Let’s get to the list, and please feel free to discuss our choices and how they may rank on your personal top 10 or top 20 lists.
20. Felix Jorge - RHP
2017 MiLB Stats (AA/AAA): 10-4, 3.68 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 149.0 IP, 161 H, 40 BB, 108 K
2017 MLB Stats (MLB): 1-0, 10.57 ERA, 2.08 WHIP, 7.2 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 4 K
2017 Ranking: 12
Signed in February of 2011 Jorge has gradually worked his way up the Twins system. The last few years, he has turned himself from a suspect to a prospect. On the 40-man roster, Jorge was given an opportunity to make his MLB debut for the Twins when they had a need for a starter in July. Jorge was promoted directly from Chattanooga. In his debut, he gave up three runs in five innings and picked up his first MLB win. Five days later, he made another start. It didn’t go as well. He ended the regular season with starts in Rochester before pitching for Chattanooga in the Southern League playoffs. Jorge’s got a nice fastball in the 92-94 range. He’s got great poise and calm on the mound. He’s got a nice changeup and an improving curveball. In 2018, he should spend the year in Rochester and potentially get more opportunities to make starts for the Twins.
19. Tyler Jay - LH RP
2017 Stats (AA/AAA): 3-0, 3.09 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 19 K
2017 Ranking: 5
Jay was the Twins first-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Illinois. While he was a reliever in college, many teams believed that he had the pitches and the makeup to be a starter. That’s what he did in 2016, and he did well. However, he managed just 83.2 innings. This past spring, the Twins announced that Jay was being moved to the bullpen. It is a role that he should thrive in. Unfortunately, he missed nearly the entire 2017 season with biceps tendinitis. As you can see, he got good strikeout numbers. He went to the Arizona Fall League to make up for some of the lost time. However, when healthy, Jay has the ability and the potential to be a dominant relief options, and soon.
18. Yunior Severino
2017 Stats (Rookie): .286/.345/.444 (.789), 17-2B, 2-3B, 3-HR
2017 Ranking: NR
The Braves had a dozen minor leaguers declared free agents due to violations by their front office. Those players were then allowed to sign with other teams using international pool money from 2017 or 2018. Top prospect Kevin Maitan signed for $2.2 million with the Angels, though there were reports that the Twins offered him more than the Angels but he saw a quicker route to the majors with the Angels. The Twins didn’t worry about it. Instead, they signed Severino for $2.5 million of 2018 pool money. Severino had signed with the Braves in 2016 for $1.9 million.
After spending ten games with the Braves DSL team last summer, he moved up to the GCL. Severino was signed as a shortstop, but he was already moved to second base due to his range. He is a switch-hitter. He has more power from the right-side now, but he has a lot of potential to add power.
17. Travis Blankenhorn - 2B/3B
2017 Stats (Low-A): .251/.343/.441 (.784), 12-2B, 11-3B, 13-HR, 13-SB
2017 Ranking: 9
Signed as the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania, Blankenhorn spent the entire 2017 season in Cedar Rapids. He had ended the 2016 season with 25 games for the Kernels. Blankenhorn had some ups and downs throughout the 2017 season. By month, his OPS were .776, .604, 1.048, .449, and 1.023. You can see the upside in those numbers. You can also see the inconsistency that you might expect from a 21-year-old. But Blankenhorn can fill a stat sheet. He’s got a good approach at the plate. He can use the whole field. He has extra base pop with the speed to turn doubles into triples. He’s got power now, and he’s got the size to develop even more home run power. He also is a good base runner who can steal bases. Twice in 2017 he stole home.
Defensively, Blankenhorn spent the first half of the season at third base (.916 fielding percentage). After the All Star break, he moved over to second base for the second half (.989 fielding percentage). He’s still working at both positions and now feels comfortable at both, but he’s happy to play anywhere as long as he’s in the lineup.
16. Ben Rortvedt - C
2017 Stats (Low A): .224/.284/.315 (.599), 16-2B, 4-HR
2017 Ranking: 19
Rortvedt was the Twins second-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Wisconsin. After splitting 2016 between the GCL and Elizabethton, Rortvedt was one of the younger players in the Midwest League in 2017. He struggled early in the season. Through May, he was hitting just .187/.234/.174 (.388), but the Twins believed in him and Rortvedt responded very well. Over his final 54 games, he hit a very respectable .273/.324/.397 (.721). While the bat remains a work-in-progress for the 20-year-old, his defense is already very good. He works well with pitchers. He’s a very good athlete which helps him with blocking pitches and with his footwork so he’s able to show off his very strong, accurate arm.
- Feb 06 2018 08:51 PM
- by Seth Stohs
What Makes A Super Bullpen?
The Rockies have been aggressive with their bullpen plan this offseason. Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee have both already been added in free agency. Greg Holland served as the team’s closer in 2017 and he could still return to Colorado. Adding other names like Addison Reed and Wade Davis could make them a force in late inning situations.
In recent years, contending teams have tried their best to compile a “super bullpen.” The Yankees compiled the highest fWAR total in 2017. Their back-end was bolstered by Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Cleveland used the likes of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen on their way to over 100 wins.
Other teams, like Houston and Los Angeles, relied heavily on their bullpen on the way to the World Series. If a team is going to contend, there must be reliable bullpen options.
Planning Minnesota’s 2018 Bullpen
Minnesota has already added Fernando Rodney this off-season. He will likely serve as the team’s closer but other pieces will need to be added around him to build Minnesota’s “super bullpen.” Derek Falvey and Thad Levine obviously see something in Tyler Kinley, the team’s Rule 5 Draft pick, because they allowed the likes of Nick Burdi and Luke Bard to be selected by other organizations.
Some other young pieces also figure into the Twins plans this season. Trevor Hildenberger made his debut in 2017 and actually ended up leading the team in fWAR. Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Pressly will look to build off of positives from last season. Even with all of these players, it would be hard to call Minnesota’s bullpen a “super bullpen.”
Some other options could figure into the equation for 2018. JT Chargois spent most of 2017 recovering from different arm injuries including a stress reaction on the outside of his elbow. Tyler Jay, a former first round pick, moved from starter to relief pitcher in 2017. He could debut in 2018 and be a piece that helps Minnesota’s bullpen become closer to being considered “super.”
Wait And See Approach
Free agent relief pitchers have been faring very well so far this off-season. This is probably why the Favley-Levine team has been waiting for the market to cool a little. Bullpen arms can be found in lots of different ways. Brandon Kintzler was able to become an All-Star in Minnesota and the club never paid him more than $3 million in a season. Relief pitchers can have a breakout season at any time. It’s up to the front office to identify the players who are ready to take the next step.
Is the wait and see approach right for the front office? Who would you like to see the Twins add to the bullpen? Can they have a “super bullpen” in 2018? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Dec 21 2017 09:43 AM
- by Cody Christie
The Twins have two options if they would like to acquire a top-level starting pitcher. They can give up money, a lot of money, to acquire a top free agent starter. It would likely also cost a draft pick. The other option to acquire a starting pitcher is via trade which, of course, costs a number of top prospects.
Yu Darvish is the big name on the free agent market. He's clearly the top starting pitcher available. The cost for Darvish would be either five or six years at somewhere around $23-26 million per year.
Jake Arrieta has won a Cy Young, and he's been good, but there are several question marks surrounding him this offseason after a "tough" year with the Cubs in 2017. Regardless, he's going to get three or four years and at least $20 million per season, probably more.
Those are the top two free agent starting pitchers, but two others are getting a lot of talk and a lot of interest.
Lance Lynn is going to get three or four years and $18-20 million per season. Alex Cobb is also going to get three to five years, and he will get between $17-21 million. The fact that the Cubs are interested in Cobb will likely push those dollars to the upper end of that range.
All four of them would cost the Twins a draft pick.
THE TRADE MARKET
We've heard some of the same trade candidates mentioned since the trade deadline. Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole are, well, if they're not Aces, they're upper tier starters, guys we would be happy to have at the top of the Twins rotation.
But what might the cost be?
Early on Tuesday morning, a tweet from Pirates Breakdown caught my attention. I don't know much about the site, though a quick glimpse and it looks great. And I don't know whether or not this 'source' is legit of not. What I do know is that it does make sense for a conversation starter. Whether it is for Gerrit Cole, or a similar trade for Chris Archer, it's enough to keep the trade talks going.
As much as I hate seeing prospects traded, I think even I would make that trade for Gerrit Cole.
Nick Gordon is a top three Twins prospect regardless of the ranking source. I had him ranked as the Twins #3 prospect last week. To acquire a pitcher of Gerrit Cole's caliber will require a top prospect. As much as I like Gordon and believe in his future, there are still some question marks about his offensive potential and whether he can stay at shortstop.
Likewise, Tyler Jay can be a star bullpen arm if healthy. But again, if his role is going to be out of the bullpen, the Twins can replace those 65 innings per year with other internal options or on the free agent market.
Zack Granite can be a solid starter in the outfield and can definitely roam center field for a team. With the Twins current roster, he would be the fourth outfielder, capable of playing all three outfield spots, taking quality at-bats, etc.
I don't know if this package would be enough to get the Pirates to pull the trigger, but this is a deal that I would make. What do you think?
I generally have this assumption that if I personally would be willing to make a theoretical trade then the other team (the Pirates in this case) would probably want more. For instance, I would think they might want a top pitching prospect (Stephen Gonsalves or Fernando Romero) to go with their current crop of young, talented pitchers (Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Chad Kuhl, Ivan Nova, Trevor Williams, etc.). But maybe they like that young core of pitchers and want to build up their lineup with two guys who could, in time, hit at the top of their lineup.
Cole is a Boras client who made $3.75 million in 2017, his first year of arbitration. He will likely make $7-8 million in 2018, and maybe $10-12 million in 2019 before becoming a free agent. So, the Twins would likely need to pay him $17-20 million over two years.
Chris Archer will make $6.25 million in 2018 and $7.5 million in 2019. There is a club option for 2020 at $9.0 million ($1.75 million buyout) and a second club option for 2021 at $11.0 million ($0.25 million buyout). The Twins would likely end up paying him $33.75 million over four years.
The Twins need pitching and need starting pitching. What direction would you prefer to go, free agency or the trade route? Besides Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole, what other pitchers would you like to see the Twins contemplate acquiring?
- Dec 12 2017 07:10 AM
- by Seth Stohs
* Monday marked the deadline for MLB teams to protect prospects from exposure to the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. The Twins, somewhat surprisingly, added only three: RHP Zack Littell, LHP Stephen Gonsalves and LHP Lewis Thorpe.
The first two names were essentially givens. Littell and Gonsalves are among the organization's best pitching prospects and both are almost big-league ready. Either one could be up in the majors as soon as the first half of 2018, so they weren't going to make it through the Rule 5 untouched.
Thorpe is a bit of a different case. He's 21 and has only made one appearance above Single-A. Injuries and illness wiped out his entire 2015 and 2016 seasons, so the left-hander has less than 200 innings of professional experience. However, he has been really, REALLY good in that small amount of playing time, posting a 2.94 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while averaging 10.6 K/9. It's not too difficult to envision another club trying to stash him in their bullpen all year, and that's a risk the Twins couldn't take.
The tricky thing is that now Thorpe's option clock is set into motion, so they'll potentially have to roster him or lose him by age 25. Usually not too big of a deal, but with all the lost time Thorpe is behind on development and needs to get caught up in a hurry.
The Twins left several prospects unprotected, with these pitchers being the most notable: Nick Burdi, Jake Reed, Kohl Stewart. The first two are fireballing relievers who could help a big-league bullpen now (well, for Burdi it's as soon as he completes rehab from mid-season Tommy John surgery). So they're at high risk.
Stewart, the fourth overall draft pick just four years ago, has reached Triple-A and has a 3.10 ERA in the minors, though his secondary numbers haven't been good at all. It's conceivable someone gambles on his athleticism and heavy sinking stuff, but the righty just hasn't shown enough.
I do wonder if the front office that drafted Stewart would've been bold enough to risk losing him for nothing right now.
* Paul Molitor has only been a big-league manager for three years, but he's been around the game long enough to know how it goes. Coming off the worst season in franchise history, and with a regime of outsiders taking over baseball operations, he knew his outlook was grim despite the undying support of ownership.
Anything less than a clearly and undeniably excellent year was going to give Derek Falvey and Thad Levine an easy excuse to install their own guy. But as it turned out, Molitor delivered nothing less.
His season started on a note of redemption and ended on an even bigger one: The St. Paul native was named Manager of the Year last week after leading his team back to the postseason.
Of course, by that point Molitor had already procured the prize he really wanted, a new contract. He inked a three-year deal one week after losing to New York in the AL Wild Card Game, meaning Minnesota is now entrusting the 61-year-old skipper to oversee its impending prime window of contention.
It's a terrific story for a Hall of Famer who's never strayed far from home. Whatever you think of his tactical shortcomings, it's clear Molitor has the belief of his clubhouse, and it's also important to remember that in terms of total managerial experience, he remains one of the greenest in the game. He's still learning, and in 2017 he will have new hand-picked pitching and bench coaches to lend support. (Is Derek Shelton anti-bunt??)
* If the past few years (and especially this latest postseason) are any indication, the new model for winning in baseball will call for dominant bullpens with multiple high-powered weapons who can consistently shut down the late innings.
Cleveland's Andrew Miller is the prototype, but increasingly we are seeing teams deploy their best relievers outside of the closer role, often asking for more than three outs with games in the balance. It stands to reason that if MLB continues trending toward shorter starts and more relief innings, these kinds of bullpen aces will keep rising in value.
We'll all be surprised if the Twins don't make a concerted effort to add someone who might fill this role externally, but as far as players already in the organization, one name stands out as a potential fit the mold.
Things looked grim for Tyler Jay this summer, when he was again hampered by shoulder issues, and rumors of thoracic outlet syndrome began to circulate. However, those rumors proved false and he was able to return to the mound at Class-A Ft. Myers late in late August with a dominant display (6 IP, 4 H, 10 K, 0 BB).
Still needing to build up his workload after all the missed time, Jay headed to the Arizona Fall League, which just wrapped up. His stuff impressed even though he struggled some with control (11/5 K/BB in 9 2/3 innings). Most importantly, he took the mound regularly, logged his innings, and reportedly felt good.
It sounds like he hasn't yet regained his mid-90s fastball velocity but he has it in him, and when commanding that pitch along with his powerful slider and solid curveball he's got the makings of a valuable late-inning weapon.
The 23-year-old southpaw will absolutely be one to watch next spring.
- Nov 21 2017 09:38 PM
- by Nick Nelson
To find out how each of these guys wrapped up the AFL season’s final week, keep reading!
(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, 3 H’s, ER, 2 K’s; 5.59 ERA (overall).
The left-hander’s first appearance of the week came in Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions. He came on for the seventh inning and faced the middle of the lineup. He gave up a single to the leadoff man, but worked around it with a fly out, strikeout, and ground ball to the second baseman. Of his fourteen pitches in the inning, seven went for strikes, including two swings and misses. The single allowed was one of only two hits on the game for Scottsdale, but thanks to a walk, a triple, and a sac fly in the second inning, the two runs were more than enough.
In the final game of the season on Thursday, a 10-5 win for the Sagauros against Mesa, Jay came on for the bottom of the sixth inning with his team out front 5-1. A nine-pitch battle with the leadoff hitter ended up with him clubbing a ground-rule double, and this time Jay wouldn’t come out unscathed. He got a swinging strikeout to the next hitter, but then allowed a single that put runners on the corners. A sac fly made the score 5-2 before Jay got a flyout for the final out. He threw 24 pitches in this outing, with 19 of them going for strikes (two swings and misses).
Jay didn’t finish his season with eye-popping numbers, but the important thing for him in the AFL was logging innings and staying healthy after his entire 2017 MiLB season was basically wiped out. In 9.2 total innings, he gave up 13 hits (two home runs), walked five, and struck out 11. It’s likely Jay is back in AA to start the 2018 season, but if he comes out hot a bump to AAA could happen quickly.
LaMonte Wade: Did not play (concussion); .238/.351/.413 (overall).
As detailed in the Week 5 report, Wade did not play this week as he recovers from a concussion. Overall, he played in nineteen games collecting three doubles, a triple, and two home runs while scoring nine runs and driving in eight. Of note (facetiously), is for the first time in any league he’s played as a professional, Wade struck out more times than he walked (10/9).
The on-base machine will be ready to take his talents to AAA next season, knocking on the door to his MLB debut.
Chris Paul: 3 games (2 starts), 4-11, 3 R’s, 3 K’s; .292/.329/.444 (overall).
In the shutout loss to Scottsdale on Monday, Paul entered the game in bottom of the third inning after the Saguaros right fielder, Michael O’Neill, was ejected after being picked off at first base. He took over in left field. He came up to the plate only twice the rest of the game as Surprise’s lineup wasn’t able to bunch any of their seven hits and three walks together. Paul flew out to center in the fifth and struck out leading off the eighth.
In his first start of the week in Tuesday’s 6-5 walk-off win against the Scorpions, Paul batted cleanup and was again manning first base. He singled in the bottom of the fourth inning and reached base on an error in the sixth, but was left stranded both times. In the bottom of the eighth, with the score 5-2 in favor of Scottsdale, Paul got a rally started with a one-out single. He later scored on a double that brought them within one before an RBI single tied it at 5 heading to the ninth. Paul was on deck when teammate Yanio Perez delivered the game winning single to finish off the Surprise comeback.
Paul’s final game of the AFL season came in Thursday’s season finale, and he again batted fourth and played first base. He and both his teammates in the second inning struck out swinging against Mesa starter Logan Shore (of Coon Rapids, MN), but they would get him back in the fourth inning. Paul’s first single of the game was part of four consecutive hits that led off the inning, and before it was over the Saguaros had extended their lead to 4-0 and ended Shore’s game. In the top of the sixth Paul led off the inning with his second single, and he scored on a sac fly that made it 5-1 Surprise. He finished this one 2-5 with two runs scored and two K’s.
Overall on the AFL season, Paul led Twins hitters with a .773 OPS. In 18 games he racked up 21 hits including three doubles, a triple, and two home runs. He scored fifteen runs which tied for the Saguaros team lead, and drove in 10. He’s ticketed for AA in 2018.
Andrew Vasquez: 1 appearances, 1.0IP, 2 H’s, ER, BB, K; 0.77 ERA (overall).
Vasquez made just one appearance in the season’s final week, and it came on Wednesday in their 5-2 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox. He came on for the ninth inning, finishing the game for the Saguaros but not in the way he might have hoped to end his AFL campaign.
He got a quick ground out for the first out, but went a little downhill from there. A double, passed ball, walk, and single to the next three hitters made the score 5-2, and was just his second earned run allowed on the season. He recovered and struck out the next batter before getting a line out for the third out. In the outing, eight of his eighteen pitches went for strikes.
Vasquez finished his off-season season with 12.2 innings pitched, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and five walks. He struck out 14, which was good for a 9.9K/9IP rate which while dwarfed by his 13.2K/9IP during the regular season, is a solid number to build on considering he was coming to the AFL from A-ball. Due to that success and his showing here, I would expect he starts the 2018 season in Chattanooga.
Ryan Eades: 1 appearance, 2.0 IP, 2 H’s, 3 K’s; 0.66 ERA (overall).
Like Vasquez, Eades saw action in just one game during the season’s final week and it was in the 6-5 win over Scottsdale on Tuesday. He was the first reliever summoned in the game for the fifth inning with the score 5-0 in favor of the Scorpions at the time.
He was again effective in the outing, with 23 of his 29 total pitches going for strikes, though he did hit one batter with a pitch. In his first inning, he got two outs before giving up a single, but promptly picked that runner off first base for the final out. In the sixth, he got all three of his outs on strikeouts, working around another single and the hit batter with swing and miss stuff. All the K’s were of the swinging variety, and three other pitches resulted in whiffs in the frame.
Eades performance in the AFL was perhaps the best surprise among the Twins prospects. In 10 games and 13.2 innings, he allowed just one earned run (on a home run) on fourteen hits and three walks while striking out 13. He also picked up two wins and led Twins prospects with a 0.66 ERA.
The right-hander has always had stuff that didn’t quite match the results, but he may yet still find a home in a bullpen in the future. After two years in AA, it’s time for him to perform in AAA in 2018 and see if he can jump over the final hurdle.
Tom Hackimer: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, H, K; 2.31 ERA (overall).
Hackimer got in on two games during the week, and finished on a high note.
In Monday’s 2-0 loss he came on for the bottom of the eighth inning to finish the game for Surprise. He set the opposition down in order, including a strikeout for the final out. Of his 13 pitches, eight went for strikes.
In Thursday’s season finale win for Surprise, he again came on for the bottom of the eighth, this time with his team up 10-4. He was greeted with a leadoff double, but that runner only made it to third as he retired the next three in order. In this outing 11 of his 19 pitches went for strikes.
The sidewinder finished the AFL season with an 0-1 record in 10 appearances, totaling 11.2 innings pitched. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits and seven walks, while striking out 10. I would expect he begins his 2018 season back in Fort Myers, but if he can limit walks as he did in Cedar Rapids during the 2017 season, it may be only a few months before he’s with Chattanooga.
Sean Miller: 3 games, 1-10, K; .255/.293/.273 (overall).
Miller made the start in three games during the week, playing both middle infield positions in two games and DH-ing in the season finale.
In Monday’s contest Miller played short and batted ninth, finishing 0-3 in the 2-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions. He grounded out in the second, reached first on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, and flew out to right in the seventh.
On Wednesday against the Mesa Solar Sox, he again finished 0-3 in the 5-2 loss to Mesa, batting eighth and manning second base. He struck out in the second inning, grounded into a double play in the fourth, and popped out in the seventh.
In the season finale 10-5 win over Mesa, Miller batted ninth as the DH. He finished this one 1-4, with a single in the fifth inning. He also lined out once and flew out twice in the game.
Miller finished the season with a .255 average in fifteen games. He collected 14 hits including a double, scored and drove in seven runs, and stole two bases. While he’s strictly a singles hitter, he had a hot stretch in weeks 2 through 4 of the season where he hit .379 in eight games and there’s plenty to like about his glove in the middle-infield. After playing 122 games with Fort Myers this season, it’s likely he takes another step up the rung to Chattanooga in 2018.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- David Schoenfield of ESPN.com examines several young pitchers who have the potential to become the next “superace” in the mold of Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, and Max Scherzer. Appearing on the list, is the Twins own Jose Berrios.
- MiLB.com has started looking at organizational all-stars, and Stephen Gonsalves and John Curtiss are brought up as those closest to helping the Minnesota Twins in 2018. It’s also fun to compare their list with our at Twins Daily (hint: it’s basically the same).
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the AFL season!
- Nov 21 2017 05:57 AM
- by Steve Lein
To find out what happened with all the Twins prospects in the AFL during week 5, keep reading!
(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: 1 appearance, 1.0IP, 2 BB’s, 2 K’s; 5.87 ERA (overall).
After appearing in the Fall Stars game on Saturday of last week, Jay made just one appearance in week 5 of the AFL season.
That came on Thursday in a 6-2 loss to the Glendale Desert Dogs. With the score already 6-2, Jay came on for the top of the sixth inning. He struck out the first batter of the inning, before issuing a walk to the next. This pattern repeated a second time giving him two outs with two runners on base. He got the final out with a pop up to second base to deliver a scoreless inning.
LaMonte Wade: 4 games, 1-8, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K’s; .238/.351/.413 (overall).
Wade had perhaps the most noteworthy week of Twins prospects in Arizona, but the reason for that was an unfortunate one. He appeared in four games on the week, but got at-bats only in the first three.
In the first game of the week on Monday, a 2-1 walk-off loss to the Salt River Rafters, Wade batted seventh and played in right field. He finished the game 1-4, but was responsible for the Saguaros only run of the game, when he slugged his second AFL home run in the top of the fourth inning. This gave Surprise a 1-0 lead that they held until the bottom of the ninth inning.
Wade’s second game of the week came in the loss to Glendale on Thursday, and like the rest of his team didn’t have much success. Batting fifth, he finished this one 0-2, but did draw a walk in the sixth and was hit by a pitch in the eighth, so he did reach base multiple times.
In Friday’s 11-5 win over Peoria, Wade hit sixth in the lineup and was productive despite not reaching base in the game and also accounting for all three outs in the Saguaros seven-run fifth inning. Wade drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, then the last of the game with another in the seventh that made the score 11-2. In that seven run fifth inning, Wade led off with a strikeout, and when the lineup got back around to him he grounded into a double play. Weird and unfortunate things happen in baseball games, and that was the case for Wade on Saturday.
In the top of the second inning, Wade and teammate Oscar Mercado collided on a fly-ball heading toward the gap. Mercado made the catch for the final out of the inning, but Wade’s diving attempt put him in harm’s way on the collision. Wade was taken off the field on a stretcher and diagnosed with a concussion, likely putting an end to his AFL campaign a little early. In good news, Wade was reportedly able to return to the stadium before the conclusion of the game, so it could have been a lot worse. I’ve had a concussion or two myself from playing baseball, so I know how this feels! Get well soon, LaMonte!
Chris Paul: 3 games, 5-13, 4 R’s, 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 4 K’s; .279/.323/.459 (overall).
Paul’s first game of the week came on Tuesday, in a 6-1 win over Glendale. Batting fifth and playing first base, Paul finished 1-5 with a strikeout. His hit came in the form of a single to lead off the sixth inning, but he was erased quickly on a double play ball from the next hitter.
In Friday’s win, Paul batted seventh in the lineup behind Wade, and collected two hits on the day. In the seven-run fifth inning, Paul got the hitting started with a one-out single, and later scored on a ground ball from Sean Miller for the first run of the frame. He then led off the top of the sixth inning with his second AFL home run to left field. He finished 2-4 with two runs scored and the home run.
Paul put up even better numbers in Saturday’s 11-10 loss to Peoria, where he batted sixth in the lineup. His first hit of the game came in the fourth inning, when Surprise again put seven runs on the scoreboard. His single brought in the first two runs of the game for Surprise to make the score 6-2, and they would take the lead with the long two-out rally before the inning was over. In the bottom of the fifth Paul came up with two runners on base and delivered a triple deep to center field to extend their lead to 9-6. He then scored on a passed ball to make it 10-6 before the Saguaros pitching gave the lead back in the last two innings. All told Paul was 2-4 with two runs scored and four RBI to end his week on a high note.
Andrew Vasquez: 2 appearances, 1.1IP, H, BB, 3 K’s; 0.77 ERA (overall).
Vasquez was the only Twins pitcher on the week to make multiple appearances, and they came in Thursday’s and Saturday’s contests, both losses.
He got the eighth inning with his team down 6-2 to the Desert Dogs on Thursday, and retired the first two hitters of the inning with strikeouts before a fielding error and single put runners on the corners. He was able to get out of that jam by getting a ground ball for the inning's final out. He threw 27 pitches in the outing, with 19 going for strikes.
On Saturday against the Javelinas, Vasquez again came into the game in the eighth inning but this time it was with the bases loaded, two outs, and his team now up by two. He was charged with a blown save after he walked in a run, then hit a batter to tie the game at 10 before picking up a strikeout to end the inning. On ten pitches, he threw just three strikes in the outing and in the ninth inning Peoria took back the lead.
Ryan Eades: 1 appearance, 1.1IP, 3 H’s, ER, 2 K’s; 0.77 ERA (overall).
The righthander’s lone appearance on the week came in Thursday’s 6-2 loss, when he was the first reliever summoned from the bullpen, with two outs in the third inning after the starter had run in to heaps of trouble.
Three runs had already scored in the frame, and the first batter Eades faced clubbed a ground-rule double for a fourth before he picked up a strikeout to end the inning with the Saguaros now down 5-0 early. Back out for the fourth inning, Eades gave up his first earned run of the AFL season, as the leadoff man clubbed a home run to left field. He struck out one more hitter and gave up a single but no more damage in the inning. On the game, 15 of his 18 pitches went for strikes, including four swings-and-misses.
Tom Hackimer: 1 appearance, 1.0IP, 2 BBs, K; 2.79 ERA (overall).
Hackimer’s only appearance on the week was also in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, coming into the game after Tyler Jay for the seventh inning. He hit the first batter of the inning with a pitch and later walked two batters that loaded the bases with two outs, but picked up a big strikeout to keep any damage off the scoreboard. Of his 21 pitches in the inning, just 8 went for strikes.
Sean Miller: 2 games, 1-7, RBI, BB, K; .289/.333/.311 (overall).
The middle infielder saw action in two games in week five, playing second base and batting ninth on Tuesday and Friday, both wins for the Saguaros.
Miller finished Tuesday’s game 1-4, picking up a single to leadoff the top of the ninth in the 6-1 victory over Glendale. He ended up stranded on third base with the bases loaded.
On Friday Miller was 0-3 in the batters box, but picked up an RBI and scored a run for his team in the 11-5 rout. In the seven-run fifth inning, his ground ball to third base scored Chris Paul as the throw home was late, allowing him to reach first. He later scored on a single. In the sixth inning Miller drew a walk but ended up stranded in while in scoring position.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- If you want to hear more about the Twins prospects in some of these games from an in-person perspective, make sure to check out Twins Daily’s blog section, and the three entries from member ashburyjohn. He and a few friends were on hand in Arizona this week and he provided his thoughts each day they watched, along with some great pictures of the action! (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
- As they do every week during the minor league season, Baseball America has an AFL Hot Sheet, with Chris Paul checking in at #9 for his performance this week, and is the first Twins prospect to appear on the lists.
- In somewhat disappointing news for a prospect follower like me (and perhaps since it’s fun to mention #SonOfPudge every once in a while in the minor league reports), pitcher Dereck Rodriguez has moved on from the Twins organization and signed with the San Francisco Giants. I’m disappointed to see him go as he was a very intriguing prospect to follow with his switch to pitching. Good luck Dereck, hope to see you in the bigs soon!
- Paul Sporer of RotoGraphs gives his annual favorites from his time out in Arizona. While there aren’t any Twins in the list of prospects this year, he does mention Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario as some of his favorites that he has seen in the past.
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the last week!
- Nov 14 2017 05:36 AM
- by Steve Lein
With that, let’s take a look at my choices for Twins prospects 21-25.
#25 2B Luis Arraez
Maybe we can collaborate with DJ Khaled on a song, something like:
All I do is hit, hit, hit
No matter what
Got singles on my mind
And I never pop up.
Or something like that… Arraez has hit at every level. .348 in 2014 in the DSL. .306 in 2015 in the GCL. A Midwest League leading .347 in Cedar Rapids in 2016. He even hit .335 against much older competition in 45 games in the Venezuelan Winter League last year. The 20-year-old was even hitting .385 in Ft. Myers last year (though in just 13 at-bats in three games) last year when he tore his ACL which ended his season.
#24 C Ben Rortvedt
Rortvedt hit .224/.284/.315 (.599) on the season at Cedar Rapids. However, he did not turn 20 until after the playoffs ended However, after struggling with the bat for the first two months, he hit .273/.324/.397 (.721) the rest of the way. He has a nice left-handed swing, and eventually he will add a bit more power. He is probably at his best when he’s using the whole field, but a couple of times, he showed he can hit the ball a long way when he pulls it. Ranking catchers can be tough because defense is such an important factor. And that’s where Rortvedt really shines. He works really well with coaches and pitchers. He is smart and knows how to call a game. He is quite athletic and blocks the ball well. And he has a rocket for an arm.
#23 LHP Tyler Jay
Before the season started, the Twins and Jay mutually decided that his future was in the bullpen rather than spending years trying to work his pitch count up as a starter. Unfortunately, he spent most of the season on the disabled list with shoulder and neck injuries. He came back late in the season and has pitched in the Arizona Fall League. While it was kind of a lost season for Jay, it’s important to remember that he has a very high ceiling as a reliever whether it’s a one-inning type or a guy who could work a couple of innings. And, he won’t turn 24 until after the 2018 season begins. We said it a year ago too, but if Jay is healthy, we could see him in the big leagues in 2018.
#22 RHP Kohl Stewart
Stewart was the Twins first-round pick in 2013 out of high school in Texas. He’s always been at least two years younger than league average but put up solid numbers at each level. Reports indicated that he gave up very little hard contact despite the fact that his strikeout numbers were not high. He reached AA midway through the 2016 season. He made 16 more starts in 2017 at AA (and one in Rochester), but he struggled with control like he never has before. Some of that could be the result of a knee injury that put him on the disabled list a couple of times. When it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Stewart’s is as good as anyone. If he is healthy, he could move back into the Top 10 Twins prospects list.
#21 OF Zack Granite
Granite showed in 2017 what he can be in the big leagues. The speedy outfielder has good range in the outfield. He’s not Byron Buxton in center field (no one else is either), but he can play the position very well. He can play all three outfield positions well. Offensively, he has a cool and calm at the plate that is impressive. He is an ideal leadoff man in terms of his approach at the plate. He is a line drive hitter who takes what the pitcher gives him. He has even credited Doug Mientkiewicz and Tommy Watkins with his willingness to drive the ball a bit more. But speed is his game, and he can be a guy who plays in the big leagues for many years.
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions below. If you missed previous rankings, click the links below:
Part 1: Prospects 41-50
Part 2: Prospects 31-40
Part 3: Prospects 26-30
Check back later this week for Part 5.
- Nov 14 2017 05:28 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Read on to find out how each of the Minnesota Twins prospects fared in the AFL during week 4 of the season!
(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: One appearance, 1.0IP, 2 H’s, 3 ER’s, 2 HR, 2BB; 6.75 ERA (overall).
Gave up two HR’s on 10/31.
With Jay being the only Twins prospect selected to play in the AFL Stars game on Saturday, he made only one appearance on the week for the Saguaros, and it wasn’t a very good one.
In Tuesday’s 9-2 loss against the Peoria Javelinas, Jay was summoned for the top of the sixth inning with the score 4-2 Peoria. He walked the first two batters he faced before getting a double play ball that gave him a chance to salvage a scoreless inning. He instead gave up back-to-back home runs to Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley, the number two and three hitters in the Javelinas lineup. With the score now 7-2, Jay got a ground out to end his inning.
Playing for the AFL West team in the Fall Stars game, Jay was brought in during the bottom of the eighth inning with one out, two men on base, and the tying run already across the plate in the frame. A single to the first batter put the East squad out front 3-2, and a sacrifice fly to the next made the final score of 4-2. Jay got a strikeout to end the inning, and none of the runs were charged to him. On a positive note, the Gameday tracking had him sitting 94-95 MPH with his fastball in the outing and 13 of his 19 pitches went for strikes.
LaMonte Wade: Four games, 4-15, 2 R’s, 2B, 3B, 3 BB’s, 4 K’s; .255/.369/.400 (overall).
Wade saw action in all but one game on the week for Surprise, getting Halloween night off. As he is known to do, he reached base at least once in each game and raised his OBP in the AFL to .369.
In Monday’s 6-3 win on the road against Peoria, Wade batted second in the lineup and finished 1-4 with an RBI triple, run scored, and a walk. His triple followed another one from the hitter in front of him and put the Saguaros up 4-2.
Against the Mesa Solar Sox on Wednesday, Wade batted fifth in their 8-5 loss. After drawing a walk to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, he advanced to third on a single and scored on sac fly to put Surprise up 2-0. He finished 0-3 with the run scored and two strikeouts. He also added an outfield assist, as he combined with Sean Miller to throw out a runner at home in the top of the eighth.
Wade batted third on Thursday, his first time taking up that mantle for his AFL team, and he delivered in the 8-6 loss to Mesa. He doubled in the first inning but was left stranded and added a single in the fifth to account for his two hits on the day. He also drew a walk in the second inning, finishing 2-4.
Back to batting fifth on Friday, he was 1-4 in their 4-1 win over the Salt River Rafters. He singled in the fourth inning but did not tally any other marks in his stat line.
Chris Paul: Three games, 1-12, 2 R’s, 2B, BB, 4 K’s; .250/.308/.375 (overall).
Paul played in three games during the week and was a bit quiet, with his only hit coming in the loss to Mesa on Thursday. That was a good game for him, however.
In the Monday tilt against Peoria, he was 0-4 with two strikeouts in the Saguaros 6-3 win. On Halloween he also 0-4 in the 9-2 loss to the Javelinas, striking out once. Of note in this one, Paul saw his first action in left field during the AFL season.
On Thursday, Paul closed out his week with a good line, finishing 1-4 with a double, walk, and two runs scored batting sixth in the order. His double came in the second inning and put runners on second and third before Surprise took a 4-3 with the single and three-run home run that followed. He led off the top of the sixth with a walk and later would his second run of the game on an RBI single that closed the score to 6-5 Mesa.
Andrew Vasquez: Two appearances, 3.0IP, 3 H’s, 2 BB’s, 3 K’s; 0.87 ERA (overall).
Vasquez again made an appearance in two games on the week, pitching multiple innings in their Halloween night loss, and another inning on Friday in a win.
He came on following Jay for the top of the seventh inning against Peoria, and although he gave up three hits in his two inning none led to any damage on the scoreboard and he also struck out three. 25 of his 39 pitches in the outing went for strikes.
In Friday’s win against Salt River, Vasquez picked up his second hold in the AFL as he came on in the seventh with his team up 3-1. He walked two batters in the frame, but worked around them to record another scoreless inning, and lower his ERA on the AFL season to below 1.00 on the week.
Ryan Eades: Two appearances, 4.0IP, 3 H’s, 2 BB’s, 2 K’s; 0.00 ERA (overall).
Righthander Ryan Eades also saw action in two games on the week, going two innings in each appearance and picking up his second AFL win.
That came in Monday’s game on the road against Peoria, when he was pitching while his offense took the lead in the top half of the sixth. He had a one-two-three fifth inning, picking up the last two outs with strikeouts. In the sixth, he made it a little interesting after giving up a leadoff double, hitting a batter, and walking one to load the bases with one out, but got an infield fly ball and grounder to escape the jam and keep himself in line for that win.
Against Salt River on Friday, Eades made his first start of the AFL season and pitched two scoreless frames. The first hitter of the game singled to center field, but later got erased on a steal attempt which proved fortuitous, as the next hitter tripled but ended up stranded on third. In the second inning, he gave up a two-out walk but retired the other three, including a strikeout. He threw 35 pitches in the start, with 23 going for strikes.
Tom Hackimer: Two appearances, 2.2IP, H, 0 BB, 2 K’s; 3.12 ERA (overall).
The sidewinding Hackimer saw action in the loss to Peoria on Tuesday, and in Friday’s win against Salt River.
He entered the game on Halloween in the fourth inning, after a double had scored two and left runners on second and third with just one out. He stopped the bleeding with a grounder back to him on the mound that caught the runner on third out at home. Then, after plunking a batter, he got a fly out to end the inning. Back out for the fifth Hackimer faced just three hitters, striking out one and doubling off a runner on first on a bunt attempt after giving up a single.
Hackimer also picked up his second hold of the season in Friday’s win, when he came in to start the sixth inning. He got a ground out and a K for the first two outs before he hit another batter, but that runner ended up out at second base on a play the recap did not qualify as a caught stealing attempt (did he try to pull the “Little Big League” move after getting hit by the pitch?! I guess we’ll never know…).
Sean Miller: Three games, 3-12, 3 RBI, 3 K’s, SB (2); .316/.350/.342 (overall).
Miller saw action in the Saguaros wins on Monday and Friday, and in Wednesday’s loss. He batted ninth, eighth, and second respectively in those games, playing second base in two and shortstop in the third. After piling up the hits last week, Miller continued his recent success by collecting one in each game. In fact, his lines were the same in each: 1-4 with an RBI.
On Monday, his RBI single in the fifth inning tied the score at two. In Wednesday’s loss, he singled in the fourth inning, but collected his RBI in the ninth on a ground out that made the score 8-4. Miller final hit of the week came in the fifth inning on Friday, when his single to center brought in a runner that tied the game at one before they tacked on two more to take a 3-1 lead.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- Twins Daily’s own Seth Stohs has kicked off his offseason Top 50 prospects list with entries covering number 50 through 41, and 40 through 31. It’s hard enough for me to put together my top 10, so his work to go through 50 names you should know is truly extraordinary. You can’t beat the little information nuggets he puts out for these guys, either. It’s also very telling about the Twins system that he has several players who you should see on the MLB team soon populating these lists so early in his countdown.
- Also be sure to check out the Twins Daily forums, where several 40-man roster moves happened to kick off this week. Pitcher Nik Turley was claimed by the Pirates, lefthander Randy Rosario was claimed by the Cubs, and power-hitting outfielder Daniel Palka was claimed by the White Sox among a few other purges to clear room on the roster.
- Bill Mitchell of Baseball America, tackles the question the Twins have been wondering since drafting him with the sixth overall pick in 2015: Will Tyler Jay be a starter or reliever?
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the last week!
- Nov 08 2017 12:08 PM
- by Steve Lein
To find out just how good each of the Minnesota Twins prospects performed in week 3 of the AFL season, keep reading!
(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, 2 H’s, 3 K’s; 3.18 ERA (overall).
In Tuesday’s win, Jay got the ball for the bottom of the sixth inning with his team up 3-0. He started his outing with a strikeout but then got himself into some trouble, surrendering a double and single that put runners on second and third. Instead of giving up any runs, he went right after the next two hitters and bulldogged it, striking them both out on three pitches with the K’s coming on a pair of 93 MPH swing-and-miss fastballs. His strikeout to start the frame also came on just three pitches, with an 83 MPH backdoor slider sending the hitter back to the dugout. 14 of his 17 pitches went for strikes in the outing.
In the 6-5 loss to Scorpions on Friday, Jay again was summoned for the sixth inning, this time with his team down 4-2. The first batter reached on an infield error, but Jay retired the next three hitters for a scoreless inning. 13 of his 17 pitches in this one went for strikes as Jay continues to demonstrate his strong control after a tough season.
LaMonte Wade: 4 games, 4-14, 3 R’s, 2 BB’s, 2 K’s; .250/.362/.375 (overall).
In Monday’s 4-3 win against the Salt River Rafters, Wade batted second and played in right field. He drew a walk in the third inning but was retired on a double-play ball from the next batter. In the fifth, his single was the second of three consecutive to start the inning, and he was on third base when the Saguaros attempted a double steal. He was thrown out at home to end the inning, and the Surprise was only able to score one with the bases loaded and no outs. He finished this game 1-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Against the Rafters again on Tuesday, Wade batted fifth in the lineup and was in right field yet again. In typical fashion he picked up a single, scored a run, and drew another walk to finish his day 1-3. After singling in the fifth, Wade stole his first base in the AFL and then scored on a double for the first run of the game in the 4-3 win.
In a 10-5 loss versus the Glendale Desert Dogs on Thursday, Wade finished 1-5 with a run scored batting second. His hit came in the first inning with a single and he didn’t reach base again until the ninth when he grounded into a fielder’s choice. The next batter tripled to bring him in for the Saguaros final run and a tally in his overall stat line.
Wade finished his week on Friday with yet typical day. In the 6-5 loss he went 1-3 with a run scored and was also hit by a pitch to reach multiple times. That HBP loaded the bases for Surprise in the sixth inning, and the next hitter cleared them with a triple that put them out front 5-4. He singled in the top of the eighth, but was later thrown out at home representing the tying run as unfortunately this was the game where an appearance went awry for a Twins reliever.
Chris Paul: 3 games, 3-10, 2 R’s, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, 3 K’s; .306/.359/.443 (overall).
Paul started his week 3 with a bang after winning the Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday, as he slugged his first AFL home run in Monday’s win against Salt River. His solo shot led off the bottom of the fourth inning and tied the game at two. Paul was also hit by a pitch in this one, so he reached base multiple times.
Paul was the only Twins prospect to appear in Wednesday’s 6-4 win over Glendale, but he wasn’t able to make much of an impact, finishing 0-4 with a strikeout.
In their loss on Friday to Scottsdale, Paul was back in the cleanup spot after batting fifth in the prior two games, and stood in at third base instead of first. He led off the top of the second inning with a double, but ended up stranded on third base. In the sixth inning he drew a walk and scored on the same triple as Wade that put Surprise out front briefly. He also singled in the eighth inning but was erased on a double play ball.
Andrew Vasquez: two appearances, 2.2IP, 0 H’s, BB, K; 1.23 ERA (overall).
Vasquez got the eighth inning in the Twins bullpen game on Tuesday, and threw 21 pitches (12 for strikes) in a scoreless inning. He did walk a batter, but no damage was done in a good appearance in the 4-3 win.
In Friday’s 6-5 loss, Vasquez was summoned in the middle of the fourth inning as starter Zach Lovvorn ran into trouble. With two runs already in and runners on first and second, Vasquez came on and…hit his first batter to load the bases. But he still wasn’t the pitcher who gave up runs in this game, as he got the next hitter to line into an inning-ending double play. Back out for the fifth, Vasquez pitched a one-two-three inning, striking out the first batter of the frame to close out his week.
Ryan Eades: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, H, 4 K’s; 0.00 ERA (overall).
In Tuesday’s win Eades was the first Twins prospect called in from the bullpen for the fifth inning and was untouchable against the middle of the Rafters lineup, striking out all three hitters he faced. 10 of his 12 pitches went for strikes, and they included three swinging strikes and only a few pitches hitters managed to foul off. The K’s came on two high fastballs at 92 MPH, and a curveball in the dirt for a swing-and-miss.
On Friday, Eades pitched the eighth inning, finishing the game for Surprise in the 6-5 loss. He got two quick outs on just four pitches, including a three-pitch K, before surrendering a single on a grounder through the left side of the infield. He got the next batter to line out, finishing the inning on just seven pitches (six for strikes) and punctuating an efficient and dominant week for the right-hander.
Tom Hackimer: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, 2 H’s, 2 ER’s, 4 BB, 3 K’s; 4.50 ERA (overall).
Hackimer came in the game after Jay on Tuesday, pitching the seventh inning in their win against Salt River. Like Eades and Jay before him, Hackimer delivered a scoreless frame to keep the shutout intact to that point. He did give up a one-out double, but followed that with a groundout and a three-pitch strikeout on a 93 MPH fastball to slam the door. Surprise may have felt better about this game if they had another Twins prospect to run out there, as in the ninth the only non-Twins reliever gave up three runs on five hits that made it interesting.
Since you haven’t read about the prospect who got wild yet, you would be correct in assuming it didn’t go as well for Hackimer in Friday’s 6-5 loss to the Scorpions. Hackimer again followed Jay in this one, coming on for the seventh inning with the Surprise up 5-4. He retired the first batter of the inning before things went off the rails – but I’m not blaming the pitcher after looking hard at what transpired. Two walks book-ended a single to load the bases and it looked like Hackimer might get out unscathed as he got the second out with a big K. Unfortunately for him (and I suggest you check out the Gameday pitch locations), he appeared to continue to be squeezed by the home plate umpire and two more walks brought in two runs before he got the final out with another K. If you don’t want to investigate the link above, I counted nine pitches tracked inside the zone that were called balls by the umpire, and you could argue as many as 17 called balls (17!) were strike-worthy (half his total pitches). Most are borderline I’ll concede, but something is amiss when that many show up in one inning. Here’s the most egregious example, for quick reference:
It’s quite amazing how many similar pitches like that were tracked, and is why only 13 of Hackimer’s 34 total pitches went for strikes in the outing. Maybe that ump doesn’t like submariners?! I really don’t know how to explain it beyond that and the result was unfortunate for Hackimer and his Saguaros team.
Sean Miller: 2 games, 5-7, 2 R’s, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB (1); .346/.393/.385 (overall).
If I told you Sean Miller was top 10 in the AFL in batting average after week 3, would you believe me?
Well, I aint lyin’…
Miller took advantage of his two starts on the week to pile up five hits in seven at-bats, raising his average to .346, which would rank 10th in the circuit if he had enough plate appearances.
Batting ninth and playing second base in their 4-3 win over Salt River on Tuesday, Miller went 2-4 with a run scored and an RBI to help turn his team’s lineup over. He may have gotten a little lucky, as both those hits were deflected by infielders, but you can’t argue with the results. His single in the fifth inning brought in a runner to make the score 2-0, and he followed that by stealing second base (his first SB of the AFL season) and scoring their third run of the frame.
In Surprise’s 10-5 loss to Glendale on Thursday Miller really stood out, going 3-3 with a walk to reach base each time he stepped in the batter’s box. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance in the third inning, then singled in each of his final three at-bats. He drove in one in the fourth that put his team out front 2-0 before the Desert Dogs pulled away late. In the ninth after his third single, Miller scored along with Wade on a triple that accounted for their final tally of five runs in the loss.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com started his offseason review of Team Top 20 Prospects lists, with the Minnesota Twins. I have always loved how John looks at prospects and while they may be short on elite talent, there is a ton of depth. I’m not sure I’ll put him that quite that high on a list, but I love where Brent Rooker comes in.
- Also on MinorLeagueBall.com, Wayne Cavadi takes a deeper look at three Twins prospects you should know. They are the AFL’s Tyler Jay (2018 will be big year for him), Gabriel Moya who saw action late with the MLB team, and Lewis Thorpe who is one of my personal cheeseballs.
Thorpe was dominant when I watched him in Cedar Rapids and was a great interview, but injury and illness have delayed his timeline a full two years. Don’t forget about him!
- Moya also was named a winner of one of MiLB.com’s MiLBY awards, for Top Relief Pitcher during the 2017 season. To recap just how dominant he was for two organizations in AA, Moya made 47 appearances, pitching 58.1 innings and allowing just 30 hits and 15 walks while piling up 87 strikeouts on the year. He went 6-1 and converted all 24 of his save opportunities, finishing the season with a 0.77 ERA and WHIP before holding his own in 6.1 innings with the Twins.
- Check out a great read on Tyler Jay and what he went through this season with injuries. While thoracic outlet syndrome was often in the notes on why he was missing in action, we found out later in the season that wasn’t the case. Jay cites unclean mechanics, and in the most interesting note to me, perhaps the fact he put on 20 pounds coming into the season.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com looks at all the Twins prospects participating in the AFL, with even more details on Tyler Jay and how starting helped him gain confidence in his changeup and how he viewed being switched to the bullpen for the 2017 season.
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the last week!
- Oct 31 2017 04:31 AM
- by Steve Lein
To learn how all the Minnesota Twins prospects fared in week 2, keep reading!
(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: 2 appearances, 1.2 IP, 5 H’s, 2 ERs, BB, K; 4.91 ERA (overall).
In week two Jay made appearances in the Saguaros 10-3 win over Peoria on Tuesday and their 7-6 meltdown loss to Mesa on Friday, but he wasn’t as sharp as in week one.
In Tuesday’s victory, Jay came on for the bottom of the fifth inning with his Surprise team up 5-2. He recorded the first out with a swinging K on a 1-2 breaking ball before allowing a double to the next hitter that put a runner in scoring position. This was followed by a single to left field that put runners on the corners and Jay in a bit of a jam. He got exactly what he needed to escape unscathed however, as he induced an inning-ending double play ball to the next hitter.
On Friday Jay again came out for the bottom of the sixth inning, this time with his team up 3-0, but he ran into trouble right away. The first hitter clubbed a ground-rule double which he followed with an off-target pitch that went for a passed ball to put that runner on third. He got a ground out before walking a batter to put runners on the corners. Consecutive singles then scored two runs to bring Mesa within one and summoned the pitching coach from the dugout. After that visit Jay plunked a batter to load the bases before getting an infield pop-up for his second out and an end to his day. Ryan Eades then came on for the third out.
LaMonte Wade: 3 games, 4-12, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, K; .231/.333/.423 (overall).
Wade played right field in three games on the week for Surprise, batting ninth, seventh and second in the lineup in those contests.
In Monday’s 9-8 come-from-behind victory against Scottsdale, Wade finished 1-4 with an RBI and one strikeout. The RBI came in the fifth inning right after Scorpions starter Justus Sheffield was removed from the game with runners on first and second. His ground ball through the left side closed the gap to 4-2 and Surprise would add another run before the inning was over.
Wade had a forgettable day in 6-4 loss to Peoria on Wednesday, finishing 0-4 with three ground outs (including a double play) and fly out.
He came back to close out the week with his best game so far in the AFL season, as he joined in on the show of power from the Saguaros lineup in building a 6-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning against the Solar Sox on Friday. He followed teammate Nicky Lopez’s double to start the game with a double of his own to give the Saguaros the early 1-0 lead. In the fifth inning he added a single to his line on a “pop up to the catcher” (which I’d like to know how that happened), before blasting his first AFL home run in the seventh that made the score 6-2. It was the second solo home run of the inning for Surprise and as a team they dropped four bombs in the game. Unfortunately, for all those offensive efforts, Saguaros reliever Jordan Hicks gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth to end up on the losing end of a walk off.
Of local note in Friday’s box score, is Coon Rapids, MN native Logan Shore of the Oakland Athletics organization made the start for Mesa.
Chris Paul: 3 games, 3-14, 2 R’s, RBI, 5 K’s; .308/.333/.346 (overall).
Paul saw action in each of the same games as Wade during week two, batting in the middle of the lineup, and got to play hero in their win on Monday versus Scottsdale.
With the score 8-3 in favor of the Scorpions in the bottom of the eighth, Paul followed a walk by the Saguaros leadoff man with a single for his first hit of the game. They were both driven in by a triple from teammate Kevin Padio that brought them within three before Pidio scampered home on a ground out to put them within striking distance in the bottom of the ninth. A walk, hit by pitch, and bases clearing double brought Paul up again with the game tied and a runner in scoring position. He delivered the walk-off win with a single to center field to complete the five-run comeback for Surprise. The win also marked the first time Paul played third base during the AFL season.
In Wednesday’s tilt, Paul again had an opportunity in the bottom of the ninth with a runner in scoring position and his team down 6-4, but he didn’t have the same result in this one as he was called out on strikes to end the game. He fared even worse than Wade in this one, finishing 0-5 game with two K’s and multiple missed opportunities.
In Friday’s walk-off loss to Mesa, Paul led off the fourth inning with an infield single on a slow-roller to third, then promptly trotted home on a two-run shot from Andrew Knizner that gave Surprise a 3-0 lead. Paul finished 1-4 with three strikeouts leading into the Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday.
It was there that Paul bookended his week with another memorable performance. He won the unique contest with a score of 2,750 points, edging New York Mets prospect Tomas Nido. Unlike a true home run derby, points are awarded in the event for hitting obstacles scattered throughout the field, and looks like a blast to participate in! Congrats Chris, and don’t blow all the prize money in one place!
Andrew Vasquez: Two appearances, 2.2IP, 2 H’s, ER, 3 K’s; 1.93 ERA (overall).
Vasquez again saw action in two games in week two, going more than one inning for the first time in the AFL on Monday against Scottsdale, and one more inning in a 6-4 extra-inning loss to Mesa on Thursday.
He came on in the middle of the top of the fifth on Monday after one run had scored and runners remained on first on third. He struck out the first man he faced, but uncorked a wild pitch to the second that allowed an inherited runner to score and make it 4-1 Scorpions. He then got a ground out to end the inning and came back out for the sixth. He did his thing in this frame, setting the opposition down in order. In his 1.2 innings, 13 of his 20 pitches went for strikes, including three swinging strikes on his lone K of the outing.
In Thursday’s tilt, Vasquez was called upon for the top of the seventh with the Saguaros up 4-3. He was charged with a blown save as he surrendered the tying run before escaping the jam of his own making. The leadoff man singled to start it, then advanced to second base on a balk. Vasquez then got the first out of the inning with a looking strikeout but that was followed by an RBI double. A wild pitch then advanced that runner to third, but he was bailed out on a grounder to the second baseman with the infield in that cut that runner down at home. He then plunked a batter to put runners on first and second before he notched his second K to escape with minimal damage given what had transpired.
Ryan Eades: 2 appearances, 2.1IP, 3 H’s, K; 0.00 ERA (overall).
Eades also was summoned from the bullpen in two games during the week, with his appearances coming against Peoria on Tuesday and Mesa on Friday.
In the 10-3 win against the Javelinas he got the eighth inning, needing just twelve pitches (nine strikes) to record three outs. He struck out the first hitter of the inning and got a ground out for two quick outs before giving up a single, but ended the inning by inducing a grounder to the next hitter.
In Friday’s heart-wrenching loss to Mesa, Eades picked up his first hold in the AFL with a scoreless 1.1 innings. After Jay had allowed in two runs in the sixth, it was Eades job to escape the bases-loaded jam with no further damage. He did so by getting a fly out to center field then worked around a couple of singles in the seventh for a scoreless inning before the bottom fell out for the Saguaros in the ninth.
Tom Hackimer: 2 appearances, 3.0IP, 3 H’s, ER, 2 K’s; 2.25 ERA (overall).
In two appearances on the week, Hackimer totaled 3.0 innings pitched as he also went multiple frames for the first time during the AFL season.
In Monday’s dramatic win he came on after Vasquez for the top of the seventh inning with the score 4-3 in favor of Scottsdale. The first batter hit a hard ground ball that Paul deflected at third base and that ended up a single, but Hackimer got the next batter to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Then some hard contact came in the form of consecutive doubles that increased the Scorpions lead to 5-3 before he got a strikeout to end the two-out rally.
In Thursday’s 6-4 loss against Mesa that included free baseball, Hackimer saw his first multi-inning appearance in the AFL. He was summoned in the top of the eighth inning with the score tied at four and set the Solar Sox lineup down in order, including a swinging strikeout. Back out for the ninth, he made quick work of the 1-2-3 hitters for Mesa, needing just eleven pitches to record another one-two-three inning.
Hackimer was replaced for the top of the tenth, and with a runner starting the inning on second base, Mesa quickly scored the go-ahead run with a lead off single, and added some insurance with a home run to pull out the 6-4 victory against the good guys.
Sean Miller: 3 games (2 starts), 3-10, 2 R’s, 2B, BB, K; .211/.250/.263 (overall).
Miller played in three games during the AFL season’s second week, making the start on Wednesday as the second baseman and batting second, and on Thursday as the DH batting ninth. He entered Tuesday’s contest in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement, and made the most of his hitting opportunities.
In the seventh inning after entering the game to play shortstop, Miller drew a walk and scored on a double from the next hitter that made the score 8-2 Saguaros. In the top of the ninth he grounded out in his other plate appearance.
In Wednesday’s 6-4 loss, Miller collected three hits in the top third of the lineup in his best game in the AFL so far. In the bottom of the first Miller followed a single from the leadoff man with a single of his own and got as far as second base. He then led off the bottom of the sixth inning with another single but didn’t move up any further. His biggest hit of the game came when he again led off an inning, this time in the eighth with the score 4-1 in favor of Peoria. He doubled to put himself into scoring position and two batters later another double brought him home to close the gap to 4-2. Like Paul, Miller also came up in the bottom of the ninth and represented the tying run, but flew out to center field for the inning's second out as they fell short of another comeback.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- After being selected in the third round of the 2017 draft and being given an above slot bonus to pry him away from LSU, Blayne Enlow was fantastic in the Gulf Coast League for the Twins. For his efforts, Baseball America named him to their GCL Top 20 Prospect list.
- The Minnesota Twins announced their 2017 Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, with Mitch Garver taking home the first honor, and Aaron Slegers the second. Garver finished first in Twins Daily’s Hitter of the Year voting, while Slegers finished third in our Starting Pitcher of the Year tally.
- After his regular season that was cut short due to injury, Tyler Jay’s performance in the first week of the season was a positive development for the outlook on his health.
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the last week!
- Oct 25 2017 07:56 AM
- by Steve Lein
With that, let’s check out how Twins prospects fared in the first week of the 2017 AFL season!
(links provided to each player’s overall stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K’s.
Jay made two appearances in the first week of the AFL season, pitching in the season opener against the Salt River Rafters on Tuesday the 10th, and the fourth inning on Friday the 13th versus the Glendale Desert Dogs. Both games were losses for the Saguaros, but not because of Jay’s performance.
Against the Rafters on Tuesday, Jay came out to start the 7th inning and needed just 10 pitches to set the 9-1-2 hitters down in order. The first two outs came on strikeouts, both of the looking variety, before Jay fielded a bunt attempt for the final out on his first pitch to the number two hitter in the Salt River lineup. Covering the AFL for ESPN, Keith Law noted that Jay “looked electric” in the outing and wouldn’t close the door on him starting in the future.
Against Glendale on Friday, Jay came on for the start of the fourth inning with his squad already down 4-1. It looked like it would get worse than that after the first batter doubled to right field and advanced to third on a fielding error on his first pitch of the inning. But on a 3-2 pitch to the next hitter Jay induced a groundball to third base and the runner was nabbed at home for the inning’s first out. Jay then got a flyout for the second out before picking up another backwards K to end the frame.
LaMonte Wade: 4 games, 2-14, R, 2B, RBI, 3 BB, 2 K’s.
Wade played in four of the Saguaros five games during the week, making the start in right field for three of them and DH-ing in the fourth. He batted sixth in the lineup in three of those games, and was in the two-hole for the other.
In the season opener, Wade picked up his first AFL hit in the bottom of the eighth inning when he doubled to center field with one out. At that point he represented the tying runner for Surprise, but that was as far as he would get and they fell to Salt River 4-3.
The Saguaros would get back at the Rafters the next day in 3-1 win, and Wade drew his first walk of the AFL season in his first at-bat of the game. His next three plate appearances resulted in a sharp groundout to second, a comebacker to the pitcher, and a fly out to center field as he finished that one 0-3.
On Thursday as the DH, Wade was 0-4 with a strikeout, a fly out to center, and two ground balls to the right side in an 8-2 loss to Glendale. Of note in this one, is Wade saw just eight pitches in those at-bats, which was very uncharacteristic for such a patient hitter.
He regrouped on Saturday in an 11-1 drumming of the Scottsdale Scorpions that improved their record as a team in the first week to 2-3. In six plate appearances in the two-hole, Wade drew two walks and saw a total of 26 pitches. His first RBI in the AFL came in the seventh inning for Surprise, when he drew a bases loaded walk for their seventh and final run of the frame. He had singled earlier in the same inning (on the first pitch of that at bat, ironically) and scored a run.
Chris Paul: 3 games, 5-12, 2 R’s, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, K.
Playing first base for Surprise, Paul saw action in three games during the season’s first week, and batted cleanup in each.
In the opening game against Salt River, Wade racked up three singles in four at-bats with RBI’s coming in the first and seventh innings. Had the runner in front of him in the seventh not been thrown out at third for final out on that hit, the Saguaros would have had at least one more at bat with a runner in scoring position to try and tie the game.
In Thursday’s tilt against Glendale, Paul was 0-4 but the rest of his team didn’t fare much better in the 8-2 loss. They didn’t score a run until the eighth inning and that was the result of a hit-by-pitch, three walks, a throwing error, and a passed ball. Paul did reach base in the fourth inning on a fielder’s choice.
Paul got back on the hit-parade on Friday in the Saguaros 7-6 loss to Glendale. He finished 2-4 with two runs scored, a double, RBI, and a walk in five plate appearances. His double in the seventh inning closed the Desert Dogs lead to 6-4, and he would later score to bring his team within one. In the bottom of the ninth he drew a two-out walk to put the tying runner on base. He was replaced by a pinch runner that made it all the way to third base, but wasn’t able to scamper the final 90 feet.
Andrew Vasquez: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, H, 3 K’s.
Like Jay, Vasquez also made two appearances in the first week of the AFL season, and made short work of his competition in the same games as his counterpart.
He directly followed Jay for the eighth inning in the season opening loss against Salt River. Of note during his 2017 campaign with Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers, is Vasquez did not allow a single extra-base-hit to a left-handed hitter the entire season (75 plate appearances). It’s notable here as the third hitter he faced in his AFL debut was a lefty, and they connected for a double on an 0-1 pitch. Vasquez recovered from that and picked up his second strikeout of the Fall season to end the inning.
On Friday Vasquez was the first reliever summoned from the Surprise bullpen in the third inning with the score 4-1 Glendale. He needed just nine pitches in a one-two-three frame and added another K to his early season AFL total.
Ryan Eades: 2 appearances (1-0), 2.0IP, 2 H’s, R (unearned), BB, K.
Unlike Jay and Vasquez, the two appearances Eades made during the season’s first week came in victories. He even picked up the first pitching win of the season for his Saguaros team.
That was on Wednesday in their 3-1 win over Salt River. He came on for the bottom of the fourth inning with the game still tied at zero and pitched a scoreless frame, walking one. His teammates went on to score two in the top of the fifth which put him in line to be credited with that win.
On Saturday in their 11-1 win against Scottsdale, Eades pitched the eighth inning. The Scorpions one run was scored with him on the mound, but it was unearned due to a missed-catch error by Eades as he went to cover first base. That runner later scored on a double but Eades also picked up his first AFL strikeout.
Tom Hackimer: 1 appearance, 1.0IP, BB, K.
The sidewinding righty got in just one game in the first week of the AFL season, and it came on Thursday against Glendale. He was the first reliever in the game for Surprise, coming on for the bottom of the fourth inning.
He struck out the first batter he faced in his debut and then got a groundout for the first two outs before he had a little trouble. He walked a batter and then gave up a single through the middle that put runners on the corners before coaxing an easy fly ball for the third out and a scoreless AFL inauguration.
Sean Miller: 2 games, 1-9, 2 R’s, RBI, 3 K’s.
Miller saw action in two games on the week, playing 2B in each.
Batting 2nd in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-1 win for his AFL debut, Miller went 0-4 and struck out twice. On defense he made every play that came his way, including three putouts and three assists.
Against Scottsdale on Saturday, Miller batted eighth in the lineup and scored the first run of the game in the third inning after he reached base on a throwing error from the Scorpions shortstop. In the seven run seventh inning, Miller picked up his first AFL hit and RBI with a single, and would later score his second run of the game on the walk to LaMonte Wade.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- In a front office move that I’m extremely excited for, the Minnesota Twins hired Baseball America editor John Manuel to work in their pro scouting department. While I’m disappointed I won’t be able to interact with him in the same way on Twitter and elsewher to talk about prospects, I couldn’t be happier that he’s joining our favorite team!
- Despite the fact he played in only half the games as most everyone after being drafted in June of this year, Brent Rooker was named MLBPipeline.com’s Minnesota Twins Hitting Prospect of the year. Stephen Gonsalves was is also recognized as their Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. Here’s to hoping we see both at Target Field during the 2018 season!
- In the season opener for Surprise, four Twins prospects made an impact on the game.
- While MiLB.com lists the Saguaros roster dead last in “toolshed power rankings,” Tyler Jay is singled out as their Wild Card due his potential for increased optimism or head scratching heading into the 2018 season depending on his AFL performance.
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the last week!
- Oct 17 2017 09:01 PM
- by Steve Lein
For anyone who doesn’t know, the AFL is a short season league where every team in Major League Baseball sends some of their top prospects in October and is often used as a proving ground for these players who are looking to take the final steps to their MLB dreams. Many of the top prospects in baseball are sent here to make a case for an early call-up next year, but there are also many experienced MiLB-ers on the doorstep who are evaluated whether or not to be placed their team's 40-man roster. These minor league games in October can determine a lot going into the next MLB season for these players, and that’s why I love these games.
Each MLB team typically sends seven players to the AFL, and they are split up among six teams. This year the Twins are again represented on the Surprise Saguaros roster with pitchers Ryan Eades, Tyler Jay, Tom Hackimer and Andrew Vasquez and position players Sean Miller, Chris Paul and LaMonte Wade. They will join prospects from the rosters of the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers. It will be the first trip to the league for all of the Twins players, and each them will be looking to accomplish something different with their time there.
Of players sent to the AFL last fall for Minnesota, three made their MLB debut during the 2017 season. They were catcher Mitch Garver and pitchers Randy Rosario and John Curtiss. So as you can see, a lot of these guys have potential to impact the majors in the following season.
Each week I’ll be recapping the action for all of the Twins representatives during their time in the desert of Arizona, so who are these guys? What have they done and what will I be watching for in the AFL games this year? Let’s take a look!
2017 Minnesota Twins Prospects in the AFL:
— The most interesting name may be that of pitcher Tyler Jay. With high expectations coming into the 2016 season after being drafted number six overall the year before, Jay has had trouble staying healthy. That was the case again in 2017 as he pitched just 11.2 innings on the season, essentially losing an entire year of development. In thirteen starts with the Fort Myers Miracle in 2016, Jay did flash a lot of the stuff that made him an attractive pick at the top end of the first round. He went 5-5 with a 3.10 ERA and struck out 8.8/9IP with a 1.22 WHIP. He was even bumped up to the Chattanooga Lookouts roster early in July of that season, but he didn’t finish that month or his season due to a neck injury. Because he has missed so much time, many of the same questions I had when writing his draft preview two years ago remain. We also aren’t quite sure if the Twins new brass thinks he could still be a starting pitcher since before the 2017 season started they moved him into the bullpen with the Lookouts. The main thing I believe Jay will be doing in the AFL is getting some of those missed innings under his belt. It also will intrigue me to see if he makes any starts as typically each team sends at least one starter, but none of the others prospects sent quite fit that role. If Jay can show that his plus-stuff still plays up against the elite competition of the AFL after being out so long, I can envision a scenario where he starts in AAA next season, a phone call away from the majors.
— All LaMonte Wade has done since joining the Twins organization as a ninth-round draft pick in 2015, is get on base. Across four levels so far in his career, he has a .404 on-base percentage and has drawn more walks than strikeouts. Even more amazing from a comparison standpoint, is the number of walks he has drawn is significantly higher than Joe Mauer did in his MiLB career before debuting (177 in 273 games vs. 129 in 277 games). What Wade hasn’t done so far in his career, is hit for much power but there is some in there. He had 22 doubles, three triples, and seven home runs with Chattanooga this season, and his 67 RBI and .397 OBP ranked second on the team to only team MVP Jonathan Rodriguez. As the year progressed he went from hitting in the middle of the Lookouts lineup to batting in the top third, finishing the year as their number three hitter. He doesn’t have the “wow” tool or tools that many top prospects do, but can do a bit of everything and is not a slouch in any regard. He also doesn’t struggle against same-sided pitchers, as his career OPS vs. left-handers is actually higher than against righties. Wade gets high marks from scouts for his baseball acumen, work ethic, and makeup that they say allows him to outplay his scouting report. There is not much more development needed here as Wade has excelled at every stop, so the AFL will be a good point to judge just how big of an impact he might be able to make in the majors if needed next season. He remind sme a lot of Denard Span at the top of a lineup and we may get to see soon if that is indeed his ceiling.
— Infielder Chris Paul was a force in the Fort Myers Miracle lineup this year when he was on the field, where he slashed .328/.380/.471 in 61 games. His issue as he heads to the AFL is that it was just for 61 games as he dealt with a wrist injury. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 draft from California-Berkeley, Paul was a senior sign and will turn 25 on Thursday so he has been older than his competition to this point. He played primarily third base this year with Fort Myers, but has played in all the corner spots of the field in as he looks for the role best suited for him. In the AFL the Twins likely will want to see some power from him and perhaps a bit more clarity of what role he might be able to fill in the coming season. He will likely start the 2018 season in Chattanooga, with perhaps his position determined by his AFL performance.
— Reliever Andrew Vasquez goes to the AFL out of the single-A levels and spent most of his time at Low-A which makes his selection intriguing as he’s not as far along as most other prospects who go there. In Vasquez’s case, it is likely deserved as he flat out dominated the Midwest League in 2017. He checked in at number five on Twins Daily’s Relief Pitcher of the Year Award, due to his 1.55 ERA and 85 K’s in 58.0IP on the season. That mark was good for a 13.2K/9 rate, which is elite territory. At 6-foot-6 and left-handed, he looks intimidating, but it’s not a big fastball that he uses to dominate hitters, or anything with velocity for that matter. It’s his big curveball that should probably be classified as a “bugs bunny” type, as it is known to come in below 70MPH. Player’s know it’s coming, but they still can’t hit it and it allows his below 90’s fastball to play up while they sit on it. He is also nearly unhittable against same-sided hitters, as he didn’t allow a single extra-base-hit to them during the 2017 season. It will be really interesting to see how his curveball-centric approach plays against the elite competition of the AFL, and I’ll be watching to see if right-handers are able to figure him out enough to limit his upside.
— Pitcher Ryan Eades was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of LSU as a guy who held a lot of projection and showed elite “stuff” at times in his collegiate career. He always got mentions about how his stats didn’t live up to his arsenal. As a pro so far in his career, you might say the same thing has held true. He was used primarily as a starter in his first three seasons, spending an entire season at each rung of the ladder until he plateaued during the 2016 with Chattanooga. Late in the year they made the switch to the bullpen where he struggled to keep runs off the board, but he did boost his strikeout rate. In the 2017 season he started off in the bullpen, but whenever a need arose he stepped in as a starter was actually pretty effective at times. He even made a couple of appearances with Rochester in early June where he allowed just one run on six hits in eight innings, while striking out nine. When he was sent back to the Lookouts, he maintained around a mid-3.00’s ERA through the end of the season, finishing with a mark of 3.63 in AA. In front of Jay, Eades is the most likely nominee to get starts in the AFL from the Twins representatives, and the likely outcome from his performances is whether he gets another shot as a starter, or moves to the bullpen full time in 2018.
— The name Tom Hackimer probably isn’t a well-known one for Twins prospect followers quite yet, but that could be changing very soon. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of St. Johns, he is a pure reliever prospect who is performing at a level near the top amongst his peers. He began the 2017 season in Cedar Rapids, and was outstanding as evidenced by his 0.58 WHIP. He appeared in 16 games, pitching 24.0 innings with a 28/3 K/BB ratio and pick up the Save in 6 games. After his promotion to Fort Myers, he pitched another 37.1 innings with 43 K’s against 19 walks. He finished the season with a 1.76 ERA and 0.85 WHIP across the two levels. Like Trevor Hildenberger who made a big impact with the Twins this season, Hackimer is a sidewinder who comes at hitters from a drastically different angle. This also allows him to be deadly on right-handed hitters, who managed just a .352 OPS against him in 2017. Like with Vasquez in the AFL, I’m going to be watching if left-handed hitters can negate his effectiveness moving forward, but with a good showing he should be in Chattanooga to start the 2018 season.
— Infielder Sean Miller came to the Minnesota Twins organization out of the 2015 draft in the 10th round. He has been what you might call a utility player so far in his career, as he has played all over the infield and even got a few games in the outfield with Fort Myers in 2017. After being drafted, he spent a couple of weeks in Elizabethton before moving up to Cedar Rapids to finish the season. He hit .284 in 26 games with the Kernels that season and remained there for the first 90 games of 2016 before being bumped up to the Miracle to finish the year. He spent all of the 2017 campaign with Fort Myers, playing 122 games in the middle of the infield as a steady glove presence with some speed. He hit .262/.299/.322 on the year with 51 runs scored and 38 RBI. The AFL may be a big challenge for Miller but I’m sure that is appealing to him and guys like him are fun to root for and learn about on their journey to the majors.
Good luck to all of the players in the AFL for the Twins this season, and I’m looking forward to following along with everyone at Twins Daily!
Please feel free to ask any questions about the AFL and discuss this week’s performances!
- Oct 10 2017 03:27 PM
- by Steve Lein
Randy Dobnak was promoted to Cedar Rapids from Elizabethton. An undrafted free agent this year, Dobnak had a 2.39 ERA over 26.1 innings with the E-Twins.
RED WINGS REPORT
Scranton 8, Rochester 4
Mejia, seeing his first live game action since Aug. 8, struck out four batters over three scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and walked a batter. He only required 36 pitches, 23 of which were strikes (63.9 percent). While that performance was encouraging, Stephen Gonsalves didn’t have the best of nights.
Making his first relief appearance since 2013 (in order to accommodate Mejia’s rehab start), Gonsalves got just two outs and gave up four runs on four hits and a pair of walks. He’s up to 14 earned runs over 22.2 innings for the Red Wings (5.56 ERA).
Jake Reed managed to throw 2.1 shutout innings, and the Rochester bats battled back to within a run of the RailRiders, but Alex Wimmers also had a rough night. He gave up four runs in the bottom of the seventh, two coming on a Tyler Austin homer.
Niko Goodrum hit a two-run triple and J.B. Shuck was the only Wings player with two hits.
Jackson 4, Chattanooga 0
The Lookouts just couldn’t get anything going. The game got off to an ominous start, as the Generals struck out the side in the top of the first. Chattanooga only got a runner as far as third base once.
Ryan Eades made the start, and gave up a run over four innings. Keaton Steele was the first man out of the pen and gave up two unearned runs over two innings thanks to errors by Nick Gordon and Brian Navarreto. Randy Rosario took care of the final two frames. He walked four batters and gave up a single in the eighth inning, but managed to give up just one run.
LaMonte Wade was 2-for-4 and Jonathan Rodriguez and Brian Navarreto each had a double.
Fort Myers 4, St. Lucie 3 (10 innings)
The Miracle squandered a 3-0 lead, but ended up taking this one in extras. Sean Miller opened the 10th inning with a single, advanced to second on a Tanner English sac bunt, moved up to third on a passed ball and scored on a sac fly from Brandon Lopez. How’s that for small ball?
With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, St. Lucie managed to get the first two batters of the inning on. But the Miracle went around the horn to complete the first triple play in their 26th year in existence. It went third baseman Brandon Lopez to second baseman Sean Miller to first baseman Chris Paul.
Clark Beeker gave up three runs over five innings, but he also hit Tim Tebow with a pitch. That’s gotta be worth something, right? Alex Robinson provided two scoreless innings of relief. Tyler Jay added two perfect innings of his own, striking out two batters in the process. Michael Kohn earned his first save with a scoreless bottom of the 10th inning.
Chris Paul was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer. Zander Wiel was 2-for-4 with a double.
Cedar Rapids 11, Burlington 1
Torii Hunter had quite the impact on his visit to Cedar Rapids. Royce Lewis’ exaggerated leg kick is no more, and the Kernels scored seven runs in the first inning. OK, who knows if Torii had anything to do with either of those things, but it was pretty cool to see him in the dugout.
The big blow of that first inning was a Trey Cabbage bases-clearing double. Travis Blankenhorn drove in five runs, including two on his 13th homer of the season, and also stole his 12th base. Royce Lewis had three hits, including a triple, and a walk. Ben Rortvedt also had a three-hit night.
Tyler Watson, making his fifth start since coming over in the Brandon Kintzler trade, held the Bees to one run on three hits over 5.0 innings. He had six strikeouts and walked three batters. Max Cordy and Evan Sanders each pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
Elizabethton 7, Kingsport 3
Yet another victory for the Appy League West division champs. Rainis Silva had four hits, Gorge Munoz hit a homer and Akil Baddoo was 2-for-5 with a double, a triple, two RBI and a run scored. Baddoo’s slash line is now an eye-popping .361/.484/.590 for Elizabethton.
Starter Ryley Widell, the Twins seventh-round pick this year, gave up a pair of runs over four innings. With eight more strikeouts, he’s up to 41 in 29.2 innings pitched (12.6 K/9), but he also walked four batters, and is up to 20 on the season.
GCL TWINS TAKES
GCL Twins 3, GCL Rays 1
This game was scoreless heading into the eighth inning, but the Twins took advantage of a couple of errors committed by the Rays over the final two frames. In fact, none of the four runs scored in this game were credited to the pitcher as earned as the Rays committed four errors in the game. The Twins only committed three.
Carlos Suniaga gave up just two hits over 6.0 innings, lowering his ERA to 1.69. His catcher, Kirby Camacho, reached safely in three of his four plate appearances, recording a single and two walks. The 19-year-old hasn't shown much power yet, but his OBP is up to .394 and he has more walks (13) than strikeouts (9).
Humberto Maldonado had the Twins only extra-base hit, a double, and Ricky De La Torre had the team's only multi-hit game.
TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Carlos Suniaga, GCL Twins (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K)
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Travis Blankenhorn, Cedar Rapids (2-for-5, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, SB)
THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester at Scranton, 6:05 pm CT, David Hurlbut (3.55 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Chattanooga vs. Montgomery, 6:15 pm CT, Zack Littell (3.03 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Fort Myers at Jupiter, 5:30 pm CT, TBD
Cedar Rapids vs. Burlington, 6:35 pm CT, Tyler Wells (2.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)
Elizabethton at Kingsport, 5:30 pm CT, TBD
GCL Twins vs. GCL Rays, 9:00 am CT, TBD
Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Wednesday's games.
- Aug 31 2017 11:12 AM
- by Tom Froemming
RED WINGS REPORT
Buffalo 2, Rochester 1 (11 innings)
Stephen Gonsalves pitched a great game and Levi Michael hit his first Triple-A home run, but the Red Wings just couldn’t get much of anything going on offense. The Wings had a great opportunity to walk this one off in the bottom of the ninth inning. Matt Hague was thrown out at the plate for the third out as he attempted to score on an Anthony Recker double.
Gonsalves, making his fourth start for Rochester, gave up one run on seven hits and a walk over 6.0 innings. He struck out six. Nik Turley and Michael Tonkin each pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen before Yohan Pino gave up the game-winning sac fly in the top of the 11th. The Wings went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Rochester fell to 75-57, but still holds a two-game lead of the wild card spot.
Chattanooga 3, Mississippi 1
All this team does is win. This one was tied until the bottom of the eighth inning when T.J. White drove in LaMonte Wade to give the Lookouts the lead. Max Murphy added an RBI double to provide an insurance run.
Ryan Eades got his first start since July 2 and held Mississippi to one run over 4.0 innings. Cody Stashak, who was making his Double-A debut, was the first man out of the bullpen and was outstanding. He struck out five of the seven batters he faced over his 2.0 scoreless innings. Alex Muren followed with two more innings of shutout ball before Gabriel Moya came in for his 23rd save of the season.
White, Murphy and Jonathan Rodriguez each had two hits. Along with sparking the game-winning rally, Wade also drove in Chattanooga’s first run with a sac fly in the fifth inning.
Fort Myers 14, Charlotte 2
Brent Rooker homered, because that’s what he does. Make that 17 home runs in 58 career games for the Mississippi State product, 10 of which he’s hit for the Miracle. I guess somebody forgot to tell him the FSL is a pitcher’s league. Rooker also had two singles, raising his batting average to .289.
But there were plenty of other impressive performances by Fort Myers, which scored six runs in both the first and fourth innings. Jaylin Davis hit two homers and Tanner English blasted a grand slam. Zander Wiel had three hits, drove in three runs and scored twice.
Brady Anderson was off to a great start, but exited the game after three shutout innings due to an apparent injury. Tyler Jay came on in relief and completed two full innings for the first time this season. He struck out three batters and allowed just one hit. Jay is up to 5.2 innings on his rehab assignment and has 10 strikeouts and just one walk. Tom Hackimer also threw two scoreless innings and added four strikeouts. In all, the Miracle racked up 13 K's and issued just one walk.
This was a big win for Fort Myers, as they extended their lead over Charlotte to 4.0 games in the FSL South division’s second-half standings.
Cedar Rapids 6. Quad Cities 2
Jimmy Kerrigan sparked the Kernels two-run second inning with a leadoff single and added some insurance runs with a two-RBI base hit in the ninth. In between, both Lewin Diaz and Travis Blankenhorn homered.
Charlie Barnes held the River Bandits to one run on two hits over 4.0 innings. He struck out three. Logan Lombana followed with two scoreless innings. Patrick McGuff surrendered a run over his two innings, but also struck out three. Hector Lujan pitched a scoreless ninth inning, lowering his ERA to 1.41.
The Kernels were extremely patient in this game. They drew 10 walks, two each for Caleb Hamilton, Shane Carrier and Jordan Gore. Royce Lewis was 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and he stole a base.
Elizabethton 12, Bristol 1
What a dominating performance by the E-Twins. Second baseman Carson Crites led the way by going 4-for-5 with a three-run homer, Jose Miranda also clubbed a three-run homer, his 10th of the season, and Ariel Montesino had a home run, three hits and four RBI.
Akil Baddoo was on base in four of his five plate appearances, tallying two singles while picking up a couple of walks. He entered this game with a .421 OBP. Wander Javier also had a couple of hits.
Ryley Widel struggled with his control, walking six batters, but he still only gave up one run over his four innings thanks in large part to six strikeouts. Moises Gomez pitched the final five frames, holding Bristol scoreless on two hits while adding another seven strikeouts.
The victory improved E-Town’s record to 37-25, and they were able to extend their lead in the Appy League West division to 3.5 games over Johnson City.
GCL TWINS TAKES
GCL Red Sox at GCL Twins (Postponed due to rain)
TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Stephen Gonsalves, Rochester (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Jaylin Davis, Fort Myers (3-for-5, 2 HR)
SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Buffalo, 5:05 pm CT, David Hurlbut (3.56 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Chattanooga at Jackson, 6:05 pm CT, Zack Littell (3.03 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Fort Myers vs. Charlotte, 5:05 pm CT, Lewis Thorpe (2.87 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Cedar Rapids at Quad Cities, 6:35 pm CT, Tyler Wells (2.27 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Elizabethton at Greenville, 5:00 pm CT, TBD
GCL Twins vs GCL Red Sox, 9:00 am CT (doubleheader), TBD
Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Friday's games.
- Aug 26 2017 09:45 AM
- by Tom Froemming
10. Daniel Palka, OF, 25-- Current Level: Triple-A
Preseason Rank: 12
Palka hasn't been hitting for as much power as he did in his first season in the Twins organization. However, he has lowered his Triple-A strikeout percentage from 38.6% last year to 24.6% in 2017. The Twins added him to the 40-man roster this off-season so he could have been a call away from making his big league debut. Unfortunately, he broke his left index finger at the end of April which will keep him on the DL for a chunk of this season. His potential continues to be high but he is going to have to come back strong from this injury and fight his way on to the 2018 Twins roster.
9. Felix Jorge, RHP, 23-- Current Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 10
Like Palka, Jorge was added to the Twins 40-man roster this past off-season. As a 23-year old, he is over a year younger than the competition in the Southern League. He's off to a tremendous start with an 8-1 record and the Lookouts have gone 12-1 in games he has started this season. Jorge isn't overpowering but he finds a way to get outs. Last year at Double-A, he posted a 3.9 SO/9 and he has improved that number to 6.2 in 2017. He's struck out over 100 batters in back-to-back seasons while being younger than the competition. Jorge might not be a front-line starter but he could settle into a very important pitching role on a future Twins roster.
8. Tyler Jay, LHP, 23-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 5
One of the most disappointing stories out of spring training this year was the Twins deciding to move Tyler Jay to the bullpen. When the Twins took Jay with a top-10 pick, they were hoping to shift him from the bullpen to a starting rotation. There were some ups and downs during his first two professional seasons and it sounds like both Jay and the new Twins front office felt like this was the best decision. He's only made a couple of appearances this season as he has dealt with bicep tendinitis. Baseball bullpens are evolving with players no longer being limited to one inning or one batter. Jay could develop into a late inning weapon much like Cleveland's Andrew Miller.
7. Lewin Diaz, 1B, 20-- Highest Level: Low-A
Preseason Rank: 9
Diaz is making his mark during his first taste of full-season action. Though he's over a year younger than the competition in the Midwest League, Diaz is hitting .271/.314/.446 with a career-high 21 doubles. Even though he is a power-hitter, he has been able to control his strikeout numbers with 45 strikeouts in 274 plate appearances. Defense will never be his calling card but he can make the plays he needs to make at first base. While there might be some defensive struggles, Diaz has the bat to impact the game. The Kernels clinched a first-half playoff spot on Sunday and Diaz was one of the main cogs leading them to the postseason.
6. Wander Javier, SS, 18- Highest Level: Dominican Summer League
Preseason Rank: 7
In July of 2015, Javier made a splash when the Twins signed him for $4 million dollars. He was limited to nine games during the 2016 season as he dealt with hamstring issues. In this very small sample he hit .308/.400/.654 with five of his eight hits being for extra bases. With the addition of first overall pick Royce Lewis, it will be interesting to see how at-bats are handled to start the year in the GCL. Both Javier and Lewis will need repetitions but who will be able to stand out above the crowd. All of the tools are there for Javier and he will need to showcase them this season as the Twins shortstop picture is starting to fill-up in the minor leagues.
How would your rankings look? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jun 19 2017 08:05 PM
- by Cody Christie
In this group, there is another variety of prospects. A couple were signed to big deals, one as a high draft pick, one as a big international signing. One arrived in a trade. One was a later-round draft pick who has put together an impressive resume while working his way up the ladder. We also find prospects who are at four different levels of the organization. There are definitely a couple of players in this group with major upside, and a couple of others that profile as reliable, long-term big leaguers.
Of course, only time will tell what they become, but these are five worth watching closely.
10. Travis Blankenhorn, 3B, 20
Blankenhorn was the Twins third-round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He was an athletic shortstop in high school, though it was known that shortstop wouldn’t be his long-term position. He played mostly third base that season in the GCL and Elizabethton. In 2016, he transitioned some to second base. He hit well in E-Town and moved up to Cedar Rapids for the final month. That’s where he has begun his 2017 season, though he is back at third base and reports have generally been fairly positive on his defense. But it is his offense that people tend to be most excited about. In 49 games so far this year, he’s hitting .230/.320/.362 (.682) with nine doubles and four home runs. Blankenhorn has the size, strength and athleticism to make adjustments. His big leg kick can help with his timing and provide some extra power. However, his timing is still a work-in-progress as he has struck out in about 25% of his plate appearances.
Preseason Ranking: 7
Pre-2016 Ranking: 20
9. Tyler Jay, LH RP, 23
Jay was the Twins first-round pick in 2015, sixth overall, out of the University of Illinois where he pitched nearly exclusively out of the bullpen. The Twins drafted him knowing that was a possibility, but with his four-pitch mix, many scouts and national rankers (including Keith Law) believed he could transition to being a starter. And, it’s very possible that he could have. However, this spring, the Twins announced that he would be moving to the bullpen, and that it was a mutual decision. Most believed that it is what Jay wanted to do and was most comfortable with the role. Late in spring training, he had some biceps tendinitis. He just returned to game-action with the Lookouts a week ago and has pitched in two games so far. As a reliever, Jay has a chance to have an very strong fastball, reaching into the upper 90s. He also has a very strong slider that can be a wipe-out pitch. He also has a changeup and a curveball. With his pitch mix, and healthy, he has a chance to be an elite bullpen arm… at some point, probably in 2018.
Preseason Ranking: 5
Pre-2016 Ranking: 9
8. LaMonte Wade, OF, 23
Wade was the Twins ninth-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Maryland. Most believe that he would have been drafted much higher if not for an injury that cost him most of his junior season. Wade’s stock as a prospect has continued to rise. It is under two years since Wade was drafted, and he’s already in AA Chattanooga. In 48 games, he is hitting .294/.419/.421 (.840) with seven doubles and four home runs. Wade has consistently shown a great approach at the plate. He knows the strike zone very well. He walks more than he strikes out. He also attacks the ball when he does see pitches he likes. While he hasn’t hit a lot of home runs in his career, he does have a lot of power, but that part of his game is still developing. For now he’s a gap-to-gap doubles type of hitter. Defensively, he has played a lot of center field since signing. He has good speed, though he is best in a corner. He should spend the full season in Chattanooga, though if there’s a need in Rochester, he could be summoned.
Preseason Ranking: 14
7. Wander Javier, SS
Javier signed a huge, $4 million bonus with the Twins in July of 2015. Last year, he made his debut in the DSL where he played well, but was limited to just nine games by hamstring injuries. Still, he came to the States for spring training this year and made a strong impression. While it is likely he starts the season with the GCL Twins, he could spend time in Elizabethton too if things go well. Javier, as an 18-year-old is all about the tools. It was those tools that got him such a big bonus and puts him this high on the prospect rankings. He has good size, but he’s got quickness to play shortstop. Most believe he can stay there, which factored into the bonus. He can hit, and although he’s not big now, he has the potential to keep growing and become a 15-20 home run guy. He’s got a good arm too. This is probably a pretty conservative ranking as after playing in the short season later this summer, it is likely he could move up quickly.
Preseason Ranking: 8
6. Adalberto Mejia, LHP, 23
Mejia came to the Twins last July from the Giants organization in the Eduardo Nunez trade. The Dominican has had an interesting career already. He served a 50-game PED suspension a couple of seasons ago, and he’s been on some Top 100 lists. Since coming to the Twins, Mejia has impressed. A burly left-hander, Mejia has all the pitches to be a long-time starting pitcher in the big leagues. He’s got a good fastball that he throws from angles at times and at different speeds. The same is true of his offspeed pitches, a couple of breaking balls and a changeup. We have seen Meija in a couple of stints in the big leagues. As you would expect, he’s had ups and downs. He made the Opening Day roster and struggled with command early. His pitch counts rose quickly. He had one great start, a spot start in game 2 of a double header. He came back a week later and struggled again to provide innings. But a look at this stuff and makeup and it’s easy to get excited about what Mejia can be for the Twins in the very near future.
Preseason Ranking: 12
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the Top 5 Twins prospects, but for today, discuss and ask questions about prospects six through ten, or even six through 40.
- Jun 01 2017 07:08 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Jermaine Palacios was named the Twins Minor League Player of the month for April. He hit .393 with a .434 OBP and 17 runs scored for Cedar Rapids in a month where it seemed like every night he was doing something notable.
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester, Durham POSTPONED
Another game called off due to rain for the Red Wings. They’ll make this one up on May 30 as part of a doubleheader in Durham in which Rochester will be the home team for Game 2. This was the ninth postponement for Rochester this season.
Chattanooga 5, Montgomery 2
Tyler Jay made his 2017 debut, giving up a run on a homer and a pair of walks in the eighth inning. It was his first game action since July 30 of last year. It was also a big night for Nick Gordon, who hit his fourth home run of the season. Why is that significant? It represents a new career high for Gordon, who also walked and scored a run.
Ryan Eades did his best Kohl Stewart impression, surrendering just one run over 5.3 innings despite zero strikeouts and three walks. Randy Rosario was the first man out of the pen and recorded four consecutive outs, three of them on Ks.
The addition of Jay to the Chattanooga bullpen is a huge deal, but what John Curtiss is doing for the Lookouts has been amazing. The Twins sixth-rounder from 2014 recorded his ninth save of the season, getting all three outs via the strikeout. Over 17.2 innings, he has yet to give up an earned run and he’s now up to 25 Ks. With Nick Burdi and now Jay in that same pen, Curtiss is going to continue to be overshadowed in terms of name recognition/prospect hype, but he has been incredible.
Edgar Corcino reached base in all four of his plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a walk. LaMonte Wade had a RBI double and drew a walk.
Dunedin 5, Fort Myers 4 (Game 1, 9 innings)
The Miracle bats knocked rehabbing big league starter J.A. Happ around for three runs on seven hits over his three innings, but eventually lost in walk-off fashion. Bradley Strong had a single and an RBI double off Happ, who finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting last season.
This game was scheduled to go seven innings, but it remained tied at four and went into “extras.” Can it really be extra innings if it’s a nine-inning game? I suppose.
Altogether, the Miracle collected 15 hits. Max Murphy was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk. Strong, Chris Paul, Nelson Molina, Sean Miller and Alex Perez all had two-hit games for Fort Myers.
Brady Anderson held Dunedin to two runs on four hits and a walk over five innings. Sam Clay was on the mound for an eventful sixth inning. Clay gave up a single, two walks, threw a wild pitch and catcher Rafael Valera was credited with two passed balls in his (Clay's) inning of work.
Alex Muren threw two scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.87 (one earned run over 10.1 innings). Anthony McIver was not able to escape the ninth, giving up a walk-off RBI double to Nash Knight (80-grade name).
Zander Wiel struckout in the top of the first and did not take the field in the bottom of the inning. He was also absent from the lineup in Game 2.
Dunedin 2, Fort Myers 1 (Game 2, 7 innings)
Lewis Thorpe didn’t have to wait another nearly 1,000 days between starts, and he showed flashes of brilliance yet again for the Miracle. The left-hander made his first start in over two years last Friday, and followed that up with four more innings of one-run ball while striking out six batters.
After throwing 49 pitches in his debut, Thorpe reached 66 pitches Thursday night. The Twins are surely going to be taking baby steps with Thorpe’s return, but the early results are encouraging. He’s throwing 93-94 mph and has only walked two batters over eight innings pitched.
Unfortunately, Fort Myers got swept in the double dip. Murphy and Paul both had multi-hit games again, and Strong drove in the lone Miracle run of the game.
Cedar Rapids 9, Clifton 2
Eduardo Del Rosario was very interesting to watch Thursday night. He had some nasty stuff going, striking out nine batters. He also was issued a warning and penalized a couple of balls for going to his mouth, then straight to the ball. To top it off, he was working in a funky quick pitch I hadn’t seen from him in the past. Del Rosario, who turned 22 this week, went six innings and gave up a pair of runs on a two-run homer.
The Kernels also have the early favorite for the next player of the month award winner. Jaylin Davis swatted his eighth home run of May, an opposite-field shot he hit with two strikes. It didn’t even seem like he got much of it, but he muscled it over the fence. He finished 3-for-4 with three RBI.
Lewin Diaz also homered, his seventh of the season. Palacios celebrated his Player of the Month award by hitting an RBI single in his first at-bat of the game. Colton Davis, Andrew Vasquez and Logan Lombana each threw a shutout inning out of the bullpen.
TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Eduardo Del Rosario (6 IP, 9 Ks, 2 ER)
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jaylin Davis (hit his MWL leading 11th home run and drove in three)
FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rocester vs. Indianapolis, 5:35 CT, Nick Tepesch (3.16 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Chattanooga vs. Montgomery, 6:15 CT, Stephen Gonsalves (4.50 ERA, 0.75 WHIP)
Fort Myers at Charlotte, 5:35 CT, Dereck Rodriguez (3.06 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
Cedar Rapids at Kane County, 6:30 CT, Max Cordy (starting a bullpen game)
Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday's games.
- May 26 2017 04:29 AM
- by Tom Froemming
This week, Law posted his Top 25 Under 25 at ESPN.com. Two members of the Minnesota Twins organization appear, Byron Buxton (#8) and Miguel Sano (#21). In addition to those two, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario are 25 and under and getting the most reps at their positions (obviously Berrios will only pitch every fifth day). Adalberto Mejia may soon be back. The future is exciting as these guys continue to get playing time.
There is reason for optimism in the minor leagues too. Although Nick Gordon is really the only consensus Top 100 prospect in the organization, that is not necessarily an indication of a weak system, especially with that young core in the big leagues.
According to Law, “There are plenty of guys in the system that aren’t Top 100, but they may be in the next 50. They are prospects of value. They will be effective major leaguers in some role.”
The key for fans is not to put too much stake in whether a guy is a Top 100 player. The Twins have had Top 100 prospects. Each of those “core” players mentioned above has appeared in Top 100 lists. Nick Gordon could be added to that core group. But just because a player isn’t a Top 100 guy doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid major league player in a role. Who knows? Several stars never appeared on Top 100 lists. Brian Dozier never did.
Law noted, “A lot of people get hung up on the Top 100/Non-Top 100 distinction. I try to emphasize this every year because I get the same reactions every year. Just because I don’t put a guy in my Top 100 doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re any good players or won’t be any good players. Plenty of great big leaguers have not been on my Top 100. Paul Goldschmidt was on nobody’s top 100 ever, ever. He’s turned out OK.”
We talked about a few players in our brief conversation.
“Tyler Jay, I really wish they hadn’t moved him to the bullpen, but OK. If that’s going to be his role, it’s going to be his role. Stephen Gonsalves. These guys are going to be big leaguers, as long as they stay healthy, they’ll be good big leaguers.” He continued, “There are guys like Lewis Thorpe somewhere out in the ether. Lewin Diaz, there’s value there. Travis Blankenhorn. I saw him one game in spring training. He’s pretty exciting. I’d like to see a full season of good contact rates and consistent performance, but he could be really good. For a big guy, he is big, that’s a big person, he moved really well at third base. He got off his feet fine, he’s got plenty of arm. It was good. And the contact was impressive.”
Of course, Law also acknowledged the elephant in the room as it relates to Twins minor leaguers and their adjustment to the big leagues. Jeff Pickler was brought in as a new Twins coach this year, and part of his responsibility is to work on players' transitions from the minor leagues to the major leagues.
“A lot of those guys haven’t gotten over the developmental hump. And that’s probably a whole other conversation, why they haven’t gotten guys over that hump, but there’s talent in the system. I think they’ve drafted OK, they just haven’t been able to convert enough of those guys into the big leaguers commensurate with the expectations of where they were drafted.”
Speaking of the draft, the Twins have a great opportunity in another month when they will have the #1 overall pick in the draft. That is what we will discuss in Part 4 of our conversation with ESPN’s Keith Law. If you have a chance, pick up his new book Smart Baseball and meet Law at Moon Palace Books on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.
- May 18 2017 05:04 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Today we look at the Chattanooga Lookouts players and coaching staff. We try to figure out a solid everyday lineup, and discuss the top prospects. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on the team or roster, and ask as many questions as you would like.
Doug Mientkiewicz managed the Lookouts the last two seasons. He led the team to a 151-126 record and that 2015 championship. He returns to Ft. Myers, and Jake Mauer takes over the Lookouts as manager. Mauer has experienced a lot of success. This will be his tenth season as a manager in the Twins minor league system. His overall record is 504-441. He managed in the GCL and at Ft. Myers before taking over the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2013. In his four seasons there, he went 308-248 and led the team to the playoffs all four seasons.
Ivan Arteaga begins his second season as the Lookouts pitching coach. He began his coaching career with the Twins in 2001 for the Venezuelan Winter League. He’s been a pitching coach at nearly every level of the minor leagues. Javier Valentin takes over for Tommy Watkins as the hitting coach of the Lookouts. Valentin has been a coach in the GCL the last two years after spending ten seasons in the big leagues, three with the Twins.
15 of the 2 players mentioned below in the roster spent at least some time with the Lookouts in 2017. Three players are on the 40-man roster (Engelb Vielma, Felix Jorge and Fernando Romero).
One player has spent some time in the big leagues. Paul Clemens has spent time in the big leagues three of the last four season (2013-14 with the Astros, 2016 with the Padres). He signed with the Twins last week and will get some innings for the Lookouts before moving up to the Red Wings.
C: Dan Rohlfing, Jose Gonzalez
IF: Jonathan Rodriguez, Nick Gordon, Levi Michael, Engelb Vielma, Ryan Walker, Dan Gamache, TJ White
OF: Edgar Corcino, Tanner English, Travis Harrison, LaMonte Wade
SP: Felix Jorge, Fernando Romero, Kohl Stewart, Matt Tracy, Nik Turley, Stephen Gonsalves (DL)
RP: Luke Bard, Nick Burdi, Paul Clemens, John Curtiss, Ryan Eades, Raul Fernandez, Mason Melotakis, Tyler Jay (DL),
LF - LaMonte Wade
CF - Tanner English
SS - Nick Gordon
DH - Travis Harrison
1B - Jonathan Rodriguez
RF - Edgar Corcino
C - Dan Rohlfing
2B - Engelb VIelma
3B - Ryan Walker
- Fernando Romero - Has perhaps the best stuff, a 98 mph fastball and a slider near 90.
- Stephen Gonsalves - Most polished pitching prospect with a solid, four-pitch mix. Good showing in big league camp until shoulder soreness. Working in Ft. Myers to stretch out.
- Nick Gordon - Strong showing in the Arizona Fall League last year earned him an invite to big league camp. Continues to grow. Will play shortstop and second base.
- Tyler Jay - Moved to the bullpen this spring, where his stuff will play up, and he could move quickly. Out early with biceps tendinitis.
- Kohl Stewart - Former top pick, Stewart has good stuff, has put up strong numbers, but needs to find a way to miss more bats (rather than just get weak contact).
- Felix Jorge - Most consistent starting pitcher the last three seasons, Jorge has progressed by attacking the strike zone with three good pitches, and a fastball at 91-94.
- LaMonte Wade - One of the best plate approaches in the system, Wade should start developing some power if he can stay healthy in 2017.
- Engelb Vielma - The top defensive infielder in the Twins system, he will likely spend time at shortstop and second base. He has little power but has hit for average.
STORIES TO WATCH
- Nick Gordon and Engelb Vielma are both starting the season here. It will be interesting to see how Jake Mauer allocates the playing time between the two, at shortstop and second. Paul Molitor would like to see Gordon get more time at second base this year, obviously, it makes him a possible call up in two spots. Most admit that Vielma is the better defensive player, and Molitor called Gordon one of the better hitting prospects. Will be fun to follow.
- Twins Daily’s #1 and #2 prospects, Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves, will be pitching on this staff. But Kohl Stewart and Felix Jorge will want to keep their names in the prospect circles too. All four can be big league pitchers, so how will each fare?
- Tyler Jay made the move to the bullpen. He will begin the season on the Disabled List with biceps tendinitis which will likely have him out a few weeks.
- Levi Michael and Travis Harrison were first round picks of the Twins in 2011, Michael out of college and Harrison out of high school. They can become free agents at the end of the season, so it will be interesting to see how they progress this year.
- Dan Rohlfing and Jose Gonzalez are minor league veterans. Both are considered very good behind the plate. They will be tasked with working with this talented pitching staff, yet each of them still have big league aspirations.
- That bullpen is full of very, very hard throwers, headlined by Nick Burdi. The Louisville product would like to move past an injury-plagues 2016 and could advance quickly. But Bard, Curtiss, Jay, and Melotakis all sit in the mid-90s as well.
Please feel free to discuss this roster. Ask lots of questions and check back often. What stories will you be following?
- Apr 03 2017 07:18 PM
- by Seth Stohs
At the end of January, I wrote about the disappearance of the 200 inning starting pitcher. Managers have pulled starters earlier in games to use team's reliable bullpen arms. Batters are forced to adjust to a new pitcher with a different pitching repertoire. This can be one of the reasons for scoring decreasing across baseball.
Trevor May was a player I hoped could become the Twins version of Andrew Miller. May and Miller both began their careers as starters before being shifted to the bullpen. Unfortunately, May underwent Tommy John surgery last week and he will miss all of the 2017 campaign. This was devastating news for a young player still looking to establish himself.
With May out for the season, Jay has the potential to fill an even more important role in the organiztion. Miller and Jay have many things in common. Both pitchers attended college, throw left-handed, and were selected with the sixth pick in the draft. Miller, like Jay, is more comfortable in a relief pitcher role. The move also means Jay could make his way to Minnesota as soon as this summer.
Jay's "more comfortable in the pen, his stuff plays up and it could put him on the fast track," said Brice Zimmerman, the former radio voice of the Fort Myers Miracle.
Perhaps Minnesota's new baseball operations will utilize a more progressive approach to bullpen usage in the years to come. FanGraphs explains one part of the shift like this:
A team's best pitcher is usually their closer but some teams and managers only use their closer in the ninth inning. What good does it do to leave your best relief arm in the bullpen? (Ask Orioles fans about Zach Britton use in last year's AL Wild Card game) If the opposition has the heart of their line-up coming up in the eighth inning of a one-run game, it makes sense to have your best pitching option on the mound to face their best hitters.
"During the course of a game, some situations are more tense and suspenseful than others. For instance, we know that a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning is more suspenseful than a one-run lead in the top of the third inning. Batting with two runners on and two outs in the eighth inning is filled with more pressure than batting in the same situation in the second inning. Leverage Index (LI) is merely an attempt to quantify this pressure so we can determine if a player has been used primarily in high-leverage or low-leverage situations."
Tyler Jay has the ability and skills to be a high-leverage pitcher. Fans can expect to see his fastball move back up into the mid-90s and his slider could end up being a devastating pitch. He ceiling could be very similar to what fans saw with Glen Perkins during his All-Star seasons.
No one knows if he will be the next Andrew Miller but baseball is changing. Bullpens are evolving and Tyler Jay can still end up being one of the most important pieces of Minnesota's march back to respectability.
- Mar 27 2017 01:21 PM
- by Cody Christie
When the Twins drafted Jay with the sixth overall pick in 2015 out of the University of Illinois where he was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen. At the time, the Twins and many other teams felt that the left-hander's pure stuff and four-pitch mix was reason to give him an opportunity to start.
After signing, he jumped straight to Ft. Myers where he pitched out of the bullpen the rest of the season. Last year, he began the season in the starting rotation of the Ft. Myers Miracle. He had his ups and downs but he had some very good moments too. In one game, he threw eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk to go with 11 strikeouts. Overall, he was 5-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 13 starts for the Miracle. In 69.2 innings, he walked 21 and struck out 68.
He moved up to Chattanooga to end the season. He made two starts and a couple of relief appearances before being shut down due to an injury in his neck.
He missed the final month of the season rehabbing. Had the season lasted a couple more weeks, he likely would have returned.
He came to camp with the idea he would be starting. It was a mutual decision to move Jay to the bullpen exclusively, and it’s something he enjoys and thrives in. It’s likely we’ll see his fastball readings back into the mid-to-upper 90s, and his slider can be a weapon. It is very possible that the Jay could be as good as Glen Perkins was during his three All-Star seasons. As a reliever, he is likely to move much more quickly.
Earlier in the week, the Twins announced that Randy Rosario would be moving to the bullpen as well. In both cases, the pitchers were happy with the decision.
The three Twins minor leaguers from Australia who participated in the WBC for their country have returned. Lachlan Wells has thrown a couple of bullpens and worked in the AA game on Friday afternoon on the back fields. In the game, he took a line drive off of his biceps. He stayed in the game and this morning told me that it’s fine. In fact, he threw another short bullpen this morning.
Todd Van Steensel, full beard and all, has also returned.
Aaron Whitefield has had a busy year. He reported to Ft. Myers for extended spring training last April. Following his terrific showing in the GCL, he participated in the World Cup for Australia. Then he returned to Australia where he again played for the Brisbane Bandits. He said the plan was just to play half of the season, but the team was competing for a playoff spot and wanted to defend its Claxton Shield title. Whitefield kept playing and Brisbane topped Melbourne for the repeat. Right after that, he joined the Australian WBC team and they played in several games in Korea and then in Seoul, South Korea. Within a day of of the end of their run, he returned to Ft. Myers. He got one day to try to move past jet lag, and now he’s going full go.
Reynaldo Rodriguez and Yohan Pino also returned and are working with the Rochester work group. Pino started on the mound for the team on Thursday.
I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the players from Puerto Rico during the team’s WBC run. I chatted for a good half-hour with Dereck Rodriguez, who I’d mentioned is an alternate for Team Puerto Rico. He has been joined for each Puerto Rico game by about a dozen other Twins minor leaguers from the island.
Nelson Molina told me that it’s very exciting to watch his friends and countrymen. Brian Navarreto started mentioning the players on the roster that he played with going back to Little League and it was quite a few. Edgar Corcino is from Bayamon and is friends with Jose Berrios, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez.
Of course, they all know the Twins contingent of Berrios, Hector Santiago, Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas.
SIGHT IS GOOD
Brian Navarreto also told me that he had LASIK eye surgery in the offseason and is still working back. He hasn’t been catching every single day. However, he also noted that he can see the ball so much better at the plate and even behind the plate. It’s also fun talking to pitchers who have been caught by Navarreto. They say that he calls a good game, works very hard, controls the running game and is just very good to work with.
SIGHT IS GOOD, PART 2
On Friday, Travis Harrison went 3-4 with a couple of very loud hits. I noted that he is now wearing glasses on the field and at bat. Following the game, I asked him about it and he said that doctors said he needed a small prescription, and it was his first day with the glasses. It was a good first day.
I’ve watched quite a few bullpens, and they’re always fun. It’s fun to see what people throw, how hard they throw, break on pitches, what they’re working on and more. Two guys have thrown bullpens that really stuck out to me.
Huascar Ynoa is very young. He was our Twins Daily short season minor league pitcher of the year. The youngster, whose brother Michael pitches for the White Sox, throws really hard. He also showed a very good, sharp breaking ball and a solid changeup. Again, it was one bullpen, but it was very good.
The other one that was terrific in the bullpen was Kohl Stewart. I don’t know why he doesn’t strike out more, but he throws really hard, and I’m told that the ball is very heavy, which explains the lack of hard contact. His breaking pitches looked very sharp, and I saw an at least average changeup. While I did drop him in my Twins prospect rankings this year, he clearly has the ability to be an above average big league starter.
One bonus pitcher of note is Tyler Wells. The tall (6-8) right-hander throws pretty hard, maybe hitting 93-95. However, he also showed a very good breaking ball mix in his outing on Saturday afternoon on the back fields. He showed a slower, 12-6 curveball, and a sharper slider that darts in on a left-hander. Definitely one to watch this spring in Cedar Rapids.
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
Here are just a couple more notes:
- Has anyone ever seen Twins 3B prospect Chris Paul and Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in the same place? They look identical, at least facially.
- Mitchell Kranson was the Twins ninth-round pick last year out of Cal-Berkeley. He did very little catching his last couple of years in college, but the Twins saw that it was a good place for him. He played all over the diamond, third base, outfield, first base, anywhere. His bat played anywhere. Since the end of last season, he has dropped 25 pounds without losing any muscle. He worked with a trainer twice a day and ate a strict diet.
- Alex Kirilloff was watching the Twins minor league games this afternoon.
- Mar 18 2017 03:46 PM
- by Seth Stohs
5. Tyler Jay, LHP
Age: 22/ Highest Level: Double-A
Jay's first five 2016 starts were rough as he was knocked around for 11 earned runs in 19.1 innings. He failed to pitch more than five innings in any of these starts and opponents were getting on base 33% of the time. Over his next 38.1 frames, he posted a 0.70 ERA with 42 strikeouts and nine walks. He went 4-2 during this stretch as batters were held to a .OPS of under .500. He made his Double-A debut on July 10 and over his next two starts he allowed eight earned runs across 10 innings. His final three appearances came out of the Lookouts’ bullpen where he allowed one earned run on three hits. Jay, a left-handed pitcher, struck out lefties in 22 of their 66 at-bats while limiting them to a .645 OPS. Right-handed batters hit .249/.306/.355 with a 55 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio. His season would be done on July 30 after dealing with some neck and shoulder issues. In August, doctors diagnosed him with neuropraxia, or nerve irritation, in his neck.
4. Alex Kirilloff, OF
Age: 19/ Highest Level: Rookie
The Twins recently announced Kirilloff will miss the entire 2017 season as he will be undergoing Tommy John surgery. This takes little away from his promising future. Kirilloff skipped the GCL and headed to the Appy League. He was 2.5 years younger than the competition at this level. In fact, he never faced a pitcher younger than himself in over 230 plate appearances. He came out hitting well in his first full month as a professional. He batted .373 with a .919 OPS for the month of July. This included four home runs and seven doubles. He cooled a little in August as his average dipped to .232 but he was still getting on base over 30% of the time with six extra-base hits. Kirilloff, a left-handed batter, posted an OPS that was 155 points higher against right-handed pitching. Kirilloff started games at all three outfield positions and the majority of his appearances came in right field. In the outfield, he combined for four errors in 86 chances with seven assists.
3. Fernando Romero, RHP
Age: 22/ Highest Level: High-A
Romero made his presence known on his return to the mound in 2016. Even after missing all of 2015, he was almost a year younger than the competition in the Midwest League and he was over two years younger than FSL opponents. This resulted in 85% of his at-bats coming against older batters. He started the year by making five starts for the Kernels. He allowed six earned runs over 28 innings (1.93 ERA) with 25 strikeouts and five walks. Near the end of June, he was promoted to Fort Myers where he allowed seven earned runs across 29 innings (five starts). He posted a 26-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio while holding batters to a .225 average. From July 23 to August 25, he compiled a 1.62 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. Left-handed batters struck out in 29% of their at-bats. He struck out 26 or more batters in every month where he made four starts or more. For the season, he set career best marks in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and WHIP. He made it an easy decision for the Twins to add him to the 40-man roster at season’s end
2. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Age: 22/ Highest Level: Double-A
For the third consecutive season, Gonsalves split time between two different levels. His first 11 starts came back in the FSL, where he finished the 2015 campaign. After allowing three runs in his first outing, he allowed three runs over his next six starts (36.2 IP). Overall at High-A, he had a 2.33 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP and a 66 to 20 strikeout to walk ratio. Gonslaves had one bad Double-A start in his second appearance (6 ERs in 3.2 IP) before going on a dominant stretch for the rest of the season. Across 65.2 IP, he allowed seven earned runs (0.96 ERA) with 75 strikeouts and a 0.95 WHIP. He held opponents to batting .144/.263/.177 during that stretch. Batters never hit higher than .228 against him in any month. He struck out 20 batters or more in any month he made at least three starts. Over 80% of his at-bats came against older batters. Even though he is a lefty, left-handed batters hit 20 points higher than righties but they also struck out in 34% of their at-bats.
1. Nick Gordon, SS
Age: 21/ Highest Level: High-A
For the third consecutive season, Gordon was over two years younger than the competition. In 494 total at-bats, he faced a younger pitcher twice. At the beginning of the season, only three players were younger than him in the FSL. Gordon got the season off to a good start as he hit .333/.363/.483 with nine extra-base hits in April. He ended June on a nine game hit streak. July saw him set season highs with 17 runs and 20 RBI. He got on base over 31% of the time in every month except August. Gordon, a left-handed batter, hit .315/.356/.431 against righties. A year after stealing 25 bases, he stole 19 and was caught 13 times. Overall, he had 35 multi-hit games and reached base in 74% of the games he played. After posting fielding percentages of over .960 in both of his professional seasons, he saw that number dip to .952. He was charged with 24 errors in 503 chances. Gordon carried over his strong regular season to the Arizona Fall League. As one of the younger players in the 2016 AFL, he hit .346/.418/.444 with six extra-base hits and 15 runs in 21 games.
Who is too high? Is anyone too low? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Mar 17 2017 08:36 AM
- by Cody Christie
Last year as the minor league season began, one of the top stories was the Ft. Myers starting rotation. As the season began, the Miracle had a rotation of Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario and Keaton Steele. And they didn’t disappoint.
That group, potentially even with the addition of another top pitching prospect, should be starting the season in Chattanooga. That will make the rotation and that team very interesting to follow, but the individual stories are also quite interesting.
With the success that Stephen Gonsalves had over the final three months of the 2016 season, it is certainly possible that he will start the 2017 season in AAA Rochester. My guess, however, is he’ll spend a couple of months back in the Southern League. The Twins (and Twins Daily’s) Minor League Pitcher of the Year, he went 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts for the Lookouts. While he struck out 10.8 per nine innings, he also walked 4.5 per nine innings. That’s obviously a number that will have to come down, and command of that fastball is a reason to have him start in AA. He’s been good in his 3.2 scoreless, hitless spring training innings. It will be an interesting season. Could Gonsalves reach the Twins?
Kohl Stewart moved up to the Lookouts a few weeks before Gonsalves did, and he did a nice job. He went 9-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 16 starts for the Lookouts. While he saw an uptick in strikeouts in the season’s first half, a return to the Miracle, he struck out just 4.6 per nine innings for Chattanooga. That is the one number surrounding Stewart that really scares a lot of prospect people. We’ll see how it goes, but if Stewart spends the entire 2017 season as a 22-year-old in AA, he will still be an easy decision to add to the 40-man-roster in November.
Tyler Jay pitched in his first full season as a professional. The 2015 top pick from Illinois finished that season in the Miracle bullpen, but the organization was committed to giving him an opportunity to start. He certainly had his ups and downs, but with his four-pitch mix makes giving him an opportunity to become a starter a worthy choice. In five May starts, he posted a 0.84 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. In 32.1 innings, he walked seven and struck out 38. In 13 starts for the Miracle, he went 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA and struck out 68 in 69.2 innings. He moved up to AA late in the season and made two starts and three relief appearances before his season came to an early end with a neck injury. He will begin the season starting for the Lookouts. By the end of the year, we will likely have a much better sense of where Jay’s future might be. If he can be a solid #3 starter (with #2 upside) and work 170-180 innings a year, starting is the right call. If not, he and his pitch-mix have a chance to be an elite reliever.
Since he was demoted from Cedar Rapids to Elizabethton in early 2014, Felix Jorge has been remarkable. He was the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2014. He was 6-7 but had a 2.79 ERA in Cedar Rapids in 2015. He was the starting pitcher in the Florida State League and went 9-3 with a 1.55 ERA in 14 starts for the Miracle. There were several key observers who said he was the Miracle’s top starting pitcher. He finished the season with 11 starts in Chattanooga where he went 3-5 with a 4.12 ERA. However, he continued to aggressively attack the bottom of the strike zone and work a lot of innings. He’s been as consistent as any starting pitcher in the organization, and the Twins added him to the 40-man roster after last season. He’ll have to show that he can continue to throw strikes and miss some more bats.
Randy Rosario pitched in his first full season since his Tommy John surgery. He spent half of the 2015 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He showed enough, including an upper-90s fastball, to be added to the Twins 40-man roster after that season. He went 6-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 16 starts (and five relief appearances) for the Miracle. He also didn’t strike out a lot, but has the stuff that he should. When he moved up to Chattanooga late in the season, he worked out of the bullpen. Like Jay, there are questions of whether the southpaw will wind up starting or in the bullpen, but it is wise to keep him starting as long as he can.
Keaton Steele was the one Miracle Opening rotation member to spend the full season at Ft. Myers. He’s 25 and went 8-11 with a 3.60 ERA for the Miracle. He pitched much better in the second half and warrants the promotion to AA in 2017.
Of course the name to watch might be Fernando Romero. After missing two seasons with injuries, he returned in May and after just five starts in Cedar Rapids (and went 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA), he moved up to Ft. Myers where he continued to dominate. With the Miracle, he made 11 starts and went 5-2 with a 1.88 ERA. His season ended one start early due to his innings limit. He was added to the 40-man roster and has been impressive this spring. Will he start the season in the Lookouts, or will he be making starts in Chattanooga starting in May or June?
Randy LeBlanc, Dereck Rodriguez and Cody Stashak are all guys who should make starts for the Lookouts sometime in 2017 as well.
Jake Mauer gets to manage this group, and Ivan Arteaga will be charged with working with this talent, helping them prepare for big league readiness. The pitching talent should make the Lookouts a contender again in the Southern League.
- Could one of two of these guys pitch in the big leagues in 2017?
- How many of these guys will be added to the 40-man roster after the season?
- What would you say are the keys to each one's 2017 success or failure?
- Mar 08 2017 05:55 AM
- by Seth Stohs
We were spoiled.
For a run of several years, Minnesota was constantly gracing national top prospect lists with premier names. Byron Buxton has been near the top of every ranking since he became a pro, with kids like Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios and Max Kepler also scoring high placements. Now, each of those bright young talents has graduated to the majors, leaving this once-elite system looking rather ordinary.
At least, from an outside perspective.
It's been a long time since the Twins have been so sparsely represented on these national lists. But when you account for the high-caliber players who are no longer eligible, and the sneaky starpower this system offers, there's more here than meets the eye.
Here's a recap of our Top 20, with one-sentence synopses for each:
20. Justin Haley, RHP: Polished righty could make fast, albeit limited, impact.
19. Ben Rortvedt, C: Raw teenage catcher is a potential fast riser on the list.
18. Engelb Vielma, SS: Defensive whiz with minimal offensive punch.
17. Nick Burdi, RHP: Fireballing reliever must get healthy after lost year.
16. Zack Granite, OF: Speedster has makings of a versatile fourth outfielder.
15. LaMonte Wade, OF: Perhaps the system's most disciplined hitter.
14. Daniel Palka, OF: Enormous power hindered by severe contact issues.
13. JT Chargois, RHP: Closer potential if he commands ferocious stuff.
12. Felix Jorge, RHP: Exquisite control, but will pitches play at high levels?
11. Mitch Garver, C: Bolstered stock both at plate and behind it in 2016.
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B: Will slugger's huge raw power translate to games?
9. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B: Standout prep bat holding up well in pros.
8. Kohl Stewart, RHP: Scouts bullish despite lack of K's and iffy control.
7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP: Burly southpaw will go as far as improving slider.
6. Wander Javier, SS: 18-year-old infielder oozes upside as two-way asset.
5. Tyler Jay, LHP: FB/SL combo beyond legit, though SP transition in doubt.
4. Nick Gordon, SS: Well-rounded skill set with excellent pedigree and genes.
3. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Hitting tools are off the charts, but has a long way to go.
2. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP: Lanky southpaw has dominated everywhere.
1. Fernando Romero, RHP: Possesses body and repertoire of workhorse SP.
RH Pitchers: 6
LH Pitchers: 3
With nine pitchers and 11 position players, the Twins strike a good organizational balance. The one unrepresented spot is third base, but Blankenhorn could end up there and so could any of the three shortstops (though Vielma's bat seems unlikely to play). There is a dearth of 1B/DH types, which would seem to increase the need for Diaz to develop. But many suspect Kirilloff will end up at the position, and either way, sluggers who can stand at first are not in short supply these days.
Starters on Deck
There was quite a bit of consternation over the front office's lack of action during the offseason when it came to addressing the rotation, but the truth is that it makes little sense to crowd the unit with veterans right now. Starting pitchers comprised half of our Top 10. One finished the year at Triple-A and three at Double-A. The one who finished in Single-A, Romero, is catching up after missed time and could beat everyone else to the majors. The Twins need to maintain flexibility so that they can usher these arms into the big leagues as they become ready.
Ace in the Hole
I can see how Romero is not a particularly compelling No. 1 prospect in the context of his placements on national lists. But this is a byproduct of the lack of data on him; he has made only 31 starts in five years as a pro. The big right-hander finally got healthy and showed his stuff last year, and it appears likely his injury troubles are behind him (knocks furiously on wood). If that progression continues, I fully believe he will be viewed as a better asset than Jose De Leon – the coveted prospect Minnesota passed up in Brian Dozier trade talks – a year from now. Maybe even three months from now. That really changes the complexion of this system in a big way.
More Help on the Way
Beyond the potential for Romero and a few others to rise fast, the Twins are also set to add more top-tier prospect talent this summer. Obviously they have the top selection in June's draft. They'll also get a competitive balance pick (35) and the first pick in the second round (37), not to mention the first selection in every subsequent round. The recently restructured amateur scouting department could hardly ask to be dealt a more favorable first hand.
Based on the ETAs we laid out, here's a loose idea of when you can expect these 20 players to start contributing to the big-league club:
2017: Mejia, Garver, Chargois, Palka, Haley
2018: Romero, Gonsalves, Gordon, Jay, Stewart, Jorge, Granite, Burdi, Vielma
2019: Wade, Diaz
2020: Kirilloff, Blankenhorn
Again, this reinforces the mindset behind avoiding hard commitments in the rotation. Romero, Gonsalves, Jay, Mejia and Stewart all figure to arrive within the next two years, and all are Top 10 prospects with very legitimate shots at panning out in the majors. As a rebuilding club, the Twins are wise to avoid setting up additional roadblocks.
The Clearest Weakness
The evident strength of this system right now is pitching, and that's exactly how it should be. But suddenly there's not a whole lot of assurance on incoming bats. There is some significant upside with guys like Kirilloff, Diaz and Javier, but they are all several years away. With the closer players like Gordon, Garver, Granite and Vielma, it's not totally clear they'll hit enough to be impact big-leaguers. Quite the reversal from years past when names such as Sano, Buxton and Kepler led the way, but therein lies the relief: the projected Twins lineup features six regulars 26 and under.
I can honestly say that, in my view, this is the most exciting time for the Twins system since I've been closely following the team. Not just because of the players currently coming through the pipeline, but even more so because the prospects we've been following so obsessively over the past few years have arrived. Buxton, Sano, Kepler and Polanco will all probably be in the Opening Day lineup. Jose Berrios ought to be in the rotation. Each has taken some initial lumps in the majors. The heralded core looks ready to jell, and there is plenty of intriguing talent on the way, with a critical opportunity to reload coming up in June.
- Feb 26 2017 10:20 PM
- by Nick Nelson