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Lucas Seehafer PT

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  1. Ryan Jeffers’ ability — or perhaps inability — to perform as he has in the minors could be a key factor in determining the Minnesota Twins’ future outlook. The book on Ryan Jeffers when coming out of the UNCW was pretty straight forward. Scouts knew that he possessed big power, but questioned his ability to make consistent enough contact to warrant an everyday role at the MLB level. While his play in the minor leagues suggested that the concern was unwarranted, it has risen anew after he posted a mediocre .211 batting average through his first 111 MLB games. Jeffers burst onto the scene during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to a combination of fortuitous luck as well as the betrayal of Mitch Garver at the hands of his own body. After splitting the 2019 season between High-A and Double-A — he slashed .264/.341/.421 with 14 home runs in 103 games — Jeffers was among the prospects selected to train in St. Paul following the cancellation of the minor league season. He was called up in late August after Garver landed on the injured list with an intercostal strain and remained with the team until the conclusion of the season. The former UNCW Seahawk performed admirably in 26 games, hitting three home runs and slashing .273/.355/.436, good for a 120 wRC+, bolstered by a .364 BABIP, while providing surprisingly solid defense behind the plate, particularly in regard to pitch framing. His performance left many wondering if he would soon supplant Garver, perhaps as soon as the coming offseason, as the Twins’ everyday starting catcher. The Twins, obviously with similar questions wafting through their heads, began the season with Jeffers and Garver splitting a roughly equal amount of time in the starting lineup. However, the decision, while sound in theory, turned out to be poor in practice as it wound up negating both of their strengths, namely hitting for power, while intensifying their weaknesses, striking out. Jeffers was eventually demoted to Triple-A while Garver spent more time on the injured list. (Garver absolutely crushed after his slow start and finished the season with a 137 wRC+ and .875 OPS in 68 games while Jeffers — 89 and .670, respectively, in 85 — did not.) Even upon his return to the majors after posting a .786 OPS with St. Paul, Jeffers’ season never really got on track offensively, which was likely the result of multiple factors. For starters, Jeffers wasn’t unable to do much against breaking balls, as he hit .136 with a 36.1% strikeout rate. His barrel rate against benders dropped 22 percentage points year over year while his fly ball rate nearly tripled. However, for as bad as his numbers against breaking balls were, they were more or less commensurate with his performance during 2020 (.133, 37.5%). Where Jeffers struggled the most was with making contact against fastballs, particularly those up in the zone. Overall, opposing pitchers offered fewer fastballs during Jeffers' at-bats — 54.7% of all pitches in 2021 compared to 60.5% in 2020 — and even when they did, he hit worse, posting a .228 batting average this past summer versus .313 throughout the previous. His strikeout rate against heaters also jumped an astronomic 10%, from 28.9% to 38.3%. Jeffers also ran into a bit of poor luck as his BABIP dropped precipitously from an egregious .364 in 2020 to a relatively unlucky .269 in 2021. While the sample sizes are incredibly small, teams did increase the frequency in which they shifted against Jeffers from 3.2% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2021, which may have influenced his BABIP numbers. In many ways Jeffers’ struggles during the 2021 season can be summed up similarly to that of Trevor Larnach: Former top prospect with a track record of mashing fastballs suddenly lost the ability to mash fastballs. Luckily for the Twins, as is also the case with Larnach, Jeffers is only 24 years old and has not yet played 162 MLB games, meaning he has plenty of time to make adjustments. If he is able to do so, the Twins likely possess their starting catcher for the foreseeable future. If not, Jeffers may find himself on the trade block sooner rather than later. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  2. The book on Ryan Jeffers when coming out of the UNCW was pretty straight forward. Scouts knew that he possessed big power, but questioned his ability to make consistent enough contact to warrant an everyday role at the MLB level. While his play in the minor leagues suggested that the concern was unwarranted, it has risen anew after he posted a mediocre .211 batting average through his first 111 MLB games. Jeffers burst onto the scene during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to a combination of fortuitous luck as well as the betrayal of Mitch Garver at the hands of his own body. After splitting the 2019 season between High-A and Double-A — he slashed .264/.341/.421 with 14 home runs in 103 games — Jeffers was among the prospects selected to train in St. Paul following the cancellation of the minor league season. He was called up in late August after Garver landed on the injured list with an intercostal strain and remained with the team until the conclusion of the season. The former UNCW Seahawk performed admirably in 26 games, hitting three home runs and slashing .273/.355/.436, good for a 120 wRC+, bolstered by a .364 BABIP, while providing surprisingly solid defense behind the plate, particularly in regard to pitch framing. His performance left many wondering if he would soon supplant Garver, perhaps as soon as the coming offseason, as the Twins’ everyday starting catcher. The Twins, obviously with similar questions wafting through their heads, began the season with Jeffers and Garver splitting a roughly equal amount of time in the starting lineup. However, the decision, while sound in theory, turned out to be poor in practice as it wound up negating both of their strengths, namely hitting for power, while intensifying their weaknesses, striking out. Jeffers was eventually demoted to Triple-A while Garver spent more time on the injured list. (Garver absolutely crushed after his slow start and finished the season with a 137 wRC+ and .875 OPS in 68 games while Jeffers — 89 and .670, respectively, in 85 — did not.) Even upon his return to the majors after posting a .786 OPS with St. Paul, Jeffers’ season never really got on track offensively, which was likely the result of multiple factors. For starters, Jeffers wasn’t unable to do much against breaking balls, as he hit .136 with a 36.1% strikeout rate. His barrel rate against benders dropped 22 percentage points year over year while his fly ball rate nearly tripled. However, for as bad as his numbers against breaking balls were, they were more or less commensurate with his performance during 2020 (.133, 37.5%). Where Jeffers struggled the most was with making contact against fastballs, particularly those up in the zone. Overall, opposing pitchers offered fewer fastballs during Jeffers' at-bats — 54.7% of all pitches in 2021 compared to 60.5% in 2020 — and even when they did, he hit worse, posting a .228 batting average this past summer versus .313 throughout the previous. His strikeout rate against heaters also jumped an astronomic 10%, from 28.9% to 38.3%. Jeffers also ran into a bit of poor luck as his BABIP dropped precipitously from an egregious .364 in 2020 to a relatively unlucky .269 in 2021. While the sample sizes are incredibly small, teams did increase the frequency in which they shifted against Jeffers from 3.2% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2021, which may have influenced his BABIP numbers. In many ways Jeffers’ struggles during the 2021 season can be summed up similarly to that of Trevor Larnach: Former top prospect with a track record of mashing fastballs suddenly lost the ability to mash fastballs. Luckily for the Twins, as is also the case with Larnach, Jeffers is only 24 years old and has not yet played 162 MLB games, meaning he has plenty of time to make adjustments. If he is able to do so, the Twins likely possess their starting catcher for the foreseeable future. If not, Jeffers may find himself on the trade block sooner rather than later. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  3. I think he'd hold up better as a reliever if only because it would cut down on his innings and, thus, reduce his chances for injury to occur. As for Gore, I really like what he did last year. I'm not sure many people foresaw him pitching as well as he ultimately did, but obviously the Twins made the right call switching him to the mound. I think he has MLB stuff and wouldn't be surprised if he got a call up this coming summer.
  4. I'm sure that's their plan. I don't imagine that he will convert to the pen (*if* he does so) until he reaches the majors and the Twins are contending. I really think his path is going to look like Graterol's.
  5. In his three season as Twins manager, Rocco Baldelli is yet to name a closer, and that likely won't change anytime soon. But, we know which relievers get the highest-leverage situations and most of the ninth innings. It's hard to predict which pitchers will fill that role, especially in the future. However, today we consider which Twins minor leaguers mighty be strong candidates. Although most pitching prospects begin their minor league careers as starters, many of them eventually wind up in the bullpen at the MLB level. The Minnesota Twins are very familiar with how this transition can lead to a fruitful career with the likes of Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, and, more recently, Tyler Duffey doing so under their watch. The Twins currently have a multitude of pitching prospects who are knocking on the door to the majors, but it is unlikely that all of them will stick as starters. Below are five names who could not only make the switch to the pen, but may ultimately perform well in the closer role. RHP JHOAN DURAN 2021 stats (Triple-A): 5 G, 4 GS, 16 IP, 5.06 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 22 K, 13 BB, 16.7% HR/FB Duran has, without a doubt, the most electric raw stuff in the Twins' farm system. He regularly hits 100 mph with his 4-seam fastball, which pairs well with his splitter-sinker hybrid (low-90s) and curveball (mid-80s). However, his poor command and right upper-extremity injury history may limit the overall height of his ceiling; he’s only ever thrown more than 70 innings in a season once. There are many similarities between Duran and former Twin Brusdar Graterol, so it would not be surprising to see their careers take indistinguishable paths. Graterol was solid out of the pen for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021, though he functioned more as a set-up man than a closer. A shift to the bullpen may be in Duran — and the Twins' — best interests in the short and long-term. RHP LOUIE VARLAND 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 20 G, 18 GS, 103 IP, 2.10 ERA, 2.34/3.20 FIP, 142 K, 30 BB, 6.9%/5.8% HR/FB The Twins' 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year burst forth out of obscurity this past summer on the back of a fastball that jumped in average velocity from the low-90s while at Division II Concordia University, St. Paul to the mid- to upper-90s with above average spin. He also owns a biting curveball that plays well down in the zone, feeding off the dominance of his fastball up. However, he lacks a third pitch and, despite low walk numbers, occasionally struggles with command, particularly that of his breaking ball. Varland will likely stick in a starting role as he advances through the minor leagues, but unless he develops a third offering or cleans up his curveball, his future may be as a back of the bullpen ace. The Twins have had previous success with closers from St. Paul, after all. RHP OSIRIS GERMAN 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 38 G, 0 GS, 4 SV, 59 1/3 IP, 3.34 ERA, 3.14/2.69 FIP, 90 K, 24 BB, 12.5%/4.5% HR/FB At just 23 years old, German is still at least a couple of years away from sniffing the majors, but it’s easy to see why he is highly thought of after watching just a couple of pitches. German has that undefinable, yet important electricity that many of the game’s best bullpen arms possess. While his fastball pops out of the hand and plays well up in the zone, it’s his breaking ball that is the star of his show. What may prevent German from reaching his potential, however, is his erraticism and high-effort delivery. German doesn’t possess good command of either his fastball or curve, often overthrowing both. From a mechanics perspective, doesn’t get enough push off from his lower extremity which causes him to rely on the whipping action of his core and shoulder to produce torque and velocity German is the perfect candidate for a tweak in his delivery as well as the development of a third pitch (perhaps a cutter?). If he can hone his command, his stuff is good enough to reach the majors. RHP COLE SANDS 2021 stats (Double-A): 19 G, 18 GS, 80 1/3 IP, 2.46 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 96 K, 35 BB, 7.2% HR/FB Sands was among the Twins’ most steady minor league starting pitchers in 2021. He consistently pitched until at least the fifth inning and racked up strikeouts with the best in the system, ranking ninth overall. The former Florida State Seminole has a three pitch mix consisting of a fastball, curve, and changeup, though only his breaking ball is currently an above average offering. (His fastball is close, and may already be there, depending on whose opinion you seek.) In many respects, Sands is a carbon copy of current Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey, who has been among the team's more consistent bullpen arms over the past couple of seasons. Sands currently may lack an electric fastball — which is often a requirement among back of the bullpen arms — but his curveball and punch out pedigree is intriguing. HIBERNATION CANDIDATE: LHP AARON ROZEK 2021 stats (Rookie Ball through Double-A): 16 G, 7 GS, 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 0.81/2.48/4.40/2.15 FIP, 74 K, 7 BB, 0.0%/14.3%/18.2%/0.0% HR/FB Rozek came out of nowhere during the 2021 season. The Burnsville native and Minnesota State University, Mankato alum signed with the Twins on a minor league deal in late June before proceeding to pitch to great success across four levels of play. (He had never played in the minors prior to his signing, though he did play Indy Ball during 2019.) Rozek possesses two breaking pitches — a slider and a loopier slurve — which he uses primarily as his out pitches as well as a a fastball, though it is rather mediocre. At age 26 with less than one season of MiLB experience under his belt, the likelihood Rozek ever makes it to the parent squad is slim. Add in the fact that he is left-handed and doesn’t possess an elite fastball, and the odds of him ever being a closer are nearly nil. But for an undrafted free agent from an NCAA Division II school, he displayed plenty of talent that should pique the interest of Twins’ fans. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here View full article
  6. Although most pitching prospects begin their minor league careers as starters, many of them eventually wind up in the bullpen at the MLB level. The Minnesota Twins are very familiar with how this transition can lead to a fruitful career with the likes of Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, and, more recently, Tyler Duffey doing so under their watch. The Twins currently have a multitude of pitching prospects who are knocking on the door to the majors, but it is unlikely that all of them will stick as starters. Below are five names who could not only make the switch to the pen, but may ultimately perform well in the closer role. RHP JHOAN DURAN 2021 stats (Triple-A): 5 G, 4 GS, 16 IP, 5.06 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 22 K, 13 BB, 16.7% HR/FB Duran has, without a doubt, the most electric raw stuff in the Twins' farm system. He regularly hits 100 mph with his 4-seam fastball, which pairs well with his splitter-sinker hybrid (low-90s) and curveball (mid-80s). However, his poor command and right upper-extremity injury history may limit the overall height of his ceiling; he’s only ever thrown more than 70 innings in a season once. There are many similarities between Duran and former Twin Brusdar Graterol, so it would not be surprising to see their careers take indistinguishable paths. Graterol was solid out of the pen for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021, though he functioned more as a set-up man than a closer. A shift to the bullpen may be in Duran — and the Twins' — best interests in the short and long-term. RHP LOUIE VARLAND 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 20 G, 18 GS, 103 IP, 2.10 ERA, 2.34/3.20 FIP, 142 K, 30 BB, 6.9%/5.8% HR/FB The Twins' 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year burst forth out of obscurity this past summer on the back of a fastball that jumped in average velocity from the low-90s while at Division II Concordia University, St. Paul to the mid- to upper-90s with above average spin. He also owns a biting curveball that plays well down in the zone, feeding off the dominance of his fastball up. However, he lacks a third pitch and, despite low walk numbers, occasionally struggles with command, particularly that of his breaking ball. Varland will likely stick in a starting role as he advances through the minor leagues, but unless he develops a third offering or cleans up his curveball, his future may be as a back of the bullpen ace. The Twins have had previous success with closers from St. Paul, after all. RHP OSIRIS GERMAN 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 38 G, 0 GS, 4 SV, 59 1/3 IP, 3.34 ERA, 3.14/2.69 FIP, 90 K, 24 BB, 12.5%/4.5% HR/FB At just 23 years old, German is still at least a couple of years away from sniffing the majors, but it’s easy to see why he is highly thought of after watching just a couple of pitches. German has that undefinable, yet important electricity that many of the game’s best bullpen arms possess. While his fastball pops out of the hand and plays well up in the zone, it’s his breaking ball that is the star of his show. What may prevent German from reaching his potential, however, is his erraticism and high-effort delivery. German doesn’t possess good command of either his fastball or curve, often overthrowing both. From a mechanics perspective, doesn’t get enough push off from his lower extremity which causes him to rely on the whipping action of his core and shoulder to produce torque and velocity German is the perfect candidate for a tweak in his delivery as well as the development of a third pitch (perhaps a cutter?). If he can hone his command, his stuff is good enough to reach the majors. RHP COLE SANDS 2021 stats (Double-A): 19 G, 18 GS, 80 1/3 IP, 2.46 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 96 K, 35 BB, 7.2% HR/FB Sands was among the Twins’ most steady minor league starting pitchers in 2021. He consistently pitched until at least the fifth inning and racked up strikeouts with the best in the system, ranking ninth overall. The former Florida State Seminole has a three pitch mix consisting of a fastball, curve, and changeup, though only his breaking ball is currently an above average offering. (His fastball is close, and may already be there, depending on whose opinion you seek.) In many respects, Sands is a carbon copy of current Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey, who has been among the team's more consistent bullpen arms over the past couple of seasons. Sands currently may lack an electric fastball — which is often a requirement among back of the bullpen arms — but his curveball and punch out pedigree is intriguing. HIBERNATION CANDIDATE: LHP AARON ROZEK 2021 stats (Rookie Ball through Double-A): 16 G, 7 GS, 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 0.81/2.48/4.40/2.15 FIP, 74 K, 7 BB, 0.0%/14.3%/18.2%/0.0% HR/FB Rozek came out of nowhere during the 2021 season. The Burnsville native and Minnesota State University, Mankato alum signed with the Twins on a minor league deal in late June before proceeding to pitch to great success across four levels of play. (He had never played in the minors prior to his signing, though he did play Indy Ball during 2019.) Rozek possesses two breaking pitches — a slider and a loopier slurve — which he uses primarily as his out pitches as well as a a fastball, though it is rather mediocre. At age 26 with less than one season of MiLB experience under his belt, the likelihood Rozek ever makes it to the parent squad is slim. Add in the fact that he is left-handed and doesn’t possess an elite fastball, and the odds of him ever being a closer are nearly nil. But for an undrafted free agent from an NCAA Division II school, he displayed plenty of talent that should pique the interest of Twins’ fans. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here
  7. If there was any solace to be found in the Minnesota Twins’ 2021 season it was due to the metamorphosis many of their starting pitching prospects underwent. Louie Varland blossomed from a 2019 15th round pick out of NCAA Division II Concordia University, St. Paul into the franchise’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year; Matt Canterino and Blayne Enlow performed exceptionally when not beset by arm injuries; and many, including Cole Sands and Joe Ryan, outperformed even their rosiest pre-season projections. But of all the pitching prospects who prospered, it was Josh Winder emerged from his developmental chrysalis first, setting the tone for what was to come early in the season. Winder, a right-hander whom the Twins’ selected with their 7th round pick during the 2018 draft out of the Virginia Military Institute, stands at a robust 6’5” with an athletic 210 pound frame. A quick worker on the mound, Winder possesses a smooth, repeatable motion and utilizes a three-quarter arm slot for every pitch in his arsenal. He’s a traditional four-pitch pitcher and primarily relied on his 4-seam fastball up in the zone to get ahead in the count before unleashing a bevy of sliders, curveballs, and changeups to keep batters on their toes. His fastball sat 94-96 mph for the majority of his season — which he split between Double- (54 2/3 innings) and Triple-A (17 1/3 innings) — before tailing off to 91-96 mph by the end of the season. (Of note: He did not appear in another game after his start on July 21 due to right shoulder impingement/fatigue.) Winder’s slider typically sat in the mid-80s and featured a sharp downward break in the 1-to-7 o’clock direction. It played well off of his fastball, flying towards the plate in the same tunnel when his command was on. However, it was arguably the concurrent development of his changeup and fastball that leveled up Winder from a mid-tier prospect to inside the Twins’ top 10. Winder’s average fastball velocity increased from the low-90s during his college days into the mid-90s, which caused a greater differential between the speed of his heater and off-speed stuff. Winder, who turned 25 years old this past October, excelled at Double-A Wichita (2.84 FIP, 31.3% K rate, 4.8% BB rate, 0.82 HR/9), which resulted in a late-June promotion to Triple-A St. Paul and an appearance in the 2021 Futures Game during the All-Star break. However, after a dominant debut in which he struck out eight Omaha hitters and allowed only one run in 5 2/3 innings, Winder struggled during his final three starts, serving up four home runs, allowing eight earned runs, and striking out only seven in 11 2/3 innings. Winder’s downtick in performance was due to both a loss of velocity across his arsenal as well as iffy command, both of which were likely the result of his shoulder injury. However, even prior to being shut down, Winder’s command was no better than average at best. Although he rarely issues free passes (i.e. he has good control, always pitching in or near the strike zone), his ability to place the ball where he wants, particularly with his curveball, requires more seasoning. All told, Winder likely projects as a starter at the MLB-level and possesses the ceiling of a No. 3 pitcher on a playoff caliber team. As with any pitcher, however, his health, strikeout rate, and home run rate will play key roles in determining if he ever reaches his apex. There is a lot to like about Winder’s game, and while the comparison is far from perfect, it’s possible that he has a similar career to that of former Twin Scott Baker. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  8. Winder, a right-hander whom the Twins’ selected with their 7th round pick during the 2018 draft out of the Virginia Military Institute, stands at a robust 6’5” with an athletic 210 pound frame. A quick worker on the mound, Winder possesses a smooth, repeatable motion and utilizes a three-quarter arm slot for every pitch in his arsenal. He’s a traditional four-pitch pitcher and primarily relied on his 4-seam fastball up in the zone to get ahead in the count before unleashing a bevy of sliders, curveballs, and changeups to keep batters on their toes. His fastball sat 94-96 mph for the majority of his season — which he split between Double- (54 2/3 innings) and Triple-A (17 1/3 innings) — before tailing off to 91-96 mph by the end of the season. (Of note: He did not appear in another game after his start on July 21 due to right shoulder impingement/fatigue.) Winder’s slider typically sat in the mid-80s and featured a sharp downward break in the 1-to-7 o’clock direction. It played well off of his fastball, flying towards the plate in the same tunnel when his command was on. However, it was arguably the concurrent development of his changeup and fastball that leveled up Winder from a mid-tier prospect to inside the Twins’ top 10. Winder’s average fastball velocity increased from the low-90s during his college days into the mid-90s, which caused a greater differential between the speed of his heater and off-speed stuff. Winder, who turned 25 years old this past October, excelled at Double-A Wichita (2.84 FIP, 31.3% K rate, 4.8% BB rate, 0.82 HR/9), which resulted in a late-June promotion to Triple-A St. Paul and an appearance in the 2021 Futures Game during the All-Star break. However, after a dominant debut in which he struck out eight Omaha hitters and allowed only one run in 5 2/3 innings, Winder struggled during his final three starts, serving up four home runs, allowing eight earned runs, and striking out only seven in 11 2/3 innings. Winder’s downtick in performance was due to both a loss of velocity across his arsenal as well as iffy command, both of which were likely the result of his shoulder injury. However, even prior to being shut down, Winder’s command was no better than average at best. Although he rarely issues free passes (i.e. he has good control, always pitching in or near the strike zone), his ability to place the ball where he wants, particularly with his curveball, requires more seasoning. All told, Winder likely projects as a starter at the MLB-level and possesses the ceiling of a No. 3 pitcher on a playoff caliber team. As with any pitcher, however, his health, strikeout rate, and home run rate will play key roles in determining if he ever reaches his apex. There is a lot to like about Winder’s game, and while the comparison is far from perfect, it’s possible that he has a similar career to that of former Twin Scott Baker. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  9. Derek Fisher was selected by the Houston Astros with the 37th overall pick during the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of Virginia. He quickly ascended through the Astros’ farm system — he topped out as the team’s fourth-best prospect according to MLB.com in 2017 — reaching Triple-A in 2016 and eventually the majors the following summer, on the back of strong power numbers. The lefthanded slugger hit 16 home runs in 84 games at High-A in 2015, 21 across 129 games at Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, and 26 in 137 Triple-A and MLB games in 2017. Fisher bounced between the majors and minors in 2018 and 2019 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline in exchange for RHP Aaron Sanchez, OF Cal Stevenson, and RHP Joe Biagini. He battled a couple of minor leg injuries during the 2020 season which limited him to 16 games and zapped him of his power. He was then traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason for a player to be named later and cash. Once again, he was bitten by the injury bug — this time a significant hamstring strain — which allowed him to appear in only four games for the Brewers and 25 for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. Fisher’s various leg injuries and increasing age, he’ll be 29 next August, have largely robbed him of his once above-average speed. Upon making his debut in 2017, Fisher ranked in the 96th percentile in sprint speed, which helped him rack up 111 stolen bases during his minor-league career. However, during limited action this past season, his sprint speed had dropped precipitously to the 37th percentile. Unlike many left-handed batters these days, Fisher is not a dead-pull hitter. He tends to spray the ball all over the field throughout his major league career, with the majority of his batted balls going back up the middle (41.1%). What has kept Fisher from sticking in the majors is his propensity to strike out. He has done so 165 times in 466 MLB plate appearances, which equates to a whopping 35.5% K-rate. He possesses neither the power nor the defense to make up for his greatest weakness. In many respects, Fisher profiles similarly to that of Jake Cave, but with perhaps more power potential. He’s a fourth outfielder-type at best who could slot in at any spot, though he’s probably best in one of the corners. Odds are that he won’t play a significant role on the Twins next season, but could directly slide into Cave’s spot if he leaves the team and/or they don’t believe that someone like Gilberto Celestino is quite ready for the role. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  10. The Minnesota Twins once again reached into the barrel that is minor-league free agency on Thursday afternoon, signing former top outfield prospect Derek Fisher to a deal, according to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson. Although he has failed to live up to lofty expectations, Fisher is a potentially good signing who improves the outfield depth within the farm system at worst and could slot in as an occasional fourth outfielder when needed. Derek Fisher was selected by the Houston Astros with the 37th overall pick during the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of Virginia. He quickly ascended through the Astros’ farm system — he topped out as the team’s fourth-best prospect according to MLB.com in 2017 — reaching Triple-A in 2016 and eventually the majors the following summer, on the back of strong power numbers. The lefthanded slugger hit 16 home runs in 84 games at High-A in 2015, 21 across 129 games at Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, and 26 in 137 Triple-A and MLB games in 2017. Fisher bounced between the majors and minors in 2018 and 2019 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline in exchange for RHP Aaron Sanchez, OF Cal Stevenson, and RHP Joe Biagini. He battled a couple of minor leg injuries during the 2020 season which limited him to 16 games and zapped him of his power. He was then traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason for a player to be named later and cash. Once again, he was bitten by the injury bug — this time a significant hamstring strain — which allowed him to appear in only four games for the Brewers and 25 for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. Fisher’s various leg injuries and increasing age, he’ll be 29 next August, have largely robbed him of his once above-average speed. Upon making his debut in 2017, Fisher ranked in the 96th percentile in sprint speed, which helped him rack up 111 stolen bases during his minor-league career. However, during limited action this past season, his sprint speed had dropped precipitously to the 37th percentile. Unlike many left-handed batters these days, Fisher is not a dead-pull hitter. He tends to spray the ball all over the field throughout his major league career, with the majority of his batted balls going back up the middle (41.1%). What has kept Fisher from sticking in the majors is his propensity to strike out. He has done so 165 times in 466 MLB plate appearances, which equates to a whopping 35.5% K-rate. He possesses neither the power nor the defense to make up for his greatest weakness. In many respects, Fisher profiles similarly to that of Jake Cave, but with perhaps more power potential. He’s a fourth outfielder-type at best who could slot in at any spot, though he’s probably best in one of the corners. Odds are that he won’t play a significant role on the Twins next season, but could directly slide into Cave’s spot if he leaves the team and/or they don’t believe that someone like Gilberto Celestino is quite ready for the role. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  11. Who's working with him right now? No one (thanks lockout). But Popkins will absolutely work with him once the lockout ends. Helping players make adjustments based on analytics is the main reason the Twins signed him.
  12. For sure, though even in the minor's Larnach's reputation was one of someone who can't hit off-speed stuff but absolutely mashes fastballs. He did that through the first two months after his debut but then stopped hitting them as the season went on. He'll always get a steady diet of off-speed stuff, particularly as that is the way the game is trending, but, to your point, if he doesn't adjust (and doing so is much easier said than done), he needs to continue to mash fastballs. I think that's the big adjustment he needs to make. He's going to see fewer fastballs and they're going to be primarily located outside when he does see them. He needs to learn how to better recognize those pitches and capitalize when he gets them.
  13. I don't necessarily disagree with you point about Larnach being a better trade chip, but to play devil's advocate a bit: For better or for worse, Kepler has a track record. He's shown that he can produce good power at the MLB level and provide elite defense in right field and solid defense in center. Teams value those attributes and I think we tend to take his talent for granted a bit because we see his negatives on a day-to-day basis. When you look at Larnach you see a guy who has the potential for above average power but no real home defensively. He'll like never be more than average in either corner due to his slower foot speed and decent arm. Frankly, I think his 80-90th percentile future outcome is something like a consistent left-handed 2012 Josh Willingham with slightly better defense. In that sense, Larnach's offense would be better than Kepler. However, Kepler's defense provides so much value that he'd probably be considered the more valuable player, even with his mediocre offense.
  14. Minnesota Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach was not supposed to make his MLB debut during the early portion of May 2021. In fact, somewhere in the multiverse, there is a world in which Larnach did not reach the major leagues at all this past summer, instead spending time marinating in Triple-A, a level at which he had not competed at prior to 2021. However, a bevy of early-season injuries suffered by Twins outfielders resulted in the erstwhile Oregon State Beaver making his big league debut on May 8. He went 0-for-4 with a hit by pitch as the Twins fell to the Detroit Tigers 7-3, but by the end of the month, Larnach was slashing .228/.389/.456 to go along with three home runs, four doubles, and a 19:12 K:BB ratio. By the end of June, his batting average had risen to .245, his home runs (5) and doubles (8) continued to climb at a steady pace, and it was widely believed that the lefty masher would not only be a staple in the Twins’ lineup for the remainder of the increasingly lost season, but for years to come as well. Larnach was demoted to Triple-A St. Paul on August 16th with his OPS sitting at a gloomy .672 and his strikeouts outnumbering his walks 3-to-1. His decrease in performance was less of a drop off and more of a sheer cliff. The reasons for Larnach’s struggles are often attributed primarily to an inability to hit off-speed pitches, and while it is true that he did struggle mightily, in actuality, they extend far deeper. Baseball Savant is a fount of knowledge if you know where to look. Within its walls of dizzying statistical text and confusing graphical representations exists all the insights one could ever desire to know about a given player. The data summarizing Trevor Larnach’s rookie campaign provides no exception. (Note: All images and data used and analyzed below come via Baseball Savant.) By adjusting inputs and parameters provided automatically by Savant, it’s possible to extract detailed information about Larnach’s season, including how opposing pitchers approached his at-bats and, ultimately, how he fared. To begin, the graph below displays the pitch-types Larnach faced on a month-to-month basis in the form of a percentage. In short, opponents offered Larnach a healthy helping of fastballs immediately upon being called up in May, but that number dropped precipitously in June and rose again in July before falling in August. Additionally, it should be noted that the number of breaking balls Larnach faced — defined as sliders, curves, knuckle-curves, and the ever-nebulous “other” — generally increased consistently as the summer progressed, to the point where he was seeing nearly an equal amount of fastballs and breaking balls in June and August. “I could tell teams were not going to be throwing fastballs a whole lot when I started to see a heavy dose of off-speed and changeups,” Larnach told Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic in late June. “You’re still going to get [fastballs]. They have to establish that or show them. I try to have a plan when I go up there and stick with it.” However, as the season progressed further, opponents began to offer fewer and fewer changeups while throwing more and more sliders. Simultaneously, Larnach’s swing and miss percentages increased across the board. (Note: There is quite a bit of noise present in Larnach’s batting data against off-speed pitches due to an extremely small sample size.) To make matters worse, Larnach’s average exit velocity numbers as well as his batting average and slugging percentages (.382/.765 in May compared to .229/.375 in July) against fastballs plummeted. In essence, not only was he swinging and missing more as the season progressed, he was also making weaker contact with the one pitch he generally destroyed when he did manage to meet leather with wood. Often such a significant drop in exit velo and overall contact is accompanied by an increased proclivity to chase pitches outside of the zone. In general, Larnach has a discerning eye at the plate, ranking above average in take rate compared to his major league peers; however, his propensity to swing at breaking balls out of the zone reached its zenith in July, just prior to being sent down. And even if he wasn’t chasing as many fastballs or off-speed pitches as one might assume based on the numbers provided above, he wasn’t exactly making a ton of contact when he did. By the time Larnach’s run in the bigs concluded, he was seeing an increased number of sliders down and away and fastballs on the outer-half of the plate, both of which were met by an alarming number of swings and misses. The end result was a statistical profile that laid out clearly the best way to get Larnach out. So, was Larnach’s inability to hit off-speed pitches and breaking balls a major factor in his decline during his rookie campaign? Undoubtedly. But so was a sudden inability to hit fastballs, due in part to pitchers throwing fewer — and the ones they did throw being closer to the outer edge of the plate — as well as what was likely a subsequent reduction in overall confidence. Larnach still overflows with raw talent and power, but it’s possible he never figures out how to hit breaking balls and off-speed pitches. If the 2021 season taught us anything, it’s that his overall success will rely on his ability to consistently mash fastballs and if he can’t, well, the consequences could be severe. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
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