Top prospect Royce Lewis and 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year Jose Miranda headline the additions. In addition, starting pitchers Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Blayne Enlow and Chris Vallimont were also added to the roster.
Despite missing the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL, Royce Lewis was an easy choice to add. The #1 pick in the 2017 draft (and current Twins Daily #1 prospect) remains a top prospect in the organization as well as in all of baseball. He participated at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul in 2020. Lewis should start the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita and from there we’ll just see how his knee and his swing and his glove respond. It's possible that Lewis ends the season with the Twins.
Following the announcement, Lewis said he is excited. "It means a lot! I really appreciate any sort of opportunity." And after a lost season and lots of recovery, he added, "Always great to hear any good news!"
Jose Miranda was a second-round pick in 2016 out of school in Puerto Rico. He’s always had good power potential and contact skills, but things really came together in 2021 when he hit a combined .343 with 30 doubles and 30 home runs between Wichita and St. Paul. Depending on other offseason moves, Miranda should start the 2022 season in St. Paul, hopefully continue mashing and be ready for an opening at third base, or second base, or first base with the Twins. Miranda was the Twins Daily #6 prospect in August.
After hearing the news, Miranda told Twins Daily, "It means a lot, especially after a lost season last year. (I'm) excited and pumped for what the future holds, and this makes me want to work harder!"
Josh Winder broke out in 2021 as well. After impressing coaches at Instructional League a year ago and at big-league spring training this year, he was fantastic in Wichita before starting out strong after his promotion to St. Paul. He pitched in the Futures Game before being shut down with shoulder issues. Assuming health, Winder may be competing for a big-league job in spring training. He’s likely to start in St. Paul but could be ready for The Call whenever needed. Winder is Twins Daily’s #11 prospect.
Winder was the team’s seventh-round pick in 2018 from VMI. Two rounds earlier, the Twins selected Cole Sands out of Florida State. Although he missed a few starts with minor injuries, he had a terrific season in Double-A Wichita. Sands should start 2021 in St. Paul and could be ready by midseason. Sands is the #19 Twins Daily prospect.
Chris Vallimont had an ERA over six and he walked far too many batters in 2021, but the former Marlins prospect was added to the 40-man roster because he has electric stuff. While there may be questions about if he’ll be a starter long-term, the worst case is he can be a strong bullpen arm. Vallimont is the Twins Daily #25-ranked prospect.
Blayne Enlow was certainly a more difficult choice, but the team decided to believe in the future of their 2017 third-round pick. His potential, even as he continues to rehab from his May 2021 Tommy John surgery, remains very high. In 2021, he was throwing harder, mixed all of his pitches and was missing a lot more bats than he previously had. If all goes well, maybe he is making rehab appearances in June or July. If things go well and he continues to progress, he could debut by the end of the 2023 season. He ranked #17 on Twins Daily's prospect list.
After hearing the news, Enlow told Twins Daily he's "just getting started."
The goal, of course, is to avoid a situation like a year ago when the Twins lost Akil Baddoo to the Tigers and Tyler Wells to the Orioles. Both not only made their team out of spring training, but they both became important contributors. Last year, due to Covid, there were no minor league games in which to evaluate players. At least this year, they have game video and stats and more with which to do their evaluations. But, that doesn’t make all of the decisions easy. Here are several players at risk to be lost in the Rule 5 draft.
Austin Schulfer is a potential Rule 5 pick. As a starter in 2021 in Wichita, he was touching 96 mph with good secondary pitches. Again, he might end up a reliever, but there is certainly potential in his right arm
Others who could be at-risk to be selected in the Rule 5 draft include shortstop-turned-pitcher Jordan Gore who was Twins Daily’s Right-Handed Relief Pitcher All Star for his work in Cedar Rapids and Wichita in his first season on the mound.
St. Paul Saints relievers Ian Hamilton and Ryan Mason are also now eligible to be Rule 5d next month. Both found success in Triple-A in 2021 and could contribute in the big leagues when called upon. Other relievers that could be selected include lefties Kody Funderburk and Zach Featherstone, along with recently-acquired Alex Scherff.
Utility players are often taken in the Rule 5 draft. The Twins could potentially lose Jermaine Palacios (who re-signed with the Twins quickly this offseason), Michael Helman (who broke out power this year while playing six positions well), and Yunior Severino (former big-time prospect who hit well when he joined Cedar Rapids late in the season). In addition, Mark Contreras was left unprotected after hitting 30 doubles and 20 home runs, mostly in Triple-A St. Paul in 2021. He could be a team’s fourth outfielder right now if selected.
For more information on the players added or left unprotected, click here.
In order to make room, the Twins dropped several players from their 40-man roster. While the players added to the 40-man roster are very excited, the players removed from the 40-man roster are on the opposite end of the excitement spectrum.
The Twins have signed OF Jake Cave to an MLB deal. They outrighted LHP Devin Smeltzer and outfielder Kyle Garlick to Triple-A St. Paul. Lefty Charlie Barnes and C/IF Willians Astudillo have been DFAd. The 40-man roster is now at 40.
Jake Cave was a very productive fourth outfielder for the Twins in 2018 and 2019. Over those two seasons, he hit .262/.329/.466 (.795) with 27 doubles and 21 homers in 163 games. Over the past two seasons, he has played in 118 games and hit just .202/.263/.332 (.595) with nine doubles and seven homers. His OPS+ over those two seasons was just 64. As an arbitration-eligible player, it is likely that he agreed to a deal at the Twins terms.
Willians Astudillo (aka, La Tortuga) has been a fan favorite since he was first called up to the Twins and his .355 in 29 games in 2018. He has spent time with the Twins each of the past four years, but taking out that first season, he hit just .251/.278/.382 (.659) in 138 games since the beginning of the 2019 season. That is an OPS+ of just 77, 23% below league average. Will he clear waivers? Will there be a team that thinks his ability to stand at five positions, as well as squat behind the plate, provides value?
Kyle Garlick was claimed by the Twins before spring training in 2021. His ability to his left-handed pitching gave him and chance and he took full advantage of it. He hit well against southpaws, until he got hurt. He tried to rehab and come back, but he ended up having surgery on a sports hernia. He was drafted in 2015, so he could become a free agent.
Devin Smeltzer made an impressive first impression in his debut in 2019. He tossed six shutout innings in his big-league debut against the Brewers and had a 3.86 ERA over 49 innings. Unfortunately, he pitched to an ERA over six in just seven games in the shortened 2020 season. In 2021, He was hurt after just one appearance and missed the rest of the season (though he did toss 4 2/3 scoreless innings). He cleared waivers.
Charlie Barnes made nine appearances (8 starts) for the Twins in 2021, usually spot starts, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. However, he went 6-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 16 starts for the St. Paul Saints, so I'm sure the Twins hope that he passes through waivers unclaimed and they can outright him to Triple-A.
Let's discuss the Twins additions and subtractions from the 40-man roster.