For this week again, let’s start with a Question of the Week. Leave your responses in the Comments section.
Question of the Week: How concerned are you about all of the injuries in the Twins minor league system already this season?
A few transactions were announced on Monday.
- RHP Regi Grace was placed on the Mighty Mussels Injured List with a right shoulder impingement.
- The Twins signed RHP Bobby Milacki and OF Nick Anderson late last week. On Monday, they were added to the Ft. Myers roster. Milacki was the 38th round pick of the Nationals in 2018 out of Arizona Christian University. He was released after the 2019 season. In his most recent start for the Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League, the 24-year-old tossed five shutout innings. Anderson played for four years at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi. He played professionally in 2019, and he began the 2021 season with the Houston Apollos in the American Association.
- Cody Laweryson has been added to the Cedar Rapids Kernels roster. He began the season on the Injured List.
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 5 in the Twins minor leagues:
Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-4 @ Louisville), overall (15-15)
Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (4-2 hosting Arkansas), overall (18-12)
High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (3-3, @ Ft. Wayne), overall (13-17)
Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (5-1, hosting St. Lucie), overall (16-14)
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.
- Twins Minor League Week in Review: Saints Sweep
- Minnesota’s Forgotten Prospect
- Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - May 2021
- Tuesday: Cabbage Blast Propels Kernels
- Examining Minnesota’s Center Field Depth
- Wednesday: Mussels Muster Night Saving Win
- Get Ready for More 2021 Twins Debuts
- Thursday: Wind Surge Win in Walk-Off Fashion
- Prospect Retrospective: Gilberto Celestino
- Friday: These Games Were Closer Than the Major League One!
- Time for a Changing of the Guard
- Saturday: Jordy Blaze Debuts
- Prospect Retrospective: Griffin Jax
- Sunday: Salvaging the Sweep
News & Notes
First and foremost, the St. Paul Saints are at home the next two weeks, and the Twins expect Byron Buxton and Kenta Maeda (and maybe Max Kepler?) to start a rehab assignment very soon. Head over to SaintsBaseball.com and get some tickets! Starting on Tuesday, CHS Field will be open to full capacity. On Tuesday, the Saints will be hosting (Re)Opening Day!
The Saints have turned 24 double plays this year. That is most among the Twins affiliates.
Brent Rooker has walked three or more times in a game six times in his career. Two of those happened this season.
Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids (home of the Kernels) has been the site of the Division III Baseball Championship. On Tuesday morning, Salisbury University (Maryland) will play St. Thomas (Minnesota) for the championship. St. Thomas, in its final season before jumping to Division I, would need to win twice for the title. Former Kernels Tanner and Trey Vavra are coaches for the Tommies.
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 5 performances too.
Twins Player of the Week: Jose Miranda, Wichita Wind Surge
The Twins named Jose Miranda their Player of the Week. In six games, he hit .320/.393/.480 (.873) with a double and a 481-foot walk-off homer in extra innings on Friday night. On Sunday, Miranda extended his hitting streak to nine games. The 2016 draft pick has played in all 30 games for the Wind Surge. He has hit .319/.390/.546 (.936) with six doubles, seven homers and 27 RBI.
Twins Pitcher of the Week: Sawyer Gipson-Long, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
Gipson-Long was the Twins sixth round pick in 2019 out of Mercer. In his start this past week, he gave up four runs (2 earned) on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 batters without issuing a walk. He has been much better since some early-season struggles. Overall, he has made five starts and is 2-2 with a 7.78 ERA. In 19 2/3 innings, he has walked seven and struck out 30 batters.
Other Strong Performances this Week
St. Paul Saints
Brent Rooker played in all six games. He hit just .222 but posted a .919 OPS thanks to three walks and two home runs.
It was an interesting week for Gold Glove outfielder Mark Contreras. When Gilberto Celestino was promoted to Triple-A, Contreras was sent back to Wichita. He played one game and went 2-for-4. When Celestino was called to the Twins, Contreras was back to St. Paul. He hit two doubles and his first Triple-A home run.
Charlie Barnes provided the Saints with their best start of the week. He went six shutout innings and gave up three hits, walked two and struck out six batters. Chandler Shepherd gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck one batter out.
Wichita Wind Surge
Caleb Hamilton played in five games this past week. He hit .333/.350/.722 (1.072) with a double and two homers. Both home runs came in the same game. Ernie De La Trinidad played in all six games and hit .348/.400/.565 (.965) with two doubles and a home run. Jermaine Palacios and Aaron Whitefield both hit .333 while playing in all six games.
Yennier Cano, Ryan Mason, Jovani Moran and Alex Phillips each pitched twice out of the Wind Surge bullpen this past week. They combined to throw 12 2/3 innings and gave up only one unearned run. They walked three batters and struck out 17 batters. The other highlight of the week was the return of Jordan Balazovic. On Saturday night, he made the first start of the season. He struck out five batters in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, walked two batters and hit two batters.
Cedar Rapids Kernels
Andrew Cabezas struck out five batters over five shutout innings in his start this week. He gave up just three hits and walked one batter. Jon Cheshire gave up only a walk over 4 1/3 innings over three games. Zach Featherstone got eight outs over two appearances. He struck out seven batters. Jon Olsen gave up one run on two hits and a walk over five innings in his start. Kody Funderburk struck out nine batters over his 4 2/3 innings.
Alex Isola continues to be an on-base machine. In five games this week, he hit .250/.455/.563 (1.017) with two doubles and a homer. He walked six times. Max Smith played in four games and hit .438/.471/.500 (.971) with a double and four RBI. Wander Javier hit .318/.375/.591 (.966) with two doubles and two triples. He had a four-hit game. Trey Cabbage hit .333/.391/.571 (.963) with two doubles, a homer and six RBI. Spencer Steer hit two home runs on Sunday, and he also walked seven times.
Ft. Myers Might Mussels
Edouard Julien has had a great pro debut, and after one rough weekend, he was strong again this past week. In five games, he hit .438/.524/.688 (1.211) with a double, a homer and three walks. Kyle Schmidt has also become a regular in these weekly reports. In four games this week, he hit .364/.500/.818 (1.318) with a triple and a homer. He also had three walks to just two strikeouts. Jefferson Morales walked six times in his five games and added two doubles. Aaron Sabato and Yunior Severino both went 6-for-20 (.300) in six games last week.
The Mussels went 5-1 for the week, and it’s certainly in large part due to their pitching. Louie Varland had the start of the week for the Mussels. The St. Paul native tossed six shutout innings. He gave up just three hits, hit one batter and struck out six batters. Brent Headrick gave up one run on two hits over five innings on Sunday. He walked two and struck out 11 batters. Regi Grace went 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in his start which is impressive when you consider he gave up one hit but walked four batters and hit three more. Sean Mooney walked four and struck out five in his four scoreless innings this week. The Mussels bullpen was strong. Denny Bentley, Steven Cruz, Osiris German, and Juan Pichardo combined to work 12 1/3 scoreless innings with 19 strikeouts. Matthew Swain gave up a solo homer, but he struck out nine batters over his two appearances (4 2/3 innings).
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
Lewis Thorpe gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, and actually all of the hits and runs happened in that second inning. More noteworthy than one bad inning, however, is that he ended up going on the Injured List with a shoulder issue. Tom Hackimer gave up three runs on one hit over 1 2/3 innings. He walked seven batters. On Sunday, he walked six batters and got just two outs.
The Daniel Delscalso struggles continued. He went 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts this past week. Jimmy Kerrigan and David Banuelos combined to go 0-for-18 with 11 strikeouts. Damek Tomscha and Drew Maggi both went 2-for-17 (.118) in five games.
Wichita Wind Surge
Peter Mooney had just one hit in 18 at bats this week. In his past 14 games, he is just 4-for-49 (.082).
Reliever Brandon Koch pitched in three games. In 3 2/3 innings, he gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits, three walks and a hit batter. He had a 12.27 ERA and a 2.45 WHIP. In his start, Cole Sands gave up five runs (4 earned) on eight hits, three walks and a hit batter.
Cedar Rapids Kernels
Derek Molina gave up three runs on six hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, a 2.73 WHIP.
Gabriel Maciel returned to the lineup. In three games he went 1-for-10 (.100). Gabe Snyder went 3-for-23 (.130), but he did have six walks.
Ft. Myers Might Mussels
It has been a struggle for 19-year-old outfielder Misael Urbina since a strong first week. Over five games last week, Urbina went 1-for-16 (.063).
We have talked about this before. Age-to-level of competition is a factor in prospect rankings, but it doesn’t need to be a primary factor in roster decisions and promotions. That said, following a missed 2020 season due to the pandemic, many of the Twins prospects began this season one step ahead of where they ended 2019. Several stayed at the same level. I thought it would be interesting to see how the current average age of hitters and pitchers at each of the four Twins full-season affiliates compares to the past couple of pre-pandemic seasons.
2018 Cedar Rapids: Hitters (20.9), Pitchers (21.4)
2019 Cedar Rapids: Hitters (21.5), Pitchers (22.1)
2021 Ft. Myers: Hitters (21.6), Pitchers (22.5)
I would say that having Keoni Cavaco (20) and Misael Urbina (19) getting nearly everyday playing time helps keep the Low-A average age about the same. Again, many of these players were drafted in 2019 as 21-year-old college juniors (or 22-year-old seniors), and they’re just making their pro debuts (minus a few games at E-Town in 2019).
2018 Ft. Myers: Hitters (22.2), Pitchers (23.5)
2019 Ft. Myers: Hitters (21.8), Pitchers (22.8)
2021 Cedar Rapids: Hitters (23.2), Pitchers (24.3)
Several of the primary players in Cedar Rapids are guys who were drafted out of college in 2019. They were 21, and some of them got a little time in Low A Cedar Rapids at the end of that season, but they are now two years older. And the players from that previous draft are now 24 and 25, but they played in Low-A and 22 and 23. On the pitching side, you’ve got Jordan Gore who has moved to pitcher after playing shortstop in the system for a few years. He’s 26 with a 96 mph fastball and three pitches, so it’s a good move to keep him. Zach Featherstone was drafted as an OF/1B out of college but quickly was shifted to a pitcher, and then he needed Tommy John surgery in 2018.
2018 Chattanooga: Hitters (24.3), Pitchers (25.3)
2019 Pensacola: Hitters (23.4), Pitchers (24.3)
2021 Wichita: Hitters (25.1), Pitchers (25.2)
There is a bit of a jump in the hitters’ age, and that makes a lot of sense. These are the most advanced of the prospects that unfortunately missed a season. Most of the prospects here would have likely played in Double-A a year ago. So that is noteworthy, but Peter Mooney is 30 and playing about 75-80% of the time. The same story with the pitchers who are, on average, just under a year older than in 2019. That said, they’re at essentially the same age as 2018, which is a good reminder that these numbers can vary.
2018 Rochester: Hitters (27.2), Pitchers (25.5)
2019 Rochester: Hitters (27.2), Pitchers (26.3)
2021 St. Paul: Hitters (28.1), Pitchers (27.5)
If not for the Twins' plethora of injuries, Kirilloff (23), Larnach (24), Rortvedt (23). Instead, they found themselves in a position to sign 34-year-old Daniel Descalso and play him nearly every day. And now Ryan Jeffers (24) is back in the big leagues.
The pitcher ages are a little higher than they have been, but that number could (or should) come down by the end of the season as I would think we would see Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic and Cole Sands work some Triple-A innings, and Duran will certainly get more before he would be promoted.
One thing to watch, as the injuries are piling up now, and the Twins continue to sign players out of independent leagues, those players may alter these numbers, so it will be interesting to see how they look at season’s end. And, ultimately, it won’t matter. Players need to develop at the right pace for them individually, and if players are performing, they’ll move up.
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 last week. 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 (28 games, .238/.277/.410 (.686) with 6 doubles, 4 homers, 18 RBI, 6 BB, 30 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 (25 games, .247/.389/.438 (.827) with 5 doubles, 3 homers, 8 RBI, 13 BB, 26 K)
#4 - Ryan Jeffers (Minnesota) – St. Paul (24 games, .217/.340/.446 (.786) with four doubles, five homers, 16 BB, 26 K), Minnesota (15 games, .200/.245/.380 (.625) with one double, one triple, two home runs, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 21 K)
#5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 2 GS, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 14 K, 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
#6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 1 GS, 3.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
#7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 24 games, .242/.314/.316 (.630) with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 30 K, 4 SB
#8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 28 games, .173/.372/.286 (.658) with 5 doubles, 2 homers, 7 RBI, 28 BB, 44 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 (went on IL with right elbow strain)
#11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesotal) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), Minnesota (4 games, .000/.000/.000 (.000) with 0 BB, 4 K)
#12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – St. Paul (24 games, .238/.380/.513 (.893) with one double, 7 homers, 18 BB, 31 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 with wrist injury)
#14 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – Ft. Myers (22 games, .177/.292/.241 (532) with 1 double, 2 triples, 15 RBI, 11 BB, 21 K, 3 SB)
#15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Wichita (6 GS, 26.1 IP, 21 H, 15 BB, 34 K, 3.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
#16 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (elbow)
#17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – St. Paul (5 games, .286/.318/.571 (.890) with3 doubles, 1 homer, 1 BB, 6 K), Minnesota (15 games, .147/.216/.235 (452) with 1 homer, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 15 K)
#18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (injured)
#19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 29 games, .322/.394/.557 (950) with 6 doubles, 7 homers, 27 RBI. 10 BB, 14 K
#20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – St. Paul (4 GS, 16.0 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 21 K, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Minnesota (2 GS, 8.0 IP, 10 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 5.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Ft. Myers @ Jupiter (Sawyer Gipson-Long, Louie Varland, Sean Mooney, Miguel Rodriguez, Brent Headrick, TBD):
Cedar Rapids @ Beloit:(TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD)
Wichita @ Tulsa: (Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic, Chris Vallimont, Austin Schulfer, Josh Winder)
Omaha @ St. Paul: (Charlie Barnes, Kenta Maeda (rehab), Jhoan Duran, Andrew Albers, TBD, TBD):
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.