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Twins Daily 2022 Short-Season Pitcher of the Year: Miguel Olivares

Cody Christie

It takes multiple seasons for a pitcher to make his way from the short-season leagues to the big leagues. The Twins hope some of these pitchers can impact the organization in the years ahead.

Image courtesy of Instagram (graphics by Thieres Rabelo)

Minnesota signed Miguel Olivares out of Venezuela in September 2021 which meant the 2022 season was his professional debut. The Twins used Olivares mainly as a starter, with eight of his 11 appearances coming in that role. He allowed two earned runs or fewer in every appearance, which helped him post a sub-1.70 ERA in every month of the season. Olivares didn’t allow a home run all season and posted a 9.7 K/9. 

In July, Olivares posted his strongest numbers of the season. He combined for a 1.35 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP with a 23-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 20 innings. For the season, he held batters to a .150/.272/.177 slash line as only three of his 23 hits allowed were for extra-bases. He didn’t allow an extra-base hit after July 26th. 

His numbers were strong as a starter and a reliever as he posted identical 9.6 K/9 totals, but he was better in a starting role. In eight starts (34 2/3 innings), he allowed four earned runs (1.04 ERA) with a 0.89 WHIP and a 37-to-13 strikeout to walk ratio. Nearly 78% of his plate appearances came against younger batters, so it will be interesting to track his development as he moves up the organizational ladder. 

His pitching coach in the DSL, DJ Engle, had this to say about Olivares: "Miguel is a talented young arm who is mature beyond his age. He did a great job this season of everything we asked of him, most of which was new to him, but he hit the ground running early on in camp. He always wanted to expand his game and would continue to work on the little things daily throughout the season. He turned in a great season, excited to continue to see him develop."

Runner-Up: Cesar Lares, LHP
DSL Stats (11 G): 2.93 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 71 K, 20 BB, 46 IP

Minnesota signed Lares out of Venezuela in May 2022, and he made his professional debut a few weeks later. As an 18-year-old, Lares carved up hitters in the DSL with an eye-popping 13.9 K/9. He allowed more hits than one would like with 6.1 H/9, but he was able to get out of jams with his high strikeout rate. Nearly all his earned runs allowed came in two games at the start of the season. From July 2nd to August 20th, he posted a 1.87 ERA while batters hit .158/.235/.217 against the left-handed hurler. Nearly 68% of his plate appearances came against younger batters, which he held to a .193 BA and a .584 OPS.

Second Runner-Up: Ledwin Tavares, RHP
DSL Stats (10 G): 3.70 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 33 K, 10 BB, 41 1/3 IP

In January 2022, the Twins signed Tavares as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic before assigning him to the DSL. All but six of his at-bats were against older batters, and he held them to a .596 OPS. Tavares won four consecutive decisions from June 15th through July 20th while posting a sub-2.00 ERA and holding batters to a .198 batting average. In three of his ten appearances, he allowed a home run, so that will be something to keep an eye on next season, especially as he comes stateside.  

Honorable Mentions:
Cristian Jimenez, RHP (DSL): 3.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 49 K, 7 BB, 37 1/3 IP

In his second stint in the DSL, Jimenez saw his strikeout numbers improve, and his walk rate dropped from 4.3 BB/9 to 1.7 BB/9. 

Cole Bellair, RHP (FCL): 1.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 20 K, 6 BB, 22 1/3 IP
Bellair spent time in independent leagues before joining the Twins organization in 2021. As a 25-year-old, his number improved significantly in the FCL. 

Roger Duran, RHP (DSL): 2.22 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 23 K, 14 BB, 28 1/3 IP
Last season, Duran allowed 29 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings (11.03 ERA). His 2022 season improved in nearly every statistical category as he repeated the DSL. 

Juan Rojas, RHP (FCL): 3.60 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 38 K, 4 BB, 30 IP
Rojas came stateside in 2022 and pitched well for the FCL Twins before being included in the Jorge Lopez deal at the trade deadline. 

Which players will most likely impact the Twins down the road? Who would you vote as the short-season pitcher of the year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

2016 - Huascar Ynoa
2017 - Jovani Moran
2018 - Andrew Cabezas
2019 - Cody Lawyerson
2021 - Samuel Perez

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Recall asking Seth, maybe last year, and believe I remember that Duran is not related to the Twins Duran.

Love your write-up about Olivares.  Will recall, however, the astonishing numbers Anthony Escobar had back when he was in the DSL.  Was 100% convinced he would be a future star for the Twins.  Believe he is still in the organization, but had a so-so year with either the FCL Twins or the Mightly Mussels.  What that taught me is it is a long ways from success in the DSL to the Twins.

Hopefully, several of these young men will continue pitching well as they move up the ladder.  We all know, the Twins need to develop more and better pitching than in the past.

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