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St. Paul Saints Opening Day Roster Preview


Today the St. Paul Saints announced their first Opening Day roster as an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Many of these players have been working at CHS Field, but find out more about who you can see when you go to Twins Triple-A games in St. Paul.CHS Field is beautiful. Maybe you’ve already been there for some Saints games, but if not, you will certainly want to make the trek east of the river starting this year. The Saints are now the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. You can watch future Twins working and preparing to get the call across the Mississippi River to join the Twins at Target Field, and you can do so with the great atmosphere that the staff at CHS Field provide.

 

Let’s take a look at the team’s 2021 Opening Day roster, starting with the coaching staff and working through the players.

 

The Coaching Staff:

Manager: Toby Gardenhire

Pitching Coaches: Cibney Bello, Mike McCarthy

Hitting Coach: Matt Borgschulte

Coach: Tyler Smarslok

 

 

The Pitchers

 

LHP: Andrew Albers (35), Charlie Barnes (25), Daniel Coulombe (31), Devin Smeltzer (25), Lewis Thorpe (25), Andrew Vasquez (27), Brandon Waddell (26).

 

RHP: Shaun Anderson (26), Jhoan Duran (23), Luke Farrell (29), Ian Gibaut (27), Ian Hamilton (25), Griffin Jax (26), Derek Law (30), Robinson Leyer (27), Juan Minaya (30), Bailey Ober (25), Chandler Shepherd (28), Glenn Sparkman (28).

 

The Saints have quite the pitching staff. There are prospects like Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax Charlie Barnes and Bailey Ober. There are veterans with a lot of big league time like Andrew Albers, Juan Minaya, Glenn Sparkmann, Luke Farrell and Derek Law. There are guys like Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer who have had a role with the Twins the past two seasons.

 

The Catchers

 

Caleb Hamilton (26), Roberto Pena (28), Ryan Jeffers (23), Tomas Telis (29).

 

Ryan Jeffers was optioned to St. Paul on Friday. He should get the majority of the starts behind the plate and potentially DH when he’s not catching. He will need consistent at bats again and remains the likely catcher of the future. Hamilton can catch, but he can also play first base, third base and in left field. Telis is a veteran with big-league time in parts of four seasons. In 2019 at Rochester, he hit .330. Roberto Pena has been in pro ball since signing with the Astros in 2010. He’s also been in the White Sox, Rays and Angels organizations.

 

The Infielders

 

Travis Blankenhorn (24), Nick Gordon (25), Drew Maggi (31), Zander Wiel (28)

 

JT Riddle (29) and Tzu-Wei Lin (27) were DFAd on Friday, so it will be interesting to see if either is claimed. If not, they could be on this roster too. Nick Gordon was called up to the Twins last weekend but didn’t get into a game. The former first-round pick (2014) can play both middle infield positions. He just needs to get at bats and stay healthy. Blankenhorn saw one game with the Twins, and it didn’t go well for him, but don’t let that alter your thoughts on him. He’s a big kid, capable of playing third base and second base, and he has power potential. Maggi is a minor league veteran who played well in Double-A and Triple A in 2019. Zander Wiel had a monster season in Rochester in 2019 and has been in big-league spring training the past two years.

 

 

The Outfielders

 

Keon Broxton (30), Trevor Larnach (24), Rob Refsnyder (30), Brent Rooker (26).

 

Rooker was optioned to the Saints on Friday after playing in a handful of games with the Twins following a stint on the Injured List. He will be a middle of the lineup bat. Larnach is the #3 Twins prospect and 2018 first round pick. His bat has nearly as much potential as Alex Kirilloff. He just needs time and some at bats. Refsnyder has several years with MLB time but hopes to get back to the big leagues this year. Broxton is interesting because just a few years ago, he had a 20/20 season for the Brewers. He’s a strong defender, capable of playing all three outfield spots.

 

Check out these St. Paul Saints sites and social media:

 

Team Website

Team Store

Saints on Twitter

Saints on Facebook

Saints on Instagram

Saints on YouTube

 

 

Minnesota Twins 2021 Top 20 Prospects on the Saints roster:

 

20. Bailey Ober, RHP:

12. Brent Rooker, OF:

5. Jhoan Duran, RHP:

4. Ryan Jeffers, C:

3. Trevor Larnach, OF:

 

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This team looks to be strong, real strong. 

 

Did I count correctly, Seth. There are 19 pitchers on the roster. Gotta assume that a couple will be on the IL?

 

On the flip side, with only four infielders assume the Twins are counting on at least one of those DFA's that you mentioned to make it to St. Paul. I don't see Balazovic on either the Saints or Wichita roster. Is he injured?

 

Thanks for getting these to us, Seth.

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This team looks to be strong, real strong. 

 

Did I count correctly, Seth. There are 19 pitchers on the roster. Gotta assume that a couple will be on the IL?

 

On the flip side, with only four infielders assume the Twins are counting on at least one of those DFA's that you mentioned to make it to St. Paul. I don't see Balazovic on either the Saints or Wichita roster. Is he injured?

 

Thanks for getting these to us, Seth.

 

Balazovic is on the Wichita IL... I got that list just now... 

 

May be some IL... they also are accounting for taxi squad needs. 

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Very strong team all around except the infield. It was pretty reckless exposing both Riddle and Lin. They didn't even use Lin in the infield. Hopefully both will pass

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Used to be AAA was the final stop for prospects. Not so much any longer. Now it's an even greater mix of final step, a step-down for a re-fresher, and a collection of guys for depth. This looks like a very good and complete roster that accomplishes all of that.

 

With a little good fortune and development, that staff is going to have some really nice promotion prospects by mjd season.

 

Really hoping Riddle and Lin pass through and make it to St Paul.

 

I think Blankenhorn's bat will end up playing at the ML level, at least in a complimentary role. He may be a big kid, but he's an excellent athlete. The question remains, can he translate his athleticism to being more solid/dependable with his glove?

 

I feel really bad for Gordon. The kid has been a victim of injury and illness his whole career. He had a couple really bad bouts of an intestinal/gastric condition that hindered starts to a pair of seasons before reportedly getting it under control. Then, he gets injured in 2019 when he might have been having his best season and was bypassed by Arraez for promotion. NEXT, he has an aggressive covid situation that not only causes him to miss the 2020 reserve/taxi squad opportunity, but causes him to lose over 20lbs. And this from a kid you would love to add 10-15lbs to his frame!

 

The FO has been amazingly "indulgent" with keeping him on the 40 man why? He has no ties to them. But they see an athletic young man who still has potential to fill a role if he can just be healthy, add some muscle to his frame, and get to play.

 

The best thing that could happen to him is to play daily at St Paul, get a second helping of good food daily to add some weight/muscle/strength, and get ready for 2022. I mean, if he can't stick at SS, maybe he can at least cover it. Did you watch him in ST and see how his uniform hung on him? Give him 2021 to see if you have something after all.

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Very strong team all around except the infield. It was pretty reckless exposing both Riddle and Lin. They didn't even use Lin in the infield. Hopefully both will pass

 

Neither has options so they had no choice unless they kept one on the MLB roster.

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Neither has options so they had no choice unless they kept one on the MLB roster.

They exposed them by bringing them up to the active roster then dropping them. They should've left Lin in the minors, keeping him in the system until we really him. Again I still hope they both pass waivers because we're so lacking at SS. It's not a bad idea to keep Riddle on the active roster as a backup SS.

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I have a bias - when a player is not in MLB at 27 I am ready to move on to the next player on the list.  I know that older players are roster fillers, but I am most interested in getting the young guys at bat and game experience.

 

 This makes me wonder about Rooker.  He should be at his peak, but I wonder if he has a real future with the Twins.  My hope is that he lights it up for a while and we trade him. 

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It has long been believed that those who do well in AA ball will do well in the majors. not sure why. Maybe the AA players are more hungry and not as many hanging on. AAA players are more for depth and rehab. I'm amazed that a team would keep a player over 30 in the minors anymore- especially after the minors have been shrunk.

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Age matters in prospect rankings. That's all.

 

The Twins are in Win-Now mode, so the front office's job is to make sure they've got options in Triple-A to come up if needed. Broxton may have a role at some point. Riddle could. Derek Law should. 

 

The other thing is that this year, age means even less than normal. The 'prospects' are taken care of and they are going to play where it is best for their development. They've just missed a full year... Low A starters are normally 22. This year, it's OK if they're 23-24. 

 

St. Paul has a nice mix of veterans as well as a bunch of prospects. 

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AAA roster full of experienced players, only 4 pitchers and 5 position players with no MLB experience. Ps- Barnes, Jax, Ober, and Duran. Position players-Hamilton, Wiehl, Maggi, Gordon, and Larnach. 2 Ps no AAA time-Duran and Ober, Larnach only position player with no AAA experience. Not saying right or wrong only an observation.

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