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Twins AFL Report (Week 2): Austin Martin is Blowing Up


Steve Lein
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Twins Daily Contributor

The story of Week 2 in the Arizona Fall League for Minnesota Twins prospects was again Austin Martin. After finishing Week 1 with a three-hit outburst, he added 11 hits in four games in Week 2, including a breakout performance of sorts in a blowout win.

Image courtesy of Ed Bailey (Wichita Wind Surge), Steve Buhr (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

 

Game Results:
Monday, 10/10 | Glendale 8, Salt River 3
Tuesday, 10/11 | Glendale 20, Salt River 4
Thursday, 10/13 | Glendale 7, Mesa 9
Friday, 10/14 | Scottsdale 2, Glendale 0
Saturday, 10/15 | Mesa 1, Glendale 1

The Glendale Desert Dogs again went .500 on the week, which is odd as they played five total games. That’s the nature of the Arizona Fall League, as they blew out the Salt River Rafters, outsourcing them 28-7 in their two games to start the week’s action, but then fell to Mesa and Scottsdale in close contests before a game with Mesa was called with the score tied 1-1 after eight innings. They’ll enter Week 3 with a record of 5-5-1 and a game and a half behind the league-leading Surprise Saguaros.

How did all of the Minnesota Twins prospects fare for the Desert Dogs in week two of the 2022 AFL season?

IF Austin Martin
Week: 
11-for-18, 2 R, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 SB (4 games)
Overall: .500/.575/.656 (1.231 OPS)
Martin played in four of the Desert Dogs' five games this week and batted leadoff in each. He played two games at shortstop, one in center field, and DH-ed in the other. He was on fire all week, collecting three or more hits in three of those games, and is now batting .500 going into Week 3.

In Monday’s 8-3 win over Salt River, he was 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. He followed that up with a 4-for-6 effort in the Desert Dogs' destruction of the Rafters on Tuesday, where he scored two runs and drove in five. He fell a triple shy of the cycle and hit the first pitch of the game out to left-center for his first AFL home run.

His quietest game of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Mesa, but he still reached base multiple times with a single and a walk.

After a day off on Friday, he closed out his week with three more hits in four at-bats in their tie with the Solar Sox. He also drove in their only run with his single in the eighth inning.

After two weeks, Martin leads the AFL in hits with 16, is third with five stolen bases (has been caught once), and is fifth in OPS with a 1.231 mark. Martin will look to continue his scorching hot hitting in Week 3, but Twins fans should be ecstatic about what he’s showing in the AFL so far.

IF Edouard Julien
Week: 3-for-6, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K (2 games)
Overall: .300/.500/.300 (.800 OPS).
Julien got the start in just two games on the week, serving as the DH in the blowout of Salt River, and playing second base in Friday’s 2-0 loss against Scottsdale. 

He batted seventh in the lineup in the 20-4 win and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and keeping with his professional theme, drew three walks to reach base in five-of-six trips.

On Friday, he knocked one base hit in three at-bats, batting second in the lineup. His hit came in the bottom of the first inning, and he reached third base before their early rally got stalled. They then went on to be shut out as the Desert Dogs managed just three hits total in the game.

While Julien is still looking for his first extra-base-hit of the AFL season, he has reached base in half his plate appearances and trails only teammate Matt McLain in walks drawn overall, with eight in six games.

C/1B Alex Isola
Week: 1-for-5, 1 RBI (1 game)
Overall: .133/.235/.133 (.368 OPS)
Alex Isola got into only one game during the week, and that came in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Salt River Rafters. He batted ninth in the lineup, played first base, and finished 1-for-5 with an RBI.

His single in the top of the sixth inning drove in the Desert Dogs' third and final run of the inning, putting them out front in the game 3-1 at the time.

While it has to be disappointing to play in only one game during the week, the player rotation hopefully gets him more time in Week 3.

RHP Jon Olsen
Week: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (1 appearance)
Overall: 12.27 ERA, 3.82 WHIP (3 2/3 IP)
The right-hander made one appearance on the week, as the first reliever summoned in Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions.

He came on to start the fourth inning and after a leadoff walk got the next hitter to line into a double play. He allowed a single and hit a batter before getting a groundout for a scoreless frame. Back out for the fifth, he got a strikeout before a walk and a triple led to an earned run, but he finished off the final two hitters with two more strikeouts to end his outing on a high note.

Olsen’s numbers in the AFL likely aren’t going to ever look great after his first outing of the season last week, but he can be encouraged by the strikeouts that came late in this one moving forward. And he only had a couple of rehab outings during the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago. 

LHP Denny Bentley
Week: 
1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K (1 appearance)
Overall: 4.15 ERA, 1.62 WHIP (4 1/3 IP).
Bentley came out of the bullpen for just one appearance during the week. He entered the blowout game against Salt River in the seventh inning with the game already well out of hand.

His predecessor had loaded the bases with one out, and after a sac fly made it 19-2, Bentley entered the game to try and keep it moving. He gave up a single that made it 19-4 but was not charged with either of those runs. He then got a pop-out to end the inning before coming back out for the eighth with a clean slate. He walked one batter but retired all three others, including a strikeout. In a positive change from week one, 14 of his 24 pitches in this one went for strikes (58%) as he looks to keep his pitches in the zone better.

RHP Ryan Shreve
Week: 3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 2 K (2 appearances)
Overall: 2.84 ERA, 1.74 WHIP (6 1/3  IP).

Shreve made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both of them.

In Monday’s win over the Rafters, he was the first reliever summoned. He came into the game to start the fourth inning. He promptly gave up a solo home run but got some help from his defense to keep that run as his only one allowed during the week. After a walk to the next hitter, he got a pair of flyouts before his defense executed a nice relay throw to catch the runner trying to stretch a single into a double. Back out for the fifth, he picked up a strikeout but then loaded the bases before he was removed from the game. His pitching counterpart Ben Harris picked him up by getting a double-play grounder.

In Friday’s loss to Scottsdale, Shreve finished the game for Glendale, pitching two shutout innings. He gave up two walks, but no hits and struck out one to keep the game close in the final two innings. 

RHP Francis Peguero
Week: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K (2 appearances)
Overall: 0.00 ERA, 1.62 WHIP (4 1/3 IP).
The little-known right-hander made two appearances. He finished the game for Glendale in both of them.

In Tuesday’s big win over the Salt River Rafters, he walked the first batter of the ninth inning but proceeded to strike out two of the next three to close it out. 

In Saturday’s tie with the Mesa Solar Sox, he took over for the “extra” eighth inning with the score still 0-0, and a runner starting on second base. He gave up his first hit of the season to put runners on the corners before a double-play ball allowed the first run of the game to score. As it was the “ghost” runner, it was of the unearned variety. Another batter reached due to an error before giving up a walk, but he then got a lineout to keep his team in it, and Austin Martin was able to tie it with his RBI single before it was called.

Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week!

(Another Austin Martin highlight for tax)

 


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Twins Daily Contributor
6 minutes ago, Otwins said:

Starting to feel like Royce Lewis AFL season. Just hope it continues. How has he looked at shortstop?

1 error (throwing) in five games there so far (23 chances, .957 fielding percentage). They are actually streaming the games this season (https://www.mlb.com/news/watch-arizona-fall-league-games-free), so you can check them out yourself if so inclined. 

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Thanks Steve for these updates, I saw that Martin had hit a HR earlier so I was eager to see his line for the week. Although he's not a slugger, HRs will come as he gets stronger. A little disappointed that Julien & Isola aren't getting the playing time they need. Julien is doing well but Isola isn't. Pegueros looks promising.

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Love seeing the Martin stats, and really love seeing the swing change. This wasn't a pretty year for him, but it appears he's been working and making adjustments and that's huge. Hopefully he can use this as a spring board into 2023 and join the young core developing in Minneapolis.

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It's great to see Martin having such a strong performance in the AFL. the talent is there, and he may have just needed a little re-set. Be great if he can settle in with a swing and not need to make significant adjustments. Not sure if he can step in at SS (his defense there has been questioned even more than Brooks Lee) but his ability to get on base while showing that he can be a quality base-stealer says to me it won't be that long before we see him in MLB. AFL level of competition is usually compared to AA, I think?

Not sure what position he slots into, but they'll find a place for him if he can get on base like this. (Should we celebrate or worry about his HBP numbers? it helps him get on base, but...ouch! 3 in only 8 games in the AFL)

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So exciting seeing Martin playing like the prospect we all hope he is.  With this type of performance, makes one wonder if an injury caused his disappointing season at Wichita?  

Add me to the list of those disappointed that Julien isn't seeing a bit more action.  When he plays, he seems to be performing exactly as he has done for much of his career.  I guess we will have to wait a year or so to see if he really has a future with the Twins.

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We shouldn’t sleep on Martin. He’s always been a top OBP guy, even when struggling at the plate. With next year’s rule changes, the Twins need more (actually, a lot more) speed and he has it.

I’m seeing a future top of the order of RH Martin and LH Arraez (think of the pitches he would see with Martin on base). The question may be: can Martin play 2B?

The new “young core” may actually be Lewis, Lee, Wallner, and Martin to go along with Miranda, Arraez, Jeffers and Gordon.  I’m hopeful that Kiriloff and/or Larnach can be part of that too.  With Buxton and adding one really good position player FA and a decent backup C - that’s not a bad top 12/13 heading into 2024. 11 of those players are already in the system and 9 (other than Arraez and Buxton) are essentially at league minimum.

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13 hours ago, Otwins said:

Starting to feel like Royce Lewis AFL season. Just hope it continues. How has he looked at shortstop?

I was at one of the games in which he played all 9 innings at SS. He was rough. Poor instincts and anticipation.

What I mean is that he essentially had 4 plays in the game. He botched 2 of them. 

The first on a looper to RF where the batter tried to stretch it to a double. Martin was late to cover 2B and a perfect throw by the RFer to the bag, that would have gotten a precious AFL out, was wasted.

An inning later a hot 2 hopper was hit to him and he "olayed" the ball. 

He made one particularly impressive throw from the hole. On both plays that he did make, his arm strength surprised me, as that is usually the knock on minor leaguers being able to stick at the position.

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This is certainly GOOD news that his bat is coming around.  I just don't see him as a SS with Lewis, Lee and Miller in the system.  I see him as a LF'er who can handle CF when Buxton is hurt and a top of the order hitter (#1 or #2) who gets on base ahead of the meat of the order.  

One other thing to consider:  Is this the time to include Martin in a trade once his stock climbs at the conclusion of the AFL??  He certainly could have a place on the big league roster, but he could also be used to bring in a more accomplished player in a trade package, be that a pitcher or a hitter.  

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Will this AFL for Martin jump him back up prospect lists?  Will we try to trade him to a team that thinks he will be a breakout star, or do we keep him in hopes he will be with team next year?  Personally, I am a fan of him, despite his lower power, as long as he is not a negative defense guy I think he will be a good lead off guy for years.  

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I like the fact that he is hitting 500 (SSS)  with walks and stolen bases. Not everyone has to swing for the fences. Also Julien is doing similar things with fewer plate appearances. I would like to see them both at the top of the order but not sure where either will play. I watched a couple of AFL games with Martin at shortstop. One game he looked doable, the other a little rough. Just hasn't played enough at the position.

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1 hour ago, TopGunn#22 said:

This is certainly GOOD news that his bat is coming around.  I just don't see him as a SS with Lewis, Lee and Miller in the system.  I see him as a LF'er who can handle CF when Buxton is hurt and a top of the order hitter (#1 or #2) who gets on base ahead of the meat of the order.  

One other thing to consider:  Is this the time to include Martin in a trade once his stock climbs at the conclusion of the AFL??  He certainly could have a place on the big league roster, but he could also be used to bring in a more accomplished player in a trade package, be that a pitcher or a hitter.  

I think Martin brings skills to the table that the Twins definitely need. He is more OBP than power and provides base stealing speed. He projects as an above-average glove in the field with versatility and he hits right handed while the Twins have few right handed hitting outfielders. To me, he should have more value to the Twins than for anyone else  

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Twins Daily Contributor
1 hour ago, RJA said:

Great analysis by Keith Law in the Athletic. 

One quote I liked:

"I’m still optimistic here, as he showed that he has the strength to get to harder contact and he looked good in centerfield; he needs to tighten up his swing decisions and get that lower half involved. He has also had multiple hand and wrist injuries in pro ball, all of which can temporarily sap a player’s strength, so perhaps it’s just a matter of getting further away from those to get his contact quality consistently higher."

https://theathletic.com/3703139/2022/10/18/mlb-prospects-arizona-fall-league/ (paywall)

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19 minutes ago, Steve Lein said:

One quote I liked:

"I’m still optimistic here, as he showed that he has the strength to get to harder contact and he looked good in centerfield; he needs to tighten up his swing decisions and get that lower half involved. He has also had multiple hand and wrist injuries in pro ball, all of which can temporarily sap a player’s strength, so perhaps it’s just a matter of getting further away from those to get his contact quality consistently higher."

https://theathletic.com/3703139/2022/10/18/mlb-prospects-arizona-fall-league/ (paywall)

Not to be Debbie Downer, but I wonder if the hand and wrist injuries result from HBPs and if so, with him continuing to get hit it would seem likely that he will continue to deal with wrist and hand injuries. I guess time will tell.

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The pitching in the AFL is definitely a step back from Double-A so it's hard to know what to make of his production on offense. How he does on defense should give the most information about where he projects in the future.

I do not think his trade value has peaked. With Buxton certain to spend time on the injured list the Twins should keep him. No to trading Austin Martin.

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Well, if they keep playing him at shortstop, he will be in the hunt come spring training. Martin's downfall will be that there is no reason for the Twins to add him to the 40-man, yet.

Martin gives the Twins some speed. Are they using the new "bigger" bases in the AFL?

Kulien could also be in the mix coming out of spring training, assuming the Twins add him to the 40-man.

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6 hours ago, Steve Lein said:

One quote I liked:

"I’m still optimistic here, as he showed that he has the strength to get to harder contact and he looked good in centerfield; he needs to tighten up his swing decisions and get that lower half involved. He has also had multiple hand and wrist injuries in pro ball, all of which can temporarily sap a player’s strength, so perhaps it’s just a matter of getting further away from those to get his contact quality consistently higher."

https://theathletic.com/3703139/2022/10/18/mlb-prospects-arizona-fall-league/ (paywall)

I think that's probably fair. The other positive is that power can often be the last skill to develop in a successful hitter, and this may be an issue that can be slowly ironed out as he gets stronger and more comfortable. there's no question about his ability to control the strike zone, other than maybe a need to be a little more selective in what he offers at, even when in the zone...which again is something that develops with time.

Just don't know if he's good enough defensively to stick at SS; he'll be fine in CF or 2B/3B at worst and a plus defender in a corner for sure so it's not like he's a guy we can't find a defensive home for. It's just that we need a SS so badly!

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For Martin it comes down to getting comfortable with what the Twins are asking him to do at the plate and playing defense and getting healthy.  He quietly got better on defense throughout the year.  He had a very rough beginning of the year on the defensive side of things.  He may never be an elite SS,  but a good bat average defense has a place in this game.  There is flexibility in his game that he can likely move to second or Outfield.   We are starting to get a glut of SS prospects,  although if all make it to the big leagues you could have infield of Martin 2nd, Lewis at SS, Lee at 3rd.   

My gut feel is Martin is a 300 hitter,  400 plus OBP mid .800 OBP player with lots of steals.  I received lots of pushback this summer.  He has now had 2 injury riddled years along with some subpar hitting.  However,  with better confidence and a more refined swing I think we will start to see Martin get back to the hitter he was before.  

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