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  • 2022 St. Paul Saints Opening Day Roster Preview


    Seth Stohs

    On Tuesday morning, the St. Paul Saints announced their 2022 Opening Day Roster. Tonight, they will play their first game, in Louisville. The roster includes several of the team’s top prospects including Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, and Jordan Balazovic. Let’s take a look at the Saints roster. 

    Image courtesy of St. Paul Saints

    Twins Video

    In 2021, the Saints joined the Twins family of affiliates and had a really strong, veteran roster. With so many Twins injuries, the Saints roster often was loaded with minor-league veterans. In 2022, there should be several of the organization’s top prospects including the return of Royce Lewis after not playing for the past two years. Jose Miranda also returns after his incredible 2021 campaign. 

    Several return to Toby Gardenhire’s roster from last year, but there will also be many new faces, including on his coaching staff. Pitching coach Cibney Bello and Defensive Coach Tyler Smarslok return. Hitting Coach Matt Borgschulte got a big-league job with the Orioles. He was replaced by Ryan Smith who moves up to the Saints after spending last season in Wichita. Michael McCarthy left the organization to be the Triple-A pitching coach for the Padres. Virgil Vasquez moves up from the Wind Surge to take his place. . 

    Here we will introduce you to the 2021 Saints Opening Day roster with a tweet-length bio. For much more on each player, click the hyperlink with the name and see all of the Twins Daily stories in which each player is tagged. There are some terrific prospects on this roster to go with all the veterans and there are some great stories as well. 

    COACHES 

    PITCHERS 

    • RHP Yennier Cano (28) - The 28-year-old signed with the Twins in the summer of 2019. He began 2021 in Wichita for 12 games before joining the Saints for 30 games. Combined, he went 5-3 with five saves, a 3.23 ERA. In 69 2/3 innings, he struck out 86 batters. Strong pitch-mix and always willing to take the ball. 
    • RHP Jake Faria (28) - One of the final cuts in spring training, Faria has played in the big leagues for parts of four of the past five seasons. He debuted with the Rays in 207 and has pitched for the Brewers and Diamondbacks as well. He can work multiple innings out of the bullpen. 
    • RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (30) - Gonzalez pitched for the Rangers in 2015 and 2016. He missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to injury, but he has spent time with the Rockies each of the past three seasons and posted ERAs well over five each year. Hopefully will eat innings for the Saints. 
    • RHP Jordan Gore (27) - The shortstop-turned-reliever started last season in Cedar Rapids before moving up to Wichita where he became the closer and performed even better. Combined, he went 8-2 with seven saves. In 67 2/3 innings, he struck out 88 batters. Mid-90s fastball is combined with a good slider and a good changeup. 
    • RHP Daniel Gossett (29) - After pitching at Clemson, he was drafted by the A’s in 2014 and pitched in their system through the 2019 season. He debuted with the A’s in 2017 and then made five more starts in 2018. He pitched in Triple-A with the Red Sox last year. He signed a minor-league deal with the Twins and provides depth to the organization. 
    • RHP Ian Hamilton (26) - Drafted by the White Sox in 2016, Hamilton pitched for that organization through the 2020 season. He pitched 10 games for the Sox in 2018 and four more games in 2020 before spending time on the waiver wire. The Twins claimed him and DFAd him in spring training. He cleared and he spent the full season with the Saints. 
    • RHP Ryan Mason (27) - Drafted in the 13th round in 2016 out of California, Mason has slowly but steadily risen through the Twins farm system. He ended last year with 13 games with the Saints. Combined, he had 63 strikeouts in 54 innings. 
    • RHP Trevor Megill (28) - Big (6-8), burly (250 pounds) right-hander debuted with 28 games with the Cubs in 2021. In 23 2/3 innings with the Cubs, he had 30 strikeouts. Megill throws hard and just might have some potential out of the bullpen. 
    • RHP Juan Minaya (31) - Minaya has pitched in 154 big league games including 29 games with the Twins in 2021. In 40 innings last year, he struck out 43 batters and posted a 2.48 ERA. It was somewhat surprising when he was DFAd after the season, but fortunately, they were able to bring him back on a minor-league deal. 
    • LHP Jovani Moran (24) - Moran was drafted by the Twins in 2015. When healthy, he has been dominant. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, a good slider, and a tremendous changeup, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. He debuted with the Twins with five games in September 2021. One of the last players optioned to St. Paul, he should spend a lot of time with the Twins. 
    • RHP Wladimir Pinto (24) - Signed by the Tigers in 2015, he reached Triple-A in 2021 but became a free agent following the season. The Twins picked him up on a minor league deal. Last year, in 50 2/3 innings, he walked 35 and struck out 60 batters. He throws hard. He’s got good stuff, but clearly, control is the issue. Just 24, this is the kind of upside minor-league signings that are fun! 
    • RHP JC Ramirez (33) - Signed just last week, the Nicaraguan debuted with the Phillies in 2013. Since, he has pitched in the big leagues for the Diamondbacks, Mariners, Reds, and from 2016 to 2019 with the Angels. He pitched in Mexico and China in 2021. 
    • RHP Dereck Rodriguez (29) - Drafted in 2011 by the Twins, he spent the first three pro seasons as an outfielder before moving to the moun in 2014. He reached Double-A with the Twins before signing with the Giants as a free agent in 2018. That year, he debuted with 21 games (19 starts) in the big leagues for San Francisco. He pitched for the Giants into the 2020 season. Pitched at Triple-A with the Rockies in 2021 and came back to the Twins this offseason. 
    • RHP Mario Sanchez (27) - The Venezuelan signed with the Nationals in 2011. He spent two seasons in the Phillies system, but then he was back in the Nationals system from 2019-21. Last year, he went 4-8 with a 4.16 ERA. In 114 2/3 innings, he struck out 115 and walked just 23 batters. 
    • RHP Cole Sands (24) - Sands is the #13 ranked prospect in the system. The team’s fifth-round pick in 2018 from Florida State, Sands went 4-2 with a 2.46 ERA at Wichita. In 80 1/3 innings, he walked 35 and struck out 96 batters. He was added to the 40-man roster in November. 
    • LHP Devin Smeltzer (26) - The southpaw debuted with seven games for the Twins in 2019 and then pitched in seven games for them in 2020. Last year, he made one appearance (4 2/3 scoreless innings) before his season came to an end because of a herniated disc in his neck. He was removed from the 40-man roster, but this spring, he gave up just five hits over 11 scoreless innings. I’d expect him to pitch for the Twins in 2022.  
    • RHP Drew Strotman (25) - A former fourth-round pick of the Rays, Strotman came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in last July’s Nelson Cruz trade. He struggled in adjusting to the Twins, but even so, he was hitting 97-99 mph with a fastball. He’s developed as a starter because he has a four-pitch mix, but he is now shifting to the bullpen. He will debut in 2022. 

    CATCHERS 

    • David Banuelos (25) - After being drafted by the Mariners, the Twins acquired him for international signing dollars that offseason. In 2021, he played in 15 games for Wichita and 30 games with the Saints. Overall, he hit .201/.245/.340 (.586) with seven doubles, two triples and three homers. All but two doubles came with the Saints. But Banuelos is a plus defensive catcher who works really well with pitchers. 
    • Stevie Berman (27) - Came to the Twins very late last year from the Dodgers in the Andrew Vasquez trade. Definitely a defense first veteran backstop.  
    • Caleb Hamilton (27) - Drafted from Oregon State in 2016, Hamilton was moved behind the plate. However, he has played all over the diamond. He played 78 games in 2021 between Wichita and St. Paul and hit a combined .181/.308/.341 (.649) with eight doubles and nine home runs. 
    • Chance Sisco (27) - Not officially on the roster yet, but he was signed by the Twins on Monday to a minor-league deal, Sisco will be joining the team in Louisville soon. The former top prospect of the Orioles, he spent part of each of the past five seasons in the big leagues. In 191 games, he has hit .297/.317/.337 (.654). 

    INFIELDERS 

    • Royce Lewis (22) - The Twins' top pick in the 2017 draft is a Top 100 prospect and remains the #2 Twins prospect. Unfortunately, he missed 2021 with a torn ACL. He’s excited to be back and will be playing shortstop most every day. He was added to the 40-man roster in November and could debut in 2022.
    • Jose Miranda (23) - Miranda has always had the tools, and in 2021, he busted out in a big way. Between Wichita and St. Paul, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 homers in 127 games. He was added to the 40-man roster in November. Able to play first base, second base, and third base, Miranda is just waiting for an opportunity, and for some, he will have to prove that 2021 was the real deal. 
    • Jermaine Palacios (25) - While fans may not get excited, the idea of Palacios getting to the big leagues with the Twins would be pretty neat. He became a good prospect with the Twins and then was traded to the Rays for Jake Odorizzi. After struggling mightily, Palacios returned to the Twins as a free agent last year. In 110 games at Wichita, he hit .259/.341/.439 (.780) with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. In addition, he is a really good defensive shortstop. That said, he’s likely to play all over the infield in 2022. 
    • Daniel Robertson (28) - The veteran utility infielder played in the big leagues with the Rays from 2017 to 2019, the Giants in 2020, and the Brewers in 2021. Overall, he has hit .227/.338/.345 (.683) with 34 doubles and 18 home runs in 299 games. He can play all of the infield positions pretty well and has minimal time spent in the outfield. 
    • Elliot Soto (32) - The Twins drafted Soto in 2007 out of high school He didn’t sign, went to Creighton, and was drafted by the Cubs in 2010. Beyond the Cubs, he has also played in the Marlins, Rockies, Angels, and Dodgers organizations. In 2020, he played in three big league games for the Angels and hit .333 (2-for-6) with a double. 
    • Curtis Terry (25) - Terry was drafted out of high school in Georgia in 2015 by the Rangers. He slowly worked up the Texas system, and finally got an opportunity in the big leagues in 2021. He had four hits including two doubles, in 13 games. He became a free agent after the seasons and very quickly joined the Twins on a minor league deal in November. 

    OUTFIELDERS

    • Jake Cave (29) - Cave has spent most of the past four seasons with the Twins. He has played in 281 games and hit .240/.305/.417 (.722) with 36 doubles, seven triples, and 28 home runs. For the first two seasons, he was a quality fourth outfielder who did well in limited duty. In the last couple of years, he has been a bit over-exposed and struggled. He was removed from the 40-man roster before spring training. 
    • Gilberto Celestino (23) - If you only watch the big league games, you saw Celestino really struggle in his debut in 2021. He hit just .136 over 62 plate appearances, though he had three doubles and two homers. In reality, he made that MLB debut with only 21 games played above A-ball and 29 games above Low-A. Excessive injuries forced him to The Show. But with the Saints, he hit .290/.384/.443 (.827) with 13 doubles and five homers in 49 games.  
    • Mark Contreras (27) - After four years at UC-Riverside, Contreras was the Twins' ninth-round pick in 2017. After a tough 2019 season (in which he still won a minor-league Gold Glove)  and a lost 2020, Contreras broke out in 2021. In 114 games (95 in St. Paul), he hit .251/.338/.485 (.824) with 30 doubles, 20 homers and 15 RBI.  
    • Derek Fisher (28) - Over the past five seasons, Fisher has spent time in the big leaguers with the Astros, Blue Jays, and Brewers. In 172 big-league games, he’s hit. 195/.285/.378 (.663) with eight doubles and ten homers. 
    • Trevor Larnach (25) - Twin's top pick in 2018 from Oregon State, Larnach was the minor league hitter of the year in 2019. He was at the alternate site in 2020. After just one game in Triple-A last year, he was called up having had just a half-season at Double-A two years earlier. He started well but struggled late. Still, he will make adjustments and get back to the big leagues where in time he can hit for average and power. Should still be considered a big part of the Twins' future. 

     There are likely to be several changes coming soon. For instance, will Kyle Garlick or Brent Rooker be on the Saints roster? Will Jose Godoy clear waivers and join the Saints? 

    The Injured List includes Tim Beckham (quad), Jordan Balazovic (knee), and Ariel Jurado (Tommy John) to start the season.

    Like I said at the top, this roster has a solid mix of prospects and minor-league veterans. As you would expect, there are certain to be many transactions, but the depth is strong.

     

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    24 minutes ago, jorgenswest said:

    Balazovic and Sands are pretty young and they do have their share of younger pitching on the major league roster in Duran, Winder and Ryan.

    I would assume Winder will come back to St. Paul to start when the Twins' roster drops back down to 26. But yes, Balazovic and Sands are the young guys. Strotman moved to the bullpen. I would assume other starters will include Devin Smeltzer, Dereck Rodriguez and Daniel Gossett. 

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    I'm excited about Palacio, I like his glove and he's returning to his hitting ways since returning to the Twins.

    Also nicely surprised that Contreras had won a gold glove in the minors. pretty impressive. I'd keep him on my radar.

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    Kept wondering about Balazovic as I read, until right at the end.  Kid has had so many injury problems, seems like he never can just settle in and pitch from opening day on.  Any idea, Seth, whether this is a day-to-day problem, or longer term?

    Gotta love this team, at least on paper.  Should have a tremendous outfield and better infield.  Starting staff should be solid with all the vets and get better when/if Winder and Balazovic join the rotation.  Although I guess it is best for us to wish for Winder to be lights out for the Twins and he never sees CHS field this summer or next.

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    1 hour ago, Seth Stohs said:

     But yes, Balazovic and Sands are the young guys.

    I would argue that Sands isn't young, he turns 25 in July. Not a super inspiring team, outside of Lewis, Miranda and Balazovic (maybe Larnach)

    Hopefully the major league team doesn't have many injuries and Lewis, Miranda and Balazovic play so well they force the Twins to make some decisions.

     

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    2 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    I would assume Winder will come back to St. Paul to start when the Twins' roster drops back down to 26. But yes, Balazovic and Sands are the young guys. Strotman moved to the bullpen. I would assume other starters will include Devin Smeltzer, Dereck Rodriguez and Daniel Gossett. 

    Is Strotman moving to the bullpen an official move, or just happening because there's too many other starters? I have been wondering if he may end up in the pen with how rough he looked last year.

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    9 minutes ago, Danchat said:

    Is Strotman moving to the bullpen an official move, or just happening because there's too many other starters? I have been wondering if he may end up in the pen with how rough he looked last year.

    Yeah this is the first I've heard of Strotman in the pen.  The Twins must really want to work in some high octane arms.  Guessing he could throw 98\99 out of the pen.  He has decent secondary's as well must just be better arms for starting and they want his arm for the pen?  Not a terrible idea IMO as he could be a difference maker there.

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    19 minutes ago, Dman said:

    Yeah this is the first I've heard of Strotman in the pen.  The Twins must really want to work in some high octane arms.  Guessing he could throw 98\99 out of the pen.  He has decent secondary's as well must just be better arms for starting and they want his arm for the pen?  Not a terrible idea IMO as he could be a difference maker there.

    From today's press release: 

    "Strotman, who came over in the Nelson Cruz trade last season, will move from starter to reliever this season as the Twins look to maximize his talents in shorter stints." 

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    Seth:  Excellent analysis of the Saints roster!  1 question:  Do you see Spencer Gore starting as the closer for the Saints?

    Really enjoyed your offseason interview with him.  He has a very interesting background story--switching over to the pitching side after being drafted as a SS.

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    AAA for Twins has a lot of "depth" players, backup to the backup's backup. Would rather see more prospects, but looking at AA Wichita roster, don't see any players I would argue that should be at AAA. Wichita has a few players that if have good first few months may get moved up to AAA but don't see any that should be there now.

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    33 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

    Seth:  Excellent analysis of the Saints roster!  1 question:  Do you see Spencer Gore starting as the closer for the Saints?

    Really enjoyed your offseason interview with him.  He has a very interesting background story--switching over to the pitching side after being drafted as a SS.

    Gore might get some save opportunities, but I would doubt that they would designate a closer. Jordan's a good dude, good perspective, but also very competitive. 

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    Great player summaries, Seth.  This blended roster looks very much like most AAA rosters with young prospects combined with some veterans and guys signed on minor league contracts.  Yes, there are some older starting pitchers, but it is also likely that Canterino will join the team during the season if everything goes as planned in AA.  I am really interested to see how Jordan Gore does as I think he could be a sleeper.  I am curious to see how Mason progresses as well.  This team should be fun to watch as they have the potential to really knock the ball around the ballpark.  I love the start of spring baseball.  We should have some interesting minor league teams, and let's hope the Twins surprise some folks as well.  Play ball.

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    Other commenters have noticed the same thing I did. The age range except for a very few is already at peak value. They are backups but not future starters except for Miranda, Lewis, and Balazovic. Double A looks more like the future of the twins. 

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    18 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Gore might get some save opportunities, but I would doubt that they would designate a closer. Jordan's a good dude, good perspective, but also very competitive. 

    Really good dude.  Got the opportunity to chat with him in Florida as he gave some interesting info while wearing his flip flops.  Definitely cheering for him.

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    1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

    Other commenters have noticed the same thing I did. The age range except for a very few is already at peak value. They are backups but not future starters except for Miranda, Lewis, and Balazovic. Double A looks more like the future of the twins. 

    Triple-A is usually filled with minor-league veterans and a few prospects. This roster is actually filled with more prospects than a usual AAA team. But yeah, AA is usually where most prospects are. 

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    The vets are solid placesetters in case of emergency, and easily recycled out if you need to advance someone from AA before or by mid-season. Last season, where the Twins actually had more minor league free agents at the upper level, was a better opportunity to give "prospects" a taste of major league action. They didn't. If the Twins are in the mix, the msot action MAY just happen with advancement to AAA ball.

     

    That being said, Canterino, Funderburk, Sammons, Schulfer, Bechtold, Martin, Wallner could've all started the season at AAA/ That missed 2020 season has aged the minor leagues considerably.

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