Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.

Search Results

There were 56 results tagged with nick burdi

Sort by                Order  
  1. Missing Pieces? Lost Minor League Players

    Luke Bard, Right-Handed Pitcher
    Bard never pitched a game above Triple-A in the Twins system and he spent the majority of his age-26 season in the Lookouts bullpen. He was almost two years older than the competition in the Southern League and he didn’t really blow away the competition. For the year, he posted a 2.76 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. His 99 strikeouts in 65.1 innings were impressive and that’s probably why the Los Angeles Angles were willing to take a chance on him in the Rule 5 Draft. Minnesota’s bullpen looks strong this year and Bard hasn’t found enough success in the upper-levels of the minor leagues.

    Nick Burdi, Right-Handed Pitcher
    Burdi has been on quite the journey over the last calendar year. He underwent Tommy John surgery last May. He’s on track to be throwing off the mound near the conclusion of spring training. Burdi was left unprotected during the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies selected him and then he was traded to the Pirates. Burdi was dominant last season before his elbow injury. In 17 innings at Double-A, he posted a 0.53 ERA with a 0.77 WHIP and a 20 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio. Burdi will start the season on the 60-day DL and he will get time to make some rehab appearances before he needs to appear in a Pirates game.

    JT Chargois, Right-Handed Pitcher
    Chargois was a second-round pick back in 2012 and he quickly established himself as one of the best relief pitchers in the Twins system. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy as he has pitched just over 100 innings in his professional career. Essentially, he has missed almost three of the last five seasons. In what some considered a strange move, Minnesota placed him on waivers last week only to see him claimed by the Dodgers, the team with the final waiver pick based on last season’s records. He has one option remaining and he could be a dangerous relief option if he is healthy. The Dodgers were willing to take that chance.

    Daniel Palka, Outfielder
    One year after being named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, Palka is no longer part of the organization. Palka, a 26-year old slugger, has a chance to break camp with the White Sox in a designated hitter and outfield role. Last season, he hit .274/.329/.431 with 27 extra-base hits in 84 Triple-A games. This was a far cry from the .848 OPS he compiled between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. Palka’s lack of a defensive position and his age all factored into him ending up with a new organization.

    Randy Rosario, Left-Handed Pitcher
    Rosario pitched over 100 minor league games in the Twins system and posted a 3.37 ERA. The 2017 season marked his first as a full-time reliever. Last year, he made 34 appearances between High-A and Double-A and posted a 3.84 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Those numbers might not exactly jump off the page but he was able to hold left-handed batters to a .169 average during his Double-A appearances. As the old adage goes, Rosario is “left-handed and he has a pulse” so the Cubs might find a spot for him out of the bullpen this year.

    Nik Turley, Left-Handed Pitcher
    Turley only made 10 appearances in a Twins uniform as he allowed 22 earned runs in 17.2 innings. In the minors, he fared much better with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in almost 110 innings. The Pirates selected Turley off of waivers in November but they will have to wait a while for him to pitch in a game for their organization. At the end of January, Turley was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Ipamorelin.

    Engelb Vielma, Shortstop
    The last half of a year has been a crazy ride for Mr. Vielma. Over the last six months, he is now with his fifth different organization. He enters Orioles camp with a chance to compete for a utility spot at the big league level. In 87 Triple-A games last season, he hit .206 with 17 RBI but his defense has always been his calling card. The 23-year old was the best defensive infielder in the Twins system when they let him go. Minnesota currently has plenty of depth at the shortstop position with other players ranking higher than Vielma.

    Which player or players will the Twins miss the most in the coming season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Feb 26 2018 05:57 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. Arms Race: Will the Twins Front Office Regret Losing High-Impact Arms?

    The Falvey and Levine regime, let’s call them The Falvgime, deserves credit for the rapidity of their organizational overhaul. After a year of assessment and modest additions in 2017, they have added exciting, progressive coaching voices such as James Rowson and Garvin Alston. They have beefed up their research and analytics department both quantitatively and qualitatively, adding reputable names such as Josh Kalk, John Manuel and Daniel Adler. (If you haven’t listened to Adler’s recent appearance on Ben Lindbergh’s Effectively Wild podcast, you’re doing yourself an injustice).

    It’s easy to be swept up into The Falvgime hype train, but what are the mistakes they have made along the way so far? Are there any opportunities missed which may end up as organizational regrets?

    Let’s rewind a few years to June 4th 2012. The 2012 amateur player draft will forever be remembered by Twins fans as the draft that landed them Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios. If both Buxton and Berrios continue their respective careers at their current trajectories, this draft would be remembered as monumentally successful.

    The 2012 Draft also marked a trend of the Twins drafting an increasing number of high velocity arms, adding Luke Bard with the 42nd pick, Mason Melotakis with the 63rd pick, and J.T. Chargois with the 72nd pick. More on those three shortly. The 2012 draft also netted the Twins Tyler Duffey at 160th overall, and Taylor Rogers at 340th overall, both of whom have become significant role players in the Twins’ bullpen.

    Of the three 2012 draft arms, only Melotakis remains. The 27-year-old Bard was claimed by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft, after amassing a 2.76 ERA over 65 innings between Chattanooga and Rochester in 2017. Bard managed a 13.6 SO/9 in those innings. Chargois was claimed by the 104-win LA Dodgers last week after being placed on waivers to make extra space available on the Twins 40-man roster. Chargois, also 27, has been plagued by injuries, but is intriguing as the Twins former top relief prospect and one of only five Twins pitchers to throw a pitch 99mph or higher since 2008.

    Reaction to Chargois being claimed has been mixed, with most cautioning against a snap reaction until the Twins fill the final spot on their 40-man roster. Thad Levine indicated some regret in the Twins’ loss, telling Twin Cities’ media "we were 29/30ths of the way there." The Dodgers are certainly an interesting team to claim Chargois, having put together the fourth best bullpen ERA in 2017, the third best strikeout total, and the second best batting average against in MLB.

    Melotakis successfully passed through waivers during the 2017, much to the ire of Twins fans, who struggled to understand the rationale of placing a former top (left-handed) relief pitching product who was having an excellent season at risk. All three of the Bard, Melo, and Chargois triumvirate had struggled throughout their minor league careers with injuries, and that may well be a decisive factor in the front office’s decision-making process. It does, however, seem that the organization has let significant arm talent slip from its grasp in Bard and Chargois, right when they appeared ready to make a more significant major league contribution.

    Rewind again to 2014. Nick Gordon was selected fifth overall by the Twins. Minnesota proceeded to select an entire bullpen after him, including several more high velocity arms such as Nick Burdi (second round), Jake Reed (fifth round) and John Curtiss (sixth round). It’s easy to pretend as if the old Twins regime did nothing about the teams’ bullpen struggles year after year, but it was a problem which was recognized and drafted toward several years before Derrick Falvey and Thad Levine took over the organization.

    Burdi fits the familiar pattern of the Twins 2012 drafted relief pitchers. He has a massive arm with the ability to hit triple digits. In 104 MiLB innings, he has managed 142 K's. Burdi seemed to be putting it all together at AA in 2017, giving up just one earned run in 17 IP until Tommy John surgery derailed his season. Burdi was selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft before being traded to the Pirates.

    John Curtiss and Jake Reed are the two remaining arms from the 2014 draft who have made the steadiest progress towards the major league team, Curtiss making, and struggling in, his MLB debut last year. Curtiss dominated minor league competition to the tune of 68 K's in 48.1 IP and a miserly .135 avg. Reed spent 2017 split between Chattanooga and Rochester, turning it up at AAA and giving up a 2.05 ERA whilst striking out 25 in 30 innings. Both are strong contenders to contribute at the major league level this year.

    Looking through the Twins current top 30 prospects as a whole (MLB Pipeline list), there’s still some depth at reliever. The names featured are Tyler Jay (8th), John Curtiss (20th), and Jake Reed (26th). The recently departed Chargois was listed at 21. While this may be in no way indicative of how much help the Twins bullpen may receive from the minor leagues in 2018, it raises an interesting question. Did "The Falvgime" completely press the reset button on Twins relief pitching prospects when they took over the organization? While this seems counter-intuitive the front office has certainly been more aggressive at exposing relief pitching options via waivers and the Rule 5 draft than we might have expected.

    The common denominator surrounding high-end relief pitching prospects the Twins have lost is a history of significant injuries. It seems likely that on a team with several necessary areas of improvement (between the rotation and the bullpen) Falvey and Levine have been careful not to pin their hopes to prospects who have struggled to stay healthy, perhaps recognizing that they are entering a window of contention with the Tigers and Royals entering rebuilds and the White Sox in the midst of one. They have taken some gambles with exposing these players, some seemingly paying off, others have not.

    What do y’all think? Has "The Falvgime" made mistakes in how they have handled Twins’ relief pitching prospects? Do you think they should have prioritized keeping Bard and Burdi? Will they regret losing Chargois?

    • Feb 24 2018 11:10 PM
    • by Jamie Cameron
  3. Twins Select RHP Tyler Kinley In Rule 5 Draft (Lose Burdi to Phillies, Bard to Angels)

    8:15 Update: A computer glitch delayed the inevitable, but with the 3rd overall pick in the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies selected Nick Burdi from the Twins. It was expected. Reports from Orlando indicate that he will be traded.

    8:18 Update: Angels selected Luke Bard.

    8:19 Update: The Twins selected right-handed pitcher Tyler Kinley from the Miami Marlins (more to come after draft).

    Tyler Kinley was the 16th round pick of the Miami Marlins in the 2013 draft out of Barry Universityl in Miami Shores, Florida. He spent the 2017 between High-A Jupiter and AA Jacksonville. Combined, he threw 53.1 innings in 50 outings. He walked 22 and struck out 72. He had a 1.98 ERA in High-A, and a 5.19 ERA in AA. He will turn 27 in January.

    The Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft is complete. The Twins add Tyler Kinley and lose Nick Burdi and Luke Bard. The Minor League portion of the draft is starting.

    8:51 Update: The Phillies traded Nick Burdi to the Pirates for international slot money.

    8:37 Update: The Twins select RH Yancarlos Baez from the Yankees roster in the AAA Rule 5. Baez was signed by the Yankees as a shortstop, but in 2017, he transitioned to pitching in the GCL. Interesting gamble.

    8:43 Update: The Twins selected Sandy Lugo, a 22-year-old RHP from the Dominican, and from the Reds organization. In 2017, he split the year before Low-A Dayton (2 games) and High-A Daytona (4-6, 5.32 ERA in 42 relief games). In 64 innings, he had 40 walks but he struck out 82.

    8:51 Update: Nick Burdi was traded to the Pirates in exchange for international bonus pool money.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Below we're going to start with the basics. Who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft? Who could the Twins lose in the Rule 5 draft, and who could they select if they do make a pick? Also, check back often during the 8:00 hour as I'll be updating this article if (or when) they lose a player or add a pick.


    The Basics

    Let's start with who is eligible.

    • Players who were 18-years-old when they signed as an international free agent or draft pick signed in 2013. This group includes players such as Kohl Stewart and Lewin Diaz.
    • College players selected in the 2014 Draft. This category includes the likes of Nick Burdi and Jake Reed.
    • Players who are not yet minor league free agents and have been eligible in previous seasons. Luke Bard and Ryan Eades are two from this group.
    For much more on the players who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft, with the exception of the three players added to the 40-man roster, click here.

    To make an MLB selection, a team must pay $100,000. That player needs to be on the drafting team’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the original team for $50,000. The other option is that the teams can work out a trade. The Twins have examples of what can happen with their five most recent picks.
    • Scott Diamond – Twins selected him from the Braves. He did not make the opening day roster, but the Twins and Braves were able to work out a trade. Diamond was taken off of the 40-man roster and the Twins sent RHP Billy Bullock to Atlanta.
    • Terry Doyle – The Twins selected Doyle from the White Sox organization. He was returned to Chicago late in spring training.
    • Ryan Pressly – The Twins drafted Pressly from the Red Sox organization. He remained on the Twins roster the entire 2013 season. He was able to be sent back to AAA during the 2014 season and pitched well enough to be called up during the season’s second half.
    • JR Graham - The Twins selected Graham from the Atlanta organization. He spent an entire season on the Twins roster in 2015 only to be DFAd less than two months into the 2016 season.
    • Justin Haley - The Twins selected Miguel Diaz from the Brewers organization with the top pick in the 2016 Rule 5. They traded down and got starter Justin Haley. He made the roster and made a few appearances. He spent a couple of stints on the DL before the Twins sent him back to the Red Sox.
    Who The Twins Could Lose
    • Throughout the week, we have heard from several sources that Nick Burdi is very likely be be selected. The flame-thrower had Tommy John surgery in June and will likely miss much of the 2018 season. If he does, the requirement of staying on a team's active roster will carry into the 2019 season.
    • Jake Reed and Luke Bard are two other relievers that I feel have a chance at least to be selected. They are both hard-throwing relievers who finished 2017 in AAA. They both get a lot of movement. They could be stashed on an MLB roster, but they are also guys who could contribute in 2018.
    • Lewin Diaz is less likely to be selected due to his proximity and his lack of position flexibility.
    • Ryan Eades had a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League and did have a couple of appearances in AAA late in the season.
    • Kohl Stewart was the Twins top pick in 2014 out of high school in Houston. He's put up strong ERAs (until 2017), but he's never put up the strikeout numbers that the front office might hope for.
    Who The Twins Could Pick

    I don't know if the Twins will make a pick. My general theory is that a team should almost always take a Rule 5 pick and see how it goes. The Twins have three open spots on the roster, so they could take three players. They won't, but they could take one. Here are two good sources for lists of who might be available.
    The Twins have the 20th pick in the Rule 5 draft (as they will next June in the Rule 4 draft). However, several teams ahead of them have full 40-man rosters so they won't be able to make a pick. Some teams may pass.


    Minor League Rule 5 Draft

    Shortly after the Major League Rule 5 draft, the Minor League (AAA) portion will start. We'll also update you on any players the Twins gain or lose in that draft.

    Feel free to discuss the Rule 5 draft before, during and after...

    • Dec 14 2017 09:00 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  4. Part 2: Seth's Updated Top 50 Prospects (31-40)

    Let’s get started by reviewing prospects from 40 down to 31, starting with a left-hander selected out of Clemson in 2017.

    #40 LHP Charlie Barnes

    The Twins made Barnes their fourth-round pick in 2017 after three years at Clemson. Touted as one of the best changeup pitchers in the draft, Barnes made six appearances for the Elizabethton Twins and then was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he made another six starts. After working 101 innings in college, he worked 48.1 innings in pro ball. He walked 18 and struck out 46 batters in his debut. Barnes turned 22 following the minor league season.

    #39 Ricky De La Torre

    When the Twins used their sixth-round pick in 2017 on the shortstop, he became the highest-drafted player from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy since Carlos Correa was the #1 overall pick in 2012. De La Torre was projected to go earlier in the draft, so the Twins were happy to swoop up the athletic, 6-2 shortstop. The 18-year-old hit .268/.341/.359 (.701) in 42 games during his pro debut. He played a bit of second base when Royce Lewis was in the GCL, but upon Lewis’s promotion, De La Torre played mostly shortstop. He should advance to E-Town in 2018.

    #38 LHP Tyler Watson

    The Twins acquired Watson from the Nationals at the trade deadline for Brandon Kintzler. The 20-year-old had been Washington’s 34th-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Arizona. Most believed he would go to college. He had posted a 4.35 ERA at Hagerstown (Low A) in 98 innings. In 120.1 combined innings, he walked 32, struck out 116. At 6-6, there is a lot of projection. He’s throwing a little over 90 now with good, but still developing, secondary stuff.

    #37 LHP Lachlan Wells

    As a 19-year-old, Lachlan Wells spent the second half of the 2016 season in Cedar Rapids. He went 6-4 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts. In 71.1 innings, he walked 16 and struck out 63. In 2017, he moved up to Ft. Myers where he went 4-10 with a 3.98 ERA. His peripheral numbers were all pretty similar to his numbers a year earlier. He did miss nearly two months with an elbow flexor muscle strain. He did return to the Miracle late in the season. He won’t turn 21 until late February.


    Posted Image

    #36 RHP Jake Reed

    Like Nick Burdi, Reed was a 2014 draft pick that we figured we would see before now. He dominated pro ball his first season. Since then, he has had some control issues and some injury issues that have cost him time. He was well on his way in 2017 until an oblique injury on the final day of spring training cost him the season’s first two months. He remains a legit relief pitching prospect. He has a fastball with a lot of movement at 97. He also has a darting slider.


    Posted Image


    #35 RHP Landon Leach

    Leach was a prospect who had a lot of helium as the draft approached. He had been a catcher in the Canadian youth leagues until the last couple of years when he got a shot on the mound and reached into the mid-90s with a fastball. He agreed to the terms set out by the Twins and they took him in the second round of this year’s draft. It took several weeks for Leach to get his work visa and then he headed down to Ft. Myers. He turned 18 in July and pitched in 13.1 innings over five appearances before the end of the season.

    #34 RHP Aaron Slegers

    Slegers was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2013 out of Indiana where he was the reigning Big 10 Pitcher of the Year. He has moved up one level each season. He received an invitation to big league spring training in 2017, and had a really nice season with the Red Wings. He went 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA. In mid-August, he made a spot start against Cleveland and responded b y giving up just two runs in 6.1 innings. He made four total appearances for the Twins. He is 6-10. He doesn’t throw real hard, sitting mostly in the low-90s but occasionally touching 94. He’s got the secondary pitches and know-how to pitch. He can be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.

    Posted Image


    #33 LHP Gabriel Moya

    Moya came to the Twins in late July from Arizona in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy. At the time of the trade Moya had a 0.82 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP for Jackson (also in the AA Southern League). After the trade, he helped Chattanooga to a share of the Southern League championship. With the Lookouts, he had a 0.61 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP in 14.1 innings. When the Lookouts finished their playoff run, Moya was summoned to the big leagues. He posted a 4.26 ERA in seven games for the Twins. The left-hander has a herky-jerky, deceptive motion and delivery making his 90 mph fastball appear much faster. He has a good slider and a changeup and has a chance to be a good lefty-reliever for years. Recently, he was named MiLB.com’s minor league relief pitcher of the year.

    #32 RHP Tyler Wells

    Another tall starter, Wells spent most of his 2017 season in Cedar Rapids. Drafted in the 15th round in 2016 out of Cal State - San Bernadino, Wells has a good fastball. His best pitches might be his breaking balls. He has a really good 12-6 curveball, but he also has shown a really sharp slider. He was limited to 14 starts in 2017 due to a couple of stints on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. He went 5-3 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. In 75.1 innings, he walked 22 and struck out 92 (11.0 K/9).

    Posted Image


    #31 RHP Nick Burdi

    Like Reed, the assumption was that Burdi would already be on the 40-man roster, an established, dominant, late-inning reliever for the big league club.. Instead, he is now a question mark to be added to the 40-man roster in November after having Tommy John surgery early in the 2017 season. But this almost still feels too low. Yes, he’ll probably miss a majority of the 2018 season, but when he comes back from surgery, he’ll still be a reliever with upper-90s fastball and an upper-80s slider. And, he’ll only be 25 throughout the 2018 season.

    Posted Image


    So there you have it, my choices for Twins prospects 31-40. What do you think of these choices or these rankings? Feel free to ask questions or leave your comments below.

    • Nov 07 2017 05:45 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  5. Part 3: Seth's Midseason Top 40 Prospects (16-20)

    Today’s group of prospects also illustrates why prospect rankings are so difficult. There is such a large range of talent, age, and potential. Some players are very young and have a lot of development to do. Others have pitched at the highest level. With that, I present Part 3 of my midseason Top 40 Prospect Rankings, prospects 16-20.


    20. Huascar Ynoa, RHP, 19
    Ynoa turned 19 years old on Memorial Day. He signed with the Twins in July of 2014 out of the Dominican Republic. His brother Michael is a reliever for the Chicago White Sox. After spending 2015 in the Dominican Summer League, he came to the States in 2016. He was the Twins Daily short-season minor league pitcher of the year. For the GCL Twins, he went 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts and 51 innings. He walked 12 and struck out 51. Ynoa throws hard, sitting 91-93 and touching 95. He’s got the makings of really good secondary pitches. He’ll likely pitch at Elizabethton this season.




    19. Nick Burdi, RH RP, 24
    After a long 2016 season in which he missed most of the season with a bone bruise in his elbow, things were looking good for Nick Burdi in 2017… at least until last week. Burdi had pitched 17 innings in 14 outings for Chattanooga. He had four walks and 20 strikeouts. He had given up just one run, on a solo homer. His ERA was 0.53 ,and his WHIP was 0.77. There was talk of him being ready for a promotion to Rochester, if not even directly to the Twins. He was hitting 100 with regularly. And then news came late last week that he has a torn UCL and will need Tommy John surgery which will put him out for the rest of the season. The Twins second-round pick in 2014 out of Louisville.


    18. JT Chargois, RH RP, 25
    The Twins second-round pick in 2012 out of Rice University, Chargois missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons with an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2015 and stayed healthy. Last year, he dominated the minor leagues and got a chance to pitch for the Twins. Early results were not good but he was terrific in September. His velocity (normally 95-98 on the fastball) was a little down this spring and he struggled, so he went down to Rochester. Unfortunately, he has pitched in just two games this year due to elbow concerns. Frankly, we haven’t heard anything on him in quite some time. But as we’ve seen, when he’s healthy, his fastball-slurvy thing-change up can be a late-inning threat for the Twins.


    17. Kohl Stewart, RHP, 22
    It’s been a difficult start to the 2017 season for Stewart, the Twins first-round pick in the 2013 draft. While he’s never been a big strikeout pitcher, he’s always done a good job of not giving up too many hits and not walking batters. He’s maintained low ERAs. However, he went 0-4 with a 5.62 ERA in six starts to begin the season. In just 24 innings, he walked 22 and struck out 14. He was placed on the disabled list with a ‘knee’ injury. Still just 22, there is no reason to give up on Stewart. He has great talent. He throws into the mid-90s. He’s got a good slider. He can have a good changeup. Let’s hope that he gets healthy and starts throwing strikes again, because if he’s got those things, he can still be a solid starter.


    16. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, 18
    When I posted a previous Top 40, I had Graterol ranked in the low-20s. I felt that might have been too low, but most readers told me I had him too high. I’m sticking to my thinking and have moved him up. While he hasn’t pitched in nearly two years, and that was just 11 innings over four starts in the DSL (also 1 walk, 17 strikeouts), Graterol is intriguing. The right-hander signed with the Twins in 2014, but after those 11 innings in 2015, he came to the States and had Tommy John. He missed all of 2016. but he was pitching (and hitting 100 mph) in Instructional League. Unfortunately, before spring training, he broke his hand and had to sit most of camp. But he’s back, and he’s often sitting 97-98 with his fastball. He’s also got some solid secondary pitches. Now he just needs to be healthy and start working some innings.





    So there you have my selections for Twins Prospects 16-20. Feel free to discuss, ask questions, debate, etc.

    • May 30 2017 10:08 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  6. Twins Minor League Report (5/19): Slegers Spins Another Gem, Thorpe Strong In Return

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 2, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 1
    Box Score

    Aaron Slegers spun another gem, pitching into the ninth inning for the first time this season. After giving up one run on five hits over 8.1 innings, Slegers’ ERA is down to 3.83 in his first year with the Red Wings. Over seven starts he’s gone six or more innings while giving up one run or fewer in four of them. Slegers only struck out two batters, but it was a particularly impressive performance considering the opponent.


    The 6-10 right-hander carried a shutout into the ninth, but gave up a ground rule double on his first pitch of the inning. That runner would come around to score, and Drew Rucinski came in to record the final two outs for his first save of the season.

    Zack Granite hit his first Triple A home run in the fourth inning. He’s now hitting .300/.327/.420 with six stolen bases in 12 games for Rochester.


    Matt Hague scored Daniel Palka on a sac fly in the seventh. ByungHo Park and J.B. Shuck both had doubles.

    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Biloxi 4, Chattanooga 0
    Box Score

    Nick Burdi continued his impressive 2017 with a 1-2-3 inning in which he consistently hit 99 mph on the radar gun. In 15.2 innings, he’s only given up one run and with one more strikeout tonight is up to an even 20 Ks.

    The Lookouts could only muster seven baserunners on the evening, but Ryan Strausborger was on three times. The 29-year-old outfielder was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. Nick Gordon was credited with a throwing error, but it really probably should have gone to first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez as a missed catch.

    Ryan Eades made his second start of the season and gave up three runs over five innings while striking out five. Randy Rosario gave up an unearned run over two innings. Over 22.1 innings for Chattanooga, Rosario has a 2.01 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers 7, Bradenton 1
    Box Score

    Lewis Thorpe, making his first start since Aug. 31, 2014 and his first ever appearance in the Florida State League, had an encouraging debut. The Aussie hit 94 mph and struck out three batters over four innings, giving up a run on two hits and a walk to help lead the Miracle to their sixth straight win.

    As expected, the Twins appear to be playing it safe with the 21-year-old lefty. He threw just 49 pitches, but just having him back on the mound at all is exciting. Thorpe had a 2.96 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 between 2013 and ‘14.

    It was also a special day for Rafael Valera. In his 264th career game, the native of Venezuela finally hit his first professional home run. Tanner English, in his fifth game since being sent down from Double A, went 2-for-3 with three RBI, scored a run and was hit by a pitch. Chris Paul also reached in three of his plate appearances, tallying a double, a walk and an HBP.

    Nelson Molina had a pair of hits and drove in two and Max Murphy drew a couple walks and stole his sixth base. Anthony McIver, Alex Muren and Nick Anderson combined to throw five shutout innings out of the bullpen.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Wisconsin 9, Cedar Rapids 2
    Box Score

    Jermaine Palacios hit his fifth home run of the season and Clark Beeker pitched seven strong innings, but an ugly night from reliever Max Cordy put this one out of reach. Christian Cavaness was the only Kernels to reach safely twice, recording a single and Cedar Rapids’ only walk of the evening.

    Beeker gave up a pair of homers, but limited the Timber Rattlers to three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out five. A 33rd-round pick from last year’s draft, Beeker now has a 2.76 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and has pitched at least six innings in six of his seven starts.

    Cordy walked three batters, hit two more and threw a wild pitch. Wisconsin scored six runs while he was on the mound (four earned) and he recorded just one out. Andrew Vasquez came in and struck out the only two batters he faced.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Aaron Slegers (carried a shutout into the ninth inning)
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Rafael Valera (hit a go-ahead homer, the first of his professional career after over 264 games played)

    SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Rochester at Scranton/WB, 3:05 CT, Nick Tepesch (2.29 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
    Chattanooga at Biloxi, 6:35 CT, Stephen Gonsalves (first start of season)
    Fort Myers vs. Bradenton, 5:05 CT, Dereck Rodriguez (2.80 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
    Cedar Rapids at Wisconsin, 6:35 CT, Eduardo Del Rosario (5.29 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Friday's games.

    • May 20 2017 04:46 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. Twins Minor League Report (5/16): Davis Powers Kernels

    To see who came up with the big blasts on Tuesday night, keep reading!

    TRANSACTIONS

    Adalberto Mejia was removed from the temporary inactive list for Rochester and made the start tonight. Alex Wimmers was “sent” to extended spring training to make room.


    RED WINGS REPORT
    Lehigh Valley 9, Rochester 5
    Box Score

    Rochester scored early and often in this one, but a Daniel Palka three-run home run in the bottom of the third spelled the end of their offense on the night. His sixth home run of the season made it 5-0 in the home team's favor; unfortunately the ban on bacon at Frontier Field didn’t keep the Iron Pigs from coming back.



    Adalberto Mejia went the first three innings for the Red Wings, and allowed just one hit while striking out one. He had thrown only thirty-three pitches, so let the speculation about Saturday’s starter for the Twins commence.

    Nick Tepesch came on for the fourth, and ended up with six runs allowed (just one earned) in 1.2 innings. An error from Engelb Vielma led to the five unearned runs in the fifth.

    D.J. Baxendale struck out three in 2.1 innings, allowing one run on two hits. Trevor Hildenberger allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in the eighth to cap the game's scoring. Buddy Boshers struck out two in the ninth to finish the game for the Red Wings.

    Zack Granite (2-4, 2 R’s, 2B) and Bengie Gonzalez (2-4, R, 2 RBI) each had multiple hits.


    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Birmingham 1, Chattanooga 4
    Box Score

    The Lookouts jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first as Nick Gordon led off the game with his Southern League-leading fifth triple that was followed by an RBI double from Edgar Corcino. He scored on a single from LaMonte Wade that also had an error on the relay throw.

    They extended the lead to 4-0 in the fourth, when a Dan Rohlfing double was followed by Gordon’s third home run of the season.

    It was 4-0 at that point as starter Nik Turley, fresh off the plane back from a cameo in AAA, blanked the Barons for the first four innings. As he had only pitched six innings in three appearances with the Red Wings (one start), Turley was in the process of getting stretched back out so those four innings were all he went (64 pitches). In his last start for them on April 25th, he struck out 14 in seven innings. He actually bested that K-rate in this one, with nine. He allowed only one hit and walked one, lowering his ERA in AA to 0.37. His 45 K’s on the year rank fifth in the Southern League despite eleven or more fewer innings than the four starters in front of him (including White Sox prospect Michael Kopech).

    Matt Tracy came on for the fifth inning and went the next four innings. He scattered one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out four. The walk came in the sixth and put a runner on second, who scored on the single that followed. Tracy worked around a leadoff double in the eighth and finished his night by striking out the next three hitters.

    Nick Burdi was brought on for his first save opportunity of the season in the ninth with the score 4-1, and he set the Barons down in order to pick up his first save. He extended the Lookouts home winning streak to nine games by striking out the final hitter.

    Gordon and Corcino each had two-hit nights to lead the offense from the top two spots in the lineup. Wade’s single in the first made it a five-game hitting streak, and he has reached base safely in his last nineteen games. Over that time he is hitting .428/.556/.603 with five doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI, and 18 walks versus just 10 K’s.

    Get the man a player of the week award, Southern League.


    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Clearwater 2, Fort Myers 5
    Box score

    Fort Myers took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Max Murphy led off the game for the home team with a single and stole second base. He moved to third on a Chris Paul blooping double, and they scored on singles from Zander Wiel and Alex Perez.

    Left-hander David Fischer made the start for the Miracle, and went the first 4.2 innings, enduring a rain delay in the bottom of the third. The Threshers got to him in the fifth, as a two-out single with the bases loaded tied the game at two and ended his night.

    It would remain that way until the bottom of the ninth, as Alex Muren and Nick Anderson combined for 4.1 scoreless innings. Muren allowed one hit in 2.1 innings, and Anderson struck out two in his two innings to give the Miracle a chance in the ninth.

    Brian Navarreto reached based on an error to start a rally, and Paul ended it with a three-run home run to walk his team off. He finished 2-4 with two runs scored, a walk, and three RBI in leading his team to victory. It was his second home run of the season. Murphy added two hits and scored two runs. Bradley Strong stole his first two bases of the year.


    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Peoria 6, Cedar Rapids 7
    Box Score

    Like everyone else in the system Tuesday night, Cedar Rapids also took an early lead in this one. After four innings it was 3-0 for the home team as Jaylin Davis slugged a solo home run in the second, and a two-run shot in the fourth.

    Starter Tyler Beardsley retired the first ten Chiefs, but ran into more trouble than he could navigate in the top of the fifth. After a double he recorded the inning's second out, but a walk, RBI single, and two-run triple tied the game at three. Catcher Mitchell Kranson helped him finish the sixth by nabbing two runners on the bases. Beardsley got the quality start by allowing the three runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out one.

    Andrew Vasquez got wild in the seventh, walking three along with an RBI single, but managed to limit the damage to just the one run as Peoria took the lead 4-3.

    The Kernels got that run right back as Davis led off the bottom of the inning with his third home run of the game to tie it back up. They went back out front in the eighth after an RBI triple from Christian Caveness, and two-run double from Lewin Diaz to make it 7-4.

    Hector Lujan pitched a scoreless top-half of the eighth before it got interesting in the top of the ninth. Three singles and a walk to the first four hitters of the inning put the winning run on the bases before an out was recorded. Lujan got the first out on an RBI groundout that closed it to 7-6, but he then buckled down. He got the next two hitters on strikeouts to pick up his second win of the season.


    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Pitcher of the Day – Nik Turley, Chattanooga Lookouts (4.0 IP, H, BB, 9 K’s)
    Hitter of the Day – Jaylin Davis, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3-4, 3 HR, 4 RBI)


    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) – LHP David Hurlbut (2-2, 1.59 ERA)
    Birmingham @ Chattanooga (10:15AM CST) – RHP Felix Jorge (3-1, 3.45 ERA)
    Clearwater @ Fort Myers (5:35PM CST) – LHP Lachlan Wells
    Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (12:05PM CST) – RHP Sean Poppen (1-1, 2.29 ERA)


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

    • May 16 2017 10:01 PM
    • by Steve Lein
  8. Twins Minor League Leaderboard (Through May 13, 2017)

    With that, let’s look at the minor league statistical leader board (through games on Saturday, May 13).



    HITTERS
    (Rate numbers- minimum 89 plate appearances)

    Plate Appearances - Chris Paul (152), Nick Gordon (150), Zander Wiel (147), Jermaine Palacios/Jonathan Rodriguez (144), Max Murphy (142), Lewin Diaz (140), Engelb Vielma/Travis Blankenhorn (137)

    Batting Average - LaMonte Wade (.327), Nick Gordon/Jermaine Palacios (.321), Chris Paul (.317), Edgar Corcino (.298), Lewin Diaz (.293), Mitchell Kranson (.292), Aaron Whitefield (.289).

    On-Base Percentage - LaMonte Wade (.470), Nick Gordon (.387), Max Murphy (.373), Edgar Corcino (.364), Engelb Vielma (.363), Jermaine Palacios (.354), Mitchell Kranson (.353), Matt Hague (.344)

    Slugging Percentage - Aaron Whitefield (.509), Lewin Diaz (.504), LaMonte Wade (.495), Jermaine Palacios (.489), Zander Wiel (.474), Nick Gordon (.470), Mitchell Kranson (.462), Jonathan Rodriguez (.426)

    OPS - LaMonte Wade (.965), Nick Gordon (.857), Jermaine Palacios (.843), Aaron Whitefield (.831), Lewin Diaz (.825), Mitchell Kranson (.810), Zander Wiel (.793), Max Murphy (.772).

    Hits - Chris Paul (45), Jermaine Palacios (44), Nick Gordon (43), Lewin Diaz (39), Zander Wiel/Max Murphy/Jonathan Rodriguez/Edgar Corcino/Engelb Vielma (34).

    Doubles - Lewin Diaz (14), Zander Wiel (12), Mitchell Kranson (10), Jonathan Rodriguez/Tommy Field (9), Chris Paul/Nick Gordon (8), three with 7.

    Triples - Jermaine Palacios (5), Zander Wiel/Rafael Valera (4), Nick Gordon (3), seven with 2.

    Home Runs - Aaron Whitefield/Daniel Palka (5), Jaylin Davis/Lewin Diaz/Dan Rohlfing/Jonathan Rodriguez/LaMonte Wade (4), seven with 3.

    Runs Scored - LaMonte Wade (26), Jermaine Palacios (25), Jonathan Rodriguez (22), Max Murphy (20), Aaron Whitefield/Nick Gordon (18), Daniel Palka/Tommy Field (17), three with 16.

    RBI - Zander Wiel (23), Nick Gordon/Lewin Diaz (20), Jonathan Rodriguez/Engelb Vielma (18), Jermaine Palacios/Travis Blankenhorn (16), three with 15.

    SB - Zack Granite/Aaron Whitefield (7), Tanner English (6), Jermaine Palacios/Jaylin Davis/LaMonte Wade (5), three with 4.

    THE STARTING PITCHERS
    (Rate number - minimum 27.0 innings)

    Innings Pitched: Dereck Rodriguez (45.0), Jose Berrios (39.2), Sean Poppen (39.1), Clark Beeker (38.2), Fernando Romero (35.2), Randy LeBlanc (35.0), Aaron Slegers/Tyler Wells (34.0)

    ERA: Jose Berrios (1.13), David Hurlbut (1.59), Sean Poppen (2.29), Clark Beeker (2.56), Tyler Wells (2.65), Dereck Rodriguez (2.80), Randy LeBlanc (2.83), Felix Jorge (3.45).

    WHIP: Jose Berrios (0.81), Clark Beeker (1.01), Cody Stashak (1.03), Dereck Rodriguez (1.09), Sean Poppen (1.12), Tyler Beardsley (1.21), Jason Wheeler (1.312), Randy LeBlanc (1.314).

    K/9: Tyler Wells (11.9), Eduardo Del Rosario (11.2), David Fischer (10.0), Cody Stashak (9.0), Sean Poppen (8.9), Jose Berrios (8.8), Fernando Romero (8.3).

    BB/9: Cody Stashak (1.1), Clark Beeker (1.2), Dereck Rodriguez (1.4), Sean Poppen (1.6), Jose Berrios (1.8), Tyler Beardsley (1.9), Lachlan Wells (2.0), Aaron Slegers (2.1).

    K: Tyler Wells/Nik Turley (45), Sean Poppen/Jose Berrios (39), Eduardo Del Rosario (34), Fernando Romero (33), Cody Stashak/Dereck Rodriguez (32).

    Wins: Clark Beeker (5-1).


    THE RELIEF PITCHERS
    (Rate numbers - minimum 11.0 innings, and less than 2 starts)

    Innings Pitched: Brady Anderson (25.2), Randy Rosario (21.0), Anthony McIver (20.2), Sam Clay/Ryan Eades (20.1), Luke Bard (18.2), Williams Ramirez (18.0), Michael Theofanopoulos (17.2).

    ERA: John Curtiss (0.00), Nick Burdi (0.66), Mason Melotakis (1.17), Nick Anderson (1.26), Logan Lombana (1.59), Jonny Drozd (1.65), Hector Lujan (1.80), Andrew Vasquez (1.84).

    WHIP: Tom Hackimer (0.65), Mason Melotakis (0.72), Nick Burdi (0.73), Nick Anderson (0.77), DJ Baxendale (0.85), Alan Busenitz (0.95), Randy Rosario/Hector Lujan (1.00).

    K/9: Luke Bard (14.9), Andrew Vasquez (14.1), Alex Robinson (13.2), Nick Burdi (11.9), John Curtiss/Todd Van Steensel (11.7), Alan Busenitz (11.4), Williams Ramirez (10.5).

    BB/9: Tom Hackimer (0.5), Brady Anderson (1.1), Hector Lujan (1.2), Nick Anderson (1.3), DJ Baxendale (1.4), Jonny Drozd (2.2), Mason Melotakis (2.3), Alex Robinson (2.5).

    K: Luke Bard (31), Andrew Vasquez (23), Alex Robinson/Williams Ramirez (21), Michael Theofanopoulos/Todd Van Steensel/Sam Clay (20), Ryan Eades/Anthony McIver (19).

    Saves: John Curtiss (5), Tom Hackimer/Alex Wimmers (4), Mason Melotakis/Jonny Drozd/Max Cordy (3), Nick Anderson (2), 12 with 1.

    Feel free to ask questions about any of the players or teams.

    • May 14 2017 11:00 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  9. Twins Minor League Report (5/11): Nick Burdi throws Heat!

    Find out everything that happened in the Twins minor league system on Thursday.

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 3 @ Pawtucket 2
    Box Score

    The Red Wings pushed two runs across in the top of the ninth inning to earn a victory on Thursday night in Pawtucket. With two outs in the ninth, down by a run with runners on first and second, Bengie Gonzalez singled home Niko Goodrum to tie the game and a Zack Granite single scored John Ryan Murphy from third to put the Wings ahead. Ninth inning heroes Granite and Gonzalez were the only Red Wings with multiple hits, each with a pair of singles and an RBI. The other run was driven in earlier on a Leonardo Reginatto double in the fifth.

    Starter Adalberto Mejia gave the Red Wings 6.2 strong innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up two runs. He struck out a pair and did not walk anyone. Busenitz, Chapman and the recently demoted Drew Rucinski held the Red Sox scoreless for the rest of the night and Rucinski picked up the victory thanks to the ninth inning heroics.

    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Chattanooga 1 @ Montgomery 7
    Box Score

    Chattanooga starter Matt Tracy gave up a 7-spot in the bottom of the second inning, putting the Lookouts in a big hole they could not dig out of. Tracy stayed in to finish the third inning, and then Randy Rosario gave the Lookouts three innings of one-hit baseball. He struck out four and walked one. Flame throwing Nick Burdi pitched the final two innings of the night, perfectly, and struck out three.

    Jon Rodriguez came into Thursday night riding a 14-game hitting streak, just one shy of Zack Granite’s season leading 15-game hitting streak, but was held hitless on the night, going 0-3 with a walk. In fact, almost all of the Lookouts were hitless, combining for just three hits, a trio of singles from Edgar Corcino, Ryan Walker and Dan “Rolfs are the best” Rohlfing.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers 2 @ Charlotte 3
    Box Score

    Fort Myers scored a run in the top of the first inning, but trailed the rest of the way as the Stone Crabs got to Lachlan Wells for three earned runs in the bottom of the first. Wells pitched six innings, gave up eight hits, just those three runs, and struck out two while not walking anyone. He was replaced by Brady Anderson who kept the Stone Crabs off the board for the final two innings, giving up a pair of hits and a walk in two innings.

    The Miracle had nine hits on the night, but were just 1-4 with men in scoring position and didn’t put many guys past first base. Brian Navarreto led the way for the Miracle, going 2-3 with a double and an RBI. Bradley Strong and Sean Miller each added two singles.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 0 @ Bowling Green 10
    Box Score

    The Kernels managed just four hits against Hot Rods starter Travis Ott, and did not manage to pick up any runs on a tough night in Bowling Green. The Kernels had opportunities, but were 0-5 with runners in scoring position and twice hit into double plays.

    Kernels starter Sean Poppen gave up five runs (three earned) over six innings, giving up nine hits and a walk against six strike outs. Max Cordy equaled Poppen’s results in just an inning, giving up five more runs in the seventh. Logan Lombana came in for mop up duty and managed an uneventful eighth inning, giving up a walk, but no hits and no runs to finish the day for Kernels hurlers.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Nick Burdi – Chattanooga Lookouts
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Brian Navarreto – Fort Myers Miracle


    FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Rochester @ Pawtucket (5:05pm) – LHP Jason Wheeler (2-1, 4.85)
    Chattanooga @ Montgomery (7:05pm) – RHP Felix Jorge (3-1, 3.71)
    Ft. Myers @ Charlotte (5:35pm) – RHP Chris Anderson (0-0, 14.14)
    Cedar Rapids @ Bowling Green (6:35pm) – LHP Domenick Carlini (0-2, 5.74)

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

    • May 12 2017 04:32 AM
    • by Eric R Pleiss
  10. Twins Minor League Report (5/9): Rodriguez Slams Lookouts To Win

    Read on to see how all the affiliates fared on Tuesday night!


    TRANSACTIONS

    Before we get to the games, there were a few transactions on Tuesday.

    Byungho Park was reinstated from the disabled list to the Red Wings, but did not play in their game. To make room, Quintin Berry was released.

    At Fort Myers, Casey Scoggins traded places with Bradley Strong from extended spring training.


    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 1, Lehigh Valley 4
    Box Score

    Kyle Gibson made his first non-rehab assignment start in AAA since the 2013 after his demotion late last week and while it was of the quality start variety, he also took the loss.

    Three singles and two RBI groundouts against him in the first put the Iron Pigs up 2-0, and that would prove to be enough for them as the Red Wings managed just six hits and were only 1-3 with runners in scoring position on the game.

    They made it 2-1 in the third after Ben Paulsen led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a Bengie Gonzalez single, and came home on a Zack Granite double-play grounder. That was it for Rochester as they went down one-two-three in each of the sixth, seventh and ninth innings thereafter.

    Gibson left after six innings and down 3-1. He allowed six hits and walked one, but also struck out eight (for what it’s worth, Gibson owns nearly an 8K’s/9IP rate at AAA in his career, a full 2 K’s higher than his MLB rate).

    Buddy Boshers allowed one run on three hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. He struck out one. D.J. Baxendale finished the game for the Red Wings by retiring both hitters he faced.


    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Chattanooga 6, Montgomery 5
    Box Score

    After his offense left the bases loaded in the top of the first, starter Paul Clemens ran into early trouble of his own that led to two runs in the bottom half, and a 4-0 lead for Montgomery by the time he exited after the fifth inning. The four runs came courtesy of five walks and six hits, including two home runs allowed. He struck out three.

    Luke Bard came on for the sixth and had his own troubles, as the Biscuits extended their lead to 5-0 before he escaped a jam with runners on second and third. He came back out for the seventh and was able to get two outs, but two walks and his own throwing error ended his appearance with the bases loaded.

    Fireballer Nick Burdi was summoned and got his man on a swinging strikeout to end the threat. Putting out that fire with some of his own would prove to be one of the biggest moments of the game.

    The Lookouts finally got on the board in the eighth when Edgar Corcino led off the inning with a single that was followed by an RBI double from Jonathan Rodriguez. That would not be the last time Montgomery heard from him.

    Burdi went one-two-three in the eighth including another strikeout to get his team back up to the plate down four going into the ninth.

    A single, two walks, and a hit batter scored one and left the bases loaded for the Lookouts before the Biscuits were able to record an out. Unfortunately for them, Rodriguez was stepping in the box again next.
    His grand slam put them out front for the first time at 6-5, and the tables were turned. With his big night, he also extended his hitting streak to thirteen games.

    John Curtiss came on for the ninth and sent the demoralized Biscuits down in order, striking out the last two hitters of the game to pick up his fifth save.


    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Palm Beach 7, Fort Myers 1
    Box score

    The Miracle had trouble with Cardinals starter Junior Fernandez the entire game, as his big velocity gave them fits. In the complete game effort, he held them to five hits and one walk while striking out six.

    Fort Myers’ lone run came in the fourth to cut the Palm Beach lead to 5-1, as Max Murphy led off with a triple and was driven in by a Nelson Molina single. Kevin Garcia had two singles in three at-bats, and Murphy added a single in the sixth to account for all five of their hits.

    David Fischer took the hill for the Miracle and went five innings. He allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out four. Four of those runs came in the third due to Fischer’s own throwing error on a bunt play, a wild pitch, and a two-run home run.

    Michael Theofanopoulus and Alex Muren each allowed a run in their inning of work, combining to allow three hits and a walk in the sixth and seventh, before Anthony McIver was able to stop the bleeding for the final two innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out all three hitters in the ninth to finish the game for Fort Myers.


    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 3, Dayton 5
    Box Score

    The Kernels fell behind early in this one and weren’t able to claw their way back in. Starter Tyler Beardsley gave up single runs in the first and second innings as they fell behind 2-1. An RBI triple in the first and groundout in the second accounted for those runs.

    Cedar Rapids made it 2-1 in the fifth thanks to an RBI single from Shane Carrier to bring in Caleb Hamilton, who had doubled.

    To that point Beardsley had settled in, but the sixth inning would put an end to his night. Five of the first six hitters reached base, and by the time he got a 7-2 double play on a tag attempt the Kernels were down 5-1.

    The offense added single runs in the seventh and ninth thanks to Jaylin Davis’ fourth home run of the year and an RBI single from Carrier, but they weren’t able to close any further.

    Reliever Andrew Vasquez pitched the final two innings for Cedar Rapids, allowing just one hit and striking out two.

    Hamilton (3-4, 2B, R) and Carrier (2-4, 2 RBI) had multiple hit efforts to lead the offense. Jermaine Palacios added his seventh double.


    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day – Nick Burdi (W) and John Curtiss (S), Chattanooga Lookouts (2.1IP, 4 K’s)
    Hitter of the Day – Jonathan Rodriguez, Chattanooga Lookouts (2-5, R, 2B, Game Winning GS-HR, 5 RBI)


    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Rochester @ Lehigh Valley (6:05PM CST) – LHP David Hurlbut (2-2, 1.61 ERA)
    Chattanooga @ Montgomery (7:05PM CST) – TBD
    Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (10:05AM CST) – RHP Keaton Steele (1-4, 7.96 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Dayton (6:00PM CST) – RHP Tyler Wells (2-0, 2.17 ERA)


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

    • May 09 2017 09:16 PM
    • by Steve Lein
  11. Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher Of The Month - April 2017

    Today we will start our April Awards by considering the relief pitchers in the Twins farm system. We’ll briefly profile our Top 5 candidates. But first, we will share a few relievers worth of mention who finished just outside our Top 5.

    HONORABLE MENTION

    First, a couple of relievers worthy of mention:

    • Williams Ramirez - Ft. Myers - 6 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 7 H, 8 BB, 13 K
    • Randy Rosario - Ft. Myers/Chattanooga - 6 G, 2.63 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 5 K
    • Todd Van Steensel - Chattanooga - 5 G, 1.93 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 13 K
    • Tom Hackimer- Cedar Rapids - 7 G, 3.27 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 10 K
    THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS IN APRIL



    #5 - John Curtiss - Chattanooga - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 13 K


    John Curtiss was healthy again in 2016, and after spending the first month in Cedar Rapids, he moved up to Ft. Myers where he continued to pitch well. He was invited to pitch in the Arizona Fall League where he and his 97 mph fastball continued to impress.


    Curtiss was the Twins sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 2014, following his showing as the team’s closer in the College World Series. Curtiss is one of just a few relievers who are yet to give up an earned run this season. Opponents have hit just .188 off of him so far this season. He has also walked 6.5 per nine innings. However, he has the stuff to work out of innings, especially by missing bats. He has struck out 14 batters per nine innings so far this season.



    #4 - Colton Davis - Cedar Rapids - 6 G, 3.68 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 11 K


    Colton Davis was the Twins 25th-round pick last year out of Western Carolina. He pitched well for Elizabethton and ended the season pitching for the Kernels including through their playoff run.


    In April, his one two-inning appearance ended with him giving up three runs. In his other appearances combined he gave up just one hit. In his last five outings, he has struck out at least two batters in each. Opponents have hit just .192 off of him, and he’s walked only two. He also is able to work out of troubles with the strikeout (13.5 K/9).



    #3 - Nick Anderson - Ft. Myers - 5 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 8.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K


    The Brainerd High School graduate signed with the Twins out of independent ball late in the 2015 season. Since then he has pitched very well in Cedar Rapids and in Ft. Myers, primarily as an eighth or ninth inning man.


    While he started the season about a week late, he has started where he left off. He is yet to give up a run. He’s shown very good control, and opponents have hit just .172 off of him so far. Anderson traveled with the big league club several times during spring training. The 26-year-old with a mid-90s fastball should move up to Chattanooga soon.



    #2 - Nick Burdi - Chattanooga - 7 G, 1.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 10 K


    After a lost 2016 season, Nick Burdi is healthy and pitching very well for the Lookouts. He will certainly be handled with some caution early in the season, but if he continues, he could be not only moved up to Rochester, but could spend time in the big leagues this year.


    In April, opponents hit just .179 against him. He didn’t give up a run through his first six outings. In his most recent appearance he gave up a leadoff homer to Colin Walsh before getting the next three hitters. He has shown good control and the ability to get strikeouts. His fastball is in the upper 90s and his slider can be devastating.



    And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:

    Chattanooga Lookouts – LHP Mason Melotakis - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K

    Mason Melotakis was the Twins second-round pick in 2012 out of Northwestern State (in Louisiana) where he was a reliever. The Twins gave him the opportunity to start in Cedar Rapids in 2013 with mixed results. After two starts in 2014 in Ft. Myers, he was moved to the bullpen. He spent some time in AA that year as well, but he started experiencing elbow issues. Following the season, he had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2015 season.


    He returned to the mound in 2016 having been added to the Twins 40-man roster during the offseason. He spent all of 2016 in Chattanooga where he was clearly being handled with kids gloves, which is wise following the surgery.


    Certainly the Twins will continue to monitor the hard-throwing southpaw. It didn’t help that he missed most of spring training with an oblique injury. That, along with likely not wanting him to pitch in the cold of Rochester early in the season, is why he began the year back in Chattanooga.


    But he has been terrific. While he is yet to pitch on back-to-back days, he has twice worked two innings. He has not yet given up a run this season, and opponents are hitting just .139 against him. He has walked just one batter so far this year. The strikeouts aren’t where they will be, but he is tough against left-handers.


    I would suspect that Melotakis will soon work his way up to Rochester, though as he is on the 40-man roster, he could be called up at any time if needed.



    There were several strong relief pitcher performances in April. Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations to each of these individuals on an excellent first month to their seasons.


    Congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for April 2017, Mason Melotakis.

    • May 01 2017 05:53 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  12. 2017 Minnesota Twins Minor League Primer

    Today, I thought it would be fun to put together a bit of a primer for some things to look for as minor league camp starts.

    COACHING STAFFS

    There were several changes in the coaching ranks within the organizations. With Jeff Smith getting the Twins first base coaching job, there was an opening. Here are the 2017 Twins Minor League coaches, including some very familiar names.

    Rochester Red Wings: Manager - Mike Quade, Hitting Coach - Chad Allen, Pitching Coach - Stu Cliburn

    Chattanooga Lookouts: Manager - Jake Mauer, Hitting Coach - Javier Valentin, Pitching Coach - Ivan Arteaga

    Ft. Myers Miracle: Manager - Doug Mientkiewicz, Hitting Coach - Steve Singleton, Pitching Coach - Henry Bonilla

    Cedar Rapids Kernels: Manager - Tommy Watkins, Hitting Coach - Brian Dinkelman, Pitching Coach - JP Martinez

    Elizabethton Twins: Manager - Ray Smith, Hitting Coach - Jeff Reed, Pitching Coach - Luis Ramirez

    GCL Twins: Manager - Ramon Borrega, Hitting Coaches - Toby Gardenhire & Jose Marzan, Pitching Coach - Virgil Vasquez, Cibney Bello

    WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

    The World Baseball Classic is beginning in various places around the globe. While four players (Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios) left Twins big league camp to head to Mexico and play for Team Puerto Rico, they aren’t the only WBC participants in the organization. (Here is a list of current, former and future Twins in the WBC.)

    Right-hander Dereck Rodriguez is also a member of that Puerto Rican team. As you would expect, the Australian team is full of current and former Twins members. Lefty Lachlan Wells, righty Todd Van Steensel and outfielder Aaron Whitefield represent the Twins on Team Australia this spring. Reynaldo Rodriguez and Yohan Pino (who re-signed with the Twins for his third stint with the team) will play for Team Colombia.

    RETURNING FROM INJURY

    Injuries happen in baseball. We all know that. However, there are several players this year returning from injury. We’ll want to watch each.

    Trevor Hildenberger missed the final month of the season with soreness in his elbow. He’s been full-go for a while now. Nick Burdi missed most of last season with a bone bruise in his elbow. Alex Muren had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery early last season and missed the full year. Lewis Thorpe has missed the last two years after having Tommy John surgery. Jovani Moran had bone chips removed last year.

    LaMonte Wade had two stints on the disabled list including one stint at the end of the season. He’s been in Ft. Myers since early January and is ready to go. Jermaine Palacios’s season came to an end early when he was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his hand. Nelson Molina broke his hamate bone in his hand early in the Puerto Rico Winter League. He had surgery and is healthy for spring training. Matt Albanese is excited to get on the field after a fractured wrist and some tendon injuries cost him most of his junior season and all of the Twins short season. Joe Cronin’s pro debut ended early with a hamstring injury.

    Brusdar Graterol is likely to start the season in extended spring training. He missed all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery and pitched in the Instructional League (hitting 100 with the fastball). Vadim Balan missed all of 2016 with a stress fracture in his back. He also will start in extended spring before pitching in real games, likely in Elizabethton.

    As we learned last week, Alex Kirilloff will be having Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will miss the 2017 season. Tyler Benninghoff had Tommy John right after the June draft. He might see some time in the GCL late in the year. Andro Cutura had Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the 2017 season as well. Zack Jones had shoulder surgery last September and is likely to miss most, if not all, of 2017.

    Kerby Camacho missed the 2016 season due to his PED suspension. He has served his time and will be eligible to play right away in 2017.


    MINNESOTANS IN A TWINS UNIFORM

    There are several Minnesotans in the Twins system. Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins are two on the big league roster. The following players from Minnesota will be in minor league camp.

    Recently, the Twins signed former Gophers reliever Seth Rosin (Arden Hills, Mounds View HS). He pitched in four big league games between 2014 and 2015, with Texas and Philadelphia. Brandon Peterson (Savage, Burnsville HS) split the season between Chattanooga and Ft. Myers. Nick Anderson (Crosby, Brainerd HS) was signed by the Twins in August of 2015 and spent last year between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Bo Hellquist (Edina, Burnsville HS) signed with the Twins last year after a strong career at Minnesota-Duluth. The one hitter on this list is Max Murphy (Robbinsdale, Robbinsdale Cooper HS).


    POSITION CHANGES

    It seems as though every year there are a few pitchers who switch positions for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just to accentuate their tools, or just to try something different.

    Sam Clay is going to be moved to the bullpen.

    The other noteworthy changes involve players moving behind the plate. Rafael Valera went to Instructional League the last couple of years and spent some time catching. However, he didn’t do any catching last year before his season-ending injury. Caleb Hamilton was drafted last year out of Oregon State. For Elizabethton, he played all over the diamond, mostly around the infield. He will add a catcher’s mitt to his bag of gloves this year. Mitch Kranson was a slugging third baseman/DH type for California. He worked a lot behind the plate and hopes to be catching throughout the season. He’ll need to work on it and will likely have the bat to keep him in the lineup even when he isn’t catching.

    TWINS MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS WITH MLB SPRING TRAINING INVITE

    You know these names already. These guys were signed to minor league deals, but they have been in big league spring training.

    Catchers: Chris Gimenez, Eddy Rodriguez, Dan Rohlfing
    Infielders: Matt Hague, Ben Paulsen, Benji Gonzalez
    Outfielders: JB Shuck, Drew Stubbs
    Pitchers: Ryan Vogelsong, Nick Tepesch, Craig Breslow, Drew Rucinski

    TWINS MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS WITHOUT MLB SPRING TRAINING INVITE

    Catchers: Jose Gonzalez
    Infielders: Jonathan Rodriguez, Dan Gamache, Tom Belza, Shane Kennedy
    Outfielders: Quintin Berry, Leandro Castro, Josh Romanski, Ryan Strausborger
    Starting Pitchers: Matt Tracy, Nik Turley, Yohan Pino, Henry Centeno
    Relief Pitchers: Jim Miller Seth Rosin, Jonny Drozd, David Fischer, Evan Sanders

    Here are a few more links you can use as you get excited about the Twins minor league camp open.


    2016 TWINS MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS

    Here is a quick rundown of the 2016 Minor League Award winners:

    2017 Twins Daily Top Prospects

    20. Justin Haley, RHP
    19. Ben Rortvedt, C
    18. Engelb Vielma, SS
    17. Nick Burdi, RHP
    16. Zack Granite, OF
    15. LaMonte Wade, OF
    14. Daniel Palka, OF
    13. JT Chargois, RHP
    12. Felix Jorge, RHP
    11. Mitch Garver, C
    10. Lewin Diaz, 1B
    9. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B
    8. Kohl Stewart, RHP
    7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
    6. Wander Javier, SS
    5. Tyler Jay, LHP
    4. Nick Gordon, SS
    3. Alex Kirilloff, OF
    2. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
    1. Fernando Romero, RHP


    2017 Roster Projections

    Recently, I made my 2017 Roster Projections for the start of the season. The Twins have signed a couple of minor league deals since then, but you can read them here:

    The Catchers
    The Outfielders
    The Middle Infielders
    The Corner Infielders
    The Starting Pitchers
    The Relief Pitchers

    The minor league seasons will begin just days after the MLB Opening Day. There are plenty of story lines, as you would expect, when there are 200 players in the organization all hanging out around the Century Link Sports Complex. We’ll be sure to cover them, starting this weekend when Seth travels to Ft. Myers.

    For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this 2017 Twins minor league primer and feel free to ask any questions you might have.

    • Mar 07 2017 02:33 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  13. Haley Could Fill Essential Role In Twins' Bullpen

    Yes, it's possible the Twins could try to work out a trade with the Red Sox (they traded for Rule 5 pick Scott Diamond in 2010 in order to be able to send him down to Rochester), but I don't see that as very likely in this case. I doubt Boston would be interested in cash considerations or lower level minor leaguers; they're flush with cash and trying to compete. Sure, they exposed Haley to the Rule 5 Draft, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't like to have him back if given the opportunity.

    Beyond anything else, the biggest reason I feel it would be wise for the Twins to make room on the roster for Haley is he can provide valuable insurance to the rotation and protection for the bullpen. Here's how I imagine the pitching staff shaking out right now:

    Rotation
    Ervin Santana
    Kyle Gibson
    Hector Santiago
    Trevor May
    Phil Hughes

    Bullpen (assuming Glen Perkins starts on the DL)
    Brandon Kintzler
    Ryan Pressly
    J.T. Chargois
    Matt Belisle
    Taylor Rogers
    Justin Haley
    Buddy Boshers

    Neither Gibson nor Santiago are known for pitching deep into games, and both Hughes (recovering from injuries) and May (transitioning from he bullpen) aren't exactly guys you want to count on to eat innings out of the gate. This staff needs a reliever who can be called upon to throw multiple innings early in games, and I'd rather not see another promising young starter moved to the pen (like May was) or a reliever miscast into a role he's not suited for (like Michael Tonkin was).

    Basically what I'm saying is Haley should be this year's version of J.R. Graham, the Twins Rule 5 pick in 2015. It's tough to point to a guy who had a 4.95 ERA and 1.48 WHIP and say he was a valuable member of a pitching staff, but Graham throwing 63 2/3 innings was essential to keeping the rest of the bullpen fresh that season. He even made one emergency spot start.

    Over his 38 relief appearances, Graham entered a game prior to the fifth inning 12 times, he pitched in multiple innings 25 times and in 20 of his appearances there was at least a five-run difference in the score (one way or the other) when he entered the game. He was basically the definition of a mop-up man.

    Another big thing to remember concerning the Opening Day roster is it can change the next week, the next series, hell, the next day if need be. Bringing Haley north with the big club doesn't necessarily mean committing a roster spot to him for the entire season. If he doesn't pan out, no big loss. You basically rented him from Boston in order to gobble up a bunch of low-leverage innings early in the season and you send him back once you're convinced he's nothing special. No harm done.

    Some people may take issue with Jose Berrios not being included on the Opening Day roster. While he has nothing left to prove in the minors in terms of performance -- he's dominated every level -- he does have plenty to work on. At this point I'd rather he work out the kinks in Rochester, where guys like he, Tyler Duffy and Mejia would stay stretched out to serve as rotation insurance. Berrios was the youngest AL pitcher to start a game last season, so it's important to keep in mind he's still way ahead of the curve.

    Leaving Tonkin off the roster would mean exposing him to waivers, but I think there's more of a chance that Tonkin would clear waivers than there's a chance the Twins could work out a suitable trade for Haley with Boston. But I do not view Haley and Tonkin as being in direct competition for the same spot. There needs to be a long man behind this rotation, and we saw last season, Tonkin cannot thrive in that role.

    Haley making the 25-man roster wouldn't be "blocking" any of the higher upside relievers. Would you rather see a guy like Jake Reed, Mason Melotakis, Trevor Hildenberger, Nick Burdi or (insert your favorite of the Twins 46 relief prospects here) getting abused in a mop-up role in the majors or pitching in the back end of the bullpen in the minors? To me, Haley's primary competition is against the guys like Ryan Vogelsong and Nick Tepesch, not any of the traditional one-inning relief guys.

    Is Justin Haley one of the Twins' best dozen or so pitchers? No, probably not. Is he an excellent fit to be the last man in the bullpen? Absolutely.

    • Mar 02 2017 10:00 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  14. Twins Daily Top Prospect Countdown: 20-16

    20. Justin Haley, RHP
    Age: 25
    2016 Stats (AA/AAA): 146.2 IP, 3.01 ERA, 126/45 K/BB, 1.12 WHIP
    ETA: 2017

    [attachment=9701:JustinHaley_LMZ (1).jpg]

    Photo courtesy Louriann Mardo-Zayat


    With the top pick in December's Rule 5 draft, the Twins selected Miguel Diaz, a hard-throwing righty from the Brewers system, but traded him for the player they really wanted. Justin Haley may not offer the fancy ceiling of some others you will read about in this series, but he's a polished MLB-ready product riding some serious momentum.

    A sixth-round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2012, Haley got his career off to a promising start, but hit a skid in 2015 when he went 5-16 with a 5.15 ERA at Double-A. For a college draftee with unexceptional stuff, it's the kind of setback that can spell doom.

    But Haley rebounded in a big way. He went to the Arizona Fall League and pitched brilliantly, albeit in only a handful of outings. The next year he conquered Double-A in the first half and then graduated to Triple-A where he didn't miss a beat. His last start was his best of the year – eight innings of shutout, two-hit ball. Then he returned to the AFL and was masterful again allowing just one run on 12 hits over 23 innings.

    He's coming to the Twins organization with a full head of steam and a fair shot at winning a roster spot in camp. Haley could make a impact sooner than anyone else we profile for this feature.

    19. Ben Rortvedt, C
    Age: 19
    2016 Stats (Rookie Leagues): .222/.306/.253, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R
    ETA: 2021

    [attachment=9702:B Rortvedt.jpg]

    Photo courtesy David McQueen


    It's no secret that the Twins have a deep organizational need for more catching talent. They addressed it in last June's draft when they used their second pick on prep backstop Ben Rortvedt from Verona, a small Wisconsin town located about four hours from Target Field.

    Clearly the Twins scouted him heavily. They were bold in using the 56th overall selection on him and luring him away from a scholarship at Arkansas. Rortvedt was the only catcher from an American high school taken by any team in the first five rounds. That isn't to say that Minnesota reached; in pre-draft rankings, MLB.com had the teenager 51st in the talent pool and Baseball America had him 82nd.

    Rortvedt was touted for his receiving skills and offensive upside. His potential at the plate remains just that – the teen catcher didn't do much damage with the bat in two levels of rookie ball, though his 10/10 strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests he wasn't overwhelmed by the pitching. Listed at 5'10" and 190 lbs, he's got some growing to do and we'll see how that influences his development. At this point there is little to go on performance-wise but we do know that the tools are there.

    Unfortunately, as is the nature of raw high school draft picks, he's got a long way to go.

    18. Engelb Vielma, SS
    Age: 22
    2016 Stats (A+/AA): .271/.345/.318, 0 HR, 21 RBI, 47 R
    ETA: 2018

    [attachment=9703:Engelb Vielma 2.jpg]

    Photo courtesy Seth Stohs


    He has already established himself as a high-caliber defensive shortstop, but in order to take the next step as a player Engelb Vielma needs to show significant progress with the bat. That didn't really happen last year. In Chattanooga, where he spent most of his time, the slender infielder posted a .663 OPS that represented his best since 2012 in rookie ball but still failed to impress.

    As usual, Vielma proved capable of putting the bat on the ball, but rarely struck with authority. In 367 plate appearances he managed only 11 extra-base hits and never cleared the fence. His solid speed only translated to a 10-for-18 success rate on steals. While his glove work made him a sturdy regular at Double-A, Vielma added minimal value offensively.

    As he climbs the ladder and pitchers begin to challenge him more and more in the zone, the shortstop's inability to punish them will only grow more inhibiting. Unless he can make meaningful strides in terms of production at the plate he will remain limited in his ceiling as a potential backup in the majors.

    17. Nick Burdi, RHP
    Age: 24
    2016 Stats (AA): 3 IP, 9.00 ERA, 1/1 K/BB, 1.67 WHIP
    ETA: 2018

    [attachment=9704:Nick Burdi 3.jpg]

    Photo courtesy Seth Stohs


    When the Twins selected Nick Burdi with the 46th overall pick in the 2014 draft, he was considered perhaps the best collegiate relief arm in the nation. It is important to remember this amidst his stalling development as a pro. That innate high-end talent remains, making Burdi an intriguing wild-card in the organization's relief pitching pipeline, but right now he's nothing more than that.

    The 2016 season was a complete loss for the radar-rattling righty. He made only three appearances in Double-A before being sidelined by a bruised humerus he was never able to bounce back from. Now he's going to need to fight his way back into the picture, as he'll be heading to camp without a big-league invite.

    The good news is that scans identified no issues with Burdi's UCL, and he has had plenty of time to heal up his bone bruise. The bad news is that his injury is a rare one – likely resulting from stress caused by a high-effort delivery to produce his signature heat – and there is no certainty he'll get past it. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press recently reported that Burdi has made alterations to his mechanics with hopes of alleviating the issue.

    16. Zack Granite, OF
    Age: 24
    2016 Stats (AA): .295/.347/.382, 4 HR, 52 RBI, 86 R
    ETA: 2018

    [attachment=9705:Zach Granite 4.jpg]

    Photo courtesy Seth Stohs


    A tremendous 2016 in Chattanooga earned Zack Granite the organization's Minor League Player of the Year award. Keying a Lookouts lineup that ranked second among 10 Southern League teams in runs scored, he was the prototypical pesky spark plug atop atop the order. The lefty swinger constantly put the ball in play (7 percent K rate) and maximized his excellent wheels, legging out 18 doubles and eight triples to go along with 56 steals.

    He also provided outstanding defense in center field, rounding out a complete value offering that made him a fitting choice for farm system's top honor. If Granite can continue on this path and add a little more pop he could become a Brett Gardner type in the majors, and any team would love to have that.

    However, in the wider scope, he's a former 14th-round pick who hasn't put up even a .730 OPS at any level of the minors, so he's more likely to catch on as a fourth outfielder type in the big leagues. With his contact skill, speed and defense, he looks likely perfectly suited for that billing.

    • Feb 09 2017 05:42 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  15. Get To Know: Twins Rule 5 Pick Justin Haley

    It was a bit messy for Twins fans to keep up with that day. So what was it like for Haley and his family?

    On that day, Haley was in California visiting his mom before the holidays. The Rule 5 draft began at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time, but of course it is just 6:00 a.m. on the west coast. Shortly after that early hour, he was nudged awake by his wife.

    “My agent was texting me, telling me, ‘Hey, you got drafted by the Angels!’” Haley said, “So I got up. My mom was already awake. We celebrated. We took some pictures, and Woo Hoo, Angels!”

    And then…

    “Then all of a sudden, my agent texted me and said, ‘Hey, you just got traded to the Padres.’ OK, great, cool. So we were celebrating again, and we’re taking pictures, and Alright, we’re Padres now!”

    And then the phone rang.

    “It was my agent. ‘Hey listen, you’re with the Twins now. They traded for you.’ OK, cool. We celebrated again.”

    While Twins fans scrambled to learn everything they could about Justin Haley, Haley was a member of four organizations within about an hour, but he didn’t seem to mind at all.

    “It was fun. The whole day, the whole experience was fun. It all happened within about an hour, so it wasn’t stressful or anything. It was exciting. My whole family enjoyed it.”

    Haley grew up in northern California. After high school, he spent a season at Sierra College after which he was Cleveland’s 46th-round draft pick. He didn’t sign. Instead he went to Fresno State for the next two seasons.

    “I knew I needed to go to school. I wanted to get an education. I just knew I wasn’t ready so I waited, took my lumps, put in my work, and now I feel that I’m really ready.”

    Haley spent the next two seasons at Fresno State. The decision paid off as the Red Sox made him their sixth-round pick in 2012. He’s worked his way up, pitching well as he goes.

    He began 2016 in AA Portland. He went 5-4 with a 2.20 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 61.1 innings. He was promoted to AAA Pawtucket where he was 8-6 with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 81.1 innings.

    At the end of the season, Haley made the decision to pitch in the Dominican Winter League. He pitched a combined 23.2 innings and went 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA. He gave up just one run on 12 hits and four walks while striking out 14 batters. It was an experience he not only enjoyed, but he made the most of the opportunity.

    “I was hoping to go there to intrigue some teams just a little bit more for the (Rule 5) draft. I didn’t end up getting protected. Found out right before my last start. I went down there to do my job. I went to get work in. I had a lot of fun. It was a great experience. Really great people. Really great organization. I was with Escogido. Just a lot of fun. I would definitely do it again. It was work. I feel like I did my job and ultimately it paid off for me.”

    And that brings us to the draft. Haley says that he wasn’t too surprised to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. He felt he had put himself in a good position.

    “I knew I’d put in all the work. I knew I’d done everything on my end that I could do. The only thing left was hopefully somebody was watching, and luckily a couple of teams were looking pretty heavy. It turned out great for me.”

    Haley spent the weekend at Twins Fest, getting to know some people he will be teammates with when spring training starts in two weeks in Ft. Myers. Unlike many Rule 5 picks that have come to Twins Fest, Haley actually knew quite a few players in the clubhouse. Following his 2015 season, Haley went to the Arizona Fall League where he and his Red Sox teammates joined the Twins prospects on the Salt River Rafters roster. Nick Burdi, Trevor Hildenberger, Jake Reed, Taylor Rogers and Mitch Garver were Twins on that team. Adalberto Mejia was also on that team. In the Dominican this winter, Daniel Palka was on the same Escogido roster. Finally, Haley and Pat Light were teammates in the Red Sox system for all four years.

    Haley felt comfortable in the clubhouse. “Being here this weekend, I’ve met some guys and everybody seems really welcoming. It looks like a really young group. A lot of talent here. I know that. I’m really excited to get to know everybody and get to know this team.”

    When he travels to spring training, he’ll be able to stay in the same city as when he was with the Red Sox, Ft. Myers. “Turns out I’m in the same city I’ve been in for the last four years. I’m comfortable there. It’s really no change. My wife and I have the same routine of going down to spring training, so it turned out pretty well for us.”

    The excitement and joy was clear in Haley’s voice and in his comments as he talked. He is excited to get to Ft. Myers. He’s ready for the challenge.

    “I’ve put in a lot of work this offseason. I’ve really prepared myself mentally and physically for this opportunity. And really, it’s a great opportunity. I’m extremely blessed. I’m extremely thankful that the Twins took a shot at me. I’m definitely going to make the most out of the opportunity that I’m getting. And you know, God willing, it goes my way.”

    Haley isn’t known for having great velocity, but he knows how to pitch, and he knows how to work. So how does he describe himself as a pitcher?

    “I like to describe myself as the hardest worker. I might not overpower you, but I’m going to work you to death. I’m going to be meticulous. I work on my craft year-round. I like to say no offseason. I have a fastball, changeup, curveball slider. I like to locate. My hard work is going to beat your hard work. That’s my approach.”

    Of his 122 career appearances, 110 of them have been as a starting pitcher. As a Rule 5 pick, he needs to remain on the Twins roster all season or be offered back to the Red Sox. So, if his role on the Twins would be in long relief in the bullpen, would he be alright with that?

    Haley said, “I’d be great with anything that allows me to be a Minnesota Twin.”

    As spring training approaches, Haley was asked his goals for 2017. “My goals are to be the hardest worker. I want to work hard. I want to be a great teammate. I don’t put a lot of numerical goals out there. I just want to attack every challenge. I see this as a challenge, an obstacle that I can face head on. I’ve got an opponent. I know how to beat him. I know how to succeed. So I’m going to give my full effort to that.”

    Clearly Haley has a great work ethic. Hard work was a clear characteristic of Haley. It’s something he’s learned from a young age.

    “I’ve had a lot of great mentors in my life. My father has always instilled in me to be the hardest worker. Hard work beats talent every day of the week and twice on Sundays. That's been my mentality growing up. My mom and dad raised me to work hard and not take anything for granted. That’s going to be my approach” He continued, “I’ve had a lot of great coaches over the years, Coach (Steve) Rousey at Fresno State. I’ve had some great pitching coaches through the Red Sox. They all just keep telling me, keep working hard and that’s just been my process. I’m not going to change anything now that I’m knocking at the door.
    Justin Haley, like most Rule 5 picks, is facing an uphill battle. But he’s had success on the mound in AA and AAA, and the Twins need all the pitching they can get. Haley will compete for a starting spot or a bullpen spot on the big league roster. It’ll certainly be one of the top stories to follow in Ft. Myers starting on February 14th.

    • Jan 31 2017 09:09 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  16. Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospects: Part 6 (11-15)

    Players eligible to be on this list include players who remain eligible for Rookie of the Year voting in 2017. That is to say, hitters with less than 130 at-bats and pitchers with less than 50 innings. (The list is preliminary. Following research for the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2017 - which Cody Christie, Jeremy Nygaard and I are working on - I’ll provide my final Top 30 prospects list.)

    Top Prospects 11-15

    #15 – Nick Burdi - 23 – RH RP – Chattanooga Lookouts

    Burdi was the Twins second-round pick in 2014 out of Louisville. That summer, he pitched in Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He began 2015 in Chattanooga but struggled enough to be sent back to Ft. Myers. He walked three and struck out 29 in 20 innings for the Miracle before moving back up to the Lookouts where he and JT Chargois shut the door in the late innings of their Southern League championship run. He went to the Arizona Fall League where he walked one and struck out 11 in eight scoreless innings. Burdi was invited to big league spring training and really impressed the coaching staff. He went to minor league camp and was shut down with some forearm soreness. He returned and threw in three games for the Lookouts before being shut down with a bone bruise near his elbow. He didn’t return. But the 23-year-old remains a top relief pitching prospect because of a big, upper-90s fastball and a terrific slider. With health, we should see him in a Twins uniform in 2017.

    #14 – LaMonte Wade - 23 – OF – Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle

    Wade was the Twins ninth-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Maryland. After signing, he went to Elizabethton where he hit .312/.428/.506 (.934) with eight doubles, five triples and nine home runs. What stood out is that he walked 46 times and struck out just 34 times. He ended the season with four games in Cedar Rapids, which is where he started the 2016 season. He was a Midwest League All-Star after hitting .280/.410/.396 (.806) with 13 extra base hits. He walked 44 times with just 27 strikeouts. After the game, he was promoted to the Miracle. In the Florida State League, he hit .318/.386/.518 (.904) before his season came to an end with an injury. While he played center field throughout most of the 2016, he likely profiles more as a left fielder. Wade has an extremely professional approach at the plate. He’s solid all-around and people are most impressed with his makeup. He can hit and has gap-to-gap power that could develop more into home run power. He’s got average outfield speed and runs the bases well. None of his tools jump out when you watch him once, but over time, one can notice that he really doesn’t have a weakness in his game.

    #13 – Huascar Ynoa - 18 – RHP – GCL Twins

    Ynoa was the Twins biggest international signing in July of 2014, signing for about $800,000. He made his professional debut in 2015 in the DSL where he went 2-5 but posted a 2.70 ERA in 56.2 innings. He came to the States for the 2016 season and pitched for the GCL Twins. He went 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. In 51 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 51. Ynoa’s brother, Michael, was originally signed by the A’s for $4.25 million but debuted in the White Sox bullpen in 2016. Michael is 6-7 and 210 pounds. Huascar is 6-3 and about 215 pounds. Huascar throws 90 to 95 mph with movement. He’s still working on his secondary pitches. He has the ability to be nasty, but as you would expect of an 18-year-old, he’ll need to be more consistent.

    #12 – Felix Jorge - 22 – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts

    Jorge signed with the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He spent a season in the DSL. He came to the States in 2012 and pitched in the GCL. He moved up to Elizabethton in 2013. He began the 2014 season in Cedar Rapids, but after a month of struggling, he went back to EST. He pitched for the E-Twins again and was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year. He returned to Cedar Rapids in 2015 as a different pitcher. He went 6-7 with a 2.79 ERA. He began 2016 in the vaunted Miracle starting rotation. According to some reports, he was the best of the group in Ft. Myers. He went 9-3 with a 1.55 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 93 innings. He moved up to AA Chattanooga where he experienced some issues. In 11 starts, he went 3-5 with a 4.12 and a 1.28 WHIP. Overall, he walked just 1.2 per nine innings. In Ft. Myers, he struck out 7.5 per nine, but that dropped to just 3.9 per nine over his 74.1 innings in AA. He ended the season with a complete game, one-run game against Jackson. And in reality, he gave up more than three runs in just two of his 11 starts for the Lookouts. He also worked five or more innings in all 11 starts, and he worked into the seventh inning in seven of 11 starts because he keeps the pitch count down. Jorge attacks the zone with a fastball that touches the 94-95 range at times. He throws a ton of strikes, generally keeping the ball on the ground. Jorge could have been selected in the Rule 5 draft last offseason. Will the Twins add him this November?

    #11 – Daniel Palka - 24 – OF – Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings

    Last November, Terry Ryan traded Chris Herrmann to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In return, the team received OF/1B Daniel Palka. Until then, few Twins fans knew of Palka. However, we all checked out his stats and found that last year in High-A Visalia, he hit .280/.352/.532 (.885) with 36 doubles, three triples, 29 home runs, 90 RBI and 24 stolen bases. This for Chris Herrmann, who was out of options and not likely to stick with the Twins in 2016. Palka reported to Twins minor league spring training. He got an opportunity to play in a big league game, and he hit home runs in his first two at-bats. He added another two days later in a big league game. It was a sign of things to come for Palka in 2016. He began the season in Chattanooga where he hit .270/.348/.547 (.894) with 12 doubles, four triples, 21 homers and 65 RBI in 79 games. He was a Southern League All-Star and later was promoted to AAA Rochester. In 54 games with the Miracle, he hit .232/.296/.483 (.779) with 12 doubles, 13 homers and 25 home runs. In AA, he struck out 29% of the time. In AAA, he struck out 39% of the time. Palka has Sano and Walker power. Like Walker, he’ll have to cut down his strikeout rate to have big league success, but sometime in 2017, he will get an opportunity. He has to be added to the Twins 40-man roster in November or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.

    So there you have it, my choices for Twins prospects 11-15. We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 7, Prospects 6-10.

    • Oct 05 2016 05:27 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  17. Seth's Midseason Twins Top 40 Prospect Rankings: Part 2 (11-20)

    I’m pretty certain that not 100% of you will agree with 100% of my rankings. In fact, I’m certain no one would share the exact same Top 40, so feel free to discuss in the forum. I enjoy answering any questions you may have. With that, let’s get started.

    #20 - LHP Randy Rosario - 22 - Ft. Myers Miracle

    While his record is just 2-5 and he has a 3.95 ERA so far this season, Rosario is all about the tools and the talent. After missing a year with Tommy John surgery, he returned to the Kernels for half of the season last year. He was added to the 40-man roster based on stuff. He just recently turned 22, has already had a surgery and returned throwing left-handed in the mid-90s. He’s still building up and the sky is the limit for him.

    Posted Image

    #19 - 1B Lewin Diaz - 19 - Extended Spring Training

    Diaz was the Twins big international signing in 2013 from the Dominican Republic. At 6-3 and 255 pounds, it is pretty evident what his biggest attribute is on the baseball field. He has a tremendous amount of power, but he could eventually be a solid all-around hitter. Reports from Ft. Myers are that he is hitting very well right now and has for most of extended spring training. He is a work-in-progress at first base having played some in the outfield as an amateur. His best position might be DH. He ended last season by hitting just .157 in 14 games at Elizabethton, but three of his eight hits went over the fence. He’ll likely return to the E-Twins for the short-season.

    Posted Image

    #18 - 3B Trey Cabbage - 19 - Extended Spring Training

    At 6-3 and just over 200 pounds, Trey Cabbage is another great athlete in the Twins system. He was selected in the third round of the 2015 draft and signed quickly. He hit .252 in 33 games in the GCL. He has played mostly third but also some shortstop this spring. Reports are that he was really crushing the ball early in EST. With a strong, smooth, left-handed swing, he has the potential to hit for power while also being willing to use the whole field. In a few weeks, he’ll head to his home state of Tennessee and play for the Elizabethton Twins.


    Posted Image

    #17 - SS Wander Javier - 17 - Dominican Summer League

    Based solely on his signing bonus ($4 million), Javier should be much higher up this list. However, he’s just 17 and made his professional debut on Saturday in the Dominican Summer League. In two games, he’s 1-7 with two walks and a double. The stats, of course, are completely meaningless. At that age, it’s all about the tools, and Javier is blessed with a shed full of tools. Most believe that he can stay at shortstop. He has a strong arm. He can run well. He should hit, and many think he will eventually hit for a lot of power. That’s how a guy gets a big signing bonus. Now, time for the development.

    #16 - OF Adam Brett Walker - 24 - Rochester Red Wings

    Walker has moved up one level each year since the Twins drafted the Milwaukee native out of Jacksonville University in the third round of the 2012 draft.Since then, he has provided a ton of power. Last year in AA Chattanooga, he led the Southern League with 31 home runs and 106 RBI. Walker has been discussed many times in the pages and forums of Twins Daily. He struck out 40% of the time last year in AA, and right now he’s striking out nearly 50% of his plate appearances in AAA. He remains productive, however, hitting just .215, but with 12 home runs and 26 RBI. He is just 24-years-old and in just his first option year, so the hope would be that he can find incremental improvements the rest of this year and into next year. Defensively he is a good athlete, but struggles throwing.

    #15 - RHP Alex Meyer - 26 - Rochester Red Wings

    2015 was a tough year for Meyer on many counts, including on the mound. He began this season in the Red Wings starting rotation and after three starts, he was called up to the Twins to pitch long relief. However, two starters went on the disabled list and Meyer had to be pushed back to allow him to make a start. He made one start in Houston, and knowing that Ervin Santana would make his next scheduled start, Meyer was sent down to Rochester right away to allow a bullpen arm to be called up to take a spot until Santana came off the DL and made the start. That’s where things get interesting. Upon his return to Rochester, he pitched a bullpen and felt some soreness in his right shoulder. The organization decided to shut him down and skip a start. The soreness hadn’t subsided and the timing kept being pushed back. Because the minor league 7-day DL is not retroactive, they were hopeful that he would soon be better and get right back into the rotation. However, when it had been four weeks, he was given an MRI and it showed some inflammation. He was put on the DL. At 26, the hope is that he can be healthy soon and find a role he can be successful with with the Twins. As we saw early this year, his 96-97 mph fastball is terrific, and his curveball can be devastating.

    #14 - LHP Lewis Thorpe - 20 - Extended Spring Training

    Thorpe had Tommy John surgery last April and missed the entire year. This spring, he was feeling well and starting to get back on the mound. Recently, he had a setback. Thorpe came down with mono which will cost him time again, building his strength up. Hard to believe after he missed a full year that Thorpe is still just 20. Signed in 2011 from Australia, Thorpe burst on the scene when he added weight and fastball velocity, touching 95, in 2013 in the GCL. He pitched for the Kernels in 2014. Hopefully he can get back on the mound soon and eventually spend some time with an affiliate in 2016.


    Posted Image

    #13 - LaMonte Wade - 22 - Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Wade was the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2015 out of the University of Maryland. After playing 1B for a couple of years, he moved out to center field for his junior season. Unfortunately, he broke his hamate bone and missed time that year. That’s how he was available in the ninth round. He immediately started showing his talent in Elizabethton where he hit .312 with 22 extra base hits. He also walked 46 times and struck out just 34 times. He ended the season with a few games in Cedar Rapids, including their playoff run. He was our choice for Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month in Apriland continued to play well in May. Overall, he’s still hitting .318 with a .438 on base percentage and nine extra-base hits. Again he shows a very professional at-bat and has struck out 22 times to go with 38 walks. He was named a starter in the Midwest League All Star game in Cedar Rapids and could be in line for a promotion to Ft. Myers in the season’s second half.


    Posted Image

    #12 - RH RP Nick Burdi - 23 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    Burdi struggled a year ago in his first full season as a professional at AA until he went down to Ft. Myers for a short time. He turned things around and pitched well for the Lookouts late in the year and then in the Arizona Fall League. He had a strong showing in big league camp this spring. Unfortunately, he has been shut down twice already this year with arm ailments. Neither was the shoulder or the UCL, so that’s the positive. He is currently on the DL with a bone bruise on his elbow which can be very painful. He is starting a throwing program. It’d be nice to have him back in the second half. At this point he may not be an automatic for a call up in the second half.


    Posted Image

    #11 - OF Daniel Palka - 24 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    The Twins acquired Palka this past offseason from the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Chris Herrmann. Palka made a strong first impression when he joined the big league club for a game in spring training and homered in his first two at- bats. And then hit another one the next day. He is tied with Adam Brett Walker for the organizational lead in home runs this year with 12. Palka can play some first base though this year Doug Mientkiewicz has played him mostly in right field. He is willing to take walks and, like Walker, one area to watch with him is his strikeout rate which currently is sitting at 30% this year (Walker was at 35% last year in AA.. A year ago in Visalia, he hit .280 with 36 doubles, 29 homers and 90 RBI. He also stole 24 bases, but has just three so far this year. Palka was the third-round pick of Arizona’s in 2013 out of Georgia Tech, though he is just 10 days younger than Walker.


    Posted Image

    So there they are, my choices for Twins prospects 11-20. What are your thoughts these ten guys? Discuss them below in the comments or feel free to ask any questions you may have. Tomorrow we’ll post the choices for the Top 10 Minnesota Twins prospects At that point, you will have my choices, and I’d enjoy comparing my list to your Top 10 or Top 20 or Top 30, etc.

    • Jun 08 2016 08:22 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  18. Replacing Kevin Jepsen

    Ok, it’s not really that bold. Glen Perkins may not be throwing yet, but if he’s still out two months from now, his shoulder strain is worse than the team has indicated. By the All-Star break, he ought to be back, and if he’s healthy enough to pitch, he’ll resume his typical closing duties, Jepsen then settles back into his eighth-inning role, Trevor May gets the seventh and order is restored.

    That’s the stage that has to be set before any discussion of Jepsen’s future. He’s not Matt Capps, the Twins’ chosen closer who fell apart midway through his term, he’s a caretaker who will relinquish the job as soon as Perkins is ready. That doesn’t mean he should be implicitly trusted with the job for the time being, it’s worth investigating whether he’s suited for it or not, but it’s important to understand what’s at stake here: 25-30 more end-of-game appearances if things start going the Twins’ way and 20-25 if they don’t.

    The Twins do have some interesting arms in the minors that will be in the discussion to close for the team in the future. Tyler Jay, the team’s 2015 first-round pick, was one of the best college closers last year but the team believes he has a future as a starter. Even if they decide to push him back to the bullpen, it shouldn’t happen this season and it absolutely shouldn’t be in response to a need within the major league team. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but “Don’t aim for a reliever with the sixth overall pick” is a maxim most teams would probably agree with. If Jay ends up as a high-leverage reliever, so be it, but the ceiling on a reliever’s total career value is notably lower than a starter’s.

    After a stellar turn in the Arizona Fall League, Nick Burdi is positioning himself for a September call-up at the very minimum and could be up before then if the team continues to suffer pitcher injuries in the quantity they’ve had them in the season’s first month. Burdi has a live arm, but he’s still working on control issues with Double-A Chattanooga. If he starts to lock in his command, it’s not hard to see the team deciding to bypass Rochester and bring him all the way up, but his 1.69 WHIP last season means he’s going to need to show that he can limit base runners consistently before they start moving him aggressively. It’s hard to imagine that timetable being set by the team and met by Burdi before Perkins is ready to rejoin the team.

    J.T. Chargois is probably the most major league-ready of any reliever in the Twins’ system with solid future potential, but the team would almost certainly want to blend him in before handing him the ninth inning duties. At that point, he’d probably only get 10 appearances or so before Perkins was ready again and there’s no guarantee all 10 would be save opportunities. Even setting aside developmental issues, calling a non-essential player up to make eight appearances of any value makes absolutely no financial sense.

    That leaves three players already on the major league roster who could conceivably do the job: Jepsen, May and Alex Meyer.

    Though my feeling on Meyer haven’t changed since he was acquired for Denard Span (profiles as a reliever more than a starter and will struggle with consistency until he can repeat his delivery) the team is handling him as though they view him as a starter. As with Jay, this likely maximizes Meyer’s value, and he should be given every chance to prove he can do it, but with him already on the major league roster, a two-month stint in the bullpen isn’t likely to do any lasting damage. It would, however, stunt any development as a starter until next season. Another potential downside to the move is that there’s absolutely no guarantee that he’ll be an improvement on Jepsen.

    Terry Ryan has said multiple times over the last few months that the franchise’s long-term plan with May was to have him in the starting rotation rather than the bullpen. If that were not the case, May could easily assume the closer role, and there would be a serious discussion about whether Perkins was going to automatically get his job back upon his return. May needs some refinement as a reliever -- he has over half as many wild pitches as a reliever (4) as he had as a starter (7) despite facing 362 fewer hitters -- but his strikeout rate has taken a huge leap forward since he moved to the bullpen last season, which is a good skill for a potential closer to have. Less good would be the aforementioned wild pitches and his walk rate, which has also risen substantially since he left the starting rotation.

    So, if the Twins are bereft of other obvious options, are they doomed to sink with Davis-esque millstone lashed to their collective necks? Hardly.

    Jepsen’s 2015 stint with the Twins was one of the best extended stretches of his entire career. A 30-game run from May to June in 2014 when he was still with the Angels was slightly better, but the Twins still got production from their midseason acquisition that the Rays never got and the Angels only saw in fits and starts. If there was any question about Jepsen’s role with the Twins after last year, it was only whether he might supplant Perkins as the closer even absent any injury consideration. In fact, as Perkins fatigued, Jepsen stepped in and gave the Twins a good option at the end of games as they stayed in the playoff chase until the end.

    His start to this season was obviously suboptimal, but Jepsen does have a history of improving as the year goes on. He has been something of a slow starter throughout his career, peaking in July, then typically fading a little bit down the stretch; he’s far from the only player to follow that type of pattern. It’s not hard to see why Jepsen is struggling: Too few first pitch strikes, too few hitters chasing his out-of-the-zone pitches they can’t hit, too much hard contact, too many home runs, all of which looks less like a systemic collapse and more like a pitcher who just isn’t quite sharp yet and is paying the price for it. Reliever numbers have a tendency to look outsized in either direction; Jepsen looked better than he probably was last year and now the pendulum has swung to the other direction.

    It’s unlikely that the Twins see the same Jepsen they saw last year, but betting on him to get better and at least return to being more of an asset than a liability isn’t a bad bet.

    The other reason to keep Jepsen in his current role is a value play. If the Twins continue to muddle well below the .500 mark, Jepsen becomes trade bait starting around Memorial Day. The worst thing to do for his value -- which admittedly isn’t even as high as it was when the Twins traded Chih-Wei Hu for him last season -- would be to let him tank his value the way he has so far this season, then bury him in the pecking order and only bring him back out in low-leverage situations. Even with Jepsen’s track record as a serviceable late-inning option, that would basically cripple whatever market for him would have formed otherwise.

    Even if Jepsen does make a run at Davis’ blown saves mark, Twins fans can take solace in two things. One, it’s unlikely that Jepsen can blow 11 more saves before Perkins returns, keeping Davis’ ignominy from spreading into the 21st century. And two, given the way the American League is shaping up, it’s fairly unlikely that the Twins are going to just barely miss the playoffs.

    • Apr 29 2016 07:16 AM
    • by dwade
  19. 2016 Chattanooga Lookouts Roster Revealed

    THE COACHING STAFF

    Fans have been spoiled by Doug Mientkiewicz, who enters his fourth year managing in the Twins system. Mientkiewicz has led his team to the playoffs in all three of his seasons, including a Florida State League Championship with Fort Myers in 2014 and a Southern League Championship last year in his first season in Chattanooga. Mientkiewicz remains best known for the seven years he spent with the Minnesota Twins (1998-2004). Tommy Watkins joins the Lookouts as the hitting coach after spending the previous six years in the same capacity in Cedar Rapids. Ivan Arteaga has been working with Twins pitchers since 2001. He will begin his first year in Chattanooga after bouncing between Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids the previous three years. He’ll have the opportunity to work with some pitchers for the third consecutive season.

    THE ROSTER
    *Spent time with Lookouts in 2015

    Last year’s roster included top offensive prospects such as Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco. The pitching staff featured Jose Berrios and Tyler Duffey. Those names have all moved on, but there are still a number of highly regarded prospects, with a number of them being found in the bullpen.

    PROJECTED ROTATION (listed alphabetically):

    P DJ Baxendale*
    P Ryan Eades
    LP David Hurlbut*
    LP Brett Lee*
    P Aaron Slegers*
    P Jason Wheeler*

    This sextet has a ton of AA experience, starting 70 games for the Lookouts last year. In fact, DJ Baxendale led the 2015 squad in both games started and innings pitched. David Hurlbut, who along with Jason Wheeler, appeared in AAA as well, led the team in wins (11). Brett Lee had the lowest ERA (3.10) and WHIP (1.192) of any of the returning starters. Aaron Slegers, the youngest of the six, joined the Lookouts for a half dozen starts late in the year. Ryan Eades will be the lone member of the rotation without AA experience.

    PROJECTED BULLPEN:

    P Jason Adam
    P Nick Burdi*
    P JT Chargois*
    LP Mason Melotakis
    P Brandon Peterson*
    P Jake Reed*
    LP Mike Strong
    P Marcus Walden
    LP Corey Williams*
    P Alex Wimmers*

    Nick Burdi headlines this group of prospects, but it will be a couple of weeks (minimum) before he is throwing in games after coming down with some soreness in his right (throwing) forearm. JT Chargois is expected to assume the closer role, as he led the Lookouts with 11 saves last year. Mason Melotakis returns after missing 2015 due to Tommy John surgery. Jake Reed was demoted after struggling in his Chattanooga debut, but is back and ready to return to his dominant form after getting back on track in the Arizona Fall League. Former first-rounder Alex Wimmers is back in the bullpen after starting 18 games for the Lookouts and being second on the team in innings pitched (115.1). Wimmers was one of the last pitchers moved as pitchers were being sent down from the Twins roster.

    PROJECTED LINEUP:

    SS Engelb Vielma
    2B Levi Michael*
    RF Daniel Palka
    1B DJ Hicks*
    LF Travis Harrison*
    DH/C Mitch Garver
    C Stuart Turner*
    3B Niko Goodrum*
    CF Shannon Wilkerson*

    PROJECTED BENCH:
    C Carlos Paulino*
    C Jairo Rodriguez*
    3B Leonardo Reginatto
    OF Zack Granite
    OF Joe Maloney
    INF Aderlling Mejia* (DL)

    All eyes - at least early - will be on the powerful bat of Daniel Palka. Can he put balls in the seat like Adam Brett Walker did last year? Engelb Vielma, the youngest position player by nearly two years, could play shortstop right now for the Twins, but will he hit enough? Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver, who teamed up in the Arizona Fall League, will be professional teammates for the first time for a Twins affiliate. It will be interesting to see not only how they split up time behind the plate, but also additional at-bats, whether that be at DH or 1B, potentially. The experience of Levi Michael, Niko Goodrum, DJ Hicks and Travis Harrison will be leaned upon heavily. How many league titles have those guys won?

    THE PROSPECTS
    Though many of the highest-rated prospects have moved on, there are still plenty on the Chattanooga roster.

    Here is a quick look at which Lookouts found their names in a variety of Twins Prospect Rankings.

    Twins Prospect Rankings
    Twins Daily Top 10: Burdi (10)
    Seth Stohs Top 30: Burdi (7), Chargois (12), Vielma (15), Reed (18), Turner (23), Garver (24), Palka (25), Slegers (28), Harrison (30)
    Jeremy Nygaard Top 30: Burdi (13), VIelma (16), Chargois (17), Turner (22), Garver (24), Harrison (28)
    Cody Christie Top 30: Burdi (14), Vielma (16), Turner (18), Harrison (23), Chargois (24), Goodrum (25), Melotakis (27), Reed (30)
    Nick Nelson Top 10: Burdi (10)
    Steve Buhr Top 15: Vielma (9), Burdi (12), Reed (13), Chargois (15)
    Baseball America Top 31: Burdi (10), Chargois (15), Turner (16), Vielma (18), Reed (20), Melotakis (28)
    FanGraphs Top 25: Chargois (11), Burdi (14), Vielma (19), Turner (20), Melotakis (21), Garver (23), Eades (24)
    Keith Law Top 20: Burdi (9), Reed (11), Melotakis (19)
    John Sickels Top 20: Burdi (10), Turner (14), Chargois (15), Harrison (16), Eades (18)
    Aaron Gleeman Top 40: Burdi (9), Peterson (15), Chargois (17), Vielma (18), Slegers (21), Reed (24), Eades (30), Garver (31), Melotakis (32), Turner (33), Harrison (35), Palka (37)
    Ted Schwerzler Top 15: Burdi (9), Chargois (13), Reed (15)
    MLB.com Top 30: Burdi (9), Chargois (10), Reed (16), Vielma (17), Melotakis (20), Turner (23), Harrison (24), Palka (29)
    Baseball Essentials Top 20: Burdi (9), Chargois (13), Harrison (15), Palka (18), Vielma (19), Turner (20)

    PREDICTIONS

    First Hitter Promoted to Rochester: 1.) Travis Harrison, 2.) Levi Michael
    First Starting Pitcher Promoted to Rochester: 1.) D.J. Baxendale, 2a.) Brett Lee, 2b.) Jason Wheeler
    First Relief Pitcher Promoted to Rochester: 1.) Alex Wimmers, 2.) JT Chargois

    TWITTER FOLLOWS

    Chattanooga Lookouts: @ChattLookouts
    Radio Voice: @LWtheVoice
    Lookouts Media Relations: @RedFoxFanatic

    • Apr 04 2016 02:06 PM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  20. Twins Sent Nine Players To Minor League Camp

    The Twins optioned RHP Alex Meyer, IF Jorge Polanco and 1B Kennys Vargas. They reassigned six players to minor league camp including RHPs Jose Berrios and Nick Burdi, LHP Aaron Thompson, outfielder Joe Benson and catchers Mitch Garver and Stuart Turner.

    Jose Berrios had a tough spring, at least in games. The talented right-hander struggled with command in his first outing this spring. He pitched a great three innings against the Red Sox in his second outing. However, in a minor league outing on Tuesday, he really struggled with his command again. He will head to AAA Rochester, but we should expect to see him in 2016.

    Jorge Polanco was hitting .280/.357/.440 (.797) with a double and a homer this spring. However, still young, the Twins want him to play every day. With Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar and Trevor Plouffe locked into the infield, Polanco will head to Rochester where he has played just 22 games.

    Kennys Vargas was in a tough spot this spring. The acquisition of Byung Ho Park meant that playing time would be sparse for the large first baseman. He had just two hits in 23 plate appearances this spring and struck out seven times (with five walks). He will head to Rochester where he will get playing time. Should there be an injury to Park or Mauer, Vargas would be in line for a call up.

    Alex Meyer was also optioned to AAA Rochester. In 4 games, he logged 4.2 innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out three. It is still to be seen whether the Twins have him start for the Red Wings or work out of the bullpen.

    The Twins sent a couple of their top catching prospects to minor league camp as well. Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver are likely both headed to AA Chattanooga to start the minor league season. Turner missed time earlier in camp with some back issues, though he is 100% now. He had just three plate appearances. Garver went 1-8 in camp and spent some time at first base as well late in games. The experience for them was still very important.

    Left-hander Aaron Thompson was also reassigned to minor league camp. He pitched well last spring and won an Opening Day job, but that will not be the case this year.

    Nick Burdi was also reassigned. The hard-throwing right-hander made a strong impression at big league camp this year. After a difficult season in 2015, he rebounded strongly late and in the Arizona Fall League. He has shown much improved control this spring, still throwing 97+ and working with a good slider. He is another guy we will see this year.

    Outfielder Joe Benson was one of the last cuts with the Braves last year. He has been reassigned to minor league camp this morning as well.

    Again the Twins now have 43 men on their current spring training roster (13 non-roster). They have 20 pitchers (five non-roster), five catchers (two non-roster), nine infielders (three non-roster) and nine outfielders (three non-roster).

    Four guys from minor league camp will join the Twins at jetBlue Stadium this afternoon. Stephen Wickens, Travis Harrison, Jake Reed and Brandon Peterson will play in a reserve role for the Twins.

    Byron Buxton was back this morning, feeling better. Danny Santana will start in center field today.

    • Mar 18 2016 09:53 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  21. Long Travel And Baseball Day (Twins Notes)

    As most of you know, I pretty much live in Canada. To be exact (or pretty close), my house is approximately four miles (as the crow flies) from the Canadian border in Minnesota. I worked on Thursday until about 4:00 and after throwing a few more things into my trunk, I was out of town by 4:30. I had a nine-minute stop to meet my dad along the way. But I arrived at my sister’s house in the west Metro at about 11:30.

    I crashed before midnight, but setting an alarm for 2:40 a.m. is just wrong on so many levels. I can’t even imagine doing that on a regular basis. But, she agreed to take me to the airport at 3:30. I was at the airport and through security by about 4:30, so that was pretty good, I thought.

    First flight was at 6:05 a.m. and left on time. We arrived in Atlanta, and I had 15 minutes to spare before they started boarding the connecting flight. It took off on time and I arrived in Ft. Myers by noon (ET, of course).

    By the time I got my car (which was not a swift process by any means!) and drove over to Hammond Stadium, it was already about 1:45. Of course, the first thing I did was walk over to the minor league complex, just to see if they were still working out. They were.

    On one field, Jake Mauer was feeding a pitching machine and several players who could spend time with the Cedar Rapids Kernels this year were taking BP.

    On the next field, Jeff Smith and Jim “Slice” Dwyer were watching a group of likely Miracle batters take batting practice.

    On the third field, there were a lot of coaches. That’s where the guys who are likely to spend time in extended spring training were. Among them was new GCL hitting coach and former Twins prospect Steve Singleton. I chatted with him for just a few minutes. He’s expressed real excitement about getting to work with the young players this year. He stressed that there is a lot of talent in that group. He talked about the great speed of Emmanuel Morel and Gorge Munoz and some other great athletes. He also talked about the number of power arms that are now in the organization, especially compared to when he was playing.

    I walked over to the the big league stadium and went inside for the 4th inning. I got in just in time to watch Byung Ho Park launch his third spring training home run. He got all of it. As Molitor said “It was a no-doubter.”

    Following the game, Molitor mentioned that it was on a fastball inside and Park was able to keep it fair. Pioneer Press scribe Mike Berardino pointed out that all three of his home runs have come on fastballs (94, 92 and this one was 91), and all three of them came when he was playing first base.

    An inning later, Joe Mauer came to the plate. He worked a long count before ripping a line shot to center field. In dead center, there is “405” printed on the wall, about two feet from the top of the fence. Mauer’s double hit about a foot above that sign. Soon after, Miguel Sano crushed a liner over the left fielder’s head to score a run.

    The Twins wound up losing the game 6-5, in case anyone was curious.

    NOTES

    The game went 3 hours and 28 minutes. In his post-game presser, manager Paul Molitor kicked it off by saying, “What are your thoughts on pace of game?”

    I missed Kyle Gibson’s outing. Looking at the numbers, it wasn’t very impressive.He gave up two runs on four hits and three walks in two innings. Molitor said after the game that Gibson was “OK for me.” He was keeping the ball on the ground. His pitch count just kept mounting. Too many 1-0 pitches and deep counts.

    Randy Rosario came in late in the game, in large part because of Gibson’s short start. It’s clear that his stuff in electric. The first batter he faced was left-handed and he made him look silly on a strikeout. However that was followed by a blooper to right, just out of the reach of a diving Darin Mastroianni, who trapped the ball. The next batter hit a four-hopper through the right side, just out of the reach of a diving Wilfredo Tovar. Then came a solid single up the middle to score a run. But Rosario came back and got the final two he faced, one of them on a strikeout.

    Jorge Polanco struggled mightily on defense. In fairness he got a lot of opportunities, but concerns about his defense have to be elevated at some point. He mishandled a routine bounding grounder up the middle for an error. He got a second error on a throw that was probably eight feet shy of first base. He was saved of at least one, and possibly two, more errors by nice scoops by Beresford. Following the game, Molitor said that Polanco is “fine, arm-wise. He hasn’t expressed any trouble with his arm. He throws fine in infield. It looks like he rushes during games. After he throws a couple low, you start trying to guide it instead of throwing it.”

    James Beresford hasn’t played a single game at first base as a professional baseball player, in the regular season. He has played there twice this spring and a little bit last offseason, along with third base and his “normal” spot, second base.. Molitor said, “He made a couple of nice plays… He’s more than competent to play around the infield. Probably not at short too much, though he’d be fine in an emergency. That’s where he started before he moved over to second.”


    I was somewhat surprised by the shortstop comment. Beresford was signed as a shortstop and played there a lot early in his career. He also was the shortstop for Team Australia in the WBC Qualifier. However, it probably shouldn't be surprising as in the last three years, he has played 340 games at second base, six games at shortstop and five games at third base. Although he was an all-star second baseman for Rochester last year, if his future with the Twins is as a utility infielder, he will need to spend time at all four infield spots.

    Max Kepler made the start in center field on Friday afternoon. Molitor said that he hasn’t seen a lot of him in center field and hasn’t seen enough plays to fully evaluate. He commented that Byron Buxton will start the next two games in center, and then Kepler will make a start on Monday in Jupiter. He noted that Kepler “is not a burner, but he covers distance with that long stride.”

    Nick Burdi needed only six pitches to work a scoreless ninth. The first pitch was 96 and the batter reached on a Polanco error. The next pitch was 97 and got a weak grounder to second base for an easy double play. He needed four pitches for the final batter, and they went 97, 99, 84, and 99. Ground ball to shortstop to end the inning. The ‘84’ may have been Burdi’s split-change.
    The Twins are on the road in Sarasota on Saturday. I’ll stay in Ft. Myers and talk to some players before spending the majority of the day watching the minor league workouts. Be sure to stop back throughout the weekend as I plan to post at least once, and usually twice, each day. Also, I plan to post several pictures on the Twins Daily Facebook page and Twins Daily Twitter feed (and my Twitter feed too, if you want to follow that). The Twins are back home on Sunday afternoon when it is believed the first round of cuts will be made.

    • Mar 11 2016 09:25 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  22. Veterans Or Youth

    Early in the offseason, Terry Ryan spoke frequently about the need to improve the bullpen, a bullpen that really struggled, especially in the second half of last season. As we got to the Winter Meetings, the focus became left-handed pitching. Yet, as the offseason continued on and now spring training has started, the Twins went without signing or trading for any MLB relief pitchers.

    Some can argue that the Twins accomplished some measure of addition by subtraction. They chose not to bring back free agents Blaine Boyer, Brian Duensing or Neal Cotts (each signed a minor league contract elsewhere shortly before spring training).

    Glen Perkins. Kevin Jepsen. Casey Fien. Probably Trevor May, as we assume he’ll be in the bullpen and not the rotation. We know it’s very possible that Ricky Nolasco or Tommy Milone, whichever is not the team’s fifth starter, will be in the bullpen. That leaves just two spots that are really open (assuming no trades, or any injuries - which of course can’t be assumed).

    Michael Tonkin is out of options. He will get a very long look. Many will say that he is a favorite for one more spot. I am one of them, though I do not think his roster spot is a given.

    So, let’s get back to the question at the top. Do we want veterans or young players with upside?

    39-year-old Matt Thornton has been a high-quality left-handed reliever for a decade. He was truly great from 2008 to 2010 when he threw really hard (mid-to-upper 90s) for the White Sox. While his velocity and strikeout rates have dropped the last five years, he still had an ERA under 2.00 last year. Will that continue as he approaches 40? Maybe.

    Neal Cotts, Brian Duensing, Manny Parra and others fall a category or two lower than Thornton. They’re a little younger, and they have had some experience and a bit of success over the last five to six years. They are veterans, but there isn’t a lot of potential. They are sixth and seventh inning type of guys.

    Reading the forums of Twins Daily the last couple of years, there are many who think that those lower-leverage situations are ideal for a young pitcher with upside. Remember, between Perkins, Jepsen, May and Fien, the 8th and 9th innings are pretty well covered. If things are going well, that group could cover the 7th inning at times as well. Ricky Nolasco (if he’s in the bullpen) is the likely long reliever.

    Let’s not call Michael Tonkin a given yet. So, do we want those veterans for the sixth and seventh inning, or do we want youngsters in those two remaining spots in the bullpen?

    SEEN THEM, STILL YOUNG (RH RP)

    Ryan Pressly was doing well when he was injured last year. He deserves another opportunity and will pitch well. JR Graham was up due to the Rule 5 rules last year, and he has a lot of talent. Most likely, he’ll do what Pressly has done and spend plenty of time in AAA in 2016. Alex Meyer clearly has a world of talent and will likely get an opportunity at some point in 2016 and has huge upside. He’s got to throw more strikes. Tonkin himself fits into this category.

    YOUNG FLAMETHROWERS (RH RP)

    JT Chargois sure had an impressive spring debut on Thursday night. He coaxed three weak ground balls with his mid-to-upper-90s fastball, solid slurve and good change-up. He missed 2013 and 2014 due to injury, but he returned in 2015. He began in Ft. Myers, but he worked up to Chattanooga where he became the closer for the Southern League champions.

    Jake Reed came on with two on and one out in the 2nd on Thursday. He showed his mid-90s fastball, slider and a lot of movement. He needed a few pitches, but he got the double play. He was drafted in 2014 and dominated in two levels plus the AFL. In 2015, he jumped to AA where he struggled. After time in Ft. Myers he returned to the Lookouts, and then he pitched well in the AFL.

    Nick Burdi, like Chargois, can touch triple digits, and he has a strong slider too. He was terrific in the AFL, looking like he had found some control and had a great slider working. If he can continue with those pitches he will be up soon.These three are not likely to make the Opening Day roster, but all three of them could be ready within a month or two of the season.

    MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS (RH RP)

    The Twins signed veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler to a minor league deal. He had a couple of good years before a leg injury cost him much of his 2015 season.

    MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS (LH RP)

    The Twins brought back Aaron Thompson who was good for them the first four or five weeks of the season, and then struggled and went to AAA. But, he could be adequate in the short-term. The Twins signed two guys out of independent ball who won’t make the team, Dan Runzler and Buddy Boschers, but could make an impression in spring training and be an option later. The one veteran lefty reliever with an opportunity, most likely, to make the Opening Day roster is Fernando Abad. He’s just past 30, and he’s had some big league success. We’ll see. Though he is no longer on the 40-man roster, Logan Darnell could fill a left-handed reliever (or long-reliever) role out of the bullpen for the Twins in 2016. Darnell is not on the 40-man roster because the Twins signed lefty Mike Strong, who will compete for a job in Chattanooga or Rochester this spring at age 27.

    YOUNG LEFTIES

    Taylor Rogers had a rough - yes, really rough - 2016 spring debut on Thursday night. The first five batters reached, three scored, before he got the final three batters out. He even gave up back-to-back doubles to left-handers. However, of 202 lefties he faced in 2015 in AAA, he gave up just three extra-base hits (all doubles). He has a track record of dominating lefties. No, he’s never really pitched out of the bullpen, but he has the potential to be really, really good. High upside, lacking in experience.

    I’ll put 27-year-old Ryan O’Rourke in this category too. He spent the second half of 2015 with the Twins. He has made a career out of dominating left-handers as well. He did that with the Twins, at least until late in the season when he was used sparingly and in situations where he had to get both lefties and righties out.

    Mason Melotakis is potentially the left-handed equivalent to Burdi and Chargois. He missed all of 2015 but came back in Instructs hitting 97. He is a three-pitch pitcher with very nasty stuff. He really just needs to get some innings in the minors before throwing him into the big leagues. But he’s another that shouldn’t surprise us if we see him a lot in 2016.

    WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

    I mean, it’s going to mean something different to everyone. Have I mentioned Tony Sipp or Antonio Bastardo? No, because I fully understand not wanting to go three years on them. That is especially true as upside guys like Yorman Landa, Brandon Peterson and Trevor Hildenberger get closer too.

    I think the key points are these:

    • The Twins have four guys at the back end of the bullpen that they can, most likely, rely upon. (Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May and Casey Fien)
    • Michael Tonkin and Ricky Nolasco likely have the upper hand early in spring training on roster spots.
    • The Twins could go with veteran relievers. They brought a couple in with some big league success (Fernando Abad, Brandon Kintzler). There are still a couple out there who the Twins could sign if things go poorly for the other lefties this spring (Franklyn Morales, Randy Choate, Joe Beimel). Based on the volatility of relief pitchers, any of them could be good, or bad, for the year.
    • The Twins could choose to have their final bullpen spot or two filled by high upside pitchers that can be brought along slowly in lower-leverage situations. The fact that they have a bunch of options means that they shouldn’t be afraid to send these guys up and down from time to time throughout the season.
    So, who are the highest upside guys right now? In my mind, there are five guys that I would consider going with early in the season. Alex Meyer has huge upside. JT Chargois and Nick Burdi have the biggest upsides, and are both very nearly ready. Jake Reed is close to that level as well. Mason Melotakis has a huge upside, is left-handed, and now just needs to work some innings. He may not be down long. And, Taylor Rogers in a low-leverage situation where he can go 1-2 innings, or just go against left-handers, can be very good.

    That is list of six guys who may be ready in 2016. We thought some of them would be ready in 2015, and they weren’t. It’s possible that they won’t be again in 2016. If not, that shows bigger issues in the organization that likely need to be addressed. The talent is there, and they need to get to the big leagues.

    The only way to get them experience is to give them experience. That obviously starts this spring. They will take their lumps. So will veterans. So, the Twins (and fans) need to decide whether they want the lumps taken by a veteran like Matt Thornton or guys who could become the next Matt Thornton (circa 2008-2010). There is no way for the Twins (or fans) to know what the right decision is for 2016. That’s why they play the games.

    BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

    These veteran versus high-upside, unproven talent questions happen all over the place. Consider the starting rotation. In theory, it’s possible that the Twins could decide on a rotation of Santana, Hughes, Gibson, Nolasco and Milone and let Duffey and Berrios go to Rochester. Duffey is pretty solidly penciled in to the starting rotation, but Berrios has very little chance to be on the Opening Day roster.

    As fans, do we want the veteran like Nolasco, who has had some measure of success in the past, or do we want to see the high-upside of Berrios?

    Behind the plate, do we want to see the veteran in Kurt Suzuki, or would we prefer to see John Ryan Murphy get more playing time?

    There’s a reason that we want the Twins to go with Byron Buxton as their center fielder from Opening Day. It isn’t a certainty that he is ready right now. It’s a confidence that his upside and potential are very high. Meanwhile a certain sect of Twins fans were disappointed when Rajai Davis signed elsewhere. Signing Davis would affect a roster spot and, more important, playing time for Buxton, or Eddie Rosario, or eventually Max Kepler.

    Some fans even see a scenario where trading an all-star, a proven veteran and a still-just-28-year-old Brian Dozier to make room for Jorge Polanco.

    In 2006, we saw the Twins sign veterans Juan Castro and Tony Batista to man the left-side of the infield. By mid-June those two were gone and Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto took over, and the team took off.

    That’s not to say that going with a veteran is always wrong either. On the right contract, a veteran can be great. The Twins have had plenty of success with minor league free agent signings in recent years (Jared Burton, Sam Deduno, Chris Colabello, Casey Fien, etc.). They’ve had success, at least for one year with major league signings (Phil Hughes, Josh Willingham). They’ve had failures with free agent signings too (Lamb, Nolasco, etc). Unfortunately in baseball, played by people as it is, there is no way to guarantee what kind of performance you will get from any player, veteran, or rookie.

    In 1991, the Twins signed Jack Morris, who wasn’t very good the two previous seasons in Detroit. They could have gone with the young guy with upside, like David West or something. They signed veteran Chili Davis rather than going with someone like Paul Sorrento. A year earlier, they had traded prospects for an upper-30s Bert Blyleven, and they re-acquired a long-time veteran Roy Smalley. I guess they were bringing back the gang, right?

    So what is the 'right' strategy, and can the answer to that question change? In other words, was the answer different during the 90-loss seasons than in 2016 when the team is expecting to compete for a playoff berth?

    We are two games into spring training. Opening Day is a month away. A lot of decisions will be made. Some will prove right. Some will prove wrong. But will the philosophy be to go with veterans, or will it be to go with youth and talent? My guess is that it will be a little of both. The important thing after making those Opening Day roster decisions, will be how quickly changes will be made.

    • Mar 04 2016 08:32 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  23. TD Top Prospects: #10 Nick Burdi

    Age: 23 (DOB: 1/19/93)
    2015 Stats (A+/AA): 63.2 IP, 3.82 ERA, 83/35 K/BB, 1.37 WHIP
    ETA: 2016
    2015 Ranking: 10

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

    What's To Like

    Burdi started gaining national attention when he was touching 95 MPH with his fastball as a high schooler, a rare feat. He entered the draft after his senior year, expecting to be selected between the third and fifth rounds, but his well known signing bonus demands scared teams away. He fell all the way to the 24th, where the Twins – developing a heightened interest in big-velo power arms – took a shot on him.

    As expected, Burdi elected not to sign. He honored his commitment to the University of Louisville, where he played three seasons and turned into one of the nation's top closers. In 2014, his junior year, he notched 18 saves with a 0.49 ERA and ridiculous 65-to-10 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. When the 6-foot-5 right-hander re-entered the draft, the Twins took him again, 22 rounds higher, and this time signed him with a $1.2 million bonus.

    By the end of his collegiate career, Burdi's fastball was touching triple digits. With his premium velocity and absurd numbers at Louisville, he had the looks of a late-inning weapon and very possibly an eventual MLB closer.

    Unlike many other college relievers that the Twins drafted highly with designs on converting them to starters, there was never any real thought of changing Burdi's role. He reported straight to Single-A after signing in 2014 and made impressive stops at both Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, piling up 38 strikeouts in 20 innings.

    What's Left To Work On

    Burdi opened the 2015 season as the closer for a stacked Chattanooga team managed by Doug Mientkiewicz. Just two steps away from the majors at the outset of his first full professional season, the 22-year-old righty was very much on the fast track.

    But it was here that Burdi's control issues, which had mostly gone missing since he walked all four batters he faced in his pro debut, flared up again. In his first outing for the Lookouts, he came on to close out a 3-0 lead in the season-opener and was charged with four runs on four walks and a hit, costing Chattanooga the game.

    Things didn't get a whole lot smoother after that. Burdi totaled 12 walks in his first seven appearances, then found himself demoted from the closer role and – at the end of June – from Double-A altogether. Frustrated by his continued struggles, the Twins sent Burdi back to Class-A Ft. Myers.

    For a young pitcher whose extreme confidence would be labeled by some as cocky, it was perhaps a needed dose of humility. Burdi quickly turned things around at Single-A, posting a phenomenal 29-to-3 K/BB ratio in 20 innings, and moved back up six weeks later.

    He finished with a clean month at Chattanooga, then headed to the Arizona Fall League, where he was nearly perfect in eight scoreless outings. It seems safe to say that whatever momentum was lost during that ugly first half of 2015 has now been regained.

    What's Next

    Burdi still hasn't shown that he can keep the walks in check at Double-A. Even during his successful return to the Lookouts bullpen in August, he handed out multiple free passes in four of eight appearances. Until he can sustainably keep it in the zone at that level, it's hard to see him being moved up to the majors or even Triple-A.

    Most likely he'll start the year back in Chattanooga, and if he can get off to a better start this time around he'll be well positioned for in-season promotions to Rochester and maybe Minnesota. Mike Berardino reported earlier this week that the right-hander is experimenting with adding a split-finger to his fastball/slider mix, which would give hitters a significantly different look.

    I suspect that a strong belief in Burdi's ability and impending readiness played a large part in Terry Ryan's decision to mostly skip the free agent relief market this offseason.

    • Feb 24 2016 02:04 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  24. Finally Healthy, Chargois Is Bringing The Heat

    In the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, the Twins selected their first of two closers from Rice University. Three rounds later, the Twins selected Rice’s co-closer that year, Tyler Duffey. It was an interesting situation.

    “If he played first base, or he made a lot of throws, they’d call me in,” Duffey told Twins Daily in spring training. “If I was getting loose, they said ‘You take the 8th and JT will take the 9th.’ It just depended upon the situation. If we needed his bat or something, they wouldn’t mess with him. It was fun though. It wasn’t really a competition, but we kind of fed off each other a bit… We’d have strikeout competitions. It was fun.”

    Chargois grew up and went to high school in Sulphur, Louisiana, a city of about 20,000 people just west of Lake Charles. Former big leaguers (And Mr. Jennie Finch) Casey Daigle went to the same high school.

    As a freshman at Rice, Chargois pitched in 15 games and hit in just three games. After that, it was hard to keep him out of the lineup. As a sophomore, he pitched in just seven games. He hit in 63 games. He batted .299/.378/.379 (.757) with nine doubles, three triples and two homers in 63 games. Following the season, he spent time playing in the Cape Cod League. That’s where he made a strong impression on the mound. In 17 games, he posted a 0.43 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.

    As a junior, hit hit .323/.411/.376 (.787) with 10 doubles in 51 games. However, on the mound, he pitched 37.2 innings over 25 games out of the bullpen. He went 4-1 with eight saves and a 2.15 ERA. He walked 12 and struck out 38.

    Chargois would start at first base or DH and come into games late. Well, either he or Duffey would. he noted, “We pretty much switched roles in the back of the bullpen. That was fun, challenging each other.”

    After the draft, Chargois signed quickly and spent the summer in Elizabethton. He struck out 22 and walked five in 16 innings over 12 games. He posted a 1.69 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP.

    By then he was solely a pitcher. An upper-90s fastball will also make that an easy decision. That was just fine with the right-hander. He pointed out, “Surprisingly, I don’t really miss it (hitting). I have enough going on worrying about pitching.”

    Chargois’s career was off to a fast start. There was so much to look forward to, and then came the arm issues, and the question marks.

    Chargois missed the 2013 season. He spent the first half of the season attempting to rehab. Unfortunately, it didn’t take, and in September, he had Tommy John surgery. He also missed the entire 2014 season.

    Putting it in its most simplistic way, Chargois said, “It was a rough two, two-and-a-half years.”

    Following surgery, he put in a lot of work. He spoke about the rehab process. “I felt like through the rehab there is so much throwing. There’s more throwing that goes into your rehab throwing than actually pitching in a game. I felt more sore and more exhausted during the throwing program than I actually was throwing in games. It was pretty rigorous.”

    He returned to the mound in the Instructional League following the 2014 season. He was the player there that was being talked about. Rumors came out that he was consistently hitting 99 mph on the radar gun.

    “I felt like I was lucky, really lucky. My body responded really well. It’s almost 50/50 whether you’re going to come back, so it’s scary. There’s not a guarantee. As successful as the surgeries are, it’s not a guarantee.”

    Following rehab, he stayed in Ft. Myers at the Twins complex, something he did again quite a bit this past offseason.

    “Last year, being the first year coming back from injury, I wanted to be down there pretty much the whole offseason. I wanted Chad (Jackson) around, Eric Beiser, our strength coach. It worked out. They took care of me. Comfort. Security. It’s just a good situation. Dorms down there. Living arrangement. Quality of food. It’s just a good situation.”

    Posted Image

    In 2015, he was hoping to start in Chattanooga, but the team decided that he should begin in Ft. Myers. He pitched in just 16 Miracle games. In 15 innings, he gave up just four earned runs on 12 hits and four walks. He struck out 19. He was named to the Florida State League All-Star team but was instead promoted to Chattanooga.

    “I can say coming out of spring training, I was disappointed. I really wanted to play with basically the group that I started with (in Chattanooga). I wanted to be with those guys to start. There was a reason I went to Ft. Myers. I really needed it. I’m glad I did actually. Going up to Chattanooga, I was hitting full stride.”

    He gave the Lookouts a guy they could rely on in the back of their bullpen. He pitched 33 innings in 32 games for Chattanooga. He recorded 11 saves and posted a 2.73 ERA. He struck out 34, but he also walked 20. But that doesn’t tell the story. In his first 12 games with the Lookouts, he gave up three runs in 11.2 innings and went 1-0 with five saves. He had one clunker. On July 12, he gave up six earned runs on three hits and three walks in ⅔ of an inning. Then he ended the season with a 0.46 ERA in 18 games (19.2 innings) and opponents hit just .164 off of him. He gave up just one more run (on August 27).

    Note: This is also a reason why looking solely at ERA and WHIP for relievers isn’t the best way to measure their success.

    During the Chattanooga Lookouts run to the Southern League championship, Nick Burdi pitched the eighth inning. JT Chargois pitched the ninth inning. Jake Reed and Brandon Peterson were also dominant performers in that Lookout bullpen. Though the players were close, there was a measure of friendly competition among them as well.

    “I loved it. It’s kind of a competition. There are a very limited number of bullpen spots. I love having those guys around. I feel like I text Burdi all the time, wanting to compete. In the stadium. In the weight room. They’re great guys and great teammates. We feed off of each other and it’s a great camaraderie.”

    And being part of that championship with his teammates, the teammates he started with meant the world to him.

    “That group has won a several championships already. We won it in Elizabethton. I was really disappointed. I felt I was ready to come back when they won in Ft. Myers in 2014, but they won it then. I don’t know how to explain it. The camaraderie is great. Great talent. At the end of the year no one wants to go home. You want to play and you want to win.”

    Following the season, Chargois was able to go home. He had pitched enough for his first year back after missing two years. He didn’t go to the Arizona Fall League. He didn’t pitch in a foreign winter league. He was able to enjoy a normal offseason. Most important, he ended the season healthy.

    “Everything’s good. Following Dr. Andrew’s rehab program and just continued to do that throughout the season, modified it a little bit. Going through an injury like that, you understand the importance of doing all the little things that you have to do for your arm and your body.”

    Of course, in mid-November, the thought of being added to the 40-man roster comes to mind. It is a big deal for minor leaguers for a couple of reasons. First, financially, it is a nice boost to a minor league contract. Second, and probably more important, it removes one obstacle from an eventual call up to the big leagues. Third, it means you are required to go to big league spring training, an opportunity to be seen and work with the big league coaching staff and players.

    Though we at Twins Daily felt that it was a lock that he would be added, until he found out and it was official, you never know.

    “Talking to my agent, the days leading up to it, I was anxious, excited, nervous at the same time. I was on a little mini-vacation in Houston, hanging out. I was headed to the weight room and got the call. It was kind of crazy. Rob Antony let me know. It was really good news, but he also challenged me at the same time. It’s not something that’s just, you can’t take it for granted.”

    He won’t take it for granted. He’s already working in Ft. Myers, preparing for the season. What are his thoughts heading into spring training? Does he think he can compete for a big league job?

    “Absolutely! Not trying to waste any time. Mentally I’m ready. I feel like showing everyone in the front office and coaching staff that I can perform. I’ve turned my mindset into performing.”

    Chargois was last a Target Field after the draft. He saw Minnesota in June. This was his first trip to Minnesota in the winter. However, the opportunity to be there was a highlight for him. He was very excited to be there, meeting fans, as well as future teammates and coaches.

    “It’s good seeing guys that are accomplished in the major leagues, seeing how they work, seeing their routines. They know how to push things. Know when to back off. Definitely helpful being able being around guys like that. Being able to observe them. It’s cool. It’s really cool. Putting on this jersey, being around this stadium around the fans, the accommodations are really nice. It’s a great life!”

    It is a life (the big league life) that JT Chargois will need to get accustomed to, and probably soon.

    • Feb 04 2016 07:12 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  25. 2016 Roster Projections: The Relief Pitchers

    Are there any prospects with the potential to be impact players down the line? Read on and see what you think, and then let’s discuss below in the comments.


    MAJOR LEAGUES
    Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May, Casey Fien, Fernando Abad, Ricky Nolasco, Michael Tonkin

    Arguably the biggest area of concern for the big league club as we look to the 2016. Quite possibly the biggest question mark heading into spring training. When healthy, Glen Perkins has proven to be one of the better relievers in all of baseball. Can he stay healthy for the full season? Kevin Jepsen came to the Twins at the deadline, and he became the most reliable option for the Twins bullpen. Can he continue at that level? Trevor May certainly has the stuff and the demeanor to be a bullpen guy, but is that his role for good going forward? However, in this group of three, the Twins have the makings of a very dominant back-end of the bullpen.

    When healthy, Casey Fien has been good in the bullpen for the Twins but he hasn’t been healthy the last season and a half. Only 20% of his arbitration contract isn’t guaranteed. So, he’ll need to be ready right in spring training. Michael Tonkin has been very good in AAA the last several years. He has been called up to the Twins many time. He is now out of options. Does that guarantee him a job? Not necessarily. Fernando Abad is a very intriguing minor league signing as Parker noted yesterday. He has the ability to be good, but last year he was very non-good. Can it completely be blamed on tipping pitches? And then there is Ricky Nolasco. If he has a strong camp, could he start? If not, how will he respond physically, mentally and emotionally to being in the bullpen?

    Other Contenders: Taylor Rogers, Aaron Thompson, Brandon Kintzler


    MINOR LEAGUES

    Rochester Red Wings
    Ryan Pressly, Brandon Kintzler, Alex Meyer, JR Graham, Ryan O’Rourke, Aaron Thompson, Alex Wimmers, Cole Johnson
    Others: Jason Adam, Dan Runzler, David Martinez

    As usual, AAA players tend to be pretty familiar names. Most of them have some time in the big leagues, maybe even more. Ryan Pressly was pitching well for the Twins when his season came to an end with injury. He’ll certainly compete for a big league job in spring training. So will veteran Brandon Kintzler who has spent several big league seasons with the Brewers' big league bullpen. He was hurt and missed much of the 2015 season. The Twins signed him on a minor league deal. JR Graham spent all of 2015 with the Twins, but that’s because he had to or the Twins would have likely lost him to Atlanta thanks to Rule 5 rules. He’ll likely head to AAA to start the season as Pressly did a year ago, but get an opportunity to work his way back. Alex Meyer made the move to the bullpen, saw a quick debut in late June and struggled, but he did end fairly strong and we should see plenty of him in 2016 as well. Ryan O’Rourke made his debut in 2015 and showed that he can get left-handers out. He’s a good guy to have around and will also get a shot out of spring training. If used correctly, he has a lot of value. Aaron Thompson was the surprise name from last spring training but he earned an Opening Day spot. After a strong first five weeks, he really struggled for the next six weeks before being sent down. He was DFAd but re-signed with the Twins this offseason. All of these could very well see big league time.

    Chattanooga Lookouts
    Nick Burdi, Jake Reed, JT Chargois, Brandon Peterson, Trevor Hildenberger, Corey Williams, Mason Melotakis, Alex Muren
    Others: Tim Shibuya, Brian Gilbert, Luke Westphal, Todd Van Steensel, Marcus Walden, Buddy Boshers, Raul Fernandez, Matt Summers.

    There will be some serious talent starting the season in the Lookouts bullpen, and several of these could move up to AAA and even the big leagues relatively quickly. Burdi and Reed started 2015 with the Lookouts but struggled and went back to Ft. Myers. They both ended the season with a Southern League championship and then an Arizona Fall League championship. For both, if they have control, they could move up quick. Hildenberger was also on that AFL roster. He was our Minor League Reliever of the Year. He began in Cedar Rapids before moving up to the Miracle. Peterson was our reliever of the year in 2014. He was just as good in 2015 between the Miracle and the Lookouts. Corey Williams and Mason Melotakis are two hard-throwing southpaws. Both missed a season after Tommy John surgery. Williams missed 2014 and returned in June. Melotakis missed all of 2015 but rumors from Ft. Myers had him hitting 97 mph at Instructs, so he’ll be at about 19 months since surgery by opening day, so he could be ready much sooner.

    You also obviously noticed that there are lots of pitchers in that “Other” category. Trying to predict bullpens in the minor leagues is pretty much impossible. The “Others” group has some strong talent in it. Summers throws 95+. Boshers has a big league spring training invite. Shibuya stayed healthy and pitched at three levels.Van Steensel has put up terrific numbers the last two years. These guys should be on rosters. The point of this paragraph is two-fold. First and foremost, I would expect that there will be a lot of pitchers in the upper levels who start the season on the “Disabled List” ready to contribute at the AA or AAA level when someone is hurt or promoted.

    Ft. Myers Miracle
    Nick Anderson, Luke Bard, Yorman Landa, Michael Cederoth, Randy LeBlanc, Mike Theofanopoulos, Zach Tillery, Jared Wilson, Cameron Booser

    Few knew the name Yorman Landa before he was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November - unless you follow Twins Daily, of course. Fully healthy, he reaches into the upper-90s. Speaking of finally healthy, Luke Bard was healthy in 2015.He put together a solid season. He throws hard and has sharp secondary stuff. I think he takes off in 2016. Nick Anderson is 25, from Brainerd and Mayville State, and the Twins signed him late last year out of the independent leagues. He was the Kernels closer through their playoff run. Cederoth started for the Kernels last year, but it may be time for him to move to the bullpen.Cameron Booser, like Cederoth, can hit 99 regularly. Booser is a lefty and his season ended with shoulder surgery. LeBlanc and Tillery pitched well as long-relievers and starters for the 2015 Kernels.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Kuo-Hua Lo, Miles Nordgren, Logan Lombana, Jose Abreu, Anthony McIver, Alex Robinson, Tyler Stirewalt

    After three years in E-Town (Where he was the Appy League reliever of the year last year), Kuo-Hua Lo will move up to the Kernels. Nordgren saw a little time with the Kernels, in the bullpen, Alex Robinson was the Twins 5th round pick out of Maryland last year. The lefty has hit 96 at times. If he has any control, he can dominate.. Logan Lombana (25th) and Anthony McIver (15th) were 2015 draft picks out of college. They ate a lot of innings out of the bullpen for Elizabethton in 2015. Stirewalt was drafted as an athlete who could throw 95. He played football in college before moving to baseball full time. He returned in 2015 from Tommy John surgery.

    Extended Spring Training
    Johan Quezada, Max Cordy, Nate Gercken, Miguel Gonzalez, Andrew Vasquez, Hector Lujan, Callan Pearce, Brandon Poulson, Vadim Balam, Luis Hernandez, Onas Farfan

    Johan Quezada came out of nowhere. He is now 6-8 and throws 100. He grew and got stronger. Poulson was the interesting signing by the Twins following the 2014 draft. He throws hard but the Twins kept him in EST in 2015to continue trying to get him some semblance of control. Farfan missed 2015 due to Tommy John but he should be ready for the start of this season. There are some intriguing, hard-throwing pitchers on this list who could surface in Elizabethton (or maybe even Cedar Rapids) in 2016.

    SUMMARY

    There certainly are question marks going into Twins Fest weekend with the Twins bullpen makeup. I do still - naive as it may be - expect the Twins to make another move for a reliever before spring training. There also is some talent at the back end of the bullpen and there is plenty of depth in the upper levels. The Lookouts bullpen is full of high-ceiling reliever options who have a couple of questions to answer but could debut in 2016.

    Relief Pitcher Rankings:

    • Nick Burdi,
    • JT Chargois,
    • Alex Meyer,
    • Jake Reed,
    • Mason Melotakis
    Therein completes our look at the 2016 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections. If you missed any of the parts, see the list below:

    Catchers
    First Basemen
    Middle Infielders
    Third Basemen
    Outfielders (Upper Levels)
    Outfielders (Lower Levels)
    Starting Pitchers

    Feel free to discuss and ask questions.

    • Jan 28 2016 05:42 AM
    • by Seth Stohs