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  • Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - July 2022


    David Youngs

    There was a myriad of rock-solid starting pitching performances through the month of July across the Twins' farm system. That couldn't be more timely as we enter the dog days of the minor league calendar. Through all the strikeouts, groundouts, and shutouts, here's who we've selected as our Starting Pitchers of the Month. 

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels

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    Previous Minor League Starting Pitchers of the Month
    June Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month: Aaron Rozek
    May Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month: Steve Hajjar
    April Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month: John Stankiewicz

    Honorable Mention III - Kody Funderburk (Double-A Wichita Wind Surge)
    The definition of steady-eddy development, the lefty from Mesa, AZ had another rock-solid month in July. Through four starts (and an additional long relief appearance), Funderburk touted a 2.57 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 20 strikeouts and just five walks through 21 innings in July. Funderburk allowed just one run in three of his starts and shutout Northwest Arkansas in 3 2/3 innings of relief following Louie Varland's start on July 29. 

    At 25 years old and coming off an incredible season in Cedar Rapids, Funderburk has found his stride with Double-A Wichita this season. His yearlong 7-4 record, 2.82 ERA, and 1.39 WHIP are rock solid, yet Funderburk's greatest strength is his versatility. A proven success as a starter and as a reliever, Funderburk serves as a the 'jack-of-all-trades yes man' for the Twins organization as they move forward. 

    Honorable Mention II - Aaron Sanchez (Triple-A St. Paul Saints) 
    Once a reliable rock on the MLB pitching scene, Sanchez fell short to unfortunate injuries that led to inconstancies in the mid to late 2010's. Signed to a minor league contract prior to the 2022 season, it looks like Sanchez has found his footing. 

    Called up to the Twins towards the end of July, the 30-year-old cruised to consistency in St. Paul for a majority of the month. Through four starts and 22 2/3 innings, Sanchez recorded 3.18 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in July along with 13 strikeouts.

    His most impressive stat? 

    Sanchez faced 68 batters in July for the Saints. He walked just one of them. 

    Promoted to Target Field to face the Tigers on August 1, Sanchez dealt, striking out eight Detroit batters through five innings. Unfortunately for Sanchez, the acquisition of Michael Fulmer mean that that space on the roster was needed, resulting in Sanchez being DFA'd. 

     Baseball is a business and it's unfortunate to see Sanchez go after things were seemingly going his way. Regardless of where his next start takes place, he's trending in the right direction. 

    HONORABLE MENTION I - Marco Raya (Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels)
    One of the most prized arms in the Twins organization, the Laredo, TX native continued his dominant 2022 campaign with a stellar July. In four starts and 17 innings, the 19-year-old tallied a 2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 17 and walking just five batters. 

    A fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft, Raya has continued to dazzle with his electric fastball and rock-solid slider, two things that aren't necessarily new for the righty. 

    Long starts are a rarity at the Low-A level and Raya is no exception. All four of his starts in July were five innings or less and his season-long is six innings. That's not a reflection of Raya's performance, but merely a developmental precaution used to mold young, talented arms. The consistency and flare are there and it will be fascinating to see how Raya performs when his innings are increased as he scales the Twins' farm system. 

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE STARTING PITCHER OF THE MONTH - Mike Paredes (Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) 
    On a team known for it's lights-out pitching, Mike Paredes was an absolute joy to watch through the month of July. Drafted in the 18th round of the 2021 Draft, Paredes has made a name for himself in his first full season of professional baseball. 

    This past month was no exception. 

    Through five games and four starts spanning 26 1/3 innings, Paredes recorded a 4-0 record, 2.05 ERA, and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 15 batters and walking just four. A heavy groundout/flyout pitcher, Parades kept runs off the board, allowing just one run in three of his four starts and allowing just one home run against 79 batters faced. Even on 'off days,' Parades was dominant. Despite giving up seven hits on July 2 against Dunedin, the 22-year-old allowed just one run through six innings to propel the Mussels to victory. 

    Paredes has the potential to be the ultimate Twins pitcher; a consistent workhorse who may not rely heavily on speed and strikeouts, but more so on accuracy and pitch selection. An out's an out no matter how it takes place and Paredes sure knows how to get them. At 22 years old, the Twins have time to work with the San Diego State alum. And while he may not have the name recognition of other arms within the organization, expect Paredes to make more and more noise and he climbs the organization in years to come. 

     

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    Congrats to the under the radar Paredes.  Quite a find at number 18 IMO.  He has pretty much been this consistent all year and is worthy of a call up.  I don't know how he does it as he doesn't K a ton of guys but he gets the job done with a low WHIP and low ERA.  Not sure how long that pitch mix will play but he has been very effective at Low A.

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    25 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    I'd like to see those two in high A this year..... And wonder about funderburk maybe moving to RP and getting more out of his pitches....

    Yeah, I think with Funderburk, he's mostly pitched out of the bullpen this year. I'm sure there's a strategy there of trying to bump his "stuff" up and then move him to the rotation some, but I think he's ultimately going to be a lefty reliever, but also a guy who could give you 3-4 innings. 

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    21 minutes ago, Dman said:

    Congrats to the under the radar Paredes.  Quite a find at number 18 IMO.  He has pretty much been this consistent all year and is worthy of a call up.  I don't know how he does it as he doesn't K a ton of guys but he gets the job done with a low WHIP and low ERA.  Not sure how long that pitch mix will play but he has been very effective at Low A.

    Last year's draft has had impressive early returns. Festa in the 13th. Pierson Ohl has been solid. Paredes has been good. Jaylen Nowlin has been good. 

    I do think that is an organizational strength right now... scouting department identifies something that then player development is able to bring more out of, velocity, spin, etc. 

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    Good article, David.  The cupboard isn't bare even with the loss of Povich, Hajjar, and Gipson Long.  I am pulling for Sanchez to get another shot with the Twins.  He has worked hard to make a comeback and looked good in his one start.  I think he may be better than Bundy, but I have not seen enough of him either in person or on MiLBTV to be real confident in that opinion.  We'll see how it plays out.  BTW, the Cobbers have two really talented young men coming into the tennis program this fall.  Roll Cobbers.

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    21 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Yeah, I think with Funderburk, he's mostly pitched out of the bullpen this year. I'm sure there's a strategy there of trying to bump his "stuff" up and then move him to the rotation some, but I think he's ultimately going to be a lefty reliever, but also a guy who could give you 3-4 innings. 

    I just think these guys, and this is clearly my opinion based on anecdotal observation, have a better shot at money and careers if moved to relief sooner rather than later. See Jax, as an example. 

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    Article correction…. Aaron Sanchez was signed during the season not prior.  He made 7 starts somewhere…. I think Washington but can’t remember exactly…..

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    4 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Yeah, I think with Funderburk, he's mostly pitched out of the bullpen this year. I'm sure there's a strategy there of trying to bump his "stuff" up and then move him to the rotation some, but I think he's ultimately going to be a lefty reliever, but also a guy who could give you 3-4 innings. 

    I can't quantify why exactly, gut feeling maybe? But I just keep thinking Funderburk is a BP just waiting to happen. And I get being a starter allows him more IP to work on all of his pitches to develop, but I keep thinking if they just moved him to the pen full time we might have a really good looking BP option that might move quickly.

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    4 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Last year's draft has had impressive early returns. Festa in the 13th. Pierson Ohl has been solid. Paredes has been good. Jaylen Nowlin has been good. 

    I do think that is an organizational strength right now... scouting department identifies something that then player development is able to bring more out of, velocity, spin, etc. 

    Seth, I've heard and read your referencing Nowlin more than a few times. Small school kid, not that big, but seems to have some electricity in his arm. He's been splitting his time between starting and relieving. Walks are too high, but the rest of his numbers are good and the K's are fantastic.

    He screams possible electric RP capability. Or is there more to develop and he has a shot to be a SP? Really like to hear your thoughts on him. Seems he's an arm nobody really knows or pays attention to.

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    Hoping these guys can form the next wave of productive MLB pitchers.

    Long starts are a rarity at the Low-A level and Raya is no exception. All four of his starts in July were five innings or less and his season-long is six innings.

         Actually sounds a lot like certain SP's at ML level.

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