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  • Twins Minor League Report (4/27): Miranda Is Heating Up, Lewis with the Walk Off

    Lucas Seehafer PT

    The St. Paul Saints, Wichita Wind Surge, and Cedar Rapids Kernels all picked up wins on Wednesday. Fort Myers fell to Clearwater.

    Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints




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    St. Paul 3, Nashville 2, (10 innings)
    Box Score

    The Saints escaped victorious during a matinee affair Wednesday afternoon, toppling the Sounds on a walk-off frozen rope off the bat of Royce Lewis.

    Lewis hit his ninth double of the season during an earlier at-bat and finished the day 2-for-4. The Twins' top prospect is slashing .309/.407/.559 with two home runs and three stolen bases in 18 games this spring, though perhaps most notably his is 17:10 K:BB ratio. Not only has Lewis’s power and speed returned following his ACL injury last spring, but he has adopted a more discerning eye at the plate; prior to the 2022 campaign, he had a career 120:53 K:BB ratio in 302 minor-league contests.

    But Lewis wasn’t the only top Twins prospect who had himself a game. José Miranda also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and home run. Miranda’s solo shot gave the Saints a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

    Miranda started off the season sluggish with the bat, but since April 16th, the Twins future third baseman has gone 12-for-40 (.300) with seven doubles and a home run. He has looked more comfortable at the plate as of late and has begun to drive balls that he had been previously pounding into the ground. 

    Devin Smeltzer was once again nails on the mound, striking out three and allowing only one earned run in five innings; the lefty has now surrendered only three earned runs in 19 innings for the Saints. Drew Strotman, Tyler Bashlor, and Jake Petricka combined to strikeout five and held Nashville to a single run in three innings. Yennier Cano pitched the Saints’ final two frames, striking out two and picking up the win.

    Following the game, @Ted Schwerzler chatted with Devin Smeltzer about his health issues last year and how happy he is to be healthy and performing this year. Alex Kirilloff also talked about his wrist and potential return to the Twins lineup. 

    Wichita 7, Arkansas 4
    Box Score

    Louie Varland looked much better during his outing against the Travelers than he did in his previous start. The former Concordia Golden Bear tossed 5 1/3 innings and struck out four while allowing only four Arkansas batters to reach base. Varland worked in his changeup more tonight than he did his last outing and while the command wasn't anything to write home about, it was effective enough to throw opposing batters off the scent of his fastball and slider. On a couple of occasions, Varland's third pitch moved like a potential plus offering.

    Edouard Julien, who recently returned from a brief IL stint, remained hot, going 2-for-5 with his second hit being his first Double-A home run. He's 6-for-18 since returning to line up with a home run, triple, and double. 

    Julien rose up prospect ranking boards last summer due to his unique combination of on-base skills, power, and speed. While he wasn't considered a significant prospect out of Auburn—he was the Twins 18th round pick in 2019—Julien has kept virtually the same production in the minors as he did in the SEC. In 127 college games, Julien slashed .266/.393/.501 with 27 home runs and 10 stolen bases. In 120 MiLB games entering Wednesday, he has slashed .268/.433/.476 with 18 home runs and 37 stolen bases. At his current pace, Julien may reach St. Paul by the middle or end of the summer.

    Cole Sturgeon also had a big game for the Wind Surge as he went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Spencer Steer also contributed two hits and elevated his batting average to .319. Alex Scherff converted the save.

    Cedar Rapids 2, Beloit 1
    Box Score

    The Kernels also squeaked out a win on Wednesday, taking down the Sky Carp in a low-offense affair. Casey Legumina, Miguel Rodriguez, and Denny Bentley pitched a gem for Cedar Rapids as they combined to strikeout 14 Beloit batters while surrendering only five hits and a single walk. 

    Wander Javier’s third double of the season was the lone extra base hit for the Kernels. Alerick Soularie (1-for-3) and Will Holland (1-for-4) each knocked in RBIs. Seth Gray and Javier each picked up two hits a piece.

    Clearwater 6, Fort Myers 1
    Box Score

    Well, let's just say that it wasn't Fort Myers' night.

    The Mighty Mussels struggled...mightily...both against the Threshers as well as themselves. Clearwater stung the Fort Myers pitchers for six runs on 13 hits, four of which went for extra bases, while the defense registered three errors and a passed ball. The lone Mighty Mussel pitcher to find success on the bump was Juan Mendez who threw two innings of hitless ball, striking out three. 

    Mikey Perez's second double of the season was the only hit Fort Myers was able to muster. Keoni Cavaco drove in the team's only run.

    Pitcher of the Day – RHP Casey Legumina (Cedar Rapids): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
    Hitter of the Day – INF José Miranda (St. Paul): 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI

    Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed:

    #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-4, RBI, BB, SB
    #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB
    #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI
    #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL (likely a rehab start this weekend)
    #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K
    #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, K
    #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-2, 2 BB
    #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K
    #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, BB, K
    #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (expecting to pitch in May)
    #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-for-5
    #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, HR, RBI

    St. Paul vs. Nashville (6:37 PM CST) - RHP Ronny Henriquez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
    Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (1-1, 3.35 ERA)
    Fort Myers vs. Clearwater (6:00 PM CST) - RHP John Stankiewicz (2-0, 1.13 ERA) 

    Feel free to ask questions and discuss. 

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    Great to see Royce is playing the best ball of his MiLB career,  pretty remarkable considering he missed the last two seasons. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the Correa opt outs if Royce keeps this up. 

    Looks like Smeltzer is ready for the call up, but who's place does he take with the upcoming roster crunch? Definitely worried about Kirilloff. Has there been any news on how his wrist has felt since his return?

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    27 minutes ago, MadHits said:

    Great to see Royce is playing the best ball of his MiLB career,  pretty remarkable considering he missed the last two seasons. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the Correa opt outs if Royce keeps this up. 

    Looks like Smeltzer is ready for the call up, but who's place does he take with the upcoming roster crunch? Definitely worried about Kirilloff. Has there been any news on how his wrist has felt since his return?

    Nothing official but from the at-bats I've seen it looks like he's not holding back. Drove one to the RF corner yesterday that hooked just foul.

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    6 minutes ago, Lucas Seehafer PT said:

    Nothing official but from the at-bats I've seen it looks like he's not holding back. Drove one to the RF corner yesterday that hooked just foul.

    Awesome, Thanks! Just saw Ted's new post too, seems like Alex thinks his wrist is feeling better than before but I wonder if that's just the cortisone talking.

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    Great to see the K:BB ratio improvement on Royce.  Especially with the layoff that he's had, that's a very encouraging sign.  Hopefully that continues as pitchers adapt to that.

    Also great to see Miranda starting to settle in.  With the increased expectations coming into this season, it's not unreasonable to put a little extra pressure on yourself. 

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    Wonder what the Twins are gonna do with Lewis and Miranda. Both can play most of the infield but unless injuries happen Correa and Polanco are gonna have up-the-middle locked down for a decent amount of the year. I’m expecting the Twins to trade either Arraez or Urshela to make room for the future stars

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    Nice report, thanks.  I find Julien to be a fascinating prospect.  While he doesn't have tremendous power or have flashy hit tools, his eye at the plate is special.  He has an uncanny ability to lay off of pitches. I have wondered if his on base percentage would fall as he moved up in the system, but thus far it has not.  I have noticed he draws walks even against pitchers with good control.  It will be fun to see how he progresses.

    Tonight's games should be fun.  We get to see Henriquez, SWR, Headrick and Stankiewicz on the mound.  Might be a lot of K's if these guys are on.

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    Good to see our top hitters producing.  I would not be surprised if we see any of them cycle in through the season if injuries happen, or if some struggle enough.  3rd base, 1st base, Dh, and LF are not locked up by anyone.  If Sano does not start getting hits, Sanchez or Urshella struggles or any of our rotating LF not step up, I could see Miranda and Lewis, and if needed Martin all getting up to MLB level.  

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    I think your characterization of Julien isn't quiet accurate.  He was the #88 prospect for fangraphs and the #177 for MLB.   Essentially he was viewed as anywhere from a 3rd to 5th round draft pick.    What happened is he dropped and dropped and then the Twins took a shot in the dark in the 18th round.   What happened was he went bonkers in the college world series,  don't remind him of the overthrow that cost Auburn a game. With saving some money in earlier rounds,  Julien signed as essentially a 4th to 5th round draft pick.   He has always had talent and a power bat,  the question was his overall hit tool and what would be his defensive position.  Now I think the odd thing is he was viewed as more of a plodder-  which has been the exact opposite.   The twins bulked up on middle infield and corner infield slots in the 2019 draft - for some reason I have made that draft a key point of interest for myself.  Everyone seemed to be so upset with the draft, yet when you really started to dig into it you realized they picked up a lot of kids with a lot of talent.   Currently there is something like 20 players from that draft still in the minors and many of them in the top 40 prospect lists.   I will continue to watch and see how many make it to the big leagues.   

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    Good day overall for the top prospects.

    Varland is a fascinating prospect, and I'm really rooting for him. It's not just the local boy angle, it's also the D-II aspect of it. If Varland succeeds, teams are going to be more likely to take a second look at a kid coming out of a decent D-II program and give them a shot. My alma mater just had a kid pitch a perfect game (there's been less than 30 in all of D-II's history) and it's a exciting to think that someone like him could get a chance at a pro career if varland continues to grow. It would be great if the circle change can be the other off-speed pitch for him: he's got a fastball that plays, the slider is good as long as guys can't just sit fastball/slider, and the change could be the last piece that lets him really go. I've always felt like AA is where you figure out whether you have enough pitches to be a starter, because the hitters are getting good enough that you can't just overwhelm them with a ridiculous fastball all the time or one awesome breaking ball.

    Wallner is continuing on a solid run too, hopefully he and Miranda just needed live ABs and a little time to get warmed up.

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