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  1. MLB’s 2020 Draft Will Hurt the Twins

    Many news outlets began reporting at the end of last week that the MLB amateur draft would be limited to five rounds with the event being held over two days, June 10-11. Beyond the fifth round, teams can sign undrafted players, but the maximum signing bonus is $20,000. From most accounts, front offices wanted a longer draft, but the owners pushed back, as a cost-savings measure. It also allows some teams to continue to pay their employees.

    Minnesota’s front office made decisions that cost the team multiple picks before they knew the draft was going to be shortened. The Twins lost their third-round pick for signing free agent Josh Donaldson as he rejected a qualifying offer from the Braves. Also, the club traded away their competitive balance second-round pick as part of the trade involving Kenta Maeda and Brusdar Graterol.

    This leaves the Twins with their first-round pick (27th overall), second-round pick (59th overall), fourth round-pick (128th overall) and fifth-round pick (158th overall). Only having two picks in the top 127 players drafted is a tough pill to swallow, but so is only having four total picks. Fewer picks mean the Twins will have an even smaller bonus pool for signing players. Minnesota’s $4,528,600 bonus pool is the fourth smallest as they only rank above the Braves, Yankees, and Astros.

    Another consideration for shortening the draft is there is little known about what kind of minor league season will be played in 2020. MLB might use the current pandemic to push for one item they have wanted, fewer affiliated minor league teams. One of Minnesota’s longest affiliates might not survive the current situation. Teams already have players in their system and the traditional 40-round draft doesn’t make sense if there aren’t multiple rookie league rosters to fill.

    There will also be some tough decisions for draft-eligible players. If a player isn’t taken in the first five rounds, is it worth it to sign for $20,000? Many minor league players are already struggling to make ends meet and signing bonuses in previous years could help a player to have some financial stability before making it to the big leagues.

    With that being said, some of these undrafted players are going to sign. Since there will be a larger pool than normal of undrafted players, this group will have more freedom to decide which organization to join. Players and agents can look up the farm system rankings for any team. As a player, would you want to go to play for the Twins, MLB.com’s 7th ranked farm system? Or would it make more sense to go and play for an organization in the bottom ranking’s bottom half with less resistance to the big leagues?

    Minnesota isn’t the lone organization or group hurt by what is left of the 2020 MLB Draft. Other organizations, college seniors and some minorities will be facing an uphill battle to make their professional baseball dreams come true.

    What are your thoughts on the changes to this year’s MLB Draft? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • May 11 2020 09:25 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. How Would the Twins Fare in the Grapefruit League South?

    Welcome to the Grapefruit League South!

    Under MLB’s new proposal, the Twins would play in a division that includes the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles. With most of the original AL East and a strong Braves team, Minnesota’s path to the postseason will be tougher, but could it make the team stronger over the course of the season?

    The Cellar
    Baltimore is not going anywhere this season, especially coming off a season where the club lost 108 games. The Orioles are likely happy to be getting out of playing the Yankees 19-times this season. Other than that, they would see most of the AL East on a regular basis under this plan.

    Most teams in the Grapefruit League South should take full advantage of a rebuilding Baltimore squad. There are few up-and-coming stars on Baltimore’s roster and their farm system isn’t exactly overflowing with MLB talent. It seems like the Orioles are destined for the cellar no matter what division they are placed in for 2020.

    Predicted Division Finish: 5th

    The Mighty Have Fallen
    Boston entered this off-season with one goal, cut payroll and get under the luxury tax threshold. After messing up a three-team trade including the Twins, the Red Sox were still able to make a deal to dump Mookie Betts and David Price while acquiring some decent prospects (one of which has been injured since the team made the trade).

    Minnesota versus Boston seems like such an intriguing storyline for the 2020 season. The Twins can use the cancelled Brusdar Graterol trade as motivation and run over one of the top organizations in recent years. The Red Sox aren’t exactly in win-now mode, so they may have less to play for in a season where the divisions are realigned.

    Predicted Division Finish: 4th

    The Contenders
    Tampa Bay and Atlanta are certainly more difficult than Cleveland and Chicago in the AL Central. That being said, the Twins were already expected to finish higher than these two teams in the regular season. MLB.com had the Twins, Rays and Braves ranked as the fourth, fifth and sixth team in their early-season Power Rankings. Tampa seems to always find a way to compete in a tough division and Atlanta is on the rise.

    Realistically, anything could happen in an altered season with the possibility of an electronic strike zone, new ballparks and a shortened schedule. Atlanta would also likely need to adjust to using a full-time designated hitter after having little to no time to prepare for the transition. The Braves still have Ronald Acuna, who might be the MLB’s second-best player behind Mike Trout.

    Predicted Division Finish: 2nd (Atlanta) and 3rd (Tampa)

    The Favorite?
    The Twins were supposed to be good, like really good. A historically good offense, a dominate bullpen and depth at starting pitching made it hard not to conjure up memories of the 1987 and 1991 season. Minnesota also saw plenty of line-up pieces deal with injuries last season. A completely healthy line-up would offer little rest for a pitching staff from one through nine in the line-up. Rich Hill could also be healthy for the majority of the season.

    Realistically, the Braves, Rays and Twins would likely beat-up on each other throughout a shortened season and teams would need to take advantage of games against the Orioles and Red Sox. This is a significantly tougher division for the Twins, but it could make them more playoff ready and that could be a concern for other team’s across baseball.

    Predicted Division Finish: 1st

    How do you feel like the division would turn out? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Apr 10 2020 01:23 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  3. Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: Recap

    Twins Daily's Top 20 Twins Prospects of 2020

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


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

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

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

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

    Oh, yeah... Graterol.


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

    Strap in folks. Fun times are ahead.

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


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

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    • Feb 20 2020 06:47 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  4. How Have the Twins Fared in Previous Top-100 Prospect Trades?

    Wilson Ramos
    Many fans will be upset when mentioning the Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps trade. Ramos was a top-65 prospect by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. He recorded seven hits in his first two professional games, and it seemed like he could team up with Joe Mauer as a tremendous catching duo.

    Having Mauer still behind the plate made a catching prospect more expendable. Minnesota also needed more relief help during the 2010 campaign. If Capps had helped the Twins to an extended playoff run, his trade might have been forgotten. Instead, Twins fans watched Ramos blossom into an All-Star catcher with the Nationals and Rays.

    WAR Acquired: 0.9 WAR (Before Capps Resigned)
    WAR Lost: 10.4 WAR

    Matt Garza
    Trading Matt Garza for Delmon Young seemed like a perfect fit for both teams at the time with each player being a highly ranked prospect. Tampa needed more pitching to help them take the next step and Young provided a powerful right-handed bat between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the Twins line-up. Tampa would ride Garza to a World Series run, while the Twins made playoff appearances but Young was never a difference maker.

    Young, a former number one overall pick, finished second in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting. After joining Minnesota, he hit .287/.324/.429 (.753) but his bat never reached the potential he showed as a prospect and his defense was atrocious. Garza was the ALCS MVP and provided WAR totals of 3.4 or above in two of his three seasons in Tampa.

    WAR Acquired: 1.0 WAR
    WAR Lost: 8.5 WAR

    Alex Meyer and Trevor May
    These two trades seemed to get lumped together since they happened in the same off-season. With both trades above, the Twins were sending away top-100 prospects, but these trades were a little different. Minnesota dealt established outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere in exchange for pitching prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May along with Vance Worley.

    Meyer struggled as he moved through the upper levels on the minor leagues and he would only pitch in parts of four seasons in the organization. Eventually, he was traded to the Angels before injuries ended his career. He played 22 games at the big-league level and retired after his age-27 season.

    When trading for May, the Twins likely saw him as a starting pitching prospect, but he has found his niche in the Twins bullpen. Last season, he posted a sub-3.00 ERA while striking out 79 batters in 64 1/3 innings. He can be a free agent at season’s end so he will have plenty to pitch for during the 2020 campaign.

    WAR Acquired: -0.6 (Meyer), 2.0 (May), and -1.1 (Worley)
    WAR Lost: 7.0 (Span) and 4.1 (Revere)

    How did the Twins fare in these trades involving former top-100 prospects? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Feb 16 2020 08:49 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  5. Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #4 Brusdar Graterol

    Position: RHP
    Age: 21 (DOB 8/26/1998)
    2019 Stats (AA/MLB/AAA/A-): 70.2 IP, 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 9.1 BB%
    ETA: Debuted in 2019
    2019 Ranking: 3

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: 60 | MLB: 83 | ATH: 49 | BP: 32

    I was very slow to come around on Graterol as a top prospect. Two years ago, I had him 17th on my list, eight spots lower than anyone else at Twins Daily. Seth called that out in the comments, I responded by saying “I try not to rank relief pitchers inside my top 10.”

    So here’s where I take my victory lap, right? Nope.

    Brusdar Graterol can be a starter. Well, as long as the organization who controls him has enough patience to see that path through. The triple-digit fastball obviously is the headliner, but Graterol’s slider is also a true plus pitch and his changeup shows enough potential.

    One of the things I find most amusing about prospect rankings is what I like to call the Proximity Penalty. Generally, the closer a guy is to the big leagues, the more pessimistic his overall outlook becomes. It’s easier to dream on an 18-year-old in rookie ball than a guy who’s moved up a bit and has been exposed to advanced hitters.

    Graterol is only 21-years-old, eight months younger than Matt Canterino, the Twins’ top pitching selection in last year’s draft. He’s also younger than Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Jhoan Duran and he’s about the same age as Jordan Balazovic.

    Painting Brusdar into a corner seems extremely shortsighted at this point. He has time to develop pitches, adjust his mechanics and stretch out his arm. He just needs to be afforded that time.

    Prior to being shut down in late May, Graterol pitched to a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .188/.282/.279 (.561 OPS) batting line in 47 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in Double A. That’s not a failed starter. Well, at least in terms of performance.

    The gorilla in the room is, of course, his health. Graterol has a lengthy injury history, but it seems strange to me a guy as young as him could be written off as not being able to shoulder (literally) a starter’s workload.

    We’re not sure exactly what Boston saw on the medicals that scared them off, but I’m confident of this: If Graterol had a significant injury, the Twins would have completely shut him down last season. I find it hard to believe they’d risk further injury by having him pitch a bunch of low-leverage innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year. There’s also the fact that he was sitting triple-digits at Yankee Stadium in early October. Seemed fine to me.

    Graterol was going to be in the bullpen for the Twins, and I’d assume that’s also where he’ll be with the Dodgers. But what if Los Angeles flips him to a non-contender willing take the time to develop him as a starter? Does he magically become a better prospect?

    I don’t know, maybe I was right back in 2018. In my writeup, I went out of my way to point out that a lot of people believe in the mantra “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” and called Graterol one of the highest ceiling/lowest floor prospects in all of baseball.

    I also said he definitely has true ace potential, and still believe that (pending medicals).

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

    Graterol may be gone, but you can learn more about 170 Twins minor leaguers in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

    ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $14.99)

    ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $9.99)

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    • Feb 13 2020 09:02 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  6. Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #6 Jhoan Duran

    Age: 22 (DOB: 1-8-1998)
    2019 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 115.0 IP, 3.76 ERA, 136/40 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP
    ETA: 2020
    2019 Ranking: 7
    2018 Ranking: Not in the organization

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: 96 | MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR

    What’s To Like

    Duran might have been one of the biggest risers in the entire Twins system last year. He made it all the way to Double-A last year where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. His 115 innings were a career high and he has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. Also, Duran led the Twins minor league system with 136 strikeouts.

    He has all the traits teams are looking for when it comes to starting pitchers at the big league level. His four-seam fastball is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s and he can crank it into triple-digits. To get strikeouts, he uses a 90+ mph two-seamer that acts more like a sinker/splitter. His curveball continues to improve and his change-up continues to get more work.

    Duran has a solid frame at 6-foot-5 and he has continued to add weight through his professional career. Since last year at this time, he has gone from 220 pounds to 232 pounds. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020.

    What’s Left To Work On

    For any pitcher with Duran’s velocity, there are going to be questions about whether or not he can find consistent success as a starting pitcher. This coming season will be critical for him to prove he can be a starter for the long-term. He needs to continue compiling innings to show he can meet the ever-changing demands on big-league pitchers.

    Command has also been an issue throughout his professional career because of an inconsistent delivery. That being said, he threw strikes on nearly 65% of his pitches and he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second consecutive season.

    His secondary pitches improved last season, but he will need to continue to get work with them as he gets closer to the majors. The Twins are in win-now mode and the club was already planning on moving a top pitching prospect to the bullpen. Could the Twins ask Duran to do the same thing?

    What’s Next

    Duran ended the year with seven starts at Double-A and that is likely where he will spend the majority of the 2020 season. Minnesota has added plenty of depth to the big-league rotation, so the club doesn’t have to feel like Duran needs to be rushed. He can continue to improve at Double-A with the chance to move to Triple-A in the season’s second half. Who knows? Maybe he could be a late-season addition to the bullpen like the Twins did with Brusdar Graterol in 2019.

    Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
    Honorable Mentions
    20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
    19. Cole Sands, RHP
    18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
    17. Misael Urbina, OF
    16. Edwar Colina, RP
    15. Matt Canterino, RHP
    14. Matt Wallner, OF
    13. Wander Javier, SS
    12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
    9. Brent Rooker, OF
    8. Keoni Cavaco, SS
    7. Ryan Jeffers, C
    6. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5!

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

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

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

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

    • Feb 12 2020 10:52 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  7. Brusdar Graterol's Strange Journey: What Did We Learn?

    Graterol was freshly of legal drinking age when he joined the Twins last season, so it's only fitting he brought the Fireballs. His average fastball velocity of 99.0 MPH registered as fifth-highest for anyone who threw in the majors. Watching Graterol establish himself at the highest level, flashing boyish enthusiasm while pumping heaters past big-league stars, was a pure delight.

    Naturally, I was very eager to see Graterol work his rare magic once again this year, potentially over an entire season (and deeper playoff run). That's why I supported the decision to keep him in the bullpen – it was a win-now move, which this franchise has historically shied away from.

    Ironically, Graterol has now been dealt in an even bolder win-now move. With Maeda, the Twins get an established quantity, whose impact on the 2020 team far exceeds what could've realistically been expected from Graterol as a 60-inning reliever. But in making this swap, the Twins are losing a very unique player and special person whose story is yet to be written.

    So while I'm excited about Maeda, I do find myself rueing Graterol's loss as the reality of his exit hits.


    Los Angeles seems a great fit for Graterol. The Dodgers are a storied franchise, and among the top two or three 2020 World Series favorites – especially with Mookie Betts in the fold. But their bullpen could use a boost.

    Formerly elite closer Kenley Jansen has seen a bit of a slide in recent years and is 32. Hard-throwing hothead Joe Kelly, signed to a big deal last offseason, was a disappointment in Year 1. Graterol joins Julio Urias as premium young arms infusing this staff with exhilarating upside. Jansen is under contract through 2021, so the Dodgers closer gig figures to be up for grabs then if not sooner. That's a prestigious (and, as Jansen has shown, lucrative) title.

    It's also possible the Dodgers could try moving Graterol back into a starting role. But that's not happening this year, and now seems unlikely in general.


    Under the original agreement, Graterol would've been heading to Boston, which itself wasn't a bad fit. As to why the Red Sox soured on the deal and reneged at the last moment, we don't know, and may never know. Some have insinuated it was fueled partially by negative public backlash, but the official account holds that a final review of the pitcher's medicals convinced Boston he's destined to stay in the bullpen, thus altering their asset valuation.

    It's really unfortunate that Graterol's health – perfectly fine from all outward signs – came under scrutiny in this process. He battled hard to come back from shoulder soreness last summer, delivering in a huge way into October and finishing on a high note. So, to now have his outlook downplayed by subjective evaluations from Boston's staff has gotta be frustrating.

    Then again, from the moment it came to light that Minnesota was willing to trade the top pitching prospect in any kind of deal, implications regarding their own assessments of Graterol were plain to see.

    The Red Sox apparently reached a similar conclusion upon closer review of his medicals. They are entitled to their opinion, and while it really sucks this all got aired publicly, I'm not sure Boston's new GM Chaim Bloom is deserving of animosity. With an edict from on high to trade Betts, he's trying to make the best of an ugly situation.

    The idea that this was a PR-driven course correction doesn't hold water to me. By opting out on Graterol, the Red Sox instead ended up subbing in shortstop Jeter Downs as the second talent received behind centerpiece Alex Verdugo. Downs is, according to most lists, a moderately better prospect than Graterol, but ... enough to meaningfully move the needle on fan sentiment? He's barely played above Single-A.

    There's no such thing as a satisfactory return when trading a Mookie Betts, but Graterol is hardly unexciting. Red Sox fans just watched him blow away Yankees hitters in the playoffs at age 21 a few months ago. They weren't being asked to dream on some fanciful long-term project.

    So, Boston got spooked on Graterol's medicals. Okay. And while the Dodgers were clearly less spooked, they weren't willing to make the same one-on-one swap that was originally planned. Los Angeles added in $10 million (meaningless to them) and a low-level prospect to extract more value from Minnesota, in the form of outfield prospect Luke Raley and (more critically) the 67th pick in this year's draft.

    Based on what we can ascertain from the outside, Graterol alone would've been a fair return for Maeda, if not a bit of a heavy give by Minnesota. The Red Sox initially reached that conclusion. After seeing more files and records, their valuation changed, and LA also needed a bit extra to make it happen.

    I think we can conclude, based on all of this, that there is a more valid basis for concern about Graterol's arm holding up than before this whole fiasco started. But you know what? The human body is an unpredictable construct. David Price, also heading to the Dodgers as part of a (now separate) trade with Boston, seems a relevant example to cite; he's been skirting Tommy John surgery for his entire career thanks to his "very unique" elbow. Sometimes red flags just flap in the wind endlessly.

    There's a perfectly good chance Graterol goes on to enjoy a healthy career with no abnormal incidence of arm issues. But one thing does crystal-clear: he won't be doing it as a starter.


    Graterol was a dynamic weapon and his absence is a negative for the bullpen picture. Duh. Then again, we hadn't been definitively planning around him as a reliever up until a couple weeks ago, and the Twins looked plenty strong on that front beforehand.

    Even without Graterol, Minnesota still has proven late-inning firepower in Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May. There's steady veteran support from Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard. A promising project in Matt Wisler. Ready young contributors in Zack Littell and Cody Stashak.

    This unit is not hurting for options, who have earned their chances. And in Fernando Romero, the Twins still have a forgotten flamethrower on hand whose raw stuff is nearly as formidable as Graterol's.

    That Minnesota possessed the depth to part with a talent of Graterol's caliber speaks to the job this front office has done building a robust bullpen and pitching pipeline. (Don't be shocked if hard-throwing righty Jhoan Duran becomes this year's version of the 2019 Brusdar.)

    None of this changes the fact that losing Graterol hurts, and the pain will likely resonate over the years as the phenom gets chances to shine on the biggest stage – probably while exhibiting the same boyish grin we came to love during our short time with him. But those are the sacrifices the Twins needed to make in the same pursuit.

    There's a decent chance, I think, that the 2020 journeys of Graterol and the Twins will ultimately converge at the same place: a World Series in late October. Both teams involved in this trade are counting on it.

    • Feb 09 2020 09:42 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  8. Take Two: Pending Physicals, Twins and Dodgers Agree to Trade

    To bring everyone up to speed: The Twins emerged last Wednesday as the third team in a massive trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers, which would've sent Mookie Betts and David Price to LA in exchange for prospect Alex Verdugo and Graterol, whom the Dodgers were to acquire from Minnesota in exchange for Maeda.

    The following night, it was reported that Boston was backing off amidst concerns in Graterol's medical files (and/or cold feet from ownership in the face of public backlash, depending on which accounts you want to believe). By Saturday, the Twins were said to be ready to drop the whole thing and move on.

    But it bears noting they took a similar hardline stance with Josh Donaldson, as the team signaled it was ready to bow out before ultimately getting its desired deal. With the way both these situations have played out, there's no knocking the front office's steadfast resolve.

    In this case, the Twins and Dodgers simply shut out the wayward Red Sox and made a deal on their own, with Graterol, Raley, and a fairly valuable draft pick going to Los Angeles in exchange for Maeda, an as-yet unnamed prospect, and $10 million to cover a portion of his already affordable contract. Minnesota gave a little more and got a little more. At the end of the day, it's still from my view a very good move for all the reasons I laid out here.

    The Red Sox made a separate deal with the Dodgers, sending Mookie Betts and David Price, along some money, to LA in exchange for prospects OF Alex Verdugo and SS Jeter Downs.

    We'll update this article with more information as it becomes available, but for now, how are you feeling about the deal – finally – getting done?

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    • Feb 09 2020 06:43 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  9. Report: Twins Willing to Back Out on Blockbuster Deal

    Sunday Update: LaVelle Neal updates us that the deal continues to be a work in progress. The Twins have shown they are willing to add a prospect with Graterol, but that prospect would not be a Top 10 prospect. The Twins might be getting a "little" more than Maeda. Jon Heyman adds that the Twins are working directly with the Dodgers.

    Updates will continue as we hear anything. Should a trade happen, we will have an article here promptly.


    LaVelle E. Neal of the Star-Tribune has talked to multiple sources telling him that the Twins would not meet the Red Sox requests to add more to the trade than just the hard-throwing Graterol.

    According to two sources with knowledge of talks, the Twins were very pessimistic about their end of a proposed three-way deal involving the Red Sox and Dodgers, a deal in which the Twins were to receive righthander Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers while sending righthanded flamethrower Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox.

    Earlier this week, news came out that the Red Sox had agreed to trade Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers. Over the course of a couple of hours, more information trickled in. There was a third team involved. Then we found out that team was the Twins. Then news that Graterol was involved, and finally that the team would receive Kenta Maeda.

    Then there were reports of an Angels trade with the Dodgers.

    Of course with any of these announcements, the phrase "pending physicals" is included. And, with Graterol's history that included Tommy John surgery several years ago and missing three months in 2019 due to shoulder issues, that was always going to be a question mark.

    When the Twins provided the MRI and other medicals to the Red Sox doctors, the Red Sox became more concerned about what they showed.

    While the Twins had mentioned that their plan was to start Graterol in their bullpen this year, there was still talk about trying to build up his innings count and starting sometime in the future was still said to be a possibility.

    Scott Boras came out on Saturday and spoke on behalf of his hard-throwing client saying that he had returned from injury last year, continued to pitch and throw hard and was 100% healthy.

    The Red Sox were said to be asking the Twins to add another prospect, even a top ten prospect, to the deal. The Twins, wisely, did not comply.

    In addition to concerns about Graterol's arm, the Red Sox also are aware of some off-field issuesof Alex Verdugo, the other player they were to receive in the reported deal from the Dodgers.

    My sense is that this trade is not completely dead. In reality, the Red Sox and Dodgers are clearly motivated to make it happen, and likely want it done soon. The Twins clearly would like to add a pitcher as good as Maeda to their staff, so it's possible it could spark up quickly. But as of now, for the trades to happen, someone will have to give. The Star-Tribune articles says that the Twins aren't planning to budge.

    Jon Heyman reports that the Twins may not be completely out on the deal.

    This reported deal shows that the Twins front office is willing to trade top prospects to improve the 2020 roster, which is encouraging to many Twins fans. Holding to their Graterol offer shows that they won't go overboard and make a bad deal either.

    • Feb 09 2020 01:09 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  10. Local Contrarian Eager to Find Fault with However This Trade Turns Out

    Barry Daniel has had a skip in his step and a song in his heart since Tuesday night’s bombshell announcement of a trade that would send Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox, with Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda coming to Minnesota in return.

    “The minute I heard that, I got on the internet and started letting everyone know that this was a horrible move for the Twins,” said the 37-year-old IT consultant at a post-work happy hour he wasn’t supposed to know about but someone mentioned it in front of him by accident and here we are. “Graterol has the potential to be a Nolan Ryan/Randy Johnson type, and we’re moving him for a middle-of-the-rotation stopgap? Come on.”

    When word came down late Wednesday that the trade might be in peril due to Boston’s concerns over Graterol’s health, Daniel immediately stopped arguing in a group chat that Adam Sandler’s only good movies are ones with farts in them, not the serious ones. A new path was there to follow.

    “If this trade falls through, it’s just further evidence that they’re more concerned about holding onto unproven, injury-prone prospect than trying to improve their most glaring weakness,” said Daniel, beaming as he sent his appetizer back to the kitchen a second time. “If they really wanted to make this trade they would have parted with a (Royce) Lewis or Alex Kiriloff. Gutless and scared, classic Twins.”

    Daniel’s few friends at the happy hour say it’s been a long week, and it’s not even Friday.

    “When the Timberwolves traded Andrew Wiggins today, I don’t think it took him five minutes to say that Wiggins was on the verge of a turnaround and this was a giant step backwards for the team,” said Carrie Stilson, the company’s HR manager. “Then he gets here, tells everyone who ordered guacamole that all the ingredients support drug cartels in Central America, and orders plain chicken strips. I just want to go home to my family.”

    As the happy hour filtered out, Daniel sat alone at the bar watching the ticker on ESPN.

    “Patrick Mahomes, Super Bowl MVP,” said Daniel, shaking his head. “Alex Smith would have won that game without any of the look-at-me nonsense.” The bartender groaned audibly.

    • Feb 06 2020 10:18 PM
    • by RandBalls Stu
  11. Twins Trade Suggests More Pieces to Move

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Feb 06 2020 08:20 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  12. Graterol Trade On Hold? Valuing Starters and Relievers

    In the now-delayed deal, the Twins acquired starting pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers in exchange for sending Graterol to the Red Sox. The surprising trade was announced Tuesday night, and Twins fans’ evaluation of the deal tended to vary depending on this very question: just how much upside does Graterol have?

    The other side of the trade is easier to evaluate. Maeda’s talent is considerable, and his team-friendly contract makes him even more valuable. But as recently as a month ago, the assumption was that the 100-mph-throwing Graterol would begin the season in the minors as a starting pitcher, keeping him on the path of becoming a rotational ace.

    That narrative was reversed when Twins coach Wes Johnson revealed that Graterol was preparing for a bullpen role a few weeks ago. Graterol served in that role in September and in the postseason for the Twins, but had been a starting pitcher to begin the season, before a shoulder impingement shelved him for three months.

    If he started the season in a relief role, it was unlikely he would ever return to the starter role for two reasons. First, he was expected to have tremendous success as a late-inning reliever with a triple-digit fastball and a plus-plus slider. But he also had never made more than 19 starts as a pitcher in any year, or pitcher more than 102 innings. His arm had never shown it could withstand a starter’s workload.

    “Value” is a tricky term, as it can mean a lot of things. The value to a team of a fire-throwing reliever versus a top-of-the-rotation starter can be debated. Because relievers are used more often, and especially because they are inserted into games in critical moments, they can impact more games in more meaningful ways than a starting pitcher. But starting pitchers pitch more innings, thus suppressing more runs.

    Those two values are depicted differently by different statistics. Wins Over Replacement (WAR) values innings pitched, and starting pitchers lead relievers in it every year. But Win Probability Added (WPA) values how much a player increased the probability of their team winning a game. High-impact relievers often lead pitching staffs in that metric.

    However, there is another meaning of value: rarity. It is usually harder to find starting pitchers than relievers. This has been especially true for the Twins, as their top-tier bullpen includes lots of reclamation projects, while they spent their offseason futilely begging “impact” starting pitchers to take their six-figure deals.

    So when the Twins, who are hungry for impact pitching and flush with relief arms, decided to move potential ace Graterol to the bullpen, it probably should have told us something. It probably should have told the Red Sox something too. Apparently it is now, and it’s significant enough that it is jeopardizing their signature offseason deal, including shedding over $40M in payroll this year.

    • Feb 06 2020 07:41 AM
    • by John Bonnes
  13. Kenta Maeda's Contract: Three Big Things

    If you haven’t had a lot of experience with the mystery team, it’s because the Twins - as long back as I can recall - have never turned out to be that team.

    But Doogie Wolfson was all over it.

    Not too much later, it was confirmed the Twins were sending pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox. In return, they were getting P Kenta Maeda.

    Adding Maeda is a big deal on the field, but let’s look at three unique things off the field.

    ***Maeda signed an 8-year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers before the 2016 season. He has four years, at $3 million per year left on his incentive-laden contract.

    His incentives include:
    $150,000 for making Opening Day roster
    $1 million for starts 15 and 20.
    $1.5 million for starts 25, 30 and 32.
    $250,000 reaching the innings of 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190.
    $750,000 if he throws 200 innings.

    ***The fact that so much of Maeda’s earnings are tied to starts and innings has been a contentious point recently.

    The Dodgers tried to rework his deal, which he declined. The message to him was to “pitch better.”

    Maeda is definitely going to begin the season in the starting rotation, but someone is going to get squeezed if everyone is healthy when Michael Pineda and Rich Hill return from suspension and injury, respectively. We already know how Maeda would feel if it’s him.

    ***Maeda has some interesting “perks” in his deal which raise additional questions.

    His original contract gave him the right to wear #18. That’s currently worn by Silver Slugger catcher Mitch Garver.

    The Dodgers had to provide Maeda with four round-trip business-class airline tickets between Japan and LA annually. Can he fly out of MSP?

    There’s a $1 million assignment bonus. Do the Twins pay that? Allegedly.


    What we do know is that even if Maeda only has an average (by his standards) year, he will make nearly 30 starts and throw around 170 innings, triggering incentives that will earn him nearly $10 million total, which is still a steal in this market for a mid-rotation starter.

    All of the other stuff, though… stay tuned...

    • Feb 05 2020 09:38 PM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  14. Twins Trade Graterol to Dodgers for Kenta Maeda in Blockbuster Deal

    The Twins traded one of their top pitching prospects to acquire the veteran pitcher. Hard-throwing Brusdar Graterol is headed to the Dodgers, and then he will be dealt to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade.

    Maeda is a 31-year-old right-hander from Japan. In his four seasons with the Dodgers, he has gone 47-35 with a 3.87 ERA in 137 games (103 starts). In 2019, he went 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA. In 153 2/3 innings, he walked 51 and struck out 169 batters.

    The Dodgers paid a $20 million posting fee to Hiroshima in 2015. Maeda signed an 8 year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers, receiving $3 million annually. He makes an extra $150,000 each year for making the Opening Day roster. He can earn up to $6.5 million each year based on number of starts. He can also make another $3.5 million each year based on innings pitched. He also receives $1 million for having been traded.
    Graterol saw time with the Twins in September 2019 and pitched well. He pitched a scoreless inning in his one playoff appearance. He became very popular prospect when reports surfaced that he was hitting triple-digits upon his return from Tommy John surgery. Last year, after returning from missing three months due to shoulder issues, he hit 104 mph in a game in Pensacola.

    At a Winter Caravan stop, pitching coach Wes Johnson said that Graterol was preparing for a role in the bullpen. He could get some time to develop and work more innings, eventually becoming a starter. But many believe his future is in the bullpen.

    The Twins Opening Day starting rotation now looks like this: Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Jhoulys Chacin, with Michael Pineda coming back after 39 games and Rich Hill potentially being back in June or July. Of course, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer provide much depth. And, the Twins still have top pitching prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran and more.

    What are your thoughts? Tom shared his thoughts shortly after the deal was rumored.

    More could develop as we learn more about this three, or four, team trade.

    Here is what we know, so far, about the overall four-team trade:

    • Feb 05 2020 06:46 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  15. Projecting the Twins Opening Day Roster: Version 1.0

    Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila

    Garver and Avila are locks for the Opening Day roster, but there are a few questions surrounding the Twins and their 2020 catchers. How much will the Twins rely on Garver behind the plate? Last season, he was very successful when rotating with Jason Castro. Minnesota could try and follow a similar routine with Avila and Garver this season. Another decision facing the Twins is whether to keep Willians Astudillo on the 26-man roster. There are benefits to carrying a third catcher, but I think the Twins have better options for their bench and Astudillo has a minor-league option remaining.

    Infielders (5): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano

    Much like the catchers, the infielders are almost set in stone for Opening Day. Arraez, Donaldson, Polanco and Sano will all be in the line-up and Adrianza will come off the bench. Adrianza offers a solid defensive upgrade over the other middle infielders and it will be interesting to see if he is used as a defensive replacement more regularly. Nick Gordon and Travis Blankenhorn are on the 40-man roster but neither player should figure into the team’s roster unless there were multiple injuries this spring.

    Outfielders (5): Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario

    If all are healthy, the trio of Buxton, Kepler and Rosario should be getting most of the regular reps in the outfield. Cave has a minor-league option remaining, but he has proven himself as a big-league hitter and he and Astudillo will likely be fighting for the final roster spot. Gonzalez will be on the team in the Opening Day roster in some capacity and he is in a similar spot to last season. He entered spring without a starting role but ended up being a starter after Sano’s injury.

    Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz

    There isn’t much to debate here. Cruz will be looking to build off a tremendous 2019 campaign where he was named the team’s MVP.

    Rotation (5): Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacin

    With Michael Pineda and Rich Hill out to start the year, there had been some questions swirling around the back end of the starting rotation. Tuesday night's trade certainly changed the rotation's outlook. Maeda is an immediate upgrade and it gives some of the other younger pitchers an opportunity to prove themselves at Triple-A.

    Minnesota signed Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league deal last week, but he can easily be added to the 40-man roster after Hill is added to the 60-day injured list.
    I think the Twins are still high on Thorpe’s potential. He has put together some strong strikeout numbers throughout his professional career and it has taken some time for him to adjust to different levels. If Chacin can't find success, Thorpe could be the next man up.

    Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler

    One wildcard in the bullpen picture is Fernando Romero, who seemed like a lock for the bullpen last season. Jorge Alcala will both be in camp with the team, but his remaining minor-league options make it unlikely for him to come north with the club. Stashak looked good at the end of last season and he could take the place that had been earmarked for Graterol before he was traded. Wisler will need to look good enough throughout the spring to get a bullpen spot, otherwise the Twins could turn to one of the other names mentioned above.

    Who do you think makes the team’s Opening Day roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Feb 04 2020 08:58 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  16. Gleeman & The Geek, Ep 464: The Brusdar Graterol Question

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    • Jan 30 2020 10:18 PM
    • by John Bonnes
  17. In Win-Now Mode, Twins Keeping Graterol in Bullpen

    Graterol's role for 2020 has been an open question all offseason. He had worked almost exclusively as a starter in the minors up until last summer, when he returned from a two-month injury hiatus as a shutdown reliever. His dominant debut out of the bullpen included a convincing September stint with the Twins, and a shutdown inning against New York in the ALDS.

    Obviously, he would offer more ostensible impact out of the rotation, which is why many observers would like to see him further developed in that role. Still only 21 years old, Graterol could easily start the 2020 campaign back at Triple-A, reacclimating to the routine and building up stamina.

    But, based on pitching coach Wes Johnson's comments at a Winter Caravan stop in St. Cloud this week (via MLB.com writer Do-Hyoung Park), it doesn't look like that's in the cards:

    The key phrase in Park's tweets: "So the balance is finding MLB innings without pushing it." Clearly the Twins want to leverage their high-powered weapon in short order – and why wouldn't they? He was virtually lights-out as a 20-year-old rookie in a pennant race. Graterol has the very real potential to rank among the American League's most valuable relievers right now.

    In theory, he has also has the ultimate potential to be an ace starter, and he has looked that part at times in the minors. Chasing this upside would be a hazardous gamble for the Twins, however.

    Firstly, Graterol has never thrown more than 102 innings in a season. Bringing him along as a starter would require stringent workload management throughout the summer, and even then, you have to wonder how comfortable the (hopefully contending!) Twins would be pushing him into uncharted late-season territory under duress.

    Secondly, the process of building Graterol up toward a 100 pitches/game, 200 IP/year regimen requires using up a whole lot of bullets, even it proves to be a futile exercise. History tells us that guys who throw this hard at age 20 don't do it for long. In terms of raw juice, Graterol's arm is at its peak right now. There's a "diminishing returns" dynamic at play.

    Combine these natural effects of physiology with the necessary max-effort trade-offs that come a starter's workload, and it's entirely possible that the Graterol we eventually see as a starter is a far cry from the flame-throwing force we witnessed in 2019.

    And that's all assuming he stays healthy. Because the final point is that – even if you downplay the progressive attrition caused by throwing meaningless innings in the minors – injuries can strike at any time. Graterol is living proof. He signed with the Twins at age 16, threw 11 innings, and then didn't pitch in a game again for two full years due to injury. He seemed to be in the clear after a healthy 2018, but landed on the shelf again last May with a shoulder impingement, which sidelined him for two months.

    Given his undeniable durability concerns, it behooves both team and player to opt now toward short stints in the majors; Graterol can accrue MLB service time at age 21, while the Twins can fully unleash him at the height of his physical prowess, amidst a full-fledged championship push.

    If you find yourself feeling a little disappointed by this development, which all but subtracts Graterol as a hypothetical wild-card in Minnesota's currently ace-less 2020 rotation, let me leave you with three things:

    1: Graterol can be a massive difference-maker out of the bullpen right away, lessening the burden on the rotation in turn.

    2: Graterol wasn't going to be a factor for the Twins as a starter this year. Even if he avoids injuries entirely, there was no scenario in which he was going to handle a starter's workload all season long, and still be available for October.

    3: A relief billing now does not rule out the possibility that Graterol can transition back into a starting role in the future. It's important to remember how young he is. At the same age, Johan Santana was still destined for three more seasons vacillating between rotation and bullpen, before blossoming as a Cy Young starter. Another example I like to cite: Adam Wainwright spent his first year in the majors as a full-time setup man, then threw 200 innings as a starter the following year.

    For a multitude of reasons, going with Graterol in the bullpen is the right decision at this moment for the Twins. If this were three or four years ago, and the franchise was still gazing toward a future window of contention, I might argue differently. But as I wrote earlier this week, the game has changed.

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    • Jan 21 2020 06:34 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  18. Do the Twins Really Need to Add Another Starter?

    Clearly the Twins went into the offseason hoping to add a top starting pitcher. Use the word “impact” if you like. The two impact starters on the free agent market weren’t coming here (Cole, Strasburg). Two of the free agent starters who fit in that next tier (Bumgarner and Wheeler) went elsewhere for non-baseball and non-dollar reasons. And it appears that the Twins just didn’t (understandably) want to give Hyun-Jin Ryu a fourth year.

    With that, they shifted their attention to adding to an already-great offense. They gave Josh Donaldson a guaranteed $92 million over the next four years, and an option for 2024 that makes it pretty likely he is retained.

    I am often told by Twins fans to expect the offense and several of its hitters to regress in 2020. First, my assumption is that something will be done with the baseball, which may reduce some offensive numbers, but that will be across the board, for all teams. And yes, teams will have more data points to develop a way to attack the Twins hitters. So, regression for some and for the whole, is certainly possible.

    However, much of the Twins offense is made up of a core of players between 22-year-old Luis Arraez and 29-year-old Silver Slugger Mitch Garver. And none of them had seasons that were so far out of the realm of their potential that makes you think that any regression would have to be major. Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler all had strong seasons, but none of them outside of what we thought they could do when they were prospects.

    Silver Slugger Nelson Cruz is going to turn 40 during the season. It’s silly to expect him to put up the same kind of numbers he put up in 2019, but his approach and his strength should still produce really good numbers in the middle of a lineup. Josh Donaldson replaces CJ Cron in the lineup. While he is older, he’s been one of the greatest hitters in baseball. If healthy, he should continue to put up eye-popping numbers.

    Injuries? Yes, injuries happen and they aren’t necessarily easy or possible to predict. But, there is one good way to alleviate some of those concerns. The first is simply to have depth. The Twins have depth. Simply in the form of Marwin Gonzalez there is depth. He can play the corner infield and corner outfield spots. LaMonte Wade and Jake Cave can man the outfield spots when needed. Ehire Adrianza is a terrific utility infielder. Alex Avila is the backup catcher. And there are prospects, high-caliber prospects at each position, who are close to MLB-ready.

    The Twins were able to keep Jake Odorizzi away from free agency for one more year by offering him the $17.8 million Qualifying Offer (and him accepting it). They also retained the services of right-hander Michael Pineda for the next two years. He will finish the final 39 games of his suspension and rejoin the team in mid-May.

    Jose Berrios is entering his Age-26 season. He will need to figure out August, but there’s a lot to be excited about it, and there is potential for him to find another level. Jake Odorizzi found his next level in 2019. Michael Pineda, at the time he was suspended, was being talked about as a possible Game 1 starter in the playoffs. That’s a solid first three.

    Homer Bailey? No, not exciting, but he has certainly had his moments. And, he was really good in the second half of 2019.

    Rich Hill? Man, if only he could stay healthy. Over the last five years, he has been a top 10-15 starting pitcher in baseball. Of course, he won’t be back until at least June after elbow surgery. There is no way to know how that recovery and rehab will go with 100% confidence. But they got him for a great contract and even if he’s back by the end of July, and can get close to what he’s been in recent years, that’s a nice pitcher to have in August, September and October. Can the Twins get the best out of him?

    With Hill and Pineda unable to start the season on the active list, the rotation will contain Berrios, Odorizzi, Bailey and…

    Well, for right now, that answer comes down to about four options; Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer. Yes, Blaine Hardy will be at spring training. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll be at big-league spring training for a while. There may be other names mentioned early in spring training. But for all intents and purposes, it comes down to those four pitchers.

    All four pitched in the big leagues in 2019.

    Randy Dobnak: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2019 when he pitched in Ft. Myers, Pensacola, Rochester and ended the season with the Twins, pitching well enough in September to earn a Game 2 start in the playoffs. It didn’t go well, but it shouldn’t minimize how much he grew and improved over the course of the season. And, in addition to being a good story, he’s a good pitcher too.

    Lewis Thorpe: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2018. He spent most of 2019 in Rochester but came up a couple of times. He made a few starts and also pitched out of the bullpen. He had some good games and some not-so-good games, but what he did well is miss bats.

    Devin Smeltzer: He moved back into a starting role in 2019 and started in Pensacola. A month later he was in Rochester, and before the end of May, he made his major-league debut and it went very well. He was a frequent guest on the Rochester-to-Minneapolis travel list but experienced success in a variety of roles in the big leagues.

    Brusdar Graterol: He came up for September and worked out of the bullpen. He was off to a good start last year in AA, but he missed nearly three months in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury. He came back in the bullpen so that he could be called up and his triple-digit fastball could help the Twins late. He will be on some sort of innings plan, but most would think that it’d be ideal for him to continue developing as a starter. Could that be as a ‘Primary’ pitcher, or could he just be a regular starter until Pineda comes back, or until Hill returns?

    Derek Falvey is often given a lot of credit for the pitching development in Cleveland. We have seen them continue to develop a pipeline of quality starters. Several of their current pitchers were not top prospects when they came up but certainly have developed into that status. Corey Kluber might just be the best example of that development plan and process, though he will be with the Rangers in 2020.

    So, should we believe in Derek Falvey’s track record? Should we trust the processes that have been initiated by Falvey along with pitching guru Josh Kalk and minor league pitching coordinator Paul Maki, and each of the minor league coaches and coordinators brought in? How about their utilization of technologies in recent years? Why not give these guys a chance?

    Herein lies the question from today’s title, Do the Twins need to add another starter?

    In my opinion, the answer is obvious. No, they don’t NEED to add another starter. With this offense, the team will win a lot of games. Their top two pitchers (Berrios, Odorizzi) are good. Bailey certainly can be good. And, four young pitchers who got time in 2019 are certainly capable of being solid, and a few of them have the potential to be pretty good. Having that offensive support should certainly encourage them to throw a lot of strikes. Pineda will be back. Hill should be back a little later.

    But, it isn’t that simple. While they don’t NEED to add another starter, Falvey and Thad Levine should continue to monitor the starting pitcher trade market. I don’t think Jon Gray or German Marquez are going to be available this offseason, but those are the caliber of pitcher that the team should show interest in. Y’all know I’m not at all high on Matt Boyd, but if the Twins research and development crew says that he could be a pitcher of the Berrios/Odorizzi/Pineda quality in 2020, maybe try that. There may be names that we haven’t even thought of that they could get.

    But don’t just add any more pitchers just to add more pitchers. If they’re going to make a move, make it a good one. Get a pitcher as good as Odorizzi, or better.
    If not, take your chances with a strong offense and a pretty solid starting rotation (and a pretty solid bullpen too, mind you). Continue to evaluate and teach those inexperienced pitchers, Get Pineda back. Get Hill back…

    And keep an eye on the phone, always looking to make a big addition in July… or June… or May!

    For much more on Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer, along with Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic and about 90 other Twins minor league pitchers, order a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF ebook.

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    • Jan 16 2020 06:48 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  19. What's Next for the Twins After Signing Josh Donaldson?

    The offseason is coming to an end with spring training rapidly approaching and the Twins just shocked the baseball world by signing Josh Donaldson to a four-year contract worth $92 million. The lineup went from being one of the best in baseball to simply being the very best in baseball. This has become a successful offseason with many moves made.

    • Jake Odorizzi: 1 year/$17.8 million
    • Michael Pineda: 2 years/$20 million
    • Alex Avila: 1 year/$4.25 million
    • Sergio Romo: 1 year/$5 million
    • Tyler Clippard: 1 year/$2.75 million
    • Homer Bailey: 1 year/$7 million
    • Rich Hill: 1 year/$3 million
    • Miguel Sano extension: 3 years/$30 million
    • JOSH DONALDSON: 4 years/$92 million
    These deals leave the Twins with a payroll of around $135-$140 million which is not something you typically see from this team. While the lineup is elite, the pitching still has a couple of question marks that could be addressed, which is something I think we have been saying for over a year now.

    Done adding to the bullpen?

    I would be extremely surprised if the Twins add another arm to their bullpen group. Rogers, Duffey, May, Romo, Clippard, Littell, and Stashak are relatively locks to make the roster and that leaves one open spot. With everything we have seen from this team in recent years, they like to try out different guys in the bullpen to see what sticks so I expect Wisler, Romero, Alcala, maybe Graterol and more to get a lot of opportunities in the bullpen. That is the strategy that allowed the Twins to see how good Duffey, Stashak, Littell, and Graterol could be.

    Starting pitching: Add one more starter.

    The Twins have one of the best lineups ever. It really can’t be overstated how good that group will be. There is still one main problem with the team, and it is the same problem the offseason started with. The Twins need a starting pitcher as good or better than Jake Odorizzi. The additions of Homer Bailey and Rich Hill are certainly intriguing and I think they could both be really good, but they’re long shots.

    The Josh Donaldson signing actually makes me more confident the Twins will add an impact starter. Why add Donaldson if you’re going to leave the rotation with Homer Bailey, Lewis Thorpe, and Randy Dobnak in the final three spots? Falvey and Levine have now shown this window is wide open and I expect them to capitalize by also adding a starting pitcher. Maybe they want to open the season to see what the rookies can give them and then add the starter at the trade deadline, but I think the best option is to get that starter now. Some of my favorite options include Matthew Boyd, Joe Musgrove, Jon Gray, Robbie Ray, and the entire Marlins pitching staff.

    What do you think the Twins still have to do this offseason? Maybe you want them to stand pat, or add another pitcher similar to Homer Bailey to fill out the rotation? Let me know how you like the offseason so far, and feel free to comment how excited you are about Josh Donaldson.

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    • Jan 15 2020 08:02 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  20. Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2020: Part 4 (1-5)

    First, to reiterate the parameters and stipulations:

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


    5. Royce Lewis, SS
    2019 Ranking: 1

    It was a trying year for Lewis. He slumped frequently and finished with a .236/.290/.371 slash line, striking out three times for every walk. The exaggerated leg lift in his swing came under greater scrutiny as he struggled against higher-level pitching. His defensive work at shortstop caused some analysts to harden in their stances that he's destined to switch positions. Even his trademark confidence was framed as a negative in one postseason Baseball America report.

    Through all this, the fact remains: He started the year as a 19-year-old and finished it at Double-A, punctuating his pedestrian regular season with an MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League. Lewis's elite physical tools haven't wavered, and most of his present shortcomings seem like the correctable flaws of a raw young talent. He still looks like a star in the making, even if that path is a bit less straight and short than initially hoped.

    4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
    2019 Ranking: 5

    Health was the big caveat attached to Graterol a year ago, as he vaulted into the national baseball consciousness with his triple-digit heater. His (in)ability to hold up rose to the forefront again this year, as the right-hander missed nearly two months with a shoulder impingement. But upon returning as a reliever in August, he did enough to restore all confidence – and then some.

    Ticketed for a late-inning impact on a contending club at age 20, Graterol made quick stops at Double-A and Triple-A before joining the Twins in September, where he was extremely impressive as a rookie. The 4.66 ERA is inflated by one poor outing against Cleveland – three earned runs, zero outs recorded – but the righty otherwise allowed two runs in 9 2/3 innings (1.86 ERA) with 10 strikeouts and only one walk. He added a perfect inning of work against New York in the ALDS, with two strikeouts.

    Durability remains a pre-eminent sticking point, as does the uncertainty around his future role, but the battle-tested Graterol is one of the most valuable arms in the game right now.

    3. Jose Berrios, RHP
    2019 Ranking: 2

    Whereas Graterol is a poster child for the volatile health of pro pitchers, Berrios lives on the opposite end of the spectrum: a model of durability. He hasn't missed a start since joining the Twins rotation, and that's basically been the case ever since he was drafted. The right-hander checked off another accomplishment last year, reaching 200 innings for the first time, but for the most part he was his usual self: steadily excellent, just short of elite.

    Since being called up for good in May of 2017, Berrios ranks ninth among American League pitchers in fWAR. He's not quite an ace but looks the part at times, and as a 25-year-old he still has plenty of time to find another gear. As the only Twins starting pitcher under control beyond next year, he's the glue of the rotation. But with arbitration now upon him, Berrios is going to start getting expensive quickly and is three years from free agency. A sensible extension would move him to the top of this list.

    2. Max Kepler, OF
    2019 Ranking: 9

    Pretty much the best thing a team can do to increase a player's asset valuation is lock him up with a long-term deal at an established baseline, only to have the player immediately reset that baseline. This is what happened with Kepler, who broke a three-year trend of good-not-great performance by taking a star turn in 2019, fresh off signing a team-friendly five-year contract.

    Despite missing the final two weeks as a shoulder injury plagued him, Kepler shattered career highs across the board and launched 36 homers. He's a top-shelf defensive right fielder and perfectly capable in center, which is especially valuable to the Twins given Buxton's frequent unavailability. Kepler's new contract, which can keep him under control through 2024 at bargain rates, gives Minnesota plenty of flexibility to continually build around the stud outfielder.

    1. Jorge Polanco, SS
    2019 Ranking: 7

    At the end of the day, these rankings are about the big picture. When you take a step back, which players are most indispensable, when factoring in risk and contract value? As core players that signed favorable extensions just before immediately breaking out and achieving upper-echelon status, Kepler and Polanco naturally rose to the top under this framework. Between the two, I give Polanco a slight edge.

    First, he plays an extremely valuable defensive position – one that is otherwise not well accounted for in the system, especially with Lewis's question marks. Polanco doesn't play shortstop all that well but he can handle it. Second, he's even cheaper than Kepler with an even more favorable contract; Polanco is controlled through 2023 for just $17 million total, and has an additional two team options. All this, as a switch-hitting 25-year-old All-Star who received MVP votes in 2019.

    At this point, I see Polanco as he most valuable player to the organization, but he's not a superstar. Nor is Kepler, or Berrios. Getting a true premium player in this spot – whether because one of these three takes another step forward, or Buxton pulls it all together, or someone like Lewis emerges in a big way, OR the Twins swing a trade for a centerpiece-type asset (leveraging some of these assets to do so) – will be instrumental in this franchise turning the corner. They're definitely in good shape and on the right track, just not quite there.


    20. Ryan Jeffers, C
    19. Eddie Rosario, OF
    18. Michael Pineda, RHP
    17. Nelson Cruz, DH
    16. Tyler Duffey, RHP
    15. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
    14. Trevor Larnach, OF
    13. Jhoan Duran, RHP
    12. Taylor Rogers, LHP
    11. Miguel Sano, 3B
    10. Luis Arraez, 2B
    9. Alex Kirilloff, OF
    8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    7. Byron Buxton OF
    6. Mitch Garver, C
    5. Royce Lewis, SS
    4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
    3. Jose Berrios, RHP
    2. Max Kepler, OF
    1. Jorge Polanco, SS

    • Jan 09 2020 09:30 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  21. Opening Thoughts: Brusdar Graterol (What Would You Do?)

    Gerrit Cole. He was always going to the Yankees.

    Stephen Strasburg. He was always going to stay with the Nationals.

    Zack Wheeler. The Twins wanted to give him $100 million, but he wanted to stay in the east.

    Madison Bumgarner. He wanted to hang out in Phoenix with his horses.

    Hyun-Jin Ryu. He wanted a fourth year.

    So now the Twins option for acquiring a proven impact pitcher comes down to the trade market, and there are options available.

    If the season opened today (and it doesn’t until late March…), the Twins starting rotation would include Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda (after 40 games), and two open spots. Randy Dobnak should definitely get an opportunity to earn one of them. Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer deserve to be in the conversation for a rotation spot in 2020.

    But if you’re looking for “impact,” then Brusdar Graterol has to be a consideration. We saw him hit triple digits often. He made throwing 98 and 99 mph look almost effortless. As he relaxed, the velocity increased, and his slider got sharper. He also has a changeup that he can be effective with. Those are the pieces that give teams and their fans hope of developing a true ace, a potential impact starter.

    However, we have to acknowledge Graterol’s injury history. He missed nearly two seasons after Tommy John surgery. He missed about three months in 2019 with a shoulder injury. He ended up just over 70 innings pitched in 2019 after reaching 102 innings in 2018.

    With such a high-potential arm, the Twins would be wise to take care of him. They need to. It’s possible he could be limited to maybe 120 or 130 innings in 2020. Do the Twins want to have him eat a bunch of those innings in Rochester? Or could they be creative in getting him those innings and that development in the big leagues?

    Here is an idea that I would present. It’s probably a little outside the box, and yet, the Twins front office speaks often about how they like their staff (front office and on-field) to ask questions, to challenge norms.

    What if the Twins went with an opener and then use Graterol has the primary pitcher?

    The Opener concept was a huge conversation piece in baseball two years ago when Tampa utilized it. They had two pitchers that they planned on being in their rotation get hurt and really did it out of necessity. The Twins utilized the strategy that September when they were out of playoff contention and got a chance to get innings from several young starters.

    It nearly disappeared in 2019. It’s not ideal. Teams would much prefer to have five starting pitchers who make 32 starts a season and reach 200 innings. But sometimes a strategy might necessitate creative thinking in this light.

    So why might this strategy work, in my mind, for Brusdar Graterol in 2020?

    • Stratify a plan for keeping Graterol at a certain pitch count and inning count in an attempt to a.) keep him healthy and b.) make sure he’s strong in September and hopefully through October.
    • Why not just have him start? Well, if you’re limiting him to three or four innings per outing, at least early in the year, he can only be the losing pitcher. He can’t get wins. And while we all now know that pitcher wins and losses are immensely overrated as stats, it is something that a player can't help but notice. No need to put the extra stress on the young pitcher.
    • Have him start the season by throwing 50 pitches per outing, whether that’s three innings or four innings. Gradually increase that number. Maybe it’s 65 pitches once the calendar turns to May. Maybe it’s 75 when the calendar turns to June, and 85 in July. Ideally, that would give him 30 to 32 appearances and he should be reaching around 120 innings.
    The Twins developed a bullpen that became a strength late in the 2019 season. They brought back Sergio Romo and added underrated Tyler Clippard. Taylor Rogers became one of the best relievers in baseball. Tyler Duffey and Trevor May dominated late in the season. Young guys like Zack Littell and Cody Stashak showed what they can be already and there is room for both of them to grow. Thorpe, Smeltzer and others could be the guys who move up and down as arms are needed.

    The Twins bullpen should be a strength in 2020, deep with reliable guys. Sergio Romo made a lot of “starts” (opener appearances) for the Rays in 2018, when Rocco Baldelli was one of their coaches. They are certainly both very familiar with the concept. Zack Littell could be a two-inning opener if needed. There are options for opener opportunities and there is enough depth to make it work.

    We don't yet know, at least in practice, how Wes Johnson might feel about using an opener, or if he has another philosophy on preventative care. In 2019, we did see the Twins put Michael Pineda on the injured list a couple of times to keep him fresh throughout the season. Maybe that's a better strategy?

    Would it be a long-term plan? No. In 2021, the hope would be that Graterol could make 32 starts and hit 160 or more impact innings. But 160 or more innings is likely not be the plan for Graterol in 2020. And Twins fans shouldn’t want to see him using up too many of his (probably) predetermined innings in Rochester.

    And, with Graterol being a league-minimum arm for the next three-plus years, they could use “impact starter allocated money” on a big bat (like Josh Donaldson). It also wouldn’t stop them from pursuing other ‘impact” starters in trades.

    Again, please note that this is just me thinking out loud. There is no inside information in this article or in the development of this plan. But I think we are all aware of how detail-oriented and analytical this front office is. “What to do with Brusdar Graterol?” has to have been a highlighted discussion topic in the Twins offseason planning.

    So what would you do? How would you plan out the 2020 season for Brusdar Graterol? These would seem to be the options:
    • Starter, developing in Rochester
    • Starter, developing in Minnesota
    • “Primary” pitcher in Minnesota
    • Bullpen arm in Minnesota
    • Bullpen arm in Rochester (likely not a preferred method)
    Let the discussion begin.


    -- Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #3 Brusdar Graterol
    -- Brusdar Graterol Hits 103+, Promoted to AAA

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    • Dec 25 2019 09:18 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  22. Trusting Internal Starting Pitching Options

    Randy Dobnak
    Minnesota trusted Dobnak enough to start a playoff game at Yankee Stadium so he already might in line to get a starting rotation spot. Last week, Matthew Trueblood wrote that Dobnak might be better than people think. He pitched 58 big league innings last year and posted a 3.88 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP. It would be nice to see Dobnak more in the fifth starter role than higher in the rotation. Obviously, Michael Pineda’s suspension will play a role in that decision at the beginning of the year and it should give Dobnak the opportunity to prove he belongs in the rotation.

    Devin Smeltzer
    Smeltzer is another intriguing option after he compiled a 3.86 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 11 appearances (49 IP). He had an interesting start to his career as he only allowed seven earned runs in his first 27 2/3 innings and opponents were held to a .651 OPS. What was more remarkable was the fact that his fastball averaged under 90 mph, but his off-speed pitches kept batters off-balance. His final six games saw his ERA rise to nearly 6.00 as the team used him more out of the bullpen. Smeltzer seems like a player that could be coming back-and-forth between Rochester and Minneapolis.

    Lewis Thorpe
    Thorpe was once one of the team’s top prospects and he won the team’s 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. Thorpe made all but two of his appearances out of the bullpen since Taylor Rogers was the team’s lone left-handed relief pitcher. Over the last two seasons at Triple-A, Thorpe has amassed a 4.73 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and an 11.1 SO/9. Those numbers could fit in the back half of a starting rotation if he can translate that to the big leagues. It seems likely for Thorpe to get more opportunities to be a starter with the Twins in 2020, but will he have to prove himself in Rochester first?

    Brusdar Graterol
    Graterol was an exciting call-up at season’s end last year and the Twins used him entirely out of the bullpen. The plan will most definitely be for him to return to the rotation to start 2020 and this could be with Rochester. As a 20-year old, he dominated in Pensacola last season although he only made 12 appearances with the Blue Wahoos. He was limited to four Triple-A relief appearances, so the club will likely want him to build up some innings at that level. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, so this year will be critical for him to stay healthy and get stretched out.

    Likely all the names above will have some impact on the 2020 Twins. Out of this group, who do you trust the most to be in the rotation for the majority of the season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Dec 18 2019 06:40 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  23. Gibson’s Departure Throws Your Dad’s Preseason Banter Into Turmoil

    As of Wednesday, the latter is in flux.

    Gibson signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Texas Rangers after spending his entire career with the Twins organization. Your dad’s opinion on the matter was hard to gauge in a brief pre-Thanksgiving phone call.

    “He was more upset about the city plowing in his driveway after he just got done shoveling,” you told your spouse, who nodded disinterestedly as she watched a Hallmark Christmas movie with Candace Cameron Bure. “I don’t think he’s quite processed what happened.”

    Gibson’s signing takes one more option off the table for his former team, as the Twins look to build a rotation that can complement a playoff-ready lineup. It also means your dad’s perennial Spring Training opinion may change or go away entirely.

    “I don’t know where his head is at. These are uncharted waters,” you said to your teenage daughter, who nodded disinterestedly as she browsed TikTok videos. “I don’t think he’s ever said word one about the Rangers, but maybe he’s genuinely invested in Kyle Gibson and his career.”

    Prior to Gibson’s arrival in 2013, your dad’s most commonly expressed preseason thoughts were wishing Justin Morneau could get healthy and that Phil Cuzzi should be tried in The Hague.

    “Maybe once they sign somebody, or if they make (Brusdar) Graterol a starter again, that’ll get him focused on 2020,” you said to your dog, who nodded disinterestedly before unleashing another volcanic fart due to the turkey and ham your brother kept feeding him at dinner. “I don’t know where this goes from here. I don’t know if he does either.”

    Your dad was unavailable for comment on the matter, but he did characterize the potential of another winter storm this weekend as “bullcrap.”

    • Nov 28 2019 01:40 PM
    • by RandBalls Stu
  24. Who Could the Twins Trade this Offseason?

    While Twins Daily has had plenty of Rosario trade discussion, MLB.com even identified him as a potential trade candidate. Minnesota’s other outfielders, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, could be in play. Kepler is coming off a career-best season and the Twins signed him to a team-friendly contract last season. Could this make him more susceptible to a trade this year? It seems more likely for the Twins to allow him to continue to develop at the top of their line-up.

    Byron Buxton seemed to be on track for the best season of his career before being injured last season. He has been the league’s best defensive player and he showed some offensive promise last season before being sidelined for the year. Another organization could see some higher value in him and this might allow a trade to occur.

    Miguel Sano struggled through parts of the last two seasons, but he certainly ended last season in a flurry. In the second half of 2019, he posted a .939 OPS with 21 home runs and 55 RBI in 65 games played. He seemed to hit some of the team's biggest home runs as the team went on to win division title. Sano certainly isn’t perfect, but other teams might see significant value in him.

    As a 25-year old, Jorge Polanco was one of the American League’s most valuable players. He was named the AL’s starting shortstop and finished the year with a .356 OBP and an .841 OPS. Like Kepler, the Twins signed him to a team friendly deal prior to last season. This might make him more valuable next season, but the eventual appearance of top prospect Royce Lewis could make him expendable.

    The Twins will have few pitchers available to trade so the organization might have to dip into the minor leagues to find other options on the trading market. Fans wanted the organization to trade for more starting pitching at the trade deadline and this would likely have meant including top prospects Royce Lewis and/or Alex Kirilloff. Both players had up and down 2019 seasons, so their value might not be at the highest point.

    Top pitching prospects like Brusdar Graterol and Jordan Balazovic seem more valuable to the Twins than to other teams. Minnesota needs to fill holes in their rotation and both of these players could offer long-term solutions to the team’s pitching woes. Digging deeper into the minors for pitchers like Jhoan Duran, Lewis Thorpe, and Blayne Enlow would probably produce little in trade value.

    Who do you think the Twins could trade this off-season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Nov 18 2019 12:13 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  25. Reason to Believe Brusdar Graterol Could Start 2020 in Twins Rotation

    The young Venezuelan, who was the organization’s No. 3 prospect last year, made his much-anticipated MLB debut as a September callup. Including the postseason, he appeared in 11 MLB games, posting a 4.22 ERA out of the bullpen. He has electric stuff, and if it wasn’t for one bad outing against Cleveland, he would have had a 1.68 ERA in his first month as a major leaguer.

    Giving Graterol a rotation spot early would be a real shot in the dark, but it could definitely work out. One example that in particular stands out in particular is Mike Soroka of the Braves.

    Soroka made his MLB debut in 2018, also at age 21. He was the team's top prospect at the time. He went through Atlanta’s minor league system quickly, also taking advantage of his Canadian National Team experience.

    Along with their age and pedigrees, Graterol and Soroka's minor league performances are comparable. Soroka posted an ERA of 2.84, held opposing batters to a .605 OPS and averaged 8.04 K/9 in the minors. Graterol had a 2.48 ERA, held opponents to a .574 OPS and averaged 9.67 K/9. The biggest difference would be that Soroka (370 2/3) pitched a lot more innings down on the farm than Graterol (214) has.

    Just like Graterol, Soroka pitched very little in his first major league callup. Soroka started five games for Atlanta between two separate stints, posting a 3.51 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. He then went on to deliver an out-of-this-world 2019 season for the Braves, becoming one of the front-runners for the Rookie of the Year award. He pitched 174 2/3 innings this season, was worth 4.0 fWAR and had a 2.68 ERA.

    Between Double A and Triple A, Graterol pitched less than 60 innings this year. His shift to the bullpen was part of that limited innings count, but so was a shoulder injury. Odd coincidence: Soroka only 30 2/3 innings in the minors in 2018 and was also sidelined because of shoulder inflammation.

    These two kids are similar even when you check their pitch arsenal. According to Baseball Savant, Soroka relies on four pitches: sinker (44.6%), slider (24.3%), four seamer (18.7%) and changeup (12.4%). Those are the very same four pitches that Graterol uses, in a very similar ratio: sinker (49.3%), slider (30.6%), four seamer (18.1%) and changeup (2.1%). The key-differences are that Graterol has much greater velocity (99.0 mph on his sinker, against 92.3 mph from Soroka) and Soroka adds much more movement to his pitches (2,372 spin rate average on his pitches, against 2,045 from Graterol). For more details on Soroka’s mechanics, you can check this out.

    There’s very little to ensure that Graterol will have the same outcome as Soroka did, but it seems foolish to rule out the possibility that he can’t be effective in the Twins rotation immediately.

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    • Nov 02 2019 09:48 PM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo