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Twins Add Balazovic, Rortvedt and Ober to their 40-Man Roster


Seth Stohs
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On Friday, the Minnesota Twins announced that they have added catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-handed pitchers Jordan Balazovic and Bailey Ober to their 40-man roster.Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker and Edwar Colina would have been obvious additions to the 40-man roster on Friday, but the Twins added them during the season.

 

That left Jordan Balazovic as the one easy choice for them to add to their 40-man roster, and on Friday they did. In addition, they added catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-hander Bailey Ober as well.

 

That said, there are a lot of good prospects that were left off of the roster still. The Rule 5 draft will take place December 10th, and players such as Akil Baddoo, Jose Miranda, Yunior Severino, Wander Javier, Luis Rijo, Gabriel Maciel, Griffin Jax, Tyler Wells, and Charlie Barnes were left unprotected. For a more complete list, click here.

 

 

BACK TO BALAZOVIC

 

The 22-year-old right-hander was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2016 out of St. Martin Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto). His area scout that signed him was Walt Burrows. After an impressive debut in the GCL that summer, he really struggled at the same level in 2017.

 

However, he was a new pitcher in 2018. In late May, he moved up to Ceadr Rapids and was quite impressive. He went 7-3 with a 3.94 ERA. In 61 2/3 innings, he had 78 strikeouts with just 18 walks. The season pushed his prospect status very high, reaching into the top ten among Twins prospects and even into some national Top 100 lists.

 

In 2019, he spent the first month with the Kernels. He went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in four starts before moving up to the Miracle. In his first Miracle start, he tossed seven no-hit innings and struck out ten batters. He went 6-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 more games. Combined, he had 129 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 93 2/3 innings. His season ended with a playoff start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

 

 

When Deron Johnson drafted Balazovic, he saw a lanky pitcher with raw ability and a strong understanding of pitching. Johnson later told me that when he saw him again in 2018, he was now touching 95 and his breaking pitches were much sharper.

 

Balazovic was added to the Twins alternate site roster for the final month of the season.

 

Also, it's pronounced (buh-law-zuh-vic)...

 

More on Jordan Balazovic:

BACKING BAILEY

 

When it comes to putting up numbers, Bailey Ober has done just that. He was the Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston where he was the country's Freshman of the Year. Unfortunately, the 6-9 righty had Tommy John surgery which cost him a season and his recovery pushed him down in the draft.

 

He has missed time since joining the Twins organization too. However, when he has pitched, he has been really good. In 2018, he went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA in Ft. Myers before moving up to AA Pensacola where he went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Combined, he struck out 100 and walked just nine batters in 78 2/3 innings.

 

More On Ober

 

BACKSTOP BEN

 

Ben Rortvedt has also been added to the Twins 40-man roster. The Verona, Wisconsin, native was the first of two straight second round picks in 2016, one pick ahead of Jose Miranda.

 

He has been invited to big-league spring training the past two seasons. In 2019, he started in Ft. Myers. After 24 games, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he played in 55 games. Combined, he hit .239/.332/.355 (.687) with 16 doubles and seven homers before an late-season knee injury ended his regular season. He attempted to play in the Arizona Fall League but was unable to and had knee surgery.

 

Rortvedt is strong and athletic behind the plate. He's got good agility and a strong arm. He's really improved on his pitch framing in recent seasons as well. He's smart, works well with pitchers and is able to call a strong game.

 

More On Rortvedt

Posted Image

 

 

What are your thoughts on the Twins additions to the 40-man roster?

 

The roster currently has 37 players on it: 19 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders and eight outfielders.

 

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So 37 on the roster means 3 slots for FAs? Or are there injured players that need to be added?

 

I think Gordon and Romero need to be added back yet... But yeah, these three players can't be removed from the 40-man roster until spring training. But they have several others that still could be DFAd if/when spots are needed. And, arbitration choices still coming next week. 

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6 infielders is light. But remember, the Twins don't need to add players like Royce Lewis yet. 

 

Yes, they have an abundance of names in the outfield. Is Rosario not offered arbitration? Do you need both Cave and Wade still? Especially with Rooker and Kirilloff in the mix...not to mention Celestino.

 

Be interesting to see what happens with Griffin Jax. And Wander Javier. Miranda and Severino can still remain in the mix as I doubt no one will claim them for a year of major league play.

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Not quite on topic, sorry, but Celestino is the only Twin currently on a roster in the Dominican winter league. He plays for the Gigantes, batted leadoff in their last game. Gameday box scores as well as season stats can be found at mlb.stats.offseasonleagues. Some interesting players in the league, eg Wander Franco. No fans apparently. A bit surprised Romero isn't playing, although rosters can change dramatically.

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6 IF feels light.

 

It really does, so I had to think. Who are the 6?

 

Sano.

Arraez.

Donaldson.

Polanco.

Blankenhorn.

Gordon. 

 

In theory, they could go into the season with that... but they'll certainly replace Adrianza (maybe with Adrianza or someone else), and maybe add another utility guy in the Marwin Gonzalez likeness that can play around the diamond.  So, I don't see them going above eight. 

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Be interesting to see what happens with Griffin Jax. And Wander Javier. Miranda and Severino can still remain in the mix as I doubt no one will claim them for a year of major league play.

 

If they're not taken, they're not free agents for 2-4 more years... and that's exciting to have that type of talent not on the 40-man roster. Depth is a great thing. 

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I think this is about exactly as it should be. I admit to being surprised by Ober's addition. You simply can't deny the production. He has been outstanding when on the mound. Obviously the Twins believe time, a few adjustments, etc, will alleviate some of his injury concerns. I've been wondering if his injury issues have been mechanical with his big frame, or if he's also been still growing in to that frame, or a combination of both. From my understanding, despite being tall and long, his velocity only sits in the high 80's and low 90's. I have suspected his length gives his FB a "jump" that gives the illusion of greater velocity. Does Johnson find a few more MPH with adjustments? I find him SO intriguing if he can just be healthy.

 

Balazovic and Rortvedt just make obvious sense. No need to comment on J Blaze. And a young catcher with tons of talent and potential that doesn't have to be rushed is someone you hold on to.

 

From those left off, Jax is the only guy that I actually see being selected and maybe sticking with someone, especially a non contender and a return of the 28 man roster. But even then, with no milb season last year, I'm expecting the rule 5 to be very limited this year.

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When we discussed this before, I basically talked myself into believing that no one ever takes a catcher in the Rule 5 draft anymore. Obviously, the Twins FO did not listen to my inner monologue. :) I hope Rortvedt proves to be a capable callup for when injuries strike, because they usually do. I fear that he's still a bit raw.

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It really does, so I had to think. Who are the 6?

 

Sano.

Arraez.

Donaldson.

Polanco.

Blankenhorn.

Gordon. 

 

In theory, they could go into the season with that... but they'll certainly replace Adrianza (maybe with Adrianza or someone else), and maybe add another utility guy in the Marwin Gonzalez likeness that can play around the diamond.  So, I don't see them going above eight. 

I agree.

 

And it's a position, like the 4th catcher, where it's possible to get a few MiLB FA or timely waiver wire claims to fill the void. It's how they got Adrianza, after all.

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Also the Twins signed 2 pitchers to minor league contracts, LHP Danny Coulombe and RHP Derek Law. Coulombe (KOO-lohm) pitched in 2 games for the Twins in 2020 giving up no runs, and Law was part of the Rangers player pool but didn't see any MLB action. So we've added a couple of bullpen arms to the mix for the spring.

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When we discussed this before, I basically talked myself into believing that no one ever takes a catcher in the Rule 5 draft anymore. Obviously, the Twins FO did not listen to my inner monologue. :) I hope Rortvedt proves to be a capable callup for when injuries strike, because they usually do. I fear that he's still a bit raw.

I 100% agree he's raw. I think he's at least a year away. Honestly, I doubt anyone would select him. Even if they did, would they really stash him for a full season? I doubt it. But the FO obviously sees his potential. And with Garver, Jeffers on hand, with Telis and Astudillo available, there is no pressure. But he is an emergency option who now gets a chance for a full season to develop and we see what he is when 2021 is done.

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Anybody who pays close attention to our rankings knows I love Ben Rortvedt. I've had him ranked 11th, 12th and 13th in the system over the last three handbooks.

 

Didn't get to see him at all this year, obviously, but I've always been a big believer in his defense and the way he carries himself as a leader/manager of the pitching staff. There's never been any question about whether he'd stick behind the plate or not. His physique is proof enough of his work ethic. The dude is jacked.

 

He had a solid .745 OPS vs. RHP in 2018 and a .763 OPS against them in '19. Keep in mind 43% of his plate appearances over that span came in the FSL, where hardly anybody hits, let alone 20/21 year old catchers. Speaking of which, he was also facing pitchers who were older than him in 94% of his plate appearances over that same stretch. He didn't face the stiffest competition in high school, being from Wisconsin, so squaring off against these more advanced pitchers had to have been a huge learning experience.

 

The overall offensive numbers aren't great, and he's really struggled against lefties, but I still think there's a lot to like. He knows how to work an at-bat. In 2019 he was starting to show a little opposite-field power, as four of his seven homers went out to left field.

 

All that being said, is he ready? Probably not. Might another team have found room for him? There are a handful of teams with incredibly bad catching situations right now. I would not have been shocked to see him selected.

 

I also think some teams may have found him interesting in terms of the potential to extract the secrets of Tanner Swanson's (former Twins catching coordinator who was hired away by the Yankees) crazy half-split/pretzel crouch framing techniques that Rortvedt, Garver and Jeffers all do.

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Not surprised by the Rortvedt addition, but I am surprised that Ober makes the 40 man. He's got the crazy numbers, but the question will be if he can stay healthy. I also have to wonder how soon he'll be ready.

 

I don't think we lose anybody in the Rule 5 Draft. Guys like Severino and Javier are simply too far off, and would be deadweight on a major league roster.

 

As for making room on the 40 man roster... fringe guys like Thorpe and Smeltzer don't seem like locks. They look like AAA arms, and we need roster spots for bullpen additions. Tortuga could be DFA'd with Rortvedt + a non-roster guy like Telis at AAA. Wade Jr. seems expendable with the OF prospects nearing their arrival. Is Gordon even worth rostering? There is plenty of room here and I don't expect a lack of roster spots to impede any FA signings.

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My bet is none of those eligible get picked. Watching all these teams bring up guys that perform right away.... I personally don't see the quality among the unprotected. Quantity of good and very good, but not special. And that is the kind you want to make the show. If none get picked, I guess 29 other teams agree.

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This past season was such an outlier and no minor league games made for a situation which meant that any strong determinations about player development knowledge was kept in house. Was there any way for teams to evaluate the alternate site or fall instructional camp players? I am not aware of that this was happening. One year can be huge in the development of a young player. The excellent interview (thank you Seth) with Brent Rooker hints at some of the opportunities presented at the alternate site. While Rooker was clearly being a gentleman and throwing nods to a number of his fellow youth, his description of the value in seeing multiple reps every day against players who are all considered potential call-ups and have the talent to effectively compete at the MLB level was instructive. This does clearly contrast with a typical minor league experience where there are many players who fill the roster at A, AA, and AAA. One can see this gap any time you go to a minor league baseball game. I can attest to this personally  (in the past) having played against players in amateur ball who were recently released from rosters at all levels, including MLB. Some of these guys were sent by their wives/girlfriends to go join a local team just weeks after their release because they were just hanging out too much around the house.

My gut instinct leaned toward the Twins choices based on reading Twins Daily and the mlb.com reports. A player like Ober being protected is a sign that the team sees projection now and that there is a reason to suspect that the brain trusts of their competitors have some degree of information to choose Ober in the Rule 5 draft. 

The Twins likely made their decisions about who would be protected back in October, pending an unexpected trade or other addition. The real action starts on December 2, when teams decide who gets tendered contracts, released, or traded. Despite the prediction of a slow off-season, teams will need to formulate a plan soon and their direction will be a combination of gambles based on projected monies available versus the emerging player markets. The number of Twins players who are in their prime plus those ready to contribute for the first time sets a scenario for a winter of speculation. I'm pretty pleased with the potential of the young guns and am particularly happy that Rortvedt was added now, for exactly the reason that AceWrigley noted above.

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Great news, Seth. I would have been shocked had they not added Rortvedt as no one has higher expectations for him than I. Yes, not even Tom who wrote a wonderful report on the young lad. After all, I married a gal who was living in Verona when we met and that has worked out really well for going on 50 years. The marriage between Rortvedt and the the Twins only has to last ten to fifteen years, which I expect it will.

 

Had been asking about Ober all summer with no one knowing anything. Guess the Twins were keeping tabs on him even though he wasn't in St. Paul. Wonder if they just let him heal from several nagging injuries of 2019?

 

Most of the best known names to us, Jax, Javier, Rijos, etc. all passed thru the Rule 5 draft last December. Will be shocked if anyone is taken this year.

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I was a little surprised at Ober, but the Twins may have seen him as a guy who could have been grabbed by a rebuilding team and stashed in the 'pen for a year.

 

Rortvedt was the right call, IMHO. He's got some things to iron out as a hitter to become anything more than a defensive backup, but he's ready to receive right now and considering how many rough catching situations there are out there right now, I'm pretty confident a team would have grabbed him because of his skills behind the plate and worried about his hit tool later.

 

Hard to know if anyone is going to take a flyer on Griffin Jax; he might be MLB-ready...but with no minor league season, who knows? He's probably the only one left on the list that's a major concern. I like Jose Miranda, but MLB roster spots are valuable and I'm just not sure a team is going to want to use one for the entire season on him.

 

 

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Hard to disagree with who the Twins added.  Ober is intriguing, and I have to admit I don't know much about him.  His stats are IMPRESSIVE.  But I don't know how hard he throws, what his spin rates are, what kind of change up he throws etc...

The Twins see something in Ober.  That's enough for me.  I still have high hopes for Wander Javier.  He won't get selected.  He just hasn't  been able to show anything the last couple of years.  Maybe this is the year he flashes that talent, we will have to see. 

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I had to check out Ober's numbers again. WOW! I actually forgot just how incredible they were! He got 24IP at Pensacola in 2019. I'm guessing he goes back to AA to begin 2021, but wondering if he bas a shot at AAA?

 

The loss of a milb system affects everyone, not just the Twins. So all but the prospects who were invited to the reserve sites are going to have that lost year that hopefully EST helped. It's going to be really interesting to see how rosters and possible level promotions are handled next year. I'm guessing Balazovic goes to AA to begin the year with hopes of AAA at some point. But could he end up being fast tracked?

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I was surprised by Ober but probably shouldn't be given his age and the success he has had when healthy.  Maybe I am wrong about Rijo but I kind of thought they might add him as well.  I thought he was throwing mid 90's and had at least one really good maybe elite offspeed pitch. Maybe he isn't quite good enough to make a major league roster just yet and Twins certainly have know more about him than I do but I thought they might have added him.

 

Position players rarely get taken in rule V so not surprised about Badoo etc and Jax, Wells, and Barnes are all solid pitchers but nothing special at least not yet so can see why they were not added.  

 

We lost a catcher in the Rule V before so I can see why they added Ben.  His defense is good enough to play in the bigs and there are signs the bat may come around.  Should also give them another guy who they bring up and down as needed if injuries happen.  I think it was a good move.

 

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