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  • Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - August 2021


    Lucas Seehafer PT

    Yesterday, Twins Daily announced our Minor League Hitter of the Month for August. Today, we turn our focus to pitching and name our Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month.

    Image courtesy of Bri Ostwinkle, Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Below are a few names, mentioned in descending order based on minor league affiliation, that just missed the top three.

    HONORABLE MENTIONS

    • RHP Joe Ryan, St. Paul Saints: 9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA
    • RHP Jordan Balazovic, Wichita Wind Surge: 24 1/3 IP, 32 H, 16 R, 10 ER, 11 BB, 19 K, 3.70 ERA
    • RHP Cole Sands, Wichita Wind Surge: 18 2/3 IP, 20 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 25 K, 3.38 ERA
    • RHP Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 22 2/3 IP, 20 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 23 K, 3.18 ERA
    • RHP Casey Legumina, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: 15 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 19 K, 1.80 ERA

    And without further ado, the bronze, silver, and gold medal finishers.

    3. RHP Sean Mooney, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
    Stats: 13 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 8 BB, 26 K, 2.08 ERA

    The Mighty Mussels handle starting pitching differently than their other minor league affiliate counterparts. As the bulk of their pitchers have yet to complete an entire minor league season due to the pandemic, their focus is less on having pitchers go deep into games and more on tossing them out there in spurts to keep their workload low. Regardless, Mooney put up great numbers during his four starts in August. In fact, he's put up great numbers all season and has arguably been the Mighty Mussels' best, most consistent starter. Stints on the IL have been the only thing that have slowed him down this year. For that reason, he recently earned a promotion to High-A.

    2. RHP Andrew Albers, St. Paul Saints
    Stats: 20 IP, 19 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 14 K, 1.80 ERA

    Albers' 2021 campaign is an excellent footnote in an otherwise gloomy Twins' season. The 35-year-old, who signed a minor-league deal last offseason, had not pitched in the majors since 2017 and likely did not think he would return anytime soon. However, after some brief struggles at the beginning of the season and a successful Olympic Trials run (he threw 7 innings of a no-hitter) with Team Canada, Albers earned a promotion to the Twins due to solid performance and multiple injuries. He's not going to strike many batters out and likely won't be with the team beyond this season, but it's hard not to feel happy for the wily vet. 

    1. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Stats: 17 IP, 17 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 26 K, 2.12 ERA

    I'll repeat what I mentioned in my recent scouting report: Sawyer Gipson-Long is one of the Twins' best under-the-radar pitching prospects. Gipson-Long was dominant during August, racking up strikeouts and not allowing free passes. His strong performance at High-A continued on Wednesday evening when he tossed six innings of one-hit ball. (Although the one hit was a two-run homer, and he also walked three while striking out four. They can't all be Cy Young caliber.) 

    Other than four lackluster starts to begin the season, due at least in part to poor defense behind him, Gipson-Long has been solid all year. Don't be surprised if his name starts popping up in top prospect lists.

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    I had Gipson-Long as my Winder pick for this year as they were drafted in the same range, had solid builds and were strike throwers with Higher ERA's at lower level schools. While Gipson-Long K'd lot's of guys early he was very hittable and his WHIP wasn't that great to start the year.  So I started to sour on him a little bit as Winder was pretty dominant start to finish his year in A ball.  Still as the OP said he has been even better after moving up a level and seems to have really refined his pitch mix in a good way,  I am starting to get excited about him again.

    That 2019 draft has some pretty interesting arms that were picked late in Gipson-Long, Gross, Mooney and Varland and at the top they took Canterino.  So several guys that look to make a difference down the road.  If the Twins can keep finding solid arms that late it would really help.

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    On 9/4/2021 at 1:26 AM, twinstalker said:

    Balazovic was horrible, and he's honorable mention?

    I didn’t want to ‘like’ this…but, yeah. He wasn’t good.

    You’d think there would have been one guy slightly more worthy of garnering honorable mention.

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