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Article: Minor League Promotions Coming Soon?

trevor hildenberger zack granite jermaine palacios tyler wells john curtiss
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 11:11 PM

Mid-June is always a fun time in minor league baseball, and it’s true in the Twins system right now too. All-Star games. Playoff berths are up for grabs. The short-season teams are about to start. Draft picks are signing and reporting. And, there are often several players who are promoted around this time.

Today, I’ll share my thoughts on which players should be under consideration for promotion soon.

We’ll start with a couple of players on the Rochester roster who could be considered for a promotion real soon. Then we’ll work our way down the ladder.There are many reasons for promotions (or for a player to stay at a level). Obviously performance tends to be one of the factors. Also, behind the scene types of things like leadership, growth, maturity and more. In reality, sometimes age factors into the decision of who to move up. There have been guys who have been pushed to a level, maybe without the numbers to justify it, but they’re being given one final opportunity to take off. Sometimes that player does. Other times, it doesn’t pan out. Like the draft, player development and timing of promotions are not science, though more and more there are scientific (or advanced statistical) reasons for them as well.

In other words, there may be some promotions of players not mentioned below. It is somewhat fun to speculate the reasons for them to try to gain understanding. Or, maybe that’s my way of saying that I don’t know what will happen… Either way… Enjoy and at the end post your thoughts.



ROCHESTER → MINNESOTA

There have already been several players who have taken that direct flight from Rochester to Minneapolis and back. Last week, I chatted with Alan Busenitz in an article stating that he was ready, the next bullpen arm in line for a promotion to the big league club. On Friday night, we learned that would happen, and on Saturday night he made his MLB debut.

But Busenitz isn’t the only Red Wings player who is deserving of an opportunity. In the Red Wings bullpen, Trevor Hildenberger should be next in line for a spot in the Twins bullpen. He has thrown 29 innings over 20 appearances this year in Rochester. He is 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9 and 10.2 K/9. At 26, the side-winding right-hander has confidence in his ability to throw three or four pitches for strikes at any time, in any count. Frankly, he’s got little more to prove in the minor leagues.

From an offensive standpoint, the choice for player most ready is pretty obvious. Though he missed the first month of the season with an oblique injury, Zack Granite has returned. In his last 19 games, he has hit .487. In 41 games with the Red Wings, he has hit .349/.410/.485 (.895) with 14 doubles, four triples and a home run. He’s walked 16 times and struck out 18 times. He also has 16 stolen bases. Frankly, his readiness isn’t even about the results and stats. It’s also just about his advanced approach at the plate and the types of at-bats he produces. He has good range all around the outfield. In my opinion, Granite needs to play every day and bat leadoff somewhere. If he’ll get that with the Twins, call him up. If he’s going to sit on the bench, stay in Rochester and keep raking. Either way, he’s ready for the opportunity.


CHATTANOOGA → ROCHESTER

Right before the All-Star break, lefty Mason Melotakis was moved up to the Red Wings. On Monday, Jake Reed returned to the Red Wings after a short stint with the Lookouts after missing the first six weeks of the season.

But there are a couple more relievers who should be promoted to the Red Wings too. I think everyone would agree that John Curtiss is ready to move up. He’s playing in the Southern League All-Star Game, but I would think he’d move up right after it. Since some early control concerns, he has been incredible. He didn’t give up a run until his 20th appearance of the year. The superlatives could continue, but we’ve been writing about the 24-year-old’s readiness for over a month here at Twins Daily.

Luke Bard had several injuries early in his career, but since coming back last year, he’s been a strikeout machine. Maybe it has to do with his incredible spin rate. In 32 innings this year, he has 52 strikeouts to go with just 11 walks. Not that there has to be a rush to promote the 26-year-old, it might be good to push him as he’ll be a potential 40-man roster add. And, those strikeouts sure are intriguing.

Evaluate just a little bit longer (pitchers): Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Felix Jorge are all pitching really, really well for the last month or more, but for various reasons, they should stick in Chattanooga. In my opinion, Gonsalves is the closest to ready for a promotion, but I’d give him two or three more starts before doing that. Fernando Romero has really been good as well, but there is reason for patience. And frankly, if he reaches a pre-established innings count, call him right up to the Twins and put him in the bullpen. And Jorge quietly continues to improve and put up strong start after strong star.

Evaluate a bit longer (hitter): Nick Gordon has had a terrific season at the plate. He’s walked more. He’s hit for more power. He’s been everything we’d hope for, taking a big step forward. But in my mind, there is little incentive to moving Gordon up. At AA, he’s facing some of the better pitching prospects. There’s nothing wrong with him spending a season playing well all year. If they want, they could call him up directly from AA sometime. But it’s also important for him to keep playing shortstop most every day, and he can do that in Chattanooga. Let Engelb Vielma play shortstop every day in Rochester. Let Jorge Polanco play shortstop most every day in Minnesota. And let Gordon continue to work on things with the bat and in the field in Chattanooga.


FT. MYERS → CHATTANOOGA

Randy LeBlanc has moved up and down from the Miracle to the Lookouts several times in the last month. Dereck Rodriguez was also moved up to the Lookouts, but after one start, he was sent back to the Miracle and pitched in the Florida State League All-Star Game. I would expect that he will move up to Chattanooga and stick there. Also, relievers Alex Muren and Nick Anderson have moved up recently. So, there isn’t a lot left to promote from the Miracle to the Lookouts. But we’ll figure out a couple of names.

Soon, and if now, OK… Sam Clay gave up six earned runs in ⅔ of an inning in his first outing of the year. He then went over 24 innings without giving up a run. Overall, he’s 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA. In 33 innings, he has 36 strikeouts, but he’s also got 18 walks. That’s likely the biggest reason for hesitation in promoting him. However, most of those walks have come in just three of his 20 games. If several Lookouts pitchers make their way to Rochester, Chattanooga will need some arms.

Consideration: In part, some promotions are due to need and roster spots. 24-year-olds Zander Wiel and Max Murphy could be moved up if there is a need. For instance, when Brent Rooker moves up to the Miracle, he can play first base and in the outfield. One of those two could move up to make room.


CEDAR RAPIDS → FT. MYERS

The Kernels clinched a playoff spot and now begins their All-Star break. Following the break, I could see a few players promoted. Dominant relievers Tom Hackimer and Andrew Vasquez were already promoted to the Miracle. Colton Davis is another reliever who could move up for the second half.

The easiest choice would be promoting shortstop Jermaine Palacios. He spent 2016 struggling in Cedar Rapids before his season ended early with injury. Now 20, he has put up a terrific season in 2017 with the Kernels. He’s hitting .322/.362/.549 (.911) with 13 doubles, six triples and 11 home runs. He’s done that while playing a very good shortstop. He’s ready to move up.

I think that Jaylin Davis should receive strong consideration for a promotion to the Miracle as well. He’s been solid throughout the season and leads the organization in home runs. His 28% strikeout rate is obviously still a little high, but a slight improvement from last year.

Sean Poppen and Clark Beeker are representing the Kernels starting staff in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Poppen is 5-1 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. In 74 innings, he has 17 walks and 67 strikeouts. Beeker is 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. In 75.1 innings, he has 11 walks and 52 strikeouts.

Tyler Wells has arguably been the Kernels top starting pitcher this season. In 10 starts and 57 innings, he is 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. He has 14 walks and an impressive 80 strikeouts. He missed two starts with some biceps tendinitis, but he has continued to impress since his retur, making arguably his best start on Saturday night when the Kernels really needed a win.


EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING → CEDAR RAPIDS

Elizabethton starts its season on Thursday night. They are traveling via bus as I type this. The GCL season starts on Monday. However, as we don’t yet have the short-season rosters, it is possible that a few players from extended spring training will not go to Elizabethton but instead head to Cedar Rapids.

Pitchers Henry Centeno and Keaton Steele are in EST and could go to Cedar Rapids or Ft. Myers at some point. Catchers Justin Hazard, Rainis Silva and Brian Olson could go to Cedar Rapids or Ft. Myers. Infielders Andre Jernigan and Amaurys Minier could go to Cedar Rapids. Outfielder Shane Carrier could return to the Kernels, particularly if Jaylin Davis were to move up to Ft. Myers.


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In coming days, we’ll post previews of the Elizabethton Twins and GCL Twins rosters. In our daily Twins Minor League reports, we stay on top of all of the transactions, so keep looking there for more promotions.


But for today, make some of your predictions about who you would like to see promoted. And feel free to ask about any others that I may have missed.

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#2 bighat

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:12 AM

Very informative!Nothing to add, except thanks for the post!

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#3 Respy

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:25 AM

I basically concur with everything.  Very nice article.  I especially am pleased to see that you are OK with Nick Gordon spending some more time at AA.  Though a few more walks would be nice, his bat by all means has been very good this year, and a big improvement on previous years.  But, he definitely needs as many fielding reps, especially at shortstop, as possible.  Gordon has 15 errors in 62 games this year (after having 26 in 105 games last year).  For comparison, Polanco has had 4 errors in 52 games this year at the MLB level.  Gordon is still only 21, and Vielma is ahead of Gordon in the organizational chart because he needs to be on the 40-man roster, so Gordon could very possibly spend the rest of the year at AA and that would be OK.  Gordon can spend all of next year at AAA while Dozier is in the last year of his contract (assuming he's not traded), then we can expect to see Gordon in September 2018 and hopefully as a regular in 2019 at the still-young age of 23.

 

Granite will be quite interesting to watch.  He just keeps hitting the ball.  As much as people would probably like to compare him statistically to a Ben Revere, Revere was a .700 OPS hitter at AA/AAA and Granite has been around .800.  Hopefully he can play his way onto the Twins roster, but I agree that he would need to be starting most days.

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#4 joey emerson

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:33 AM

what about laMonte wade? showing a great eye at the plate with a 13% k rate and 18% walk rate and the redwings outfield is not very deep 

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#5 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:33 AM

No moving Wade to AAA? How old is he now?

 

There is no reason Gordon should spend all of next year in the minors. That's about 180 degrees off how Houston or the Cubs would run their rosters. 

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#6 drjim

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:43 AM

 

No moving Wade to AAA? How old is he now?

 

There is no reason Gordon should spend all of next year in the minors. That's about 180 degrees off how Houston or the Cubs would run their rosters. 

 

I know this is a response to a previous post, but if he continues to hit like this there is no chance he spends all of next year in the minors. I don't think they go into the start of next season with Dozier, Polanco and Gordon in the organization, unless they want to move Sano off 3b, which I doubt.

 

Depending on how the deadline shakes out, there is even a small chance he might debut late this year.

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#7 MN_ExPat

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:49 AM

Where Gordon ends up next year seems to depend greatly (at least IMHO and we all know what that's worth) on what happens with Dozier and Polanco. With BD and JP entrenched (for now) at 2B and SS, and Vielma's glove waiting in the wings at SS also, Gordon is almost stuck in a bit of a logjam.  

 

Not saying that things can not or will not change, this is baseball after all,  but like Granite and the outfield situation Gordon needs to play everyday.


#8 Respy

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:54 AM

 

No moving Wade to AAA? How old is he now?

 

There is no reason Gordon should spend all of next year in the minors. That's about 180 degrees off how Houston or the Cubs would run their rosters. 

 

Wade still does not have very many minor league reps (960 PA).  For comparison, Granite has 1689 MiLB PA's.  I love seeing Wade's patience at the plate, but in reality his power numbers have dropped every year and his walk rates are likely going to take a heavy hit at AAA and MLB against pitchers who can actually throw strikes.  If they need him because of OF depth at AAA, then sure bring him up.  Otherwise I see no issue letting Wade adjust a bit more at AA.

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#9 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:56 AM

 

Wade still does not have very many minor league reps (960 PA).  For comparison, Granite has 1689 MiLB PA's.  I love seeing Wade's patience at the plate, but in reality his power numbers have dropped every year and his walk rates are likely going to take a heavy hit at AAA and MLB against pitchers who can actually throw strikes.  If they need him because of OF depth at AAA, then sure bring him up.  Otherwise I see no issue letting Wade adjust a bit more at AA.

 

How long does he need to dominate AA before moving up, in your opinion?

 

I'm aggressive, I want guys moved up and challenged. Others are not.

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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#10 Respy

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:02 AM

 

How long does he need to dominate AA before moving up, in your opinion?

 

I'm aggressive, I want guys moved up and challenged. Others are not.

 

What I'm arguing is that I feel Wade has not dominated AA.  His single dominating factor offensively is his walk rate, which will likely decline at higher levels.  I can't comment on the quality of his defense though.

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#11 drjim

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:04 AM

 

How long does he need to dominate AA before moving up, in your opinion?

 

I'm aggressive, I want guys moved up and challenged. Others are not.

 

Dominate strikes me as a stretch. He's doing fine, but really hits with little pop. Wade and Granite are setting themselves up to be nice 4th OFs, seem to be lined up nicely for when a promotion might happen.

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#12 drjim

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:06 AM

 

What I'm arguing is that I feel Wade has not dominated AA.  His single dominating factor offensively is his walk rate, which will likely decline at higher levels.  I can't comment on the quality of his defense though.

 

This is correct. Walking in AA is nice, but that won't carry unless he starts to hit with more power. Could still have a role in the bigs.

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#13 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:07 AM

 

This is correct. Walking in AA is nice, but that won't carry unless he starts to hit with more power. Could still have a role in the bigs.

 

so, Grossman with better speed and defense?

 

Like I said on another thread, Granite and Wade are the exact kind of prospects that are under valued across the league, that end up being legit MLB players (likely 4th OFers) for a long time, once given the chance.

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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#14 drjim

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:14 AM

 

so, Grossman with better speed and defense?

 

Like I said on another thread, Granite and Wade are the exact kind of prospects that are under valued across the league, that end up being legit MLB players (likely 4th OFers) for a long time, once given the chance.

 

And less power, which will play down the obp skills once they make the majors. But certainly more speed and defense.

 

I guess it depends on what you mean by undervalued. They are certainly players that can carve out roles in the bigs, but they would likely be exposed with any sort of extended playing time. They won't be as good as Rosario.

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#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:16 AM

 

And less power, which will play down the obp skills once they make the majors. But certainly more speed and defense.

 

I guess it depends on what you mean by undervalued. They are certainly players that can carve out roles in the bigs, but they would likely be exposed with any sort of extended playing time. They won't be as good as Rosario.

 

I think our opinion on Rosario differs, he's a 4th OF, imo. I see both of those guys as similar roles to Rosario, just different skills that add up to around the same value.

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#16 Taildragger8791

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:18 AM

 

so, Grossman with better speed and defense?

 

Like I said on another thread, Granite and Wade are the exact kind of prospects that are under valued across the league, that end up being legit MLB players (likely 4th OFers) for a long time, once given the chance.

 

It took Grossman four years and changing teams before he figured out how to translate those skills to the majors. It's not easy to make a living drawing walks when you're not much of a hitting threat. If letting him season in AA/AAA shortens that process then that sounds good to me. Otherwise it'll be like reliving the early Aaron Hicks days all over again.


#17 Respy

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:22 AM

 

so, Grossman with better speed and defense?

 

Like I said on another thread, Granite and Wade are the exact kind of prospects that are under valued across the league, that end up being legit MLB players (likely 4th OFers) for a long time, once given the chance.

 

I agree entirely that Granite and Wade are projecting very, very nicely to be at least 4th outfielders.  What's unfortunate is how our MLB roster is currently constructed with 2 utility infielders (Escobar and Adrianza) and 2 DH's (Grossman and Vargas), we currently have no room for a 4th outfielder.  Wade could come to AAA for injured Palka, but I think they would have done that last month if they were interested.  On a related note, anyone know how decent or bad Mitch Garver looked in the outfield?  


#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:24 AM

 

I agree entirely that Granite and Wade are projecting very, very nicely to be at least 4th outfielders.  What's unfortunate is how our MLB roster is currently constructed with 2 utility infielders (Escobar and Adrianza) and 2 DH's (Grossman and Vargas), we currently have no room for a 4th outfielder.  Wade could come to AAA for injured Palka, but I think they would have done that last month if they were interested.  On a related note, anyone know how decent or bad Mitch Garver looked in the outfield?  

 

Garver playing the OF is certainly interesting. 

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#19 drjim

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:45 AM

 

I think our opinion on Rosario differs, he's a 4th OF, imo. I see both of those guys as similar roles to Rosario, just different skills that add up to around the same value.

 

Rosario might ultimately be a 4th OF. My opinion is based more on being realistic about Wade and Granite than it is about making Rosario more than he is. We have seen enough of Rosario to know the flaws in his game, so it is always attractive to dream on players that are a set of numbers in the minors. Granite will only be as good if he carries his batting average forward, and Wade will only be as valuable if he can maintain his great k/bb ratios without hitting for much pop. Color me quite skeptical on both fronts. I'm not sure they will be as good as Rosario in the field or be any better on the bases.

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#20 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:47 AM

 

Rosario might ultimately be a 4th OF. My opinion is based more on being realistic about Wade and Granite than it is about making Rosario more than he is. We have seen enough of Rosario to know the flaws in his game, so it is always attractive to dream on players that are a set of numbers in the minors. Granite will only be as good if he carries his batting average forward, and Wade will only be as valuable if he can maintain his great k/bb ratios without hitting for much pop. Color me quite skeptical on both fronts. I'm not sure they will be as good as Rosario in the field or be any better on the bases.

 

Agreed, skepticism is a good idea with prospects. I would bet we are pretty close on this one...

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 




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