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  • Twins Minor League Report (6/15): Rucker walks it off, Varland Double-Header Split Highlight Wednesday in the Twins System


    Andrew Mahlke

    Three top-20 prospects made starts. Two teams played double-headers. Wichita split theirs, but a Varland got a win in each game. Tim Beckham continued his torrid streak. Yunior Severino went bonkers. Read more about it in Wednesday’s minor-league report.

    Twins Video

    Let’s see what happened this Wednesday in the Twins organization.

    TRANSACTIONS

    • The Twins activated RHP Sonny Gray from the 15-day IL
    • The Twins optioned LHP Jovani Moran to AAA St. Paul
    • The Twins sent OF Kyle Garlick on a rehab assignment to AAA St. Paul

    SAINTS (AAA)
    St. Paul 3, Columbus 4
    Box Score

    The Saints took a tough loss to the Columbus Clippers on Wednesday by a score of 4-3. Ronny Henriquez made the start for the Saints and he kept the Saints in the game, going 4 and ⅔ innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Henriquez’s record drops to 0-3 on the year while his ERA is an unimpressive 7.45.

    The Saints got a run right away in the top of the first when Tim Beckham drove in Alex Kirilloff with a single. Beckham continues to be on a tear as he carries a 1.343 OPS through 13 games with the Saints.

    Henriquez was tagged for three runs in the second inning when the Clippers collected two singles and two doubles against him. The game remained 3-1 for quite a while thanks to Henriquez settling in and 1 and ⅓ innings of scoreless relief from Evan Sisk. Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t figure out starter Aaron Civale who was making a rehab start. Civale went 4 and ⅔ innings, striking out seven and not allowing a run.

    The Clippers picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh to push their lead to three. This run would prove to be huge as the Saints scored two runs in the top of the eighth off of sticky-stuff merchant James Karinchak thanks to RBI singles from Mark Contreras and Michael Helman. The Saints loaded the bases in the eighth but couldn’t score as Jose Godoy lined out to end the threat.

    Kyle Garlick grounded into a double play to end the game as he finished 0-for-5 on the day in the first game of his rehab assignment. The Saints fell to 31-30 on the year with the loss. Helman led the offense, going 2-for-4 with a double.

    WIND SURGE (AA)
    GAME 1: Wichita 7, Tulsa 4
    Box Score

    In game one of a double-header with Tulsa, the Wichita Wind Surge won by a score of 7-4. TwinsDaily’s #12 prospect Louie Varland got the start for Wichita and was very solid once again. Varland threw five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out four. Varland picked up his sixth win of the year and his ERA is down to 3.27. He has consistently been one of the Twins organization’s best pitchers and he would be deserving of a promotion to give him a new challenge at AAA.

    Game one of this double-header was the DaShawn Keirsey show. He started the scoring for the Wind Surge in the top of the second when he hit a sacrifice fly to score Matt Wallner. After Edouard Julien tied the game at two in the fifth with his fourth homer of the year and Andrew Bechtold scored on a wild pitch, Keirsey hit a solo-shot for his third homer of the year to give the Wind Surge a two-run lead. In the top of the seventh, Keirsey drove in Wallner with an RBI groundout to give Wichita a five-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

    Osiris German picked up the two-inning save for Wichita, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out three. The save was his second of the year.

    Keirsey finished 1-for-2 with three RBI and a walk. Leobaldo Cabrera reached base three times via a hit and two walks, and Wallner scored two runs to lead the offense. With the win, the Wind Surge improved to 33-24 on the year. 

    GAME 2: Wichita 3, Tulsa 4
    Box Score

    In game two of the double-header, the Wind Surge were not so lucky as Tulsa beat them to get the double-header split. Kody Funderburk took the mound for Wichita but could not improve on his 6-1 record as he took the loss in this one. Funderburk went 3 and ⅔ innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out three.

    Funderburk was tagged for two runs in the first inning when MLB’s #61 prospect Andy Pages took him deep for his tenth of the year. In the fourth inning, Tulsa got another run on an error to push the lead to three. The Wind Surge responded with one in the bottom of the fourth when Wallner scored on a Dennis Ortega groundout.

    After Tulsa scored another run in the sixth, Keirsey continued to swing a hot bat when he drove in two runs with a single. Wichita cut the deficit to one run and had runners on second and third but couldn’t capitalize.

    Steven Cruz and Jordan Gore each threw 1 and ⅓ innings of scoreless relief for Wichita, but it wasn’t enough as Wichita fell 4-3 to Tulsa. Wichita’s record fell to 33-25 with the loss. One interesting anecdote from this double-header was that Varland’s older brother Gus picked up the win in game two for Tulsa. Each Varland brother picked up a win in the double-header so the Varland family couldn’t have much to complain about.

     

    KERNELS (HIGH-A)
    Cedar Rapids 7, Dayton 2

    Box Score

    Two of the best high-A teams faced off on Wednesday, as Cedar Rapids came into the matchup at 37-21 while Dayton came in at 37-20. Cedar Rapids came away victorious in a 7-2 victory.

    The Kernels sent TwinsDaily’s #20 prospect David Festa to the mound. Festa continued his excellence in his first full professional season, throwing five strong innings, allowing two runs, and not walking any batters while striking out five. Festa has not allowed more than three runs in any of his 11 outings this year, and his ERA is down to 2.19 while striking out 65 batters in 53 innings.

    Dayton took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, but the Kernels answered in the bottom half when Wander Javier doubled in Dylan Neuse to cut the deficit in half.

    Yunior Severino came up huge for the Kernels on multiple occasions on Wednesday. In the bottom of the fourth, he smashed a solo home run to tie the game at two. Two innings later, he hit a two-run homer to give the Kernels the lead for good. A Patrick Winkel solo bomb immediately followed his blast to give the Kernels back-to-back home runs. In the bottom of the seventh, Severino singled in Kyler Fedko, who tripled, to increase the lead to five.

    The Kernels bullpen was fantastic Wednesday, throwing four scoreless innings and only giving up three hits. Bobby Milacki threw one and ⅔ innings, Miguel Rodriguez threw one and ⅔, and Tyler Palm got the final two outs of the game to secure the victory for the Kernels.

    Severino carried the offense as he went 4-for-4 with two runs, four RBI, and his first two home runs of the 2022 season. The Kernels improved their record to 38-21 with the win.

    MIGHTY MUSSELS (LOW-A)
    GAME 1: Fort Myers 5, Bradenton 4
    Box Score

    Fort Myers and Bradenton finished a game that was started Tuesday and postponed, and the Mighty Mussels came out on top by a score of 5-4.

    Before the game was postponed Tuesday, Jaylen Nowlin started on the mound for Fort Myers. He threw three innings of one-run baseball, striking out seven. Nowlin has now struck out 48 batters in 27 innings this year. Nowlin let up a homer in the top of the third to start the scoring, but Fort Myers responded with two runs in the bottom of the third despite not getting a hit. Noah Cardenas and Keoni Cavaco each drew bases-loaded walks to score runs. After the bottom of the third, the game was delayed due to lightning, and it would be picked up Wednesday.

    John Wilson started on Wednesday for the Mighty Mussels (started the fourth inning) and threw one and ⅔ innings, allowing three runs on two hits and three walks. Bradenton took a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth, and the Mighty Mussels had some fighting to do.

    The game remained 4-2 until the bottom of the seventh, thanks to three innings of scoreless relief from Matt Mullenbach who allowed one hit and struck out four. In the bottom of the seventh, the Mighty Mussels loaded the bases on walks and Cavaco grounded into a force-out, scoring Luis Baez. Fort Myers stranded two runners on, though, as the score was now 4-3 going into the final two innings.

    Juan Mendez followed Mullenbach, throwing one and ⅓ innings of scoreless relief into the bottom of the ninth. Baez led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and Jake Rucker followed with a walk-off two-run homer to give the Mighty Mussels the win.

    With the win, the Mighty Mussels improve to 36-21 on the season as the Twins system continues to dominate both levels of A-ball.

    GAME 2: Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 1
    Box Score

    In game two of the double-header, Fort Myers pulled off a victory in less dramatic fashion than game one. Left-hander Jordan Carr took the mound to start for the Mighty Mussels eight days after being assigned to Fort Myers from the FCL Twins. After being hit around in his first start, Carr pitched way better in his second go-around as a starter on Wednesday, throwing five innings of one-run ball, only allowing four baserunners and striking out five.

    The game was locked in a 0-0 tie until the bottom of the fourth inning when Fort Myers rallied for four runs. After back-to-back singles from Noah Miller and Cardenas to open the inning, Mikey Perez singled in a run. Cardenas came around to score on a wild pitch, and singles from Kala’i Rosario and Baez scored runs for Fort Myers to give them a four run lead with three innings to play.

    In the bottom of the sixth, Rosario swung at the first pitch he saw and connected for a two-run homer, his sixth homer of the year to give the Mighty Mussels a 6-1 advantage. Regi Grace and Hunter McMahon each threw an inning of scoreless relief to shut the door on Bradenton, and the Mighty Mussels finished the day with a double-header sweep.

    Rubel Cespedes finished the game 2-for-2 with two runs scored and a walk, and Rosario went 2-for-3 with three RBI and the homer. With the win, the Mighty Mussels improved to 37-21 and clinched a first half division title and a spot in the Florida State League Playoffs.

    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    There was no game for the FCL Twins on Wednesday. They will be back in action Thursday against the FCL Braves.

    DOMINICAN DAILIES
    DSL Twins 13, DSL Yankees 4
    Box Score

    Starting Pitcher: Ledwin Taveras (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K)
    Multi-Hit Games: Junior Marino (3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Ricardo Pena (2-for-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI)
    2B: Marino (1)
    3B: Rafael Cruz (2), Jose Rodriguez (1)
    HR: Pena (1)

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Carr (Fort Myers) - 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K
    Hitter of the Day – Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - 4-for-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR (2)

    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    We will again keep tabs on the Twins' top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here

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

    #3 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - 0-for-3, BB
    #7 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 1-for-5, 2 K
    #9 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-6, R, 2 BB
    #12 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K
    #13 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K
    #15 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-3, 2 R, 4 BB, 2B (11)
    #16 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-for-6, R, RBI, HR (4), BB, SB (8)
    #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-5, 3 K
    #20 - David Festa (Cedar Rapids) - 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K

    THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    St. Paul @ Columbus (11:05 AM CST) - RHP Josh Winder (0-0, 18.00 ERA)
    Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (2-3, 3.40 ERA)
    Dayton @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (6-1, 1.86 ERA)
    Bradenton @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - TBD

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

    Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!

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    Evan Sisk is having a fantastic season for the Wind Surge/Saints.  Do those of you who know more about him believe he could be someone to help the Twins pen?  Perhaps even later this year?

     

    Always great seeing Severino have a big day.  The Twins gotta get something for one of these huge investments in young kids from the islands.

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    7 minutes ago, Trov said:

    I am not advocating for this, but I find it interesting that so many are calling to bring up Alex, which I would support, because he is hot, but no one is calling to bring up Beckem despite being just as hot.  

    Beckham caught my eye the other day also.  Another problem of where he would play.  Expect the best we could hope for from him is to stay hot to give him some value next month so he could be included as a meaningful part of trade X.

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    5 minutes ago, Trov said:

    I am not advocating for this, but I find it interesting that so many are calling to bring up Alex, which I would support, because he is hot, but no one is calling to bring up Beckem despite being just as hot.  

    We have created depth from which to trade from here. Infield and corner outfield. One more Sonny Gray, and one more Jhoan Duran would go along way to post season competitiveness this year. 

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    1 hour ago, roger said:

    Beckham caught my eye the other day also.  Another problem of where he would play.  Expect the best we could hope for from him is to stay hot to give him some value next month so he could be included as a meaningful part of trade X.

    Beckham is not on the 40-man roster, and AK is. 

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    4 BBs for Wallner! He's got a pretty dang good eye for the strike zone, I'd say. He's got to be on the list for potential promotion to AAA, right? I feel like we'll know more about him the more advanced pitching he faces, but if he's able to continue to make this much contact (because it always seems to be hard contact) and draw this many walks, he could be a real asset.

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    24 minutes ago, dex8425 said:

    Beckham is not on the 40-man roster, and AK is. 

    True, but to the best of my knowledge that doesn't preclude him from being part of a trade.

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    What a night for Severino a perfect 4 for 4.  He has been a pretty streaky hitter so far in his career. His strikeout to walk ratio has been pretty bad at least until this year so far.  I think if he can gain a better eye at the plate he has a chance to be a good one.

    jmlease beat me to it but even though Wallner had no hits in game 1 he took three walks.  I don't think I have ever seen him take 3 walks ever so I love that he was being patient waiting for a good pitch.  When he is on one of his hot streaks he has to know they are going to want to pitch around him so happy he is taking what they are giving him even though I am sure it is frustrating not getting to mash the ball.  If he can better balance the walks and K's he is another big bat that could be ready fairly soon.

    I have been saying it for a while now but I really think Varland is ready to move up and he is already 24 so it would be good to see what he can do at AAA sooner rather than later.  If the changeup gets more consistent then he looks like he could be a starter.  If not he still would be a good pen arm as well.

    Happy to see the Muscles clinch a playoff spot.  They are not quite the same team without Rodriguez but they are still finding ways to win.  Also wondering if they move Hajjar up now or wait until the all star break.

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    Michael Helman is starting to look like one of those guys who was never a serious prospect, but who might end up actually being a decent MLB player, then you go back and look at his stats and wonder why he was never considered a serious prospect.

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    18 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

    Michael Helman is starting to look like one of those guys who was never a serious prospect, but who might end up actually being a decent MLB player, then you go back and look at his stats and wonder why he was never considered a serious prospect.

    IN 2019 he was ranked in Minnesota's top 30 by MLB.COM.  He was ranked number 29.  So he got some love after his 2018 .900 OPS season.  I think he tanked with the bat in 2019 and with his age never made it back on the list.  2020 there was no MiLB season and 2021 he was old for his league and had good but not great numbers so you can see why he wasn't thought of "that" highly.  He has been good this year and hasn't missed a beat moving up to AAA.  I agree with you that he looks like he could be a solid utility player in MLB, but he would be hard pressed to make it onto the Twins 40 man.

    Steer is younger and has better numbers.  Jullien is younger and has better numbers.  Helman is out performing Austin Martin by a mile but Martin is still ahead him.  So unless the Twins can work out a trade I think he will likely take his bat to a team in greater need of a utility player next year.  He is likely too good just sit and wait for a shot that may never come.

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    37 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

    Michael Helman is starting to look like one of those guys who was never a serious prospect, but who might end up actually being a decent MLB player, then you go back and look at his stats and wonder why he was never considered a serious prospect.

    Helman's a textbook example of my frustration with how prospects get promoted.  Many organizations in all walks of life have a policy of "Up or Out" for their young employees - if they aren't good enough to promote, then they are shown the door, gently or abruptly as the situation demands  I know Covid played havoc, after he had a sub-par 2019, but still... a college draftee who is at high-A at age 25 accomplishes essentially nothing.  "Wellll, he's pretty good, but we don't know how he'll do against tougher competition."  The timing  of his development (poor first-half in 2021 then he came on) worked against him.  So now at age 26 he has split time at AA and AAA, and we still have to wonder, "wellll, his AAA stats look good but they're small sample size - maybe he'll regress."  Everything has finally worked out the way they hoped, and now it's decision time, and he isn't a good trade chip and he isn't a guy they'll add.  Wasted development time, quite possibly - they've still got a few months to prove that view wrong.

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    4 hours ago, roger said:

    Evan Sisk is having a fantastic season for the Wind Surge/Saints.  Do those of you who know more about him believe he could be someone to help the Twins pen?  Perhaps even later this year?

    Always great seeing Severino have a big day.  The Twins gotta get something for one of these huge investments in young kids from the islands.

    Sisk's numbers are his number, and they have been quite good. He probably could fit into the plans. That said, he's obviously now behind Thielbar, Coulombe, Moran at this point, so I'm not sure that he gets up there this year. But, never know. 

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    4 hours ago, Alex Schieferdecker said:

    Extremely satisfying to see Karinchak pitching poorly in AAA. What a fraud that guy was.

    Are we thinking his career success and domination in the minors and majors were completely based on Spider Tak?

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    4 hours ago, roger said:

    Evan Sisk is having a fantastic season for the Wind Surge/Saints.  Do those of you who know more about him believe he could be someone to help the Twins pen?  Perhaps even later this year?

     

    Always great seeing Severino have a big day.  The Twins gotta get something for one of these huge investments in young kids from the islands.

    The most obvious thing I noticed about him when I've seen him pitch is his unique arm slot. It might not quite be sidearm but is definitely lower than 3/4. And he looks to have a pretty wide wingspan too. Not something you see from the left side too often.

    As you would expect, he's been hell on lefties this year, with an .077 BA and .222 OPS against. Weirdly he wasn't great against lefties in previous seasons, and I don't think the arms slot is totally new. Could be some minor arm slot adjustments combined with pitch shape changes and maybe adjustments on the rubber.

    Regardless of the difference, he's a guy that gives hitters a different look, so I could see him being a lefty specialist in the majors. He seems to have been good enough against righties to deal with the 3 batter minimum too.

     

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