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  • Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda


    Nash Walker

    A “breakout” in sports is described as a player that plays surprisingly well and above expectations. That’s putting it lightly for Jose Miranda, our unanimous 2021 Minor League Hitter Of the Year.

    Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints (graphics by David Youngs)

    It’s not wise to overreact to a robust 15 games in the Puerto Rican Winter League, especially for a Minor Leaguer who hit just .252/.302/.369 in the prior season. For Jose Miranda, though, it was a glimpse into the future. His strong showing for Caguas was no mirage: he was improving. 

    Miranda always possessed an elite ability to make contact, evidenced by his solid batting averages and low strikeout rates throughout his first handful of years in the minors. That’s why his power surge is so exciting.
    Starting the year with Wichita at Double-A, Miranda came out firing. He began the season going 13-for-32 (.406) with a double and three homers and never looked back. Miranda’s last 20 games before his promotion were outstanding. He hit .386 with a 1.085 OPS with seven homers and two doubles. 

    Miranda’s ultimate statement came on June 29th in his debut for the Saints. He hit three homers, drove in six runs, and added a double in one of the best Triple-A unveilings you’ll ever see. Miranda proved that his great stretch in Wichita was no mirage.
    Miranda’s 153 wRC+ at Triple-A is the third-highest for a Twin since 2006 (min. 300 plate appearances). His 162 wRC+ at Double-A is tied for the third-best in that span. 

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    Miranda added patience to his profile while still maintaining a strikeout rate below 13%. He’s walking more, hitting for elite power, and spraying the ball all over the field. There are very few flaws to point out in his 2021 campaign. 

    The 23-year-old leads the minors with 292 total bases, 176 hits, and 568 plate appearances. He’s started 48 games at third base, 29 at second base, 26 at first base, and 12 at Designated Hitter. He offers the infield versatility that the Twins value. 

    So what does the future hold? Well, it’s interesting. While Miranda seemingly has nothing left to prove in the minors, there’s a log jam on the Twins’ roster. Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sanó (option) are both under contract at the corners until 2023. Alex Kirilloff impressed in his debut at first base, and Jorge Polanco had an MVP-level season at second. If that’s not enough, Luis Arraez needs a spot too.

    These things tend to work themselves out, so for now, let’s appreciate this incredible season from Jose Miranda. His future looks bright and offers hope that more contact-oriented prospects (like Austin Martin) can develop power in this system. 

    While the Twins struggled to win games throughout the 2021 season, many fans found hope in the minors, especially in Jose Miranda. 

    Congratulations, Jose!

    Below are the Top 8 Twins Minor League Hitters in 2021 (according to our 10-person, Twins Daily minor league writing staff) as well as others who received votes. If you click on their names, you will be directed to the search results for that player and find several other articles they are tagged in. 

    TOP 8:
    1. IF Jose Miranda - (.342/.400/.568 with 29 doubles, 29 homers at AA/AAA)

    T-2. 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - (.264/.346/.535 with 20 doubles, 27 homers at High-A/AA)
    Cabbage blasted 27 homers in 108 games and finished his season with a .535 slugging percentage. He posted an OPS over .880 for both Cedar Rapids and Wichita. 

    T-2. IF Edouard Julien - (.266/.434/.480 with 28 doubles, 18 homers at Low-A/High-A)
    Julien stole 34 of 39 bases, hit 18 homers and walked 110 times in a breakout season. Julien mashed for Fort Myers before hitting .247/.397/.494 in Cedar Rapids. 

    4. IF Spencer Steer - (.254/.348/.484 with 18 doubles, 24 homers at High-A/AA)
    Steer found his power in 2021, stroking 24 homers across two levels. Steer posted a .915 OPS at Cedar Rapids and hit 14 homers for Wichita. 

    5. OF Mark Contreras - (.253/.341/.488 with 29 doubles, 19 homers at AA/AAA) 
    Contreras is quietly hitting .253/.341/.488 and improved after a promotion to St. Paul. It was his best season as a Minor Leaguer. 

    6. OF BJ Boyd - (.294/.352/.491 with 15 doubles, 16 homers at AA/AAA)
    Boyd posted a .923 OPS in Wichita and earned a late season promotion to Triple-A. Boyd hadn't played professional baseball since 2018 but impressed in his return. 

    7. OF Jimmy Kerrigan - (.265/.336/.487 with 16 doubles, 19 homers at AA/AAA) 
    Kerrigan is a steady force for the Saints, hitting .265/.336/.487 in over 100 games. Kerrigan has tallied 169 total bases, the most in his career. 

    8. OF Brent Rooker - (.245/.367/.564 with 8 doubles, 20 homers at AAA)
    Rooker destroyed at Triple-A before another promotion to Minnesota, where he's working himself into a 2022 role. "Rook" hit 20 homers in 62 games for the Saints.

    OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES:
    OF Gilberto Celestino - (.280/.379/.431, 7 HR, 16 2B at AA/AAA)
    OF Matt Wallner - (.264/.350/.508, 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B at A+) 
    IF/OF Drew Maggi - (.255/.358/.470, 16 HR, 13 2B, 2 3B at AAA)
    IF Yunior Severino - (.273/.372/.430, 8 HR, 29 2B, 2 3B at A/A+)
    IF/OF Michael Helman - (.246/.336/.462, 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B at A+)
    SS Jermaine Palacios - (.259/.340/.439, 19 HR, 17 2B at AA)
    C/1B Alex Isola - (.243/.342/.425, 17 HR, 15 2B at A+)
    C/OF Jeferson Morales - (.255/.370/.438, 12 HR, 24 2B at A/A+)
    C/1B Tomás Telís - (.292/.336/.411, 11 HR, 11 2B, 2 3B at AAA)
    1B/3B Andrew Bechtold - (.239/.328/.459, 18 HR, 23 2B at AA)
    OF Ernie de La Trinidad - (.266/.344/.415, 9 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B at AA)

    PREVIOUS WINNERS:
    2012 - Oswaldo Arcia
    2013 - Miguel Sano
    2014 - Mitch Garver
    2015 - Max Kepler
    2016 - Daniel Palka
    2017 - Mitch Garver
    2018 - Alex Kirilloff
    2019 - Trevor Larnach

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    Whereas Miranda is screaming call me up, six of the other 7 all appear to be long shots for a sustained big league career (Rooker is already here).  Unless I am mistaken, several are Rule 5 eligible and doubt there will be room to add more than Miranda...from this group.

    Of course I could have written the exact same thing as above about Miranda two years ago.  Is there another future star in this group?  Expect the seven young men listed believe there is.  Would be curious to know if anyone from the TD staff believes any of this group will be added to the 40-man this year, other than Miranda.

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    18 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

    Well deserved for Miranda. We’ll see him early on in the season, if not opening day 2022. 

    I wonder what they’ll do with the 2nd place finisher, Trey Cabbage? He is due to be a free agent this winter. Good for him to break out this season and make it a tough decision to keep him or let him go. 

    I think that the Twins will want to bring back Cabbage. I don't think he'll get added to the 40-man roster, but they'll want to get him under a minor league deal and give him another year to develop and see where he is at then.

    I also think Cabbage would like to stay in the organization. So I think/hope they can work it out. 

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    25 minutes ago, roger said:

    Whereas Miranda is screaming call me up, six of the other 7 all appear to be long shots for a sustained big league career (Rooker is already here).  Unless I am mistaken, several are Rule 5 eligible and doubt there will be room to add more than Miranda...from this group.

    Of course I could have written the exact same thing as above about Miranda two years ago.  Is there another future star in this group?  Expect the seven young men listed believe there is.  Would be curious to know if anyone from the TD staff believes any of this group will be added to the 40-man this year, other than Miranda.

    No... guys like Julien and Steer don't have to be. Of the others, I'd say that Cabbage would rank highest on the likelihood to be added with an outside chance for Contreras. 

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    I have not seen Jose Miranda this season. His numbers are amazing. What is the report on his prospects for being a full time contributing MLB player? Can he be counted on to take a position next season? What about his glove, does it play at 3B? The answers to these questions are important to a consideration of where Miranda fits on a Twins roster. The average, contact, patience, and power are very impressive and if he looks anything like Kirilloff he deserves a real shot at playing time. This, in turn, affects who is available to trade. 

    Congratulations to Jose Miranda for a spectacular season. I wish I had had an opportunity to see him play. I checked milb.com every game for his line for each game and the consistency of his production was so laudable.

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    As far as a roster spot, yes, these things take care of themselves. He may or may not break camp with the Twins, but he will play for the Twins in 2022. And his ability to play multiple positions will aid him in the transition and opportunity. From every report I've ever read or heard, he was a high pick for real reasons. It was only a matter of time...with hope which is the case of all prospects...until he put it all together. I couldn't comment on his defense except to say I've never heard anything bad. The few highlight plays I've seen over the season indicate he can get it done. And yes, they may have been hilights, but if you can make those kind of plays, further time and development should allow you to develop and be solid, if not good.

    I just never saw Cabbage breaking out the way be did this year. There is still a K vs contact component to work on. But he's only 24yo, a former 4th round pick, and there is enough potential showing after his breakout 2021 that I think you need to find a way to keep him.

    Steer and Julien were part of the 2019 draft where the Twins seemed to concentrate heavily on infielders. Of course it was Cavaco #1, but they also grabbed Steer, Gray and the Auburn duo of Holland and Julien. IIRC, both Holland and Julien signed over slot due to some savings. The fact that Steer and Julien, despite being college players, have progressed so quickly with a short 2019 and no 2020 is pretty awesome. While we don't know how good either may ultimately be, their early results as possible infield fixtures as at least multi-position options is very encouraging!

    I'd really like to keep Contreras and Kerrigan around for 2022 if possible. I just don't know if either offers up enough offense to go along with great defense. But either could provide depth and a possible future as a 4th OF. 

     

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    1 hour ago, DocBauer said:

    I'd really like to keep Contreras and Kerrigan around for 2022 if possible. I just don't know if either offers up enough offense to go along with great defense. But either could provide depth and a possible future as a 4th OF. 

    I would guess no real concern about that. Neither should be lost in the Rule 5 and neither can be free agents. 

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    Free Josh Donaldson! Much as I like his gung-ho attitude, Miranda is the heir apparent at 3rd base, and he should get slotted into that spot next spring. Miranda and Sweet Luis Arraez can take turns at the hot corner. 

    Time also to move on from Andrelton Simmons, whose strong glove does not quite make up for such a weak bat. Personally I would love to see our two young sports cars, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin compete for the starting shortstop role, the loser going to...the outfield and part time shortstop. Get both young superstars onto the big league club. See if they can hang with major league pitching. 

    Every season is an experiment. This season we discovered two important pieces of the playoff puzzle: Ober and Ryan. Next season we need to see if we can get better hitting and speed from the infield. Spring Training should also be when we find out if Duran, Balazovic and a couple other prospects can flash enough greatness to contribute a significant amount to a playoff run. Time for the kids to show their stuff!

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    The list at the bottom of the article would be greatly enhanced if the players' ages and how they were acquired were added. A lot of those guys are career AAA players, so while I'm not knocking their very good seasons, they aren't prospects to get excited about.

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    16 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    I think that the Twins will want to bring back Cabbage. I don't think he'll get added to the 40-man roster, but they'll want to get him under a minor league deal and give him another year to develop and see where he is at then.

    I also think Cabbage would like to stay in the organization. So I think/hope they can work it out. 

    I think he gets taken in rule V though.  Detroit already had success with Baddoo why not try for one of the best mashers in the minors?  Yeah the K rate is ugly especially for minor league ball still I don't think that stops teams like the Orioles, Pittsburgh etc from trying out a guy who can hit HR's with the best of them. It looks like he is always going to be hitting around a 900 OPS the only question is if he can make that translate to MLB.  I think a few teams give him a shot in rule V next year.  I know I would.

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    As exciting as his breakout is, I am not expecting him to come up next year and be a force.  If he does great, but do not expect it.  I have a feeling a youth movement in the next season is coming and it may a boom or bust kind of thing.  I could see Miranda, Lewis, Martin, Kiriloff, Larnach, all having major rolls in next two years.  Not to mention several starting pitchers having major innings. 

    I think if that is the plan just go all in with it next year.  It may be a rough next year if they do, but it will also give them all some good experience than just trickling them in.  

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    Just to keep the conversation going, I thought I'd post my rankings... of which I question almost immediately after saying it's final and if I didn't look, might be different today in some cases, but here is what I've got:

    1.) Miranda - not much overthinking here... 

    2.) Julien - For it, it's that OBP, but he also showed pop in Cedar Rapids, stole some bases. 

    3.) Steer - Takes walks, I think at Cedar Rapids he had as many walks as strikeouts, and the power came on big time. 

    4.) Cabbage - The power arrived, and I saw some improvement in walks and strikeouts as he moved up to AA. 

    5.) Contreras - one of the biggest surprises of the season for me. After a tough 2019, a year missed, he moved up a level and had power and played so much better. 

    6.) Isola - Lots of walks. Lots of homers. And does a nice job behind the plate, and did just fine at 1B because they wanted to keep the bat in there. 

    7.) Severino - Moved up to CR and really came on. Season ended a little early, but he showed what he can be. 

    8.) Helman - Low BA, but he takes really good ABs, takes his walks, and the power was a big surprise, but he almost hit 20 homers, while mostly playing in the outfield. 

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