The 2022 minor-league season has passed its halfway point. Three full months have been played. In June, there were a lot of impressive offensive performances. So before we jump to our Top 5 Twins Hitters in the month, take a look at several players who have earned recognition.
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)
- Tim Beckham (St. Paul Saints) - 17 G, 27-67, .403/.494/.597 (1.091), 11 R, 21 RBI, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 BB, 2 SB
- Junior Del Valle (DSL Twins) - 15 G, 12-39, .308/.440/.462 (.902), 9 R, 4 RBI, 2 2B, HR, 7 BB, 3 SB
- Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids Kernels) - 22 G, 22-79, .278/.374/.506 (.880), 13 R, 16 RBI, 3 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 7 BB, SB
- Edouard Julien (Wichita Wind Surge) - 25 G, 27-90, .300/.417/.556 (.973), 14 R, 18 RBI, 5 2B, 6 HR, 18 BB, 4 SB
- Ricardo Olivar (FCL Twins) - 13 G, 13-26, .361/.432/.417 (.849), 2 R, 8 RBI, 2 2B, 4 BB, 2 BB
- Alexander Pena (FCL Twins) - 14 G, 19-51, .373/.389/.667 (1.056), 9 R, 11 RBI, 7 2B, 3B, 7 HR
- Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) - 6 G, 6-15, .400/.583/1.067 (1.650), 4 R, 5 RBI, 5 2B, 4 BB (had knee surgery)
- Alerick Soularie (Cedar Rapids Kernels) - 22 G, 21-84, .250/.357/.488/ (.845), 16 R, 13 RBI, 6 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 13 BB, 5 SB
Number Five: Rubel Cespedes (Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) - 22 G, 24-37, .312/.369/.403, 9 R, 9 RBI, 4 2B, HR, SB
Promoted to the Mighty Mussels from the FCL Twins on June 3, Cespedes' hit the ground running in Fort Myers. A pure contact hitter, the 21-year-old hit safely in his first four games at the Low-A level and went on an electric 10-game hitting streak through the middle of the month.
On a team known for dominant pitching, Cespedes and a hot Kala'i Rosario have the potential to craft an offensive identity for a team that often wins primarily on arms.
Number Four: Michael Helman (St. Paul Saints) - 25 G, 25-89, .292/.376/.483 (.859), 21 R, 10 RBI, 5 2B, 4 HR, 10 BB, 2 SB
Called up from Double-A Wichita at the end of May, Michael Helman made his first rodeo at Triple-A a good one. One of the top utility prospects in the organization, the Nebraska native served as a rock in the heart of the Saints' lineup and hit safely in 16 of 25 games played. Helman put together a nice six-game hit streak in the middle of the month that included three multi-hit games.
Making the transition from Double-A to Triple-A is never easy and Helman navigated it like a true pro. After success in Cedar Rapids last year and a quick transition from Wichita to St. Paul this season, Helman is riding a career-high and is posed to have an exciting finish to the 2022 season with the Saints.
Number Three: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids Kernels) - 23 G, 27-94 .287/.368/.368/.702 (1.070), 19 R, 21 RBI, 12 2B, 9 HR, 9 BB, SB
Our April Minor League Hitter of the Month continued to destroy the baseball in the month of June. After a lackluster May, Encarnacion-Strand compiled an electric month, touting a team-leading .287 batting average and whopping 20 extra-base hits. Nine of those extra-base hits were homers, one of which was a walk-off against West Michigan on June 25th. Unfortunately, his month ended a couple of days early. He was hit in the head by a pitch on Tuesday night and was placed on the Injured List with a concussion.
The purest of power hitters, Encarnacion-Strand totaled an impressive 11 multi-hit games. Despite striking out 29 times, Encarnacion-Strand's rebound after a tough May shows hints of consistency. for the top-tier prospect. Like Wallner, expect the 22-year-old to level out his plate appearances as he strives to become a more complete hitter.
Number Two: Jake Cave (St. Paul Saints) - 23 G, 29-89, .326/.417/,629 (1.046), 17 R, 10 RBI, 7 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 13 BB
Any sour taste for Cave in the mouths of Twins fans should be gone after his monstrous June campaign in St. Paul. What's not to like about a guy who puts together a 44-game on-base streak? Cave hit safely in 20 of 23 games and is currently on an 11-game hit streak, including a beautiful triple in Thursday night's game. Consistency is a beautiful thing in baseball; it's even more beautiful when it occurs with a player who has struggled with it in the past.
Barring injury, it's unlikely that Cave will appear with the Twins this season. Regardless, he's making a rock-solid case that he has what it takes to play at the MLB level.
Twin Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month
Matt Wallner (Wichita Wind Surge) - 27 G, 29-84, .345/.500/.714 (1.214), 24 R, 17 RBI, 5 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 24 BB, 4 SB
Son of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Southern Miss star. Destroyer of baseballs.
While an influx of hitting performances provides light for the Twins organization, there was one prospect who made this month's decision a no-brainer.
Forest Lake, Minnesota native Matt Wallner.
Emerging as the face of offense power in the Twins' Minor League system, Wallner defied the nay-sayers by hitting for power and average while even stealing a base or two.
Wallner's .345/.500/.714 (1.214) slash line speaks for itself. The outfielder's June OPS of 1.214 led all Twins' minor leaguers with at least 15 games and was second-best in the entire Texas League. His .714 SLG ranked fifth in the league and his 24 walks were the most in the Texas League through the month.
The walk stat is important; known as a strikeout-privy hitter, Wallner's 24 walks show that pitchers are becoming wearier when throwing to Wallner. Tallying 12 walks in April and 16 in May, the trend demonstrates that Wallner isn't just the 'go big or go home' guy anymore. Wallner still struck out 33 times but recorded a whopping 29 hits, the most hits he's ever recorded in a month through his professional career.
The versatility is growing, but the power is still there. Wallner roped five doubles, a triple, and six homers through the month. The force from Forest Lake recorded his third multi-homer game of the season on Thursday night's win.
To top it off Wallner stole four bases in June and was only caught stealing once. To top it off, Wallner was named Minor League Player of the Week for the Twins Organization on June 27 for perhaps the finest week in baseball that the organization has seen this year.
All signs are pointing towards Wallner having an incredible career in professional baseball. It's almost certain that he'll reach MLB play in the coming two years. While it's likely he'll stay in Wichita for the summer, a call-up to Triple-A St. Paul at some point wouldn't be shocking.
Any other players that you think are worthy of Hitter of the Month accolades? Discuss and comment below!