Reassigned to the minor league camp are pitchers Lewis Thorpe, Dakota Chalmers, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Alcala, outfielder Gilberto Celestino and infielders Nick Gordon and Travis Blankenhorn.
Of the cuts, perhaps the most surprising was Lewis Thorpe. Thorpe started to gain traction as a left-handed reliever late in 2019, striking out 17 in 13.1 innings in September, but he had left camp earlier this month for personal reasons and had yet to throw in a spring game.
Rocco Baldelli said that Thorpe took the news well.
“He knows what we are asking him to do,” said Baldelli. “What we are asking him to do has been very well laid out for him. And now he has to go and follow through and do it. We know the ability that he has. We know that he's not (just) close to being a big leaguer. He's a guy that can pitch in the big leagues and do it well. He just has to prepare for his season and make sure he's ready once the bell rings.”
Dakota Chalmers, who is returning from an elbow injury from 2019, would be stretched out at a slower pace than the rest of the pitchers.
“Our view of this from the beginning was we were going to slow-build him in spring training anyway,” said Falvey of Chalmers. “We're focused more on the end of season than the beginning. I think that's true of a lot of young arms, but for him in particular, coming off the surgery and an injury, we'd rather start him slow and let him finish the season strong than start him now, get to a point in the season where you feel like you have to cut off his innings because you've run out of buildup time.”
“By all accounts, he had a great camp.”
Duran, Twins Daily’s number six ranked prospect for 2020, has a hard sinking fastball which can reach upwards of 99 miles per hour and struck out 136 over 115 innings split between Pensacola and Fort Myers. This spring, the Twins were working with him to smooth out some of his mechanics in hopes of achieving better command of his repertoire.
Baldelli did not want to put labels on the roles of the reassigned pitchers just yet. Chalmers would have the limits in place. Others would potentially see hybrid roles. For instance, when it came to the hard-throwing Alcala, Baldelli says he could see him used in a number of ways.
“It’s not always a pure start, reliever, short reliever, there are a lot of different categories these guys can fall into,” the manager said. “Alcala is going to fall into that he's-going-to-be-lengthened-out category. He may help us at this level in a number of different ways.”
Gordon performed well in his second stint at Triple-A, collecting 29 doubles in just 70 games with Rochester, but injuries limited his 2019 season. The former first-round pick remains decent middle infield depth even as his once vaunted prospect status declines. Celestino, acquired from the Houston Astros in the Ryan Pressly trade, left a strong impression on the team with his athleticism in the outfield.
The Twins also announced that pitcher Fernando Romero has been added to the restricted list.
According to Twins’ Derek Falvey, unlike the reassignment moves, adding Romero to the restricted list simply acknowledged that the player is not currently with the team and will not be for an indefinite amount of time. Once able to join the team, Romero could face another transaction. He has remained in the Dominican Republic because of visa issues while throwing in the Twins academy in Boca Chica while exiled from the team.
“We've got staff and scouts around there that are connected with him more regularly, so probably the best way to describe it is a continuation of his offseason program and a little more throwing,” Falvey said. “Obviously, he's not pitching in games and playing here, but he's prepping."
The academy has similar technology to the team’s Fort Myers complex, including Trackman and Rapsodo, so the organization can continue to monitor his progress.
The Twins are now down to 55 players in camp.