first base and the easiest way to make this happen is to not try and resign Nelson Cruz. Sano could move from first to being the team’s full-time designated hitter and Kirilloff could become Minnesota’s first baseman for the better part of the next decade.

    Finding Room for Brent Rooker
    Before the Twins turned to Kirilloff, Brent Rooker was the player the Twins turned to from the alternate site. Unfortunately, his season ended early after being hit by a pitch from Cleveland’s Zach Plesac. The 25-year old was still able to make a strong impression in his first taste of the big leagues. In 21 plate appearances, he went 6-for-19 with half of his hits being for extra bases.

    Much like with Kirilloff, the Twins could find a scenario where Rooker takes over at first base with Sano moving to DH. Minnesota could decide what can be better for the team’s defense which seems like Kirilloff in the outfield and Rooker at first base. Would the Twins want two unproven bats in the line-up from season’s start?

    Meet Ryan Jeffers, Everyday Catcher
    Ryan Jeffers quickly made his presence known on the Twins roster this season and there is little chance he will be going anywhere in the years ahead. Things get tricky when considering that Mitch Garver struggled in 2020 after one of the best hitting seasons ever for a catcher.

    Over the last couple of seasons, the front office has preferred to have one younger catcher, Mitch Garver, and pair him with a more veteran backstop (Jason Castro, Alex Avila). Both Castro and Avila made a good complement to Garver because they bat left-handed. Would the Twins be willing to trade Garver and resign a player like Avila as the back-up to Jeffers?


    Others on the Way
    Outside of the trio of players mentioned above, there are also other players closing in on Target Field. Trevor Larnach was the team’s 2019 Minor League Player of the Year and he adds some depth in the outfield. If Buxton misses time, an outfield of Kirilloff, Kepler and Larnach could certainly be intriguing. Another option could be to trade Larnach to fill a need at another spot on the roster.

    Royce Lewis is going to be talked about a lot this offseason and rightfully so. He is the team’s consensus top prospect, and he is one of baseball’s top prospects. With no minor league season, it’s tough to know how he progressed at the team’s alternate site. He ended 2019 at Double-A and there was a chance he made his big-league debut this season. Would the Twins be willing to trade Jorge Polanco and his team friendly deal?

    By midseason next year, the Twins line-up could include:
    C: Ryan Jeffers
    1B: Brent Rooker
    2B: Luis Arraez
    3B: Josh Donaldson
    SS: Royce Lewis
    LF: Alex Kirilloff
    CF: Byron Buxton
    RF: Max Kepler
    DH: Miguel Sano

    The Twins farm system has kept them relevant and it continues to be the key to sustainable contention. Do you think the Twins should go with a youth movement in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Oct 05 2020 01:25 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  5. Minnesota’s Farm System is Key to Sustainable Contention

    Back in 2016, the Twins revamped their front office by hiring Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. One of their biggest tasks in their first year on the job was preparing to have the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. That draft was just the start of how they were able to add to Minnesota’s well stocked farm system.
    [attachment=15255:Farm System Rankings.JPG]
    Minnesota’s current crop of regulars was moving through the system back in 2015-16 and that’s why the farm system ranked so highly. The new front office crew saw some of their impact after the 2017 MLB Draft and that continued into the following year’s draft. The results of their time at the helm are already being felt at the big-league level.

    2017 Draft
    There were multiple options with the top overall pick back in 2017 with names like Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright all in the discussion. Minnesota decided Royce Lewis was the best option and he has been the organization’s highest-ranking prospect since he was drafted. Last season, Lewis finished at Double-A and under normal circumstances, he might have made his big-league debut this season.

    Lewis wasn’t the only strong pick in this draft. Brent Rooker was recently called up and he has been contributing to a team in the middle of a pennant race. Time will tell if he can develop into a big league regular, but his powerful swing should keep him on the roster. In the same draft, Minnesota had to offer Blayne Enlow a big signing bonus to lure him away from LSU and now he is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. He might be a couple years away from debuting, but he add to the depth of the farm system.

    2018 Draft
    Coming off a surprise run to the playoffs, the Twins had a much lower draft pick in 2018, but that didn’t stop them from finding players to restock the farm. Trevor Larnach was the team’s first round selection and he has developed into one of the best hitting prospects in the organization. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year and the Florida State League Player of the Year. He finished last year at Double-A and now he has been part of the team’s 60-man roster that is working out in St. Paul.

    Another player from this draft, Ryan Jeffers, has played a pivotal role with the club due to Mitch Garver’s injury. When he was drafted, he was seen as a bat-only catcher, but he was given very little coaching on his catching defense throughout his collegiate career. Now, his 51.2% strike rate has him in the top-20 among all MLB backstops when it comes to catcher framing.

    Trades Add Depth
    Making trades is another way to stock a farm system and the Twins front office has already seen some of the rewards of those trades. Zack Littell was acquired back at the 2017 trade deadline as part of the Jaime Garcia trade and he has fit nicely into the Twins bullpen when healthy. At that same deadline, Minnesota added LHP Tyler Watson who pitched all last season at High-A with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

    The 2018 trade deadline was where Minnesota was able to revamp the farm. Trading Eduardo Escobar to the Diamondbacks got the Twins back a trio of prospects including RHP Jhoan Duran, who is considered one of the team’s top pitching prospects. Also, Minnesota traded away Ryan Pressly for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Alcala has shown electric stuff out of the Twins bullpen this year and Celestino could become a regular at the big-league level in the years ahead. For the Twins, this trade could pay dividends for multiple years into the future.

    How do you feel about the Twins consistency in their farm system? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Sep 09 2020 09:08 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. The Time Has Come to Begin Phasing Out Eddie Rosario

    His gaudy HR and RBI numbers on a historically explosive offense last year obscured the reality: he was a mediocre player showing some seriously diminished skills. Rosario's .300 on-base percentage ranked as the eight-lowest among MLB hitters and his defense rated near the bottom of all outfielders.

    Among 135 qualified big-league position players last year, Rosario ranked 114th in fWAR.

    This was a big year for the left fielder, who knew he needed to turn around his declining performance trend and build his case for free agency. Before the season he announced his intentions to address weaknesses in the statistical categories that modern front offices care about.

    "Defense, walks, OPS, those are the numbers in the game right now that are bad for me. OK. I want to try to change that. That's it," he said.

    To his credit, Rosario has made definitive improvements to his plate patience. He's chasing out of the zone less, whiffing less, and has more than doubled his paltry 3.7% BB rate from a year ago. Unfortunately, this hasn't led to an uptick in overall production – quite the contrary, in fact. His OPS is down 70 points, and his defense rates as poorly as ever. The notion that last year's drop-off owed to an ankle injury hasn't been substantiated (unless the ankle is still bothering him, which is possible but hardly reaffirming). He's a below-average runner and Statcast's Outs Above Average metric places him in the 5th percentile among all fielders.

    [attachment=15244:rosariostatcast97.png]


    His range is awful and the strong arm doesn't come close to making up for it. It all adds up to this:

    Among 158 qualified big league position players this year, Rosario ranks 122nd in fWAR.

    On top of this, he continues to be a maddeningly undisciplined and reckless player on the field; on Sunday he blatantly blew through a stop sign at third, getting thrown out easily to stifle a big rally, and then later watched a caromed ball sit in front of him in left field as runners circled the bases because he (wrongly) assumed it was a ground rule double. On Monday he ran into another out on the bases, attempting to stretch a double into a triple and getting thrown out by a mile.

    He's doing all this for a prorated salary of $7.75 million this year, and figures to command a similar amount in 2021, his final year of arbitration. How do you justify that expense with multiple top prospects waiting in the wings behind him?

    You don't. Eddie is on his way out.

    So why keep feeding him everyday playing time when you could be prepping those future fixtures who do not have the benefit of playing minor-league games this year? To an extent, this becomes a moot point with Max Kepler sidelined, but if he returns – and even up until then – it would behoove the Twins to start mixing in Rosario's replacements to both get them familiar and, frankly, improve the production from left field. A bit of exposure to an intense September stretch run atmosphere in the majors could benefit Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach greatly, if they are expected to be a big part of Minnesota's championship plans for 2021. Brent Rooker is of course already here, and demonstrating that it's possible to acclimate quickly from the alternate site.

    I get that Rosario is a streaky player. It's entirely possible he'll get on a roll and validate his consistent nods at the heart of the batting order. But it's also very possible he won't. There's only so much time left to turn around his lackluster performance, and many underlying signs suggest that Rosario's decline is more attributable to diminishing athleticism than bad luck or the standard ebbs and flows of baseball.

    The Rosie ride has been a wild one over these past six years, filled with plenty of thrills and frustrations. Now, as that ride reaches an end, it's time for the Twins to prep themselves for the future in left field.

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    • Sep 07 2020 01:59 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  7. Brent Rooker Makes MLB Debut

    On Thursday night, Brent Rooker received The Call that every ballplayer dreams about. Twins minor league director Alex Hassan was on the phone. He was busy at the time, but seeing Hassan’s name made everything else not terribly important.



    News broke shortly before 11:00 on Friday morning that Max Kepler was heading to the Injured List and Rooker’s contract was being selected.

    Soon after, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was asked about Rooker.





    In Game 1, Rooker batted seventh and played left field. Eddie Rosario got the game off against southpaw Matthew Boyd.

    In his first plate appearance, Rooker swung at the first two pitches. A couple of pitches later, he was hit by a pitch. The last Twins player to be hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance? LaMonte Wade in 2019. Before that, you have to go back to Brian Dinkelman in 2006.

    Rooker came to the plate again in the fifth inning and hit a 102 mph line drive right at the shortstop. He was removed from the game for defensive purposes.

    In Game 2, the manager put Rooker into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. With a runner on in the first inning, he struck out.

    However, he came up again in the top of the third inning with runners on first and second base and two outs. On the first pitch, he drilled a line drive to left field at 112 mph for a single. Jorge Polanco came around to score the first run of the game. Rooker was able to record his first hit and his first RBI in the same at bat. He flew out to right field in his third at bat of that game. Willians Astudillo pinch hit for him in the seventh inning.

    All in all, a nice debut for the Twins slugger.

    Posted Image

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

    Twins fans have been excited to see Rooker debut. When the Twins drafted him with the 35th overall pick in 2017 after a Triple Crown-winning performance at Mississippi State, it was the second year in a row that the team drafted him. A year earlier, they took him in the 38th round, but he bet on himself and it paid off.

    Just for fun, here were his stats from that Triple Crown season. In 67 games, Rooker hit .387/.495/.810 (1.306) with 30 doubles, 23 homers and 82 RBI. He was the first player to post a Triple Crown season in the SEC since Rafael Palmiero in the early 1980s.

    He signed quickly and went to Elizabethton just to get back into the swing of things after time off after the college season. In 22 games, he hit .282 with five doubles and seven homers. He then skipped Low-A ball, jumping straight to High-A Ft. Myers where he hit 11 more homers in 40 more games. His 18 home runs were the most by a Twins minor league player in his draft season in 27 years.

    At Double-A Chattanooga in 2018, he hit .254 with 32 doubles and 22 homers in 130 games. He spent the 2019 season at Triple-A Rochester where he hit .281 with 16 doubles and 14 home runs in 65 games. He missed most of the season’s second half with an injury. However, he got healthy and was able to represent Team USA in the WSBC Premier 12 where he was a teammate with Caleb Thielbar.

    For the second straight season, he received an invitation to big-league spring training in 2020. When Summer Camp began, Rooker saw quite a bit of time playing in preseason intra-squad games.

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    He has been working at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul, until today when he got that call.

    Scouting Report

    Rooker has good size, and he is quite strong. At spring training a couple of years ago, a national baseball writer asked me to point out Rooker. When I did, he told me that he was surprised by how athletic Rooker was. Because of his power numbers, the assumption was that he was big and burly and slow and unathletic.

    Rooker is long and lean. He’s not fast, but he is a good athlete. In high school, he was the quarterback on the football team, a top scorer on the basketball team and obviously a great player on the baseball team. All three teams went to state championship games.

    Rooker has a very strong approach and mentality at the plate. He is built for power and he has built his swing to provide a lot of power. That showed in 2019 when, after really struggling through his first month in Triple-A, he hit .302/.432/.558 (.990) with 14 doubles and 10 homers in 49 games.

    Like Miguel Sano, Rooker has the ability and the power to hit the ball very hard and a very long way. Like Miguel Sano, Rooker also strikes out a lot. But as you can see from his minor league numbers, he takes a good at bat and is willing to walk.

    Defensively, well, no, he won’t be a Gold Glove winner, but he can play both corner outfield positions. He’s not Eddie Rosario in left field. He’s certainly not Max Kepler in right field. But he will make the routine plays. He can also play an adequate first base if needed.

    Rooker is also very smart. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He comes from a good family that was supportive of him. Rooker also is a student of the game. He has embraced video. He has embraced the analytics of the game. He understands himself as a player, his strengths and his weaknesses. He’s also shown an ability to make adjustments over the course of a season.

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    More Background

    Rooker is certainly a player that has been talked about and written about at Twins Daily a lot since the draft. Take a look back at these past articles on Rooker.



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    • Sep 04 2020 11:52 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  8. Twins Need to Make a Trade with St. Paul

    In a traditional season I expected Minnesota to look for an arm, preferably of the starting category. I wrote about how Trevor Bauer made sense if the Reds made him available, but that would have been a high-risk rental. The only reason I like him is that it was a clear upgrade on their current options. It turned out the only arm of that ilk to move was the Indians Mike Clevinger, and a team-controlled asset from within the division would have come with an astronomical price tag.

    The fact that the Twins didn’t go get a bat, or even another relief arm, is defensible. Byron Buxton returns September 1, with Josh Donaldson set to follow him the next day. Cody Stashak is hopefully around the corner, and maybe even Zack Littell will make his way back. There are big league assets currently on the Injured List that have tickets for September and should still play a key part.
    If there’s an indefensible situation though, it’s not addressing the elephant in the outfield, a right-handed bat.

    Minnesota has one of those ready and waiting in St. Paul, and it’s been past time Brent Rooker was given a shot. Rooker was a 1st round pick back in 2017 and entered pro ball at 22. He’s now 25 and will be 26 this calendar year. He’s not a young prospect by any means, and having played over 250 games on the farm, he isn’t too green anymore either. Rooker spent 65 games with Triple-A Rochester in 2019, and while he missed time due to injury, he posted a .933 OPS. The Twins selected him based on his power bat profile and his 54 minor league home runs have brought the belief to fruition.

    While fans could be clamoring for top 100 prospect Alex Kirilloff, there’s two key differentiators at play with Rooker. First and foremost, he bats right-handed. Minnesota’s outfield is exclusively left-handed without Byron Buxton, and the duo of Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade are more than redundant. Adding to the lineup flexibility, it’s plenty clear a righty is necessary.

    Then there’s also the idea of playing time colliding with development. Kirilloff is a very high ceiling prospect but is just 22 and has yet to play above Double-A (94 games where he had just a .756 OPS). Making sure his bat is completely ready before throwing him to the wolves at the highest level is a must. Kirilloff is also transitioning to more of a first base role and continuing to work through all types of developmental skills is imperative for his long-term success.

    I don’t put any stock in the notion of a guy needing consistent playing time during 2020. Despite the fact that Rooker can spell both corners and routinely see three games per week, the reality is nothing taking place at MLB alternate sites constitutes “real” game action anyways. It’s not as though Rooker or Kirilloff can’t get the same level of drill work in at Target Field. At bats may be a bit more sporadic and travel is thrown in, but opportunity remains relatively consistent.

    There’s no telling whether or not Brent Rooker being promoted would immediately result in a rejuvenation of the Twins run scoring prowess. What he does do is give Rocco Baldelli a righty in the outfield that he’s been hamstrung without, and an opportunity for Minnesota’s front office to tag in a high-level prospect that you’re worried substantially less about a falling floor.

    Soon there will be a time for Alex Kirilloff, but right now is Brent Rooker’s turn. I’ll defend the front office over trusting in their internal talent at the deadline. There’s no defense for failing to utilize it after that. Let the Bulldog out.

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    • Sep 01 2020 09:48 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  9. Identifying the Twins Most Tradable Asset

    The trade deadline is just around the corner. While many of us thought it may ultimately be a quiet deadline there have already been some deals struck. Most notably may be Taijuan Walker being dealt to the Blue Jays from the Mariners.

    Across Twins Daily there have recently been several good write ups about some targets the Twins could try and acquire. Here I will explore the players who have value as trade chips for the Twins during trade talks. This year's trade deadline guidelines read that only players in the 60-man player pool can be traded. That has created speculation that the most traded player this deadline may be the “PTBNL” creating a loophole and expanding teams tradable assets.

    Simply for ease of speculation, here is a list of the five most valuable and/or tradable assets in the Twins 60-man player pool.

    Eddie Rosario

    Rosario’s name is no stranger to lists like these. There is also no denying that Rosario has been very valuable to the Twins in many ways this season. Time and time again we have seen him use his cannon to catch runners on the basepaths. He has also hit .241/.307/.457 with 7 home runs while bumping his walk rate up from 3.7% in 2019 to 8.7% in 2020.

    If the Twins want to go get someone of higher impact at the deadline they will need to give up something of value. Rosario may represent the most replaceable piece on this squad as it stands currently. He would also be available to the team receiving him through next season as long as they want to pay his arbitration number.

    Speaking of Rosario being replaceable...

    The Big 3 Prospect Bats: Alex Kiriloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker

    I am going to go ahead and treat these three prospects as a group. We as fans have already wondered out loud if Alex Kiriloff and Brent Rooker should be looked at to help jump start the Twins offense this season. They also represent players other teams would certainly be interested in.

    Because Larnach and Kiriloff are widely regarded as the better two prospects, Rooker is the player that would be the easiest from the Twins stand point to let go. That is not a knock on what he has done since last season at Rochester he hit .281/.398/.535 with a .933 OPS in 65 games. For the right return, I am guessing any of these three can at least be discussed.

    Lewis Thorpe

    Something has happened to Thorpe. After looking like someone heading on the right track and the pick by many to be a breakout candidate for 2020. Things have not gone well for Thorpe.

    In 14.2 innings this season, the Australian has a 6.14 ERA and has been hurt by the long ball boasting a 2.45 HR/9. While all the raw tools seem to be there for Thorpe there is just something missing and maybe another team sees the value and believes they can unlock it. While at the same time the Twins bolstering their roster for a playoff run.

    Edwar Colina

    I personally would be very shocked if Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic (not in the 60-man pool) were traded at this deadline. Mainly because I just don’t know if there is going to be a big enough fish out there worth their value. Colina could be another arm that would entice teams. Not much unlike Brusdar Graterol this winter did.

    Colina is big and thick and can pump the ball into home plate with triple digit velocity. Ultimately I hope he sticks around, but his velocity along with his 2.96 ERA and 9.4 K/9 may be something other teams would like in a trade package come the deadline. Also, since he seems to be slated to be a relief pitcher it makes seeing him go a bit easier to absorb.

    The Back-end of the Roster

    Welcome to the “not so sexy” portion of the list. My personal feeling is that there will be more trades like this than anything throughout this year’s deadline. These are all guys that can simply fill out the end of a major league team’s bench. Of course that is also fully based on the Twins also being fully healthy.

    Ehire Adrianza has been valuable to the Twins over the past couple years, but with his ability to hit free agency coming up and with Marwin Gonzalez and Ildemaro Vargas on the roster if it fetches something he could be expendable. Nick Gordon has been in COVID limbo but he either could be one of the possible replacements for Adrianza on the Twins roster or even the trade market.

    Jake Cave would fit mold as well. Not much different than when the Twins acquired him, Cave represents good defense (even with some glaringly bad ones mixed in) with a bat that can get real hot real quick. Depending on how depleted rosters become I even wonder if AAAA guys like Juan Graterol and Drew Maggi could even get asked about in cash deals like the Twins when they acquired Vargas.

    What are some names you would be dangling that didn’t get mentioned? Do you even think the trade deadline will be an active one? Love to hear your thoughts and don’t forget to check out some of the pieces written about who the Twins could target.

    4 Right-Handed Relievers to Target
    4 Left-Handed Relievers to Target
    The Case For and Against Lance Lynn
    3 Bats to Target
    Former Twins to look at

    • Aug 29 2020 05:22 PM
    • by Nate Palmer
  10. The Next Minnesota Twins - 2020

    For anyone new to this site, I have been helping to write our Minor League Reports since 2014 (man, I’m going to miss them this year…), and for years before that wrote about the Twins and their minor league system elsewhere. I’ve always been fascinated by the minor leagues as I went to many games as a kid when we visited family in Wisconsin, home to a few Midwest League teams. Back then we saw the Appleton Foxes, now known as the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. I don’t recall an exact number on how many future major leaguers I may have seen back then, but the one who stands out was Alex Rodriguez. He played for the Foxes as an 18-year-old the same year he made his MLB debut.

    My favorite thing to look forward to in the baseball offseason is all the top 100 prospect and team lists that come out. While I certainly make my own such lists, there are so many websites and other publications dedicated solely to the minors these days (some of the best of those are right here at Twins Daily) that I like to put a slightly different spin on my own list going into a new season. It comes from those minor league games I watched as a kid where those prospects had the same dreams I did—to become a major leaguer.

    During the 2019 season, 261 players across Major League Baseball fulfilled those dreams and made their debut. The Minnesota Twins accounted for 12 of those players which included pitchers Ryne Harper, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Brusdar Graterol, Cody Stashak, Sean Poppen, Ryan Eades, and Jorge Alcala, along with position players Luis Arraez, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Ian Miller.

    Quite frankly, that was a lot of debuts for a team that won 101 games and speaks to the amount of depth that has been developed and how willing the front office has been to utilize it. Of those 12, seven of them were players I identified in this column before the season. For the upcoming season we now know that Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Arraez, and Wade have made the 30-man roster and Alcala finds himself on the taxi-squad. Another wrinkle for 2020 is that the Twins will not have the entirety of their system potentially available, relying instead on a limited 60-player pool from which they can draw. That makes this year’s list below a little easier to determine.

    With the shortened season and the veteran and young depth this roster has, I would not expect major contributions from any of these guys outside of injuries, but it will be interesting to see what happens when a particular need does arise. So, who are the potential Next Minnesota Twins for the 2020 sprint of a season?

    ON THE 30-MAN ACTIVE ROSTER:

    Aaron Whitefield (23 years old on opening day) – OF

    The first player on this list is also perhaps the biggest surprise for the opening day roster. Whitefield hasn’t hit much over the past two seasons with Fort Myers and Pensacola with an OPS well under .600, but that is not the reason he’s here. He has played primarily center field and possesses a good arm and speed, swiping 50 bases in those two seasons despite the hitting deficiencies. I envision this as Byron Buxton insurance for now and a pinch-running weapon late in games, a luxury afforded with the expanded rosters.

    ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER:

    Dakota Chalmers (23) – RHP

    The right-hander was acquired in 2018 for Fernando Rodney while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Known for good velocity, Chalmers returned to action in July of last year and was impressive with Fort Myers before making an appearance in the playoffs with Pensacola. He then pitched as a starter in the Arizona Fall League and was tabbed for the championship game for the Salt River Rafters, which they went on to win. His repertoire includes mid 90’s heat he can reach back for a little more of, a good slider, and a developing changeup. As with many young pitchers, consistency is key for him moving forward, as he can get a bit wild. Here are some of his pitches courtesy of Parker Hageman:



    Travis Blankenhorn (23) – IF (TD’s #18 Prospect)

    Blankenhorn reclaimed a bit of his prospect luster during the 2019 season, as the former 3rd round pick OPS’d near .800 at Fort Myers and Pensacola, playing primarily 2B with some looks in left field. His 19 home runs on the season were a career high and he added in 22 doubles for good measure. He has also played a good amount of third base in his career thus far, so his versatility as a good athlete is something the Twins can take advantage of if needed.

    Nick Gordon (24) – IF

    To everyone who has forgotten about Nick Gordon—I think that’s a mistake. I would agree there’s not potential star power here anymore, but Gordon is going to have a long MLB career. He hits, can handle shortstop, and has sneaky speed that helped him collect 29 doubles and 14 stolen bases last year in just 70 games at triple-A. If he were not injured at the time, I do believe he would have been the name called up instead of Luis Arraez last season. We’re all glad it worked out like it did, but that statement speaks to what many are missing with Gordon. Don’t be surprised if and when he becomes a nice contributor to Minnesota’s lineup.

    Gilberto Celestino (21) – OF (TD’s #12 Prospect)

    Celestino is the first long shot on my list, as I don’t think it makes sense to call him up at any point in the 2020 season unless some things have gone seriously wrong with injuries to outfielders. Just 21-years-old and only eight games of experience above the Midwest League, he would likely be in over his head in the batter’s box. But one thing I do believe he could handle just fine in the majors at this point is playing defense at a high level in the outfield, center field included.

    60-MAN PLAYER POOL DEPTH:

    Sam Clay (27) – LHP

    Clay has missed plenty of bats and kept the ball in the yard at an incredible rate (one home run allowed in last three seasons and 188+ innings pitched). He lowered his walk rate in 2019 but free passes are still something he is working on.

    Edwar Colina (23) - RHP (TD’s #16 Prospect)

    Colina is one of my personal favorites, and he has the potential to make fans forget about trading away a similar pitcher in Brusdar Graterol. Colina has made impressive strides since being in the system and can now consistently hit 100-mph when he wants to and pairs that heat with a good slider.



    Drew Maggi (31) - IF

    Maggi is by no means a prospect, but brings a lot of experience and is a solid type of backup option to have around that can play multiple positions, including shortstop in a pinch. Hit .258/.384/.405 with Rochester in 108 games last season.

    Zander Wiel (27) – 1B/OF

    Another one of my favorite guys to follow in the system, Wiel’s production is often overlooked when it shouldn’t be. He led the International League with 40 doubles last year and also clubbed 24 home runs. His 86 runs scored also led all Twins minor leaguers.

    TOP PROSPECTS:

    Brent Rooker (25) – 1B/DH/OF (TD’s #9 Prospect)

    If the Twins are in need of a masher at designated hitter, first base, or a corner outfield spot at any point, Rooker is not a bad place to start. His power is for real, as he slugged .535 with 14 home runs in 67 games with Rochester last season. The caveat is that he strikes out a lot, but I have a hard time with that argument as a catch-all from people when his on-base percentage was also .399 on the year. Don’t let those strikeout numbers fool you—he’s a masher and on-base asset.

    Ryan Jeffers (23) – C (TD’s #7 Prospect)

    A good way to describe Jeffers for me is to look at the current starting catcher on the MLB team. Like Garver, Jeffers has been known more for his bat in the minors than his catching ability—but that appears to be much improved since he’s been in the system, to the point he may be a great asset there in the future. If the Twins catching depth is stressed beyond the top three at any point there’s a good chance the Twins could go to Jeffers, but I think he’s on the 60-man squad more to keep his momentum gained last season under the watchful eye of the Twins’ top brass.

    That’s also true for the rest of the players below on this list. I think the Twins would be ecstatic to not have to reach down to them at any point, and simply continue their development in this short season.

    Jhoan Duran (22) – RHP (TD’s #6 Prospect)

    There aren’t many pitching prospects in the Twins system you can put the label “potential ace” on (or in any system, if we’re being honest), but Duran is one. He has the size and repertoire, able to reach back for 100-mph if he wants to, and a two-seam fastball that will remind you a lot of pitches you’ve seen from Jose Berrios and Brusdar Graterol. He continues to work on his off-speed pitches but gets plenty of swings and misses with a hard slider, and if he can find any more consistency with those secondary offerings you have the makings of a stud.

    Trevor Larnach (23) – OF (TD’s #3 Prospect)

    The first of two similar hitters the Twins continue to be impressed by is Larnach. He was the Twins and Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League hitter of the year during the 2019 season that saw him reach double-A for his final 43 games. He was consistent all season, posting an identical .842 OPS at both stops and a .380+ on-base percentage. Due to being a little older and his experience in college, I’d think the Twins may go to him first over the next guy if they have to reach down this far, but it’s a tough roster to crack right now for a corner outfielder.


    Alex Kirilloff (22) – 1B/OF (TD’s #2 Prospect)

    When returning from Tommy John surgery for the 2018 season, Kirilloff shot up prospect lists everywhere after hitting .348/.392/.578 at Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. He spent the entirety of the 2019 season with Pensacola and didn’t replicate those numbers, but much of that can be attributed to wrist and other injuries he sustained before and during the season. When he finally got near 100%, the numbers followed as he hit .311 in the month of August and was a monster in the playoffs, hitting home runs in four straight games.

    Royce Lewis (21) – SS/OF (TD’s #1 Prospect)

    I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about the Twins #1 prospect by this point, and perhaps about how he struggled some during the 2019 season. Well, any concerns you and I had about that should have been squashed by how he performed in the Arizona Fall League last year, where he took home the league MVP trophy. It’s a league I’ve paid close attention to for a long time, and it was without a doubt the best performance from a Twins prospect I have seen. Even more interesting about his time there was he was not given one of the coveted shortstop positions on the roster, instead spending most of his time at third base and some in center field, looking impressive at both spots. There’s also burgeoning power here, more than expected when drafted, so go ahead and be excited for Lewis’ future. If it wasn’t a short sprint, I’d rate his MLB debut potential quite highly, but believe it more likely 2021 at this point.

    As far as the current 60-man player pool goes, these are all the players in the Minnesota Twins system that could make their ML debut this year. Who do you think will don the uniform for the first time in 2020, and who do you think could also be added at some point to do so?

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    • Aug 11 2020 02:51 PM
    • by Steve Lein
  11. Twins Win the Universal DH Battle

    This was supposed to be Nelson Cruz’s age-39 season, but before any games are played, he’ll be for. A man, over the hill, or any other way you’d like to dice it he is not. Maybe it’s a credit to his elite napping skills, or maybe it’s because he was a late-blooming prospect. Whatever “it” is though, Cruz has absolutely still got it.



    Minnesota’s designated hitter played zero games in the field during 2019 and has played five or less in each season dating back to 2016. When he shows up to the ballpark there is one focus, to hit. Last season Cruz did plenty of that. He posted a career best 1.031 OPS while blasting 41 dingers. His .311 average was a high-water mark since 2010 and the .392 OBP was easily a career high.

    Counting stats are certainly gaudy for the Dominican native, but it’s the inputs that truly jump off the board. Cruz was 1st in baseball when it comes to barrels per plate appearance at 12.5%. He was third in average exit velocity (93.7 mph) behind on Aaron Judge and teammate Miguel Sano. He also ranked third in hard hit rate, trailing the same duo, and his average dinger came in at a whopping 411 ft.

    It wasn’t as though Cruz made any drastic changes in 2019 either. His swing profile remained virtually unchanged from career norms. No out of whack BABIP or walk rate were in play either. What the Twins have is a professional hitter with a single goal of destroying the baseball. Pretty nice asset for a position entitled “designated hitter.”

    So, if the Twins have the best one in the league, and everyone else is chasing them, it’s certainly going to be suboptimal when Nelson hangs them up in a year or two right? Well, maybe not. Enter Miguel Sano and the rest of Minnesota’s pipeline.

    Patrick Wozniak wrote a really great piece regarding the Twins draft strategy in recent years. Under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the focus has appeared to be on projectable bats. The system now has boppers like Brent Rooker and Aaron Sabato, while a bit more versatile options such as Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Matt Wallner all exist.

    The goal is never for a draftee or prospect to be psotionless. Value is derived from opportunity, and it’s largely why the Twins have strayed from locking Sano into a sole DH role at this point. However, if you look at it as a starter turned reliever, it’s hardly a bad fall back option. Knowing that one spot in the lineup, as has been the case in the American League for quite some time, is going to be taken solely by a bat allows the Twins flexibility.

    Not often do players age as well as Nelson Cruz has. Former Twins first basemen David Ortiz is probably the most glaring example, and he retired while still producing at an elite level. Time remains undefeated and eventually Cruz will turn the page, but it’s more than evident he’s at the top now and Minnesota could be for the considerable future.

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    • Jun 18 2020 08:54 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  12. Minnesota Twins Post-Draft Top-20 Prospects: 11-15

    15. Edwar Colina, RHP
    2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA, AAA): 8-2, 2.96 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 102 K, 32 BB, 97.1 IP
    Colina signed with the Twins back in 2015 and he has been slowly working his way through the Twins system. He really hit his stride over the last two seasons as he started to compete in full season leagues. In the 2018 campaign, he posted a 2.63 ERA and a 106 to 53 strikeout to walk ratio at Low- and High-A. Last season, he played at three different levels and his time at High- and Double-A was outstanding. He only allowed 23 earned runs in nearly 93 innings (2.23 ERA) and he struck out more than a batter per inning.

    On the mound, Colina is stocky and his fastball can give hitters nightmares. He’s been clocked at over 100 mph, but he typically sits in the mid- to high-90s. His best secondary pitch is his change-up, but he is going to need to continue to improve his breaking pitches as he moves through the higher levels of the minors.

    14. Wander Javier, SS
    2019 MiLB Stats (A): .177/.278/.323, 11 HR, 9 2B, 116 K, 35 BB, 80 G
    Back in 2015, Javier was widely considered one of the best prospects in the international class and the Twins signed him for $4 million. Unfortunately, injures have cost Javier parts of multiple professional seasons. He was limited to eight games during his pro-debut because of a hamstring injury. Then in 2018, he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the entire season. Even with the injuries, he has all the tools to be considered one of the team’s top prospects.

    Javier was back on the field in 2019 after missing all of 2018 with a shoulder injury. It was his first taste of a full-season league and things didn’t exactly go perfectly. He struck out over 27% of the time but there were some bright spots amid a rough season. From July 15 to the end of the season, Javier compiled a .428 SLG and a .738 OPS. Nine of his 11 home runs and seven of his nine doubles were during this stretch.

    13. Matt Canterino, RHP
    2019 MiLB Stats (RK, A): 1-1, 1.44 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 31 K, 8 BB, 25.0 IP
    The Twins took Canterino in the second-round last season after a strong junior season at Rice University. He was a three-year starter at the school, and he pitched 94 innings or more in every season. In his final collegiate season, he posted a 2.81 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and a 121 to 23 strikeout to walk ratio. Throughout his collegiate career, he controlled the strike zone by allowing less than 3 walks per nine innings and striking out nearly 11 batters per nine.

    Because of his college workload, Canterino saw limited action after signing with the Twins as he made seven regular season starts and one postseason start. His college experience really showed up as he struck out over 11 batters per nine innings. It would have been exciting to see what he could have done in a full minor league season, but that will have to wait until 2021.

    12. Brent Rooker, OF/1B
    2019 MiLB Stats (AAA): .282/.399/.530, 14 HR, 16 2B, 36 BB, 95 K, 67 G
    Rooker was the 35th overall pick back in 2017, the first draft under the new Twins front office regime. In three collegiate seasons, Rooker destroyed baseballs by hitting .344/.428/.660. Yes, that is a 1.088 OPS over three seasons and he posted a 1.306 OPS during his final season. The Twins were hoping for more of the same from Rooker as he started his professional career.

    He didn’t disappoint during his first taste of pro-ball as he posted a .930 OPS with Elizabethton and Fort Myers. This included 29 extra-base hits in 62 games. He spent all of 2018 at Double-A and hit .254/.333/.465 with 32 doubles and 22 home runs in 130 games. He missed some time in 2019 with a wrist injury but he was still able to post some strong offensive numbers. If there is a 2020 season, there is a chance Rooker makes his debut.

    11. Blayne Enlow, RHP
    2019 MiLB Stats (A, A+): 8-7, 3.82 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 95 K, 38 BB, 110.2 IP
    Like Rooker, Enlow was part of the strong draft class back in 2017. The Louisiana native had committed to play at LSU, but the Twins were able to sign him after taking him in the third round. During his professional debut, he made six appearances with the GCL Twins and posted a 1.33 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 4 walks in 20.1 innings.

    During the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids, he was almost three years younger than the average age of the competition. He compiled a 3.26 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP. He started 2019 back in Cedar Rapids and saw some struggles as he allowed 21 earned runs in 41.1 innings. There were some positive signs as he struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings. The Twins were aggressive with him and promoted him to Fort Myers where he had a 3.38 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP with a 51 to 23 strikeout to walk ratio. If Enlow had gone to college, he’d still be pitching for LSU, so he has time to develop into the pitcher many thought he could be.

    Stop back in the coming days to see who completes the top-20 list.

    PREVIOUS TOP-20 POSTS
    Prospects 16-20

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    • Jun 16 2020 11:51 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  13. Who Would Be on the Twins' Extended Roster and Taxi Squad?

    Once we swim through the mountains of logistical hurdles involving health, safety, and finances, this is one of the practical matters I find most intriguing: Which players will be part of the 2020 season, either from the start or as readily available fill-ins?

    We'll start with the obvious: the projected 26-man roster (per my final offseason status update, which was published approximately seven years ago).

    Position Players: Mitch Garver, Miguel Sanó, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Jake Cave, Alex Avila

    Pitchers: José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacín, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak.

    Little has changed that would affect any of the above players' chances of making the team. But one new player might now be in the mix: Rich Hill, whose recovery from elbow surgery would've delayed a normal start. A season starting in July would line up with his expected return, and Hill believes he'll be ready to go.

    Luckily, he doesn't need to supplant anyone else, since the Twins will have four extra active roster spots to work with. So presumably Hill gets one. As for the others, I would guess we'll see a couple more arms and one other position player. Something like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Willians Astudillo.

    The taxi squad is where things get interesting. First, with no minor-league seasons taking place, I'm wondering how these players stay sharp and ready for action. Regular scrimmages and sim games? Regardless, the makeup of such a player group will also be fascinating.

    My initial thought was that the Twins start by carrying every spare piece on the 40-man roster. But that doesn't necessarily make sense. Are they really gonna want to dedicate spots to raw talents like Gilberto Celestino and Dakota Chalmers, who aren't especially close to getting big-league shots?

    I would guess, at least, that these MLB-experienced or nearly-ready players from the 40-man will on the taxi squad: Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, Sean Poppen, Fernando Romero, Lewis Thorpe, Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade Jr.. That's eight.

    Next, it is probably most instructive to look at the list of non-roster spring training invites from February. That list includes pitchers Charlie Barnes, Chacín (already in, per our projection), Sam Clay, Edwar Colina, Danny Coulombe, Ryan Garton, Blaine Hardy (out for season), Griffin Jax, Jake Reed and Caleb Thielbar; and position players Juan Graterol, Ryan Jeffers, Ben Rortvedt, Tomás Telis, Royce Lewis, Jack Reinheimer, Wilfredo Tovar, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker.

    The Twins will surely want at least a couple of extra catchers available, given the position's heightened injury risk and intensive physical toll. And of course they'll probably want to load up on pitchers to the extent they're able – especially with the likelihood of increased doubleheaders and decreased off days.

    At this point it becomes very much a guessing game, but I'll wager the Twins want to lean mostly on experience and reliability at these positions, while mixing in a bit of prospect upside, so I'll go with...

    Catchers: Juan Graterol, Tomas Telís, Ryan Jeffers

    Pitchers: Danny Coloumbe, Edwar Colina, Ryan Garton, Jake Reed, Caleb Thielbar

    So now we're at 16 members of the 20-man taxi squad. Who fills those last four spots? Given that the Twins now have all their bases covered with multiple contingencies at every position, they might want to make a few of their very best prospects available as potential wild-cards for an all-in sprint. Then again, maybe not? This is where I really get stuck.

    Do these prospects need to be added to the 40-man roster (or some expanded version) in order to feature on this taxi squad, thus starting their service clocks? If so, is it worth doing so just to keep them on hand as longshot possibilities to contribute? Is it even wise to push these crucial future talents into such an odd situation, as opposed to just letting them work out on their own and come back strong in 2021? But if that happens, do they not get paid at all? Is it a slap in the face?

    There's also the matter of Michael Pineda. It seems he'll still be on suspension for the first part of the year. Does he require a "roster spot" on the taxi squad? Are those really even considered roster spots under any traditional definition? He's still occupying space and consuming the resources of any other player. (He's also not supposed to get paid during the suspension, so what happens with that? I assume he's not just gonna throw himself in harm's way for free.)

    The litany of questions that begin to sprout up as you ponder these consequential factors is flat-out overwhelming, which is also true of MLB's daunting health-and-safety protocol at large. We'll need a lot more clarity before we can give serious credence to the very idea of a season happening, let alone how the Twins' roster will shake out.

    But the specificity around roster sizes at least gives us the ability to speculate a little, which is more than welcome after weeks of being completely in the dark. Given our limited information, I'm gonna guess the Twins choose to preserve their three best prospects – Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach – but carry Rooker, along with the minor-league vets Tovar and Reinheimer. I'll also assume Pineda gets a taxi spot.

    So here it is, my shot-in-the-dark guess at what a Twins 2020 roster and taxi squad might look like under the altered format. Feel free to air your quibbles and make your own guesses in the comments. (Active-roster players in bold.)

    CATCHERS: Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo, Juan Graterol, Tomas Telís, Ryan Jeffers

    INFIELDERS: Miguel Sanó, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon, Wilfredo Tovar, Jack Reinheimer

    OUTFIELDERS: Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade Jr., Brent Rooker

    PITCHERS: José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacín, Rich Hill, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Michael Pineda, Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, Fernando Romero, Sean Poppen, Lewis Thorpe, Danny Coloumbe, Edwar Colina, Ryan Garton, Jake Reed, Caleb Thielbar

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    • May 20 2020 05:14 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  14. 5 Questions with Twins Prospect Brent Rooker

    The Twins actually drafted Rooker in two different drafts. He was the team’s 38th round pick in 2016 and then the club took him with their supplemental first round pick, 35th overall, the very next year. Rooker worked his way to Triple-A last season where he was almost three years younger than the average age of the competition. Now entering his age-25 season, Rooker is on a path to make his big-league debut.

    Twins Daily (TD): How do you feel like the season’s delayed start will impact your 2020 season?

    Brent Rooker (BR): I’ll try to not let it impact me at all. We’re all at home preparing just like it’s the off season so theoretically we should all be ready to go when the time comes just like normal.

    TD: What are your goals for the 2020 season?

    BR: The goal for me for 2020 is obviously to get to the big leagues, but beyond just getting there is to make it up and perform well enough to contribute to major league wins.

    TD: Did you notice a difference in the baseball at Triple-A last season?

    BR: I think most guys could tell a difference with the way ball came off in AAA last year vs. in AA the year before.

    TD: If you could envision your perfect MLB career, what would people say about you when all is said and done?

    BR: I obviously wanna be a guy who has a lot of on field success, both individual and team; but I also want to be able to impact the people around me in a positive manner in more ways than just baseball.

    TD: You can have dinner with three people (living or dead), who are they and why did you pick them?

    Rooker decided to forego the final question because he thought it would be tough to pick just three people and he wouldn’t like his choices no matter how he answered it.

    Here are the other posts in the "Five Questions" series:
    - Lewis Thorpe

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    • Mar 29 2020 07:11 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  15. Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #9 Brent Rooker

    Position: LF
    Age: 25 (DOB: 11/1/1995)
    2019 Stats (AAA): 274 PA, .281/.398/.535, 14 HR, 47 RBI
    ETA: 2020
    2019 Ranking: 6

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: NA | MLB: NA | ATH: NA | BP: NA

    What's To Like

    Power-hitting has been commoditized to a large degree in the modern MLB environment. Players who can straight-up mash, but don't excel in any defensive capacity, are not the coveted assets they once were. But that's not to say they aren't valued: Just take a look at Miguel Sano and his freshly minted $30 million contract extension.

    And what Rooker can do is MASH. The Mississippi State product was widely considered one of the best hitters in the country when taken 35th overall by Minnesota in the 2017 draft, becoming the second player drafted under the Falvine Regime after they went with Royce Lewis No. 1 overall.

    Rooker has backed up his prestigious offensive rep since entering pro ball, slashing .267/.357/.505 with 54 home runs through 259 total games. In 2019 he put up a .928 OPS at Triple-A, with a jaw-dropping .319/.463/.572 line in 41 games after June 1st. Sounds like a guy who's about major-league ready. In fact, he might've gotten there last summer if a groin injury hadn't derailed him in mid-July.

    When he was on-stage as a guest at the recent Twins Daily Winter Meltdown, Kent Hrbek made an interesting a comment about the ferocity of uppercut swings that are now commonplace: "There's a lot of [retired] guys that talk about that nowadays, that there could've been a lot more home runs hit if you just sit and try to launch all day long. I mean you take a swing like they take swings off of guys now, you'd get the ball on the side of the head the next time up."

    Rooker pretty much epitomizes what Hrbek was describing. He swings very hard and aims to put it in the air. His immense power is legitimately eye-catching; the ball just rockets off his bat, and tends to go very far, very fast.



    While the continuance of his slugging success was a positive last year, the most promising development was his sharpening patience at the plate. Rooker walked 12.8% of the time, enabling him to reach base at a nearly .400 clip in Triple-A. He made enormous improvements with his discipline over the course of the year.

    What's Left To Work On

    The tough thing with Rooker's profile is that it leaves so little margin for error. He needs to maintain as an offensive force at the highest level to be a long-term regular in the majors. Defensively he's rather limited, whether in left field or at first base, and his best future fit seems to be as a designated hitter.

    That's all well and good if he keeps on producing like he has, since Minnesota's DH spot is presently unspoken for after this year, but there is reason to wonder if he can translate his dominance to the highest level.

    Namely, it's the strikeouts.

    As a result of his relentlessly aggressive cuts, Rooker whiffs quite a bit. His 34.7% K-rate last year was ninth-highest in the International League (min. 200 PA), and would've been seventh-highest in the majors (two spots behind the previously mentioned Sano, another notorious hard-swinger). Rooker's .281 batting average for the Red Wings in 2019 was buoyed by a blatantly unsustainable .417 BABIP.

    The lack of contact, if it continues, could make it tough for Rooker to find stable footing in the big leagues. Sano is one of the few productive hitters in that realm, though Joey Gallo is another notable example.

    But, again, Rooker's studious nature and proven adaptiveness offer valid reason to hope he can cut down the strikeouts. He did lower his K-rate to 29% in his final 25 games for Rochester last year, after posting an egregious 38% rate his first 40.

    What's Next

    The Twins have been very successful – so far – with their top draft picks in recent years. Rooker is sort of a victim to this success. He's basically been the player they hoped he would be, but Minnesota also looks to have struck gold on fellow first-rounders and corner guys Alex Kirilloff (2016) and Trevor Larnach (2018), who project as more well-rounded big-leaguers and have fewer question marks.

    Rooker is a step ahead of the others in development, having conquered Triple-A, but that doesn't help him much now, with nothing currently resembling a short-term opening on the MLB radar. That can of course change in a hurry when the current DH occupant is a 39-year-old with a balky wrist, and indeed, a Nelson Cruz absence is probably the most likely avenue for Rooker to reach the majors in short order. An injury to Sano or Eddie Rosario could also create an opening, to the extent the Twins are willing to tolerate Rooker's defense.

    Until such an opportunity presents itself, Rooker will head back to Triple-A, where he will likely keep on mashing.

    Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
    Honorable Mentions
    20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
    19. Cole Sands, RHP
    18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
    17. Misael Urbina, OF
    16. Edwar Colina, RP
    15. Matt Canterino, RHP
    14. Matt Wallner, OF
    13. Wander Javier, SS
    12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
    9. Brent Rooker, OF
    Stop by Monday for prospect #8!

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    • Feb 06 2020 11:59 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  16. 3 Twins Prospects Impacted By Josh Donaldson's Signing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Jan 21 2020 06:32 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  17. Looking Way Ahead: Who Needs to be Added to the 40-Man Roster... in November

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

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

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

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

    The Givens

    If I had written this article one year ago, I certainly would have had Wander Javier in the Givens category. Injuries can certainly alter perspective. The numbers game, mid-season acquisitions and other players stepping up can also be a factor. In addition, some of these guys could get called up before the season ends and won’t be on the list.
    • OF Alex Kirilloff - 1st round pick in 2016 from high school in Pennsylvania. Top prospects are going to get protected. They won’t be non-tendered. Kirilloff won’t be non-tendered. In fact, there is a decent chance he gets called up during the season.
    • RHP Jordan Balazovic - 5th round pick in 2016 from secondary school in Ontario. A Top 100 prospect coming into the 2020 season. Should spent most of 2020 in Pensacola.
    • OF/1B Brent Rooker - Competitive Balance A pick in 2017 from Mississippi State. Likely to be called up in-season, but if not, he is likely to be added.
    • RHP Edwar Colina - Signed from Venezuela in late September 2015. Colina wasn’t a big prospect when he was signed, now he’s hitting triple-digits and has the pitches to potentially be a starter.
    Possibles
    • SS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster this offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. Again, by season’s end, he’s a candidate for the Givens section.
    • C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the season at Pensacola before a knee injury. Terrific defensively and very strong.
    • 3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles to third base.
    • OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and a great power-speed combination.
    • RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up fantastic numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance.
    • RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020.
    • RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5.
    • LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, if not 2020.
    • RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He’ll rehab most of the year which means he’ll be closer to his return. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level?
    --------------------
    To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too.
    --------------------



    On the Bubble
    • OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense.
    • LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches.
    • 2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup.
    • LHP Lachlan Wells - Wells was well on track to be added a couple of years ago but Tommy John surgery cost him some development time. He missed the 2018 season and returned in the second half of 2019. Can he return to form in his first full season back?
    • LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester).
    • RHP Tom Hackimer - Twins 4th round pick in 2015 from St. Johns, the side-winder had surgery after the AFL in 2018. He pitched briefly for the Miracle before finishing the season in Pensacola.
    • 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. If he takes another step, he could be added.
    • 1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He should get a shot in 2020 during that season.
    Others in their first year of eligibility:
    • Tyler Benninghoff, Matt Jones, Kidany Salva, Jared Akins, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Petru Balan, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Taylor Grzelakowski, Jimmy Kerrigan, Fernando Martinez, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Frandy Torres, Janigson Villalobos.
    Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020.
    • Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Joe Cronin, Miguel De Jesus, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone, Moises Gomez, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Alex Schick, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Aaron Whitefield, Malique Ziegler.
    These players will become free agents at the conclusion of the 2020 World Series unless added to the 40-man roster.
    • Sam Clay, Andro Cutura, Randy LeBlanc, Jose Martinez, Jake Reed.
    Again, this is mostly an exercise in looking ahead, information for you to consider throughout the 2020 season. It’s also something where, as the Twins talk trades and potentially see a 40-man roster crunch next offseason, maybe this information comes into play.

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

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

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

    Posted Image

    • Jan 17 2020 08:23 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  18. 2019 Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Stars

    Today, we would like to announce our choices for 2019 Minnesota Twins All-Stars. Our Twins Daily minor league report writers were asked to vote for a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, three outfielders, a DH, a left-handed starting pitcher, a right-handed starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever and a right-handed reliever. The player at each position who received the most votes takes the spots. There were some ties, and in those cases, we each voted for the player(s) to break the ties.

    Read through our choices for each position. Check out how each of our writers voted. And then discuss and cast your votes as well.

    Let’s get started. (Note - all photos below from Seth Stohs, Twins Daily, unless noted.)

    The Twins Daily 2019 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Star Team

    Catcher: Ryan Jeffers - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos
    Acquired: 2nd round draft pick in 2018 from UNC-Wilmington
    2019 Stats: .264/.341/.421 (.762) with 16 doubles, 14 homers and 49 RBI

    Some were surprised when the Twins used a second-round pick in 2018 on the talented catcher. However, he has proven a lot of people wrong to this point. Known more for his bat, there are mixed reviews on his defense still. Few question his bat. He’s got a good approach at the plate, but he can provide some thump to a lineup too. He definitely likes proving people wrong.

    ETA - May 2021

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    First Base: Zander Wiel - Rochester Red Wings
    Acquired: 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt
    2019 Stats: .254/.320/.514 (.834) with 40 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers and 78 RBI

    Wiel has quietly been very productive as he has moved up the organizational ladder one level per season. He was on this team in 2016 and 2018 and was an easy choice again in 2019. He played first base most every day for the Red Wings, and he hit a ton of extra-base hits. His 69 extra-base hits led the International League.

    ETA - May 2020

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    Second Base: Travis Blankenhorn, Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
    Acquired: Twins 3rd round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania
    2019 Stats: .277/.321/.466 (.787) with 22 doubles, 2 triples, 19 home runs and 54 RBI.

    Blankenhorn returns to the Twins Daily All-Star team for the first time since 2017. After a tough 2018, he returned to Ft. Myers, but within a month, he was promoted to AA Pensacola. He hit 18 doubles and 18 homers after his promotion to the Blue Wahoos. The 23-year-old remains one of the best athletes in the organization.

    ETA: July 2021

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    Third Base: Spencer Steer - Elizabethton Twins, Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Acquired: Twins 3rd-round in 2019 out of the University of Oregon
    2019 Stats: .280/.385/.424 (.809) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 33 RBI.

    The Twins drafted Steer as a shortstop, and he played there for a handful of games while with the Elizabethton Twins after the draft, but he spent most of his time playing second base and third base for the Kernels. While he struggled at times for the Kernels, he provided extra-base hits and a couple of walkoff hits for the team.

    ETA: June 2023

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    photo by Steve Buhr

    Shortstop: Nick Gordon - Rochester Red Wings
    Acquired: 1st round pick in 2014 out of high school in Florida
    2019 Stats: .298/.342/.459 (.801) with 29 doubles, 3 triples, 4 homers and 40 RBI

    It was a frustrating 2019 season for Gordon. He missed the first month of the season with a stomach issue, and he missed the final month of the season with a knee injury. He kept a positive attitude throughout it. However, in between he put up some real solid numbers. He hit for average, got on base, and hit a lot of doubles. He returns to our All-Star team for the first time since 2016.

    ETA: June 2020

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    Outfielder: Trevor Larnach - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
    Acquired: Twins 1st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Oregon State
    2019 Stats: .309/.384/.458 (.842) with 30 doubles, 1 triple, 13 homers and 66 RBI

    Larnach had a very impressive professional debut in 2019. He homered in his first big-league spring training at bat. He began the season with Ft. Myers and was promoted to Double-A Pensacola after the All-Star Game. He was the Florida State League Player of the Year and Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year.

    ETA: July 2020

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    Outfielder: Jaylin Davis - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
    Acquired: Twins 24th round draft pick in 2015 out of Appalachian State
    2019 Stats: .298/.391/.563 (.954) with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 25 home runs, 67 RBI.

    What a year for Jaylin Davis! He began in AA Pensacola, but when he moved up to AAA Rochester, he began destroying the baseball. His numbers above are remarkable, but then consider that he spent the final month of the minor league season in the Giants organization after a trade. He continued to hit AAA pitching for Sacramento before being called up to the Giants for September. Last night, his first MLB homer was a walkoff winner for San Francisco. He's been struggling a bit in the big leagues, but hey, he got to meet Willie Mays.

    ETA: September 2019 (with Giants)

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    Outfielder - Brent Rooker - Rochester Red Wings
    Acquired: Twins 1st-round (compensation) draft pick in 2017 out of Mississippi State
    2019 Stats: .281/.398/.535 (.933) with 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBI.

    Rooker has made this All-Star team each of his three seasons since being drafted in 2017. He got off to a slow start in Rochester in 2019, but when the calendar turned to May, Rooker took off. He cut his strikeout rate, increased his walk rate and started to hit for power. Unfortunately a late season injury ended his season prematurely.

    ETA: June 2020

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    Designated Hitter: Gabe Snyder - Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Acquired: Twins 21st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Wright State
    2019 Stats: .259/.338/.462 (.800) with 21 doubles, 4 triples, 19 homers and 58 RBI

    Snyder was not even on the Kernels opening day roster when the season began. Sure, he joined the team about a week later, but he took off right away. He was a Midwest League All-Star at the midseason, and he was on the postseason All-Star roster. The burly 2018 draft pick provided power to the Kernels lineup throughout the season.

    ETA: July 2022

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    Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Randy Dobnak - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings
    Acquired: signed as undrafted free agent from Utica Unicorns (USPBL) via Alderson-Broaddus College
    2019 Stats: 12-4, 2.07 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.3 K/9

    No doubt 2019 has been a bit of a whirlwind for Randy Dobnak. 26 months ago, the Twins signed him, shortly after he got engaged while playing in the United Shores Professional Baseball League. He spent all of the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He began 2019 in Ft. Myers before moving up to Pensacola, and then Rochester, and then back to Pensacola and then back to Rochester. And almost exactly two years after signing, he made his MLB debut. Frankly, he’s been impressive and he pitched six innings of one-hit ball in his final start of the season and will likely make the Twins postseason roster… after getting married on Saturday. And hey, he and his fiance are asking people who want to give gifts to them to instead donate to St. Judes. You can click here to do that. Dobnak was the Twins Daily choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year.

    ETA: August 2019

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    Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer - Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins
    Acquired: Trade from Dodgers (with Luke Raley, Logan Forsythe for Brian Dozier) in July 2018.
    2019 Stats: 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

    When the Twins acquired Smeltzer from the Dodgers at the 2018, most Twins fans probably said, “Who?” The bespectacled southpaw was mostly known for being a childhood cancer survivor. And, he has done so much good, including his Catch Cancer Looking t-shirt campaign. However, none of that alters the fact that he had a tremendous season. He came to the Twins after the Dodgers moved him to the bullpen. He pitched the rest of last season, including in the Arizona Fall League, out of the bullpen. This spring, he returned to starting, and he returned to AA. After a month, he moved up to AAA and continued to pitch well. He made his MLB debut with six shutout innings against Milwaukee in late May and pitched well most of the time in the big leagues. He went back and forth but continued to pitch well all season.

    ETA: May 2019

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    Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
    Acquired: signed as undrafted free agent in April 2014 from Venezuela
    2019 Stats: 1-4, 10 saves, 2.91 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 13.3 K/9

    Gomez has been in the organization a long time, and he has had his struggles at times. He figured some things out in 2019 with the Kernels and then with the Miracle. The 22-year-old from Venezuela has been able to throw more strikes and missed a lot more bats. He has a power arm and some mix. He had a breakout season and it is continuing as he is pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

    ETA: August 2021

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    Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
    Acquired: Twins 31st-round pick in 2018 out of Mississippi State
    2019 MiLB Stats: 6-3, 8 saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 11.0 K/9

    After three seasons at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State. Following his senior season, the Twins drafted him. He began 2019 where he ended 2018, with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He was promoted to Ft. Myers in the second half where he continued to pitch well. He showed good control, mixed his pitches well and recorded a lot of strikeouts. He is also pitching for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

    ETA: September 2021

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    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars

    Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
    C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker.
    RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos.

    Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
    C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF:LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker.
    RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez.

    Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars
    C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker.
    RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez.

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

    The Votes
    So there you have it. The fourth annual Twins Daily Minor League All Star team. Who would get your vote? Below are the votes/selections of our 2019 Twins Daily minor league writers:

    Seth: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Ryan Costello, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Lewin Diaz, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff.
    Cody: C: Wilin Rosario, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Wander Valdez, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, DH: Lewin Diaz RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Anthony Vizcaya, LH RP: Sam Clay.
    Tom: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Lewin Diaz, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Ryan Costello, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Jordan Balazovic, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Zach Neff.
    Ted: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Wilin Rosario, 2B: Nick Gordon, 3B: Wander Valdez, SS: Spencer Steer, OF: Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Zander Wiel, DH: Travis Blankenhorn, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Melvi Acosta, LH RP: Sam Clay.
    Steve: C: Tomas Telis, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Drew Maggi, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Jordan Balazovic, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff.
    Matt: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Gabe Snyder, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Jake Cave, Alejandro de Aza, Trevor Larnach, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Bailey Ober, LH SP: Lewis Thorpe, RH RP: Derek Molina, LH RP: Zach Neff.

    • Sep 26 2019 10:00 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  19. Twins 2019 Minor League Hitter of the Year

    Before we get to the Top Eight, let’s take a look at the others who received votes. This year’s group is interesting. You’ll see players who spent time at a couple of levels. You’ll see a couple of players who finished the season elsewhere. We have some minor league veterans who signed, looking for an opportunity, and there are a few of the top prospects.

    The six Twins Daily Minor League writers were asked to vote for the various awards. For the hitter of the year, we each voted for eight players. The player who was voted as #1 received eight points, #2 received seven points and so on with the #8 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below.

    Short profiles of our top eight are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes.


    Honorable Mention

    • Tomas Telis - Rochester Red Wings - 82 games, 101-306, .330/.364/.490 (.946), 21-2B, 2-3B, 8 HR, 44 R, 46 RBI
    • Travis Blankenhorn - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 108 games, 122-440, .277/.321/.466 (.787) with 22-2B, 2-3B, 19 HR, 56 R, 54 RBI
    • Luis Arraez - Rochester Red Wings - 54 games, 73-212, .344/.409/.401 (.810) with 10-2B, 1-3B, 0 HR, 26 R, 22 RBI.
    • Jake Cave - Rochester Red Wings, 48 games, 69-146, .352/.393/.592 (.984) with 18-2B, 4-3B, 7 HR, 37 R, 39 RBI
    • Spencer Steer - Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels, 64 games, 70-250, .280/.385/.424 (.809) with 18-2B, 3-3B, 4 HR, 40 R, 33 RBI
    • Nick Gordon - Rochester Red Wings, 70 games, 87-292, .298/.342/.459 (.801) with 29-2B, 3-3B, 4 HR, 49 R, 40 RBI
    • Gilberto Celestino - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle, 125 games, 133-480, .277/.349/.410 (.759) with 28-2B, 3-3B, 10 HR, 58 R, 54 RBI.
    Minor League Hitter of the Year

    Here are the top eight vote getters for Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year:

    8. Gabe Snyder – Cedar Rapids Kernels - 114 games, 110-424, .259/.338/.462 (.800), 21-2B, 4-3B, 19 HR, 63 R, 58 RBI

    Snyder really had an impressive season. He was a Midwest League All-Star at the midseason and for the postseason. The burly first baseman was relatively consistent and quite productive at the top of in the middle of the Kernels lineup most of the year, but he was not on the team’s opening-day roster. That said, he was called up very quickly and made his debut on April 11th, the team’s eighth game. At 6-5 and 235 pounds, Snyder looks the part at first base and has the power to hit the ball a long way. The 24-year-old was the #MNTwins 21st-round pick in 2018 out of Wright State.

    7. Ryan Jeffers – Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 103 games, 97-368, .264/.341/.421 (.762) with 16-2B, 14 HR, 48 R, 49 RBI.

    Jeffers was a surprise (to many) second-round pick for the Twins in 2018 out of UNC-Wilmington. He dominated at Elizabethton before ending his 2018 with 36 games in Cedar Rapids. Despite limited time in the Midwest League, Jeffers made the jump to Ft. Myers to start the 2019 season. After a slow start, he really got things going. In 79 games with the Miracle, he hit .256/.330/.402 (.732) with 11 doubles and ten homers. He earned a promotion to Double-A Pensacola where he hit .287/.374/.483 (.856) with five doubles and four homers in 24 games. The night that he was promoted to Pensacola, he didn’t start, but in the 14-inning game, he hit a walk-off double.



    6. Wilin Rosario – Rochester Red Wings – 105 games, 124-413, .300/.339/.504 (.843) with 24-2B, 20 HR, 71 R, 91 RBI

    From 2011 through 2015, Rosario hit 71 home runs for the Colorado Rockies. He hit 28 homers in 2012 and another 21 homers in 2013. He spent some time in Korea and then in Japan. This past offseason, he wanted to get back to playing in affiliated ball and the Twins gave him an opportunity. He made the best of it by putting up fantastic numbers in Rochester. He hit for average. He hit for power. The Red Wings named him their team MVP this season. He did some catching early in the season, but he was mostly the team's DH.

    5. Brent Rooker – Rochester Red Wings – 65 games, 64-228, .281/.398/.535 (.933) with 16-2B, 14 HR

    After a strong showing at Double-A Chattanooga in 2018, Rooker got his first big league spring training invitation and started the season at Triple-A Rochester, just one step away from the big leagues. It is fair to say that things started slowly for the slugger. In 16 April games, he hit just .214 and struck out 28 times in 56 at bats. After that, things changed. In 49 games from May 1st on, he hit .302/.432/.558 (.990) with 14 doubles and 10 homers. Along with the improved hitting, walk rate and power, he also reduced his strikeout rate from 45.9% in that first month to just 31.5% the rest of the season. Unfortunately, a mid-July injury prematurely ended his season.

    4. Lewin Diaz – Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 90 games, 100-340, .294/.336/.553 (.889) with 27-2B, 2-3B, 19 HR, 46 R, 62 RBI

    2018 was a frustrating year for Diaz. He had worked really hard and lost some weight, but he struggled in Ft. Myers until his season ended with a wrist injury. In 2019, he came to camp in even better shape and the work paid off. He returned to the Miracle where he hit .290/.333/.533 (.860) with 11 doubles and 13 homers in 57 games. He was again named a Florida State League All-Star and soon moved up to Pensacola. In 33 games, he hit .302/.341/.587 (.928) with 16 doubles and six homers. Then came the trade deadline and he was dealt to the Miami Marlins in exchange for RH RP Sergio Romo, RHP Chris Vallimont and Cash. In 31 more games for Jacksonville, he added six doubles and eight home runs.

    3. Zander Wiel - Rochester Red Wings – 126 games, 119-469, .254/.320/.514 (.834) with 40-2B, 5-3B, 24 HR, 86 R, 78 RBI

    Zander Wiel has quietly put together a strong resume, moving up one level each year. While he ended the 2018 season with a few games with the Red Wings, he was a very productive hitting in their lineup in 2019. As you can see, the Vanderbilt product (12th-round pick in 2015) was an extra-base machine. He plays a good first base and generally puts together good at-bats, though he will strike out a lot.

    2. Jaylin Davis - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 99 games, 109-366, .298/.391/.563 (.954) with 20-2B, 1-3B, 25 HR, 73 R, 67 RBI

    Jaylin Davis had an incredible 2019 season, and it will continue through the end of the MLB season. His season began in Pensacola with the Blue Wahoos. In 58 games, he hit .274/.382/.458 (.840) with nine doubles and ten home runs. He was promoted to Rochester and just took off. In 41 games, he hit .331/.405/.708 (1.112) with 11 doubles, a triple and 15 home runs. The Twins wanted to add bullpen, and Davis headlined a trade in which the Twins sent three prospects to the Giants for Sam Dyson. He went to AAA Sacramento where he hit .333/.419/.686 (1.105) with six doubles and ten homers in just 27 games. And then, he got The Call. He joined the Giants in St. Louis and singled in his first at-bat. Obviously for this Twins award, only his numbers with the Twins were to be considered, and those numbers were incredible. Davis was the Twins 24th-round draft pick in 2015.

    Hitter of the Year

    Trevor Larnach – Ft. Myers/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 127 games, 147-476, .309/.384, 458 (.842) with 30-2B, 1-3B, 13 HR, 59 R, 66 RBI.

    Trevor Larnach was named the Florida State League Player of the Year last week. As we end our week of Twins Daily Minor League awards, he has now been named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year by our panel. I’m sure the honor are pretty equivalent. But it is very deserved.

    Trevor Larnach grew up in California. Following his high school career, he was the 40th-round pick in the 2015 draft by the Padres by chose to attend Oregon State. It was a decision that proved wise for him. Three years later, he had the opportunity to play hero and win a College World Series title.

    In June 2018, he was also the 20th overall draft pick of the Minnesota Twins. He split the remainder of that season between the Elizabethton Twins and Cedar Rapids Kernels.

    Despite just 24 games with the Kernels, he began 2019 with the Ft. Myers Miracle. Larnach put together a strong season. In 84 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .316/.382/.459 (842) with 26 doubles, a triple and six home runs. He was promoted to the Blue Wahoos where he hit .295/.387/.455 (.842) with four doubles and seven homers in 43 games.

    His 147 hits led the organization, as did his .309 batting average (for anyone with over 300 plate appearances).

    The Ballots

    In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers:
    • Seth Stohs – 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Trevor Larnach, 3) Zander Wiel, 4) Lewin Diaz, 5) Wilin Rosario, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) Spencer Steer, 8) Travis Blankenhorn
    • Matt Braun - 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Lewin Diaz, 3) Trevor Larnach, 4) Luis Arraez, 5) Jake Cave, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) Ryan Jeffers, 8) Travis Blankenhorn
    • Cody Christie – 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Trevor Larnach, 3) Zander Wiel, 4) Wilin Rosario, 5) Lewin Diaz, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) Tomas Telis, 8) Gabe Snyder
    • Tom Froemming – 1) Jaylin Davis, 2) Trevor Larnach, 3) Lewin Diaz, 4) Ryan Jeffers, 5) Gabe Snyder, 6) Zander Wiel, 7) Wilin Rosario, 8) Travis Blankenhorn
    • Steve Lein – 1) Trevor Larnach, 2) Jaylin Davis, 3) Zander Wiel, 4) Lewin Diaz, 5) Brent Rooker, 6) Gabe Snyder, 7) Travis Blankenhorn, 8) Gilberto Celestino
    • Ted Schwerzler – 1) Brent Rooker, 2) Zander Wiel, 3) Wilin Rosario, 4) Tomas Telis, 5) Travor Larnach, 6) Ryan Jeffers, 7) Nick Gordon, 8) Gabe Snyder
    Feel free to discuss. What do you think? Do you agree with our rankings? How would your ballot look?

    • Sep 13 2019 12:46 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  20. Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - June 2019

    Let’s take a look at the Top 5 hitters for the month of June, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention.

    HONORABLE MENTION

    • Andrew Bechtold - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 22-74, .297/.404/.405 (.810) with 5 doubles, 1 home run.
    • Travis Blankenhorn - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 28-108, .259/.308/.491 (.798) with 7 doubles, 6 home runs.
    • Ryan Jeffers - Ft. Myers Miracle - 16-65, .246/.320/.477 (.797) with five home runs.
    • Trevor Larnach - Ft. Myers Miracle - 28-92, .304/.360/.424 (.784) with 3 doubles, 1 triple.
    • Gabriel Maciel - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 25-82, .309/.378/.395 (.773) with 3 doubles, 2 triples.
    • Wilin Rosario - Rochester Red Wings - 30-94, .319/.354/.489 (.843) with 7 doubles, 3 home runs. (27 RBI)
    • Tomas Telis - Rochester Red Wings - 18-52, .346/.382/.500 (.882) with 5 doubles, 1 home run.
    THE TOP FIVE HITTERS

    Number 5 - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 1B Lewin Diaz - 24-94, .255/.297/.521 (.818) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs.

    It’s been a terrific season for the Dominican first baseman. He has put in the work over the last couple of years to improve his body, to improve his tools and his talents, and it has to be rewarding to see the results. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month in May and had a big June too. He played in his second straight Florida State League All-Star game, and when that was done, he made the move up to Double-A Pensacola where he got off to a fast start. In his first dozen games with the Blue Wahoos, he had nine doubles, a triple and two home runs.


    Number 4 - Rochester Red Wings - 1B Zander Wiel - 26-101, .257/.315/.505 (.820), 7 doubles, 6 home runs.

    Wiel just continues to fly under the radar, but he has been a quality, consistent contributor for the Red Wings all season. He continues to play most every day. He may not hit for average, but he does a nice job around the plate. He also has really increased his extra-base hit power, including home runs. Through June, Wiel had an .834 OPS, 19 doubles and 13 home runs. And to make his month better, Vanderbilt won the College World Series.

    Number 3 – Rochester Red Wings - OF LaMonte Wade, Jr. - 23-81, .284/.429/.432 (.861) with 6 doubles, 2 home runs.

    Wade got off to a slow start in 2019, but he had a real strong month in June. The key seemed to be regaining his on-base percentage. He did a great job of getting on base in June, and that seemed to help him find more pitches to drive for extra-base hits. Late in the month, Wade received The Call every ballplayer dreams of. He was called up to the Twins. He watched one game, and then he made his big league debut over the weekend. He came to the plate twice. He was hit by the first pitch thrown to him. He was then robbed of a hit in his second plate appearance by a diving catch in center field. He returned to the Red Wings the next day, but he will be back.

    Number 2 - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – OF Jaylin Davis - 28-105, .267/.366/.543 (.909) with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs.

    Another Twins prospect that just doesn’t get talked about as much as he should. However, Jaylin Davis has consistently produced and worked his way up the Twins organizational ladder. In mid-June, Davis was promoted to the Red Wings where he has hit five home runs in his last nine games. Drafted out of Appalachian State in 2016, Davis big tool is his power, but he has made improvements this season, particularly an improved approach at the plate which has created more contact. He’s also made big strides in the outfield.


    And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:

    Rochester Red Wings – LF Brent Rooker - .337/.507/.612 (1.120) with 9 doubles, 6 homers.



    There were a lot of Twins minor league hitters that had strong months in June, but the choice for the minor league hitter of the month was pretty easy. Rooker has been one of the best hitters in the entire minor leagues. He has hit for average. He got on base more than half of his plate appearances. He showed the power that makes him such an impressive power prospect coming out of Mississippi State when the Twins drafted him with the 35th overall pick in 2017. He was named to the International League All-Star team last week.


    Rooker got off to a slow start. In April, he hit just .214/.279/.464 (.743). Not horrible numbers, but he had 28 strikeouts in 61 plate appearances (45.9% K-rate). In June, he struck out 39 times in 134 plate appearances (29.1%). When Rooker hits the ball, good things happen. But Rooker also walked 27 times (20.1%), a great rate.


    Will we see Rooker at some point in 2019? That is a question that comes up often. The Twins have an outfield of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. Marwin Gonzalez can play the corners. If there is a short-term outfield need (as there has been recently), Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr., are already on the 40-man roster. If there were a long-term need, Rooker could be an option. He also plays first base and DH. The Twins have CJ Cron and Nelson Cruz. If one of them were to be hurt for a long period of time, Rooker could be an option.


    Rooker doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2020 season. However, I can also see a scenario in mid-to-late August where the Twins want to start considering a playoff roster. If they want to add a big bat off the bench, Rooker could be an option at that time.


    Of course, the other question being asked more frequently now is if Rooker could be a trade target for other teams. The obvious answer is Yes, teams will be asking about Rooker. However, Rooker fits into a category where you better get something really good (and long-term) to give up his bat for the next six or seven seasons.



    We would like to congratulate Brent Rooker, Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month for June 2019. Feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions.

    • Jul 03 2019 04:22 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  21. Twins Daily 2019 Midseason Top 40 Prospects: Recap

    Twins Daily's Midseason 2019 Top 40 Prospects:

    40. Sean Poppen, RHP
    39. Zander Wiel, OF
    38. Bailey Ober, RHP
    37. Kohl Stewart, RHP
    36. Gabriel Maciel, OF
    35. Jaylin Davis, OF
    34. Cole Sands, RHP
    33. Tyler Wells, RHP
    32. Griffin Jax, RHP
    31. LaMonte Wade Jr., OF
    30. Lewin Diaz, 1B
    29. Devin Smeltzer, LHP
    28. Matt Canterino, LHP
    27. Luke Raley, OF
    26. Gilberto Celestino, OF
    25. Yunior Severino, IF
    24. Edwar Colina, RHP
    23. Jose Miranda, IF
    22. Zack Littell, RHP
    21. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
    20. Travis Blankenhorn, IF
    19. Misael Urbina, OF
    18. Jorge Alcala, RHP
    17. Akil Baddoo, OF
    16. Ben Rortvedt, C
    15. Matt Wallner, OF
    14. Luis Arraez, IF
    13. Ryan Jeffers, C
    12. Nick Gordon, SS
    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
    9. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    8. Brent Rooker, OF
    7. Keoni Cavaco, IF
    6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    5. Wander Javier, SS
    4. Trevor Larnach, OF
    3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
    2. Alex Kirilloff, OF
    1. Royce Lewis, SS

    TOP 3 LOCKED IN

    Let's be honest, it hasn't been an especially encouraging first half for any of Minnesota's vaunted top three prospects.

    Royce Lewis has struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm at the plate, plagued by long slumps and major lapses in plate discipline. Alex Kirilloff has been bothered by lingering wrist issues, and (perhaps not unrelated) his bat has been far less potent. Kirilloff has managed just two home runs through 41 games with a .749 OPS at Pensacola (though he has been heating up lately). Brusdar Graterol was off to a spectacular start in Double-A, but hasn't pitched in six weeks due to a shoulder impingement, and his return doesn't appear imminent.

    Having said all that, none of these three budged from our preseason rankings, for multiple reasons:

    1: They had all built up enough equity through past performance that their positions are quite solid.
    2: All three are VERY young for their respective levels, facing much older and more experienced competition. (As for Graterol, who dominated his elevated competition, there's no particular reason to panic about this one injury, although it's obviously concerning.)
    3: No one behind them quite made a strong enough case to leapfrog into the top three, although – as we'll now cover – there are plenty of up-and-comers in the system.

    GOING UP

    Florida is more than just a steamy summer wedding destination. It's also where the mercury's rising in the Twins' system. The biggest upward movement in our rankings was Jordan Balazovic, who was unranked in our preseason top 20 and now lands in the No. 6 spot. I noted back then we might end up looking silly for not having the big Fort Myers righty on our list, and now we sure do. We've corrected our error by vaulting Balazovic to his rightful place as the organization's second-best pitching prospect. The former fifth-round draft pick has been divine at two levels of A-ball this year, posting an incredible 91-to-19 K/BB ratio in 66 innings as a 20-year-old.

    Travis Blankenhorn (No. 20) and Lewin Diaz (No. 30) also caught fire in southwest Florida before graduating to Pensacola, where both continue to rake. Blankenhorn and Diaz were former fixtures in the TD top prospect rankings before fading in recent years. Their resurgences are good reminders not to give up on young talent.

    Speaking of underrated young talent, Luis Arraez jumped into the Top 20 (at No. 14) after failing to make the preseason cut. He appeared as an honorable mention, labeled a "hit machine."

    GOING DOWN

    For the most part, our Top 20 remained intact with little movement, aside from a few guys bumped by new arrivals. One significant dropoff came from Akil Baddoo, who slid from No. 10 to No. 17. The athletic outfielder slashed .214/.290/.393 with a decline in his signature walk rate over 29 games at Fort Myers before succumbing to Tommy John surgery, which will keep him out into next year. We still have plenty of hope for the 20-year-old, but it's impossible to deny the toll this takes on his outlook and timeline.

    Yunior Severino is down 10 spots from No. 15 to No. 25, as a broken thumb has prevented him from being able to show anything. LaMonte Wade Jr. dropped from No. 18 to No. 31 while failing to show any pop at Triple-A. Stephen Gonsalves fell from No. 12 to No. 21, limited by arm problems to two total innings.

    Gilberto Celestino dropped 10 spots from his placement at No. 16 in our preseason rankings. The toolsy young center fielder hasn't adjusted well to competition in full-season ball, posting a .631 OPS thus far at Cedar Rapids. His lack of emergence hurts in combination with the languishing Jorge Alcala, who curiously moved up a spot to No. 18 despite posting a 5.81 ERA and 1.51 WHIP for Pensacola. Clearly, there's still belief in that big arm. The Twins would love to see some progress from him and/or Celestino in the second half, as they watch Ryan Pressly – whom they traded him for the duo last summer – tear it up in the Astros bullpen. Pressly was named to the All-Star team over the weekend.

    STRONG RETURNS

    The Pressly deal isn't looking great right now. No two ways about it. However, the Twins appear to have done well in their other sell moves at the 2018 deadline. Jhoan Duran, acquired in the Eduardo Escobar trade, finds himself at No. 9 and has been untouchable for Florida State League hitters in his last five starts (30 IP, 1.80 ERA, 45-12 K/BB). He's keeping opponents off the board like a goaltender in soccer. Gabriel Maciel, who came over alongside Duran, is at No. 36, having batted .305 with a .392 OBP between two levels of A-ball. Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer, who came over from the Dodgers in exchange for three crummy months of Brian Dozier, both made the Top 30, and Smeltzer of course had a very nice MLB debut in May.

    NEWCOMERS

    Minnesota's top three selections in last month's draft all made entry. Highest, of course, is first-rounder Keoni Cavaco, whose massive upside compelled us to slot him No. 7, above the excelling Brent Rooker and Duran. Outfielder (and local product) Matt Wallner slides in at No. 15, and right-hander Matt Canterino – the Rice University right-hander who became the team's first pitcher selected – claims a spot at No. 28.

    DAZZLING DEBUTS

    We saw two members of this Top 20 debut in the first half: Lewis Thorpe (No. 11) fired five innings of two-run ball on Sunday, and Arraez (No. 14) is batting .411 as a rookie in the big leagues. Smeltzer (No. 29) also had an excellent debut. Wade Jr. (No. 31) and Sean Poppen (No. 40) made brief Twins appearances as well. It's promising to see so many players from outside the Top 10 transitioning smoothly to the big leagues, and speaks well to the development system in place. The best is yet to come.

    On that note, who will be the next player from this Top 40 list to make his major-league debut? I welcome your guesses in the comments. Smart money right now is on Rooker, who is mashing to the tune of a .980 OPS at Triple-A (.350/.511/.641 since the start of June), and unleashed this ridiculous bomb the other night:



    He'll fit right in.

    • Jul 11 2019 08:37 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  22. Twins Minor League Report (7/1): Big Offense and Shutouts

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

    AWARDS

    Griffin Jax was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week.




    TRANSACTIONS
    • RHP Casey Legumina has been transferred from the Twins GCL roster to Elizabethton.

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 9, Syracuse 7
    Box Score

    Most of tonight’s Twins affiliate scores were low. Not this one. The Red Wings offense showed up and the bullpen did a nice job of keeping the Mets at bay.

    Drew Hutchison started and gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out seven. Ryan Eades gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Yes, he struck out two. Cody Stashak improved to 4-0 after throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out three batters. With the lead, Ian Krol came in and pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his fifth save.

    Brent Rooker’s strong June continued on July 1st. He went 3-for-5 with his 13th home run of the season. Nick Gordon was also 3-for-5 with his 17th double. Tomas Telis went 3-for-4 with his 11th and 12th doubles. Jaylin Davis celebrated his 25th birthday with two doubles in four at-bats. Drew Maggi went 2-for-4 with his third triple.



    BLUE WAHOO BITES
    Pensacola 1, Mississippi 0
    Box Score

    After spending the entire 2018 season in Cedar Rapids, Randy Dobnak has been a travelin’ man in 2019. He began in Ft. Myers but it wasn’t long before he moved up to Pensacola. He quickly moved up to Rochester where he made a couple of spot starts before returning to the Blue Wahoos. On Monday night, he put together one of the best starts of his career. In seven shutout innings, he gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out nine.

    Hector Lujan and Sam Clay each pitched an inning to maintain the shutout and give the team a 1-0 win. It was Clay’s seventh save.

    The game’s lone run came in the bottom of the third. Lewin Diaz doubled in Alex Kirilloff. Diaz went 2-for-3 with a walk and two doubles. He now has nine doubles in 12 games since joining Pensacola. Caleb Hamilton and Brian Schales each went 1-for-3 with a walk. Schales added his fifth double.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Ft. Myers 6, Clearwater 0
    Box Score

    Cole Sands was very good again for the Miracle. On Monday night, he threw six scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and struck out seven batters. It was a terrific follow-up to his previous start in which he threw five no-hit innings.

    Cody Allen came in for the seventh inning. He gave up two singles in a scoreless inning. Alex Phillips came on and threw two scoreless innings to complete the shutout.

    Royce Lewis led the offense. He went 2-for-4 and drove in four runs. Trey Cabbage and Michael Helman also went 2-for-4. Helman hit his tenth double. Gabriel Maciel had two hits and stole his fifth base with the Miracle. Ernie De La Trinidad walked three times in the game.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 4, Kane County 1
    Box Score

    The game was tied at one a piece going into the bottom of the eighth. Gilberto Celestino doubled to lead off the inning and scored when Chris Williams followed with his 11th double. A couple of batters later, Gabe Snyder’s sixth home run of the season gave the Kernels a 4-1 lead. Daniel Ozoria went 2-for-3 and drove in the team’s first run of the game. He also stole two bases in the game.

    Kai-Wei Teng started and gave up one run on four hits in six innings. He walked two, hit one and struck out two batters. Carlos Suniaga came on and threw two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. Moises Gomez came on and struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to record his fourth save.

    Check out Jeff Johnson’s article in The Gazetteon Teng and his translator, mentor and friend “Jay.” (Jen-Chieh Hsu)

    E-TWINS E-NOTES
    E-Twins 4, Pulaski 8
    Box Score

    There were some pretty cool “firsts” for the Elizabethton Twins on Monday night. The E-Twins also committed five errors which hurt them on Monday night.

    Prelander Berroa started and gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits and a walk in five innings. Steven Cruz came on and threw the next two innings. He was charged with two runs on three hits and three walks in two innings. He struck out four batters. Denny Bentley gave up an unearned run on one hit in his inning.

    Willie Joe Garry, Jr., had a strong game. The speedy centerfielder went 3-for-3 with a walk. Tyler Webb went 3-for-4 in the game. Spencer Steer went 2-for-5 with his fourth double. Matt Wallner went 2-for-4. In the ninth inning, fifth-round pick Will Holland connected for his first hit as a pro, a home run. It was followed immediately by the first home run of fourth-round pick Seth Gray’s career.

    GCL TWINS TAKES
    GCL Twins 9, GCL Rays 0
    Box Score

    Donny Breek’s time in the GCL may not be too long this season. Don’t be surprised if he quickly moves up to Elizabethton. On Monday, the right-hander from The Netherlands tossed another five scoreless innings to give him nine on the season. On this day, he gave up two hits, walked two, hit one and struck out three.

    Jose Guevara and Tyler Beck each threw two scoreless innings. Guevara gave up two hits, walked one and struck out two. Beck gave up one hit while striking out two batters.

    Jesus Feliz led the offense. He went 2-for-5 with three RBI. Victor Heredia was also 2-for-5. Sergio Toribio had a double and drove in three runs. Erick Rivera walked twice. He had come in to replace Bryson Gandy who had previously walked. He was hit by a pitch on a bone in his foot and was removed for precautionary reasons. Wander Valdez also had a double.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Randy Dobnak, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (and Cole Sands, Ft. Myers Miracle too)
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Brent Rooker, Rochester Red Wings


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

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, 4 RBI, SF
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, K
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Injured List (shoulder)
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 0-5, 4 K
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K
    #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 3-5, HR(13), R, 2 RBI, 2 K
    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch
    #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
    #9 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch.
    #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured List (Tommy John surgery)
    #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - 3-5, 2B(17), R, 2 RBI
    #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List (elbow)
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, BB, K
    #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did Not Play.
    #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (thumb)
    #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, BB, 2B(14), R
    #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - DId Not Pitch.
    #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 0-4, BB, R, K
    #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
    #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 0-4

    TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Syracuse @ Rochester (6:05 CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (0-2, 2.62 ERA)
    Mississippi @ Pensacola (6:35 CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes (0-2, 3.94 ERA)
    Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (6:00 CST) - RHP Jhoan Duran (1-7, 3.19 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Burlington (6:30 CST) - RHP Austin Schulfer (5-4, 2.65 ERA)
    Elizabethton @ Pulaski (5:30 CST) - TBD
    GCL Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00 CST) - TBD

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

    • Jul 02 2019 04:10 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  23. 2019 Twins Midseason Top Prospect List: 6-10

    Make sure to let us know how you feel about these rankings in the comments below. We put a lot of work into compiling these lists, but it is an inexact science. As you can see, there’s quite a bit of disagreement just between the five of us who contributed to these rankings.

    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
    Age: 20
    ETA: 2022
    2019 Stats (A+/A): 72.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.00 K:BB Ratio
    2019 Preseason Ranking: 9
    Seth: 11 | Tom: 14 | Cody: 8 | Ted: 10 | Steve: 10

    Enlow is on quite a roll right now. Over his final four starts with Cedar Rapids and his first five outings for Fort Myers, Enlow has pitched to a 2.13 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 55 innings. While he’s not posting huge strikeout numbers, Enlow is flashing signs that the potential is there.

    Among the pitchers in the system with at least 50 innings, Enlow ranks fourth with a swinging strike rate of 14.0%. The only guys he trails are Austin Schulfer (17.4%), Jhoan Duran (16.2%) and Lewis Thorpe (14.3%). On top of that ability to miss bats, Enlow is also a ground ball machine. His ground ball rate of 55.3% also ranks fourth in the system in that same sample.

    9. Jhoan Duran RHP
    Age: 21
    ETA: 2021
    2019 Stats (A+): 59.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 3.26 K:BB Ratio
    2019 Presason Ranking: 7
    Seth: 8 | Tom: 9 | Cody: 9 | Ted: 8 | Steve: 8

    Speaking of Duran and his impressive swinging strike rate, he’s our No. 9 prospect. The thing that really stands out about Duran is his velocity. He sits in the upper 90s, reaching triple-digit heat on a regular basis.

    Duran has also been blazing hot of late. Over his last 30 innings he has a 1.80 ERA and 45 strikeouts against 12 walks. Opposing batters are hitting just .158/.265/.198 (.463 OPS) against him over that stretch.

    One thing to keep an eye on going forward is how Duran handles opposite-side hitters. Lefties are hitting .316/.396/.468 (.864 OPS) against him so far this year. That being the case, it's impressive he's been effective as he has despite those struggles against southpaws.

    8. Brent Rooker, LF
    Age: 24
    ETA: 2019
    2019 Stats (AAA): .283/.412/.549 (.960 OPS), 13 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 81 K, 32 BB
    2019 Preseason Ranking: 6
    Seth: 9 | Tom: 7 | Cody: 10 | Ted: 4 | Steve: 7

    A big storyline of this season across the minor league system has been injuries and underperformance, but in Rooker we now have yet another guy who is hitting his stride right now. Since being activated off the IL at the start of this month, Rooker has hit .340/.512/.617 (1.129 OPS).

    Prior to that stay on the IL, Rooker was having a difficult time in his first taste of Triple-A. He posted an alarming 44.3 K% and 38.1 K-BB% over his first 97 plate appearances. Since then, however, Rooker has a 29.5 K% and impressive 9.3 K-BB%.

    Here are some highlights of the damage he did earlier this month:



    7. Keoni Cavaco, SS
    Age: 18
    ETA: 2024
    2019 Stats (Rk): .143/.143/.143 (.286 OPS), 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 K, 0 BB
    2019 Preseason Ranking: Unranked
    Seth: 6 | Tom: 6 | Cody: 7 | Ted: 11 | Steve: 11

    How have so many prospects on our list thus far slid down? To make room for the next two guys on our list. First up is 2019 13th-overall pick Keoni Cavaco. Finding spots for the recent draftees is the most difficult part of doing these midseason updates, but one thing I kept asking myself was “what’s really the difference between Cavaco today and where Royce Lewis was in June of 2017?”

    Cavaco shows all the same athletic potential that Lewis did at that time. He has a chance to be a true five-tool player. High school picks always come with a lot of uncertainty, but when it comes down to it, the big difference is familiarity. Cavaco was a huge pop-up prospect in the draft. He was under the radar mainly due to the fact he didn’t play in the majority of showcases.

    Being so new to the system, we’re obviously still learning more about Cavaco, but I suspect if anything this ranking is conservative. For more on Cavaco, check out the Q&A Ted did with him shortly after the draft.

    6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 20
    ETA: 2022
    2019 Stats (A+/A): 65.2 IP, 2.74 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 12.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 4.79 K:BB Ratio
    2019 Preseason Ranking: Honorable Mention
    Seth: 7 | Tom: 10 | Cody: 6 | Ted: 7 | Steve: 5

    Balazovic rockets up our list after not just being among the top performers in the system, but all of the minor leagues. Among the 580 pitchers to log 50 innings across the minors this year, Balazovic ranks 13th in K/9, 16th in K-BB%, 25th in FIP and 19th in xFIP.

    After a great first four starts with Cedar Rapids, Balazovic moved up to Fort Myers and made quite the first impression. He struck out 22 batters in just 12 innings his first two starts in the Florida State League. He’s had a bit of mixed results since then, and closes out June with a 4.12 ERA and 1.63 WHIP on the month. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    Balazovic is still only 20 and made a grand total of 16 appearances with Cedar Rapids before making the jump to High-A. For comparison's sake, Enlow made 28 appearances for the Kernels and Duran tallied 21 outings in the Midwest League prior to moving up. So I think it’s reasonable to expect a bit of an adjustment period from Balazovic.

    His overall performance has been outstanding, but another reason to be encouraged is Balazovic has already set a career high in innings pitched this season. Here’s a look back at some highlights from a couple of his starts for Cedar Rapids earlier this season:



    Twins Daily 2019 Midseason Prospect Rankings
    Prospects 36-40
    Prospects 31-35
    Prospects 26-30
    Prospects 21-25
    Prospects 16-20
    Prospects 11-15

    Prospects 1-5 Coming Soon

    • Jun 30 2019 03:06 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  24. Twins Minor League Report (6/28): Torreyes Rips 2 Homers in Rochester Return

    TRANSACTIONS
    -Lewis Thorpe recalled by the Twins from Rochester.
    -Zack Littell optioned to Rochester from the Twins.
    -Ricky Ramierz sent on a rehab assignment to the GCL Twins.

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Pawtucket 7, Rochester 5
    Box Score

    Chase De Jong: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 63.8% strikes (44 of 69 pitches)
    HR: Ronald Torreyes 2 (5)
    Multi-hit games: Brent Rooker (3-for-5, 2B), Ronald Torreyes (2-for-4, 2 HR), Nick Gordon (2-for-5, 2B), Wynston Sawyer (2-for-4, 2B)

    Ronald Torreyes returned to the Red Wings in a home run homecoming. He played a couple of rehab games for Fort Myers, but announced his return to Triple A with authority, hitting a pair of homers.



    It was another nice night at the plate from Brent Rooker, too, as he collected three hits, but the Rochester pitching staff couldn’t stop the bleeding. All four pitchers who appeared gave up earned runs, though Cody Stashak racked up five strikeouts in his 2 1/3 innings of work. He’s up to 19 Ks against just one walk in his 12 innings since being promoted to Triple A.

    The Wings lineup had its chances to do some more damage, but combined to go 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

    BLUE WAHOO BITES
    Pensacola 5, Biloxi 3
    Box Score

    Jorge Alcala: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 61.7% strikes (37 of 60 pitches)
    HR: Travis Blankenhorn (14), Brian Navarreto (4)
    Multi-hit games: Travis Blankenhorn (2-for-4, 2B, HR), Brian Navarreto (2-for-4, 2B, HR), Alex Kirilloff (2-for-5, 2B)

    This game was tied entering the bottom of the eighth inning. To make things even more dire, the first two Blue Wahoos hitters were retired that frame. But Joe Cronin and Aaron Whitefield drew back-to-back walks to spark a rally. Brian Navarreto fell behind 0-2, fought back to work the count even, then delivered a two-run double to left field.

    Jorge Alcala had a very uneven start, giving up three runs despite striking out six batters in just 2 2/3 innings, but the Pensacola pen was tremendous. Adam Bray pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings before Sam Clay was perfect over the final two frames.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers (Postponed)

    The Miracle with play a doubleheader with Bradenton tomorrow.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Wisconsin 4, Cedar Rapids 2
    Box Score

    Luis Rijo: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 65.0% strikes (52 of 80 pitches)
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Wander Javier (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB), Gilberto Celestino (2-for-4, 2B)

    Tough night for the Kernels. Luis Rijo only gave up one earned run, but couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. His ERA is 2.65 on the year, but his record dropped to 1-5 with this loss. J.T. Perez shined out of the bullpen tonight, throwing 2 1/3 innings of perfect ball to go with three strikeouts.

    The Kernels combined to hit five doubles, two coming form Wander Javier, but ended up going just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

    E-TWINS E-NOTES
    Elizabethton 7, Greeneville 2
    Box Score

    Ben Gross: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 76.7% strikes (56 of 73 pitches)
    HR: Charles Mack (2)
    Multi-hit games: Spencer Steer (3-for-5, 2B), Charles Mack (2-for-5, HR), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-4)



    Spencer Steer, the Twins’ third-round pick from this year’s draft, was a one-man wrecking crew. He hit a two-run double in the second inning, an RBI single in the fourth and another run-scoring single in the eighth.

    Ben Gross, a 10th rounder from the recent draft, earned his first professional victory in an excellent start. The only run he gave up over six innings was on a solo homer. He gave up just two other hits and did not walk a batter.

    GCL TWINS TAKES
    GCL Red Sox 4, GCL Twins 3 (10 innings)
    Box Score

    Niklas Rimmel: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Parker Phillips (2-for-4, BB)

    Keoni Cavaco was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and exited this game in the bottom of the fifth inning. According to the game log the Red Sox hit a single to shortstop prior to the substitution.

    STARS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Ben Gross, Elizabethton
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Ronald Torreyes, Rochester

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

    2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 2-for-5, 2B, K
    5. Wander Javier (CR): 2-for-3, 2 2B, BB
    6. Brent Rooker (ROC): 3-for-5, 2B, K
    11. Nick Gordon (ROC): 2-for-5, 2B, SB, K, E (throw)
    16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 2-for-4, 2B, E (fielding)
    19. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 61.7% strikes (37 of 60 pitches)

    SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Rochester vs. Pawtucket, 6:05 pm CT (TBD)
    Pensacola vs. Biloxi, 6:05 pm CT (TBD)
    Fort Myers vs. Bradenton, Game 1: 4:00 pm CT (Tyler Watson)
    Fort Myers vs. Bradenton, Game 2: TBD (Jordan Balazovic)
    Cedar Rapids vs. Kane County, 6:35 pm CT (Josh Winder
    Elizabethton at Greeneville, 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.

    • Jun 28 2019 10:21 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  25. Twins Minor League Report (6/26): Rochester Roasts the Pigs, Schulfer Shines for Kernels

    TRANSACTIONS
    Rochester Red Wings
    RHP Carlos Torres signed by Minnesota Twins assigned to AAA
    Cedar Rapids
    LHP Petru Balan placed on temporary inactive list

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 19, Lehigh Valley 6
    Box Score

    Another night, another high scoring affair for the Red Wings. Rochester pounced with 16 runs on 16 hits and really turned this one into a laugher late. Recently signed Drew Hutchison got the start and he went five and two-thirds innings giving up five earned on six hits. That was good enough to leave in position for the win however.

    Seven of the nine Rochester batters recorded base hits in this one, and eight of them reached base. Six batters had multi-hit nights and most of the damage was done without leaving the yard. Brent Rooker and Zander Wiel both clubbed their 12th dingers of the season while Drew Maggi went yard for his seventh. In the 9th Jordanny Valdespin added his sixth, a three-run shot, for good measure.



    Jaylin Davis continues to be a man possessed at Triple-A, and a three-hit night has his OPS sitting at 1.124 through his first nine games. This was one of those evenings where everyone contributes and it felt like no one was capable of making an out. Too bad for the Piggies but great fun for Rochester.

    BLUE WAHOOS BITES
    Biloxi 7, Pensacola 4
    Box Score

    Adalberto Mejia continued to work his rehab assignment and turned in two scoreless in this one. Randy Dobnak put in five innings for the Wahoos and gave up four runs on eight hits. Although the hit totals were nearly even Pensacola came up three runs short in this contest.



    Aaron Whitefield drove in the game’s first run in the second inning. Pensacola held the 1-0 lead until things were knotted up in the fifth. Then a three-run sixth inning had the home team looking for a rally. Caleb Hamilton drove in Alex Kirilloff to drop the deficit to two, and an eighth inning Mark Contreras double evened the score.

    It was a ninth inning offensive output that eventually spelt demise for Pensacola. A base hit and a double put the Shuckers ahead by three and no answer came in the bottom half.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Charlotte 3, Fort Myers 2
    Box Score

    Two of the best teams in the Florida State League played a low scoring affair this morning in Charlotte. Edwar Colina got the start for the Miracle and came up just one out shy of making it through six innings. He gave up two runs, neither earned, and fanned five while walking three.

    Immediately after trailing for the first time in the game Fort Myers responded with two runs to knot it up. A Jose Miranda double and then a Michael Helman sac fly were what pushes base runners across the plate.

    The Stone Crabs were able to score the game winning run in the seventh and that spelled defeat for Fort Myers. Recently promoted Wander Franco had himself a nice game going 3-for-4 and driving in the early runs for the home team.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Wisconsin 4, Cedar Rapids 0
    Box Score

    Austin Schulfer toed the rubber looking to secure a series victory in this one. Despite going six strong innings with six strikeouts and allowing just two runs (one earned), the bats never came alive and the Kernels fell 4-0.

    Gilberto Celestino was the only Cedar Rapids player to tally multiple hits, and teammates Jacob Pearson and Estamy Urena were the only other players to up their average.

    Tomorrow these two teams will square off for the rubber match.

    E-TWINS E-NOTES
    Bristol 11, Elizabethton 6
    Box Score

    Ryley Widell began the game on the mound for the E-Twins but a tough outing had him chased before he was able to record three outs. Leaving the first down 4-0, and then heading into the third with a seven run deficit, Elizabethton found themselves behind the eight ball all night.

    In the middle innings the home team struck. Spencer Steer recorded his first professional double to drive in Willie Joe Garry during the third inning. In the fourth it was Alex Isola and Steer again plating another three runners. An Albee Weiss fifth inning jack job brought the deficit to just two, but that’s where the runs ended.

    Steer is certainly off to a great start in his professional career and the 4-for-5 evening should fuel him for the next few contests.

    GCL TWINS TAKES
    GCL Orioles 5, GCL Twins 0
    Box Score

    Anthony Escobar made the start and worked three scoreless while striking out four and allowing just one hit. Tallying just four hits on the day however, a goose egg ended up being the final tally for the home team.

    2019 first round draft pick Keoni Cavaco notched his second professional knock and is now 2-for-11 in his young career.

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day – Austin Schulfer (Cedar Rapids) 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
    Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer (Elizabethton) 4-5, 3 RBI, 2 2B

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 - Royce Lewis (Fort Myers) - 0-5, K
    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) – 1-3, 2 R, K
    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Injured list
    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Fort Myers) – 1-1
    #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 0-2, BB
    #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – 1-4, HR(12), 3 R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K
    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Fort Myers) – Did not pitch
    #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch
    #9 - Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch
    #10 - Akil Baddoo (Fort Myers) - Injured list (Tommy John surgery)
    #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – Did not play
    #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured list
    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Fort Myers) – Did not play
    #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) – 1-3, BB
    #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured list
    #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 2-3
    #17 - Zack Littell (Minnesota) - Did not pitch
    #18 - LaMonte Wade Jr. (Rochester) – 0-4, R, RBI, BB, K
    #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did not pitch
    #20 - Jose Miranda (Fort Myers) – 2-5, R, RBI, 2B

    THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Rochester @ Lehigh Valley (6:05PM CST) – LHP Devin Smeltzer (0-2, 2.70 ERA)
    Biloxi @ Pensacola (6:35PM CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes (0-1, 4.18 ERA)
    Charlotte @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - TBD
    Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - TBD
    Bristol @ Elizabethton (5:30PM CST) – RHP Tyler Benninghoff (0-0, 13.50 ERA)

    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!

    • Jun 27 2019 05:35 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler