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  • Joe Ryan and Byron Buxton Highlight an Eventful Night at CHS Field


    David Youngs

    The St. Paul Saints are one of the hottest teams across Minor League Baseball. They became even hotter when Joe Ryan and Byron Buxton walked through the doors of CHS Field on Friday night.

    Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints

    Sticky air, high winds, and a foreboding forecast didn’t stop 8,209 baseball fans from coming out to CHS Field on Friday night to watch highly-touted prospect and Olympian Joe Ryan make his Twins organization debut. Even better? The game marked Byron Buxton’s highly-anticipated return after a lengthy stint on the IL from a hand injury he suffered on June 21st.

    Ryan was electric out of the gate, hitting 93, 94, and 95 MPH in his first matchup of the night, striking out former Twins outfielder Ian Miller on six pitches. The former Rays prospect carried his dominance through the first inning, striking out the side on a total of 15 pitches, 11 of those being strikes. 

    After a perfect first inning, Ryan’s second inning was a carbon copy. The 6’2 gun-slinger needed just 18 pitches to fan the heart of the I-Cubs order. Six hitters, six strikeouts. 

    After two innings of strikeouts, Ryan must’ve realized that it would be selfish not to get his fielders involved in the action. Ryan drew two groundouts to the middle infield and tossed in another strikeout, bringing his total to seven. 

    One of Ryan’s few mistakes came in the fourth inning when he left a pitch up that Cubs’ outfielder Nick Martini hit over the right-field fence. Yet just as he showed in Tokyo, Ryan wasn't phased, striking out two of the next three batters to end the inning and a stellar first outing as a Minnesota Twin. 

    In today’s game, it’s not uncommon to see managers take top prospects out of games early to protect arms and hone in on development. Given that Ryan hasn’t pitched since starting (and winning) the Olympic semifinals for Team USA on August 4th, it’s not shocking that Toby Gardenhire removed his starter after four dominant innings. The organization had developed a plan that included Ryan throwing 60-70 pitches on Friday night. 

    Four innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts, one walk, and 49 strikes on 67 pitches. Not bad for a guy pitching in a new environment that hasn’t thrown in a Minor League game since July 18th. 

    Twins fans knew that Joe Ryan was a talented pitcher when he was acquired in the trade that sent Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay. As a recent MLB Top 100 Prospect and two-game winner at the Olympics, Ryan’s numbers speak for themselves. 

    Yet like so many other things in life, seeing is believing. Twins and Saints fans got to see arguably the strongest debut performance from a pitcher in the organization this year on Friday night.

    Here are three takeaways from Ryan’s debut in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

    1. Ryan’s velocity on his fastball ranged from 92-95 MPH all evening, and he was painting the corners of the strike zone. It’s no secret that the heater is Ryan’s pitch, but his ability to consistently nail his spots was impressive.
    2. Pitching with a lead is a pitcher’s best friend (Editor's note: It's right up there with the double play and dogs.). The Saints provided that to Ryan by scoring six runs in the first inning. It will be interesting to see how he handles tighter game situations. 
    3. Perhaps the most impressive feat of the night for Ryan came after he gave up the mammoth homer over the right-field wall. For many, the situation could have been a slippery slope. Not for Ryan, who struck out the next batter, got a ground ball, and retired the final batter with another strikeout. Ryan’s confidence shows when he’s on the mound. The guy has swagger, and he’s not afraid to show it.

     

    Buxton Returns
    Buxton’s performance wasn’t as noteworthy as his last rehab debut with the Saints, when he went 2-for-3 with a triple on June 8th against Omaha (Royals). Buxton went 0-for-2 with an RBI sac-fly and a strikeout before being removed from the game after the fifth inning. Buxton’s sac fly was inches away from being a double but was caught by a sprawling Greg Deichmann in right field. (Editor's Note: Slo-motion replay showed that it likely was a trap, but with no replay in Triple-A, the call stood.)

    No, it wasn’t the April MVP-caliber Buxton that fans had hoped to see but just watching the organization’s centerpiece compete again was a treat for all. Buxton will likely stay with the Saints over the weekend and longer if needed. There’s no rush for the superstar. With the Twins out of playoff contention, it’s crystal clear that getting Buxton healthy is a priority of the organization. 

    For more in-depth recaps from across the Twins minor league affiliates be sure to check out tonight's Minor League Report!

     

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    I watched those Olympic games Ryan pitched live.... they started at 3am in California. They should just bring the guy up and let him rip. He was classic cool. And when he got the plate umpire to fist bump him between innings..... some kind of kool.

     

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    6 hours ago, Squirrel said:

    When do you think we'll see Ryan pitch for the Twins? Our next home stand? September? or next season?

    This is a particularly difficult question to answer this year. In a normal year, I'd put the odds that he gets called up in September around 100%. But because injuries are so prevalent and workloads are infinitely higher this season compared to last, I'd put the current odds at 50/50. Stuff and talent-wise, he's ready. It just comes down to managing his load. For the record, I'd love to see him up for a start or two.

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    I watched the Saints game instead of the Twins to watch Ryan.  He was impressive.  Very good command of his FB.  He did not use his off-speed stuff much and when he did the command was not great.  Hopefully, the Twins staff can help him dial in his other offerings.  He is going to be good but he could be very good if he sharpens his other pitches.

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    The Twins can only add two players. No one is a needed add, such as a third catcher. Ryan would have to be added to the 40-man roster (there is a vacancy I believe). There are also many players due back from the Injured List, including Alcala and Farrell. Dobnak is also probably ready to be activated, or at least sent on rehab assignment. 

    Doing what is right for a good prospect like Ryan is the right move, but does that mean adding a month to his season to face big league hitters? I don't know. 

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    there's no way around it: a very exciting start for Joe Ryan. That's a lot of strikeouts in a short stint, and he was reasonably efficient about it. Obviously, it'll be tougher at MLB, but he's definitely looking like he's not far off from being ready to take a shot at the majors and you can see why the Twins jumped on getting him for Cruz.

    I think it's smart to ease him back in after the Olympics, but it's great to have the Twins staff finally able to get their hands on Ryan and start to work with him and evaluate where he's at under AAA game conditions. It's a really interesting question on him getting the call-up; he's going to get at least one more start in AAA as part of the ramp up, I'm sure. If he crushes it again, do you bring him up in September to test him against the best? I think you do. He's not got a ton of innings on him for this year (in some ways the Olympics were good in creating an innings limit of sorts without actually pulling him), he's 25...if he looks ready, let him fly.

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    A few September starts isn’t going to change his development. The Twins aren’t going to learn anything they wouldn’t learn working in the minors.

    I still think they should bring him up. They should bring him up because it will simply be more interesting and fun to watch the game. I would look forward to his few starts. The Twins are in the entertainment business. Ryan has earned the call up. Bring him up in September. Limit his pitches. Entertain us.

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    Joe Ryan, while he did a great job for the Saints, last night, is undoubtedly not ready for the major league mound, but the Twins have a habit of bringing players who are "not quite ready" to their line-up.  So... I suspect we'll see him soon.  Pretty demoralizing for someone like Charlie Barnes, facing the NYY last night.  The Twins shouldn't be setting up failure for their rookies... Actually, I don't know why you'd throw any lefty against the NYY in the Bronx.  That short fence is  laughable, actually.  A line drive, 10' off the ground, gets out of there in 319 feet.  No wonder they hit so many "home runs."  

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    I think Ryan is ready now. When thinking about the rookies Ober, Jax and Ryan let's remember Berrios' first year. It was terrible. I see all three of these guys out performing Berrios' rookie year. This might speak to better pitching development with this FO. Cleveland's guys seem to come up well prepared. It would be sweet if we started seeing the same. 

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    I kind of wonder why Buxton isn't just playing games for the Twins ??  If he's healthy enough to play, is he any more likely to get hurt playing in the majors or the minors ?  I would say he's probably MORE likely to get hit by a AAA pitcher who still has "command issues."  I realize this season is lost, but if he can play CF and take at bats for St. Paul, he should be in CF taking AB's for the TWINS.  He doesn't need "practice."  He's GOOD.  Get Buck up to the Twins and say goodbye to Jake Cave.  

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    15 minutes ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    I kind of wonder why Buxton isn't just playing games for the Twins ??  If he's healthy enough to play, is he any more likely to get hurt playing in the majors or the minors ?  I would say he's probably MORE likely to get hit by a AAA pitcher who still has "command issues."  I realize this season is lost, but if he can play CF and take at bats for St. Paul, he should be in CF taking AB's for the TWINS.  He doesn't need "practice."  He's GOOD.  Get Buck up to the Twins and say goodbye to Jake Cave.  

    Because he hasn't played in a game in 2 months... get some ABs under his belt before being thrown into big league games. 

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    26 minutes ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    I kind of wonder why Buxton isn't just playing games for the Twins ??  If he's healthy enough to play, is he any more likely to get hurt playing in the majors or the minors ?  I would say he's probably MORE likely to get hit by a AAA pitcher who still has "command issues."  I realize this season is lost, but if he can play CF and take at bats for St. Paul, he should be in CF taking AB's for the TWINS.  He doesn't need "practice."  He's GOOD.  Get Buck up to the Twins and say goodbye to Jake Cave.  

    Don’t you mean “goodbye to Nick Gordon “?

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    56 minutes ago, wabene said:

    I think Ryan is ready now. When thinking about the rookies Ober, Jax and Ryan let's remember Berrios' first year. It was terrible. I see all three of these guys out performing Berrios' rookie year. This might speak to better pitching development with this FO. Cleveland's guys seem to come up well prepared. It would be sweet if we started seeing the same. 

    Berriós was 22 on arrival and went 14-8 as a 23 year old. IN ‘17. Must take that into account when considering Ryan’s preparedness for the MLB. He’s already 25. Time to move him along. Looks like he’s too good for AAA. 

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    1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

    Nobody has a clue what this front office is doing at this point and it doesn't look like they have a clue, either. At least it puts everybody in the same boat.

    I hardly doubt they don't have a clue. I think this kind of rhetoric is just ridiculous. With all the injuries and illnesses this team has had this year, it's been more juggling of the roster and players than usual. And at this point, they are trying out a lot of the fringe players to evaluate before jettisoning, because that's what you do in a lost season. We have seen a lot of rookies this year, even if not the ones or the many we want. Because it's not always what we like or want to see doesn't mean they don't have a clue. They know better than us, even with the seeming mistakes or actual mistakes they make.

    But I agree, I haven't a clue what they will do, either.

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    3 hours ago, stringer bell said:

    Doing what is right for a good prospect like Ryan is the right move, but does that mean adding a month to his season to face big league hitters? I don't know. 

    The minor league season now goes through September. Unless you think we'll make the playoffs (hahahaha), there won't be a month added to the time he would have spent pitching. I'd like to see him up to get that taste, even if he isn't up the whole time.

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    45 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

    I hardly doubt they don't have a clue. I think this kind of rhetoric is just ridiculous. With all the injuries and illnesses this team has had this year, it's been more juggling of the roster and players than usual. And at this point, they are trying out a lot of the fringe players to evaluate before jettisoning, because that's what you do in a lost season. We have seen a lot of rookies this year, even if not the ones or the many we want. Because it's not always what we like or want to see doesn't mean they don't have a clue. They know better than us, even with the seeming mistakes or actual mistakes they make.

    But I agree, I haven't a clue what they will do, either.

    We have different opinions on the subject.

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    1 hour ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    I kind of wonder why Buxton isn't just playing games for the Twins ??  If he's healthy enough to play, is he any more likely to get hurt playing in the majors or the minors ?  I would say he's probably MORE likely to get hit by a AAA pitcher who still has "command issues."  I realize this season is lost, but if he can play CF and take at bats for St. Paul, he should be in CF taking AB's for the TWINS.  He doesn't need "practice."  He's GOOD.  Get Buck up to the Twins and say goodbye to Jake Cave.  

     

    1 hour ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Because he hasn't played in a game in 2 months... get some ABs under his belt before being thrown into big league games. 

    To expand a bit on Seth's response, it's not injury risk that is the concern and it's not that he needs "practice". He just needs a few games to shake off the rust and get acclimated to playing again. Even the most elite players need that in order to perform at a major league level. 

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    5 hours ago, Lucas Seehafer PT said:

    This is a particularly difficult question to answer this year. In a normal year, I'd put the odds that he gets called up in September around 100%. But because injuries are so prevalent and workloads are infinitely higher this season compared to last, I'd put the current odds at 50/50. Stuff and talent-wise, he's ready. It just comes down to managing his load. For the record, I'd love to see him up for a start or two.

    I would think injuries being more prevalent might give him an opportunity (meaning someone else goes on the IL), or are you saying they will be more cautious with him because of possible injuries to him? (Was he pitching last year at the Rays' alternate site? I don't recall what has been said about him.) But, with the minor leagues going through September, don't you think he might get a look in the majors?

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    If they want Ryan up at the start of next year, he'll pitch in MN this year to get acclimated. If they don't do that, I would bet money he's not on the opening day roster next year.

    He's 25....no need to baby him. Now, he might need work on certain pitches, that's different. But, there is no reason to protect him at this point.

    Me? I'd call him up to get him acclimated to the majors. But I don't know what they'll do.

    I am not worried about losing a fringe player at this point, so I'm not worried about the 40 man.

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    2 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    If they want Ryan up at the start of next year, he'll pitch in MN this year to get acclimated. If they don't do that, I would bet money he's not on the opening day roster next year.

    He's 25....no need to baby him. Now, he might need work on certain pitches, that's different. But, there is no reason to protect him at this point.

    Me? I'd call him up to get him acclimated to the majors. But I don't know what they'll do.

    I am not worried about losing a fringe player at this point, so I'm not worried about the 40 man.

    I just really can't see him not getting a start or two with the Twins. While I truly don't have a clue when it comes to these decisions, not having him pitch this year in Minneapolis would really baffle me

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    I agree with the above post that Buxton should be with the major league team. He can shake the rust off just as easily in the Twins lineup. They aren't going to the playoffs and his replacements have been awful. He may not be 100 percent, but so what.

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    After pondering "I hardly doubt they don't have a clue" for long enough to figure it out, I will say (bean & squirrel) that I also have charged Falvine (could it really be Rocco?) with possibly drawing the line-up out of a hat. Some consistency may be better.  I feel badly for the Twins' suffering thru this "lost season," with a ton of injuries, and losing a good part of their "heart" when Cruz was dealt to the Rays. Squirrel's comment is on point, so I don't need to add to it, but we all know pitching to minor league hitters, no matter your minor league success, is way different than pitching in the bigs. We see it all the time.

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    Is Joe Ryan's delivery deceptive to lefties?  A lot of those strike three swings/takes look like pitches major leaguers would hit, but the guys at the plate seemed really fooled.

    Anyone a Joe Ryan expert yet?

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    6 hours ago, bean5302 said:

    Nobody has a clue what this front office is doing at this point and it doesn't look like they have a clue, either. At least it puts everybody in the same boat.

    Truth is very often hard to take, and excuses will always be made.

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    8 hours ago, Murph said:

    Joe Ryan, while he did a great job for the Saints, last night, is undoubtedly not ready for the major league mound, but the Twins have a habit of bringing players who are "not quite ready" to their line-up.  So... I suspect we'll see him soon.  Pretty demoralizing for someone like Charlie Barnes, facing the NYY last night.  The Twins shouldn't be setting up failure for their rookies... Actually, I don't know why you'd throw any lefty against the NYY in the Bronx.  That short fence is  laughable, actually.  A line drive, 10' off the ground, gets out of there in 319 feet.  No wonder they hit so many "home runs."  

    That's because they never have anybody (only Berrios has made it in the last 5 years, and they just traded him away) that is ready that comes from their system. Talk all you want about the prospects. That is the fact. Bring Ryan up before he becomes part of this system, and see what he's got, at 25, before the Twins can mess with him.

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    This is not directed at anyone, just a comment I have to state in general terms. Everyone just needs to stop focusing on the ages of prospects. Guys are ready when they are ready, whether it be 22yo or 25yo-ish. What matters is what they do when they arrive. But we all have to remember, using Ryan as an example, a 25yo SP is really a 24yo in regard to development time. And that's the same for all of our prospects, pitchers or position players. 

    You just can't dismiss an entire lost season of experience and development even if some kids were at reserve sites in 2020. You just can't dismiss what was lost.

    As far as Ryan in particular, I'm very excited about him. The FB, location and presence seems legit. Like ANY young pitcher, he's going to have to harness his other offerings. In the 1st inning video clip I saw an amazing change, a bad one, and one that probably should have been called a strike.

    I want to see the kid getting his feet wet before this year is done. I think there's a reasonable chance we will. But he needs time to get his feet/legs/head re-acclimated. He quit being a milb pitcher over a month ago to prepare for the Olympics. He traveled almost half a world away to do so, got traded to a different organization while there, comes back a half a world distance, and gets a single start at this point. I don't care how much boxy the kid has, that's a LOT to deal with in a month plus time frame. How about we just let him settle in for another start or two and then talk about a promotion to dip his feet in the Ml pool?

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    I think he needs some starts up here to see if his fastball heavy mix will work in the bigs. If it doesn’t then we have a problem because he doesn’t have much else. 

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    Wow…lots of definitive opinions based on watching 4 innings.

    The swings and misses are encouraging. I’m pretty sure we’ll see him this year.

    If I were Buxton and had been out as long as he has, I’d want to see some AAA PA’s…not a lot, but some, before stepping in against the Major leaguers.

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