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3 Saints Relief Pitchers who can Help the Twins in 2022


The Twins have an increasing number of intriguing options to help their major-league bullpen in 2022. Here are three names you need to know for next season.

Understandably, much of the early off-season Twins conjecture has surrounded trades and free-agent additions the Twins can make to boost their beleaguered pitching staff. The promotion of Jovani Moran and his dynamic changeup is indicative of another direction the organization will have to succeed at if they are to compete in 2022, promoting from within.

Twins fans have bemoaned the organization's poor returns on developing its own pitching for as long as I can remember. 2022 will be the year that narrative begins to change. It’s well known that the Twins have a stable (sorry PETA) of young arms in AA and above, with Josh Winder, Jhoan Duran, Cole Sands, Chris Vallimont, Jordan Balazovic approaching major league consideration. What about bullpen options? Here are three names Twins fans should be familiar with who will likely feature in the major league bullpen during the 2022 season.

Ian Hamilton
Ian Hamilton is perhaps the best known of the trio to Twins fans. A former White Sox top prospect, Hamilton has made a remarkable recovery from a minor car accident and being struck in the face by a batted ball in 2019. Hamilton struck out 33.5% of hitters he faced in 2021 (13.1 K/9) and has enough velocity to be a high-leverage arm. Control was Hamilton’s issue in 2021, with a 15.2% BB%. Hamilton spoke of the challenges of regaining confidence in his mechanics after his injuries. If he can return to the type of command he showed in the 2018 season 5.1% BB%, he could be a huge boon to the Twins bullpen in 2022.

Ryan Mason
Conversely, Ryan Mason is the name on this list least well known by Twins fans. It’s time to pay attention. Mason was drafted in the 13th round of the 2016 draft out of UC-Berkley. The 6’6 California native was promoted to the Saints at the end of July, after impressing at AA Wichita. Mason combined for 54 innings across two minor-league levels with the Twins and got better when he was promoted to St. Paul. He struck out 29.4% of the batters he faced at AAA (12.1 K/9) and managed a 3.47 FIP. Similarly to Hamilton, it’s control that will be a decisive factor for Mason. At AAA in 2021, he walked 11.8% of hitters (4.8 BB/9). Also like Hamilton, he has a history of good control prior to a pandemic-lost 2020 season (1.6 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings between 2018-2019). Mason is another MLB-caliber arm to watch out for in 2022.

Yennier Cano
Cano is an unusual bullpen prospect. The 27-year-old out of Cuba throws in the mid-to-upper 90s and offers a fastball, slider, splitter combination which he executed to great effect in St. Paul in 2021. Cano’s ascent through the Twins MiLB ranks is impressive. He has moved from Rookie ball to AAA in just two seasons, with a season off in-between due to the pandemic. Cano struck out 25.7% of hitters he faced in 51 AAA innings (10.2 K/9). Cano struggled with his control at AAA with a 12.8% BB%, compared to just 6.2% at AA. Similar to Hamilton and Mason, Cano has shown the stuff and performance to be a high-leverage arm, if he can arrive at a greater level of consistency.

These three internal options for the Twins bullpen have striking similarities. Excellent arms, excellent stuff, and a need to develop more consistent control. Whether that need arose through injury, or simply missed development time, it’s critical the Twins begin to show the type of success developing their own relievers as many have predicted for their starters in forthcoming seasons. While there is work to be done for all three, make no mistake. Help for the major-league arm barn is on the way from St. Paul.

 


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1 hour ago, roger said:

Assume the first two are Rule 5 eligible.  What are the chances either is picked in the draft?  How big of a surprise would it be if either was added to the 40-man?

I would say slim to none, Hamilton was available on waivers multiple times last year, and Mason is a low end prospect, maybe a top 50 guy (on the Twins). Teams are going to be looking for higher upside guys in the Rule 5 draft and can do better than these two.

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Cano does not need to be protected from rule 5 draft so almost certain he will remain at AAA and not on 40 man to start season- hope he gets an opportunity with Twins next year at some point. Moran not mentioned but hope he is on opening day Twins roster. Maybe Hamilton makes 40 man but probably starts season at AAA. Mason likely left off 40 man but remains at AAA. 

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8 hours ago, Danchat said:

I would say slim to none, Hamilton was available on waivers multiple times last year, and Mason is a low end prospect, maybe a top 50 guy (on the Twins). Teams are going to be looking for higher upside guys in the Rule 5 draft and can do better than these two.

It would appear that the players picked last year were used as relievers. Teams would be looking for anyone that could help. no matter how high their ends are.

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That's why I would like the Twins to invest in a "closer" for their bullpen next year but not in a lot of other bullpen arms.  They've got a LOT of guys who could bring something to the table.  Starting Pitching is where they needs ARMS !  They not only need guys who can occupy #1, #2 & #3 but they need depth as well.  Some of their potential Starting Pitchers in the minors could also transition to the big leagues as bullpen pieces to begin with.  Duran is the first who comes to mind.

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18 hours ago, Prince William said:

It would appear that the players picked last year were used as relievers. Teams would be looking for anyone that could help. no matter how high their ends are.

Rule 5 pitchers are used as relievers basically 100% of the time, at least in their first year in the majors. Teams will be looking for prospects with a high ceiling, usually guys in the team's #10-30 prospect range. Mason is a fringe arm that other teams likely have their own version in their organizations, Hamilton was pitching in the majors in 2018 and has been DFA'd several times, which rules him out as a "prospect" in my book. Last year we lost Baddoo and Wells, two guys who were easily in our Top 30 prospects if not 20. Hamilton and Mason are not close to that... right now I would be more concerned about Severino and Vallimont going unprotected.

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3 hours ago, Danchat said:

Rule 5 pitchers are used as relievers basically 100% of the time, at least in their first year in the majors. Teams will be looking for prospects with a high ceiling, usually guys in the team's #10-30 prospect range. Mason is a fringe arm that other teams likely have their own version in their organizations, Hamilton was pitching in the majors in 2018 and has been DFA'd several times, which rules him out as a "prospect" in my book. Last year we lost Baddoo and Wells, two guys who were easily in our Top 30 prospects if not 20. Hamilton and Mason are not close to that... right now I would be more concerned about Severino and Vallimont going unprotected.

Since Santana name one even middle of the rotation starter picked in the Rule V draft. Since Rodon in 2013, name 1 high end reliever picked in the Rule V draft. I wasn't concerned about protecting borderline relievers.  They are plentiful enough. Your comment sounded like you thought people were picking out high risk high ceiling starting pitchers. I called fallacy on that. 

Since you bring up Baddoo and Wells, you will have to wait a few years before you can say it was bad or good that they have been selected. Wells might be the answer in a couple years to the above question. There is also the potential he has peaked. Baddoo had a great first half. Given time teams will find the holes in his swing. His second half showed that there were holes. There may be a consequence for them being picked. It may lead to more fringe players being released and signed to minor league contracts this year instead of being retained on the 40. Prospects are still cheaper than veteran's minimum. 

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On 10/30/2021 at 10:08 AM, TopGunn#22 said:

That's why I would like the Twins to invest in a "closer" for their bullpen next year but not in a lot of other bullpen arms.  They've got a LOT of guys who could bring something to the table.  Starting Pitching is where they needs ARMS !  They not only need guys who can occupy #1, #2 & #3 but they need depth as well.  Some of their potential Starting Pitchers in the minors could also transition to the big leagues as bullpen pieces to begin with.  Duran is the first who comes to mind.

I'm not interested in paying a premium on a "closer". I'd like to see them add a veteran RH arm for the bullpen, but assuming Rogers is back, we've got a guy with experience finishing games and several internal options look to have the ability to pitch the 9th as well.

These are some interesting internal options to reinforce the bullpen if/when they need some other arms. Cano is interesting to me in particular, and he might get a chance to compete for a spot in spring training.

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I would want to keep all three for fodder for next season. They have to be better than the majority of arms the Twins waded out. Hamilton would have to be sent thru waivers (again) if added to the 40-man and cut at any time. So you want to be pretty sure that you will use him, or maybe just keep him at AAA with a slightly inflated minor league contract. He wilal be able to ask around for his services.

 

Same with Ryan Mason, who (I believe) is also a minor league free agent. The Twins elevated him to AAA to see if they need to add him to the roster.

 

Cano will get more time at St. Paul, but a lovely addition. As we saw with Moran, you want the ability give guys time to get hit a bit, and then go work on stuff. Wish the Twins ahd done that earlier on Moran so they could send him back-and-forth, rather than keep bringing up guys like Barraclough, Vincent and the ink. But the Twins sooooooo wanted one of these minor league free agent guys to find a permanent palce on the 40-man.

 

Of course, in the bigger scheme of things, the Twins need to make hard choices on Smeltzer, Thorpe and Stashak. Are any of them bullpen arms going forth. Same with Bryan Sammons and Griffin Jax...both could be bullpen opportunists, probably as good as any waiver wire pickups. All of the five mentioned above could forego 40-man roster spotting and hopefully stay with the Twins on a minor league contract status.

 

Another intriguing name is Judson Gore. The Twins kept him in Wichita so he may be passed in the Rule 5. But he could quickly advance as a bullpen arm in 2022.

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