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Twins Most Impactful Roster Additions Will Likely Come from St. Paul

derek falvey royce lewis alex kirilloff jhoan duran trevor larnach
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 12:36 AM

We are now less than a week away from the August 31st trade deadline. The Twins have several options, veteran and youthful, that are currently in St. Paul preparing to help the club down the stretch or beyond. Do they need to make a move, or would Derek Falvey be wise to build from what is already in the organization?Derek Falvey talked to media members on a Zoom call on Tuesday afternoon about a variety of topics including the upcoming trade deadline and how the prospects in St. Paul could develop and contribute as soon as needed.

He also reiterated that the Twins goal for the 2020 season remains the same as it was when they arrived in Ft. Myers in February.

““They’re going out there to compete every night to win this World Series. That’s the goal. That hasn’t changed from the day we showed up in Ft. Myers to the day we restarted here in Summer Camp.”

The trade deadline is obviously different in this 2020 season in which so many things are different. There was no July 31st trade deadline as the season wasn’t even a week old at that time. There is, however, a trade deadline on August 31st. At Twins Daily and elsewhere, you will find articles on who the Twins should consider adding or not, which positions do the Twins need help and more.

While many believe that the trade deadline will be quieter than normal, in large part due to more teams being in some sort of contention still, there will be players that could be dealt in the right deal.

Falvey noted, “If there are ways to help our club and opportunities that present, certainly, but we are going to do it on the backs of a lot of the people that are already in the organization.”

Now, as you know, the only players who can be traded are players on the 60-player pools. Of course, the Player To Be Named Later could very possibly be a popular name heard over the next week. Teams are not going to want to trade their top prospects for an impending free agent.

One of those things that teams, front office members, media types say or write each year is that getting Player X or Pitcher Y back is as good as making a trade. A lot of fans hate that, but this year in particular, it is true for the Twins.

Consider this group of players could also return within the next couple of weeks:
  • Michael Pineda’s suspension is complete and he should be inserted into the Twins rotation. He’s been progressing nicely in St. Paul, working in simulated or intrasquad games the past month. We may easily forget that when his suspension kicked in late last year, he was clearly the Twins top starting pitcher. If he can come back near that form, that is going to be impactful. Falvey said that he was hitting 94 this past weekend.
  • Josh Donaldson should be returning, potentially as early as the next homestand sometime. He has now been getting at bats in intrasquad games in St. Paul and still getting his ground ball work in at Target Field too. Falvey acknowledged that they have been “slightly conservative” but for good reason. “He has had a history with calf issues in the past. He has had a history at one point in time maybe rushing it back a bit to try to get back on the field as quickly as possible.”
  • Byron Buxton is feeling “much improved” according to Falvey. “He’s on a good track. He’s on a good course.”
  • Mitch Garver - He’s been getting treatment and improving, but his return will not be in ten days. “He’s focused more on the recovery part right now than he is on the rehab exercises.”
  • Cody Stashak - According to Falvey, he was feeling good through rehab, but did experience some not-unexpected soreness.
  • Jake Odorizzi - He is with the team. He is feeling better, but there is still bruising and soreness. Reports to Falvey indicate that he is getting better day-by-day, but he’s not able to let loose at 100% yet.
  • Zack Littell - He’s had his forearm and elbow checked out. Falvey noted that if not for a need in the bullpen at the time, he may have just been able to miss three or four games.
That said, there are several teams that are going to be looking to trade, and they will be asking for the Twins top prospects, so what are they up to?


MINOR LEAGUERS KEEP WORKING, PROGRESSING

Let’s start with some good news.

Derek Falvey announced yesterday that Nick Gordon has cleared COVID testing protocol and the Orlando native will soon head to Ft. Myers to begin the rehab process.

“We’ll anticipate seeing him progress from a strength and conditioning standpoint first, and then we’ll go into baseball activities. That could take a few weeks.”

At that point, he can head to St. Paul and be added into the 60-player pool.

The players in St. Paul have been there for about six weeks. Aside from those who have been called up to the Twins or took a road trip with the team on the taxi squad, things can get a big monotonous.

Derek Falvey said he spoke this week with the coaching staff and some of the players and it isn’t necessarily easy.

“It feels quite a bit like Groundhog Day. There’s no way around that. They don’t play another team. They face each other every day. We’re trying to come up with some fun ideas to have some interesting competitions which our guys have really adapted to.”

In talking with some of the players, they have worked to avoid boredom away from the ballpark with going on some hikes, playing video games and streaming television and movies.

But the important stuff is that they are working and able to improve under a structured system. They are really able to focus on areas of their game.

“We spend some days focused on individual skill development, in a way that we normally wouldn't over the course of the regular season.” Falvey continued, “I’ve always wanted that to some degree. Our minor league seasons, they play a game every night. Sometimes you can’t focus as much on the individual skill development.”

But they are playing games. Yes, intra-squad games or simulated games for pitchers. And, although to this point we can’t watch those games anywhere on TV or online, we do know there are some very talented prospects there. Let’s start with the hitters. Falvey said they are all doing well.

“In terms of the games, really a lot of our guys have looked good. Ryan Jeffers, before he came over, was swinging the bat well. I think Trevor Larnach has continued to progress. Alex Kirilloff. Royce Lewis. All of these guys on the offensive side, some of our premium prospects, have really swung the bat well.“

In addition, Travis Blankenhorn provides some versatility and power. With such a left-handed heavy lineup, Brent Rooker and maybe Zander Wiel and their power potential could be options as well.

Speaking of Royce Lewis, since Byron Buxton’s injury, I have heard many people ask if Royce Lewis is getting any time in center field in St. Paul. Since he went to the Arizona Fall League last year (where he was named league MVP) and played centerfield and third base and second base, Twins fans are curious about his future position.

A source in the state’s capital city tells me that Lewis has only practiced and played shortstop at CHS Field and has been told there is no plan to alter that any time soon.

There are several really exciting arms in St. Paul too. Falvey went into some detail on two pitchers who are on the 40-man roster and made a strong impression at Summer Camp.

“Jhoan Duran has thrown the ball well for a good portion of camp. We’ve been really careful with him just to make sure, for all the pitchers, and for a lot of reasons as we look at challenges for pitchers with the second restart across the game, making sure that we’re being particularly careful. Dakota Chalmers’ stuff has looked really good. Command still remains an area of focus for him.”

In addition, when discussing players that may be able to contribute to a September run, he mentioned a name the Twins fans are starting to hear more and more often. “Edwar Colina came back and he’s throwing the ball well, as well.”

Of course, aside from rehab players and some hardship cases such as international players unable to travel, the Twins minor league facilities in Ft. Myers are not yet open. That’s true across MLB organizations.

At this point, there still aren’t any official plans for fall or winter leagues or the option for teams to bring in players for camps. There is no timeline. There are, however, discussions on if, when and how something can happen for all those minor league players who are currently at their homes working out, trying to remain ready when needed.

Falvey said, ““I hope we’ll be doing something for them toward the end of this year. To this point, we’ve had some conversations with Major League Baseball about the potential for what the Fall can look like. There have been rumors about the Arizona Fall League and the Instructional League and different things that we can do for those players.”

Right now, the only players that teams are allowed to work with (except rehab players) are guys in the 60-player pools. They can’t bring in players to do anything, or even allow players who want to just be there to work out in Ft. Myers.

For those players, at this time, they are doing some work remotely. Falvey said that they have and are “building some developmental plans and training plans throughout our system for players who aren’t here.”

Until they are allowed to do more, their hands are tied.

Lewis Thorpe has joined RHP Juan Minaya and UT Willians Astudillo on the Twins taxi squad in Cleveland in case there is a need.

The rest of the players, those in St. Paul, will get up and go to work at CHS Field again tomorrow, and the next day, trying to avoid boredom, and more importantly, trying to improve and be ready when called upon.

So to summarize, the Twins will take and make phone calls with other MLB teams over the next week. They will listen. If there are deals that make sense for the Twins in 2020 and beyond, a deal could be consummated. If not, the Twins have some talented veteran hitters and pitchers who could return from injury or suspension in the very near future and contribute mightily. They also have some great hitting and pitching prospects who are ready, or nearly ready, if an opportunity presents itself.

It should be an exciting week, but more important, it should be an exciting next month, or hopefully two, for the Twins and their fans!

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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 06:45 AM

I am so ready to see a couple more from St Paul.I know - we are winning, but Adrianza has been over exposed - couldn't Blankenhorn have handled third for a week? I keep hearing about all the left handed bats - including subs Cave and Wade, but your article mentions Rooker and there is no reason he could not be the fourth OF for a while. 

 

I remain puzzled that they did not have Balazovic there for the fundamentals development that you discuss.  

 

The taxi squad confuses me.If they travel with the team can they just be quickly added to the roster when there is an injury or need?  


#3 rdehring

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 07:25 AM

I am hopeful, Seth, that you are right about the lack of trades by the Twins over the next five days.

 

Good news to hear that Gordon is able to start working towards a return. Considering he must be on the COVID list as the Twins otherwise would have 41 on the 40, I expect his preparation to return will go very slowly.


#4 4twinsJA

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 07:34 AM

We, Twins fans, are anxious to see some of the prospects get a shot. Cave, Wade, Adrianza are OK as back ups to give someone a day off, but now with injuries would have liked to see what Rooker, Blankenhorn, Kiriloff could have done. Great to see Jeffers get an opportunity, doing good defensively, hitting will progress.


#5 Danchat

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 08:20 AM

Finally, there's confirmation that Gordon wasn't actually on the 60 man pool. I hope he's OK after a long bout with the virus.

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#6 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:10 AM

 

The taxi squad confuses me.If they travel with the team can they just be quickly added to the roster when there is an injury or need?  

 

When they go on a road trip, they can bring up to 5 'taxi squad' players on the trip. This trip, they originally brought Astudillo, Minaya, Coulombe and Poppen. When Odo and Littell went on the IL, they activated Coulombe and Poppen. 

 

That way, those guys were there. They didn't have to rush them onto a commercial flight, and they're ready to go right away. 


#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:11 AM

 

I am hopeful, Seth, that you are right about the lack of trades by the Twins over the next five days.

 

Good news to hear that Gordon is able to start working towards a return. Considering he must be on the COVID list as the Twins otherwise would have 41 on the 40, I expect his preparation to return will go very slowly.

 

Probably depends on how much he has been able to do at home in Orlando during this time. He's obviously in great shape, but it could take a week to just get into a little better shape and then he can start doing more and more baseball activity before going to St. Paul. It'll just take time.  


#8 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:17 AM

 

We, Twins fans, are anxious to see some of the prospects get a shot. Cave, Wade, Adrianza are OK as back ups to give someone a day off, but now with injuries would have liked to see what Rooker, Blankenhorn, Kiriloff could have done. Great to see Jeffers get an opportunity, doing good defensively, hitting will progress.

 

This year is a little different too. Normally I'd be able to say that I'd rather have those guys stay in the minor leagues and keep getting at bats than sitting on the bench in the big leagues. This year, there aren't minor league games. 

However, as Falvey also told us, there is a line there too. In St. Paul, they are able to get more live at bats in intrasquad games or facing live pitching than if they're on the bench or on the taxi squad. 

 

Adrianza is a proven, solid MLB utility player who has earned him time. Cave has been really solid (to above solid) as a fourth outfielder the last two years. Blankenhorn can probably play 3B adequately, though he played just two games there in 2019 and has moved more to 2B, but he's told me in the past that he knows versatility will be important to him. 

 

I do like the idea of Rooker as a right-handed bat option rather than four lefty options in the corner OF (Rosario, Kepler, Cave, Wade). Kirilloff and Larnach and Blankenhorn are all left-handed too. 

 

The Jeffers promotion tells me that they are willing to call up the prospects if they're the player that can most help the team win in a needed role. 

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#9 blindeke

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:38 AM

Wait, so are lots of the minor league prospects down in Fort Meyers? Or are they just sitting at home somewhere?


#10 USAFChief

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 12:29 PM

"It's just like making a trade."

Well no. No it's not.

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#11 Doctor Gast

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 01:13 PM

Really happy & surprised to see Jeffers advanced so quickly. But disappointed that they aren`t working w/ Lewis in CF. I see one of our greatest needs is mid fielder subs. Lewis can play all 3 positions CF, SS & 2B well why not utilize his talent. Polanco will be around a long time & hopefully Buxton & Arrais will be around awhile, I see Lewis as a super utility player before settling at one position. W/ Cave in a slump, I`d like to see Booker given a chance as a RH platoon at corner OF


#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 01:14 PM

 

Wait, so are lots of the minor league prospects down in Fort Meyers? Or are they just sitting at home somewhere?

 

The minor leaguers can't be in the facillities in Ft. Myers, except for rehabs and "hardship cases" (a lot of the guys from Venezuela couldn't go back, so they're there). Everyone else is at home. 


#13 USAFChief

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 01:47 PM

Kevin Pillar makes a lot of sense.
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#14 rdehring

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 01:50 PM

 

Probably depends on how much he has been able to do at home in Orlando during this time. He's obviously in great shape, but it could take a week to just get into a little better shape and then he can start doing more and more baseball activity before going to St. Paul. It'll just take time.  

My point, Seth, wasn't related to how long it will take him to get into playing shape. Rather, I suspect he will be brought along slowly because when/if he has to come off the COVID list, someone is going to have to be DFA'd off the 40-man. That's the reason I expect things to go very slow.


#15 DocBauer

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:03 PM

Kevin Pillar makes a lot of sense.


Read an article recently that mentioned him as a target for the Twins for something low level in return unless Boston were to package a RP in the deal for a greater return. My initial thought was no, we have enough depth there. And I'm sorry but I can't recall the proposed names right now, but one was a LH with at least 1 more season of control. And with injuries mounting, suddenly a package deal doesn't sound so crazy to me.

But other than Pillar, I agree the best thing that could happen is the Twins just get healthy and get their own guys back.
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#16 Channing1964

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 03:56 AM

wow this thread kind of blew up. I cant speak for anyone else but I'd like to hear more about Celestino. One of our weaknesses is when Buxton goes down. I hear nothing but good about Celestino. No offense against Wade jr. but during this time now, why don't we see what Celestino can do?
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#17 Blackjack

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 06:12 AM

Disapointing to hear of Donaldsons injury, especially when you hear 'he has a history of calf injuries'. Where were the Twins trainers?? They should have been on top of that and working with him every day.

 

And then there the often injured Buxton. Its a head shaker. At some point it has to more than just 'bad luck'.

 

I hope the Twins don't give up any top prospects in a trade, MLB is only one or two Covid breakouts from having to cancel their already shortened season.


#18 Seth Stohs

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 08:26 AM

 

wow this thread kind of blew up. I cant speak for anyone else but I'd like to hear more about Celestino. One of our weaknesses is when Buxton goes down. I hear nothing but good about Celestino. No offense against Wade jr. but during this time now, why don't we see what Celestino can do?

 

Celestino spent maybe a month at High-A Ft. Myers at the end of last season. He's not really ready with the bat yet, but yes, his potential is hgh. Defensively, he could come up and play CF now. 

 

Wade is much more ready at this point. I mean, he's 5 years older and played 3 years in college and 5 years in the minors. Wade's approach at the plate is mature, advanced. Given an opportunity he would be just fine. He's stretched in CF, but he's fine in the corners (and he's adequate in CF). 




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