We will have much more on that, and several other minor league notes today.When the Twins drafted Jay with the sixth overall pick in 2015 out of the University of Illinois where he was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen. At the time, the Twins and many other teams felt that the left-hander's pure stuff and four-pitch mix was reason to give him an opportunity to start.
After signing, he jumped straight to Ft. Myers where he pitched out of the bullpen the rest of the season. Last year, he began the season in the starting rotation of the Ft. Myers Miracle. He had his ups and downs but he had some very good moments too. In one game, he threw eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk to go with 11 strikeouts. Overall, he was 5-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 13 starts for the Miracle. In 69.2 innings, he walked 21 and struck out 68.
He moved up to Chattanooga to end the season. He made two starts and a couple of relief appearances before being shut down due to an injury in his neck.
He missed the final month of the season rehabbing. Had the season lasted a couple more weeks, he likely would have returned.
He came to camp with the idea he would be starting. It was a mutual decision to move Jay to the bullpen exclusively, and it’s something he enjoys and thrives in. It’s likely we’ll see his fastball readings back into the mid-to-upper 90s, and his slider can be a weapon. It is very possible that the Jay could be as good as Glen Perkins was during his three All-Star seasons. As a reliever, he is likely to move much more quickly.
Earlier in the week, the Twins announced that Randy Rosario would be moving to the bullpen as well. In both cases, the pitchers were happy with the decision.
The three Twins minor leaguers from Australia who participated in the WBC for their country have returned. Lachlan Wells has thrown a couple of bullpens and worked in the AA game on Friday afternoon on the back fields. In the game, he took a line drive off of his biceps. He stayed in the game and this morning told me that it’s fine. In fact, he threw another short bullpen this morning.
Todd Van Steensel, full beard and all, has also returned.
Aaron Whitefield has had a busy year. He reported to Ft. Myers for extended spring training last April. Following his terrific showing in the GCL, he participated in the World Cup for Australia. Then he returned to Australia where he again played for the Brisbane Bandits. He said the plan was just to play half of the season, but the team was competing for a playoff spot and wanted to defend its Claxton Shield title. Whitefield kept playing and Brisbane topped Melbourne for the repeat. Right after that, he joined the Australian WBC team and they played in several games in Korea and then in Seoul, South Korea. Within a day of of the end of their run, he returned to Ft. Myers. He got one day to try to move past jet lag, and now he’s going full go.
Reynaldo Rodriguez and Yohan Pino also returned and are working with the Rochester work group. Pino started on the mound for the team on Thursday.
I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the players from Puerto Rico during the team’s WBC run. I chatted for a good half-hour with Dereck Rodriguez, who I’d mentioned is an alternate for Team Puerto Rico. He has been joined for each Puerto Rico game by about a dozen other Twins minor leaguers from the island.
Nelson Molina told me that it’s very exciting to watch his friends and countrymen. Brian Navarreto started mentioning the players on the roster that he played with going back to Little League and it was quite a few. Edgar Corcino is from Bayamon and is friends with Jose Berrios, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez.
Of course, they all know the Twins contingent of Berrios, Hector Santiago, Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas.
SIGHT IS GOOD
Brian Navarreto also told me that he had LASIK eye surgery in the offseason and is still working back. He hasn’t been catching every single day. However, he also noted that he can see the ball so much better at the plate and even behind the plate. It’s also fun talking to pitchers who have been caught by Navarreto. They say that he calls a good game, works very hard, controls the running game and is just very good to work with.
SIGHT IS GOOD, PART 2
On Friday, Travis Harrison went 3-4 with a couple of very loud hits. I noted that he is now wearing glasses on the field and at bat. Following the game, I asked him about it and he said that doctors said he needed a small prescription, and it was his first day with the glasses. It was a good first day.
I’ve watched quite a few bullpens, and they’re always fun. It’s fun to see what people throw, how hard they throw, break on pitches, what they’re working on and more. Two guys have thrown bullpens that really stuck out to me.
Huascar Ynoa is very young. He was our Twins Daily short season minor league pitcher of the year. The youngster, whose brother Michael pitches for the White Sox, throws really hard. He also showed a very good, sharp breaking ball and a solid changeup. Again, it was one bullpen, but it was very good.
The other one that was terrific in the bullpen was Kohl Stewart. I don’t know why he doesn’t strike out more, but he throws really hard, and I’m told that the ball is very heavy, which explains the lack of hard contact. His breaking pitches looked very sharp, and I saw an at least average changeup. While I did drop him in my Twins prospect rankings this year, he clearly has the ability to be an above average big league starter.
One bonus pitcher of note is Tyler Wells. The tall (6-8) right-hander throws pretty hard, maybe hitting 93-95. However, he also showed a very good breaking ball mix in his outing on Saturday afternoon on the back fields. He showed a slower, 12-6 curveball, and a sharper slider that darts in on a left-hander. Definitely one to watch this spring in Cedar Rapids.
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
Here are just a couple more notes:
- Has anyone ever seen Twins 3B prospect Chris Paul and Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in the same place? They look identical, at least facially.
- Mitchell Kranson was the Twins ninth-round pick last year out of Cal-Berkeley. He did very little catching his last couple of years in college, but the Twins saw that it was a good place for him. He played all over the diamond, third base, outfield, first base, anywhere. His bat played anywhere. Since the end of last season, he has dropped 25 pounds without losing any muscle. He worked with a trainer twice a day and ate a strict diet.
- Alex Kirilloff was watching the Twins minor league games this afternoon.
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