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Twins Minor League Week in Review: Playoff Time for Wind Surge, Kernels


The St. Paul Saints have one week of games remaining in their season. The FCL Twins and Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels seasons came to an end this past weekend. The Wichita Wind Surge and Cedar Rapids Kernels play for league championships starting on Tuesday. Let's look back and the final full schedule of games for the Twins minor league affiliates.  

If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. 

Is it just me, or was that season quick. Twenty weeks of minor league ball complete. The Saints have a couple of weeks to go, to match the Twins schedule. Wichita and Cedar Rapids begin their playoff runs on Tuesday. The Mighty Mussels and FCL Twins seasons are complete, but Tuesday also begins Instructional League. But, before we get to any of that, let's look back at Week 20 in the Twins minor leagues: 

Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (3-3, @ Indianapolis), overall (61-59)
Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (4-2, hosting Arkansas), overall (69-51)
High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (4-2, @ Peoria), overall (67-53)
Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (3-1, hosting Tampa), overall (60-54) 
Complex League FCL Twins: Week (2-3), overall (21-38) 

Triple-A East Midwest: Toledo 69-51, Omaha 66-54, St. Paul 61-59. 
Double-A Central North: Wichita 69-51, NW Arkansas 64-55, Arkansas 64-56.
High-A Central West: Quad Cities 77-41, Cedar Rapids 67-53, Wisconsin 59-60.
Low-A Southeast: Tampa 73-43, Bradenton 71-48, Ft. Myers 60-54. 

Here are the week's Twins minor league-related articles. 

We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week and mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 20 performances.

Twins Player of the Week: Aaron Sabato, Cedar Rapids Kernels         

Aaron Sabato has had an up and down season, but the 22-year-old has been much improved since the beginning of August, especially with the power numbers. In the final regular-season week, Sabato hit .333/.500/.833 (1.333) with three homers. He also walked seven times and had just four strikeouts. He was terrific over the final weekend when the team needed to win. 

In his first pro season since the Twins made him their first-round pick in the 2020 draft out of North Carolina, he began in Ft. Myers. In 85 games, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with 15 doubles and 11 home runs. In just 22 games with the Kernels, he has hit .253/.402/.613 (1.015) with three doubles and eight home runs. Overall, in 464 plate appearances, he has 92 walks and 149 strikeouts. 

Twins Pitcher of the Week: Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids             

Louie Varland was terrific again this week. The 23-year-old from St. Paul struck out 11 batters in six innings in his start this week. He gave up just two runs (1 earned) on four hits and did not issue a walk. Varland was the team's 15th round pick in 2019 out of Concordia University in St. Paul.

Varland began the season in Ft. Myers, where he pitched 47 1/3 innings over ten games (8 starts). He went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids, where he's made ten starts. He is 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. In 103 total innings, he has struck out 142 batters while walking just 30.

Other Strong Performances this Week

St. Paul Saints
The Saints had some really strong performances, especially from bullpen types. Robinson Leyer, Ryan Mason, Vinny Nittoli, and Chris Nunn each tossed three scoreless innings over two outings. Jason Garcia tossed four innings of shutout ball in his start. Derek Law made the first start of his professional career, and he gave up just one hit and struck out six batters over four shutout innings. Also, Beau Burrows had his best start since joining the Twins organization. He gave up just one run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six batters. 

Damek Tomscha had not been playing much recently, but this past week, he played in all six games and responded by hitting .375/.400/.708 (1.108) with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. Drew Stankiewicz also played more. In five games, he hit .385/.438/.615 (1.053) with a homer. Of course, Jose Miranda had another excellent week. He played six games and hit .357/.357/.643 (1.000) with two doubles, two homers, and eight RBI. Jimmy Kerrigan hit .400/.423/.560 (.983) with four doubles. 

Wichita Wind Surge
The week's highlight has to be that the Wichita team clinched a playoff spot and the best record in the Double-A Central Division. They begin their championship series on Tuesday. 

The individual highlight probably is the performance of Simeon Woods Richardson. After two rough, unintentionally short outings, he made two appearances. He made one start and tossed three scoreless innings. On Sunday, he worked two scoreless innings out of the bullpen to prepare for the playoffs. Chris Vallimont had a nice start this week. He gave up one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. Cole Sands was terrific again. He tossed five scoreless innings in his start. In his past three starts, he has given up only an unearned run over 17 innings. 

Right-hander Hector Lujan became a first-time father, and he got four outs in a perfect outing. Melvi Acosta gave up zero earned runs on one hit over three innings. Erik Manoah pitched some big innings and was terrific. He allowed just one hit and one walk over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out five batters.  

Trey Cabbage had another solid week. Over five games, he hit .429/.500/.714 (1.214) with a double and a home run. Ernie de la Trinidad hit .308/.400/.615 (1.015) with a double and a big home run. Aaron Whitefield played five games and hit .375/.474/.438 (.911) with a double, three walks, and six stolen bases. Austin Martin hit .316/.480/.421 (.901) with two doubles. He also walked six times. 

Andrew Bechtold played in six games and hit .294/.357/.417 (898) with a double and a home run. I'm guessing a personal highlight for him was getting to catch a game. The day after the Wind Surge clinched their playoff spot and the top seed, Bechtold found himself behind the plate for a game. It is something that he has been working on throughout the season, trying to give himself more versatility. He caught the game that Cole Sands threw. There were no passed balls or wild pitches, and Sands tossed five scoreless innings. He must have done just fine. 

Cedar Rapids Kernels
Not only did the Kernels have to finish with the second-best record in the High-A Central League, but they also had to win that spot by a game because Lake County and Great Lakes had the tiebreakers. The Kernels came up big and won their final three games to make the playoffs for the eighth time in eight seasons as a Twins affiliate. 

On Sunday, Aaron Rozek made the start, and the team couldn't have asked for more. He worked five shutout innings and gave up only a hit and a walk. Sean Mooney was outstanding too. He gave up one run on two walks and a hit batter over five innings. He did not allow a hit and struck out seven batters.

Zach Featherstone worked in three games and had a big save. He worked 3 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings. He walked two and struck out seven batters. Osiris German also was crucial. He came into two big situations and gave up only one hit over four scoreless innings. He struck out six batters without issuing a walk. Carlos Suniaga and Tyler Watson each had a save as well. 

Edouard Julien hit just .231, but he posted a .964 OPS with two doubles and three home runs. DaShawn Keirsey had two home runs in Sunday's playoff clincher and three home runs this week. Matt Wallner went 7-for-23 (.304) with a double and a home run. 

Ft. Myers Might Mussels
Fair to say that the highlight of the week was Saturday night's combined no-hitter. Regi Grace worked the first three innings. Landon Leach followed with two innings before Bradley Hanner and Matthew Swain each worked a hitless inning. Swain blew fastballs by the three hitters he struck out in the final inning. 

Regi Grace struck out four batters in his three innings. Since returning from the shoulder impingement, he has worked nine scoreless innings over three appearances. Brent Headrick struck out seven batters over three scoreless innings in his final start of the season. Cade Povich struck out five batters over two innings in his outing. He gave up an unearned run. John Stankiewicz had a strong start. In six innings, he gave up one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out six batters. 

Charlie Mack played in three games. He went just 2-for-6 (.333), but he walked five times (.636 OBP) and had a big triple. Patrick Winkel went 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles and two walks to give him a 1.170 OPS. Mikey Perez has been fantastic since debuting a couple of weeks ago. In four games this week, he hit .444/.500/.667 (1.167) with two doubles. Willie Joe Garry hit .385/.385/.769 (1.154) with a triple and a home run. 

FCL Twins 
The FCL Twins concluded their season on Saturday morning. The highlight(s) of the week involved more players getting just a taste of pro ball before the end of the season. 2021 draft picks, right-handed pitchers Christian McLeod, Travis Adams, and Johnathan Lavallee made their pro debuts. Righty Hunter McMahon returned to the mound for a rehab appearance and struck out four batters in two scoreless innings. Mike Paredes, another 2021 pick, made another appearance and struck out five batters over two perfect innings. Wilker Reyes gave up just one hit over three scoreless innings.  

Kala'i Rosario ended his season strong. He went 4-for-10 (.400) with a double and a home run. Rubel Cespedes and LaRon Smith each hit a homer during the week. 


St. Paul Saints
Bryan Sammons struggled in his start. He was charged with seven runs on seven hits (2 HR) and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. Ian Hamilton gave up four runs on five hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings (though he did strike out six of the eight batters he got out). Yennier Cano gave up three runs on four hits and four walks over 2 1/3 innings. 

Tomas Telis has been terrific again for the Saints this season. In five games last week, however, he hit .136/.208/.136 (.345). BJ Boyd hit .150/.190/.200 (.390) in five games. 

Wichita Wind Surge
Ben Gross made two appearances, one out of the bullpen and then his first Double-A start on Sunday. Combined, he gave up nine runs (8 earned) on 11 hits and six walks in just 5 2/3 innings. Jordan Balazovic gave up four runs on four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. Zach Neff pitched once, but he gave up five runs (4 earned) on three hits and two walks. 

No player with more than five plate appearances had an OPS under .619. 

Cedar Rapids Kernels
Cody Laweryson gave up six runs on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter over 5 1/3 innings. Denny Bentley gave up two runs on five hits and got just four outs. 

Seth Gray had a tough week overall. He had two hits in 20 at-bats (.100) in six games. However, his home run on Saturday night gave the Kernels a 7-6 lead in the ninth inning. Anthony Prato went 2-for-14 (.143). Alex Isola as 4-for-22 (.182). 

Ft. Myers Might Mussels
Jake Rucker went 0-for-9 for the week. Alerick Soularie went 1-for-14 (.071). Misael Urbina went 2-for-13 (.154), though he did have a double. 

This Prospect Summary shows our updated Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. 

#1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL)
#2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 37 games, .254/.399/.381 (.779) with 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 19 RBI, 23 BB, 30 K. 
#3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 20 GS, 97.0 IP, 98 H, 38 BB, 102 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP 
#4 - Simeon Woods-Richardson (Wichita) - 4 G, 3 GS, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 10 K, 6.75 ERA, 1.75 WHIP.
#5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain)  
#6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 117 games, .338/.394/.565 (.959) with 28 doubles, 28 homers, 86 RBI, 39 BB, 72 K
#7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - St. Paul (2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), Minnesota (3 GS, 17.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 14 K, 2.12 ERA, 0.53 WHIP) 
#8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 5 GS, 21.0 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 43 K, 0.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP (IL, elbow strain) 
#9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - 2 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP.
#10 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 60 games, .233/.296/.301 (.597) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 89 K, 5 SB (Temporary Inactive List)
#11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (IL, shoulder impingement)
#12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 66 games, .264/.350/.508 (.858) with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 15 homers, 47 RBI, 28 BB, 98 K.
#13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (39 games, .310/.405/.490 (.894) with 11 doubles, 5 homers, 24 RBI, 20 BB, 33 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K)
#14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 10 GS, 47.0 IP, 55 H, 25 BB, 38 K, 7.28 ERA, 1.70 WHIP. 
#15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 22 games, .238/.316/.369 (.685) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers, 14 RBI, 9 BB, 26 K
#16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (46 games, .206/.294/.413 (.707) with 9 doubles, 8 homers, 15 RBI, 13 BB, 58 K)
#17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th) 
#18 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 101 games, .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers, 52 RBI, 54 BB, 82 K, 16 SB)
#19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 19 G, 18 GS, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 35 BB, 96 K, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
#20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 110 games, .254/.348/.484 (.833) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 24 homers, 66 RBI, 55 BB, 105 K) 

Ft. Myers Season is Complete.

High-A Central League Championship Series: 
Cedar Rapids vs. Quad Cities: (Louie Varland, Sean Mooney, Casey Legumina, Sawyer Gipson-Long, TBD)

Double-A Central League Championship Series: 
Wichita vs. NW Arkansas: (Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, Austin Schulfer, TBD, TBD): 

Iowa @ St. Paul: (Derek Law, Bryan Sammons, Beau Burrows, Drew Strotman, Andrew Albers):

Also, Instructional League/camp starts on Tuesday in Ft. Myers for some players, particularly those who have lost time due to injury. 

Good luck to the Wind Surge and the Kernels this week! 

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45 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

I appreciate the season stats for the prospects too, but I am not as encouraged as I would like. Either injured or underwhelming. Miranda really stands out.  I look forward to seeing your post season rankings. 

I think Celestino's stats at St. Paul are quite promising. Don't forget that he's younger than Jose Miranda.

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Thanks for all the work you and the guys at TD have done all summer.  And yes, it seems like this season has flown bye way too fast.

For some reason, I thought the Central Division AA (Texas League) was going to be a playoff between the top two teams in both divisions.  Is that Wichita and NW Arkansas?  Or did they make a change and it is only a North Division championship?

Quad Cities is going to be a tough hill to climb for Cedar Rapids.  Hopefully, Varland can get them off to a good start tonight.  Also will help if those four or five hitters that have been on fire continue pounding the baseball.

I know there was a DSL and the Twins had several of their recent signees playing there.  Will you be doing some type of recap about them later this month/fall?

Thanks again, Seth.

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