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  1. 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
  2. Get to Know Twins RHP Prospect Jhoan Duran

    Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015, shortly after his 17th birthday. That summer in the Dominican Summer League, he went 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 starts. The next year, he came to the States and pitched at two rookie-league levels. The Diamondbacks kept moving him slowly. In 2017, he played for Hillsboro in the advanced short-season Northwest League. He went 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 11 starts.

    The Diamondbacks didn’t move him up real quickly, and for good reason.

    Last month, the Twins announced that they had hired Mike Bell to be their new Bench Coach, replacing Derek Shelton who had been named the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bell has spent the past 27 years in professional baseball. He was a player who got a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues. He became a coach and a manager in the minor leagues upon his retirement as a player. However, he has spent the last eight seasons as the Vice President of Player Development for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, he was their Minor League Director.

    Mike Bell was ultimately in charge of the development of each of the Diamondbacks minor leaguers, including Jhoan Duran. Bell said, “When we saw him, he had a real heavy sinker. We took some baby steps with him. We knew the kind of talent he was, so we were playing it pretty safe with him in rookie ball. We saw a fastball up to 99 with heavy sink, and he is around the strike zone with command.”

    He began 2018 with Kane County in the Midwest League. He was 5-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 starts. Then came July 27th, 2018. He found out that afternoon that he had been traded, along with outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad, in exchange for infielder Eduardo Escobar.

    Regarding the trade, Bell noted, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go.” He continued, “I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization. I’m super-excited to reconnect with him.”

    From Duran’s perspective, it was something new. He had obviously never been traded before then. He said he knew no one in the Twins organization at the time of the trade. But he took it as a positive. He said (through Twins translator Elvis Martinez), “It was actually a good experience. I got to meet new people, new staff.”

    And he made a nice first impression in the new organization. In his first Kernels start, he threw seven no-hit, one-walk innings and struck out seven batters. He faced the minimum, 21 batters. In his fourth Kernels start, he struck out nine batters and gave up just one run over seven innings. The next start, he faced his old teammates from the Kane County Cougars. He gave up just one hit and struck out ten batters over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. In his six Kernels starts, he went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA and had 44 strikeouts in 36 innings.

    Duran spoke of it being nice to get off to a good start in his new organization, “It was a learning process. I think it was more mental than physical. I was just trying to get better every outing.”

    Duran began the 2019 season in Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he went just 2-9 despite an impressive 3.23 ERA. He also had 95 strikeouts (and 31 walks) over his 78 innings in the Florida State League. He never gave up more than three earned runs in any of his 16 outings. He moved up to Double-A Pensacola and made seven more starts. He went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA. He struck out 41 batters, and walked just nine, over his 37 innings there. In his penultimate start of the season, he struck out 11 batters (and walked just one) over eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball against the Jackson Generals.

    The soft-spoken Duran said of his 2019 season, “I felt really good overall, however, I feel I can do better.”

    The Twins obviously believe there is much more in there as well. In November, he was an easy choice to add to the team’s 40-man roster. Of course, it wasn’t as obvious to him.

    “Actually, it was something that took me by surprise, but I was really happy. I was not expecting it, but it was one of my goals.”

    Duran stands 6-5 and while he is lean, he is strong, weighing in at about 230 pounds. He has always been projectable. That 99 mph he was showing in rookie ball and now crept into the triple-digits often. His fastball averaged 97 mph in 2019.

    Duran briefly spoke about his best pitch and the pitches that he feels most comfortable with right now. “Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.”

    He also has a pretty good breaking ball or two that he continues to work on and hopes to make more consistent.

    Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster. He’s been to Twins Fest. He now has his Dominican high school diploma. And to top things off, he is on the cover of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook.

    Posted Image

    As he looks toward 2020, Duran has a couple of goals in mind. “My main goal is to go out there and keep working, to get better and to try to make the team.”

    And being on the roster means he is just one phone call away from reaching a lifelong dream, the big leagues.

    He notes, “It will mean a lot. It will be a dream come true.”

    His former farm director Mike Bell could become his bench coach with that big-league promotion, and I think his final comments on Duran echo those of Twins fans. “I’m excited to see what he can do here.”

    Posted Image


    No, I won't be giving away the whole book, but here is the Jhoan Duran profile page to show you what you will find in the pages of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF(for immediate download). Order your copies today!

    • Jan 30 2020 12:56 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. In Appreciation of Ehire Adrianza

    It did make some sense to have Adrianza around. Although Polanco’s bat looked like it would play at the MLB level, there were plenty of question marks pertaining to his ability to play short. Many in the industry, and Twins organization, felt Polanco’s long-term home would be at second, where he was then blocked by Dozier. Things were also a bit uncertain with Escobar as he had really struggled with the bat in 2016 and was underwhelming defensively. Adrianza at least gave the Twins a player who could step in and play solid defense, if not offering much with the bat.

    Up to this season, Adrianza has pretty much been the player fans could expect. He has been dependable, if not overly impressive. Adrianza has shown the ability to play short and play all around the diamond as well. In his time with Minnesota, he has played every position outside of center field and catcher, even pitching an inning this year. While his bat wasn’t great in 2017-18, he did show significant improvement from his number with the Giants. In 552 plate appearances, Adrianza slashed .256/.309/.380 for an OPS of .689, acceptable for a glove-first utility player.

    Coming into 2019, Adrianza’s role seemed even more up in the air as the Twins signed Marwin Gonzalez to a two-year, $21 million contract. With Gonzalez serving as the main ultility player, Adrianza was in a familiar position as the second utility option. With Minnesota’s stacked lineup, opportunities looked to be sparse, but Adrianza still filled a need as he is more palatable defensively at short than Gonzalez if Polanco were to suffer an injury.

    The season definitely got off to a slow start for Adrianza. Through May 10 Adrianza was hitting an unsightly .125/.218/.188 (.406 OPS). As the weather warmed so has Adrianza, batting a remarkable .355/.443/.518 (.961 OPS) in 47 games (31 starts) since May 11. This has been the best run of Adrianza’s career and thus far 2019 has been a career year for the utility man.

    Adrianza’s 2019 looks great against his career numbers, but he has also stacked up well against his peers in 2019. He currently holds a .348 wOBA (.297 career) compared to the MLB average of .320 and a 115 wRC+. For a utility player more regarded for his ability to fill in anywhere on the diamond, it’s pretty impressive that Adrainza has been an above average hitter in 2019. By comparison, Minnesota’s “everyday” utility man, Marwin Gonzalez, has a below average .310 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 90. Gonzales has accumulated a bWAR of 1.5 in 97 games (391 plate appearances) while Adrianza has a 1.2 bWAR in just 67 games (189 plate appearances).

    [attachment=12963:EhireGraph.png]
    Image courtesy of FanGraphs

    This is not to imply that Adrianza should be getting playing time over Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been extremely valuable, playing the best defense of his career and providing the Twins with a much needed quality outfielder in the absence of Bryon Buxton. Gonzalez also has a better track record than Adrianza, offers more power and has valuable experience as a World Series champion. Gonzalez is heating up and he came up huge with his recent three-run homer in game one of the Milwaukee series (Adrianza also had a clutch pinch-hit RBI double earlier in that game).

    The main catalyst in Adrianza’s improvement on offense seems to be his improved plate discipline. In 2018, Adrianza walked in just 6.6% of his plate appearances and had a 22.4 % strikeout rate. This season, Adrianza has raised his walk rate to 10% (MLB average – 8.3%) and has lowered his strikeout rate to 15.3% (MLB average – 21.6%). Adrianza is also hitting the ball to all fields (he has pulled the ball less this year) and has reduced the amount of soft contact on batted balls from 21.4% for his career to 11.3 % in 2019.

    On the year, Adrianza’s playing time has been limited, but he has seen more action in August due to all of the injuries the Twins have experienced. Until Nelson Cruz comes back, Minnesota has the luxury of giving Polanco an occasional break as DH and letting Adrianza fill in at short. However, when Cruz is back, Minnesota may want to consider getting Adrianza in against lefties and sitting Polanco.

    While Polanco has had a great year, he has really struggled as a right-handed hitter, slashing just .262/.301/.376. Adrianza, on the other hand, has crushed .316/.400/.526 against southpaws (he’s done okay against righties as well - .275/.369/.383). As the season has dragged on Polanco has looked like he could use some rest. Polanco started the year red-hot, slashing .338/.409/.590 through May 31, but has hit just .260/.313/.408 since. He is nearing his career high in plate appearances and is on pace to play the most games of his career. Utilizing Adrianza a bit more could help Polanco perform better down the stretch by being better rested and not having to face left-handed pitching as much.

    Although Adrianza was formerly known as a defensive specialist, his defensive numbers on the year have not been all that great. His numbers have been the worst at third and short and he rates best at second base and as an outfielder. With that said, we’re dealing with a very small sample size, making the defensive metrics more unreliable and there is certainly value in Adrianza’s ability to play almost everywhere on the diamond. He has made some big plays of late and is also the only realistic option to fill in at short, as both Gonzalez and Luis Arraez are stretched on the left side of the middle infield.

    On a team that has set the all-time franchise record for home runs and is on pace to break the MLB record, it is easy to overlook a player like Ehire Adrianza. However, Adrianza has been invaluable to Minnesota because of his ability to step in and play virtually any position while providing above average offense and getting on base at a .380 clip. His ability to put up great numbers since mid-May without consistent playing time has been a major boost to the team. Marwin Gonzalez will continue to get more playing time than Adrianza, but with Gonzalez filling in at right and Max Kepler sliding over to center in Byron Buxton’s absence, Adrianza should get plenty of opportunities down the stretch.

    Next season will be Adrianza’s last year of arbitration should the Twins decide to bring him back, which they certainly seem likely to do at this point. With Gonzalez around for one more season as well, Adrianza will probably continue to play second fiddle, but it would be interesting to see what Adrianza could do with more playing time. Escobar soared to new heights in his age-29 season with regular playing time and has been even better in 2019. While Adrianza is unlikely to ever see quite the power surge that Escobar has, his numbers are also improving with age, and if he keeps it up maybe he too can one day become an everyday player.

    • Aug 16 2019 10:10 PM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  4. Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran

    Age: 21 (DOB: 1-8-1998)
    2018 Stats (Low-A): 100.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 115/38 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP
    ETA: 2021
    2018 Ranking: NR

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: NR |MLB: NR | ESPN: NR |BP: NR


    What’s To Like
    There is a lot to like. When Jhoan Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015 out of the Dominican Republic, he was tall and lanky. That means that he was often touted as “projectable” as he had room to fill out. When the 2018 season ended, Duran stood 6-5 and weighed in at about 220 pounds.

    With the increased strength, Duran’s fastball has taken off. Duran throws 94-96 and even touched 98 mph. If you watched Tom Froemming’s Prospect Spotlight on Duran, he was hitting 96 in late August despite already being over his previous career high innings. He also gets some sink on his pitches.

    Duran also throws what appears to be two different breaking balls. He has a slider that can dart out of the zone, but he also has more of a curveball that drops. Both can be swing-and-miss pitches. He also is working to improve his changeup. Potentially, he’s got a big fastball with movement, four pitches and the ability to miss bats. Yes, potentially there is a whole lot to like in Jhoan Duran.

    What’s Left To Work On
    For Duran, he needs to work on the things that all young pitchers need to work on.

    While he has shown good control, he will need to continue to improve his command.

    While most believe that he can remain a starter, that will likely depend on continuing to improve and be more consistent with his secondary pitches. Especially, his changeup remains a work-in-progress. Development of that third (and maybe fourth) pitch may determine whether he remains a starter or if he becomes a potentially dominant, triple-digit throwing late-inning reliever.

    Before his six-inning stint to end the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids, his numbers had not yet matched his stuff. He had an ERA of 4.75 a 1.50 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings with Kane County before the trade. He struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 3.9 per nine innings. After joining the Kernels, he was incredible, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP over 36 innings. He increased his K-rate to 11.0 per nine innings, and reduced his walks per nine innings to 2.5. So was it a great, short-sample size six-game stint, which included seven no-hit innings in his Kernels debut, or has Duran actually turned corner in his career?

    What’s Next

    After spending last season in Cedar Rapids, Duran will start the 2019 season in Fort Myers. At this point, it’s all about developing those things (third and fourth pitches, consistent command). Working in the Florida State League should allow him an opportunity to put up some big numbers and potentially continue to rise up the Twins prospect charts. If he gets off to a strong start, he will certainly be a candidate for a midseason promotion to the Twins new Double-A affiliate in Pensacola.


    TD Top Prospects: Honorable Mention
    TD Top Prospects: 16-20
    TD Top Prospects: 11-15
    TD Top Prospects: #10 Akil Baddoo
    TD Top Prospects: #9 Blayne Enlow
    TD Top Prospects: #8 Lewis Thorpe
    TD Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran
    TD Top Prospects: #6 Coming Tomorrow…


    Get to know more about Duran and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

    ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)

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

    The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.

    • Feb 07 2019 05:39 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  5. 2018 Twins Daily Top 30 Most-Viewed Articles: Part 3 (1-10)

    As you would expect in a season that was disappointing and July gave us four trades, those would be some pretty important and discussed articles on the site, so let’s jump into it.

    10. Report Ryan Pressly traded to Houston - July 27


    Ryan Pressly was arguably the Twins player who received the most interest from other teams. He had a terrific career with the Twins when you recall that he came to the Twins as a Rule 5 draft pick. The last year or so he put up some very good numbers. As important in today’s game, front offices were able to look at his peripheral numbers and other things, like spin rate, to determine that he could be even better. Houston acquired Pressly for two high-ceiling prospects.

    9. Minnesota Twins 2018 trade deadline report card - August 1


    A day after the trade, Tom Froemming took a look at the 12 players that the Twins acquired in the various late-July trades, specifically the ten minor league prospects. He also gave grades to each trade and provided reasons why. For me, it’s fun to look back to see what our thoughts were on the players acquired before we got to see them play in the minor leagues for a month (or some in the big leagues for a second month).

    8. Offseason Blueprint Hey Big Spenders - November 4


    Following the release of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we decided to write up a few blueprints with varying schedules. Tom wrote about a trade-based offseason. I wrote about a build-from-within focused offseason. Nick was tasked with writing about what an offseason of Big Spending might look like. Probably no surprise to anyone which one our readers enjoyed the most.

    7. Top 20 Minnesota Twins assets Part 4 (1-5) - January 2


    Nick’s annual rankings of the Twins most valuable assets has been a big hit. He just posted his 2019 choices for Top 5 Twins assets. Last year’s version was a success as well, ranking this high. Three of the five in the Top 5 are the same. It’s fun to look back at this series to be reminded of how much can change in one year, one season.

    6. Deadline Deal Twins Trade Brian Dozier to Dodgers - July 31


    We all knew it was happening. He knew it was happening. Right at the trade deadline, the Twins finally worked out a deal with the Dodgers, sending Brian Dozier in exchange for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer. Dozier provided the Twins with a ton of power production over his six seasons with the Twins. He was an All-Star and clearly a leader.

    5. Twins Acquire Jake Odorizzi for Jermaine Palacios - February 17


    A day after signing Anibal Sanchez, the Twins made a trade with the Rays. They acquired RHP Jake Odorizzi in exchange for talented shortstop Jermaine Palacios. Palacios was coming off of a strong rebound season, split between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Odorizzi had been a quality, mid-rotation starting pitcher in the AL East for several seasons. While Twins fans acknowledged that Palacios does have a chance to be a big league shortstop, most were happy with receiving two years of a solid, mid-rotation starting pitcher in return.

    4. Report Twins to Trade Eduardo Escobar to Arizona - July 27


    The first trade chip to be dealt was Eduardo Escobar. Escobar rarely was handed a full-time job over his time with the Twins. But every season, it didn’t take long for a spot to open up and with the playing time, he proved worthy of being in the lineup every day. He was the team’s best hitter (or right there with Eddie Rosario) during most of the first half. The Twins acquired three prospects in return, hard-throwing Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad.

    3. The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano - June 26


    Miguel Sano played in the 2017 All-Star Game a night after finishing runner-up to Aaron Judge in the home run derby. Since then, it’s been one issue or another and few were good. He had a major injury late in the 2017 season and had a titanium rod put in his leg. He wasn’t able to work out a lot in the offseason. He has had a couple of off-the-field issues as well. Early in the 2018 season, the issue was a very poor approach at the plate. Things got bad enough that the Twins felt their best option was to send Sano all the way down to Ft. Myers for a reboot. Nick Nelson did a great job of providing a great insight into the situation.

    2. :Nelson Cruz agrees to deal with Twins - December 27


    Most experts predicted that the Twins would land Nelson Cruz this offseason. Around the Winter Meetings, there were rumors that it was between the Twins and the Rays. Before Christmas, it became known that the Astros were also interested in the 38-year-old DH. But just last week, the reports came out that the Twins and Nelson Cruz had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a club option for 2020. The move became official this year.Maybe a little anticlimactic, but as we have discussed in the previous installments, Twins Daily fans love the draft. Following the draft’s completion, we started an article showing which players had signed and kept updating it as players signed or there were other updates on the drafted players. The deadline for signing was July 15th.

    So now you have seen the Top 30 most-viewed articles on Twins Daily in 2018. What do you think? What were your highlights and favorite Twins stories of 2018?

    • Jan 04 2019 05:29 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  6. 2018 Twins Highlights: Web Gems

    Just a reminder, earlier in this series I dedicated an entire post to Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo, so those two are not included in any of the compilations below.

    We’re going to go all the way around the horn, starting with pitchers and catchers. When you think about defense, you don’t often take into account the guy on the mound, but the Twins have a couple of guys who would make even Jim Kaat proud in Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios.


    How about the rest of the infield? There was a lot of instability due to injuries, trades and Jorge Polanco’s suspension, but there was still some great glovework to be seen in 2018.

    There were also injuries in the outfield that created some big holes, but that opened the door for Max Kepler to show off his versatility. Jake Cave also broke through and wowed Twins Territory with diving catch after diving catch.

    Well there you have it, this is the final installment of the 2018 Twins Highlights series. I’m sure there were a few memorable moments or incredible plays I missed, but this was a lot of fun to put together. Here’s a rundown of what was covered:

    Walk-Off Wins
    Super Rosario and La Tortuga
    Top Pitching Performances
    Longest Home Runs
    Mauer Milestones and More

    I hope you enjoyed this series. To celebrate its conclusion, I mashed a bunch of these segments together to form a 20-minute long ultimate mixtape on YouTube.

    • Nov 03 2018 09:50 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. 2018 Twins Highlights: Longest Home Runs

    Here are the top-five longest home runs hit by Twins batters in 2018, as measured by Statcast’s projected distance:

    5. Logan Morrison, 442 feet off Glenn Sparkman on Aug. 4


    4. Jake Cave, 443 feet off Yovani Gallardo on Sept. 1

    3. Eduardo Escobar, 443 feet off Josh Tomlin on June 1
    *I used exit velocity as the tiebreaker between this and Cave’s bomb.

    2. Tyler Austin, 451 feet off Matthew Boyd on Aug. 17

    1. Miguel Sano, 455 feet off Mike Fiers on Aug. 25

    It’s no surprise to see Sano and Austin top this list, but neither of them led the team in average home run distance this year. That title goes to Cave, whose 13 homers traveled an averaged distance of 419 feet. The runner-up was Mitch Garver, who averaged 408 feet on his seven home runs.

    Previous installments of the 2018 Highlights Series:
    Walk-Off Wins | I took a look back at all six of the Twins’ walk-off wins from 2018.
    Super Rosario and La Tortuga | Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo provided excitement in an otherwise down season. Here I reviewed some of their most entertaining moments.
    Top Pitching Performances | Here’s a look back at the top five outings of the season as rated by Game Score 2.0.

    • Oct 20 2018 07:15 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  8. Offseason Primer: Corner Infield Free Agents

    Note: This is an excerpt from the free agency section of the upcoming 2019 Offseason Handbook, which you can officially preorder as of today. You'll find these profiles, plus dozens more, within. Claim your copy today to get it before its official release.

    To say the Twins lack clarity at the infield corners would be an understatement. Incumbent first baseman Joe Mauer is a free agent, for the first time ever. Incumbent third baseman Miguel Sano is coming off a brutal season bisected by a demotion to Single-A. The latter will be back (barring a trade) but in what capacity? Keep him at third, or move him to first (or even DH)? Up to you. And that decision will dictate planning here.

    Joe Mauer, 1B
    Age: 35
    Previous Team: Twins
    2018 Stats: .282/.351/.379, 6 HR, 48 RBI

    Mauer is coming off an underwhelming season that saw him turn in some of the worst numbers of his career. But he remains an excellent defensive first baseman and strong situational hitter with above-average OBP skills. If he returns, it'll be as a part-timer and frequent DH. But with righty-swinging Tyler Austin on hand, that might fit. Mauer is contemplating retirement.

    Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million

    Eduardo Escobar, 3B
    Age: 30
    Previous Team: Diamondbacks
    2018 Stats: .272/.334/.489, 23 HR, 84 RBI

    Cherished clubhouse character and late-blooming versatile slugger. Signing Escobar would restore a recognizable veteran presence to the locker room while allowing Sano to move across the diamond for a potential offensive upgrade at both corners. Esco's ability to fill in at short or second, if needed, helps with flexibility.

    Estimated Contract: 3 years, $45 million

    Matt Adams, 1B
    Age: 30
    Previous Team: Cardinals
    2018 Stats: .239/.309/.477, 21 HR, 57 RBI

    Looking for an apt platoon mate to complement lefty-masher Austin, Adams might be your man. He's got an .815 OPS with 41 homers over the past two seasons, and is a career .279/.330/.495 hitter against righties. Can play outfield corners in a pinch.

    Estimated Contract: 2 years, $15 million

    Hungry for more? Preorder the Offseason Handbook, which will include profiles on tons of other free agent options, at the corner infield and other areas of need.

    • Oct 01 2018 02:53 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  9. Q&A: Offseason Plans, Molitor's Status and Much More

    “with no immediate heir apparent at 2nd base, first base, catcher, and the need to bolster the 8th inning setup man and if things went well, I’d imagine front of rotation, how do you think the FO will fill those roles? There’s maybe 50/60 mil in payroll to play with, and all those prospects to dangle. It’s a huge roster turn over, can they get it all done in one offseason/up to all star break?”

    -Sconnie


    An Eduardo Escobar reunion makes so much sense. He can fill your opening at second base as well as provide insurance at third. I’m of the mind you can stick pretty much anybody over a first base. There will be plenty of options out there in free agency, but I’m also interested in what Tyler Austin can do. Max Kepler has experience there, though he’s also a borderline Gold Glove right fielder, so it may be a waste to put him at first. I believe LaMonte Wade played there some in college. Either way, I don’t think the Twins should be falling over themselves to bring Joe Mauer back. Still, a reunion would make a lot of sense, so I would project Mauer to be the Opening Day first baseman in 2019.

    I personally don’t see a huge need at catcher. I think a lot of teams would love to have a duo of Jason Castro and Mitch Garver, assuming Castro comes back healthy. Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos would be significant upgrades, but I feel like other teams are going to be more desperate to get them.

    I believe the front office made a strong effort to land Yu Darvish last year, but your big free agents just aren’t going to be jumping at the chance to come play in Minnesota. No matter how much money there is sitting around, guys aren’t coming here until this club has shown it’s a legit World Series contender. I think the front office can reload and put together a competitive roster over the offseason, but taking it to the next level would probably be delayed until the trade deadline.

    “Why Belisle? Rosario for real?”

    -USAFChief


    I’ve been blowing off so much steam about Matt Belisle on Twitter that Seth threatened to unfollow me over it :) I don’t have an answer to that question. My best guess is that the front office is trying to secure a better draft pick next year and they know Paul Molitor can’t resist using him. Now that Fernando Rodney has been traded, it wouldn’t shock me at all if Belisle becomes the closer once he’s activated off the DL. Yuck. The only thing I'm certain about when it comes to Belisile is he truly must be a really awesome guy.

    Eddie Rosario’s free-swinging tendencies are cause for concern, but I still have to say he’s absolutely for real. Since the start of last season, Rosie has hit .294/.333/.503 (.837 OPS) in 1,079 plate appearances. To put that into context, Justin Morneau had an .832 OPS in his time with the Twins. Eddie drives me nuts sometimes, but he’s also probably my favorite Twin now that Escobar is gone.

    “Do you really believe that Molitor is the manager who can take us to the WS?

    How big of a diffence do you think it will be between what the Twins could/should do and what they will actually do this off-season?

    What do you really think went on behind-the-scenes and in the clubhouse regarding the rumors about a toxic clubhouse?”

    -Carole Keller


    I think a manager’s impact on wins and losses is generally overstated, but no, I don’t have a lot of confidence that Molitor is a manager who could lead a team to a World Series title. That being said, Ned Yost did it … so anything’s possible. I'll circle back to Molly in just a sec.

    Taking a look at the free agents that are expected to be available, I’m not really sure what I think the Twins should do. I’m sure the expectation from the majority of the fan base will be that they go out and fill in the payroll to a level that’s similar to this year, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to attract any of the big names like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado and I don’t expect them to spend just for spending’s sake. I’d bet they have a savvy offseason, but get ripped to shreds for not bumping the payroll up higher.

    It’s tough to speculate on anything regarding the clubhouse from the outside in, but I think it has more to do with losing than anything. Losing sucks. The roster turnover couldn’t have helped either, and I’m not just talking about the new guys. Ervin Santana, Jason Castro, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco were all expected to be regulars. With those guys being out in combination with adding a crop of free agents who were mostly bitter about their lack of a market, it would be no surprise if there was some turbulence.

    Now that, however, is something I think a manager should be able to have an impact on. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that some of the players are frustrated by the front office turning the page, but that should be an issue that's addressed internally.

    I still don't think Molitor is going anywhere. It's clear ownership loves him, hard for me to see them moving on until maybe this time next season.

    “Will Odorizzi be back next year? Will Fernando Romero make the starting rotation out of spring training next year?”

    -FormerMinnasotan


    Yes, I would expect Jake Odorizzi to be in the 2019 rotation. He should be expected to perform at about a league-average level. You don’t just let a starting pitcher like that walk unless you’re trying to slash payroll. A lot of what happens with Romero will depend on how the next couple months play out, but I would predict that he’ll start next year in Triple A.

    At this point a year ago, it would have been really hard to envision a scenario in which Adalberto Mejia wasn’t going to be in the rotation for this year, but he’s only made four starts with the Twins. I could see something similar happening to Romero. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Romero was pushed into a multi-inning relief role, similar to how Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano got their feet wet in the bigs. But again, that’ll also depend on who they go out and add.

    “What should TD be paying you per game recap?”

    -TheLeviathan


    Well, how much would you pay me per game recap as a reader? Probably nothing. It’s really hard to make money on the Internet. I’ve contributed to a lot of other places online and this is by far the best situation I’ve been in. TD could probably make some more money if the site was bombarded with ads, like some other places, but I like things the way they are.

    “What's your favorite Target Field food?”

    -scottz


    I will often bring my own food into Target Field, but my go-to concession stand item is the Turkey to Go sandwich. I like how they have the seasonings and sauce at the stand so you can flavor it to your liking. A pretty simple item, but an old standby.

    “How many five year olds could you take in a fight before they overpower you?

    Be honest.”

    -Mr. Brooks


    Oh boy, probably not very many. I don’t think I’ve been in a fight since middle school and all five-year-olds do is fight. So even though I’m older, they’ve definitely got the upper hand in terms of experience. I’ve got the size and the strength, but the five-year-olds would have a considerable advantage in the stamina department.

    This was a real brainteaser, so I did what any responsible human would do in 2018 and looked it up on the Internet. It says I could take on 21 five-year-olds, but that sounds like a really high number to me. Since you specifically asked me to be honest, I’d say 11. That’s assuming we’re talking about 11 five-year olds who are really gung-ho about scrappin’.

    Alright, that's it from me. Thanks for reading, please add your two cents in the comments and let me know if you'd be interersted in similar Q&As becoming a regular feature here on the site.

    • Aug 11 2018 12:27 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  10. Dozier, Escobar and Pressly: Legacies of Self-Made Stars

    While rising through the minors, these three now-former Twins never graced the higher ends of top prospect lists. Each has his own rags-to-riches backstory that should inspire any underdog out there toiling away in perpetuity.

    Let's run through a quick retrospective on each.

    BRIAN DOZIER'S TRANSFORMATION FROM TWEENER TO TREASURE

    If it seemed like Dozier always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, who could blame him? Back in 2009, he fell to the eighth round of the draft despite a prolific collegiate career at Southern Miss. "Scouts saw Dozier's tools as average in most respects and he was generally projected as a utility player or strong organizational talent," recalls John Sickels.

    During his first few years as a pro, Dozier looked the part. To give you an idea of how he was viewed in 2011, Seth had him ranked as the 44th-best Twins prospect. Dozier's stock rose that summer with a strong showing between Fort Myers and New Britain, but he was still hardly viewed as a top-tier talent by the time he reached Minnesota in 2012.

    Alas, three years later he was an All-Star. Then in 2016 he set the all-time AL record for home runs by a second baseman. And from '14 through '17 he produced the 13th-most WAR among all hitters in baseball.

    Good ol' No. 2 departs as an indelible figure in franchise lore. In his book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Minnesota Twins (which I highly recommend), Aaron Gleeman ranked Dozier as the 30th-best player in the team history, calling him "literally the only slugging second baseman in the history of the Twins."

    It must've been a surreal chapter for my guy AG to write, five years after profiling Dozier as a prospect and dinging the infielder's "iffy" power potential and shaky defense at shortstop. "Even as a singles-hitting second baseman Dozier would be plenty useful," Gleeman had noted.

    Now, this is not by any means meant to drag Aaron, because I viewed Dozier the same way at that point and so did most others. The guy had hit 14 total home runs in 317 minor-league games.

    But through steady work, and the honing of a mousetrap-like swing, Dozier developed into one of the game's most deadly pull hitters, joining Harmon Killebrew in the ranks of Minnesota single-season home run royalty.

    It took Dozier 126 games to hit his first professional home run. It took him one to launch his first as a Los Angeles Dodger. In the context of his unlikely ascent, a glorious sight to behold:



    EDUARDO ESCOBAR'S CAREER THAT ALMOST WASN'T

    Back in June, Mike Berardino wrote a great story in the Pioneer Press recounting Ozzie Guillen's discovery of Escobar on a back field in Tucson 10 years ago. At the time, Escobar was a scrawny 19-year-old backup shortstop, on the verge of being released. As the story goes, a highly impressed Guillen went to bat for him with Kenny Williams, and persuaded the general manager to give Escobar a real shot.

    The young infielder would go on to glance the fringe of Baseball Prospectus' Top 101 list in 2011, at No. 91, his only appearance in any prominent national rankings. Around the same time, Minor League Ball pegged him as the seventh-best talent in the White Sox system: "Great glove," wrote Sickels, "but will he hit enough for it to be relevant?"

    The Venezuela native made his big-league debut that season, then played sporadically over the first half of 2012 before being shipped to Minnesota alongside fellow countryman Pedro Hernandez for two months of Liriano (the bad version).

    Escobar posted a meager .628 OPS in his first full season with the Twins, resembling very much the no-bat utility man of billing. Then in 2014, out of nowhere, he hit 35 doubles. And in 2015 he added 31 more, plus 12 bombs. Last year Escobar clubbed 21 home runs and this year he leads baseball in doubles.

    His defense has deteriorated and he's no longer really viable at short, but now, he's hitting enough to make that irrelevant.

    RYAN PRESSLY POWERS UP

    Midway through the 2012 season, Pressly's fledgling career was at risk of running off the rails. The former 11th-round pick was taking his second shot at the High-A Carolina League at age 23, and floundering with a 6.28 ERA through 76 innings.

    In July, Ben Cherington's Red Sox made a decision that looks outrageously savvy in retrospect: they promoted Pressly to Double-A, despite his immense struggles, and converted him to full-time relief duties. Pressly turned in a 2.93 ERA over 28 innings the rest of the way, although it came with a modest 6.8 K/9 rate.

    He'd go on to post an 18-to-1 K/BB ratio in the Arizona Fall League, and that was all the Twins needed to see. They took him in the Rule 5 draft after three other teams passed him up.

    "He's always had a good arm," acknowledged Boston's scouting director Jared Porter at the time. "He's got good stuff."

    Of course, the arm and stuff weren't deemed good enough to warrant a 40-man roster spot, which is why the Twins were able to snag Pressly away. Porter surely didn't envision how far along that arsenal would come over the next five years.

    During his first season with the Twins, Pressly wasn't an especially impressive reliever, posting mediocre strikeout and walk rates with a so-so FB/CB combo. But with each successive season, the righty added velocity and learned to harness his innate ability to spin the ball, with results following suit. In six MLB campaigns his swinging strike rate has gone from 7.8% to 8.5% to 9.0% to 11.7% to 12.2% to 17.6%.

    He's now in elite range, with that 2018 mark ranking as the fifth-best in baseball, and this made Pressly a hot commodity – the most coveted of pieces sold by Minnesota at the deadline, netting the organization a legitimate top prospect in Jorge Alcala.

    Who would've guessed it when he was a middling 23-year-old starter in Single-A?

    LESSONS LEARNED

    What's the point of these look-backs? Well, for one, it's nice to reflect on three of the most unlikely and inspiring Twins careers in recent memory. But also, I think it's instructive.

    No, the prospect bounty yielded by Minnesota's array of deadline trades wouldn't be considered top-tier. Outside of Alcala, none of the players received really have much hype beyond the occasional advocate or prospect hound. But neither did Dozier, or Escobar, or Pressly.

    In fact, Escobar came over in a deal quite similar to several just now orchestrated by Minnesota — a package of unheralded minor-leaguers acquired in for a two-month rental.

    So as we look at the collective talent amassed during the front office's deadline purge, we'd do well to keep these case studies in mind.

    • Aug 08 2018 08:27 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  11. Across the Meadow Podcast

    I'd like to introduce Twins Daily readers to something new. You may have noticed - or maybe not - that my writing and commenting has been much more sporadic this season. There are plenty of reasons for that... mostly growing kids and more responsibilities at work. But my interest in the Twins and their affiliates has never waned. I don't follow any less and I'm still certainly not short of opinions.

    What became of that is that I'd have a lot of Twins conversations with my neighbor. I'd be out with my dog or getting the mail or rolling the garbage to the end of the driveway and sometimes my neighbor, John Miller, would be outside. Our conversations would typically be about the Twins. We'd have these conversations across the road that splits our property, Meadow Lane. (Which is where we came up with our somewhat cheesy name.)

    He's been a long time reader of Twins Daily. (But never attended Winter Meltdown or a Touch Em All Pub Crawl. We'll have to fix that.) We'd talk about different things that have been written or commented on these very pages and he's said a number of times that he was thinking about starting a blog. And he should!

    At some point in time - probably after attending Gleeman and the Geek's first Taproom Tuesday of the year - we started talking about doing a podcast together. And last week, leading up to the trade deadline, that finally happened. If you're into podcasts, give it a shot. Give us feedback.

    We've jumped through the hoops to get our podcast on iTunes. You can listen to the Trade Deadline Preview (Episode 1) or the Trade Deadline Review (Episode 2). It's also available on our Across the Meadow website.

    We'd love for you to listen and let us know what you think. John also mans our Twitter account and will definitely engage with you.

    • Aug 02 2018 03:20 PM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  12. Minnesota Twins 2018 Trade Deadline Report Card

    All right, first thing’s first, here’s where all the players the Twins acquired are headed:

    Minnesota: Logan Forsythe
    Rochester: Chase De Jong, Tyler Austin.
    Chattanooga: Devin Smeltzer, Luke Raley, Jorge Alcala (on the DL)
    Fort Myers: Ryan Costello, Ernie De La Trinidad
    Cedar Rapids: Jhoan Duran, Gabriel Maciel
    Elizabethton: Luis Rijo, Gilberto Celestino

    So who are the best prospects the Twins acquired? Well 10 of the 12 guys the Twins added (everyone but Forsythe and Austin) still qualify for prospect status. I’m still getting up to speed on a lot of these guys, especially the ones acquired this week, so I’ll defer to another source.

    Baseball America published a fun list today. They ranked all the prospects dealt at the deadline, and the order they had the new guys in made a lot of sense to me.

    -Jorge Alcala

    -Gilberto Celestino

    -Jhoan Duran

    -Luke Raley

    -Chase De Jong

    -Luis Rijo

    -Devin Smeltzer

    -Gabriel Maciel

    -Ryan Costello

    -Ernie De La Trinidad


    Personally, I’d strongly consider putting Celestino on top. I also might put Rijo and Maciel above De Jong. Anyway, BA has capsules written up on those top three guys, and it’s just kind of interesting to see where they have them listed among all the prospects on the move. But, I’m going to make you click the link to go check out the rest of that stuff if you’re interested.

    All right, so let’s take a look at each trade individually. On each of these, I’m going to provide the link to the Twins Daily article published when the deals broke and also link to the Baseball Prospectus Transaction Analysis piece for each. Friend of the site Aaron Gleeman and the rest of the staff at B-Pro did an excellent job at breaking down each piece of each of these trades, so again, I’ll tip my cap to another outlet and encourage you to check those out. The grades though, those will be all me. Any grade disputes must be taken up with the Dean :)

    Friday, July 27
    Twins give: Eduardo Escobar
    Twins get: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: B

    Escobar was my favorite Twins player, but it just made too much sense to trade him away. It’s encouraging to hear the Twins approached him about an extension prior to shipping him off, and here’s hoping they engage with his camp again once he becomes a free agent.

    Eduardo was having a career year and will hit free agency at the end of the season, so it was difficult to envision the Twins netting a huge haul. I think Duran is a nice add, and he already made a great first impression, throwing seven no-hit innings in his Cedar Rapids debut. It sounds to me like he has a better chance at reaching the majors as a starter than Alcala does, though he doesn’t have quite as high of a ceiling.

    Maciel will skyrocket up prospect lists if he ever develops power. He’s a switch hitter who’s billed as a legit center fielder with elite speed, so even if the power never arrives he could be a fourth outfielder. De La Trinidad was a college draftee taken in the 19th round last year. His upside seems limited, but hitters hit. He’s got a career .874 OPS so far in the minors, so that at least makes him an intriguing throw-in.

    Friday, July 27
    Twins give: Ryan Pressly
    Twins get: RHP Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: A

    I love this deal. Pressly was the only player they moved who was going to still be under team control next season, but in parting with him, they acquired what I consider to be the two most valuable pieces among the dozen players that were acquired.

    Yes, Alcala was immediately placed on the DL with a right trap strain, but I think it’s a good sign that happened before he threw a single pitch in the Twins’ org. That suggests two things to me: 1) The Twins’ staff was able to uncover something in Alcala’s medicals and is getting out in front of this issue, and 2) I’d be willing to bet they used that information to leverage this deal with Houston.

    Celestino signed out of the Dominican Republic for a big bonus and he's living up to that billing so far. Not many guys put up the kind of numbers he was in the New York Penn League. He was fourth in batting average, sixth in OBP, seventh in slugging and was 14-for-14 on stolen base attempts in the NYPL.

    Pressly throws absolute filth and was having a strong season, but bullpen arms are so unpredictable and I feel like there are a lot of different ways the Twins could replace a guy like Pressly.

    Monday, July 30
    Twins give: Zach Duke
    Twins get: RHP Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: C

    To Twins fans, Duke may not seem like much of a prize, but he is among the best left-handed specialists in baseball. Duke has faced 425 left-handed hitters since the start of the 2014 season, and southpaws have hit just .214/.286/.316 off him. Since he was on an expiring contract, Duke was never going to fetch anything similar to the Pressly haul, and I’m not real impressed with what the Twins netted from Seattle.

    De Jong might be an interesting candidate to stick in the bullpen and see what happens, but it’s very difficult to see him ever working his way into the picture here as a starter. Maybe Costello is going to make me eat my words someday, but he was a 31st-round pick last year. Despite that underwhelming pedigree, he certainly deserves respect for putting up some of the better power numbers in the Midwest League this season. Again, hitters hit.

    Monday, July 30
    Twins give: Lance Lynn
    Twins get: Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: A

    I love this deal too, but for very different reasons than the Pressly trade. I just didn’t think Lynn had this kind of value. He fits the profile of exactly the type of pitcher a contending team should be looking to replace. Don’t get me wrong, he did really turn things around from May forward, but in my opinion he’s a second-division big league pitcher even at his best. Maybe the Yankees are onto something in using him in long relief, I don’t know.

    It’s worth noting that the Twins are paying half of Lynn’s salary, but this is still a really good return in my eyes. Tyler Austin could be a platoon 1B/RF/DH right now. The contact issues are a concern, but he crushes lefties and Target Field has been a pretty kind environment for right-handed power hitters.

    Honestly, if this was Lynn for Luis Rijo straight up I would have been impressed. Rijo has an insane 8.36 K:BB ratio in 125 ⅓ innings over his minor league career. He also tops out at 93 mph, so it’s not like it’s all just smoke and mirrors. And on top of all that, Lynn’s departure from the team opened up a spot for Adalberto Mejia to get a much-deserved chance in the rotation. Win, win, win, it’s looking all good here to me.

    Tuesday, July 31
    Twins give: Brian Dozier
    Twins get: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, LHP Devin Smeltzer
    Additional info: Twins Daily | Baseball Prospectus
    Tom’s grade: D

    I’m certain this was the best deal the Twins could get on July 31, less than an hour before the deadline. What I’m not certain of is if that was the best time to deal him. You never know how these things work out, and both Ian Kinsler and Jonathan Schoop entering the trade market late had to have complicated things, but I suspect the Twins could have gotten a better package if they had made the deal earlier, or may have even been able to find a better waiver trade partner this month.

    Of course, there was always the option to keep Dozier and extend a qualifying offer to him. Maybe he would have accepted, but I’m of the mind that there’s really no such thing as a bad one-year deal. Why did I think this was the Twins’ worst trade? Mainly because of who they were forced to take back.

    Logan Forsythe, the only major leaguer the Twins acquired in all these deals, actually has extreme negative trade value. This seems to defy logic, but the business of baseball is funny. His inclusion basically made this deal cash neutral. There was probably never going to be a deal with the Dodgers that didn’t have to include Forsythe, since they’re trying to avoid luxury tax penalties, but that’s exactly why you don’t make a deal with them in the first place.

    I typically don’t care much what happens to the Pohlad’s money (did you see how I just suggested they give Dozier $18 million?), but you’ve still got to acknowledge that money is an asset to a baseball team. If you get rid of Dozier, I think you need to find a way to get rid of that money too.

    If Forsythe’s not in this trade, I give it at least a C, maybe even a B. Heck, if I just look at this deal in a vacuum, which is what I originally did yesterday, I might give it a C. But when you zoom out and look at the big picture of what happened across baseball leading up to and on deadline day, it definitely feels like the Twins may have hurt their odds at maximizing a return. Tough thing for me to say from the outside looking in, but that’s how I feel.

    Raley is putting up really good numbers in Double A, but he’s already 24 and it’s just really hard to break into the bigs as a corner outfield/first base type. On the plus side, Raley also sounds like the type of guy in terms of makeup who goes out and proves idiots like me wrong, so I’m excited to see how this plays out.

    Smeltzer is left-handed, that’s always a plus. He’s also relatively close to the majors (he’s spent all year in Double A) and his strikeout numbers saw a boost when he recently shifted to the bullpen. However, it sounds like he has a fairly straight, fairly slow fastball, so …

    All right, so there’s my report card. The front office comes away with a 2.8 GPA. Not exactly Ivy League material, but in my eyes they get a solid passing grade for what was a difficult trade deadline to navigate for them. Maybe they also deserve some extra credit for the non-move they made by keeping Kyle Gibson.

    So now it’s your turn, how would you grade the Twins’ trade deadline?

    • Aug 01 2018 09:23 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  13. REPORT: Twins to Trade Eduardo Escobar to Arizona

    News the two sides were close was originally relayed by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic on Twitter. Jon Heyman of Fancred confirmed there was indeed a deal being finalized.

    John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 has shared that three Diamondbacks minor leaguers will be headed over, though we're still waiting for names.

    UPDATE: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has the details. The Twins are acquiring right-hander Jhoan Duran and outfielders Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel.

    Over the past seven seasons, we've watched as Eduardo Escobar has blossomed from a pretty nondescript utility man into an everyday player who's on pace to set the all-time doubles record this year. It's been a fun journey, and I can only speak for myself, but he's a guy who I feel has endeared himself to the fans much more than the average ballplayer.

    He was less of a professional baseball player who I enjoyed watching and more like a character on my favorite TV show. Always smiling, always having fun, always playing hard. And an entertainer to boot! Arizona is getting a good one.

    Whether it was his play on the diamond, those great Escobar Name Game videos or him talking about Fogo de Chao in all his postgame interviews (there's one in Scottsdale, I checked), Eduardo will be sorely missed across Twins Territory.

    According to MLB Pipeline, Maciel ranked No. 11 in Arizona's system and Duran was the Diamondbacks 19th-best prospect. De La Trinidada was not listed among their top 30. In Baseball America's most-recent update of the Arizona rankings, Duran slotted in at No. 10. All three of those players were with Kane County, Arizona's affiliate in the Midwest League (same as the Cedar Rapids Kernels).

    Here are links to their respective Baseball-Reference pages if you want to scope out their numbers: Jhoan Duran, Gabriel Macial and Ernie De La Trinidad.

    This is difficult to do in the moment, but if you take your heart out of the equation, you have to recognize that Escobar is exactly the kind of player who it makes sense to deal at the deadline. Not only is he an impending free agent, but he's in the middle of a career year. Escobar's current OPS, .852, is nearly 100 points higher than he's posted in any other season and 130 points higher than his career mark.

    UPDATE: He's not making it any easier to say goodbye ...


    The Twins were riding high on the heels of an impressive 2-1 win at Boston last night, but their playoff odds still sat at just 1.6 percent, per FanGraphs. They are seven games back of Cleveland, who recently took measures to build up its biggest weakness.

    • Jul 27 2018 06:04 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  14. MIN 5, TOR 0: All-Star, Indeed

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Jose Berrios: 81 Game Score, 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB, 63.7% strikes
    Bullpen: 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 3-for-9 w/RISP, 5 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Berrios .451
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Wilson -.176
    [attachment=11859:WinChart724.png]
    Let’s go around the horn …

    First Base
    There were a couple things that just gave you the vibe this was going to be the Twins’ day. First, they actually won a replay challenge. In the fifth inning, it appeared Taylor Motter had been picked off. He broke from first, the pitcher threw over there and Motter was called out on the throw over to second. Instead, the call was overturned, as the tag missed.

    The Twins couldn’t score that inning, but the sixth led off with Joe Mauer sending a pretty routine fly ball out to left field. Teoscar Hernandez just flat out dropped it, Mauer hustled into second and would later score the first run of the ballgame. Nice to see some things break the Twins’ way for a change.

    Second Base
    Jose Berrios had a great night. Take a look at this awesome overlay of his changeup and curveball:


    How!?!? How do hitters ever even make contact off him? That’s disgusting. La MaKina pitched seven shutout innings, gave up just four hits, walked one and racked up nine strikeouts. Trevor Hildenberger and Ryan Pressly followed suit with scoreless innings to complete the shutout.

    Third Base
    Eduardo Escobar had been on a bit of a cold streak heading into this game. Over his previous 28 contests, Esky was hitting just .200/.289/.320, but here’s hoping tonight is a sign of things to come.

    Escobar was 2-for-4 with a double and a three-run homer that served as the finishing blow in the top of the eighth.

    Home Plate
    In addition to this game going very well, there was a lot of positive Twins-related news today. Addison Reed threw a bullpen and Phil Miller of the Star Trib reported that “it sounds like he’ll be off the disabled list in the next day or two.” Byron Buxton took batting practice with Rochester today, the first time he’s been able to participate since suffering his hand injury. Ervin Santana will make his 2018 debut with the Twins tomorrow.

    The cherry on top of all that positive injury news was that Miguel Sano had a very nice game with the Red Wings, going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and an RBI. He even added a couple of nice plays at third base.

    ***UPDATE: It was reported after the game that in order to make room for Santana on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters Taylor Motter was designated for assignment.

    Postgame With Escobar

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=11860:Bullpen724.png]
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 54-46
    MIN 46-53 (-7.5)
    DET 43-60 (-12.5)
    CHW 36-64 (-18)
    KC 31-69 (-23)

    Next Three Games
    Wed at TOR, 3:07 pm CT: Ervin Santana vs. Sam Gaviglio
    Thu at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: TBD
    Fri at BOS, 6:10 pm CT: TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 8, TOR 3: Twins Cruise Over Toronto
    KC 5, MIN 3: Royals Sweep Twins, Butera Hits Inside-the-Park Homer (Seriously)
    KC 4, MIN 2: For Sale

    • Jul 25 2018 07:06 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  15. Week in Review: Kansas City, Misery

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/16 through Sun, 7/22

    ***

    Record Last Week: 0-3 (Overall: 44-53)

    Run Differential Last Week: -5 (Overall: -28)

    Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (9.5 GB)


    HIGHLIGHTS

    Kauffman Stadium. That's almost it, really. I traveled down to Kansas City with my fiancée for the weekend and we enjoyed the hell out of that ballpark with its terrific views, monster Jumbotron and all-around high-caliber fan experience. Not so much the baseball.

    The Twins played in a legendary yard under beautiful weather over the weekend, but that's where the positive vibes ended.

    Okay, I shouldn't go quite that far. Jake Odorizzi turned in an excellent outing on Sunday afternoon, firing six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts while allowing only two hits and one walk. Since punctuating a rough midseason stretch with his worst outing on June 23rd (6 ER in 1 2/3 innings), Odorizzi has rebounded in a big way, turning in a 2.96 ERA with 33 strikeouts over 27 innings in five starts.

    Crucially, the right-hander has finally started keeping the ball in the park. After coughing up 14 home runs in 12 starts between April and May, Odorizzi has surrendered only two long balls in nine turns since the start of June.

    By remedying his biggest weakness while maintaining a career-high strikeout rate, the 28-year-old may be building himself some legitimate trade value as the deadline approaches.

    Joe Mauer tallied two hits on Friday and three more on Saturday, including his 415th career double, which made him the franchise's all-time leader. Another awesome accomplishment in a widely underrated career.

    LOWLIGHTS

    In spite of Mauer's efforts, the offense couldn't muster much of anything against the American League's worst pitching staff. Heading into the break, it seemed as though the lineup was finally turning a corner – they'd managed double-digit run totals in seven of their last 16 games after doing so just once in their first 77 – but Twins hitters came out completely flat in KC.

    This sweep basically punched Brian Dozier's ticket out of town, but his punchless performance won't do anything to help Minnesota drum up a decent return. Entering the series, Dozier had an OPS over 1.000 for the month of July, and he was riding high after ending the first half with a walk-off grand slam, but the second baseman's momentum came to a screeching halt as he went 1-for-12.

    Jake Cave's luster is quickly wearing off. After sitting against left-hander Danny Duffy on Friday, Cave started on Saturday and went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. On Sunday he went 0-for-2 at the plate and, in center field, misplayed a Drew Butera single into an inside-the-park three-run homer.

    Following a strong start to his MLB career, Cave's inexperience and poor plate discipline (31% K vs. 6% BB) are coming home to roost. All the more reason to give him plenty of playing time the rest of the way.

    Conversely, I think we'd all be cool with Lance Lynn seeing zero playing time as a Twin for the remainder of eternity. His laborious start on Saturday – 118 pitches needed to get through five innings as six walks pushed his league-leading total to 61 – solidified Lynn's standing as the most inefficient pitcher in Twins history.

    There's been a lot of chatter this summer about the declining watchability of Major League Baseball, and Lynn feels like a microcosm of the loudening complaints. Saturday's outing wasn't terrible where the scoresheet is concerned, as he allowed three runs on three hits with six strikeouts over five frames and kept things within reach, but he made the game a complete chore to spectate – for the fielders as much as the fans, I'd suspect.

    It'd be great if the Twins did us all the favor of removing that chore from our August and September agendas. But with the way he's pitched, finding a taker for Lynn's ~$5 million in remaining salary won't be easy. Hard to imagine many legit contenders viewing him as an upgrade.

    TRENDING STORYLINE

    With just over a week left until the trade deadline, the rumor mill is sure to get popping over these next seven days.

    Now that the dream of having him lead another improbable late-season surge has died, the Twins really have no reason to keep Dozier around. The quiet series in Kansas City threw a bit of cold water on his ascending stock, but Dozier still has six home runs and 20 RBIs over 25 games in the last calendar month, to go along with an outstanding rep.

    The Twins will find a willing trade partner on Dozier, I have little doubt. Milwaukee looks like a solid bet. But will Thad Levine be able to reel in any assets of value, or simply achieve salary relief? If it comes down to it, I'm guessing he'd settle merely for the latter.

    Ownership green-lighted a record payroll this year only to watch the team go down in flames, so recouping whatever they can will be a deadline priority for the front office – albeit an unexciting one.

    Lynn is owed more than Dozier, and as mentioned above, the Twins would undoubtedly love to unload his remaining commitment. They'd most assuredly get nothing else of consequence in a deal, but that's okay. Same goes for Logan Morrison; he's owed only $2 million or so after August 1st, but has a $1 million buyout on his 2019 option.

    Both Lynn and Morrison have obviously been quite bad this year, but they are veterans with track records, and in each case there are underlying signs to suggest the ugly numbers aren't an entirely accurate reflection of their play.

    Maybe other generals managers are open to taking such leaps of faith, given the meager return that'll be required. If the Twins can trade Dozier, Lynn and Morrison without having to cover any salary, they'd shave around $10 million, which would theoretically go toward the 2019 cap. Recent evidence suggests $10 mil can stretch pretty far on the free agent market, so it's not for nothing.

    If they want to get back any young talent worthy of excitement, the Twins will probably have to move players with a bit more allure. The most interesting name in that camp, from my view, is Eduardo Escobar. Although his power has dissipated a bit here in July, he still ranks seventh among big-leaguers in extra-base hits. His versatility, and ability to play shortstop especially, will make him a commodity even though he's due for free agency in November.

    Some might disagree, but I see Escobar as Minnesota's only valid candidate for a qualifying offer. If he accepts, he'll make around $18 million next year, which is clearly an overpay but probably one the Twins can live with, given their scarce commitments elsewhere and the convenience of keeping Esco on a one-year deal while we see how things shake out with the rest of the young infielders.

    I also don't think it's entirely a given that Escobar accepts a QO. No, he won't make $18 million annually on a long-term contract anywhere, but is it unrealistic to think someone bids, say, three years and $45 million? Coming off a probable career year at age 29, Escobar may well be eyeing security and stability. Should he sign elsewhere, the Twins would receive a high draft pick, helping negate what they lost this season by signing Lynn.

    Two pitchers, Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson, will be the other names to keep an eye on. Each is throwing well and controllable for 2019 at a reasonable cost, so they are only moving if another club is really prepared to pony up.

    DOWN ON THE FARM

    The legend of Royce Lewis just continues to grow. The 19-year-old is making himself right at home against advanced competition in the Florida State League, where he is sporting a .313 average and .840 OPS through eight games. This week saw him notch a pair of multi-hit games and his first home run with the Miracle. Most expected the power would come along gradually for Lewis, who isn't all that physically developed yet, but he already has 10 home runs and a .483 slugging percentage in 83 games between the two levels of A-ball.

    His teammate Alex Kirilloff returned from a successful showing in the Futures Game last Sunday, and got right back to work by posting a leisurely 12-for-22 (.545) with three doubles, a triple and a homer. My goodness can this man hit.

    Brusdar Graterol, who rounds out the trio of top prospects on display in Fort Myers, picked up his first FSL win on Friday, and while it wasn't a spectacular outing (4 ER in 6 IP), it was definitely a step forward as he struck out seven and limited Lakeland to five hits.

    Upon returning from a short leave of absence, Miguel Sano received a bump to Rochester, pushing him closer to a big-league return. Looking noticeably slimmer in a Red Wings uniform, Sano has opened up his time in Triple-A by going 0-for-8 in two games.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    The Twins are 1-12 in their last 13 road games, and the going gets no easier. First they travel to Toronto, where they've historically had a very tough time, for three against the Jays. Then it's off to Boston for a four-gamer against the best team in baseball.

    Minnesota is reeling, and traveling to a couple of road destinations that have proven vexing over the years. Adalberto Mejia, who was lit up in his last Triple-A start, is scheduled to face two high-powered offenses in very hitter-friendly yards.

    Don't bother uncovering your eyes, Twins fans, because things are likely to get even uglier this week.

    MONDAY, 7/23: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – LHP Adalberto Mejia v. RHP Marco Estrada
    TUESDAY, 7/24: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Jose Berrios vs LHP Ryan Borucki
    WEDNESDAY, 7/25: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Sam Gaviglio
    THURSDAY, 7/26: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Lance Lynn v. LHP Brian Johnson
    FRIDAY, 7/27: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. LHP Chris Sale
    SATURDAY, 7/28: TWINS @ RED SOX – LHP Adalberto Mejia v. RHP Rick Porcello
    SUNDAY, 7/29: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Jose Berrios v. LHP Drew Pomeranz

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps

    • Jul 23 2018 04:50 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  16. With Machado Gone, Eduardo Escobar Becomes The Best Shortstop Available

    Fortunately for the Twins, the next best available shortstop on the trade market now appears to be Eduardo Escobar. Now, I know Escobar has spent the majority of his time this year at third base, and he is a much better defender at the hot corner, but Escobar still has the ability to play short and the presence he can bring with his bat there will be a welcome upgrade for a number of teams.

    There are a few big things going in Escobar’s favor that make him an attractive player for contending teams. This first is his excellent play on the field ever since he took over as a full-time player nearly a year ago. Going back to August 20th of last year (the day Escobar took over full time after the Miguel Sano injury), Escobar has a .266/.319/.513 slash line with 24 home runs and 40 doubles in 130 games.

    Another factor in the favor of Escobar’s trade value is his position versatility. If it is needed, Escobar could play second, short or third, which opens the door to a lot more teams being able to benefit from adding Escobar to their roster.

    The next factor is at the trade deadline, Escobar will only have a little more than $1.5 million left on his contract. So, Escobar won’t be a problem for teams that are hesitant to add much more in terms of payroll. Finally, Escobar’s clubhouse presence can’t be overstated. While it’s hard to put a number on this, teams will appreciate knowing that Escobar won’t hurt the team’s camaraderie as they make a push for the postseason.

    After Escobar, the list of other shortstops available isn’t very long. Perhaps the next most intriguing player is Jose Iglesias. Unlike Escobar, Iglesias is known for his defensive prowess at short. However, his bat has never been all that good, so most of his value is wrapped up in his glove. For teams looking to add another impact bat to their lineup, which is usually the case at the trade deadline, Iglesias can’t provide that.

    Another player of interest might be Elvis Andrus. Andrus has been one of the better shortstops in the game in recent years, but he has been struggling with injuries this year and as a result has played in just 36 games. One factor that could prevent Andrus from being traded is his contract situation. After 2018, Andrus is under control for another 4-years for $59 million, with an option for a fifth year. With Andrus still just 29, and the quality of player he is, that is a pretty team friendly deal.

    While this would normally increase Andrus's trade value, there is one stipulation that prevents this, and that is two player options after 2018 and 2019 that only kick in if Andrus is traded. So, if a team were to acquire Andrus via trade, the leverage instantly switches to him and he could easily opt out for free agency.

    A few other shortstops that could be available include Adeiny Hechavarria, Freddy Galvis & Alcides Escobar who are all essentially just a lesser version of the same player Jose Iglesias is. As you can see, the market for available shortstops is pretty bleak beyond Eduardo Escobar.

    So, the question is, which teams will be most interested in striking a deal with the Twins for Eduardo Escobar? Well, the two most obvious teams of interest are the Philadelphia Phiilles and Milwaukee Brewers. Both teams were players in the Manny Machado sweepstakes until the very end, and they are both looking to fill a pretty glaring hole at shortstop as the Phillies and Brewers rank 24th and 30th respectively in fWAR from the shortstop position. The Phillies could also use the help at third base as they rank 27th as a team with a 0.4 fWAR from their third basemen this year.

    Another team that might show some interest in Escobar is the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks aren’t necessarily bad at short or third, but they are not all that good at those positions either. With Jake Lamb in a down year, and Nick Ahmed struggling offensively, Escobar’s bat and versatility could be a welcome addition to the Arizona infield. There are most likely a few other teams that will be interested in Escobar as well, but the Phillies, Brewers and Diamondbacks are the three teams that have the most to gain by adding Escobar to their lineup.

    At the end of the day, the fact that Eduardo Escobar will become a free agent at the end of this season will still limit his trade value, but if I was a team that could use an upgrade in the infield I would be on the phone with the Twins every day trying to make a deal to acquire Eduardo Escobar.

    • Jul 18 2018 07:48 PM
    • by Andrew Thares
  17. MIN 11, TB 7: Dozier Grand Slam Ends Wild Game, First Half

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Fernando Romero: 35 Game Score, 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 1 K, 0 BB, 65.4% strikes
    Bullpen: 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 4 BB
    Lineup: 6-for-12 w/RISP, 9 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Dozier .550, Rosario .293, Busenitz .254, Mauer .210, Polanco .134, Rogers .111
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Hildenberger -.800, Romero -.235, Garver -.196
    [attachment=11831:WinEx715.png]
    First thing’s first, here’s the Dozier grand slam to end it:


    There were a lot of noteworthy things that thankfully didn’t end up mattering in the end. Without knowing what really happened it’s difficult to say for sure, but it definitely seemed weird that Escobar was the only player ejected in this one. Both teams cleared the benches twice, but no punches were thrown.

    It’s still not clear what started the tension, but it appeared as through Tampa Bay took exception to Dozier celebrating a run-scoring balk he drew and as a result they threw a pitch inside to Escobar. We’ll learn more as the details come out, but it would be really strange if the guy who was the target was the only one kicked out of the game. Don’t get me wrong, Eduardo was heated, but it seemed like he had reason to be.

    *UPDATE*
    After seeing some more video from the Tampa Bay feed, it's obvious that the 101 mph pitch was intended to hit Escobar, and then Rays manager Kevin Cash said, well, some things I can't repeat here.

    Then in the bottom of the eighth, it appeared from the replays that Jake Cave got his toe on home plate before Tampa catcher Jesus Sucre got the tag on him. That run would have inceased the Twins’ lead to two runs and would have extended the inning. But the original call was out, and that somehow stood even after a review. That out ended the inning, keeping the Minnesota lead at just one run.

    Paul Molitor decided to use Fernando Rodney to finish out the fifth inning today. That meant it was Trevor Hildenberger’s job to close out the game for the Twins. Hildy blew the lead in the eighth, giving up a two-run double that put the Rays up 6-5, but the bats stormed back in the bottom of that inning to give Trevor a second chance. He blew that as well.

    Hildenberger gave up the game-tying run in the ninth, ending the day with three earned runs on four hits and a walk over his inning of work.

    But none of that mattered.

    All that really mattered in the end was that Dozier slugged a walk-off grand slam to give the Twins an 11-7 victory. Just the result of this game alone is a positive way to send things into the All-Star break, but the Twins also concluded their homestand with a 9-2 record.

    Cave hit a leadoff double in the 10th then was bunted over to third by Mitch Garver. Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario were intentionally walked to set up a potential double play, bringing up Dozier.

    Rosario had another outstanding game to cap off a great first half. He was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs. He'll have the next four days off, but his .311 average and .890 OPS indicate he should probably be heading out to Washington DC right now.

    Postgame With Dozier

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=11830:Bullpen715.png]
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 52-43
    MIN 44-50 (-7.5)
    DET 41-57 (-12.5)
    CHW 33-62 (-19)
    KC 27-68 (-25)

    Last Three Games
    TB 19, MIN 6: This Never Happened
    MIN 11, TB 8: Twins Get a Scare on Friday the 13th, Prevail over Pesky Rays
    MIN 5, TB 1: Who’s the Snub?

    • Jul 15 2018 09:57 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  18. Berrios Makes First All-Star Team, Rosario Picked As Final Vote Candidate

    Jose Berrios will be an All-Star for the first time. In his age-24 season, he has gone 8-7 with a 3.54 ERA. He has 114 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings pitched and his 26 walks allowed have resulted in a tidy 0.997 WHIP. He leads the league with two complete games.

    Before the season started, some off-the-wall predictions were made here at Twins Daily. Berrios might be the only one who comes to fruition. He’s been able to do this by cutting his walk rate from 3.0 BB/9 in 2017 to 2.0 BB/9. Berrios has also improved his strikeout rate. Entering the season he had a career 8.3 SO/9 and he has posted a 9.0 SO/9 so far in 2018.


    Eddie Rosario will have a little more of a challenge to make his first All-Star team. He is part of MLB’s Final Vote, which allows the fans to add one player to the roster of the AL and NL squads. Rosario faces off against Andrew Benintendi, Jean Sugura, Andrelton Simmons, and Giancarlo Stanton.

    It’s going to be a tough road for the Twins outfielder as many of those names are better known. However, his fWAR ranks as the ninth best in the American League with Simmons being the only Final Vote candidate to rank higher.

    Rosario leads the Twins in most offensive categories as he seems to be having a coming-of-age season. For now, he needs the help of fans voting him in or an injury to a starting player.

    Did Major League Baseball get it right? Should Berrios be the team’s selection? Did Rosario get snubbed? What about Escobar and Rodney? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jul 08 2018 07:51 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  19. MIN 10, BAL 1: Twins Pick Up First Sweep of 2018

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Jake Odorizzi: 69 Game Score, 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 1 BB, 65.3% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 4-for-8 w/RISP, 4 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Odorizzi 360, Garver .158
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: None
    [attachment=11807:WinEx78.png]
    This game was actually scoreless through the first four and a half innings. Mitch Garver hit an epic two-run homer to give the Twins the lead in the bottom of the fifth. The Orioles, on the other hand, only got three runners as far as second base in the six innings Odorizzi pitched. Their only run came in the ninth, once the game was already well in hand.

    The Twins really broke through in what was an ugly sixth inning for Baltimore. Here’s how the start of that inning unfolded:

    -Brian Dozier double
    -Eduardo Escobar two-run home run
    -Logan Morrison shift-beating bunt single
    -Robbie Grossman single
    -Max Kepler single

    Then with the bases loaded, Garver hit a ground ball to shortstop. Manny Machado went home, but his throw pulled the catcher off the dish and everybody was safe. Jake Cave followed with an RBI single. The Twins got another run that inning without the ball leaving the infield, as Jorge Polanco hit a ground ball right at first baseman Chris Davis, but he hesitated to throw home and was only able to record the out at first base instead.

    Oh, and then Dozier's three-run homer. Bad opponent or not, it’s been great to see the Twins take advantage.

    Things don’t get any more difficult for the Twins, as they’ll go from playing the worst team in baseball to the second-worst team in baseball. The Royals are coming into town for a three-game series.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=11808:Bullpen78.png]
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 49-39
    MIN 39-48 (-9.5)
    DET 40-52 (-11)
    CHW 30-60 (-20)
    KC 25-63 (-24)

    Next Three Games
    Mon vs. KC, 7:10 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Danny Duffey
    Tue vs. KC, 7:10 pm CT: Aaron Slegers vs. Jason Hammel
    Wed vs. KC, 12:10 pm CT: Lance Lynn vs. TBD

    Last Three Games
    MIN 5, BAL 4: More Baltimore, Please
    MIN 6, BAL 2: Jake Cave Is the Hero We Deserve
    MIN 5, BAL 2: Slegers, Cave Lift Twins Out of Slump

    • Jul 08 2018 07:42 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  20. MIL 3, MIN 2: Pushing Against a Stone

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Jose Berrios: 44 Game Score, 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 2 BB, 61.9% strikes
    Bullpen: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB
    Lineup: 1-for-8 w/RISP, 4 LOB
    WPA of 0.1 or higher: Polanco .195
    WPA of -0.1 or lower: Kepler -.222, Garver -.113, Cave -.110
    [attachment=11787:WinEx74.png]
    The Twins have been an ugly combination of snake bitten and downright bad this season. It seems like even when things go well they can’t make any progress, like they’re trying to move a mountain.

    Jose Berrios had a quality start, holding the Brewers to three runs over seven innings, but Milwaukee got big hits and made big plays when they needed them. Exhibit A: This sick catch by Keon Broxton in the ninth inning …


    That ended up being a massive play because the very next hitter, Eduardo Escobar, hit a homer to bring the Twins within a run. Escobar had two hits and Jorge Polanco had a pair of hits, a walk and stole a base. Joe Mauer tied Kirby Puckett for the most doubles in team history.

    The Twins are now 2-11 over their last 13 games and 35-48 on the season. That’s a pace for 94 losses. Wednesday’s loss put the Twins 11.5 games back of Cleveland in the AL Central.

    It’s hard to find positives, but I guess if anything there should be no debate over where the Twins stand at the trade deadline. We saw last year how being in the middle ground can put a front office in a difficult position. It’s clear the Twins should be building/playing for the future.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=11788:Bullpen74.png]
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 47-37
    DET 38-50 (-11)
    MIN 35-48 (-11.5)
    CHW 30-55 (17.5)
    KC 25-60 (22.5)

    Next Three Games
    Thu vs. BAL, 7:10 pm CT: Aaron Slegers vs. Andrew Cashner
    Fri vs. BAL, 7:10 pm CT: Lance Lynn vs. Dylan Bundy
    Sat vs. BAL, 1:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Kevin Gausman

    Last Three Games
    MIL 2, MIN 0: Strikeouts Galore
    MIL 6, MIN 5: Oh, That Rodney Experience
    CHC 11, MIN 10: Epic Comeback Falls Short

    • Jul 04 2018 05:40 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  21. Week in Review: Cooked

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/25 through Sun, 7/1

    ***

    Record Last Week: 1-5 (Overall: 35-45)

    Run Differential Last Week: -18 (Overall: -34)

    Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (8.0 GB)


    HIGHLIGHTS

    This might have been the worst week of baseball the Twins have put forth all year (really saying something!) so extracting highlights isn't easy, but there were a few standouts worth mentioning amidst the wreckage.

    Firstly, it was great to see Joe Mauer finally flashing some pop. After a quiet series against the White Sox, he busted out at Wrigley Field, going 5-for-10 with two doubles, a home run and eight RBIs on Friday and Saturday. In those two games, Mauer drove in more runs than he had in his previous 39 combined, and collected half as many extra-base hits.

    That of course speaks to the lack of any power dimension in Mauer's game this year – he entered the Cubs series with an egregiously bad .322 slugging percentage. It's been disappointing to see after he slugged .417 with 36 doubles last season, both his highest marks since moving to first base. But over the weekend he at least showed that some hint of pop remains in his bat, which was very much in doubt.

    Making a potentially more important offensive statement was Ehire Adrianza, who's been producing at the plate for a while now. His week included a four-hit game at Guaranteed Rate Field, and saw him go 9-for-21 (.429) overall while striking out only once.

    Back in March, when the Jorge Polanco news came down, I wrote about Adrianza and his big opportunity to prove that last year's solid showing at the plate was no fluke. Having shaken off a slow start, he's basically doing that, as his .724 OPS is a notch above last year's (.707) with his 100+ OPS pegging him as a league-average hitter.

    That might not sound too special, but for a defensive specialist who can play shortstop regularly it's nice, and there is reason to believe Adrianza is still developing at the dish. The 28-year-old has launched four home runs in his past 26 games; previously, he'd hit five total in 224 major-league games.

    I'll admit to being at the end of my rope with Adrianza during his blunderous April and May, but I'm glad the Twins showed patience and stuck with him. He's making a very good case to return next year as Polanco's backup or possibly even a starter.

    Speaking of Polanco, he is set to return this week and looked very sharp during his ramp-up in the minors. After a quick stint in Fort Myers, the shortstop moved up to Rochester and went 6-for-13 in four games, so he appears locked in and ready to go. Twins fans could really use some good news, and a big second half for Polanco back in the fold would certainly qualify.

    One week ago I mentioned that "Willians Astudillo sure seems deserving of a shot," and on Friday he got it, called up to join the Twins ahead of the Cubs series. Astudillo singled in his first MLB at-bat on Saturday and picked up two more hits – including a two-run triple – in his first start on Sunday.

    A stout free swinger capable of getting the bat on almost any pitch, he plays third base and catcher (and center field, apparently). He was responsible for the coolest highlight of spring training. Now, at 26, with more than 2,300 minor-league plate appearances, he's finally getting his first chance in the big leagues. Astudillo will be a fun one to root for as the rest of this season plays out.

    LOWLIGHTS

    It's hard to choose. Last week the "Lowlights" section of this column covered a majority of the roster and this time the same is warranted.

    Pitchers were terrible, lit up for eight or more runs in four of the six games.

    The lineup struggled against lousy White Sox pitching, managing seven runs in 31 innings. They were able to get it going a little in the scorching heat at Wrigley but couldn't keep pace with the home squad's relentless attack.

    Even players among the select group who've reliably gotten it done for Minnesota this year fell into this contagious spiral. Eduardo Escobar went 3-for-23. Trevor Hildenberger allowed a hit or walk to eight of the nine batters he faced on Saturday, and was charged with five earned runs while recording one out; he'd entered the appearance with a 0.92 WHIP. Jose Berrios looked as bad as he has all season on Friday, inducing only four swinging strikes on 78 pitches.

    But at least those guys have all done their part for the bulk of the first half. The same cannot be said for Brian Dozier, who drove in two runs on the week with solo homers in his first and second-to-last plate appearances. In between, he produced two singles.

    The first half has been a slog for Dozier, who holds a .221/.311/.397 slash line through 79 games. His power has gone amiss and he's been dreadful in key spots, with a -1.67 WPA that ranks as the team's worst.

    What has happened to Dozier, who'd seemingly evolved into a steady veteran stalwart? It's clearly not a question of effort or motivation, given the extremely high personal stakes for him this season.

    The most likely explanation is that age is catching up as Dozier moves past his ostensible prime at age 31. But perhaps there's something more going on. I found this cryptic quote from the second baseman in a recent piece from Dan Hayes at The Athletic to be a curious one:

    “It has been a little different,” Dozier said. “There’s some other stuff that only a couple people know about that I haven’t really shared with anybody else and probably won’t until later on down the line. That’s been the most frustrating thing.

    “But it kind of is what it is. I’ve still got a job to do here and that’s help lead these guys back into the postseason. With that being said, you’re going to get 100 percent of me.”

    He backed up that last promise on Sunday when he nearly blew out his leg stretching for an infield single with the team down 9-1, going on to score three times as Minnesota mounted a late (but failed) comeback. On balance, however, even 100 percent of Dozier isn't nearly adequate right now, because it's a mere fraction of the player he's been for the past half-decade.

    The bright side, I guess, is this: It's already been more or less ordained that Dozier isn't in the plan beyond 2018. So while his ill-timed drop-off is a major bummer for him and his financial future, it doesn't really alter the club's big-picture outlook. More perturbing on that front is Byron Buxton's continued inability to find a workable approach at the plate.

    While he claims to now be pain-free, Buxton's numbers rehabbing haven't reflected it. He did have a two-hit game in Rochester on Sunday, but it raised his average to .214. In 11 games, he has two doubles and one homer to go along with 15 strikeouts and two walks.

    Yes, it is a small sample size. But keep this in mind: When Buxton was last in Triple-A, rehabbing in 2017, he went 5-for-12 (.417) with two homers in three games. In 2016 during his brief time there he hit .400 /.441/.545 in 13 games. Now at age 24 he's failing to gain traction, striking out in one-third of his plate appearances. His rehab window is approaching its end, and you've gotta think if all remains as is, the Twins will option Buxton and keep him in the minors.

    They've already taken that step with Miguel Sano, who remains on an every-other-game regimen in Fort Myers. He actually had a good week down there as he collected eight hits in five games, including a home run Sunday – his first since May 31st in Minnesota. But it's clear that the 25-year-old has a long way to go.

    TRENDING STORYLINE

    Now that we're in July, the trade deadline is visibly on the horizon. Their inability to get anything going over the past few weeks has placed Minnesota firmly in the "seller" category, and even though he's having a tough season, Dozier is the most likely candidate to go among core players.

    His sterling reputation around the league, as well as his known penchant for getting hot and powering up an offense, will boost his value beyond the lackluster stats. That's not to say the Twins will get a haul for him but someone is gonna make it worth their while, especially because – unlike fellow impending free agent Escobar – Dozier's viability as a qualifying offer candidate is no longer really part of the equation.

    By dealing their back-to-back-to-back team MVP, the Twins can signal the start of a new era by ushering in Nick Gordon alongside Polanco in the middle-infield, or they could keep giving Adrianza regular ABs. But it's a sad way for one of the best careers in recent franchise history to come to an end.

    It'll be interesting to keep an eye on Dozier's trade market as it starts to take shape in the coming weeks.

    DOWN ON THE FARM

    Let's brighten things up a little bit. The Twins have got some absolutely premium bats rising through the system.

    When Baseball America released its midseason top 100 prospects list last week, Alex Kirilloff moved up 50 spots from the preseason rankings. The 2016 first-round pick is garnering plenty of national attention with his spectacular return from a yearlong absence due to Tommy John surgery.

    After a quiet first half of the week with Fort Myers, Kirilloff got back to business with a trio of two-hit games against Lakeland. He's batting .341 for the Miracle.

    Kirilloff was the second-highest Twins prospect on BA's midseason list, behind Royce Lewis, who has now graduated to elite territory at No. 12 overall. Lewis enjoyed another stellar week in Cedar Rapids, tallying 10 hits, including four doubles and a homer, while drawing five walks and swiping three bases on three tries.

    Fort Myers awaits.

    Brusdar Graterol, who you can expect to find jockeying with Lewis and Kirilloff for top-three positioning in Twins Daily's midseason top 40 (now underway!), received his promotion from Low-A to High-A and made his debut for the Miracle on Sunday, though it didn't go well as he coughed up five runs on nine hits over three innings.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    It'll be a full week, bisected by the holiday on Wednesday. The four-game home set against Baltimore in the latter portion would look like a huge opportunity if the Twins hadn't already essentially buried themselves. That Orioles team is really, really bad.

    MONDAY, 7/2: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP Brent Suter
    TUESDAY, 7/3: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Junior Guerra
    WEDNESDAY, 7/4: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Chase Anderson
    THURSDAY, 7/5: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Andrew Cashner v. LHP Adalberto Mejia
    FRIDAY, 7/6: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. RHP Lance Lynn
    SATURDAY, 7/7: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Kevin Gausman v. RHP Kyle Gibson
    SUNDAY, 7/8: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Alex Cobb v. RHP Jake Odorizzi

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps

    • Jul 01 2018 07:55 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  22. Twins Daily Roundtable: Sell, Sell, Sell?

    John Bonnes
    Neither. They ARE neither. Because in order to be a buyer or a seller, there needs to be a marketplace. There isn’t.

    You’re anxious to turn the page on this season. I get it. Believe me, as someone who follows the team obsessively, runs a Twins web site and talks weekly on a Twins podcast, it’s been a frustrating three months. But declaring the season is over provides no practical value. It just makes us feel a little less personally invested in the year.

    Maybe, in three weeks, when the All-Star break is over, a marketplace will exist, and the Twins will need to choose. If their struggles continue, they’ll be sellers. But even then, don’t expect a cornucopia of prospects to be coming their way. They don’t have any of the premier veterans on the market, so they’re likely to get premier prospects in return.

    Until then, like it or not, this year is a competitive window for this franchise. I’d encourage you to personally invest another month in this team. I assure you that the management, the coaches and the players certainly are.

    Seth Stohs
    In my opinion, the Twins need to make all moves that they think will put them into contention by about July 20th. At that point, you evaluate where they are compared to Cleveland.

    If they had to make that decision today, and fortunately they don't, they would be sellers. The odds indicate that they will be sellers at the deadline at which point a lot of guys could be on the market.

    Nick Nelson
    At this rate, they sure look like sellers, although that could potentially change within the next few weeks. The trouble is that the Twins don't have much at this time in terms of appealing assets to move, so it's hard to envision any major haul coming back even if they're willing to unload anyone nonessential to the big picture. Brian Dozier's sluggish first half has torpedoed his trade value. Lance Lynn will have takers but won't net a ton. Fernando Rodney's been great, but non-elite relievers don't bring back top prospects (Matt Capps notwithstanding).

    Eduardo Escobar is perhaps the most intriguing candidate, as an All Star candidate on the last year of his deal, but Minnesota is probably best served holding onto him and extending a qualifying offer after the season.

    Cody Christie
    The AL Central might be the weakest division in baseball so it’s hard to call the Twins out of the race. That being said, Cleveland seems to have started to figure it out after a slow start. Minnesota hasn’t been able run off a long streak of winning baseball. Cleveland should easily win the division but they have flaws and this could make them vulnerable.

    If the front office is making the decision today, the club is sellers and the team has a lot of pieces that could be dealt. With many players on one-year deals, Minnesota could reset the roster and restock the farm system for the next decade.

    There were high hopes at the beginning of the season, so it’s depressing to think the team could be sellers. Flashback to last year, the Twins were in selling mode as the deadline approached. Then the team found a nice groove and ended up in the playoffs.

    Anything is possible but it seems like it’s time to sell.

    Ted Schwerzler
    I don't think it's fair to answer this question with so much time yet before the trade deadline. Realistically Falvey and Levine set the roster up for success this offseason, and it has underperformed as a whole. With the games remaining prior to the deadline, the Twins need to show some consistent life.

    The Indians have real warts, and I don't believe they're going to run away with anything. Given the amount of one year deals, the Twins are well positioned to act either way. They can let their play in the weeks ahead dictate how they should attack the deadline.

    Tom Froemming
    Right now, you'd have to say sellers. The depressing part is most of their obvious pieces to move are having down years.

    You can't expect guys like Brian Dozier, Lance Lynn or Zach Duke to fetch much of a return right now. The same can be said for Logan Morrison and Fernando Rodney, who both have a team option for 2019.

    Who does that leave?

    Taking emotion out of it, Eduardo Escobar could be a great sell high option, but in my heart I want the team to extend him with a 15-year deal. OK, that's an exaggeration, but from a fan's perspective I'd be really bummed if they sent him packing.

    With those being the options, I'm not expecting the front office to make a move one way or another until the week of the trade deadline.

    Jeremy Nygaard
    I can't imagine the Twins buying at the deadline. What would be the point?

    If they decide not to sell, they should stand pat... but not buy.

    They should sell. Anyone scheduled to be a free agent should be on the block. Brian Dozier is playing his way out of getting a qualifying offer, so prospect would be better than nothing. Lance Lynn, in my opinion, has to be traded, especially if he continues to work back to his old self. Team needs a lefty reliever? Zach Duke has to be available. I would pay - not personally, but as the Twins - the rest of Joe Mauer's salary to give him a chance to win a title this year (and in return for that money, ask for a decent prospect).

    And moving any of those guys only give opportunities to other prospects. Moving Dozier allows at-bats for Nick Gordon. Trading Lynn opens a rotation spot for either of Mejia or Gonsalves. Exit Duke, enter Moya. Or Jay. Mauer's at-bats could be absorbed by many players.

    I'd also look at moving Morrison, Rodney and potentially Santana. In addition to those three with options, the team has only three other players (Castro, Reed, Pineda) under contract for next year. Moving guys now would be more of a reload and less of a rebuild; the nucleus of the team would remain under control.

    Steve Lein
    The Cleveland Indians are finally starting to pull away in the division, a wild card is even further off, and the Twins haven’t sniffed a .500 record in over a month. Unless a drastic turnaround happens, like immediately, they should be sellers.

    Unfortunately, the reason they’re in this position now is a direct result of the performances from some of those whom they should sell. Lance Lynn has rebounded nicely and could fetch something decent for a rental but the other guys with only one year on their deals, like Brian Dozier and Logan Morrison, have fallen flat and Ervin Santana has yet to throw a pitch this season. Fernando Rodney might net enough where selling him makes sense too.

    If you’re hoping to get anything beyond a B-level prospect though, that’s going to mean selling someone like Eddie Rosario or Eduardo Escobar as part of something bigger. But they’re really the only position players who have earned their money this season and are the types I’d want to keep around.
    So, while I think they should sell all those rental type pieces to clear the roster space if anything, I’m not holding my breath on any stellar returns.

    If you missed any of the previous roundtable discussions, here are the links:
    Fixing the Offense
    Romero’s Rotation Spot
    Top Prospect Timelines
    Minnesota’s All-Star Selection
    Extension Candidates

    • Jun 27 2018 06:26 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  23. BOS 9, MIN 2: There Go Those Shiny Pitching Stats

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Kyle Gibson: 49 Game Score, 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 3 BB, 61.9% strikes
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 4 K, 1 BB
    Lineup: 0-for-2 w/RISP, 3 LOB
    Bottom three per WPA: Pressly -.143, Mauer -.085, Grossman -.072
    [attachment=11731:chart.png]
    This game didn’t end well, but you can’t be too sore about the Twins taking two out of three from Boston. Speaking of sore, the bigger concern at the moment is some ailing Twins. Just think, what’s the worst thing that could happen to this offense right now? Being Ed-less, right?

    Well, Eddie Rosario was scratched from this game due to shoulder soreness and Eduardo Escobar was forced to leave after he was hit by a pitch. The good news is it sounds like Paul Molitor expects Rosie to be available tomorrow and Escobar only suffered a bruised elbow and is considered day-to-day.

    Down their two hottest hitters, there was little the Twins could muster against Rick Porcello. He pitched seven one-hit innings. Altogether, the Twins got only four hits and scored both of their runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    It was too bad, because Gibby pitched well once again. He got into some trouble, giving up seven hits while walking three batters and hitting another, but limited the damage to two runs over six innings. He’s now given up two or fewer runs in 10 of his 15 starts on the season. He also accomplished that feat 10 times in 2017, but that was in 29 starts.

    Entering this game, the Twins hadn’t given up more than six runs all month and the pitching staff had a 3.17 ERA, good for sixth best in the league. The bullpen had been particularly strong in June, ranking fourth in all of baseball with a 2.60 ERA.

    Ryan Pressly was charged with three earned runs while recording only one out and Matt Belisle also gave up three runs in his inning of work. Matt Magill even gave up a run.

    Molitor has already demoted Addison Reed from setup duties, at least temporarily, so Pressly’s continued struggles are especially worrisome. He hit a snag earlier this month and gave up two earned runs in three consecutive appearances. But since that bump, Pressly had strung together three scoreless innings in a row. Just when you thought he might be out of the woods, another rough outing pops up.

    Pressly closed out May with a 2.22 ERA on the season, but so far this month he’s surrendered nine earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings. On the other hand, Magill hadn’t surrendered a run in more than nine innings. He gave up a run on three hits in the ninth inning.

    It was a disappointing end to what had been a great series for the Twins. Next up, Texas comes to town. The Rangers are off to a poor start, but carry a five-game winning streak into Target Field.

    AL Central Standings
    CLE 40-33
    DET 36-39 (-5)
    MIN 33-38 (-6)
    CHW (24-49 (-16)
    KC 22-52 (-18.5)

    Next Three Games
    Fri vs. TEX, 7:10 pm CT: Mike Minor vs. Fernando Romero
    Sat vs. TEX, 1:10 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs. Jake Odorizzi
    Sun vs. TEX, 2:10 pm CT: Bartolo Colon vs. Jose Berrios

    Last Three Games
    MIN 4, BOS 1: For Grossman and Kepler, The Price Was Right
    MIN 6, BOS 2: Bats Get to Boston Bullpen
    CLE 4, MIN 1: Lots of Traffic, Just One Run

    • Jun 21 2018 08:17 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  24. MIN 6, BOS 2: Bats Get to Boston Bullpen

    Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
    Starting Pitcher: 59 Game Score, 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 58.1% strikes
    Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB
    Lineup: 3-for-9 w/RISP, 3 LOB
    Top three per WPA: Escobar .491, Berrios .193, LaMarre .112
    [attachment=11723:WinEx619.png]
    The Red Sox are one of only three teams averaging more than five runs per game (along with the Yankees and Astros). Most of that feasting has been done against right-handed pitching. Not tonight.

    This wasn’t the best start of Berrios’ young career, but the way he continued to work out of trouble against a great offense was impressive. He walked the leadoff hitter in two separate innings. He gave up back-to-back singles in the fourth. It didn’t matter. The only run Boston got off Jose was a solo homer by Rafael Devers in the sixth inning.

    Escobar is simply unbelievable. Right after the Red Sox took that 1-0 lead, Escobar hit a two-run double (of course) to put the Twins on top. That was Eduardo’s 31st double. Boston managed to tie the game again in the eighth, but Esky was there to set things straight once again.

    Ryan LaMarre drew a leadoff walk and Joe Mauer was hit by a pitch. After Eddie Rosario flew out, Escobar hit a single* to center. An error allowed both LaMarre and Mauer to score and Eduardo hustled all the way around to third base. Robbie Grossman followed with an RBI triple to put this game away.

    *The official scorer’s ruling has been changed to a double. That seems a little generous to me, but hey it gives Double E 32 two-baggers on the year. That’s a pretty solid season total! While they're at it, maybe the official scorers should also credit Escobar with the victory :)

    The biggest two outs of this game may have been the two Trevor Hildenberger was able to record. Berrios was lifted after he hit a batter with one out in the seventh. Hildy came in and walked the first batter he faced, then he got Xander Bogaerts to ground out. The Twins were holding a one-run lead at that point, and with two down and runners at second and third the call was to let Hildenberger pitch to J.D. Martinez. He struck him out.

    Zach Duke gave up the game-tying run in the eighth, but he’ll end up being credited with the win thanks to the big comeback. Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

    Postgame With Molitor


    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=11722:Bullpen619.png]
    AL Central Standings
    CLE 39-33
    DET 36-28 (-4)
    MIN 32-37 (-5.5)
    CHW (24-48 (-15)
    KC 22-51 (-17.5)

    Next Three Games
    Wed at BOS, 7:10 pm CT - Lance Lynn vs. David Price
    Thu at BOS, 12:10 pm CT - Kyle Gibson vs. Rick Porcello
    Fri vs. TEX, 7:10 pm CT - TBD

    Last Three Games
    CLE 4, MIN 1: Lots of Traffic, Just One Run
    MIN 9, CLE 3: That’s Our Eddie
    MIN 6, CLE 3: Anything is Possible

    On a Personal Note
    I’ve done a series of tests on Twitter and have confirmed that I am officially a jinx. I’m not certain what I may have done to upset the Baseball Gods, but it’s crystal clear they do not want me to enjoy my favorite team playing well.

    I had some other things keep me from tuning into this game for the first few innings. Then I just decided I wasn’t going to turn this one on until Chris Sale was out of the ballgame because I wasn’t going to like what I saw.

    The Twins took the lead shortly thereafter.

    I finally put the game on in the top of the eighth. The Red Sox tied it up. After the bottom half of the inning got off to a great start, I decided to perform a little experiment.

    The next time I turned the game on, the Twins were up 6-2. The good news is Andrew is going to be handling the game recap tomorrow, so put all your money on the Twins :)

    • Jun 20 2018 02:54 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  25. Week in Review: DEFCON 1

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/11 through Sun, 6/17

    ***

    Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 31-37)

    Run Differential Last Week: +3 (Overall: -8)

    Standing: 3rd Place in AL Central (5.0 GB)


    HIGHLIGHTS

    Heading into the series opener against Minnesota on Friday, Corey Kluber was hot as could be, with a 5-0 record and 1.09 ERA in his past six starts.

    The first man to step into the box against him was Mauer, thankfully back after losing a month to a scary recurrence of concussion symptoms.

    Second was Eddie Rosario, who jumped on the first pitch he saw and launched it over the fence. It proved to be the tone-setter in a big game for the offense, which scored more runs against Kluber (4) than any other opponent has this year, while also becoming the first to send Klubot to the showers before reaching the sixth inning.

    Rosario followed up on Saturday with a four-hit game, which included his 16th home run. He finished the week as the 12th-best hitter in the majors by OPS.

    One spot behind him was Eduardo "Double or Nothing" Escobar, who tallied three two-baggers on Sunday but failed to score a single time thanks to the Nos. 4 and 5 hitters going 0-for-7. Escobar has collected an incredible 30 doubles through the team's first 68 games, putting him in rare territory:



    He went 10-for-23 (.435) last week while driving in six runs in six games. Escobar's inability to cross the plate on Sunday epitomizes a flabbergasting trend: he leads the majors in extra-base hits, but ranks 68th – SIXTY-EIGHTH – in runs scored. The guy they call "Mighty Mouse" is doing everything he can to power this offense, and being let down tremendously by his teammates. But hey, let's stick to the highlights for now.

    Kyle Gibson provided his own. On a rare night where he didn't have much on his pitches, Gibby still motored through seven innings in Cleveland, allowing just one run on three hits in a victorious effort. He issued four walks, induced only seven swinging strikes, and tied a season-low with three strikeouts, but Gibson still came through. He has allowed more than three runs only once in his past nine starts, despite completing five or more innings in all of them.

    It might sound like hyperbole, but Gibson has legitimately been one of the AL's best pitchers, ranking among the top 20 starters in WAR while consistently giving his team a very good chance. (Of course, he's earned only two "wins," speaking to the offense's lackluster contributions, but again, we're covering highlights here.)

    Others in that category last week included Trevor Hildenberger, who delivered two scoreless outings and has quietly been lights-out in his past 20 appearances (1.14 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .188 OBA). Lance Lynn logged his fifth straight quality start, although it ended in ugly fashion.

    And we've gotta give some props to Matt Magill, the rarely-used last man in the bullpen who continues to step up when called upon. After Fernando Romero's short start on Saturday, Magill tossed three hitless innings to help seal a W that was in question before he entered.

    Magill has pitched only three times in the past three weeks, throwing three or more innings in each appearance and allowing zero runs on one hit. As a low-leverage long man, he ranks first among Twins relievers – and third among all pitchers, after Gibson and Jose Berrios – in Win Probability Added.

    LOWLIGHTS

    That Magill leads the bullpen in WPA, and Escobar has been left standing on base approximately one billion times, both speak to the lack of execution we have seen from this team, time and time again.

    The trend carried on this week. Minnesota notched a big victory to open the series in Detroit and then laid down for two lifeless losses. In Cleveland, offensive breakthroughs against Kluber and Carlos Carrasco were followed by a puzzling dud against rookie Shane Bieber, making his second big-league start.

    The Twin just can't overcome a complete lack of output from so many contributors. Max Kepler's two-run double off the wall Saturday was nice to see, but it's the only extra-base hit he's mustered in his last 18 games dating back to late May. Logan Morrison's two-hit effort on the same night was helpful, but after turning in another 0-fer on Sunday he's batting .191 and slugging .344 for the season (still hitting cleanup daily, though).

    The club's biggest problem child was sent packing after Thursday's loss in Detroit.

    Confounded by his total collapse at the plate, the Twins have resorted to extreme measures with Sano, sending the 2017 All-Star down to Single A in what's being framed as essentially a second spring training.

    It is telling the front office found Sano's deficiencies so severe that a typical Triple-A demotion wasn't viewed as the solution. They feel he needs a complete rebuild, both on the field and off, so they've sent him to their developmental HQ in Ft. Myers.

    Who could argue with the decision?

    Since a strong showing in Minnesota's first three series of the season, Sano has been a black hole in the lineup, slashing .182/.237/.331 with 52 strikeouts and nine walks in 131 PA. Worse than the results were the process – ugly AB after ugly AB, marked by constant chases and check swings.

    Back in his rookie season, when he took the league by storm with a .916 OPS in 80 games, the most impressive aspect of Sano's performance was his ability to work counts and capitalize. He ran the count full in 28% of his 335 plate appearances, and hit .240/.581/.700 with seven of his 18 homers once he got there, reflecting a tremendously advanced approach.

    This year, Sano has reached a full count in only 30 of 163 PA (18%) and has collected two singles. That just about says it all.

    He took the demotion in stride, at least publicly, and now Sano will begin the (potentially lengthy) process of trying to find himself, as the Twins try to find themselves without him.

    TRENDING STORYLINE

    Buxton had a .156 average and .200 slugging percentage in 94 plate appearances before landing back on the disabled list at the end of May. The root of his offensive issues was apparent enough: a terrible approach full of guesses and whiffs.

    Fellow young outfielder Kepler, in his last 94 plate appearances, is batting .171 and slugging .268. That includes a .137 average and .157 SLG in June. Unlike Buxton, he doesn't have the unparallelled CF defense to offset his dearth at the dish.

    Nor does he have the broken toe, or broken plate approach, to help explain it.

    The 25-year-old is taking good at-bats. His 41/32 strikeout-to-walk ratio speaks to a discerning eye; Kepler's BB-rate is third-highest among active Twins and his K-rate is second-lowest. He doesn't get fooled easily. But when he puts the ball in play he's doing no damage. This club just can't afford to be getting nothing from Max with so many others slumping or sidelined.

    What to do? At this point there aren't a ton of appealing options.

    Send him to the minors, along with so many other members of the team's supposed core? Hardly a likable thought.

    Bump him down in the lineup? He already finds himself batting seventh now, even against righties.

    I welcome your opinions in the comments. Seems to me that Kepler's swing needs some serious work, given that it's not producing any kind of thunder upon contact. Is James Rowson ready to guide him toward the right path? And is Kepler willing to listen, after showing reluctance to alter his swing during spring training?

    DOWN ON THE FARM

    While Minnesota's bats have lagged this year, it's been encouraging to see so many promising developments with hitters in the minors. Let's take a quick run through some of the organization's top prospects:

    On Thursday, Alex Kirilloff put forth his best effort yet in a season full of strong ones, collecting four hits including a pair of home runs in his second 4-RBI game of June. After clubbing two more doubles on Sunday, he's now slashing .333/.391/.607 for Cedar Rapids, with 38 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs in 65 games, to put himself right back on the national radar following a lengthy absence. I'd expect to see him move up to Ft. Myers within the next month.

    Royce Lewis will likely be joining him. The team's No. 1 prospect enjoyed a monster week, going 10-for-24 with four doubles and a home run for the Kernels. We did learn over the weekend that Lewis has been dealing with patellar tendinitis in his knee for the past month, which only makes his resounding success all the more impressive. The rapid development of the teen phenom's power tool this summer has been extremely exciting.

    Speaking of power, Travis Blankenhorn won the Florida State League Home Run Derby on Friday by smashing 12 bombs in the final round.



    It was a good reminder of the 2015 third-round pick's innate power, which hasn't always shown up on the stat sheet; he hasn't hit a homer for the Miracle since May 11th. However, Blankenhorn is batting .333 with a .388 OBP in June.

    With first-round draft pick Trevor Larnach – considered one of the best college bats in the country – expected to sign soon, the organization's long-term offensive outlook is bright.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    After treading water again during their 3-3 road trip, the Twins return home and face a tall task with the 49-24 Red Sox coming to town. Last-place Texas theoretically presents an easier assignment over the weekend.

    The Indians are looking ahead to home series against the White Sox and Tigers, so if things go as one would expect this week, the Twins may find themselves in dire straits come next Sunday. They are already five games out, with the season's halfway mark approaching, after failing to seize a prime opportunity for the sweep in Cleveland.

    TUESDAY, 6/19: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Chris Sale v. RHP Jose Berrios
    WEDNESDAY, 6/20: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP David Price v. RHP Lance Lynn
    THURSDAY, 6/21: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Rick Porcello v. RHP Kyle Gibson
    FRIDAY, 6/22: RANGERS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Fernando Romero
    SATURDAY, 6/23: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Yovani Gallardo v. RHP Jake Odorizzi
    SUNDAY, 6/24: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Bartolo Colon v. RHP Jose Berrios

    Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps

    • Jun 18 2018 04:40 AM
    • by Nick Nelson