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  • Twins Minor League Report (4/28): Winder, Smeltzer, Dobnak Pitch Well


    Seth Stohs

    It was a busy Sunday in the Twins minor league system. The Twins named their weekly hitter and pitcher of the week. There were a bunch of transactions. And with the Kernels playing a doubleheader, the organization’s four affiliates played five games. Devin Smeltzer and Randy Dobnak continued their remarkable starts on the mound.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Devin Smeltzer)

    Find out everything that happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the transactions of the day

     

    TRANSACTIONS

    • With Willians Astudillo going on the Injured List, Jake Cave was recalled from Rochester.
    • Infielder Drew Maggi was promoted back up to Rochester.
    • Infielder Joe Cronin was promoted from Cedar Rapids to Pensacola.
    • Infielder Trey Cabbage was promoted from Cedar Rapids to Ft. Myers, with RHP Tanner Howell being sent back to extended spring training.
    • Outfielder DaShawn Keirsey Jr was activated from the Kernels injured list. Infielder Estamy Urena was promoted to Cedar Rapids from extended spring training.

    AWARDS

     

    The Twins announced their Minor League Players of the Week on Sunday morning.

    • Hitter of the Week - Pensacola OF Jaylin Davis
    • Pitcher of the Week - Rochester LHP Lewis Thorpe

    In six games, Davis hit .407 (1.148 OPS) with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs. In one start, Thorpe gave up one run on three hits over eight innings. He struck out 12 batters for the second straight start.

     

    RED WINGS REPORT

    Rochester 2, Pawtucket 5

    Box Score

     

    An #OldFriend came back to haunt the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

     

    Justin Nicolino started for the Red Wings and gave up two runs in the first inning, but that was it. In 6 1/3 innings, he gave up the two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out two. Mike Morin came on and finished out the seventh. He finished the eighth inning as well, but not before giving up an two-out, three-run homer to Juan Centeno. Morin pitched a scoreless ninth inning as well.

     

    Down 2-0, the Red Wings clawed back to tie the game. In the sixth inning, Luke Raley hit a solo homer to put the Wings on the board. Zander Wiel followed with his second triple of the year and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Adam Rosales.

     

    Raley went 2-for-3 with a walk and the home run was his third. Jordany Valdespin went 2-for-4

     

     

    BLUE WAHOO BITES

    Pensacola 8, Jackson 3

    Box Score

     

    Devin Smeltzer has been fantastic in April for the Blue Wahoos. That continued on Sunday. The left-hander threw five more shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked none and struck out three. In doing so, he is now 3-1 with a 0.60 ERA (2 ER in 30 IP). He was replaced by Minnesotan Adam Bray in his return from the injured list. He gave up two runs on two hits and a walk over three innings. He struck out three. Cody Stashak gave up a solo home run in the ninth inning.

     

    The Wahoos scored two runs in the fifth inning to take the lead. Then in the sixth inning, Caleb Hamilton drove in two runs with his fifth double of the season. He scored on a single off the bat of Jordan Gore. Daulton Varsho hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Wahoos lead to 3-2. But Taylor Grzelakowski added a two-run homer in the eighth inning. They also scored a run on a passed ball and on a wild pitch.

     

    Grzelakowski went 2-for-5 with his first homer of the season. Travis Blankenhorn went 2-for-4 with a walk. Luis Arraez walked three times.

     

    MIRACLE MATTERS

    Ft. Myers 2, Palm Beach 1

    Box Score

     

    The Miracle defended the Cardinals, and won three out of four games in this series against the division leaders.

     

    Randy Dobnak came into this game having thrown 17 innings without giving up an earned run. He kept that streak going until allowing a run with two outs in the fifth inning, ending the streak at 21 2/3 innings. He gave up the one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six batters. He exited with a season ERA of 0.40.

     

    Hector Lujan came in and got eight outs without allowing the tying run. He gave up just two hits and struck one batter out. Alex Phillips came on for the ninth inning and struck out two. It was his fourth save of the year.

     

    Jose Miranda led the offense. He went 3-for-4 and drove in the team’s first run. His single drove in Trevor Larnach who had reached on his seventh double of the season. The other run came on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Whitefield.

     

    KERNELS NUGGETS

    Doubleheader after a snow-out on Saturday. The Kane County field was snow-covered on Sunday morning. The double-header was postponed a bit as they waited for more snow to melt, which it did.

     

    Game 1 - Cedar Rapids 2, Kane County 3

    Box Score

     

    The Kernels scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game, but the Cougars scored a run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to get the walk-off win.

     

    Cole Sands started the game for the Kernels. The 2018 pick gave up two runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter over the first five innings. He struck out four.

     

    Down 2-0, the Kernels rallied in the top of the sixth inning. Ben Rodriguez hit his first double of the season to drive in Chris Williams. Rodriguez later scored on a sacrifice fly from Jacob Pearson.

     

    Jose Martinez pitched a scoreless sixth inning but he gave up the walk-off hit to end the game in the seventh. He gave up two walks and the single.

     

    Chris Williams led the Kernels offense. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.

     

    Game 2 - Cedar Rapids 3, Kane County 2

    Box Score

     

    This section is brought to you by the letter W. Winder and Williams lead Kernels to a Win.

     

    Josh Winder started for the Kernels and was fantastic. He gave up just four hits and walked one over the first 6 1/3 innings. He left with one out in the seventh with 84 pitches thrown and a runner on first base. Derek Molina came on and walked a batter. Then a single scored the inherited runner from Winder. Molina gave up another run as well, but was able to keep the tying run from scoring

     

    The Kernels didn't get a lot of offense, but Chris Williams provided a big, timely hit. In the fifth inning, Williams, who walked twice in Game 2, came up with two runners on and two outs. He responded with his fourth homer of the year and gave the Kernels a 3-0 lead.

     

    Gabriel Maciel went 1-for-3 with a walk. Estamy Urena walked twice.

     

    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

     

    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Josh Winder, Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Chris Williams, Cedar Rapids Kernels

     

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:

     

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, K

    #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List, early May return

    #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch

    #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 1-3, BB, 2B(7), R

    #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return

    #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Did Not Play, hamstring

    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch

    #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch

    #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch

    #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, BB

    #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List, early May return

    #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible

    #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 1-3, K

    #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 1-3, R

    #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List

    #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - Game 1 (1-4, K), Game 2 (1-4, K)

    #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch

    #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 0-5

    #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch

    #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 3-4, RBI

     

     

    MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

     

    Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes Barre (5:35 CST) - LHP Lewis Thorpe (1-2, 7.25 ERA)

    Pensacola @ Jackson (11:05 a.m. CST) - RHP Griffin Jax (1-0, 0.41 ERA)

    Ft. Myers - No Game Scheduled

    Cedar Rapids - No Game Scheduled

     

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.

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    It has probably already been covered - But my question is whether Joe Cronin (promoted from Low A to High A) is somehow related to the Hall of Famer Joe Cronin? The older Joe Cronin played many years for our favorite organization when it was in Washington D.C.???   That Joe Cronin went on to be President of the American League until 1973 when he was succeeded by Lee MacPhail (father of former Twins GM Andy).  

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    It has probably already been covered - But my question is whether Joe Cronin (promoted from Low A to High A) is somehow related to the Hall of Famer Joe Cronin? The older Joe Cronin played many years for our favorite organization when it was in Washington D.C.???   That Joe Cronin went on to be President of the American League until 1973 when he was succeeded by Lee MacPhail (father of former Twins GM Andy).  

    Or maybe related to Kevin Cronin, lead singer of REO Speedwagon. 

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    Apparently Wes Johnson’s “road to 95” (mph) for Gonsalves had a bit of a pothole. Nevertheless, thanks for including expected returns for all the guys that are out. Severino?

     

    Gonsalves isn't the only pitcher with some elbow issues from velocity efforts... (well from something this spring... 

     

    Severino had a fractured thumb. I didn't get any timeline on him, but I assume that could be a lengthy one.

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    It has probably already been covered - But my question is whether Joe Cronin (promoted from Low A to High A) is somehow related to the Hall of Famer Joe Cronin? The older Joe Cronin played many years for our favorite organization when it was in Washington D.C.???   That Joe Cronin went on to be President of the American League until 1973 when he was succeeded by Lee MacPhail (father of former Twins GM Andy).  

     

    No relation... or, if so, it's very distant. 

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    Was I correct hearing on the radio yesterday that Kirilloff is expected back playing in games this week?  And Sano at Fort Myers on Tuesday?

     

    How much of Smeltzer have you seen in person, Seth?  Can this kid be as good as his numbers indicate?

     

    Great seeing Miranda playing better of late.  Really need some of the bats to catch up with the pitchers early this year.

     

    Looking forward to tomorrow to see if Thorpe backs up his last two starts.  Also, always looking forward to seeing how Jax does.

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    You are saying that Wander Javier is injured with an early may return?

     

    Wen did that injury get announced? 

    Last I heard they were just holding him back.

    Javier was playing games this spring, even had 7 AB in MLB camp, but was sidelined on March 15th with a quad strain:

     

    https://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/baseball/news/twins-wander-javier-exits-with-quad-strain/

     

    That's why he's been out of game action since then -- although they certainly may be taking his recovery slowly given his complete absence last year.

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    Was I correct hearing on the radio yesterday that Kirilloff is expected back playing in games this week?  And Sano at Fort Myers on Tuesday?

    That is correct about Sano:

     

    "Twins' Miguel Sano will begin rehab assignment on Tuesday"

    http://www.startribune.com/twins-miguel-sano-will-begin-rehab-assignment-on-tuesday/509168382/

     

    And I assume Kirilloff will move from EST games to actual games this week too.

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    Was I correct hearing on the radio yesterday that Kirilloff is expected back playing in games this week?  And Sano at Fort Myers on Tuesday?

     

    How much of Smeltzer have you seen in person, Seth?  Can this kid be as good as his numbers indicate?

     

    Great seeing Miranda playing better of late.  Really need some of the bats to catch up with the pitchers early this year.

     

    Looking forward to tomorrow to see if Thorpe backs up his last two starts.  Also, always looking forward to seeing how Jax does.

     

    I've heard that on Kirilloff as well. End of this week is "early May." Sano, Kirilloff, Gordon and Javier have been playing in Extended Spring Training games. 

     

    I saw Smeltzer in a couple of bullpens and once (maybe twice?) in spring games. Skinny. Wiry. Full of energy. Doesn't throw real hard, low 90s. Good secondary and good control. 

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    Gonsalves isn't the only pitcher with some elbow issues from velocity efforts... (well from something this spring... 

     

    Did we come out of spring training with more injured pitchers than usual?

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    Smeltzer is interesting. His performance so far is easily his best as a pro but he has shown previously that he can miss bats, keep the ball in the park, and avoid handing out too many free passes. This is the first time he's repeated a level, so I'm guessing that's helping him a little. Twins had him closing games last season, so I'm wondering what drove the decision to move him back into the rotation? Whatever it was, sure seems like a smart one.

     

    Seth, where do you think he ranks right now as a prospect? Just outside the top 20?

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    I've heard that on Kirilloff as well. End of this week is "early May." Sano, Kirilloff, Gordon and Javier have been playing in Extended Spring Training games. 

     

    I saw Smeltzer in a couple of bullpens and once (maybe twice?) in spring games. Skinny. Wiry. Full of energy. Doesn't throw real hard, low 90s. Good secondary and good control. 

    Are you saying, Seth, that what you saw isn't a future ACE like his early numbers hint at?

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    Are you saying, Seth, that what you saw isn't a future ACE like his early numbers hint at?

     

    Numbers from 5 starts rarely indicate anything.

    Also, there are so few aces that I really try not to use that term too much. 

    Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen by the Dodgers last year, and he went to the AFL as a reliever. The Twins decided to move him back to the rotation. His upside is probably #4 starter or a Taylor Rogers like reliever if things go well. 

    NOTE - this isn't a knock. If he becomes Taylor Rogers, I think we should all be thrilled.

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    Did we come out of spring training with more injured pitchers than usual?

     

    Tyler Wells' spring training (and season) was delayed by a 'minor' elbow issue. He's still working his way back to a full workload. 

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    Numbers from 5 starts rarely indicate anything.

    Also, there are so few aces that I really try not to use that term too much. 

    Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen by the Dodgers last year, and he went to the AFL as a reliever. The Twins decided to move him back to the rotation. His upside is probably #4 starter or a Taylor Rogers like reliever if things go well. 

    NOTE - this isn't a knock. If he becomes Taylor Rogers, I think we should all be thrilled.

    Interesting comp. It's easy to forget or overlook, but Rogers had some good stretches in the minors as a starter. In fact, at the end of his first season in AA, when he was about the exact same age and experience as Smelzter now, Rogers finished with an 0.64 ERA over his last 28 innings, with 27 K's. His league featured better hitting (.718 OPS) than Smeltzer's current league too (.679 OPS), and a much lower league K% (19.0% vs 24.1%).

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    Apologies for being away from the site for the past couple of weeks, but who is driving the Ben Rortvedt bandwagon? I'd like to hop on board! Is there still room?

    His .246/.368/.456 batting line looks unexciting, but one adjusts for the fact that the Florida State League is a terrible place for batters (only 12 batters have more than 2 home runs), he is:
    1 - Of all the players 21 and younger in the league, he is 4th overall in batting.
    2 - AS A CATCHER!
    3 - And it is not a BABIP fluke either (only .273)
    4 - AS A CATCHER!

    5 - 1:1 BB:K ratio!!!
    6 - AS A CATCHER!

    7 - For all batters in the league, top 14th in SLG and 4th in ISO.

    8 - AS A CATCHER!

    Anyway, future top-100 prospect?

    (Also, he was quietly well above-average for the league last year. This is now 250 above-average PAs at High-A with great peripherals.)

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    Oh...and add that Ben is 7/10 throwing guys out trying to steal, now a lot of teams are not even trying to steal when he is behind the plate. (2 of those 3 successful steals were on a double steal of 2nd and 3rd...I never liked that catchers get charged for 2 steals in 1 play), he has picked off 2 at 1st base (1 pick off was to preserve a 1-0 lead in the 9th at St Lucie) Ben has saved numerous wild pitches with his blocking ability. His only error, his mitt got clipped by a batter for interference. He is definitely a pitchers best friend, super mobile, athletic, frames pitches great and a student of the game. 

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    Apologies for being away from the site for the past couple of weeks, but who is driving the Ben Rortvedt bandwagon? I'd like to hop on board! Is there still room?

    His .246/.368/.456 batting line looks unexciting, but one adjusts for the fact that the Florida State League is a terrible place for batters (only 12 batters have more than 2 home runs), he is:
    1 - Of all the players 21 and younger in the league, he is 4th overall in batting.
    2 - AS A CATCHER!
    3 - And it is not a BABIP fluke either (only .273)
    4 - AS A CATCHER!

    5 - 1:1 BB:K ratio!!!
    6 - AS A CATCHER!

    7 - For all batters in the league, top 14th in SLG and 4th in ISO.

    8 - AS A CATCHER!

    Anyway, future top-100 prospect?

    (Also, he was quietly well above-average for the league last year. This is now 250 above-average PAs at High-A with great peripherals.)

    Welcome aboard Markos.  Don't know if I would be credited for driving his bandwagon, but I have been at the wheel for a few laps around the track...after all he is a Verona, WI kid. 

     

    I have been saying for well over a year that I believe there is a real chance this kid could be the Twins catcher for much of the next decade.  With Garver improving as much as he has, Rortvedt has time to continue his development before breaking in sometime in 2021.  He can begin as Garver's backup, then replace him when Garver becomes too expensive for the Twins.  Who knows, maybe the Giants will give the Twins a future ACE, another minor league prospect and a future shutdown closer as a throw-in.  

    Edited by rdehring
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    Apologies for being away from the site for the past couple of weeks, but who is driving the Ben Rortvedt bandwagon? I'd like to hop on board! Is there still room?

    His .246/.368/.456 batting line looks unexciting, but one adjusts for the fact that the Florida State League is a terrible place for batters (only 12 batters have more than 2 home runs), he is:

    1 - Of all the players 21 and younger in the league, he is 4th overall in batting.

    2 - AS A CATCHER!

    3 - And it is not a BABIP fluke either (only .273)

    4 - AS A CATCHER!

    5 - 1:1 BB:K ratio!!!

    6 - AS A CATCHER!

    7 - For all batters in the league, top 14th in SLG and 4th in ISO.

    8 - AS A CATCHER!

    Anyway, future top-100 prospect?

    (Also, he was quietly well above-average for the league last year. This is now 250 above-average PAs at High-A with great peripherals.)

    I'm not sure if I'd call his 105 wRC+ there last year as "well above average". It is pretty much a tick above average, well within any margin of error.

     

    His start this year is intriguing, but in such a small sample, I don't know if it's meaningful yet. His BB rate seems unsustainable. And with such low offensive levels in the FSL, and such a small sample, if Rortvedt got a wind-aided or fielder-aided XBH, it could have really boosted his power numbers so far without being indicative of skill.

     

    Still, better he is doing this than struggling, that's for sure. But it's just too early for me to really think about significantly upgrading his stock.

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    I'm not sure if I'd call his 105 wRC+ there last year as "well above average". It is pretty much a tick above average, well within any margin of error.

    Thanks for the correction. I misused Fangraphs new minor league leaderboards and inadvertently combined the 2018 and 2019 seasons when I thought I was looking up 2018.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders/minor-league?pos=all&lg=10&stats=bat&qual=50&type=1&team=59&season=2018&seasonEnd=2019&org=&ind=0&splitTeam=false&players=

    Combined between 2018 and 2019, he has a 117 wRC+, which I do think fits the "well above-average" descriptor. But of course, that's not what I said. Sorry for misleading people. 

     

    That said, I'm still jumping on the bandwagon. ;)

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    Thanks for the correction. I misused Fangraphs new minor league leaderboards and inadvertently combined the 2018 and 2019 seasons when I thought I was looking up 2018.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders/minor-league?pos=all&lg=10&stats=bat&qual=50&type=1&team=59&season=2018&seasonEnd=2019&org=&ind=0&splitTeam=false&players=

    Combined between 2018 and 2019, he has a 117 wRC+, which I do think fits the "well above-average" descriptor. But of course, that's not what I said. Sorry for misleading people. 

     

    That said, I'm still jumping on the bandwagon. ;)

    No worries. Bandwagons are fun. :)

     

    For me, it's still just such a small sample for 2019 -- a single HR, or two doubles, is worth a full .070 of SLG (or ~28 points of wRC+) for Rortvedt right now on his 2019 line. A single 0-for-4 would drop his season OPS by .046, or ~18 points of wRC+.

     

    But if he can keep it up, especially with a promotion to AA, he could really jump. I don't know about top 100 quite yet, although Jason Castro was top 100 with a 139 wRC+ at high-A and a 107 wRC+ at AA (although he was top 100 before that too, the pedigree of a 10th overall pick from Stanford).

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