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Article: Rundown: Mauer Being a Pain, Prospect Lists, Philly Trade Rumors and Other Notes

joe mauer don cooper jhoan duran lewis thorpe carlos santana
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 08:35 PM

For as many words as there have been written and said about Joe Mauer, his legacy won’t truly be determined by what anybody outside the game has to say about him. Instead, it’ll be his teammates, opponents and coaches who solidify how Joe is remembered as a ballplayer. There was an impressive group that attended Mauer’s retirement press conference Monday, and even more who shared their praise of Joe on social media, but my favorite response to his retirement came from a longtime rival pitching coach.There were so many great Mauer articles, and I’m sure there will be more to come, but one of my favorite pieces from yesterday came from Scott Merkin of MLB.com. It may seem weird to include something from a White Sox beat writer, but I’ve really enjoyed hearing the reactions to Mauer’s retirement from sources outside of the Twins organization/Twin Cities.

Merkin asked former Twins pitcher and longtime White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper about Joe. Cooper called Mauer the best left-handed hitter he’s seen in the 15 years he’s been with Chicago and added “he became a pain in the ass.” I don’t know if you can get a higher compliment than that coming from a very well-respected pitching guru. There are several other glowing quotes from Cooper on Mauer in that piece.

It was prospect list mania last week. Seth shared his preliminary top 30 here at the site. Also, Mike Berardino’s top 10 list for Baseball America was unveiled. Lance Brozdowski shared his own top 30 at Prospects Live.

Jhoan Duran, who was acquired in the Eduardo Escobar trade, has some serious steam. He was inside the top 10 in each of the lists linked above. I get it, Duran has good size, a smooth delivery and sits 96 mph easy and the secondary stuff is also getting rave reviews. I do think it’s curious that he had relatively little success in his three and a half seasons in the Diamondbacks system, at least in comparison to how he broke out with the Twins.

I’m also surprised at the lack of love for Lewis Thorpe. Seth had him at No. 8, which feels about right, but he didn’t make the BA top 10 and Prospects Live had him at 22. I guess in some ways I can understand that too, as Thorpe’s overall athleticism doesn’t stand out like some of the other pitchers in the system. A lot of scouts also believe Thorpe will end up in the bullpen.

As with all prospects, you can see a lot of potential future outcomes with these two, but it seems to me like these rankings are generally bumping Duran more for his ceiling while knocking Thorpe down for his floor. I may end up the high man on Thorpe and the lowest on Duran (you’ll be able to find my list in the Twins Prospect Handbook, which comes out later this winter), but all that really means is I’m more comfortable with Thorpe, who’s a much more realized product. If Duran puts up the kind of numbers Thorpe already has in the high minors, I think we’d all be thrilled.

Over at FanGraphs, Craig Edwards both ranked and put a dollar value on all the farm systems across baseball. The Twins slotted in at seventh behind only the Padres, Braves, White Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Reds.

Among the many notes in his latest piece, Ken Rosenthal passed along that the Phillies are pushing Carlos Santana aggressively on the trade market. Santana is coming off somewhat of a down year by his standards, but he still had a .352 OBP and more walks than strikeouts. He’s owed more than $35 million total over the next two seasons, then has a $17.5 million option in 2021. A switch-hitter with good on-base skills would look really good in the Twins lineup, and Derek Falvey is obviously very familiar with Santana after all the years they spent together in Cleveland.

Over at MLB.com, Mike Petriello listed the Twins as one of the four logical trade destinations for Santana. The other teams listed were the Rockies, Mariners and Angels.

Late last week over at The Athletic, Dan Hayes wrote an article about how Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton have put the Twins at a crossroads. There are a lot of interesting parallels drawn between the Twins and some of the most successful teams in baseball right now, along with some interesting quotes from members of the Astros and Cubs front offices. But something Thad Levine said was a bit deflating to me.

Levine told Hayes that if Sano and Buxton take a step forward “I think we have primed ownership to then give us the green light to take more of an aggressive step forward with this unit of players.” We’ll see how the offseason unfolds, but that quote leads me to believe there’s going to be more of a holding pattern this upcoming season. That they'll wait for a Sano/Buxton breakout before really getting aggressive. That’s the last thing I want to see. Be buyers or sellers. You’re either in or you’re out. No more middle ground.

Looking for a job in baseball? The Twins are hiring a Baseball Research Analyst. Duties include “statistical modeling and quantitative analysis to aid in the creation and improvement of models/tools for decision making in player development, game strategy, scouting, trades and free agency.” I sure hope they hire somebody soon!

MLB Trade Rumors released its list of non-tender candidates and there are a number of interesting middle infielders included. They’re on the list for a reason, but guys like Devon Travis, Jonathan Schoop and Tim Beckham are still fairly young and have shown some flashes. Old friend Yangervis Solarte is also on the list.

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that there’s nearly zero chance Michael Brantley returns to the Indians. He adds that the starting outfield as it stands would be some combination of Jason Kipnis, Leonys Martin, Greg Allen or Tyler Naquin. In other words, not good.

Jon Heyman of Fancred reported that Cleveland had talks with the Yankees about potential Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco trades. It’s hard to really make any conclusions until actual transactions start to happen, but it’s certainly sounding like Cleveland is more likely to sell off pieces than it is to make any big additions.

Six of the seven players who were extended qualifying offers rejected them. The only player to accept was Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will return to the Dodgers. I’m not sure if the Twins would have had a realistic shot to land Ryu, but his absence from the free agent market will create some more competition for the left-handed starters who are available.

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#2 jtkoupal

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 08:52 PM

That baseball analyst job is my dream job... but I'm unfortunately still a year away from a bachelor's degree.

 

If anyone's looking for someone with an Economics or Statistics background, though, hit me up!

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#3 DocBauer

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 09:31 PM

Tom, I'm right on board with you regarding Thorpe! To show early promise, then be de-railed for 2 full seasons before making a nice comeback in 2017 was encouraging. But his 2018 was downright outstanding, especially when it was, really, his first full season back. ERA and WHIP both quality. He averaged more than a K per IP and had a 4-1 SO/BB ratio!

He also got a 4 game, successful, cup of coffee at Rochester and won't turn 23 until November 23. If he was on a "normal" developmental angle, reaching AAA at 22yo and projected to begin next season there as a 23yo would be considered, again, "normal". Not a fast-riser, but solid development.

I can only assume lower rankings are due to either A] lack of history via time missed, or, B] because he's not 6' 3" plus and throws 95mph consistently.

Santana:

I could be interested, if the price is right. I don't like his career BA, but AVG isn't everything. His OB and OPS are quite good and he's a real threat. He could also backup 1B. I'm still on the McCutchen or Brantley wagon though.
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"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

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#4 DocBauer

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 09:39 PM

Regarding Duran, what do I know? Tall and high heat, is he the guy who pitched so well for Cedar Rapids? Or the guy who put up pretty average numbers before coming Over? I know its all about predictability, but top 10 just seems high to me until we see how he does in 2019. Does his secondary stuff show that much potential?
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"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

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#5 rdehring

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 07:21 AM

Doc again said it better than I could, when speaking about Thorpe.Expect those of us who are believers will get our wishes when we see him on the mound at Target Field late next summer.

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#6 Jpete

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 08:21 AM

But something Thad Levine said was a bit deflating to me.

 

Levine told Hayes that if Sano and Buxton take a step forward "I think we have primed ownership to then give us the green light to take more of an aggressive step forward with this unit of players."

 

I am actually good with this. If Sano and Buxton have another year like last year, it is hard to see the Twins being able to spend enough money to compete and then all these young guys are blocked again. If they do come back strong, there is still plenty of time to be add pieces and in the meantime maybe one or two of the guys on the farm also breaks through. 

 

What has been deflating to me is how several guys who should be getting a chance (or 2nd chance) have not gotten it because fill ins are blocking their path. Maybe some was on Molitor but still. Look at Niko Goodrum and Dereck Rodriguez who have gone elsewhere and have gotten off to a good start in their major league careers. Everyone gets worked up about Hicks being traded but at least he was given multiple chances before the Twins gave up. 

 

Toward the end of last year, several guys finally got some time with the Twins, let's see what they and others can do and maybe we can be more selective in FA, or maybe they establish more value for the Twins to use as trade bait. 

 

Good roundup by the way, I enjoyed reading it. And I agree with the point from a long term perspective that they need to buy or sell, I just think we need to give it some time. 

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#7 Steve Lein

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 08:40 AM

Yeah I'm with you on Thorpe. I may be a little biased because I interviewed him in Cedar Rapids after a stellar start before he missed all that time, but his numbers and peripherals are better than Fernando Romero's, in my opinion (he's always been better at missing bats, as an example), but Romero got way more love.

 

It's too high for Duran for me at this point, he'd be outside my top 10. Thorpe would be in front of Gonsalves.

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)

#8 spanman2

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 09:02 AM

Very simple statement by my simple brain,,,2019 is a HUGE year for the organization as a whole being tied to the performance of Sano/Buxton.In terms of who may or may not come up in 2020 ready to contribute and perhaps just perhaps the front office saying go for it and opening up the checkbook in free agency.2020 could be the year to reclaim the division.Should be an interesting offseason in how we play in free agency as well. 

I WAS TOLD I WOULD NEVER MAKE IT BECAUSE I AM TOO SHORT. WELL, I'M STILL TOO SHORT. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR HEIGHT IS. IT'S WHAT'S IN YOUR HEART.

KIRBY PUCKETT

#9 nicksaviking

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 09:07 AM

I too am still on the Thorpe bandwagon. Seems to me his velocity was higher prior to his TJ surgery, perhaps that starts creeping back up.

 

I'd be interested in Carlos Santana; the Twins always like these "veteran leadership" types, it would be nice to have one that is actually an offensive asset. I could be talked into Robinson Cano probably too, but Seattle would need to eat considerable money there. With Mauer, Escobar and quite possibly Grossman gone, the Twins really need to work on getting multiple high OBP guys. Getting base runners was an issue last year even with those players.

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#10 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:13 AM

 

Regarding Duran, what do I know? Tall and high heat, is he the guy who pitched so well for Cedar Rapids? Or the guy who put up pretty average numbers before coming Over? I know its all about predictability, but top 10 just seems high to me until we see how he does in 2019. Does his secondary stuff show that much potential?

Yes, there does seem to be belief that his slider and changeup are going to develop. I can see how somebody could fall in love with Duran, I'm just not there yet. But, I was also extremely conservative with how I ranked Brusdar Graterol a year ago, so take that with a grain of salt.

 

Yeah I'm with you on Thorpe. I may be a little biased because I interviewed him in Cedar Rapids after a stellar start before he missed all that time, but his numbers and peripherals are better than Fernando Romero's, in my opinion (he's always been better at missing bats, as an example), but Romero got way more love.

 

It's too high for Duran for me at this point, he'd be outside my top 10. Thorpe would be in front of Gonsalves.

Interesting that you bring up Romero, I hadn't really made that connection. One of the things I think Thorpe gets knocked down for his his relative lack of size, but he's very similar to Romero in that department. If anything, I'd think Thorpe would get a little bump simply for being a lefty, though he's trailing Romero by quite a bit in terms of stuff.

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#11 Ben Noble

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:45 AM

 

Regarding Duran, what do I know? Tall and high heat, is he the guy who pitched so well for Cedar Rapids? Or the guy who put up pretty average numbers before coming Over? I know its all about predictability, but top 10 just seems high to me until we see how he does in 2019. Does his secondary stuff show that much potential?

 

 

It's too high for Duran for me at this point, he'd be outside my top 10. 

 

I'm sorry, but have either of you dug into Duran at all or, no offense, are you just more or less guessing?

 

Reports are that he was sitting in the high 90s before working with Kane County coaches in the first half of last year to trade in some of that heat for better control. He's now sitting in the mid 90s, but with much improved control of his fastball and command of his secondary pitches, and can still reach back to hit 98 with good movement when necessary.

 

From what I understand, his biggest hurdle is consistently knowing when to dial it up and when to dial it back, but consistency is usually the last hurdle for a starting pitching prospect, often not happening until they're pitching in MLB. I know that all games count, but go back and look at his individual starts last year: he had a few that were utterly dominating and a couple that really skewed his numbers negatively.

 

As an illustration, Duran started against Quad Cities at the end of June and gave up 8 runs without recording an out. One month later, he faced Quad Cities again and didn't give up a hit over 7 innings. 

 

His size and velocity have always been tantalizing, but Duran made the transition from thrower to pitcher last year, and showed himself able and willing to make adjustments. It was his first year learning to actually pitch, and he improved as the summer wore on. For me, that's huge.

 

Sure, some guys like Sickels will miss on him...but I think Sickels was also one of the guys who kept repeating the same tired bs that Thorpe is injury prone because he had mono. The national guys do a great job covering a ton of players, and hats off to them, but they also have a tendency to show up to the party late on guys that make midseason adjustments.

 

I think he's easily top 10 now, and a repeat performance in 2019 has him finishing the season in AA and a top 100 prospect in baseball. 

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#12 ashburyjohn

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:57 AM

I’m not sure if the Twins would have had a realistic shot to land Ryu, but his absence from the free agent market will create some more competition for the left-handed starters who are available.

Will it? Seems like it removes the Dodgers from being in that competition for some other lefty.

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#13 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 11:25 AM

 

That baseball analyst job is my dream job... but I'm unfortunately still a year away from a bachelor's degree.

 

If anyone's looking for someone with an Economics or Statistics background, though, hit me up!

 

It can never hurt to apply. 

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#14 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 11:26 AM

 

Will it? Seems like it removes the Dodgers from being in that competition for some other lefty.

Maybe, but they did already have three lefties in Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood penciled into their rotation even before Ryu accepted the offer.

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#15 ashburyjohn

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 11:37 AM

Maybe, but they did already have three lefties in Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood penciled into their rotation even before Ryu accepted the offer.

OK, so maybe it removes them from competition for some righty. ;)

A painter should not paint what he sees, but what will be seen.-- Paul Valery


#16 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 11:57 AM

I'm sorry, but have either of you dug into Duran at all or, no offense, are you just more or less guessing?

Reports are that he was sitting in the high 90s before working with Kane County coaches in the first half of last year to trade in some of that heat for better control. He's now sitting in the mid 90s, but with much improved control of his fastball and command of his secondary pitches, and can still reach back to hit 98 with good movement when necessary.

From what I understand, his biggest hurdle is consistently knowing when to dial it up and when to dial it back, but consistency is usually the last hurdle for a starting pitching prospect, often not happening until they're pitching in MLB. I know that all games count, but go back and look at his individual starts last year: he had a few that were utterly dominating and a couple that really skewed his numbers negatively.

As an illustration, Duran started against Quad Cities at the end of June and gave up 8 runs without recording an out. One month later, he faced Quad Cities again and didn't give up a hit over 7 innings.

His size and velocity have always been tantalizing, but Duran made the transition from thrower to pitcher last year, and showed himself able and willing to make adjustments. It was his first year learning to actually pitch, and he improved as the summer wore on. For me, that's huge.

Sure, some guys like Sickels will miss on him...but I think Sickels was also one of the guys who kept repeating the same tired bs that Thorpe is injury prone because he had mono. The national guys do a great job covering a ton of players, and hats off to them, but they also have a tendency to show up to the party late on guys that make midseason adjustments.

I think he's easily top 10 now, and a repeat performance in 2019 has him finishing the season in AA and a top 100 prospect in baseball.


Totally with you on Duran. I'd have him 4th in the system.
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#17 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 12:04 PM

 

OK, so maybe it removes them from competition for some righty. ;)

Could be, but now that we're down this rabbit hole, I'm thinking maybe the Twins should call up LA and offer to help solve their excess lefty issue. They also have Julio Urias, another lefty who was used in the pen last season, but I'd imagine they'd rather stretch him back out to start.

 

The Dodgers seem very motivated to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Would they be wiling to part with Alex Wood for a very modest return? He's projected to get $9 million in his final year of arbitration and was demoted to the bullpen at the end of last season. Not sure they want to pay that much for a guy who right now is projected to be an extra piece. 

 

Just a thought. 

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#18 amjgt

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 12:34 PM

Tyler Wells not being on the Prospects Live top 30 list was a miss. 

 

No matter what you think of him in terms of ceiling, once you get to AA and are putting up really good numbers it's pretty hard to justify not being in the top 30

 

 

Edited by amjgt, 14 November 2018 - 12:35 PM.

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#19 Steve Lein

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 12:47 PM

 

I'm sorry, but have either of you dug into Duran at all or, no offense, are you just more or less guessing?

 

Differences of opinion are always out there and I understand the viewpoints of everything you explained, but not everything you pointed out says the same things to me and I don't necessarily see some of the things you do.

 

I still see a good amount of inconsistency. I see a fastball that's way ahead of any of his other pitches. I also see the very high ceiling, but for me that's also attached to a high risk profile. For me that means his rating is somewhere in the middle.

 

He was not at all dominant with Kane County, and was actually not very good for a stretch of 8 starts before being traded to the Twins.

 

He was better when he got here but you still got really good or meh. No in between. No type of prolonged consistency and nothing even remotely resembling a track record yet.

 

He is still very young with potential for a lot more in the future, but not top 10 for me at this point yet. Very easily could get there but I want to see more and too early for me on someone with his profile.

 

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)

#20 rdehring

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 12:55 PM

Saw Duran pitch a game on Mediacom's Iowa sports channel (why we get that in Wayzata, I don't understand).His fastball is a legit heater and his breaking ball was immense.Kid has some great stuff.Didn't see enough of him to talk about consistency.Still wouldn't put him ahead of Thorpe who had an unbelievable year, all the way up to and including AAA.

 

 

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