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  • Twins 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario


    Ted Schwerzler

    Following our full-season minor league awards, today we will announce the Twins Daily short-season awards. We are talking about the prospects who played in the Florida Complex League. This piece has not been written since 2019 with a year off, and so much has changed in the minor league landscape. What has remained consistent is the emerging talent on the farm.

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter (graphics by David Youngs)

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    This season Major League Baseball removed a large contingent of the minor leagues, and for Minnesota that meant losing Elizabethton. Now with just the Florida Complex League to draw from, there are still plenty of strong performances to highlight in a year where we got action back on the farm.

    Before we get into the bats that made noise this season, here are the previous winners:

    2016: Lewin Diaz
    2017: Akil Badoo
    2018: Chris Williams
    2019: Matt Wallner

    Here are the guys that rounded out the Short Season Hitter of the Year ballots:

    Others Receiving Votes:

    • Alexander Pena 27-84 .321/.380/.393, 6 2B, 10 RBI
    • Wander Valdez 30-122 .246/.359/.385, 8 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI
    • Carlos Aguiar 21-97 .216/.280/.495, 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 20 RBI
    • Luis Gomez 17-70 .243/.424/.314, 5 2B, 3 RBI

    Short Season Hitter of the Year:
    Here are the top four players for the Twins Daily Hitter of the Year

    4. Wilfri Castro 15-58 .259/.377/.517, 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 18 RBI
    Minnesota signed Castro as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic prior to the 2018 season. 2021 was his first year stateside and he competed in the Complex League as a 20-year-old. His two triples and three home runs were also career firsts. The .894 OPS was a very strong showing, and his career has started with a great eye and level of discipline at the plate.

    3. Luis Baez 25-84 .298/.385/.405, 3 2B, 3 3B, 4 RBI
    Baez was signed as an international free agent prior to the 2018 season. He made his stateside debut in 2019 as an 18-year-old. Playing 28 games during the Complex League this year, Baez continued to post a very strong on-base percentage. He is now just past the average age for the league and should see a larger challenge next season.

    2. Emmanuel Rodriguez 27-126 .214/.346/.524, 5 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 23 RBI
    Signed as part of the 2019 international free agent class, Emmanuel Rodriguez netted himself a $2.5 million bonus. He participated in instructs each of the past two seasons, but this was his first year in pro ball. Popping off for 10 home runs in just 37 games was a nice power display, and both the on-base and slugging aspects of his game were impressive this year.

    1. Kala’i Rosario 52-188 .277/.341/.452 10 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 40 RBI
    Selected in the 5th round of last years draft, it was often suggested that Kala'i Rosario was a very strong value selection by Minnesota. It was expected that the Hawaii native’s bat would play, and it absolutely looked that way in his pro debut. Just recently having turned 19, Rosario should be playing for Low-A Fort Myers in 2022.

    This was a different season at the short season level with just one team playing games. Rosario played in 51 games during the Complex League, however, and was able to kick off a very strong sample size to get his feet wet. Minnesota had Rosario playing on the corners in the outfield with right field being the role twice as often. He did also get 12 starts as the designated hitter.

    The Ballots
    Here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers:

    • Seth Stohs - 1) Emmanuel Rodriguez 2) Luis Baez 3) Kala’i Rosario
    • Nash Walker - 1) Kala’i Rosario 2) Emmanuel Rodriguez 3) Luis Baez
    • Lucas Seehafer - 1) Emmanuel Rodriguez 2) Kala’i Rosario 3) Carlos Aguiar
    • Cody Christie - 1) Emmanuel Rodriguez 2) Kala’i Rosario 3) Wilfri Castro
    • Tom Froemming - 1) Emmanuel Rodriguez 2) Kala’i Rosario 3) Wander Valdez
    • Ted Schwerzler - 1) Emmanuel Rodriguez 2) Kala’i Rosario 3) Wilfri Castro
    • Steve Lien - 1) Kala’i Rosario 2) Emmanuel Rodriguez 3) Alexander Pena
    • David Youngs - 1) Kala’i Rosario 2) Alexander Pena 3) Wander Valdez
    • Allen Post - 1) Kala’i Rosario 2) Wilfri Castro 3) Luis Baez
    • Matt Braun - 1) Emmanuel Rodriguez 2) Kala’i Rosario 3) Luis Gomez

    Other 2021 Twins Daily Awards
    Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda
    Minor League Starting PItcher of the Year: Louie Varland 
    Minor League Relief PItcher of the Year: Jovani Moran 

    Feel free to discuss. What do you think of our rankings? How would you rank them? How would your ballot look?

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    I was impressed by the past list of hitters chosen even if two are on other teams.  

    Akil - Tigers 260/327/443  770

    Diaz - Miami 215/250/486 736

    Can you give us an update on Chris Williams?  I see Matt Wallner in the top prospects and he has had a good year, but Chris is a mystery to me.  I like to see the progress of your picks.

     

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    Seemed that Rosario was so consistent, hitting well nearly every week all summer.  Seems every time I looked at the FCL box score, he had a hit or two.  Plus, the kid has a great last name for most Twins fans.  

    Also thought that Rodriguez did very well considering he didn't have that first year in the DSL last summer.  A bit surprised that Pena wasn't in the Top 3 considering he was hitting over .400 average much of the summer.  Noticed he didn't play much, or at all, later in the season.  Was he injured?  Or were they just getting innings for this year's draft class?

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    26 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    I was impressed by the past list of hitters chosen even if two are on other teams.  

    Akil - Tigers 260/327/443  770

    Diaz - Miami 215/250/486 736

    Can you give us an update on Chris Williams?  I see Matt Wallner in the top prospects and he has had a good year, but Chris is a mystery to me.  I like to see the progress of your picks.

     

    Williams started the season by going 5-for-50 at Cedar Rapids... then was promoted to AA Wichita and played pretty well, playing twice a week or so. 

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    13 minutes ago, strumdatjag said:

    The numbers you list for Rodriguez don’t look that great.   Unless I’m reading it wrong - he batted .214.  Yes with 10 HRs, and apparently some BBs.  But tell me why to ignore .214???

    Definitely would like to see a higher batting average, but he was 2nd in the league in HR's, 4th in slugging %, and 5th in OPS. It was what he did with that average that matters, because he mashed.

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    2 hours ago, strumdatjag said:

    The numbers you list for Rodriguez don’t look that great.   Unless I’m reading it wrong - he batted .214.  Yes with 10 HRs, and apparently some BBs.  But tell me why to ignore .214???

    Like Steve just said, plus you have to step back much of the time and look inside the numbers. 

    We as the average fan have very little idea of what the team's developmental folks are working on with these guys.  So while I agree, on the surface .214 looks a little cringy (as my son would say 🙄), the other numbers point to a ton of potential.  True, he may never fully realize it but he's only just beginning his pro career.  

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    Emmanuel Rodriguez'a swing reminds me of a lefty Garver, but with a freer follow through. Short to it, long through it. Screaming line drives and low-angle home runs. He will damage fences. 

    Rosario's swing...good lord. Not just the power, but the carry of the barrel through the zone...almost like Hank Aaron. This kid will hit some mammoth home runs.  

    If these two kids carry decent numbers into the bigs, they won't be counting their money, they'll be weighing it. 

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