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Article: Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - May 2019

lewin diaz trevor larnach ryan jeffers travis blankenhorn jared akins
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 08:07 AM

Wow! Two months of the minor league season is already complete. The draft is nigh. It’s time to hand out some more hardware (unfortunately not actual hardware, but virtual hardware). Today we start by looking at the hitters in the Twins organization who had strong showings in the month of May. There were some great offensive performances by some of the Twins top prospects.

Previous 2019 Hitters of the Month:

April - Trey CabbageLet’s take a look at the Top 5 hitters for the month of May, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention.

HONORABLE MENTION
  • Andrew Bechtold - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 35-112, .241/.382/.425 (.807) with five doubles, one triple and three home runs.
  • Yeltsin Encarnacion - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 30-99, .303/.384/364 (.748) with one double, one triple, one homer.
  • Nick Gordon - Rochester Red Wings - 20-66, .303/.338/.485 (.823) with seven doubles, one triple, and one home run.
  • Jaylin Davis - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 20-85, .235/.398/.400 (.798) with two doubles, four homers.
  • Drew Maggi - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 25-86, .291/.404/.407 (.811) with four doubles and two homers.
  • Luke Raley - Rochester Red Wings -20-52, .385/.429/.596 (1.025) with two doubles and three homers.
  • Aaron Whitefield - Ft. Myers Miracle - 22-79, .278/.344/.481 (.825) with seven doubles and three homers.
  • Ben Rortvedt - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 17-57, .298/.379/.509 (.888) with three doubles and three homers.
THE TOP FIVE HITTERS

Number 5 - Cedar Rapids Kernels - OF Jared Akins - ..328/.365/.707 (1.072), 19-58 with three doubles, two triples and five home runs.

While Akins has fewer at-bats than the others in the Top 5, it’s impossible not to look at his May numbers and be impressed. Consider this. The 22-year-old was in extended spring training until May 14th when he made his 2019 Kernels debut. And all he has done since then is hit, and provide the Kernels with big power. He’s hit for average and more than half of his hits have gone for extra bases. He was the Twins 13th-round pick out of Fresno State in 2017.


Number 4 – Ft. Myers Miracle - C Ryan Jeffers - .325/.385/.506 (.891). 29-92 with six doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI.

Since starting the season by going 1-for-17 in his first five games, Jeffers has hit over .300. He was very good, and very consistent, throughout the month of May. He hit for average, took some walks, kept his K-Rate down and showed some good extra base power. The Twins surprised the draft experts when Jeffers was their second-round pick a year ago out of UNC-Wilmington. He signed quickly and dominated the Appalachian League before jumping to Cedar Rapids for the final month of the season. The Twins pushed him to Ft. Myers this year and he has responded well. He was named a Florida State League All-Star.

Number 3 - Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 2B Travis Blankenhorn - .308/.339/.525 (.864), 37-120 with five doubles, seven homers and 19 RBI.

Normally when you move up a level, it is supposed to get more difficult. However, after a year and a month in Ft. Myers with the Miracle, Travis Blankenhorn has been really good in his first month in Pensacola. He has struck out a bit, but he has provided power near the top of the Blue Wahoos lineup. The Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania, Blankenhorn is one of the best athletes in the organization .

Number 2 - Ft. Myers Miracle – OF Trevor Larnach - .371/.456/.619 (1.075), 36-97 with 10 doubles, one triple, four homers and 17 RBI.

The Twins' first-round pick a year ago had a fantastic month in Ft. Myers in May. He began the season by going 3-for-23 through his first six games. Since then, he has been remarkably consistent. Since that time, only once has he had back-to-back 0-fers. He has added the power to his game in May. On May 7th, he hit his first and second homers of the year. He added two more late in the month. He had 11 multi-hit games in May. He had three, three-hit games and two four-hit games. He was named to the Florida State League All-Star team, which is likely when he could see a promotion to Double-A.

And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:

Ft. Myers Miracle – 1B Lewin Diaz - .317/.351/.702 (1.053), 33-104 with eight doubles, one triple and ten homers and 22 RBI.



It was a power-filled month for Lewin Diaz. He set the Miracle franchise record for home runs in a month with ten. That surpassed the previous record of nine which had been set by Kennys Vargas and Miguel Sano. Diaz was a big prospect signed by the Twins out of the Dominican Republic. He was the Twins Daily choice for short-season Hitter of the year in 2016 when he hit over .300 and added 15 doubles and nine homers in Elizabethton. He had a solid 2017 season in Cedar Rapids when he hit .292 with 33 doubles and 12 homers. He began 2018 in Ft. Myers, and struggled through the first half of the season. Then he broke his wrist and missed the rest of the season.

He continued to work on his body and showed up to spring training looking long and lean, probably actually in the “best shape of his life.” And he has been hitting well ever since. He’s pretty mobile around first base. But his bat remains very strong. He uses the whole field very well. And, he’s still got the power as he illustrated in May. He also was named to the Florida State League All-Star Game and could get to Pensacola this season.



We would like to congratulate Lewin Diaz, Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month for May 2019. Feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions.

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#2 Dman

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 09:23 AM

I never liked the Diaz pick.Thought he would be a fat, slow, swing and miss 1st baseman.I am very impressed at what great shape he appears to be in and the way he is hitting the ball is even more impressive.HR's are hard to come by in the FS league and he doesn't appear to be having trouble. He has a good eye at the plate as his K rate is just under 20%.He doesn't walk much but making contact is just as important as walk rate and he can barrel up the ball.Congrats to Lewin on proving my assumptions wrong and having a Fantastic month of May.

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#3 rdehring

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 09:37 AM

Thanks Seth for doing these each month, it is appreciated.

 

Seeing that .385 average and 1.025 OPS from Raley, surprised he didn't make the Top 5.Was it because he got injured and only played about half the month?

 

Count me amongst those who had forgotten about Diaz by the end of last year.Considering he was Rule 5 eligible and no one selected him in last December's draft, guess the rest of baseball also forgot about him.Doubt he will be eligible this December, eh Seth?

 

And it is always good seeing first round picks doing well.Twins may have gotten it right last June.Would be great to get a top starter with a mid-round pick.

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#4 jsteve96

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 09:39 AM

 

I never liked the Diaz pick.Thought he would be a fat, slow, swing and miss 1st baseman. 

Lucky for you he never was a pick and never really was fat. He signed as an International free agent and was 6'4 185 Lbs before the last couple years of bulking up. He's also hit quite a few triples in his pro career, so he hasn't been that slow. also has never had a bad K rate too. must be thinking of a different player.

 

Congrats to Lewin, well deserved!

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#5 dbminn

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:36 AM

Interesting list of hitters. A few tips of the hat:

  • Lewin Diaz - I hope they move him to Pensacola soon. He needs to face pitchers who will force him to be more selective. He pretty much destroyed A+ ball in May.
  • Aaron Whitefield - I have no idea why I cheer for the Aussies. Maybe because they aren't from a baseball hotbed. He's still only 22 and seems to be a legit defensive CF. Still too many Ks but he's making progress. I'm happy for the guy.
  • Luke Raley - Honorable Mention? The guy just doesn't get enough love. Too many Ks here too, but plenty to like. 
  • Jaylin Davis - He has methodically made his way through the system. Time to move him to AAA - whenever they feel Larnach is ready for Pensacola. He might end up a AAAA OF, but I'm cheering for him. 

I'm aware the last three players are not top prospects. They deserve some respect because they're making themselves hard to replace.

 

Thanks for the work, Seth!

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#6 dbminn

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:41 AM

I didn't even mention Blankenhorn... Welcome back to top-prospect land, Travis!

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#7 Don't Feed the Greed Guy

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:49 AM

Fort Myers may have to change its name?
*Maulers?
*Flight Zone?
*Bat Flips?

#8 Danchat

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:55 AM

 

Thanks Seth for doing these each month, it is appreciated.

 

Seeing that .385 average and 1.025 OPS from Raley, surprised he didn't make the Top 5.Was it because he got injured and only played about half the month?

 

Count me amongst those who had forgotten about Diaz by the end of last year.Considering he was Rule 5 eligible and no one selected him in last December's draft, guess the rest of baseball also forgot about him.Doubt he will be eligible this December, eh Seth?

 

And it is always good seeing first round picks doing well.Twins may have gotten it right last June.Would be great to get a top starter with a mid-round pick.

I think he's actually been rule 5 eligible for the past two rule 5 drafts... if he keeps this up, he's going to join a long line of guys the Twins need to add to the 40 man roster.

 

I wouldn't mind if they traded Diaz in a package for a pitcher. Not sure how much value he has at this point, however.

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Check out my work at Purple Pain, a Vikings forum: 

Analyzing the Past Decade of Vikings Offseasons


#9 PDX Twin

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:56 AM

Harsh on Larnach! But I can't disagree.

 

This is one of the things not to like about rankings: there are times when two or more deserve the prize (and times when no one does).

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It's great to get out of the cellar ... as long as you bring something with you.


#10 rdehring

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 11:15 AM

 

I think he's actually been rule 5 eligible for the past two rule 5 drafts... if he keeps this up, he's going to join a long line of guys the Twins need to add to the 40 man roster.

 

I wouldn't mind if they traded Diaz in a package for a pitcher. Not sure how much value he has at this point, however.

I thought they would have a lot of problems getting everyone protected this year also.Then took a look.Smerltzer is no longer a concern as he is on the roster.I see 8 or 9 players that will likely be added: Blankenhorn, Jax, Hackimer, Diaz, Raley, Alcala, Graterol, Duran and Javier.There are a few others that could play themselves into consideration by fall, but the above group probably need to be added or lost.When I look at the current 40-man, there are lots of players that will either be gone or can be removed so I don't see this being a problem. 

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#11 Dman

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 11:45 AM

 

Lucky for you he never was a pick and never really was fat. He signed as an International free agent and was 6'4 185 Lbs before the last couple years of bulking up. He's also hit quite a few triples in his pro career, so he hasn't been that slow. also has never had a bad K rate too. must be thinking of a different player.

 

Congrats to Lewin, well deserved!

 

Yeah I should have said signed but the Twins did PICK him over other IFA's so I used the word pick.He never was fat but I had heard things about him needing to watch his conditioning I assumed that meant not to get too heavy or that there was at least a concern he would get too heavy.As for slow MLB.com had him as a 30 runner to me that is not that fast but maybe they made a typo?Never said he had a bad K rate just that he was under 20 percent with a good eye.Below is MLB's scoutng report on him.

 

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

The Twins signed Diaz out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million, then watched him struggle a bit during his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2014 and again in the Gulf Coast League in 2015. Things really started to click in the Appalachian League in 2016 and he made a successful move to full-season ball that included a Midwest League All Star nod in 2017. He didn't back that up with a strong performance in the Florida State League in 2018 and a fractured right thumb sidelined him in late July.

 

Diaz's value lies in his offensive potential from the left side of the plate. Over the past two seasons, he's shown an ability to make consistent contact and drive the ball to all fields. He has tremendous raw power that he is still learning to tap into and it has been really encouraging that he has kept his strikeouts low and hasn't sold out to try to hit the ball over the fence. A below-average runner, Diaz will be a first baseman only and should be capable enough to not be a liability there.

 

As long as Diaz continues to watch his conditioning and continues to refine his approach at the plate, he should fit the profile of a run-producing first baseman in the future. He'll play all of the 2018 season at age 21.

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#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:15 PM

 

Thanks Seth for doing these each month, it is appreciated.

 

Seeing that .385 average and 1.025 OPS from Raley, surprised he didn't make the Top 5.Was it because he got injured and only played about half the month?

 

Count me amongst those who had forgotten about Diaz by the end of last year.Considering he was Rule 5 eligible and no one selected him in last December's draft, guess the rest of baseball also forgot about him.Doubt he will be eligible this December, eh Seth?

 

And it is always good seeing first round picks doing well.Twins may have gotten it right last June.Would be great to get a top starter with a mid-round pick.

 

Yeah, Raley only played half the month... which is also true of Akins who had even better numbers. Raley has made an impression in the organization.

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#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:20 PM

 

Lucky for you he never was a pick and never really was fat. He signed as an International free agent and was 6'4 185 Lbs before the last couple years of bulking up. He's also hit quite a few triples in his pro career, so he hasn't been that slow. also has never had a bad K rate too. must be thinking of a different player.

 

Congrats to Lewin, well deserved!

 

I don't think Diaz was every 185, maybe when he signed as a 16 year old. I think he was closer to about 270+ at his peak. He lost a bunch of weight before the 2018 season and ended last year at about 220. I think he was down even a little bit more this spring. As you can see from the photo shown today, I doubt he's much more than 200-210. 

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#14 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:21 PM

 

Harsh on Larnach! But I can't disagree.

 

This is one of the things not to like about rankings: there are times when two or more deserve the prize (and times when no one does).

 

I remember telling myself to write "if anyone says that Larnach should be #1 this month, I won't put up too much of an argument "

He's been very good. 

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#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:23 PM

 

I thought they would have a lot of problems getting everyone protected this year also.Then took a look.Smerltzer is no longer a concern as he is on the roster.I see 8 or 9 players that will likely be added: Blankenhorn, Jax, Hackimer, Diaz, Raley, Alcala, Graterol, Duran and Javier.There are a few others that could play themselves into consideration by fall, but the above group probably need to be added or lost.When I look at the current 40-man, there are lots of players that will either be gone or can be removed so I don't see this being a problem. 

 

Of that group, I would say that Alcala, Graterol, Duran and Javier are the givens. The others will be about roster spot availability. I think Blankenhorn and Jax would be next in line... But if Diaz keeps this up, then yes, he will need to be added too. Plenty of roster spots to add more though. 


#16 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 02:07 PM

pretty impressive to have 4 guys in the system clear 1.000 with their OPS this month. 

 

Now if we can get Lewis and Kirrilloff back on track, that would be awesome.

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#17 dbminn

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 02:19 PM

 

Of that group, I would say that Alcala, Graterol, Duran and Javier are the givens. The others will be about roster spot availability. I think Blankenhorn and Jax would be next in line... But if Diaz keeps this up, then yes, he will need to be added too. Plenty of roster spots to add more though. 

 

Next year's expanded roster might allow an awful team to stash someone like Raley, or maybe even Blankenhorn or Diaz. I could see Raley selected by Baltimore or SF.


#18 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 02:59 PM

Glad to see Rortvedt and Jeffers both doing so well.

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#19 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 04:41 AM

I just want to note the name “Yeltsin Encarnacion.”

Also, good job Gordon, Raley, Rortvedt, Jeffers, Blankenhorn, Larnach, and Diaz. Quite a few of the kids had very good months! Now let’s hope Royce Lewis gets going.

#20 D.C Twins

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 12:08 PM

All impressive, but Blankenhorn is the most pleasant surprise this year!




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