Yesterday, Twins Daily announced the Short Season Pitcher of the Year. Throughout the rest of the week, the other minor league awards will be announced. There were some strong performances throughout the minors and these are the next wave of players heading for Target Field.
Last season, Lewin Diaz was named the Short-Season Hitter of the Year. He built off that tremendous season with Cedar Rapids this year. Diaz hit .292/.329/.444 with 12 home runs and 33 doubles. The Kernels are attempting to move on in the Midwest League playoffs tonight.
Short profiles of our top eight are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes.
- Matt Albanese, Elizabethton: 42-142, .296/.352/.401 (.754), 3 HR, 0 3B, 6 2B, 19 RBI
- Shane Carrier, Elizabethton: 48-142, .348/.359/.529 (.888) 5 HR, 0 3B, 10 2B, 32 RBI (does not include stats at Cedar Rapids)
- Carson Crites, Elizabethton: 45-150, .300/.349/.453 (.803), 4 HR, 0 3B, 11 2B, 30 RBI
- JJ Robinson, Elizabethton: 39-148, .264/.337/.480 (.817), 9 HR, 1 3B, 3 2B, 36 RBI
- Alex Robles, GCL Twins: 59-182, .324/.369/.407 (.775), 3 HR, 0 3B, 6 2B, 29 RBI
- Rainis Silva, Elizabethton: 36-101, .356/.446/.446 (.892), 1 HR, 1 3B, 4 2B, 7 RBI
Short-Season Hitter of the Year
Here are the top eight places for the Twins Daily Short-Season Hitter of the Year
8. Brent Rooker, Elizabethton: 24-85, .282/.364/.588 (.952), 7 HR, 0 3B, 5 2B, 17 RBI
Rooker only played a little over a third of his games in the short-season league but it was enough to make his mark. With his college experience, he made quick work of some of the younger pitching in the GCL. His best stretch of games was an eight-game hit streak from July 4- July 12. During this streak, he hit .500/.600/.923 with five extra-base hits. If Rooker had spent more time in short-season ball, he likely would have been higher on this list.
7. Ben Rodriguez, GCL Twins: 47-162, .290/.399/.457 (.856), 4 HR, 2 3B, 11 2B, 40 RBI
It didn't take long for Rodriguez to have his bat heat up. In 20 July games, he hit .343/.443/.507 with eight extra-base hits. Some of these strong number came from his ability to crush left-handed pitching. In 58 at-bats versus lefties, he got on base 50% of the time and combined for a 1.207 OPS. He was facing younger pitchers in over 85% of his plate appearances as he was 2.6 years older than the competition in the GCL.
6. Andrew Bechtold, Elizabethton: 43-144, .299/.406/.424 (.829), 2 HR, 1 3B, 10 2B, 19 RBI
During his professional debut, the Twins' fifth-round pick started strongly in July. In 20 games that month, he hit .387/.467/.629 (1.096) with 10 extra-base hits. The majority of his at-bats came against older pitchers who held him to a .747 OPS. With 27 walks in 175 plate appearances, he showed a keen eye at the plate as his OBP ranked third on the E-Twins among players with more than 75 at-bats.
5. JC Arias, GCL Twins: 50-168, .298/.359/.476 (.835), 5 HR, 4 3B, 7 2B, 32 RBI
In his second taste of the GCL, Arias was still almost half a year younger than the competition. He was able to post a .490 SLG against older pitchers. Through his first 94 at-bats he compiled a .914 OPS with 10 extra-base hits. Arias, a left-handed batter, did the bulk of his damage against righties. In fact, all of his extra-base hits came against right-handed pitchers where he hit .316/.365/.573. Home games were also a positive for Arias as his OPS was almost 300 points higher at home (1.002 OPS) versus on the road (.703 OPS).
4. Wander Javier, Elizabethton: 47-157, .299/.383/.471 (.855), 4 HR, 1 3B, 13 2B, 22 RBI
Javier made his stateside debut in 2017 and it took him a little time to get going. During seven June games, he went 4-for-22 with three of his four hits being for doubles. After the calendar turned to July, he would clobber the baseball. Javier hit .319/.396/.496 (.892) including 15 extra-base hits from July 2 until season's end. Only four of his plate appearances came against younger pitchers. Even though he is a right-handed batter he fared better against righties where his OPS was almost 150 points higher.
3. Royce Lewis, GCL Twins: 36-133, .271/.390/.414 (.803), 3 HR, 2 3B, 6 2B, 17 RBI
Lewis, this year's number one overall pick, was an interesting case when it came to voting for the minor league awards. He played 36 games for the GCL Twins before being promoted to Cedar Rapids for the final 18 games. In ten of his first 20 games, he had multiple hits. He started his professional career with a 11 straight games reaching base. He also added 15 stolen bases while also being caught only twice. His batting average increased by 25 points with the jump to the Midwest League so it's safe to say the organization likes their first look at Lewis.
2. Jose Miranda, Elizabethton: 63-223, .283/.340/.484 (.824), 11 HR, 2 3B, 8 2B, 43 RBI
As a 19-year-old in the Appalachian League, Miranda was over a year younger than the competition. This didn't stop him from raising his batting average by over 55 points compared his professional debut in the GCL. Miranda, a right-handed batter, compiled an OPS that was 162 points higher versus righties. In 20 games from July 9-August 3, he hit .321/.380/.494 with six extra-base hits with 18 RBI. Only nine of his at-bats came versus younger pitchers so he was doing the bulk of his damage against older pitchers. Another big area of improvement was lowering his strikeouts by more than 10.
1. Akil Baddoo, GLC Twins/Elizabethton: 65-201, .323/.436/.527 (.964), 4 HR, 5 3B, 19 2B, 29 RBI
Baddoo started the 2017 campaign in the GCL where he spent the entire 2016 season. He struggled to hit last year (.178/.299/.271) but he made remarkable strides in a return trip through the GCL. He raised his batting average to .267 while combining for a .800 OPS. In the middle of July, he was promoted to the Appalachian League and this is when his season really took off.
Ray Smith, the manager of the E-Twins, had glowing reviews when asked about Baddo's impact on joining the team. "Our club seemed to kick it into a higher gear once Akil arrived. Deep in counts, would get on base via walks, base hits, etc. All while showing extra-base pop and occasional home run power. [He] covered ground defensively... ran bases aggressively and showed up everyday."
When Baddoo joined the E-Twins, he was 2.3 years younger than the competition. For the season, he got on base over 42% of the time against older pitchers. He hit .357/.478/.579 with 20 extra-base hits over the final 33 games. From July 31 to August 19, he had a 13-game hit streak where he hit .460/.557/.680 with five strikeouts and ten walks. Baddoo, a left-handed batter, posted a 1.013 OPS against righties while still posting a .840 OPS against southpaws.
Baddo "has shown great improvement in the year that we've had him," said Smith. It was "enjoyable to watch him develop both offensively and defensively. A threat in a number of different ways at the top of the order." He went on to say that he's "looking forward to see him patrolling the outfield at Target Field in the near future.
There you have it, the top hitters in the short season leagues for the Minnesota Twins in 2017.
In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers:
- Seth Stohs- 1) Akil Baddoo, 2) Wander Javier, 3) Jose Miranda, 4) Rainis Silva, 5), Royce Lewis, 6) Andrew Bechtold, 7) JC Arias, 8) JJ Robinson
- Jeremy Nygaard- 1) Akil Baddoo, 2) Royce Lewis, 3) Jose Miranda, 4) Wander Javier, 5) JC Arias, 6) Ben Rodriguez, 7) Andrew Bechtold, 8) Carson Crites
- Cody Christie- 1) Akil Baddoo, 2) Ben Rodriguez, 3) Shane Carrier, 4) Jose Miranda, 5) Wander Javier, 6) Brent Rooker, 7) JC Arias, 8) Royce Lewis
- Tom Froemming- 1) Akil Baddoo, 2) Jose Miranda, 3) Brent Rooker, 4) JC Arias, 5) Royce Lewis
- Steve Lein- 1) Akil Baddoo, 2) Ben Rodriguez, 3) Jose Miranda, 4) Wander Javier, 5) ANdrew Bechtold, 6) Rainis Silva, 7) Shane Carrier, 8) Royce Lewis
- Eric Pleiss- 1) JC Arias, 2) Royce Lewis, 3) Brent Rooker, 4) Andrew Bechtold, 5) Jose Miranda, 6) Akil Baddoo, 7) Wander Javier, 8) Alex Robles
- Ted Schwerzler- 1) Akil Baddoo, 2) Royce Lewis, 3) Alex Robles, 4) Wander Javier, 5) Andrew Bechtold, 6) Carson Crites, 7) Jose Miranda, 8) Matt Albanese
Feel free to discuss. What do you think of our rankings? How would you rank them? How would your ballot look?