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  1. Get To Know: Twins Infield Prospect Daniel Ozoria

    Below you will find a profile for Daniel Ozario in the form that is found in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. There is header information with the bio information as well as his 2018 statistics. Tom Froemming wrote up his 2018 recap, as he did throughout the Prospect Handbook. I wrote up the background information and the scouting report as well as the 2019 projection.

    Have you purchased the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook yet? If not, why not? There are over 160 of these profiles for the Twins minor leaguers. There are feature stories on the Twins Daily 2018 Minor League Award winners (Alex Kirilloff, Tyler Wells, Andrew Vasquez), and more articles from the likes of Dan Hayes, Chris Blessing, Ted Schwerzler, Cody Christie and Tom Froemming. There is also an article about each of the Twins top five minor league affiliates that are enjoyable. Plus, you get the Top 30 Twins prospect rankings from Cody, Tom, Jeremy Nygaard, and myself. Plus, you can look at my Top 30 Prospect rankings going all the way back to 2015, if only to mock and ridicule me.


    DANIEL OZORIA • SHORTSTOP BORN: August 24, 2000
    HEIGHT: 5-9 • WEIGHT: 150 BATS: Left • THROWS: Right
    HIGHEST LEVEL: Orem (Pioneer League - Rookie (Advanced)
    2018 STATS: .195/.248/.218 (.461), 0 HR, 12 RBI, 26.4 K%, 5.2 BB%, 6/12 SB
    ACQUIRED: Acquired from the Angels for John Curtiss (1/15/19)


    Background: Ozoria grew up in the Dominican capital city of Santo Domingo. While he was not big, scouts saw a young player with great baseball instincts and the ability to play shortstop. He was about as young for the 2016 international signing period as possible. At the time, he was about 5-foot-9 and less than 135 pounds. He made his professional debut in 2017 in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .247/.332/.301 (.633) with six doubles and three triples. He participated in the Angels Instructional League in 2017.

    2018 Recap: Ozoria spent all but two games of his 2018 season with the Angels' Arizona League team. He was very young for his level. Not once all season did Ozoria face a pitcher who was younger than he was. He was tested, and the numbers show it. The diminutive Dominican tallied just four extra-base hits in 217 plate appearances on the season. In the field, Ozoria made 33 appearances at shortstop, 13 at second base and five at third base.

    Scouting Report: If you look at his biographical information on most baseball sites, it will still show him at about 135 pounds. In the two years since signing, he has added some size and strength and is now up to about 150 pounds. Clearly he will have to continue to grow and add strength over the coming years, but the skills and the tools are there. Again, Ozaria is a real good defensive player. He’s got good hands, and good range. He’s also got a good arm, though strength should help his arm improve to above average. Right now, Ozoria has a nice, smooth swing that can produce line drives from gap-to-gap. The Twins took a flyer on Ozoria, and they will certainly need to exhibit a lot of patience.

    Rule 5 eligible: 2021
    Free Agent: 2023

    Forecast for ‘19: He will start the season at extended spring training and likely stay in Ft. Myers and play for the GCL Twins.


    More Notes

    One comp that I have heard is Engelb Vielma. If the Twins can turn a DFAd player (Curtiss) into a guy who gets to the big leagues, the player development would deserve a ton of credit. Best case scenario… he could become a Dee Gordon type of player. That would work, right?

    I’ve always been told that statistics matter much, much more in the upper levels than the lower levels. In the DSL or the rookie leagues, statistics all need to looked at, but the stats mean less than the tools. So, the fact that he hit .195 in rookie ball as a 17-year-old isn’t something that should scare anyone away.

    And, just for fun, here is the profile in the Handbook on former Twins pitcher John Curtiss:

    Posted Image

    Again, if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook today, available in paperback and for immediate PDF download.

    • Jan 17 2019 08:50 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Twins Minor League Report (5/23): Wheeler And Wiel Lead The Way

    To find out who did what in the minor leagues on Tuesday night, read on!

    TRANSACTIONS

    There was a notable move in AA today even though the Lookouts didn’t play, as Todd Van Steensel and 2016 first-rounder Tyler Jay were activated. Randy LeBlanc was assigned back to Fort Myers to help make room. Also, Cam Booser was added to the Ft. Myers roster off of the DL.

    Van Steensel was dealing with a groin strain, while Jay has yet to pitch this year with tendinitis in his pitching arm.


    RED WINGS REPORT
    Durham 0, Rochester 4
    Box Score

    The story of the game in this one for Twins fans may have been the fact it was Jose De Leon making the start for the Durham Bulls. Yep, that De Leon.

    He had missed all of April with an arm injury, and this was his third start of the season. The Red Wings got to him in the second inning for all the runs they would end up needing, as Jason Wheeler outdueled the top prospect.

    Singles from Byungho Park and Matt Hague led off the second inning, and they both scored on a double from J.B. Shuck. Engelb Vilema and Zach Granite added an RBI double and an RBI single, respectively, to cap the scoring. De Leon went just four innings, allowing eight hits and a walk.

    Wheeler pitched seven shutout frames in opposition, allowing just five hits while striking out nine. Durham did not send more than four hitters to the plate in any inning while Wheeler was on the mound, and didn’t cause trouble until he came out for the eighth inning. A lead-off single followed by a double put runners on second and third, leading to Trevor Hildenberger being called in from the bullpen.

    He got the first man to line into a double play, and then induced a pop-out in foul territory to snuff out the threat. He closed out the game in the ninth for his third save on the season, allowing just a two-out single.

    JB Shuck had two doubles and Engelb Vielma had two hits, including a double, to lead the rest of the offense. It was Vielma’s first double since moving up to AAA.


    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Scheduled day off.

    The Lookouts enjoyed an off day after a brutal stretch that was made worse by some early rain. They played 20 games in 20 days and went 12-8 over that stretch. They were 11-3 before the rigors caught up with them and they lost five in a row at the tail end before getting a needed victory yesterday. They are 24-21 on the season, and in fourth place in the Southern League North Division, though less than two games back of first.


    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers 2, Dunedin 3
    Box score

    Aussie left-hander Lachlan Wells was on the mound for the Miracle, and it was opposing major leaguers who made his day worse than it actually was. In five innings, he allowed three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out four. Two of the three runs came courtesy of a Josh Donaldson RBI single in the second, and a Troy Tulowitzki solo-home run in the fifth.

    Fort Myers got back in the game in the sixth, scoring their only two runs of the game on a Zander Wiel home run, his sixth of the season. It was also his third in the last four nights. He was the only hitter in the Miracle lineup with multiple hits, adding a single to lead off the ninth as the game-tying run. He reached second base after a Tulowitzki throwing error, but a bunt attempt resulted in him being forced out at third.

    A liner to center field off the bat of Rafael Valera ended up turning into a double play, as the potential game-tying runner was doubled off second to end the game.

    The bullpen tandem of Cameron Booser (2IP, 2 BB) and Sam Clay (IP, H, BB, K) got them to that point, combining for three innings of scoreless baseball. It was Booser’s first appearance of the season, and he set the Blue Jays down one-two-three in his first inning.

    Daniel Kihle added a double for the offense, which went just 1-7 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base for the game.


    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Clinton 7, Cedar Rapids 1
    Box Score

    Clinton got the jump on Cedar Rapids starter Domenick Carlini in the top of the first, as the lead-off man led off the game with a home run for an early 1-0 lead. They would extend that lead to 7-1 as they tacked on two runs in each of Carlini’s final three innings. He did make it through five innings, allowing the seven runs on eleven hits and a walk. He struck out two.

    Zach Tillery and Max Cordy each pitched two innings of relief and each struck out two LumberKings. Tillery allowed one hit in his two frames, Cordy went one-two-three in each.

    The Kernels got their lone run of the game in the fourth inning, as Jaylin Davis launched his tenth home run of the season. He leads the Midwest League in that category after his recent binge (six HR’s in seven days) and is hitting .375 in his last ten games. He finished this one 2-4.

    Caleb Hamilton added two hits and a walk to the effort, and Travis Blankenhorn added a double. The lineup was just 1-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving ten on base.

    At 26-19, the Kernels lead the Midwest League Western Division, a half-game in front of rival Kane County.


    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Pitcher of the Day – Jason Wheeler, Rochester Red Wings (W, 7 IP, 5 H’s, 9 K’s)
    Hitter of the Day – Zander Wiel, Fort Myers Miracle (2-3, HR, 2 RBI)


    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Durham @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) – RHP Aaron Slegers (4-3, 3.83 ERA)
    Montgomery @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) – RHP Fernando Romero (2-5, 4.73 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Dunedin (5:30PM CST) – RHP Brady Anderson (2-0, 3.42 ERA)
    Clinton @ Cedar Rapids (12:05PM CST) – RHP Clark Beeker (5-2, 2.76 ERA)

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

    • May 23 2017 09:27 PM
    • by Steve Lein
  3. Polanco Providing Poise

    Doubling Down On Defense
    Polanco's biggest question marks as a prospect were on the defensive side of the ball. The Twins blundered a little with his development last season as he didn't play a single inning at shortstop in the minors. Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked about how the organization handled Polanco during spring. "I wish I had a better explanation for you. But I think myself, a lot of other people, realized we didn't handle it the right way."

    Even with this organizational blunder, Polanco seems to have overcome some of these defensive faults. According to FanGraphs, he currently leads the American League in defensive runs saved (3). The only player with a better DRS mark this season is the Cubs' Addison Russell. Polanco also ranks in the top-10 across baseball in RZR, UZR, and defensive WAR.

    Looking For Lumber
    Being a two-way player is what separates many of the young shortstops mentioned above. Polanco was never expected to be an elite hitter but he showed positive signs as a prospect. So far this season, he ranks third in the American League in shortstop WAR. He has the third fewest strikeouts and the fourth highest OBP. This puts him ahead of players like Carlos Correa, Troy Tulowitzki, and Elvis Andrus.

    Much of Polanco's offensive success has come against left-handed pitching. He has hit .364/.391/.591 (.982 OPS) against southpaws with three extra-base hits in 22 at-bats. His OBP is almost 100 points lower against righties and this has come in 21 more plate appearances. He does have an impressive 6 to 5 strikeout to walk ratio versus right-handed hurlers.

    Waiting In The Wings
    The Twins have other young shortstop prospects waiting in the wings. Former first round pick Nick Gordon is off to a hot start at Double-A. Through 14 games, he is hitting .339/.397/.464 with four extra-base hits in 56 at-bats. After playing every game in 2016 at shortstop, Gordon has started four games at second base this season.

    Gordon's time at shortstop is being challenged by Engelb Vielma. When it comes to shortstop, Vielma is widely considered the better defender. Vielma has started six games at shortstop and seven at second base. There have been questions about Vielma's offensive in the past but he is hitting .340/.365/.400 to start the year.

    While shortstop might have been a weakness in recent years, the Twins look poised to stop their revolving door. Polanco is emerging as a very viable shortstop candidate. If he can't keep up his hot start, Gordon and Vielma are waiting for their own opportunity.

    Who will be the Twins shortstop by 2018? What about 2020? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Apr 25 2017 05:28 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Twins Minor League Report (4/21): Wheeler Deals In Wings Win

    Continue on to find out all the specifics on a busy night in the Twins farm system. Be sure to go to the Minor League forum and check out the Adopt-a-Prospect. We’d love to have you adopt a Twins prospect or three and follow them throughout the season.

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 3, Charlotte 2
    Box Score

    Jason Wheeler has never been described as a strikeout pitcher, but seemingly each year he reaches double digits in strikeouts once. He did so once each year from 2012 through 2015. He didn’t have a ten strikeout game in 2016, but on Friday night the left-hander struck out a career-high 11 batters in seven innings to improve to 2-1 on the season. He gave up two runs on five hits and walked two batters.

    Drew Rucinski got the first two outs of the eighth inning on strikeouts. Buddy Boshers recorded the third out of the inning. Alex Wimmers recorded his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth frame.

    The Red Wings tied the game at two in the fifth inning. A wild pitch on a strikeout with the bases loaded allowed the first run to score. Next, Matt Hague grounded out to score the game-tying run. Then in the eighth inning, Kennys Vargas walked for the second time. Bengie Gonzalez pinch ran for him. Daniel Palka doubled him to third base, and Leonardo Reginnato drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

    Reginnato went 2-3. JB Shuck went 2-4 with his third double. Palka and John Ryan Murphy added doubles.

    Former Twins starter Mike Pelfrey was supposed to start for Charlotte. Instead, he was called up and will make a start for the White Sox this weekend.


    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Chattanooga 6, Biloxi 3
    Box Score

    Chattanooga was able to end their series against the Biloxi Shuckers with a nice win. The Lookouts got the majority of their offense from their top two hitters. Nick Gordon went 3-5 with his second double and three RBIs. In the sixth inning with the game tied at three, he hit a bases loaded single. He tried to stretch it into a double but was thrown out at second. In the meantime, the third runner scored all the way from first giving Gordon three RBI on that single.

    The second-spot hitter was Engelb Vielma. He went 3-5 with two RBIs. He gave the Lookouts the early lead when he hit a two-run single in the third inning. The other Lookouts run scored on an RBI single from Ryan Walker in the fourth inning. LaMonte Wade went 2-3 with a walk. Levi Michael, who made another start in center field, went 0-1 and walked twice.

    Paul Clemens was back on the mound for the Lookouts. The veteran right-hander gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out seven. Todd Van Steensel came on and worked 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, but no walks and struck out four. John Curtiss recorded the final two outs to earn his second save of the season.

    May have to do a little digging, but lefty Mason Melotakis was ejected from the game in the first inning. UPDATE:




    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Ft. Myers 10, Dunedin 4
    Box Score

    A five-run third inning gave the Miracle a lead. They kept adding to it including three runs in the ninth inning to claim a big win. The bats have continued to hit after a very slow start.

    Ehire Adrianza played in his first game on rehab assignment. He started at shortstop and went 3-5 with a stolen base and three runs scored. Max Murphy was also 3-5. Zander Wiel hit his fourth and fifth doubles and drove in three runs. Nelson Molina went 2-4 with his first triple and two RBI. Chris Paul had just one hit, but his three-run homer was the big blow in that third inning.

    Keaton Steele was back on the mound. The right-hander gave up four runs on ten hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out four on his way to his first win of the season. Michael Theofanopoulos struck out four batters over two scoreless innings. Jonny Drozd came on and got the final three outs.


    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 4, Kane County 3 (12 innings)
    Box Score

    Travis Blankenhorn led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a walk. Two wild pitches advanced Blankenhorn to third base. After Lewin Diaz was intentionally walks, Jaylin Davis singled in Blankenhorn, ending a long night in Cedar Rapids with a 4-3 Kernels win.

    Blankenhorn had the big hit early in the game when his double scored two runs for the Kernels. Jermaine Palacios went 3-6 with his second double. Brandon Lopez was 3-5 in the game. Davis went 2-6.

    Sean Poppen was back on the mound and provided the Kernels with another quality start. The right-hander from Harvard gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out seven. Logan Lombana struck out four over 2.2 scoreless innings. Thomas Hackimer picked up the win with 3.1 scoreless innings, with three strikeouts.


    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jason Wheeler, Rochester Red Wings
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Nick Gordon, Chattanooga Lookouts


    SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Rochester @ Charlotte (6:05 CST) - RHP Aaron Slegers
    Tennessee @ Chattanooga - (6:15 CST) - RHP Kohl Stewart
    Ft. Myers @ Dunedin (5:30 CST) - RHP Randy LeBlanc
    Kane County @ Cedar Rapids (5:05 CST) - LHP Domenick Carlini
    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Friday night’s games.

    • Apr 21 2017 10:22 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  5. Twins Daily Top Prospect Countdown: 20-16

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

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

    Photo courtesy Louriann Mardo-Zayat


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

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

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

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

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

    [attachment=9702:B Rortvedt.jpg]

    Photo courtesy David McQueen


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

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

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

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

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

    [attachment=9703:Engelb Vielma 2.jpg]

    Photo courtesy Seth Stohs


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

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

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

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

    [attachment=9704:Nick Burdi 3.jpg]

    Photo courtesy Seth Stohs


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

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

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

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

    [attachment=9705:Zach Granite 4.jpg]

    Photo courtesy Seth Stohs


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

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

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

    • Feb 09 2017 05:42 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  6. As The Defense Goes, So Goes The Twins

    Over the past 15 seasons, the Twins have ranked in the top half in team defense seven times, according to Fangraphs. They had a winning record in six of those seasons (every year but '07 when they were 79-83) and made the playoffs five times. In the eight years they've fielded a below-average defense (which includes each of the past six seasons), the Twins have been over .500 twice with just one postseason appearance ('09, Joe Mauer's MVP season).

    With an above average defense, the Twins have averaged 89 wins and with a sub-par defense they've averaged just 72 wins. And that's pretty close to being in line with what you see across the league.

    Taking a look at the past five seasons, teams who finished in the top 10 in defense averaged 85 wins and those in the bottom ten averaged just 75 wins. It's very difficult to be a good team that's bad at catching the baseball. As always, there are plenty of exceptions. The '14 Reds and Red Sox both ranked in the top five in defense but lost 86 and 91 games, respectively. On the other end, the '15 Pirates won 98 games despite being in the bottom five in defense.

    Last season, the Twins were 29th in defense, ahead of only Oakland. The only position where the Twins had above average glove work was at first base, where they ranked 8th. Center field (16th) and second base (19th) were spots where the team was at least passable. But right field (23rd), third base (24th), catcher (25th), and shortstop (27th) were all pain points for the Twins' defense, and thanks to Robbie Grossman's horrendous performance the team had the worst-rated left field defense in baseball.

    The hope is that Castro will boost the defense behind the dish, but what about the other positions? Max Kepler spent more time in right field with the Twins last season than he had played the position over his entire minor league career. Hopefully with more reps in right his defense will improve, he certainly appears to have the physical tools to be an above average fielder. In left, Eddie Rosario has been one of the best defenders in baseball the past two seasons. But he only accounted for about a third of the innings in left last season, as he spent some time in Rochester and played some center field.

    That leaves the biggest unanswered questions are on the left side of the infield. The obvious in-house candidates to fill those spots are Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco and Eduardo Escobar. If I'm going to give Kepler a break due to lack of minor league reps in right, I suppose I need to do the same for both Sano at third (thanks to his 2014 Tommy John surgery) and Polanco at shortstop (because he inexplicably played second base last season in Rochester). But it would be risky to hope they can both make the major improvements necessary to become even just average defensively. Considering they'd be playing next to each other in the field, a lack of improvement from both would be a defensive disaster.

    In his offseason blueprint, Seth recently offered up punchless leatherwizard (copyright Eric Longenhagen) Engelb Vielma as a glove-first alternate at shortstop. Vielma hasn't played above Double A, but for what it's worth both Falvey and GM Thad Levine have had success aggressively promoting young shortstops (not that Vielma is anywhere near the prospect Francisco Lindor or Elvis Andrus were). The only other player with infield experience on the 40-man roster is Danny Santana, and the free agent market is thin. How everything shakes out in the infield also relies heavily on whether or not Brian Dozier is traded.

    With the Winter Meetings coming up this week, many more questions may be answered. What would you like to see the Twins do to improve their defense?

    • Dec 02 2016 05:23 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. Twins Add Six Players To 40-Man Roster

    Fernando Romero has the most electric stuff of any pitcher in the Twins system. He returned in May after missing about two years of playing time due to Tommy John surgery and a knee surgery. He works with an upper-90s fastball and a three-to-four-pitch mix (depending on the day).

    No surprise that the Twins added catcher Mitch Garver to the roster. He has steadily moved up the Twins ladder while watching his stock improve as his work behind the plate has improved. He can hit, provide some power, and now he has become a good backstop.

    Felix Jorge was left unprotected last year. After a strong showing in Ft. Myers, and a solid 11 starts in Chattanooga, they would not have been able to do the same this year. The lanky right-hander has a smooth delivery, making his 91-93 mph fastball jump on hitters. He attacks the zone and mixes three good pitches.

    Defensive-whiz Engelb Vielma was also added to the 40-man roster. He missed time twice with injuries in 2016, but he hit enough to warrant inclusion on the roster. Defense is where he will make his money, but he’ll still need to show that he can hit enough.

    Outfielder Daniel Palka hit 35 home runs in 2016 between Chattanooga and Rochester. Like Walker, Palka struck out a lot at AAA. He came to the Twins a year ago in exchange for Chris Herrmann. He was the Twins Daily choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year.

    Zack Granite was the Twins choice for Minor League Player of the Year. For Chattanooga the outfielder hit .295/.347/.382 (.729) with 18 doubles, eight triples and four home runs. He also led all minor leaguers with 56 stolen bases.

    Earlier in the week, I ranked the eligible playersin terms of likeliness for players to be selected. However, there are several players, as there are every year, who will have a chance to be selected in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings on December 8th. Players who would likely be the most vulnerable include catcher Stuart Turner, Pitchers left unprotected include DJ Baxendale, Aaron Slegers, Ryan Eades, Dereck Rodriguez, and Jason Wheeler.

    The Minnesota Twins 40-Man roster is now at 39. They could add a player in the Rule 5 Draft if they choose to do so.

    Feel free to share your thoughts on the Twins roster changes today.

    • Nov 18 2016 04:44 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  8. Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospects: Part 3 (26-30)

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

    Top Prospects 26-30

    #30 – Nelson Molina - 21 – IF – Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Molina was the Twins 11th-round pick in 2013 out of high school in Puerto Rico (same high school as Twins catcher Juan Centeno). It is fair to say that he struggled offensively in the rookie leagues his first three seasons. However, watching him, he has the size (6-3), build (175), tools and work ethic to want to stand out. In 2016, he came up to the Kernels at the end of April and played well the rest of the way. He was named to the Twins Daily Minor League All-Star team after hitting .300/.374/.381 (.755) with 15 doubles, three triples and two home runs in 94 games. Drafted as a shortstop, he has played all over the field. He mostly played third base for the Kernels this year, but he ended the season playing shortstop for the team, including in the playoffs.

    #29 – Trey Cabbage - 19 – 3B – Elizabethton Twins

    Cabbage was the Twins fourth-round draft pick in 2015 out of Grainger High School in Tennessee. After signing, he spent the summer in Ft. Myers, spending some time with the GCL Twins and more time rehabbing a back injury. He spent the first half of the 2016 season at extended spring training before heading north, back to Tennessee, to play in Elizabethton. The third baseman hit .204/.297/.337 (.634) with five doubles, one triple and two home runs in just 31 games with the E-Twins. At 6-3 and a little over 200 pounds, Cabbage is a tremendous athlete. He’s got a sweet, left-handed swing with line-drive power that could turn into home run power from gap-to-gap. Defense continues to be a work-in-progress at third base, but he has a strong arm and puts in a lot of extra work. He could start 2017 in extended with an opportunity to move up to Cedar Rapids.

    #29 – Tanner English - 23 – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle/Rochester Red Wings

    English was the Twins 11t- round pick in the 2014 draft out of South Carolina. In 2015, he was named the top defensive outfielder in the Twins system for his glove work in center field in Cedar Rapids. At 5-10 and 180 pounds, English has great speed, range and a powerful arm. Offensively, he can be a leadoff type of hitter. He takes quality at-bats and has good pop. He also is a very good base runner and base-stealer. He began the 2016 in Ft. Myers, but he went on the disabled list early in the season. When he was about ready to come back, he had his ankle rolled in an extended spring game. He returned late in the year to the Miracle. When Rochester needed a center fielder for the final week, English was pushed to the level and hit .294 in 17 at-bats. To get some extra plate appearances, English will head to Arizona to participate in the Fall League.

    #28 – Akil Baddoo - 18 – OF - GCL Twins

    If these lists were solely about upside, Baddoo would likely be a Top 10 prospect. Baddoo was the fourth pick in the 2016 draft and the Twins second compensation- round pick, 74th overall. He was an outstanding high school player from the state of Georgia. After signing, he went to the GCL. At 6-1 and just shy of 200 pounds, Baddoo has a lot of tools. He has good speed (8 steals in 9 attempts). He has good range in the outfield and has a strong left arm. Though he hit just .178 in his pro debut in the GCL, most believe he will hit, and he has already shown that he has some power potential (2 triples, 2 home runs). As it is with most 18 year olds, patience will be a big key.

    #27 – Jose Miranda - 18 – SS – GCL Twins

    Miranda was selected one pick before Akil Baddoo, 73rd overall, in the June draft out of high school in Puerto Rico. He also began his career in the GCL. He played shortstop and third base equally and also played a handful of games at second base. He’ll likely be given more time at shortstop, but when he was drafted most scouts believed his future was either at third base or second base. He played in 55 games and hit .227/.308/.292 with seven doubles, a triple and a home run. Listed at 6-2 and 180 pounds, he has average speed. Most believe he will hit and has a chance to hit for above average power.

    #26 – Engelb Vielma - 22 – SS – Chattanooga Lookouts

    Vielma signed with the Twins out of Venezuela in mid-September of 2011, just late enough that he didn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster last year. The Twins will have to make that decision this November. Vielma has been named the Twins top minor league defensive infielder the last two years and earned an invitation to big league spring training after a solid 2015 in Ft. Myers. He spent the majority of the 2016 season in Chattanooga, though he had two stints on the disabled list and played some rehab games in Ft. Myers. With the Lookouts, he hit .271/.345/.318 (.663) with seven doubles and four triples. While he’ll never hit for power, if he can hit for average, he has a chance to be a big league shortstop because of his great defense. He is the total package at shortstop. He has good range, instincts and a powerful arm. Others discuss his leadership

    So what do you think of Part 3, Prospects 26-30? Next up will be prospects 21-25. Feel free to discuss, comment and ask questions below.

    • Sep 30 2016 07:28 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  9. The Next Wave

    Let’s look back a little bit first. Though fans suffered through all the 90-loss seasons, 2014 was when the lights started to flicker brighter and we were introduced to the first wave of prospects. Oswaldo Arcia used the season to build on a successful 2013 campaign. Danny Santana debuted and put up a ridiculous .824 OPS while stealing 20 bases. Kennys Vargas teased us with his power in a 53-game cameo. All were 23 years old.

    Kyle Gibson spent his first full season in the major leagues and was a 13-game winner. Trevor May started nine games - and while he struggled - he showed fans an ability to strike hitters out with a K/9 of 8.7 in 45.2 innings.

    Last season, 2015, was more of the same. We witnessed the duo of Miguel Sano, 22, and Eddie Rosario, 23, push the team to the brink of the playoffs. Sano with his power (18 home runs and an OPS of .916) and Rosario with his speed and defense (a league-leading 15 triples and 16 outfield assists).

    Tyler Duffey joined the rotation, got roughed up in his debut, but was 5-0 down the stretch and the club’s best pitcher.

    Also seeing time in 2015 were members of the next wave: Byron Buxton who debuting at 21, battled injuries and remained a prospect by one at-bat, Jorge Polanco, who debuted at 20, and always hits, and Max Kepler, last year’s Southern League Player of the Year, who joined the team in late-September.

    Jose Berrios, who turned 22 earlier this summer, has rejoined the team (hopefully) permanently and it’s not hard to imagine that many of the pieces of the next competitive team are in place.

    But who’s next?

    THE POWER BATS

    With Kepler firmly entrenched in right field and Buxton the future of centerfield, it would be easy to stick Rosario in left field and call it a day.

    Not so fast.

    Daniel Palka, 24, has 26 home runs this year between Chattanooga and Rochester. His left-handed power will play at any stadium and though he isn’t on the 40-man roster, could be a September call-up. He’s not alone. Adam Brett Walker, also 24, has 21 home runs for Rochester this year. Walker’s right-handed power will play anywhere. The catch, obviously, is that both players have a massive amount of swing-and-miss in their game. But that doesn’t mean that either (or both) should be cast aside.

    Byungho Park, who had 12 home runs for the Twins before being demoted in late June, also offers a ton of power from the right-handed batter’s box, but he is limited to first base or DH in the lineup (and he’s 29 and not a prospect).

    THE NEXT PIRANHAS

    There will never be another set like the originals, but there’s some potential with this next wave: Zach Granite, 23, and Engelb Vielma, 22, are both hitting just shy of .300 in Chattanooga and both offer premium defense and a lot of speed. Granite has 34 walks and 34 strikeouts on the season along with 38 stolen bases. Coming into the year with a 65% success rate, Granite has improved and has been successful in 81% of his attempts this year. Vielma has battled hamstring injuries this season and only has six swipes, but he had 35 last year and we’ll see his numbers trend north as the season progresses and his legs get all the way back to 100%.

    THE NEXT CATCHER

    After trading for John Ryan Murphy, the future appeared set. Until Murphy forgot how to hit (worse than you can imagine with the Twins before becoming a .210/.266/.283 hitter for Rochester).

    So who’s next? Mitch Garver, a 25-year-old at Chattanooga, has improved his defense and made greater strides with his bat. Garver has an OPS over .800 supported with 11 home runs. He 20% strikeout-percentage is higher than normal, but his walk-rate remains over 11%. He’s also thrown out more than 50% of would-be base-stealers on the season.

    THE TURNING OF THE ROTATION

    The minor-leagues contain a number of pitchers who could find time in the rotation including Jason Wheeler, a 25-year-old, who is on his way to being named the organization’s pitcher of the year with a 10-3 record between Chattanooga and Rochester and Aaron Slegers, 23, and David Hurlbut, 26, who are potential back-end arms, as well currently pitching in Chattanooga.

    Recently-acquired Adalberto Mejia, 23, will make his organizational debut for Rochester tomorrow. He’s not far off and has a chance to make the Opening Day rotation next year.

    Sometime later in 2017, we could be introduced to the cream of the pitching prospect crop: Stephen Gonsalves, 21, has continued to dominate every level, including AA, with a K/9 in excess of 10.0 (though he’s still walking too many), Tyler Jay, 22, started to come into his own with Fort Myers before his promotion, move to the bullpen and subsequent shut-down in Chattanooga, and Kohl Stewart, 21, who’s been an enigma but still has lots of potential. Felix Jorge, also 22, has struggled a bit since his promotion to Chattanooga, but he’s been compared to current Twin Ervin Santana.

    THE POWER ARMS

    We saw J.T. Chargois earlier this summer (and it wasn’t pretty), but between him and newly-acquired Pat Light, the Target Field radar gun will hit triple-digits in the top of an inning sometime yet this season. (Light did it twice for Rochester on Wednesday night, according to reports.)

    2010 first-round pick Alex Wimmers, 27, doesn’t throw that hard, and neither does Trevor Hildenberger, 25, but both could make their major-league debut this year. Hildenberger was recently placed on the DL with elbow tendinitis, but no one in baseball has numbers as good as he does.

    Jake Reed, 23, has bounced back with a really good 2016 after a disappointing 2015 (EDIT: According to an AL scout, Reed also hit 100 mph on the radar gun last night) and Zack Jones, 25, continues to strike batters out since his return from the Brewers (after they decided not to keep him as a Rule 5 draft pick).

    Nick Burdi is another arm who throws it really hard… when healthy, which he currently isn’t.

    THE RECAP

    The Twins have been a lot of fun to watch these last few days. And they have plenty of young players who are making it so fun. But they have more young players knocking on the door and that makes it exciting. We’re going to see some guys get a(nother) chance before many of these prospects get their turns, but this next wave is going to be fun to watch.

    Who excites you?

    • Aug 04 2016 06:39 AM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  10. Seth's Midseason Twins Top 40 Prospect Rankings: Part 1 (21-40)

    It's always tough to come up with those final prospects not matter if you go with a list of 30, or 40, or 50, or whatever. So, I'm going to go with a tie for #40... I also want to mention a couple of Cedar Rapids Kernels that were very strongly considered for a spot as well.

    1B Zander Wiel is a 23-year-old first baseman out of Vanderbilt. He has heated up since the weather in Iowa warmed up and does a nice job defensively too. Also, catcher AJ Murray has been a very good hitter much of the season. He's still a work-in-progress behind the plate since he caught very little at Georgia Tech. But he's a really hard worker, and Jake Mauer said that he is similar to where Mitch Garver was two years ago. Definitely a couple of Kernels to watch.

    There are many others at each level who fit into the "prospect" category as well, but a Top 40 has to end somewhere. So, here is my Top 40 (or 41, if you will).

    #40 (Tie) - RH RP Williams Ramirez (23 - Cedar Rapids Kernels) and Johan Quezada (21 - Extended Spring Training)

    I didn’t know how to separate them. These are two very hard-throwing right handers who had a lot of success last year in the GCL. Ramirez recently was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he has been terrific, throwing a fastball 94-97 with a really good breaking ball. Quezada is dominating in extended spring training with a fastball 95-99. Quezada has really grown since signing. Literally, he’s added about 8 inches of height and almost 10 mph to his fastball. Ramirez has only been a pitcher for three or four years. In other words, both have plenty of room for improvement.

    #39 - RHP Yorman Landa - 21 - Ft. Myers Miracle

    Landa missed time with shoulder problems in 2014 and 2015, but he showed enough late last year with the Kernels - including a 99 mph fastball - to be added to the 40-man roster for the Twins. He’s had some ups and downs with the Miracle so far this year, but overall, he has pitched well, whether asked to throw one inning or three.

    #38 - 1B Amaurys Minier - 20 - Extended Spring Training

    Minier signed from the Dominican in 2013 and has been moved quite slowly, primarily due to several injuries that cost him time early in seasons. Unfortunately, his bat also has moved along slowly and he will return to the rookie leagues (unless promoted soon) for another year. He’s still very young, and when he works hard, he does have a good swing that could produce a lot of power.

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    #37 - OF Jaylin Davis - 21 - Extended Spring Training

    Davis is a bit of a sleeper, maybe a surprise to even see on this list. He was drafted a year ago out of Appalachian State. He fell in the draft due to injury and did not play a year ago. However, Davis has tremendous power and much more potential. Reports from Ft. Myers indicate that he is crushing home runs all over the field with a powerful swing. He is a solid outfielder, and he is also a guy who could skip Elizabethton and go to Cedar Rapids if there was a need.

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    #36 - OF Tanner English - 23 - Ft. Myers Miracle

    English was the Twins top minor league defensive outfielder in 2015. He began this season in Ft. Myers, but a series of events have slowed things down for him. He was hit in the head with a pitch and missed a couple of days. He had Lasik eye surgery and on the last day of his rehab assignment with the EST squad, someone landed on his foot and hurt his ankle. So he’s been rehabbing that. English is a good top-of-the-order type of hitter who led the minor league system in stolen bases last year. He should be back to the Miracle shortly.

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    #35 - OF Zach Granite - 23 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    Granite had a tough, injury-filled 2014. So he began 2015 with the Kernels. After a strong April in which he was named Minor League Hitter of the Month by the Twins, he was promoted to Ft. Myers where he was solid. This year, he jumped right to Chattanooga and has been their leadoff hitter almost every day since. He takes very professional at-bats and knows his job is to find ways to get on base. He’s doing that, and when he gets on base, he is looking to keep running. He already has 25 stolen bases this season.

    #34 - LH RP Mason Melotakis - 24 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    “Melo” missed all of the 2015 season after having Tommy John surgery the fall before. With reports of him hitting 97 mph in Instructional League last fall, the Twins needed to add him to the 40-man roster or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. He went to big league spring training and then reported to the Lookouts. He struggled early, as you would expect, but he has been much better of late.


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    #33 - OF Edgar Corcino - 24 - Ft. Myers Miracle

    One of the best pure athletes in the organization, Corcino signed with the Twins before the 2015 season out of independent baseball. He had been drafted and spent a couple of seasons in the Tigers system. After a strong showing in Cedar Rapids in the second half last year, he moved up to Ft. Myers this year. He started slow, not playing every day in April. In May, the Twins selected him as their Minor League Hitter of the Month. He plays great outfield defense at all three positions. He has good speed. And, he has extra base pop in his bat. Definitely one to watch as he just turned 24 today.

    #32 - LHP Jason Wheeler - 25 - Rochester Red Wings

    In 2014, Wheeler had a solid half-season, repeating in Ft. Myers and carried it into a strong showing in AA. Following that season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He started in Rochester in 2015 for some reason and really struggled. Late last year, he was removed from the 40-man and cleared. He went on to be the MVP of the Southern League championship series. He began this season with the Lookouts and was quickly called up to AAA where he has been lights-out most every outing. At 6-6, he does not throw real hard, but like the other lefties in the Red Wings rotation, he has good control and mixes his pitches well.

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    #31 - OF Travis Harrison - 23 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    Harrison is repeating at AA Chattanooga this year and has been solid in the middle of the Lookouts lineup. His outfield defense has improved and his approach at the plate has improved. He has been productive offensively despite similar numbers to last year. I believe that he is in line for a strong second half. Still just 23, Harrison has time to grow into his potential.

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    #30 - RHP Huascar Ynoa - 18 - Extended Spring Training

    While his brother Michael was signed to a huge free agent bonus (about $4 million) as a 16-year-old, the Twins were able to sign Huscar for around $850K. He pitched in the DSL last year and will be making his stateside debut this year. He has been pitching quite well in EST, flashing a fastball in the 90-95 range with the ability to dominate. He just turned 18 and will likely pitch in the GCL this year.

    #29 - C Stuart Turner - 24 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    Turner was the Twins 3rd-round pick in 2013 out of Mississippi where he was named the top catcher in college baseball. In 2014, he skipped Cedar Rapids and jumped to Ft. Myers. He struggled with the bat. In 2015, he went to Chattanooga where he was good defensively but struggled with the bat. Finally in 2016, he is sticking at the same level, hopefully allowing his bat to catch up. He started out strong with lots of walks and doubles. He’s slowed, but he does have a good approach at the plate. Many still believe he is a top defensive catcher.

    #28 - LHP Lachlan Wells - 19 - Extended Spring Training

    The Australian had a strong debut in 2015 in the GCL, putting up numbers very similar to what Lewis Thorpe put up a couple of years earlier at that level. He even left right before the end of the season to pitch for Team Australia in an international competition, just as Thorpe had. While Wells doesn’t throw as hard as Thorpe can, he does know and understand how to pitch and shows a lot of poise on the mound. He should pitch for Elizabethton.

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    #27 - RH RP Jake Reed - 23 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    The last two offseasons, Reed has dominated in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League. However, for the second straight year he has really struggled in the AA Southern League. That said, he has been much better of late. His mid-90s fastball gets a lot of movement, so command has been an issue for him at times. Other times, he can flat-out dominate.


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    #26 - 2B Luis Arraez - 19 - Cedar Rapids Kernels

    One of the biggest surprises, for me, early in the season has been Arraez. I was surprised that he started in Cedar Rapids, and I thought maybe he would just get a little experience before going down to Elizabethton when the short-season started. Though he didn’t play a lot the first week or two, he was given an opportunity and he has fully taken advantage of it. He has been a catalyst at the top of the Kernels’ lineup, hitting over .320 and taking really good, professional at bats.


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    #25 - IF Travis Blankenhorn - 19 - Extended Spring Training

    Blankenhorn was the Twins 3rd-round pick a year ago out of high school. A tremendous athlete, he played for the GCL and Elizabethton teams in 2015. This spring in EST, he has shown some glimpses of his big potential. He has a nice swing and should develop some power over time. Interestingly, drafted as a third baseman, he has spent almost all of his time in EST playing second base.


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    #24 - RH RP Trevor Hildenberger - 25 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    He was our choice for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year last year with his work in Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers in his first full professional season. He even pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. The side-winding right-hander started with the Miracle this year, but after just a few weeks, he quickly advanced to AA where he has continued to pitch great. Where many have struggled, Hildenberger has put up great numbers and become the team’s reliable closer. A 22nd-round pick just two years ago, he could get to Minnesota yet this year, or certainly put himself into consideration for a spot early in 2017.

    #23 - SS Jermaine Palacios - 19 - Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Palacios burst on the scene last year when he dominated (offensively) in the GCL and Elizabethton in his first year in the United States. The 19-year-old began this season in Cedar Rapids but it has been slow-going for the talented Venezuelan. After hitting a combined .370 last year, he has been hovering around (and mostly below) the Mendoza Line most of this season. Defensively, he’s got a ways to go, but the skills are there. Could he go to Elizabethton when the short-season starts?

    #22 - SS Engelb Vielma - 21 - Ft. Myers Miracle
    Vielma had a solid season in 2015 in Ft. Myers which led to a spring training invite to big league camp. He began the season with the Lookouts, but he has twice been on the disabled list already. In the last week, he was activated and sent back to Ft. Myers just to get more at-bats. He should move up to Chattanooga again soon. The slick-fielding shortstop could hit for average and should play very good defense, though he did struggle early in the season.

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    #21 - C Mitch Garver - 25 - Chattanooga Lookouts

    It has been his bat that has carried Garver through much of his minor league career, but it is his defense behind the plate that is moving him up this list this time around. He has thrown out 64% of would-be base stealers so far this season and is listed among the top catchers in baseball in pitch framing. Pitchers have also enjoyed working with him in the past. His bat has been solid in the Southern League. He’s hitting .265 with 11 doubles and two homers in 40 games. When not catching, he has played some at first base and frequently at DH. He did miss about a week with a concussion.


    So there you have it, a quick glance at my updated prospects 21-40. What are your thoughts? Noticing any trends yet? Tomorrow we’ll dive into prospects 11-20. But for today, consider my list above. Ask questions, and start thinking about how your top 20, 30 or 40 Twins prospect list might look.

    • Jun 07 2016 10:09 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  11. 2016 Chattanooga Lookouts Roster Revealed

    THE COACHING STAFF

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

    THE ROSTER
    *Spent time with Lookouts in 2015

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

    PROJECTED ROTATION (listed alphabetically):

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

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

    PROJECTED BULLPEN:

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

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

    PROJECTED LINEUP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PREDICTIONS

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

    TWITTER FOLLOWS

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

    • Apr 04 2016 02:06 PM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  12. Twins Reassign Five Players To Minor League Camp

    There were no real surprises among the list of players reassigned. The surprise was that, at this time, the Twins have not officially optioned any players off of their 40-man roster. (Again, expect information on that to come on Monday)

    Reynaldo Rodriguez is leaving Twins spring training to join the WBC-Qualifying team from Colombia. He will most likely spend the season in Rochester again.

    Engelb Vielma had a solid showing in his first big league spring. Earlier in the day, he was awarded the organization's top defensive infielder award in the minor leagues. He is likely to spend the season in Chattanooga.

    Heiker Meneses spent all of last season in Chattanooga and is likely to return there. He played a lot of second base, though he played shortstop when Jorge Polanco was with the Twins or Red Wings.

    Alex Swim spent last season in Ft. Myers. He could go back there after missing time in the second half due to injury, though he is likely to spend time in Chattanooga as well in 2016.

    Jake Reed pitched a clean inning today and has been solid in his first big league camp. As Paul Molitor said after the game, it is his command that will need work. He should go back to Chattanooga to start the season, but he could surface in the big leagues late in the season.

    Feel free to discuss this group, and remember to check back tomorrow for more roster decisions.

    • Mar 14 2016 04:14 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  13. 2016 Roster Projections: The Middle Infielders

    MAJOR LEAGUES

    Brian Dozier enters his fourth full season as the Twins starting second baseman. He made his first All-Star Game. However, for the second straight season, he struggled mightily after the All-Star break. However, despite those struggles, he ended the season with 39 doubles and 28 home runs. He’ll be 29 in mid-May.

    Eduardo Escobar has lived with the title of “Utility” infielder since coming up with the White Sox in 2011. Despite performing well in the 2nd half in 2014, Escobar went back to a utility role last year. However, by the second half of 2015, he was back to starting and one of the most productive shortstops in baseball. In 2016, Escobar finally goes into the season as the starting shortstop. He recently turned 27.

    Eduardo Nunez was tendered a contract after putting together a strong 2015 season as a utility player and pinch hitter. He hit .282/.327/.431 (.758). He played second base, third base, shortstop and left field. He is still 28 years old and should take Escobar’s utility role, along with the next player.

    Danny Santana was terrific as a rookie in 2014 when he played centerfield. And he was a favorite of Paul Molitor, so he got the starting shortstop job on Opening Day. The Twins gave him every opportunity to run with the job, but by midseason, they had to go to Escobar. Santana is now out of options, so he’ll get an opportunity to play centerfield and both middle infield positions.

    MINOR LEAGUES

    Rochester Red Wings

    James Beresford originally signed with the Twins in 2005. He reached AAA in the second half of 2013 and has been there since. In 2015, he was an All-Star and hit .307 for the Red Wings.He turns 27 next week.

    Jorge Polanco remains one of the Twins better prospects. He debuted with the Twins due to roster rules in 2013 at the age of 20. He’s had a few cups of coffee since then. Some may forget that he’s still just 22 and has progressed nicely up the system. He split the 2015 season between Chattanooga and Rochester (with more coffee with the Twins). He can hit. He’s nearly big-league ready offensively, but can he play defense? Can he play shortstop? Can he play second base? 2016 is a big year for Polanco.

    After spending seven seasons in the Red Sox organization, the Twins signed Heiker Meneses in 2015 and sent him to Chattanooga. He plays both middle infield spots pretty well. He’s still just 24 years old. He hit .259/.317/.300 (.617) for the Lookouts in 2015.

    Wilfredo Tovar played in nine games for the Mets in 2013 and 2014. He was in that organization from 2007 through 2015. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal with a spring invite. Last year in Las Vegas, he hit .283/.327/.356 (.683) with 15 doubles and three triples. He is also 24. He has good range at shortstop or third base.

    Chattanooga Lookouts

    Levi Michael was the Twins' firsr-round pick in 2011 out of North Carolina. He has struggled, primarily with injury, since. However, the last two years, when healthy, he has hit. He also puts together quality at-bats. He posted an .804 OPS in Chattanooga. He’ll turn 25 in February. He could be a utility option down the line, but he has only played second base in the regular season in the minors.

    Engelb Vielma is 21 and signed with the Twins in 2011. He has moved up quickly and last year in Ft. Myers he hit .270/.321/.306 (.627) with 12 extra base hits. But he hit well in the second half. Vielma is absolutely elite defensively at shortstop and does everything well. He is definitely one to watch in 2016 because if he plays well and hits at all, he could be in the big league picture in 2017.

    Leonardo Reginatto signed with the Rays in 2008 and has spent his entire career with that organization. In December, he signed a minor league deal with the Twins (no spring training invite). Between AA and AAA in 2015, he hit .269/.323/.364 with 19 doubles and three homers. He played three infield spot with above average range at all three.

    Ryan Walker was the Twins 18th-round pick in 2013 from Texas-Arlington. His season started late, but in 83 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .269/.311/.312 (.623). He’s very good defensively at both middle infield positions. He has really good range and a good arm.

    Ft. Myers Miracle

    Nick Gordon has been pushed quickly since being selected with the fifth overall pick in 2014. He spent 2015, his first full season, in Cedar Rapids. In 120 games, he hit .277/.336/.360 (.696). He had one rough month and was really solid the rest of the season. Defensively, he was above average and can stick at shortstop. He will be 20 years old through the 2016 season.

    Tanner Vavra struggled mightily the first month of 2015, but he hit well the rest of the year, especially after he started playing more consistently. He ended up hitting .258/.346/.300 (.646) with the Miracle. He could move up to AA at the start of the season, but I’m just guessing he could get a couple of months of starting most every day (all over the diamond) for the Miracle before moving up. He recently turned 26.

    Minnesotan Pat Kelly will also likely move up a level and be a utility type for the Miracle. With the Kernels in 2015, he primarily played second base, but also got time at first base and third base. The 23-year-old hit .220/.278/.312 (.590) in 95 games with the Kernels, so he could remain in Cedar Rapids as well.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Jermaine Palacios will be 19 years old until mid-July. He is a prospect that kind of came out of nowhere in 2015. He came to the States and began the season in the GCL by hitting .421/.472/.589 (1.061) in 26 games. He moved up to Elizabethton and hit .336/.345/.507 (.852) in 31 games. His bat appears to be legit, but he has a long ways to go with the glove, which could slow his progress.

    At 5-9 and 160 pounds, Manuel Guzman is one of the faster prospects in the organization. He played shortstop in Elizabethton until Palacios arrived and he moved to second base. He’ll turn 21 in a few weeks and should move up to Cedar Rapids. He was much better defensively at second base as well.

    Alex Perez was the Twins 23rd round pick last year after playing four years at Virginia Tech. He played second base for Elizabethton last year where he hit .239/.331/.303 (.634).

    Extended Spring Training

    Luis Arraez came to the States for the 2015 season and had a solid debut. He hit .309/.377/.391 (.768) with 15 doubles. He played primarily at second base (and played well), but he also saw time at shortstop, third base and left field. He will turn 19 right after Opening Day.

    Ariel Montesino began the short-season at Elizabethton, but when Palacios pushed his way up, Montesino was sent back to the GCL. He hit .243/.341/.324 (.665) in the GCL. He turned 20 after the season and should move up to Elizabethton this season.

    Australian Aaron Whitefield signed last summer with the Twins. After some visa issues, he arrived in the States and played in seven games. He played softball his entire life until the last year. He’ll be just 19 throughout the season, so he’ll be fun to watch progress.

    SUMMARY

    The Twins go into the season knowing their keystone combination. It will be Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar. Dozier had the great first half. Escobar had the great second half. It could be a lot of fun if they both can put together full seasons.

    James Beresford and Jorge Polanco are ready if needed at either of those positions, if and/or when needed.

    Once an area of weakness, shortstop has become an area of strength in the organization to the point where it’s likely one or more of them will be moved off of the position, not because they can’t handle shortstop, but because they want more than one of them playing. For instance, by 2019, I can see a scenario where Engelb Vielma is the starting shortstop and Nick Gordon is the starting second baseman despite the fact that Gordon can probably be a quality shortstop.

    And, the Twins gave Wander Javier $4 million to sign with them in 2015.

    Middle Infield Prospect Rankings:

    • Nick Gordon,
    • Jorge Polanco,
    • Engelb Vielma
    • Wander Javier,
    • Jermaine Palacios
    • Levi Michael

    • Jan 12 2016 05:32 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  14. Get To Know Shortstop Engelb Vielma

    Vielma signed with the Twins in mid-September of 2011 out of Venezuela. Had he signed a couple of weeks sooner, he would have needed to be added to the Twins 40-man roster or potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. He would have been added. No question.

    I talked to one person who has seen Vielma play quite a bit. I mentioned that Vielma was the best defensive shortstop I have seen in person, in spring training or in my trips to Cedar Rapids and Beloit. The one that I had previously said that about, Dixon Machado of the Tigers, is fantastic with the glove. This person chuckled and told me that there were two shortstops that he would put in Vielma’s category. The other one was Machado. Vielma was the Twins top defensive infielder in 2014 and should repeat for 2015.

    Offensively, he needs work, but really, he just needs strength. He has the mechanics and the swing to be a solid hitter. In the second half of the 2015 season in Ft. Myers, he hit very well. However, at probably 160 pounds, he just isn’t going to get a lot of extra-base hits. Overall with the Miracle, he hit .270/.321/.306 (.627) with nine doubles, two triples and a homer. However, after June 1, he hit .322/.380/.356 (.736) with eight extra-base hits. He’s fast. He’s a good base runner and he stole 35 bases bases on the year.

    I have had a couple of people – not Twins decision-makers, mind you, but people who have seen Vielma play extensively – tell me that if Vielma can hit .250, or maybe post a .620 OPS, in Chattanooga in 2016, he very well could be the Twins Opening Day shortstop in 2017. Lofty goals, but with Vielma, we are talking about Andrelton Simmons type of defense. Range. Arm. Hands. He’s incredible.

    And he’s still got plenty of room to grow. In fact, after starting the offseason playing winter ball in Venezuela, Vielma spent quite a bit of time in Ft. Myers working on his strength. He works hard, but he’s also touted as a great leader, a player who helps bring together English-speaking players with Spanish-speaking players. He controls the infield and the outfield from shortstop.

    For much more on Vielma and other Twins minor leaguers, the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook will be available shortly following the New Year. Keep watching for it here and on Twitter.

    We would like to thanks Engelb Vielma for taking some time to respond to our questions. We also need to thank his agency, LA Sports Management, for helping to facilitate the interview and for translation. You can follow them on Twitter (@LASportsMgmt) for news on Vielma and several other Twins prospects.


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

    Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up, who were some of your role models in the game of baseball?

    (Cuando crecías, ¿quiénes fueron algunos de tus modelos a seguir en el juego de béisbol?)


    Engelb Vielma (EV): The main foundation to start playing baseball was my father who motivated me to play.


    (La base principal para empezar a jugar al béisbol fue mi padre que me motivó para que jugara).


    SS: Tell me a little bit about your youth baseball in Venezuela. Did you play Little League? Did you play other positions besides shortstop?

    (Cuéntame un poco sobre tu béisbol juvenil en Venezuela. ¿Jugaste en la Liga Infantil? ¿Jugabas otras posiciones además de shortstop (parador corto)?)


    EV: I started playing baseball as a child. I played in a little league called Cacique Mara. Apart from playing shortstop, I also played first base and I was a pitcher.


    Empecé a jugar al béisbol cuando era un niño. Jugué en una liga infantil llamada Cacique Mara. Además de jugar en la posición de shortstop, también jugué en primera base y fui lanzador.


    SS: When did you start hearing from professional, MLB teams and what was it that caused you to decide to sign with the Twins?

    (¿Cuándo empezaste a oír hablar de equipos profesionales de la MLB y qué hizo que te decidieras a firmar con los Twins (Gemelos)?)


    EV: I knew I had talent to be a professional baseball player. I started to know I had talent at age 15. I decided to sign with the Twins because I was offered good money and I saw I had a chance to go up fast in the minor leagues.


    (Pensaba que tenía mucho talento para ser un jugador profesional de béisbol. Empecé a darme cuenta de que sí tenía talento a los 15 años. Decidí firmar con los Twins (Gemelos) porque me ofrecieron una cantidad de dinero interesante y vi que tenía una oportunidad para subir rápidamente en las Ligas Menores.)


    SS: What was the adjustment like for you when you moved from Venezuela to the United States? What were the biggest challenges on and off the field?

    (¿Cómo fue la adaptación para ti cuando te mudaste de Venezuela a los Estados Unidos? ¿Cuáles fueron los mayores retos tanto en el campo de juego como fuera del mismo?)


    EV: The first thing I had to adjust to was the change of culture. I saw that on the field there was much more competition for good players, outside the field, the biggest challenge was the language change.


    (En lo primero que tuve que adaptarme fue al cambio de la cultura. Vi que el campo de juego ofrecía mayor competencia para los jugadores buenos. Fuera de eso, el cambio de idioma.)



    SS: What was the highlight of your 2015 season?

    (¿Cuál fue el punto saliente de tu temporada 2015?)


    EV: I know I had a good year in all, but the offensive was better.

    (Sé que tuve un buen año en todo, pero la ofensa fue mejor.)


    SS: Everyone talks about your defense. How much pride do you have in your defense, and how much do you work at it?

    (Todo el mundo habla de tu juego defensivo. ¿Estás orgulloso de tu juego defensivo? ¿Cuánto te dedicas al juego defensivo?)



    EV: I have good defense is what many people have told me, but I try to work a little more and learn something new every day so that my defense gets a lot better.


    (Lo que me dicen es que tengo buen juego defensivo, pero trato de dedicarme un poco más y de aprender algo nuevo cada día para que mi juego defensivo sea mucho mejor.)


    SS: Are there certain areas of your game or preparation that you’d like to focus on during this offseason, looking to 2016?

    (¿Hay alguna área de tu juego o preparación en la que quieras concentrarte durante el cese de la temporada con la mira puesta en 2016?)


    EV: Basically my body, I need to gain more pounds. My offense, also try to be more consistent.


    (Esencialmente, quiero aumentar un poco de peso. También quiero tratar de que mi juego ofensivo sea más consistente.)


    SS: What are some of your goals for the 2016 season? Are there certain statistics that you will focus on?

    (¿Cuáles son algunas de tus metas para la temporada 2016? ¿Hay determinadas estadísticas en las que vas a concentrarte?)



    EV: Of course. Statistics always help a little, but I really want to focus on my batting, trying to steal a few more bases and keep on improving my defense.


    (¡Por supuesto! Estadísticas pueden ayudar un poco, pero especialmente quiero enfocarme en mi bateo, en robar mas bases y tambien seguir mejorando mi juego defensivo.)


    SS: What would it mean to you and your family to be able to reach the major leagues and put that uniform on for the first time?

    (¿Qué significaría para ti y tu familia poder llegar a las Ligas Mayores y ponerte ese uniforme por primera vez?)


    EV: It means joy, satisfaction but not only to reach the major leagues but to try and settle. My family would be very happy!


    (Significa alegría, satisfacción, pero no solo llegar sino tratar de establecerme. Mi familia estaría muy feliz.)


    SS: Away from baseball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

    (Fuera del béisbol, ¿qué te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?)


    EV: Share with my family, with my girlfriend, my friends. I like to sleep a lot. I also like to take batting practice with my brothers.

    (Compartir con mi familia, con mi novia, con mis amigos. Me gusta dormir mucho. También me gusta hacer práctica de bateo con mis hermanos.)



    SS: Are there certain people that you feel helped you get to this point in your career?

    (¿Hay ciertas personas que sientes que te ayudaron a llegar a este punto en tu carrera?)


    EV: My parents and my girlfriend.

    (Mis padres y mi novia.)



    SS: Thank you very much!!

    EV: ¡Muchísimas gracias!



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

    Thank you again to Engelb Vielma and the good people at LA Sports Management for taking time to do this interview. Feel free to ask questions or comment below.

    • Dec 17 2015 07:24 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  15. Minnesota Twins Winter League Report

    Venezuela Winter League

    The Venezuelan baseball league began about two weeks ago. Several Twins minor leaguers are playing. Here is a quick update of how they have done to this point.

    • Shortstop Argenis Diaz is playing for Aragua. He is hitting .500/.571/1.000 (1.571). Sounds great, but he has just six at bats so far. He is 3-6 with a double and a triple. One walk.
    • Infielder Jose Martinez is also playing for Aragua. He is 6-34, hitting .176/.222/.176 with two walks.
    • Heiker Meneses plays for LaGuiara. He is hitting .208/.345/.250 (.595) with a double and two walks. He is 5-24.
    • Engelb Vielma is also playing for Aragua. He is 9-47, hitting .191/.255/.234 (.489). He has two doubles, two walks and two stolen bases.
    • Omar Bencomo was signed in early August by the Twins out of independent baseball. He is pitching for Margarita. He has made four starts and is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. In 20 innings, he has given up 23 hits, walked four and struck out nine.
    • Brett Lee has pitched twice for Caracas. The lefty is 0-0 with a 5.68 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. In 6.1 innings, he has given up eight hits, walked two and struck out two.
    • Logan Darnell has pitched twice, making one start. In 9.1 innings, he has given up four hits, two walks and struck out eight. He is 0-0 with a 0.96 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP. Opponents are hitting just .121.
    Dominican Winter League

    Game has been played in the Dominican for the last two weeks as well.
    • Carlos Paulino is playing for Gigantes. He has gone 9-28. He’s hitting .321/.457/.357 (.814) with a double. He has also walked seven times already.
    • Jorge Polanco plays for Escogito. He is hitting .293/.396/.463 (.859). He is 12-41 with two triples and a home run. He has seven walks to go with just six strikeouts.
    • Righty Adrian Salcedo pitched just once and went two innings. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three. He also got the Win in that game.

    Mexican Winter League

    The Mexican Winter League gets started pretty quickly following the major league regular season. To this point, two Twins minor leaguers have played.
    • Reynaldo Rodriguez plays for Obregon. The first baseman is hitting .236/.313/.472 (.785). He has gone 17-72. He has three doubles, a triple and four home runs. He has also walked eight times.
    • Mark Hamburger is also playing for Obregon. The reliever has pitched 10.1 innings in 13 appearances. He is 1-2 with a 6.97 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP. He’s given up 16 hits, walked four and struck out seven.
    Puerto Rico Winter League

    This is a short report. Games started in Puerto Rico this weekend and just one Twins player played so far. Danny Ortiz played for Mayaguez and went 0-5 on opening night.


    Australian Baseball League

    Teams is the ABL typically play Friday through Sunday. Often they play doubleheaders on Saturdays. The stats below are through Sunday afternoon’s games (even though it’s posted Sunday morning). Geography and time zone knowledge reminds us that they are 15-19 hours ahead of us in the United States. Here are the Twins minor leaguers who have played so far. There are several former Twins players who are also in the league including Luke Hughes who plays for Perth.
    • Allan de San Miguel is the catcher and cleanup hitter for the Perth Heat. Through two weekends, he has hit .240/.296/.320 (.616). He has gone 6-25 with a walk and two doubles.
    • Catcher Michael Quesada is playing for Sydney. He is hitting .235/.458/.294 (752) with a double. He is 4-17 with five walks. He has also been hit twice.
    • Logan Wade played the first weekend, but not the second weekend, for Brisbane. He went 3-10 with a home run.
    • Also playing for Brisbane is outfielder/second baseman Aaron Whitefield. He has not yet played in the States. He has started the season by going 8-26. He’s hitting .308/.308/.308 (.616).
    • Tanner Vavra played for Melbourne. He has primarily played second base but also seen time at shortstop. He had a big game on Sunday afternoon. He is 5-18, hitting .278/.409/.500 (.909) with three walks, a double and a homer. He hit a home run on Sunday afternoon to tie the game at one. In his next at bat, with runners on second and third and two outs, he doubled in both runs.
    • Trey Vavra also plays for Melbourne. He is playing first base and batting third. He is hitting .393/.414/.536 (.950) with a walk, a double and a home run. He is 11-28.
    • As you recall, Joe Vavra – Tanner and Trey’s dad – became the first active MLB coach to also be a manager in the Australian Baseball League when he agreed to manage Melbourne. He had previously managed in the ABL back in the early 90s when he was a coach in the Dodgers farm system.
    Major League Baseball provides a lot of dollars for the ABL. The league is full of players from Australia, but it also includes players from minor league teams in the States and teams in Japan.


    We will post an update on the goings-on in the Winter Leagues from time to time. Please feel free to ask quest

    • Nov 01 2015 03:56 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  16. Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Twins Prospects: Part 6 (11-15)

    Previous installments of this prospect ranking:
    · Part 1 (41-50)
    · Part 2 (31-40)
    · Part 3 (26-30)
    · Part 4 (21-25)
    · Part 5 (16-20)

    As a quick reminder, players eligible to be on this list include players who remain eligible for Rookie of the Year voting in 2016. That is to say, hitters with less than 130 at bats and pitchers with less than 50 innings. (The list is preliminary. Following research for the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2016 - which Cody Christie, Jeremy Nygaard and I are working on - I’ll provide my final Top 30 prospects list.)

    Top Prospects 11-15


    #15 – Engelb Vielma - 22 – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle

    Vielma was signed by the Twins out of Venezuela in September of 2011. He’s listed at 5-11 and 150 pounds, though he might be up to 155 pounds. He spent 2012 in the Dominican Summer League. In 2013, he played 42 games in the GCL and ended his season with six games in Elizabethton. Despite the lack of Appy League time, he began the 2014 season in Cedar Rapids. In 112 games, he hit .266/.313/.323 (.636) with 13 doubles, four triples and a home run. He moved up to Ft. Myers for the 2015 season. In 120 games, he hit .270/.321/.306 (.627) with nine doubles, two triples and one home run. Over his final 90 games, he hit .298/.357/.329 (.686). Vielma has good speed. In 2015, he stole 35 bases in 47 attempts. He is a singles hitter who will need to gain strength to hit enough in the big leagues. However, it is his glove that gets him noticed. He has very good range and a strong arm. He will likely move up to Chattanooga for the 2015 season.

    Previous Top 30 Rankings: N/A


    #14 – Wander Javier - 16 – SS – Did Not Play

    The Twins signed Javier out of the Dominican Republic for $4 million, a number over their international slot figure. It’s also the highest amount that the Twins have paid an international free agent from the Caribbean, topping the $3.15 million they signed Miguel Sano for. At 6-0 and 165 pounds, he has room to grow, gaining strength and speed. Most believe that he will be able to stick at shortstop though, as he is likely six years from the big leagues, a lot can happen. Though many believe his swing is long now, he could develop into an above average hitter with some power. It is likely the Twins will have him follow the same path as other top signings from the Dominican, such as Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Amaurys Minier. They began their first seasons in the Dominican Summer League but came to the States in time to play for the GCL Twins.

    Previous Top 30 Rankings: N/A

    #13 – Alex Meyer - 25 – RHP – Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins

    A year ago at this time, Meyer was coming off of a solid season as a starter in Rochester. To say 2015 was disappointing for Meyer is likely a huge understatement. He struggled in spring training. Then he couldn’t get many out as a starter early in the season for the Red Wings and was moved to the bullpen. As he was starting to pitch well, he was called up to the Twins and his two appearances did not go well at all. He was optioned back to Rochester and finished the season by pitching pretty well over the final six weeks. So there is the set up. The reality is that Alex Meyer still has all of the tools and the pitches that could make him a very good pitcher in the big leagues. Most likely, that will now happen out of the bullpen. However, he still throws very hard (upper-90s), has a very good slider, a bit of a change and the ability to miss bats. His primary problem in 2015, and years prior, was control, both in and outside the strike zone. However, in the latter part of 2015, control was not as much of an issue as it had been in previous years, so it’s very possible he comes back in spring training ready to contribute in the big leagues. Or, if he begins in Rochester and does well there, he could be brought up fairly early in the season. He has tremendous makeup and works hard. He’s got good perspective and it would be silly to discount his potential.

    Previous Top 30 Rankings: 2015 (6), 2014 (3), 2013 (4)


    #12 – Lewis Thorpe – 19 – LHP – Did Not Pitch

    Thorpe missed the entire 2015 season after having Tommy John surgery in early April. He had signed with the Twins in July of 2012. He became a big prospect in 2013 when he grew, gained weight and started hitting 94 and 95 on his fastball. He also has a good curve ball and a strong change up. He also went 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA. In 2014, he started the season at extended spring training, but before the short-seasons began, he moved up to Cedar Rapids. In 16 starts there, he went 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA. He walked more than he had in the past (4.5 per nine), but he struck out 10 batters per nine innings despite being nearly four years younger than the average player in the league. It is likely that Thorpe will remain in Ft. Myers following spring training. He could return to game action as early as June. 2016 will be about getting some innings and keeping healthy.

    Previous Top 30 Rankings: 2015 (12), 2014 (10)

    #11 – JT Chargois – 22 – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts

    Chargois was the Twins second-round pick in 2012 out of Rice University where he was co-closer with Tyler Duffey. Coming into the 2015 season, he had pitched just 16 innings as a professional, all at Elizabethton in 2012. He had elbow problems and the Twins had him rehab throughout the 2013 season only to have Tommy John surgery in mid-September of 2013. He missed the entire 2014 season as well. He did return to the mound during the Instructional League. Everyone was talking about his upper-90s (and occasionally triple digit) fastball. The Twins had him begin the 2015 season in Ft. Myers. In 16 games (15 IP), he posted a 2.40 ERA, walked five and struck out 19. He earned a mid-season promotion to Chattanooga. In 32 games (33 IP), he had a 2.73 ERA, walked 20 and struck out 34. Clearly the control will need to improve, but his big fastball and sharp slider make him very intriguing. They make him an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster in November as well. He will come to big league spring training and probably get a legitimate shot to compete for a bullpen job.

    Previous Top 30 Rankings: N/A

    So, what do you think of Part 6, Prospects 11-15? On Thursday, we will begin our Top 10 Twins prospects and finish out with the Top 5 on Friday.

    • Oct 27 2015 07:08 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  17. Twins Minor League Report (8/28): Friday Night Light Shows

    It was a busy night in the Twins farm system. Check out all the game stories and highlights below.

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 2, Syracuse 9
    Box Score

    The Red Wings had shut out Syracuse in the two previous games. JO Berrios struck out 12 in seven shutout innings in Syracuse on Wednesday night. On Thursday night, Michael Bowden struck out nine in seven shutout innings. On Friday, it was Taylor Rogers’ turn.

    It didn’t go so well. Three batters into the game, Syracuse scored, and they kept on doing just that. Rogers went just 2.1 innings. He was charged with seven runs (six earned) on seven hits (two homers) and a walk. He struck out two. Tim Shibuya came on and gave up one run on four hits in three innings. He struck out four. Next up was Alex Meyer. He was charged with an unearned run on three hits over 2.2 innings. He struck out four without issuing a walk. Cole Johnson gave up a hit and a walk in the ninth, but he did not allow a run.

    Danny Santana was the only Red Wings player with more than one hit. He was 2-4, and the team had just four hits on the game. Xavier Avery knocked in two runs with his 21st double.

    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Chattanooga 5, Birmingham 0
    Box Score

    The offense provided plenty of runs, but the pitching got the job done with a shutout performance. Jason Wheeler went the first 6.1 innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out four. The game was delayed after the fifth inning due to rain, but Wheeler returned. Nick Burdi came on with one out in the seventh. He finished that inning and two more to earn his second Lookouts save. He went 2.2 innings and gave up no hits, walked two and struck out two.

    Shannon Wilkerson continued to be an instigator for the Lookouts offense. He went 3-3 with two walks in this game. In the third, the Lookouts got back-to-back singles from Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler to give them a 2-0 lead. That same duo contributed again in the seventh inning. Polanco singled in a run before Kepler gave the team a 4-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. Along with Polanco, Travis Harrison also had two hits.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Ft. Myers 3, Bradenton 5 (11 innings)
    Box Score

    As has been the case about two dozen times this year, the Miracle needed extra frames to decide this game.

    Mat Batts started the game and was back on track. The southpaw gave up two runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out two and he walked none. Todd Van Steensel gave up a hit and a walk, but no runs in the seventh. Tyler Jay struck out one in a scoreless eighth inning. It was his fifth straight inning without allowing a run. Alex Muren pitched a scoreless ninth. However, when the game went to the tenth, Muren was charged with an unearned run. Brian Gilbert got the 11th inning. He gave up two runs on one walk and one hit.

    Logan Wade led the offense. He went 4-5 with his 19th double. He drove in the game-tying run in the 10th inning. He also stole his third base. Engelb Vielma went 3-4 with a walk. He stole his 32nd base. Ryan Walker went 2-5. Chad Christensen went 2-5 and stole his 21st base.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids, Kane County
    Box Score

    Rain and lightning caused this game to be postponed. They will play two games on Saturday evening.

    E-TOWN E-NOTES
    Elizabethton 6, Kingsport 9 (10 innings)
    Box Score

    The Twins had plenty of offense and they held the lead late, but they were unable to hold it and fell in extra innings.

    LaMonte Wade continues to hit well. He went 2-5 with his ninth home run. In August, he has walked 25 times while striking out just nine times. And in this game, he also threw out a runner at home. Brian Olson went 2-4 with a walk and his second home run. He’s now hitting .372 in his time with the Twins. Amaurys Minier went 2-4 with a walk and his ninth double. Jermaine Palacios went 2-5. Lewin Diaz has just six hits with the E-Twins in about 40 plate appearances, but on Friday, he hit his third home run.

    Onesimo Hernandez started and gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out six. Jose Abreu gave up one run on two hits in 1.1 innings. He struck out three. Kuo Hua Lo, who has been terrific this season as the team’s closer, gave up two runs on five hits. He gave up a home run in the eighth and game-tying homer in the ninth. Alex Robinson started the tenth inning. He was charged with three runs on two hits and three walks and recorded just two outs. Josh Guyer came on and walked one runner in before getting a strikeout to end the inning.

    In the game, Christian Cavaness, signed last month as a non-drafted from agent, led off and played center field.

    GCL TWINS TAKES
    GCL Twins 0, GCL Red Sox 1
    Box Score

    The season is coming to a close. The team is scheduled to play just one more game, on Saturday, before these players get to travel home. Though they received very good pitching, the hitters looked like they were ready for the season to be over.

    The Twins had just four hits in the game. Ariel Montesino went 2-4. He stole his third base. Roberto Gonzalez and Kolton Kendrick each walked twice in the game. Gonzalez stole his eighth base of the season and tells me his knee continues to feel better.

    On the mound, seventh round pick Jovani Moran started and threw five innings. He gave up one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out three. He got seven grounders to just two fly outs. Miguel Gonzalez came in and threw four shutout innings. He didn’t give up any hits, walked one and struck out five.


    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Miguel Gonzalez, GCL Twins
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Shannon Wilkerson, Chattanooga Lookouts


    SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Pawtucket @ Rochester (6:05 CST) – LHP Logan Darnell
    Tennessee @ Chattanooga (6:30 CST) – LHP David Hurlbut
    Bradenton @ Ft. Myers (5:05 CST) – LHP Stephen Gonsalves
    Kane County @ Cedar Rapids (DH @ 5:35 CST) – RHP Randy LeBlanc, RHP Sam Gibbons
    Kingsport @ Elizabethton (5:00 CST) – RHP Miles Nordgren
    GCL Twins @ GCL Red Sox (9:00) – TBD (final game of their season)

    Feel free to leave any questions or comments below

    • Aug 29 2015 08:04 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  18. Engelb Vielma Is Making Noise

    in the Midwest League in 2014, Vielma posted a .636 OPS (a wRC+ of 84) and so far in 2015 his OPS sits at .648 (wRC+ of 99). Certainly, this represents a modest improvement, but it is nothing to get excited about. However, taking a closer look at Vielma’s monthly splits, it becomes clear that he has made some significant in-season improvements as a hitter.


    Posted Image
    The first thing that sticks out is how dreadful Vielma was in April and May—combined his OPS was .463—and how solid he has been since, posting an OPS of over .770 for three straight months. But overall, looking at five straight months of data like this has some flaws: for one, the sample sizes are relatively small; and two, it’s a little more difficult to pick up on trends' patterns. My solution to this is to create three, 3-month splits (April-June, May-July, June-August), similar to rolling periods used in the financial industry. Let’s take a look:

    Posted Image
    As you can see here, Vielma has made some pretty tremendous strides. This is especially true when looking at his plate discipline: his BB% has increased over each of these splits and his K% has fallen, leading to a consistent improvement in his BB/K ratio. Furthermore, while Vielma only improved modestly in these three categories from the 1sfirst split to the second, he has seen a dramatic improvement from the second split to the third split. And while Vielma’s isolated power has improved less consistently, his OPS has also improved by leaps and bounds.

    Overall, Vielma’s numbers have improved—albeit rather modestly—from a year ago. Once again, he is walking more (6.1% to 6.3%) and striking out less (15.5% to 14.6%), which has certainly contributed to the modest increase in OPS (.636 to .649). And while this increase is small (and his power has decreased), it has been done in the context of a much difficult environment for hitters.

    Clearly, Vielma has made terrific in-season improvements as a hitter. Combined with his modest overall improvement from a year ago, this suggests that he should be ready to begin 2016 in AA, despite rather mediocre season-long numbers.

    Another important development for Vielma has been his base-stealing. As a player who has very limited power—and has shown no signs of developing any more—being able to create extra runs on the base paths will be necessary for Vielma to establish himself as a valuable offensive player. While I don’t have any statistics regarding Vielma’s ability to take an extra base after a hit, he has shown dramatic improvements as a base-stealer this year. In 2014, Vielma stole 10 bases on 16 attempts in 112 games. So far in 103 games this year, he has stolen 29 bases in 39 attempts. Not only has he stolen nearly 3 times as many bases as last season, Vielma has also greatly improved his success rate from a dreadful 62.5% (well below the 2014 Midwest League average of 68%) to a respectable 74% (well above the 2015 Florida State League average of 67%).

    With Nick Gordon on his heels and Jorge Polanco ahead of him (not to mention Brian Dozier), Engelb Vielma will have a hard time becoming a starter for the Twins. But as a player who is stellar defensively, emerging as a base-stealer, and improving as a hitter, he has firmly established himself as a legitimate prospect worth watching.

    • Aug 17 2015 08:33 PM
    • by Boone
  19. Twins Minor League Report (8/7): Buxton, Kepler, Vargas Excel

    TRANSACTIONS
    Late on Friday night, Twins Daily learned that Jake Reed has been demoted to Ft. Myers.

    Ft. Myers officially announced the Aaron Sleger promotion. Alex Swim was again placed on the disabled list. They also announced that they had signed 26-year-old right-hander Omar Bencomo. The Venezuelan spent 2007 through 2011 in the Rays system, peaking in the Midwest League. He was 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA with Laredo and Wichita in the American Association.

    Cedar Rapids announced that they have signed right-handed pitcher Nick Anderson. He went to Mayville State (ND) University and was the Brewers 32nd round pick in 2012. He was pitching for the Frontier Greys of the Frontier League. He was 2-0 with a 0.65 ERA and 13 saves in 27.2 innings. He had walked six and struck out 35.

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 5, Charlotte 9
    Box Score

    Byron Buxton was the star of this show, at least for a while. It’s fair to say that Matt Tuiasosopo was the star by game’s end, and as important, Charlotte topped the Red Wings.

    Pat Dean started for the Red Wings. The left-hander was charged with eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits. He walked one and struck out two. Cole Johnson gave up a run on one hit in his inning. Logan Darnell tossed a scoreless eighth. Tuiasosopo hit a three-run homer in the first inning, a solo homer in the second inning, and a three-run homer off of Johnson in the seventh inning.

    Buxton made his AAA debut on this night in North Carolina. He had singles in his first two at-bats and ended the game 3-5. He is a career .600 hitter in AAA. Danny Santana also went 3-5 in the game and stole his fifth base. He has been really struggling – just 2 for 20 – since his demotion a week ago. Carlos Paulino, the lone catcher on the Red Wings roster for the game, went 2-4. Oswaldo Arcia went 0-4 and is now two for his last 38 (.053).

    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Chattanooga 7, Mobile 6
    Box Score

    The Lookouts tried to give this one away, but got the 27th out just in time.
    Brett Lee started for the Lookouts. He gave up three runs in the second inning. That was it. The left-hander went eight innings. He gave up those three runs on seven hits. He struck out five without issuing a walk. He improved to 3-4 with a 3.73 ERA with Chattanooga.

    The Lookouts were down 3-2 going into the bottom of the sixth, but they put up three runs then, followed by two in the seventh to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Alex Muren came on to start the ninth. He gave up two hits and a walk before being replaced by closer JT Chargois. He got two outs, but then gave up a single and a double to cut the lead to 7-6. With runners on second and third, Chargois got a big strikeout to end the game. He gets credit for his ninth save of the season.

    Kennys Vargas went 3-3 with a single, double and triple (his second of the week!). He also walked twice. Max Kepler went 2-4 with a walk, his 26th double and his seventh home run. Dalton Hicks went 2-5. Jorge Polanco went 1-3 with two walks.


    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Ft. Myers 13, Palm Beach 5
    Box Score

    The Miracle offense was consistent, scoring in five separate innings in this game. Five runs in the ninth gave them some insurance. Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit. Aderlin Mejia went 4-6. Engelb Vielma went 3-5 with a walk. He also stole his 27th base of the year. Logan Wade went 3-5 with a single, double (14) and triple (2). Mitch Garver went 2-5 with a walk and his fourth home run. Jason Kanzler went 2-5 with his fifth triple. Ryan Walker had two hits, and Tanner Vavra was 1-3 with two walks.

    Lefty Luke Westphal started and gave up two runs on six hits over 4.2 innings. He walked two and struck out five. Zack Jones came on and went 2.1 innings. He gave up just one hit and struck out four. Brian Gilbert gave up one run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Trevor Hildenberger gave up two runs on three hits in the ninth.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 5, Bowling Green 7
    Box Score

    The Kernels gave up a five-spot in the sixth inning. They tried to claw back, scoring two in the seventh and one in the eighth, but they came up short in their comeback attempt.

    Randy Rosario was on the mound at the start of the game. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but he settled in and threw four straight scoreless. However, in the sixth, he gave up four more. Overall, he was charged with six runs (four earned) on nine hits and a walk. Jared Wilson came on and gave up one run on two hits and a walk over the next 2.1 innings. He struck out three. John Curtiss made his return to the Kernels and struck out one in a scoreless inning. The TrackMan system that was in Cedar Rapids had him hitting 95 mph.

    Nick Gordon has been hitting well since late May. On this night, he went 3-5 with his first home run of the season. It was his second career homer as he had one in Elizabethton last year. Rafael Valera went 3-4. TJ White went 2-3 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.

    E-TOWN E-NOTES
    Elizabethton 5, Bluefield 0
    Box Score

    Dereck Rodriguez was terrific again. The right-hander threw another five shutout innings in this game, dropping his season ERA to just 1.22. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out five. Anthony Mciver relieved and got Rodriguez out of the sixth inning, getting three outs before the two inherited runners had a chance to score. Logan Lombana came on and recorded his first professional save. He gave up just one hit over three shutout innings. He struck out five.

    The Twins scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. One came on a wild pitch, another came on a Chris Paul double, and the third on a Travis Blankenhorn single. They added two more runs in the eighth inning, both on wild pitches.

    The E-Twins had seven hits and five walks in the game. Paul went 1-3 with a walk and his seventh double. Travis Blankenhorn went 2-3 with a walk.


    GCL TWINS TAKES
    Game 1 – GCL Twins 5, GCL Red Sox 3
    Box Score

    The Twins headed over to jetBlue Stadium in Ft. Myers to take on the GCL Red Sox in two games. Lewin Diaz led the offense. He went 2-4 with his first homer of the season and four RBI. Blake Schmit, still rehabbing, went 2-3 with a run batted in.

    Jose Martinez started for the Twins. He gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out five. Rich Condeelis went the next two innings. He didn’t give up a run or a hit. He walked one and struck out two. Hector Lujan picked up his first career save, striking out two in his one-hit inning.

    Game 2 – GCL Twins 0, GCL Red Sox 2
    Box Score

    In the second game, they got good pitching, but no runs. Max Cordy started and gave up one run on four hits in four innings. He walked one and struck out five. Matz Schutte came on and gave up a run on four hits in two innings. Brandon Poulson walked one batter in his scoreless inning.

    Trey Cabbage went 2-3 in the game. Luis Martinez walked twice and hit a double. Luis Arraez added a double.


    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Logan Lombana, Elizabethton Twins
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Kennys Vargas, Chattanooga Lookouts


    SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Rochester @ Charlotte (6:05 CST) – RHP JO Berrios (2-1, 3.58 ERA)
    Mobile @ Chattanooga (6:15 CST) – RHP DJ Baxendale (4-3, 3.99 ERA)
    Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (4:35 CST) – RHP Omar Bencomo
    Bowling Green @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) – RHP Randy LeBlanc
    Bluefield @ Elizabethton (5:00 CST) – RHP Onesimo Hernandez (3-0, 4.50 ERA)
    GCL Twins @ GCL Red Sox (DH @ 9:00 CST) – TBD

    Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

    • Aug 09 2015 05:52 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  20. Twins Minor League Report (7/27): Super Slegers

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 1, Toledo 2
    Box Score
    Pat Dean pitching a complete game and limited the Mud Hens to two runs but he didn't get enough run support and was handed his ninth loss of the season. He scattered nine hits and walked two while striking out one. It was his third straight start of seven innings or more while allowing two earned runs or fewer. He's taken the loss in two of those three starts.

    The lone Rochester run came courtesy of a Reynaldo Rodriguez solo home run. Eric Farris matched Rodriguez with a 2-for-4 night at the plate. Jorge Polanco and Chris Herrmann both reached base twice with a pair of walks. The team had only three at-bats with runners in scoring position but they were held hitless in those RBI situations.

    With the loss, the Red Wings have lost five straight games and sit three games over .500. The club currently sits three games behind the Scranton/WB RailRiders for first place in the International League North Division.

    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers 5, Lakeland 1 (7 Innings)
    Box Score

    Aaron Slegers earned his eighth victory after pitching a seven inning complete game. He allowed one earned run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. It was his sixth straight start of pitching at least seven innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer. During that stretch, he has gone 4-1 while limiting opponents to one walk.

    Michael Quesada drove in a pair of runs to help add to the Miracle lead. Engelb Vielma and DJ Hicks finished the game with two hits, each having a double. T.J. White went 2-for-3 with a run scored. The team had more than enough offense to back the stellar pitching performance by Slegers.

    Fort Myers 1, Lakeland 6 (7 Innings)
    Box Score
    After the strong pitching performance from Slegers in the first half of the double- header, Chih-Wei Hu had a tough time on the mound. He allowed five earned runs on 10 hits while striking out six in less than five innings of work. Brian Gilbert, Tyler Jay, and Trevor Hildenberger put up zeros for the rest of the night but it was too big of a hole.

    No Miracle batter had more than one hit and none of the team's hits were for extra bases. Michael Quesada scored the lone run for the team. Engelb Vielma reached base twice and finished the doubleheader 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, a run and a walk.

    E-Twins E-Notes
    E-Twins 0, Johnson City 4 (7 Innings)
    Box Score
    The E-Twins were held to three hits as no one on the team had more than one hit. Chris Paul reached base two times and cracked the team's lone extra-base hit, a double. A.J. Murray, Alex Perez, and Manuel Guzman each reached base two times. The team went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

    Alexis Tapia pitched into the sixth inning but took the loss after allowing four runs, three earned, while striking out nine and walking three. Tyler Stirewalt pitched 1.1 innings without allowing a run. He struck out one and didn't walk any. The loss dropped the E-Twins to four games under .500.

    E-Twins 4, Johnson City 1 (7 Innings)
    Box Score
    The E-Twins struggled to get on the board in the first half of the doubleheader but they found a way to scratch out some hits in the second half. LaMonte Wade had a pair of hits including a double to go along with two RBI. Alex Perez scored two runs and hit his fourth double of the season. The E-Twins two through seven hitters each had at least one hit and the team left only four men on base.

    Onesimo Hernandez remained perfect on the season after throwing five innings of one-run ball. He struck out four and walked one and the lone run was scored on a solo home run. C.K. Irby picked up his first save after pitching two scoreless innings to close out the contest.

    GCL Twins Takes
    GCL Twins 2, GCL Rays 1 (Suspended- 2 Innings)
    Box Score
    The GCL Twins were scheduled for a doubleheader but they weren't able to get through two innings of work before rain interrupted play. Lewin Diaz and Jermaine Palacios each drove in a run before the rain came atumblin' down. Look for a full report on both of these games when the rain finally stops falling in Florida.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Aaron Slegers, Fort Myers Miracle
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Engelb Vielma, Fort Myers Miracle

    TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Rochester @ Toldeo (6:00 CST) – RHP Jose Berrios
    Chattanooga vs. Pensacola (6:15 CST) – LHP Brett Lee
    Ft. Myers vs. Lakeland (6:05 CST) – RHP Ryan Eades
    Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (6:30 CST) – RHP Keaton Steele
    Elizabethton vs. Johnson City (6:00 CST) – TBA
    GCL Twins vs. GCL Rays (11:00 am CST) – TBA
    GCL Twins vs. GCL Rays (Completion of 7/27 Game)

    • Jul 27 2015 09:47 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  21. Twins Minor League Report (7/6): Arcia Slams, Gonsalves Great

    RED WINGS REPORT
    Rochester 10, Lehigh Valley 8
    Box Score
    Rochester seemed to have this game in hand as the club took a 6-4 lead into the top of the ninth inning. This wasn't the case as AJ Achter allowed three straight hits to start the inning and by the time the dust settled, Lehigh Valley had scored four runs to take a two-run lead.

    The Red Wings wouldn't go quietly as they started the bottom of the inning with three straight singles. Oswaldo Arcia hadn't had a hit all game and he had a fielding error but strode to the plate with a chance to play the hero. He himself in an 0-2 hole after swinging at the first two pitches but he didn't miss the last one as he tattooed it to right field for a walk-off grand slam.

    For the game Jose Martinez was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Reynaldo Rodriguez scored two runs and drove in a pair. After going 1-for-8 in his first two games since being called-up, Jorge Polanco went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Pat Dean started and allowed four earned runs in seven innings of work.

    CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
    Chattanooga 3, Jacksonville 0 (Suspended- Completion 7/7)
    Box Score
    Rain suspended this game in the fifth inning with the Lookouts up 3-0. The game will be completed tomorrow as part of a double-header. Check out the box score to see how the team has done so far and look for a full report in tomorrow's minor league report.


    MIRACLE MATTERS
    Fort Myers 9, St. Lucie 0
    Box Score
    Stephen Gonsalves pitched seven shutout innings after failing to make it out of the sixth inning in any of his four starts since being promoted to High-A. He limited the Mets to three hits and struck out seven while walking one. Matt Summers completed the shutout by tossing two scoreless frames.

    The Miracle used multi-run innings in the fifth and eighth frame to blow open what had been a close contest. Engelb Vielma went 4-for-5 while driving in a pair of runs. Marcus Knecht connected for a three-run home run and added his fifteenth double. Out of the lead-off spot, Zach Granite scored two runs and hit his seventh double.

    After sweeping St. Lucie, Fort Myers improved to ten games over .500. The shutout was Fort Myers' seventh of the season and the Miracle have now won 11 consecutive home games. The team is 8-4 in the second half and trails the Bradenton Marauders by one game for the top of the Florida State League South Division.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 7, Beloit 5
    Box Score
    In a game with multiple lead changes, the Kernels scored the final three runs of the game to end up with their 49th victory of the season. Sam Gibbons wasn't perfect but he did enough to earn his third victory as he allowed five runs in six innings. The bullpen was strong as Jared Wilson pitched two scoreless innings and Trevor Hildenberger struck out the side in the ninth for his 10th save.

    The top three hitters in the Kernels' line-up all collected multiple hits. Tanner English drove in three runs and scored a run along with an outfield assist. Nick Gordon hit his 11th double, stretching his hitting streak to nine games, but also committed his 11th error. Edgar Corcino had two doubles and an RBI. Even though he wasn't near the top of the line-up, Brian Navarreto had two hits and scored two runs.

    The Kernels are 5-1 since the calendar flipped to July and they sit 2.5 games behind Kane County for first place in the Midwest League Western Division.

    E-Twins E-Notes
    E-Twins 4, Bristol 5
    Box Score
    After plating four runs in the third frame, it looked like the E-Twins had the upper hand. In his first start since his near no-hitter last week, Dereck Rodriguez was pulled after allowing two runs on five hits in four innings. However, Alex Robinson had a tough night on the mound as he allowed three earned runs in 1.1 innings. He struck out two and walked two. Logan Lombana and CK Irby didn't allow a run over the last 2.2 innings.

    Brad Hatong reached base four times and collected two RBIs to help pace the offense. Sean Miller was the only other hitter with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4. LaMonte Wade got his first double and he plated a pair of runs. The team missed out on some opportunities as they went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position. In a one-run game, that's a tough ratio to swallow.

    GCL Twins Takes
    GCL Twins 0, GCL Orioles 1
    Box Score
    Robert Molina's single in the second inning was the only thing that stopped the GCL Twins from being no-hit on Monday afternoon. His hit was erased on a double play during the next at-bat. Even with the lack of hits, Rowan Ebersohn walked in the eighth frame and made it all the way to third. He advanced to second on a balk and then he stole third base. Ruar Verkerk and Tyree Davis struck out to end the frame and left Ebersohn on base.

    Jose Martinez was charged with his second loss after allowing one earned run on five hits in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked none. He's allowed two runs or less in all three starts this season and he doesn't have a win to his name. Stephen Pryor had some control issues as he walked three in his inning of work but he escaped unscathed after a couple of strikeouts.

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Stephen Gonsalves, Fort Myers Miracle
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Oswaldo Arcia, Rochester Red Wings

    TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Rochester vs. Buffalo (6:05 CST) – RHP Greg Peavey
    Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (6:05 CST) – LHP David Hurlbut
    Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (Completion of 7/6 game)
    Ft. Myers @ Jupiter (5:35 CST) – TBA
    Cedar Rapids vs. Beloit (12:05 CST) – LHP Luke Westphal
    Elizabethton @ Princeton (6:00 CST) – RHP Alexis Tapia
    GLC Twins vs. GCL Orioles (11:00 am CST) – TBA

    • Jul 06 2015 09:21 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  22. Twins Minor League Hitter Of The Month - June 2015

    Let’s get to the Top 6 Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitters for June:


    Number 6 – Ft. Myers – SS Engelb Vielma - (27-78) .346/.411/.372 (.783) with two doubles and 10 RBI.

    He’s listed at 5-11 and 150 pounds, and I would guess that's pretty accurate. Though he has committed 11 errors at shortstop so far this year in Ft. Myers, he is known for good range, good hands and a strong arm. Signed out of Venezuela in 2011, Vielma spent a year in the DSL before coming to the States in 2013. Last year, he played in 112 games for the Kernels and hit .266/.313/.323 (.636) with 13 doubles, four triples and a homer. He stole 10 bases. Overall this year with the Miracle, the just-turned-21-year-old is hitting .246/.297/.583. He has five doubles, a triple and a home run in 70 games. He has stolen 19 bases, as well.


    Number 5 – Cedar Rapids – DH Alex Real - (25-80) .313/.374/.438 (.811) with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI.

    Real was the Twins 24th round pick in 2014 out of New Mexico where he teamed with Mitch Garver. Both were catchers so Real played first base most of the time until his final season when he got more time behind the plate. A 50-game suspension cost him the first two months of the 2015 season. His first game was on June 1 with the Kernels. He has caught just six times. In 23 games, he is now hitting .333/.389/.452 (.842) with four doubles and two home runs.


    Number 4 – Ft. Myers – C Mitch Garver - (29-88) .330/.416/.420 (.836) with eight doubles and 10 RBI.

    Mitch Garver was our choice for 2014 Twins minor league hitter of the year. In his first full season, Garver hit .298/.399/.481 (.880) with 29 doubles and 16 home runs. He earned a big league spring training invitation. It was a struggle for Garver the first two months of 2015. So despite his impressive June, his overall numbers are still working their way up. In 68 games for the Miracle, he is hitting .236/.349/.288 (.637). Defensively, he has made big improvements and throws out base stealers with regularity.


    Number 3 - Chattanooga – OF/1B Max Kepler - (32-88) .364/.422/.580 (1.052) with six doubles, five triples, one home run and 17 RBI.

    Kepler was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month in May and he continued to rake in June. Signed by the Twins in July of 2009, Kepler has consistently moved up the system. In 58 games with the Lookouts this year, Kepler is hitting .346/.417/.556 (.973) with 20 doubles, eight triples and three home runs. At 6-4 and 225 pounds, there is a good chance that he will continue to add more home run power as he grows. He turned 22 before spring training started.


    Number 2 – Chattanooga – 3B Miguel Sano – (26-79) .329/.432/.658 (1.090) with eight doubles, six home runs and 17 RBI.

    Sano was signed by the Twins in October of 2009 under a lot of scrutiny and uncertainty. Since signing, he has put up big numbers at every level. After missing 2014 with Tommy John surgery, Sano struggled in April. However, he has been dominant again since then. Through 66 games at Chattanooga, Sano hit .274/.374/.554 (.918) with 18 doubles, 15 homers and 48 RBI. On Thursday night in Kansas City, Sano made his major league debut. In his fourth at-bat, he got his first big league hit, an infield single (of course).



    The June 2015 Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is...

    Chattanooga Lookouts OF Adam Brett Walker (30-95) .316/.371/.758 (1.129) with seven doubles, one triple, 11 home runs and 28 RBI.


    With all of the prospects in the Twins system, it is likely that the most discussed Twins prospect on the pages and in the forums of Twins Daily is Adam Brett Walker. In 73 games this season, Walker has hit .272/.328/.612 (.940) with 23 homers and 67 RBI.


    He is putting up huge numbers this season at AA Chattanooga. His 23 home runs lead all of minor league baseball. He has 20 more RBI than anyone else in the Twins system, and he is also on pace for over 180 strikeouts.


    The 2013 third-round pick out of Jacksonville has hit big home runs and driven in a lot of runs since signing.


    Along with the 11 home runs that he hit in June for the Lookouts, he also won the Southern League’s Home Run Derby championship. In 2014, he won the Florida State League’s Home Run Derby. Asked if he had won it in 2013 in the Midwest League, he said that he was third in the division in home runs at the All-Star break and only the top two from each division participated.


    In most organizations, Walker’s power would be best in the organization. With the Twins, there is a chance that Miguel Sano has as much raw power, but it’s close.


    There has been some adjustment to the Southern League for Walker. “I think the adjustment is having some better plate discipline this year. Not only laying off balls, but hitting the balls up in the zone.”


    What were his goals coming into the season? “I was hoping this would be the year for 30 home runs, and I wanted to reach 100 RBI again. I’m glad to be on pace now.”


    Walker has always had a knack for driving in a lot of runs. How does he explain it? “I just try to have a quality at bat, like always. I wouldn’t be able to get RBI without my teammates getting on base. They are the biggest part of my RBI success this year.”


    What is his approach going into each at-bat? “In most of my at bats, I am just looking to get a pitch up in the zone that I can handle. If I get barrel to the ball, good stuff happens.”


    He spends a lot of time working with Lookouts hitting coach and former Twins outfielder Chad Allen. “Chad and I will work on keeping my swing short and quick, but mostly talk about my approach, plate discipline and swinging at good pitches.”


    He played for former Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz last year in Ft. Myers and again this year in Chattanooga. “Doug is awesome. He is a lot of fun to play for, but he expects a lot from us. He has really taught us a winning mindset and to play for each other as a team.”


    In his pro career, he has primarily played right field. This season, he and Travis Harrison flip-flopped with Harrison played right and Walker moving over to left field. It also was a little bit of an adjustment. “There was a short time period when it felt a little weird, but I feel I’ve become well-adjusted to left field and I’m comfortable there now.”


    As for goals for the remainder of the season, Walker didn’t get into specifics. However, he said, “I just try to learn and get better day to day, and make adjustments to become a better player. I want to continue reaching my goals that were made earlier in the season.”


    A September call up for Walker is certainly within the realm of possibility. If not, he should be a given to be added to the Twins 40 man roster following the season.



    There were several strong performances in June. The Lookouts stole the show, scoring a ton of runs. Feel free to discuss the top hitters in the Minnesota Twins organization in June.

    • Jul 03 2015 02:01 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  23. Draft Prep: Twins Middle Infield Depth

    Below are the middle infielders in the Minnesota Twins organization.

    Minnesota Twins: Brian Dozier (2B), Danny Santana (SS), Eduardo Escobar (UT), Doug Bernier (UT)
    Brian Dozier had what was deemed a breakout season in 2014, and he has been even better in 2015. He is hitting .264/.349/.500 (.849) with ten doubles, two triples and seven home runs. Danny Santana is struggling in his sophomore season both at the bat (.246/.268/.333) and with the glove (10 errors). No surprise in either case. Eduardo Escobar had a very solid season in 2014 when he played pretty much every day at shortstop the last four months of the season. He’s been playing more left field this year.

    Rochester Red Wings: Argenis Diaz (SS), James Beresford (2B)

    Beresford returns for his tenth season in the Twins organization. The 26 year old is hitting .328/.368/.379 with six doubles. Diaz was invited to spring training with the Twins this year. He got 36 plate appearances for the Pirates in 2010. The 28-year-old is hitting .267/.357/.291 with two doubles.

    Chattanooga Lookouts: Jorge Polanco (SS), Levi Michael (2B), Heiker Meneses (UT)

    Polanco debuted briefly with the Twins in 2014 as a 20-year-old straight from Ft. Myers. That decision speaks to his makeup and talent. He can flat-out play. He is currently hitting .310/.344/.448 (.792) with six doubles, a triple and four home runs. He is also a trustworthy shortstop. After hitting .340 in a 15-game Double-A debut last year, Michael was putting together a strong 2015 season. In 18 games, he is hitting .246/.353/.509 (.846) with three doubles, three triples and two home runs. Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain and hasn’t played since. Meneses signed with the Twins as a six-year minor league free agent this year and went to spring training. He is still just 23 years old.

    Ft. Myers Miracle: Engelb Vielma (SS), Tanner Vavra (2B), Aderlin Mejia (UT), Logan Wade (2B)

    Engelb Vielma was chosen as the Twins minor league defensive infielder of the year for 2014. The 20-year-old is hitting .218/.250/.268 (.518) with four extra base hits. Aderlin Mejia is in his third season with the Miracle, playing around the infield. He has been hurt. Tanner Vavra is solid defensively and puts the ball in play with the bat. Logan Wade can play second base, but he has spent time in the outfield this year as well for the first time.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels: Nick Gordon (SS), Pat Kelly (2B), Ryan Walker (UT), Blake Schmit (UT)
    The 19-year-old Gordon got off to a fast start with the Kernels, but he’s been struggling the last five weeks. He is hitting just .224/.276/.266 (.541) overall with two doubles and two triples. Despite the struggles with the bat, he has been terrific with the glove. He has just four errors and a .971 fielding percentage on the season. Minnesota native Pat Kelly (Red Wing) was drafted by the Twins last year out of Nebraska. He is hitting .214/.250/.350 (.600) with four doubles, two triples and two home runs. He has just three errors. Ryan Walker was injured late in spring training and has yet to play. He’s got a tremendous glove too. Blake Schmit is an Eden Prairie native who the Twins drafted last year out of the University of Maryland. He was just promoted to the Kernels last week.

    Extended Spring Training: Jorge Andrade, Manuel Guzman, Nelson Molina, Ariel Montesino, Jermaine Palacios, Joel Ramirez, Rafael Valera, Jonatan Hinojosa

    Hinjosa was really struggling with the Kernels and sent back down to EST recently. Manuel Guzman is touted as one of the fastest players in the Twins system. Rafael Valera was the player with the GCL Twins last year that would be sent up to the Miracle when they needed a player, and he held his own. Most of these guys played in the GCL in 2014.
    Top 5 Prospects: 1.) Jorge Polanco, 2.) Nick Gordon, 3.) Levi Michael, 4.) Engelb Vielma, 5.) Manuel Guzman
    The Draft: As we have mentioned before, the Twins (and most teams, I assume) really like drafting shortstops. The reason is because they are generally good athletes and can be moved elsewhere. The problem is that most of them have moved elsewhere. The Twins haven’t been able to develop a shortstop from within the system for quite some time. The hope is that with Santana, Polanco and Gordon, they have found at least one who will be able to stick there and be a long-term contributor at the position.

    Remember also that there are rumors that the Twins are likely to sign Dominican shortstop Wander Javier this summer. If that were to be true, there is another candidate. It is unusual for teams to draft high school or college second baseman real high in the draft, though don’t be surprised if they draft one or two late.

    • May 21 2015 06:10 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  24. A New Metric for Shortstop Fielding

    ---
    This is an edit to clarify a few points that were made previously that may have been confusing.
    I did a bit of research to see whether it will pass the stink test, and so looked at Omar Visquel's Gold Glove seasons (1994-2001). Visquel's percentage of putouts that occurred during double plays (DP/PO) was 40%, so I concluded that Vielma's 39.6% was indeed encouraging. Furthermore, I used this metric as supportive of what I have seen with my eyes this season to suggest that Jose Polanco, with a 52.3% DP/PO rate, despite the rumors, is a very good fielding shortstop. This resulted in a major upset on the top 10of my Twins prospect list, and a hearty discussion of the metric, among other things, here.

    Conceptually it is very simple metric: An effective shortstop will turn more batted balls into outs than a less effective shortstop. It is affected by many things like range and arm, but it is not perfect. It misses the number of chances for double plays as a normalization, and it does not help describe how the shortstop was with the glove when there were no putouts. So I did three things :

    a. When I first thought of this, I thought that putouts were the way to go, because for some reason it helped tell more about a shortstop than assists. After a bit of discussion and noodling, this is not really valid. I was wrong to use putouts for the denominator. I think that total chances (TC) are a better denominator, so that is it. Instead of percent of putouts that were DPs, I am using percent of total chances that resulted in double plays (%CDP, from the DP/TC formula)

    b. To add something into the measurement that describes a shortstop in a non-double play situation, I went back to an old (and tired) friend and gave it new life by marrying it with %CDP. This is fielding percentage (FP), which by itself is inadequate to wholly describe fielding, but is a very simple conceptual metric: Errors over chances. So this compound measurement is simply: The percent of total chances that resulted in double plays multiplied by fielding percentage, or FP. Because that is a mouthful, I am calling it shortstop fielding effectiveness, or SSFE. (The name is similar to the other metric I devised to simplify pitching effectiveness: Pitching Effectiveness.) For the equation-inclined: DP/TC x FP=SSFE.

    c. To normalize for the chances of a double play, or what percentage of total chances were with a man on base, I normalized against the league for a full season, assuming that the chances for a double play are pretty much the same for all teams over the course of 2280 games (152 times 15). A league normalization would be good enough. So I calculated the average SSFE (which was 13.5) and divided each player's SSFE by that average, resulting to a normalized value, which I call nSSFE. A nSSFE of 1 is average, everything above 1 is above average and everything below 1 is below average. To make it look numerically a bit more familiar (think ERA+ and OPS+,) I multiplied by 100, making the average 100, like those other two metrics, creating what I call nSSFE+ (still a mouthful). 139 players played shortstop in the bigs in 2014.

    Does it pass the stink test?

    Here is the nSSFE+ for all MLB shortstops in 2014 with more that 200 innings at short. In blue are the above average shortstops (nSSFE+ 110 or more) and in red are the below average (nSSFE+ 90 or less.) Since this is a Twins-focused blog, the Twins' players are in bold.


    Posted Image

    I think that it does pass the stink test if you look who are in the blue categories (JJ Hardy, S. Drew, et al) and who are in the red (Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins et al.)

    Is it a perfect metric? No; because there is no such a thing. But I think that it is easily understood and can be valuable. And it is better than the "eye" alone. The two together may be awesome. Could it be translated to other positions? I will try to play around, but feel free to play and tell me :) I will eventually look to see how the average moves with history, and potentially refine it, but this is the first attempt.

    Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch

    • Jan 11 2015 02:07 PM
    • by Thrylos
  25. Twins Top Prospects Part 3: 21-30 (Preliminary)

    Reminders: This list is preliminary. Following research for the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2015, as well as your feedback, I’ll provide my final Top 30 prospects list. Players eligible to be on this list include players who remain eligible for Rookie of the Year voting in 2015. That is to say, hitters with less than 130 at-bats and pitchers with less than 50 innings.

    Top Prospects 21-30

    #30 – Zack Larson – 20 – OF – Cedar Rapids/GCL Twins (rehab)

    Larson was limited to just 41 games this year for the Kernels. At just 20, he held his own in the Midwest League and hit 11 doubles in just 151 at-bats. With the Kernels, he hit .265/.325/.358 (.683). Unfortunately, he suffered a hamstring injury and missed months. Larson was the 20th round pick of the Twins in 2012. He signed late when he was offered a signing bonus well over slot. At 6-2 and 190 pounds, he is a good athlete, but his best tool is his bat. He can hit.

    #29 – Michael Tonkin – 24 – RH RP – Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins

    Tonkin was actually on the Twins opening day roster due to the birth of Brian Duensing’s child, but he spent most of the season in Rochester. He went 3-4 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. In 45 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 46. He has posted a 5.00 ERA in 24 games with the Twins as well. He’s only thrown 18 innings. He may not be rookie-eligible in 2015 due to days on the MLB roster. He’s still got some upside, due to a fastball at 95 and a solid slider. He needs to be with the Twins and see if he can improve. He’s done all he can in AAA.

    #28 – Stuart Turner – 22 – C – Ft. Myers Miracle

    Turner was the Twins third-round pick in 2013 out of the University of Mississippi where he was the winner of the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top catcher. He spent 2013 in Elizabethton though he did go 2-4 in one game at New Britain at season’s end. Turner is so well-respected with his glove that he was invited to big league spring training. He spent the year in Ft. Myers where in 93 games, he hit .249/.322/.375 (.698) with 16 doubles, two triples and seven home runs. He hit much better in the second half. However, teammates and coaches rave about his work behind the plate.

    #27 – Engelb Vielma – 20 – SS – Cedar Rapids Kernels

    He is listed at 5-11 and 155 pounds, but that last number may be generous. It was a surprise when he was sent to Cedar Rapids to start the season. Defensively, it is my opinion that he is the best in the Twins organization. Long and lanky, he seemingly glides around the shortstop position. He has soft hands and a strong arm. Offensively, he is mostly a slap-hitter at this time, but he more than held his own. He hit .266/.313/.323 (.636) with 13 doubles, four triples and one home run in 112 games.

    #26 – Logan Darnell – 25 – LHP – Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins

    Darnell was the Twins sixth-round draft pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. He reached AAA last year and was added to the 40-man roster following the season. He had a very solid season at Rochester this year. He went 7-6 with a 3.60 ERA. In 115 innings, he struck out 90. He made his major league debut on May 6 with three perfect innings. He has made four starts and three relief appearances and posted a 7.13 ERA. However, in 24 innings, he has struck out 22. He can be a #6/#7 starter or a solid middle reliever.

    #25 – Fernando Romero – 19 – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Romero throws gas. The 19-year-old was hitting 94-96 mph with his fastball this spring and had a solid slider. Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2011, Romero spent a year in the DSL before posting a 1.60 ERA in 45 innings in the GCL last year. He began this season in extended spring training, but by early June he was called up to the Kernels where he made three starts. Unfortunately, he started to experience elbow pain and soon after had Tommy John surgery. He will likely miss most of the 2015 season, but if he’s able to come back, he has huge potential.

    #24 – Sean Gilmartin – 24 – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats/Rochester Red Wings

    Gilmartin graduated from Crespi Carmelite High School, the same high school that Trevor Plouffe graduated from four years earlier. He became the first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2011 after a stellar career at Florida State. Last winter, he came to the Twins organization in exchange for Ryan Doumit. He began this season in AA New Britain where he went 7-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 12 starts. He struck out 74 in 72 innings. He was promoted to Rochester where he went 2-4 with a 4.28 ERA. In 73.2 innings, he struck out 59. He is a guy who should be added to the 40 man roster this offseason.

    #23 – Jason Wheeler – 23 – LHP – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats/Rochester Red Wings

    Wheeler was the Twins eighth-round pick in 2011 out of Loyola Marymount. He went 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA in Beloit in 2012. In 2013 in Ft. Myers, he went 9-4 with a 3.70 ERA. He returned to the Miracle to start this season and made a couple of adjustments. He went 6-5, but his ERA dropped to 2.51. He advanced to New Britain where 5-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 12 starts. He even made a start in Rochester. Although he sits in the 89-91 mph range, Wheeler can touch 94 on occasion. He is aggressive, throws strikes and mixes his pitches well. He is another guy who will be strongly considered for a 40-man roster spot.

    #22 – Niko Goodrum – 22 – 3B – Ft. Myers Miracle

    The Twins used their second round pick in 2010 on the toolsy Goodrum who was a high school kid from Georgia. At 6-3 and about 200 pounds, he is a tremendous athlete. With the Miracle in 2014, he hit .249/.337/.336 (.672) with 19 doubles, five triples and three homers in 122 games. After playing shortstop through his first four professional seasons, he moved to third base this year, though he still played 26 games at shortstop. Goodrum is good defensively and has very good speed. On the base paths, he stole 35 bases in 39 attempts. Goodrum is someone who the Twins will have to consider putting on their 40-man roster in November.

    #21 – Jake Reed – 23 – RH RP – Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Reed was selected in the fifth round by the Twins this year out of the University of Oregon. He ended up having a dominant pro debut. He began at Elizabethton where he pitched six innings over four games and gave up just one hit. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he pitched 25 innings in 16 games. Overall, he threw 31 innings in 20 games. He gave up just 11 hits, walked three and struck out 31. He was 3-0 with a 0.29 ERA and a 0.45 WHIP. He and his upper-90s fastball will head to the Arizona Fall League next month.


    So, what do you think of Part 3, Prospects 21-30? Next up will be prospects 11-30.

    • Sep 26 2014 06:25 AM
    • by Seth Stohs