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  • Twins Minor League Week in Review: Kernels Jump Over .500


    Seth Stohs

    Week 7 was a good week, mostly, for the Twins organization. Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids both had strong weeks. Wichita is also over .500 on the season. The Saints have struggled. The biggest issue in the minors, like with the big-league club, has been all the injuries.  

    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge

    As always, I welcome your feedback on what you would like to see from these Week in Review articles, so let me know in the comments below. Of course, I also encourage you to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday. 

    With that, let’s look at Week 6 in the Twins minor leagues: 

    RESULTS

    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-3, Sunday game suspended, hosting Iowa), overall (19-22)

    Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (3-3, hosting Springfield), overall (23-19)

    High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (5-1, hosting South Bend), overall (22-20)

    Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (5-1,hosting Lakeland), overall (25-17) 


    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

    With the Twins struggles early this season, we have had a lot of minor league articles including articles on players who could be promoted and the daily minor league reports. 


    Highlights

    We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 7 performances too. But first, check out the triple play turned by the Saints earlier last week. 

    Twins Player of the Week: Tomas Telis, St. Paul Saints   

    Tomas Telis hit .330 for the Rochester Red Wings in 2019. He chose to return to the team in 2020 and spent the summer at the alternate site. He came back again in 2021.He had played in 122 MLB games between 2014 and 2018. He actually spent a day on the Twins active roster during their COVID run but didn’t get into a game. This week, Telis played five games (suspended game not included until it is completed). He hit .421/.500/.737 (1.237) with two home runs.  

     

    Twins Pitcher of the Week: Jordan Balazovic, Wichita Wind Surge    

    For the second straight week, a pitcher with the first name of “Jordan” was the Twins choice for player of the week. This is a good example of the different timelines used for this report and the Twins weekly awards. The Twins “week” is Sunday through Saturday as their players of the week are named on Sunday morning. In that timeline, Jordan Balazovic made a start and struck out eight batters in 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Under our Tuesday through Sunday “week,” Balazovic had a second start. On Sunday, he went 4 1/3 innings again, but this time he gave up six runs on ten hits and a walk. Regardless, Balazovic is one of the top Twins pitching prospects. 

    Other Strong Performances this Week

    St. Paul Saints

    The highlight is likely the start of lefty Charlie Barnes on Saturday night. He tossed five innings and struck out seven batters. He gave up no hits. However, he walked four and tossed 94 pitches through his five innings, so that ended his night.

    Almost as impressive, Chandler Shepherd followed up his take-one-for-the-team start the previous week by tossing five shutout innings in his Week 7 start. He gave up five hits but no walks. Andrew Albers gave up one run on four hits over six innings in his start. Bryan Sammons came on in relief and saved the bullpen by going 5 1/3 innings. He gave up only a solo homer.  

    In five games, Drew Maggi hit .429/.500/.714 (1.214) with a double and a homer. Damek Tomscha hit .375/.412/.625 (1.037) with a double and a homer over four games. Daniel Descalso played well. In three games, he went 3-for-10 with a single, double and a home run.

    Wichita Wind Surge

    Ernie de la Trinidad may not be the Twins biggest prospect, literally or figuratively, he had is having a great year and he had an incredible week. In six games, he hit .455/.556/.864 (1.419) with a double, a triple, two homers and nine RBI. Jose Miranda had another great week too. He played in all six games and hit .407/.448/.741 (1.189) with three homers (2 on Sunday). Jermaine Palacios hit .292/370/.708 (1.079) with a double and three homers. Caleb Hamilton hit .278/.458/.611 (1.069) with three doubles and a homer. He also walked six times. Roy Morales hit .333 (8-for-24). 

    The Wind Surge also had strong starting pitching. Austin Schulfer tossed six shutout innings  in his start. He gave up six hits, walked zero and struck out four batters. Josh Winder stayed hot. He gave up one run on six hits, two walks and struck out eight in six innings. Chris Vallimont gave up one run on three hits and a walk in five innings in his start. He struck out seven batters. 

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Spencer Steer had another amazing week. Over his six games, he hit.429/.586/.857 (1.443) with a double, a triple and two more home runs. He also walked seven times. Trey Cabbage played four games and wasn’t at 100%, but he hit .308/.438/.692 (1.130) with two doubles and a homer. Outfielder Max Smith played in all six games. He hit .400/.500/.600 (1.100) with a double and a homer. That was helped by his five-hit game on Thursday. Seth Gray hit .423/.483/.577 (1.060) with a double and a homer. He came through with some huge hits in clutch situations and drove in 11 runs. Gabriel Maciel hit .368 (7-for-19) with a triple. Catcher Jair Camargo played in three games, but he had his second two-homer game of the year.

    Former position players turned pitchers Zach Featherstone and Jordan Gore both were quite good. Featherstone gave up one hit and struck out six over four scoreless innings. Gore struck out six without allowing a hit or a walk in 4 2/3 innings. Derek Molina (a college shortstop) struck out eight batters over 5 1/3 scoreless, two-hit innings. Tyler Watson worked 4 1/3 relief innings and struck out six batters. He allowed only an unearned run. Finally, Tyler Palm had been struggling, but he struck out five batters over 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. Ben Gross provided the best start of the week. He went five innings and gave up only two unearned runs. He struck out six batters. 

    Ft. Myers Might Mussels

    Edouard Julien has been an on-base machine this week, and that was absolutely the case in Week 6. In six games, he hit .429/.680/.714 (1.394) with a double and a triple. He also walked TEN times in six games, and he stole five more bases. 

    In five games, Jeferson Morales hit .353/.400/.706 (1.106) with three doubles and a home run. Charles Mack went 3-for-10 with two walks and another home run over his three games this week. Misael Urbina hit .333 (7-for-21) with a homer over six games. Yunior Severino hit .304 (7-for-23)

    The start of the week again belongs to RHP Louie Varland. The Minnesota native tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up just three hits, walked two and struck out seven batters. Sawyer Gipson-Long tossed five shutout innings in his start. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out six batters. Lefty Brent Headrick also had another strong start. He gave up one run on three hits over six innings. He struck out six. Steven Cruz led the way out of the bullpen. He struck out seven batters over 4 1/3 one-hit innings over two games. Matthew Swain struck out six batters over 4 1/3 scoreless frames. He gave up three hits and walked one. 

     

    Lowlights

    We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches.  

    St. Paul Saints

    The lowlight of the week had to be Jhoan Duran. In his one start, he gave up two runs on two hits and three walks and only recorded two outs before being removed at 35 pitches. That’s not good, but all starters have games like that. The lowlight was that on Sunday he was placed on the Injured List with a right elbow strain. That is the same injury that both Blayne Enlow and Matt Canterino were IL’d with last month. 

    Rob Whalen is a great story, but he had a rough start this week. He gave up nine runs on ten hits and three walks over just 3 1/3 innings. Robinson Leyer pitched twice and over 2 2/3 innings, he gave up three runs on two hits and three walks. 

    Mark Contreras played in four games and went 2-for-17 (.118). Keon Broxton went 1-for-10 (.100). 

    Wichita Wind Surge

    Jhonleider Salinas was one of the Twins minor league Rule 5 picks. He had some visa issues so just arrived in Wichita recently. This week, he pitched twice. In 1 2/3 innings, he gave up two runs on two hits (one homer) and four walks. Springfield, MN, native Jordan Milbrath has struggled since joining the Wind Surge. In his one innings this week, he gave up three runs on one hit and three walks in an inning. In his three outings, he has 10 walks over five innings. 

    Yeltsin Encarnacion played in four games and went 1-for-15 (.063). BJ Boyd went 3-for-19 (.158). 

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Michael Helman went 2-for-18 (.111) on the week, but he did have a big, walk-off double to push the Kernels to one of their comeback wins. Gabe Snyder went 2-for-15 (.133) on the week. Catcher Chris Williams went 2-for-11 (.182) but he had eight strikeouts in his 12 plate appearances. 

    Lefty Kody Funderburk has been quite good for the Kernels to start the season. However, this week, he had his first clunker. He gave up eight runs on six hits and two walks over just 2 1/3 innings. 

    Ft. Myers Might Mussels

    Things have been pretty good for the Mussels the past three weeks, and this week, there really wasn't anyone that had a bad week. 

     

    Trending Storyline 

    With the realignment of the minor leagues this past offseason, MLB decided not only to have minor league baseball be for development, but also for trying out new rules. Each level is testing some rule changes to see how they affect the game, positively or negatively. 

    In Triple-A, they are using bigger bases. In Double-A, they are required to keep two infielders on each side of the infield. In Low-A, they are using the electronic strike zone. 

    At the High-A level, pitchers are required to step off the rubber before throwing to a base. The idea is that base runners will be able to steal more bases. While that is true, it certainly isn’t a rule that anyone really likes. 

    Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman, who won his 100th game as a manager on Sunday, said, “I don’t think the players are too crazy about it. It’s something they’ve never done before.”

    He acknowledged that stolen base attempts and success rates are up. 

    One Kernels player recently said that the players were talking about it and they think that it is actually slowing the game down. That said, he acknowledged that steals are up, and that as long as it is the rule, they should and will take advantage of it. 

    That doesn’t seem like a rule that will make its way up to the big leagues. 

     

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects have performed on the season (as well as too many unfortunate injuries). This was requested in the comments. Let me know if it provides value. 

    #1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – St. Paul (2 rehab games, went 3-6 with 2 homers, 2 K), Minnesota (38 games, .254/.293/.428 (.717) with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 5 homers, 21 RBI, 8 BB, 34 K)

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

    #3 - Trevor Larnach (Minnesota) – St. Paul (3 games, went 3-11 with two homers, two walks, 8 strikeouts), Minnesota (37 games, .267/.380/.431 (.811) with 7 doubles, 4 homers, 10 RBI, 16 BB, 40 K) 

    #4 - Ryan Jeffers (Minnesota) – St. Paul (24 games, .217/.340/.446 (.786) with four doubles, five homers, 16 BB, 26 K), Minnesota (24 games, .210/.256/.420 (.676) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 26 K)

    #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain)  

    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 4 GS, 14.0 IP, 17 H, 6 BB, 19 K, 6.43 ERA, 1.64 WHIP 

    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 28 games, .264/.333/.340 (.673) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 11 RBI, 10 BB, 32 K, 4 SB (on Injured List, Concussion) 

    #8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 35 games, .188/.388/.304 (.683) with 7 doubles, 3 homers, 15 RBI, 42 BB, 62 K

    #9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 4 GS, 18.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 35 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP (went on the IL with right elbow strain)

    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th) 

    #11 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), Minnesota (8 games, .115/.115/.154 (.269) with 0 BB, 5 K)

    #12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – St. Paul (35 games, .225/.361/.500 (.861) with 3 doubles, 10 homers, 24 BB, 47 K), Minnesota (8 games, .103/.133/.241 (375) with 1 double, 1 homer, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 13 K)

    #13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 17 games, .333/.384/.621 (1.005) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 14 RBI, 5 BB, 28 K. (on IL after having hamate bone surgery)

    #14 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 28 games, .194/.307/.266 (573) with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer, 22 RBI, 19 BB, 33 K, 6 SB)

    #15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 7 GS, 31.2 IP, 22 H, 18 BB, 42 K, 2.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP  

    #16 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (had surgery on his right elbow to remove bone chips)

    #17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – St. Paul (5 games, .286/.318/.571 (.890) with 3 doubles, 1 homer, 1 BB, 6 K), Minnesota (20 games, .128/.180/.213 (393) with 1 double, 1 homer, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 19 K)

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

    #19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 41 games, .323/.392/.557 (948) with 6 doubles, 11 homers, 33 RBI, 15 BB, 20 K

    #20 - Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – St. Paul (4 GS, 16.0 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 21 K, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Minnesota (4 GS, 17.0 IP, 18 H, 2 BB, 21 K, 3.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) 


    LOOKING AHEAD

    Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (TBD, Miguel Rodriguez, Brent Headrick, Casey Legumina, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Louie Varland): 

    Lansing @ Cedar Rapids:(Jon Olsen, Andrew Cabezas, Ben Gross, Cody Laweryson, Tyler Beck, Kody Funderburk)

    Wichita @ Midland: (Austin Schulfer, Josh Winder, TBD, Jordan Balazovic, Chris Vallimont, Austin Schulfer) 

    Iowa @ St. Paul: (Chandler Shepherd, Rob Whalen, Andrew Albers, Charlie Barnes, Griffin Jax, Chandler Shepherd): 


    Feel free to provide some feedback below regarding these reports. What do you like to read? What types of information would you like added? Also, feel free to ask any questions you like.

     

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    I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of pitcher promotions so far. I know 2021 is a weird year, but I thought it might be a weird year in terms of players moving up more quickly, and we haven't seen that. Feels like Winder and Moran in AA and Varland in Low A, at minimum, have made more than enough of an impression to get bumped up to the next level.

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    14 minutes ago, Alex Schieferdecker said:

    I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of pitcher promotions so far. I know 2021 is a weird year, but I thought it might be a weird year in terms of players moving up more quickly, and we haven't seen that. Feels like Winder and Moran in AA and Varland in Low A, at minimum, have made more than enough of an impression to get bumped up to the next level.

    I think a lot of times, several of those minor league veterans might have been released by now, allowing pitchers to move up the ladder. Unfortunately in this season of injuries, teams just don't want to release pitchers because they need it. And unless they're planning on calling up Winder or Moran soon, it probably doesn't matter much if they're getting those innings at AA or AAA. I do think Varland is probably pretty close to a promotion. 

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    1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

    3 of our 4 top SP prospects out really sucks!  The development of these 3 is a big factor in "re-tooling" our roster.

    I was thinking the same thing.  The only guys left are Balazovic, Winder and Maybe Sands who could make it to MLB this year.  Losing Enlow and possibly Canterino and Duran is a killer. Some of the better pitchers in low and High A ball have been hurt this year.  Not sure if it that is because they have these guys throwing so hard or what the deal is but it is going to impact development.

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    Thanks for another great report, Seth.

    You asked about what you could do in the future that may be of interest.  Is it possible to take an in depth look at the Fort Myers roster and the members of the 2019 draft class that are on it?  With the draft around the corner, some of us may be interested in how their last full draft class is doing.

     

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    45 minutes ago, roger said:

    Thanks for another great report, Seth.

    You asked about what you could do in the future that may be of interest.  Is it possible to take an in depth look at the Fort Myers roster and the members of the 2019 draft class that are on it?  With the draft around the corner, some of us may be interested in how their last full draft class is doing.

     

    Roger I agree most of that 2019 class is exceling in the lower levels right now.  The Twins might have gotten their best hitter in the 18th round.  Julien has a 315 BA 500 OBP 485 SLG and 985 OPS on the season.  Those are top prospect numbers.  In fact I don't think I have seen those types of numbers at A ball for a Twins hitter ever especially the 500 OBP.  Julien is not an easy guy to get out. 

    Spencer Steers numbers are top three in the High A central and the ding on him coming out of the draft was his lack of power.  He seems to have put that to rest with his 10 HR's and a 527 SLG percentage.  Pretty sure he will moving up prospect lists this year. 

    Pitchers in this class include Canterino, Gipson-Long, Varland, Mooney and Lawyeryson who all have excelled with K rate. ERA and WHIP for the most part. Headrick, Gross, Legumina and Shreve have done well in spurts so lot's of promising pitching in the system still from the 2019 draft.

    Like you said a more in depth look could help us see the Twins did well in the 2019 Draft.

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    9 hours ago, MN_ExPat said:

    Hey Seth,  Great job as always.

    Any updates on Lewis and Canterino?

    Last I've heard from each.... Canterino has started throwing a baseball, but there is no timeline. Lewis is just working every day, just trying to gain all of his strength back. He'd love to be back, but he gets the big picture. 

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