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  • Twins Minor League Report (8/10): Balazovic Gets Back on Track


    Steve Lein

    Minnesota Twins affiliates had just one victory on the night, but that was a good sign for one of their top prospects as that meant he was back to his dominating ways on the mound. A former first round pick also led his offense with a pair of home runs on the evening, and another team lost in walk-off fashion with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge (photo of Jordan Balazovic)

     

    Keep reading to find out how all your favorite Minnesota Twins prospects fared in Tuesday nights series opening action!

    TRANSACTIONS

    • The Minnesota Twins selected the contract of 35-year old RHP Nick Vincent from the St. Paul Saints, and optioned RHP Beau Burrows back to triple-A.
    • St. Paul released 1B Roberto Pena and RHP Rob Whalen, while calling up LHP Chris Nunn from Wichita and activating RHP Joe Ryan, fresh off his stint with the United States Olympic team.
    • In double-A, the Wind Surge released RHP Joe Kuzia and activated RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, also recently returned from the Olympics in Tokyo.

    SAINTS SENTINEL
    St. Paul 8, Indianapolis 9
    Box Score

    St. Paul and Indianapolis traded leads a few times on Tuesday with big innings, but the Saints came out on the losing end with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a walk-off blast.

    Starting for the Saints was left-hander Andrew Albers, and while he finished five frames, one of those big innings for Indy was the fifth, where they scored five to take a 7-4 lead. In all, Albers allowed seven runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out four on the game. 

    After Indianapolis took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to a home run, St. Paul answered with a three-run top of the fourth behind back-to-back jacks from Gilberto Celestino and Ben Rortvedt. Celestino’s was of the two-run variety to tie the game. Nick Gordon added an RBI single in the fourth to give the good guys a 4-2 lead before the big five-run inning for the bad guys.

    The recently claimed Ralph Garza Jr. also made his second appearance with the organization to start the sixth inning and went two scoreless frames. He hit one batter and struck out two.

    The Saints offense tied the game at seven in the seventh inning with another three-run frame. Three straight singles from JT Riddle, Jose Miranda, and Nick Gordon plated the first run of the inning. That was followed by a hit-batter to load the bases, then a walk to Celestino and another hit batter to score the other two runs. St. Paul took the lead 8-7 in the eighth frame thanks to a Tomas Telis RBI single.

    Yennier Cano was summoned from the bullpen to start the eighth inning and recorded five outs, including three strikeouts, until major leaguer Michael Chavis stepped to the plate with a runner on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Chavis didn’t miss the first pitch he saw, sending a middle-out fastball over the fence in left-center for the walk-off win. Cano was charged with the blown save and loss in allowing the two runs on three hits and two walks in his 1 2/3 innings pitched.

    The Saints got multiple hits on the night from six hitters in their lineup, including Miranda (2-for-5, R, K), Gordon (2-for-5, R, RBI, 2 K, SB), Telis (2-for-5, R, RBI), Celestino (2-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K), Drew Maggi (2-for-4, 2B, BB, SB), and Riddle (2-for-4, 3 R, 2B).

    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 5, Tulsa 1
    Box Score

    Coming off a pair of outings where he allowed six earned runs in each, starting pitching Jordan Balazovic was looking to get back on track like he’d been when he delivered 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings earlier in the year.

    Mission accomplished.

    Balazovic started a new streak with six shutout innings, scattering five singles and zero walks, along with punching out four Drillers. He finished his game after 87 pitches, with 59 going for strikes (67.8%), including thirteen swinging. He was up to 97 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball during the game in picking up his fourth win of the season. After a pair of singles in the first, he faced one batter over the minimum through the fifth inning, retiring six men in a row before an error in the third, and then seven in a row after a leadoff single in the fourth.

    The Wind Surge offense spotted Balazovic a nice lead before he even took the mound, when cleanup hitter Trey Cabbage clubbed 19th home run of the season (10th in double-A) in the top of first, a three-run shot that left the stadium.

    That was it for the offenses on both teams until the late innings, when Wichita added a couple of insurance runs thanks to an errant throw on a steal attempt in the seventh, and an Ernie De La Trinidad solo home run in the ninth.

    Jason Garcia was the first man out of the bullpen to start the seventh, but recorded only one out before being lifted as he loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. Jordan Gore escaped that jam by inducing a double play ball to end the inning with the shutout still intact. Back out for the eighth, the Drillers finally got on the board with a solo homer, but Gore also struck out two in the frame.

    Erik Manoah Jr. came on in the ninth for his Double-A and Wichita debut and delivered a scoreless frame. He gave up one walk and struck out two.

    While there were no hitters to collect more than one hit in the game, there were five different batters who scored a run for the Wind Surge and four who reached base twice via a walk or hit-by-pitch (Austin Martin, Roy Morales, Cabbage, Aaron Whitefield). Spencer Steer added a double to the effort and Whitefield stole his 22nd base of the season.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 2, Peoria 7
    Box Score

    The Kernels offense was outhit 10-3 by the Chiefs in this one, and the final scoreboard reflected that disparity.

    Starter Tyler Watson was roughed up in the third inning for five earned runs before his night came to an early end with one out. In 2 1/3 innings, he allowed six hits, walked two, and struck out four. Andrew Cabezas came on from the bullpen and allowed two inherited runners to score in addition to one of his own in the fourth to put Peoria out front 6-1 after four innings. Cabezas allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings.

    Relievers Melvi Acosta and Tyler Palm then steadied the ship for the final four innings. Acosta allowed one hit and struck out one in his two frames, and Palm surrendered an unearned run on one hit while striking out four Chiefs in his two innings.

    Edouard Julien (single), Yunior Severino (home run), and Matt Wallner (double) accounted for the Kernels three hits. Wallner drove in the other Kernels run. As a team they managed just three at-bats with runners in scoring position on the game and left only three men on base. Julien also stole his fifth base with the Kernels, and 26th on the season. Julien also drew a walk and continues to lead the minors in that category this season.

    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Fort Myers 5, Bradenton 8
    Box Score

    The Mighty Mussels built a 5-0 lead after the top of the sixth inning behind a slugger who has been struggling most of the year, but the rest of the lineup and bullpen was unable to hold it on Tuesday.

    Starter Sean Mooney was fantastic for the first three innings in this one, allowing no hits and striking out six Marauders. He was extremely efficient as well, throwing just 38 pitches, with 29 going for strikes and falling behind in a count only once among the nine batters he faced.

    In the top of the fourth, Aaron Sabato got Fort Myers on the board with his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to open the game’s scoring. He added another home run in the sixth, this one of the two-run variety, to extend the Mussels lead to 5-0. Misael Urbina drove in two others earlier in the inning with his eighth double of the season. Unfortunately, the offense had just one other hit on the game, a single from Will Holland. The team had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game and drew only two walks. Not much you can do beyond home runs when other opportunities never surface.

    The bullpen duo of Orlando Rodriguez (2 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, BB, 4 K) and Matthew Swain (1 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, K) combined to allow eight runs in the sixth and seventh innings that put the game well out of reach. Denny Bentley finished off the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing four hits but being charged with no runs. He walked one and struck out one as the Mussels fell to the team in front of them in the standings by 5.0 games.

    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    FCL Twins 2, FCL Braves 3
    Box Score

    The Twins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to consecutive walks to start the game that were followed by a balk, a Wander Valdez RBI single, and a successful double-steal attempt. Unfortunately for the offense they were unable to scratch any more runs across the plate the rest of the game.

    Valdez (2-for-4, RBI, K) collected two of the team's five hits, Argenis Jiminez had the only extra-base-hit with a triple, and Alerick Soularie drew two walks out of the leadoff spot, but also struck out three times. As a team they were just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, left seven men on base, and struck out 18 times.

    Left-hander Wilker Reyes made the start for the Twins and went the first four innings. He scattered six hits and allowed two earned runs while striking out four batters. Matt Mullenbach came on for the next three innings and kept the game tied, surrendering two hits while also striking out four Braves. Ramon Pineda finished the game with two-plus innings, but allowed the Braves to easily get the winning run in the 10th inning after a pair of wild pitches to the leadoff man. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out three in taking the loss.

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Wichita Wind Surge (W, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K)
    Hitter of the Day - Aaron Sabato, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K)

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

    #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain)
    #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - W, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
    #4 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain)
    #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, R, K
    #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 0-for-4, 3 K
    #7 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K
    #8 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List 
    #9 - Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K
    #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, K
    #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery)
    #12 - Bailey Ober (Minnesota) - Did not pitch
    #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #14 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-3, K
    #15 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI
    #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2B
    #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 3 K
    #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) - 0-for-3, R, BB, 3 K
    #19 - Edwar Colina (rehab) - Injured List (elbow)
    #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - Did not pitch

    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Drew Strotman (7-3, 3.59 ERA)
    Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - LHP Bryan Sammons (2-4, 7.18 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35PM CST) - RHP Ben Gross (4-1, 3.27 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:05PM CST) - RHP Landon Leach (0-1, 4.85 ERA)

    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!

     

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    Great to see the rebound from Balazovic. I'm excited to get Simon Wood-Richardson in on the action and see Joe Ryan. Lots of moves should open the door for some fringe guys I hope!

    Also, found an 8/2 article from the Pioneer Press I hadn't seen before. Talks about Lewis being joined by Chase Petty and other guys (like Noah Miller).

    https://www.twincities.com/2021/08/02/rehabbing-twins-prospect-royce-lewis-determined-to-return-and-ball-out-like-people-have-never-seen-before/

    Lewis has been running in the pool already, but he expects to begin jogging on land next week. Near the end of the month, he’ll travel to Minnesota to visit team physician Christopher Camp, where he hopes to get the go-ahead to progress his hitting and lateral movement. He plans to stay in Fort Myers through October and then report to spring training a month early in early-to-mid January to help him get some more at-bats under his belt.

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    13 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    I enjoyed seeing both Balazovic and Sabato have big nights, but the item that really got me was the choice to bring up 35 year old Nick Vincent for Burrows.  I am happy to be done with Burrows, but bringing up a 35 year old in a year where we need to learn about our talent for the future really seems strange to me.

    Me too.  Does he have some incriminating photos?  😂

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    Thanks for the report, Steve.  Will be exciting to begin seeing how Ryan and SWR do every fifth day.

    Has anyone noticed that not only is Rortvedt hitting for a nice average at St. Paul, but also some real power.  I continue to believe that he will become a solid hitter for the Twins.  With his defense should be a perfect platoon partner with either Garver or Jeffers...my belief is it will be Garver.

    And I will second or third or whatever those comments above exhibiting relief for a great outing by Balazovic.  The only thing I can understand is that he went through a 'tired arm' period the last few times out.  As Cedar Rapids seems to be struggling of late and likely to miss the playoffs, Wichita should be full speed ahead with Martin and a healthy Balazovic and SWR on the hill.  

    Also took note, Steve, that Whitefield grabbed his 22nd stolen base.  Checked and a bit concerned that he was thrown out 10 times, but with his speed and defense the kid has a future.  After many of us questioned his ranking in the revised Top 30 yesterday, looks like Sabato read our comments and took note, eh?

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    On 8/11/2021 at 12:57 AM, Walser said:

    What do you guys know about Sean Mooney? He's been dominant so far for Fort Myers, and I know he had great numbers in college too.

    Well, luckily for him he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2020 when the season was cancelled, so he hasn't actually missed any development time per se.

    As a 12th round pick in 2019 (while injured) I believe he also signed for more than the post 10-round $$ limit, so he counted against their pool of money. This means the Twins were pretty high on him despite being injured.

    [Right-handed]. Not necessarily known as having any plus pitches at draft time (low 90's FB) but good command and control. Is good to see him on the mound doing well!

    Edited by Steve Lein
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    1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

    I enjoyed seeing both Balazovic and Sabato have big nights, but the item that really got me was the choice to bring up 35 year old Nick Vincent for Burrows.  I am happy to be done with Burrows, but bringing up a 35 year old in a year where we need to learn about our talent for the future really seems strange to me.

    As I looked through the transactions for this report, I went "wait, what?!" when I saw that one. No offense to Nick, but the only way it makes sense to me is they consider him a guy they can discard easily if he doesn't perform, or that they know the guy they brought up wouldn't be around for long.

    Many other better options in St. Paul for a team that should be finding out what they have or getting some guys some experience, IMO.

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    Steve:   Another excellent recap of last nights games.  A few observations/comments:

    1. To echo remarks of many......a big relief to see Balazovic get back on track last night against a solid Tulsa lineup. With his late debut this season, he's now at just 63.1 IP, what do you think is the likelihood he gets a September promotion?  50%?  

    2. When will SWR make his debut with Wind Surge?  Looking forward to seeing how he performs as I don't remember him pitching much during Olympics/

    3.  Absolutely do not understand the promotion of Vincent to major league roster.  Again-----why are Hamilton, Moran and to a lesser extent, Cano-----being ignored?

    4.  Hopefully Sabato keeps reading TD as this season has him earmarked for a return to Low A Ft. Myers next season.

    5. Wondering what your thoughts (and others) are of Trey Cabbage's future?  Not sure where he falls in our prospect rankings, but his bat has been solid all season between CR and Wichita.

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    1 hour ago, darwin22 said:

    Steve:   Another excellent recap of last nights games.  A few observations/comments:

    2. When will SWR make his debut with Wind Surge?  Looking forward to seeing how he performs as I don't remember him pitching much during Olympics/

    5. Wondering what your thoughts (and others) are of Trey Cabbage's future?  Not sure where he falls in our prospect rankings, but his bat has been solid all season between CR and Wichita.

    Thank you!

    As for your questions, Wichita has their rotation fleshed out through Saturday in my latest update, so Sunday may be the first opportunity to see SWR. They could also be giving him a bit of an extended break or don't intend to start him right away coming off the Olympics. So, maybe out of the bullpen before then? It would be Balazovic's turn on Sunday again potentially, but the Twins have been using 6-man rotations in the system as well.

    Trey Cabbage has certainly been more impressive this season. The 19 HR's are a career high already, and that power is legitimate. In another MiLB report of mine earlier this year, he hit a bomb at 115 MPH (!) that went 460+ feet (!). But, he has also struck out in over 40% of his plate appearances with Wichita. Feast or famine, but has been pretty good besides that fact over the last month or so:

    Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
    Last 28 days 20 87 76 13 21 4 1 7 17 1 0 10 34 .276 .356 .632 .988 48 0 0 0 1 0
    Edited by Steve Lein
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    3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    I enjoyed seeing both Balazovic and Sabato have big nights, but the item that really got me was the choice to bring up 35 year old Nick Vincent for Burrows.  I am happy to be done with Burrows, but bringing up a 35 year old in a year where we need to learn about our talent for the future really seems strange to me.

    It's always hard to know all the details behind transactions, but bringing up a veteran mid-season free agent can be a message to future possible signees that you can make it back to the majors with the Twins.

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    2 hours ago, AceWrigley said:

    bringing up a veteran mid-season free agent can be a message to future possible signees that you can make it back to the majors with the Twins.

    Right, because last year's world-champion Dodgers sealed their coming success back in August when they made the surprise call-up of... wait, um, no, they didn't.

    I don't mean to make a federal case out of it. All teams make moves like this one from time to time.  But even if the Twins somehow managed to poison their reputation with third-tier free agents, while still keeping all their other options open, I don't believe their fortunes would suffer.  Guys like this don't move the needle.  Let the "future possible signees" like this one flock to the Pittsburghs and Baltimore for their chances at one more major league payday.

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    I would have thought Moran would get the call up from Saint Paul, not some 35 year-old retread?

    I wonder, after getting his brains beat in by MLB pitching when he was called up before being ready due to way too many injuries, Celestino went down to Saint Paul and thought, "this is easy!". (Rortvedt may have had similar feelings...)

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    48 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    I present this article in defense of retreads. Please do read the article and replace the concept of tire with pitchers and laugh away. Maybe I'm strange, but I definitely did.

    https://www.bandag.com/en-us/resources/why-you-should-buy-retread-tires#:~:text=Retread tires%2C sometimes known as,North American truck tire market.

    Let us remanufacture your old, bald pitchers, with our patented process!

    Before:

    1cdf1a9ab1b06d510ac4dbfae8047f44.jpg

    After:

    marshall+69t.jpg

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    6 hours ago, Steve Lein said:

    Well, luckily for him he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2020 when the season was cancelled, so he hasn't actually missed any development time per se.

    As a 12th round pick in 2019 (while injured) I believe he also signed for more than the post 10-round $$ limit, so he counted against their pool of money. This means the Twins were pretty high on him despite being injured.

    Is also left-handed. Not necessarily known as having any plus pitches at draft time (low 90's FB) but good command and control. Is good to see him on the mound doing well!

    Mooney is right-handed... 

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