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Twins Minor League Report (8/17): Aaron Sabato Walk-Off Grand Slam!!


Twins Daily Contributor

Aaron Sabato had his biggest swing of the year. Jordan Balazovic had an excellent outing. Austin Martin returned from the IL, and Simeon Woods Richardson is one step away from the big leagues. Plus, Minor League affiliates went 4-0! Read about this and more in Wednesday's Minor League Report!

Let’s see what happened this Wednesday in the Twins organization.

TRANSACTIONS

  • The Twins claimed RHP Jake Jewell off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians and optioned him to AAA St. Paul.
  • RHP Simeon Woods Richardson was promoted from AA Wichita to AAA St. Paul
  • The Saints placed C Roy Morales on the 7-day IL with a lower back strain
  • LHP Aaron Rozek was promoted from High-A Cedar Rapids to AA Wichita
  • The Wichita Wind Surge activated SS Austin Martin from the 7-day IL
  • The Wichita Wind Surge transferred OF Leobaldo Cabrera to the development list
  • LHP Jaylen Nowlin was promoted from Low-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids

SAINTS (AAA)
St. Paul 6, Scranton 0
Box Score

Is Jordan Balazovic back? The former Twins’ top pitching prospect has had an abysmal year but turned in four scoreless innings tonight for St. Paul, striking out four batters.

The Saints got three early runs in the top of the second. After Chris Williams hit his first AAA double, Andrew Bechtold hit a 2-run single to score Williams and Caleb Hamilton. Later in the inning, Jermaine Palacios came through with a single to tack on an extra run.

The game remained scoreless for a few more innings thanks to Balazovic and Evan Sisk, who was first out of the bullpen. Sisk threw 1 ⅔ innings while not allowing a hit and striking out two.

Matt Wallner picked up his first triple as a Saint in the bottom of the seventh. This was Wallner’s only hit of the night as he went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.

The Saints added three more in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a catchers’ interference and a John Andreoli two-run single.

Juan Minaya, Michael Feliz, and Drew Strotman all had scoreless outings in relief as the Saints quickly completed the shutout of Scranton 6-0.

Sisk picked up the win, his second for the Saints. Andreoli and Michael Helman had two hits. Helman also stole his 17th base of the year. The Saints improve to 55-56.

WIND SURGE (AA)
Wichita 9, Tulsa 5
Box Score

Wichita won a thrilling extra-inning game thanks to some late-game heroics from Aaron Sabato.

Sabato, who was 3-for-25 with no extra-base hits going into his last at-bat on Wednesday, came up clutch. With the bases loaded and one out, Sabato took a 2-0 slider and hit it over the center field wall for a walk-off grand slam. The home run was Sabato’s 19th of the year between Cedar Rapids and Wichita, and hopefully, this breaks him out of his slump in AA so far

Wichita took an early 4-1 lead through four innings, thanks to four good innings from Wichita starter Cody Laweryson who allowed one run and struck out four. Laweryson has been dominant in AA through 34 innings. He is 4-0 with 39 strikeouts and a 1.05 ERA.

Alex Isola started the scoring with an RBI single in the first, and Cole Sturgeon followed with an RBI walk. In the fourth, Austin Martin drove in a run with a groundout, and Will Holland later came in to score on a wild pitch to give Wichita a 4-1 lead.

Osiris German allowed three runs in 1 ⅔ innings out of the bullpen to bring the game to a tie. Will Holland came up clutch with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to give Wichita the lead back.

Everything went smoothly until the ninth, when Casey Legumina allowed a leadoff homer to Ismael Alcantara to tie the game back up.

After a scoreless bottom of the ninth, Legumina returned for the tenth. Legumina allowed the extra-inning runner to get to third with one out but stranded him thanks to a fielder's choice and a strikeout.

In the bottom of the tenth, Holland drew a walk to open the inning. When DaShawn Keirsey moved up to third on a wild pitch, Tulsa opted to intentionally walk Edouard Julien to load the bases. After Austin Martin lined out, Aaron Sabato ended the game.

Isola had the only multi-hit game for Wichita, but plenty of players had multi-walk games. Julien had four walks, Anthony Prato had three, and Sturgeon, Yunior Severino, and Keirsey had two.

KERNELS (HIGH-A)
Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 1
Box Score

The Kernels won a pitchers’ duel on Wednesday thanks to a strong outing from starting pitcher Travis Adams.

Adams had allowed 11 earned runs through 10 ⅓ innings in Cedar Rapids until Wednesday, when he turned in his best outing in High-A this far. Adams went five innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out eight.

The game was tied at zero until the fourth inning, when Adams allowed his only run of the day on a single. This score held until the bottom of the sixth when Pat Winkel singled to center field, scoring Jake Rucker. After a strikeout, Wisconsin’s pitcher balked with two outs to score Seth Gray from third base.

After taking the lead, the Kernel pitching locked down the game. Bobby Milacki entered the game in relief of Adams and threw two scoreless innings, picking up the win. After Milacki, Hunter McMahon threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings to lock down the save, his second of the year. McMahon has allowed only two earned runs in 29 ⅔ innings at Cedar Rapids this year.

Winkel led the game offensively, going 3-for-4. Cedar Rapids improves to 65-45 with the victory and continues to be a force in High-A.

MIGHTY MUSSELS (LOW-A)
Fort Myers 6, Palm Beach 5
Box Score

Fort Myers won in an extra-inning thriller on Wednesday thanks to a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 11th by 2022 second-round pick Tanner Schobel.

The scoring was very back-and-forth all game long. Palm Beach jumped to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first off of starting pitcher Malik Barrington. Fort Myers answered right away as Ben Ross hit a 2-run homer in the top of the second for his first professional home run. That was followed by a Kala’i Rosario single and a Rubel Cespedes double, adding another run to the lead.

In the bottom of the third, Palm Beach added three runs to chase Barrington, who went 2 ⅔ innings, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two opposing hitters.

The game was scoreless for a few innings until the top of the seventh when Misael Urbina tied it up with his fourth homer. Ross drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning to give Fort Myers a 5-4 lead.

It was looking suitable for Fort Myers, who needed two more outs in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory when RJ Yeager hit a solo homer to tie it up and send it to extras.

In the bottom of the tenth, Jackson Hicks induced a double play with two runners on base to send it to an extra frame, where Schobel would give Fort Myers the lead before Hicks stranded a runner at third with one out in the bottom of the eleventh to secure the win.

Fort Myers had phenomenal relief pitching, as Hicks, Regi Grace, and John Wilson combined to throw 8 ⅓ innings while only allowing one run.

Cespedes and Noah Cardenas each picked up two hits to lead the offense in the victory. Fort Myers improved to 59-47 with the win.

DOMINICAN DAILIES
DSL Twins 4, DSL Brewers 6
Box Score

Starting Pitcher: Orlando Rubio (5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)
Multi-Hit Games: Yilber Herrera (3-for-3), Isaac Pena (2-for-2)
2B: Herrera (6), Jose Rodriguez (14)

TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Travis Adams (Cedar Rapids) - 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K
Hitter of the Day – Yilber Herrera (DSL Twins) - 3-for-3, R, 2B, BB

PROSPECT SUMMARY
We will again keep tabs on the Twins' top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here

Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed:

#2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, 2 K
#4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-5, R, RBI, BB, K, 2 SB (24)
#7 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 1-for-5, R, 2 K
#9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-5, 3B (1), R, 3 K
#11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K
#14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-2, 2 R, 4 BB, K, SB (14)
#15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 1 ⅓ IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, RBI, BB
#20 - Kala’i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 1-for-5, R, K

THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Scranton @ St. Paul (7:07 CST) - RHP Louie Varland (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05 CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (2-1, 5.28 ERA) 
Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - TBD
Fort Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30 PM CST) - RHP Mike Paredes (7-4, 2.88 ERA)

Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!

Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!

 


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Good summary, Andrew, thank you.  I have three comments.  First, it was nice to see Adams have a successful start.  Sometimes it takes a bit for players to adjust when they are moved up due to nerves, a new setting, etc.  Hopefully, he will settle in.  Second, Strotman has looked better the past month.  Maybe he is starting to figure out what he needs to do to be successful.  Finally, and most importantly, Balazovic finally had a decent outing.  I think we would all feel better if he closed the season with a strong run of starts.  I have not read a lot about why he has struggled.  When I watch him, his stuff looks good, but he is erratic and does not seem to have control of the strike zone.  Does anyone know why he has stuggled so much this year? Injury?  Mechanics?

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First let me say congratulation to Simeon Woods-Richardson on the promotion.  SWR and Varland seem like the only legit rotation arms coming out of AA this year.  Hopefully they thrive at AAA as well.  Also congrats to Jaylin Nowlin.  He has been surprising as a starter.  I thought he was a relief arm only pick but he looks like he has the stuff to start.  Will have to wait and see but a well deserved promotion at any rate.

Extremely happy to have something positive to say about Balazovich.  Very solid game and it feels like that hasn't happened in some time.  Hopefully he has turned a corner and turns back into the dominant pitcher he can be.

Evan Sisk sure looks like a lefty that might make some noise at the MLB level His numbers are pretty much the same from AA to AAA really good WHIP and ERA solid K rate as well.  I think I like him better than Moran mainly because he seems more consistent.  Hopefully he can become another good lefty pen arm for us.

I am always hard on Sabato and I still think he is more of a mistake pitch hitter but he worked the count 2-0 and didn't miss the pitch down the middle.  Good for him as he came up strong in a big moment and won the game.

Lawyerson has been amazing this year.  I kind of lost a little faith in him after last year but he is back stronger than ever another 40 man decision most likely with the year he is having.

Adams is back.  Was nice to see him performing at high A just like he did at low A.  Pretty much dominated. Hunter McMahon is a bit old for the leagues he has been in but he has been dominant as well.  Would be nice if they moved him to AA soon and see where he is at with guys more his own age.  Still an excellent season for Hunter.

I was very curious to see how the smaller school Ross would do in pro ball.  Would he have any power? would he have the same level of plate discipline.  I guess he pretty much answered those questions in this one game with the HR and the bases loaded walk.  Gonna be keeping my eye on this guy as he might be a legit shortstop if the bat plays.

Has been cool to see Urbina hitting really well and with some power his second time through Low A.  Was a little worried last year. Guessing they let him finish where he is but he should start at High A next year.

Great night for all the affiliates although they had to pull off some magic in a couple of those games.  The better these guys do the better I feel about the system.

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Great seeing SWR promoted to the Saints, and Martin back in Wichita.  Hopefully, his production will improve the last month of the season.

Expect Enlow is pitching in relief to limit his innings coming back from TJ surgery.  Good seeing him have another solid outing.  After a more than disappointing season, great seeing Balazovic have a game like last night.  This was his best start of the year, wasn't it?  Recall that his last outing was solid, can he keep this up over the next month?

Still waiting for Prielipp to get his first turn on the mound.

 

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45 minutes ago, RJA said:

When I watch him, his stuff looks good, but he is erratic and does not seem to have control of the strike zone.  Does anyone know why he has stuggled so much this year? Injury?  Mechanics?

I watch his starts and see the exact same thing. Town ball and even Senior ball players can hit pitches middle of the zone. Balazovic needs repetitions and will not advance until he can command his stuff. He can be really good when he gains total control of those pitches. I'm just guessing but his short outings are possibly aimed at two purposes: care for his arm and specific to use all of his pitches. When he shows health and ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes he can advance to working on stamina and controlling those pitches within the strike zone. McKenzie for Cleveland advanced in a similar fashion.

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It's good to see Balazovic start to get things together, but he needs to have a good stretch and pile up some innings before my faith will be restored. 

Congrats to SWR, a pitcher I like a great deal. While i don't expect him to really compete for a rotation spot in training camp, I definitely see him being one of the first call-ups when injuries inevitably strike next season, and I think he has the talent to take that opportunity and never leave. Looking forward to seeing how he does in AAA and might try to get myself to one of his starts!

Sabato's slam is nice, but I'm still down on him. Despite giving up significant prospect capital recently, I still don't think he cracks the top 30, which is hugely disappointing. He just doesn't make enough contact for his power to really play, has little to no defensive value, and has twice been promoted more on scholarship than performance. I'm more interested in Alex Isola: can he stick at catcher, can he stay healthy, and is this who he can be as a hitter? He's having an excellent year in AA so far, but it's a fairly small sample. But he feels worth keeping an eye on.

Julien had 4 BBs? I think this kid understands the strike zone. He'll be in AAA next year and has developed very nicely. I expect to see him get a chance in MLB next year as well. Love guys that get on base all the time like this, but still rip hits. That 2019 draft is turning out pretty well for the Twins: Steer & Gipson-Long made good trade chips, Wallner is in AAA already along with Varland; Julien, Isola, and Laweryson are all looking good in AA...and that's with Cavaco slow to develop and Canterino always hurt.

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1 hour ago, jmlease1 said:

It's good to see Balazovic start to get things together, but he needs to have a good stretch and pile up some innings before my faith will be restored. 

Congrats to SWR, a pitcher I like a great deal. While i don't expect him to really compete for a rotation spot in training camp, I definitely see him being one of the first call-ups when injuries inevitably strike next season, and I think he has the talent to take that opportunity and never leave. Looking forward to seeing how he does in AAA and might try to get myself to one of his starts!

Sabato's slam is nice, but I'm still down on him. Despite giving up significant prospect capital recently, I still don't think he cracks the top 30, which is hugely disappointing. He just doesn't make enough contact for his power to really play, has little to no defensive value, and has twice been promoted more on scholarship than performance. I'm more interested in Alex Isola: can he stick at catcher, can he stay healthy, and is this who he can be as a hitter? He's having an excellent year in AA so far, but it's a fairly small sample. But he feels worth keeping an eye on.

Julien had 4 BBs? I think this kid understands the strike zone. He'll be in AAA next year and has developed very nicely. I expect to see him get a chance in MLB next year as well. Love guys that get on base all the time like this, but still rip hits. That 2019 draft is turning out pretty well for the Twins: Steer & Gipson-Long made good trade chips, Wallner is in AAA already along with Varland; Julien, Isola, and Laweryson are all looking good in AA...and that's with Cavaco slow to develop and Canterino always hurt.

I didn't realize all those guys were 2019. That's ridiculous. Especially with Cavaco looking like a miss. 

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When I look deep into Balazovic's numbers, he wasn't generating a ton of swinging strikes. 40 strikes total, with well under half coming from swinging and looking combined which suggests a lot of balls being fouled off. In my experience, at bats with tons of foul balls often end in strikeouts or home runs. Considering just how awful Balazovic has been this year, I'm guarded in any optimism, but it's hard to believe some of Balazovic's struggles haven't been mental. Here's hoping he can build on the performance and confidence inspires better results.

Woods-Richardson moving on up to AAA is exciting. I'm really interested to see how his stuff plays against more experienced batters who generally take more professional at bats than lower in the minors. Here's hoping Woods-Richardson proves his mettle quickly in St. Paul. It's been quite the whirlwind for him between all the trades, downtime and the Olympics. I bet he can practically taste his first MLB start.


 

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Made it to the Kernels game last night (to complete the Twins road trip for the year), and Adams was awesome. Working fast, really crisp. Throwing well even when WIS was challenging. Was a really fun game. (And I'm going to go on the record as saying I really like the pitch clock....)

Also great to see 2 2022 draftees starting last night (Lee & Shuffield w/ his CR debut). Neither did much at the plate, but Lee had a couple great plays at short.

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