miracleb reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Is Royce Lewis Going to be Here to Stay?
Last May, less than one year ago, Royce Lewis crashed into the centerfield wall at Target Field. He went down in a heap, and days later it was confirmed he had re-torn his ACL. After slipping on ice in Texas the year prior, it was another fluke that was going to cause him a significant amount of time on the shelf. As he has always done, Lewis attacked the circumstances with positivity and maturity, putting himself in position to play for Minnesota again at light speed.
Talking to Lewis in March during spring training, he felt ready to go at that point. He appreciated the Twins being cautious knowing the future was more important than rushing back into things, but it also seems he couldn’t have been more right.
Recently beginning a rehab assignment scheduled to end on May 31, Lewis has played in five games on the farm. He is 8-for-18 with four extra-base hits, of which three have been homers. He went yard twice in a game, played in back-to-back contests, and is pushing towards an activation that will have him in the Twins lineup.
Where he would be inserted was unclear earlier this season, but it seems like opportunity will continue to present itself. For now Jose Miranda is at Triple-A and looks like a shell of the player he flashed last season. Carlos Correa is the starting shortstop, but Jorge Polanco just went on the injured list with a hamstring issue leaving second base to Edouard Julien. Byron Buxton is again a consistent question mark from a health perspective, and the entirety of the roster always has a potential to be in flux.
Playing for Toby Gardenhire with St. Paul, Lewis has focused on shortstop and the hot corner. His big league role would appear to be third base, which could push Kyle Farmer back to second base or more into a utility role. Julien will need to show a bit more development to stick in the majors, but his lacking defensive abilities should continue to give Lewis a leg up.
It’s not as though Lewis has a lengthy track record of health or production, but he has done nothing to slow the hype train while in action since 2022. Lewis put on a show during his 12-game cameo with Minnesota last year, and it will undoubtedly bring out his beaming smile when he emerges from the Target Field dugout again this year.
Sometimes prospects need trips back to the minors in order to figure things out. Miranda is going through it, and Trevor Larnach was sent on that path as well. Nothing was straightforward about Byron Buxton’s development, and even Mike Trout wasn’t an all-time great from the start. That said, Lewis’ development even while shelved has been phenomenal. He has tweaked his approach, honed in his production, and succeeded through every opportunity.
Considering where Miranda is from a development perspective, that Polanco is in the final guaranteed year of his contract (though the Twins have two option years), and that Buxton remains as unlikely to play centerfield as he ever has, Lewis should find ample runway to stick. The Twins offense has been anemic at times this season, and inserting Lewis on a daily basis could be the boost this club needs for the rest of the year.
By 2024 there should be no reason why Lewis isn’t considered a regular, and how quickly he takes to that reality following his rehab assignment could go a long way for the 2023 team. It shouldn’t be counted as failure if Lewis goes through a dry spell at some point, but he’s now writing a story that may have him as among the best Twins development narratives in quite some time.
Fans will continue to hope that the promotion comes sooner rather than later, even if it isn’t possible until June 1. Once he gets the call this year though, it could be his last trip across town for the duration of his professional career.
miracleb reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, What do the Twins Have in Louie Varland?
Last season saw the Minnesota Twins call on Louie Varland in a big spot on the road facing the New York Yankees. He went on to make five starts and posted a 3.81 ERA. He more than held his own, and while it wasn’t expected for Varland to crack the rotation out of spring training, he was a key part of the starting rotation depth established by Minnesota.
Fast forward to where Rocco Baldelli finds his club now, with both Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda n the shelf, and Varland is squarely in line for an extended run. It’s not often you find success through the lens of a 15th round pick, but this is both Varland's and the Twins opportunity to showcase his development.
Derek Falvey was hired on the premise of his pitching development prowess when with the Cleveland Guardians. Minnesota has not seen as much of that take place during his tenure, but Varland gives the organization another option alongside Bailey Ober. While Varland has yet to see the same level of success, there is reason to believe he could take another step forward.
Through five starts and 28 innings this season, Varland has compiled a 31/7 K/BB, which is a significant jump from the 7.3 K/9 he posted a year ago. Although there is not a substantial amount of familiarity developed with opponents yet, he has shown that attacking the game’s best hitters is not something that deters him. Aaron Judge struck out in their first matchup last season (before eventually taking him deep), and Varland got both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani (before the designated hitter went yard) on Saturday night in Anaheim.
Coming into professional baseball from a Division II school in Concordia, St. Paul, Varland saw a very real jump in talent, but also a jump in development. He went from being a low-90’s arm to pushing his fastball into the mid-90’s and having nearly reached triple-digits. This season Varland has averaged 95.2 mph on his fastball, which is nearly a two mph jump from where he was a year ago.
Leaning into his repertoire a bit more, the former Golden Bear has upped the slider usage in 2023 and his whiff rate is nearly double what it was last season. Varland is also allowing less contact, dropping down to 74.3% while having a good amount of success out of the strike zone.
The biggest thing holding him back continues to be the longball, and that has gotten worse than last season. Despite keeping opposing hitters below a 40% hard hit rate, far too often Varland’s offerings are being barreled. Owning a 6.4% barrel rate last year and now jumping up over 10%, he’s seen nearly one-quarter of the balls put in the air against him leave the yard. Having allowed seven homers in just 28 innings this year, it’s often been the longball that has done him in.
Fortunately Varland has kept the bases clean when giving up home runs. With a tight walk rate and manageable hit rate, the big fly has often been limited to solo shots. Still though, with the threat of a single swing doing significant damage at any point, it’s a part of his game that can be improved upon as he grows.
Without the pedigree of a big school and a background with significant technology to work through, it seems fair to reason that the developmental curve could be longer here. Varland has impressed at each level, and he’s taken measurable strides forward every season in pro ball. This wasn’t an expected path, but he’s certainly established himself as a capable fifth arm in a Major League rotation. The hope for Minnesota is that he can continue to grow and tweak his game, potentially serving as a number three down the line.
What the Twins get from Varland this season remains to be seen, but he has a sizable opportunity in front of him. As a tireless worker and someone who has shown an ability to make consistent improvements, watching him grow at the highest level could be a good amount of fun in the year ahead.
miracleb reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Consensus MLB Draft Board V2
How to Use This Tool
This is hopefully easy to navigate. For a full explainer on the what, why, and how, here’s the explainer for V1. For each ranked player, you’ll see position, age, ranking, school, first name, last name, height, weight, handedness (S=switch), future value (not yet), and writeup. Every top 100 player has a writeup, if you hover over the report icon for that player, it’ll give you notes on players tools, strengths, areas of growth, and recent performance.
What’s New for V2?
Here’s some brief notes about V2 of the Consensus Board:
The rankings are based on a consensus from 10 draft boards that provide a range of evaluations from well-known industry standard boards, to more data-driven boards. I DID NOT update writeups for the players who remained in the top 100 from the beginning of May. I’ll update them a final time on a rolling basis between June and July. I added ten more writeups for prospects who moved into the consensus top 100 since the beginning of May. If you see a prospect outside the top 100 with a writeup, it means they’ve fallen out (I’m not adding new reports outside the top 100). Finally, I color coded the top 75 players to track risers and fallers between V1 and V2. Specifically: Light green - moved up 5-9 spots Dark green - moved up 10+ spots Light red - moved down 5-9 spots Dark red - moved down 10+ spots What’s Next?
The Consensus Board will get one more big update, to be published at the beginning of July. Additionally, there will be updates to the notes of the most significant prospects, accounting for their end of season performance (particularly for college players), in addition to future value grades added for prospects in the final version of the board.
The final rankings will also be published as articles at all three sites. I recognize that some folks may prefer to consume rankings as an article, so I’ll publish them with write ups as part of a 2 or 3 part series in the final week leading up to the draft, working to get players highlights added to those pieces.
If you have questions or feedback about the process or generation of the board, please use the comments. I want readers at all three sites to feel well-informed and excited about the draft and the influx of talent to their favorite teams. Whether it's an idea to make the rankings better, catching a mistake (I’m sure there are some), or a comment on who you want your team to draft, we’d love to hear from you. Jeremy Nygaard and I will be working to provide y’all with comprehensive draft coverage as July gets closer, so let’s chop it up!
2023 Consensus MLB Draft Board V2
miracleb reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/18): Enlow Excites Again
Alex De Gotti reinstated from Development List for Triple-A Ryan LaMarre reinstated from Development List for Triple-A Elliot Soto placed on IL for Triple-A with right thigh strain Alerick Soularie placed on Temporary Inactive List SAINTS SENTINEL
Columbus 2, St. Paul 1
Brent Headrick took the ball tonight for the Saints, and having gotten work for the Twins already this season, his goal was to hold serve and show he belonged. Working six innings of two-run baseball, Headrick did just that. He gave up only four hits while walking none and striking out seven on the evening. Ronny Henriquez, who was recently optioned following a rehab assignment, worked two hitless innings with four strikeouts and didn’t allow a walk.
After getting behind on a second inning double, the Saints answered with a Hernan Perez sac fly that drove in Andrew Stevenson. Making it a 2-1 game, that’s as close as the good guys would get.
Rehabbing Royce Lewis went 0-for-3 with a strikeout on the evening. Only Edouard Julien was able to pick up a pair of hits. With Kyle Garlick kept off of the lineup card, it stands to reason he’ll be called up for Minnesota in place on Nick Gordon on Friday.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 6, Arkansas 2
Making another start for the Wind Surge, Blayne Enlow was again dominant. Lasting 5 1/3 innings, the right-hander allowed only a single run on six hits while punching out ten. The run came on a solo blast and he dropped his ERA to 3.28 in the process.
Anthony Prato put Wichita on the board in the third inning with a two run blast that scored Will Holland. Robbie Tenerowicz made things interesting in the 4th inning with a solo blast, but from there the Wind Surge ran and hid.
David Banuelos blasted his third homer of the season in the fifth inning to make it 3-1, and then he drew a bases loaded walk in the sixth inning to plate Alex Isola and make it 4-1. Jake Rucker lifted a seventh-inning sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 and Wichita was able to weather an eighth inning solo blast by Jonatan Clase.
Banuelos was again involved in run production when his eight-inning double play pushed DaShawn Keirsey Jr. across the plate. Not necessarily needing the breathing room, it was 6-2 Wichita.
Yunior Severino grabbed a pair of hits on the evening and his lone multi-hit effort was enough to get it done.
Cedar Rapids 6, Peoria 4
The Kernels turned to Jaylen Nowlin tonight and he gave them six innings of solid work. Allowing just three runs on six hits, the Cedar Rapids starter issued no free passes while punching out four.
All of the Peoria runs off of Nowling came in the first inning. Getting behind 3-0 in the opening frame, he had work to do. Buckling down, Nowlin allowed the offense to pick him up.
In the bottom of the second inning Jose Salas singled in Kala’i Rosario to get on the scoreboard. Then Willie Joe Garry Jr. plated Noah Miller on a groundout before Jeferson Morales singled in Salas to bring Cedar Rapids even.
Having scuffled since being activated from the injured list, Emmanuel Rodriguez made his presence known with a solo blast that put the good guys ahead. An inning later, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Tanner Schobel singled to drive in Morales and make it a 5-3 lead. Ben Ross scored on a sixth inning wild pitch, and while Cedar Rapids gave a run back in the seventh inning, they still led by enough to make this one predictable.
Rodriguez grabbed a pair of hits on the evening and he was joined by Rosario in that column.
Fort Myers 2, Lakeland 1
C.J. Culpepper started tonight’s game for the Mighty Mussels but he went just a single inning while allowing no baserunners and punching out one. Ricky Mineo then came in and pitched 2 2/3 innings while allowing just a single run on four hits. He struck out three and the one run came on a solo shot from Lakeland’s Mike Rothenberg.
It took a bit for the Mighty Mussels to answer but Mikey Perez singled in Alec Sayre in the sixth inning to even things up. Perez then showed up again in the eighth inning with a sacrifice fly that plated Maddux Houghton and Fort Myers found themselves ahead.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
Hitter of the Day – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, R, RBI, HR(4), BB
We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here.
Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed:
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 0-3, BB, K
#2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 0-3, K
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, R, RBI, HR(4), BB
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-4, 2B, 2 K
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, R, RBI, K
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 3-4, K
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, R, K
#17 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 4 K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, RBI, BB
FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez
Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP David Festa
Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya
Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30PM CST) - TBD
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games!
miracleb reacted to Cody Christie for an article, It’s Time to Jump on the Yunior Severino Hype Train
Names like Edouard Julien, Emmanuel Rodriguez, and Marco Raya separated themselves as prospects last season. Julien made his big-league debut in 2023 and projects to be part of the organization’s long-term plans. Rodriguez and Raya are further away from Target Field, but both players have some of the most significant upside in the farm system. Another player hopes his 2023 season will help him rise on prospect lists as he continues to climb the organizational ladder.
The Braves originally signed Yunior Severino, a native of the Dominican Republic, for $1.9 million in 2016. He played the 2017 season in the rookie leagues for the Braves, but then MLB stepped in. Atlanta was penalized for circumventing international signing rules during three different signing periods, and 13 players, including Severino, became free agents as part of the club’s penalty. He agreed to a $2.5 million deal with the Twins while being able to keep his initial signing bonus too.
The Twins sent Severino to Elizabethton during the 2018 season, where he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition. In 49 games, he hit .263/.321/.424 (.745) with eight doubles and eight home runs. He only faced younger pitchers in six at-bats for the entire season. A thumb fracture cut short his 2019 season in April, and he was limited to a .657 OPS in 100 at-bats. He likely wanted to prove the thumb injury made his performance suffer, but the pandemic took away the 2020 season.
In 2021, the Twins had Severino split time between Low- and High-A, where he was still younger than the average age of the competition. In Fort Myers, he posted a .740 OPS with 23 extra-base hits in 63 games. His performance took off after his promotion to Cedar Rapids. In 35 games, he hit .321/.414/.493 (.907) with 12 doubles, one triple, and three home runs. Now in his early 20s, he was proving the Twins were correct to invest in him.
Last season, Severino started the year in Cedar Rapids and continued to showcase his powerful swing. In 46 games, he hit .283/.398/.572 (.970) with nine doubles, two triples, and 11 home runs. The Twins promoted him to Wichita in August, and he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition. He held his own in the season’s final 37 games with an .837 OPS, eight doubles, and eight home runs. As a switch hitter, his OPS was only separated by one point from the right and left sides. For the second time in his career, he missed time with a thumb injury, but this time he could return and not have any long-term effects.
Severino was Rule 5 eligible this winter, but no team took a chance on him. Minnesota assigned him to Double-A, the level where he finished the 2022 season. His season got off to a good start as he went 18-for-65 (.277) with two doubles and six home runs in April. Things have improved in May, with seven extra-base hits and a 1.053 OPS across the first ten games of the month. Nearly all his damage this season has been from the left side, where he has a .404 OBP and a .706 SLG. His opportunities against lefties have been limited, with 21 plate appearances. He’s been one of the organization’s hottest hitters over the last week, but he is also proving that the numbers he posted in 2022 were not a fluke.
Defensively, the Twins have primarily used Severino as a second baseman with experience at third base and two games in the outfield. During the 2023 season, Wichita has only used him at third base, which may provide a better opportunity to impact the big-league roster. He has been known for a strong arm, which can help him at the hot corner. Offensively, he continues to strike out at a high rate which can limit his upside when climbing the organizational ladder. Over the last two seasons, Severino has played at multiple levels, so he will likely have an opportunity to play at Triple-A before the season’s end.
It's been more than one hot week for Severino. His power has continued to improve, and he might be putting it all together in 2023. Are you ready to jump on the Severino hype train? What is Severino’s long-term upside? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
miracleb reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Respect Michael Helman
Michael Helman was drafted in the 11th round of the 2018 draft, 334th overall. He’s been an above-average hitter in every season aside from 82 games in A ball in 2019 and is now pestering opposing pitchers in St. Paul at the age of 27. It’s unclear how the skills would translate to the MLB level, though he may soon be deserving of a look.
2022 was a banner year for Helman who split time between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. In just under 600 plate appearances between the two stops, Helman accumulated 20 homers and 40 stolen bases. His .840 OPS in Double-A dropped to .741 after his promotion, but he held his own at the highest level of the minors. He looked like a prime candidate to get a chance in September for a Twins team that was missing most of their lineup and lacking top prospects to soak up playing time.
Unfortunately, the Twins decided against it. They instead chose to carry three catchers on the active roster. Gary Sanchez DHed. Sandy Leon was often behind the plate. Caleb Hamilton was often used as a pinch runner. All three were jettisoned from the roster in the offseason, which was a foreseeable outcome at the time. Jake Cave’s personal connection to the team was seen as more valuable than potential future value, as he was playing nearly every day regardless of the handedness of the pitcher on the mound. The Twins' choice to not give Helman a look in any facet suggested they simply weren’t big fans, and that it would take a great deal for him to get an opportunity. Luckily, Helman is again doing all he can to change that in 2023.
Helman surprisingly got an invitation to spring training this year, but was unable to make good due to a hamstring issue that delayed the start of his season. He’s since rehabbed and made his 2023 debut in St. Paul. In a limited sample (12 games), he has an OPS over 1.100 with four homers and two steals. He’s played multiple infield and outfield positions including shortstop and centerfield to begin 2023, which would make him all the more valuable to a big league club even if he can just fill in during an emergency situation.
Is Michael Helman the solution to the Twins' offensive woes so far in 2023? Likely not. There’s always a chance such a strong showing in the minors translates, but due to Helman’s age (he will be 27 later this month) and prospect pedigree, he has to be looked at a bit differently than say 25-year-old former 39th overall pick Matt Wallner. Helman is older than a lot of the competition at the level, and any kind of deficiencies he has at this point in his career are likely just part of his game.
Still, Helman could add versatility and chaos on the bases to this Twins team. It’s very possible he’s a similar player to Willi Castro without the switch-hitting ability, but Castro’s ability to stand in the left-handed batter’s box can’t be valued too highly as we’ve seen.
It’s hard to say what Helman’s future holds. His best-case scenario is likely a super utility player for an MLB team which makes his lack of a call up to this point far from egregious. His lack of an opportunity when the Twins roster was completely injured last September makes one wonder whether the Twins will be the ones to give him that shot.
Making things more complicated is the interruption of his white-hot 2023 debut.
With such a murky injury, his timeline remains uncertain. A shoulder dislocation would be expected to disrupt his swing, though the levels of severity have a wide range. The hope is that Helman can avoid surgery and be back in short order to rotate around the field in St. Paul. If he can pick up where he left off, he'll continue to be hard to ignore.
Helman is the type of player you cannot help but appreciate and cheer for. Being such a low pick in the draft and finding his way to the doorstep of the MLB while maintaining such impressive numbers is incredibly fun. It’s this writer’s opinion that he’s surpassed the point of being deserving of a look at the MLB level, whether that comes with the Twins or elsewhere. Do you agree?
miracleb reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The Twins Lineup Presents a Silver Lining
Entering Mother’s Day, Rocco Baldelli’s club was among the best pitching teams in baseball. They had gone back and forth with the Tampa Bay Rays for that title, and metrics from ERA to strikeouts and even WAR have shined a positive light on just how good the Minnesota staff is.
That really shouldn’t be unexpected given how Derek Falvey and Thad Levine built the 2023 Twins. The Bomba Squad is long gone, and flipping someone like Luis Arraez for Pablo Lopez shows where the priorities lie. This season, the plan was to pitch very well and be strong defensively. So far the former has been exceptional while the latter has left a bit to be desired.
How the lineup factored in from there was a question mark, but the answer should have never been expected to be this bad.
With relatively strong health, Minnesota has seen strong run from players like Carlos Correa, Joey Gallo, and Byron Buxton. Jose Miranda and Trevor Larnach have slumped, but Alex Kirilloff and Jorge Polanco both provided immediate boosts upon their return to the lineup. Still though, save for the offensive output against the Chicago Cubs, results have been less than ideal.
Minnesota’s 4.38 runs per game checks in below a 4.56 league average mark, and their 93 OPS+ is reflective of the production as a whole. Their 31.7% hard hit rate is right around league average, which doesn’t stand out as a problem, but the swing and miss tendencies have reared an ugly head.
Owning a strikeout rate of 25.2%, the Twins join only the Mariners and Giants among teams to surpass the one-quarter threshold. Walking 9% of the time puts them 11th in that avenue when it comes to getting on base, but the lack of contact is leaving opportunities without capitalization far too often. Having gone 5-for-33 (.152) with the bases loaded to start the year, plenty of runs have been left stranded on the base paths.
That’s where the negativity is right now, but the likelihood that it remains seems rather far-fetched.
Buxton is a substantial strikeout hitter, as is Gallo, but both have shown an ability to drive on-base percentage through walks. Expecting Correa to continue being a career-worst version of himself doesn’t make sense, and the perfect storm of Jose Miranda and Trevor Larnach both flopping together seems unlikely as well.
Ultimately the Twins have decided to give away a couple of spots in the batting order in favor of defense. Christian Vazquez was brought in as a strong veteran catcher, while Michael A. Taylor’s value is in providing Gold Glove defense while Buxton only hits. Everyone else has either hit their floor or has opportunity to improve, and reinforcements are on the way.
Although Edouard Julien did little in his brief cameo with Minnesota, we’re something like a month away from seeing Royce Lewis. Brooks Lee could soon be behind him, and Matt Wallner could move from the Saints lineup alongside of a rebounding Miranda. Because of how the pitching was built, the lineup is being given time.
Chicago has shown they aren’t a good team, and Cleveland hasn’t done themselves any favors to suggest they can hang for the long haul. With the Twins pitching being what it is, a lineup that rebounds even the slightest amount is going to put Minnesota creating substantial distance in the rearview mirror.
miracleb reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Twins 5, Padres 3: Correa Comes Up Big in Series Win Over Padres
SP: Bailey Ober 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (96 pitches, 66 strikes (69.0%)
Home Runs: Kyle Farmer (2),
Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.259), Joey Gallo (.183), Kyle Farmer (.165),
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
On the very first pitch of the game, Bailey Ober gave up a home run to Fernando Tatis Jr. giving the Padres the first run of the game. Ober ran up his pitches and found himself in some jams but still only gave up three earned runs. In his six innings, Ober allowed a couple of doubles and two home runs that gave the Padres the lead, but the defense was there to help manage the damage.
Nick Gordon had the play of the game helping Ober get out of another jam in the fifth inning, flying into center field to catch a ball off Manny Machado to end the inning.
“A pair is overrated,” said Justin Morneau in the booth - but not when it comes to the Twins offense in the second inning with a pair of singles from Alex Kirilloff and Jorge Polanco against the Padres Yu Darvish. With the bases loaded and one out, Darvish walked Joey Gallo to bring home Kirilloff and tie the game. The Twins had bases loaded for four straight hitters and only brought in one run, with Byron Buxton and Ryan Jeffers both striking out.
Emilio Pagan was the first pitcher out of the bullpen and seems to be coming out of his 2022 slump these past few weeks. Pagan struck out his first batter with four pitches and had a scoreless seventh inning, making it look seamless and easy.
Brock Stewart had a rough eighth inning. He threw just 10 strikes, loaded up the bases with two walks and a hit batter. Thanks to great defense from Michael A. Taylor, who robbed the Padres of two fly balls, and a big strikeout, Stewart was able to get out of the inning with no runs.
Kyle Farmer returned to the line-up on Wednesday, after taking a fast ball to the face a month ago. On Thursday, the inevitable happened... he was hit by a pitch for the first time since the injury. Farmer didn’t flinch. He just took first base. After nearly missing a home run the previous night, Farmer caught a hanging breaking ball over the plate and hit his second home run of the year to tie up the game.
The Twins took advantage of the Padres bullpen, scoring three runs in the seventh inning to pull ahead. Padres pitcher Brent Honeywell Jr. loaded up the bases and Kepler hit a groundball to short that wasn’t executed quickly enough for a double play to end the inning. Instead Gallo scored when Kepler beat the throw do first base (despite a cramp that caused him to slow down as he approached the base and then leave the game).
Why stop there? After Gallo was brought home, Carlos Correa stepped up to the plate and hit a line drive double down the third base line to bring home Ryan Jeffers and Michael A. Taylor (who replaced Kepler) gave the Twins a 5-3 lead.
Jorge Lopez came in for the ninth inning and had a 1-2-3 inning. He struck out Nelson Cruz - who came in to pinch hit with two outs - to give the Twins a game and series win over one of the best National League teams.
The Twins welcome the Cubs to Target Field for the first time since 2021 for more interleague play!
Game 1 - Thursday – 7:10 pm CDT – RHP Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.35 ERA) v. LHP Drew Smyly (3-1, 3.05 ERA)
Game 2 - Friday – 2:10 pm CDT - RHP Joe Ryan (5-1, 2.45 ERA) v. RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 3.93 ERA)
Game 3 - Saturday – 2:10 pm CDT - Louie Varland (0-0, 4.32 ERA) v. RHP Marcus Stroman (2-3, 2.28 ERA)
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Pagán 12 0 24 0 12 48 Stewart 11 0 0 9 25 45 Jax 0 0 18 17 0 35 Lopez 0 0 0 17 15 32 Alcala 0 0 23 0 0 23 Durán 0 0 0 17 0 17 Morán 0 0 0 0 0 0 Rodriguez 0 0 0 0 0 0
miracleb reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, The Tyler Mahle Trade Was Still the Right Trade
On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that Tyler Mahle would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his season and potentially ending his time as a member of the Minnesota Twins. Mahle was acquired by the Minnesota Twins at the 2022 trade deadline in exchange for infield prospects Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and left-handed pitcher Steve Hajjar . Since joining the Minnesota Twins, Mahle started just nine games, with four of those starts lasting less than five innings.
Looking at the trade, there is no other way to frame it than to say that the trade was a failure for the Twins. Tyler Mahle contributed only 0.5 fWAR in his time in Minnesota, while Spencer Steer has already reached the majors with the Cincinnati Reds and Christian Encarnacion-Strand has a 1.103 OPS in 69 plate appearances in AAA. The front office made a poor trade that will only get worse as time goes on and the prospects they let go continue to perform.
Even though the Mahle trade was a failure, and the front office would surely take the trade back if they could, it was still the right trade to make at the time.
For years, everyone in Twins Territory had been clamoring for the Minnesota Twins to acquire a front-line starting pitcher. At the time of the trade, the Twins were in first place in the American League Central, but their starting pitchers ranked 18th in baseball with a 4.19 ERA. The Twins were a legitimate starting pitcher away from being a real threat to make the playoffs and make noise in the playoffs.
Among the starting pitchers available at the trade deadline, Tyler Mahle was one of just a few top names. Mahle was a 28-year-old front-line starting pitcher who had a 3.72 ERA between 2020 and 2021 while playing in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball. Mahle had excellent underlying numbers and had a season and a half of team control at the time of the trade deadline.
Mahle wasn’t without risk as he had previously struggled with shoulder issues and was recently on the injured list weeks before the Twins traded for him. The Twins recognized the risk and made the trade anyways, recognizing that no pitchers are completely without risk and believing that it was the time to push in some chips and go for it. The Twins had a deep farm system at the time and the prospects they traded away played positions that they had depth within the organization.
While the Twins may have pushed in their chips for a pitcher who was “damaged goods”, it’s worth looking at the other pitcher who was traded at the trade deadline that nearly every Twins fan wanted even more than Mahle, Frankie Montas.
Montas was the top name on the trade market after Luis Castillo was traded to the Mariners and was an extremely popular trade target in Twins Territory (does ‘Where Frankie?’ ring a bell?). The Twins didn’t end up with Frankie Montas as he was traded to the Yankees, but Montas turned out to be an even worse trade acquisition than Mahle when he was injured after eight starts in 2022 and is set to miss most (or all) of 2023 with a shoulder injury.
The moral to the story is that pitchers are extremely unpredictable and trading for a pitcher brings with it an enormous amount of risk. The Twins decided that they were willing to make that risk at the 2022 deadline. It didn’t work out, but the decision made a lot of sense at the time, and the top alternative name wouldn’t have worked out either.
The Twins should remain cautious when they look for starting pitchers in the future, but they shouldn’t let the 2022 trade deadline scare them away from trading for a front-line starting pitcher. An ace pitcher is the most valuable thing in all of baseball, and they don’t become available via free agency. The Twins need to either develop their own front-line starting pitchers (they are starting to do this) or continue taking swings at trading for them.
Do you think the Tyler Mahle trade was made with the right process in mind? Leave a comment below and start the conversation.
miracleb reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 3 Trends from the Latest MLB Draft Rankings
As a reminder, here’s a link to the board that was published at the end of April.
2023 Consensus MLB Draft Board V1
A Consensus Top Five
I’ve been tracking the draft boards since an initial Top 30 in February. With recent updates, it’s clear that there’s currently a consensus top five players, split into tiers. Dylan Crews is in a world by himself. He’s ranked number one by every board that I use for the Consensus Board. Wyatt Langford and Paul Skenes are two and three (although I think Skenes may go number two overall), followed by outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark. Long the top prep player in the draft, Clark has recently been surpassed by Jenkins, with most outlets weighing a higher hit/power ceiling in Jenkins’ favor.
College Bats on the Rise
I’ve written for a while that this draft is well stocked with excellent college bats. That has become more evident in the last month, with several surging up the Consensus Board. Here are some notes on a few favorites.
Tommy Troy (2B Stanford) is up from 20th in February all the way to 13th currently. Troy is putting up a .669 SLG with an improved 13 BB% in the PAC 12.
Kyle Teel (C, Virginia) was 22nd in March and is up to 12th overall, aided by a lack of top-end catching talent.
Colton Ledbetter (OF Mississippi State) was 52nd overall in March and is now 29th. I think he’s firmly a first round talent, and he has the analytical profile to match.
Jack Hurley (OF, Virginia Tech) is up from 38th in March to 25th currently One of the most aggressive hitters in the draft, he’s putting up a .781 SLG in the ACC.
Chase Davis (OF, Arizona) is perhaps the most improved hitter in college baseball in 2023. He has moved up from 49th in March to 34th currently. He’s cut his strikeouts from 28 K% to 16 K% with matching contact rate improvements and is crushing the ball. I think he'll continue to rise quickly up the rankings through May and June. I think he’ll go no later than the teens if he has a strong end to the season.
College Pitchers Stock Falling
College starting pitching has been disappointing and a lot of it has fallen pretty sharply on the board. My current working board for June has 214 prospects on it. Outside the top handful of top college arms (Skenes, Hurston Waldrep, Rhett Lowder, Chase Dollander), there are five more college arms in the current Top 50. All but one have fallen in the past two months, mostly due to uneven production or uncertainties around health.
There’s still plenty of college arm talent available though, particularly for teams picking between 35 and 50 overall. Juaron Watts-Brown (RHP, Oklahoma State), Cade Kuehler (RHP, Campbell), Tanner Witt (RHP, Texas), Hunter Owen (LHP, Vanderbilt), and Will Sanders (RHP, South Carolina) are all in or around that range, with massive UCLA righty Alonzo Treadwell lurking just outside.
Depth in the Top 50
There’s a great variety of prospects and prospect depth in the Top 50 this season. There’s something to fit your profile or flavor, pretty much regardless of what that might be. With the exception of catching, which is a position of weakness at the top end, you can land great talent throughout.
Which prospects are you interested in your team targeting with their first round pick? In the top 50? Join the discussion in the comments below.
miracleb reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/10): Big Bats, Big Innings, and Big Returns
The Twins got a fun extra-innings win against the Padres on Wednesday night. In the minor leagues, a lot of good things happened, especially with the hitters in Wichita and Fort Myers.
Infielder Kyle Farmer was activated from the Injured List after missing about a month after being hit in the face by a Lucas Giolito fastball. To make room for Farmer, Jose Miranda was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul. (Discussion here) LHP Christian MacLeod started a rehab assignment with the Mighty Mussels on Wednesday. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 2, Indianapolis 4
The Saints had seven hits and four walks, but managed just two runs and fell to Indianapolis.
Jose De Leon started and gave up three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven batters without issuing a walk. Kody Funderburk came on and recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning, stranding an inherited runner. Ronny Henriquez came on and worked two innings in his first rehab appearance with the Saints. He gave up one run on three hits and two walks over two innings. Cole Sands gave up two hits, but no runs, in the ninth.
Trevor Larnach went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double, and is now 4-for-8 with four RBI in his two games. He also played a little defense!
Andrew Stevenson went 2-for-4 with a double. He stole his 11th base of the season. Edouard Julien went 1-for-3 with a walk and his eighth double. Jair Camargo hit a solo homer in the fifth inning. He now has three on the season.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 16, Frisco 8
This was a game for the hitters. Big performances. Big innings. Eight out of nine Wind Surge hitters had at least one hit. Seven out of nine in the lineup had two or more hits. It might surprise you that leadoff man and top prospect Brooks Lee went 0-for-6. The Wind Surge scored four in the second inning, five in the third inning, and four runs in the sixth inning. Let’s just go through the lineup, starting with the second spot.
DaShawn Keirsey went 3-for-5 with a walk and two doubles. Yunior Severino went 2-for-5 with a walk, his fifth double, and his seventh home run. Alex Isola went 2-for-4 with two walks and his third homer. Yoyner Fajardo’s hitting streak ended at 11 games on Tuesday night, so he started a new one. He went 3-for-5 with a walk and his fourth double. Jake Rucker went 1-for-4 with two walks. Will Holland went 2-for-2 with four walks. Armani Smith went 2-for-6. David Banuelos went 3-for-5 with his second homer and six RBI. Holland and Fajardo each had three RBI in the game. In addition, Fajardo stole his 11th and 12th bases while Holland stole his eighth and Smith stole his first.
Chad Donato put together one of his better starts of the still-young season. He gave up two runs on six hits and four walks in four innings. Jose Bravo gave up three runs on three hits (2 homers) and a walk and only recorded one out. Osiris German went the next 2 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk. Seth Nordlin got the final seven outs and gave up only one hit.
Reminder: Royce Lewis is set to begin his 20 days of rehab with the Wind Surge. On Thursday in Frisco, he and the team will face Jack Leiter.
Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 12
The Kernels fell behind 3-0 after one, and a seven-run sixth inning put it well out of reach.
Orlando Rodriguez started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and three walks over four innings. He had five strikeouts. Malik Barrington gave up four runs on two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. Matt Mullenbach then was charged with four runs on six hits and a walk in one inning. Charlie Neuweiler got the final four outs, two on strikeouts.
The Kernels had just five hits in the game, although they actually had five walks as well. Willie Joe Garry led the way. He went 2-for-2 with a double and a triple. Ernie Yake and Kala’i Rosario each walked twice.
Fort Myers 8, Tampa 3
The Mighty Mussels put up a three-spot in the first inning, another in the fourth inning, and got some strong pitching along the way.
However, the big news (from a big-picture perspective) was the return of lefty Christian MacLeod. The talented lefty, and son of former minor-league pitcher Kevin MacLeod, from Mississippi State was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2021. He had Tommy John surgery last March and has been working his way back since. He is on the Cedar Rapids roster, so technically this is a rehab start. Semantics.
Certainly MacLeod wasn’t at his finest. He gave up one run on four walks over 1 1/3 innings. He struck out one batter. Just 19 of his 41 pitches were strikes, but none of that is as important as getting the first appearance out of the way and feeling healthy.
His catcher, Andrew Cossetti, understood the struggles but was impressed with MacLeod. “I thought MacLeod battled today in his start. Anytime you’re making your first start in a while, it can be difficult to get in a rhythm, but he stayed strong in a tough situation and kept us in the game. I think that’s a tribute to his mentality as a competitor and a teammate.”
Johnathan Lavallee went the next 2 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on two hits> He struck out five batters. Then Zebby Matthews came out of the bullpen tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four batters. Jackson Hicks came in and got the final out.
Cossetti has worked with Matthews several times already this season. The Twins Daily Hitter of the Month of April said of the Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Month of April, “Matthews just continues to dominate. He’s fun to catch because he has confidence throwing any pitch in any count. He continues to upgrade his arsenal day in and day out. Anytime he’s on the mound you know you’re going to be in the game.”
In addition to his work behind the plate, Cossetti continues his assault on pitchers in the Florida State League, the 2012 11th round pick from St. Joseph’s went 2-for-3 with a walk tonight. In the first inning, he hit a two-run homer, his fifth of the season. It was followed immediately by the fourth homer of the season for Carlos Aguiar. Then in the seventh inning, Cossetti hit his second home run of the game to give the Mussels some insurance.
Finding success takes a lot of work. After the game, Cossetti told Twins Daily, “I’ve been working a lot with the hitting coaches to create a better and more efficient bat path, and focusing on that process has definitely been bringing me success. I’m just trying to use my opportunity with the Mussels to become a more complete hitter and allow me to have more success in the future.” He continued, “I would call myself a power hitter. I’ve always been able to hit the ball out of the yard, and my goal is to continue to tap into more power. ”
In between the Cossetti home runs, Jorel Ortega - who had four hits on Tuesday - hit a three-run homer. Ortega is now hitting .308 with a .942 OPS on the season. Aguiar went 2-for-4. Dillon Tatum went 2-for-4.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Zebby Matthews (Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) - 4 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K. 52 pitches, 34 strikes.
Hitter of the Day – David Banuelos (Wichita Wind Surge) - 3-for-5, HR(3), R, 6 RBI.
Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Wednesday.
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 0-for-6, K
#2 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - IL (Rehab begins Thursday in Wichita)
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, K
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, BB, 2B(8), R
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, BB, R
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-for-4, 2 K.
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, K
#17 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul-Rehab) - 2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 29 pitches, 13 Strikes.
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, K.
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K.
THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE AND PITCHING PROBABLES
Indianapolis @ St. Paul (6:37 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (0-3, 6.35 ERA)
Wichita @ Frisco (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Carlos Luna (0-1, 5.89 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (DH at 5:00 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (2-1, 2.25 ERA), RHP Mike Paredes (0-0, 2.00 ERA).
Tampa @ Fort Myers (5:45 PM CST) - LHP Develson Aria (0-0, 4.41 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
miracleb reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/9): Helboy? No, He Is a Helman!
The Saint Paul Saints transferred SS Alex De Goti to the development list, activated 3B Andrew Bechtold from the temporary inactive list, and were sent RHP Ronny Henriquez from the Minnesota Twins on a rehab assignment. RHP Matthew Swain was placed on the temporary inactive list at Cedar Rapids, and the Kernels were assigned RHP Gianluca Dalatri from the FCL Twins in his place. The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels placed RHP Tomas Cleto on the injured list and transferred CF Luis Baez to the development list. In their place, they were assigned RHP Jarret Whorff and SS Rafael Cruz from the FCL Twins. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 11, Indianapolis 3
The Saints jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, when Edouard Julien led off the game by getting hit by a pitch, and was promptly driven in by a double off the bat of Michael Helman, whom you’ll be hearing from repeatedly in this summary.
Starter Jordan Balazovic continued to trend in the right direction, though he probably would have liked to have gone deeper into this one. He allowed no runs on three hits in his four innings, exiting a bit early as his pitch count got run up to 77 (45 for strikes). He did strike out five but his first win at the Triple-A level still eludes him.
The top of St. Paul’s lineup got to work again in the third inning, as Edouard Julien followed Tony Wolter’s walk with a single to put multiple runners on base, and Helman brought them all home with his fourth home run in 15 games with the Saints this season to make it 4-0.
In the fourth Helman’s bases-loaded single scored the first run of the inning, before Trevor Larnach's double emptied them to make it 8-0. They tacked on a single run in the seventh thanks to a Mark Contreras RBI single, and Chris Williams punctuated their scoring outburst with a two-run bomb in the eighth.
Helman finished 3-for-5, a triple shy of the cycle, and drove in five runs in the game. More than half his hits on the season have gone for extra bases, and speed is still showing up as he has also stolen five bases so far on the year. Joining Helman in the multi-hit club were Julien (2-for-2, 3 R, 2 BB), Larnach (2-for-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI, K), Williams (2-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K), and Contreras (2-for-5, 2B, RBI).
After Balazovic’s exit, Patrick Murphy delivered two scoreless innings to pick up the win. He allowed one hit and two walks. Connor Sadzeck allowed three earned runs on two hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings, striking out two. Oliver Ortega finished off the blowout with 1 1/3 frames, allowing one hit, walking one, and striking out one.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 5, Frisco 4 (10 innings)
The RoughRiders struck first against Wind Surge starter Aaron Rozek, as he gave up a solo home run and RBI single in the second inning. He went on to finish 4 1/3 innings, being charged with those two runs on five total hits and no walks, while striking out four.
Wichita had taken the lead 4-2 at that point, as Pat Winkel tied the game at two in the top of the fourth with a two-run home run, before a Brooks Lee RBI double and DeShawn Keirsey Jr. RBI single in the fifth put them out front 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, a leadoff double preceded a groundout before Rozek was replaced by Hunter McMahon from the bullpen. He allowed an inherited runner to score, before giving up one of his own, and the game was tied back up at four. Tyler Beck came on in relief to start the sixth and delivered three scoreless frames to keep the game tied. He allowed just one hit and struck out four in the outing.
Still tied after nine, this one went to extra innings, which the Wind Surge wasted no time taking advantage of. In the top of the 10th with the speedy Will Holland starting on second base, Yoyner Fajardo hit a ball deep enough to center to move him to third, before Lee’s groundout to second base allowed him to come home for a 5-4 lead.
Righthander Jordan Brink delivered a scoreless ninth and was back out for the 10th, looking to seal the win. After a strikeout and a flyout, the tying run was on third base when a pitch got away from catcher Pat Winkel. He was quick enough to track it down and feed it back to Brink in time to beat the runner home, and the out at the plate ended the game.
Brink picked up his first win of the season with his two scoreless innings, allowing just a hit batter and striking out three. Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5, RBI, 3 K, 2 SB) and Yunior Severino (2-for-5, R, 2B, 2 K, SB) each had multiple hits in the victory.
Cedar Rapids 7, Quad Cities 3
The 19-year-old Alejandro Hidalgo took the mound for the Kernels on Tuesday, looking to build on his last outing where he gave up just three hits and struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings. He wasn’t nearly that dominant again, but he kept his team in the game with a four-inning effort. He allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks, while striking out just two.
When he left the game, the Kernels had built a three-run lead. Three consecutive singles in the third inning put their first run on the scoreboard before they busted out the lumber in the fourth. Misael Urbina started the four-run outburst with a double, Jose Salas traded places with him after a double of his own, and then Jeferson Morales and Keoni Cavaco went back-to-back with home runs, making it 5-2 Kernels.
They tacked on two more in the fifth inning after an RBI double from Tanner Schobel was followed by an RBI single from Urbina, and that was all the scoring Cedar Rapids would need.
The bullpen quartet of Niklas Rimmel (2 IP, H, BB, 2 K), John Wilson (1 IP, 3 H, ER, K), John Stankiewicz (1 IP, H, K), and Regi Grace (1 IP, H) kept the River Bandits at bay for the final five innings. Rimmel picked up his third win of the season.
Urbina led the offense with three hits in five at-bats, including a double. Noah Miller finished 1-for-4 with a run scored, a walk, and stole two bases. Emmanuel Rodriguez recorded his first hit since returning from the injured list.
Fort Myers 8, Tampa 7
The Mighty Mussels jumped all over the Tarpons early in this one, taking a 5-0 lead after two innings. They scored three in the first behind a sac fly from Carlos Aguiar, and RBI doubles from Ricardo Olivar and Rafael Cruz, freshly bumped up from the FCL Twins roster. In the second, it was an RBI groundout from the reigning Florida State League Player of the Month, Andrew Cosetti, and an RBI single from Aguiar that extended their lead.
The Tampa lineup finally got to Fort Myers starter Jose Olivares in the top of the fourth, getting a two-run home run to cut the lead to three. Olivares finished the fourth, allowing those two runs on three hits and three walks in total, striking out two in the start.
The Mighty Mussels got one back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Cosetti, making it 6-2.
Gabriel Yanez chipped in two innings of relief, allowing an unearned run on two hits while striking out three, before giving way to A.J. Labas to begin the top of the seventh. Before it was over the Tarpons had taken a 7-6 lead as five straight hitters reached base, with a two-run homer and an error included. Labas came back on for the eighth and delivered a one-two-three inning to give his lineup a chance.
They did so in the bottom half. Alec Sayre drew a one-out walk before coming around to score on Jorel Ortega’s second triple of the season. Ortega then scampered home on a wild pitch to give Fort Myers the lead 8-7.
Lefty Zach Veen was summoned to close the game out for the home team and set the Tarpon lineup down in order, including a strikeout to punctuate the win and pick up his second save of the season.
Ortega led the offense by reaching base in all five of his plate appearances, finishing 4-for-4 with a triple and a walk, scoring four runs, and driving in one. Joining him with multiple hits on the game were Danny De Andrade (2-for-4, R, 2B, BB, K) and Olivar (2-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, 2 K). Cosetti and Aguiar each drove in two runs.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day - Tyler Beck, Wichita Wind Surge (3 IP, H, 4 K)
Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman, St. Paul Saints (3-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, K)
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B (12), 2 RBI
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, 3 K
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-for-2, 3 R, 2 BB
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, 2 K
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, BB, 2 SB
#16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, K
WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Indianapolis @ St. Paul (6:37 PM CDT) - TBD
Wichita @ Frisco (11:05 AM CDT) -RHP Chad Donato (0-3, 12.79 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CDT) - RHP Orlando Rodriguez (3-1, 1.10 ERA)
Tampa @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CDT) - TBD
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
miracleb reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Donny Barrels Isn't Getting It Done
Donovan Solano was a late addition to a Twins roster that has struggled against left-handed pitching for years. Being one of the most consistent hitters against lefties in the last few years, the hope was for Donnie Barrels to carry the short side of the platoon. At 36 years old, Sovano’s start to his Twins tenure may already be in danger of ending.
Through his first 55 plate appearances, Solano slashed .314/.364/.392, good for 11% above the league average hitter. In 32 plate appearances since, he’s slashing .107/.219/.143. Hitters go through cold streaks, but on the season as a whole, Solano has a .667 OPS. More worrisome, Solano is slashing .240/.240/.360 against left-handed pitching. He’s failing to a tremendous degree at the main job he was brought in to do.
Solano was also a plus defender in 2022 for Cincinnati at first base. After saving 5 runs defensively, he’s been worth -1 Defensive Run Saved in 2023 at first base, and another -1 at second. His fielding struggles have cost Twins pitchers at times this season to the extent that we may not see him at second base again, and even playing first has become anxiety-inducing.
At his age, it’s possible Solano is simply at the end of the line. The Twins were able to bring him in for $2m in the spring because of this possibility, and because of the small price tag, they shouldn’t be inclined to give him months of a sample size to show that his start is simply a fluke. They’ve sometimes made a habit of sticking with players too long because of their veteran status, and they’ve paid dearly for it. With the small role Solano plays and the small amount of money committed, it’s not worth waiting months to compile enough evidence that Solano just doesn’t have it anymore.
The Twins have no shortage of replacement options either. Though they don’t have another right-handed hitting first baseman, they don’t need one. Alex Kirilloff’s arrival has pushed Joey Gallo to the corner outfield, once again creating a surplus of left-handed hitting corner options between him, Max Kepler, and Nick Gordon . The Twins could stick to Gallo and Kirilloff as the everyday first basemen and call up Kyle Garlick to play the short-side platoon role. Unlike Solano, Garlick’s performance against southpaws can be considered all but guaranteed as long as he can stay healthy.
They could also use Solano’s 40-man spot to add a right-handed player with more versatility such as 27-year-old Michael Helman who’s been playing in St. Paul for a couple of weeks after returning from injury. Helman has played every outfield and infield position aside from first base so far in his brief time in Triple-A this season. Last year, between Wichita and St. Paul, he hit 20 homers and stole 40 bases, and sports a .273/.400/.606 line with 3 homers and 2 steals in his 9 games so far this year.
Helman likely wouldn’t be a regular at some of the more demanding positions such as shortstop or center, but his ability to play there in a pinch as well as his competence all across the rest of the diamond would certainly be a plus. His clear ability to steal bases would also add an element to the Twins lineup that they have very little of.
It’s unfortunate, but the Twins shouldn’t need to see much more from Solano to make a move. The offense is struggling mightily and is one of the worst in baseball against left-handed pitching, a job Solano was brought in to do. They have too many alternative options to let this go on for very long, as plan B or C is almost certain to be better than what they’ve gotten so far. Donovan Solano is running out of opportunity. It may even be too late. Do you agree?
miracleb reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Minnesota Twins 2016 Draft Retrospective: Plenty of Big-League Talent
Major League Baseball's 2023 Draft is scheduled to start on July 9, 2023. Each team prepares for the draft with a specific plan, and sometimes those plans play out better than others. To prepare fans for the upcoming draft, this series will examine recent Twins drafts and how those players have performed so far in their professional careers.
First Round (15th Overall): Alex Kirilloff
Minnesota selected high school outfielder Alex Kirilloff with their first-round pick in 2016. He quickly became one of the Twins' best prospects and was a consensus top-100 global prospect from 2019-2021. His breakout campaign came in 2018 when he hit .348/.392/.578 (.970) with 44 doubles, seven triples, and 20 home runs in 130 games. He was named the Twins minor league player of the year and had the potential to be one of the best-hitting prospects to come through the organization in quite some time.
Injuries have drastically altered Kirilloff's career. He had Tommy John surgery while still in the minor leagues, and he's dealt with wrist injuries over the last two seasons. The Twins recently ended his rehab stint and assigned him to Triple-A. Kirilloff hasn't been able to play every day since returning from his most recent wrist surgery, but he has posted terrific numbers when on the field. The Twins will continue to build him up slowly and monitor how his wrist handles an increased workload. Minnesota hopes Kirilloff can be part of the team's core moving forward, but he must prove he can stay healthy.
Second Round: Ben Rortvedt, Jose Miranda, Akil Baddoo
Minnesota selected Rortvedt with the 56th overall pick in 2016. He worked through the Twins system before debuting during the 2021 season. The Twins traded Rortvedt to the Yankees as part of the Josh Donaldson trade. He has dealt with injuries since the deal and has yet to appear in a big-league game for the club. Rortvedt is considered a strong defensive catcher with little offensive upside.
Following Rortvedt, the Twins had two consecutive picks late in the second round, Jose Miranda (73rd overall) and Akil Baddoo (74th overall). Minnesota took Miranda out of high school in Puerto Rico and has put himself into the team's long-term plans. In 2021, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 home runs on the way to being named the organization's minor league player of the year. Last year, he had an up-and-down season but still posted a 115 OPS+ in 125 games. Based on this performance, Minnesota traded Gio Urshela to open third base for Miranda, and he has struggled to start the season.
Baddoo never appeared in a big-league game for the Twins because the Detroit Tigers selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. He had a terrific rookie season in 2021 with 40 extra-base hits and a 112 OPS+ in 124 games. Over the last two seasons, he has struggled to replicate those numbers, with ten extra-base hits and a 66 OPS+ in 94 games. Initially, it looked like the Twins missed out on a solid outfield regular, but his flaws have become more evident over the last two seasons.
Other Notable Picks: Griffin Jax, Jordan Balazovic, Tyler Wells
Jax was drafted with the 93rd overall pick from the United States Air Force Academy. He was primarily used as a starting pitcher in the minors with mixed results, so the Twins shifted him to a bullpen role. Over the last two seasons, he has developed into one of the team's most reliable relievers. According to FanGraphs, Jax was the third most valuable reliever for the Twins last season behind Jhoan Duran and Caleb Thielbar. The team continues to use him in high-leverage situations, and he's vital to the bullpen's long-term success.
Balazovic was one of the team's top-ranked pitching prospects entering last season, but a lot has changed over the last year. He struggled through much of the 2022 season before ending the year on a high note. In spring training this year, someone punched him in the mouth and broke his jaw. This incident set him back to start the year, but he has moved into a starting role at Triple-A. There is a good chance he will make his big-league debut this season since he is already on the 40-man roster.
Like Baddoo, Wells was selected in the Rule 5 Draft and has accumulated more WAR than any other Twins draft pick from 2016. The Orioles used Wells in the bullpen during the 2021 season but shifted him to a starting role last season. In 103 2/3 innings, he posted a 4.25 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP and a 76-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has performed even better in 2023 with a 132 OPS+ through his first six appearances, including drops in his hit and walk rates. It's interesting to think about how Wells would have fit into the Twins' pitching plan.
Kirilloff and Miranda's performance connects to the club's long-term success at the big-league level. It seemed likely for both hitters to be penciled into the middle of the line-up for the next decade, but adjustments might need to be made to that plan. In this draft, the Twins clearly identified multiple players capable of providing value at the big-league level.
Who makes the more significant long-term impact for the Twins, Kirilloff or Miranda? Should the team have left Baddoo and Wells unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
miracleb reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, Will Jose Miranda or Willi Castro Make Room For Kyle Farmer?
Kyle Farmer has only played in 11 games for the Minnesota Twins this season, but he has certainly been missed since going out with a facial injury on April 12. He brings a much needed right handed bat, as well as the positional flexibility to play all over the infield. With the Twins returning home from their road trip on Tuesday, it’s likely that Farmer will join the big league club, but who will be the odd man out on the roster? There are two likely options: Willi Castro and José Miranda.
The first option for a demotion is star prospect José Miranda. Coming into the season, Miranda was thought to be a core member of the team following his breakout season in the Minor Leagues in 2021 and his strong showing as a rookie in 2022. His 2023 season has been a different story, though. In 32 games played thus far, Miranda has just a .589 OPS with just six extra base hits and a tough 21/9 K/BB ratio. His underlying statistics don’t provide much confidence either, with a barrel %, chase rate, BB% and xSLG all below the 25th percentile.
I mean, just look at this Baseball Savant batter profile. This doesn’t look like someone who is demanding playing time at the Big League level, does it?
The other reason for sending down Miranda is his defense. First of all, Miranda has been a negative in the field for the Minnesota Twins this year. According to Baseball Savant, Miranda has provided -2 outs above average this season, putting him in the 8th percentile in baseball. When the Twins bring back Kyle Farmer, they will likely slot him in as the new everyday starting third baseman. Farmer provides much better defense than Miranda and with the way Miranda is performing at the plate, he likely will provide better offense as well.
Secondly, José Miranda doesn’t provide much of any defensive flexibility. Miranda could be a right handed platoon at first base for Joey Gallo/Alex Kirilloff, but he showed last year that he’s a bit of a butcher at first base, and keeping Miranda in the bigs as a platoon first baseman doesn’t make a lot of sense either.
Whether it’s his shoulder injury that kept him out of the World Baseball Classic this winter, or simply a sophomore slump, there is a good argument to be made that Miranda should be the player to be sent down to St. Paul where he can regain his confidence and hopefully find the swing that made so many people confident in him heading into the season.
The other option for being sent down to make room for Kyle Farmer is utilityman Willi Castro. Castro was a surprise addition to the Opening Day roster for the Minnesota Twins this season after signing a minor league contract in December.
Castro hasn’t exactly been great for the Minnesota Twins during the first month of the season, posting an OPS of just .643 with three extra base hits over 44 plate appearances. In his four seasons prior to joining the Twins, Castro posted a cumulative OPS of .673 with an average of just six home runs per season, so expecting any offensive run from the utilityman isn’t wise. Castro does not provide the offensive ceiling that Miranda does, though as a switch hitter, Castro does provide the Twins with more lineup flexibility against pitchers of both right and left handedness.
Defensively, Willi Castro provides about league average defense and can play all over the infield as well as the corner outfield. Castro provides more speed than Miranda, though isn’t necessarily a burner on the bases.
With Nick Gordon on the roster as a right handed bat with plus-speed and a higher offensive ceiling coming off the bench, it’s not exactly clear how often Willi Castro would play if he stuck on the roster after Kyle Farmer gets called up. However, unlike José Miranda, the Twins would be okay with having Willi Castro stick on the bench most days, whereas with José Miranda, if he’s not playing almost everyday the Twins would prefer to have him playing in St. Paul where he can play every day.
The ultimate question that would determine if José Miranda or Willi Castro gets sent down for Kyle Farmer is how often the Twins are comfortable playing Farmer. If Farmer is healthy enough to play everyday, it’s safe to reason that Farmer would take over the role as the everyday third baseman and there would be no at-bats left for Miranda. If the Twins don’t feel comfortable playing Kyle Farmer everyday, then Miranda might stick with club as he still provides upside at third base that Willi Castro simply doesn’t provide.
Who do you think should get sent down for the Twins to make room for Kyle Farmer? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
miracleb reacted to Cody Christie for an article, One Twins Pitching Prospect is Quietly Putting Himself on the Prospect Map
Entering the 2023 season, the Twins wanted to make room on the roster for Jose Miranda to take over as the team's full-time third baseman. Gio Urshela had one year remaining of team control and was coming off a strong year where his WAR ranked in the top-5 among Twins players. Minnesota traded him to the Angels for Alejandro Hidalgo, a teenage pitching prospect. At the time of the trade, he ranked as the Angels' number 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Hidalgo is off to a good start in the Twins organization and might point to an even stronger performance moving forward.
The Angels signed Hidalgo in July 2019 as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela. He wasn't highly sought after in that international class, and the Angels signed him for $30,000. Due to the pandemic, his professional debut didn't come until 2021, when he pitched seven games in rookie ball. In 27 innings, he allowed 14 earned runs on 26 hits, including six home runs. There were some positive signs, as he posted a 31-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he gave up too many hits. He was nearly three years younger than the competition at his level, and he never faced a batter younger than himself.
In 2022, the Angels continued to be aggressive with Hidalgo by sending him to Low-A. He made ten starts while posting a 4.62 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 39 innings. His home run rate dropped from 2.0 HR/9 in his professional debut to 0.7 HR/9. His strikeout rate jumped from 10.3 K/9 to 13.4 K/9, but he also saw an increase in his walk rate (3.0 BB/9 to 4.4 BB/9). Nearly 94% of his plate appearances came against older batters, so he remained young for his level. His innings were limited due to a rotator cuff strain that ended his season in June.
Since joining the Twins, the club has focused on smoothing out his delivery. According to MLB.com, he attended the Twins' velocity camp in an attempt to get more velo from his delivery. He entered the season with a fastball that averages 92 mph with a solid change-up, which resulted in a 44% miss rate during the 2022 season. The Twins have also worked with him on developing a slider to replace a curveball he had thrown in the past.
Minnesota assigned Hidalgo to Cedar Rapids to begin the 2023 season. For the first time in his career, he is over three years younger than the average age of the competition, but his performance hasn't suffered with this assignment. In his first four appearances, he has allowed two earned runs on 11 hits with a 17-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has yet to allow a home run, but his sample size has been limited to 14 innings. His last appearance was terrific as he pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and one walk while limiting batters to three hits.
Hidalgo is only 19 years old and far from Target Field. Also, he has dealt with injuries during his first two professional seasons. The Angels' general manager Perry Minasian had glowing things to say about Hidalgo. "It's always tough to trade young players, especially a great kid with a good arm and a bright future," Minasian said. "But at the end of the day, you have to give to get. I think he's going to have a great career, and hopefully this trade works out for both sides."
The Twins have seen positive results from Hidalgo so far, and the club hopes he can continue pitching himself into the team's long-term plans. What are your early impressions of Hidalgo? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
miracleb reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, 5 Scenarios That Could Open Up Regular Playing Time for Alex Kirilloff
Alex Kirilloff has completed his minor-league injury rehab after a lengthy recovery from undergoing a second wrist surgery. He is physically ready to return to the majors by decree of the team trainer, and Kirilloff's on-field performance in Triple-A suggests that he's ready in every other way.
We know what the former top draft pick and top prospect is capable of bringing to the lineup, and it's especially desirable in the wake of a mostly flat offensive showing against the White Sox this week. The idea of Kirilloff's impact bat awakening this sleepy bunch is very enticing indeed.
The problem, of course, is that there's not really any space for Kirilloff right now. Finding a spot on the roster isn't so much the problem – optioning Willi Castro would be simple enough – but rather freeing up regular at-bats, particularly against right-handed pitchers.
The four different positions where Kirilloff could plug in – 1B, LF, RF, DH – are all occupied by regular fixtures at the moment, leaving him to wait in St. Paul until something changes.
Here are five things that could happen to open up an opportunity for Kirilloff in the near term.
Joey Gallo gets hurt
When the Twins signed Gallo to a one-year deal during the offseason, the move immediately struck me as Kirilloff insurance. He's not exactly similar offensively to the high-contact, liner-spraying AK, but Gallo profiles about the same as an impact hitter who can play both outfield corners as well as first base.
The latter happens to be Kirilloff's best (and likely future) position, and it's one where Gallo has been a mainstay against right-handers, starting there nearly every game. He's also been the team's best hitter, so there is clearly no thought of voluntarily taking him out of the lineup.
The veteran slugger spent brief time on the injured list in April, but has otherwise looked healthy. Gallo getting hurt and opening up first base would be the cleanest fit for Kirilloff, but would obviously be a major hit to the team given how good Gallo has been.
Max Kepler gets hurt
While first base might be the position Kirilloff plays best, right field is where he has by far the most experience. Kepler has been the everyday starter there outside of his own short April IL stint, so if he were to go down again it would create a natural opportunity for Kirilloff to take over as primary right fielder. (Or first baseman, if the Twins prefer an alignment with him there and Gallo in right, which is probable.)
Kepler, like Gallo, looks healthy at the moment but he's made six different trips to the IL since 2020.
Byron Buxton gets hurt
The 29-year-old has managed to start 28 of the Twins' first 32 games thanks to a DH-exclusive arrangement that enables him to play through ongoing knee issues. For now. As we know all too well, Buxton is always one swing, sprint, or slide away from a return to the shelf.
Naturally, Kirilloff would be a fine fit as the regular designated hitter given his offensive prowess. Like Gallo, losing Buxton would be a devastating blow the lineup, but one softened by the availability of Kirilloff and his high-upside bat to step in.
Michael A. Taylor gets hurt (maybe)
I'm not entirely sure a Taylor injury would create a path for Kirilloff, but it's possible. The idea is that Gallo or Kirilloff, or even Buxton, could take over in center – thus opening up 1B, RF, or DH for Kirilloff. The thing is, I'm not sure the Twins would opt to go any of those routes.
Gallo and Kepler strike me more as emergency options in center field (Gallo hasn't started a game there since 2019, Kepler since 2021), and I don't think they view Buxton as physically equipped for it. Then again, they don't have a ton of other options aside from Nick Gordon, who is batting .161.
I'd be quite curious to see how things would play out in this scenario. Taylor's been as much of a fixture at his position as anyone on this team, starting all but four games in center.
Trevor Larnach gets hurt, or keeps slumping badly
I saved this one for last because it's the only short-term scenario I can envision creating an opportunity for Kirilloff that doesn't necessarily involve an injury.
Of course if Larnach, who's started 22 of the team's games in left field but was injured for most of the past two seasons, were to get hurt it would create a seamless transition to Kirilloff (or Gallo, with AK going to first).
But unlike the four veterans listed above, a minor-league demotion is also on the table for Larnach, and it's increasingly plausible as his performance slides following a hot start. Since the opening road trip to Kansas City and Miami, Larnach is batting .173 with just two home runs, and of late the strikeouts and futile at-bats have been mounting.
There is certainly a case to be made for swapping Kirilloff in for Larnach, should this trend continue. But I do think the Twins will be somewhat hesitant to do so, and should be. The numbers have been bad lately but overall Larnach hasn't been close to one of the team's worst hitters and up until the past week or so had rated as a pretty solid regular. He's also 26 years old.
Unless Larnach's current slump really spirals and it becomes clear he needs a mental break, or it's determined that something is physically or mechanically amiss, sending him down to accommodate Kirilloff seems counterproductive.
Does Larnach have issues at the plate he needs to fix? Absolutely. Is he going to be able to address them meaningfully while walloping Triple-A pitching, just as Kirilloff has? That seems doubtful.
I would agree with the notion that Larnach is on watch, because Kirilloff's readiness creates some level of pressure, but I don't think the clock is ticking down on him too intensely at the moment. I could be wrong.
For now, Kirilloff will likely need to wait for one of these five players to get hurt because the Twins are simply too healthy to make room for one of their most talented offensive players. What a world.
miracleb reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Twins and Guardians Preview
For the first time this season, the Twins and the Guardians will face off in a match that can determine early bragging rights for the AL Central.. The Twins are out-pitching (3.42 ERA vs 3.99 ERA) and out-hitting (4.53 R/G vs 3.77 R/G) the Guardians, but that doesn't mean that the Guardians can't contend for that first-place spot. This series could potentially set the tone for the further match ups this season between the two clubs.
Weather Factor: The weather in Cleveland doesn’t look overly friendly, but the temperature will be in the high 50’s / low 60’s making it at least tolerable during the day, but chilly in the evenings.
Game 1 – Friday, May 5th, 2023 – 6:10pm CDT – To start the series, the Twins bring right-hander Bailey Ober (1-0, 1.59ERA) to the mound. Ober’s first outing, against the Nationals, resulted in his first win of the season before being optioned back down to St. Paul Triple-A. Just as quickly, he was brought back up when Kenta Maeda was sent back to the IL for a right triceps strain. In his second game against the Royals, Ober allowed only one run in his 5.2 innings pitched, but the Twins bullpen blew a late lead. Ober has shown excellent command throughout his career, but less so in his first two starts. As long as his walks are under control and the offense gives him support, Ober has the potential to provide a solid foundation for a win.
The Guardians will send 25-year-old rookie Peyton Battenfield (10-2, 4.67 ERA) to the hill. The same trade deadline in which the Rays traded Joe Ryan to the Twins, they traded Battenfield to Cleveland, but he hasn't had the early success that Ryan had. He spent last year in AAA (3.92 ERA, 153.2 IP, 109K) and he has filled into the rotation while Aaron Civale recovers from an oblique injury. In his three starts, he's lasted five innings only once, versus Detroit.
Game 2 – Saturday, May 6th, 2023 – 5:10 pm CDT - Veteran and AL ERA leader Sonny Gray (4-0, 0.77ERA) will start game two for the Twins. Gray continues to dominate, closing out the month of April with a record against the Royals, being the first pitcher ever to go 9-0 in nine consecutive starts against them. He also tied Ervin Santana for the lowest opening-month ERA for Twins starting pitchers. Gray has been perfecting his pitching arsenal, carrying six pitches and specifically improving his cutter, making him exceptionally effective this season.
Rookie Logan Allen (1-1, 2.45ERA) is a left-handed pitcher drafted in 2020 by the Guardians in round two as the 56th pick overall and has moved quickly through the system, making his MLB debut this season with the Guardians. Allen's advantage in this match is that none of the Twins have seen him on the mound. He’s also posted impressive numbers so far with 16K and only three walks in 11 innings.. So far, against righties and lefties, Allen is evenly split, but expect the Twins to beef up their lineup with plenty of right-handed bats.
Game 3 - Sunday, May 7th, 2023 – 12:40pm CDT - Joe Ryan (5-0, 2.37ERA) returns to the mound after a scoreless six innings against the White Sox. Ryan's second month of the season is starting as well as the first. Ryan has excellent command with low walks (4.2%) and high strikes (30.1%), and his swinging strike rate is 15.5%, one of the best in the league. In each of Ryan’s first four games this season, he gave up a home run.
Cal Quantrill (1-2, 4.73ERA) faces off against the Twins lineup. Quantrill has a better record on the road (3.38 ERA, 1-0) than at home (8.64 ERA, 0-2), which is typical for the entire Guardians team. In his last start, Quantrill had a solid game against the Yankees (2 R over 7.1 IP) but did not factor into the decision. Quantrill has been inconsistent thus far this season, having two bad starts: at Seattle and at home versus Colorado. Quantrill struggles to strike out batters, with 17 strikeouts over 32.1 innings. If the Twins lineup can get to Quantrill early, they have the potential to control the game and give Ryan excellent run support.
What's your prediction for this series? Can the Twins dominate and establish themselves as the team to beat in the AL Central?? Let's go, Twins Territory!
miracleb reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Was it the Brent Rooker Trade After All?
Just before Opening Day last season Derek Falvey and Thad Levine decided to part ways with Taylor Rogers. The timing may have been odd, but he was an aging-and-injured-closer coming off of a down year and heading into free agency. It was an opportunity to grab a controllable starter, even with injury history, in Chris Paddack while seeing Emilio Pagan as a throw in. Oh, and Brent Rooker went to San Diego in the deal as well.
Fast forward to today, and things have changed. Rogers is pitching with his twin Tyler Rogers for the San Francisco Giants. Pagan is a nightly tightrope act for the Twins, and has been the bane of the fanbase since he arrived. Paddack looked promising before undergoing Tommy John surgery again, and while he’ll eventually be back, Minnesota is playing the long game having extended him.
For Rooker, who is no longer with the Padres, he’s getting a chance to shine on an Oakland Athletics team needing any pick-me-up they can get.
Debuting for Minnesota in 2020 (after being a first round pick in 2017), the upside with Rooker was always his bat. He could hit for immense power, and was a superstar in college at Mississippi State. He doesn’t have a true defensive home, and that limits him, but if the swing-and-miss could be limited, he would have a pathway to regular playing time.
It was just a quick seven-game glimpse during the Covid-shortened 2020, but his 162 OPS+ was eye-popping to say the least. Injury then got him in 2021 and Rooker played just 58 games for Minnesota. Jettisoned by San Diego shortly after arriving, Rooker finished the 2022 season back in the American League with the Kansas City Royals.
Then came an opportunity to take over Oakland.
Across 22 games to start 2023 for the Athletics, Rooker has been the highlight of an otherwise awful team. Now set to move out of the Coliseum, nothing Oakland has provided their fans this season has been positive. Trying to do his best while signed for a paltry $725k (due to just 1.059 years of MLB service), Rooker is giving everyone more bang for their buck.
Rooker owns a .353/.465/.779 slash line thus far that’s buoyed by nine dingers. He has always had massive power potential but the 16/14 K/BB is arguably the greatest development of his breakout season. Having already accumulated 1.4 fWAR this season, Rooker has removed the negative tally attributed to his career thus far and is on a blistering pace.
For a guy who has always made loud contact, it’s truly in the quality of his hard-hit rate that things have been impressive. While he is about 7% lower than his hard-hit rate last year, his barrel rate is a staggering 24.1%, up nearly 10% over his career average. He creates soft contact only 11.1% of the time and has broken out by having purpose each time the ball meets the bat.
Not surprisingly, from a plate discipline standpoint, Rooker has also made substantial strides. He is taking more walks because of a career low 28.3% chase rate. Although the whiff rate is still in line with career averages, he has expanded the plate much less often this year. For a player with his profile, there will always be swing and miss, but offering on pitches you can do something with is of the utmost importance.
It truly has been a joy to watch the former Twins slugger break out for the Athletics, and his opportunity should continue to remain present all year. It remains to be seen what Paddack can give Minnesota, but for now, that deal has to be dubbed the Brent Rooker trade.
miracleb reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Is Ryan Jeffers for Real?
When the Minnesota Twins signed Christian Vazquez as a free agent this offseason, it was under the premise that he would garner the bulk of the starts behind the plate. So far that has been the case for manager Rocco Baldelli. The unexpected outcome has been an extremely productive Ryan Jeffers, and he’s arguably off to the best start of his career.
Gary Sanchez provided the Twins with 1.3 fWAR a season ago, but it still came with rather empty offensive production, and defense that left plenty to be desired. Jeffers managed to play in just 67 games due to a thumb injury, but he still only posted a 0.9 fWAR and remained a question mark behind the plate. Just to get through the season, Minnesota needed to turn to the likes of Sandy Leon, Caleb Hamilton, and Jose Godoy.
Drafted as a bat-first player that may not stay behind the dish (if you asked the draft 'experts' at that time), Jeffers flew through the system after revamping his receiving style. Working to be a solid pitch framer and better game-caller, he got his first chance behind Mitch Garver. The bat flashed at times, but Jeffers never truly showed the defensive acumen to make a team comfortable.
Fast-forward to today, and Jeffers has a 0.4 fWAR through his first 12 games. Working as more of a rotational backup for Vazquez, Jeffers is tracking towards a 2.2 fWAR across an entire season. That would more than double his career high, and be among the better marks for a tandem catcher across baseball.
The sample size we’re dealing with is admittedly small given the Twins have played just 29 games and Jeffers has drawn starts in less than half. That said, there are some key factors at play which outline why he is having such a solid year.
First, his process at the plate has returned. Not only is he hitting for a solid average (.270), but his on-base percentage (.357) is back to where it was during his debut season. There is a good deal of luck involved as Jeffers has an unsustainable .409 BABIP and also owns a .203 xBA, but there are a couple of things going in his favor. Chasing less than he ever has at just 23.4%, and whiffing only 10.6% of the time, it appears he has honed in on the zone.
For Jeffers to keep regression at bay, he’ll need to work on quality of contact. Unfortunately this season he has only generated hard hit contact 17.4% of the time, a truly dismal number. He’s also currently toting the lowest average exit velocity of his career, just north of 86 mph. What that may indicate is a process that is working but lacks execution.
It seems that Jeffers has a solid command of the strike zone right now, but he isn’t effectively attacking the pitches he should be looking to do damage on. Being able to marry both of those aspects together is something that can keep him rolling in 2023.
What’s maybe most impressive is that his defense has improved a notch. His framing runs, which could be a calling card, are slightly down, but he’s on pace to surpass his career high in defensive runs saved. There is also how exceptionally well he has combated the new rule changes. With baserunners more active than ever, the Twins needed substantially better than a guy who caught just 18% of base stealers last season.
For his career, Jeffers has not been a great catch-and-throw guy. Some of that is on Minnesota pitchers failing to hold runners on, but a guy owning a career 19.5% caught stealing rate isn’t good either. In 2023, not only has Jeffers yet to allow a passed ball, but he’s also thrown out five-of-twelve base stealers. His 42% ranks at the upper tier across MLB, and it was just a game ago that he led the league.
Becoming more well-rounded is something that Jeffers needed. He couldn’t afford to lack offensively while failing to excel behind the plate. He has taken his defensive game to new heights, and although the numbers are fine on the surface from the bat, more can be done to make sure it stays that way.
miracleb reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Next Man Up: 4 Rotational Options Behind Bailey Ober and Louie Varland
Injuries were one of the main storylines for the 2022 Twins, and that's why the front office focused on adding depth to the starting rotation. Entering the season, there were questions surrounding Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle since both ended last year on the injured list. Maeda is returning from Tommy John surgery, and Mahle dealt with shoulder issues after being traded to the Twins.
Last week, Maeda left his start early with a right elbow issue. His injury can allow the Twins to give Maeda time to rest on the injured list, especially since pitchers returning from Tommy John need to monitor their workload. Mahle left his start on Thursday with right posterior elbow soreness after his velocity dipped from 94+ mph earlier in the game to 89 mph. He is expected to be shut down from pitching for at least four weeks.
Starting pitching has catapulted the Twins to the top of the AL Central in the season's full month. Now, the team has built-in rotational depth but one more injury, and the organization will need to rely on a combination of these players to have continued success in the weeks ahead.
Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
Woods Richardson entered the year as one of the organization's top prospects after a tremendous 2022 season. He posted a 2.93 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and a 115-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 107 1/3 innings. Those numbers likely had him in the conversation for the organization's minor league pitcher of the year, but he lost out to Varland. In 2023, he allowed nine earned runs on 17 hits in 14 innings (three starts). Minnesota called him up to be a long reliever, and he threw 97 pitches out of the bullpen in relief of Pablo Lopez. Woods Richardson has struggled to start the year, and that might push the Twins to explore one of the other options below. However, in his most recent start, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and completed seven innings.
Brent Headrick, LHP
The Twins drafted Headrick in the ninth round of the 2019 MLB Draft, and he has moved swiftly through the organization. Last season, he split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9. Minnesota thought highly enough of him to add him to the 40-man roster before the 2023 season. With St. Paul, he made two appearances (one start) and allowed six earned runs on 12 hits. The Twins have used him exclusively out of the bullpen at the big-league level, but he has pitched three innings or more in two of his three appearances. If needed, the Twins can move Headrick back into a starting role to help bolster the rotation.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez should be a familiar name to Twins fans as he made eight appearances with the club during the 2022 season. In eight appearances (three starts), Sanchez allowed 15 earned runs on 31 hits with a 1.33 WHIP. The Twins granted him his free agency this winter, but he decided to re-sign with the organization. In 2023, he has been one of the most consistent starters for the Saints. Sanchez has made five starts (22 1/3 innings) with a 2.42 ERA. His WHIP is high (1.57) because he has a 6.9 BB/9, significantly higher than his career average (3.8 BB/9). It seems likely for the Twins to need Sanchez at some point this season, but he is behind others on this list and isn't on the 40-man roster.
Jose De Leon, RHP
De Leon was once a top pitching prospect in the Dodgers organization, and the 2023 season marks his first in the Twins organization. Fans got excited this spring when De Leon pitched 5 2/3 hitless innings while striking out 10. With the Saints, he has made seven appearances, including three starts. De Leon has a 2.95 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP and a 17-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate (8.3 K/9) is over four strikeouts lower than his career mark, so it will be interesting to see if he can increase his strikeouts as the weather improves.
How much can these players impact the Twins' rotation? Which pitcher deserves a more extended look? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
miracleb reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Twins Daily Pitcher of the Month: April 2023
While there were many pitchers in the Twins rotation and bullpen who had solid starts in 2023, such as Caleb Thielbar posting a 1.93 ERA in 10 relief appearances, or Tyler Mahle having a few solid starts before going on the Injured List.
There were three Twins pitchers who really set themselves apart as the top of the pack in April. Here’s how they rank. Feel free to discuss in the Comments.
Honorable Mention #2: Joe Ryan
Joe Ryan needs only his fastball, split finger, and sweeper to keep hitters guessing and off-base. Hitters only had a .186 average against Ryan in 32 innings across his five April starts.
Ryan may not be leading the Twins rotation in strikeouts - Pablo Lopez leads the way with 46 so far - but he has shown the best command of the strike zone out of any starter, walking only four batters in his five starts so far.
With 36 strikeouts and just four walks, Ryan’s K/BB sits fourth best in all of baseball at 9.0. He trails only George Kirby (12.0), Jacob deGrom (11.3), and Zac Gallen (10.2).
A stellar command of the strike zone and his new pitch and pitch mix have kept Ryan progressing after a solid rookie campaign in 2022, but there is still room for growth in his sophomore campaign. Who knows? That could keep him on these monthly lists of Twins best pitchers in the coming months.
Honorable Mention #1: Jorge Lopez
Lopez has had a major turnaround from his short time with the Twins after being acquired from the Orioles at the 2022 trade deadline.
He has opened the 2023 season with 13 scoreless appearances, making him the ninth pitcher in franchise history to do so. The last Twins reliever to accomplish it was Joe Smith, just last season, and his streak extended to 16 games.
On top of that, Lopez has only walked one batter in the 12 innings so far this season. He has had a lot of quick innings with a lot of quick outs. He has 10 strikeout to counter just one walk.
Lopez is a rare reliever with a five-pitch arsenal, which he developed over years as a starter, and outstanding command of the strike zone. Lopez’s feats haven’t gone unnoticed by fans. He has anchored himself as the setup man to Jhoan Duran in the Twins bullpen, but his performance in April could only be topped by one man. The one who is leading all MLB starters in ERA.
Pitcher of the Month: Sonny Gray
Sonny Gray finds himself on top of the baseball world right now when it comes to earned run average. No starting pitcher has allowed fewer runs than Gray in the first month of the 2023 season. Hopefully he can maintain this level of success into May and beyond.
Gray’s competitiveness has been at the forefront of his success throughout his career, but especially throughout the entire month of April. His clearly audible grunts with every pitch thrown is a telltale sign that he gives everything he has to each and every pitch.
He’s one of only four players with a bWAR over 2.0 to start the season with only Gerrit Cole (2.3 bWAR) ahead of him as Gray is tied at 2.1 bWAR with Shohei Ohtani.
Gray has had only one month in his career where his ERA was lower than 0.77. That was in August of 2019 when he posted a 0.74 ERA in 36 2/3 innings across six starts for the Reds.
The most phenomenal stat of them all from this month may just be his ERA+ as it leads all pitchers in baseball at 567. This places him 467% lower than the league-average starter. The next closest pitcher to him in ERA+ is Cole, who sits at a 395 ERA+ to start his season.
There’s no telling how the rest of the year will play out for Gray but this is his best start to a season in his career. The expectations are high for where his season can go from here.
What do you think? Would you rank these three pitchers the top for the month? Is this how you would rank them? Leave your thoughts in the COMMENTS below.
miracleb reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - April 2023
Cody Christie covered the hitting portion of our awards the other day, making it time to crown the best pitcher in the Twins system for April 2023. We start with the starting pitchers. Of course, in minor-league baseball, there are a lot of starters and potential starters. Sometimes teams strategically piggyback a couple of starters together, but one looks like a reliever in the stat line. We will take a look at the starters who began the 2023 season with a strong month. Coming Soon will be the top relievers in April.
But before we jump into our Top 5 Twins Minor League Starting Pitchers for April, here some honorable mentions:
RHP Blayne Enlow, Wichita Wind Surge
The last cut, Enlow was great in April, striking out 24 batters while pitching more than 20 innings in his most effective month since returning from Tommy John surgery last summer.
LHP Jaylen Nowlin, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Nowlin walked a few too many batters, holding him back from greater honor, meaning a higher ranking on this list, but he also struck out 20 batters—something only six other pitchers in the system accomplished in April.
RHP Kyle Jones, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
Inhaling more than 19 frames, Jones posted a 2.42 FIP thanks in large part to a miniscule walk rate (5.3%). Jones was a 7th-round pick in the 2022 draft.
5. RHP Bailey Ober - AAA St. Paul Saints, 17 2/3 IP, 30.1 K%, 2.55 ERA, 2.70 FIP
Too good to be contained by the AAA confines that limit him, Bailey Ober turned in an excellent month of pitching for the Saints, earning a 2.55 ERA and a 2.70 FIP while striking out a hair over 30% of batters faced. He allowed just one homer. The walks were troublesome, though—an 8.2% rate is far higher than his typical, trustworthy command allows—and in a cutthroat environment like the Twins Daily Minor League Monthly Awards, these are the lines that must be drawn to determine dominance. Better news comes knocking for Ober, however: recent injuries in the starting rotation open up a chance for the tall righty to prove himself once more; he appears very likely to take over a starting spot as Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle deal with their ailments.
4. RHP Louie Varland - AAA St. Paul Saints, 15 IP, 40.3 K%, 4.20 ERA, 1.77 FIP
A similar figure as Ober, Louie Varland is simply too good for AAA. His peripherals—good lord, his peripherals—were overwhelmingly dominant in April as the Minnesota native one-upped Ober, striking out over 40% of the batters he faced in the month. That’s deGrom territory. He also walked just four hitters. So why not rank him higher? Needing to be a stickler over such minor sample sizes necessitates a certain meanness when looking at one’s body of work, and Varland lacked the innings the other starters provided (15).
With ever-increasing velocity, Varland’s ascent appears never-ending; his movement from fun hometown story, to legitimate minor league performer, to potentially dominant major leaguer has been breathtaking, astounding. His final hurdle appears to be the all-important playing time—something he should run into very soon. For now, he’ll settle for 4th place on this prestigious list.
3. RHP Cory Lewis - Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 19 IP, 34.2 K%, 3.32 ERA, 3.50 FIP
And now we reach the unicorn. Minnesota’s 9th-round pick in the 2022 draft carries the usual pitching repertoire—a spinny fastball; a dazzling curve; ideal extension—on top of a true wild card: “an impressive knuckleball.” More than a freak side-show, Lewis’ game has translated well to the minor leagues, as the starter pitched 19 innings in April, punching out 34.2% of batters while carrying an ERA of 3.32. The peak of his bat-missing madness came on April 26th, when the 22-year-old elicited 19 swings and misses over just 4 2/3 frames.
The effectiveness has more to do with his fastball/curveball punch, potentially disappointing those hoping to see MLB’s first consistent knuckleballer since Steven Wright in 2019. Still, his success may not be a fluke, and continued production may result in night classes for Twins catchers unsure of handling the dancing, unpredictable nature of the 82-mph knuckleball.
2. RHP David Festa - AA Wichita Wind Surge, 19 IP, 35.5 K%, 3.79 ERA, 3.35 FIP
Back to your regular, normal right-handed prospecting. David Festa popped up in 2022, elevating from a random 13th-round pick from Seton Hall—the college of Craig Biggio, Mo Vaughn, and Zack Granite—into a respectable potential rotation fixture. He “pops mid-90s heat and pairs it with a potential plus mid-80s slider with power 11-6 depth,” giving him a classic modern starter’s profile—with more apparent limbs than your prototypical hurler.
And his tools served him well in April; the righty covered 19 innings while striking out 35.5% of batters at AA, a level he had not yet touched, while in the Texas League, a division famous for hitting. The early returns favor a repeat of 2022 for Festa, and such a development could push him into rotation plans for the big-league club in 2024.
1. RHP Zebby Matthews - Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 20 1/3 IP, 34.7 K%, 3.10 ERA, 2.39 FIP
One of the most apparent, sweeping movements in the Twins system under Falvey and Levine has been the rapid improvements made by anonymous college pitchers suddenly breaking out after draft day. Zebby Matthews is no exception. While he’s actually the highest-drafted arm of the five we talked about today—a regal 8th-round selection—Matthews’ immediate impact was not well-predicted.
But it has been glorious. Combining the efficiency of a command artist with the punch outs of a workhorse, Matthews walked just three batters, struck out 26 of them, and swallowed 20 1/3 innings over four promising starts. One was a clunker, but the other three flashed brilliance; he didn’t allow a run for 13 consecutive frames to begin the season.
What’s fascinating and different about Matthews’ success is his approach: a full serving of almost every pitch a pitcher can throw (except for that one, you know which), that has apparently befuddled Low-A hitters. When a batter must react to the four-seamer, sinker, slider, curveball, changeup, or cutter, it evidently leads to missed hacks, foolish takes, and the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month Award.
miracleb reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Brent Headrick The Starter?
Brent Headrick wasn’t one of the Twins locks to be added to the 40-man roster this winter but made the cut along with Casey Legumina who was later traded to Cincinnati. Despite being somewhat of an afterthought, the left-hander has been one of the more impressive up-and-down pitchers on the roster this season. The Twins could possibly start looking for a way to get him up for good soon.
Headrick’s MLB career is in its infancy having only made three appearances to date. We can be cautious given the incredibly small sample size, but the early results are encouraging. In 8 1/3 innings, Headrick has a 3.24 ERA and 12 strikeouts. His WHIP stands at an impressive 0.96. He’s showing signs of being able to consistently retire Major League hitters, and it can be argued that may be going to waste in a long relief role.
Headrick is in an interesting spot. The Twins clearly believed in him having protected him from the Rule 5 draft. It’s important to note that his addition to the 40-man has to speed up his timeline to the big leagues which is likely why he’s filling long relief innings. So far, his effectiveness in bulk innings makes it worth wondering whether Headrick could be a usable big-league starting pitcher.
The dominoes are starting to fall at the big-league level. Kenta Maeda's injury has opened up a well-deserved opportunity for Bailey Ober, who very well may not allow Maeda to get his job back when healthy. On Thursday night, Tyler Mahle left his start after four innings due to elbow soreness. He played down the injury after the game, but at this point, it's a little difficult to take Mahle's word after several brief returns from the IL only to head right back in 2022. We hope it's just an early-season tweak, but the Twins should be making plans in case it isn't.
The likely replacement for Mahle is Louie Varland, who appears to be another MLB-worthy starter stuck in Triple-A due to the roster crunch. The Twins pitching depth is coming through for them early, but it's already beginning to run out.
Assuming Ober and Varland get the call, the Twins' rotation in Triple-A will be headed by Simeon Woods Richardson. The right-hander the Twins got in the Jose Berrios trade has already debuted this season in long relief. It's possible he would be the next man up, but his future as a starting pitcher is not yet written in stone. He appears to have a fastball that's going to regularly dip into the 80s with a changeup as his main secondary pitch.
Even if the Twins' plan is for Woods Richardson to be slotted into the rotation in the event of another injury, he's the tail end of the list of starters you want to see called up. Aaron Sanchez, Jose De Leon, and Dereck Rodriguez are the best of what's left. Given what we've seen from Headrick, it may be time to settle him into a role as a legitimate starting pitcher.
Headrick has only made nine starts above A-Ball but has essentially reached a starter's workload in the MLB. Dropping him into the Triple-A rotation should be an easy task and should leave him available if the Twins still need to cycle him in occasionally as a long reliever. His success thus far at the MLB level (and his spot on the 40-man roster) has put him ahead of the veteran minor-league signings they have stashed away in Triple-A. Veteran starting pitching depth is great to have, but it's hard to call it depth when there's so little promise in the event that any of these guys get called up.
Headrick has been found money for the Twins, and he could wind up playing a bigger role than many thought he would when he was given a 40-man roster spot in the offseason. He may not be the most seasoned starting pitching prospect, but what he's shown in the majors should be taken into account. The Twins should have Brent Headrick starting every fifth day in Triple-A. To have another seemingly solid starter waiting in the wings could pay off, especially on with the health luck the Twins have had in recent years. Do you agree?
miracleb reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/25): Blowouts and Bombs
RHP Brock Stewart had his contract selected from the St. Paul Saints and joined the Minnesota Twins bullpen. (As a guy who has watched each of his appearances with St. Paul so far on the year, this is a move that could have some good upside. He’s been 96-98 MPH on a big-running fastball, a bottom-dropping changeup at 90, and a frisbee-sweeper in the high-80s all missing bats. His 17.7 K-rate is not a mirage to my eyes) IF/OF Michael Helman was activated from the injured list for the St. Paul Saints, and he had a grand return from his rehab assignment. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 14, Rochester 1
Led by manager Toby Gardenhire, ten former Red Wings players made the trip to Rochester, New York, this time now part of the St. Paul Saints, for this week's International League series. They obviously felt at home in the confines of Frontier Field, as they decimated their current parent club’s former affiliate 14-1.
As a team, they pounded out 17 hits, with catcher Tony Wolters their only player not to record a base hit, though he did draw two walks and score a run. Kyle Garlick led off the scoring in the fourth with a solo home run, and Chris Williams followed later with a two-run double to make it 3-0.
Starter Aaron Sanchez kept the Red Wings off the board through five innings, though he battled with his control. In his five innings, he allowed just one hit, walked five, and struck out four to pick up his first win of the season.
The Saint's big barrage came in the sixth inning, thanks mostly to a grand slam from Michael Helman, freshly returned to Triple-A from a rehab assignment. He added a two-run bomb in the eighth and finished 3-for-6 with six RBI. Alex Kirilloff joined the homer party with a solo blast in the seventh.
The bullpen trio of Cole Sands (1 IP, H), Jordan Balazovic (2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K), and Cody Laweryson (1 IP, BB, 2 K) held the Red Wings in check for the final four innings.
Joining Kirilloff (2-for-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI), Garlick (3-for-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB), and Helman with multiple hits in the game were Edouard Julien (2-for-6, R, 3 K) and Mark Contreras (4-for-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI).
Helman now leads the International League with a 2.400 OPS, with Kirilloff in 2nd, less than 1.000 points behind.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Springfield 3, Wichita 12
I always love to see the Springfield Cardinals facing off against Twins affiliates, as I’ve had the privilege of enjoying several minor league games at their home park, Hammons Field, in the heart of Springfield, Missouri. While tonight's game was in Wichita, where I've yet to visit, it was especially noteworthy for Wind Surge fans as they packed Riverfront Stadium to see the rehabbing Adam Wainwright pitching with the Cardinals.
Facing off against him for Wichita in the series opener was rising Twins prospect David Festa.
While both pitchers were probably disappointed with their outings, matching each other by allowing three earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 4 1/3 innings apiece, Festa can remember the night fondly as he out-K’d the legendary Cardinals pitcher 7-to-1.
While it was a close game while both starters were still on the mound, Wainwright’s exit after Brooks Lee’s second double of the game against him in the fifth was the harbinger of doom for the visiting team.
Yunior Severino drilled his first home run of the game two batters later, putting the Wind Surge in front for good 4-3. Severino would add a 438-foot bomb to dead center in the seventh inning, which left his bat at 108 MPH.
Wichita tallied seven total runs in that frame, turning it into a blowout.
Like the St. Paul Saints, the Wind Surge had 17 hits in the game, getting multi-hit efforts from DaShawn Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5, 3B), Lee (3-for-5, 3 R, 2 2B, RBI), Yoyner Fajardo (3-for-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI), Severino (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, K), Alex Isola (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, BB), Will Holland (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, K), and David Banuelos (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI).
Jose Bravo picked up the win with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. Jordan Brink (1 1/3 IP, K) and Osiris German (1 IP, K) added scoreless outings to close it out.
West Michigan 0, Cedar Rapids 2
It was a good old-fashioned pitcher's duel in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday night, with the Kernel’s Kyle Jones facing off against the WhiteCap’s Carlos Pena.
Jones bested his counterpart with five scoreless frames compared to four, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out five. Malik Barrington got them through the seventh with two hitless innings, walking one and striking out two. Regi Grace finished the final two innings, also allowing no hits with one walk, picking up two K’s of his own for his second win.
The Cedar Rapids lineup was finally able to strike in the bottom of the eighth, after Noah Miller led off the inning with a single. A walk from Noah Cardenas put him in scoring position before Kala’i Rosario drove him in with a single of his own. Tanner Schobel added a run with a sac fly two batters later and the Kernels had a 2-0 lead that was insurmountable in the top of the ninth.
Both teams combined for just eight hits, with the edge going to the Kernels 5-3. Schobel had the only extra-base hit for Cedar Rapids, with a double to lead off the second inning. The home team’s pitching staff allowed the visitors just two at-bats with runners in scoring position, and induced three double-play balls.
Fort Myers 5, Daytona 4
Left-hander Develson Aria had a rough start to this one, walking the first two hitters of the game and allowing an RBI double and two-run single before he could get out of the first.
His lineup got one back for him in the top of the second when reigning Florida State League Player of the Week Andrew Cossetti led off the inning with a double and was driven in by a sac fly from Dalton Shuffield.
The game was quiet for the most part in the middle innings, with Daytona extending their lead to 4-1 heading into the eighth. Aria finished 3 2/3 innings, allowing all four runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out five. Ricky Mineo went the next three innings, allowing just one hit, walking one, and striking out four.
In the top of the eighth, the Mighty Mussels manufactured a run thanks to Jorel Ortega, who singled, stole second base, and came home on Ricardo Olivar’s base knock a batter later. That set the stage for the final inning.
Carlos Aguiar led off the ninth with a double followed by a Shuffield walk to bring the winning run to the plate in Rubel Cespedes. He started a train of RBI singles that included Dylan Neuse and Danny De Andrade that put them out front 5-4.
Reliever Gabriel Yanez finished the final 2 1/3 innings for Fort Myers, striking out the side in the eighth, and ending the contest with his fifth strikeout on the game to pick up the win.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day - Kyle Jones, Cedar Rapids Kernels (5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K)
Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman, St. Paul Saints (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 3-for-5, 3 R, 2 2B, RBI
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-for-6, R, 3 K
#6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) -
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-2, BB, K
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, R, BB, 3 K
#13 - David Festa (Wichita) - 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R
#16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-2, RB, BB, K
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K
WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
St. Paul @ Rochester (5:05 PM CDT) - RHP Jose De Leon (0-0, 3.14 ERA)
Springfield @ Wichita (12:05 PM CDT) - RHP Travis Adams (1-2, 9.31 ERA)
West Michigan @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CDT) - LHP Jordan Carr (0-0, 2.16 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Daytona (5:35 PM CDT) - RHP Cory Lewis (2-1, 3.77 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!