4twinsJA reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - August 2021
Below are a few names, mentioned in descending order based on minor league affiliation, that just missed the top three.
RHP Joe Ryan, St. Paul Saints: 9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA RHP Jordan Balazovic, Wichita Wind Surge: 24 1/3 IP, 32 H, 16 R, 10 ER, 11 BB, 19 K, 3.70 ERA RHP Cole Sands, Wichita Wind Surge: 18 2/3 IP, 20 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 25 K, 3.38 ERA RHP Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 22 2/3 IP, 20 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 23 K, 3.18 ERA RHP Casey Legumina, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: 15 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 19 K, 1.80 ERA And without further ado, the bronze, silver, and gold medal finishers.
3. RHP Sean Mooney, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
Stats: 13 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 8 BB, 26 K, 2.08 ERA
The Mighty Mussels handle starting pitching differently than their other minor league affiliate counterparts. As the bulk of their pitchers have yet to complete an entire minor league season due to the pandemic, their focus is less on having pitchers go deep into games and more on tossing them out there in spurts to keep their workload low. Regardless, Mooney put up great numbers during his four starts in August. In fact, he's put up great numbers all season and has arguably been the Mighty Mussels' best, most consistent starter. Stints on the IL have been the only thing that have slowed him down this year. For that reason, he recently earned a promotion to High-A.
2. RHP Andrew Albers, St. Paul Saints
Stats: 20 IP, 19 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 14 K, 1.80 ERA
Albers' 2021 campaign is an excellent footnote in an otherwise gloomy Twins' season. The 35-year-old, who signed a minor-league deal last offseason, had not pitched in the majors since 2017 and likely did not think he would return anytime soon. However, after some brief struggles at the beginning of the season and a successful Olympic Trials run (he threw 7 innings of a no-hitter) with Team Canada, Albers earned a promotion to the Twins due to solid performance and multiple injuries. He's not going to strike many batters out and likely won't be with the team beyond this season, but it's hard not to feel happy for the wily vet.
1. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Stats: 17 IP, 17 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 26 K, 2.12 ERA
I'll repeat what I mentioned in my recent scouting report: Sawyer Gipson-Long is one of the Twins' best under-the-radar pitching prospects. Gipson-Long was dominant during August, racking up strikeouts and not allowing free passes. His strong performance at High-A continued on Wednesday evening when he tossed six innings of one-hit ball. (Although the one hit was a two-run homer, and he also walked three while striking out four. They can't all be Cy Young caliber.)
Other than four lackluster starts to begin the season, due at least in part to poor defense behind him, Gipson-Long has been solid all year. Don't be surprised if his name starts popping up in top prospect lists.
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4twinsJA reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins to Promote Olympic Medalist Joe Ryan, Slated to Start Wednesday
When the Twins take on the Cubs on Wednesday night against the Cubs, we will be able to watch the major-league debut of Joe Ryan. Darren Wolfson reports that Ryan is being promoted tomorrow, with rosters expanding on September 1st, and the expectation is that he'll take the hill at Target Field in Kenta Maeda's place on Wednesday.
It's been a pretty crazy travel schedule for the former Rays prospect the past two months. In late June, he headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. Upon his return to the States, he went to North Carolina to pack up and move to the Twin Cities. He has spent the past couple of weeks with the Saints, making starts at CHS Field, and in Toledo. He was in Columbus, Ohio, when he learned that he got The Call. And now he will be back in Minneapolis, excited for his debut.
Joe Ryan is a fastball pitcher. He throws, literally, at least 70% fastballs. But it’s not because he has huge velocity; his fastball sits between 90 and 93 mph. Like another Twins pitcher, it has proved more effective than the radar gun readings.
Bailey Ober sits 91-93 mph with his fastball, his length allows him to release the ball closer to home plate. In essence, he can make 91 look like 94 just because of that release point.
Joe Ryan is only 6-2, but he still has some deception in his delivery. He throws from a lower release point. While the average pitcher’s release point is 5.9 feet, Ryan’s average release point is just 4.8 feet from the ground. Not one starting pitcher in the big leagues throws from that low. He also gets Ober-like extension in front of the mound. It’s something that he credits his water polo background with helping him. He told Verducci in a Sports Illustrated article:
Here's a breakdown of Joe Ryan by Twins Daily's own Nash Walker:
“"In water polo you learn how to skip the ball,” he says. “I spent 10 years trying to skip the ball in water polo, and it’s the same concept as throwing a fastball: Get the shoulder in position and then let the hand work and get it out front. Throwing a baseball feels the same way. You get that zip right at the end.”
He has always had supreme confidence in his fastball, even though he doesn’t throw it real hard. He has a swagger. He believes that his movement and location will make it difficult for the hitter to square up. When he gets ahead, he - again like Ober - can get a lot of swings-and-missed up in or just above the strike zone. In fact, in his two starts with the Saints, he struck out 17 batters in just nine innings.
In 2019, Ryan was pitching in High-A Charlotte. His pitching coach was Doc Watson. In a 2019 Baseball America article, he shared a story about facing then-Miracle outfielder Trevor Larnach, who was the Florida State League MVP that season:
“Several guys kept saying ‘I’ve not seen a fastball like that in my career, “High Class A Charlotte pitching coach Doc Watson said. “Even when we were playing Fort Myers, (Trevor) Larnach, who’s their best hitter, in my opinion, he made a comment … he said ‘Doc, I’m gonna tell you what, that arm is electric. It comes through and you do not see the baseball until it’s on top of you.’ so I’ll take it from them and just say that it is an electric arm.””
But Ryan has also shown a solid slider. In his two starts since joining the Saints, he has been able to locate it at the knees and near the outside corner very consistently. It will obviously be an important second pitch for him to keep hitters off balance. Even within that, he throws a couple different sliders. Sometimes it acts like a cutter, and just moves enough to stay off a barrel. Other times, he’ll throw the slider with a bigger break. He will also throw a slower, more 12-to-6 curveball.
Joe Ryan turned 25 years old in June, and he sits on the precipice of a lifelong dream and goal, the big leagues. It’s been a somewhat unusual path to get here, and to land with the Twins.
Joe Ryan grew up in Northern California, miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. He led a unique early life. From a Tom Verducci article in Sports Illustrated, Ryan “grew up without travel ball, video games or cable while living an old-fashioned Tom Sawyer life in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods in Marin County, California”
His father, Kurtis, was “an extreme athlete and runner.” The family didn’t have cable TV. He didn’t play video games until middle school. At age 8, he entered a 7.2 mile cross-country race with his dad. He and his dad went into the mountains to camp, fish and hunt. He played water polo competitively, even during the baseball season.
He attended Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, California. As a senior, he went 12-1 with a 0.76 ERA. He was drafted in the 39th round by his hometown San Francisco Giants.
Instead of signing, Ryan headed to Los Angeles to attend Cal State - Northridge. As a freshman, he pitched in 13 games (9 out of the bullpen) and posted a 1.48 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. As a sophomore, seven of his 11 appearances were starts. He went 1-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 40 1/3 innings. As a junior in 2017, he posted a 12.79 ERA in just 6 1/3 innings due to lat injury.
At the end of that season, he decided to transfer. If he had gone to another Division I school, he would have had to sit out a year. The Twins and other teams tried to sign him as a non-drafted free agent that summer. Instead, he headed back to northern California and went to Division II Cal State - Stanislaus. It proved to be a great decision for him. In 14 starts - and with health - Ryan went 8-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. He had 127 strikeouts with just 13 walks.
In June of 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays selected him with their seventh-round draft pick. Because he had received a medical redshirt that junior season, he had some leverage and signed for just shy of $150,000, about $60,000 under slot value.
He spent that summer in the New York-Penn League, but in 2019 he raced through three levels of the minors, making it to AA. He also led the entire minor leagues in strikeouts (183) in just 123 2/3 innings, while walking only 27 batters.
He didn’t pitch officially in 2020 due to the pandemic, but he did work out at the Rays alternate site and continued to progress under the Rays’ strong pitcher development program.
He began the 2021 season at Triple-A Durham. He pitched in 12 games (11 starts) and went 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA. In 57 innings, he walked just ten and struck out 75 batters.
He then was named to the Team USA Olympic team and had a fantastic run. He started the team’s first game in the tournament. He then was the starting pitcher against Korea in the semi-finals, a win that put USA into the Gold Medal game. The team won the silver medal, but Ryan really impressed.
While in Japan, he learned that he had been traded (along with RHP Drew Strotman) and has made two starts for the St. Paul Saints. In the first start, he struck out the first six batters he faced and nine batters over four innings of work.
In his second start, last Thursday, he struck out nine batters in five innings. In his two starts, he only gave up five hits and two runs over nine innings, to go with seventeen strikeouts. Turns out that was enough to prove to the Twins brass that it was time to call him up.
On Wednesday, Joe Ryan will make his long-anticipated Twins debut (long-awaited in this case being since the July 31st trade) at Target Field against the Chicago Cubs. It's always fun to watch an MLB debut, but Twins fans should be excited about seeing Ryan for the season's final month.
4twinsJA reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Getting Jhoan Duran Back on Track
The team has not yet announced that Duran will miss the rest of 2021, but, given the nature of elbow strains, I find it difficult to see him returning to the mound in any meaningful way. There's just no decent reason to push him. Now, 2022 will be about rebuilding (essentially) two years of missed time while juggling playing time at both the AAA and major league levels. That sounds like quite a challenge. Fortunately, there is another player that the Twins can mimic in how they build Duran back up. Unfortunately, that player is on a rival squad.
Michael Kopech; you probably know him. The White Sox brought him over with Yoán Moncada when they traded scissors-enthusiast Chris Sale to Boston as a kick-start to their rebuild. Kopech debuted in 2018 with mild success-barely any walks, but a ton of homers-and emerged as something of a budding ace. The following two years were less kind. Kopech missed all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, and then he opted out of the 2020 season for 'personal reasons'. Kopech was still more-or-less as talented as when he debuted, but he faced an uphill climb in 2021 to build back the stamina needed to be a successful starter. What has been the plan?
Use him as a reliever, of course. Kopech has started just three games against 27 relief appearances as of August 23rd. Oddly enough, Chicago immediately threw Kopech into the heat of battle-eight of his first ten appearances lasted longer than one inning-before reining him in afterward. Since May 18th, he has thrown multiple innings just three times, with none of those outings lasting longer than two innings.
Perhaps part of that is caution. MLB teams are notorious for treating young pitchers like buried treasure, but I think there's a somewhat different philosophy at play here. Yes, the White Sox want to be careful with Kopech, but they want to get him cheap playing time. Relief pitchers are much easier to command because the manager can control the situations they find themselves in. Do you want to avoid using a guy in a high-leverage context? Then don't. Do you want to get him multiple innings? Go right ahead. The reliever moniker allows the team to be flexible in a way that starters cannot be.
I believe that the Twins should follow suit with Duran. His lack of innings perfectly mirrors the situation Kopech was in, and the 2021 season has been fantastic for Chicago's righty (I wrote this sentence before he gave up five earned runs in one inning, whoops.) The team should use Duran as a sort of swingman or as a piggybacker at the major league level as soon as they can. Forcing Duran to burn time at AAA in a vain effort to build back his stamina will only cause the team to avoid utilizing one of their most exciting pitching prospects.
"But Matt," you say, "why not just keep him as a starter in AAA? Why force him into the bullpen? What difference does it make?" These are fair questions.
The Twins will strongly limit Duran in 2022. My guess is 80 innings-it could be more but likely not by much. Why, then, should Duran waste innings at AAA when he could instead get accustomed to major league talent while also building back his innings? The team will not be competitive in 2022, so Duran taking his occasional licks will hurt no one.
Keep in mind that Duran will be 24 when the 2022 season begins, and if they keep him as a starter that season, he likely will not be up in any significant fashion until 2023, when he's 25. That's far from old, but he's getting to the point where his prospect status needs to become actual tangible major league ability. The Twins should be looking solely to prep Duran for 2023, and I see a spot in the major league bullpen as a better alternative than more time at AAA.
4twinsJA reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office
The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball.
The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title.
To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four.
Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies.
What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter?
"No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take.
Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years.
The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors.
Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails.
Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project.
This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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4twinsJA reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Patience Important for On-Base Machine Edouard Julien
Edouard Julien grew up in Quebec, Canada. He went to Cardinal Roy Secondary School in L’Acienne-Lorette, a suburb just west of Quebec City. He starred on the Canadian national teams as he grew up. He played with current Twins prospects Jordan Balazovic and Landon Leach and former Twins minor leaguer Matt Jones.
Julien said, “I played on the junior national team at 16-years-old. I was pretty lucky to be a part of it. I don’t think I would be where I am today without being on that team.”
In 2017, he was selected in the 37th round of the MLB draft by the Phillies. Instead of signing, he chose to attend Auburn University.
“I had different opportunities, but Auburn was a pretty good spot for me because Coach Bohanan at the time was a recruiter there and he usually recruits a lot of Canadians. He’s got a pretty good connection with the Team Canada coach, so it made me pretty comfortable to go with him because I knew he had a lot of Canadians before. And I liked the place. Auburn was a good fit. It’s a good conference, and I wanted to go play college and get my game a little bit better for the next level.”
As a freshman in 2018, he hit .275/.398/.556 (.954) with seven doubles and 17 homers. He broke Frank Thomas’s freshman record with 69 RBI. He didn’t have quite as strong a season in 2019. He hit .258/.388/.453 (.841) with 14 doubles and ten homers. Individually, he was disappointed, but his team played in the College World Series.
“It’s one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had. To play in front of a lot of people. To play for your school and compete for the NCAA championship, that was pretty cool. I enjoyed it a lot.”
One of his teammates is a current teammate and fellow 2019 Twins draft pick Will Holland.
“I played two years with him. He’s a very, very good shortstop. He’s a five-tool player. He can run. He can hit. He can throw. He’s very, very good.”
The Twins drafted Julien in the 18th round as a draft-eligible sophomore. He didn’t think he would sign. He wanted to go back to Auburn and have a better season. However, the Twins came to him late in the process and gave him 4th round money. He signed.
“In my head, I was going to go back to college and have a better year because my sophomore year wasn’t very good. Just before the signing date, they offered me and I decided to sign. It was kind of crazy, but I’m happy I did, and I’m happy I’m here now.”
Soon after, he went to Lima, Peru, to represent Canada in the Pan-Am Games. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get to play.
“First practice there, we were doing cuts-and-relays. I cut a ball from right field and tried to throw it to home plate. It just flew to the right, and I heard a pop in my elbow. I knew something happened to my arm. I was scared and stressing a lot because there were no doctors in Peru that could tell me what I had. It was pretty stressful. When I came back to Florida, I had an MRI and it told me I had a tear in my UCL.
As a position player, it is likely he would have been ready to play sometime in the middle of the 2020 season. Instead, there was no 2020 season, so he went back to Quebec.
“I went back home. It was cool. I’d never really had a summer with my family, my friends. I enjoyed it. I hung out with my friends.”
So as you can imagine, Julien was very excited to get the 2021 season started. The 22-year-old made his professional debut with the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels.
“It was special. I had goosebumps. I was stressed. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was ready to go and attack and play the best baseball I can. I play 100% every time I go out there and that’s what I’m trying to do every day.”
After missing so much time, you might think that his approach or plate discipline might take some time to come back. According to his Mighty Mussels Manager Brian Meyer, he’s maintained that all along.
“He’s shown that plate discipline even going back to spring training games. You can always tell when Eddie’s up, especially having this automated strike zone system, if there’s a ball that’s off the plate and it’s called a ball, it’s probably a ball. You’re not really guessing or questioning the human umpire, because he does have such a good eye at the plate.”
He has an On-Base Percentage over .500 as he is approaching 100 plate appearances on the season (and in his career). However, Meyer added, “He’s a multifaceted hitter and defender. He puts together really quality at bats every time out there. He takes his fair share of walks, but when he gets a pitch in the zone, he gets his swing off and he’s trying to do damage on it.”
Julien has walked 22 times and has 23 hits including seven doubles, a triple and on Tuesday, he hit his first professional home run.
Julien notes that he’s just trying to keep it simple. “I’m not trying to do too much. Trying to put the ball in play and be locked in and not throw many at bats away as I did in college, and to be more concentrated.”
He continued, “I try to take my walks. Essentially I try to make the pitcher beat me, and if he throws it over the plate and it’s something I think I can handle, I’m going to try to put a barrel on it. I think that’s the type of player I am, a little bit of power and I’m going to try to get on base.”
The goal is just to try to maintain it over the course of a 120-game season. “Of course I’m trying to cut down on my strikeouts and put the ball in play more. I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now, and I’m just trying to have good at bats and being focused, and that’s my main thing, to be 100% locked in on every at bat and not throw any at bats away. It’s a long season. I know it’s going to be hard, but I’ve got to take care of every at bat.”
He began the season hitting third or fourth in the Mussels lineup. Recently, he has been hitting at the top of the lineup and continues to thrive.
“There’s a lot of college hitters, and we’ve been helping each other. We have a lot of good hitters on this team. I have protection in the lineup. I go up there. I just try to get on base because I know somebody’s going to drive me in.”
He’s also continuing to adapt his game, to add elements. For instance, in his two seasons at Auburn, he had ten stolen bases in 127 games. In his 21 games with Ft. Myers, he already has nine stolen bases without being caught.
His manager admits, “I didn’t really know about his speed or base running ability coming into the season, and watching him over the first 10-12 games, it was evident, he’s a really good baserunner, very instinctive. I wouldn’t say he’s the fastest, if you put him on a watch, but he does get really good jumps at first base, pays attention to what the pitchers are doing, tries to pick up little tendencies to where he can steal a base and that’s why he’s been so successful with it so far.”
For Julien, it’s not necessarily something new, it’s just something that wasn’t a focus in college.
“When I was younger, I was more of a slap hitter who could run a lot and I stole a lot of bases. Then I went to college and they changed my swing and made me a power hitter. I think the speed of the game was taken away from me. I feel free here. They’re letting me go and I have the green light. I just like to be aggressive and take everything I can.”
And where will he play defensively? Following Tommy John surgery, that’s certainly a question to ask, but like many in the system, his goal is to be versatile enough to keep his bat in the lineup.
According to Meyer, “I think more on the defensive side, with the throwing part, he does look very comfortable at second base, and he played third base in college, and we ran him out in the outfield and he held his own out there. He’s played a little bit of first base too. So just a versatile guy, so if he keeps hitting and he keeps that versatility defensively, he could be a very valuable asset to the organization.””
Julien acknowledges, “I’d say I’m more comfortable at second base, but I’m aware that I can be more of a utility guy and my bat is what’s going to keep me in the lineup. I’m comfortable at second. I played left field the other day and I liked it too. I’m ready to play outfield, second base, third, first, wherever the coach wants me to play, I’ll be ready.”
And after nearly two years away from baseball, Julien appears ready to take on anything. He hasn’t played since Auburn was eliminated from the 2019 College World Series because of injury and then a pandemic, but he hasn’t missed a beat.
Coming into Friday’s game, Julien is hitting .338/.505/.515 (1.020) with seven doubles, a triple, a homer, 18 runs scored and 14 driven in and is nine for nine in stolen base attempts through the first 21 games.
4twinsJA reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/25): Blowout Bonanza
So keep reading to find out just how crazy the night was for your favorite Twins prospects!
Minor League Gold Glove OF Mark Contreras was promoted to St. Paul from Wichita In Fort Myers recent free agent signing OF Justin Washington was assigned from the GCL Twins, 3B Wander Valdez was sent back to the GCL Twins roster, and SS Ruben Santana was activated from the disabled list. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 17, Iowa 6
The Saints took advantage of some wildness from double-A’s 2019 strikeout king, Corey Abbott to jump out to an early lead. They got to the Cubs prospect for six runs in the first two innings, with a three-run Tomas Telis homer doing the bulk of that damage. They would tack on four more in the fourth after an RBI double from Ben Rortvedt was followed by another three-run blast, this one off the bat of JT Riddle, his first with the Saints. In all St. Paul hitters mashed seven hits (five for extra bases) and drew five walks against Abbott, taking full advantage of the extra baserunners and opportunities they were given.
As far as the Saints starting pitcher went, it was Bailey Ober’s first appearance since making his MLB debut, and he dazzled. In five innings he allowed just one earned run on four hits, striking out five. It was good for his first win of the 2021 season.
While watching the game the opposing broadcast’s announcer was excited to see Abbott on the mound, but Ober was the one who left a mark on him. “I’m very impressed so far with Bailey Ober. You understand why he posts zeroes so often [and] can see why he is tough to pick up. Six-foot-nine, long reach, and hides the ball very well.”
With the big lead Ober’s day was done after just seventy pitches, with Ian Hamilton coming on for the sixth. Hamilton was hitting high 90’s with his fastball in his inning and struck out two. Robinson Leyer delivered two scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Another RBI double from Ben Rortvedt and RBI single from Jimmy Kerrigan added a few more runs in the sixth, then Ryan Jeffers and Brent Rooker added insult to injury with home runs in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively. Jeffers was a three-run no-doubter, and Rooker’s a two-run blast to dead center that made the score 17-1. They were the fourth home run of the season for each player.
Tom Hackimer would come on for the ninth but made the game last quite a bit longer than it should have. The bases were loaded before he recorded an out, then he was not able to finish it off. In all, Hackimer allowed 5 runs on three hits, four walks, and a hit batter. St. Paul was forced to go to Andrew Vasquez for the final out, and he made sure it went as quick as possible, getting a strikeout to end the game.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Springfield 7, Wichita 2
Unlike the rest of their affiliate brethren, the Wind Surge were unable to pile on the runs on Tuesday, falling to the Cardinals in Wichita.
Starter Bryan Sammons went the first four innings and surrendered all the damage Springfield would need as their pitchers allowed just six hits and three walks to Wichita’s lineup. In total he allowed four earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks in his time. While he struck out six, three of his hits allowed were home runs. Dakota Chalmers came on for the fifth and went two innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits (including a homer of his own) while striking out two. Jonathan Cheshire was the only Wind Surge pitcher without a blemish, pitching a scoreless seventh, though he did walk two. Hector Lujan finished the final two frames, allowing a solo home run and striking out one.
Jermaine Palacios led the way hitting for Wichita with a 2-for-4 night. Andrew Bechtold hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth. Jose Miranda contributed an RBI single in the third. As a team the Wind Surge had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position and left only five men on base.
Wisconsin 2, Cedar Rapids 9
Cedar Rapids slugger Seth Gray put the Kernels on the board early with a two-run blast in the first. He and Michael Helman would add to that lead in the third with a pair of RBI doubles, Helman’s of the 2-run variety for a 5-0 lead after three.
Starter Tyler Beck ran into some trouble in the top of the fourth, allowing a run to score after three singles and a walk, and exiting with the bases loaded. In all he went 3 1/3, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.
Jordan Gore came on and allowed one inherited runner to score on a groundout but would stop the bleeding there by picking up a strikeout. He would add a scoreless fifth inning and add another K to his ledger. Lefty Tyler Watson would keep Cedar Rapids out front three scoreless innings. He scattered one hit and two walks while striking out three.
The Kernels bats went pretty silent for the middle innings, but in the seventh Spencer Steer woke them up again with a leadoff double. Wander Javier drove him in with a single that was misplayed by the center fielder and allowed another runner to score that made it 7-2. Leobaldo Cabrera’s first home as a Twins prospect would make it 9-2 after eight.
Lefty Zach Featherstone would finish the game for Cedar Rapids with three strikeouts in the ninth around a walk.
Fort Myers 13, Lakeland 0
After losing four in a row to the Tampa Tarpons by a combined score of 53-13, the Mighty Mussels have unleashed some frustration the past two games. In the final game of their series with the Tarpons they won 9-3 and were even more impressive in the opening tilt with the Flying Tigers.
Fort Myers also got the scoring started early in this one courtesy of a slugger, in their case Aaron Sabato. His first inning home run was his second of the season and gave them the early 2-0 lead. They added another run in the second after loading the bases on a Misael Urbina sac fly but were just getting started.
Starter Brent Headrick went the first five innings and was dominant. He threw just 67 pitches (43 for strikes), allowing only two singles and one walk while striking out five to pick up his second win of the season. Juan Pichardo went the next two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two. Matthew Swain would finish the shutout for the Saints going the final two innings. He allowed one hit, a walk, and struck out two.
The Mighty Mussels broke the game open in the top of the sixth with quite a bit of help from Lakeland pitchers. Consecutive singles were followed by two four-pitch walks to score the first run of the inning. After a strikeout of Sabato another four-pitch walk scored another run before the bullpen was summoned for the Flying Tigers. It was greeted by a Kyle Schmidt double on their first pitch, scoring two more. Then two more walks, an RBI single from Anthony Prato, and a 2-run double from Edouard Julien would push Fort Myers’ lead to 11-0 before the inning was over. They would add a few more in the top of the ninth on a Yunior Severino two-run single for the final of 13-0.
In all the Mighty Mussels racked up fourteen (!) walks and twelve hits against Flying Tigers pitching. Julien (2-for-3, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K), Schmidt (3-for-4, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI), and Prato (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI) had multiple hits.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Brent Headrick, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (W, 5.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 K)
Hitter of the Day – Tomas Telis, St. Paul Saints (4-for-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI)
Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
#1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, K
#2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL)
#3 - Trevor Larnach (Minnesota) – 0-for-3, 2 K
#4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 3 R, HR, BB, 2 K
#5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Did not pitch
#6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back)
#7 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – Did not play
#8 - Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K
#9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch
#10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch
#11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – 0-for-3, BB
#12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 2-for-6, R, HR, 3 RBI, K
#13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play
#14 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-for-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
#15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch
#16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow)
#17 - Ben Rortvedt (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB
#18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A
#19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 1-for-3, RBI
#20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – W, 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 K
WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
St. Paul @ Iowa (12:08PM CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes (1-0, 3.95 ERA)
Springfield @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Cole Sands (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – LHP Kody Funderburk (0-0, 1.32 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Tampa (5:30PM CST) – RHP Regi Grace (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
4twinsJA reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review: Six-Game Series
For this week again, let’s start with a Question of the Week. Leave your responses in the Comments section.
Question of the Week: Who do you think will be in the Twins Opening Day starting rotation in 2024?
As always, I welcome your feedback on what you would like to see from these Week in Review articles, so let me know in the comments below. Of course, I also encourage you to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday.
With that, let’s look at Week 3 in the Twins minor leagues:
Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-4 hosting Indianapolis), overall (7-11) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (3-3 at Tulsa), overall (11-7) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (2-4, hosting Beloit), overall (8-10) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (2-4 at Tampa), overall (8-10)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
With the Twins struggles early this season, we have had a lot of minor league articles including articles on players who could be promoted and the daily minor league reports.
Twins Minor League Week in Review: A Nice Distraction Tuesday: Enlow Sets Career-High Cedar Rapids Kernels Pitching Reports: Matt Canterino Wednesday: Longball Happy in Wichita Thursday: Five for the Price of Four, Wallner Shines (again) Friday: Late-Inning Drama and Disappointment Twins Top Prospect Jhoan Duran Deals in Season Debut Saturday: Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran’s First 2021 Start) Building a Pitching Pipeline Sunday: Starting Strong
News & Notes
Let’s start with the Monday transactions since we don’t have a daily minor league report.
Trey Cabbage promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. Max Smith promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. RHP Donny Breek transferred from Ft. Myers to the development complex. It was a big week for the St. Paul Saints off the field. On Saturday, they played their first of eight games on Bally Sports Network North. Their TV package now includes 28 of their 60 home games. In addition, Sunday afternoon’s game was on KFAN. Several more Sunday Saints games will air on KFAN. Their games regularly air on KFAN+.
On Sunday, the Saints scored five runs. It was just the fourth time this season they had scored more than four runs. That said, they also are second in the Triple-A East by hitting .310 in the first inning. (Thank you Nick Gordon!) However, they are hitting over .250 in only one other inning (5th, .284).
Also on Sunday, Tom Hackimer recorded his first Triple-A save. It was only the second Saints save in 18 games (7 wins). Interestingly, in the Saints’ 11 losses, their opponents have not yet recorded a save.
If you want to watch the Saints on the road, Des Moines is not a far drive down I-35!
We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 3 performances too.
Twins Player of the Week: Matt Wallner, Cedar Rapids Kernels
For the week, Wallner played in five games and hit .450/.450/.900 (1.350). He had nine hits in 20 at-bats including a double, a triple and two home runs. He has played in 17 of the Kernels 18 games this season. He is hitting .333/.384/.621 (1.005) with three doubles, two triples and four home runs. In 73 plate appearances, he has five walks and 28 strikeouts.
Following a four-hit game this week, manager Brian Dinkelman said, “He squared some balls up really well, hit that big home run to give us the lead. Matt’s a good hitter when he stays in the zone and doesn’t expand too much.”
Wallner pointed out, “I think I’ve done a better job of hitting the ball to all fields. I feel better trying to stay up the middle as opposed to being a pull-only hitter. I feel better with that, and I’m more comfortable with velocity. I feel good about that.”
Wallner was the Twins 32nd round pick in 2016 out of Forest Lake High School where he named Mr. Minnesota Baseball. He went to Southern Mississippi where he became a power-hitting All American. The Twins took him with the 39th overall pick in the 2019 draft and he signed.
Twins Pitcher of the Week: Matt Canterino, Cedar Rapids Kernels
On Friday night in Cedar Rapids, Canterino struck out a career-high 10 batters over six innings. He gave up two hits, one was a solo home run. He has now made three starts this year and is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. In 14 innings, he has walked three and struck out 25 batters (16.1 K/9).
Canterino said, “You just want to make good pitches early in the count, in the zone, and force them to do something with it. There are so many swings and misses and so many easy outs to be had if you’re in the strike zone early on. It’s important to do that. Hitting is so tough. So if you’re in the zone early on with a couple of different pitches, you often find yourself in good counts where you’ll be able to get a strikeout in the end.
Canterino was the Twins 2nd round draft pick in June of 2019 out of Rice University. Between a couple of GCL appearances and five starts at then-Low-A Cedar Rapids, he went 1-1 with a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings. He walked eight and struck out 31 batters.
Manager Brian Dinkelman said, “He’s just throwing the ball really well for us right now. He gives us good starts, keeps us in the game. We’re excited about the way he throws the ball, and he keeps progressing and get himself to the big leagues hopefully one of these days.”
Other Strong Performances this Week
Nick Gordon, St. Paul Saints: Gordon started the week with two hits but left that game with a minor hamstring injury that cost him a couple of games. He returned, kept hitting and was called up to the Twins (again) three times. In his three games, he hit .500/.545/.500 (1.045).
Jimmy Kerrigan, St. Paul Saints: On the week, Kerrigan played all six games and hit .250/.286/.600 (.886), but he had a walkoff single and two big home runs. Also, on Sunday, he threw out two baserunners at home.
Mark Contreras, Wichita Wind Surge: The Gold Glove outfielder provided good power for the Wind Surge this week. He hit .261/.346/.565 (.911) with a double and two home runs. Ernie De La Trinidad hit .353 with a double.
Jair Camargo, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The 21-year-old backstop has been impressive behind the plate and at the plate. This week, he hit .300/.300/.750 (1.050) with three home runs. He also picked off two base runners at first base.
Michael Helman, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The nearly-everyday utility player got off to a rough start. In the season’s first week, he went 0-for-12, though we noted that he walked four times and put together good at-bats. In week three, he played all six games and hit .294/.368/.647 (1.015) with two homers.
Charlie Mack, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: The former infielder-turned-catcher played four games for the week. He hit .333/.556/.833 (1.389) with two homers and four RBI. In addition, he walked six ties and struck out four times.
Edouard Julien, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: It was another strong week for the infielder from Canada via Auburn. For the week, he hit .421/.621/.526 (1.147) with two doubles. The on-base machine walked nine times and struck out just five times. In addition, he stole six bases in six attempts.
Anthony Prato, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Like Helman, Prato was drafted as an infielder, but now he is playing all over the infield and the outfield too. He hit .348/.464/.435 (.899) with two doubles. He also walked five times.
Kyle Schmidt, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: The catcher is on this list for a second straight week. In four games, he hit .353/.421/.529 (.950) with three more doubles.
Regi Grace, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Grace posted the best start of his minor league career this week when he gave up just one hit over five shutout innings. He walked three and struck out six batters.
Casey Legumina, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: The righty came out of the bullpen on Sunday and worked 4 1/3 innings. He was perfect until the final batter he faced who hit a solo homer. He struck out eight batters.
Bradley Hanner, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: He gave up two runs (1 earned) on zero hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings in his relief outing. He struck out five batters.
‘Blayne Enlow, Cedar Rapids Kernels: Enlow struck out a career-high ten batters over 5 2/3 innings. He gave up one run on three hits and walked three.
Kody Funderburk, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The lefty needed just 55 pitches to complete 5 2/3 innings in his start. He gave up one run on two hits and a walk while striking out three batters.
Tyler Beck, Cedar Rapids Kernels: Beck gave up just one run on one hit and one walk over five innings. He struck out four batters. It was the first start of his professional career.
Jordan Gore, Cedar Rapids Kernels: His transition from shortstop to pitcher is going pretty well. He pitched twice this week and gave up one run on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out eight batters and didn’t walk any.
Josh Winder, Wichita Wind Surge: Winder made one start in Tulsa and worked four innings. He gave up no runs and no hits over four innings. He walked one and struck out four batters. Then the rains came and he did not come back into the game after the delay.
Cole Sands, Wichita Wind Surge: In his start, Sands gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out nine batters without walking anyone.
Chris Vallimont, Wichita Wind Surge: In his first start of the season, he went 4 2/3 innings. He gave up one run on one hit. He walked two and struck out eight batters.
Yennier Cano, Wichita Wind Surge: Cano pitched 2 1/3 innings over two games. He gave up zero runs and zero hits. He walked two, but six of the seven outs he recorded were on strikeouts.
Chandler Shepherd, St. Paul Saints: Called upon to start when Bailey Ober was called up to the Twins, Shepherd gave up one run on four hits over four innings. He struck out six batters.
Andrew Vasquez, St. Paul Saints: The lefty gave up just one hit over 3 1/3 innings in two games. However, one of those games covered two days. He pitched the eighth inning of the game that was then suspended by rain. The next day, he pitched the ninth inning. He struck out five batters.
Jhoan Duran, St. Paul Saints: The flamethrowing right-hander made his first appearance of the 2021 season, and his first Triple-A start, on Saturday night. He gave up one run on four hits and a walk over three innings. He struck out six batters. Of course, the highlight was seeing him hit 102 and 103 mph on the Saints radar gun.
Lowlight and Highlight?
In Week 2, Wichita’s Austin Schulfer’s start was 5 1/3 scoreless innings. This Tuesday in Tulsa, he was charged with eight runs (7 earned) on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter in 2 2/3 innings. On Sunday, also in Tulsa, Schulfer did not allow a hit until there was one out in the seventh inning. He walked one and hit one batter. He got one more strikeout, his sixth of the game, and then was removed after 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
St. Paul Saints starter Griffin Jax had a rough start this past week. On Monday, he was charged with seven runs on nine hits and a walk in his start against Indianapolis. Then on Sunday, he gave up just one run on seven hits and a walk. He struck out eight batters.
On Friday night, Tom Hackimer made his Triple-A debut and got two outs, but he walked three batters and hit one. He did strike out the two batters he got out. On Sunday, he came on to protect a 5-4 Saints lead in the ninth inning. He gave up one hit, but then struck out three batters to record the save.
We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches.
Daniel Descalso, St. Paul Saints: The Twins signed Descalso almost two weeks ago. The ten-year-MLB veteran did not play in the big leagues in 2020 after spending half of the 2019 season with the Cubs. He just wants to keep playing and the Twins have a need for infielders in the system. He played in five games this past week, and he went 0-for-16 with four walks and eight strikeouts.
Ryan Jeffers, St. Paul Saints: Jeffers played in all six games. However, he hit just .105/.280/.158 (.438) with a double. He walked and struck out five times.
Brent Rooker, St. Paul Saints: Rooker played in four games this past week and missed the last two games with a minor injury. For the week, he hit .143/.278/.143 (.421). He had three walks but also five strikeouts.
JT Riddle/Keon Broxton: St. Paul Saints: I figured I would lump these two veterans together since they both posted OPS of .461 for the week. Broxton hit .150/.222/.472 with a double. Riddle hit .174/.200/.261
Andrew Bechtold, Wichita Wind Surge: In four games, Bechtold hit .143/.250/.214 (.464) with a double.
Tyler Palm, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The lanky right-hander worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up five runs on four hits, a walk and two hit batters. He did strike out three batters.
Misael Urbina, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: He was on the highlights list last week, and this week, the 19-year-old potential future star is on the other list. He hit .120/.267/.120 (.387) with nine strikeouts and three walks.
Aaron Sabato, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: The Sabato struggles continued in Week 3. He hit .091/.286/.136 (.422) with a double. He continues to walk a bunch, but he also struck out ten times in 28 plate appearances.
Keoni Cavaco, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: In six games, Cavaco hit .174/.240/.174 (.414) with two walks and nine strikeouts.
It was a very rough week for the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels pitchers. Donny Breek, a right-hander from The Netherlands, pitched twice and got a total of two outs. He was charged with eight runs on four hits and seven walks. Lefty Zarion Sharpe came up for his pro debut after being signed after the 2020 draft. Over three games, he got six outs (three strikeouts) and gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks. On Sunday, he pitched a scoreless inning. Steven Cruz made a start and didn’t get out of the first inning. He walked four batters and hit one other batter. Both outs he got were on strikeouts. Brent Headrick was good in his first two starts, but it didn’t go as well in Start #3. He gave up eight runs (7 earned) on nine hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. And, while he still struck out six batters in three innings, Louie Varland also gave up six runs (4 earned) on seven hits and two walks.
With the minor league re-alignment also came a new schedule format. All four Twins affiliates will play six game series and have Mondays off for travel or just for a day off.
Before the season started, Toby Gardnhire said that it might be an adjustment, and there are potential concerns
“It’s going to be different. There are going to be challenges because you’re seeing the same guys in the lineup all week long, and you’re seeing some of the same pitchers. If a team has one of our hitters figured out, then that hitter is going to have to figure out how to make some adjustments pretty quick or he’s going to be owned for six days in a row. You worry about guys getting into fights on the field. Usually with a three-game series, if tempers flare in the second or third game, by the time you see them again, it’s a month later and things have cooled down. Now you’re playing six games.”
On the other side, "The good part of a six-game series is the travel. We don’t have as many road trips. Once we get to a place, we’re able to stay there for six days. Scouts. Coaches. They’re able to come in. There are a lot of benefits. It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be different. I’m excited about it. It’s going to be fun.”
Brian Dinkelman, the Kernels manager said, “It’s something that we’re going to learn about this year. It’s uncommon. You’re going to face multiple pitchers and hitters throughout the six game series. There hasn’t been a lot of discussion (between the minor league managers). I think it’s something we’re just going to have to feel out as the season goes on. Logistically, with travel, it’s better for players and staff. You’re not on the road as much or having late-night commutes. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Ft. Myers manager Brian Meyer was named the Mighty Mussels manager about a month before the season began. He thinks the six-game schedule is ideal for the Low-A level, especially this year. “I actually like it because, especially at our level right now, this is some players' first time traveling in the States. We play Bradenton 24 times. Especially this year, it’s just important that we play. But from a travel standpoint, it’s great. Getting every Monday off to clear their heads, get away from baseball and come back fresh on Tuesday. I see this as very beneficial for them in terms of their development.”
It isn’t completely foreign to some in the organization. Ramon Borrego is the manager of the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. He was the manager in Pensacola in 2019 as well. In the Southern League, they played five-game series in the past.
He said, “It was good because you play and you have Mondays off. Let’s see what we get. So far. So good.”
Brent Rooker said, “The six game series is definitely something a little bit different, it’s something a lot of guys will have to get used to. It’s obviously another day longer than anything we have done in the past. We had five-game series in the Southern League in AA in Chattanooga. That obviously felt long. Six games is just an extra day.”
Rooker added that another benefit of the Twins having their Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul rather than Rochester, especially for the guys who have gone back and forth. “It makes our lives significantly easier. My wife is up here with me. The ability to have one apartment for an entire season and to know we have a home base and that’s where we’re going to be no matter where I’m at is a huge relief. It’s a massive burden off my mind trying to find a way to move back and forth if that’s the case. It’s a lot easier for guys with families. We talk about that all the time. It’s a massive benefit. It’s a huge weight off our shoulders for sure.
Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects have performed on the season. This was requested in the comments earlier in the week. Let me know if it provides value.
#1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – St. Paul (2 rehab games, went 3-6 with 2 homers, 2 K), Minnesota (15 games, .218/.241/.491 (.732) with 3 doubles, 4 homers, 14 RBI, 2 BB, 16 K)
#2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL)
#3 - Trevor Larnach (Minnesota) – St. Paul (3 games, went 3-11 with two homers, two walks, 8 strikeouts), Minnesota (14 games, .186/.314/.326 (.639) with 3 doubles, 1 homer, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 14 K)
#4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – St. Paul (18 games, .222/.325/.429 (.753) with four doubles, three homers, 10 BB, 16 K), Minnesota (11 games, .147/.216/.176 (.393) with one doubles, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 18 K)
#5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – St. Paul (1 GS, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)
#6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back)
#7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – Ft. Myers (18 games, .243/.321/.314 (.635) with 2 doubles, 1 homer, 8 RBI, 7 BB, 23 K, 4 SB)
#8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – Ft. Myers (18 games, .143/.349/.238 (.588) with 3 doubles, 1 homer, 5 RBI, 17 BB, 31 K)
#9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Cedar Rapids ( 3 GS, 14.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 25 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP)
#10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Cedar Rapids (3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
#11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – Wichita (15 games, .214/.343/.304 (.647) with 2 doubles, 1 homer. 10 BB, 17 K).
#12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – St. Paul (15 games, .191/.381/.383 (.764) with three homers, 15 BB, 17 K), Minnesota (8 games, .103/.133/.241 (375) with 1 double, 1 homer, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 13 K)
#13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Cedar Rapids (17 games, .333/.384/.621 (1.005) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 14 RBI, 5 BB, 28 K).
#14 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – Ft. Myers (12 games, .214/.353/.214 (567) with 7 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K, 3 SB)
#15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Wichita (4 GS, 18.0 IP, 12 H, 9 BB, 22 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
#16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow)
#17 - Ben Rortvedt (St.Paul) – St. Paul (1 game, went 2-4, 2B), Minnesota (12 games, .160/.250/.160 (.410) with 2 RBI, 2 BB, 10 K)
#18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (injured)
#19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – Wichita (18 games, .309/.372/.574 (945) with 3 doubles, 5 homers, 17 RBI. 5 BB, 10 K)
#20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – St. Paul (2 GS, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP), Minnesota (1 GS, 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 9.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Ft. Myers @ Lakeland (Brent Headrick, Regi Grace, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Louie Varland, Casey Legumina, Hunter McMahon):
Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids: (Tyler Beck, Kody Funderburk, Matt Canterino, Andrew Cabezas, Ben Gross, Blayne Enlow)
Springfield @ Wichita: (Bryan Sammons, Cole Sands, Chris Vallimont, Austin Schulfer, Josh Winder, Bryan Sammons)
St. Paul @ Iowa: (Bailey Ober, Charlie Barnes, Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Chandler Shepherd, Bailey Ober):
Feel free to provide some feedback below regarding these reports. What do you like to read? What types of information would you like added? Also, feel free to ask any questions you like.
4twinsJA reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review: Six Down, 114 To Go
How nice was it to see minor league baseball return this week? And, hopefully you have enjoyed the return of the Twins Minor League Reports each day on this site.
I had a great time watching and covering the start of the Cedar Rapids Kernels season from Cedar Rapids. Those that follow me on Instagram or Twitter likely saw that I took approximately 2.3 million pictures over four days. I enjoyed the time and was able to see the Kernels jump up to High-A after being the team’s Low-A affiliate for the previous eight years.
My plan is to do a weekly Twins Minor League Week in Review. It will be similar to Nick’s Twins Week in Review, but I will instead be highlighting the goings-on in the Twins farm system. My intent is to show top performers for the week as well as discuss some storylines developing in the system. As always, I welcome your feedback on what you would like to see from these Week in Review articles, so let me know in the comments below.
With that, let’s look at Week 1 in the Twins minor leagues:
Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-4 at Omaha), overall (2-4)
Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (5-1 at Springfield), overall (5-1)
High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (5-1, hosting Peoria), overall (5-1)
Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (3-3, at Bradenton), overall (3-3)
News & Notes
For those of you looking to attend CHS Field for the St. Paul Saints first games as the Twins AAA affiliate, tickets are still available. Check out their website for ticket availability and information.
We may have less (though hopefully more and more) readers in the Wichita area, but they also have tickets available for their home opening series against Amarillo. Tickets also available in Ft. Myers as they start their home schedule on Tuesday as well.
Wichita opened their new $90 million ballpark, Riverfront Stadium, on April 10th when Wichita State played the University of Houston. Did you know, the last time a MLB-affiliated game was played in Wichita was in August of 2007.
Catcher David Banuelos began his season with the Wichita Wind Surge. He did leave the team this weekend, but for good reason. He and his wife are expecting their first child so he is back home. So while he went just 1-for-13 at the plate, this will be a good week for the catcher.
It’s always nice to start the season on a good note. We are all paying attention early in the season, and then we start looking at season numbers. It’s also a fun time to see players making their professional debuts, or returning from injury, or switching positions, and those are fun to cover as well.
We will start with the Twins choices for Hitter and Pitcher of the Week (which is announced on Sunday mornings).
Twins Player of the Week: Jose Miranda, Wichita Wind Surge
Splitting his time between second base and third base, Miranda provided some thump in the Wind Surge lineup. He hit .370/.414/.741 (1.155) with a double, three home runs and seven RBI. He has had at least one hit in all six games.
Twins Pitcher of the Week: Brent Headrick, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
Headrick made one start for the Mussels and it went well. He threw four scoreless innings. He gave up just two hits, walked one and struck out seven batters.
Other Strong Starts
Aaron Whitefield, Wichita Wind Surge: The speedy outfielder put together a very nice first series of the season. He had multiple hits in all six games. He hit .444/.500/.815 (1.315) with two doubles, a triple and two home runs. He also stole three bases.
Matt Wallner, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The Minnesota native who was twice drafted by the Twins got off to a strong start for the Kernels. He hit .381/.462/.810 (1.271) with a double, a triple, two home runs and eight RBI.
Caleb Hamilton, Wichita Wind Surge: Just before the season started, Hamilton was transferred from the alternate site in St. Paul to the Wichita roster. In four games, he is hitting .417/.611/.583 (1.194) with two doubles. He also had six walks to go with four strikeouts.
Edouard Julien, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: The 2019 draft pick hurt his elbow playing for Team Canada that summer. He had Tommy John surgery. So this week marked his professional debut. It went well. He hit .353/.577/588 (1.165) with two doubles and a triple. He also walked nine times compared to seven strikeouts.
Trey Cabbage, Cedar Rapids Kernels: He hit .313/.450/.625 (1.075) with a triple and a home run during the week. On Thursday, he went 4-for-4 with the home run, triple, two singles and a walk. All four hits were over 100 mph off the bat. On Opening Night, he also made a great diving catch out in left field.
Yunior Severino, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: In five games this week, Severino hit .333/.400/.611 (1.011) with two doubles, a homer and eight RBI.
Andrew Vasquez, St. Paul Saints: The lefty reliever worked in three of the Saints six games and gave up just one hit over 3 ⅓ innings. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out six batters, harkening back to his remarkable 2018 season.
Cole Sands, Wichita Wind Surge: The 2018 draft pick went 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his 2021 debut. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out three batters.
Jovani Moran, Wichita Wind Surge: The lefty worked 3 1/3 scoreless relief innings over two appearances. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out seven batters.
Hunter McMahon, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: The right-hander came to the Twins organization from the Nationals in the Ryne Harper trade. In his first appearance in the organization, he worked 4 2/3 innings and gave up just two hits, walked one and struck out six batters.
Randy Dobnak, St. Paul Saints: The righty tossed four scoreless innings for the Saints and gave up just two hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. In fact, he struck out the side in his final inning of work.
Kody Funderburk, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The southpaw was the Kernels opening night starter on Tuesday and worked three innings. He came in again on Sunday afternoon and recorded a two-inning save. In all, he gave up two unearned runs in five innings of work and struck out six batters.
Melvi Acosta, Cedar Rapids Kernels: Acosta worked 4 ⅓ scoreless innings over two appearances in Week 1. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out six batters.
Andrew Cabezas, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The righty came out of the bullpen and worked four scoreless innings in his 2021 debut. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out two batters.
Josh Winder, Wichita Wind Surge: Winder certainly has made a name for himself the past six months. Increased velocity and a strong spring training performance meant he skipped High-A ball and jumped right to AA where he was the team’s Opening Night starter. He also started on Sunday. Combined, he worked 9 2/3 innings and gave up just two runs. He struck out 11 batters.
Daniel Ozoria, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: On Sunday, the Mussels lost a crazy game by the score of 18-9. The team’s best pitcher in that game was Ozoria who worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit. He walked one. He didn’t strike anyone out. But he was able to get the team through those final innings… Oh, Ozoria, he’s an infielder.
Great Comeback Stories
Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids Kernels: The Twins drafted Featherstone in 2016 as a 1B/OF. In 2018, he made the transition to the mound. However, he hurt his elbow, rehabbed, and then after just three games in the GCL, he needed Tommy John surgery. He was ready to return late in 2019, but a hurricane ended the GCL season early. Then came COVID in 2020. On Thursday night, Featherstone returned to the mound in a game for the first time in nearly three years. The lefty was pumping 96 in his first inning and displaying some good secondary pitches too. He worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.
After the game, Featherstone said, “It was definitely cool to get back on the mound and be competitive.”
Jon Olsen, Cedar Rapids Kernels: Olsen starred at UCLA, but early in the 2018 season, he needed Tommy John surgery. The Twins still drafted him in the 11th round that year. He rehabbed that year and in 2019. Olsen was looking strong and excited to get going in 2020, but then came COVID. On Sunday afternoon, he was finally able to make his professional debut. He worked four innings and gave up just one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out four batters.
As those who have known me or have read what I’ve written over the last couple decades know, I generally tend to be positive. But for this report, I think having a small ‘Lowlights’ section makes sense. It is , in my mind, more of a reminder for all of us that even the top prospects are still developing. They’re still working on things. They aren’t finished products. So here are a few guys who have started their season slowly in the first week.
With the 27th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Twins selected 1B Aaron Sabato from the University of North Carolina. While there were questions about his defense, the general belief is that he will hit and hit for power. It’s also possible that he could be a fast-riser through the system. He went to Twins spring training (development camp) and played a bunch late in big-league games. It may have surprised many that he began the season (and his professional career) in Low-A Ft. Myers. However, reports surfaced that he had struggled with the bat in minor league camp.
Through the season’s first six games, Sabato has started and batted third each game for the Mussels. He is hitting .095/.345/.095 (.440) with no extra base hits. He has walked seven times, but he’s struck out 11 times in his 29 plate appearances. What to do? Well, manager Brian Meyer will most likely play him each of the next six games at home this week, and bat him third, and he will continue to do that as long as Sabato remains with the Mighty Mussels.
Gilberto Celestino begins his 2021 campaign in Double-A Wichita despite ending the 2019 season with just eight games in High-A. He began the season by hitting .150/.292/.200 (.492) with one double. He has three hits in 20 at-bats.
It has been interesting to see how the pitching rotations for the Twins affiliates have been set up, especially with the two Class A affiliates. The idea, of course, is to protect the arms of these pitching prospects who were unable to work any official innings in 2020 due to the pandemic.
On Thursday night, the Cedar Rapids Kernels were behind by a score of 4-2 going into the ninth inning. On the mound for the Kernels in the top of the ninth inning… Gabe Snyder, the first baseman. The lefty was hitting 77 mph with his fastball, but he faced five batters, gave up three hits and walked two batters before being replaced by second baseman Yeltsin Encarnacion. Encarnacion gave up two more hits and a long home run, but he got three outs, including one on a strikeout (with an 86 mph fastball). The Kernels lone loss of the season was an 11-2 loss that night. So why did they need to throw a position player into a close game?
After the game, Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman said, “With a bit of a shortened spring training, guys were not quite built up all the way. We know we have a limit of pitches, and ups and downs for guys. We used some guys the first couple of games. We had our guys that were available tonight, and they threw. I know it’s a tough situation, close ball game in the ninth, to have to throw a position player out there. But we’re trying to protect these players so we can go farther into the season.”
The Kernels are not alone with this. Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels pitching coach Peter Larson pointed out “Coming off of the missed year, workload volume management is at the forefront, the most important thing, that we don’t blow these guys out.”
Because of that, the Mussels roster, specifically the pitching staff, illustrates that. Larson noted, “We have a lot of starters, and we have 15 pitchers. We’re going to look to piggyback starters especially in the early months and it could go the whole season.”
He projected the idea of one pitcher starting the first week and then the guys who came in relief would start the second role to give them different opportunities.
With the Mighty Mussels, they will also have the advantage of being in the same facilities as the players at the development complex (essentially Extended Spring Training). In week one, we already saw the Mussels add two pitchers from the complex to their roster (Anthony Escobar and Donny Breek).
Clearwater @ Ft. Myers (Hunter McMahon, Regi Grace, Miguel Rodriguez, Bradley Hanner, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Louie Varland)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities: (Ben Gross, Blayne Enlow, Tyler Watson, Kody Funderburk, Matt Canterino, Andrew Cabezas)
Amarillo @ Wichita: (Cole Sands, Austin Schulfer, Dakota Chalmers, Josh Winder, Bryan Sammons, Cole Sands)
Iowa @ St. Paul (Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Bailey Ober, Andrew Albers, Charlie Barnes, TBD)
With this being the first Week in Review for the Minor Leagues, feel free to provide some feedback below. What do you like to read? What types of information would you like added? And feel free to ask any questions you like.