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Nash Walker

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  1. Twins fans have already seen numerous exciting MLB debuts from the organization’s top pitching prospects. There’s more on the way, and perhaps the best one resides in Double-A Wichita’s rotation. Matt Canterino has been dominant since the Twins drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2019 Draft. Canterino starred at Rice University, where they’re known to push their young arms. He pitched very well there, but his numbers pale compared to his production in the minors. Canterino has pitched 68 2/3 innings in the Twins system. He’s given up nine runs, which equates to a 1.18 ERA. He’s struck out 104 of the 259 hitters he’s faced, a 40% clip. He pairs a mid-to-upper 90s fastball with a hammer breaking ball and a sneaky firm changeup, a pitch Canterino has worked on to better attack lefties. He hasn’t allowed a run in 17 straight innings, striking out 23. Opponents have gone 4-for-55 with one extra-base hit. Canterino, 24, is charging up prospect lists. It was a rough start to 2022 for Canterino, who walked six in his first 3 2/3 innings of the season. Since then, he’s been absolute nails. Canterino has given up just one homer in his Minor League career, and now he’s shoving at the upper levels. Right-handed hitters have gone 15-for-151 (.099) with 70 strikeouts against him since his Minor League debut in 2019. He struck out 45 of the 81 hitters he faced in 2021. He's posted video-game numbers since day one. Canterino has thrown 20 2/3 innings for Wichita, posting a 1.31 ERA and 34% strikeout rate. He’s walked more than he would prefer, but it’s a sterling start considering he spent much of 2022 on the injured list with an elbow problem. Canterino may possess the second-best repertoire in the system, behind only Jhoan Duran. Like Duran, there are real questions about Canterino’s ability to remain as a starter. He has a herky-jerky delivery and has already dealt with arm troubles. The Twins are watching his workload closely, and he’s averaging around 50 pitches per start. Canterino may end up in the Twins’ bullpen, and it’s fair to wonder if he could help them as soon as mid-summer. He has the stuff and the makeup to accelerate quickly. Canterino is a key part of a wave of upper-minors starting pitchers the Twins have been developing. While Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Josh Winder impress for the big league club, the depth in the minors is exciting. Jordan Balazovic is back, Cole Sands is on the cusp of the majors, and Canterino is mowing down hitters at Double-A. Not to mention 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Louie Varland, who is off to a strong start at Double-A as well. This was the plan and remains the largest storyline for the 2022 Twins. Beyond the obvious stars in the system, 2020 fourth-round pick Marco Raya has a 2.40 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 15 innings for Low-A Fort Myers. David Festa, the Twins' 13th-round pick out of Seton Hall in last year's draft, is pumping 97-99 with his fastball, carving out his path for a breakout season. Simeon Woods Richardson, acquired at the 2021 deadline, has a 1.67 ERA in five starts for the Wind Surge. Even Blayne Enlow is back after undergoing Tommy John surgery 11 months ago. Improved health (so far) has been the difference between 2021 and 2022 for the Twins' top pitching prospects. Canterino could follow a similar path to Duran, who started in St. Paul's rotation last year before going down with elbow soreness of his own. The Twins moved Duran to the bullpen, recognizing that his outstanding stuff could help the team immediately. They seem determined to let Canterino start for as long as possible. An ideal season for Canterino would be reaching the 80-inning mark while finding success in a promotion to Triple-A. It's viable that Canterino joins the Twins for the stretch run, especially if the team is lacking high-powered arms late this season. For now, he's whooping almost every hitter who stands in the box. View full article
  2. Matt Canterino has been dominant since the Twins drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2019 Draft. Canterino starred at Rice University, where they’re known to push their young arms. He pitched very well there, but his numbers pale compared to his production in the minors. Canterino has pitched 68 2/3 innings in the Twins system. He’s given up nine runs, which equates to a 1.18 ERA. He’s struck out 104 of the 259 hitters he’s faced, a 40% clip. He pairs a mid-to-upper 90s fastball with a hammer breaking ball and a sneaky firm changeup, a pitch Canterino has worked on to better attack lefties. He hasn’t allowed a run in 17 straight innings, striking out 23. Opponents have gone 4-for-55 with one extra-base hit. Canterino, 24, is charging up prospect lists. It was a rough start to 2022 for Canterino, who walked six in his first 3 2/3 innings of the season. Since then, he’s been absolute nails. Canterino has given up just one homer in his Minor League career, and now he’s shoving at the upper levels. Right-handed hitters have gone 15-for-151 (.099) with 70 strikeouts against him since his Minor League debut in 2019. He struck out 45 of the 81 hitters he faced in 2021. He's posted video-game numbers since day one. Canterino has thrown 20 2/3 innings for Wichita, posting a 1.31 ERA and 34% strikeout rate. He’s walked more than he would prefer, but it’s a sterling start considering he spent much of 2022 on the injured list with an elbow problem. Canterino may possess the second-best repertoire in the system, behind only Jhoan Duran. Like Duran, there are real questions about Canterino’s ability to remain as a starter. He has a herky-jerky delivery and has already dealt with arm troubles. The Twins are watching his workload closely, and he’s averaging around 50 pitches per start. Canterino may end up in the Twins’ bullpen, and it’s fair to wonder if he could help them as soon as mid-summer. He has the stuff and the makeup to accelerate quickly. Canterino is a key part of a wave of upper-minors starting pitchers the Twins have been developing. While Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Josh Winder impress for the big league club, the depth in the minors is exciting. Jordan Balazovic is back, Cole Sands is on the cusp of the majors, and Canterino is mowing down hitters at Double-A. Not to mention 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Louie Varland, who is off to a strong start at Double-A as well. This was the plan and remains the largest storyline for the 2022 Twins. Beyond the obvious stars in the system, 2020 fourth-round pick Marco Raya has a 2.40 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 15 innings for Low-A Fort Myers. David Festa, the Twins' 13th-round pick out of Seton Hall in last year's draft, is pumping 97-99 with his fastball, carving out his path for a breakout season. Simeon Woods Richardson, acquired at the 2021 deadline, has a 1.67 ERA in five starts for the Wind Surge. Even Blayne Enlow is back after undergoing Tommy John surgery 11 months ago. Improved health (so far) has been the difference between 2021 and 2022 for the Twins' top pitching prospects. Canterino could follow a similar path to Duran, who started in St. Paul's rotation last year before going down with elbow soreness of his own. The Twins moved Duran to the bullpen, recognizing that his outstanding stuff could help the team immediately. They seem determined to let Canterino start for as long as possible. An ideal season for Canterino would be reaching the 80-inning mark while finding success in a promotion to Triple-A. It's viable that Canterino joins the Twins for the stretch run, especially if the team is lacking high-powered arms late this season. For now, he's whooping almost every hitter who stands in the box.
  3. These Twins feel different. and Carlos Correa is right in the middle of it. For as unlikely as the signing was, Carlos Correa is precisely who the Twins need at this point, both as a player and person. Coming off an extremely disappointing and last-place season, fans were rightly frustrated about the club's direction. It’s not like losing teams are ever *that* fun, but the 2021 Twins were downright dull. They played with complacency that was evident to the naked eye. Reporters had little access for much of the year due to Covid, but the sense of a discouraged and disjointed clubhouse was real. Nelson Cruz led the Twins to back-to-back division titles in 2019 and 2020, hitting .308/.394/.626 with 57 homers in 173 games. He was an incredible contributor to the offense, but his guidance off the field sent his value through the roof. Leadership styles and vibes vary, even among the winningest clubhouses. Cruz’s loose, fun, and calm personality perfectly fits Rocco Baldelli’s mantra. I can't say the same for Josh Donaldson, who assumed a leadership role after signing a four-year, $92 million deal before the 2020 season. At the time of the signing, I felt Donaldson was a perfect key to help the Twins break out of their postseason losing streak. Now, I can’t help but think his clubhouse fit never made sense. It rarely looked like he was an actual part of the team, and Correa’s immediate impact only amplifies this feeling. Donaldson certainly contributed when healthy, posting a 128 OPS+ in 163 games, and I’m not suggesting teammates disliked him. It just didn’t work for both sides, and that’s fine! It’s impossible to know the impact Donaldson had on the clubhouse, but it’s fair to say his hardened style paled in comparison to Cruz and Baldelli. Donaldson's bulldog-vibe could be a double-edged sword. A winning team may appreciate his bravado, but a last-place team could wear down over the 162-game grind. The Yankees, Donaldson’s new team, have won 18 of their first 25 games. It’s about fit, and I’m not sure Donaldson ever did in Minnesota. With Correa, who values the day-to-day focus and trusts the process, the Twins have the co-leader they need. Byron Buxton is the face of the Twins, and even Correa admits this is “Byron’s team,” but Correa’s presence is undoubtedly impactful. Of course, this is easier to conclude as the team is in first place. Buxton did admit this spring, though, that it's a "night and day" feeling in the clubhouse. It goes behind Correa. Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic wrote about the "immediate bond" felt among the Twins' rotation members. The 2022 Twins look (so far) like a tough, entertaining, and tightly-knit group. I have no idea if the Twins' change in vibe is sustainable, or if it will wear down with a losing stretch. I do know that even if it’s a one-year deal, Correa feels like a Twin. Donaldson hoped he would leave a legacy in Minnesota, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. Correa is off to a great start in that regard, and the sky is the limit for how far he can take the 2022 Twins. Please leave your thoughts, questions, and COMMENTS below. View full article
  4. For as unlikely as the signing was, Carlos Correa is precisely who the Twins need at this point, both as a player and person. Coming off an extremely disappointing and last-place season, fans were rightly frustrated about the club's direction. It’s not like losing teams are ever *that* fun, but the 2021 Twins were downright dull. They played with complacency that was evident to the naked eye. Reporters had little access for much of the year due to Covid, but the sense of a discouraged and disjointed clubhouse was real. Nelson Cruz led the Twins to back-to-back division titles in 2019 and 2020, hitting .308/.394/.626 with 57 homers in 173 games. He was an incredible contributor to the offense, but his guidance off the field sent his value through the roof. Leadership styles and vibes vary, even among the winningest clubhouses. Cruz’s loose, fun, and calm personality perfectly fits Rocco Baldelli’s mantra. I can't say the same for Josh Donaldson, who assumed a leadership role after signing a four-year, $92 million deal before the 2020 season. At the time of the signing, I felt Donaldson was a perfect key to help the Twins break out of their postseason losing streak. Now, I can’t help but think his clubhouse fit never made sense. It rarely looked like he was an actual part of the team, and Correa’s immediate impact only amplifies this feeling. Donaldson certainly contributed when healthy, posting a 128 OPS+ in 163 games, and I’m not suggesting teammates disliked him. It just didn’t work for both sides, and that’s fine! It’s impossible to know the impact Donaldson had on the clubhouse, but it’s fair to say his hardened style paled in comparison to Cruz and Baldelli. Donaldson's bulldog-vibe could be a double-edged sword. A winning team may appreciate his bravado, but a last-place team could wear down over the 162-game grind. The Yankees, Donaldson’s new team, have won 18 of their first 25 games. It’s about fit, and I’m not sure Donaldson ever did in Minnesota. With Correa, who values the day-to-day focus and trusts the process, the Twins have the co-leader they need. Byron Buxton is the face of the Twins, and even Correa admits this is “Byron’s team,” but Correa’s presence is undoubtedly impactful. Of course, this is easier to conclude as the team is in first place. Buxton did admit this spring, though, that it's a "night and day" feeling in the clubhouse. It goes behind Correa. Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic wrote about the "immediate bond" felt among the Twins' rotation members. The 2022 Twins look (so far) like a tough, entertaining, and tightly-knit group. I have no idea if the Twins' change in vibe is sustainable, or if it will wear down with a losing stretch. I do know that even if it’s a one-year deal, Correa feels like a Twin. Donaldson hoped he would leave a legacy in Minnesota, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. Correa is off to a great start in that regard, and the sky is the limit for how far he can take the 2022 Twins. Please leave your thoughts, questions, and COMMENTS below.
  5. 1. The Central looks weak Sooner or later, the White Sox will find their stride. They’re missing key pieces from a roster that won 93 games and the division in 2021. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is progressing toward a return from an oblique injury. Lance Lynn, who threw 157 outstanding innings for an excellent rotation last year, is hoping to return in late May from knee surgery. 2020 Silver Slugger winner Eloy Jiménez likely won’t be back until the summer months, but he’s on the mend. The cavalry is coming. Even then, the White Sox have evident flaws. Their defense is the worst in the American League by Outs Above Average, and Defensive Runs Saved. Bullpen stalwarts Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer are struggling to get outs in the late innings. Without Lynn, the rotation is thin. Dallas Keuchel has been terrible, while Vince Velasquez can’t keep runners off base. The White Sox’s depth is far from what it was in 2021, and they’re digging a hole early. The Tigers and their fans hoped the team would produce a hot start, burying the rebuild in the rearview. The opposite is happening. The Tigers have lost 12 of their first 18 games with a weak offense and equally lousy defense. Desperately needing a run, the Tigers must go to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. It’s too early to call a season doomed, but things are rough in the Motor City. The Guardians made some noise early, pairing good offensive production with their outstanding pitching. They’ve crashed back to earth since that solid 7-5 start. They’re struggling to score runs, an expected trend when their only hitters with track records are superstar José Ramírez and streaky slugger Franmil Reyes. It’s possible Cleveland surprises, but their ceiling feels limited. The Royals could present challenges for the competitive teams in the division. They've already won series' against the Twins and White Sox, and they're always tricky at Kauffman. I'd be surprised if they won more than 75 games, but I wouldn't completely write them off as a walk-in-the-park matchup. 2. They have a competent starting rotation It’s unlikely Twins starters will continue to pitch as well as they have, but the perception of the rotation has changed considerably since Opening Day. Joe Ryan is better than he was last September. Chris Paddack is, too. The Twins will get their projected No. 1 starter, Sonny Gray, back in short order (hamstring). The Twins' rotation is taking shape. Dylan Bundy won’t post a sub-1 ERA this year, but he may finish as a solid No. 4 starter in a competitive rotation. That’s not insignificant, especially considering his 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP from a year ago. Bundy’s presence as a five-inning, three runs or less starter is potentially a massive development for the Twins. Bailey Ober had been rock-solid before his groin injury, and Paddack has pitched like a No. 3. There’s a real chance the Twins will have at least an average starting rotation by the trade deadline. That outcome felt like a long shot less than a month ago, so I’m still setting the expectations relatively low. If the Twins have a winning team and are within striking distance of the playoffs, I’d expect them to make that move for an impact starter. They’ll need him if October becomes a reality. 3. They have depth, with more on the way In the preseason, the 2021 Twins looked to have substantial depth in all roster areas. That couldn’t have been further from the outcome. The Twins quickly learned they lacked viable backups at almost every position, especially in the rotation. Injuries hampered the young starting pitchers in the minors, though, which hasn’t been the case early this year. Fingers crossed. Royce Lewis is performing exceptionally well in St.Paul. José Miranda was in serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot after a terrific Minor League season in 2021. Beyond them, Spencer Steer, an underrated versatile infielder, is raking at Double-A Wichita. The Twins have desirable depth in the infield. A healthy Alex Kirilloff would go a long way in the outfield, sending Trevor Larnach down the depth chart. The most important storyline for the 2022 Twins remains with the young starters. Simeon Woods Richardson has yet to allow a run through 21 ⅔ innings for Wichita. Matt Canterino is back on track after a shaky start, and his stuff looks pristine. Jordan Balazovic is still on the injured list with a knee strain, but he is still their best pitching prospect. There look to be reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen. The Twins have a long way to go, and it’s wise to watch with a skeptical eye, but it’s hard not to get excited about where they could go this year.
  6. The Twins have navigated through a demanding schedule in April. There’s a considerable buzz surrounding the club as they sit in first place in the American League Central. Here are three reasons to believe in the 2022 Twins. 1. The Central looks weak Sooner or later, the White Sox will find their stride. They’re missing key pieces from a roster that won 93 games and the division in 2021. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is progressing toward a return from an oblique injury. Lance Lynn, who threw 157 outstanding innings for an excellent rotation last year, is hoping to return in late May from knee surgery. 2020 Silver Slugger winner Eloy Jiménez likely won’t be back until the summer months, but he’s on the mend. The cavalry is coming. Even then, the White Sox have evident flaws. Their defense is the worst in the American League by Outs Above Average, and Defensive Runs Saved. Bullpen stalwarts Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer are struggling to get outs in the late innings. Without Lynn, the rotation is thin. Dallas Keuchel has been terrible, while Vince Velasquez can’t keep runners off base. The White Sox’s depth is far from what it was in 2021, and they’re digging a hole early. The Tigers and their fans hoped the team would produce a hot start, burying the rebuild in the rearview. The opposite is happening. The Tigers have lost 12 of their first 18 games with a weak offense and equally lousy defense. Desperately needing a run, the Tigers must go to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. It’s too early to call a season doomed, but things are rough in the Motor City. The Guardians made some noise early, pairing good offensive production with their outstanding pitching. They’ve crashed back to earth since that solid 7-5 start. They’re struggling to score runs, an expected trend when their only hitters with track records are superstar José Ramírez and streaky slugger Franmil Reyes. It’s possible Cleveland surprises, but their ceiling feels limited. The Royals could present challenges for the competitive teams in the division. They've already won series' against the Twins and White Sox, and they're always tricky at Kauffman. I'd be surprised if they won more than 75 games, but I wouldn't completely write them off as a walk-in-the-park matchup. 2. They have a competent starting rotation It’s unlikely Twins starters will continue to pitch as well as they have, but the perception of the rotation has changed considerably since Opening Day. Joe Ryan is better than he was last September. Chris Paddack is, too. The Twins will get their projected No. 1 starter, Sonny Gray, back in short order (hamstring). The Twins' rotation is taking shape. Dylan Bundy won’t post a sub-1 ERA this year, but he may finish as a solid No. 4 starter in a competitive rotation. That’s not insignificant, especially considering his 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP from a year ago. Bundy’s presence as a five-inning, three runs or less starter is potentially a massive development for the Twins. Bailey Ober had been rock-solid before his groin injury, and Paddack has pitched like a No. 3. There’s a real chance the Twins will have at least an average starting rotation by the trade deadline. That outcome felt like a long shot less than a month ago, so I’m still setting the expectations relatively low. If the Twins have a winning team and are within striking distance of the playoffs, I’d expect them to make that move for an impact starter. They’ll need him if October becomes a reality. 3. They have depth, with more on the way In the preseason, the 2021 Twins looked to have substantial depth in all roster areas. That couldn’t have been further from the outcome. The Twins quickly learned they lacked viable backups at almost every position, especially in the rotation. Injuries hampered the young starting pitchers in the minors, though, which hasn’t been the case early this year. Fingers crossed. Royce Lewis is performing exceptionally well in St.Paul. José Miranda was in serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot after a terrific Minor League season in 2021. Beyond them, Spencer Steer, an underrated versatile infielder, is raking at Double-A Wichita. The Twins have desirable depth in the infield. A healthy Alex Kirilloff would go a long way in the outfield, sending Trevor Larnach down the depth chart. The most important storyline for the 2022 Twins remains with the young starters. Simeon Woods Richardson has yet to allow a run through 21 ⅔ innings for Wichita. Matt Canterino is back on track after a shaky start, and his stuff looks pristine. Jordan Balazovic is still on the injured list with a knee strain, but he is still their best pitching prospect. There look to be reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen. The Twins have a long way to go, and it’s wise to watch with a skeptical eye, but it’s hard not to get excited about where they could go this year. View full article
  7. The Twins completed an emotional three-game sweep of the reigning American League Central champion White Sox, while the Tigers lost two of three to the Rockies at home. Let’s preview this upcoming three-game series at Target Field. Growling Expectations The Tigers, coming off five straight losing seasons, expect to compete in 2022. They won 77 games in manager A.J. Hinch’s first season with the club, finishing in third place in the Central in 2021. While the Tigers surprised with nearly 80 wins, they feasted off a historically bad division. It hasn’t been a clean start, as the Tigers have won only six of their first 15 games. The offense has been poor, and they’ve dealt with many injuries. So far, performance hasn’t met the loftiest expectations Tigers fans have had since they won four straight AL Central titles from 2011 to 2014. How Detroit won 77 games in 2021 is somewhat remarkable. Tigers position players accounted for 9.4 fWAR, the third-lowest in MLB. The pitching staff accumulated 10.2 fWAR, tied for 8th-lowest. It wasn’t a good team, but it was a significant step forward in a new era with Hinch. There is reason for optimism in the Motor City. The Tigers' hopes start with former No. 1 pick Casey Mize, who is currently on the injured list with an elbow sprain. Lefty Tarik Skubal is off to a terrific start and harnesses a fastball in the mid-90s. The Twins have trouble against velocity-oriented lefties, and they’ll see Skubal in Thursday’s finale. Current Twins do have six homers in 73 plate appearances against him. Speaking of lefties, the Tigers signed former Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodríguez for five years and $77 million this offseason. Rodríguez has given up eight runs in 13 innings with an elevated fly-ball rate. He's set to pitch the series opener on Tuesday. Many Twins fans thought the team should bring back veteran Michael Pineda to round out the rotation. Instead, Pineda signed with the Tigers for one year and $5.5 million, and he pitched well in his first start, throwing 60 pitches and holding the Yankees down for five innings. Pineda will return to the Target Field mound Wednesday in a different uniform. The Tigers also added a new shortstop in Javier Báez on a six-year, $140 million deal. Báez is a divisive but highly talented player and can carry an offense for prolonged periods. He’s also an elite defender at shortstop, saving 46 runs since his debut in 2014. Of course, that comes with extreme swing-and-miss and long stretches of slumps Detroit’s offense posted a measly 93 wRC+ in 2021 (100 in league average), even with a Jeimer Candelario breakout and strong seasons from rookie Akil Baddoo and career minor-leaguer Eric Haase. This year, 2020’s first overall pick Spencer Torkelson joins the lineup. Torkelson looked like a complete hitter in the minors, and he enters the series hitting .217/.345/.435 in 15 games. The Tigers have a dynamic and semi-dangerous set of hitters, especially after the late addition of Austin Meadows. Mr. 3000 Miguel Cabrera is always a focus, and the Tigers have a group that could cause problems for the Twins. THREE SERIES X-FACTORS: 1. Carlos Correa Byron Buxton frankly took control of the Twins’ sweeping of the White Sox over the weekend. He leads the American League with 1.3 fWAR and a .946 slugging percentage. He can completely flip any game, and the Tigers certainly know the damage he is capable of. Carlos Correa, meanwhile, is hitting a light .192 with minimal power. If he can get going behind Buxton, the Tigers will have trouble keeping this lineup down for three games. 2. Javier Báez Báez is back after a thumb injury landed him on the 10-day injured list. He has the highest upside of any Tiger and is hitting the middle of the order. Báez, like Buxton, can heat up and dominate in a hurry. The Twins will feed him a steady diet of breaking balls, but if they hang it, he’ll bang it. Báez presents a simple but not easy challenge. 3. The bullpens The Tigers’ bullpen ranks first in the American League with a 2.30 ERA. Gregory Soto is evolving into an elite closer, and Michael Fulmer has found a new (and successful) home as a reliever. The Twins sport the 7th-highest bullpen ERA in MLB (4.16). If current trends hold, the Twins may be in trouble in the late innings. Pitching Probables Tues (6:40 CT): RHP Chris Paddack (0-2, 5.00 ERA) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.27 ERA) Wed (6:40 CT): RHP Joe Ryan (2-1, 1.69 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Thurs (12:10 CT): RHP Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 2.30 ERA) What do you think the keys to this week's series are? View full article
  8. Growling Expectations The Tigers, coming off five straight losing seasons, expect to compete in 2022. They won 77 games in manager A.J. Hinch’s first season with the club, finishing in third place in the Central in 2021. While the Tigers surprised with nearly 80 wins, they feasted off a historically bad division. It hasn’t been a clean start, as the Tigers have won only six of their first 15 games. The offense has been poor, and they’ve dealt with many injuries. So far, performance hasn’t met the loftiest expectations Tigers fans have had since they won four straight AL Central titles from 2011 to 2014. How Detroit won 77 games in 2021 is somewhat remarkable. Tigers position players accounted for 9.4 fWAR, the third-lowest in MLB. The pitching staff accumulated 10.2 fWAR, tied for 8th-lowest. It wasn’t a good team, but it was a significant step forward in a new era with Hinch. There is reason for optimism in the Motor City. The Tigers' hopes start with former No. 1 pick Casey Mize, who is currently on the injured list with an elbow sprain. Lefty Tarik Skubal is off to a terrific start and harnesses a fastball in the mid-90s. The Twins have trouble against velocity-oriented lefties, and they’ll see Skubal in Thursday’s finale. Current Twins do have six homers in 73 plate appearances against him. Speaking of lefties, the Tigers signed former Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodríguez for five years and $77 million this offseason. Rodríguez has given up eight runs in 13 innings with an elevated fly-ball rate. He's set to pitch the series opener on Tuesday. Many Twins fans thought the team should bring back veteran Michael Pineda to round out the rotation. Instead, Pineda signed with the Tigers for one year and $5.5 million, and he pitched well in his first start, throwing 60 pitches and holding the Yankees down for five innings. Pineda will return to the Target Field mound Wednesday in a different uniform. The Tigers also added a new shortstop in Javier Báez on a six-year, $140 million deal. Báez is a divisive but highly talented player and can carry an offense for prolonged periods. He’s also an elite defender at shortstop, saving 46 runs since his debut in 2014. Of course, that comes with extreme swing-and-miss and long stretches of slumps Detroit’s offense posted a measly 93 wRC+ in 2021 (100 in league average), even with a Jeimer Candelario breakout and strong seasons from rookie Akil Baddoo and career minor-leaguer Eric Haase. This year, 2020’s first overall pick Spencer Torkelson joins the lineup. Torkelson looked like a complete hitter in the minors, and he enters the series hitting .217/.345/.435 in 15 games. The Tigers have a dynamic and semi-dangerous set of hitters, especially after the late addition of Austin Meadows. Mr. 3000 Miguel Cabrera is always a focus, and the Tigers have a group that could cause problems for the Twins. THREE SERIES X-FACTORS: 1. Carlos Correa Byron Buxton frankly took control of the Twins’ sweeping of the White Sox over the weekend. He leads the American League with 1.3 fWAR and a .946 slugging percentage. He can completely flip any game, and the Tigers certainly know the damage he is capable of. Carlos Correa, meanwhile, is hitting a light .192 with minimal power. If he can get going behind Buxton, the Tigers will have trouble keeping this lineup down for three games. 2. Javier Báez Báez is back after a thumb injury landed him on the 10-day injured list. He has the highest upside of any Tiger and is hitting the middle of the order. Báez, like Buxton, can heat up and dominate in a hurry. The Twins will feed him a steady diet of breaking balls, but if they hang it, he’ll bang it. Báez presents a simple but not easy challenge. 3. The bullpens The Tigers’ bullpen ranks first in the American League with a 2.30 ERA. Gregory Soto is evolving into an elite closer, and Michael Fulmer has found a new (and successful) home as a reliever. The Twins sport the 7th-highest bullpen ERA in MLB (4.16). If current trends hold, the Twins may be in trouble in the late innings. Pitching Probables Tues (6:40 CT): RHP Chris Paddack (0-2, 5.00 ERA) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.27 ERA) Wed (6:40 CT): RHP Joe Ryan (2-1, 1.69 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Thurs (12:10 CT): RHP Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 2.30 ERA) What do you think the keys to this week's series are?
  9. The most recent episode of Locked On Twins broke down the starts for multiple Twins prospects. If you enjoy it, please like and subscribe! Episode here:
  10. It’s been an ugly start for the Twins and their bat rack. Aaron Gleeman broke down the awful numbers here if you thought your eyes were deceiving you. The good news is that the Twins have three hopeful offensive contributors on the way. It’s never wise to place the “instant contributor” tag on any prospect. The early struggles of Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and Spencer Torkelson, the first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, show that it’s unwise to expect immediate results from even the best rookie hitters. The Twins are struggling to score runs. Naturally, fans start to wonder about reinforcements. Who could give this group a boost? And more importantly, why should you believe it could be better in the future? Gary Sánchez, Carlos Correa, and Miguel Sanó are virtual locks to depart after the season, while Max Kepler enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023. Gio Urshela is a clear non-tender candidate. There was significant turnover this offseason, especially in the rotation. We could see the same type of flip in the lineup next winter. It doesn’t have to start then, though. MLB Pipeline ranks three Twins hitters in their Top-100 Prospect Rankings. Royce Lewis (45) has dropped considerably since the Twins selected him with the first pick in 2017, but his talent is undeniable. Lewis is raking at Triple-A for the Saints. He’s hitting for power, drawing walks, using the opposite field, and stringing outstanding plays at shortstop. It’s still super early, but the early returns on Lewis are nothing short of remarkable. His production shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know how special his tools still are. The assumed plan to replace Correa with Lewis in 2023 looks sound so far. If things continue to go this well for him at Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think Lewis could join the Twins relatively soon. He’s the highest upside player in the entire system, and his previous prospect status would’ve placed him at a 2022 mid-season debut. While Lewis carries the most upside, Austin Martin’s floor feels the safest. Martin, ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is known for his quality of at-bat and elite ability to make contact. His skillset is a right-handed Luis Arraez, and that specific mastery tends to translate fastest. Martin may never develop real power, but it feels like he’s close to the majors even without it. The Twins’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2021 put together one of the best seasons the organization has ever seen. José Miranda, now a Top-100 prospect, led the minors in total bases and hit 30 homers across the two highest levels. He’s off to a slow start in 2022, but Miranda had an outside chance of making the team outright this spring. He’s likely the first call if a corner infielder gets hurt. The Twins are hoping that Lewis, Martin, and Miranda make up the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade, preferably as soon as possible. With Byron Buxton locked in, it’s easy to envision a potential core for the future. If things continue to stay downhill for the Twins’ offense, they have three top prospects who could help when the weather warms up. View full article
  11. It’s never wise to place the “instant contributor” tag on any prospect. The early struggles of Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and Spencer Torkelson, the first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, show that it’s unwise to expect immediate results from even the best rookie hitters. The Twins are struggling to score runs. Naturally, fans start to wonder about reinforcements. Who could give this group a boost? And more importantly, why should you believe it could be better in the future? Gary Sánchez, Carlos Correa, and Miguel Sanó are virtual locks to depart after the season, while Max Kepler enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023. Gio Urshela is a clear non-tender candidate. There was significant turnover this offseason, especially in the rotation. We could see the same type of flip in the lineup next winter. It doesn’t have to start then, though. MLB Pipeline ranks three Twins hitters in their Top-100 Prospect Rankings. Royce Lewis (45) has dropped considerably since the Twins selected him with the first pick in 2017, but his talent is undeniable. Lewis is raking at Triple-A for the Saints. He’s hitting for power, drawing walks, using the opposite field, and stringing outstanding plays at shortstop. It’s still super early, but the early returns on Lewis are nothing short of remarkable. His production shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know how special his tools still are. The assumed plan to replace Correa with Lewis in 2023 looks sound so far. If things continue to go this well for him at Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think Lewis could join the Twins relatively soon. He’s the highest upside player in the entire system, and his previous prospect status would’ve placed him at a 2022 mid-season debut. While Lewis carries the most upside, Austin Martin’s floor feels the safest. Martin, ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is known for his quality of at-bat and elite ability to make contact. His skillset is a right-handed Luis Arraez, and that specific mastery tends to translate fastest. Martin may never develop real power, but it feels like he’s close to the majors even without it. The Twins’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2021 put together one of the best seasons the organization has ever seen. José Miranda, now a Top-100 prospect, led the minors in total bases and hit 30 homers across the two highest levels. He’s off to a slow start in 2022, but Miranda had an outside chance of making the team outright this spring. He’s likely the first call if a corner infielder gets hurt. The Twins are hoping that Lewis, Martin, and Miranda make up the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade, preferably as soon as possible. With Byron Buxton locked in, it’s easy to envision a potential core for the future. If things continue to stay downhill for the Twins’ offense, they have three top prospects who could help when the weather warms up.
  12. The Twins’ 2022 schedule is an exciting mix of challenging stretches, light runs, and everything in-between. April offers perhaps their most difficult month of the year. The Twins’ first ten games of the season are against teams that won 90 or more games last year. The Mariners added Jesse Winker, Robbie Ray, and uber-prospect Julio Rodríguez to a talented roster that lost only 72 games in 2021. The Dodgers, baseball’s premier team, signed superstar Freddie Freeman. The heart of the Red Sox lineup is as dangerous as any, and the Twins must face them in their home-opening series at Fenway. Tough sledding. No one is crying for the Twins. The team insisted they were trying to compete this year, and if you can’t hang with the best teams, you have no business making a run to the postseason. The Twins’ most-winnable series of April is a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium next week, but the Royals have always played the Twins tough, especially in Kansas City. The good news for a Twins club needing a solid start is that May lightens up considerably. Four games in Baltimore, six games against the now-lowly Athletics, and 13 straight games against the Royals and Tigers await. The Twins, if they are a real contender this year, should be able to handle most of those matchups. It’s how they won 101 games in 2019. They'll have to do it without Alex Kirilloff and Jorge Alcala, at least for now. The Twins ended their season extremely early last year. They dug a hole so deep (14-28 record) before the summer months even arrived. It’s okay to find your footing early, and it would be understandable for the Twins to scuffle a hair in the first half with young starters on the rise. There’s a stark difference, though, between scuffling and sinking. The Twins have to remain around .500 through April. The goal: 11-11 or 10-12 by the end of the Tampa Bay series on May 1st. It’s a relatively low bar, but April rivals August as the Twins’ most challenging month. If they can weather the storm, they should be in a good spot when the calendar flips to April. Of course, they still have to play and win those lighter games. The Twins project to win between 80 and 86 games this year. Taking care of business against visibly-inferior teams (Royals, A’s, Orioles) is essential, but so is managing the tough stretches. The difference between 11-11 April and an 8-14 April is massive. If we manage expectations, the Twins should be shooting for a record that’s five or six games above .500 by the All-Star Break. They have the ammunition to add at the deadline and make a push in August and September. The Twins will show us glimpses of who they are as soon as this weekend at Fenway. Split or win the series, and things are looking up. Lose three out of four or get swept, and the confidence will continue to dwindle. You are your record, after all. View full article
  13. The Twins’ first ten games of the season are against teams that won 90 or more games last year. The Mariners added Jesse Winker, Robbie Ray, and uber-prospect Julio Rodríguez to a talented roster that lost only 72 games in 2021. The Dodgers, baseball’s premier team, signed superstar Freddie Freeman. The heart of the Red Sox lineup is as dangerous as any, and the Twins must face them in their home-opening series at Fenway. Tough sledding. No one is crying for the Twins. The team insisted they were trying to compete this year, and if you can’t hang with the best teams, you have no business making a run to the postseason. The Twins’ most-winnable series of April is a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium next week, but the Royals have always played the Twins tough, especially in Kansas City. The good news for a Twins club needing a solid start is that May lightens up considerably. Four games in Baltimore, six games against the now-lowly Athletics, and 13 straight games against the Royals and Tigers await. The Twins, if they are a real contender this year, should be able to handle most of those matchups. It’s how they won 101 games in 2019. They'll have to do it without Alex Kirilloff and Jorge Alcala, at least for now. The Twins ended their season extremely early last year. They dug a hole so deep (14-28 record) before the summer months even arrived. It’s okay to find your footing early, and it would be understandable for the Twins to scuffle a hair in the first half with young starters on the rise. There’s a stark difference, though, between scuffling and sinking. The Twins have to remain around .500 through April. The goal: 11-11 or 10-12 by the end of the Tampa Bay series on May 1st. It’s a relatively low bar, but April rivals August as the Twins’ most challenging month. If they can weather the storm, they should be in a good spot when the calendar flips to April. Of course, they still have to play and win those lighter games. The Twins project to win between 80 and 86 games this year. Taking care of business against visibly-inferior teams (Royals, A’s, Orioles) is essential, but so is managing the tough stretches. The difference between 11-11 April and an 8-14 April is massive. If we manage expectations, the Twins should be shooting for a record that’s five or six games above .500 by the All-Star Break. They have the ammunition to add at the deadline and make a push in August and September. The Twins will show us glimpses of who they are as soon as this weekend at Fenway. Split or win the series, and things are looking up. Lose three out of four or get swept, and the confidence will continue to dwindle. You are your record, after all.
  14. Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (@ Louisville) 5-1 (5-1 overall) It was an awesome opening week for the Saints. The team scored 47 runs and won five of their six games. Royce Lewis is off to a great start, going 7-for-21 with three doubles and a homer. Lewis stole three bases and reached base in 48% of his plate appearances. He also made numerous strong plays at shortstop. Mark Contreras picked up right where he left off in 2021, going 6-for-17 with two doubles and two homers. The player of the week, though, was Jake Cave, who went 9-for-19 with three doubles and a triple. Cave posted a 1.320 OPS and is undoubtedly itching to join the Twins in Minneapolis. On the pitching front, Cole Sands dazzled with five scoreless innings in Thursday’s loss. Sands struck out seven, walked none, and allowed one hit. He’s a key part of what the Twins hope will be adequate starting pitching depth this season. Several Saints relievers had strong weeks, including Wladimir Pinto (4 IP, 0 ER), Juan Minaya (3 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 5 K), and Yennier Cano (3 IP, 0 ER, 4 K). Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (vs. Tulsa) 0-3 (0-3 overall) The Surge had a rough first go at the plate, hitting .167/.264/.250 with one homer in 110 plate appearances. Austin Martin went 2-for-13 with multiple errors and Matt Wallner went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts. Spencer Steer had a nice weekend with three hits, including two doubles and two RBI. Matt Canterino started the opener and battled through a tenuous first inning. The second was much better, but with the Twins monitoring his workload closely, Canterino lasted two innings and 45 pitches. Twins’ 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Louie Varland made his debut in relief, walking five in a rough 4 2/3 innings. Simeon Woods Richardson pitched very well in his season debut, striking out five and walking two in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. SWR threw 46 of 66 pitches for strikes, an awesome sign after command issues last year. Austin Schulfer, Steven Cruz, and the Surge bullpen was fairly solid all weekend. The bats were the issue. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (vs. Beloit) 3-0 (3-0 overall) What an insane week for Twins’ 2021 fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He went 10-for-14 with two doubles, three homers, and 15 RBI. Those 15 RBI are four more than the next high total for all minor leaguers despite Triple-A teams having played six games instead of three. It is six more than anyone below Triple-A. Sawyer Gipson-Long quietly had a solid season in 2021, striking out 32% of hitters across both A-levels. He is off to a nice start this year, pitching four scoreless innings with five strikeouts in his season debut. Brent Headrick and Aaron Rozek also turned in solid starts. Outscoring Beloit 23-8, the Kernels could have a potent offense with Encarnacion-Strand, Alerick Soularie, and Aaron Sabato in the heart of the order. The bullpen was also fantastic, headlined by Osiris German, Cody Laweryson, and Bradley Hanner. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: (@ Clearwater) 3-0 (3-0 overall) Emmanuel Rodríguez will be a must-follow prospect all summer long. The 19-year-old showed elite plate discipline and power in his 2021 debut. Rodríguez walked six times over his first three games this weekend, adding a homer and a double. He also stole a base in Sunday’s win. Rodríguez could move quickly. Outfielder Kyler Fedko, the Twins’ 12th round pick in 2021, is off and running with a double, triple, and four RBI. Kala’i Rosario went 2-for-8 with a triple and Keoni Cavaco had a monster Opening Day, going 3-for-5 with a double. Cavaco walked twice Saturday and once more Sunday, but he struck out six times in 15 plate appearances. Starters David Festa, Travis Adams, and John Stankiewicz combined to allow three runs in 15 innings. They struck out 16 and walked only two. The Mighty Mussels lead the league with a 3.00 ERA after the first weekend. They led the Florida State League with a 3.96 ERA and tied for first with 1,288 strikeouts in 2021. Complex League FCL Twins: 2021 Regular Season (21-38) The FCL Twins start their season in Mid-June. Players not currently on a full-season affiliate's roster are in Ft. Myers at the complex for what amounts to Extended Spring Training. Several of those players will move back and forth between the Complex roster and the Mighty Mussels roster, or even the other rosters depending on need. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-13, 2 2B #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 7-for-21, 3 2B, 4 BB, 3 SB #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5-for-25, HR #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP (70 pitches, 42 strikes) #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K (45 pitches, 26 strikes) #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K (31 pitches, 22 strikes) #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 5 ⅔ IP, H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 K (66 pitches, 46 strikes) #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 4-for-14, SB #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - Did Not Play. #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-9, 3 BB #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 4 K, (86 pitches, 49 strikes) #15 - Emmanuel Rodríguez (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-9, 2B, HR, SB #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (Development List) - DNP #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 3-for-11, 2 2B #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3-for-11, BB #20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch Feel free to discuss the teams or players, and ask questions in the COMMENTS below.
  15. Minor League Baseball is underway! The Twins’ affiliates kicked offseasons that will be filled with breakouts, wins, and box score hawking. On the whole, the system went 11-4. If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (@ Louisville) 5-1 (5-1 overall) It was an awesome opening week for the Saints. The team scored 47 runs and won five of their six games. Royce Lewis is off to a great start, going 7-for-21 with three doubles and a homer. Lewis stole three bases and reached base in 48% of his plate appearances. He also made numerous strong plays at shortstop. Mark Contreras picked up right where he left off in 2021, going 6-for-17 with two doubles and two homers. The player of the week, though, was Jake Cave, who went 9-for-19 with three doubles and a triple. Cave posted a 1.320 OPS and is undoubtedly itching to join the Twins in Minneapolis. On the pitching front, Cole Sands dazzled with five scoreless innings in Thursday’s loss. Sands struck out seven, walked none, and allowed one hit. He’s a key part of what the Twins hope will be adequate starting pitching depth this season. Several Saints relievers had strong weeks, including Wladimir Pinto (4 IP, 0 ER), Juan Minaya (3 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 5 K), and Yennier Cano (3 IP, 0 ER, 4 K). Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (vs. Tulsa) 0-3 (0-3 overall) The Surge had a rough first go at the plate, hitting .167/.264/.250 with one homer in 110 plate appearances. Austin Martin went 2-for-13 with multiple errors and Matt Wallner went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts. Spencer Steer had a nice weekend with three hits, including two doubles and two RBI. Matt Canterino started the opener and battled through a tenuous first inning. The second was much better, but with the Twins monitoring his workload closely, Canterino lasted two innings and 45 pitches. Twins’ 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Louie Varland made his debut in relief, walking five in a rough 4 2/3 innings. Simeon Woods Richardson pitched very well in his season debut, striking out five and walking two in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. SWR threw 46 of 66 pitches for strikes, an awesome sign after command issues last year. Austin Schulfer, Steven Cruz, and the Surge bullpen was fairly solid all weekend. The bats were the issue. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (vs. Beloit) 3-0 (3-0 overall) What an insane week for Twins’ 2021 fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He went 10-for-14 with two doubles, three homers, and 15 RBI. Those 15 RBI are four more than the next high total for all minor leaguers despite Triple-A teams having played six games instead of three. It is six more than anyone below Triple-A. Sawyer Gipson-Long quietly had a solid season in 2021, striking out 32% of hitters across both A-levels. He is off to a nice start this year, pitching four scoreless innings with five strikeouts in his season debut. Brent Headrick and Aaron Rozek also turned in solid starts. Outscoring Beloit 23-8, the Kernels could have a potent offense with Encarnacion-Strand, Alerick Soularie, and Aaron Sabato in the heart of the order. The bullpen was also fantastic, headlined by Osiris German, Cody Laweryson, and Bradley Hanner. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: (@ Clearwater) 3-0 (3-0 overall) Emmanuel Rodríguez will be a must-follow prospect all summer long. The 19-year-old showed elite plate discipline and power in his 2021 debut. Rodríguez walked six times over his first three games this weekend, adding a homer and a double. He also stole a base in Sunday’s win. Rodríguez could move quickly. Outfielder Kyler Fedko, the Twins’ 12th round pick in 2021, is off and running with a double, triple, and four RBI. Kala’i Rosario went 2-for-8 with a triple and Keoni Cavaco had a monster Opening Day, going 3-for-5 with a double. Cavaco walked twice Saturday and once more Sunday, but he struck out six times in 15 plate appearances. Starters David Festa, Travis Adams, and John Stankiewicz combined to allow three runs in 15 innings. They struck out 16 and walked only two. The Mighty Mussels lead the league with a 3.00 ERA after the first weekend. They led the Florida State League with a 3.96 ERA and tied for first with 1,288 strikeouts in 2021. Complex League FCL Twins: 2021 Regular Season (21-38) The FCL Twins start their season in Mid-June. Players not currently on a full-season affiliate's roster are in Ft. Myers at the complex for what amounts to Extended Spring Training. Several of those players will move back and forth between the Complex roster and the Mighty Mussels roster, or even the other rosters depending on need. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-13, 2 2B #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 7-for-21, 3 2B, 4 BB, 3 SB #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5-for-25, HR #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP (70 pitches, 42 strikes) #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K (45 pitches, 26 strikes) #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K (31 pitches, 22 strikes) #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 5 ⅔ IP, H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 K (66 pitches, 46 strikes) #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 4-for-14, SB #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - Did Not Play. #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-9, 3 BB #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 4 K, (86 pitches, 49 strikes) #15 - Emmanuel Rodríguez (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-9, 2B, HR, SB #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (Development List) - DNP #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 3-for-11, 2 2B #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3-for-11, BB #20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch Feel free to discuss the teams or players, and ask questions in the COMMENTS below. View full article
  16. Hope springs eternal, and there’s no hope like a prospect in baseball. Several Twins prospects had a lovely first weekend, flashing the talent fans hope to see at Target Field soon. Christian Encarnacion-Strand The Twins selected Encarnacion-Strand in the fourth round of last year’s draft, investing in the right-handed corner infielder from Oklahoma State. Encarnacion-Strand dominated the Big 12 with a .361/.442/.661 slash and 35 extra-base hits in 56 games. He followed that up with an incredible debut at Low-A Fort Myers, hitting .391/.424/.598 in 22 games, prompting many to choose him as their breakout candidate for 2022. The Twins sent him to High-A Cedar Rapids, and he’s been nothing short of incredible. Encarnacion-Strand went 10-for-14 with three homers, two doubles, and 15 RBI through his first three games. Those 15 RBI are four more than the next high total for all minor leaguers despite Triple-A teams having played six games instead of three. It is six more than anyone below Triple-A. Already 22, Encarnacion-Strand could move quickly through the system, with evaluators impressed by his agility and hands at third base. Royce Lewis After missing nearly three years of minor league action, Lewis hasn’t missed a beat. He is 7-for-21 with a homer and three doubles. Lewis has stolen three bases and made a handful of great plays at shortstop. He’s walked four times and been hit by two pitches while striking out seven times. Lewis’ talent speaks for itself, and he’s capable of dominating Triple-A and forcing the Twins’ hand this summer. He’ll likely go through a tough stretch or two due to the time off, but this start is precisely what the doctor ordered. The Twins have to be pleased with his first week of game action. Simeon Woods Richardson Speaking of ultra-talented breakout candidates, Woods Richardson had a rough go at Double-A last year. He’s now a year older at 21 and has settled into his third organization. After walking 34 batters in 53 1/3 innings last year, refining command is undoubtedly a focus in 2022. Woods Richardson was excellent in his first start Saturday, striking out five over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and walked two. 46 of his 66 pitches were strikes, a great sign. Woods Richardson has the stuff and the size to become a mid-rotation force, and his first start was a step in the right direction. View full article
  17. Christian Encarnacion-Strand The Twins selected Encarnacion-Strand in the fourth round of last year’s draft, investing in the right-handed corner infielder from Oklahoma State. Encarnacion-Strand dominated the Big 12 with a .361/.442/.661 slash and 35 extra-base hits in 56 games. He followed that up with an incredible debut at Low-A Fort Myers, hitting .391/.424/.598 in 22 games, prompting many to choose him as their breakout candidate for 2022. The Twins sent him to High-A Cedar Rapids, and he’s been nothing short of incredible. Encarnacion-Strand went 10-for-14 with three homers, two doubles, and 15 RBI through his first three games. Those 15 RBI are four more than the next high total for all minor leaguers despite Triple-A teams having played six games instead of three. It is six more than anyone below Triple-A. Already 22, Encarnacion-Strand could move quickly through the system, with evaluators impressed by his agility and hands at third base. Royce Lewis After missing nearly three years of minor league action, Lewis hasn’t missed a beat. He is 7-for-21 with a homer and three doubles. Lewis has stolen three bases and made a handful of great plays at shortstop. He’s walked four times and been hit by two pitches while striking out seven times. Lewis’ talent speaks for itself, and he’s capable of dominating Triple-A and forcing the Twins’ hand this summer. He’ll likely go through a tough stretch or two due to the time off, but this start is precisely what the doctor ordered. The Twins have to be pleased with his first week of game action. Simeon Woods Richardson Speaking of ultra-talented breakout candidates, Woods Richardson had a rough go at Double-A last year. He’s now a year older at 21 and has settled into his third organization. After walking 34 batters in 53 1/3 innings last year, refining command is undoubtedly a focus in 2022. Woods Richardson was excellent in his first start Saturday, striking out five over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and walked two. 46 of his 66 pitches were strikes, a great sign. Woods Richardson has the stuff and the size to become a mid-rotation force, and his first start was a step in the right direction.
  18. Thank you so much! I added "actually paid" in there to clarify. The most they've ever paid is $49 million to Ervin, per Gleeman. Donaldson got something like $30 million from them.
  19. Carlos Correa is an electrifying talent, combining an elite offensive game with incredible defense at a premier position. For those reasons, he’s perhaps the best player the Twins have had since Joe Mauer and one of the best to wear a Twins uniform. Today, Correa is expected to make his Twins debut against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium. The Twins had many routes to choose from this offseason. It started with the most impactful decision: what to do with Byron Buxton. After the team rightly extended him for seven years and $100 million, it became clear that they couldn’t punt on his age-28 season. The idea of Buxton finally staying healthy and putting together an MVP-level campaign only to miss the playoffs was untenable. The Twins picked the path to competition. With all of the uncertainty, the money available, and the robust free-agent class, there was one certainty: the Twins weren’t landing Carlos Correa. A $300-plus million talent, Correa topped the market. The Twins have never actually paid more than $50 million to a free agent, an incredible fact and one that placed them firmly outside of Correa’s stratosphere. It was almost more unlikely to happen if Correa wanted a shorter-term deal. Why wouldn’t handfuls of teams line up for a shorter, high-AAV deal for Correa’s prime years? The Twins weren’t the destination, not even close. Until they were. If you’re not *still* shocked, I don’t believe you. The Twins took advantage of a surprisingly depressed market and made Correa the highest-paid infielder in MLB history. With one swift and stunning move, the Twins added the best player they’ve had since Joe Mauer’s heydays (in addition to Buxton). So, just how good is he? Correa produced 7.1 r-Wins Above Replacement(WAR) in 2021, which would place him in the top-10 for all-time Twins position-player seasons. No Twins hitter has eclipsed 7 WAR since Mauer in 2009, and Chuck Knoblauch's 1996 season was the most recent before Mauer, and that was way back in 1996. The Twins have never had a shortstop like Correa. His great 34.1 WAR would rank first in Twins history through a position player’s age-26 season, and it isn’t close. Only four Twins hitters have ever eclipsed 6.5 WAR in a season. Correa has done it three times on his own. Among shortstops who played at least 500 games through their age-26 season, Correa ranks fourth in WAR, and has played in a combined 1,090 less games than the three players ahead of him. Those players? Alex Rodríguez, Cal Ripken Jr., and Robin Yount. And that’s just the regular season. The Twins’ postseason hits leader is Kirby Puckett with 30. Correa has 82. Correa has driven in 59 runs in the playoffs, more than the top-four Twins leaders combined (54). Correa has played more postseason games (79) than the Twins have in their 121-year franchise history (74). (Of note, this isn't completely an apples-to-apples comparison as MLB has more playoff rounds than there were in 1987 and 1991, which was more than 1965.) The Twins have *never* had an in-their-prime, all-around star with Correa's track record. Only two Twins in team history can match the 7.1-WAR, 25 home run season Correa put together last year: Bob Allison in 1963, and yes, you guessed it! Mauer in 2009. If Correa’s career ended today, he’d rank 8th in Twins' position-player history in WAR, ahead of Allison (30.6), Gary Gaetti (27.1), and Torii Hunter (26.4). Among Twins with at least 700 games played, Correa would rank 6th in OPS+ (127), ahead of Mauer (124) and Puckett (124). Of course, Correa has played a total of zero games with the Twins to this point and we don't know exactly how long his tenure with the team will last. It certainly is exciting to think about what type of talent he can be. Defensively, Correa saved 20 runs in 2021, per FanGraphs. Only one Twin in team history has ever eclipsed that mark: Buxton in a Platinum-Glove winning 2017 when he saved 22 runs in centerfield. Like his similarly talented teammate in centerfield, Correa does it all. In no way am I discounting the great players we’ve seen excel for the Twins. They have a rich history of outstanding, Hall-of-Fame level performers. Correa tracks for similar status, and he’s in the middle of his prime. Enjoy the (likely one-year) ride. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. The Twins had many routes to choose from this offseason. It started with the most impactful decision: what to do with Byron Buxton. After the team rightly extended him for seven years and $100 million, it became clear that they couldn’t punt on his age-28 season. The idea of Buxton finally staying healthy and putting together an MVP-level campaign only to miss the playoffs was untenable. The Twins picked the path to competition. With all of the uncertainty, the money available, and the robust free-agent class, there was one certainty: the Twins weren’t landing Carlos Correa. A $300-plus million talent, Correa topped the market. The Twins have never actually paid more than $50 million to a free agent, an incredible fact and one that placed them firmly outside of Correa’s stratosphere. It was almost more unlikely to happen if Correa wanted a shorter-term deal. Why wouldn’t handfuls of teams line up for a shorter, high-AAV deal for Correa’s prime years? The Twins weren’t the destination, not even close. Until they were. If you’re not *still* shocked, I don’t believe you. The Twins took advantage of a surprisingly depressed market and made Correa the highest-paid infielder in MLB history. With one swift and stunning move, the Twins added the best player they’ve had since Joe Mauer’s heydays (in addition to Buxton). So, just how good is he? Correa produced 7.1 r-Wins Above Replacement(WAR) in 2021, which would place him in the top-10 for all-time Twins position-player seasons. No Twins hitter has eclipsed 7 WAR since Mauer in 2009, and Chuck Knoblauch's 1996 season was the most recent before Mauer, and that was way back in 1996. The Twins have never had a shortstop like Correa. His great 34.1 WAR would rank first in Twins history through a position player’s age-26 season, and it isn’t close. Only four Twins hitters have ever eclipsed 6.5 WAR in a season. Correa has done it three times on his own. Among shortstops who played at least 500 games through their age-26 season, Correa ranks fourth in WAR, and has played in a combined 1,090 less games than the three players ahead of him. Those players? Alex Rodríguez, Cal Ripken Jr., and Robin Yount. And that’s just the regular season. The Twins’ postseason hits leader is Kirby Puckett with 30. Correa has 82. Correa has driven in 59 runs in the playoffs, more than the top-four Twins leaders combined (54). Correa has played more postseason games (79) than the Twins have in their 121-year franchise history (74). (Of note, this isn't completely an apples-to-apples comparison as MLB has more playoff rounds than there were in 1987 and 1991, which was more than 1965.) The Twins have *never* had an in-their-prime, all-around star with Correa's track record. Only two Twins in team history can match the 7.1-WAR, 25 home run season Correa put together last year: Bob Allison in 1963, and yes, you guessed it! Mauer in 2009. If Correa’s career ended today, he’d rank 8th in Twins' position-player history in WAR, ahead of Allison (30.6), Gary Gaetti (27.1), and Torii Hunter (26.4). Among Twins with at least 700 games played, Correa would rank 6th in OPS+ (127), ahead of Mauer (124) and Puckett (124). Of course, Correa has played a total of zero games with the Twins to this point and we don't know exactly how long his tenure with the team will last. It certainly is exciting to think about what type of talent he can be. Defensively, Correa saved 20 runs in 2021, per FanGraphs. Only one Twin in team history has ever eclipsed that mark: Buxton in a Platinum-Glove winning 2017 when he saved 22 runs in centerfield. Like his similarly talented teammate in centerfield, Correa does it all. In no way am I discounting the great players we’ve seen excel for the Twins. They have a rich history of outstanding, Hall-of-Fame level performers. Correa tracks for similar status, and he’s in the middle of his prime. Enjoy the (likely one-year) ride. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. My plea to the Twins all winter was to field a team that has a fighting chance. As constructed before the lockout, the Twins were looking at another down year, with speculation looming of a rebuild, retool, or anything in-between. They’ve made their decision. After signing Correa to a quasi-one-year deal and trading first-round pick Chase Petty for Sonny Gray, the Twins can't go back now. It’s time to push more chips into the pile. Rumors are swirling about a Frankie Montas addition, and Luis Castillo is still in Cincinnati, where the Reds have told everyone the party is over. The Twins need to supplement a less-than-stellar rotation, but the bullpen is also lacking in the hard-throwing right-hander department. Enter Jhoan Duran, who turned heads Saturday with a truly dazzling spring appearance. Duran threw 19 pitches, with three at 99 mph or more. He struck out two over two perfect innings. Duran has the repertoire to be a dominant starter, with a 70-grade fastball and developing breaking stuff. The hope is he remains a future rotation member, with the Twins crossing their fingers for a healthy summer ahead. He’s thrown only 16 game innings since 2019, so ramping him up in 2022 is critical. It wouldn't be easy to convince me that Duran, 24, couldn’t help the Twins immediately. He’s an electric young arm, similar to former Twins flamethrower Brusdar Graterol. Understanding they needed to help the 2020 team in any possible way, the Twins first decided to move Graterol to a bullpen role, tracking him to make the team on Opening Day. Then, further recognizing a need to supplement, the Twins traded Graterol to the Dodgers for Kenta Maeda. The Twins made both decisions knowing they had to aid a preseason American League Central favorite in any way possible. After signing Correa, how is this year any different? Duran may be part of a package that returns Montas, Sean Manaea, Castillo, or Tyler Mahle, but that’s not what I’m proposing. Let Duran cook. He’s 24, needs innings, and looks ready to contribute. A bullpen move isn’t a death sentence. White Sox starter Michael Kopech is a great example. A hard-throwing right-hander coming off an injury, the White Sox let him eat out of the bullpen in 2021, and he now resides in their rotation. The Twins’ bullpen consists of Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcalá, Caleb Thielbar, recently-added Joe Smith, Jharel Cotton, and perhaps Randy Dobnak or Jovani Morán. It’s an OK group but could use a boost. Even if the Twins sign a high-leverage, right-handed reliever, Duran could fill a key role. Duran and Alcalá would form a potentially dominant pairing of right-handed flamethrowers, setting up for Duffey and Rogers. Duran could pitch in low, medium, and high leverage and even open some games. He’d be a swiss-army knife for Rocco Baldelli and a potentially valuable one. The Twins have decided they want to win in 2022. By moving Duran to the bullpen, they’re pushing more chips into the pot, which I’ve been calling for since the offseason commenced. What do you think? Should the Twins move Jhoan Duran to the bullpen for 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Now that the dust has somewhat settled on the Twins’ stunning addition of superstar Carlos Correa, the attention has turned to the weakest parts of the roster. In addition to the rotation, the Twins could still use some juice out of their bullpen. They have an in-house option to fill that void. My plea to the Twins all winter was to field a team that has a fighting chance. As constructed before the lockout, the Twins were looking at another down year, with speculation looming of a rebuild, retool, or anything in-between. They’ve made their decision. After signing Correa to a quasi-one-year deal and trading first-round pick Chase Petty for Sonny Gray, the Twins can't go back now. It’s time to push more chips into the pile. Rumors are swirling about a Frankie Montas addition, and Luis Castillo is still in Cincinnati, where the Reds have told everyone the party is over. The Twins need to supplement a less-than-stellar rotation, but the bullpen is also lacking in the hard-throwing right-hander department. Enter Jhoan Duran, who turned heads Saturday with a truly dazzling spring appearance. Duran threw 19 pitches, with three at 99 mph or more. He struck out two over two perfect innings. Duran has the repertoire to be a dominant starter, with a 70-grade fastball and developing breaking stuff. The hope is he remains a future rotation member, with the Twins crossing their fingers for a healthy summer ahead. He’s thrown only 16 game innings since 2019, so ramping him up in 2022 is critical. It wouldn't be easy to convince me that Duran, 24, couldn’t help the Twins immediately. He’s an electric young arm, similar to former Twins flamethrower Brusdar Graterol. Understanding they needed to help the 2020 team in any possible way, the Twins first decided to move Graterol to a bullpen role, tracking him to make the team on Opening Day. Then, further recognizing a need to supplement, the Twins traded Graterol to the Dodgers for Kenta Maeda. The Twins made both decisions knowing they had to aid a preseason American League Central favorite in any way possible. After signing Correa, how is this year any different? Duran may be part of a package that returns Montas, Sean Manaea, Castillo, or Tyler Mahle, but that’s not what I’m proposing. Let Duran cook. He’s 24, needs innings, and looks ready to contribute. A bullpen move isn’t a death sentence. White Sox starter Michael Kopech is a great example. A hard-throwing right-hander coming off an injury, the White Sox let him eat out of the bullpen in 2021, and he now resides in their rotation. The Twins’ bullpen consists of Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcalá, Caleb Thielbar, recently-added Joe Smith, Jharel Cotton, and perhaps Randy Dobnak or Jovani Morán. It’s an OK group but could use a boost. Even if the Twins sign a high-leverage, right-handed reliever, Duran could fill a key role. Duran and Alcalá would form a potentially dominant pairing of right-handed flamethrowers, setting up for Duffey and Rogers. Duran could pitch in low, medium, and high leverage and even open some games. He’d be a swiss-army knife for Rocco Baldelli and a potentially valuable one. The Twins have decided they want to win in 2022. By moving Duran to the bullpen, they’re pushing more chips into the pot, which I’ve been calling for since the offseason commenced. What do you think? Should the Twins move Jhoan Duran to the bullpen for 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  23. It’s been a hectic, wild, *insert synonym for crazy* post-lockout season for the Twins. Even now, there’s plenty of work to do, with the path to a winning offseason rearing its beautiful head. There’s more than one route for the Twins, who’ve infused the roster with a new look. If you were taken back or even shocked to see Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in Twins gear, you aren’t alone. Sunday night’s trade was wild enough to fill an entire month of offseason hunger, but it came after two more huge trades in subsequent days. By trading Josh Donaldson and his contract to New York, the Twins added Sonny Gray’s salary for free. The Twins’ payroll remains at $94 million, even after the trade that sent first-round pick Chase Petty to the Cincinnati Reds. That leaves roughly $30-35 million in spending room for the Twins, with very few viable, high-priced free agents left. As soon as the Donaldson deal broke, the attention seemingly shifted immediately to Trevor Story, the former Rockies star shortstop who remains a free agent. There had been speculation pre-lockout that the Twins could take a run at the two-time All-Star, but it was more hope than reality. That sense is shifted. Dan Hayes reported the Twins have indeed been in contact with Story’s camp and that smoke could trail actual fire. Story is an excellent player with clear question marks, the reason why the Twins have any chance to sign him. Only Xander Bogaerts has a higher OPS than Story (.880) among shortstops who’ve played at least 300 games since 2018. Story produced 19.9 b-Wins Above Replacement in that span, second to Marcus Semien, now a second baseman. Story’s relative down year in 2021 (still above-average), the Coors Field factor, and his defensive inconsistencies are real concerns, but they’re the only reason he’s not signing for $300 million. Since 2018, Story has more bWAR than Francisco Lindor, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Carlos Correa. The Twins traded two of their three best right-handed hitters, have clean books, and a gaping hole at shortstop. Story fits in a meaningful way. He’s a $30 million player who may sign for closer to $20 million, another attractive proposition for a Twins team that still needs quality starting pitching. In the still unlikely scenario where the Twins sign Story, the pressure increases on more additions. Enter Frankie Montas, the electric and highly sought-after right-hander from the Oakland Athletics. Montas isn’t a household name, primarily because of Oakland’s small market and because he hasn’t completely lived up to his stuff. Montas lives with an upper-90s set of fastballs, his four-seamer performing better than his sinker. Montas’ best pitch is his splitter, a tumbling offering that kept hitters to a .164 wOBA in 2021. His slider has been devastating in the past, but not as much in 2021. Cutting down on the sinker and upping his slider usage could unlock a new weapon. Montas threw 187 innings last year, another important aspect for the Twins. Montas dominated down the stretch, pitching to a 2.17 ERA and a 30% strikeout rate in the second half. If the Twins sign Story, they’re signaling that Royce Lewis is not the shortstop of the future, adding to a glut at third base and in the outfield. Austin Martin and José Miranda already project for a corner, and Luis Arraez’s best defensive position is third base. Oh, and did I mention Urshela, the best defender of the group? There’s an influx. The path is clear. Story, Montas, a reliever or two, and a depth addition of Michael Pineda is the slam-dunk route for the Twins. This team is one I’ve wanted them to assemble since the offseason commenced. It gives them a chance to compete with an expanded playoff field, and it excites fans for what could be an exhilarating team this summer. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  24. There’s more than one route for the Twins, who’ve infused the roster with a new look. If you were taken back or even shocked to see Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in Twins gear, you aren’t alone. Sunday night’s trade was wild enough to fill an entire month of offseason hunger, but it came after two more huge trades in subsequent days. By trading Josh Donaldson and his contract to New York, the Twins added Sonny Gray’s salary for free. The Twins’ payroll remains at $94 million, even after the trade that sent first-round pick Chase Petty to the Cincinnati Reds. That leaves roughly $30-35 million in spending room for the Twins, with very few viable, high-priced free agents left. As soon as the Donaldson deal broke, the attention seemingly shifted immediately to Trevor Story, the former Rockies star shortstop who remains a free agent. There had been speculation pre-lockout that the Twins could take a run at the two-time All-Star, but it was more hope than reality. That sense is shifted. Dan Hayes reported the Twins have indeed been in contact with Story’s camp and that smoke could trail actual fire. Story is an excellent player with clear question marks, the reason why the Twins have any chance to sign him. Only Xander Bogaerts has a higher OPS than Story (.880) among shortstops who’ve played at least 300 games since 2018. Story produced 19.9 b-Wins Above Replacement in that span, second to Marcus Semien, now a second baseman. Story’s relative down year in 2021 (still above-average), the Coors Field factor, and his defensive inconsistencies are real concerns, but they’re the only reason he’s not signing for $300 million. Since 2018, Story has more bWAR than Francisco Lindor, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Carlos Correa. The Twins traded two of their three best right-handed hitters, have clean books, and a gaping hole at shortstop. Story fits in a meaningful way. He’s a $30 million player who may sign for closer to $20 million, another attractive proposition for a Twins team that still needs quality starting pitching. In the still unlikely scenario where the Twins sign Story, the pressure increases on more additions. Enter Frankie Montas, the electric and highly sought-after right-hander from the Oakland Athletics. Montas isn’t a household name, primarily because of Oakland’s small market and because he hasn’t completely lived up to his stuff. Montas lives with an upper-90s set of fastballs, his four-seamer performing better than his sinker. Montas’ best pitch is his splitter, a tumbling offering that kept hitters to a .164 wOBA in 2021. His slider has been devastating in the past, but not as much in 2021. Cutting down on the sinker and upping his slider usage could unlock a new weapon. Montas threw 187 innings last year, another important aspect for the Twins. Montas dominated down the stretch, pitching to a 2.17 ERA and a 30% strikeout rate in the second half. If the Twins sign Story, they’re signaling that Royce Lewis is not the shortstop of the future, adding to a glut at third base and in the outfield. Austin Martin and José Miranda already project for a corner, and Luis Arraez’s best defensive position is third base. Oh, and did I mention Urshela, the best defender of the group? There’s an influx. The path is clear. Story, Montas, a reliever or two, and a depth addition of Michael Pineda is the slam-dunk route for the Twins. This team is one I’ve wanted them to assemble since the offseason commenced. It gives them a chance to compete with an expanded playoff field, and it excites fans for what could be an exhilarating team this summer. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Twins Territory held mixed feelings when the team traded fan favorite Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Was the team signaling a rebuild in 2022? The front office disputed that less than 24 hours later. The addition of Sonny Gray is enough to convince even the most skeptical fan that the Twins are looking to compete in 2022. It’s the right plan and one I’ve been screaming for all offseason. The Twins have the offensive pieces in place to score plenty of runs, and while inexperienced, there’s plenty to like about Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. After the team traded José Berríos to the Blue Jays and followed that by signing approximately zero impact starters before the lockout, many (myself included) wondered if there was a punt coming. All signs pointed toward a weak effort this offseason. There’s no award for compiling the prettiest roster before Opening Day. The San Diego Padres, after trading for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove, looked like a powerhouse heading into the 2021 season. They won 79 games and fired manager Jayce Tingler, now the bench coach for the Twins. Conversely, the San Francisco Giants were an afterthought in the same division and won 107 games in a truly magnificent season. This is baseball. A team can look outstanding on paper and disappoint. Similarly, a team can look uninspiring on paper and exceed even the most optimistic expectations. There is, however, a fine line between a sleeper and a non-competitor. It’s doubtful the Baltimore Orioles will shock the world and have a winning season. You must have at least some talent, proper roster construction, and, most importantly, performance. My argument has been: the Twins have the bare-bones pieces to build around for this season. There’s a misconception that the Twins can’t conceivably invest in 2022 without hurting the future, specifically 2023 when they should see a plethora of top prospects emerge. What if I told you that they could accomplish both goals with the right moves? By trading Chase Petty, who likely isn't in the Major League plans until at least 2024, the Twins thread that needle. Jorge Polanco is coming off a terrific season and remains one of the more underrated players in MLB. A healthy Byron Buxton is a complete game-changer for the Twins, as is Josh Donaldson. Luis Arraez is an excellent leadoff hitter, and there’s massive offensive upside within Miguel Sanó. Not to mention the potential emergences of Alex Kirilloff, José Miranda, Ryan Jeffers, and or Trevor Larnach. This offense can bang. What the Twins so desperately need is a competent enough pitching staff. A staff that can support a potentially excellent lineup and helps the team make noise. There’s no excuse not to be in the race with an expanded playoff field as the calendar flips to August. That should be the expectation. By acquiring Gray, the Twins are signaling a plan. They have a lot of work left to do, but we’re starting to see the blueprint unfold. They are investing in the 2022 team, and rightly so. Stay tuned. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
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