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Article: 2019 Pensacola Blue Wahoos Preliminary Roster Preview

alex kirilloff brusdar graterol jorge alcala luis arraez jovani moran
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#1 Steve Lein

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 11:21 AM

For the first time since the 2015 season (and 1901-1960 before that when the franchise was the Washington Senators), the Minnesota Twins Double A affiliate for the upcoming season will not be the Chattanooga Lookouts (I’ll miss that logo…). That’s because the Twins struck a two-year Player Development Contract with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (also of the Southern League) in the offseason to perhaps further their minor league development expansion efforts to one of the best facilities in the minors.While the Lookouts finished at the bottom of the Southern League North division standings while with Minnnesota for the 2018 season, the Blue Wahoos won a wild card in the second half before losing to the Biloxi Shuckers in the first round of the playoffs while an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Blue Wahoos appear to join the organization at a good time, as there’s a few top prospects in all the minor leagues that could spend a lot of time with them during the 2019 season. They appear to have a strong roster at the outset but may be even better in the second half if and when players are promoted.

So here’s a look at the inaugural Pensacola Blue Wahoos roster and coaching staff for the 2019 season. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on the team and as always, ask questions in the comments!

COACHING STAFF

Manager Ramon Borrego comes to Pensacola after spending seven years as the Twins manager in the Gulf Coast League, and then the 2018 season at the helm of the Fort Myers Miracle where he led them to the Florida State League championship. Steve Singleton will be the hitting coach and is very familiar with Borrego, as they’ve been together at both the GCL and FSL levels in the past few years. They’ll be joined by pitching coaches Cibney Bello and Justin Willard who worked together last year with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

ROSTER

The Blue Wahoos will be represented on the Twins 40-man roster by two players to start the season. There is not a member of the team who has played in the majors yet, though eight players have spent some time at the Triple A level, with 11 more having spent at least some time with the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2018 or at Double A in the past. Note that this is a tentative roster and can be updated before the minor league season starts on Thursday.

HITTERS

Catchers: Brian Navarreto, Mitchell Kranson, Caleb Hamilton
Infielders: Luis Arraez, Brian Schales, Drew Maggi, Jordan Gore, Taylor Grzelakowski (also Catcher)
Outfielders: Jaylin Davis, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ernie De La Trinidad, Tanner English (IL), Alex Kirilloff (IL)

PITCHERS:

Starting Pitchers: Brusdar Graterol, Jorge Alcala, Griffin Jax, Devin Smeltzer, Sean Poppen, Tyler Wells (IL), Daniel Camarena (IL), Randy LeBlanc (IL)
Relief Pitchers: Tyler Jay, Sam Clay, Jovani Moran, Jeff Ames, Adam Bray, Andro Cutura, Dusten Knight, Ryan Mason, Cody Stashak, Williams Ramirez (IL)

POTENTIAL LINEUP:

CF – Jimmy Kerrigan
2B – Luis Arraez
OF – Jaylin Davis (Alex Kirilloff)
1B – Taylor Grzelakowski
DH – Mitchell Kranson
OF – Ernie De La Trinidad / Jaylin Davis
3B – Drew Maggi / Brian Schales
SS – Jordan Gore
C – Brian Navarreto

TOP PROSPECTS:
  • Alex Kirilloff (Twins Daily #2 Prospect) – Best hitter not named Vlad Guerrero Jr. in all of MiLB last season.
  • Brusdar Graterol (Twins Daily #3 Prospect) – Graterol is the Twins top pitching prospect. Blessed with a triple-digit fastball as well as improving breaking ball and changeup.
  • Jorge Alcala (Twins Daily #19 Prospect) – Like Graterol, Alcala can hit triple-digits with his fastball and will continue to work on his secondary offerings.
  • Tyler Wells – Twins Daily’s 2018 MiLB Starting Pitcher of the Year. Has dedicated himself to fitness and diet as a pro and the big righthander will look to continue his rise among pitching prospects.
  • Luis Arraez – Professional hitter with a .329 career batting average in the minors tied with only an 8.5% strikeout rate.
  • Jovani Moran – Lefty reliever was nearly unhittable last year at Cedar Rapids, then improved when promoted to Fort Myers. Has a 12.6/9IP strikeout rate in the minors thus far. Arrow pointing firmly up.
  • Taylor Grzelakowski – .828 OPS in pitcher friendly Florida State League in 2018. Standout in MiLB reports last year could improve that number even more in Southern League.
  • Griffin Jax – Jax re-joined the organization in late-April as part of the Air Force’s World Class Athlete program. He joined the Miracle in mid-May and spent the rest of the season with the team. He posted a 3.70 ERA over 87 2/3 innings with the Miracle and then threw another 21 innings in the Arizona Fall league.
  • Jaylin Davis – Strongly built outfielder will likely slot somewhere in middle of Blue Wahoos order. Power is tool to keep an eye on in 2019.
STORIES TO WATCH:
  • What else can one say about Alex Kirilloff at this point? He’s the must-watch prospect for Pensacola to start the season, and it’s fun to speculate on if he can repeat the success he had last year in the upper levels of the minor leagues. He’ll start the year on the injured list but shouldn’t be on the shelf long.
  • Brusdar Graterol and Jovani Moran are being challenged with the assignment to Double A to start the year after fantastic campaigns in 2018, how will they respond?
  • The Fort Myers Miracle won the FSL championship in 2018 in part because of several players added to the roster in the second half of the season. A lot of those same guys are starting the year back with Fort Myers, with the potential to make the same type of impact with the Blue Wahoos in the latter half of this summer. Hear it from the Championship organization themselves:
  • Tyler Wells was fantastic during the 2018 season and is arguably the top pitcher on the staff to start the year. Will he be able to keep his arrow pointing upward as he faces stiffer competition in the Southern League?
  • Can Tyler Jay reclaim any of his former top-prospect-shine in the mold of Kohl Stewart from the 2018 season?
Please feel free to discuss this roster. Ask lots of questions and check back often. What stories will you be following?

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  • glunn and nicksaviking like this

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)


#2 jkcarew

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 12:15 PM

CF – Jimmy Kerrigan / Tanner English
2B – Luis Arraez
OF – Jaylin Davis (Alex Kirilloff)
1B – Taylor Grzelakowski
DH – Mitchell Kranson
OF – Ernie De La Trinidad / Jaylin Davis
3B – Drew Maggi / Brian Schales
SS – Jordan Gore
C – Brian Navarreto

 

Are you suggesting that Alex Kirilloff will serve as the 3rd corner outfielder behind Jaylin Davis and Ernie De La Trinidad? :) I suppose it WOULD represent and new and creative approach to player development...something the previous regime wouldn't have thought of.

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#3 Steve Lein

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 12:27 PM

 

CF – Jimmy Kerrigan / Tanner English
2B – Luis Arraez
OF – Jaylin Davis (Alex Kirilloff)
1B – Taylor Grzelakowski
DH – Mitchell Kranson
OF – Ernie De La Trinidad / Jaylin Davis
3B – Drew Maggi / Brian Schales
SS – Jordan Gore
C – Brian Navarreto

 

Are you suggesting that Alex Kirilloff will serve as the 3rd corner outfielder behind Jaylin Davis and Ernie De La Trinidad? :) I suppose it WOULD represent and new and creative approach to player development...something the previous regime wouldn't have thought of.

 

Haha, decided to write the lineup with players currently able to play on opening day :)

  • MN_ExPat and jkcarew like this

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)


#4 Mike Sixel

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 12:37 PM

Exciting roster!

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


#5 JLease

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 02:46 PM

Hard to complain about much here. Some really good looking prospects. Love it!!

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#6 Tuba

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 03:45 PM

Ernie De La Trinidad seems like a guy who could be useful at some point

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#7 Steve Lein

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 03:53 PM

 

Ernie De La Trinidad seems like a guy who could be useful at some point

 

My expectation is he's there to fill in for Kirilloff and English while they're on the IL and will be back in Fort Myers when they come back, but you never know.

  • glunn and MN_ExPat like this

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 rdehring

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 04:15 PM

What is ailing Kirilloff and when is he expected to be on the field?

 

Great seeing him, Graterol and Jax all in AA to start the season.A bit surprised of the Jax move, but encouraging.


#9 Dman

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 04:51 PM

Not a ton of star power in that lineup but a lot of those guys are sneaky good.Kiriloff and Arraez are the only young bats with star potential in the lineup. 

 

I really like Ernie De La Trinidad I know he is most likely a 4th outfielder type but he is a tough out and I like the way he plays.The Gryzz has some decent pop and a fairly good eye at the plate.A bit strike out prone but he has backup catcher\utility player written all over him.

 

I have always been a big Jordon Gore fan.Not a great year last year but solid and he jumped levels.He too should have a shot to be a good utility player, maybe something more if he can find a bit more power.I like Kransons bat but he needs a bit more power if he plans to make it any further.It is a good group but the star power is a level below this one.

 

There are a lot of interesting pitchers at this level and hard to say who will be able to perform or not.Should be a fun group to watch but as the article suggests there are players with greater potential already on the way.

Edited by Dman, 01 April 2019 - 04:54 PM.

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#10 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 04:55 PM

Aggressive promotion for Graterol. I like it.

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#11 gman

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 06:06 PM

Its nice to see groups of players with major league potential making it to the upper minors. Hopefully next year this time, the Rochester roster will be loading as well. Nothing against guys who spend 8, 9 or 10 years trying to make it to the show, but I want to see double and Triple A loaded with talented guys trying to kick the door in.

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#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 08:08 PM

 

What is ailing Kirilloff and when is he expected to be on the field?

 

Great seeing him, Graterol and Jax all in AA to start the season.A bit surprised of the Jax move, but encouraging.

 

He had an awkward check-swing late in spring training. Came out of the game as a precaution and they did X-rays and MRI and it all came back clean... So, he shouldn't be out long. 

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#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 08:12 PM

 

I have always been a big Jordon Gore fan.Not a great year last year but solid and he jumped levels.He too should have a shot to be a good utility player, maybe something more if he can find a bit more power.I like Kransons bat but he needs a bit more power if he plans to make it any further.It is a good group but the star power is a level below this one.

 

 

I think Gore had a really good year last year. First full season in pro ball and he played great in Cedar Rapids even as a half-timer, and he is also credited with really helping Royce Lewis at shortstop too. Then he skipped Ft. Myers and jumped right to AA where he finally got a chance to play every day. He definitely held his own. I really like Gore as a potential utility infielder... (Of note, I also really liked Alex Perez as a MLB utility infielder and they released him this spring, so I'm not pretending to know anything)

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#14 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 08:18 PM

 

Aggressive promotion for Graterol. I like it.

 

I remember a conversation with Toby Gardenhire in late May 2018 in Cedar Rapids... The organization was already having talks about what the best way to get him to the big leagues was and how quickly it mightbe able to happen and what was best for his long-term development. I'm a little surprised, but this decision fits in well with how they feel about Graterol's potential and readiness.

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#15 DocBauer

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 09:16 PM

This may be a silly sounding statement but everything here just makes sense. Other than Hamilton at catcher, based on his 2018, everyone looks like they belong.

Defensively, at least, it seems the catching is very good. Sure wish Navarreto could actually learn how to hit one of these days, and develop some power with his size, because everything we hear about him defensively is excellent. Maybe im just nuts, but i have this feeling that in a couple of years Grzelowski is going to sneak on to someone's roster, if not ours, as an extra catcher, flexible position player with a decent bat and some pop. But with Garver, Astudillo in play, Rortvedt and Jeffers on the way, it may not be with the Twins.

I find the infield solid but lean. Other than Arraez, just not sure there is a future MLer amongst them. But with Kirilloff and DeLaTrinidad you have the makings of a pretty nice OF! Not to mention hope Davis can take the next step. A little unsure about both Davis and Kerrigan, but there is some potential. English is the guy I'm disappointed/frustrated with. I have seen him as a better version of Granite for a couple years now but he can't stay healthy. Guy has the right approach at the plate, can run, plays great defense and has a good arm. Just not sure he's ever going to have the opportunity to really establish himself.

How can you not like this staff? I am only mildly surprised by Graterol being here. I expect his IP will be monitored to some degree, but his stuff is outstanding and he ranks universally amongst the topp 100 prospects. Additionally, his "hero" is Berrios and he reportedly is doing all he can to follow his rigid training regime. Alcala has stuff that is at least close. Wells was the milb pitcher of the year for good reason. Jax is older than you like, which makes him a wild card, but the Twins gambled on him for a reason. And finally being allowed to peruse his dream, we started to see the potential/results in 2018.

I don't find the pen to be anything outstanding, but Clay, Moran, Cutara and Stashak could change my mind quickly. (Mildly surprised Stashak isn't starting up at Rochester). Pleased and surprised to see Jay still around. I never really expected someone else to claim him. But a little surprised he's even with the Twins still. But pleased he gets one more shot at health to harness such a talented arm. Blast his selection all you want, kid has/had a really good arm with some wicked stuff. Final shot to see what he can do? Probably. But how many times have we seen a "last chance" and someone takes advatage of it? Heres hoping for tbe best.

I see a solid staff, some big bats, some decent bats, good defense and some lineup versatility that should make this a quality first half club who gets even better the second half when...not kidding...half of the Ft Myers club could be ready to advance.
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"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#16 jrod23

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 06:56 AM

I thought Arraez would be up in Rochester, but they do have a platoon of guys, minus Rooker and Gordon, who seem to be AAAA guys in the infield there.
I’m excited to watch these guys throughout the year, but even more after the all-star break.
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#17 caninatl04

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 10:23 AM

Hey Doc B-

As Tyler Jay isn't taking up a 40-man spot, I don't think this is a last chance. The Twins can keep him around for as long as they want and hope their lottery ticket eventually pays off.
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#18 puckstopper1

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 10:31 AM

Thanks Steve and to the others that provided all the previews.Lots of players to track this season across the system.The TD Minor League updates are greatly appreciated for allowing us to do just that!

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That Twins 2nd baseman - #29 - he doesn't run, he "ca-rew-zes" - Earl Weaver


#19 ashbury

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 10:41 AM

Hey Doc B-

As Tyler Jay isn't taking up a 40-man spot, I don't think this is a last chance. The Twins can keep him around for as long as they want and hope their lottery ticket eventually pays off.

Eventually, and I think not too far down the road, he can elect free agency.

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So, in conclusion, what was your question again?


#20 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 10:52 AM

 

Eventually, and I think not too far down the road, he can elect free agency.

 

Can be a free agent after the 2021 season, if my math is correct. 

  • ashbury likes this

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)




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