Andrew Albers reunites with the Twins
Today, the Twins and Andrew Albers agreed on a minor-league contract which will include an invitation to MLB spring training.
Twins fans should remember Albers as he played for them in 2013 and 2016. In 2013 he threw 17 1/3 scoreless innings in his first two starts — a Twins franchise record for longest scoreless streak to start their career with the team. This included a complete game shutout of Cleveland in his second start.
From 2018-20, Albers pitched in Japan for the Orix Buffaloes. In 2020, he posted a 3.66 ERA in 96 IP with 70 strikeouts and 24 walks. Albers, now 35, will add some depth to the Twins starting pitching options, but figures to see most of his time in St. Paul with the Saints.
Twins sign Keon Broxton, Robinson Leyer, and Chandler Shepherd to Minor League Deals
This afternoon, the Twins announced three more minor league signings. The most intriguing of which is OF, Keon Broxton. Broxton, a third-round draft pick by the Diamondbacks in 2009, has played for five major league teams. From 2016-17, Broxton produced a .741 OPS with 29 HR’s in 218 G for the Brewers. Since, Broxton has played for four teams producing a .565 OPS in 151 G combined in 2018 & 2019. He’s a solid defensive player producing 34 OAA (outs above average) in his career. He no doubt would be an intriguing option as a fourth OF and backup for Byron Buxton on the Twins roster. He has played all three OF positions in his career. It also helps that he is right handed as the Twins have plenty of lefty options (Kepler, Cave, Kirilloff, and Larnach).
Also, the Twins added 27-year-old RHP Robinson Leyer. Leyer pitched in six games last year for the Red Sox. He posted a 21.21 ERA with nine K’s in 4.2 innings. It should not be a surprise to anyone that he throws a mid-90’s fastball (averages 95 mph) and a slider.
Here’s a fun video of him striking out Marcell Ozuna.
Additionally, the Twins added Taylor Rogers' former University of Kentucky teammate, Chandler Shepherd. Shepherd, 28, appeared in five G’s for the Orioles in 2019 (starting in three of them). He’s mostly pitched as a starter in the minors.
Only Broxton has an invite to Major League Spring Training out of these three.
MLB Deadening the baseball?
Ken Rothenthal and Eno Sarris of The Athletic reports (subscription required), that the baseballs used in 2021 will “change slightly”. Additionally, five more MLB teams will add humidors to store game baseballs — an obvious attempt by MLB to to reduce the HR rates across the league.
The Twins, who led the world in home runs in 2019, stand to be impacted by the change. Also, for anyone who watched the Twins on TV in 2020, it seemed like they were only able to score if a home run was it. But, playing devil’s advocate here, the Twins had six players averaging home runs hit over 400 feet in 2020 (Jeffers, Cruz, Sano, Garver, Kepler, and Buxton), they are not exactly hitting “cheapies”.
Check out a fun breakdown written last year by Six Man Rotation that details which players benefited the most from the “ping pong” baseballs used in 2019. Spoiler: there is a Twin mentioned.
In any case, it’s frustrating as fans to see the consistent overreaching by the league who, in many people’s opinion, make the game less fun.
Who doesn’t love dingers?
Grapefruit Schedule Changes for Spring Training
MLB is working on a plan to place teams in different “pods” for Spring Training in Florida to eliminate the amount of travel and hopefully help mitigate the opportunity for COVID-19 spread.
The Bringer of Rain Opens Baseball Academy
Josh Donaldson broke ground today on the “Josh Donaldson Baseball Academy” in Mobile, Alabama. Josh of course is a graduate of Auburn University located in Alabama.
MLB and MLBPA Reach Agreement on Health and Safety Protocols
It appears MLB/PA have a deal on the protocols for spring training and the regular season. This includes 7-inning double headers, runner starting on 2B in extra innings, and does not include the universal DH.
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