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  • Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month - May 2021


    Seth Stohs

    Yesterday, we discussed the top starting pitcher performers in the Twins system in May. Today, we shift to the offense and find out who the top hitters were in the organization during the season’s first month. 

    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge

    Here are the top five hitters for the month of May, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention. 

    HONORABLE MENTION 

    • OF Ernie de la Trinidad - Wichita Wind Surge - 19-63, .302/.370/.429 (.798) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 6 BB, 14 K.
    • OF Brent Rooker - St. Paul Saints - 15-66, .227/.366/.470 (.836) with 1 double, 5 homers, 15 BB, 24 K.
    • C Kyle Schmidt - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels – 17-49, .347/.458/.469 (.927) with 6 doubles, 9 BB, 13 K.
    • IF Spencer Steer - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 20-78, .256/.385/.385 (.770) with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 15 BB, 13 K.
    • OF Aaron Whitefield - Wichita Wind Surge - 26-85, .302/.358/.459 (817) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 8 BB, 28 K.. 

     

    THE TOP FIVE HITTERS

    Number 5 - Wichita Wind Surge - SS Jermaine Palacios - 28-90, .311/.398/.478 (876) with 3 doubles, 4 homers, 13 BB, 26 K

    Palacios became a top shortstop prospect with the Twins early in his career. However, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Jake Odorizzi. He struggled to hit in their organization. He became a free agent this offseason and decided to return to the Twins. He was signed with the thought that he would move around the Wichita infield, but when Royce Lewis tore his ACL, Palacios became the nearly-everyday shortstop. He’s solidified the Wind Surge defense, and he has been a force in the middle of their lineup too. 

     

    Number 4 - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 1B Gabe Snyder - 18-67, .260/.395/.567 (.962) with 3 doubles, 1 triples, 5 home runs, 13 BB, 20 K.

    Snyder was the Twins 21st round pick in 2018 out of Wright State. In 2019, he was a Midwest League All Star with the Kernels. He and the Kernels both received a promotion to High-A for the 2021 season. Snyder has continued to provide power in the middle of their lineup. He also has a good approach at the plate and is willing to take his walks too. 

    Manager Brian Dinkelman said, "Gabe has power in his bat. We saw that in here '19 when he hit 20 home runs. The power is in there with his bat. We like Gabe in the middle of our lineup." 

    Gabe Snyder.jpg

     

    Number 3 – Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - IF Edouard Julien - 23-78, .295/.476/.449 (.925) with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 26 BB, 31 K.

    Julien had to wait a long time to make his professional debut. The College World Series hero from Auburn was the Twins 18th round draft pick in 2019. After signing, he went to Peru with Team Canada for the Pan-Am Games. In the first practice, he heard a pop in his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He may have been ready to play by the middle of the 2020 season. Instead, there was no minor league season, so Julien had to wait until this year to debut. He showed patience, and that is a strong characteristic of his game too. Julien is patient at the plate and knows the strike zone well. He had 26 walks in the month. He also isn’t afraid to take a big swing when he gets a good pitch. He had nine extra base hits for the month. He also went 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts. 

     

    Number 2 - Cedar Rapids Kernels – OF Matt Wallner - 22-66, .333/.384/.621 (1.005) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, 5 BB. 29 K. 

    The Forest Lake native was the Twins 32nd round pick, as a pitcher, in 2016. He went to Southern Mississippi, became a power-hitting All American, and in 2019, the Twins used the 39th overall pick to select him again. In 2019, he finished the season with the Kernels. He got off to a fast start in 2021 in Cedar Rapids. In Game 2, he hit two home runs. He’s had a four-hit game. He’s showed off some speed with a couple of triples, both have been hit to the left-center field gap, showing his ability to hit the ball to all fields. With the power comes some strikeouts. As his manager says, “Matt takes some vicious cuts. He’s a good hitter when he stays in the zone and doesn’t expand too much.” Unfortunately, Wallner played the first 17 games, but he hurt his wrist on a swing and went on the injured list. 

     

    And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:

    Wichita Wind Surge – IF Jose Miranda - 30-94, .319/.389/.564 (.953), 5 doubles, 6 home runs, 8 BB, 11 K.   

    In 2016, the Twins had four draft picks in the first 75 picks. They drafted four high school hitters with those picks. Alex Kirilloff, Akil Baddoo and Ben Rortvedt have all made their MLB debuts in 2021 (Kirilloff in the playoffs in 2020 too). The fourth, Jose Miranda, is making a name for himself too and hopes to join them in the big leagues soon. His 2021 is off to a terrific start so far. 

    The reports on Miranda were always that he had the potential for power, and that is showing so far this year with five doubles and six home runs. For Miranda, he believes that the key will be for him to stay in the strike zone

    “I’m trying to be more patient and lower my chase percentage. That’s one of my goals this season. I know if my chase percentage goes down, I’m going to have better numbers. If I start swinging at better pitches, I’m going to start getting more hits, doubles, home runs.”

    Miranda ended 2019 with one game in Double-A. He became a father in 2020 but was unable to play because of no season. He did play in the Puerto Rican Winter League and played in the Caribbean Series. It led to an invitation to participate in Twins spring training. He learned a lot from the experience.  

    “It was a great experience just being around all those veteran guys, being around Nellie Cruz who has been around the league for 15 to 20 years almost. Hearing all the things that he says, all the things he knows, hitting-wise. All the work he puts in day in, day out. After the game, he keeps working out. JD (Donaldson) too. All those guys. They are super good, but you see what they do before the game and after the game. It’s pretty cool to watch them work that hard and seeing all the work pay off.”

    Jose Miranda currently leads the Twins minor league organization in Home Runs (6), RBI (24), Hits (30), XBH (11), Total Bases (53). He is third in batting average (.319), seventh in on-base percentage (.389), third in slugging percentage (.564) and third in OPS (.953). 

    Miranda has already played all four infield positions, making himself prepared should an opportunity arise with the Twins later this season. He can play all of those positions, but it will be his bat that carries him to the big leagues. 

     

    We would like to congratulate Wichita infielder Jose Miranda, Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month for May 2021. Feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions. 

    Follow Twins Daily on Twitter and vote for the the Minor League Hitter of the Month. 

     

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    Nice summary - gives me some more hope for the future.  The only one I question is Rooker - I know he is an honorable mention, but with his age and experience his all or nothing approach leaves me cold, and it would seem that the Twins are not too impressed either. 

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    Miranda is looking pretty special and is another good contact hitter.  I agree with him that being patient works in his favor.  If he hunts good pitches to hit he can do damage.  He has very solid numbers with his BABIP at only 304 which could be sustainable.  He could stand to walk a bit more but with a 563 slugging percentage and only a 10% K rate maybe swinging away makes more sense.  At any rate this is what we all have been waiting for and he is only 22.  Miranda should be a good Blankenhorn replacement.  Hopefully his fielding is good as well.

    Have to say I am pretty excited to see Palacios in this list.  We need better SS play and more options for guys that can play that position.  His K rate is OK at 25% and his walk rate at 12% but both could stand to be just little bit better.  His BABIP of 400 is high so it look like there will be some regression in his numbers but those are solid numbers and you have to be encouraged by the slugging percentage and ultimately OPS of 875.  He needs to keep it up but he is looking like he could be a solution at SS sooner rather than later.  He just needs to hold those numbers longer into the season and he looks like a solid utility player as his floor everyday SS as his ceiling.  He just needs to keep that bat going.

    I like Gabe's numbers but let's be honest he is a 26 year old playing at High A.  If his numbers weren't that good he likely would need to hang up the spikes.  The Twins should promote him to AA ASAP to see if the bat plays there so that he has chance to move AAA where his age plays better for the level.  Don't get me wrong I love what he is doing but they need to move him up before the numbers mean much.

    Julien has been in a slump pretty much ever since I said he should be moved up.  He has a good eye at the plate though so moving up shouldn't be a problem for him.  The Twins can afford to be patient but he is one of the best hitters in the system so I would think moving him up fairly soon would make sense.

    I like Wallners numbers but I see a ton of regression in his numbers.  His near 40% K rate is going to catch up to him and his BABIP is high as well.  He is fools gold right now.  It is great to see him doing well and putting up nice numbers but that K% will bring him to his knee's eventually.  He looks very Rooker like to me right now but hopefully he can get that K rate down and OBP up.  He has power I have no doubts there but he needs to make more contact and improve the eye at the plate if he ever wants a shot at MLB.

    I don't know what to think of Kyle Schmidt yet.  His numbers for the month of May all say solid hit tool.  K% and walk rate are good.  He isn't hitting HR's but the 6 doubles keep his slugging up so he is hitting the ball hard.  The one regression point he has though is his BABIP is 472.  He isn't going to keep this up.  Still he looks like a balanced hitter to me at this point and being a catcher the bar for hitting is much lower.  Will be interesting to see how his numbers turn out this year.

    I am a big Ernie fan so happy to see him make honorable mention.  2019 was a terrible year for him.  I was wondering if would be able to recover or if he was done.  His numbers are back and I love his game.  He has solid hitters numbers he just needs to add to slugging to round things out.  I am rooting for him.

    It is a fun list but Miranda is far and away the best hitter on this list IMO.  His low K% normalized BABIP % and high slugging make him the best candidate to sustain his production through the season.  Hopefully he keeps it going and the Twins have another star in the making.

     

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    59 minutes ago, Dman said:

    Miranda is looking pretty special and is another good contact hitter.  I agree with him that being patient works in his favor.  If he hunts good pitches to hit he can do damage.  He has very solid numbers with his BABIP at only 304 which could be sustainable.  He could stand to walk a bit more but with a 563 slugging percentage and only a 10% K rate maybe swinging away makes more sense.  At any rate this is what we all have been waiting for and he is only 22.  Miranda should be a good Blankenhorn replacement.  Hopefully his fielding is good as well.

    Have to say I am pretty excited to see Palacios in this list.  We need better SS play and more options for guys that can play that position.  His K rate is OK at 25% and his walk rate at 12% but both could stand to be just little bit better.  His BABIP of 400 is high so it look like there will be some regression in his numbers but those are solid numbers and you have to be encouraged by the slugging percentage and ultimately OPS of 875.  He needs to keep it up but he is looking like he could be a solution at SS sooner rather than later.  He just needs to hold those numbers longer into the season and he looks like a solid utility player as his floor everyday SS as his ceiling.  He just needs to keep that bat going.

    I like Gabe's numbers but let's be honest he is a 26 year old playing at High A.  If his numbers weren't that good he likely would need to hang up the spikes.  The Twins should promote him to AA ASAP to see if the bat plays there so that he has chance to move AAA where his age plays better for the level.  Don't get me wrong I love what he is doing but they need to move him up before the numbers mean much.

    Julien has been in a slump pretty much ever since I said he should be moved up.  He has a good eye at the plate though so moving up shouldn't be a problem for him.  The Twins can afford to be patient but he is one of the best hitters in the system so I would think moving him up fairly soon would make sense.

    I like Wallners numbers but I see a ton of regression in his numbers.  His near 40% K rate is going to catch up to him and his BABIP is high as well.  He is fools gold right now.  It is great to see him doing well and putting up nice numbers but that K% will bring him to his knee's eventually.  He looks very Rooker like to me right now but hopefully he can get that K rate down and OBP up.  He has power I have no doubts there but he needs to make more contact and improve the eye at the plate if he ever wants a shot at MLB.

    I don't know what to think of Kyle Schmidt yet.  His numbers for the month of May all say solid hit tool.  K% and walk rate are good.  He isn't hitting HR's but the 6 doubles keep his slugging up so he is hitting the ball hard.  The one regression point he has though is his BABIP is 472.  He isn't going to keep this up.  Still he looks like a balanced hitter to me at this point and being a catcher the bar for hitting is much lower.  Will be interesting to see how his numbers turn out this year.

    I am a big Ernie fan so happy to see him make honorable mention.  2019 was a terrible year for him.  I was wondering if would be able to recover or if he was done.  His numbers are back and I love his game.  He has solid hitters numbers he just needs to add to slugging to round things out.  I am rooting for him.

    It is a fun list but Miranda is far and away the best hitter on this list IMO.  His low K% normalized BABIP % and high slugging make him the best candidate to sustain his production through the season.  Hopefully he keeps it going and the Twins have another star in the making.

     

    I appreciate your responses. @Dman. I'm never sure how to best respond to all of that, but I do like them... 

    In short, I would say not to make too much of the good or bad yet. Just so hard to know how players are going to perform after such a long lay-off from competitive at bats. For instance, Kyle Schmidt is a little older for the Low-A level, but he's a defense-first catcher. However, his manager told me last week that he has re-done his swing. He's a big, strong guy who worked to try to add some power to his game. Let's see how that goes. If it goes well, maybe he can have a big-league career. Other buys are working on things too. 

    And, I'm becoming stronger and stronger in my thought that Age-To-Level is only important in prospect rankings. I'm sure it's somewhat part of the organization's evaluation, but (especially this year), it just doesn't mean a ton. Not yet. It'll mean more in the season's second half and into next year. Just hard to know how to evaluate anything after a complete missed year. 

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    I'll have to give Miranda a bump up my prospects ranking, I haven't been as high on him as some others have, but he seems to finally be having his breakout year. Sometimes you've got to have patience with a prospect... a lot of patience.

    29 Ks for Wallner? Woof. That's not good, despite the rest of the numbers looking sexy. All these power-only prospects in our system me of a past contentious prospect who went by the name Adam Brett Walker...

    Palacios has me intrigued, but he's got to keep raking for me to believe it. He tanked against AA in 2018 and 2019 for the Rays, He is still 24, so perhaps he can get his prospect status back on track.

    I am looking forward to updating my prospects ranking this summer!

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    My vote would have gone to Miranda.  Great seeing his bat explode, which if memory serves began during the second half of 2019.  Is that correct, Seth?  I know he came in as a third baseman.  Considering that is going to be an open spot for the Twins in the next year or two, is he strong enough defensively to be considered as their next full time third baseman?  The most exciting number to me was his strikeouts of 11 in 94 at bats.  The Twins need a few more players who put the ball in play rather than walking back to the pine 2 or 3 at bats every game.

    The other player that was most exciting for me was Julien.  He has to be the surprise of this spring, at least to me.  I very seldom disagree with Dman, but I will do so regarding his comment on Snyder being too old for Hi-A ball at 26.  We need to remember that these kids all missed an entire year last year.  We need to disregard looking at age for the next year or two.

     

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    2 hours ago, roger said:

    My vote would have gone to Miranda.  Great seeing his bat explode, which if memory serves began during the second half of 2019. 

    He had a pretty solid August, and was really good in the playoffs for Pensacola despite not being called up until the last game of the regular season.

    Interestingly, he's been an absolute playoff monster in his minor league career, even going back to 2018 when he had a pretty rough regular season: https://www.milb.com/stats/florida-state/2018/postseason-cumulative

    I don't really think we should read too much into minor league playoff performance, though we can certainly include it the full picture of their yearly performance.  Still he seems to have a knack for performing in big spots, evidenced again this week by his huge 2-run bomb against a pretty solid relief prospect who had Wichita down to their last out. 

    I could see him really jumping on his first opportunity in the majors when that call eventually comes.  He's really looking like a great overall hitter now after a few years of not quite living up to the potential that was there.

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    Great month for Miranda, who is setting himself up to potentially replace Donaldson in the future. I especially like seeing the BB/K numbers he put up; if he can keep from being a K machine while doing damage on pitches in the zone he's going to be a heck of hitter. he's been one of those players I was really worried missing a year was going to harm, but so far he's rising to the challenge. good for him! AA can be where guys really separate themselves as players and he's off to a very nice start.

    I'm curious about Whitefield; the D must be there if he can compete for Celestino for time in CF and even get an emergency call-up to MLB, but those K's make me nervous. he had a solid month at the plate but that's a LOT of whiffs.

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    Nice article Seth, no argument with your choices. Hopefully they can all continue to have success. There is not a huge need at MLB level for 2B-3B type player but at some point this month would think Twins would move up Miranda to AAA. Twins will have to protect him from rule 5 draft this year, move him to AAA and see how he does. Not much to prove at AA level yet. Did Celestino get moved up to Saints? Being on 40 man roster, may need Celestino in case of emergency with so many injuries to OFs.

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