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  • Twins Minor League Report (4/26): Kirilloff Rehabs, Pitching Staff's Stifle


    Steve Lein

    Hits were hard to come by for Twins' affiliates on Tuesday, but they were still able to finish 2-2 on the day as a couple of the pitching staffs picked up the slack with strong efforts. A former top prospect was also back on the field for the first game of a rehab assignment with the St. Paul Saints. Keep reading to see how they and the rest of the Twins prospects fared in this week's series openers!

     

    TRANSACTIONS

    There was just one transaction on the day heading into a new series for each affiliate, but it was a notable one for Twins fans.

    • Twins RF Alex Kirilloff was sent on a rehab assignment with the Saints. He batted second as the designated hitter in their game.

    SAINTS SENTINEL
    Nashville 1, St. Paul 4
    Box Score

    Making his second appearance back with the Saints after being with the Twins briefly, starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez was stellar for the first 4 2/3 innings. He allowed just one run on five hits and a walk, while snuffing the Sounds with six strikeouts.

    St. Paul had a 2-1 lead when he exited the game as they were able to score a run in each of the third and fourth innings. After a Royce Lewis double to put runners on second and third, Nashville’s pitcher uncorked a wild pitch to score their first run of the game, but they were unable to push Lewis across. In the fourth, three consecutive singles from Curtis Terry, Derek Fisher, and Daniel Robertson got them the second run, but the threat was stifled again when Fisher was thrown out at third on the relay.

    The teams traded zeroes for three innings after that, with Mario Sanchez delivering 2 1/3 scoreless innings after Rodriguez. He walked one and struck out two. Jharrel Cotton pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out one, and Trevor Megill closed it out for his first save of the season, allowing a single, striking out one, and getting a double-play ball to end the game.

    The Saints added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth when four consecutive hitters drew a walk to score one. That was followed by a sac fly from Chance Sisco for the second run.

    Lewis (2-for-5, 2B) and Terry (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, BB) each had two hits in the win. In his return to the lineup for his rehab assignment, Alex Kirilloff reached base all four times he came to the plate with three walks and a single, batting second behind Lewis as the designated hitter.

    (Please check out the Brewer Fanatic report on the Nashville/St. Paul game). 

    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 4, Arkansas 10
    Box Score

    On the road in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Wind Surge started their series with right-hander Chris Vallimont going against the Travelers. He pitched around a pair of singles in the first inning, before being greeted with a home run to open the second that put Arkansas out front early. They added another run in the second before a one-two-three third inning, then broke it open in the fourth with four more before Vallimont was lifted. In all, he lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out five batters. 

    Evan Sisk was the first reliever summoned, and he escaped the fourth with no further damage along with delivering a scoreless fifth. He walked two and struck out three. Bryan Sammons and Zach Featherstone combined to allow two runs each on five hits and two walks over the final three innings to account for all the Travelers runs in the game. Sammons struck out over his two innings, and Featherstone one in the eighth.

    In the top of the fourth Wichita was able to cut Arkansas’ early 2-0 lead in half thanks to Matt Wallner’s second home run of the season.

    That would be as close as they would get, however. In the eighth inning, Spencer Steer and Wallner each drove in a run with a double, and in the ninth they added one more via an Edouard Julien RBI groundout to make the final score 10-4.

    Wallner was the only Wind Surge hitter with two hits (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K), and Julien drew three walks in the game to lead the way for the offense. As a team, they were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 3, Beloit 0
    Box Score

    The Kernels got a stellar outing out of their pitching staff in this one, led by starter Cody Laweryson and reliever Andrew Cabezas. They each pitched three innings, with Laweryson giving up just two walks with three K’s, and Cabezas just one hit while striking out four. Bradley Hanner added two scoreless innings, allowing two hits, a walk, and striking out three. Derek Molina was credited with his first save of the season with a one-two-three ninth inning to close out the win.

    Cedar Rapids took a 1-0 lead in the top of third when Aaron Sabato drove in Anthony Prato with a sac fly. They made it 2-0 in the seventh thanks to a wild pitch that allowed Wander Javier to scamper home after he had doubled to lead off the inning. Their third run was courtesy of an RBI double from Sabato in the eighth that scored Christian Encarnicion-Strand, who had singled in front of him.

    Hits were in short supply for both teams in the game, as the Kernels had just six versus the Sky Carp’s three. Neither team had a hit with runners in scoring position and they combined to strand just eleven baserunners on the game. Encarnacion-Strand was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Sabato 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI.

    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Clearwater 7, Fort Myers 3
    Box Score

    The Mighty Mussels fell behind early, as starter Steve Hajjar was jumped on by the Threshers for three runs in the first frame. This was largely due to a pair of throwing errors from Hajjar himself. A two-run double and one of those errors led to three runs. He settled down from there and was able to finish four innings with no further damage. In all, he allowed seven hits and two walks along with striking out five batters.

    The Fort Myers lineup was able to get two of those runs back in the second inning after an RBI single from Ernie Yake, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Rucker.

    Clearwater answered back after Hajjar’s exit, scoring three more in the fifth against reliever Jackson Hicks on three hits and a walk. Hunter McMahon pitched two innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out three. Lefty John Wilson got the final two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out three Threshers. 

    Outfielder Kyler Fedko continued his hot hitting to start the season, collecting two singles to lead the way for the Mighty Mussels and was the only hitter with more than one hit. Emmanuel Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a run scored and drew a walk. As a team, they did not have an extra-base hit, had only four at-bats with runners in scoring position, and left just six men on base.

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY

    Pitcher of the Day - Andrew Cabezas, Cedar Rapids Kernels (W, 3 IP, H, 4 K)
    Hitter of the Day - Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K)

    PROSPECT SUMMARY

    #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-4
    #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, 2B
    #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-4
    #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, K
    #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 2-for-4, R, 2B, HR (2), 2 RBI, K
    #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, R, BB, 2 K
    #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, K
    #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB
    #20 - Steve Hajjar (Fort Myers) - L, 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 5 K 

    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Nashville @ St. Paul (1:07 PM CDT) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-1, 1.29 ERA)
    Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35 PM CDT) - RHP Louie Varland (1-1, 4.11 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (11:05 AM CDT) - RHP Casey Legumina (0-1, 6.48 ERA)
    Clearwater @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CDT) - RHP Pierson Ohl (0-0, 7.71 ERA)

    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!

     

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    It is only one game but I thought Kirilloff's swing looked ok last night.  Hopefully he is pain free and ready to do some damage.  Both Sabato and Wallner are showing some signs of waking up at the plate.  Miranda is struggling a bit.  Hopefully it is just a cold weather thing with him and he will heat up with the weather.

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    CES with 2 more hits.  Don't know how the guy does it but is just uncanny when it comes to contact.

    Hajjar is a K machine but his WHIP is horrible.  Giving up way too much contact.  Haven't seen him pitch but disappointed in the numbers so far.

    I kind of thought Derek Rodriguez was washed up but he looks pretty good to me.  Not sure he can catch on with the Twins but he seems like he could be a good emergency arm for some team.

    I would be surprised if Fedko works out as he climbs the levels but he has been a steal of a pick at number 12 last year.  Seems to have a really good approach and looks destined for High A after the all star break.

    Jullien still has his Arraez eye at the plate drawing three more walks.  I hope they hang onto this guy his ability to control the strike zone has to make him successful just has to.

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    4 hours ago, beckmt said:

    Unless Vallimont turns it around soon, doubt he will be on the 40 man past mid year.  Glad to see the pitching hold up, we will soon need bullpen reinforcements here

    Have to wonder when they will transition him to the bullpen, if nothing else. He does have really good stuff!

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    51 minutes ago, Dman said:

    Jullien still has his Arraez eye at the plate drawing three more walks.  I hope they hang onto this guy his ability to control the strike zone has to make successful just has to.

    Julien is one of my favorites for that exact reason. I loved Nate Roberts as a prospect years ago for the same reason. He was a career .305/.435/.459 hitter in the minors but couldn't stay healthy, and never got to double-A because of it. 

    Julien's baserunning has been a revelation as a prospect as well. (88% success rate on steals, 37/42).

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    35 minutes ago, Steve Lein said:

    Julien is one of my favorites for that exact reason. I loved Nate Roberts as a prospect years ago for the same reason. He was a career .305/.435/.459 hitter in the minors but couldn't stay healthy, and never got to double-A because of it. 

    Julien's baserunning has been a revelation as a prospect as well. (88% success rate on steals, 37/42).

    My concern is rule V at the end of this year with Steer, Canterino, SGL, Varland, SWR and Maybe Palacios or Wallner it is going to be hard to protect everybody.  Guys with good eye's have a tendency to make it though look at Baddoo, Lamonte Wade.  So hopefully things sort themselves out but I am concerned they might leave him unprotected.

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    1 hour ago, Steve Lein said:

    Have to wonder when they will transition him to the bullpen, if nothing else. He does have really good stuff!

    I actually thought they would do that right away. There is only a limited number of prospects you can keep on the 40-man roster without them contributing.

    In my opinion, it would make a ton of sense to put him in the bullpen and fasttrack him. Better than losing an arm like this for nothing because you eventually need the roster spot. If it doesn't work out, well, at least you would have given it a try...

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    6 hours ago, beckmt said:

    Unless Vallimont turns it around soon, doubt he will be on the 40 man past mid year.  Glad to see the pitching hold up, we will soon need bullpen reinforcements here

    If the Twins lose him before they try him out in the pen I'll be disappointed since that was almost certainly going to be his destination anyway.

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    31 minutes ago, Tibs said:

    I'm hoping for the best, but I don't see how Kirilloff goes from "I was never pain free after the surgery" to being fine in two weeks.

    Not sure he is fine (yet), but it could also be as simple as he got used to saying nothing while out of touch, was super tentative in ST, then finally said something, saw a doctor, got a scan, and was told discomfort was coming from scar tissue, etc, and he couldn't damage it by playing. And got cortisone to deal with the immediate discomfort. (Having come back from a serious injury, it is fairly amazing the relief that comes from professional feedback like that. And how doubt can cripple/slow recovery if you aren't getting feedback.)

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    3 minutes ago, Sielk said:

    I actually thought they would do that right away. There are only a limited number of prospects you can keep on the 40-man roster without them contributing.

    In my opinion, it would make a ton of sense to put him in the bullpen and fasttrack him. Better than losing an arm like this for nothing because you eventually need the roster spot. If it doesn't work out, well, at least you would have given it a try...

    I agree. I said this about him in my article previewing candidates to make their MLB debut this season:

    Chris Vallimont (25), RHP
    The moniker of the “Vallimonster” is apt for the right-hander, as he can perform quite the Jekyll and Hyde routine whenever he is on the mound. He paired a 13.0/9IP strikeout rate with a 5.8/9IP walk rate during the 2021 season and if you go game to game, you will see that up and down nature in his stat lines as well. A switch to the bullpen to maximize his pure stuff in shorter stints is something to watch for during the season if that pattern continues.

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    Vallimont may have future value as a reliever, but emphasis on "may" and "future". The Twins have serious bullpen issues in the majors right now, and right now they have non-40-man-roster pitchers (like Minaya and Cotton) who have already produced in MLB at rates far better than Vallimont has produced in AA. No realistic fast-track is going to leap him to the majors ahead of the two named (or Cano or Smeltzer or... well about 4-5 others).

    Right now he simply smells, and waiver wires are about to be clogged. The Twins should bounce him off the 40-man now at his low point and when others have a bazillion options, then work on a redemption scheme when/if he clears waivers. Because he WILL need to get bounced at some point this season, and if you do it after redeeming him to some extent (but when he is still a year-plus from the majors), and when waivers are relatively clear, you are far more likely to lose him.

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    Vallimont is a heck of an arm, but no command of his pitches. he may be caught in the trap where the only way he can consistently get things over is to back off on his stuff...which makes him eminently hittable. I expect him to get dropped off the 40-man at some point fairly soon as the team needs the spots for relievers who can legitimately join the MLB roster and contribute.

    Glad to see Wallner rip another dinger. Hope he's finding his form and this was just a slow start (because boy it looked ugly for him for a while). But it can take guys a bit to adjust to AA. And Royce is still hitting at AAA, which is great to see at all times.

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    1 hour ago, nicksaviking said:

    If the Twins lose him before they try him out in the pen I'll be disappointed since that was almost certainly going to be his destination anyway.

    Bullpen pitchers are easy come, easy go. I never sweat when they lose a relief pitcher on waivers. There's always a different relief pitcher to try. I also don't have a problem developing future relievers in the minor league rotation. They get more innings that way.

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    4 hours ago, DJL44 said:

    Bullpen pitchers are easy come, easy go. I never sweat when they lose a relief pitcher on waivers. There's always a different relief pitcher to try. I also don't have a problem developing future relievers in the minor league rotation. They get more innings that way.

    But most of the best MLB relief pitchers used to be starters, and most of them were given up on by their original team while as a starter and only became a stand out reliever when another team gave them a shot in the bullpen. Vallimont's shot at being a qualify starting pitcher is really, really low at this point.

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