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bean5302

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  1. Yikes
    bean5302 got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, State of the Twins Farm System - 6 Years Into Falvey's Reign.   
    Jim Pohlad made the decision to hire Derek Falvey 6 years ago after a disappointing 2016 season where expectations were raised based on improvements seen in 2015. The primary decision to choose Falvey was modernizing the player development system with analytics so the Twins' farm system could sustain competitive play long term operating like a smaller market team. The biggest issue the Twins had was their utter failure to develop front line starters. Jose Berrios, despite his stellar numbers in the minors, had been eaten alive by MLB hitters and the farm system was looking a bit rough. Naturally, having graduated Sano, Buxton, Kepler, and Berrios in the last two years, that's going to see a farm system take a beating.
    Falvey went into 2017's playoffs with a virtually identical team as the Twins fielded in 2016, and again in 2019 and 2020. The winning tradition was restored! Except Falvey did it all with a roster largely created from the drafts and signings of Bill Smith and Terry Ryan. Falvey had major hits... but most of the hits eventually turned into misses. Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi and Jason Castro all ended their time with the Twins with a whimper, but this article is really about the sustainability factor. That's why Falvey was hired. Not for free agent signings. For a sustainable, productive draft and development system built from analytics and cutting edge baseball knowledge.
    I graded Falvey's top 3 rounds of drafting a couple months ago, and the situation has changed quite a bit, but again, I'm interested in the sustainability of the team. What do the Twins have in the system to fill the enormous holes on the roster coming up? Again, the idea was not that Falvey constructs a roster out of free agents when he was hired. What did the system look like when Falvey started?
    #1 - Nick Gordon*
    #2 - Tyler Jay
    #3 - Fernando Romero*
    #4 - Alex Kirilloff*
    #5 - Stephen Gonsalves*
    #6 - Wander Javier
    #7 - Kohl Stewart*
    #8 - Adalberto Mejia*
    #9 - Ben Rortvedt*
    #10 - Zach Granite*
    *7 of those players made significant appearances at the MLB level, and in general, they were viewed pretty highly at the time. The Twins' farm system was right in the middle.

    So what about today? There isn't much there. MLB's top prospects set for the Twins are:
    #1 Lewis (a23)- Undoubtedly the only elite prospect in the Twins system. He could be a star. He's also younger than Martin or Balazovic... as hard as that is to believe. Lewis torched AAA and proceeded to shine bright in a handful of plate appearances at the MLB level. With a character as brilliant as his athleticism, the sky is the limit... if he can stay on the field and prove his performance wasn't a SSS fluke.
    #2 Martin (a23) - Has seen his stock take a real beating this year. He went from a consensus top 50 prospect to falling well out of the top 100 on the failure to develop power and a lower batting average coupled with embarrassing defense. There was improvement in Martin's defense at SS with the error rate trending towards almost acceptable, but Martin's suffered an injured elbow diving for a ball at the beginning of July. It wasn't expected to be a big deal, but here we are a month later and he still hasn't played while (stop me if you've heard this one) the Twins hadn't been able to diagnose the issue at least as of mid July...
    #3 Balazovic (a23) - If Martin's stock had a silver lining, it's Balazovic's stock. It's not possible to understate how disastrous his performance has been this year. He wouldn't even be ranked on a good farm system top 15 at this point. While there is the hope Balazovic's struggles are related to injury, the Twins don't seem to feel like the injury is an issue. They keep sending him out, Balazovic continues to get consistently destroyed.
    #4 Woods-Richardson (a21) - He had another great start to the season, but he started struggling with control like last year leading to a rocketing WHIP and lots of runs. Then, there was a lengthy IL trip for COVID. Woods-Richardson probably moves to my #2 prospect in the Twins system at this point with overall impressive strike out rates, a great 4 pitch combo and stretches where he dominates. There's still a lot of potential.
    #5 Matt Canterino - (a24) - Bordering on non-prospect age, Canterino is putting up impressive K rates with equally depressing BB rates in AA. He's working his way back from yet another elbow strain in the Florida Complex league where he was knocked around in his latest 1 inning appearance. He's certainly not a top 10 prospect in a good farm system and hasn't pitched into the 5 inning this year.
    #6 Noah Miller (a19) - The only remaining draft pick from the first 3 rounds of 2021's draft now that Petty, Povich and Hajjar have all been moved, Miller is holding his own at the plate in Ft. Myers while playing very good defense. He's not an elite prospect at this point, but there's a chance Miller can improve his contact skills as he was drafted out of high school. Right now, Miller looks passive at the plate with a 15% walk and 25% strikeout rate more associated with power hitters, but Miller's power tool is scouted as pretty modest and he hasn't shown any of it this year.
    #7 Matt Wallner (a24) - Wallner was racing up the prospect lists as a full fledged supernova-style bright spot in the Twins' system. Since his promotion to AAA, Wallner has gone stone cold with a .116/.224/.140 triple slash. That said, it's just 49 plate appearances. Please, please let his swing return to crush the opponent pitchers to end the season.
    #8 Misael Urbina (a20) - A speedy center fielder international prospect signed out of Venezuela, Urbina had a really great year in Ft. Myers last season. Unfortunately, he missed half this year due to visa issues. Currently getting his legs under him back in rookie ball, Urbina's hoping to salvage the season.
    #9 Brayan Medina (a19) - Came over in the Rogers/Rooker trade for Paddack/Pagan as a toss in. It speaks volumes when the Padres' PTBNL is in your top 10... In rookie ball, Medina has walked a ton of batters while holding the hits to a reasonable number with the help of a .265 BABIP and paltry 5.0% HR/FB rate. He's not in a good farm's top 20, possibly not top 30.
    #10 Ronny Henriquez (a22) - The extra player received as part of the Garver trade to the Rangers, Henriquez has struggled to keep batters off the base paths in AAA. Ronny was ranked as the Rangers #15 prospect due to his ability to generate strikeouts and limit the free pass last year in AA. He's probably taken a step back this year as the walk rate has increased by 50% at AAA and batters have been able to generate hits at will leading to his 1.52 WHIP and very rough 5.71 ERA. Also, the Twins have not really been limiting pitches much with Henriquez allowing him to throw up to 92... but he's rarely been able to finish 5 innings. That said, Henriquez has been able to keep a solid K% (though certainly not elite for MiLB), the .352 BABIP is way too high and the walk rate still isn't terrible by any means. So there's still some potential. On a good farm, Henriquez is probably borderline top 20, helped by his age.

    I'd argue the farm is currently a big step back from the position it was in back at the start of 2017, where it was middle of the pack. Barring some real turnarounds, I expect the Twins to grade out bottom 5.

    So where does that leave Falvey? He was brought in to rebuild the farm system so it would produce high value prospects and especially stock the rotation with high value, inexpensive cost controlled rotation arms the Twins could depend on for several years. While the farm has essentially produced 2 years of Sonny Gray, he's not cheap at $12MM per year and 2 years is hardly a long time. We also used the farm to pick up Tyler Mahle for 1.5 years, but he's also not going to be cheap next year, and certainly not long term. Maybe $12MM? The one glowing example in terms of expense and control is honestly Kenta Maeda. We got 4 years of a cheap, high value rotation arm from moving Brusdar Graterol. That said, I'm not sure the agreed upon strategy was to trade all the talent in the MiLB system for a couple years of productive MLB starters. That's not sustainable and it honestly hasn't been cheap overall. Instead, the Twins have typically felt like a directionless Frankenstein monster to me, pieced together each offseason in the hopes the pieces all gel and what comes out is a lightning strike with the scream "It's ALIVE!!" to begin a playoff season. 

    Of course, winning solves everything. If the Twins win the World Series or even win a single playoff series, all will likely be forgotten. Every step short of that, though, has to heat up the seat under Falvey, especially given Falvey stretched the Twins' budget to $138MM (and beyond with recent trades) this year. Hard to believe the Twins turn a profit based on the attendance levels I saw and the Pohlads do not run this team as a hobby.
  2. Yikes
    bean5302 got a reaction from ChineseGandalf for a blog entry, State of the Twins Farm System - 6 Years Into Falvey's Reign.   
    Jim Pohlad made the decision to hire Derek Falvey 6 years ago after a disappointing 2016 season where expectations were raised based on improvements seen in 2015. The primary decision to choose Falvey was modernizing the player development system with analytics so the Twins' farm system could sustain competitive play long term operating like a smaller market team. The biggest issue the Twins had was their utter failure to develop front line starters. Jose Berrios, despite his stellar numbers in the minors, had been eaten alive by MLB hitters and the farm system was looking a bit rough. Naturally, having graduated Sano, Buxton, Kepler, and Berrios in the last two years, that's going to see a farm system take a beating.
    Falvey went into 2017's playoffs with a virtually identical team as the Twins fielded in 2016, and again in 2019 and 2020. The winning tradition was restored! Except Falvey did it all with a roster largely created from the drafts and signings of Bill Smith and Terry Ryan. Falvey had major hits... but most of the hits eventually turned into misses. Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi and Jason Castro all ended their time with the Twins with a whimper, but this article is really about the sustainability factor. That's why Falvey was hired. Not for free agent signings. For a sustainable, productive draft and development system built from analytics and cutting edge baseball knowledge.
    I graded Falvey's top 3 rounds of drafting a couple months ago, and the situation has changed quite a bit, but again, I'm interested in the sustainability of the team. What do the Twins have in the system to fill the enormous holes on the roster coming up? Again, the idea was not that Falvey constructs a roster out of free agents when he was hired. What did the system look like when Falvey started?
    #1 - Nick Gordon*
    #2 - Tyler Jay
    #3 - Fernando Romero*
    #4 - Alex Kirilloff*
    #5 - Stephen Gonsalves*
    #6 - Wander Javier
    #7 - Kohl Stewart*
    #8 - Adalberto Mejia*
    #9 - Ben Rortvedt*
    #10 - Zach Granite*
    *7 of those players made significant appearances at the MLB level, and in general, they were viewed pretty highly at the time. The Twins' farm system was right in the middle.

    So what about today? There isn't much there. MLB's top prospects set for the Twins are:
    #1 Lewis (a23)- Undoubtedly the only elite prospect in the Twins system. He could be a star. He's also younger than Martin or Balazovic... as hard as that is to believe. Lewis torched AAA and proceeded to shine bright in a handful of plate appearances at the MLB level. With a character as brilliant as his athleticism, the sky is the limit... if he can stay on the field and prove his performance wasn't a SSS fluke.
    #2 Martin (a23) - Has seen his stock take a real beating this year. He went from a consensus top 50 prospect to falling well out of the top 100 on the failure to develop power and a lower batting average coupled with embarrassing defense. There was improvement in Martin's defense at SS with the error rate trending towards almost acceptable, but Martin's suffered an injured elbow diving for a ball at the beginning of July. It wasn't expected to be a big deal, but here we are a month later and he still hasn't played while (stop me if you've heard this one) the Twins hadn't been able to diagnose the issue at least as of mid July...
    #3 Balazovic (a23) - If Martin's stock had a silver lining, it's Balazovic's stock. It's not possible to understate how disastrous his performance has been this year. He wouldn't even be ranked on a good farm system top 15 at this point. While there is the hope Balazovic's struggles are related to injury, the Twins don't seem to feel like the injury is an issue. They keep sending him out, Balazovic continues to get consistently destroyed.
    #4 Woods-Richardson (a21) - He had another great start to the season, but he started struggling with control like last year leading to a rocketing WHIP and lots of runs. Then, there was a lengthy IL trip for COVID. Woods-Richardson probably moves to my #2 prospect in the Twins system at this point with overall impressive strike out rates, a great 4 pitch combo and stretches where he dominates. There's still a lot of potential.
    #5 Matt Canterino - (a24) - Bordering on non-prospect age, Canterino is putting up impressive K rates with equally depressing BB rates in AA. He's working his way back from yet another elbow strain in the Florida Complex league where he was knocked around in his latest 1 inning appearance. He's certainly not a top 10 prospect in a good farm system and hasn't pitched into the 5 inning this year.
    #6 Noah Miller (a19) - The only remaining draft pick from the first 3 rounds of 2021's draft now that Petty, Povich and Hajjar have all been moved, Miller is holding his own at the plate in Ft. Myers while playing very good defense. He's not an elite prospect at this point, but there's a chance Miller can improve his contact skills as he was drafted out of high school. Right now, Miller looks passive at the plate with a 15% walk and 25% strikeout rate more associated with power hitters, but Miller's power tool is scouted as pretty modest and he hasn't shown any of it this year.
    #7 Matt Wallner (a24) - Wallner was racing up the prospect lists as a full fledged supernova-style bright spot in the Twins' system. Since his promotion to AAA, Wallner has gone stone cold with a .116/.224/.140 triple slash. That said, it's just 49 plate appearances. Please, please let his swing return to crush the opponent pitchers to end the season.
    #8 Misael Urbina (a20) - A speedy center fielder international prospect signed out of Venezuela, Urbina had a really great year in Ft. Myers last season. Unfortunately, he missed half this year due to visa issues. Currently getting his legs under him back in rookie ball, Urbina's hoping to salvage the season.
    #9 Brayan Medina (a19) - Came over in the Rogers/Rooker trade for Paddack/Pagan as a toss in. It speaks volumes when the Padres' PTBNL is in your top 10... In rookie ball, Medina has walked a ton of batters while holding the hits to a reasonable number with the help of a .265 BABIP and paltry 5.0% HR/FB rate. He's not in a good farm's top 20, possibly not top 30.
    #10 Ronny Henriquez (a22) - The extra player received as part of the Garver trade to the Rangers, Henriquez has struggled to keep batters off the base paths in AAA. Ronny was ranked as the Rangers #15 prospect due to his ability to generate strikeouts and limit the free pass last year in AA. He's probably taken a step back this year as the walk rate has increased by 50% at AAA and batters have been able to generate hits at will leading to his 1.52 WHIP and very rough 5.71 ERA. Also, the Twins have not really been limiting pitches much with Henriquez allowing him to throw up to 92... but he's rarely been able to finish 5 innings. That said, Henriquez has been able to keep a solid K% (though certainly not elite for MiLB), the .352 BABIP is way too high and the walk rate still isn't terrible by any means. So there's still some potential. On a good farm, Henriquez is probably borderline top 20, helped by his age.

    I'd argue the farm is currently a big step back from the position it was in back at the start of 2017, where it was middle of the pack. Barring some real turnarounds, I expect the Twins to grade out bottom 5.

    So where does that leave Falvey? He was brought in to rebuild the farm system so it would produce high value prospects and especially stock the rotation with high value, inexpensive cost controlled rotation arms the Twins could depend on for several years. While the farm has essentially produced 2 years of Sonny Gray, he's not cheap at $12MM per year and 2 years is hardly a long time. We also used the farm to pick up Tyler Mahle for 1.5 years, but he's also not going to be cheap next year, and certainly not long term. Maybe $12MM? The one glowing example in terms of expense and control is honestly Kenta Maeda. We got 4 years of a cheap, high value rotation arm from moving Brusdar Graterol. That said, I'm not sure the agreed upon strategy was to trade all the talent in the MiLB system for a couple years of productive MLB starters. That's not sustainable and it honestly hasn't been cheap overall. Instead, the Twins have typically felt like a directionless Frankenstein monster to me, pieced together each offseason in the hopes the pieces all gel and what comes out is a lightning strike with the scream "It's ALIVE!!" to begin a playoff season. 

    Of course, winning solves everything. If the Twins win the World Series or even win a single playoff series, all will likely be forgotten. Every step short of that, though, has to heat up the seat under Falvey, especially given Falvey stretched the Twins' budget to $138MM (and beyond with recent trades) this year. Hard to believe the Twins turn a profit based on the attendance levels I saw and the Pohlads do not run this team as a hobby.
  3. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from glunn for a blog entry, State of the Twins Farm System - 6 Years Into Falvey's Reign.   
    Jim Pohlad made the decision to hire Derek Falvey 6 years ago after a disappointing 2016 season where expectations were raised based on improvements seen in 2015. The primary decision to choose Falvey was modernizing the player development system with analytics so the Twins' farm system could sustain competitive play long term operating like a smaller market team. The biggest issue the Twins had was their utter failure to develop front line starters. Jose Berrios, despite his stellar numbers in the minors, had been eaten alive by MLB hitters and the farm system was looking a bit rough. Naturally, having graduated Sano, Buxton, Kepler, and Berrios in the last two years, that's going to see a farm system take a beating.
    Falvey went into 2017's playoffs with a virtually identical team as the Twins fielded in 2016, and again in 2019 and 2020. The winning tradition was restored! Except Falvey did it all with a roster largely created from the drafts and signings of Bill Smith and Terry Ryan. Falvey had major hits... but most of the hits eventually turned into misses. Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi and Jason Castro all ended their time with the Twins with a whimper, but this article is really about the sustainability factor. That's why Falvey was hired. Not for free agent signings. For a sustainable, productive draft and development system built from analytics and cutting edge baseball knowledge.
    I graded Falvey's top 3 rounds of drafting a couple months ago, and the situation has changed quite a bit, but again, I'm interested in the sustainability of the team. What do the Twins have in the system to fill the enormous holes on the roster coming up? Again, the idea was not that Falvey constructs a roster out of free agents when he was hired. What did the system look like when Falvey started?
    #1 - Nick Gordon*
    #2 - Tyler Jay
    #3 - Fernando Romero*
    #4 - Alex Kirilloff*
    #5 - Stephen Gonsalves*
    #6 - Wander Javier
    #7 - Kohl Stewart*
    #8 - Adalberto Mejia*
    #9 - Ben Rortvedt*
    #10 - Zach Granite*
    *7 of those players made significant appearances at the MLB level, and in general, they were viewed pretty highly at the time. The Twins' farm system was right in the middle.

    So what about today? There isn't much there. MLB's top prospects set for the Twins are:
    #1 Lewis (a23)- Undoubtedly the only elite prospect in the Twins system. He could be a star. He's also younger than Martin or Balazovic... as hard as that is to believe. Lewis torched AAA and proceeded to shine bright in a handful of plate appearances at the MLB level. With a character as brilliant as his athleticism, the sky is the limit... if he can stay on the field and prove his performance wasn't a SSS fluke.
    #2 Martin (a23) - Has seen his stock take a real beating this year. He went from a consensus top 50 prospect to falling well out of the top 100 on the failure to develop power and a lower batting average coupled with embarrassing defense. There was improvement in Martin's defense at SS with the error rate trending towards almost acceptable, but Martin's suffered an injured elbow diving for a ball at the beginning of July. It wasn't expected to be a big deal, but here we are a month later and he still hasn't played while (stop me if you've heard this one) the Twins hadn't been able to diagnose the issue at least as of mid July...
    #3 Balazovic (a23) - If Martin's stock had a silver lining, it's Balazovic's stock. It's not possible to understate how disastrous his performance has been this year. He wouldn't even be ranked on a good farm system top 15 at this point. While there is the hope Balazovic's struggles are related to injury, the Twins don't seem to feel like the injury is an issue. They keep sending him out, Balazovic continues to get consistently destroyed.
    #4 Woods-Richardson (a21) - He had another great start to the season, but he started struggling with control like last year leading to a rocketing WHIP and lots of runs. Then, there was a lengthy IL trip for COVID. Woods-Richardson probably moves to my #2 prospect in the Twins system at this point with overall impressive strike out rates, a great 4 pitch combo and stretches where he dominates. There's still a lot of potential.
    #5 Matt Canterino - (a24) - Bordering on non-prospect age, Canterino is putting up impressive K rates with equally depressing BB rates in AA. He's working his way back from yet another elbow strain in the Florida Complex league where he was knocked around in his latest 1 inning appearance. He's certainly not a top 10 prospect in a good farm system and hasn't pitched into the 5 inning this year.
    #6 Noah Miller (a19) - The only remaining draft pick from the first 3 rounds of 2021's draft now that Petty, Povich and Hajjar have all been moved, Miller is holding his own at the plate in Ft. Myers while playing very good defense. He's not an elite prospect at this point, but there's a chance Miller can improve his contact skills as he was drafted out of high school. Right now, Miller looks passive at the plate with a 15% walk and 25% strikeout rate more associated with power hitters, but Miller's power tool is scouted as pretty modest and he hasn't shown any of it this year.
    #7 Matt Wallner (a24) - Wallner was racing up the prospect lists as a full fledged supernova-style bright spot in the Twins' system. Since his promotion to AAA, Wallner has gone stone cold with a .116/.224/.140 triple slash. That said, it's just 49 plate appearances. Please, please let his swing return to crush the opponent pitchers to end the season.
    #8 Misael Urbina (a20) - A speedy center fielder international prospect signed out of Venezuela, Urbina had a really great year in Ft. Myers last season. Unfortunately, he missed half this year due to visa issues. Currently getting his legs under him back in rookie ball, Urbina's hoping to salvage the season.
    #9 Brayan Medina (a19) - Came over in the Rogers/Rooker trade for Paddack/Pagan as a toss in. It speaks volumes when the Padres' PTBNL is in your top 10... In rookie ball, Medina has walked a ton of batters while holding the hits to a reasonable number with the help of a .265 BABIP and paltry 5.0% HR/FB rate. He's not in a good farm's top 20, possibly not top 30.
    #10 Ronny Henriquez (a22) - The extra player received as part of the Garver trade to the Rangers, Henriquez has struggled to keep batters off the base paths in AAA. Ronny was ranked as the Rangers #15 prospect due to his ability to generate strikeouts and limit the free pass last year in AA. He's probably taken a step back this year as the walk rate has increased by 50% at AAA and batters have been able to generate hits at will leading to his 1.52 WHIP and very rough 5.71 ERA. Also, the Twins have not really been limiting pitches much with Henriquez allowing him to throw up to 92... but he's rarely been able to finish 5 innings. That said, Henriquez has been able to keep a solid K% (though certainly not elite for MiLB), the .352 BABIP is way too high and the walk rate still isn't terrible by any means. So there's still some potential. On a good farm, Henriquez is probably borderline top 20, helped by his age.

    I'd argue the farm is currently a big step back from the position it was in back at the start of 2017, where it was middle of the pack. Barring some real turnarounds, I expect the Twins to grade out bottom 5.

    So where does that leave Falvey? He was brought in to rebuild the farm system so it would produce high value prospects and especially stock the rotation with high value, inexpensive cost controlled rotation arms the Twins could depend on for several years. While the farm has essentially produced 2 years of Sonny Gray, he's not cheap at $12MM per year and 2 years is hardly a long time. We also used the farm to pick up Tyler Mahle for 1.5 years, but he's also not going to be cheap next year, and certainly not long term. Maybe $12MM? The one glowing example in terms of expense and control is honestly Kenta Maeda. We got 4 years of a cheap, high value rotation arm from moving Brusdar Graterol. That said, I'm not sure the agreed upon strategy was to trade all the talent in the MiLB system for a couple years of productive MLB starters. That's not sustainable and it honestly hasn't been cheap overall. Instead, the Twins have typically felt like a directionless Frankenstein monster to me, pieced together each offseason in the hopes the pieces all gel and what comes out is a lightning strike with the scream "It's ALIVE!!" to begin a playoff season. 

    Of course, winning solves everything. If the Twins win the World Series or even win a single playoff series, all will likely be forgotten. Every step short of that, though, has to heat up the seat under Falvey, especially given Falvey stretched the Twins' budget to $138MM (and beyond with recent trades) this year. Hard to believe the Twins turn a profit based on the attendance levels I saw and the Pohlads do not run this team as a hobby.
  4. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Karbo for a blog entry, State of the Twins Farm System - 6 Years Into Falvey's Reign.   
    Jim Pohlad made the decision to hire Derek Falvey 6 years ago after a disappointing 2016 season where expectations were raised based on improvements seen in 2015. The primary decision to choose Falvey was modernizing the player development system with analytics so the Twins' farm system could sustain competitive play long term operating like a smaller market team. The biggest issue the Twins had was their utter failure to develop front line starters. Jose Berrios, despite his stellar numbers in the minors, had been eaten alive by MLB hitters and the farm system was looking a bit rough. Naturally, having graduated Sano, Buxton, Kepler, and Berrios in the last two years, that's going to see a farm system take a beating.
    Falvey went into 2017's playoffs with a virtually identical team as the Twins fielded in 2016, and again in 2019 and 2020. The winning tradition was restored! Except Falvey did it all with a roster largely created from the drafts and signings of Bill Smith and Terry Ryan. Falvey had major hits... but most of the hits eventually turned into misses. Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi and Jason Castro all ended their time with the Twins with a whimper, but this article is really about the sustainability factor. That's why Falvey was hired. Not for free agent signings. For a sustainable, productive draft and development system built from analytics and cutting edge baseball knowledge.
    I graded Falvey's top 3 rounds of drafting a couple months ago, and the situation has changed quite a bit, but again, I'm interested in the sustainability of the team. What do the Twins have in the system to fill the enormous holes on the roster coming up? Again, the idea was not that Falvey constructs a roster out of free agents when he was hired. What did the system look like when Falvey started?
    #1 - Nick Gordon*
    #2 - Tyler Jay
    #3 - Fernando Romero*
    #4 - Alex Kirilloff*
    #5 - Stephen Gonsalves*
    #6 - Wander Javier
    #7 - Kohl Stewart*
    #8 - Adalberto Mejia*
    #9 - Ben Rortvedt*
    #10 - Zach Granite*
    *7 of those players made significant appearances at the MLB level, and in general, they were viewed pretty highly at the time. The Twins' farm system was right in the middle.

    So what about today? There isn't much there. MLB's top prospects set for the Twins are:
    #1 Lewis (a23)- Undoubtedly the only elite prospect in the Twins system. He could be a star. He's also younger than Martin or Balazovic... as hard as that is to believe. Lewis torched AAA and proceeded to shine bright in a handful of plate appearances at the MLB level. With a character as brilliant as his athleticism, the sky is the limit... if he can stay on the field and prove his performance wasn't a SSS fluke.
    #2 Martin (a23) - Has seen his stock take a real beating this year. He went from a consensus top 50 prospect to falling well out of the top 100 on the failure to develop power and a lower batting average coupled with embarrassing defense. There was improvement in Martin's defense at SS with the error rate trending towards almost acceptable, but Martin's suffered an injured elbow diving for a ball at the beginning of July. It wasn't expected to be a big deal, but here we are a month later and he still hasn't played while (stop me if you've heard this one) the Twins hadn't been able to diagnose the issue at least as of mid July...
    #3 Balazovic (a23) - If Martin's stock had a silver lining, it's Balazovic's stock. It's not possible to understate how disastrous his performance has been this year. He wouldn't even be ranked on a good farm system top 15 at this point. While there is the hope Balazovic's struggles are related to injury, the Twins don't seem to feel like the injury is an issue. They keep sending him out, Balazovic continues to get consistently destroyed.
    #4 Woods-Richardson (a21) - He had another great start to the season, but he started struggling with control like last year leading to a rocketing WHIP and lots of runs. Then, there was a lengthy IL trip for COVID. Woods-Richardson probably moves to my #2 prospect in the Twins system at this point with overall impressive strike out rates, a great 4 pitch combo and stretches where he dominates. There's still a lot of potential.
    #5 Matt Canterino - (a24) - Bordering on non-prospect age, Canterino is putting up impressive K rates with equally depressing BB rates in AA. He's working his way back from yet another elbow strain in the Florida Complex league where he was knocked around in his latest 1 inning appearance. He's certainly not a top 10 prospect in a good farm system and hasn't pitched into the 5 inning this year.
    #6 Noah Miller (a19) - The only remaining draft pick from the first 3 rounds of 2021's draft now that Petty, Povich and Hajjar have all been moved, Miller is holding his own at the plate in Ft. Myers while playing very good defense. He's not an elite prospect at this point, but there's a chance Miller can improve his contact skills as he was drafted out of high school. Right now, Miller looks passive at the plate with a 15% walk and 25% strikeout rate more associated with power hitters, but Miller's power tool is scouted as pretty modest and he hasn't shown any of it this year.
    #7 Matt Wallner (a24) - Wallner was racing up the prospect lists as a full fledged supernova-style bright spot in the Twins' system. Since his promotion to AAA, Wallner has gone stone cold with a .116/.224/.140 triple slash. That said, it's just 49 plate appearances. Please, please let his swing return to crush the opponent pitchers to end the season.
    #8 Misael Urbina (a20) - A speedy center fielder international prospect signed out of Venezuela, Urbina had a really great year in Ft. Myers last season. Unfortunately, he missed half this year due to visa issues. Currently getting his legs under him back in rookie ball, Urbina's hoping to salvage the season.
    #9 Brayan Medina (a19) - Came over in the Rogers/Rooker trade for Paddack/Pagan as a toss in. It speaks volumes when the Padres' PTBNL is in your top 10... In rookie ball, Medina has walked a ton of batters while holding the hits to a reasonable number with the help of a .265 BABIP and paltry 5.0% HR/FB rate. He's not in a good farm's top 20, possibly not top 30.
    #10 Ronny Henriquez (a22) - The extra player received as part of the Garver trade to the Rangers, Henriquez has struggled to keep batters off the base paths in AAA. Ronny was ranked as the Rangers #15 prospect due to his ability to generate strikeouts and limit the free pass last year in AA. He's probably taken a step back this year as the walk rate has increased by 50% at AAA and batters have been able to generate hits at will leading to his 1.52 WHIP and very rough 5.71 ERA. Also, the Twins have not really been limiting pitches much with Henriquez allowing him to throw up to 92... but he's rarely been able to finish 5 innings. That said, Henriquez has been able to keep a solid K% (though certainly not elite for MiLB), the .352 BABIP is way too high and the walk rate still isn't terrible by any means. So there's still some potential. On a good farm, Henriquez is probably borderline top 20, helped by his age.

    I'd argue the farm is currently a big step back from the position it was in back at the start of 2017, where it was middle of the pack. Barring some real turnarounds, I expect the Twins to grade out bottom 5.

    So where does that leave Falvey? He was brought in to rebuild the farm system so it would produce high value prospects and especially stock the rotation with high value, inexpensive cost controlled rotation arms the Twins could depend on for several years. While the farm has essentially produced 2 years of Sonny Gray, he's not cheap at $12MM per year and 2 years is hardly a long time. We also used the farm to pick up Tyler Mahle for 1.5 years, but he's also not going to be cheap next year, and certainly not long term. Maybe $12MM? The one glowing example in terms of expense and control is honestly Kenta Maeda. We got 4 years of a cheap, high value rotation arm from moving Brusdar Graterol. That said, I'm not sure the agreed upon strategy was to trade all the talent in the MiLB system for a couple years of productive MLB starters. That's not sustainable and it honestly hasn't been cheap overall. Instead, the Twins have typically felt like a directionless Frankenstein monster to me, pieced together each offseason in the hopes the pieces all gel and what comes out is a lightning strike with the scream "It's ALIVE!!" to begin a playoff season. 

    Of course, winning solves everything. If the Twins win the World Series or even win a single playoff series, all will likely be forgotten. Every step short of that, though, has to heat up the seat under Falvey, especially given Falvey stretched the Twins' budget to $138MM (and beyond with recent trades) this year. Hard to believe the Twins turn a profit based on the attendance levels I saw and the Pohlads do not run this team as a hobby.
  5. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from MMMordabito for a blog entry, The Most Important Blog - What to Eat at Target Field?   
    Since I've already stirred enough pots in regard to heated on the field debates, it's time to take it off the field to the stands! There have been a number of posts regarding the cost of food and drink at Target Field scaring away the fans, but I'm going to give a run down on many of the items and locations and whether you should eat or avoid!

    First off, beer. If you fancy a pint at the game, there is an enormous selection of craft beers to pair with foods along with old-timey American style lagers perfect for a hot day at the park. I'm not going to list them all because... yeah, that's a lot. Location wise, the best concentration of craft options is right at Gate 34. Selections from Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale to Surly Furious and Goose Island Beer Hug IPAs and smooth sessionable Vienna (basically a red) style's like Schell's Firebrick are on tap here. If you're a Surly fan, right behind the left field bleachers and Gray Goose bar is a Surly stand with options you won't find elsewhere like Surly Hell. There are also "Minnesota Brews" stands around the stadium behind the Diamond Box areas where you can find a Grain Belt for nostalgia's sake. Other options are scattered around as well. The selection on the upper deck is much more limited to the usual suspects. My favorites: Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale (Gate 34), Beer Hug Hazy IPA (Gate 34), Surly Hell (behind Section 128) and Grain Belt (behind section 126).

    Best Full Belly Deal at the Game:
    Burger and fries basket. It's $15 at Hennepin Grill locations around the stadium, but the burger is big, tastes flame grilled and a solid enough choice. The fries are medium cut, crispy-ish outside, fluffy inside and taste rich like they've been fried in peanut oil. It's a good sized meal.
    Senior Smokes: (105, 305) Barbacoa burrito. $10.50. It's not quite the gut stretcher the burger and fries is, but it's also only $10.50 in comparison to $15. It's a solid burrito near burrito specialty chain quality.

    Best Budget Option: The hot dog or soft pretzel at various locations. They're $4.00 out the door and are enough to tide you over for a bit. Bring an empty water bottle in with you and get free water from various stations as well.

    Best Burger(s):
    Red Cow 60/40 Bacon (2) Sliders w/chips. $15.50 located behind section 126 Why the chips that nobody wants? I don't know. Anyway, the sliders themselves are Red Cow name worthy. They're absolutely excellent and pretty filling. Could use a little something vinegary like mustard or ketchup to break up the fatty flavor.
    Blue Door Pub a 2nd place finish here goes to the $13.50 "Jucy Blusy" Cease and Desist Burger located at Gate 34 at the Jack Daniels Bar. It's very good and full sized, but the combo of thousand island and mayo is a bit sticky and bland.
    Don't expect fast service for either of these burgers. There's always a line for the sliders (and they frequently run out for a bit of time at 126) and it seems like Jucy Blusy is cooked to order.

    Best Sausages:
    Kramarczuk's Bratwurst. $10 (behind field box 101, home plate box 112 and upstairs 312). It's a much better quality brat than the $8.50 standard option around the stadium. The polish is so greasy and salty (like polish sausage is) it makes for a real gut-bomb in my opinion.

    Other Sandwich Options:
    Turkey to Go sandwich $11 next to Hrbek's (114). Make sure you get one fresh made and they press the jerked turkey hard to get the juice out. Otherwise, you'll get a rather disgusting pile of slop bun. If made right, Turkey to Go is fantastic. Use the BBQ sauce if you want or skip it if you don't want it. Good either way. Side note, this is like the only station at the stadium which doesn't have an option to tip in the checkout app. What a bummer for the staff.
    Philly Cheesesteak. $11. I think I stumbled across this one over behind section 110ish. Gross. Virtually inedible. While the grilled onions and peppers are very good and the cheese sauce is okay, the meat? (is it meat??) is like unseasoned sloppy joe mix or something. It's not right, best described as slop, and I didn't finish it. I like just about all food for the record.
    Murray's Smoked Beef Sandwich (103). $15. Very high quality roast beef, but with no au juis and weak horseradish sauce, the sandwich is disappointingly bland. Skip it, this coming from a big fan of Murray's Restaurant.
    Senior Smokes: $10.50 (105, 305) barbacoa beef burrito. Filling, maybe not quite as good as Chipotle, Pancheros and Qdoba, but certainly not far off. There are veggie options too, if you want. A far, far better deal than the nachos as this burrito will fill you up.
    Tony O's Cubano: $13 (114). Gotta be honest here, a lot of people rant about this one, but it really didn't impress me compared to other options around the stadium. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that it was great. 
    Unexpected Options:
    Hot Indian (120): Chicken tikka (pronounced tick-a, not teek-a) masala. It's legitimately good and very mild + gluten free. They have some spicy sauce condiment which kicks 'er up a notch or two if you like. The cabbage veggie blend on the top is okay. Rice was a little undercooked, but all in all, I liked it. Note: I expect the chana masala will also be very good and it's vegan + gluten free. Haven't had Indian food before? Think a rich, thick, very savory and complex creamy tomato soup with tender chunks of chicken poured over rice and garnished with thin chopped cabbage here.

    Side/Appetizer:
    Cheese curds: $8 (109, 305). The portion is pretty good, but $8 still feels a little pricey. The curds are small sized, coated and deep fried mozzarella. They have good flavor, if not a bit salty. They're not truly as good as the ones you'll get at the State Fair as the batter used at Target Field is kinda meh, but they're still great if cheese is what you're craving.

    Vegetarian?
    Herbivorous Butcher Vegan Bratwurst (129). It's okay. You're not going to mistake it for the real deal and the aftertaste is decidedly veggie wheat thin flavor, but for the vegan/vegetarian folks, it's not bad.
    Hot Indian (120): Chana masala... okay, I haven't had this dish yet, but when Indian is good, it's universally good and the tikka masala was solid here. 
    What about dessert?:
    Tiny Tim's Mini Donuts: (135) $6 for a bag. Excellent mini-donuts take my vote for the best sweet/dessert at the game. Cooked fresh, sprinkled hot with sugar, they're everything you hope for in mini donuts. Be aware, get them before the 7th inning, I've seen them run out more than once. I'd choose them over the expensive, and mediocre, soft serve ice cream in the helmet or the waffle cone any day.

    A lot of high quality options are tucked away at Hrbek's or inside the Town Ball Tavern, but a couple have been moved exclusively into the Truly On Deck (formerly Metropolitan Club). I didn't list these even though some are certified good. Good options if you want to sit, you don't want to do the walk of shame and you have SRO tickets, though!




     
  6. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from wsnydes for a blog entry, The Most Important Blog - What to Eat at Target Field?   
    Since I've already stirred enough pots in regard to heated on the field debates, it's time to take it off the field to the stands! There have been a number of posts regarding the cost of food and drink at Target Field scaring away the fans, but I'm going to give a run down on many of the items and locations and whether you should eat or avoid!

    First off, beer. If you fancy a pint at the game, there is an enormous selection of craft beers to pair with foods along with old-timey American style lagers perfect for a hot day at the park. I'm not going to list them all because... yeah, that's a lot. Location wise, the best concentration of craft options is right at Gate 34. Selections from Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale to Surly Furious and Goose Island Beer Hug IPAs and smooth sessionable Vienna (basically a red) style's like Schell's Firebrick are on tap here. If you're a Surly fan, right behind the left field bleachers and Gray Goose bar is a Surly stand with options you won't find elsewhere like Surly Hell. There are also "Minnesota Brews" stands around the stadium behind the Diamond Box areas where you can find a Grain Belt for nostalgia's sake. Other options are scattered around as well. The selection on the upper deck is much more limited to the usual suspects. My favorites: Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale (Gate 34), Beer Hug Hazy IPA (Gate 34), Surly Hell (behind Section 128) and Grain Belt (behind section 126).

    Best Full Belly Deal at the Game:
    Burger and fries basket. It's $15 at Hennepin Grill locations around the stadium, but the burger is big, tastes flame grilled and a solid enough choice. The fries are medium cut, crispy-ish outside, fluffy inside and taste rich like they've been fried in peanut oil. It's a good sized meal.
    Senior Smokes: (105, 305) Barbacoa burrito. $10.50. It's not quite the gut stretcher the burger and fries is, but it's also only $10.50 in comparison to $15. It's a solid burrito near burrito specialty chain quality.

    Best Budget Option: The hot dog or soft pretzel at various locations. They're $4.00 out the door and are enough to tide you over for a bit. Bring an empty water bottle in with you and get free water from various stations as well.

    Best Burger(s):
    Red Cow 60/40 Bacon (2) Sliders w/chips. $15.50 located behind section 126 Why the chips that nobody wants? I don't know. Anyway, the sliders themselves are Red Cow name worthy. They're absolutely excellent and pretty filling. Could use a little something vinegary like mustard or ketchup to break up the fatty flavor.
    Blue Door Pub a 2nd place finish here goes to the $13.50 "Jucy Blusy" Cease and Desist Burger located at Gate 34 at the Jack Daniels Bar. It's very good and full sized, but the combo of thousand island and mayo is a bit sticky and bland.
    Don't expect fast service for either of these burgers. There's always a line for the sliders (and they frequently run out for a bit of time at 126) and it seems like Jucy Blusy is cooked to order.

    Best Sausages:
    Kramarczuk's Bratwurst. $10 (behind field box 101, home plate box 112 and upstairs 312). It's a much better quality brat than the $8.50 standard option around the stadium. The polish is so greasy and salty (like polish sausage is) it makes for a real gut-bomb in my opinion.

    Other Sandwich Options:
    Turkey to Go sandwich $11 next to Hrbek's (114). Make sure you get one fresh made and they press the jerked turkey hard to get the juice out. Otherwise, you'll get a rather disgusting pile of slop bun. If made right, Turkey to Go is fantastic. Use the BBQ sauce if you want or skip it if you don't want it. Good either way. Side note, this is like the only station at the stadium which doesn't have an option to tip in the checkout app. What a bummer for the staff.
    Philly Cheesesteak. $11. I think I stumbled across this one over behind section 110ish. Gross. Virtually inedible. While the grilled onions and peppers are very good and the cheese sauce is okay, the meat? (is it meat??) is like unseasoned sloppy joe mix or something. It's not right, best described as slop, and I didn't finish it. I like just about all food for the record.
    Murray's Smoked Beef Sandwich (103). $15. Very high quality roast beef, but with no au juis and weak horseradish sauce, the sandwich is disappointingly bland. Skip it, this coming from a big fan of Murray's Restaurant.
    Senior Smokes: $10.50 (105, 305) barbacoa beef burrito. Filling, maybe not quite as good as Chipotle, Pancheros and Qdoba, but certainly not far off. There are veggie options too, if you want. A far, far better deal than the nachos as this burrito will fill you up.
    Tony O's Cubano: $13 (114). Gotta be honest here, a lot of people rant about this one, but it really didn't impress me compared to other options around the stadium. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that it was great. 
    Unexpected Options:
    Hot Indian (120): Chicken tikka (pronounced tick-a, not teek-a) masala. It's legitimately good and very mild + gluten free. They have some spicy sauce condiment which kicks 'er up a notch or two if you like. The cabbage veggie blend on the top is okay. Rice was a little undercooked, but all in all, I liked it. Note: I expect the chana masala will also be very good and it's vegan + gluten free. Haven't had Indian food before? Think a rich, thick, very savory and complex creamy tomato soup with tender chunks of chicken poured over rice and garnished with thin chopped cabbage here.

    Side/Appetizer:
    Cheese curds: $8 (109, 305). The portion is pretty good, but $8 still feels a little pricey. The curds are small sized, coated and deep fried mozzarella. They have good flavor, if not a bit salty. They're not truly as good as the ones you'll get at the State Fair as the batter used at Target Field is kinda meh, but they're still great if cheese is what you're craving.

    Vegetarian?
    Herbivorous Butcher Vegan Bratwurst (129). It's okay. You're not going to mistake it for the real deal and the aftertaste is decidedly veggie wheat thin flavor, but for the vegan/vegetarian folks, it's not bad.
    Hot Indian (120): Chana masala... okay, I haven't had this dish yet, but when Indian is good, it's universally good and the tikka masala was solid here. 
    What about dessert?:
    Tiny Tim's Mini Donuts: (135) $6 for a bag. Excellent mini-donuts take my vote for the best sweet/dessert at the game. Cooked fresh, sprinkled hot with sugar, they're everything you hope for in mini donuts. Be aware, get them before the 7th inning, I've seen them run out more than once. I'd choose them over the expensive, and mediocre, soft serve ice cream in the helmet or the waffle cone any day.

    A lot of high quality options are tucked away at Hrbek's or inside the Town Ball Tavern, but a couple have been moved exclusively into the Truly On Deck (formerly Metropolitan Club). I didn't list these even though some are certified good. Good options if you want to sit, you don't want to do the walk of shame and you have SRO tickets, though!




     
  7. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from operation mindcrime for a blog entry, The Most Important Blog - What to Eat at Target Field?   
    Since I've already stirred enough pots in regard to heated on the field debates, it's time to take it off the field to the stands! There have been a number of posts regarding the cost of food and drink at Target Field scaring away the fans, but I'm going to give a run down on many of the items and locations and whether you should eat or avoid!

    First off, beer. If you fancy a pint at the game, there is an enormous selection of craft beers to pair with foods along with old-timey American style lagers perfect for a hot day at the park. I'm not going to list them all because... yeah, that's a lot. Location wise, the best concentration of craft options is right at Gate 34. Selections from Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale to Surly Furious and Goose Island Beer Hug IPAs and smooth sessionable Vienna (basically a red) style's like Schell's Firebrick are on tap here. If you're a Surly fan, right behind the left field bleachers and Gray Goose bar is a Surly stand with options you won't find elsewhere like Surly Hell. There are also "Minnesota Brews" stands around the stadium behind the Diamond Box areas where you can find a Grain Belt for nostalgia's sake. Other options are scattered around as well. The selection on the upper deck is much more limited to the usual suspects. My favorites: Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale (Gate 34), Beer Hug Hazy IPA (Gate 34), Surly Hell (behind Section 128) and Grain Belt (behind section 126).

    Best Full Belly Deal at the Game:
    Burger and fries basket. It's $15 at Hennepin Grill locations around the stadium, but the burger is big, tastes flame grilled and a solid enough choice. The fries are medium cut, crispy-ish outside, fluffy inside and taste rich like they've been fried in peanut oil. It's a good sized meal.
    Senior Smokes: (105, 305) Barbacoa burrito. $10.50. It's not quite the gut stretcher the burger and fries is, but it's also only $10.50 in comparison to $15. It's a solid burrito near burrito specialty chain quality.

    Best Budget Option: The hot dog or soft pretzel at various locations. They're $4.00 out the door and are enough to tide you over for a bit. Bring an empty water bottle in with you and get free water from various stations as well.

    Best Burger(s):
    Red Cow 60/40 Bacon (2) Sliders w/chips. $15.50 located behind section 126 Why the chips that nobody wants? I don't know. Anyway, the sliders themselves are Red Cow name worthy. They're absolutely excellent and pretty filling. Could use a little something vinegary like mustard or ketchup to break up the fatty flavor.
    Blue Door Pub a 2nd place finish here goes to the $13.50 "Jucy Blusy" Cease and Desist Burger located at Gate 34 at the Jack Daniels Bar. It's very good and full sized, but the combo of thousand island and mayo is a bit sticky and bland.
    Don't expect fast service for either of these burgers. There's always a line for the sliders (and they frequently run out for a bit of time at 126) and it seems like Jucy Blusy is cooked to order.

    Best Sausages:
    Kramarczuk's Bratwurst. $10 (behind field box 101, home plate box 112 and upstairs 312). It's a much better quality brat than the $8.50 standard option around the stadium. The polish is so greasy and salty (like polish sausage is) it makes for a real gut-bomb in my opinion.

    Other Sandwich Options:
    Turkey to Go sandwich $11 next to Hrbek's (114). Make sure you get one fresh made and they press the jerked turkey hard to get the juice out. Otherwise, you'll get a rather disgusting pile of slop bun. If made right, Turkey to Go is fantastic. Use the BBQ sauce if you want or skip it if you don't want it. Good either way. Side note, this is like the only station at the stadium which doesn't have an option to tip in the checkout app. What a bummer for the staff.
    Philly Cheesesteak. $11. I think I stumbled across this one over behind section 110ish. Gross. Virtually inedible. While the grilled onions and peppers are very good and the cheese sauce is okay, the meat? (is it meat??) is like unseasoned sloppy joe mix or something. It's not right, best described as slop, and I didn't finish it. I like just about all food for the record.
    Murray's Smoked Beef Sandwich (103). $15. Very high quality roast beef, but with no au juis and weak horseradish sauce, the sandwich is disappointingly bland. Skip it, this coming from a big fan of Murray's Restaurant.
    Senior Smokes: $10.50 (105, 305) barbacoa beef burrito. Filling, maybe not quite as good as Chipotle, Pancheros and Qdoba, but certainly not far off. There are veggie options too, if you want. A far, far better deal than the nachos as this burrito will fill you up.
    Tony O's Cubano: $13 (114). Gotta be honest here, a lot of people rant about this one, but it really didn't impress me compared to other options around the stadium. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that it was great. 
    Unexpected Options:
    Hot Indian (120): Chicken tikka (pronounced tick-a, not teek-a) masala. It's legitimately good and very mild + gluten free. They have some spicy sauce condiment which kicks 'er up a notch or two if you like. The cabbage veggie blend on the top is okay. Rice was a little undercooked, but all in all, I liked it. Note: I expect the chana masala will also be very good and it's vegan + gluten free. Haven't had Indian food before? Think a rich, thick, very savory and complex creamy tomato soup with tender chunks of chicken poured over rice and garnished with thin chopped cabbage here.

    Side/Appetizer:
    Cheese curds: $8 (109, 305). The portion is pretty good, but $8 still feels a little pricey. The curds are small sized, coated and deep fried mozzarella. They have good flavor, if not a bit salty. They're not truly as good as the ones you'll get at the State Fair as the batter used at Target Field is kinda meh, but they're still great if cheese is what you're craving.

    Vegetarian?
    Herbivorous Butcher Vegan Bratwurst (129). It's okay. You're not going to mistake it for the real deal and the aftertaste is decidedly veggie wheat thin flavor, but for the vegan/vegetarian folks, it's not bad.
    Hot Indian (120): Chana masala... okay, I haven't had this dish yet, but when Indian is good, it's universally good and the tikka masala was solid here. 
    What about dessert?:
    Tiny Tim's Mini Donuts: (135) $6 for a bag. Excellent mini-donuts take my vote for the best sweet/dessert at the game. Cooked fresh, sprinkled hot with sugar, they're everything you hope for in mini donuts. Be aware, get them before the 7th inning, I've seen them run out more than once. I'd choose them over the expensive, and mediocre, soft serve ice cream in the helmet or the waffle cone any day.

    A lot of high quality options are tucked away at Hrbek's or inside the Town Ball Tavern, but a couple have been moved exclusively into the Truly On Deck (formerly Metropolitan Club). I didn't list these even though some are certified good. Good options if you want to sit, you don't want to do the walk of shame and you have SRO tickets, though!




     
  8. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, The Most Important Blog - What to Eat at Target Field?   
    Since I've already stirred enough pots in regard to heated on the field debates, it's time to take it off the field to the stands! There have been a number of posts regarding the cost of food and drink at Target Field scaring away the fans, but I'm going to give a run down on many of the items and locations and whether you should eat or avoid!

    First off, beer. If you fancy a pint at the game, there is an enormous selection of craft beers to pair with foods along with old-timey American style lagers perfect for a hot day at the park. I'm not going to list them all because... yeah, that's a lot. Location wise, the best concentration of craft options is right at Gate 34. Selections from Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale to Surly Furious and Goose Island Beer Hug IPAs and smooth sessionable Vienna (basically a red) style's like Schell's Firebrick are on tap here. If you're a Surly fan, right behind the left field bleachers and Gray Goose bar is a Surly stand with options you won't find elsewhere like Surly Hell. There are also "Minnesota Brews" stands around the stadium behind the Diamond Box areas where you can find a Grain Belt for nostalgia's sake. Other options are scattered around as well. The selection on the upper deck is much more limited to the usual suspects. My favorites: Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale (Gate 34), Beer Hug Hazy IPA (Gate 34), Surly Hell (behind Section 128) and Grain Belt (behind section 126).

    Best Full Belly Deal at the Game:
    Burger and fries basket. It's $15 at Hennepin Grill locations around the stadium, but the burger is big, tastes flame grilled and a solid enough choice. The fries are medium cut, crispy-ish outside, fluffy inside and taste rich like they've been fried in peanut oil. It's a good sized meal.
    Senior Smokes: (105, 305) Barbacoa burrito. $10.50. It's not quite the gut stretcher the burger and fries is, but it's also only $10.50 in comparison to $15. It's a solid burrito near burrito specialty chain quality.

    Best Budget Option: The hot dog or soft pretzel at various locations. They're $4.00 out the door and are enough to tide you over for a bit. Bring an empty water bottle in with you and get free water from various stations as well.

    Best Burger(s):
    Red Cow 60/40 Bacon (2) Sliders w/chips. $15.50 located behind section 126 Why the chips that nobody wants? I don't know. Anyway, the sliders themselves are Red Cow name worthy. They're absolutely excellent and pretty filling. Could use a little something vinegary like mustard or ketchup to break up the fatty flavor.
    Blue Door Pub a 2nd place finish here goes to the $13.50 "Jucy Blusy" Cease and Desist Burger located at Gate 34 at the Jack Daniels Bar. It's very good and full sized, but the combo of thousand island and mayo is a bit sticky and bland.
    Don't expect fast service for either of these burgers. There's always a line for the sliders (and they frequently run out for a bit of time at 126) and it seems like Jucy Blusy is cooked to order.

    Best Sausages:
    Kramarczuk's Bratwurst. $10 (behind field box 101, home plate box 112 and upstairs 312). It's a much better quality brat than the $8.50 standard option around the stadium. The polish is so greasy and salty (like polish sausage is) it makes for a real gut-bomb in my opinion.

    Other Sandwich Options:
    Turkey to Go sandwich $11 next to Hrbek's (114). Make sure you get one fresh made and they press the jerked turkey hard to get the juice out. Otherwise, you'll get a rather disgusting pile of slop bun. If made right, Turkey to Go is fantastic. Use the BBQ sauce if you want or skip it if you don't want it. Good either way. Side note, this is like the only station at the stadium which doesn't have an option to tip in the checkout app. What a bummer for the staff.
    Philly Cheesesteak. $11. I think I stumbled across this one over behind section 110ish. Gross. Virtually inedible. While the grilled onions and peppers are very good and the cheese sauce is okay, the meat? (is it meat??) is like unseasoned sloppy joe mix or something. It's not right, best described as slop, and I didn't finish it. I like just about all food for the record.
    Murray's Smoked Beef Sandwich (103). $15. Very high quality roast beef, but with no au juis and weak horseradish sauce, the sandwich is disappointingly bland. Skip it, this coming from a big fan of Murray's Restaurant.
    Senior Smokes: $10.50 (105, 305) barbacoa beef burrito. Filling, maybe not quite as good as Chipotle, Pancheros and Qdoba, but certainly not far off. There are veggie options too, if you want. A far, far better deal than the nachos as this burrito will fill you up.
    Tony O's Cubano: $13 (114). Gotta be honest here, a lot of people rant about this one, but it really didn't impress me compared to other options around the stadium. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that it was great. 
    Unexpected Options:
    Hot Indian (120): Chicken tikka (pronounced tick-a, not teek-a) masala. It's legitimately good and very mild + gluten free. They have some spicy sauce condiment which kicks 'er up a notch or two if you like. The cabbage veggie blend on the top is okay. Rice was a little undercooked, but all in all, I liked it. Note: I expect the chana masala will also be very good and it's vegan + gluten free. Haven't had Indian food before? Think a rich, thick, very savory and complex creamy tomato soup with tender chunks of chicken poured over rice and garnished with thin chopped cabbage here.

    Side/Appetizer:
    Cheese curds: $8 (109, 305). The portion is pretty good, but $8 still feels a little pricey. The curds are small sized, coated and deep fried mozzarella. They have good flavor, if not a bit salty. They're not truly as good as the ones you'll get at the State Fair as the batter used at Target Field is kinda meh, but they're still great if cheese is what you're craving.

    Vegetarian?
    Herbivorous Butcher Vegan Bratwurst (129). It's okay. You're not going to mistake it for the real deal and the aftertaste is decidedly veggie wheat thin flavor, but for the vegan/vegetarian folks, it's not bad.
    Hot Indian (120): Chana masala... okay, I haven't had this dish yet, but when Indian is good, it's universally good and the tikka masala was solid here. 
    What about dessert?:
    Tiny Tim's Mini Donuts: (135) $6 for a bag. Excellent mini-donuts take my vote for the best sweet/dessert at the game. Cooked fresh, sprinkled hot with sugar, they're everything you hope for in mini donuts. Be aware, get them before the 7th inning, I've seen them run out more than once. I'd choose them over the expensive, and mediocre, soft serve ice cream in the helmet or the waffle cone any day.

    A lot of high quality options are tucked away at Hrbek's or inside the Town Ball Tavern, but a couple have been moved exclusively into the Truly On Deck (formerly Metropolitan Club). I didn't list these even though some are certified good. Good options if you want to sit, you don't want to do the walk of shame and you have SRO tickets, though!




     
  9. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from ashbury for a blog entry, The Most Important Blog - What to Eat at Target Field?   
    Since I've already stirred enough pots in regard to heated on the field debates, it's time to take it off the field to the stands! There have been a number of posts regarding the cost of food and drink at Target Field scaring away the fans, but I'm going to give a run down on many of the items and locations and whether you should eat or avoid!

    First off, beer. If you fancy a pint at the game, there is an enormous selection of craft beers to pair with foods along with old-timey American style lagers perfect for a hot day at the park. I'm not going to list them all because... yeah, that's a lot. Location wise, the best concentration of craft options is right at Gate 34. Selections from Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale to Surly Furious and Goose Island Beer Hug IPAs and smooth sessionable Vienna (basically a red) style's like Schell's Firebrick are on tap here. If you're a Surly fan, right behind the left field bleachers and Gray Goose bar is a Surly stand with options you won't find elsewhere like Surly Hell. There are also "Minnesota Brews" stands around the stadium behind the Diamond Box areas where you can find a Grain Belt for nostalgia's sake. Other options are scattered around as well. The selection on the upper deck is much more limited to the usual suspects. My favorites: Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale (Gate 34), Beer Hug Hazy IPA (Gate 34), Surly Hell (behind Section 128) and Grain Belt (behind section 126).

    Best Full Belly Deal at the Game:
    Burger and fries basket. It's $15 at Hennepin Grill locations around the stadium, but the burger is big, tastes flame grilled and a solid enough choice. The fries are medium cut, crispy-ish outside, fluffy inside and taste rich like they've been fried in peanut oil. It's a good sized meal.
    Senior Smokes: (105, 305) Barbacoa burrito. $10.50. It's not quite the gut stretcher the burger and fries is, but it's also only $10.50 in comparison to $15. It's a solid burrito near burrito specialty chain quality.

    Best Budget Option: The hot dog or soft pretzel at various locations. They're $4.00 out the door and are enough to tide you over for a bit. Bring an empty water bottle in with you and get free water from various stations as well.

    Best Burger(s):
    Red Cow 60/40 Bacon (2) Sliders w/chips. $15.50 located behind section 126 Why the chips that nobody wants? I don't know. Anyway, the sliders themselves are Red Cow name worthy. They're absolutely excellent and pretty filling. Could use a little something vinegary like mustard or ketchup to break up the fatty flavor.
    Blue Door Pub a 2nd place finish here goes to the $13.50 "Jucy Blusy" Cease and Desist Burger located at Gate 34 at the Jack Daniels Bar. It's very good and full sized, but the combo of thousand island and mayo is a bit sticky and bland.
    Don't expect fast service for either of these burgers. There's always a line for the sliders (and they frequently run out for a bit of time at 126) and it seems like Jucy Blusy is cooked to order.

    Best Sausages:
    Kramarczuk's Bratwurst. $10 (behind field box 101, home plate box 112 and upstairs 312). It's a much better quality brat than the $8.50 standard option around the stadium. The polish is so greasy and salty (like polish sausage is) it makes for a real gut-bomb in my opinion.

    Other Sandwich Options:
    Turkey to Go sandwich $11 next to Hrbek's (114). Make sure you get one fresh made and they press the jerked turkey hard to get the juice out. Otherwise, you'll get a rather disgusting pile of slop bun. If made right, Turkey to Go is fantastic. Use the BBQ sauce if you want or skip it if you don't want it. Good either way. Side note, this is like the only station at the stadium which doesn't have an option to tip in the checkout app. What a bummer for the staff.
    Philly Cheesesteak. $11. I think I stumbled across this one over behind section 110ish. Gross. Virtually inedible. While the grilled onions and peppers are very good and the cheese sauce is okay, the meat? (is it meat??) is like unseasoned sloppy joe mix or something. It's not right, best described as slop, and I didn't finish it. I like just about all food for the record.
    Murray's Smoked Beef Sandwich (103). $15. Very high quality roast beef, but with no au juis and weak horseradish sauce, the sandwich is disappointingly bland. Skip it, this coming from a big fan of Murray's Restaurant.
    Senior Smokes: $10.50 (105, 305) barbacoa beef burrito. Filling, maybe not quite as good as Chipotle, Pancheros and Qdoba, but certainly not far off. There are veggie options too, if you want. A far, far better deal than the nachos as this burrito will fill you up.
    Tony O's Cubano: $13 (114). Gotta be honest here, a lot of people rant about this one, but it really didn't impress me compared to other options around the stadium. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that it was great. 
    Unexpected Options:
    Hot Indian (120): Chicken tikka (pronounced tick-a, not teek-a) masala. It's legitimately good and very mild + gluten free. They have some spicy sauce condiment which kicks 'er up a notch or two if you like. The cabbage veggie blend on the top is okay. Rice was a little undercooked, but all in all, I liked it. Note: I expect the chana masala will also be very good and it's vegan + gluten free. Haven't had Indian food before? Think a rich, thick, very savory and complex creamy tomato soup with tender chunks of chicken poured over rice and garnished with thin chopped cabbage here.

    Side/Appetizer:
    Cheese curds: $8 (109, 305). The portion is pretty good, but $8 still feels a little pricey. The curds are small sized, coated and deep fried mozzarella. They have good flavor, if not a bit salty. They're not truly as good as the ones you'll get at the State Fair as the batter used at Target Field is kinda meh, but they're still great if cheese is what you're craving.

    Vegetarian?
    Herbivorous Butcher Vegan Bratwurst (129). It's okay. You're not going to mistake it for the real deal and the aftertaste is decidedly veggie wheat thin flavor, but for the vegan/vegetarian folks, it's not bad.
    Hot Indian (120): Chana masala... okay, I haven't had this dish yet, but when Indian is good, it's universally good and the tikka masala was solid here. 
    What about dessert?:
    Tiny Tim's Mini Donuts: (135) $6 for a bag. Excellent mini-donuts take my vote for the best sweet/dessert at the game. Cooked fresh, sprinkled hot with sugar, they're everything you hope for in mini donuts. Be aware, get them before the 7th inning, I've seen them run out more than once. I'd choose them over the expensive, and mediocre, soft serve ice cream in the helmet or the waffle cone any day.

    A lot of high quality options are tucked away at Hrbek's or inside the Town Ball Tavern, but a couple have been moved exclusively into the Truly On Deck (formerly Metropolitan Club). I didn't list these even though some are certified good. Good options if you want to sit, you don't want to do the walk of shame and you have SRO tickets, though!




     
  10. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from jorgenswest for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Methodology:
    Link to previous blog:
     
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
     
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  11. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from gunnarthor for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Methodology:
    Link to previous blog:
     
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
     
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  12. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Dave Overlund for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Methodology:
    Link to previous blog:
     
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
     
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  13. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from mikelink45 for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Methodology:
    Link to previous blog:
     
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
     
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  14. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Dman for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Methodology:
    Link to previous blog:
     
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
     
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  15. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from bighat for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Methodology:
    Link to previous blog:
     
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
     
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  16. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Dman for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?    
    Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. 
    So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
    On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
    I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.

    So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.

    Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
    Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
     


    Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487.  Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.

    Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
    In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
     
  17. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Minny505 for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  18. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Richie the Rally Goat for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  19. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Heiny for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  20. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  21. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  22. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Minny505 for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  23. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from wabene for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  24. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  25. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Karbo for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
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