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Meanwhile, in St. Paul...

taxi squad player pool royce lewis alex kirilloff trevor larnach
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 07 July 2020 - 09:23 PM

While most of the Twins action and video that we will see in 2020 will come from Target Field, don’t forget that there is another group of Twins players working at CHS Field in St. Paul, keeping ready.The St. Paul Saints are the defending champions of the American Association. However, they are starting their 2020 season by playing their home games in Sioux Falls.

The Twins were able to use the Saints’ home ballpark, beautiful CHS Field, for their ‘taxi squad’, the players in the 60-player pool not on the active roster. The group is far enough away and in a separate location to keep the number of people in a stadium at any given time at a minimum. The group is close enough to Target Field that if the Twins have an injury or a positive COVID test, they can easily promote a player from this group to help out during the season without shipping him on a plane across the country. .

On Sunday, a day after he addressed the group at Target Field, Rocco Baldelli traveled across the Mississippi River to briefly address the group of players who make up the taxi squad, or the remainder of the 60-man player pool not on the active roster.

The Message?

Be ready. You never know.

Later on Sunday night, Baldelli told media, “The talk went very well. I think the message is that our group in St. Paul is going to be a huge part of our season. (That) is important to know. We know the situation we’re in. We know that these are uncertain times. We also know that if we are playing in September, or hopefully even after that in October, there’s going to be one or more or many of those players on our team, and potentially contributing in a big way.”

He continued, “There’s no way to ever know who those guys are going to be. But I would bet on that happening. We always want to think that things are going to work out in an optimal way. Everyone’s always going to be healthy. Everyone’s always going to perform. We hope for that. But we also know that we’re always going to have to adjust and part of our adjustments is going to be looking at our group in St. Paul, calling those names, bringing those guys in. And not just having them there as bystanders. Not just there as a support group, but actually counting on them for production and helping us win.”

Baldelli noted that during this “Summer Camp” there will likely be around 20 players working out in St. Paul. That number is subject to change from day to day with guys occasionally spending time at Target Field. When the Twins regular season begins, they will have a 30-player active roster, so the others on the 60-player roster will be in St. Paul.

The group was told not to be surprised if five to ten of them get MLB time this season. They were also told not to be surprised if two or three of them wind up starting games in the playoffs in the Twins make it.

And like the big leaguers, they were told to follow the protocols presented to them. Follow them for yourself. Follow them for your teammates. Follow them because “we” believe that this is a special team and a special year, a year that anything, including the World Series championship can happen.

Baldelli said later on Sunday, “They’ll be over there working on different things. It mainly will be just workouts because it’s hard to do much else, play competitive games and such with a number like that.”

JP Martinez is leading the group in St. Paul. Martinez was drafted by the Twins in 2004 and spent four seasons pitching in the system, reaching AAA. He rejoined the organization as a pitching coach at the facilities in Ft. Myers. He spent a season as pitching coach in Cedar Rapids. Last year, he became the assistant minor league pitching coordinator, a role he really enjoyed. With Pete Maki moving up to the big league bullpen coach job for the 2020 season, Martinez is going to be given a lot of responsibility.

Baldelli said, “JP will be organizing and coordinating the workouts. We’ll be talking to him a lot. We already have to get everything lined up. I will also note that it will not be a situation where we hand the schedule over to them and ask JP to simply follow a schedule. They have to make it work. Every day you’ll have to make a with the group that you have. The group is going to change obviously when we’ve got guys here with us. So JP’s going to be, not just following what we send over. When I say organizing, he’s truly going to be organizing and coordinating.”

But Martinez certainly isn’t doing it on his own. Martinez’s background is in pitching, but he’ll be working with Cibney Bello and Mike McCarthy.

Bello was set to be the Rochester Red Wings pitching coach in 2020. He pitched for five seasons in the Mariners organization and three more seasons of independent baseball. He’s in his fifth season in the organization and has been a pitching coach in the GCL, in Cedar Rapids and in Pensacola. McCarthy pitched six seasons in the Red Sox organization before joining the Red Wings as their bullpen coach in 2018.

The position players will also be getting plenty of attention.
Donegal Fergus was hired as the Twins minor league hitting coordinator this offseason, highly recommended out of UC-Santa Barbara. Billy Boyer is in his second season as the Twins minor league infield and base running coordinator. Matt Borgschulte was scheduled to be the hitting coach for Rochester in 2020. This is his third season in the organization.

As far as what the players will be doing, it’s a lot like what’s happening at Target Field, just without cameras and media. The first workout there was last Thursday, but it was only for those players who had already received the results of their COVID tests. Some players were first tested last Monday, others on Tuesday, so results came in on Thursday or Friday.

Most of the players walk to the ballpark. They are usually split into groups of four or five players and have different scheduled activities from hitting, to working out in the weight room, bullpens and other activities. The are using the visitor’s clubhouse, but as with the players at Target Field, they only get about five minutes to get ready and get outside.

Some of the Twins top prospects are in St.Paul, but there is a lot of talent there. As mentioned, this list is subject to change. These are the players not on the 40-man roster,and some of the younger guys on the 40-man roster. Some of them are currently working at Target Field.

Pitchers
Jhoulys Chacin
Sam Clay
Edwar Colina
Danny Coulombe
Ryan Garton
Cory Gearrin
Caleb Thielbar
Dakota Chalmers (40)
Jhoan Duran (40)

In his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson said that the team would be stretching out ten pitchers who are currently at Target Field. They will also be stretching out Chalmers and Duran, building up their arm strength with the hopes of them being starters down the line.

Catchers
Juan Graterol
Ryan Jeffers
Tomas Telis

Infielders
Royce Lewis
Drew Maggi
Jack Reinheimer
Wilfredo Tovar
Zander Wiel
Travis Blankenhorn (40)

Outfielders
Lane Adams
Alex Kirilloff
Trevor Larnach
Brent Rooker
Gilberto Celestino (40)

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#2 drbob524

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 06:35 AM

I know Gleeman had mentioned something about Toby Gardenhire likely being there as he is the AAA manager. Any word on him?

 


#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 08:26 AM

 

I know Gleeman had mentioned something about Toby Gardenhire likely being there as he is the AAA manager. Any word on him?

 

He's been at Target Field so far. 

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#4 rdehring

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 08:56 AM

Thanks for the update, Seth. Interesting mix of veteran AAAA guys and young prospects. Surprised that a couple of the older pitchers aren't at Target Field as I have seen talk they could make the opening day 30 man roster...guys like Chacin, Thielbar and Coulombe.

 

If this group of 23 is at St. Paul, they have only 35 at Target Field. Means almost all of them will open in Chicago in two weeks. 

 

I know Pineda has to sit out the first 36 games. Is he with the group at Target Field? Or is he not here yet?


#5 Seth Stohs

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 09:34 AM

 

Thanks for the update, Seth. Interesting mix of veteran AAAA guys and young prospects. Surprised that a couple of the older pitchers aren't at Target Field as I have seen talk they could make the opening day 30 man roster...guys like Chacin, Thielbar and Coulombe.

 

If this group of 23 is at St. Paul, they have only 35 at Target Field. Means almost all of them will open in Chicago in two weeks. 

 

I know Pineda has to sit out the first 36 games. Is he with the group at Target Field? Or is he not here yet?

 

I've seen/heard that those three are currently at Target Field (for sure Chacin and Thielbar). 

 

Pineda is at Target Field. He will throw some before the season. When the season begins, he'll work with the St. Paul group. Wes Johnson said yesterday that their intent is to have him ready to start when he returns. 

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#6 yarnivek1972

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 09:55 AM

I’m sure there are other issues, but one that is immediately obvious is the case of an injured starting pitcher. If, for example, Jose Berrios develops a blister and can’t make his scheduled start tomorrow, it could be a problem. Let’s say the Twins played an exceptionally long, bullpen taxing game. None of the “long men” are available to start. Just bring over one of the taxi guys, right? Well, my reading of this article seems to suggest that only a couple of them are going to be “stretched out” as starters. To be effective as starters, they will need to be consistently throwing “simulated games” every 4 or 5 days. What happens if, based on their throw scheduling, neither is available to start that game either?

There’s a reason why having minor leaguers playing actual games is important. My gut tells me that any positive contributions from taxi squad guys will be sheer dumb luck. Frankly, it’s a situation that is likely to result in injury.

#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 10:04 AM

 

I’m sure there are other issues, but one that is immediately obvious is the case of an injured starting pitcher. If, for example, Jose Berrios develops a blister and can’t make his scheduled start tomorrow, it could be a problem. Let’s say the Twins played an exceptionally long, bullpen taxing game. None of the “long men” are available to start. Just bring over one of the taxi guys, right? Well, my reading of this article seems to suggest that only a couple of them are going to be “stretched out” as starters. To be effective as starters, they will need to be consistently throwing “simulated games” every 4 or 5 days. What happens if, based on their throw scheduling, neither is available to start that game either?

There’s a reason why having minor leaguers playing actual games is important. My gut tells me that any positive contributions from taxi squad guys will be sheer dumb luck. Frankly, it’s a situation that is likely to result in injury.

 

Wes Johnson told us yesterday that they are 'stretching out' ten pitchers right now at Target Field and two in St. Paul.

 

Berrios

Odorizzi

Maeda

Hill

Bailey

Dobnak

Smeltzer

Thorpe

Poppen

Chacin

 

Chalmers

Duran

 

He said that he would like to see the team have two long relievers when the season starts and has two weeks of a 30-man active roster, but that they haven't finalized anything at this point. 

 

That means 2-3 of those Target Field bunch will be on the active roster and 2-3 of them will continue working in St. Paul once the season starts. (I say 2-3 because Chacin may or may not have an opt-out and if he gets cut from the active roster at some point, he may or may not choose to go to St. Paul. 

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#8 Ben Noble

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 10:06 AM

As a big fan of making road trips to check out Twins prospects, I’m hoping and praying that this is also a small step towards the Saints becoming a Twins affiliate once minor league ball starts back up.
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#9 Rosterman

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 03:42 PM

I am actually surprised that didn't go aheda and add another 20 players to this pool, like the AAA/AA roster guys, to be the opposing team so they could actually play games and not wear each other oput.

 

I imagine the field will be closed to fans. Wonder if they have housing available for players, or are they on their own for two months at St. Paul/Minneapolis prices. You'd think they could just take over a mid-level hotel for a couple of months.

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#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 03:57 PM

 

I am actually surprised that didn't go aheda and add another 20 players to this pool, like the AAA/AA roster guys, to be the opposing team so they could actually play games and not wear each other oput.

 

I imagine the field will be closed to fans. Wonder if they have housing available for players, or are they on their own for two months at St. Paul/Minneapolis prices. You'd think they could just take over a mid-level hotel for a couple of months.

 

They have options, but most are staying in a hotel the whole time. Team pays for that. But players could do airbnb or other options if they wanted to. 

 

And yes, the field will be closed to fans, media, etc. 


#11 yarnivek1972

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 04:00 PM

I am actually surprised that didn't go aheda and add another 20 players to this pool, like the AAA/AA roster guys, to be the opposing team so they could actually play games and not wear each other oput.

I imagine the field will be closed to fans. Wonder if they have housing available for players, or are they on their own for two months at St. Paul/Minneapolis prices. You'd think they could just take over a mid-level hotel for a couple of months.


It’s all about the Benjamins remember? The more players that are rostered, the more that get paid. Right now, players that aren’t on the taxi squad are getting $400 per week. I’m not sure if they would be eligible for unemployment. But that likely wouldn’t even cover housing for most guys.

#12 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 04:02 PM

I am actually surprised that didn't go aheda and add another 20 players to this pool, like the AAA/AA roster guys, to be the opposing team so they could actually play games and not wear each other oput.
 
I imagine the field will be closed to fans. Wonder if they have housing available for players, or are they on their own for two months at St. Paul/Minneapolis prices. You'd think they could just take over a mid-level hotel for a couple of months.

They already have a total 60 player pool, which is almost 2 1/2 regular teams. I'd imagine simulated games at CHS will be the norm.
I actually just saw an ad today from the Saints that you can watch the taxi squad practice at CHS from the tables at the pop up restaurant currently operating there.
The players are technically responsible for their own housing from an article I saw in the Strib a few weeks ago. I don't know what "St. Paul/Mineapolis prices" means. I suppose they could live anywhere they want to, including suburbs, exurbs, or rural areas that are a reasonable drive to the city. If a player is based at CHS then a small town in Wisconsin east of Hudson is not a difficult commute.

#13 ToriiRules!!

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 06:56 PM

The Saints are playing in Sioux Falls S.D. did I read that right???? I live in Sioux Falls and have heard nothing about this. Our amateur baseball team however has started up but they are the canaries

#14 Shaitan

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 07:36 PM

 

It’s all about the Benjamins remember? The more players that are rostered, the more that get paid. Right now, players that aren’t on the taxi squad are getting $400 per week. I’m not sure if they would be eligible for unemployment. But that likely wouldn’t even cover housing for most guys.

 

And social distancing. More players on the roster means less physical space in the field, dugout, clubhouse etc.


#15 Shaitan

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 07:37 PM

 

The Saints are playing in Sioux Falls S.D. did I read that right???? I live in Sioux Falls and have heard nothing about this. Our amateur baseball team however has started up but they are the canaries

 

I'm sure there's a thread elsewhere, but yes. The whole league is bunkered into (I think) 3 cities. STP & SF sharing a stadium. Winnipeg and Fargo sharing then some others.


#16 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 09:20 PM

I'm sure there's a thread elsewhere, but yes. The whole league is bunkered into (I think) 3 cities. STP & SF sharing a stadium. Winnipeg and Fargo sharing then some others.

The Saints and Canaries are playing game 6 of 6 in a row tonight. Wash, rinse, and repeat three more times with more 6 game series in Sioux Falls.

https://www.saintsba...hedule-released

https://www.argusleader.com/story/sports/minor-league/canaries/2020/06/30/st-paul-saints-ready-defend-american-association-title/5349780002/

#17 DocBauer

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 10:34 PM

I've touched on this before, but will again. The FO has put together a 60 man group...OK, 59...that is AA and above to go all in for depth with prospects available that could conceivably produce, or at least not be embarrassed, if called upon.

So A ball and lower are left out.

Makes perfect sense to me.

But the initial omission of Balazovic is a mystery, and could be related to visa, injury, illness, or some sort of "wait" scenario. He is every bit the prospect Duran is, though younger and no AA experience. But had 2020 been normal, he surely would have been at Pensacola for this year, with honest expectations of reaching Rochester at some point. Expectation and hope would have him making AT LEAST an appearance at the ML level in 2021.

So the forwarding thinking, new age and aggressive FO is going to let one of their top 5 prospects sit for a year? I don't buy it. I have no clue if Balazovic is hurt or sick or anything else. But I'm betting when the smoke clears, and ST 2.0 is done, he comes on board at some point for instruction and development as part of the 60 man roster.
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#18 Melissa

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 09:35 AM

 

But the initial omission of Balazovic is a mystery, and could be related to visa, injury, illness, or some sort of "wait" scenario. He is every bit the prospect Duran is, though younger and no AA experience. ... I have no clue if Balazovic is hurt or sick or anything else. But I'm betting when the smoke clears, and ST 2.0 is done, he comes on board at some point for instruction and development as part of the 60 man roster.

 

I wonder about Balazovic, too. Thanks for reminding us, Doc.




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