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  1. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (8/20): A Good Day for Prospect Bats   
    RHP Oliver Ortega recalled by Minnesota RHP Jordan Balazovic optioned to St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 7, Indianapolis 6
    Box Score
    Randy Dobnak made a Sunday start for the Saints and went 2 1/3 allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.
    St. Paul scored in the first inning on a Trevor Larnach sacrifice fly that brought home Andrew Stevenson. They added another in the second inning on Yunior Severino’s third Triple-A homer.
    Running into trouble during the third inning, the Saints saw Indianapolis put up a five-spot. Severino then answered with his second dinger of the game, another solo blast, in the fourth inning.
    The sixth inning saw St. Paul regain the lead. Severino singled home DaShawn Keirsey Jr. Before Gilberto Celestino tripled home Jair Camargo and Severino. Stevenson then singled allowing Celestino to score and the four-run frame gave them a two-run lead. Although the Saints gave up an eighth inning run, they kept the lead in the ninth inning.
    Severino led the charge with three hits, accounting for half from St. Paul's total. Kody Funderburk continues to throw well for St. Paul as he struck out one across 1 1/3 innings and picked up his fifth save.
    Wichita 12, Springfield 1
    Box Score
    It was a good day to start for the Wind Surge as the offense exploded for 12 runs on 16 hits. Pierson Ohl was on the bump and turned in five innings of one-run baseball. He gave up just two hits while striking out three.
    Springfield scored their only run in the top of the first inning, and then Wichita took over. Tanner Schobel singled home Ernie Yake in the third inning to kick things off. Alex Isola followed with a single to score Yoyner Fajardo and Schobel before Jake Rucker went deep with a two-run big fly.
    Yake launched his first homer in the fourth inning, and David Banuelos doubled in Patrick Winkel and Isola. Doubling again in the eighth inning, Banuelos brought home Schobel and Winkel before Rucker traded places scoring Isola and Banuelos.
    The laugher saw Rucker, Yake, and Isola each record three hits. Schobel and Banuelos each had a pair of their own as well.
    Cedar Rapids 4, Wisconsin 1
    Box Score
    Zebby Matthews started Sunday for Cedar Rapids. He twirled 4 ⅔ of one-run ball. Matthews scattered five hits and two walks while striking out five as well.
    Cedar Rapids scored first when Ben Ross drove in Carson McCusker on a sacrifice fly. Kala’i Rosario launched his 18th homer of the season, bringing Jefferson Morales and Noah Miller home, to make it a 4-0 game.
    Wisconsin answered with only one run and the Kernels cruised to a victory. Miller contributed two of the four Cedar Rapids hits Sunday afternoon. Mike Paredes improved to 6-1 with the victory.
    Fort Myers 13, Palm Beach 8
    Box Score
    Jose Olivares took the ball for the Mighty Mussels on Sunday morning and lasted just 1 1/3 innings. The short start came with four runs allowed on three hits, two of which left the yard. Olivares also walked three while striking out two.
    Danny De Andrade blasted his tenth homer of the year to kick off scoring during the first inning. In the top of the second inning, Dillon Tatum singled home Yohander Martinez before Jay Harry drove in Alec Sayre with a single of his own. Fort Myers got behind with Olivares’ tough inning coming in the bottom of the second.
    The Mighty Mussels answered in the fourth inning when Gregory Duran brought in Sayre with a ground out, and Maddux Houghton raced home on a wild pitch.
    It wasn’t until the seventh inning that Fort Myers scored again. Rubel Cespedes ripped a double to score Tatum and Jay Harry before Sayre’s single brought De Andrade home. The Mighty Mussels gave two back in the bottom half but still led 9-6.
    Martinez singled in the eighth inning to score Harry and De Andrade. Sayre then singled in Cespedes and Houghton doubled home Martinez. Fort Myers had doubled up Palm Beach by a 13-6 tally. The Cardinals got two of their own in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough to erase the deficit.
    Harry and Sayre both had three-hit games while Martinez and Houghton each had a pair.
    Pitcher of the Day – Pierson Ohl (Wichita) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
    Hitter of the Day – Yunior Severino (St. Paul) - 3-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR(4)
    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:
    #8 - Tanner Schobel (Wichita) - 2-5, 2 R, RBI
    #13 - Kala’i Rosario (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, R, 3 RBI, HR(18)
    #14 - Yunior Severino (St. Paul) - 3-5, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR(4)
    #17 - Danny De Andrade (Fort Myers) - 1-4, 3 R, RBI, HR(10), K
    #20 - Brent Headrick (St. Paul) - 
    St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35PM CST) - TBD
    Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35PM CST) - TBD
    Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05PM CST) - TBD
    Dayton @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - TBD
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games! 
  2. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Hans Birkeland for an article, Twins 8, Phillies 1: Script Flipped: Pablo López Dominates; Joey Gallo Carries the Offense   
    Coming off of a loss that is certainly in the running for worst loss of the year (the second game against the Mariners at Target Field is my choice), the Twins needed to bring a lot more energy to stop their losing streak and establish some positive momentum at the end of a difficult road trip. The Guardians did their part, blowing a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning against Tampa Bay to extend their run of futility, and giving the Twins a chance to retake a 4.5 game lead in the AL Central. The Twins delivered, and then some.
    Box Score
    Starting pitcher: Pablo López: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (92 Pitches, 60 Strikes, 65.2%)
    Home Runs: Matt Wallner (8), Joey Gallo 2 (20), Carlos Correa (15)
    Top 3 WPA: López (.329), Gallo (.152) Correa (.083)
    Win Probability Chart (Via Fangraphs):

    Things started out promising. Facing a solid but unspectacular right-handed pitcher in Taijuan Walker, the night began with walks to Edouard Julien and Jorge Polanco. After Carlos Correa hit a grounder soft enough to avoid a double play and advance the runners, Max Kepler hit a grounder up the middle to score Julien. Ryan Jeffers also drew a walk before Matt Wallner lined out sharply to Jake Cave in center. The Twins put runners on base in the second and third innings, as well, but came up empty even as Walker's control wavered.
    Pablo López also started out positively, getting dominating strikeouts against Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper sandwiched around a liner from Alec Bohm that struck López on the inner thigh. López was fortunate to avoid injury and didn't appear any worse for the wear.
    After drawing five walks against Walker in the first three innings, the Twins decided to do some actual damage in the fourth, starting with an impressive homer off the bat of Wallner. He stayed back on a curveball on the outside edge of the plate and hammered it 108 MPH, a homer in all 30 parks.
    Wallner's ability to adjust to a pitch he may have been fooled by caused me to outwardly exclaim that he is fundamentally a different hitter than Joey Gallo, someone I was worried would represent Wallner's ceiling. Wallner is still no sure-thing, but being able to adjust mid-pitch and crush a breaking ball is something Gallo rarely does.
    On queue, Gallo took a splitter from Walker and bashed it the other way, just over the fence in left field. Is it possible that Gallo is making an adjustment to let the ball travel a bit more? Testing the theory, he later managed to line a 1-2 slider of the right field wall facing lefty Matt Strahm in the sixth. Finally, he broke the game open with a three-run homer in the seventh. He added a two-strike single in the ninth. If nothing else, he at least is giving himself a chance in deeper counts, and that's a nice development.
    Meanwhile, López cruised through the fourth inning, racking up strikeouts and spotting his sweeper and change-up where he wanted. He got away with a few fastballs in the middle of the plate, but Phillies' hitters were late on it, perhaps with offspeed on their minds.
    Things got hairier in the fifth inning, López allowed a sharp single to the red-hot Trea Turner before striking our JT Realmuto on a 3-2 fastball way outside the zone. With López's sweeper seemingly not cooperating, Cave then looped one to right field for a single before Rodolfo Castro got the barrel on a 2-1 change-up and lined out to Kepler. That brought up reigning NL home run champ Kyle Schwarber, capable of tying the game at three with one swing, but López got the Phillies' leadoff hitter to pop out to end the threat, preserving the 3-0 advantage.
    The Phillies put up a potential rally in the sixth, as well. Bryce Harper ripped a one-out double before Nick Castellanos roped a line drive to the left-center gap. Somehow, Michael A. Taylor caught up to the hooking liner, making an excellent diving catch to quell the uprising. Bryson Stott grounded out to end the inning, giving López six shutout innings when the Twins really needed them.
    Correa then added some insurance off tough lefty Gregory Soto, hitting a 1-1 slider out to left field to extend the lead to 4-0, but the Twins weren't done. Kepler followed with a booming double off Soto and scored on a single from Wallner. Gallo then added his second home run, a three-run shot that put the game out of reach. The add-on runs are a welcome sight.
    The good:
    Kepler stroking a 99 MPH fastball from a lefty off the wall in right-center after battling back from an 0-2 count;
    Whatever strides Gallo is making; his OPS (.770) and batting average (.185) are now higher than Schwarber's, who somehow continues to hit leadoff for a playoff team.
    López has managed to string together a few great starts, and has his ERA down to 3.66. He has to be the front-runner to start game one of a playoff series.
    The bad:
    Julien looks like he has lost his timing a little. He still is only swinging at strikes, but is also swinging and missing a lot. He also has not yet had an extra-base hit in August.
    Correa looked a little slow rounding the bases on his home run, and was removed for Farmer in the seventh. The team was up 8-0 at that point, so it may have been just a precautionary move.
    What’s Next: Sonny Gray (5-5, 3.18 ERA) faces lefty Ranger Suarez (2-5, 3.96 ERA) as the Twins try for a series victory in Philadelphia. Suarez has been solid for the Phillies since coming up in 2021, but never dominant, and his baseball savant page is hardly impressive. However, he is a lefty.
    Postgame Interviews:
    Bullpen Usage Chart:
      TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Winder 42 0 0 43 0 85 Balazovic 0 39 0 0 18 57 Sands 28 0 0 0 0 28 Floro 0 0 28 0 0 28 Durán 0 0 18 0 0 18 Jax 0 0 0 0 15 15 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 15 15 Pagán 0 14 0 0 0 14  
  3. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (7/3-7/16)   
    Don’t forget to read Nick’s Week in Review to catch up on the Twins week.
    Please check out all the upcoming draft content here!
    All referenced stats are over the last 15 days.
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints
    Overall: 53-36  Overview: The Saints have played .500 ball since the last update. 🔥: Anthony Prato has slowly worked his way up the organization ladder and, though it's only been 91 at-bats at AAA, is posting his career-best OPS of 1.069. His three home runs in the last 15 days gives him six for St. Paul and eight total on the year (only two short of his career best). He's worked his way into the conversation in that he could be a utility-type player who can give you defensive value in the infield or outfield and can swipe a base too. 🔥: Simeon Woods Richardson is sporting a 0.60 WHIP and 1.52 batting average against over his last two games/ten innings. He's struck out nine and walked one.  🔥: Though he's been relatively dreadful on the whole, Kyle Garlick continues to beat lefties up. He's got an OPS of 1.004 against southpaws this season and collected nine hits (including two doubles and two home runs) in his last two weeks. 🥶: Blayne Enlow had a rough start, allowing four earned runs in five innings. He struck out four. 🥶: Austin Martin has finally reached Triple-A and the results aren't great. In his last nine games, he's 5-for-36 with two doubles. He's struck out only seven times and has drawn four walks, but his OPS over the last two weeks is a team-low .438 (minimum 10 at-bats). 
    What's Next: The Saints will head to Omaha for a road trip this week. Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge
    Overall: 35-48  Overview: It's been a rough two weeks for the Wind Surge. Sunday's fun win was the team's first in eight days (yeah, there was a four-day break in there), but Wichita is only 3-8 since July 2.  🔥: Brooks Lee heard the rumbles that fans thought the organization had a new #1 prospect and responded by posting a 1.263 OPS over the last eight games going 13-for-33 with four doubles, three home runs, ten RBIs and more walks (6) than strikeouts (5). 🔥: Marco Raya has made two starts for Wichita so far. He's thrown 5 2/3 innings and has struck out seven. He has only allowed two hits. He'll need to reduced his walks as he's already issued five free passes. 🔥: Alex Scherff was excellent in his five relief outings. He struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings and only allowed one unearned run on three hits and four walks. 🤔: Pierson Ohl was impressive with 11 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings, and you can live with hit eights and three walks in those outings. But he allowed two home runs.  🥶: Will Holland got only five hits this week in 27 at-bats and struck out in 11 of those trips to the bat. He walked twice and did swipe three bags.  🥶: Aaron Rozek has done some good things this year. The last 15 days weren't good, however. In 8 2/3 innings, he allowed 16 hits and 12 earned runs. He walked five and only struck out three. What's Next: Wichita will be on the road facing Amarillo. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Overall: 11-7 in the second half.  Overview: The Kernels continue to play good baseball. They took four of six from Quad Cities and two of three from Beloit.  🔥: Noah Cardenas and Ben Ross both had an OPS over 1.000 in somewhat limited at-bats (23 and 19, respectively). Cardenas had ten hits including three doubles and two home runs. Ross had seven hits including three doubles and a home run.  🔥: Multiple good performances from the pitchers in this edition: Jaylen Nowlin struck out ten in six innings. He allowed two runs on two hits and a walks. (Home runs will get you.) C.J. Culpepper struck out six in five three-hit shutout innings. Christian MacLeod gave up too many hits and walks, but carried a K/9 over nine.  🔥: Kala'i Rosario (13 hits), Tanner Schobel (11 hits, including six extra-base hits) and Jorel Ortega (11 hits, two home runs) all had over ten hits on the week.  🥶: Kyle Jones got roughed up over his two starts. In nine innings, he allowed 12 hits and two walks, which turn into nine runs (eight earned). He also gave up two home runs.  🥶: Alejandro Hidalgo allowed six runs (five earned) on four hits and four walks in just two innings. What's Next: The Kernels will play host to Peoria for six games as they look to climb up from one game behind the Chiefs. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
    Overall: 8-10 in the second half.  Overview: Fort Myers went into and came out of the break with wins, but has only played .500 baseball since the last update. 🔥: Carson McCusker joined the Mighty Mussels at the end of the June and he's spent the month of July showing off his mighty muscles. With 18 hits in 42 at-bats, McCusker has a .429 batting average, but he's also belted five home runs in that time. McCusker joined the organization after playing in the Frontier League for three seasons. He's a big (6-8, 250) right-handed bat with high-level experience (Oklahoma State), so this might be a fun story to watch. 🔥: Andrew Morris is the highest of last year's draft picks who hasn't made it to Cedar Rapids yet, but he's making his case. In two starts (nine innings), Morris allowed only five hits and two walks and struck out nine with no earned runs allowed. 🔥: Not to be outdone by McCusker, Mikey Perez has four home runs (out of seven hits) in only 28 at-bats. He also stole three bases. 🥶: Rafael Cruz (4-24, two walks, eight strikeouts, .389 OPS) and Carlos Aguiar (2-21, two walks, eight strikeouts, .317 OPS) both had rough weeks. 🥶: Develson Aria had impressed earlier in the year, but had another rough week. He allowed five earned runs on six hits and six walks in only three innings. What's Next: A visit to Bradenton is on the agenda. Rookie: FCL Twins
    Overall: 13-15, 7.5 games behind the FCL Pirates in the FCL South.  🔥: Cleiber Maldonado (4 2/3 innings, eight strikeouts), Juan Mercedes (4 1/3 innings, six strikeouts) and Bianger Liendo (two innings, two strikeouts) all made the last two weeks without allowing an earned run.  🔥: Yasser Mercedes had two home runs (among seven hits). He also stole two bases. But struck out seven times with only one walk.  🔥: Jankel Ortiz had seven hits in 15 at-bats, including a triple and home run. He walked four times with three strikeouts.  🥶: Bryan Acuna went 3-for-22. So far, he's batting .198 in his stateside debut. But he is only 17, so there's plenty of time. 🥶: Cesar Lares and Jeferson Lopez both got roughed up for lots of runs (nine and 11, respectively), but Lares was able to strike out nine in 6 2/3 innings. Lopez only got six outs. Rookie: DSL Twins 
    Overall: 7-21, 15 games back in the DSL South.  🔥: Dameury Pena collected 13 hits over the last eight games. The 17-year-old is batting .417/.467/.548 (1.045) . 🔥: Juan Cota struck out five batters in five innings. He struck out five. He did allow three runs, but only allowed two hits and two walks. His 0.80 WHIP and .118 batting average against were both team-bests. 🔥: Jesus Peraza (seven hits, three doubles, 1.286 OPS), Ewing Matos (seven hits, four doubles, one triple), Jayson Bass (eight hits, double) all had good offensive weeks.  🥶: Jeicol Surumay allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on eight hits and four walks. He pitched three innings. 🥶: Yilber Herrera (3-for-20) and Angel Trinidad (1-for-13) really struggled.  PROSPECT SUMMARY 
    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated periodically throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. Season-long stats will be in parenthesis. Fielding stats are since the last update three weeks ago.
    20. Michael Helman, UTIL, St. Paul: On the 60-day Injured List with a dislocated shoulder. (.333/.434/.711. 1.145 OPS) 19. Yunior Severino, 3B, Wichita: 6-21, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K, CS. (.275/.349/.514. .863 OPS). 18. Jose Rodriguez, OF, FCL Twins: 4-19, 2B, HR, RBI, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K. (.263/.336/.404. .740 OPS) 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP, St. Paul: 0-1, 7.20 ERA, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 HRA, 1 HB, BB, 4 K. (AAA/AA combined 1.21 WHIP, .235 BAA) 16. Matt Canterino , RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 15. Brent Headrick, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 5 H, 8 K. (1.27 WHIP, .268 BAA). 14. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, Minnesota. St. Paul: (1.60 WHIP, .261 BAA); currently pitching out of the Twins bullpen. 13. Noah Miller, SS, Cedar Rapids: 9-35, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 7 K, CS. (.214/.283/.303. .586 OPS), played shortstop in eight games (67 total) and committed no errors in 34 chances (six errors in 287 total chances); played two games (eight total) at second base and committed no errors in 11 chances (no errors in 27 total chances). 12. Jose Salas, INF, Cedar Rapids: 8-30, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB, 7 K, SB. (.181/.268/.265. .533 OPS), played two games at shortstop and committed one error in seven chances (13 total; four errors in 43 chances total), played one game (14 total) at third base and committed no errors in one chance (three errors in 32 total chances). He played five games (40 total) at second base with no errors in 16 chances (three errors in 161 total chances). 11. Austin Martin , SS, St. Paul: 5-36, 2 2B, RBI, 3 R, 4 BB, 7 K, 2 SB, CS. (.177/.282/.258. .540 OPS),  10. Yasser Mercedes, OF, FCL Twins: 7-25, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, BB, 7 K, 2 SB. (.213/.269/.393. .662 OPS) 9. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 5-31, 2B, 5 RBI, 6 R, 7 BB, 7 K. (.291/.403/.524. .927 OPS); Minnesota: (.368/.520/.579. 1.099 OPS) 8. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 6 K. (1.39 WHIP, .256 BAA) 7. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 10 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), BB, 9 K (1.68 WHIP, .290 BAA); Minnesota: (1.85 WHIP, .313 BAA) 6. Marco Raya, RHP, Wichita: 0-0, 3.18 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 7 K. (AA/h-A combined 0.97 WHIP, .180 BAA) 5. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: Announced recently that Prielipp will be undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 4. Edouard Julien, 2B, Minnesota. St. Paul: (.293/.435/.496. .931 OPS), has played all 34 games at second base and has committed three errors in 158 chances; currently up with the Twins. 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: 6-27, , 3B, 2 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 11 K, 2 SB. (.212/.374/.406. .780 OPS) 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Minnesota. Currently on the injured list and expected to miss another month. 1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 13-33, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R, 6 BB, 5 K. (.279/.358/.468. .826 OPS), played 8 games (71 total) at shortstop and committed one error in 26 chances (11 errors in 293 total chances). Lee has committed one error in three chances in one game at third base this season. PLAYERS OF THE WEEK will return next week when we can vote on a day when there are no games.
    Ask questions and discuss the Twins prospects in the COMMENTS below. 
  4. Love
    jkcarew reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, DaShawn Keirsey: Twins Most Underrated Prospect   
    Toward the end of his sophomore season at the University of Utah, DaShawn Keirsey, Jr., was standing in center field in a game against Arizona State. The batter crushed a ball to dead center. Keirsey turned and sprinted, eye on the ball trying to outrun it. He was so intent on catching the ball that he ran full speed into the wall.
    He went down, writhing in pain. An ambulance came onto the field. Keirsey was places on the stretcher and gave the crowd the thumbs up.
    He had dislocated his hip and needed surgery and a lot of rehab. Almost inexplicably, he was able to return in time for his junior season, and he hadn’t missed a beat. In 50 games, he hit .386/.440/.609 (1.049) with 23 doubles, five triples, and four home runs.
    There were likely still question marks, but in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, the Twins selected Keirsey (rhymes with jersey) and gave him an opportunity. That summer, he hit .301 at Elizabethton. In 2019, he got hurt a couple of times in Cedar Rapids and was limited to just 36 games. It was impossible to get any sort of routine going.
    After the lost 2020 season, Keirsey returned to the Kernels, though they were now the High-A affiliate. Again, injuries limited him to just 45 games.
    The Twins kept pushing the toolsy, athletic outfielder anyway. In 2022, he moved up another level, to the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. He was able to stay healthy for most of the season, and he performed much better. In 121 games, he hit .271/.329/395 (.724) with 26 doubles, three triples, and seven home runs. Just as impressive, he stole 42 bases in 49 attempts.
    With so many outfielders, and specifically left-handed hitting outfielders between the Twins and the Triple-A St. Paul Saints, Keirsey returned to the Wind Surge in 2023. He could have been disappointed, or even moped. Instead, he continued the process and has really shown a lot of progress.
    Through 63 games this season, he is hitting .312/.367/.494 (.861) with 12 doubles, three triples, and he’s already got nine home runs. He has been successful in 24 of 28 stolen base attempts.
    All the while, he has played great centerfield defense. He has made some spectacular diving plays but often catching balls that others might have to dive for look easy.
    In our conversation (see the video above), we spent time discussing each of his five tools In a way, I kind of ranked them to get his thoughts.
    Speed: Keirsey can fly, and that can be seen on the base paths and in the outfield. It can also be seen on the base paths where he’s obviously been given the green light.
    Defense: I lumped #2 and #3 together in my rankings, but here I’ll put his defense as the next strong tool. Again, not everyone can play defense well in centerfield, and Keirsey is very good. And, as you can hear from the interview, he’s working on a few things that can help him improve his first step.
    Hit: Fully healthy and finally getting consistent at-bats has really helped him improve upon his offensive statistics. While he may not hit .327 or .386 like he did in his final two seasons at Utah, he could hit for a batting average in the upper .200s.
    Hit for Power: Listed at 6-0 and 195 pounds, Keirsey doesn’t necessarily look the part of power hitter. However, he has nine homers in a half of a season this year and is just figuring some things out with the bat. He likely won’t be a 30-homer hitter, but with his other skills, if he can provide double-digit homers, he can be quite valuable.
    Arm: In honesty, it’s the most difficult tool to evaluate from a fans’ perspective. I’ve seen him show off a strong and accurate throw at times, but he also acknowledges that it may be his fifth tool at this stage, but it’s something he continues to work on.
    Sixth Tool? Plate Discipline: Keirsey tends to be an aggressive hitter, and he will strike out. This is also an area he’s working on. Recently, Wind Surge manager Ramon Borrego has been hitting Keirsey leadoff with Brooks Lee behind him. Keirsey says that as a leadoff man, at least in the first plate appearance, he usually is pretty patient knowing he can help his teammates that way.
    The Mental Game: Keirsey has been through a lot in life and with all of the injuries, but he has become quite strong mentally and isn’t afraid to discuss and acknowledge how he’s doing. This is such an important thing for, well, everyone, but certainly for athletes as well.
    While I have ranked Keirsey in my personal Top 30 Twins prospects, he is yet to appear among Twins Daily’s top prospects. Already 26, that may continue to be the case, but with his tools and ability to play centerfield, he just might get an opportunity at some point. And I would say that’s all he’s asking for.
    For much more Twins Daily content on DaShawn Keirsey, Jr., click here.
    To watch DaShawn’s Twins Spotlight episode from March 2021, click here.
  5. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (5/8-5/14)   
    Don't forget to check out Nick's Week in Review.
    Dereck Rodriguez was claimed off waivers by the Braves. Rodriguez was optioned to St. Paul on Saturday and it appears the Twins tried to slide him through waivers. There is now an open spot on the 40-man roster. Royce Lewis had his rehab transferred to St. Paul. He'll need to be re-added to the 40-man before being activated. He cannot come off of the 60-Day IL until June 1st.  RESULTS
    Tuesday (5/9): Helboy? No, He Is a Helman! Wednesday (5/10): Big Bats, Big Innings, and Big Returns Thursday (5/11): Royce Returns Friday (5/12): Power Hitting and Solid Pitching Leads to Affiliate Wins Saturday (5/13): Offense Continues to Surge for Wichita Sunday (5/14): No-No for the Moms! MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT 
    Minnesota Twins 2017 Draft Retrospective: Lewis Early, Ober Late Respect Michael Helman It's Louie's Time to Shine The Twins Shouldn't Ask Brooks Lee to Save the Team's Offense TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05PM CST) - RHP Jose De Leon (0-2, 3.62 ERA) Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - TBD Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30PM CST) - TBD WEEK IN REVIEW 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints (Week: 3-3)
    Overall: 21-16, 2.0 games back in the International League West.  Overview: The Saints split with Indianapolis, who is below .500 on the season but is one of the hottest teams in the International League as they game into the series on a five-game winning streak. 🔥: Trevor Larnach came back to St. Paul and had seven hits with four extra base hits (two doubles and two home runs) in four games and 14 at-bats before heading back to Minneapolis. 🔥: Michael Helman continued his hot stretch before going on the injured list with a shoulder injury. He collected six hits in 12 at-bats and had a double, triple and home run. He drove in eight runs over three games.  🥶: Neither Ronny Henriquez, Simeon Woods Richardson nor Josh Winder had memorable weeks. They combined to give up 18 runs on 22 hits in only 10 2/3 innings. Their combined seven walks matched their combined seven strikeouts.  🔥: …on the flip side of that, the bullpen (minus Henriquez, Winder and Connor Sadzeck) combined to throw 17 2/3 shutout innings. That’s quite impressive.  🥶: Jose Miranda played in only three games, but in his 12 at-bats only had two hits. He walked once and struck out twice. After appearing to be the third baseman of the future recently, there is plenty of competition for that title currently. What's Next: The Saints head to Columbus who, like Indianapolis, is 18-20. But their +41 run differential and 22-16 expected win-loss record suggests they’re a better team than their record shows.  Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge (Week: 5-0)
    Overall: 15-17, 6.5 games back in the Texas League North. Overview: The only thing that could stop the Wind Surge from going 6-0 this week was the weather as Sunday’s game was rained out. So the team will have to settle for 5-0.   🔥: Yunior Severino deserves more than one fire emoji. He had 11 hits in 22 at-bats with a double and four home runs. He drove in eight and scored nine times. With all the attention on Brooks Lee and Royce Lewis, Severino has flown under the radar. He’s played mostly at third base but is also dabbling in left field now. He went hitless in 14 at-bats earlier this month but is now hitting .286/.375/.619 on the season.  🔥: David Festa allowed four hits and two walks in five innings. He took struck out four and the lone run scored was unearned.  😏: Royce Lewis. He’s back!  🥶: Brooks Lee went 1-for-18 this week. He’s going to get back to hitting soon, but a good sign that his team can win five games without getting much of any production from Lee. What's Next: At home against Arkansas (22-11) who is tied for first place. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Week: 5-2)
    Overall: 18-15, 2.5 games back in the Midwest League West.  Overview: The Kernels dropped two of their first three, but ended with a four-game winning streak.   🔥: Jordan Carr threw six shutout innings in his lone start, striking out six while allowing four hits and two walks.  🔥: Noah Cardenas was limited to only 15 at-bats, but tied for a team-high with six hits.  🔥: Marco Raya is still on a short leash, but he struck out four in three one-hit innings.   🥶: Noah Miller got only two hits in 25 at-bats. He also struck out seven times.  🥶: Emmanuel Rodriguez struck out 12 times and has now struck out 32 times in 55 at-bats.  What's Next: A two-week homestand, which begins with Peoria (18-15). Cedar Rapids and Peoria are in a second-place tie behind Beloit. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (Week: 6-0)
    Overall: 19-14, 5.0 games behind Clearwater in the Florida State League West after making up three games in the standings.  Overview: Fort Myers got the brooms out against Tampa and ended the series with an exclamation point when they no-hit the Tarpons on Sunday.  🔥: Cory Lewis faced 17 batters and retired every one of them, striking out seven (including four on his knuckleball). He was the first leg of a no-hitter. The bullpen didn’t give up a hit, but they blew the perfecto (on a strikeout/wild pitch).  🔥: After a week of being human, Andrew Cossetti got back to doing ridiculous things. In 14 at-bats, he got five hits (including a double and two home runs), plus he walked six times, drove in seven runs and stole a base. His OPS was 1.381. It’s time to promote him.  🔥: Speaking of promotions, Jorel Ortega was 9-23 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. He did strike out eight times, but drew two walks and also stole a base (in two tries). He should move up too.  🔥: Danny De Andrade shouldn’t move up because he’s so young, but a 7-for-19 week is what he needed. He doubled, homered, stole a base and struck out five times versus four walks.   🔥: C.J. Culpepper wasn’t perfect, but was really good. He struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a run on four hits and a walk.  🔥: Develson Aria bounced back after a poor showing. He struck out seven in five innings. He walked three and gave up two hits, but no runs. What's Next: The Mighty Mussels will hit the road for two weeks, beginning with a stop at Lakeland (13-20).  PROSPECT SUMMARY
    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated several times throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. (Season-long stats will be in parenthesis.)
    20. Misael Urbina, OF, Cedar Rapids: 5-for-21, 2B, 3 RBI, R, 2 BB, 8 K. (.150/.239/.240. .479 OPS)  19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Extended Spring Training 18. Tanner Schobel, 2B, Cedar Rapids: 6-for-23, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 5 K. (.239/.315/.389. .704 OPS), played one game at second base (12 total) and committed no errors in four chances (two in 50 chances total); played six games at third base and had one error in 10 chances (has committed one error in 32 total chances in 15 games). 17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: St Paul: 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 3.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K. (3.30 WHIP, .533 BAA) 16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Paul: 0-1, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP (2 starts), 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. (1.29 WHIP, .200 BAA) 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 14. Noah Miller, SS, Cedar Rapids: 2-for-25, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 3 SB. (.200/.287/.258. .545 OPS), played shortstop in six games (25 total) and committed one error in 29 chances (three errors in 103 total chances); played one game (five total) at second base and committed no errors in no chances (15 total). 13. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 47 K. (1.34 WHIP, .257 BAA) 12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Extended Spring Training 11. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 5-for-14, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, BB, 4 K. (.280/.423/.537. 960 OPS); Minnesota: (.000/.273/.000. .273 OPS) 10. Austin Martin, SS: Martin is still recovering from an arm injury. 9. Louie Varland, RHP, St. Paul: 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K. (1.27 WHIP, .263 BAA); Minnesota: 1-0, 4.30 ERA, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 HRA, BB, 7 K. (1.23 WHIP, .247 BAA) 8. Jose Salas, INF, Cedar Rapids: 3-for-20, 2 2B, 3RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 CS (.156/.250/.219. .469 OPS), played one at shortstop and had no chances (two errors in 26 chances in eight games total) and one game (seven total) at third base with an error in four chances (two errors in 16 total chances). He played four games (11 total) at second base with no errors in 18 chances (no errors in 41 total chances). 7. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: On the injured list, but expected to resume throwing. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0, 10.38 ERA, 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 HRA, 1 BB, 4 K (1.59 WHIP, .295 BAA); Minnesota: (2.14 WHIP, .350 BAA) 5. Edouard Julien, 2B, St. Paul: 6-for-28, 2B, 5 R, 5 BB, 6 K. (.276/.427/.480. .907 OPS), has played all 23 games at second base and has committed two errors in 106 chances; Minnesota: (.222/.276/.444. .720 OPS) 4. Marco Raya, RHP, Cedar Rapids: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, H, 4 K. (1.84 WHIP, .184 BAA) 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: 4-22, R, 3 BB, 12 K, 2 CS. (.164/.309/.382. 691 OPS) 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Wichita: 2-6, 2B, RBI, 3 R, BB, 3 K, 2 SB. (.333/.500/.500. 1.000 OPS), played one game (one total) at shortstop and committed no errors in four chances. Lewis played one game (one total) at third base and committed no errors in one chance. 1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 7-for-22, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K. (.263/.323/.439. .762 OPS), played three games (27 total) at shortstop and committed no errors in 12 chances (three errors in 112 total chances). Lee played one game (one total) at third base and committed one error in three chances. PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (as voted on by fans on Twitter... except for this week, where 81% of voters agreed it was "obviously these two.")
    PITCHER - Cory Lewis, Fort Myers.  The following tweet says it all. The Mighty Mussels combined for a no-hitter on Sunday, but when Lewis left the game he had retired all 17 batters he had faced. He had a perfect week... and it's hard to not be recognized for that. HITTER - Yunior Severino, Wichita.  Severino wasn't perfect... but he was as close as a hitter is going to get in a week's worth of games.  Who would have been your picks? Any early season surprises or disappointments? Ask questions and discuss the Twins prospects in the COMMENTS below. 
  6. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Steven Trefz for an article, No Longer Roadkill? Notes from my Month as a Twins Roadie   
    I wrote in the pre-season about how the Twins 2022 road record doomed their playoff hopes, despite carrying a division lead for much of the season. The 2023 Twins squad faced a daunting opening travel schedule, with the opening week of the season taking them 1,900 miles to Kansas City and Miami without an off-day in between. Just six days later they hit the road again, journeying 1,500 miles to New York and Boston with the off-day being Boston Marathon/Patriot Day, which led to the team spending the flex time in New York instead of at the second series site.
    The road schedule couldn’t have started any better. The Twins drew substantial fan support at Kansas City, and they swept the Royals with great pitching and timely hitting. Any jet lag that might have journeyed to Miami with the team got blasted away by a few bombas and even some SKOL chants from the traveling Twins faithful, and the Twins were 4-0 to start the season. Since that hot start, the Twins have struggled in opposing stadiums, going 3-6 the rest of the month.
    So what went right, what went wrong, and how do these trends play into a month of May where Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles x2, and Houston await the Twins baseball caravan?
    What Went Right
    Starting Pitching – Without a doubt, the key to April’s winning road record started with the starters. Especially in the Kansas City series, the Twins’ ability to pitch shutouts in the first two games, and then hold the Royals to only one run until the game was well in hand served to deliver the sweep. The remaining wins on the road saw the opposing team score one, two, three, and four runs respectively. Two of the losses involved starters holding the opponent to two runs or less.
    Big Innings Early – Each road series saw the Twins win a game where they dropped a three-spot or larger in an early inning. If the road team is going to have any advantage, its when you can get on the board early and often. Sometimes it came through homeruns, sometimes it was small ball. Inevitably, it resulted in a victory.
    Reversing the Curse – The first inning at Yankee Stadium will go down in history as one of the best innings in Twins history. Edouard Julien led off with his first MLB hit, and got the chance to hit his first MLB home run before the inning ended. What happened in between was pure magic. Two walks, a single, a sacrifice fly, three doubles, and two other home runs later the Twins were up 9-0, and the game against the perennial nemesis was over before it began.
    What Went Wrong 
    Manufacturing Base runners – In four of the Twins road losses, they managed a measly eight, five, four, and three base runners in total. One could conclude that Gerrit Cole, Sandy Alcantara, Jesus Luzardo, and Domingo German’s rosin are to blame for the Twins poor offensive showings in those contests.
    When I watched those four games live and in person at the stadium, a different story emerged. The three-outcome approach (Strikeout, Home Run, Walk) was in full effect against dominant starters. These games followed offensive outbursts dominated by extra-base hits and homers, but when the Twins needed to manufacture a run no one changed their approach at the plate. The fact stood out especially against Luis Arraez and DJ LeMahieu’s performance in those games. Granted the long-ball also beat the Twins in those games, but when you see professional and adaptable hitting in a close game, it stands out. Who for the Twins will step up to fill this void in the lineup?
    Get-Away Days – Every time the last game of a road series rolled around, I was ready to be done. My van was packed, the trip after the game to the next destination was planned, and I had to almost remind myself that there was still a game to be played that day. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone in this feeling. The Twins went 1-3 in “get-away” day games in April, the last game of each series. They actually finished around .500 in 2022 on these dates, so I’m guessing more series and months will average things out.
    I do feel its important to note that in each of the road series so far, the game and the team felt “flat,” and the lineups that were put on the field didn’t imply that they put their best foot forward. The human urge to lose focus on the road is real, so one might argue that the last game of a series should be the time to put the most effort into lineup construction.
    Random Implosions – The bullpen gave up a four-spot in the eighth inning to make a 1-1 tie into a late- inning laugher against Miami. Tyler Mahle’s arm began its slow descent onto the injured list in New York. Christian Vazquez forgot how to catch late in the game at his old home, Fenway Park, and the Twins lost in an extra innings that should have never happened. Kenta Maeda took a rocket off of his shin, and Emilio Pagan served up six runs immediately after being lights out all season up until that point.
    Road games carry less of a margin for error than home games, and when the Twins provided the errors, the negative results followed. Each of the players mentioned have also been responsible for wins this season, so its not even about them individually. Instead, April’s away games remind us that no implosion will go unpunished on the road.
    Where Does the Road Go From Here?
    The Twins begin May with two “must-win” road series within the division. The White Sox are one sweep away from imploding for the season, and the Guardians could leapfrog the Twins for first place with a sweep of their own. Los Angeles brings three games apiece against the Dodgers and Angels, and Houston always serves as a difficult venue for Twins to find success.
    If the Twins can attack any ace pitching that they find along the way with some adaptive approaches, keep their eyes focused on the task at hand on get-away days, and keep what they can control efficient and clean on the defensive end, a 10-6 record on the road in May isn’t out of the question. Based on 2022’s results, a 5-11 record is just as likely.
    Are the Twins’ days of being roadkill over? May will have a lot to say about that.
  7. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (4/17-4/23)   
    If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor leagues.
    Michael Helman's rehab with Fort Myers is over and he'll be re-joining the Saints. RESULTS
    Tuesday (4/18): Ober Leads Shutout, Wind Surge Blasts Off Wednesday (4/19): Little Offense, but Aria and Cossetti Showed their Mussels Thursday (4/20): Cossetti Continues to Clobber Friday (4/21): Wallner, Garlick Power Extra-Inning Walkoff for Saints Saturday (4/22): Rucker and Shuffield Lead With Late-Inning Homers Sunday (4/23): Rehab Talents Providing Fireworks on the Farm MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT 
    Bailey Ober Inching Towards Twins TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    St. Paul @ Rochester (5:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 3.12 ERA) Springfield @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP David Festa (1-1, 3.07 ERA) West Michigan @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Kyle Jones (0-2, 5.65 ERA) Fort Myers @ Daytona (5:35PM CST) - LHP Develson Aria (0-0, 2.25 ERA) WEEK IN REVIEW 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints (Week: 5-1)
    Overall: 13-7, 1.5 games back in the International League West.  Overview: The Saints had an excellent week, but didn't make up any ground on Memphis who lost yesterday to snap a 12-game winning streak.  🔥: Jordan Balazovic has been good in his short appearances so far this year. He allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings this week. Could he eventually represent himself as a bullpen option for the Twins? 🔥: It's going to be Alex Kirilloff time sooner or later. Kirilloff played in only four games, but had six hits including a double and two home runs. He drove in nine and also walked more times (3) than he struck out (2). Hard not to like a .462/.588/1.000 (1.588) slashline for the week. Kirilloff will begin the week with the Saints, but if he ends the week there remains to be seen.  🔥: It wasn't a great cameo for the Twins, but Matt Wallner is hitting (1.126 OPS for the week) for the Saints. He also took 9 walks compared to 5 strikeouts.  🥶: After a spot start with the Twins, Louie Varland was back with the Saints and struggled in his only start. He allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk. He did strike out eight over his 4 2/3 innings. 🥶: Trevor Megill was a nice contributor for the Twins down the stretch last year, but failed to make the team after a rough spring training. In two appearances this week, Megill allowed five runs on three hits, including two home runs, and walked three.   What's Next: The Saints will head to Rochester to face the former Twins affiliate. The Red Wings (6-14) are currently in last place in the IL East and have the worst winning percentage in the whole league. It should be a good week for the Saints to continue to their hot play. Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge (Week: 2-4)
    Overall: 7-8, 3.0 games back in the Texas League North.  Overview: Wichita's two wins ended two- three-game losing streaks.  The bats just weren't up to the task getting shut out in consecutive games. But after allowing 27 runs in the last two games against NW Arkansas, the pitching staff performed better.  🔥: Blayne Enlow completed six innings in his start this week. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out five and held opponents to a .100 batting average. 🔥: Michael Boyle had a clunker last week, but put together two hitless outings this week. In three innings total, Boyle struck out four and only allowed one baserunner via walk. 🤔: Carlos Luna gets the same emoji for the second straight week. He doesn't put runners on base (0.64 WHIP)... but both hits he allowed were home runs. He remains a curious case.  🥶: Yunior Severino struggled to make contact this week, striking out a team-high (and tied for organizational-high) 10 times.  What's Next: Wichita will be hosting last-place Springfield (5-10) as they look to make up ground on Arkansas and Tulsa. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Week: 1-5)
    Overall: 6-8, 3.5 games back and in last place in the Midwest League West.  Overview: Only able to avoid a sweep against Beloit by winning Sunday, the Kernels found themselves in an eight-game losing streak. Luckily, the bats finally came alive and produced 11 runs. 🥶: Most of the Kernels. Of the many names that could be listed, no lowlights will be highlighted... cause it's not pretty. 🔥: Aside from Pierson Ohl, the starting rotation really struggled. Ohl struck out five in five innings and allowed only one run on four hits.  🔥: Charlie Neuweiler was a starting pitcher in the Royals system for part of last season, but struggled in his brief glimpses out of the AA and AAA bullpen. It's possible he's found a home in the bullpen with the Twins organization. He got eight outs this week and all the other team had to show for it was a walk and three strikeouts. 🔥: Kala'i Rosario broke out of his cold streak by getting six hits in 19 at-bats. He had three doubles and a triple, drove in three runs and walked three times.  🔥: Noah Miller and Noah Cardenas also had six-hit weeks. What's Next: A home series against West Michigan (9-6) who sits in a half game out of first place in the East Division. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (Week: 3-3)
    Overall: 8-7, 2.0 games behind Bradenton in the Florida State League West.  Overview: Lots of runs scored by both teams over the course of the last week, but a .500 week dropped the Mighty Mussels from a first-place tie into third place. 🔥: Cory Lewis is doing it. He's throwing the knuckleball (among his other pitches) and low-A hitters don't know what to do with it. He struck out six and walked two in five innings of one-hit, one-run (it was a home run) ball 🔥: Develson Aria is an intriguing left-hander who is getting results. The runner-up for pitcher of the week, Aria struck out four in five innings of near-perfect ball (he walked two).  🔥: Jose Olivares is the youngest pitcher on the roster and the 20-year-old is impressive. He threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run, one-walk, three-hit ball and struck out four. The strikeout numbers (7 in 10 2/3 innings) aren't overly impressive, but the lack of walks and hits (0.66 WHIP) are.  🔥: The trio of Michael Helman, Dalton Shuffield and Jorel Ortega was overshadowed by Andrew Cossetti, but they all had excellent weeks. Helmen (.421/.542/.684 (1.226 OPS)) is headed back to the Saints. Shuffield (.375/.412/.750 (1.162 OPS))) shouldn't be in Fort Myers to begin with. Ortega's pro debut was derailed by an injury but his 8:1 BB:K ratio was quite impressive. 🥶: Rubel Cespedes didn't offer much power, but batted nearly .290 in low-A in 2022. It hasn't been a great encore for the young infielder. This week, Cespedes went 2-18 with a double, two RBIs, a run, two walks and six strikeouts. His current .584 OPS is significantly lower than last year's .737. What's Next: Heading to Daytona (6-9) in hopes of making up some ground on Bradenton. PROSPECT SUMMARY
    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. (Season-long stats will be in parenthesis.)
    20. Misael Urbina, OF, Cedar Rapids: 1-17, 2B, 3 BB, 5 K, SB, CS. (.114/.235/.205. .440 OPS)  19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Extended Spring Training 18. Tanner Schobel, 2B, Cedar Rapids: 2-20, 3 RBI, R, 2 BB, 10 K, SB. (.200/.245/.320. .565 OPS), played four games at second base (eight total) and committed no errors in 9 chances (one in 32 chances total); has not committed any errors (four chances) at third base this season (three games).  17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: On Minnesota’s injured list with elbow inflammation. 16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0 (0.00 ERA), 2 IP, H, 3 K. (1.41 WHIP, .167 BAA) 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 14. Noah Miller, SS, Cedar Rapids: 6-21, 4 RBI, 2B, HR, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K, SB. (.306/.397/.408. .805 OPS), played shortstop in four games (ten total) and committed one error in 13 chances (one error in 38 total chances); played one game (two total) at second base and committed no errors in six chances (nine total). 13. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 0-1, 4.15 ERA, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. (0.89 WHIP, .180 BAA) 12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Extended Spring Training 11. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 5-17, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 9 BB, 5 K, 5 R. (.295/.466/.591. 1.057 OPS); Minnesota: (.000/.273/.000. .273 OPS) 10. Austin Martin, SS: Martin is still recovering from an arm injury. 9. Louie Varland, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0, 9.64 ERA, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, HR, BB, 8 K. (1.34 WHIP, .297 BAA); Minnesota: (1.17 WHIP, .250 BAA) 8. Jose Salas, INF: 2-17, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 SB, CS (.122/.200/.122. .322 OPS), played two games at shortstop and had one error in 11 chances (one error in 15 chances in four games total) and two games (four total) at third base with no errors (one total) in two chances (nine total). He played two games (three total) at second base with no errors in five chances (no errors in nine total chances). 7. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: Prielipp was placed on the injured list last week. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: (2.43 WHIP, .412 BAA); Minnesota: 0-0, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, HR, 3 BB. (2.14 WHIP, .350 BAA) 5. Edouard Julien, 2B, St. Paul: 1-10, 2B, 3 R, 5 BB 3 K, HBP. (.244/.426/.463. .889 OPS); Minnesota: 4-13, HR, 3 RBI, R, 6 K (.222/.276/.444. .720 OPS) 4. Marco Raya, RHP, Cedar Rapids: 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 2.2 IP, H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. (1.50 WHIP, .125 BAA) 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: Rodriguez was placed on the injured list with an abdomen strain. 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Lewis is still recovering from his second ACL surgery.  1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 5-26, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K, SB. (.263/.323/.439. .762 OPS), played all six games (14 total) at shortstop and committed two errors in 27 chances (64 total).  PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (as voted on by fans on Twitter)
    PITCHER - Randy Dobnak, St. Paul. Dobnak gets a 4.99 out of 5 rating for his performance in St. Paul this week. In a six-inning start, Dobnak struck out four and allowed only one run on three hits and a walk. It's been a long and windy road for Dobnak since bursting onto the big-league scene in 2019, but hopefully the next twists and turns will lead back to Target Field.
    (Dobnak 56%, Aria 28%, Ohl 11%, Luna 5%)
    HITTER - Andrew Cossetti, Fort Myers.  There wasn't a lot of competition for this award, but even if there was Cossetti would have won. Cossetti had organizational-highs in hits (10), total bases (21), home runs (3), average (.556), sluggling (1.167) and OPS (1.792) and tied in runs (7) and OBP (.625). Coming into this week, Cossetti was batting .200 with a .696 OPS but if he hits even half as well as he did this past week, the 11th round pick from last year can put himself on the prospect radar.
    (Cossetti 75%, Wallner 13%, Rosario 10%, Jake Rucker 2%)
    Who would have been your picks? Any early season surprises or disappointments? Ask questions and discuss the Twins prospects in the COMMENTS below. 
  8. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, BREAKING: Twins Finalizing an Extension with Star Pitcher Pablo Lopez   
    When trading Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins this winter there was never going to be a situation where his departure would sit well with fans. However, getting an arm like Pablo Lopez in return could certainly soften the blow, and his performance thus far has been nothing short of exceptional.
    According to Marlins beat writer Craig Mish, the sides are closing in on a four-year deal worth $73.5 million. That would have Lopez paid just over $18.3 million annually. That seems like a bargain given the $27 million annual amount the New York Yankees handed Carlos Rodon this winter. Although they may not be the same level of pitcher, Lopez has displayed a substantially longer track record of health. Rodon did get his money on the open market with multiple suitors whereas Lopez would not have hit free agency until after the 2024 season. Lopez has come out of the gates strong for the Twins posting a 1.73 ERA across his first four starts. He leads Major League Baseball in strikeouts having tallied 33 across 26 innings pitched. His 11.4 K/9 is a new career high, and it’s clear his sweeper addition has been nothing short of a powerful new weapon for him.
    It remains to be seen if Lopez can continue this level of production throughout the entirety of 2023, but for a guy many questioned as the ace of a staff, he’s looked every bit the part. Lopez has been a breath of fresh air for Twins fans looking to Rocco Baldelli for length from starters, and he’s allowed teammates like Sonny Gray and Joey Ryan to benefit as well.
    Set to be a free agent in 2025, the contract extension will buy out the 2024 arbitration year, and begin at the end of this season. Lopez is currently making $5.45 million through arbitration in 2023 for the Twins, and a four-year extension will have him with the club through his age-31 season. Minnesota should be happy with both the length and valuation of the contract. It’s a hefty sum, but not one unheard of for a top pitcher. Lopez can re-enter the market at 32 and look for another substantial payday as well.
    The move provides the Twins some rotation certainty in the year ahead. Gray is set to be a free agent as is Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda. That would leave just Ryan and Chris Paddack as big league starters currently with guaranteed contracts. Lopez is a definite horse that can anchor a group soon to more regularly include Simeon Woods Richardson, Louie Varland, Bailey Ober, and others.
    What are your thoughts on the Twins locking up Lopez for the next few years? Does this change the outlook of the Arraez trade at all? Given that he has been so good to start 2023, did they get a bargain?
  9. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/13): A Surprise Promotion and Olivar Goes Off   
    Twins selected the contract of St. Paul OF Kyle Garlick Twins acquire INF Alex De Goti from Marlins for cash considerations and assign him to St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 2
    Box Score

    Minnesota native Louie Varland was set to pitch for the St. Paul Saints on Thursday night but was scratched roughly an hour before the game due to non-injury related reasons. It seems he’ll head to New York and join the Twins. Dereck Rodriguez made the start in his place and worked four innings. He allowed two runs on four hits while striking out five and walking just one.
    The Saints took the game’s first lead when Mark Contreras drove in both Tony Walters and Elliot Soto with a single to right field. The 3rd inning runs were quickly answered by Indianapolis when they plated one of their own in the bottom half. Former Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar then knotted the game with a 4th inning single.
    Minnesota pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic put up 2 1/3 innings of relief work tonight as he allowed no runs on just one hit. While he did walk three, the former top 100 prospect punched out four.
    Needing a go-ahead run, Ryan LaMarre came through for the Saints in the 8th inning. His third double of the season scored Contreras and that was enough to grab the victory on the evening. Austin Schulfer, who worked 1 2/3 of scoreless relief work, got the win. Jose De Leon finished the 9th inning and got his first save of the season.
    NW Arkansas 10, Wichita 3
    Box Score

    It was another David Festa start for the Wind Surge and the blossoming prospect continues to look sharp this season. Working 5 1/3 innings tonight, he allowed three runs on five hits but struck out six and allowed just a single walk. On the season his ERA stands at a shiny 2.61.
    Wichita pushed Alex Isola to third base in the 2nd inning before he scored on a wild pitch by Northwest Arkansas’ Anthony Veneziano. The game’s scoreless tie had been broken early. After giving a run back in the top of the 5th inning, Seth Gray put Wichita back on top with his first dinger of the year. Yoyner Fajardo then singled to right field allowing Armani Smith to score and make it a 3-1 game.
    From there, the wheels fell off. In the 6th inning Northwest Arkansas scored seven runs and added another in the 7th inning. What was a close lead had turned into a 9-3 deficit. Another run being added in the 9th inning made it 10-3 and that's where this one would wind up. DaShawn Keirsey Jr. was the long Wind Surge hitter to record multiple hits. Gray's solo b last was the only extra-base hit of the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS
    Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 1
    Box Score

    Kyle Jones took the ball for Cedar Rapids and tonight and was sharp over six innings of work. He allowed just three hits, and while one run did score, Jones recorded four punch outs while walking only a single batter. Unfortunately, the Kernels lineup wasn’t there to answer the opposition this evening.
    Down 3-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning, 2022 Twins draft pick Tanner Schobel stepped in and blasted his second homer of the young season. It was a nice shot to left center field, but it was just a solo homer, and the Kernels still trailed by two. Allowing another run in the 8th inning, Cedar Rapids went down 4-1 on the night.
    No one recorded multiple hits for Cedar Rapids, but Noah Cardenas kept up his strong start with another base hit raising his OPS to 1.045.
    Fort Myers 10, Clearwater 6
    Box Score

    Making his 2023 debut Develson Aria went tonight for the Mighty Mussels but lasted just three innings. Allowing a pair of runs on four hits, it was the four walks that did him in. Despite punching out seven, his pitch count got to 70 and he threw just 39 strikes.
    Aria was handed a lead early when Ricardo Olivar singled in a rehabbing Alex Kirilloff, and Carlos Aguiar doubled to drive home Jorel Ortega. Danny De Andrade then added a single of his own to score both Olivar and Aguiar making it 4-0 before Clearwater even stepped into the box.
    Fort Myers gave one back in the bottom of the 1st inning, but Olivar answered with his second hit of the game, doubling in Jorge Polanco. Although Clearwater answered again with a run of their own, the Minnesota first basemen sent one over the left field fence to make it 6-2. As Kirilloff works back from his wrist injury, seeing his power play is a big deal.
    It was an ugly 5th inning for the Mighty Mussels as a single and three-run blast tied things up. Rather than allowing it to change the game for them, they responded in the 7th inning. Rubel Cespedes hit his first home run of the season, and with Olivar on, the two-run blast made it an 8-6 game.

    The Mighty Mussels weren’t done flexing and continued to add in both the 8th and 9th inning. Maddux Hougton hit his first home run of the season before Dylan Neuse used a sacrifice fly to play Cespedes. In a game that had plenty of offense, Fort Myers emerged victorious.
    Despite the 12 hits, only Olivar and Cespedes had multi-hit games. Olivar’s four hits represented a new career-high. Samuel Perez worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings, punching out three, to pick up his second win. Jonathan Lavallee grabbed the two inning save.
    Pitcher of the Day – David Festa - 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    Hitter of the Day – Ricardo Olivar - 4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B, K
    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:
    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-4
    #5 - Edouard Julien (Minnesota) - 2-5, 2 R, RBI, HR(1)
    #13 - David Festa (Wichita) - 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4
    #16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
    #18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, R, RBI, HR(2), 3 K
    #20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, 3 K
    St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez
    NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - LHP Connor Prielipp
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater (5:30PM CST) - RHP Cory Lewis
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday's games!
  10. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Twins 3, White Sox 1: Gray, Bullpen Finish off the White Sox for a Series Win   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (78 pitches, 45 strikes, 57.7%)
    Home Runs: none
    Top 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (.275), Griffin Jax (.116), Ryan Jeffers (.095)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Julien makes his big-league debut
    The biggest story before this game was second baseman Édouard Julien being called up to the majors earlier today. With Joey Gallo being placed on the 10-day injury list, the Canadian infielder was hurried back to the Twin Cities from Indianapolis to join the Twins roster and make his big-league debut. His first at-bat came only in the third inning, as Lucas Giolito cruised through the first two innings. The at-bat was rather quick, with Julien grounding out after only two pitches.
    But it wasn’t his first trip to the bat that caused some concern. In the top of the third, Andrew Benintendi hit a ground ball to right, towards Julien. The rookie infielder managed to get to the ball in time, but the ball just skidded under his glove to reach right field. It wasn’t ruled an error for him, but it was certainly a playable hit. Then, in the fifth inning, he made an awful throw to first base trying to pick off the runner, but fortunately, there were no repercussions. First-day jitters? We sure hope so.
    Twins take the lead after a scary moment for Farmer
    It was exactly after Julien’s first at-bat that things started to slip away from Giolito’s control. He gave up back-to-back singles, then loaded the bases by giving up a two-out walk to José Miranda. Nick Gordon flied out to center, and the Twins couldn’t capitalize on their first big threat, but some command problems by Giolito, combined with a few defensive mishaps by the White Sox defense, were about to give Minnesota its first lead shortly.
    In the fourth inning’s first at-bat, Ryan Jeffers hit a bullet to deep right field, which possibly was playable for Gavin Sheets. However, the White Sox outfielder fell down and couldn’t make the play, allowing Jeffers to reach third. Then, with Kyle Farmer batting, Giolito badly misplaced a fastball and ended up hitting the Twins infielder right in the face. He left the game with what the Twins initially called a jaw injury.
    Following that play, Julien made his second trip to the plate and took advantage of Giolito apparently still feeling shaken for hitting Farmer. The Chicago starter was all over the place during the at-bat, and Julien drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases again. Michael A. Taylor grounded out to first base, and the White Sox defense once again failed to field cleanly and, instead of turning a double play, allowed Jeffers to score from third.
    Gray tosses five scoreless but doesn’t look sharp in the end
    Making his third start of the season, Sonny Gray delivered another scoreless outing. However, he didn’t look as sharp as he did in his last time around when he pitched seven brilliant innings of one-run ball against the Astros on Friday. The White Sox put some pressure on him right out of the gate, with Luis Robert Jr. (double) and Andrew Vaughn (walk) both reaching in the first inning. He responded by retiring the next six batters he faced.
    After giving up two more singles in the third, then throwing a 1-2-3 fourth, he seemed to have command issues during the fifth. He simply couldn't find the strike zone against Seby Zavala, giving up a leadoff walk. He did manage to retire the next three batters, but he struggled to throw strikes. At the end of the day, what matters the most is the fact that he kept Chicago scoreless, but it’s worth wondering why he was a bit off target during that inning. He was pulled after the fifth with only 78 pitches thrown, but also throwing less than 58% strikes.
    Offense adds on, and the bullpen holds on tight
    Coming into this game, the White Sox bullpen had the third-worst ERA in the majors, at 6.91. When Giolito departed the game after the sixth inning, the Twins' offense managed their first multi-hit inning since the third but failed to capitalize in the seventh. Byron Buxton was involved in a collision with infielder Lenyn Sosa and landed awkwardly in the inning’s final out.
    But things were different in the bottom of the eighth. Jeffers hit a leadoff single and, a couple of at-bats later, was brought home by a Willi Castro double to right. Castro himself moved up to third on a Matt Wallner sac-fly, then scored on a Taylor bloop single to shallow center, making it 3-0 Twins.
    Upon the departure of Gray, the Twins’ bullpen absolutely dominated Chicago’s lineup. Jorge Alcalá, Jorge López, and Griffin Jax tossed three scoreless innings on 39 pitches, allowing only one hit and one walk. With the run support provided in the eighth, Jhoan Durán came in to get the save. He did give up a leadoff single, taken care of by a double play, and then a two-out solo home run to Sosa, but eventually finished off the game with a groundout to earn his third save of the season.
    Postgame interview
    What’s Next?
    Minnesota gets back on the road starting tomorrow for a four-game set against the New York Yankees in the Bronx. The first game of the series is scheduled for this Thursday (4/13) at 6:05 pm CDT, with Joe Ryan (2-0, 3.75 ERA) set to start the game for the Twins and Jhony Brito (2-0, 0.90 ERA) taking the mound for New York.
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
      SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Alcalá 0 45 0 0 15 60 Morán 20 0 35 0 0 55 Durán 3 0 0 24 15 42 Jax 12 0 0 8 12 32 López 14 0 0 0 12 26 Pagán 0 23 0 0 0 23 Thielbar 0 0 10 4 0 14 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0  
  11. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Back with a Vengeance   
    Weekly Snapshot: Thurs, 3/30 through Sun, 4/2
    Record Last Week: 3-0 (Overall: 3-0)
    Run Differential Last Week: +7 (Overall: +7)
    Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (1.0 GA)
    Last Week's Game Results:
    Game 1 | MIN 2, KC 0: López, Bullpen Lead Way in Opening Day Shutout
    Game 2 | MIN 2, KC 0: Twins Again Hold Royals Scoreless, Take Series
    Game 3 | MIN 7, KC 4: Bats Awaken to Seal Season-Opening Sweep
    First, an introduction to the column for those who might be unfamiliar. Twins Daily's "Week in Review" publishes every Sunday night throughout the season with a recap of key highlights, lowlights, and trending narratives from the past seven days.
    The purpose behind this weekly feature is twofold:
    Helping those fans who aren't able to closely follow the team on a daily basis stay up-to-speed on the key beats of the season. Providing a blend of macro and micro analysis as things play out. Sure, one week's worth of games aren't THAT significant in the grand scheme ... but it's a much more significant sample than one single game. We open each edition with this, the News & Notes section, covering any roster moves or key developments. (Last year, it was usually a laundry list of injury updates.) From there, we move onto the good, the bad, and the most buzzworthy items from the past week, closing with a look forward to the next. If there's anything else you'd like to see added to these columns that could make them more valuable, please let me know in the comments! 
    With all that out of the way, let's get on to the biggest stories from a terrific opening series in Kansas City.
    Last year, the Twins were built as a team that hoped to excel on offense while patching together enough pitching to contend. That didn't work out so well in the end. This year, they've reversed their makeup, featuring a deep and accomplished pool of pitchers whose impact can hopefully offset any deficiencies from a lineup plagued by injury concerns.
    So far, so good.
    The Twins opened their season with back-to-back shutouts, a rare feat in the majors and an unprecedented one for this franchise. While facing an admittedly sub-par Royals lineup, Minnesota pitchers were in control throughout the series, holding KC to four total runs on 12 hits in the three games.
    Newcomer Pablo López set the tone in Thursday's season opener, flashing dominant stuff on the way to 5 ⅓ scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and just two hits allowed. His fastball was popping at 95-96 MPH regularly, while his trademark changeup and new "sweeper" had hitters constantly whiffing.
    In this fairly short outing, the right-hander posted strikeout (8) and swinging strike (17) totals that would've both ranked among the top five in his 32 starts for Miami last year. Extremely encouraging stuff.
    Fresh off challenging his rotation-mates to raise the team's rotation standard after a 2022 season defined by the five-and-fly model, Sonny Gray naturally got through only five innings on Saturday before getting a deserved hook. He kept the Royals off the board in what could hardly be described as sharp in the outing. Battling command in the cool early-season conditions, Gray issued four walks with only one strikeout, but to his credit managed to navigate out of trouble repeatedly. 
    I like the way Rocco Baldelli summarized the performance: "That outing does not go well for most guys who feel probably the way Sonny felt today out on the mound, but he did something that great starting pitchers do, and he found ways to go out there and not give up any runs."
    It's the value of having experienced, crafty, capable veteran starters who've been around the block. The Twins now have a rotation chock full of them, so hopefully they'll see this benefit manifest time and time again during the season.
    Joe Ryan isn't quite in the "crafty veteran" category yet, entering his second full season, but he's pretty clearly established himself as a quality big-league starter and a flat-out dominator of the Royals. After spinning six innings of one-run ball on Sunday, he's now 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA in five starts against Kansas City.
    The bullpen was also mostly excellent in this first series, holding the Royals to three runs in 10 ⅔ innings with all relievers other than Cole Sands appearing. The Twins'  dual-closer setup already came in handy when Jhoan Durán, who closed out the opener on Thursday, was unavailable Saturday due to "sleeping weirdly" and Jorge López handled the two-run save. 
    López pitched in all three games, threw strikes, and resembled his first-half form from last year, piling up strikeouts and grounders. A very positive sign.
    Offensively, there weren't a ton of highlights in a fairly quiet opening series, but Byron Buxton was a notable exception. Limited to DH duties to open the year, Buxton looked like a fine fit for the part, batting third and smashing line drives all over the field. He tripled in the first game, doubled in the second, and put his speed to work, scoring three of the Twins' four runs in their first two games.
    A joy to watch, as always. The Twins need to find a way to keep him on the field.
    Opening the season against an unimposing Royals team with three middling righty starters on the mound, Minnesota's quartet of key left-handed bats – all facing some level of "prove-it year" – had an opportunity to make noise out of the gates. 
    While Trevor Larnach looked viable in the cleanup spot (5-for-11 with two RBIs and two runs scored), and Joey Gallo shook off his slow start with a monster game on Sunday (two homers and a double), it wasn't a roundly strong showing from this group.
    Max Kepler, reinstalled in the leadoff spot in an apparent effort to boost his confidence (or maybe more due to a lack of appealing alternatives), is off to a slow start in the shift reduction era. He went 0-for-13 in Kansas City, offering up a familiar mix of choppers and pop-ups. (In fairness, also a couple of well-struck drives that found gloves.)
    Starting all three games at second base in place of Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon went 0-for-6, putting the ball in play each time up but failing to find grass. Gordon batted sixth in Baldelli's surprisingly rigid lineups, and got plenty of opportunities to hit with RISP but came up empty each time, leaving the bases loaded in the first inning of both Thursday's and Saturday's games.
    He would've gotten another chance on Sunday, when Gordon was due up with the bases juiced and two outs in the fifth, but Baldelli countered Kansas City's lefty reliever move by pinch-hitting Kyle Farmer, who flew out. 
    The Twins have positioned themselves well with enough bench weapons to make their offense essentially matchup-proof, but it's incumbent upon guys like Gordon and Farmer to step up in those favorable spots. There's no need to worry much much yet, but these missed opportunities contributed to a series that saw the Twins strand 27 baserunners in 27 innings.
    Disturbingly reminiscent to last year.
    Neither Polanco nor Alex Kirilloff were quite ready for the start of the season, although it didn't seem in spring training like either one was THAT far off – both were getting action in minor-league games by the end of camp, at least. Now that we're underway, and the offense is lagging a bit out of the gates, the question becomes: How soon might we realistically expect to see one or both help the Twins?
    An April debut feels unlikely for either, although perhaps a bit more plausible for Polanco, who seems a little closer. The idea of those two (along with Royce Lewis and other top prospects) joining the fold as mid-season reinforcements for a winning team is exciting, but the Twins will face an uphill battle in getting themselves to that point with a rugged early schedule.. 
    Ten of their next 19 games come against the Astros and Yankees. 
    The first full week of action lies ahead, with the Twins first heading to Miami for a reunion with old friend Luis Arraez (and extremely tough pitching matchup on Tuesday), then coming to Target Field for their home-opening series against the defending champs.
    Of note: we'll get our first look at Baldelli's lineup against a left-handed starter on Wednesday. 
    MONDAY, 4/3: TWINS @ MARLINS – RHP Tyler Mahle v. RHP Johnny Cueto
    TUESDAY, 4/4: TWINS @ MARLINS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Sandy Alcantara
    WEDNESDAY, 4/5: TWINS @ MARLINS – RHP Pablo Lopez v. LHP Jesus Luzardo
    THURSDAY, 4/6: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Jose Urquidy v. RHP Sonny Gray
    SATURDAY, 4/8: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Luis Garcia v. RHP Joe Ryan
    SUNDAY, 4/9: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Hunter Brown v. RHP Tyler Mahle
  12. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Spotlight: LHP Jaylen Nowlin   
    Jaylen Nowlin grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents encouraged him to play many sports and keep busy, so he did, and in doing so developed some great friendships. Once he reached high school, his focus turned solely toward baseball. That decision appears to be the right one for the talented lefty. 
    At Westlake High School, he teamed with Lawrence Butler, one of the top prospects in the Oakland A’s organization. He had committed to West Virginia, but the A’s selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft. He had a solid season in the High-A Midwest League in 2022 and a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Butler was added to the 40-man roster last November and has a chance to debut in 2022. Through seven spring training games, he is 8-for-14 (.571) with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. 
    With a few players who are now pros and several who played in college, how good was their team? Nowlin admitted, “Shockingly, not that good. We had the talent, but we definitely lacked the discipline. We had a lot of fun, but discipline was probably our weakest point.” 
    In the summers, Nowlin and Butler played on a local team in regional and national Perfect Game tournaments and did very well. Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Marquis Grissom led the team. His son, Marquis Grissom, Jr., was on the team. He went to Georgia Tech and was drafted by the Nationals in 2021. Also on the team was 2022 National League Rookie of the Year, Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris. Harris was called up to Atlanta from Double-A at the end of May, and he went on to use an incredible toolset to hit for average, showed his power, and showed great speed on the bases and in center field.  
    Marvin Freeman spent parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues. He was the pitching coach on the team. Along with Grissom, they provided some much-needed mentorship. “Those two have really pushed my career along since I was like 14 years old. Marvin Freeman is the best pitching coach I could ever ask for. He is just a guru with it. He knows how to make everything make sense, help out, and have all the cues. Without him, I would be a different pitcher right now.” 
    Nowlin recalls, “There was a lot of competition on the team and a lot of competition that we placed against.” He later said, “We did some damage in those Perfect Game tournaments. We were a deep team, pretty much an all black team. A deep team too. We had a lot of talent.” 
    Jaylen Nowlin has been around excellent players for a long time. He was putting up a quality resume in his own right. He had committed in high school to Jackson State but instead went to Chipola College in Florida, one of the best junior colleges nationally every year. In 2021, Nowlin pitched in 16 games and 42 innings. He walked too many (24), but he struck out an incredible 59 batters (44% of batters faced). 
    Nowlin said of the experience, “That’s where my development really took off. I struggled early on, but the pitching coach got to me, and that’s when we started hammering down on just  throwing strikes.” 
    He committed to pitching at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2022. But then came the draft. He was at home with his parents and a few friends. It took awhile, but finally, in the 19th round, he heard his name called as the pick of the Minnesota Twins. 
    He quickly signed and got to work. He pitched in just one FCL game during the season. It was during Instructs that Nowlin started to make his name known. Reports were that the lefty was hitting 97 with his fastball and showing a sharp slider. 
    The southpaw started his first full minor-league season in Fort Myers. He pitched in 19 games, including 11 starts. He was part of one of the two Mighty Mussels no-hitters. 
    David Festa started it. Nowlin pitched in the middle, and Hunter McMahon finished it off. “Once I came in, I just came in and threw. I had no idea that they had no hits at that point until I came out and Hunter came in. I was just going in there, doing my job, like normal. Once we finished the game and they started throwing the water everywhere, I was still pretty much confused.”
     He ended the season with three starts for Cedar Rapids before their playoff run. “I was happy to be able to make that step, just to reach another level. I just want to be able to continue to progress every year, get better as much as I can, and move up as fast as I can. So moving up to Cedar Rapids was a great experience for me, and I was very appreciative of it.” 
    Nowlin has a three-pitch mix primarily. His fastball sits in the mid-90s but has reached 97 at times. He’s got a good, sharp slider, and he also throws a changeup. He says he also likes to throw a two-seamer every once in a while too. Along with stuff, Nowlin thinks he’s got the right mentality. “It’s me throwing every single pitch I have with conviction. It’s just trying to let everything eat, throw it down the middle, and see if they can hit it. I like to test batters to see if they can hit it. I try not to do too much. Keep everything simple. Shove it right down the middle and see if they can beat me.” 
    Combined, he threw 71 innings and had a remarkable 111 strikeouts (14.1 K/9). He also had 36 walks, which is more than he would want and something to focus on in the offseason. Lowering that walk rate is just one of his goals heading into the 2023 season. 
    And in the offseason, he spends a lot of time with his friends. “We’re a tight group. Me, Mike, Marquis, Lawrence. We’re a tight group. We work out together in the offseason. We’re always with each other, playing a game together, working out, or just chilling at each other’s houses.” 
    Nowlin says he is ‘definitely a goal guy, highly goal oriented. Keep progressing. Get to Double-A as fast as I can. Move up as much as I can this year. Get better every day.” 
    Jaylen Nowlin has been in Fort Myers preparing for the season since mid-January. His strikeout rate and stuff have him entering most Top 30 Twins prospect rankings. He and fellow 2021 Day 3 draft pick David Festa are two Twins pitching prospects to move up most in 2022. Can Nowlin take another big step forward in 2023?
    For more Jaylen Nowlin content on Twins Daily, click here. 
  13. Love
    jkcarew reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Sandy Valdespino, Member of the 1965 World Series Twins, Passes Away at 84   
    The baseball world lost another brother in their fraternity last Sunday. Sandy Valdespino, one of Sam Mele’s bench weapons on the 1965 World Series team, passed away in Moultrie, Georgia, at the age of 84.
    Signed by the legendary scout, Joe Cambria, Valdespino made his American baseball debut in 1957, crushing a homer in the Texas League that earned him notice in The Sporting News (Cohen). Valdespino—who was originally named “Hilario,” only taking on the name “Sandy” because minor-league manager Johnny Welaj thought he looked like Dodgers player Sandy Amoros—bounced across the minors, playing around the U.S. as he fought for promotions. 
    Jim Kaat recalled rooming with Valdespino in Missoula, Montana in 1958: “We rented a room in a house … I think it was 16 bucks a week,'' Kaat said. "I was 6-foot-5 and white as snow, and Sandy was 5-foot-6 and a black guy in Montana 65 years ago. We made quite the pair strolling down the streets of Missoula.” (Reusse, Miller) 
    As a Cuban player during the Castro revolution, Valdespino navigated choppy political waters, leaving his home country to focus solely on baseball following 1961.
    “I was very lucky,” he said. “In the beginning, I was kind of worried. What if I don’t make it? What am I supposed to do? But I work hard. I work hard and I keep myself in good discipline. I make a lot of friends. It was good for me.” (Seegmueller).
    1965 proved to be his opportunity. After leading the International League in batting with the Atlanta Crackers the prior season, the Twins found room in their lineup for the potential star. Playing time was inconsistent—a start here, a pinch-hit there—as Minnesota stacked outfield proved tough to crack. Valdespino found his niche. An especially fruitful June embodied his 274 plate appearances and consistent play as a late-inning substitute; he played in 108 games that year.
    Earning three starts in the World Series, including a spot in the two-hole for the opening match, Valdespino cracked a trio of hits, but couldn’t help overcome the great Dodgers pitching machine in a seven-game loss. 
    Despite earning the opening-day left field spot over Bob Allison, Valdespino could not build off his rookie season; 1965 proved to be the most successful season in his career.
    A second dry season in 1967 begat a journeyman series of seasons. While he rubbed elbows with stars like Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro, Joe Torre, Joe Morgan, and Amos Otis, the magic never returned, and Valdespino retired from MLB following 1971. His playing career ended in 1974 after a venture in the Mexican League.
    Despite a memorable World Series performance, Valdespino’s most cherished MLB memory was an outstanding catch he made in 1967.
    “We were winning, 5-3, and Dean Chance was pitching, but he started to have a little bit of trouble in the eighth,” Valdespino said. “So they took him out and put me in the left field, so I could (hit in the pitcher’s spot in the lineup). They pulled Bob Allison out of left and put Ron Kline in to pitch. I got back there slowly and Dick Radatz came to bat. The wind was blowing in like a hurricane, and Kline threw him a fast ball. He hit it, and the ball came off his bat and took off like an airplane. I said, ‘Oooh, what’s this? So I took off running to see how far that ball was going to go over the fence.” (Seegmueller)
    But the ball didn’t end up flying too far.
    “When I jumped, my spikes caught the fence and kept me on balance,” he said. “I saw the ball and threw my glove up and it went in. Whop! That was one of my greatest catches ever; they are still talking about it. They have it on a replay they show.” (Seegmueller)
    For Cleveland’s manager, it was the greatest catch he ever saw, and with Joe DiMaggio in the stands for the game, it was a beautiful showcase of what Sandy Valdespino could do on a baseball field.
    Cohen, Alan, Sandy Valdespino, SABR.
    Miller, Chris and Reusse, Patrick, Former Twins outfielder Sandy Valdespino dies at age 84, StarTribune.
    Seegmueller, Tom, Albany's Sandy Valdespino recalls escaping Cuba to baseball's Major Leagues, Albany Herald.
  14. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 2023 Prospect Previews: Andrew Morris   
    Andrew Morris signed with the Twins for an even $500,000, slightly under the pick value of $533,300. Morris was a fourth-year senior for the Red Raiders, having transferred after spending his previous three seasons at Division II Colorado-Mesa (the same college as one Sergio Romo). In his final season for the Mavericks, he posted a 2.19 ERA, with a 115:19 K/BB ratio in 78 innings. Clearly too good for the competition, Morris arrived in Lubbock with some buzz attached. 
    Scouting Notes
    As a 17-year-old freshman at Colorado-Mesa, Morris helped his team reach the Division II National Championship Game. After transferring to Lubbock, Morris slotted into a rotation with Chase Hampton (drafted by the Yankees in the sixth round) and Brandon Birdsell (drafted by the Cubs in the 5th round, and previously by the Twins in 2021).
    Morris is 6’0 tall and 195 pounds. He has a "tweener" delivery, operating somewhere in the middle of a three-quarter and over-the-top arm slot with pronounced shoulder tilt. His fastball sits between 91-94 mph and tops out at 96 mph with some riding life. It’s likely the Twins will work to add some more velocity as he spends more time in the organization. Morris’s best secondary pitch is a curveball with good vertical break. He used this pitch at Tech as a strikeout pitch but also showed an ability to land it for strikes in the middle of at-bats. Morris features a changeup that has fade but is a work in progress and needs improved command. Finally, Morris has a sweeping slider the Twins will likely work to enhance and develop.
    Morris’ unusual mechanics create solid deception in his delivery. He handled the step up in competition well at Texas Tech, striking out 91 hitters in 88 1/3 innings of work against high quality opposition. With a BB% pushing 32%, he’ll need to refine his command significantly if he is going to stick as a starter. Morris has a nice platform, though. A deceptive fastball with good life and a good breaking ball give the Twins clay to mold.
    Likely to Start At: Low A Fort Myers
    Morris pitched just one professional inning in 2022, a hitless inning in which he struck out a batter for the FCL Twins. He also pitched in one game for Fort Myers in the playoffs, tossing three scoreless innings. It’s likely he spends the majority of 2023 at Fort Myers, getting bulk innings as a starter in his first extended experience of pro ball.
    What did you think of the Andrew Morris pick? What do you think his ceiling is with the Twins?
    Previous Articles in the Series
    Brooks Lee
    Connor Prielipp
    Tanner Schobel
  15. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Greggory Masterson for an article, Roy Campanella & Willie Mays Dominated in their Twin Cities Minor-League Runs   
    Looking back on Minnesota baseball history, Black players like Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Mudcat Grant, or Torii Hunter often stand out. Two names, even more recognizable, are often overlooked.
    Roy Campanella
    Roy Campanella was the sixth player to break the MLB color barrier and the third Brooklyn Dodger. He was on Branch Rickey’s shortlist of players he had signed to integrate baseball. As the son of a Black mother and an Italian-American father, he was seen as a candidate before Rickey settled on Robinson.
    Before signing with the Dodgers in 1946, he spent nine years with the Negro Leagues Washington Elite Giants, having joined the team as a 15-year-old. In 1946, he was sent to Nashua, NH, after Brooklyn determined that the Danville Dodgers in Illinois was not a location prepared for integration.
    He then spent 1947 in Montreal, where Robinson had played the year prior, rather than for the AAA St. Paul Saints. Again, the Dodgers feared the American Association was unprepared for integration.
    Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947, playing first base for the Dodgers, and Dan Bankhead became the second Black Dodger later that season. Campanella was knocking on the door of the big leagues, and at the beginning of the 1947 season, he registered his first MLB plate appearance as a Brooklyn Dodger, being hit by a pitch, as was the practice at the time for Black players. 
    He played in a few more games in Brooklyn but was sent down to AAA as part of an early-season roster trim. Before becoming a fixture behind the plate for the Dodgers, he needed to make one more stop: Lexington Park in St. Paul.
    Although not the first Black player to play in MLB, he was the first in the American Association. By public accounts, the Twin Cities welcomed him. Hitting a home run in six consecutive games with 20 RBI in a week will do that to a community.
    Many wondered why it had taken so long for a Black player to come to play professional baseball on their fields, and Campanella made a case for more to be accepted into town. His success as a ballplayer was bittersweet for the fans, though; the better he played, the sooner he would be called up to Brooklyn.
    Campanella spent only 39 memorable days in St. Paul, belting 13 home runs with a .325 batting average over 35 games. He left for Brooklyn amongst Minnesota well-wishers who became lifelong fans of the star catcher, supporting him from a distance.
    For ten years, Campanella sat behind the plate for the Dodgers, seen as one of the top players in the game. He was an All-Star for eight consecutive years, winning the MVP three times. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to a car accident that left him paralyzed, but in 1969, he was inducted into Cooperstown.
    He may be more famous for his Hall of Fame plaque, or his mentions in Billy Joel’s We didn’t Start the Fire and Talkin’ Baseball by Terry Cashman, but for five weeks, he was the talk of the town in the Twin Cities. When he left town, there was excitement about more Black players playing for Minnesota teams.
    Willie Mays
    The Twin Cities didn’t have to wait long before an even more significant Black figure came along. Another New York team also had a Minnesota farm team in the American Association—the Minneapolis Millers—who would get their own slice of Black baseball in the form of the Say Hey Kid.
    Willie Mays was the 17th player to cross the color barrier at the Major League level. Like Campanella, he began his professional career as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, playing for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948. Upon graduating high school in 1950, Mays had several contract offers but chose the New York Giants.
    As a 19-year-old, Mays moved to Trenton to play in the Giant’s minor league system, seeing success, hitting .353 with four home runs in 81 games. The following year, 1951, he moved to Minneapolis to play for the AAA Millers.
    If Twin Cities residents thought what Campanella did was special (and it was), they had a pleasant surprise with Mays. The 20-year-old, playing against a league of grown men seven years older than him on average, hit a blistering .477 with an absurd 1.323 OPS for the Millers.
    His prowess with the bat wasn’t the only draw; he was also the most outstanding defensive centerfielder of his time (if not the greatest ever). The young man, who would go on to make a play simply known as “The Catch” just three years later in the 1954 World Series, was making highlight plays nightly in Minneapolis, including one catch climbing the wall in a style that Stew Thornley compared to Ken Griffey Jr. or Bo Jackson.
    Those who did not learn their lesson about the fleeting nature of superstar prospects from Campanella’s time in the Twin Cities four years earlier had only themselves to blame for missing out on Mays tearing the diamond at Nicollet Park. He was in town for an even shorter time. Although he was with the team for 38 days—one fewer than Campanella. To make matters worse, the Saints were on the road at the beginning of his stay with the team, and he left the team for New York while they were on another road trip, actually staying in the Twin Cities for just over two weeks.
    Mays didn’t even make it to June before leaving for New York. The spring weather had been poor, and many in town passed up a chance to see him, hoping to catch a game later in the season. So many had missed their opportunity that these people came to refer to themselves as the I Didn’t See Him Club.
    Mays, too, left a group of lifelong fans in Minnesota. To soften the blow, the owner of the Giants, Horace Stoneham, wrote a letter published in local newspapers thanking the Twin Cities for supporting Mays and the Millers, promising to send additional talented players. He never sent anyone like Mays.
    We can’t blame Stoneham for that, though, because only a handful of players in history are on Mays’s level—if anyone. That same year, he was named Rookie of the Year. Three years later, in 1954, he would make The Catch, win the World Series, and be named MVP. He won MVP again in 1965 and racked up 24 All-Star games in a 21-year career (the math checks out, I promise).
    Mays ranks fifth all-time in WAR, per Baseball Reference, with 660 home runs (6th all-time) and 12 Gold Gloves. He was an all-around star, the likes of which we have not since seen. Mays, too, is enshrined in the chorus of Talkin’ Baseball and is one of the bastions of the sport. At 91, the 1979 Hall of Fame inductee still serves as one of the sport’s great ambassadors.
    And the last thing he did before becoming all-caps WILLIE MAYS was amaze the spectators who braved the weather to watch him play home games in Minneapolis.
    The sixth and seventeenth players to break the color barrier in MLB were Minnesota ballplayers the same year they made their historic entrances. Even if it was only for five weeks each, we should remember them in the annals of Minnesota baseball history.
  16. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top 20 Prospects: Recap & Analysis   
    The purpose of these rankings is to take stock of the Twins farm system leading up to the start of the season. This year we asked 10 different Twins Daily writers, all of whom follow the minors closely, to share their choices for the current top 30 Twins prospects. Then we aggregated them into the list that's been gradually rolled out here over the past few weeks. 
    This is a snapshot in time. Prospect rankings are never static, and in order to better follow the movement that occurs over time, last year we launched the Twins Daily Prospect Tracker. It's updated monthly throughout the season with new stats, insights, and re-rankings. I recommend bookmarking that page and checking back often if you love to follow the next generation of Twins talent.
    For today, we're going to dive deep on that next generation and how it's shaping the future of the franchise. First, here's a rundown of this year's top 20 rankings – you can click on each player's name to find a profile on him from one of our writers.
    Minnesota Twins 2023 Top 20 Prospects

    20. Misael Urbina, OF: Has come along slowly since signing as a top int'l talent out of DR in 2018, but still 20 with big tools.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Opened eyes with a spectacular and rare power display in the Dominican Summer League.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B: 2022 second-round pick saw his college power spike evaporate in pro debut, fading his hype.
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: Slider-slinging 22-year-old seems destined to break through in full-time relief role.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Stellar track record keeps him on the radar following a disastrous year at Triple-A.
    15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Maybe the best raw stuff in the organization, but TJ surgery will sideline him again this year.
    14. Noah Miller, SS: Outstanding fielder needs to find some semblance of offensive game other than drawing walks.
    13. David Festa, RHP: Former 13th-rounder's domination of Single-A sparks hope for another deep-draft pitching find.
    12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Club's biggest int'l signing last summer flashed all five tools in highly impressive rookie-ball debut.
    11. Matt Wallner, OF: His off-the-charts raw power will play in the bigs if he can stay relatively disciplined at plate.
    10. Austin Martin, SS: Huge dropoff after topping this list a year ago, but the speedy OBP specialist can rebound.
    9. Louie Varland, RHP: Continues to outperform his stuff, but also, the stuff continues to get better for hard-working SP.
    8. Jose Salas, INF: Twins picked up a dynamic young athlete via Arraez trade in this versatile switch-hitting infielder.
    7. Connor Prielipp, LHP: Slid to Twins in second round of latest draft coming off elbow surgery, but has frontline SP traits.
    6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP: Reached majors at age 22 following lights-out campaign between AA/AAA.
    5. Edouard Julien, 2B: He has raked in the minors with an ultra-patient approach, and is knocking on MLB door.
    4. Marco Raya, RHP: Word is out on the best-kept secret in Twins system, who dazzled in pro debut at Fort Myers.
    3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF: Flashed superstar talent and production during full-season debut cut short by knee injury.
    2. Royce Lewis, SS: Cemented legitimacy during a convincing return to action before being struck by another torn ACL.
    1. Brooks Lee, SS: Drafted eighth overall with a bat that pretty much looked MLB-ready as soon as he reached the pro field.
    A True Deadlock at the Top
    The most fascinating dynamic of this year's rankings was the choice between Lee and Lewis for number one. I cannot possibly overstate how accurate the word "deadlock" is in describing the lack of separation between these high-end talents in our ranking process.
    The results from tabulating our panel of 10 voters placed the two in an exact tie: five voters picked Lewis, five picked Lee. In order to try and swing things one way or the other, we reached out for off-the-record opinions on the matter from a variety of trusted sources: scouting contacts, prospect analysts, baseball people inside the Twins organization and out. 
    You know what came back? Pretty much a 50/50 split exactly. Almost everyone expressed a variation of the same sentiment: It's really hard to compare the two directly, because it all comes down to the upside & risk versus safety & floor equation. "If I had to choose, I guess I'd go with X."
    We all want to dream on the lofty upside Lewis still possesses: the potential for an electric power/speed combo from shortstop or center field, combined with character and charisma on the Jeter Scale. But no one can ignore the realities of a career that's been sabotaged by injuries, the latest of which undeniably clouds his future outlook.
    How do you properly account for this in projecting him as a major-league player? And how do you compare him to someone like Lee, who probably has a lower overall ceiling but also has one of the highest floors you could ask for in a prospect? Lee looked so polished and adept during his pro debut after signing last year that he found his way to Wichita for the Double-A playoffs and was up to the task.
    Lee makes it look really easy, and that's the highest compliment you can pay a 21-year-old barely out of college and facing experienced pro competition.
    Ultimately, we went with Lee as our choice for as the top Twins prospect of 2023, because the feedback we received seemed to tilt ever-so-slightly in that direction and because the majority of publications we chart our rankings against – MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic (both Keith Law and Aaron Gleeman) – have Lee in front of Lewis.
    But if there's a strong consensus to be found around these two it's this: the Twins are very lucky to have them both.
    Restocking the Low Minors with Upside
    Lee and Lewis both contribute to a robust top end of the pipeline, joining the likes of Julien, Woods Richardson, Varland, Martin, and Wallner as quality prospects who could essentially be ready to make an MLB impact at any time. But a number of breakthroughs from recent draft classes and recent high-profile international signings have populated the lower levels with promising young talent.
    This was missing last year, when essentially all 10 of our top prospects were in the high minors and approaching MLB-readiness, save for Chase Petty who got traded shortly after we published. The emergences of teenaged players like Emmanuel Rodriguez, Raya, and Mercedes – bolstered by the acquisition of Salas in the Luis Arraez trade – have done wonders for the lower levels of this system, and the franchise's long-term talent landscape.
    Still Lacking Catcher Talent
    The lack of standout catching prospects in Minnesota's system is something I noted last year, even before Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt were traded away. It's now even more conspicuous. The Twins have sought to backfill at the MLB level with veterans like Gary Sánchez and now Christian Vázquez, but the future of this position continues to hinge on Ryan Jeffers, who has proven little at age 25.
    Not only were there zero catching prospects in our top 20, but if you zoom out to the top 30, none are found in the 21-through-30 range either. The highest I've seen a catcher ranked by anyone is Noah Cardenas, who was 25th on Gleeman's top 40 list, but Cardenas was profiled there as a "future backup with some starter upside." 
    Another tough year for Jeffers, with Vázquez under control through 2025 but turning 33 in August, would leave the organization's outlook pretty flimsy behind the plate unless new names emerge.
    Rebound Scenarios Present X-factors
    Aside from some of the big risers, the most stark movements from last year's rankings were the dramatic downfalls of Martin (#1 last year, #10 this year) and Balazovic (#4 last year, #16 this year). Those are tough blows for the system and help explain why it's generally viewed as middling compared to the league. (Law ranked them 19th out of 30 organizations at The Athletic earlier this month.)
    The flip side is this: it's only one season, and these players are not far removed from being viewed as viable (and imminent) difference-makers with convincing track records. Martin and Balazovic are legit talents, and both will be 24 this year with ample experience in the high minors. A turnaround for either could quickly thrust them into the big-league picture.
    Who's Your Pick to Click in 2023?
    I asked this at the conclusion of last year's recap article, so I'll send it your way again. Who is your pick to click and make a huge jump in the rankings in 2023? 
    Last year I the name I submitted was Marco Raya, and he went from Honorable Mentions to #4 on our list, so that went well. This year I will go with Keoni Cavaco, who was merely an Honorable Mention this year having fallen off the radar in three unproductive seasons since being drafted 13th overall in 2019.
    Cavaco wasn't good last year, but he did seem to take a step forward and he remains an athletic and toolsy infielder. I like him to escape the pitcher-friendly Florida State League and put together a strong age-21 season that vaults him back into the top 20. 
    How about you?
    Past Rankings
    Twins Daily 2022 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2017 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2016 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2015 Top Prospects Twins Daily Links: Misael Urbina, OF, Jose Rodriguez, OF, Tanner Schobel, 2B, Ronny Henriquez, RHP, Jordan Balazovic, RHP, Matt Canterino, RHP, Noah Miller, SS, David Festa, RHP, Yasser Mercedes, OF, Matt Wallner, OF, Austin Martin, SS, Louie Varland, RHP. Jose Salas, INF, Connor Prielipp, LHP, Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, Edouard Julien, 2B, Marco Raya, RHP, Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Royce Lewis, SS, Brooks Lee, SS. 
    Baseball-Reference Links: Misael Urbina, OF, Jose Rodriguez, OF, Tanner Schobel, 2B, Ronny Henriquez, RHP, Jordan Balazovic, RHP, Matt Canterino, RHP, Noah Miller, SS, David Festa, RHP, Yasser Mercedes, OF, Matt Wallner, OF, Austin Martin, SS, Louie Varland, RHP. Jose Salas, INF, Connor Prielipp, LHP, Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, Edouard Julien, 2B, Marco Raya, RHP, Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Royce Lewis, SS, Brooks Lee, SS. 
  17. Love
    jkcarew reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Mike Radcliff: "The Greatest Teacher I've Ever Had in My Life"   
    Terry Ryan hired Mike Radcliff from the Major League Scouting Bureau in 1987 as an area scout around his home in Kansas City. A year later, he became the team’s Midwest Supervisor. In 1994, he became the Scouting Director and remained in charge of the draft through the 2007 season. Since then, he has been involved in all Player Personnel decisions. 
    In short, over his 36 years with the Twins, Mike Radcliff has worked with a lot of people, a lot of area scouts, supervisors, cross-checkers and front office personnel. I asked Twins scouts what they have learned over the years from Mike Radcliff, and while they each have their own stories and memories, the themes are often the same. 
    To summarize: Mike Radcliff was one of the most respected people inside the Twins organization but also around all baseball circles. 
    John Manuel certainly has a unique perspective as it relates to Radcliff. Manuel was a long time writer and editor at Baseball America. He has been in the Twins pro scouting department for about the past five years. He recalls a survey that they sent out around 2006.
    “I ranked the Twins prospects for the first time after the 2006 season, and that was just after Jim Callis conducted a survey of scouting directors, and 17 of the 28 voted for Mike as the best scouting director in the game.”
    Manuel continued, “So I knew that when I got to do the Twins’ list, first I needed to call Mike and I knew that he would be helpful. But I didn’t know just how helpful he would be and how much I would learn from him. He talked about scouting terms not as jargon but as a way to understand baseball and players. A specific example was when he explained an “uphill” swing to me with specific examples to watch, such as Mark Teixeira, and also the downside (and upside) of such swings. It was eye-opening, and I was jealous of Jim Callis because Jim insisted on keeping Mike as a draft source, meaning that I had to keep him just as a Twins source. I would sneak draft talk into my Twins calls with him, sandwiched around Roy Williams talk after he left Cliffy’s Kansas Jayhawks for my North Carolina Tar Heels.”
    Manuel had a ton of respect for Mike Radcliff and his opinion that he reached out to him before applying for the Twins scouting job. “When I stumbled into discussing a pro scouting job with the Twins, I literally gave Mike veto power over whether or not I would apply for the job. I called him the day after I had my first contact with Derek Falvey about the job and told him I would not actually apply unless he thought I would be a good fit for the organization, but he encouraged me to apply. I’m forever grateful that he thought I was worthy of being part of the organization. Now it's up to those of us who are still here to live up to the standard that he set, to get to the park early, to be last to leave, to know as much about the players involved as possible and to help the Twins acquire championship-caliber players.”
    In the days following the announcement of Radcliff’s death, I reached out to scouts. One of the first I heard back from was Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting, Tim O’Neil. He joined the organization in 1994. 
    Of course, I heard from him late in the evening because he had what he referred to as a “Cliffy-type day.” He scouting a 9am game that morning, then went to an alumni game at a Division I college, and then a national workout featuring “all the best high school players in the West.” 
    Of Radcliff, he noted, “Mike was the smartest guy in the room, the most talented scout in the room, the hardest worker in the room, and the humblest guy in the room.  He was incredible Seth.  Died with zero enemies - zero.“ 
    O’Neil continued, “No one could accurately describe Mike's work ethic and passion for the Twins. He was in a hotel 320+ nights a year, sometimes 2-3 months straight, 2-3-4 games a day, if possible. Every decision, every acquisition, every hire, promotion, release, divorce, birth, death, etc went through Mike. He genuinely cared about everyone and treated everyone with incredible respect. One interesting fact - he didn't like to shake hands, I never saw him hug anyone. But he offered more love and kindness than anyone I've ever met.”
    Freddie Thon joined the organization 10 years ago as an area scout in Puerto Rico and South Florida. He is now an amateur cross-checker. 
    “I knew Cliffy for a long time, but not as long as many others. I was fortunate enough to work with him on the draft side as well as on the International side. I am pretty sure that everyone will repeat this sentiment, but it’s just undeniable that his work ethic and his commitment to the Twins was A+.It simply can’t be topped.” Emphatically, Thon added, “Aside from that, I have wanted to share with people how great of a guy he was, how genuine he was with all of us younger scouts, how well he treated every single person he came across, and the fact that he was truly one of the funniest people I knew. He will be missed, but I know this group will continue to honor him for many many years.”
    Mike Ruth joined Radcliff and the Twins in 1989. After years as an area scout, he has been the Midwest Supervisor for many years. He described what Radcliff meant to so many in the organization. 
    “I’ve been thinking a lot about all I learned from Mike these past few days. He hired me as a young area scout 35 years ago, and I can’t begin to tell you what a privilege it has been to work with him and see up close his unfailing dedication to the Twins and more importantly the scouts, players, coaches, and staff who make up the Twins. He drafted and signed so many Twins icons (Hunter, Cuddyer, Mauer, Morneau, Perkins, etc) but his real legacy is the way he poured into so many people’s lives and the bonds he built to connect and elevate everyone in the organization and in the entire baseball world. To the scouts and the staff he was our Puckett; a guy who gave everyone around him such energy and optimism no matter what the circumstance and would carry the day in the toughest of times. If you remember as a fan what a blow it was the day Puck retired that’s how all of us are feeling today times a thousand.”
    Ruth continued, “The two lessons that really stand out to me really don’t involve baseball, just how to author a life that honors the people around you and lets them feel appreciated and heard while making sure every success was shared and that his role in those successes was seen as secondary to everyone else. When you have a leader that sees life that way every day you work with them is a joy.  
    When I was a young scout I was initially  impressed with all the “famous” people he knew. You couldn’t go anywhere with him that a GM, ML player or coach, national writer or broadcaster wouldn’t come up and start talking with him and he was always so generous with his willingness to introduce me and allow me into the conversation. It was very heady stuff for someone just breaking into the business and he never did it to impress, only to be inclusive. But as I got older what really impressed me and taught me the most was all the “non-famous” people he knew around the game. It would have been easy for him to isolate himself among the elite and live in that world exclusively like many do. Instead he built relationships with the first-year scouts, not only with the Twins but anyone who just wanted to talk about the game and learn. With the interns and people just breaking into the game. The college assistant coaches. The office staff at the minor league affiliates. The beat writers and bloggers. The people who cleaned the offices at Target Field. If you wanted to talk and learn, he always made time and job title or status in the game was never a barrier to building a new friendship. Mike never took from relationships, he added to everyone he touched and the stories of his generosity and kindness are legendary.  
    The second thing was his love of eating in groups. He had his favorite places and meals but for him eating was more about fellowship than food. At the table, everyone was equal and all ideas were worth consideration. Debate was encouraged without fear of embarrassment or retribution. All opinions had weight and worthiness and laughter was plentiful. I learned more about scouting and life during the hundreds of meals I had with him than anywhere else in my life. It was a Master course not only in every facet of baseball but in building a life well lived.”
    Billy Milos joined the Twins organization in 1994 as an area scout. He has spent time on the amateur side of scouting, in pro scouting and has been quite involved with the Twins signing players from independent leagues. The two worked together and watched a lot of baseball together over the past several decades.  
    “He was my boss for decades. Even when he wasn’t my boss, he was still my boss. The number of lessons and “teachings” are too numerous to count. But the one that stands out is learning how to listen from him. It was something I needed as a young scout and something he excelled at with ease. He didn’t try to teach it, it just rubbed off on you by watching him.”
    He referred to Radcliff as “the hardest working person I’ve ever met in my life! A Hall of Fame scout, Scouting Director, Baseball Executive, and human being. He can not be replaced.” 
    He continued, “Highly intelligent. A photographic memory. He could think and respond swiftly but yet in such a calm manner. Such great people skills, and a great sense of humor too. He was the type of leader that let you do your job. Never hovered over you. He loved having his work plate overflowing at all times. For him, that was comforting. He was so organized you would never know how much information passed through him each and every day until you listened to him. He could cover six completely different current events in one 10 minute conversation and be completely up to date on all six. It was dizzying! How did he keep up like this every single day of his life? An amazing individual that excelled in every single aspect of the human spirit. 
    Mike knew everything going on in baseball. Here is a man fully immersed in the draft. That was his love. But he knew all the best players for the next two drafts as well. But more amazing, he knew everything going on across the big leagues, minor leagues and the world of International prospects. It was just plain scary that he could sit there and have a discussion with you that spanned across all the different segments of baseball. Organizations have different departments for each aspect of baseball, and many people working within each department. Well, he had all that stuff in his head at any one time and could talk to you about any of it without looking at his phone or opening up his tablet. That's the truth. And if that wasn’t enough you could start talking about college basketball, or some random current event in America, or finance.You name it, and he was on top of it. He somehow crammed 36 hours into every day.” 
    Brad Steil joined the Twins organization as an intern and is about to begin his 23rd year in the organization. He has been involved in scouting and baseball operations. He was the Twins Director of Minor league League Operations for five years and is now in his sixth year as Director of Player Procurement. 
    He said, “When I started with the Twins, I worked closely with Mike on a daily basis. So I owe a lot to him for teaching me as much as he did early on. On a personal level, Mike was truly a phenomenal human being and a great friend. His kindness, empathy, and integrity really set him apart. In the baseball world, nobody was more respected for their evaluation skills and work ethic. It was a true privilege working with him for over 20 years, and I will always be grateful for his friendship.”
    John Wilson joined the Twins in the early ‘90s. He can be seen in ballparks from North Carolina to Maine and everywhere in between. 
    “Mike was my scouting director for 14 years. That's just not the norm anymore, but then again, Mike wasn't about ‘norms.’ One of Mike's strengths was that he supported and trusted his scouts. In my opinion, this allowed us to thrive and gave us confidence to create our own style and give our own opinions. Mike didn't teach us what to think, he taught us how to think. To look beyond the game, the field or a particular play. As a scout, you did your homework because you knew that is what he wanted, and you didn’t want to let him down. He led by example with his work ethic, so you followed his lead. One thing about Mike that was both challenging and humorous was that it was impossible to beat him to the ballpark, no matter how hard you tried.  When it came to evaluating players, Mike was like your junior high math tutor. He'd let you work through and solve a problem, even though he knew the answer all along.”
    Wilson shared one story that illustrates his eye for talent. “One story that I'll always remember is at our organizational meetings in October 1996, Mike came up to me and told me ‘get to know Cuddyer, he’s gonna be our guy at pick 9’ (in the 1997 draft). This shows the depth and skill he had to be able to predict which guys would be available to us, even though the draft was eight months away.”
    Wilson also shared a story to illustrate one of Radcliff’s best traits. “A great example of his humility and how he preferred to stay behind the scenes, was when Michael Cuddyer was put into the Twins Hall of Fame. The Twins brought me out to Minnesota. Mike Radcliff was there but wouldn't go onto the field for the ceremony. I think he just preferred to sit back in the shadows and let others be recognized, even though so much of what was accomplished was because of him. Mike could have beat his chest with all he accomplished. He could have postured for GM jobs, but I believe Mike loved the Twins. He loved the people he worked with and enjoyed helping us grow. He was famous for starting a discussion and letting us run with it.” 
    You may know Jack Powell from his cameo on Trouble with the Curve, but when he’s not acting, he is an area scout for the Twins in Georgia, eastern Tennessee and in the Florida Panhandle. 
    “I learned to be patient and let the process work. “Know before you go” equals ‘gather up as much info about the player you are about to see so you can have an idea about him, especially on one you have never seen. Love God, your family, your friends, and job. Treat each other with the same respect you expect them to return to you. Mike was someone I respected for 40 years working across the aisle from him. I was blessed to have worked side-by-side with him over the past 15+ years. He will be missed and thought of forever.”
    Ken Compton is a professional scout with the Twins and has also learned a lot with and under Mike Radcliff. He said recently, “Not enough can be said about this amazing man, leader, and scout. I’ve learned so many things from Mike; preparation, work habits, humility, the list goes on and on. But the one that probably stands out the most is how to treat people. He treated everyone the same regardless of their position or status. He “genuinely” cared about people and made everyone feel special and validated. It’s hard to call it a leadership “style” because it wasn’t an act or something he learned in a book. It’s who he truly was.”
    Radcliff was the Twins Scouting Director for 14 years. When he was promoted, Deron Johnson took over the position and held it until late in 2016. Sean Johnson was named the Director of Amateur Scouting in 2017, and was promoted to Vice President of Amateur Scouting in January. He joined the organization as an area scout in 2002. In 2007, he became the West Coast Supervisor and remained in that role until 2017. Royce Lewis became his first, first-round pick.
    Sean Johnson has had a strong relationship with Mike Radcliff over the past 22 years. “Hard to boil down all of the things I learned from Mike, as he was the greatest teacher I’ve ever had in my life.” 
    He noted four things in particular that he learned during his time with Mike Radcliff. They are as follows: 
    1 - Lead with Humility 
    “Mike was a father figure to some, a mentor to many, and a friend to everyone who crossed his path. The way he handled people was remarkable. He had this unique way to make scouts feel comfortable and confident with their scouting opinions, even though you knew he probably knew more about the player being discussed than you did. You always walked away from Mike feeling like he valued your opinion and the work you had done coming up with that opinion. He treated everyone the same from first-week-on-the-job interns to hall of fame executives. He worked every single day for four decades with zero ego.”
    2 - He was a Great Listener 
    “Mike spent far more time listening than he did talking. His ability to build consensus on a baseball decision was masterful. He was the best at getting people to pull in the same direction in an attempt to make the best decision possible. He loved creating these spaces where lengthy, in-depth baseball conversations happened. He wasn’t afraid to stir the pot or side with the unpopular opinion. During player conversations in the draft room he would always say, 'Well, I hate to play devil’s advocate here…' - which we all knew was a lie. Mike believed healthy debate and discourse would help guide our group to the best version of our opinion on a player.”
    3 - He Defined Consistency 
    “When we start to mold and develop our new scouts, we preach a lot about consistency being the key to being a great area scout. Preparation, organization, communication, getting to the ballpark early, gathering more information about a player than the other 29 teams are, etc. Mike defined consistency. I never once saw him less than 100 percent prepared for any situation.”
    4 - He Believed in a Player’s Makeup as a Separating Tool 
    “Mike believed that knowing as much as we could about a player’s makeup and ability to compete was the separator in the draft room. If we knew how a player was wired and how that player was as a person away from the ballpark, we had a much better chance of making the right selection when it was our turn to pick. When Mike would ask you about a specific player on your draft list, it was a rare occasion when he wouldn’t ask you about what you knew about that player’s makeup.”
    A week ago, I shared my thoughts and experiences with Mike Radcliff, and we followed that up with comments from former Twins players such as Brian Dozier, Josh Rabe, and several others.
    Today I hope you have enjoyed the stories shared by some of the scouts that he worked with. Even more, it is fun to read what these scouts learned from Mike Radcliff on the baseball field, as a scout, and just in life. I’m sure there’s something in there that we all can learn from. 
    John Wilson concluded by saying, “I think what I’ll miss most is the friendship. The ability to just call him up and hear him answer ‘Howdy,’ and we just talk about whatever; Players, children or just life, Mike had insight into all of it. I am extremely grateful for having Mike Radcliff in my life.”
    Finally, Mike Ruth shared, “His passing leaves a giant void in the lives of so many who he touched over the years. He was the greatest scout most of us ever saw but he was even better as a friend and leader.”
    Radcliff’s visitation and funeral will be on Wednesday, February 15th,at Lee’s Summit Christian Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. It is a suburb on the southeast side of Kansas City. 
    Mike was passionate about the game of baseball and the Minnesota Twins. If anyone is interested, the family suggests any donations be made to the Minnesota Twins Community Fund or the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy. These memorials will be used to promote and support youth baseball and soft-ball programs in honor of Mike’s passion for the game.
  18. Sad
    jkcarew reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Remembering Mike Radcliff   
    It is fairly easy to remember how long Mike Radcliff has been in the organization. He joined the Minnesota Twins as an area scout in 1987 after four years as a scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau. A native of Kansas City, he became the Twins Midwest Supervisor in 1988. In 1993, Radcliff was named the team’s Director of Scouting and was in charge of all of the area scouts, regional supervisors, and cross-checkers. 
    It was in that role that he was ultimately responsible for the Twins draft picks. While no Scouting Director bats 1.000 with their picks, Radcliff had many successes during his tenure. He is the guy who drafted Twins first-round picks such as Torii Hunter (1993), Todd Walker (1994), Mark Redman (1995), Michael Cuddyer (1997), Joe Mauer (2001), Denard Span (2002), Trevor Plouffe and Glen Perkins (2004), and Matt Garza (2005). He found other good players in later rounds as well. 
    In 2007, he was promoted to the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel. It was a step up. He continued to work in the scouting group with new Scouting Director Deron Johnson and his staff, but he also worked more with the international scouting and the pro scouting departments. He traveled all over the world to watch baseball talent. He worked with Fred Guerrero in scouting the Dominican and Venezuela. He played a big role in that 2009 international signing class that included Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano. 
    He has been fighting pancreatic cancer for the past few years but was still involved with Player Personnel decisions. 
    Mike Radcliff was always really nice to me. During the early years of SethSpeaks dot net, I would send him questions for Q&As on players, and he was always generous with his responses. He didn’t just give the short answer to get it done with. He always replied. 
    From those responses, I learned a couple of things about him. First, he was obviously very knowledgeable about every player in the organization. I get that is his job, but he could provide detail on over 200 players plus past players and players from other organizations that he had watched. 
    The other thing I learned from those interactions was that he could be brutally honest. Just because I was a blogger from Nowheresville, it didn’t matter. 
    One example from probably 2006 or 2007. There was a prospect who had experienced several ups and downs in his minor-league career. Frankly, his numbers were not great. There was a second minor-leaguer who played the same position and had consistently outperformed the ‘prospect’. So, one of my questions was about the two and if the second player could be better than the higher-profiled prospect. 
    Radcliff’s response was basically to say that the prospect was clearly the better player, much more highly thought of, and definitely part of the Twins' future. Brutal honesty, but after I posted the article, I got an e-mail from the second minor leaguer's dad just saying that isn’t what he wanted to read from someone whose opinions carried so much weight in the organization. 
    Also, the “prospect” went on to play more than a decade in the big leagues. The other minor leaguer spent parts of three seasons and around 100 games in the big leagues, still a tremendous accomplishment. 
    Remember back when Twins Fest was in the Metrodome? Back then, there was a ‘Down on the Farm’ area where fans could get in line and get autographs from Twins minor leaguers. I would primarily stay right around there and talk to some of the players I’d communicated with. But a lot of times, Radcliff was there too. He was just standing in the area, observing the players and interacting with fans that might have a question. 
    I would always find him there and stand with him and talk about baseball things but also just other things. But I would come up with questions about prospects and he would answer, again, pretty honestly. 
    At Twins Fest 2010, we were standing there talking as one group of players was leaving and a new group was entering the area. Radcliff was observing and said to me, “Danny Valencia... Who would have thought he’d be added to the 40-man roster?” 
    Valencia had mashed throughout the minor leagues, but despite a solid college career at Miami, he fell to the 19th round of the 2006 draft. 
    Oh, and just try to give him credit for a draft pick he made making it to the big leagues, or becoming a star. Radcliff would stop you short and make sure to credit the area scout who was convicted in his belief in the player. 
    I would see Radcliff most years down in Ft. Myers. Not at Hammond Stadium. Not in the press box. But on the back fields watching the minor leaguers. For those familiar with the back fields, there is an observation tower in between the four fields that are together. Radcliff would be up there at times, but usually, he was positioned at ground level, where he would see two fields and a bullpen. 
    Radcliff was quiet, and again, just observing, taking it all in. You could tell he loved it, being at the ballpark, watching young players. He had scouted many of them and was now seeing them going through the development process. It’s not an exact science. He always understood that these are people. People with flaws, and people who have a lot of talent. He understood how difficult the game can be. 
    Again, standing by him, watching him watching ballplayers was interesting. Trying to figure out what he was observing. But again, I could ask him questions, and he would respond thoroughly. 
    It was always funny when a member of the Twins front office staff would throw out a name to him, and without hesitation, Radcliff would respond with “6th round, 2004.” And he was always right.
    In 2011, Mike Radcliff was named the Scout of the Year in the Midwest. In 2014, he was inducted into the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. In September 2021, he was elected to the Killebrew Root Beer Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. You can see his plaque at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers. 
    In 2016, he was given the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting (given by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation). Finally, in 2021, he received the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award at the Diamond Awards. 
    “The Minnesota Twins today mourn the loss of Mike Radcliff. Mike was the heart and soul of our scouting department for over 30 years, a man who was beloved and respected by staff, players, fellow scouts, agents, and his peers alike. One of baseball’s most revered talent evaluators, his character, work ethic, kindness, and sense of humor set the tone for our player development and evaluation processes. His baseball legacy lives on in the number of Twins Hall of Famers, All-Stars, and great teams that bear his fingerprints, while his impact as a person will be forever felt by those that knew him. In the words of his trade, Mike was the epitome of a five-tool player, and he will be greatly missed across Twins Territory. Our deepest sympathies are with his wife Sherry, son Brett, daughter Erin, and the entire Radcliff family during this difficult time.”
    In the Twins' 60+ years in Minnesota, few have had as much of an impact on the organization as Mike Radcliff. Best wishes to his family and all his friends in the Twins organization.
  19. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get to Know Twins Draft Pick Jorel Ortega   
    As a collegiate player, Jorel Ortega has already had to deal with adversity after Tommy John surgery kept him out for a year and his career has amounted to basically the 2022 season. Clearly, he is not someone to allow that to define him, however, as Ortega broke out with power production this year and posted more extra-base hits than strikeouts. His bat often produces loud contact, and he was certainly fun to watch as the Volunteers often trounced their opponents this season.
    Now eyeing an opportunity at the next level, Ortega answered a few questions before he gets going.
    Twins Daily: Talk about a massive rise from Tommy John and then just 27 ABs in 2021 to a breakout year last year. What helped you get there both mentally and physically?
    Jorel Ortega: Physically, I was just trying to be in the best athletic shape I could. Working on my craft, stronger, faster, more explosive, etc. Mentally, I just changed the way of looking at things. Worry only about things that I can control and only have positive thoughts. Kinda like the saying “fake it until you make it." Just worry about things in my control and enjoy everything I’m doing. Be myself and that really helped me a lot. I knew the skill set was there I just needed to make a change mentality-wise. 
    TD: The power really jumped last season. Was there a swing adjustment you made or what was your process playing into that growth?
    JO: I didn’t really change anything in my swing. That’s why I like Tennessee so much. They don’t try to mess with your stance, instead, they help you maximize your potential within that stance. I was just more concentrating on doing damage on pitches I can and drive the ball using the whole field.
    TD: Nearly a .400 OBP and compiling fewer strikeouts than extra-base hits, what makes you so successful from a contact perspective at the dish?
    JO: Honestly, what I think helps me so much is the fact that I hate striking out. But also, I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes because I can be just as dangerous of a hitter with two strikes. I want to give a really good quality AB and put the ball in play. 
    TD: You played on one of the best college baseball teams we've ever seen last season. What was that experience like and how does it prepare you for the next level?
    JO: It was an awesome experience being part of it. I don’t think I’ll experience something like that for a while. Team chemistry was insane and we just wanted it bad. Grinding on and off the field together. And I think that helps me for the next level because being around so much talent and being able to pick some of the guys' brain's for me to learn. 
    TD: What do you know about the Minnesota Twins? Have you ever been to Target Field?
    JO: I know that they take really good care of their players since I have a couple of old friends in their organization. It’s a great organization and I’m excited to get started.  And I have never been to Target Field. 
    TD: If there's something you want Twins Territory to know about you as a person or player, what is it?
    JO: As y’all know, Tennessee fan base is crazy and the best in college. How’s the fan base for the Twins?
    Certainly sounds like a response is needed at the end Twins fans. I think Jorel Ortega is a guy Twins Territory needs to get behind!
  20. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 3 Takeaways From the Twins 2022 Draft Class   
    An Update on the Consensus Big Board
    The Consensus Big Board worked well in its first year. All of the consensus top 56 we profiled at Twins Daily were drafted. Only 3 players in the 76 I ranked (Tristan Smith, Cam Smith, and Max Martin) were not drafted. They are all high school players going to college.
    The Minnesota Twins gained 29 draft spots of consensus ranking value with their first two picks. Brooks Lee (ranked 4th, selected 8th), and Connor Prielipp (ranked 23rd, selected 48th), both reflected high value plays by the Twins front office. Barring health issues (which is a big hurdle to clear), the first two picks played out perfectly.
    Additionally, the consensus board was pretty accurate in the first few rounds. After day one (through 80 picks), 63 of our top 70 players had been drafted. That’s certainly something to build on for next year. In 2023, some of my thoughts on additions will be:
    Adding more sources (Fangraphs, Perfect Game, etc.) Expanding to 100 picks Limiting the writeups I have a suspicion that the usefulness of the board will be capped at around 75 players, but we’ll use next year to test that theory. Thanks to everyone who commented, gave feedback and interacted with all our pre-draft content at Twins Daily.
    Now, onto the Twins draft. After Lee and Prielipp, the Twins went heavy on signable college players. That’s not necessarily a trend. Twins VP of Amateur Scouting Sean Johnson says that the Twins "drafted players they liked organically", as opposed to trying to explicitly make savings in later rounds to pay up for initial picks. There were, however, some noticeable trends this year among picks. Here are three.
    The Twins Targeted Athletes
    ‘Geez, how many shortstops do the Twins need?'
    An incredibly tiring refrain tweeted out by many an egg-profile picture sporting twitter account on draft day. The answer is…an infinite number. The Twins picked six shortstops in twenty rounds of the 2022 draft. Brooks Lee (1st), Tanner Schobel (CB-B), Ben Ross (5th), Dalton Shuffield (10th), Omari Daniel (14th), and Jankel Ortiz (16th). Simply, shortstops are typically the best athletes on a given team, the Twins (like many other teams) target athletic players. If a player can play at short, they can play anywhere on the infield (and likely other positions), so please, let’s toss the ridiculous notion that the 'Twins drafted too many shortstops’ out the window forever.
    Twins are Buying Power Breakouts
    This may seem obvious, but I think there are some noteworthy case studies here. Competitive Balance pick Tanner Schobel (who Jeremy Nygaard reported has already reached an agreement with the Twins) had a power breakout in 2022. He went from seven home runs and 10 doubles in 2021 to 19 home runs in 2022 with increased elevation and pull-side power.
    Jorel Ortega, the Twins 6th round pick (and another middle infielder), had a similar breakthrough in 2022. He hit 18 home runs and slugged .672 for the Vols, compared to just one home run and .296 slugging in 2021 in his return from Tommy John surgery. "Just a really strong performer on one of the best college teams in America", says Sean Johnson. Although Ortega is an extreme example, the Twins draft class is littered with them, whether in college, the Cape, or the Northwoods League.
    Ben Ross is another example. "It's a higher bar to clear (coming from a Division II school), especially on our model, but he held up well on our board", says Johnson of Ross. The Twins are known to value exit velocity in their model. They are also jumping on players who have breakthrough years as a development that may translate to the professional level.
    Twins Value K/BB Ratio for Pitchers, Confident in Their Ability to add Velocity
    As John Vittas (play-by-play for Fort Myers) alluded to, the Twins use K:BB as a driving metric for their pitchers.
    If we look at the pitchers drafted outside of the three mentioned by Vittas, the trend continues:
    Andrew Morris (91 K, 28 BB)
    Ben Ethridge (39 K, 7 BB)
    Zachary Veen (59 K, 3 BB)
    Garrett McMillan (83 K, 26 BB)
    Johnson had plenty of interesting insights to share regarding the pitchers the Twins selected. "In these rounds (day 2 and 3), you're looking for one special pitch, something unique", before adding that the Twins feel extremely confident in their player development department in adding velocity to incoming pitchers. Interestingly, Johnson also mentioned careful consideration of the school a pitcher attended, highlighting the additional development possibilities for players who had less access to elite coaching and playing technology in their college programs.
    On specific pitchers, Johnson had additional insights.
    "Andrew Morris is a good strike thrower, four solid pitches across the board, we see him as a starter for us".   On Zebby Matthews, Johnson noted, "We had him here for a pre-draft workout. He has a chance to throw really hard." When prompted to reflect on the success of last year's draft, particularly with pitchers (Hajjar, Povich, Festa etc.), Johnson noted that no one could have predicted Festa's breakout season, even the scouts who advocated for drafting him. "If you have draft ten guys like him, one might have a breakthrough like that," shares Johnson.
    What’s not yet clear to me is the extent to which the Twins target raw velocity in their pitchers. In a recent graphic (that I now cannot find), the MLB team was producing some of the most consistently high exit velocities and some of the most consistently low velocities from pitching. It’s likely the front office is working to course correct this in the minors and it just hasn’t shown up yet at the MLB level (besides Duran).
    What are your takeaways from the draft? What players are you excited to watch? Any Twins draft regrets?
  21. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Reflecting on the Best and Worst First Half Ever   
    I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.)
    But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio.
    When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night.
    Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart.
    As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. 
    But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it.
    And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. 
    Lord, did I miss it.
    I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. 
    These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. 
    The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. 
    The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame.
    Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.
  22. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Patience Important for On-Base Machine Edouard Julien   
    Edouard Julien grew up in Quebec, Canada. He went to Cardinal Roy Secondary School in L’Acienne-Lorette, a suburb just west of Quebec City. He starred on the Canadian national teams as he grew up. He played with current Twins prospects Jordan Balazovic and Landon Leach and former Twins minor leaguer Matt Jones.
    Julien said, “I played on the junior national team at 16-years-old. I was pretty lucky to be a part of it. I don’t think I would be where I am today without being on that team.” 
    In 2017, he was selected in the 37th round of the MLB draft by the Phillies. Instead of signing, he chose to attend Auburn University. 
    “I had different opportunities, but Auburn was a pretty good spot for me because Coach Bohanan at the time was a recruiter there and he usually recruits a lot of Canadians. He’s got a pretty good connection with the Team Canada coach, so it made me pretty comfortable to go with him because I knew he had a lot of Canadians before. And I liked the place. Auburn was a good fit. It’s a good conference, and I wanted to go play college and get my game a little bit better for the next level.” 
    As a freshman in 2018, he hit .275/.398/.556 (.954) with seven doubles and 17 homers. He broke Frank Thomas’s freshman record with 69 RBI. He didn’t have quite as strong a season in 2019. He hit .258/.388/.453 (.841) with 14 doubles and ten homers. Individually, he was disappointed, but his team played in the College World Series. 
    “It’s one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had. To play in front of a lot of people. To play for your school and compete for the NCAA championship, that was pretty cool. I enjoyed it a lot.”  
    One of his teammates is a current teammate and fellow 2019 Twins draft pick Will Holland. 
    “I played two years with him. He’s a very, very good shortstop. He’s a five-tool player. He can run. He can hit. He can throw. He’s very, very good.” 
    The Twins drafted Julien in the 18th round as a draft-eligible sophomore. He didn’t think he would sign. He wanted to go back to Auburn and have a better season. However, the Twins came to him late in the process and gave him 4th round money. He signed. 
    “In my head, I was going to go back to college and have a better year because my sophomore year wasn’t very good. Just before the signing date, they offered me and I decided to sign. It was kind of crazy, but I’m happy I did, and I’m happy I’m here now.” 
    Soon after, he went to Lima, Peru, to represent Canada in the Pan-Am Games. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get to play. 
    “First practice there, we were doing cuts-and-relays. I cut a ball from right field and tried to throw it to home plate. It just flew to the right, and I heard a pop in my elbow. I knew something happened to my arm. I was scared and stressing a lot because there were no doctors in Peru that could tell me what I had. It was pretty stressful. When I came back to Florida, I had an MRI and it told me I had a tear in my UCL. 
    As a position player, it is likely he would have been ready to play sometime in the middle of the 2020 season. Instead, there was no 2020 season, so he went back to Quebec. 
    “I went back home. It was cool. I’d never really had a summer with my family, my friends. I enjoyed it. I hung out with my friends.” 
    So as you can imagine, Julien was very excited to get the 2021 season started. The 22-year-old made his professional debut with the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels. 
    “It was special. I had goosebumps. I was stressed. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was ready to go and attack and play the best baseball I can. I play 100% every time I go out there and that’s what I’m trying to do every day.” 
    After missing so much time, you might think that his approach or plate discipline might take some time to come back. According to his Mighty Mussels Manager Brian Meyer, he’s maintained that all along. 
    “He’s shown that plate discipline even going back to spring training games. You can always tell when Eddie’s up, especially having this automated strike zone system, if there’s a ball that’s off the plate and it’s called a ball, it’s probably a ball. You’re not really guessing or questioning the human umpire, because he does have such a good eye at the plate.”
    He has an On-Base Percentage over .500 as he is approaching 100 plate appearances on the season (and in his career). However, Meyer added, “He’s a multifaceted hitter and defender. He puts together really quality at bats every time out there. He takes his fair share of walks, but when he gets a pitch in the zone, he gets his swing off and he’s trying to do damage on it.”
    Julien has walked 22 times and has 23 hits including seven doubles, a triple and on Tuesday, he hit his first professional home run. 
    Julien notes that he’s just trying to keep it simple. “I’m not trying to do too much. Trying to put the ball in play and be locked in and not throw many at bats away as I did in college, and to be more concentrated.”
    He continued, “I try to take my walks. Essentially I try to make the pitcher beat me, and if he throws it over the plate and it’s something I think I can handle, I’m going to try to put a barrel on it. I think that’s the type of player I am, a little bit of power and I’m going to try to get on base.” 
    The goal is just to try to maintain it over the course of a 120-game season. “Of course I’m trying to cut down on my strikeouts and put the ball in play more. I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now, and I’m just trying to have good at bats and being focused, and that’s my main thing, to be 100% locked in on every at bat and not throw any at bats away. It’s a long season. I know it’s going to be hard, but I’ve got to take care of every at bat.”
    He began the season hitting third or fourth in the Mussels lineup. Recently, he has been hitting at the top of the lineup and continues to thrive. 
    “There’s a lot of college hitters, and we’ve been helping each other. We have a lot of good hitters on this team. I have protection in the lineup. I go up there. I just try to get on base because I know somebody’s going to drive me in.” 
    He’s also continuing to adapt his game, to add elements. For instance, in his two seasons at Auburn, he had ten stolen bases in 127 games. In his 21 games with Ft. Myers, he already has nine stolen bases without being caught. 
    His manager admits, “I didn’t really know about his speed or base running ability coming into the season, and watching him over the first 10-12 games, it was evident, he’s a really good baserunner, very instinctive. I wouldn’t say he’s the fastest, if you put him on a watch, but he does get really good jumps at first base, pays attention to what the pitchers are doing, tries to pick up little tendencies to where he can steal a base and that’s why he’s been so successful with it so far.”
    For Julien, it’s not necessarily something new, it’s just something that wasn’t a focus in college. 
    “When I was younger, I was more of a slap hitter who could run a lot and I stole a lot of bases. Then I went to college and they changed my swing and made me a power hitter. I think the speed of the game was taken away from me. I feel free here. They’re letting me go and I have the green light. I just like to be aggressive and take everything I can.” 
    And where will he play defensively? Following Tommy John surgery, that’s certainly a question to ask, but like many in the system, his goal is to be versatile enough to keep his bat in the lineup. 
    According to Meyer, “I think more on the defensive side, with the throwing part, he does look very comfortable at second base, and he played third base in college, and we ran him out in the outfield and he held his own out there. He’s played a little bit of first base too. So just a versatile guy, so if he keeps hitting and he keeps that versatility defensively, he could be a very valuable asset to the organization.””
    Julien acknowledges, “I’d say I’m more comfortable at second base, but I’m aware that I can be more of a utility guy and my bat is what’s going to keep me in the lineup. I’m comfortable at second. I played left field the other day and I liked it too. I’m ready to play outfield, second base, third, first, wherever the coach wants me to play, I’ll be ready.”
    And after nearly two years away from baseball, Julien appears ready to take on anything. He hasn’t played since Auburn was eliminated from the 2019 College World Series because of injury and then a pandemic, but he hasn’t missed a beat. 
    Coming into Friday’s game, Julien is hitting .338/.505/.515 (1.020) with seven doubles, a triple, a homer, 18 runs scored and 14 driven in and is nine for nine in stolen base attempts through the first 21 games.
  23. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Tyler Wells Looking Forward to Competing Against the Twins, Friends   
    Following a series against the Nationals, the Baltimore Orioles flew to Minnesota where they will take on the Twins in a three game series starting tonight. The teams enter the series with an identical 17-29 record. 
    For one member of the Orioles bullpen, the experience will be very special. Right-hander Tyler Wells said this afternoon, “I’m looking forward to moving forward. Even right now, playing the Twins, it’s kind of like a homecoming. It’s a bittersweet thing because I have a lot of friends over there. It’s going to be great to see them, but I’m also looking forward to competing against them.”
    The Twins drafted Tyler Wells in the 15th round of the 2016 draft out of Cal State-San Bernadino. The Twins scouts saw him and determined they definitely wanted to draft him. 
    Deron Johnson, who was the Twins Scouting Director in 2016, told Twins Daily that he had traveled with Twins area scout and now West Coast Supervisor Elliot Strankman. “Elliot and I were going to see a junior college kid at another college. He said, ‘Hey, I like this reliever at Sonoma State. Let’s go see him on the way there.’ So we go there and they’re playing Cal State-San Bernadino. We see this big giant on the mound throwing up to 94 with a nice breaking ball. John Leavitt, our area scout, had him in (his reports), but he wasn’t a guy for me to see. We just stopped in there on a whim. John had seen him, but he hadn’t seen him throwing that hard. We just kind of had him on our radar after that. We didn’t hide him out, but we didn’t show a lot of interest. We knew there were two other clubs that had interest in him. We targeted him in the draft and thought, let’s not lose this guy.”
    Wells was the 2018 Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Between High-A Ft. Myers and Double-A Chattanooga, he went 10-6 with a 2.56 ERA and a  0.96 WHIP. He also had 121 strikeouts and just 31 walks over 119 1/3 innings. 
    Unfortunately, the next spring training, he felt a pop in his elbow and ultimately had Tommy John surgery which cost him the 2019 season. He would have likely been rehab to come back sometime during the 2020 season, but as we all know, there was no 2020 season. 
    And most likely, that is why the Twins decided not to add him to their 40 man roster in November. 
    The Orioles took Wells with their second round Rule 5 pick. But even then, it didn’t necessarily mean that the Twins would lose him long term. Wells had to make the Orioles big-league roster out of spring training and still has to stay on the big-league roster throughout the entire 2021 season or be offered back to the Twins. 
    Earlier in the Rule 5 draft, Wells’ good friend and fellow 2016 draft pick Akil Baddoo was selected by the Tigers. “We went through Tommy John surgery together and through that whole rehab process. We got pretty close. I was unbelievably happy for him. I hope he continues to absolutely rake and hope to see him up in Detroit.” 
    Wells reported to Sarasota for his first major-league spring training. Wells pitched nine innings over five appearances. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out 12 batters. He pitched well. 
    Wells said this afternoon, “It was a lot of fun. A lot of the guys were super nice. It took a little time to get my feet wet, to understand how everything is going, how to go about my business. A lot of learning experiences. Got acquainted with a lot of the guys. As I continued to pitch, I learned more about myself and how my arm was feeling. I had an uptick in stuff from before I had Tommy John surgery. Everything went really, really well.” 
    The Orioles decided to keep him on their roster for Opening Day. Getting the news was something that Wells will never forget.
    “I got called into the manager’s office on the last day of cuts. The GM and the manager are there. The first thing they said to me was ‘You ever been to Boston?’ 
    Wells responded, “Nope.”
    They said, ‘Would you like to go?”
    Wells noted, “Obviously right then, I knew I made the team. It was an incredible moment.”
    On April 4th, the Orioles had an 11-3 lead over the Red Sox heading to the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Wells found himself jogging in from the Fenway Park bullpen to make his big-league debut. He gave up one hit, and he walked one, but he got three outs without allowing a run to end the game. 
    “We were winning by a substantial amount, so they brought me in for the ninth and I got to finish the game. I ran out there and about halfway to the mound, I lost feeling in my feet. I started thinking I’ve got to remember how to do this pitching thing real quick.” 
    In addition, he noted that the Red Sox fans in the right field corner were chanting his name. When he was warming up, fans were razzing him. “Wells… why are you not playing basketball? You should be playing tight end for the Patriots. Why are you even here?”
    Wells thought those aren’t even insults. “They were compliments. I appreciate that. I was keeping a straight face the whole time, and they liked that I didn’t even blink an eye. So they started chanting ‘Ty-Ler-Wells! Ty-Ler-Wells!’ as I was entering the game.” 
    Since then, he has pitched in four more games against the Red Sox. His second MLB appearance came at Yankees Stadium. Primarily, he has pitched in low-leverage situations. He has completed two innings in seven of his 12 outings. 
    Wells said, “The coaches have been pretty open about my situation. As a rookie, it’s low-leverage situations. I’m starting to get more comfortable in going in and hold games, certainly building more confidence in myself to be able to do that. I think that getting more innings as of late is really helping with that. I’m mostly a two-inning game. They try to bring me in and hold the game. I think they do have a lot of confidence in me doing that. I’m trying to help the team out as much as I can. Trying to help the bullpen as much as I can. Right now, they just want me to get more comfortable.” 
    Overall, he has pitched in 12 games. He has a 5.14 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. In 21 innings, he has given up 16 hits, walked seven and struck out 26 batters (11.1 K/9). 
    One issue he has had is giving up home runs. He has already given up six homers (to Enrique Hernandez, JD Martinez, Jed Lowrie, Clint Frazier, Xander Bogaerts and Mike Zunino). 
    This will not be Wells' first trip to Target Field. He’s been there one other time, but “not for the reasons I wanted to be. With my injury, I had to see the team doctor and got to attend a game.” 
    On Monday night, the Twins will face left-hander John Means. As a rookie in 2019, he was the Orioles representative at the All Star game. In 2021, he has become a legitimate star. To this point, he is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA and a 0.75 ERA. 
    Means is a guy that Wells has talked to and learned from already. “He’s been a guy that I’ve looked up to a lot. Very level headed. That is really what makes him so go. He’s level headed because of the experiences he’s been through. He considered retiring in 2018. He ended up making his major-league debut that year. Baseball is already difficult enough, and when he got the opportunity, he didn’t waste it. He’s a great leader in the clubhouse. For me, personally, I talked to him a lot in spring training. I’ve talked to him throughout the course of the season so far. He provides a lot of insights to the pitching, the lifestyle, how to take care of yourself. He’s been a huge help for, but he takes the stuff that he tells me and he applies it. Everything he tells me, he does. He doesn’t get too up or too down. He’s just cruising.” 
    Another teammate that Wells really admires is Trey Mancini. As you know, the O’s first baseman first baseman missed the 2020 season fighting colon cancer. He has returned this year, and through 46 games, he is hitting .280/.352/.520 (.872) with 12 doubles, ten homers and a league-leading 41 RBI. 
    Wells says, “You aren’t going to find a lot of better people in baseball than him. He’s such a down-to-earth guy. He’s another leader in our clubhouse. The word to describe him is ‘Incredible!’ He’s pushed. He’s fought. And I think you see a lot of that in his game. He’s continued to push himself and I’m so happy for him. He’s a phenomenal human being. He does everything with a purpose. He’s so resilient. It’s very inspiring, not just for me, but for the entire team, the entire league.” 
    Hopefully Tyler Wells will be able to make an appearance this week on the Target Field mound. One of his best friends from the Twins organization is Twins star rookie Alex Kirilloff. “AK and I have the same type of conversation every week or two. We’ll see what’s going on in our lives. I keep up with him on how his daughter is doing, and see how his wife and the rest of his family are doing. We don’t really talk a lot about baseball, just about life and how things are going. It’s cool to take a step back and realize this game has brought a lot of great people into your life. It’s such a cool thing to see him grow into a bigger person, beyond just baseball. I’m looking forward to reconnecting to him.”
    He pointed out the the Orioles just finished a series with the Washington Nationals. He had forgotten that another former Twins minor leaguer Sam Clay is working out of the Nationals bullpen this season. He said it was nice to reconnect with him as well. 
    Wells has been teammates with Luis Arraez, Cody Stashak and others. Wells is good friends with Travis Blankenhorn and Aaron Whitefield who are close to Trevor Larnach so he has had a chance to get to know him as well. 
    “It’s going to be hard, with Arraez and AK, as soon as I see them walking into the box, it’ll be hard not to smile at them. It’s cool. It’s a lot of fun. It’s going to up the ante. It’s going to make you want to perform better, and I think it’s going to do the same for those guys. It’s a lot of friendly competition.” 
    Wells noted, “It’s awesome to be able to come back and see everybody. I think that’s what I’m looking forward to most. Baseball is still baseball. I have a job to do. I still compete. It doesn’t matter what stadium it’s in. It’s game time. You lock it in. You go out there and do your thing. I don’t think it’s so much the place as it is the people.” 
    Wells’ goal for the rest of the 2021 season may seem simple, but it’s important. “Stay healthy! That’s the big one because after not pitching for two years and coming from AA straight to the big leagues, it’s certainly a jump, but at the same time, you’re getting more intense innings. You have 162 games a year. You want to stay healthy, and that’s my #1 goal this year. I’d like to avoid any IL stints. And, on top of that, Win some ball games. I want to compete for the team and help the team win. If they ever need a guy, I want to be that guy.” 
    Akil Baddoo understandably caught our attention early in the season when he got off to a fast start, and hit a grand slam, and a triple, and had a walkoff single against the Twins in the season’s first week. But the Twins lost two players in this past Rule 5 draft and both are finding means of success in their rookie big league seasons. 
  24. Like
    jkcarew reacted to Tom Froemming for an article, Highlights: 4 Twins Prospects Off to Hot Starts   
    The video below touches on some of these impressive early performances and includes highlights of Ober, Winder, Gray and Julien.
    St. Paul Saints: Bailey Ober, RHP
    Year Age Tm Lev ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W 2021 25 St. Paul AAA 1.29 7.0 5 1 1 0 3 8 29 1.143 6.4 0.0 3.9 10.3 2.67 Wichita Wind Surge: Josh Winder, RHP
    Year Tm Lev Aff ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W 2021 Wichita AA MIN 1.17 15.1 14 2 2 0 4 19 60 1.174 8.2 0.0 2.3 11.2 4.75 Cedar Rapids Kernels: Seth Gray, 3B
    Year Age Tm Lev G PA HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS 2021 23 Cedar Rapids A+ 10 45 1 9 10 .250 .467 .438 .907 Fort Myers Mighty Mussels: Edouard Julien, 2B
    Year Age Tm Lev G PA HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS 2021 22 Fort Myers A 10 39 0 11 13 .321 .513 .464 .977 *Stats via Baseball-Reference
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