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Twins Minor League Report (8/8): A Big Promotion and Draftees Shine


Twins Daily Contributor

The St. Paul Saints will get a fresh face this week when 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Louie Varland makes his Triple-A debut. The news broke this afternoon on Twitter. In FCL action, 2022 first-round pick Brooks Lee again shined bright, and fellow draftees Tanner Schobel and Jorel Ortega followed him in the lineup.

 

TRANSACTIONS

COMPLEX CHRONICLES
FCL Pirates 11, FCL Twins 6
Box Score

Develson Aria drew the start today for the Twins and unfortunately it was a muted one. He went just 2 2/3 innings allowing nine runs (three earned) on six hits. Aria did strike out five and only walked two.

An eight-run second inning for the Pirates ultimately did the Twins in, even though the Twins posted eight hits to the Pirates' nine. First-round pick Brooks Lee was the star of the show again today for Minnesota’s FCL team. He went 3-for-5 including a double. Batting .353 with an .824 OPS, it won’t be a shock if this is a quick stop, or he’s promoted directly to Cedar Rapids for their stretch run (Update: That's exactly what's happening). Ricardo Olivar also had a two-hit game, including a double, and the 20-year-old owns a 1.091 OPS this season in 116 at-bats.

Other top picks from this year’s draft class playing today were Tanner Schobel (0-for-4, BB) and Jorel Ortega (0-1, 2 BB)

DOMINICAN DAILIES
DSL Giants Orange 9, DSL Twins 2
Box Score

Roger Duran made the start but acted as an opener going just one inning. He worked around two hits and a walk to escape damage.

The Twins generated just four hits on the day, and Jose Rodriguez’s triple was the only of the extra-base variety. As he has done all season, Yasser Mercedes continues to pile up numbers and recorded another hit today. He’s got a .985 OPS and just missed out on being included in the recent Twins Daily Top 20 prospect update.

TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Wilker Reyes (FCL Twins) - 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Hitter of the Day – Brooks Lee (FCL Twins) - 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI

DRAFT PICK UPDATE
1 - Brooks Lee - FCL Twins - 17 AB, .353 AVG, .824 OPS, 2 R, 6 H, 3 RBI Q&A Link
2 - Tanner Schobel - FCL Twins - 15 AB, .200 AVG, .517 OPS, 3 R, 3 H, RBI Q&A Link
6 - Jorel Ortega - FCL Twins - 4 AB, .000 AVG, .000 OPS, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI Q&A Link

TRADED PROSPECT UPDATE
Cade Povich - 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K in Aberdeen debut (Orioles High-A). Named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week
Spencer Steer - 4 G 6-16, 2 R, 4 RBI, SB for Louisville (Reds Triple-A)
Christian Encarnacion-Strand - 3 G 4-11, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI for Chattanooga (Reds Double-A)
Sawyer Gipson-Long - 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K in Erie debut (Tigers Double-A)
Steven Hajjar - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K in Dayton debut (Reds High-A)
Brent Rooker - 4 G 7-15, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI for Omaha (Royals Triple-A)

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Columbus @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez
Corpus Christi @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Kody Funderburk
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek
Fort Myers @ Jupiter (5:30PM CST) - TBD

Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates and the two Complex Season affiliates back and playing.

 


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The Strib had a nice article about Lee yesterday, I think.  In it they had comments from the family he lived with two years ago when playing for Wilmar in the NWL.  They mentioned that they planned to see him in either a week or two after he arrived in Cedar Rapids.  Things can change, but sounds like he will be moving up soon.

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7 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

Glad to see Lee bypass Ft Myers and go straight to Cedar Rapids.

I think the Twins also want to keep playing both Miller and Lee at SS full-time rather than them splitting time or one not playing SS at all. Miller is really young and struggling a little with the bat (but almost everyone does in that league). Does this say anything  about the Twins belief in Miller? I say probably not, yet.

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I like the idea of Varland being in AAA when the major league pitchers start rehabbing there. If he’s there while Meada, Winder and Ober start ramping up, it seems like it could induce a great mix of awe and inspiration. Put Canterino there too, even if it’s only in the pen.

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3 hours ago, FlyingFinn said:

 Does this say anything  about the Twins belief in Miller? I say probably not, yet.

Not at all. The Twins LOVE Miller. In fact, after drafting Lee, Sean Johnson acknowledged that when they were scouting Miller, he reminded them so much of Lee, on the field and off. Obviously, the Twins had scouted Lee in preparation for the 2019 draft and Miller for the 2021 draft. I'm certain they are thrilled to have both of them!   

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Happy to see they moved Lee aggressively up to high A.  Being one of the best college bats and solid defender it makes sense to challenge him right away.  He likely just needs to get used to the more refined pro pitching he is going to see moving forward.

Finally they moved Louie up to AAA.  He has been very consistent.  Would still be nice to see fewer hits and a few more K's. Hopefully a little more refinement and he can be an answer at the MLB level.  I am a bit surprised he has been able to stick as a starter as I had him pegged for the pen.  I really like the Minnesota kid and am Happy he is doing so well.

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One of the benefits of moving Varland up to AAA is guys from the MLB staff can see him work in person if they want to and get some instant feedback on things for him to work on to get ready for MLB hitters. I think there's an advantage for us in having our AAA club in Saint Paul. Maybe a small one, but I'll take every advantage, and I love being able to see our advanced prospects easily before they come up to MLB. It'll be interesting to see how Varland does. He's still got some work to do, but has met the challenges before.

Brooks Lee is definitely a player I expected to climb the ranks quickly, but I will admit I was mildly surprised to see him jump from rookie ball to high A this way, but it makes sense if they still want him playing SS every day and Miller also playing SS every day. Lee has such an advanced hit tool that he's more likely to be able to jump in there and go. Wouldn't be surprised at all for him to be in AA by midseason next year.

If Brent Rooker can't get a call up from KC, it'll say a few things about where his career is at. He only got 2 games with the big club in SD and they badly needed hitting, yet didn't see him as a real option and got dumped for a backup catcher. Maybe KC will give him a shot (because he really has nothing to prove at AAA); he certainly wouldn't have gotten one in SD after their trades.

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30 minutes ago, jmlease1 said:

 

If Brent Rooker can't get a call up from KC, it'll say a few things about where his career is at. He only got 2 games with the big club in SD and they badly needed hitting, yet didn't see him as a real option and got dumped for a backup catcher. Maybe KC will give him a shot (because he really has nothing to prove at AAA); he certainly wouldn't have gotten one in SD after their trades.

All the numbers look real good for Rooker at AAA but San Diego didn't give him many chances.  I guess I can see maybe not playing him in the outfield but still with the 1.000 at AAA. a good walk rate. average and Slugging you would think he should be a cinch to make it a the MLB level.  I guess we will see. 

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Back in the early 70's, the Brewers drafted a high school kid from Southern California early in the first round.  He began his hall of fame career mid-season the next season.  Robin Yount was a special talent.  Brooks Lee has the advantage of being older with three years of college experience.  I ask, can the Twins be so fortunate to have gotten a young man who just might be as talented as Yount?  Probably not, but somewhere there is a young kid who will put up that type of career, why not Lee?

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High A is exciting for Lee. It's not terribly uncommon to see top end college players go there around the league, but it's uncommon for our team. If he tears it up this year, starting in Wichita isn't out of the question in 2023. The Twins having the first MLB graduate of a draft class might be a first.

But I'll slow my horses. Don't want to get ahead of myself.

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1 hour ago, bunsen82 said:

On the interview this weekend they stated how much they like Varland,  essentially insinuated he may be up with the big league team at the end of the season. 

Wow, they must like Varland better this year than Sands last year (unless, in hindsight, they think they should have given Sands this experience last year).

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36 minutes ago, FlyingFinn said:

Wow, they must like Varland better this year than Sands last year (unless, in hindsight, they think they should have given Sands this experience last year).

The asked Falvey to name some prospects that have impressed them and could help in the future and he only named Varland.  Said he would be helping the team sooner rather than later.  

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Brooks Lee is expected to be a quick mover through the system.  In part why Steer was even easier to be traded.  Steer was blocked at MLB by guys, and had someone like Lee most likely nipping at his heels.  I bet he starts next season in AA. 

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5 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

Brooks Lee is definitely a player I expected to climb the ranks quickly, but I will admit I was mildly surprised to see him jump from rookie ball to high A this way, but it makes sense if they still want him playing SS every day and Miller also playing SS every day.

The top college players usually start at A+ (after possibly a few ABs at the home site), though part of that history may have to do with the A+ FSL teams being at the home sites for so long.  Anyway, yeah, top college = A or A+ but it's A+ for top college hitters unless there's an issue.

And while I guess you give Miller a chance to play SS everyday, that won't last long as he'll soon be getting experience at all positions even if he happens to be the best SS in the org.  If he were ever expected to hit, he would have been a top draft choice instead of rated as the ~75th best player and then overdrafted by the Twins.

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10 minutes ago, twinstalker said:

The top college players usually start at A+ (after possibly a few ABs at the home site), though part of that history may have to do with the A+ FSL teams being at the home sites for so long.  Anyway, yeah, top college = A or A+ but it's A+ for top college hitters unless there's an issue.

And while I guess you give Miller a chance to play SS everyday, that won't last long as he'll soon be getting experience at all positions even if he happens to be the best SS in the org.  If he were ever expected to hit, he would have been a top draft choice instead of rated as the ~75th best player and then overdrafted by the Twins.

Man, I wish this idea was true for prospects in the Twins system...

Falvey and Levine are maybe slowly changing their position to your line of thinking if they draft top "hitters," but it's also not all that true yet based on the evidence.

Aaron Sabato, Brent Rooker, and Trevor Larnach all spent varying amounts of time in the rookie leagues or low-A to start their careers, definitely a lot more than Brooks Lee's 4 total games.

I definitely thought that Lee should go to Cedar Rapids to start or very early like this, but it wouldn't have surprised me at all if he only played in Fort Myers this year because I know this history. So, if nothing else, this is a pleasant surprise for me! Now it becomes the question of how well he can do to convince them to get to double-A to start 2023.

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8 hours ago, roger said:

Back in the early 70's, the Brewers drafted a high school kid from Southern California early in the first round.  He began his hall of fame career mid-season the next season.  Robin Yount was a special talent.  Brooks Lee has the advantage of being older with three years of college experience.  I ask, can the Twins be so fortunate to have gotten a young man who just might be as talented as Yount?  Probably not, but somewhere there is a young kid who will put up that type of career, why not Lee?

I think I feel comfortable saying that Lee will have a career somewhere between that of Robin Yount and Levi Michael... 

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2 hours ago, Steve Lein said:

Man, I wish this idea was true for prospects in the Twins system...

Falvey and Levine are maybe slowly changing their position to your line of thinking if they draft top "hitters," but it's also not all that true yet based on the evidence.

Aaron Sabato, Brent Rooker, and Trevor Larnach all spent varying amounts of time in the rookie leagues or low-A to start their careers, definitely a lot more than Brooks Lee's 4 total games.

I definitely thought that Lee should go to Cedar Rapids to start or very early like this, but it wouldn't have surprised me at all if he only played in Fort Myers this year because I know this history. So, if nothing else, this is a pleasant surprise for me! Now it becomes the question of how well he can do to convince them to get to double-A to start 2023.

What they do in that first season after signing is pretty meaningless. Much more important is where they start and end their first full season. Also, "top college hitters", in my opinion, are guys taken in the top 15 picks or so. 

Sabato was #30 overall. Rooker was #39 overall. Larnach was #21 or 22. 

And, they aren't all the same. Does anyone think that Sabato shouldn't have spent as much time in Low-A as he did? Rooker played 18 games in the rookie league and then jumped to High-A and started the next season in AA. Larnach signed later, got a couple of games in E-Town and then finished out that year with the Kernels in the playoffs. Same as Wallner the next year. Same as Jeffers. 

So while none of those guys were the top college hitters picked, they all advanced either quickly, or to how they were performing. Meaning, Sabato needed the Low-A time. Wallner missed 2+ months last year with the broken hamate bone and when he came back, he wasn't 100%

When is the last time the Twins drafted a college hitter in the top 20 picks of the draft? Todd Walker, maybe? 

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13 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

I think I feel comfortable saying that Lee will have a career somewhere between that of Robin Yount and Levi Michael... 

We can only hope, can't we Seth?  We can hope that Royce Lewis will get healthy, stay healthy and become a player similar to Derek Jeter.  And that Alex Kirilloff's surgery will be a success and his wrist will never be a problem in the future.  With a healthy wrist, can he be the hitter Joe Mauer was?  And Jose Miranda is the next Miguel Cabrera.  Wouldn't it be great three years from now if the Twins have a healthy Buxton, Arraez, Jeter, Mauer, Cabrera and Yount?  Only question is who plays shortstop, Yount or Jeter?

I will now wake up from my dream and see that although it is a nice morning in the Twin Cities, it was an ugly night in Los Angeles.

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There can also be some decisions based on what teams have roster space. Rookie Ball is unlimited, but the full season leagues are limited to 28-30 players and those MiLB teams are usually essentially at the limits. With the trade deadline in play and a lot of prospects being moved around, the Twins might keep people in Rookie Ball until they figure out where to move everybody around. 

Not so long ago, there were extended trade deadlines which might have impacted roster decisions longer into the season.

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