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  • Twins 2020 Rule 5 Rewind


    Seth Stohs

    The Rule 5 Draft has given the Twins several key players including Shane Mack and Johan Santana. Most years, however, the actual impact to teams isn’t huge. Last year’s Rule 5 draft gave the Twins office some tough decisions. Let’s take a quick look at how it went for the Twins. 

    Image courtesy of David Kucin Jr (Wells), Charles LeClaire (Baddoo), Bruce Kluckhohn (Ober), USA Today

    Every November, teams determine which minor leaguers they will add to their 40-man roster and hence, protect from losing in December’s Rule 5 draft. The decisions sometimes are difficult. Who might be selected? Who would be able to stick on the big-league roster throughout the season if they were selected?

    Twins Daily's Nash Walker breaks it down in the following video:

    Those decisions were made even more difficult last offseason by the lost minor league season due to the global pandemic. There weren’t as many data points for teams to evaluate, and in some cases, players had been away from team activities for six to eight months. 

    Let’s just jump into it. 

    AKIL BADDOO
    The Tigers selected outfielder Akil Baddoo with the second pick of the Rule 5 draft. Baddoo was an immensely talented prospect selected in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft. In 2018 at Cedar Rapids, he hit .243/.351/.419 (.770) with 22 doubles, 11 triples, 11 homers and 24 stolen bases. The season showed his skill set. He had a combination of speed and power, and while he didn’t hit for average, he knows the strike zone and took his walks. 

    Unfortunately after just 29 games in Ft. Myers in 2019, in which he hit .214/.290/.393 with three doubles, three triples, four homers and six steals, Baddoo needed Tommy John surgery and missed the rest of the season. As the 2020 season approached, I talked to Baddoo in spring training. He felt great, but he would have started the season DHing and gradually getting more time in the outfield. 

    With outfielders such as Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino ahead of him on the depth chart, the Twins took a chance by leaving him off the 40-man  roster. There’s no doubt the team knew he could be taken, but could he make an opening day roster and stick in the big leagues for a full season after so much missed time, and limited production in A-ball. 

    Baddoo had a big spring training, showing a lot of power, and he made the Tigers Opening Day roster. As important, he got off to a fast start. In his first nine games, he hit .370/.379/.963 (1.342) with two doubles, a triple and four home runs. Of course, Twins fans will recall that he had some huge moments early against his former organization. 

    In his first game against his former teammates, he hit a grand slam. In his second game, he had a walk off single. In his third game, he had a big, RBI triple. The Twins played the Tigers going into the All Star break and then coming out of the break. In the pre-break game, he had a homer and three RBI. In the first game back from the break, he had a triple and three RBI. To say that he has performed well against the Twins might just be an understatement. In 14 games against the Twins, he has hit .327/.340/.673 (1.013) with five doubles, two triples, three homers and 14 RBI. In 97 games against all other teams, he has hit .244/.322/.410 (732) with 29 extra base hits. 

    In 111 total games, Baddoo has hit .255/.324/.448 (.772) with 20 doubles, 12 homers and 49 RBI. He has 14 steals and leads the league with seven triples. At age 23, he has made himself into a key cog in a Tigers team that has a lot of young players and appears ready to start contending in the AL Central in the coming years. 

    TYLER WELLS
    Baddoo got all of the fanfare early in the season, and understandably so, but the Twins lost a second player in the Rule 5 draft too. With their second pick in the Rule 5 draft, the Baltimore Orioles selected RHP Tyler Wells

    Wells had been the Twins 15th round pick in 2016 out of Cal State-San Bernadino. At 6-8, Wells stands out on the mound but also has really good stuff. In 2018, he went 8-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 16 starts at High-A Ft. Myers before making six appearances in Double-A Pensacola where he posted a 1.65 ERA. In 119 1/3 innings, he struck out 121 batters. He was chosen the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2018 as well as the Harmon Killebrew Award winner for the Miracle. 

    Unfortunately, in spring training 2019, Wells hurt his elbow. After trying to rehab, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed the 2019 season. Based on his rehab from surgery, he may have been able to make a few appearances late in the 2020 season, but obviously was unable to do so. 

    So again, the Twins took a chance, leaving him unprotected, and the Orioles took a shot. While Wells started out slowly, getting irregular innings, he has become a bright spot in the Orioles 2021 roster. 

    In 40 games, he is 2-3 with two saves. He has a 4.17 ERA and a 0.93 ERA. In 54 innings, he has given up just 38 hits, walked just 12 and struck out 64 batters. 

    In the past two weeks, Wells has become the Orioles’ closer. He recorded two saves before having two blown saves in his past two outings. However, in a 25 game stretch before those two games, he has a 1.74 ERA, a 0.52 WHIP and opponents hit just .132 against him. In that time, he gave up just 14 hits, walked two and struck out 36 batters in 31 innings. 

    Wells has a mid-90s fastball to go with a changeup, a slider and a slow curveball. With that pitch mix, could he return to being a starter moving forward, or will he remain a potentially-dominant reliever

    BAILEY OBER
    Adding Jordan Balazovic to the Twins 40-man roster last November was the easy decision, to be sure. Ben Rortvedt, as a top catching prospect, was also an easy addition as well. 

    However, I would assume many (or most) Twins fans were probably surprised when they learned that Bailey Ober had been added to the 40-man roster. 

    Like others, Ober missed the 2020 season completely. He was not at the team’s alternate site. He did not participate in the Instructional League. In 2019, he went 8-0 with a 0.69 ERA between High-A Ft. Myers, Double-A Pensacola. In 78 2/3 innings, he walked nine batters and struck out 100 batters. 

    Ober pitched little during spring training and made just four starts at St. Paul before getting called up to the big leagues in mid-May. Since then, he has been terrific. In 18 starts, he is 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. In 83 innings, he has walked 17 and struck out 87 batters. 

    As impressive as he has been, the Twins have found a way to keep him healthy following a missed season. He is currently at 99 innings and should make two or three more starts before the end of the season. 

    I’d say that the Twins front office was right in adding Ober to the 40-man roster. 

    JOSE MIRANDA 
    In 2016, the Twins took prep hitters Alex Kirilloff, Ben Rortvedt, Akil Baddoo and Jose Miranda all within the first 74 picks of the draft. Kirilloff and Rortvedt had been added to the 40-man roster. Baddoo was lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Tigers. And, the Twins also left infielder Jose Miranda unprotected. 

    Like others, Miranda was not invited to big league spring training in 2020. He was not a participant at the alternate site last year. He went to Instructional League, and then he put up some big numbers playing winter ball in Puerto Rico last offseason including playing in the Caribbean Series. 

    As the Rule 5 draft was approaching, there were definitely indications that Miranda could be selected. Fortunately, when the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft concluded, Miranda’s name had not been called. 

    Can you imagine if the Twins had lost Jose Miranda in the Rule 5 draft too?

    Scouting reports always indicated that Miranda had immense power potential. In 2018, he had 27 doubles and 16 homers. In 2019, he had 26 doubles and eight homers. 

    This season, the power has come together. He began the season with 47 games at Double-A Wichita. He hit .345/.408/.588 (.996) with eight doubles and 13 homers. In 67 games since joining the St. Paul Saints, he has hit .341/.395/.564 (.959) with 19 doubles and 15 home runs. Speaking of putting it all together, Miranda has hit .343/.400/.574 (.974) with 27 doubles, 28 homers and 86 RBI in 114 games. 

    Miranda’s prospect stock has increased as much as any hitter in the Twins system in 2021, and he finds himself on the edge of the big leagues. If it doesn’t happen by the end of the season, he is a given to be protected this November. 

    OTHERS
    I thought it might be fun to take a look at my rankings from last November when I ranked (guessed) which players the Twins would add. Here is how I ranked them:

    1. RHP Jordan Balazovic - Easy decision, he pitched at Double-A this year.
    2. OF Akil Baddoo - see above 
    3. C Ben Rortvedt - has split the season between Triple-A and the Twins. 
    4. SS Wander Javier - had ups and downs in High-A Cedar Rapids. Free agent at the end of the season. 
    5. RHP Luis Rijo - Had visa issues, and soon after his return had Tommy John surgery.
    6. 3B Jose Miranda - see above. 
    7. RHP Griffin Jax - has made his MLB debut in 2021.
    8. 2B Yunior Severino - Started season in Ft. Myers, but has crushed the ball since moving up to Cedar Rapids.  
    9. OF Gabriel Maciel - Spent the full season in Cedar Rapids. 
    10. LHP Charlie Barnes - has made his MLB debut in 2021. 
    11. RHP Bailey Ober - see above. 
    12. LHP Jovani Moran - recently made his MLB debut. 
    13. RHP Tyler Wells - see above.
    14. LHP Bryan Sammons - has split the season between AA and AAA. 
    15. 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - has hit 27 homers between Cedar Rapids and Wichita. Free agent at season’s end. I’m sure the Twins would want to bring him back. 
    16. 1B Zander Wiel - Recently Released

    SUMMARY
    Most years, only a handful of Rule 5 picks actually make their team’s Opening Day roster and stick through the season. In an unprecedented 2020, 40-man roster decisions were more difficult than usual. Unfortunately, the Twins lost two players who have been impactful for their new organizations. They were lucky not to lose Jose Miranda or Jovani Moran too. However, they did well in recognizing the need to protect Bailey Ober. 

    As we start the process of thinking about who might be added to the team’s 40-man roster this coming November, it should be a bit easier since there has been a season to evaluate players again!

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    Fantastic article, Seth!  Cool addition to the player analysis to see your late fall rankings.  While you would have protected Baddoo, you would have still lost Wells (and maybe Ober?).  Interesting question is whether the loss of Baddoo hurts worse than what would have been lost with Ober.  Close, but I say no, as the Twins need pitching.  Of course, with 20/20 hindsight, the 40-man contained several players you wish would have been removed or left unprotected to make room for all three of these.  

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    Great article, Seth, thanks.

    It appears the perception of losing Baddoo is magnified by his play against the Twins as opposed to the rest of the league.  Soooo happy they didn’t lose Miranda, who just may be a future star.

    Gonna be lots of tough decisions this November with so many marginal guys on the current 40-man, plus being way over with all the 60-day guys.

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    "Unfortunately, the Twins lost two players who have been impactful for their new organizations. They were lucky not to lose Jose Miranda or Jovani Moran too. However, they did well in recognizing the need to protect Bailey Ober."

    Going 1-for-5 wouldn't typically keep a player in the majors, so not sure why it would keep an executive in a major league FO.

    Good article, but it certainly dredges up some 2021 pain ... and highlights my deep skepticism over whether these guys should be making these evaluations for our Twins moving forward.

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    This article adds to the complete failure of an off-season by the front office.  You almost couldn’t have as bad of a year if you were trying to fail.  Rule 5, free agency complete whiffs that made the team actually worse, no impactful trade, inability to sign young stars.  It couldn’t possibly be worse and historically has to be among the worst of all time.  Their ability to evaluate talent was just flat wrong on every level.

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    Roger hit on a point I was wanting to make. Unfortunately, the 40 man is an evaluation and guessing process that once in a while you are going to make mistakes with. It's basic math, a 25 man projected roster and only 15 more additions to protect.  And EVERY team has a few of those 15 spots filled by lower level players that you don't necessarily expect to play for you that year, but simply have to protect. Celestino would be an example this year.

    I would have liked to protect both Badoo AND Wells. We all would, and so would have the Twins. But realistically, they seemed "safe" to not protect. Wells hadn't seen the field for 2years and neither had Badoo, more or less. And both were also coming off surgery. I don't know about you, but I was a bit surprised when they were selected and basically shocked when they were kept. I really expected both to struggle as young, inexperienced players and be returned to the Twins.

    And you can't use revisionist thinking now to see someone like Smeltzer, for example, who would end up hurt and miss almost the entire season. Smeltzer, again as an example, was seen as a useful depth piece for a team expected to contend, vs protecting someone not expected to contribute after missing 2yrs.

    I am not the least bit happy we lost Badoo and/or Wells. And we can say the FO blew it by not protecting either or both. But honestly, when is the last time you saw TWO rule 5 picks from a single team make the ML roster of a team and stick? And how many of you actually thought/predicted these two were going to do what they've done?

    I am NOT defending the FO here, mostly because I'm not sure they need to be defended for all the reasons I've stated previously. But in a year in which so much has gone wrong it's way too easy to point an extra finger of frustration at the rule 5 and sound off "See?!"

    For the record, I wouldn't have protected Badoo, no matter how talented being an A level prospect coming off injury and a lkst 2yrs. But I probably would have protected the older Wells who had reached AA. I think I would have gambled on health and projection that he might have been ready to contribute late in 2021.

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    Roger asked a good question about who you would have dropped off the 40 man roster to add Baddoo and Wells. The Twins could have dropped Nick Gordon and Jake Cave, There are other possibilities. Who believes Cave was indispensable? Gordon has done well, particularly in being able to play the outfield in addition to infield positions. Wasn’t Blankenhorn also on the 40 man roster? Would you rather have Wells or Gorden or Blankenhorn? Would you rather have 4th outfielder Cave or prospect Baddoo?

    I know I would not have minded keeping Baddoo and Wells at the start of the season rather than Cave and either Blankenhorn or Gorden. One more name for you: would you rather have Wells or Smeltzer?  Give me Wells  based on higher talent potential. I love Smeltzer’s ability to overcome personal adversity, but there has not been a lot of success in MLB games. 
     

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    5 hours ago, roger said:

    Would like to ask one question of everyone bellyaching about losing either of these guys.  Who on the 40-man roster would you have taken off to protect either or both of these players?  And in doing so there is a good ch ance they would be gone.

    I mean, in retrospect, there were plenty of options. 

    At that time, LaMonte Wade was still on the 40-man. They had just claimed Brandon Waddell and Ian Gibaut, and those two were on there. Nick Gordon was probably a possibility at that time. 

    Yeah, hindsight is always 20/20. 

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    Is there a rule limiting the number of players a team can lose? I think there used to be one, anyway. That might create a little strategy about who you choose to leave available, though I would have to think a bit to see how it might work.

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    3 hours ago, Twinsoholic said:

    Roger asked a good question about who you would have dropped off the 40 man roster to add Baddoo and Wells. The Twins could have dropped Nick Gordon and Jake Cave, There are other possibilities. Who believes Cave was indispensable? Gordon has done well, particularly in being able to play the outfield in addition to infield positions. Wasn’t Blankenhorn also on the 40 man roster? Would you rather have Wells or Gorden or Blankenhorn? Would you rather have 4th outfielder Cave or prospect Baddoo?

    I know I would not have minded keeping Baddoo and Wells at the start of the season rather than Cave and either Blankenhorn or Gorden. One more name for you: would you rather have Wells or Smeltzer?  Give me Wells  based on higher talent potential. I love Smeltzer’s ability to overcome personal adversity, but there has not been a lot of success in MLB games. 
     

    Exactly. The front office clearly doesn't believe in Gordon long-term, so why is he on the 40-man when Baddoo and Wells aren't? And I know it's impossible to predict who will turn out to be good, but if you are filling those fringe roster spots with veteran placeholders and low-upside prospects who are close to the majors in order to maximize your chances of winning, you shouldn't be getting any excuses if you aren't even able to compete.

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    The difference between fans and the front office when it comes to roster construction is night and day. The front office gets paid to retain talent as it's one of their most important jobs. The roster crunch was a function of the front office itself, and losing Baddoo and Wells has been a big failure. Both Baddoo and Wells look like MLB caliber players right now and both have a chance to take another major step forward.

    I understand why Falvey decided to gamble by leaving both of those players off the 40 man, but I'm not the one getting paid big money to manage the roster. Having Wells and Baddoo perform well enough over the course of a lost year isn't good, but it's not the end of the world. The back breaker is if the players take major steps forward, and both players have certainly flashed the stuff to do it.

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    I think in evaluating the 40 man roster decisions last winter we have to bear in mind that the Twins were expecting to be contenders. Window was wide open as they say, until it turned out to be totally shut. Either way, last winter the Front Office seemed to prioritize players who would be able to contribute right away, like Devin Smeltzer, over the players they saw as being a couple of years away, like Tyler Wells and Baddoo. It’s the same reason we have so many AAAA players at Saint Paul, we were looking for guys who could come up for a few games and potentially contribute rather than guys to develop because we were in the contention window.

    Well, that evaluation turned out to be wrong. Now, we have to make the same evaluation again. Is this team going to contend in 2022 we should be playing for the long haul? I think it goes without saying that we should be playing for the long-haul given the state of our pitching staff. To me, that means he made 40 man decisions based upon long-term prospects without considering the short term. Guys like Jake Cave, Astudillo, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Luke Farrell, Nick Vincent, etc. are not protected so that you can keep the guys you consider to be the better long term prospects. Next year is more of a development year where who knows, maybe we get lucky and contend, not a year we expect to contend. Hopefully the Front Office sees it the same way and makes 40 man decisions accordingly.

     

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    On 9/18/2021 at 11:22 AM, LastOnePicked said:

    "Unfortunately, the Twins lost two players who have been impactful for their new organizations. They were lucky not to lose Jose Miranda or Jovani Moran too. However, they did well in recognizing the need to protect Bailey Ober."

    Going 1-for-5 wouldn't typically keep a player in the majors, so not sure why it would keep an executive in a major league FO.

    Good article, but it certainly dredges up some 2021 pain ... and highlights my deep skepticism over whether these guys should be making these evaluations for our Twins moving forward.

    They didn't go 1-5, they went 3-5. They still have Miranda and Moran. That's part of the challenge of the Rule 5 and 40 man. It's not simply "who is going to be ready next year?" it's "who is going to be taken and able to stick with another org?" They were right that Ober would be ready and Moran and Miranda wouldn't be picked. They were wrong that Wells and Baddoo wouldn't be picked and able to stick. So they went 3-5. There are Miranda and Moran players in every organization every year. Those teams didn't miss on not protecting them, in fact you could argue they straight up won as they still have those young guys plus the players they were able to protect on the 40 man. The Twins failed by having bad players on the 40 man, not by not protecting Moran and Miranda.

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    First, the Twins thought they were going to be competitive, so they went after some minor league free agent bullpen arms as possible reclamation projects. Instead, they should've kept Wells, but in all likelihood felt he was going to start in the minors and that no team would open the season with him.

     

    Same could be said for Baddoo. He was behind like six outfielders. Even Celestino was considered ahead of him for advancement to the majors and Celestino only made the jump beause of so many injuries. That the Twins ended up with Refsnyder and Garlick as replacements for Rosario for a good aprt of the year, because Larnach needed much more seasoning and Kirilloff went down. The Twins would've started Baddoo at AA ball.

     

    The killer for the Twins is that they watched three pitchers: Colina, Balazovic and Duran. All three sit on the 40-man and out for part or all of the season. All considered possible contributors to 2021. Now we wonder if and when they will contribute in 2022. Doubt any of the three will open the season on the roster. 

     

    The joys of baseball is that you have to make hard decisions. Yes, the Twins made some hard decisions, but, again, they were thinking of being in play in the division and could only allow x-amount of spots for unproven rookie talent.

     

    If they knew they would lose, perhaps 90-games, they might've taken a different trak. Be interesting to see what this off-season brings.

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    Wells and Baddoo were both MIA the last 2 seasons.  I get why they were left off.  Between the 2 I would have protected Wells if he was throwing mid 90s before the decision had to be made.  but its not like these two players will end up being as good and  Shane Mack and Johan Santana.  The Twins have a history of doing well in the rule 5 draft.  It figures we would get hit sometime.

     

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