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  • Twins Minor League Report (5/4): Live from the Minors, It's Opening Night!


    Steve Lein

    It sure has been a while, but holy cow are we glad to be back with your Minnesota Twins Minor League Reports! Plus, so much has changed! The St. Paul Saints are the triple-A affiliate, a new team with a new stadium is on-board in double-A, the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ whole team got a promotion, and the Fort Myers squad has a new name.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Veterans Memorial Stadium)

    To find out everything that happened with your favorite Twins prospects on MiLB opening day, keep reading!

     

    TRANSACTIONS

    • The Minnesota Twins recalled infielder Nick Gordon to take the place of Luis Arraez who was placed on the 7-day concussion injured list.
    • LHP Lachlan Wells was assigned to the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

    SAINTS SENTINEL

    St. Paul 2, Omaha 8

    Box Score

     

    The Saints debut as a major league and Twins affiliate didn’t quite go to plan, but count me as one who is super excited they are in the fold instead of an independent.

     

    Starter Andrew Albers went the first four innings but was touched up for a single run in three of them, and four in the other as the Saints fell behind 7-0 while he was on the mound. He allowed eight hits total and struck out six. Glenn Sparkman came on for the fifth and allowed a solo home run, Omaha’s fourth of the game, but struck out five in his two innings. Lefty Andrew Vasquez came on for the seventh and flummoxed Omaha hitters with his slider that the broadcaster compared to “those wiffle ball pitches you see in your backyard.” He went 1-2-3 in both his innings, striking out three.

     

    Saints hitters were also flummoxed by Storm Chasers pitching throughout the game, striking out 15 times and collecting only five hits and two walks. Zander Wiel and Ryan Jeffers led the way with two hits apiece, and Jeffers delivered the first two runs as an affiliate for St. Paul with a two-run homer in the seventh.

    https://twitter.com/KSTPSports/status/1389756806965174275

     

    WIND SURGE WISDOM

    Wichita 2, Springfield 0

    Box Score

     

    Another new affiliate for the Twins, Wichita got their season off on the right foot defeating the Springfield Cardinals 2-0. It's fun for me to see this matchup at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO as it is one of the MiLB stadiums I have had the pleasure of attending, and reminds me of their parent club’s Busch Stadium in mini form.

     

    As for this game, it was a pitcher’s duel throughout with the teams trading zeroes until the top of the eighth, when the Wind Surge struck for two runs. Singles from Damek Tomscha and Jose Miranda started the inning, then Mark Contreras and Andrew Bechtold finished it with consecutive RBI singles with two outs to account for the scoring.

     

    Josh Winder made the start for Wichita and went the first 4 2/3’s, allowing no runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six. He threw 81 pitches with 57 of them going for strikes (70.4%), including 14 swinging strikes. Left-hander Jovani Moran got the last out of the fifth with a K, then struck out two more in a scoreless sixth. Sidewinder Tom Hackimer was next out of the bullpen and added two more scoreless frames, allowing two hits and striking out three. International signing out of Cuba in 2019, Yennier Cano, came on for the ninth and bookended a single with a pair of strikeouts to close out the victory.

     

    Aaron Whitefield, batting ninth, led the Wind Surge offense with two hits including a double and a stolen base. Contreras finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in addition to the RBI. Gilberto Celestino led off the game with a single and finished 1-for-5.

     

    KERNELS NUGGETS

    Peoria 0, Cedar Rapids 7

    Box Score

     

    In the Kernels first game as a high-A affiliate, they got the job done on opening night in convincing fashion. They chased Chiefs starter Ian Bedell from the game before he could complete one inning, scoring three runs on four hits and a walk in the opening frame. They would add two more in the second and one each in the third and fourth innings to jump out to a 7-0 lead that was more than enough.

     

    Kernels pitchers cruised throughout the game, allowing just three hits to Peoria hitters and scattering five walks. Kody Funderburk made the start and went the first three innings, allowing one hit, two walks, and striking out two. Andrew Cabezas went the next four innings and picked up the win, allowing one hit, two walks, and striking out two. Melvi Acosta finished the game with two scoreless frames, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two.

     

    Leadoff man Spencer Steer (2-for-4, 2 R, BB, SB) was the only Kernels batter with multiple hits, while Matt Wallner, Jair Camargo, and Seth Gray each clubbed a double. Gabe Snyder had an RBI triple in the first and was hit by a pitch twice. While the lineup had just seven hits, they also drew eight walks.

     

    MUSSEL MATTERS

    Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 3

    Box Score

     

    Newly minted as the Twins low-A affiliate and renamed the Mighty Mussels before last year’s MiLB season was cancelled, Fort Myers opened their new era with a 6-3 win over Bradenton.

     

    Willie Joe Garry Jr. got the scoring started three pitches into the game, launching a home run to right-center for the early 1-0 lead.

    https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1389715977990852609

     

    Fort Myers would leave the bases loaded without adding another run in the opening frame and from there until the seventh inning the pitchers were the story. Mussels starter Regi Grace went 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out six. Though he struck out the first two hitters of the fifth, he was lifted as his pitch count reached its limit at 75. He was relieved by Louie Varland who was drafted in the 15th round of the 2019 draft out of Concordia-St. Paul, and he would finish the game’s final 4 1/3 with some eye-popping numbers. He gave up two earned runs on two hits and a walk among his 16 batters faced, but struck out TEN(!) of them. The runs given up came on a two-run home run that gave the Marauders a 3-2 lead after seven, but the bats would pick him up in the ninth to give him the win.

     

    Will Holland led off the top of the ninth with a double and a few walks (one intentional to Garry Jr.) around a strikeout kept the bases loaded for the bulk of it. The first two runs would score on wild pitches, then with two outs Edouard Julien delivered the finishing blow with a two-run single.

     

    Garry Jr. (1-for-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB), Holland (1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB), Keoni Cavaco (1-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB), and Julien (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB) led the way for the offense in the win. Aaron Sabato was 0-for-5 with 3 K’s in his minor league debut.

     

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY

     

    Pitcher of the Day – Louie Varland, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (4.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, BB, 10 K)

    Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, St. Paul Saints (2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, K)

     

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

     

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

     

    #1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – Did not play

    #2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL)

    #3 - Trevor Larnach (St. Paul) – 0-for-3, BB, K

    #4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, K

    #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Did not pitch

    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back)

    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB

    #8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 0-for-5, 3 K

    #9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch

    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch

    #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – 1-for-5, 2 K

    #12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 0-for-4, 3 K

    #13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5, R, 2B, K

    #14 - Misael Urbina (Complex) – N/A

    #15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch

    #16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow)

    #17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – Did not play

    #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A

    #19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 1-for-3, R, BB

    #20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – Did not pitch

     

    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

     

    St. Paul @ Omaha (12:05PM CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes

    Wichita @ Springfield (6:35PM CST) – TBD

    Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Ben Gross

    Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:05PM CST) – RHP Casey Legumina

     

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


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    Plan to watch my baseball this year on MiLB tv. Really wanted to watch Wichita last night, especially Winder on the mound. Well MilB didn't have the Saints or Wichita and the Ft. Myers game had no sound. So Cedar Rapids it was.

     

    3-1 on opening night is fantastic. Don't know what to think about Albers, but the rest of the pitching was very good. And the Twins are teaching us what Tom Kelly always said, you're only as good as your next day's starting pitcher. 

     

    Thanks for the report!

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    Quite the pitching performance by Grace and Varland.  Louie with 10 K's in 4.1 innings of work that is crazy good stuff.  Taken in the 15th round with middling stats I didn't think he had a chance.  If he keeps this up he will be on the fast track.

    My boy Willie Joe with the leadoff HR and he took a couple of walks.  Cavaco held his own as did Holland.  The biggest bat was Julian 2 for 4 with a walk and the clutch hit that put things out of reach in 9th. 

     

    Sabato was a brutal 0 for 5 striking out when we badly needed a hit and leaving 6 men on base tonight.  I saw him this spring and thought I liked his swing and approach despite the lack of results but then and now there appears to be a huge hole in his swing.  3 of his 5 at bats ended in K's.  This guy was supposed to be an advanced bat he can't even make contact?  Now I know why they started him so low in the system.

     

    Peoria didn't want to throw strikes and walked 8 batters.  The top of the order had the hits and RBI's.  They scored early and that was enough to win.  Funderburk and Cabezas were OK but they are not K 9 pitchers and I see little upside there.  Cabezas is interesting in that he is small but a plucky player.  He might make it as a reliever But am not certain he has the stuff or not.  I feel like Funderburk is too hittable but he had a good night tonight so I guess wait and see.  There are some interesting bats at the High A level.  Steer was the best going 2 for 4 with a walk but Gray, Wallner, Camargo are all interesting bats as well.  Anyway they got the job done tonight.

     

    Winder pitched well but would have been nice if he could have gone at least 5 innings.  Almost everyone got a hit in this one except David Banuelos who has tons of trouble as a hitter.  Clutch RBI heroes were Contreras and Bechtold who came up with singles to finally get two runs in the 8th.  Moran and Hackimer did their job getting 3 K's each and Cano finished it off for the win.

     

     For a vet Albers was horrible in this game.  7 earned runs at the AAA level I expected a lot more from a guy who used to be better than this.  Jeffers 2 for 4 with a HR was the only thing to smile about in the entire game.  Wiel went 2 for 4 as well all the other bats pretty much stunk.  AAA was an ugly watch tonight.

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    I can just tell from that Jeffers batflip after his HR that he's playing pissed off after being sent down. Good to see some fire.

     

    I think he was surprised by the move, but he will handle it well. He's smart. The key for him is getting playing time and at bats on a consistent basis. He's going to be terrific, but he just wasn't playing enough or consistently enough with the Twins as they were trying to get Garver going. 

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    In unrelated former prospect news - watched Huascar Ynoa pitch last night for the Braves. Kudos to Seth for touting him several years ago. Threw a great game (and he takes a healthy cut at the plate as well).

     

    He's got really good stuff, and his home run earlier this year was impressive too. 

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    I've never wanted a player to succeed more than the guy named Kody Funderburk. What. A. Name.

     

    And Cody Laweryson on the same team!!!

     

    I thought Funderburk was pretty impressive last night. Left. Low-90s. Two other good pitches. He also hasn't been a full-time pitcher until he became a pro. He was an All-American 1B in college (who also pitched). 

     

    Laweryson is on the IL and still in FM, but he's certainly intriguing too. 

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    Quite the pitching performance by Grace and Varland.  Louie with 10 K's in 4.1 innings of work that is crazy good stuff.  Taken in the 15th round with middling stats I didn't think he had a chance.  If he keeps this up he will be on the fast track.

    My boy Willie Joe with the leadoff HR and he took a couple of walks.  Cavaco held his own as did Holland.  The biggest bat was Julian 2 for 4 with a walk and the clutch hit that put things out of reach in 9th. 

     

    Sabato was a brutal 0 for 5 striking out when we badly needed a hit and leaving 6 men on base tonight.  I saw him this spring and thought I liked his swing and approach despite the lack of results but then and now there appears to be a huge hole in his swing.  3 of his 5 at bats ended in K's.  This guy was supposed to be an advanced bat he can't even make contact?  Now I know why they started him so low in the system.

     

    Peoria didn't want to throw strikes and walked 8 batters.  The top of the order had the hits and RBI's.  They scored early and that was enough to win.  Funderburk and Cabezas were OK but they are not K 9 pitchers and I see little upside there.  Cabezas is interesting in that he is small but a plucky player.  He might make it as a reliever But am not certain he has the stuff or not.  I feel like Funderburk is too hittable but he had a good night tonight so I guess wait and see.  There are some interesting bats at the High A level.  Steer was the best going 2 for 4 with a walk but Gray, Wallner, Camargo are all interesting bats as well.  Anyway they got the job done tonight.

     

    Winder pitched well but would have been nice if he could have gone at least 5 innings.  Almost everyone got a hit in this one except David Banuelos who has tons of trouble as a hitter.  Clutch RBI heroes were Contreras and Bechtold who came up with singles to finally get two runs in the 8th.  Moran and Hackimer did their job getting 3 K's each and Cano finished it off for the win.

     

     For a vet Albers was horrible in this game.  7 earned runs at the AAA level I expected a lot more from a guy who used to be better than this.  Jeffers 2 for 4 with a HR was the only thing to smile about in the entire game.  Wiel went 2 for 4 as well all the other bats pretty much stunk.  AAA was an ugly watch tonight.

     

    So much here to respond to. 

     

    Willie Joe  Garry is so talented, and so is Cavaco. Fun to see them both have a good night to start out. Nice to see the walks. And yes, what a nice pro debut for Julien. He's a very intriguing prospect too. Young for his draft class, then hurt while playing for Team Canada, Tommy John, but fully ready to go, and that's a good thing. 

     

    I had heard that  Sabato really struggled with the bat in minor league spring training too. He'll be fine, but the adjustment isn't going to necessarily be quick. I wouldn't make too much of one game or one week. It's all a process. 

     

    I was in Cedar Rapids, and I came away impressed with what Funderburk did. The  name that popped into my head as a comparison is Ryan O'Rourke.  I think if he has enough fastball, and if that slider can become O'Rourke-like, he can be a reliever. 

     

    Steer was impressive. Just seems to hit the ball hard all the time. Seth Gray has the swing, and he made a really nice play at third base. Wallner is impressive, great power potential, and he showed more athleticism than I probably would have guessed. Snyder also looked more athletic than I recall. I didn't know a lot about Camargo, other than he came over in the Maeda/Graterol deal, but he's got a nice swing and seemed to do well behind the plate. Again, one game, but nice first impressions. The bottom of the order took walks, but I don't think they were being at all passive. They were good plate appearances. Trey Cabbage had a couple of really impressive PA's that ended in walks. 

     

    One interesting thing... In the bottom of the 1st inning, Cabbage was up. He got  ahead 3-0. He got greenlighted and just missed a pitch and fouled it off. Then the Peoria pitcher came out of the game. So, 5-minutes or so later, the PA finished with a  walk. I asked Dinkelman after the game if he'd seen that before, and he said its rare, but their starter was already at about 40 pitches in that inning. 

     

    Albers will be fine. First start of the year.  I'm guessing  it was a last-minute start. Maybe Thorpe was supposed to start on Opening night and then  they found out he's starting for the Twins today. Albers will fill a role.

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    Steve:   Excellent work with these updates.  Living in KC area------headed to Springfield, MO tomorrow morning to see the next 2 games for the Wind Surge.  A much needed diversion from this dumpster fire of a season at MLB level.  Hoping to see Cole Sands and Dakota Chalmers start these games.  

     

    Awesome! You'll have a great time. I stayed at the University Plaza Hotel when I went there for work, which is right next to the stadium.

     

    Make sure to check out Springfield Brewing Co. (try the beer cheese soup!), and if you want a baseball atmosphere in an unexpected spot, Ebbets Field Pub just south of the stadium :)

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    Plan to watch my baseball this year on MiLB tv. Really wanted to watch Wichita last night, especially Winder on the mound. Well MilB didn't have the Saints or Wichita and the Ft. Myers game had no sound. So Cedar Rapids it was.

     

    3-1 on opening night is fantastic. Don't know what to think about Albers, but the rest of the pitching was very good. And the Twins are teaching us what Tom Kelly always said, you're only as good as your next day's starting pitcher. 

     

    Thanks for the report!

     

    I wonder what went wrong for you, I had the Saints game on as I wrote this (it was Omaha's broadcast). Was fun to see the Jeffers homer when it happened :)

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    Had the same issues with MiLB.tv last night.  The Wind Surge game was not showing through a browser until about the 5th inning but I could find it on the MiLB app with my Android, but with an older iPhone the app wouldn't open the game.  It was a struggle.

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    I was able to watch parts of all four games last night but did have some trouble. Things seem to work best through their app on my super old iPad mini. Desktop version through their site struggles for me. Next time try clearing your cache/cookies and if that doesn't work try an incognito tab for Chrome. That did the trick for me last night, for whatever reason.

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