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  • Twins Minor League Week in Review: Starting Strong

    Nash Walker

    Minor League Baseball is underway! The Twins’ affiliates kicked offseasons that will be filled with breakouts, wins, and box score hawking. On the whole, the system went 11-4. 

    If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week.

    Image courtesy of Steve Buhr, Twins Daily

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    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (@ Louisville) 5-1 (5-1 overall)
    It was an awesome opening week for the Saints. The team scored 47 runs and won five of their six games. Royce Lewis is off to a great start, going 7-for-21 with three doubles and a homer. Lewis stole three bases and reached base in 48% of his plate appearances. He also made numerous strong plays at shortstop. 

    Mark Contreras picked up right where he left off in 2021, going 6-for-17 with two doubles and two homers. The player of the week, though, was Jake Cave, who went 9-for-19 with three doubles and a triple. Cave posted a 1.320 OPS and is undoubtedly itching to join the Twins in Minneapolis. 

    On the pitching front, Cole Sands dazzled with five scoreless innings in Thursday’s loss. Sands struck out seven, walked none, and allowed one hit. He’s a key part of what the Twins hope will be adequate starting pitching depth this season. Several Saints relievers had strong weeks, including Wladimir Pinto (4 IP, 0 ER), Juan Minaya (3 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 5 K), and Yennier Cano (3 IP, 0 ER, 4 K).

    Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (vs. Tulsa) 0-3 (0-3 overall)
    The Surge had a rough first go at the plate, hitting .167/.264/.250 with one homer in 110 plate appearances. Austin Martin went 2-for-13 with multiple errors and Matt Wallner went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts. Spencer Steer had a nice weekend with three hits, including two doubles and two RBI. 

    Matt Canterino started the opener and battled through a tenuous first inning. The second was much better, but with the Twins monitoring his workload closely, Canterino lasted two innings and 45 pitches. Twins’ 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Louie Varland made his debut in relief, walking five in a rough 4 2/3 innings. 

    Simeon Woods Richardson pitched very well in his season debut, striking out five and walking two in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. SWR threw 46 of 66 pitches for strikes, an awesome sign after command issues last year. Austin Schulfer, Steven Cruz, and the Surge bullpen was fairly solid all weekend. The bats were the issue. 

    High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (vs. Beloit) 3-0 (3-0 overall)
    What an insane week for Twins’ 2021 fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He went 10-for-14 with two doubles, three homers, and 15 RBI. Those 15 RBI are four more than the next high total for all minor leaguers despite Triple-A teams having played six games instead of three. It is six more than anyone below Triple-A. 

    Sawyer Gipson-Long quietly had a solid season in 2021, striking out 32% of hitters across both A-levels. He is off to a nice start this year, pitching four scoreless innings with five strikeouts in his season debut. Brent Headrick and Aaron Rozek also turned in solid starts. 

    Outscoring Beloit 23-8, the Kernels could have a potent offense with Encarnacion-Strand, Alerick Soularie, and Aaron Sabato in the heart of the order. The bullpen was also fantastic, headlined by Osiris German, Cody Laweryson, and Bradley Hanner

    Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: (@ Clearwater) 3-0 (3-0 overall)
    Emmanuel Rodríguez will be a must-follow prospect all summer long. The 19-year-old showed elite plate discipline and power in his 2021 debut. Rodríguez walked six times over his first three games this weekend, adding a homer and a double. He also stole a base in Sunday’s win. Rodríguez could move quickly.

    Outfielder Kyler Fedko, the Twins’ 12th round pick in 2021, is off and running with a double, triple, and four RBI. Kala’i Rosario went 2-for-8 with a triple and Keoni Cavaco had a monster Opening Day, going 3-for-5 with a double. Cavaco walked twice Saturday and once more Sunday, but he struck out six times in 15 plate appearances. 

    Starters David Festa, Travis Adams, and John Stankiewicz combined to allow three runs in 15 innings. They struck out 16 and walked only two. The Mighty Mussels lead the league with a 3.00 ERA after the first weekend. They led the Florida State League with a 3.96 ERA and tied for first with 1,288 strikeouts in 2021. 

    Complex League FCL Twins: 2021 Regular Season (21-38)
    The FCL Twins start their season in Mid-June. Players not currently on a full-season affiliate's roster are in Ft. Myers at the complex for what amounts to Extended Spring Training. Several of those players will move back and forth between the Complex roster and the Mighty Mussels roster, or even the other rosters depending on need. 

    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings

    #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-13, 2 2B
    #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 7-for-21, 3 2B, 4 BB, 3 SB
    #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5-for-25, HR
    #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL
    #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP (70 pitches, 42 strikes)
    #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K (45 pitches, 26 strikes)
    #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K (31 pitches, 22 strikes) 
    #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 5 ⅔ IP, H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 K (66 pitches, 46 strikes)
    #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch
    #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 4-for-14, SB
    #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - Did Not Play.
    #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-9, 3 BB
    #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K
    #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 4 K, (86 pitches, 49 strikes)
    #15 - Emmanuel Rodríguez (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-9, 2B, HR, SB
    #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (Development List) - DNP
    #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL 
    #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 3-for-11, 2 2B
    #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3-for-11, BB
    #20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch

    Feel free to discuss the teams or players, and ask questions in the COMMENTS below. 

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    Overall it kind of looks like an average start: you have guys like Royce Lewis, Cole Sands, and Simeon Woods-Richardson off to great starts and others like Austin Martin, Jose Miranda, and Louie Varland that are slow out the gate. there's a few guys battling some injuries (but not a ruinous amount). Bunch of guys that are doing ok, but not lighting the world on fire (but also not looking lost in the woods).

    Part of me is just happy to look at the prospect list and not see 6-8 guys on the IL!

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    Happy that our prospects are doing so well. Looking forward to call up of Lewis (& others) sometime this season. Once Miranda regroup from being sent down he'll come back with a vengeance. Don't understand why they didn't continue their orignal plan of Martin playing in CF where he's better suited instead of pressing him to adjust to SS. Once they switch him back to CF he'll come around. Exciting times

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    Great summary, thanks loads.  I have three take aways.  First, it would be interesting to find out if any Twins minor league players have started the season with as much "bang" as Encarnacion-Strand has this year.  Amazing start.  Second, it is great to see Rodriguez showing good plate discipline.  I agree he could be a fast mover.  Finally, I agree with a post I saw on this site that wonders if Martin is feeling pressure at short.  I sometimes wonder if they are trying to establish him at short to improve his trade value rather than as a long term plan to keep him there.  From everything I have seen, it looks like his future may be in the outfield or at second base, or maybe third if his throwing works out.  

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    Thanks for the summary, Nash. 

    The best news in my opinion was looking at the prospect summary and seeing no, nada, zero, zip players listed as "INJURED."  Seemed like nearly half of your top 20 spent much of 2021 out injured.  Seeing the clean slate is fantastic news.

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    4 hours ago, roger said:

    Thanks for the summary, Nash. 

    The best news in my opinion was looking at the prospect summary and seeing no, nada, zero, zip players listed as "INJURED."  Seemed like nearly half of your top 20 spent much of 2021 out injured.  Seeing the clean slate is fantastic news.

    well, except Balazovic & Enlow, anyways.

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