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  • Twins Minor League Report (5/11): A Night of Inaugural Home Openers…and Losses


    Steve Lein

    Three of the Minnesota Twins affiliates had their home openers on Tuesday night, and there were varying levels of significance for each. The St. Paul Saints were having their first as a major league affiliate, the Wichita Wind Surge their first ever as a team and in a brand-new stadium, and Fort Myers their first at Hammond Stadium as the Mighty Mussels. Unfortunately, any positive vibes from those circumstances were not on anyone’s side in the system this night.

    Image courtesy of David Youngs, Twins Daily (photo of CHS Field)

    Keep reading to find out how all your favorite prospects fared on a night you would hope there would be more reasons to celebrate, but I at least think there’s a bullpen arm in double-A the Twins should check out.

    TRANSACTIONS

    There was a flurry of transactions in the system before Tuesday’s games with the Saints needing reinforcements.

    • The Minnesota Twins optioned infielder Nick Gordon to St. Paul with the activation of Luis Arraez from the IL.
    • Zander Wiel (quad strain), Tzu-Wei Lin (oblique strain), and Drew Maggi all were placed on the IL in triple-A. To take their places, infielders Damek Tomscha from double-A, Yeltsin Encarnacion from high-A, and Daniel Ozaria from low-A were assigned to the Saints.
    • In Fort Myers OF Misael Urbina was assigned to the Mighty Mussels.

    SAINTS SENTINEL
    Iowa 11, St. Paul 1
    Box Score

    The St. Paul Saints and CHS Field christened their first home opener as a Twins affiliate…with a dud when it came to the game.

    The lineup was no-hit for 7 2/3 innings before Tomas Telis came through with a solo home run to put their first hit and run as an affiliate on the board at their beautiful stadium. JT Riddle added a single in the ninth, but that was it for the offense. They had just one plate appearance with a runner in scoring position and left only three men on base for the game.

    On the other hand, the Iowa Cubs also lit up Saint’s pitchers, including Randy Dobnak, for 11 runs on 12 hits and eight walks, though they did manage to collect nine strikeouts. Dobnak especially had some trouble, walking five compared to just one strikeout on the game. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on four hits and the free passes. Ian Hamilton allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in his inning of work, striking out three. Juan Minaya surrendered four runs on five hits in 1 2/3, striking out four. Danny Coulombe was the only one who came out unscathed, allowing one hit and one walk in two innings. He struck out one.

    Tomorrow’s starter against the cubs is RHP Griffin Jax, and Twins Daily’s David Youngs got to talk some baseball and business shop with him earlier this week. Youngs also spent opening night at CHS Field, reporting on the positives that were present outside the game's result.

    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Amarillo 3, Wichita 2
    Box Score

    The starting pitchers for both the Sod Poodles and Wind Surge traded zeroes for the first three innings, but the visitors got to Cole Sands of Wichita first in their inaugural home opener with 2-run single in the top of the fourth. Sands’ night was done after finishing that inning, allowing those two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out five. He threw 85 pitches, with 51 of them going for strikes (60.7%).

    Caleb Hamilton and Ray Morales answered with back-to-back RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth to tie it at two and the bullpens would take over after that.

    Left-hander Jovani Moran was the first up for the Wind Surge, and he went the next 2 2/3 innings, striking out three along the way. He was removed for Yennier Cano with a runner on second in the seventh and would be charged a run as Cano’s first pitch was weakly grounded through a big hole on the left side with a shift on. But after that Cano was the story as I watched this one on MiLB.tv.

    He struck out the next batter on three pitches, all swinging, and that trend would continue in the eighth as he tacked on an “immaculate inning” with three more strikeouts on nine pitches. Back out for the ninth, Cano got two more strikeouts on four pitches each, so if you are counting that was six punchouts on just 20 pitches, including a stretch of four straight on the minimum number of pitches possible. While I simultaneously watched the Minnesota Twins bullpen implode yet again, Cano was beyond impressive. He looked intimidating on the mound, had big life on his mid-90’s fastball, a slider with bite, and got swings and misses on nearly everything. The only contact he gave up was that weak RBI groundball through the vacated shortstop spot on his first pitch, a dribbling chopper ruled an error on the shortstop (don’t think he could have got the out anyway), and a swinging bunt in no-mans land in front of him that the catcher couldn’t get quick enough to get an out. Call him up right now (only slightly kidding):

    The Wind Surge went on to threaten in the ninth, getting the tying run on second base with two outs, but an incredibly bad strike three call with Jermaine Palacios in the batter’s box ended the game in the loss column for the home team in their inaugural season’s home opener. It was a great crowd given the circumstances, with nearly 8,000 in attendance, and I’ll forgive them for doing “the wave” that the broadcasters opined had been going on for a period of time that I will say is longer than it ever should.


    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 5, Quad Cities 12
    Box Score

    Cedar Rapids jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second after Jair Camargo led off the inning with a double, scored on a Wander Javier single, then Gabe Snyder hit a solo home run.

    Quad Cities answered with three runs in the bottom of the third, and another in the fourth against Kernel’s starter Ben Gross. The righthander would finish five innings on the game, allowing four runs (3 ER) on five hits while striking out five.

    Down 4-2 in the top of the fifth the Kernels were able to tie it up at four thanks to a two-run home run from Seth Gray, his first of the year.

    The River Bandits would get those back, and more, against reliever Zach Featherstone in the sixth, however. A pair of walks, a single, 2-RBI double, and 2-RBI triple would make it 8-4 Quad Cities before Tyler Palm was summoned and stopped the bleeding but would be roughed up for four runs himself in the eighth after walking the bases loaded with no outs. Jonathan Cheshire would record the final out of the game for Cedar Rapids with a strikeout.

    In the top of the ninth Gabe Snyder clubbed his second home run of the game to account for the Kernels fifth run but it was far from enough. Camargo (2-for-4, R, 2B, K) and Snyder (2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K) were the only batters with multiple hits.

    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Clearwater 10, Fort Myers 2
    Box Score

    The Mighty Mussels got on the board first in this one when Keoni Cavaco launched his first home run of the 2021 season, a two-run shot for the early lead. It left his bat at 103.9 MPH with a launch angle of 29 degrees and certainly made "that sound":


    Starter Hunter McMahon allowed just two hits through his first four innings but ran into trouble quickly in the fifth. A double, RBI triple, and RBI single put an end to his night after 63 pitches (45 for strikes). In total he would be charged with three earned runs on five hits. He struck out three.

    Casey Legumina came on in relief and allowed one inherited runner to score on a double before striking out two in a scoreless sixth. He would allow two runs of his own in the seventh after a pair of walks was followed by a double. He finished 2 2/3 innings and allowed the two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out four. Matthew Swain pitched a scoreless eighth inning but got lit up in the ninth for five runs, including two home runs. Reliever Juan Pichardo would get the final two outs, including a K.

    The Fort Myers lineup was unable to get anything going after Cavaco’s blast and would finish the game with just five hits, were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 8 men on base. Max Smith, Anthony Prato, and Willie Joe Garry Jr. each had a stolen base in the loss. 2020 first round pick Aaron Sabato continued the strange start to his season with a pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts.


    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Pitcher of the Day
    – Yennier Cano, Wichita Wind Surge (2.1 IP, 2 H, 6 K’s, 27 pitches, 23 strikes/12 swinging)
    Hitter of the Day – Gabe Snyder, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K)

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

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

    #1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – Injured List (wrist)
    #2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL)
    #3 - Trevor Larnach (Minnesota) – 0-for-2, R, BB
    #4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – 0-for-4, K
    #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Did not pitch
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back)
    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-4, R HR, 2 RBI, K
    #8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 0-for-2, 2 BB, 2 K
    #9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch
    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch
    #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – 1-for-4, R, BB, 2 K
    #12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) –  0-for-3, BB
    #13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-4, 2B, 3 K
    #14 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-for-1, K (pinch-hit appearance)
    #15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
    #16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow)
    #17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – 0-for-1, HBP, RBI, K
    #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A
    #19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 3-for-5, K
    #20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – Did not pitch

    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
    Amarillo @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Austin Schulfer (0-0, 36.00 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30PM CST) – RHP Blayne Enlow (0-1, 2.25 ERA)
    Clearwater @ Fort Myers (5:05PM CST) – RHP Regi Grace (0-0, 1.93 ERA)

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

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    Rough day from the big league team all the way down (especially the Twins and Saints). The injuries for the Twins are diluting the minor league teams rosters, but its not a good sign seeing some players that have been up for the Twins (this year and in the past) are not doing well in the minors.

    But great to read about Cano at Wichita. Nice to read about a reliever anywhere in the system shining.

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    I was watching Cano also last night. Wow, I realize they were AA hitters but he completely overmatched them. Great presence on the mound, older for a prospect. Cano was on my top ten list of pitchers to make their MLB debut for Twins this year. Will be interesting to see how Twins handle his progression. I was impressed with Moran also, big LH pitcher.

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    Thanks for the report, Steve.

    MiLB is the only baseball I will be seeing this summer, so I watched the Saints last night.  Was really impressed with the quality/professionalism of the Saints tv broadcast.  Everything from quality of graphics to camera coverage was so much better than any of the others I watched last week, including Omaha which is also a AAA club.  What really struck me was that between innings they broadcast public service ads whereas all the stations I watched last week had dead time.

    Don't know what was up with Dobnak last night as the Cubs really didn't get many solid hits against him.  Also didn't seem all that wild as one would expect with five walks.  Don't know if he was just missing by a bit or the ump was squeezing him.

    One of the things I did notice this first week is seeing hits off the bats of Cavaco and Wander Javier.  After such terrible results in 2019, both getting off to solid starts is heart warming.  Haven't seen Cano pitch so far this spring, is he as good as the numbers seem to indicate?

    Looking forward to seeing Jax on the hill for the Saints tonight as they go for their first home win as a AAA club.  Have a question about Gordon.  He certainly was available as he only traveled 10 miles to join the Saints.  Seth mentioned some type of COVID rules regarding joining the team.  How long will he be unavailable?

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    Dobnak: "Some days my sinker is going to dive more than I'm used to. Some days will be less."

    Talked also about how he needs the low strike zone. Wasn't sure if he was just missing below the strike zone, but he needs those. If he's not getting them, he has to move his pitches out, which allows the hitters to see the pitch better. 

    "Today I didn't really get hit around a lot. It was more just walking guys. That just frustrates me more than anything. I hate walking guys." 

    Toby Gardenhire talked about how he gets so much movement that it can be hard to contain at times, and when he has issues, that's what it is. 

    I asked someone in Wichita about Cano's velocity. Heard it was 'Mid-90s'. 

    Mussels Mgr Brian Meyer said he's not surprised by the good start by Cavaco. Said he put in a lot of work, learned a lot at Instructs, and really made big strides between then and spring training. "It was nice to see him get rewarded. He got a hanger. He took it out of the ballpark and he was all smiles around the bases." 

     

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    I hate to say it, but the Twins might want to call up young Cano - all their BP arms look like low A pitchers right now, Randy Dobnak's story seems to be crash and burn.  Just bring up fresh arms - they all burn out anyway so forget the super two and arbitration rules.  Might be fun. 

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    23 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

    Honest question. What pitchers are we supposed to be waiting for in AAA to help out the MLB team? Particularly the bullpen. 

    Likely options are dobnak, Shaun Anderson, Farrell, Giabult, Hamilton, and sparkman. Not a real jaw dropping group. 

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    1 hour ago, 4twinsJA said:

    I was watching Cano also last night. Wow, I realize they were AA hitters but he completely overmatched them. Great presence on the mound, older for a prospect. Cano was on my top ten list of pitchers to make their MLB debut for Twins this year. Will be interesting to see how Twins handle his progression. I was impressed with Moran also, big LH pitcher.

    Completely agree with everything said here from what I saw. Cano is also on my list of players I think could debut this season: 

    Moran was pretty good as well. He got quite a few swings and misses too and was the second time I've watched him pitch this year. Has gone 1+ innings each of his outings, at least 3 K's in all. In 6 IP he has 10 K's, and more importantly, only 1 BB thus far.

    Edited by Steve Lein
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    1 hour ago, roger said:

    Haven't seen Cano pitch so far this spring, is he as good as the numbers seem to indicate?

    I can't emphasize enough how dominant he looked last night. The Broadcast team mentioned him hitting 96 MPH on a fastball, the highest reading they had seen in the game. He was also throwing something with good arm-side run and sink in addition to a sweeping slider. 6 straight K's, needing only 20 pitches. You can't really get any better than that and his swinging strike rate was 44%... (for some context, Josh Hader leads the majors in SwStr% from a reliever at 23.3% right now).

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    I was watching Cano also last night. Wow, I realize they were AA hitters but he completely overmatched them. Great presence on the mound, older for a prospect. Cano was on my top ten list of pitchers to make their MLB debut for Twins this year. Will be interesting to see how Twins handle his progression. I was impressed with Moran also, big LH pitcher.

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    30 minutes ago, Steve Lein said:

    I can't emphasize enough how dominant he looked last night. The Broadcast team mentioned him hitting 96 MPH on a fastball, the highest reading they had seen in the game. He was also throwing something with good arm-side run and sink in addition to a sweeping slider. 6 straight K's, needing only 20 pitches. You can't really get any better than that and his swinging strike rate was 44%... (for some context, Josh Hader leads the majors in SwStr% from a reliever at 23.3% right now).

    Yes, the 6 straight K's is impressive.  But I see from the box score that he also gave up 2 hits.  Were they solid contact, hard hit balls?  Or more soft hits maybe hit against the shift or something?  I remember this kid's name and believe he was signed coming out of Cuba, which is why he may be a bit older.  Can you guys maybe do a spotlight piece on him cause he sure as heck sounds like someone that should/maybe can be a solid piece of a future bullpen.  You know who knows we need a couple, eh? 

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    35 minutes ago, roger said:

    Yes, the 6 straight K's is impressive.  But I see from the box score that he also gave up 2 hits.  Were they solid contact, hard hit balls?  Or more soft hits maybe hit against the shift or something?  I remember this kid's name and believe he was signed coming out of Cuba, which is why he may be a bit older.  Can you guys maybe do a spotlight piece on him cause he sure as heck sounds like someone that should/maybe can be a solid piece of a future bullpen.  You know who knows we need a couple, eh? 

    I mentioned this in my long paragraph about his outing. The RBI single he gave up on his first pitch was routine groundball, if the shortstop was in his normal position. Second ball in play was a dribbler to short that Palacios misplayed about 10 feet into the grass, I don't think he would have got an out if fielded cleanly. The third was a swinging bunt in no-mans land in front of Cano and Hamilton that neither could get to in time. Then the 4th BIP was a lazy fly ball to center for his last out.

    So no, there was not any form of good contact against him.

    Yes, signed out of Cuba in 2019, was highly ranked for international signees at the time, but had some form of issue that pushed his signing out of the normal period.

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    3 minutes ago, Steve Lein said:

    I mentioned this in my long paragraph about his outing. The RBI single he gave up on his first pitch was routine groundball, if the shortstop was in his normal position. Second ball in play was a dribbler to short that Palacios misplayed about 10 feet into the grass, I don't think he would have got an out if fielded cleanly. The third was a swinging bunt in no-mans land in front of Cano and Hamilton that neither could get to in time. Then the 4th BIP was a lazy fly ball to center for his last out.

    So no, there was not any form of good contact against him.

    Yes, signed out of Cuba in 2019, was highly ranked for international signees at the time, but had some form of issue that pushed his signing out of the normal period.

    Sorry about that Steve.  Went back and re-read that paragraph and sure as heck sounds like someone we need to follow.  Coming out of Cuba late, I see he is already 27 years old.  Time to get him on the fast track so he arrives at Target Field sometime this year.  With six years of control, we should have him through the entire prime years of his career.

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    2 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

    Honest question. What pitchers are we supposed to be waiting for in AAA to help out the MLB team? Particularly the bullpen. 

    Given his outing last night, it looks like Juan Minaya would fit right in with the current Twins pen...😣

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    Wow, we’re desperate! Cano is 27 years old and from Cuba, which means there’s a non-zero chance that he’s older than that. Assuming he’s 27, he’s over two years older than the average AA player...and more like 5-7 years older than the top prospects at that level.

    Maybe there’s something there. But, we don’t know based on anything we see from a player that age in AA ball.

    My question is...does anyone know what Cano was doing in 2016, 2017, and 2018? (besides defecting from Cuba, apparently)

     

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    2 hours ago, jkcarew said:

    Wow, we’re desperate! Cano is 27 years old and from Cuba, which means there’s a non-zero chance that he’s older than that. Assuming he’s 27, he’s over two years older than the average AA player...and more like 5-7 years older than the top prospects at that level.

    Maybe there’s something there. But, we don’t know based on anything we see from a player that age in AA ball.

    My question is...does anyone know what Cano was doing in 2016, 2017, and 2018? (besides defecting from Cuba, apparently)

     

    Some good info on your questions at these links as well:

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-39-prospects-minnesota-twins/

    http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2018/?list=int

     

    Edited by Steve Lein
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