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David Youngs

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  • Birthday 10/22/1997

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  1. A bleak year for the Minnesota Twins didn't cloud the incredible efforts of one player. Congrats to Jorge Polanco on being named our MVP for the 2021 season! Other Twins Daily 2021 Award Winners Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Most Improved Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year Even the gleaming optimist would struggle to tally a fruitful list of positives from the Twins rocky 2021 season. Let's face it, 2021 was a wash. Players underperformed, a cesspool of injuries plagued, and the team as a whole fell mountains short of preseason expectations. There's plenty of content out there about the ladder issues. Yet as an optimist myself, it would be cruel not to highlight some of brilliant performances that took place in a deeply-needed 'normal' year of Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Losing sucks, but at the end of the day there are reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic. The players below prove why. Honorable Mention for Twins Daily 2021 Most Valuable Player (listed in reverse order of votes received) 3B Josh Donaldson (18 Votes) After a less-than-ideal first season with the Twins, Donaldson was stellar this season. The Bringer of Rain posted a 3.2 Offensive WAR and was an extra-base hit machine, tallying 26 homers and 26 doubles. Donaldson's .247 batting average doesn't do justice for how impactful he was in the Twins lineup. On top of that, his defense was rock-solid, as demonstrated by his 2.2 Defensive War. Will Donaldson remain a Twin for the final two years of his four-ear contract? Given his impact this year, I sure hope he does, When healthy, the man is a force on both sides of the ball. CF Byron Buxton (33 Votes) If it weren't for the injury-crutch there's a good chance that Buxton would be atop this list...and atop standings for league-wide awards. In just 61 games Buxton slashed .306/.358/.647 (1.005) with 72 hits (23 doubles), 19 homers, and 32 RBI. Arguably the fastest player in baseball, Buxton stole nine bases on 10 attempts and was as Buxton-esque as ever patrolling center field at Target Field. There's a lot of speculation regarding Buxton's future in Minnesota. Yes, health is an issue but my goodness, if you can't see that Buxton is a generational player, please open your eyes. Also Receiving Votes: Baily Ober (13), Luis Arraez (12), Jose Berrios (8), Michael Pineda (6), Nelson Cruz (4), Taylor Rogers (4), Max Kepler (1), Caleb Thielbar (2) Twins Daily 2021 MVP: 2B Jorge Polanco (50) Mention Jorge Polanco's name to Twins fans a year ago and one would likely be met with discouragement and vitriol. My oh my have the tables turned. While the whole Andrelton Simmons project at shortstop didn't exactly work out, Polanco's shift to second base rejuvenated the former all-star with the caliber of elite performance that we all knew he was capable of. Polanco finished the 2021 season with a .269/.323/.503 (.826) slash line, knocking 158 hits, 97 runs, 33 home runs, and 98 RBI. The speedy infielder also stole 11 bases in 17 attempts and touted a team-leading 4.8 offensive WAR. Polanco was a beacon of light all season for the Twins offense. After a slow April, Polanco's batting average hovered in excellency each month as the season progressed. And despite a subpar September (.245/.273/.547), Polanco still managed to knock eight homers (only second to his nine HR in August) and compile 58 total bases (26 H, 8 2B, 4 BB). Polanco's 33 homers put him fourth on the list amongst all MLB second basemen. The 28-year-old also ranks fourth at the position for RBI (98), and fifth for slugging percentage (.503). Coming off of his eighth season with the organization it's clear that Polanco is a player that the Twins are comfortable investing in. If that wasn't the case they would have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to trade him away. The investment has paid off, yet there's still work to be done. Polanco posted a defensive WAR of 0.7 this season and totaled a .961 Fielding Percentage with 17 errors (15 at 2B). Those numbers are solid but aren't going to win any Gold Gloves. Yet that misses the point of the greater picture. Polanco looked infinitely more confident at second base compared to his days at shortstop. There's a great chance that the confidence in the field correlated directly to his enormous year at the plate. Baseball is an incredibly difficult sport on the mental side of the game and Polanco's newfound confidence is a huge win for the future of the Twins organization. At the end of the day Polanco truly was the most valued player on this season's roster. He stayed healthy (in comparison to others), was a staple in the field, and hit for power and consistency from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Twins can wrangle up a high-quality shortstop to complement Polanco up the middle. If so, the Twins could have one of the stronger infields in all of MLB. How do you feel about the choice of Jorge Polanco as the teams Most Valuable Player in 2021? View full article
  2. Other Twins Daily 2021 Award Winners Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Most Improved Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year Even the gleaming optimist would struggle to tally a fruitful list of positives from the Twins rocky 2021 season. Let's face it, 2021 was a wash. Players underperformed, a cesspool of injuries plagued, and the team as a whole fell mountains short of preseason expectations. There's plenty of content out there about the ladder issues. Yet as an optimist myself, it would be cruel not to highlight some of brilliant performances that took place in a deeply-needed 'normal' year of Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Losing sucks, but at the end of the day there are reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic. The players below prove why. Honorable Mention for Twins Daily 2021 Most Valuable Player (listed in reverse order of votes received) 3B Josh Donaldson (18 Votes) After a less-than-ideal first season with the Twins, Donaldson was stellar this season. The Bringer of Rain posted a 3.2 Offensive WAR and was an extra-base hit machine, tallying 26 homers and 26 doubles. Donaldson's .247 batting average doesn't do justice for how impactful he was in the Twins lineup. On top of that, his defense was rock-solid, as demonstrated by his 2.2 Defensive War. Will Donaldson remain a Twin for the final two years of his four-ear contract? Given his impact this year, I sure hope he does, When healthy, the man is a force on both sides of the ball. CF Byron Buxton (33 Votes) If it weren't for the injury-crutch there's a good chance that Buxton would be atop this list...and atop standings for league-wide awards. In just 61 games Buxton slashed .306/.358/.647 (1.005) with 72 hits (23 doubles), 19 homers, and 32 RBI. Arguably the fastest player in baseball, Buxton stole nine bases on 10 attempts and was as Buxton-esque as ever patrolling center field at Target Field. There's a lot of speculation regarding Buxton's future in Minnesota. Yes, health is an issue but my goodness, if you can't see that Buxton is a generational player, please open your eyes. Also Receiving Votes: Baily Ober (13), Luis Arraez (12), Jose Berrios (8), Michael Pineda (6), Nelson Cruz (4), Taylor Rogers (4), Max Kepler (1), Caleb Thielbar (2) Twins Daily 2021 MVP: 2B Jorge Polanco (50) Mention Jorge Polanco's name to Twins fans a year ago and one would likely be met with discouragement and vitriol. My oh my have the tables turned. While the whole Andrelton Simmons project at shortstop didn't exactly work out, Polanco's shift to second base rejuvenated the former all-star with the caliber of elite performance that we all knew he was capable of. Polanco finished the 2021 season with a .269/.323/.503 (.826) slash line, knocking 158 hits, 97 runs, 33 home runs, and 98 RBI. The speedy infielder also stole 11 bases in 17 attempts and touted a team-leading 4.8 offensive WAR. Polanco was a beacon of light all season for the Twins offense. After a slow April, Polanco's batting average hovered in excellency each month as the season progressed. And despite a subpar September (.245/.273/.547), Polanco still managed to knock eight homers (only second to his nine HR in August) and compile 58 total bases (26 H, 8 2B, 4 BB). Polanco's 33 homers put him fourth on the list amongst all MLB second basemen. The 28-year-old also ranks fourth at the position for RBI (98), and fifth for slugging percentage (.503). Coming off of his eighth season with the organization it's clear that Polanco is a player that the Twins are comfortable investing in. If that wasn't the case they would have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to trade him away. The investment has paid off, yet there's still work to be done. Polanco posted a defensive WAR of 0.7 this season and totaled a .961 Fielding Percentage with 17 errors (15 at 2B). Those numbers are solid but aren't going to win any Gold Gloves. Yet that misses the point of the greater picture. Polanco looked infinitely more confident at second base compared to his days at shortstop. There's a great chance that the confidence in the field correlated directly to his enormous year at the plate. Baseball is an incredibly difficult sport on the mental side of the game and Polanco's newfound confidence is a huge win for the future of the Twins organization. At the end of the day Polanco truly was the most valued player on this season's roster. He stayed healthy (in comparison to others), was a staple in the field, and hit for power and consistency from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Twins can wrangle up a high-quality shortstop to complement Polanco up the middle. If so, the Twins could have one of the stronger infields in all of MLB. How do you feel about the choice of Jorge Polanco as the teams Most Valuable Player in 2021?
  3. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS 2021 was a wild year across the Twins organization. Yet through the ups, downs, and everything in between there were a few individuals that stood out. Congrats to all of our award winners! Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Twins Daily 2021 Starting Pitching of the Year: Louie Varland Twins Daily 2021 Relief Pitcher of the Year: Jovani Moran Short Season Awards Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Samuel Perez TRANSACTIONS Twins recall LHP Charlie Barnes from Triple-A St. Paul. Barnes will start Sunday's season finale for the Minnesota Twins. John Gant was placed on the Injured List. SAINTS SENTINEL Toledo 8, St. Paul 5 Box Score A leadoff homer from Jose Miranda and a ninth-inning rally weren't enough to light a flame for the Saints to overcome the Mud Hen bats on Saturday. On the very first pitch of the game Miranda launched a high fastball over the left-center field wall to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. Miranda's shot was his 30th on the season. He's now one of only 12 players across Minor League Baseball with 30 or more homers this season. Despite the early momentum, Miranda's blast would be one of only the five runs plated for St. Paul. The other four runs came in a ninth inning two-out rally with the Saints trailing 8-1. Miranda led off the inning with a double (24) and eventually scored thanks to a bases-loaded walk from Drew Maggi. B.J Boyd followed that up with a two-run RBI single that scored Mark Contreras and Gilberto Celestino. Sherman Johnson kept the magic alive by following Boyd's lead with an RBI single that scored Maggi from third. Yet some happy endings are just too good to be true. In the next at-bat Drew Stankiewicz grounded out to end the valiant comeback effort. The Saints out hit Toledo drastically (11 to 5) but were plagued by runners left in scoring position (4-for-15) and a decade of walks from the pitching staff St. Paul starter Drew Strotman lasted only one inning, giving up four walks, three runs, and two hits while striking out one. The performance was Strotman's shortest outing since June 3rd when he was still pitching for the Durham Bulls. The eye sore shouldn't be dwelled on too much as Strotman is 3-1 in five starts in September minus today's outing. Strotman wasn't the only St. Paul pitcher that struggled against an electric Toledo offense. Relievers Edgar Garcia and Chris Nunn gave up a combined five runs on two hits and three walks in five innings. Yet despite the struggle reliever Vinny Nittoli provided a bright spot for the Saints pitching staff. Nittoli pitched the final two innings and was perfect, not allowing a single run or hit and striking out four batters. Saturday was Nittoli's best outing for the Saints in his young tenure with the Twins organization. The 30-year-old RHP was signed by the organization on August 31st after a year-long stint with the Mariners organization. While it may not have shown in the final score the Saints saw three players record multi-hit games. Miranda and Drew Stankiewicz both recorded two-hit games, with Stankiewicz roping his first triple of the year in addition to a single. Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Gilberto Celestino tagged two singles and a double on the night, his seventh three-hit game of the 2021 season. Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention the Saints look to end their historic season on a high note in tomorrow's season finale. TWINS DAILY SAINTS PLAYERS OF THE GAME Hitter of the Game: Jose Miranda- 2-for-5, 2B, HR (30), 2 R, RBI Pitcher of the Game: Vinny Nittoli- 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #6 Jose Miranda (St. Paul)- 2-for-5, 2B, HR (30), 2 R, RBI #13 Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul)- 3-for-4, 2B, R, BB, K #16 Brent Rooker (Minnesota)- 0-for-3, K SUNDAY'S STARTING PITCHER St. Paul @ Toledo (12:05PM CST) LHP Andrew Albers (7-4, 3.75 ERA)
  4. The smoking hot bats of Jose Miranda and Gilberto Celestino were extinguished by a plethora of walks from the Saints on Saturday evening in Toledo. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS 2021 was a wild year across the Twins organization. Yet through the ups, downs, and everything in between there were a few individuals that stood out. Congrats to all of our award winners! Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Twins Daily 2021 Starting Pitching of the Year: Louie Varland Twins Daily 2021 Relief Pitcher of the Year: Jovani Moran Short Season Awards Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Samuel Perez TRANSACTIONS Twins recall LHP Charlie Barnes from Triple-A St. Paul. Barnes will start Sunday's season finale for the Minnesota Twins. John Gant was placed on the Injured List. SAINTS SENTINEL Toledo 8, St. Paul 5 Box Score A leadoff homer from Jose Miranda and a ninth-inning rally weren't enough to light a flame for the Saints to overcome the Mud Hen bats on Saturday. On the very first pitch of the game Miranda launched a high fastball over the left-center field wall to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. Miranda's shot was his 30th on the season. He's now one of only 12 players across Minor League Baseball with 30 or more homers this season. Despite the early momentum, Miranda's blast would be one of only the five runs plated for St. Paul. The other four runs came in a ninth inning two-out rally with the Saints trailing 8-1. Miranda led off the inning with a double (24) and eventually scored thanks to a bases-loaded walk from Drew Maggi. B.J Boyd followed that up with a two-run RBI single that scored Mark Contreras and Gilberto Celestino. Sherman Johnson kept the magic alive by following Boyd's lead with an RBI single that scored Maggi from third. Yet some happy endings are just too good to be true. In the next at-bat Drew Stankiewicz grounded out to end the valiant comeback effort. The Saints out hit Toledo drastically (11 to 5) but were plagued by runners left in scoring position (4-for-15) and a decade of walks from the pitching staff St. Paul starter Drew Strotman lasted only one inning, giving up four walks, three runs, and two hits while striking out one. The performance was Strotman's shortest outing since June 3rd when he was still pitching for the Durham Bulls. The eye sore shouldn't be dwelled on too much as Strotman is 3-1 in five starts in September minus today's outing. Strotman wasn't the only St. Paul pitcher that struggled against an electric Toledo offense. Relievers Edgar Garcia and Chris Nunn gave up a combined five runs on two hits and three walks in five innings. Yet despite the struggle reliever Vinny Nittoli provided a bright spot for the Saints pitching staff. Nittoli pitched the final two innings and was perfect, not allowing a single run or hit and striking out four batters. Saturday was Nittoli's best outing for the Saints in his young tenure with the Twins organization. The 30-year-old RHP was signed by the organization on August 31st after a year-long stint with the Mariners organization. While it may not have shown in the final score the Saints saw three players record multi-hit games. Miranda and Drew Stankiewicz both recorded two-hit games, with Stankiewicz roping his first triple of the year in addition to a single. Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Gilberto Celestino tagged two singles and a double on the night, his seventh three-hit game of the 2021 season. Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention the Saints look to end their historic season on a high note in tomorrow's season finale. TWINS DAILY SAINTS PLAYERS OF THE GAME Hitter of the Game: Jose Miranda- 2-for-5, 2B, HR (30), 2 R, RBI Pitcher of the Game: Vinny Nittoli- 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #6 Jose Miranda (St. Paul)- 2-for-5, 2B, HR (30), 2 R, RBI #13 Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul)- 3-for-4, 2B, R, BB, K #16 Brent Rooker (Minnesota)- 0-for-3, K SUNDAY'S STARTING PITCHER St. Paul @ Toledo (12:05PM CST) LHP Andrew Albers (7-4, 3.75 ERA) View full article
  5. MINOR LEAGUE END OF THE YEAR AWARDS There have been quite a few bright spots around the Twins' farm system throughout the 2021 season. Yet through all the ups, downs, wins, and losses there were a number of players who distinguished themselves as crowned jewels. Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners! Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Twins Daily 2021 Starting Pitching of the Year: Louie Varland Twins Daily 2021 Relief Pitcher of the Year: Jovani Moran Short Season Awards Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Samuel Perez TRANSACTIONS The Saints placed catcher Ben Rortvedt on the IL with a concussion. SAINTS SENTINAL St. Paul 2, Toledo 0 Box Score A late-inning blast and dominant pitching led to a gutsy win for the Saints on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field. After six innings of a stalemate, the Saints struck the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. Leadoff man Jose Miranda reached on a hit by pitch and eventually moved his way to third on a groundout and wild pitch. He may as well stayed at first. Moments later, Mark Contreras launched a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall to give the Saints a 2-0 lead. The blast was Contreras' 18th on the year and fifth in September. Starting pitcher Derek Law was rock solid on the night, tossing three innings of scoreless ball. Law allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four. And while Law kicked off the party, the guest of honor title belonged to the St. Paul bullpen. The duo of Chandler Shepherd and Yennier Cano rattled off six innings of scoreless ball to hold the lead for the Saints. Shepherd was nearly perfect through four innings, giving up one hit, zero walks, and striking out three. Cano entered in the eighth and put the nail in the coffin for St. Paul. After a smooth eighth, Cano gave up a one-out double to Mud Hen shortstop Ryan Kreidler. It didn't matter. Cano regained the momentum and struck out the next two batters to seal the deal for the Saints. The Mud Hens outhit St. Paul 5-2, with a Jose Miranda single playing as the only other hit for the Saints in addition to Contreras' blast. Yet when it came to crunch time, Toledo couldn't convert, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Saints are now 5-2 in the Final Stretch of the season. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Mark Contreras (St. Paul)- 1-for-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, K Pitcher of the Day: Chandler Shepherd (St. Paul)- W, 4.0 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, H, 5 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #6- Jose Miranda (St. Paul)- 1-for-3, R #7- Joe Ryan (Minnesota)- Game in progress #13- Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul)- 0-for-4, K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota)- Game in progress FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER St. Paul @ Toledo (6:05PM CST) RHP Beau Burrows (4-5, 5.16 ERA)
  6. Trademarked as a relief pitcher, Derek Law diced through the first three innings for the Saints on Thursday night against Toledo. Add in a timely homer and a lights-out bullpen performance and there was nothing the Mud Hens could do. MINOR LEAGUE END OF THE YEAR AWARDS There have been quite a few bright spots around the Twins' farm system throughout the 2021 season. Yet through all the ups, downs, wins, and losses there were a number of players who distinguished themselves as crowned jewels. Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners! Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Twins Daily 2021 Starting Pitching of the Year: Louie Varland Twins Daily 2021 Relief Pitcher of the Year: Jovani Moran Short Season Awards Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Samuel Perez TRANSACTIONS The Saints placed catcher Ben Rortvedt on the IL with a concussion. SAINTS SENTINAL St. Paul 2, Toledo 0 Box Score A late-inning blast and dominant pitching led to a gutsy win for the Saints on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field. After six innings of a stalemate, the Saints struck the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. Leadoff man Jose Miranda reached on a hit by pitch and eventually moved his way to third on a groundout and wild pitch. He may as well stayed at first. Moments later, Mark Contreras launched a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall to give the Saints a 2-0 lead. The blast was Contreras' 18th on the year and fifth in September. Starting pitcher Derek Law was rock solid on the night, tossing three innings of scoreless ball. Law allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four. And while Law kicked off the party, the guest of honor title belonged to the St. Paul bullpen. The duo of Chandler Shepherd and Yennier Cano rattled off six innings of scoreless ball to hold the lead for the Saints. Shepherd was nearly perfect through four innings, giving up one hit, zero walks, and striking out three. Cano entered in the eighth and put the nail in the coffin for St. Paul. After a smooth eighth, Cano gave up a one-out double to Mud Hen shortstop Ryan Kreidler. It didn't matter. Cano regained the momentum and struck out the next two batters to seal the deal for the Saints. The Mud Hens outhit St. Paul 5-2, with a Jose Miranda single playing as the only other hit for the Saints in addition to Contreras' blast. Yet when it came to crunch time, Toledo couldn't convert, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Saints are now 5-2 in the Final Stretch of the season. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Mark Contreras (St. Paul)- 1-for-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, K Pitcher of the Day: Chandler Shepherd (St. Paul)- W, 4.0 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, H, 5 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #6- Jose Miranda (St. Paul)- 1-for-3, R #7- Joe Ryan (Minnesota)- Game in progress #13- Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul)- 0-for-4, K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota)- Game in progress FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER St. Paul @ Toledo (6:05PM CST) RHP Beau Burrows (4-5, 5.16 ERA) View full article
  7. Relief pitchers often don't get the love, recognition, or credit that their colleagues at the front end of the pitching staff receive. Yet it's impossible to not love a guy with a 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and arguably the best changeup that the Twins' organization has seen since the days of franchise hall of famer Johan Santana. Meet southpaw reliever Jovani Moran. Drafted by the Twins in 2015 out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, the 24-year-old has teetered with dominance since joining the organization nearly seven years ago. After starting six games in the GCL Twins' rotation in 2015 Moran was transitioned to the bullpen and has excelled since. After a rough rookie season Moran posted a 2.38 ERA in 71 appearances (a majority from the bullpen) between 2017-2019. That's good, but Moran has been great in 2021. For that, he's our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Despite his young age, Moran played the role of a rising journeyman this season, bouncing from club to club. Twenty of his 35 appearances came at Double-A Wichita, where he started the season. The Surge relied heavily on Moran through the months of May and June. Between the two months Moran appeared in 16 games and 28 2/3 innings, tossing 47 strikeouts, allowing only 11 hits and six earned runs, and touting a stellar 2.04 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. In that span opposing hitters hit a meager .118 when facing Moran. After a strong start, the month of July was just as fruitful for Moran. After four appearances that consisted of nine innings and 17 strikeouts Moran was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul. While his Triple-A stats weren't as eye-opening as his numbers with the Surge, they were still pretty darn good, especially for a guy pitching at that level for the first time. In 15 appearances and 29 2/3 innings, Moran posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with opposing batters mustering a .140 average when facing him. Moran's success isn't attributed to a triple-digit fastball or 12-6 curveball. In fact, his fastball rarely surpasses 92-94 MPH. Yet similar to Caleb Thielbar, Moran's success can be attributed to the massive contrast between his fastball and breaking pitches. As mentioned, the changeup is Moran's off-speed weapon of choice, a pitch that he often uses as a strikeout dagger. The secret? Moran's arm delivery on the pitch resembles that of his fastball yet is 10-12 MPH slower. It is, perhaps, the largest reason why he touted a 41.8% strikeout rate in the minors this season. Twins Daily writer Lucas Seehafer broke down Moran's pitch arsenal earlier this season, check it out here. After finding success in Lowertown, Moran was called up by the Twins on September 11th. MLB competition hasn't been the flowers and roses for Moran like it was prior to his big league debut. Don't fret though. Moran will continue to grow and learn as he gets more repetitions at the big league level. Don't be surprised if he starts next season at Triple-A. However, his time will come given the dominance that he's shown over the past five months. Top Three In addition to Moran, Jordan Gore and Zach Featherstone also had outstanding seasons. Check out some of the accomplishments of this years' runner ups! 1. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita/St. Paul (35 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 28 H, 32 BB, 109 K) Check out this analysis of Moran and Jordan Gore made by Tom Froemming! 2. RHP Jordon Gore, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (39 G, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 67.2 IP, 36 H, 28 BB, 88 K) A shortstop-turned-pitcher, 2021 presented Gore with his first full season on the bump. The 2017 draft pick did not disappoint, holding opposing hitters to just a .155 batting average through May and June in Cedar Rapids. Just three games into July, Gore was promoted to Double-A Wichita. Gore didn't tally as many innings with the Surge but was just as effective, posting a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings (20 games) with 30 strikeouts and six saves. It's unclear what Gore's long-term identity will be as a relief pitcher. All we know is that he has excelled in all corners of the bullpen and has done it consistently all season. That's pretty darn impressive for a guy that had only pitched in four professional baseball games prior to this season. 3. LHP Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids (40 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 55 IP, 28 H, 42 BB, 93 K) Similar to Gore, Featherstone isn't a pitcher by trade, he's an outfielder. That didn't stop him from having an outstanding year on the hill for Cedar Rapids. After a rocky month of May, Featherstone was nearly perfect in June, surrendering zero earned runs, five hits, and ten walks while striking out 28 batters in 15 innings over nine appearances. That's right, a PERFECT earned run average for an entire month! Featherstone continued his dominance as the season continued, posting a 3.95 ERA in July, 2.31 ERA in August, and another perfect 0.00 ERA in September. Featherstone has a bit more pitching experience than Gore, but this was still his first full season pitching. He transitioned to the mound in 2017, had Tommy John surgery, rehabbed, and as he was ready to come back, COVID arrived. It's a great story, but he's also become a solid, hard-throwing lefty reliever. Kudos to him on an excellent year. HONORABLE MENTION LHP Denny Bentley, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (36 G, 2.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 51.1 IP, 50 H, 33 BB, 87 K) RHP Ryan Mason, Wichita/St. Paul (38 G, 2.67 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 54 IP, 45 H, 28 BB, 63 K) RHP Ian Hamilton, St. Paul (37 G, 4.08 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57.1 IP, 45 H, 38 BB, 83 K) RHP Osiris German, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (38 G, 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 47 H, 24 BB, 90 K) RHP Hector Lujan, Wichita (18 G, 3.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 33 K) RHP Melvi Acosta, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (38 G, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 55 H, 18 BB, 69 K) RHP Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (32 G, 4.65 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 62 IP, 51 H, 26 BB, 81 K) LHP Aaron Rozek, FCL Twins/Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita (16 G, 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 42 H, 7 BB, 74 K) Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners!
  8. High-caliber starting pitchers are flourishing within the Twins' farm system. Yet perhaps the organization's finest-kept secret is a reliever from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, with a knack for strikeouts and a changeup that christens nostalgia from the days of Johan Santana. Relief pitchers often don't get the love, recognition, or credit that their colleagues at the front end of the pitching staff receive. Yet it's impossible to not love a guy with a 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and arguably the best changeup that the Twins' organization has seen since the days of franchise hall of famer Johan Santana. Meet southpaw reliever Jovani Moran. Drafted by the Twins in 2015 out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, the 24-year-old has teetered with dominance since joining the organization nearly seven years ago. After starting six games in the GCL Twins' rotation in 2015 Moran was transitioned to the bullpen and has excelled since. After a rough rookie season Moran posted a 2.38 ERA in 71 appearances (a majority from the bullpen) between 2017-2019. That's good, but Moran has been great in 2021. For that, he's our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Despite his young age, Moran played the role of a rising journeyman this season, bouncing from club to club. Twenty of his 35 appearances came at Double-A Wichita, where he started the season. The Surge relied heavily on Moran through the months of May and June. Between the two months Moran appeared in 16 games and 28 2/3 innings, tossing 47 strikeouts, allowing only 11 hits and six earned runs, and touting a stellar 2.04 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. In that span opposing hitters hit a meager .118 when facing Moran. After a strong start, the month of July was just as fruitful for Moran. After four appearances that consisted of nine innings and 17 strikeouts Moran was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul. While his Triple-A stats weren't as eye-opening as his numbers with the Surge, they were still pretty darn good, especially for a guy pitching at that level for the first time. In 15 appearances and 29 2/3 innings, Moran posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with opposing batters mustering a .140 average when facing him. Moran's success isn't attributed to a triple-digit fastball or 12-6 curveball. In fact, his fastball rarely surpasses 92-94 MPH. Yet similar to Caleb Thielbar, Moran's success can be attributed to the massive contrast between his fastball and breaking pitches. As mentioned, the changeup is Moran's off-speed weapon of choice, a pitch that he often uses as a strikeout dagger. The secret? Moran's arm delivery on the pitch resembles that of his fastball yet is 10-12 MPH slower. It is, perhaps, the largest reason why he touted a 41.8% strikeout rate in the minors this season. Twins Daily writer Lucas Seehafer broke down Moran's pitch arsenal earlier this season, check it out here. After finding success in Lowertown, Moran was called up by the Twins on September 11th. MLB competition hasn't been the flowers and roses for Moran like it was prior to his big league debut. Don't fret though. Moran will continue to grow and learn as he gets more repetitions at the big league level. Don't be surprised if he starts next season at Triple-A. However, his time will come given the dominance that he's shown over the past five months. Top Three In addition to Moran, Jordan Gore and Zach Featherstone also had outstanding seasons. Check out some of the accomplishments of this years' runner ups! 1. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita/St. Paul (35 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 28 H, 32 BB, 109 K) Check out this analysis of Moran and Jordan Gore made by Tom Froemming! 2. RHP Jordon Gore, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (39 G, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 67.2 IP, 36 H, 28 BB, 88 K) A shortstop-turned-pitcher, 2021 presented Gore with his first full season on the bump. The 2017 draft pick did not disappoint, holding opposing hitters to just a .155 batting average through May and June in Cedar Rapids. Just three games into July, Gore was promoted to Double-A Wichita. Gore didn't tally as many innings with the Surge but was just as effective, posting a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings (20 games) with 30 strikeouts and six saves. It's unclear what Gore's long-term identity will be as a relief pitcher. All we know is that he has excelled in all corners of the bullpen and has done it consistently all season. That's pretty darn impressive for a guy that had only pitched in four professional baseball games prior to this season. 3. LHP Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids (40 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 55 IP, 28 H, 42 BB, 93 K) Similar to Gore, Featherstone isn't a pitcher by trade, he's an outfielder. That didn't stop him from having an outstanding year on the hill for Cedar Rapids. After a rocky month of May, Featherstone was nearly perfect in June, surrendering zero earned runs, five hits, and ten walks while striking out 28 batters in 15 innings over nine appearances. That's right, a PERFECT earned run average for an entire month! Featherstone continued his dominance as the season continued, posting a 3.95 ERA in July, 2.31 ERA in August, and another perfect 0.00 ERA in September. Featherstone has a bit more pitching experience than Gore, but this was still his first full season pitching. He transitioned to the mound in 2017, had Tommy John surgery, rehabbed, and as he was ready to come back, COVID arrived. It's a great story, but he's also become a solid, hard-throwing lefty reliever. Kudos to him on an excellent year. HONORABLE MENTION LHP Denny Bentley, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (36 G, 2.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 51.1 IP, 50 H, 33 BB, 87 K) RHP Ryan Mason, Wichita/St. Paul (38 G, 2.67 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 54 IP, 45 H, 28 BB, 63 K) RHP Ian Hamilton, St. Paul (37 G, 4.08 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57.1 IP, 45 H, 38 BB, 83 K) RHP Osiris German, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (38 G, 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 47 H, 24 BB, 90 K) RHP Hector Lujan, Wichita (18 G, 3.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 33 K) RHP Melvi Acosta, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (38 G, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 55 H, 18 BB, 69 K) RHP Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (32 G, 4.65 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 62 IP, 51 H, 26 BB, 81 K) LHP Aaron Rozek, FCL Twins/Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita (16 G, 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 42 H, 7 BB, 74 K) Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners! View full article
  9. Some great stuff here. Like everyone else I had Varland in the top spot but struggled after that. Balazovic is indeed the 'top prospect' in regards to pitchers but his dominant outings were sometimes mudded with rocky starts. Other than dropping him a few spots on this list, I don't think this season reflects poorly on him as a prospect. Keep in mind, this was his first season at Double-A. I would imagine that he'll start the season in Wichita next year but wouldn't be surprised if he spends a bulk of the year in St. Paul and even higher if things go in the right direction. Consistency is key and Balazovic is on the cusp of being ready.
  10. Minor League starting pitching was a beacon of light in a roller-coaster year for the Twins organization. It is only fitting that a product of the Land of 10,000 Lakes serves as the crowned jewel amongst a talented crop of pitching prospects. Louie Varland spent his childhood on the dirt of ballfields across the northeast sector of the Twin Cities. The Maplewood native turned his successful tenure at North St. Paul High School into an even better pitching career at Concordia-St. Paul. After that? A 15th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft by his hometown Minnesota Twins. And after a sprinkle of 2019 games in rookie ball and just one full season of pro ball, Varland has distinguished himself as one of the most prolific pitchers in the entire Twins organization. For that, he's been voted as our 2021 Starting Pitcher of the Month. Varland started the 2021 season with Low-A Fort Myers where he posted a 4-2 record and 2.09 ERA in ten appearances (eight starts). In that span he struck out 76 men and opposing batters hit a meager .208 against Varland. Those numbers earned him a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids, just four hours from home. With his family able to finally attend games, Varland did not disappoint, going 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in ten starts with the Kernels. While he didn't post as many strikeouts as he did in Fort Myers, Varland was more efficient, posting a stellar 0.99 WHIP and only 14 walks while holding opponents to just a .202 batting average. Varland joined a talented Cedar Rapids rotation of Ben Gross and company upon being called up. That rotation was amplified towards the end of the season with Sawyer Gipson-Long, Cody Lawyerson, and Casey Legumina joining the rotation. Yet despite the addition of talented arms, Varland was the clear choice to start Game 1 of the High-A Central Championship Series against Quad Cities. Following a career-high 11 strikeout performance against Peoria on September 16, Varland dazzled in his postseason debut, tossing seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball while striking out four and walking one en route to a 2-1 Cedar Rapids victory. There's no doubt that Varland's 2021 stat line makes him a clear-cut selection for this award. A 10-4 record and 2.10 ERA is pretty darn great at any level. For a pitcher to tally those numbers in his first full season? Unbelievable. Prior to this season Varland only had three professional baseball appearances, all with the Elizabethton Twins in 2019. Varland only started one of those games and compiled a slim 8 2/3 innings in that three game span. With the 2020 minor league season scrapped due to COVID-19, it's truly incredible that Varland was able to trailblaze such an incredible 2021 season. Congrats, Louie! THE TOP SIX Varland wasn't the only pitcher in the Twins' farm system to have a standout season. In addition to Varland, these five pitchers round out the top six starting pitchers in 2021 per the Twins Daily Minor League staff. 1. RHP Louie Varland, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (18 GS, 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 IP, 82 H, 24 ER, 30 BB, 142 K) Check out Seth Stohs' interview with Louie prior to his electric season and other Twins Daily content on Varland! St Paul to Stardom: Louie Varland is the Real Deal Twins Prospect Varland Won't Stop at Pretty Good 2. RHP Cole Sands, Wichita (18 GS, 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 22 ER, 35 BB, 96 K) Despite loads of movement in the organization, Cole Sands was an absolute workhorse for the Wind Surge all season. While many of his starts did not surpass five innings, it wasn't because of poor performance. Sands was as efficient as could be, holding opposing hitters to a .203 average on the year and touting seven scoreless starts. Ironically enough, one of Sands' two losses came on August 14 against Tulsa in a start where he recorded a season-high ten strikeouts. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic, Wichita (20 GS, 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 97 IP, 98 H, 39 ER, 38 BB, 102 K) Arguably the most notable pitching prospect in the organization, Jordan Balazovic had a season full of ups and downs. When he's on, the 2016 5th round pick is unstoppable with his blazing fastball and deceptive off-speed pitches. We saw that on July 15th when the Ontario-native lit up the Tulsa Drillers with 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball. On the flipside, Balazovic has struggled with control, command, and pitch selection at times leading to a few bad outings that have deflated his stat line. It's clear that the talent is there, Balazovic will continue to hone in on consistency as he reflects on his first season of Double-A ball. 4. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (19 GS, 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 97 IP, 99 H, 49 ER, 27 BB, 137 K) After a rocky month of May with Fort Myers, Sawyer Gipson-Long flipped a switch and was rock-solid through the summer, posting a combined 2.76 ERA in June, July, and August. That stellar summer in the Sunshine State earned Gipson-Long a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9th. Gipson-Long has qualities that resemble both Balazovic and Varland. Similar to Balazovic, Gipson-Long had some incredible outings this season but also saw a few outings get out of hand. Like Varland, Gipson-Long was drafted in 2019 out of Mercer and had just a few opportunities to get his feet wet in pro ball that year. After his first full-season of pro ball, Gipson-Long should be happy with his quality performance. Yet like any other young pitcher, experience and innings on the mound will help garner the young pitcher's consistency. 5. RHP Josh Winder, Wichita/St. Paul (14 GS, 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 72 IP, 55 H, 21 ER, 13 BB, 80 K) If it were not for injuries and bad luck, there's a good chance that Josh Winder would be higher on this list. After an amazing two months in Wichita, Winder was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul on June 28th. Winder dazzled in his first start with the Saints, throwing 5 2/3 innings of eight-strikeout ball while giving up one run. With all the momentum stacked his way, Winder was struck by a line drive in his next outing that removed him from the game. Two starts later, he was placed on the 7-Day IL for a shoulder injury and has not pitched since. It's likely that the Twins are taking the safe route when it comes to Winder's rehab. And why shouldn't they? The 2018 draft pick has been impressive each season since signing and will only continue to improve. If Winder continues his progress once healthy it wouldn't be shocking to see him at Target Field at some point next season. 6. RHP Ben Gross, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (17 GS, 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 95.1 IP, 99 H, 43 ER, 32 BB, 122 K) Ben Gross closes out a talented crop of 2019 draft picks on this list. Gross was the heart and soul of the Kernels rotation prior to his late-summer promotion to Wichita. The 10th round pick has shown versatility on the mound with his pitch arsenal but also through how he retires hitters. Most of Gross' starts feature 4-8 strikeouts and a plethora of groundouts and pop flies. However, the 24-year-old diced on August 11th against Peoria when he struck out a career-high 13 batters. While there's certainly work to be done, Gross has shown that he can be a consistent starter day in and day out. If things continue the way they are, he'll have the opportunity to showcase that consistency at a higher level. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Tyler Beck, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (13 GS, 3-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 84 IP, 64 H, 28 ER, 30 BB, 91 K) LHP Charlie Barnes, St. Paul (16 GS, 6-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 76 IP, 73 H, 32 ER, 24 BB, 62 K) LHP Andrew Albers, St. Paul (16 GS, 7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 96 IP, 113 H, 40 ER, 11 BB, 85 K) RHP Austin Schulfer, Wichita (24 GS, 6-8, 4.34 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 110 IP, 109 H, 53 ER, 49 BB, 105 K) LHP Kody Funderburk, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (10 GS, 4-3, 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 67 IP, 46 H, 19 ER, 28 BB, 82 K) RHP Sean Mooney, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (12 GS, 0-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 42 IP, 22 H, 13 ER, 23 BB, 71 K) Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen Congrats to all those mentioned! Comment your thoughts below! View full article
  11. Louie Varland spent his childhood on the dirt of ballfields across the northeast sector of the Twin Cities. The Maplewood native turned his successful tenure at North St. Paul High School into an even better pitching career at Concordia-St. Paul. After that? A 15th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft by his hometown Minnesota Twins. And after a sprinkle of 2019 games in rookie ball and just one full season of pro ball, Varland has distinguished himself as one of the most prolific pitchers in the entire Twins organization. For that, he's been voted as our 2021 Starting Pitcher of the Month. Varland started the 2021 season with Low-A Fort Myers where he posted a 4-2 record and 2.09 ERA in ten appearances (eight starts). In that span he struck out 76 men and opposing batters hit a meager .208 against Varland. Those numbers earned him a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids, just four hours from home. With his family able to finally attend games, Varland did not disappoint, going 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in ten starts with the Kernels. While he didn't post as many strikeouts as he did in Fort Myers, Varland was more efficient, posting a stellar 0.99 WHIP and only 14 walks while holding opponents to just a .202 batting average. Varland joined a talented Cedar Rapids rotation of Ben Gross and company upon being called up. That rotation was amplified towards the end of the season with Sawyer Gipson-Long, Cody Lawyerson, and Casey Legumina joining the rotation. Yet despite the addition of talented arms, Varland was the clear choice to start Game 1 of the High-A Central Championship Series against Quad Cities. Following a career-high 11 strikeout performance against Peoria on September 16, Varland dazzled in his postseason debut, tossing seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball while striking out four and walking one en route to a 2-1 Cedar Rapids victory. There's no doubt that Varland's 2021 stat line makes him a clear-cut selection for this award. A 10-4 record and 2.10 ERA is pretty darn great at any level. For a pitcher to tally those numbers in his first full season? Unbelievable. Prior to this season Varland only had three professional baseball appearances, all with the Elizabethton Twins in 2019. Varland only started one of those games and compiled a slim 8 2/3 innings in that three game span. With the 2020 minor league season scrapped due to COVID-19, it's truly incredible that Varland was able to trailblaze such an incredible 2021 season. Congrats, Louie! THE TOP SIX Varland wasn't the only pitcher in the Twins' farm system to have a standout season. In addition to Varland, these five pitchers round out the top six starting pitchers in 2021 per the Twins Daily Minor League staff. 1. RHP Louie Varland, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (18 GS, 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 IP, 82 H, 24 ER, 30 BB, 142 K) Check out Seth Stohs' interview with Louie prior to his electric season and other Twins Daily content on Varland! St Paul to Stardom: Louie Varland is the Real Deal Twins Prospect Varland Won't Stop at Pretty Good 2. RHP Cole Sands, Wichita (18 GS, 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 22 ER, 35 BB, 96 K) Despite loads of movement in the organization, Cole Sands was an absolute workhorse for the Wind Surge all season. While many of his starts did not surpass five innings, it wasn't because of poor performance. Sands was as efficient as could be, holding opposing hitters to a .203 average on the year and touting seven scoreless starts. Ironically enough, one of Sands' two losses came on August 14 against Tulsa in a start where he recorded a season-high ten strikeouts. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic, Wichita (20 GS, 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 97 IP, 98 H, 39 ER, 38 BB, 102 K) Arguably the most notable pitching prospect in the organization, Jordan Balazovic had a season full of ups and downs. When he's on, the 2016 5th round pick is unstoppable with his blazing fastball and deceptive off-speed pitches. We saw that on July 15th when the Ontario-native lit up the Tulsa Drillers with 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball. On the flipside, Balazovic has struggled with control, command, and pitch selection at times leading to a few bad outings that have deflated his stat line. It's clear that the talent is there, Balazovic will continue to hone in on consistency as he reflects on his first season of Double-A ball. 4. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (19 GS, 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 97 IP, 99 H, 49 ER, 27 BB, 137 K) After a rocky month of May with Fort Myers, Sawyer Gipson-Long flipped a switch and was rock-solid through the summer, posting a combined 2.76 ERA in June, July, and August. That stellar summer in the Sunshine State earned Gipson-Long a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9th. Gipson-Long has qualities that resemble both Balazovic and Varland. Similar to Balazovic, Gipson-Long had some incredible outings this season but also saw a few outings get out of hand. Like Varland, Gipson-Long was drafted in 2019 out of Mercer and had just a few opportunities to get his feet wet in pro ball that year. After his first full-season of pro ball, Gipson-Long should be happy with his quality performance. Yet like any other young pitcher, experience and innings on the mound will help garner the young pitcher's consistency. 5. RHP Josh Winder, Wichita/St. Paul (14 GS, 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 72 IP, 55 H, 21 ER, 13 BB, 80 K) If it were not for injuries and bad luck, there's a good chance that Josh Winder would be higher on this list. After an amazing two months in Wichita, Winder was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul on June 28th. Winder dazzled in his first start with the Saints, throwing 5 2/3 innings of eight-strikeout ball while giving up one run. With all the momentum stacked his way, Winder was struck by a line drive in his next outing that removed him from the game. Two starts later, he was placed on the 7-Day IL for a shoulder injury and has not pitched since. It's likely that the Twins are taking the safe route when it comes to Winder's rehab. And why shouldn't they? The 2018 draft pick has been impressive each season since signing and will only continue to improve. If Winder continues his progress once healthy it wouldn't be shocking to see him at Target Field at some point next season. 6. RHP Ben Gross, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (17 GS, 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 95.1 IP, 99 H, 43 ER, 32 BB, 122 K) Ben Gross closes out a talented crop of 2019 draft picks on this list. Gross was the heart and soul of the Kernels rotation prior to his late-summer promotion to Wichita. The 10th round pick has shown versatility on the mound with his pitch arsenal but also through how he retires hitters. Most of Gross' starts feature 4-8 strikeouts and a plethora of groundouts and pop flies. However, the 24-year-old diced on August 11th against Peoria when he struck out a career-high 13 batters. While there's certainly work to be done, Gross has shown that he can be a consistent starter day in and day out. If things continue the way they are, he'll have the opportunity to showcase that consistency at a higher level. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Tyler Beck, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (13 GS, 3-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 84 IP, 64 H, 28 ER, 30 BB, 91 K) LHP Charlie Barnes, St. Paul (16 GS, 6-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 76 IP, 73 H, 32 ER, 24 BB, 62 K) LHP Andrew Albers, St. Paul (16 GS, 7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 96 IP, 113 H, 40 ER, 11 BB, 85 K) RHP Austin Schulfer, Wichita (24 GS, 6-8, 4.34 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 110 IP, 109 H, 53 ER, 49 BB, 105 K) LHP Kody Funderburk, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (10 GS, 4-3, 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 67 IP, 46 H, 19 ER, 28 BB, 82 K) RHP Sean Mooney, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (12 GS, 0-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 42 IP, 22 H, 13 ER, 23 BB, 71 K) Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen Congrats to all those mentioned! Comment your thoughts below!
  12. Not sure, but he's been rock-solid all season. Strikes me as a AAAA guy but doesn't have the flashiness of some of the others who have seen time with the parent club. Tough to argue with his stats though.
  13. While the Kernels and Wind Surge spent the day traveling and resting between playoff games, the St. Paul Saints claimed an incredible come-from-behind victory in Lowertown. Get a rundown of the Saints' electric win and previews of tomorrow's playoff games here! SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 7, Iowa 5 Box Score After trailing early in the ballgame, the St. Paul Saints came roaring back, using the longball and solid relief pitching to earn a confidence-building victory over the Cubs. The I-Cubs jumped out to an early lead, plating four runs in the first three frames off of starting pitcher Bryan Sammons. In what looked to be a runaway game, B.J. Boyd ignited a flame for the Saints in the bottom of the third by crushing a line drive solo homer over the left field wall. St. Paul decreased the lead to one in the fifth when Jimmy Kerrigan led off with a triple that was followed up with a Ben Rortvedt homer in the next at-bat. Momentum continued to sway towards the Saints in the sixth. Jose Miranda led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball in the next at-bat. That at-bat belonged to Tomas Telis, who connected on a 2-2 pitch to punch an RBI single to center that scored Miranda and tied the game at 4. The draw wouldn't last for long. With Telis on base, Mark Contreras rocked a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall to give the Saints a 6-4 lead. The monumental home run was Contreras' 17th on the season. His 17 blasts trail only Brent Rooker (20) and Jimmy Kerrigan (19) for the Saints this season. Contreras leads the Saints with 58 runs and 59 RBI. After using the long ball early the Saints relied on small ball to scrap another run across in the sixth. B.J. Boyd led the inning off with a single and followed up by swiping second base. Drew Stankiewicz punched a fly ball deep enough to move Boyd to third in the next at-bat. After Jose Miranda reached on a hit-by-pitch Tomas Telis knocked an RBI single past the infield to score Boyd. After Sammons' rocky start Chandler Shepherd came in and dominated, pitching 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless ball, striking out four and walking one. Yennier Cano followed Shepherd with 1 1/3 innings of one-run, one-hit ball while striking out two, Cano faced adversity in the eighth after walking the first two batters and giving up a run. Yet with runners on base, Cano struck out the final batter to get out of the jam. Ryan Mason came into the game to shut the door in the ninth. After giving up a leadoff single to Ian Miller Mason diced, delivering with a strikeout, pop fly, and another strikeout to earn his seventh save of the season. St. Paul's win was sweet, yet the fact that the team tallied three home runs is even sweeter. On Wednesday the Saints announced that $50 would be donated to ACES4KIDS every time a Saints player hits a home run in the final ten games of the season. ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students) is a Twin Cities non-profit dedicated to tackling the academic opportunity gap and preparing young learners to succeed in school, career, and community. Tonight's three homers are the first for the Saints on the campaign, tallying $150. The partnership is part of the Triple-A "Homers that Help" initiative and MLB will donate an additional $5,000 to the charity of choice for whatever participating team hits the most homers in the stretch. WIND SURGE WISDOM Travel Day After dropping the first two games against NW Arkansas in a best-of-five series, the Surge head back to Wichita for game three of the Double-A Central Championship Series. Friday night's game will feature Austin Schulfer (6-8, 4.34 ERA) on the bump pitching against Drew Parrish (6-4, 2.83 ERA) of the Naturals. Parrish has faced the Surge three times this season, going 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. In that span he gave up 15 hits and seven earned runs while striking up 24 and walking four. Likewise, Schulfer has faced the Naturals three times this season, going 1-1 with a 22.22 ERA in 10 2.3 innings. The Plover, Wisconsin native has given up 13 hits and 11 runs to NW Arkansas while striking out 15 and walking nine. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm CST. Tickets are still available and the game can be viewed on Milb.com. KERNELS NUGGETS Travel Day After winning game one thanks to a Jair Camargo homer the Kernels dropped game two at Quad Cities and come home for game three of the High-A Central Championship Series. Casey Legumina (4-2, 3.28 ERA, mostly in Ft. Myers) of Cedar Rapids will face off against Dante Biasi (5-2, 377 ERA) of Quad Cities. Legumina's start will be his first against the River Bandits after being called up to High-A from Ft. Myers on September 13th. Biasi has been a staple for Quad Cities all season and has faced the Kernels five times, going 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA. He's given up 11 hits and seven earned runs against Cedar Rapids while striking out 13 and walking 11. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm CST. Tickets are still available and the game can be viewed on Milb.com. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Chandler Shepherd (St. Paul)- 3.2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, BB, 4 K Pitcher of the Day: B.J Boyd (St. Paul)- 3-for-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB PROSPECT SUMMARY #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, R #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, 2 K FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - LHP Charlie (6-4, 3.88 ERA) NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Austin Schulfer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Casey Legumina (0-0, 0.00 ERA) View full article
  14. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 7, Iowa 5 Box Score After trailing early in the ballgame, the St. Paul Saints came roaring back, using the longball and solid relief pitching to earn a confidence-building victory over the Cubs. The I-Cubs jumped out to an early lead, plating four runs in the first three frames off of starting pitcher Bryan Sammons. In what looked to be a runaway game, B.J. Boyd ignited a flame for the Saints in the bottom of the third by crushing a line drive solo homer over the left field wall. St. Paul decreased the lead to one in the fifth when Jimmy Kerrigan led off with a triple that was followed up with a Ben Rortvedt homer in the next at-bat. Momentum continued to sway towards the Saints in the sixth. Jose Miranda led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball in the next at-bat. That at-bat belonged to Tomas Telis, who connected on a 2-2 pitch to punch an RBI single to center that scored Miranda and tied the game at 4. The draw wouldn't last for long. With Telis on base, Mark Contreras rocked a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall to give the Saints a 6-4 lead. The monumental home run was Contreras' 17th on the season. His 17 blasts trail only Brent Rooker (20) and Jimmy Kerrigan (19) for the Saints this season. Contreras leads the Saints with 58 runs and 59 RBI. After using the long ball early the Saints relied on small ball to scrap another run across in the sixth. B.J. Boyd led the inning off with a single and followed up by swiping second base. Drew Stankiewicz punched a fly ball deep enough to move Boyd to third in the next at-bat. After Jose Miranda reached on a hit-by-pitch Tomas Telis knocked an RBI single past the infield to score Boyd. After Sammons' rocky start Chandler Shepherd came in and dominated, pitching 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless ball, striking out four and walking one. Yennier Cano followed Shepherd with 1 1/3 innings of one-run, one-hit ball while striking out two, Cano faced adversity in the eighth after walking the first two batters and giving up a run. Yet with runners on base, Cano struck out the final batter to get out of the jam. Ryan Mason came into the game to shut the door in the ninth. After giving up a leadoff single to Ian Miller Mason diced, delivering with a strikeout, pop fly, and another strikeout to earn his seventh save of the season. St. Paul's win was sweet, yet the fact that the team tallied three home runs is even sweeter. On Wednesday the Saints announced that $50 would be donated to ACES4KIDS every time a Saints player hits a home run in the final ten games of the season. ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students) is a Twin Cities non-profit dedicated to tackling the academic opportunity gap and preparing young learners to succeed in school, career, and community. Tonight's three homers are the first for the Saints on the campaign, tallying $150. The partnership is part of the Triple-A "Homers that Help" initiative and MLB will donate an additional $5,000 to the charity of choice for whatever participating team hits the most homers in the stretch. WIND SURGE WISDOM Travel Day After dropping the first two games against NW Arkansas in a best-of-five series, the Surge head back to Wichita for game three of the Double-A Central Championship Series. Friday night's game will feature Austin Schulfer (6-8, 4.34 ERA) on the bump pitching against Drew Parrish (6-4, 2.83 ERA) of the Naturals. Parrish has faced the Surge three times this season, going 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. In that span he gave up 15 hits and seven earned runs while striking up 24 and walking four. Likewise, Schulfer has faced the Naturals three times this season, going 1-1 with a 22.22 ERA in 10 2.3 innings. The Plover, Wisconsin native has given up 13 hits and 11 runs to NW Arkansas while striking out 15 and walking nine. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm CST. Tickets are still available and the game can be viewed on Milb.com. KERNELS NUGGETS Travel Day After winning game one thanks to a Jair Camargo homer the Kernels dropped game two at Quad Cities and come home for game three of the High-A Central Championship Series. Casey Legumina (4-2, 3.28 ERA, mostly in Ft. Myers) of Cedar Rapids will face off against Dante Biasi (5-2, 377 ERA) of Quad Cities. Legumina's start will be his first against the River Bandits after being called up to High-A from Ft. Myers on September 13th. Biasi has been a staple for Quad Cities all season and has faced the Kernels five times, going 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA. He's given up 11 hits and seven earned runs against Cedar Rapids while striking out 13 and walking 11. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm CST. Tickets are still available and the game can be viewed on Milb.com. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Chandler Shepherd (St. Paul)- 3.2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, BB, 4 K Pitcher of the Day: B.J Boyd (St. Paul)- 3-for-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB PROSPECT SUMMARY #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, R #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, 2 K FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - LHP Charlie (6-4, 3.88 ERA) NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Austin Schulfer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Casey Legumina (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
  15. There's been plenty of pomp and circumstance surrounding the marriage of the Minnesota Twins and St. Paul Saints. If there's any group that deserves more love in the relationship, it's the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew. Mid-morning rays of the Minnesota sun christen the back of Marcus Campbell as he plays fetch with his dog Maverick. Birds are chirping, luscious green grass tickles the air with a carefree aroma, and there couldn’t be a worry in the world. A man, his dog, and... CHS Field. “Mav likes to run along the warning track with players. Last year he’d always run with Danny Coulombe, and he’s in the big leagues now,” Campbell chuckled while launching another saliva-glossed tennis ball towards the right-field corner of the Saints' ballpark. Maverick may serve as the unofficial conditioning coach for the Twins organization, Campbell serves as Director of Field Operations for the St. Paul Saints. And while fun moments with his shop dog make for moments of bliss and calm, Campbell and the hands of the Saints’ grounds crew have been nothing short of full in the inaugural season as Triple-A affiliates of the Minnesota Twins. Campbell, who has been with the Saints for a few years will tell you that this year has been pretty similar to prior years when St. Paul was an independent team. “I keep telling people that baseball is baseball. You might have better players but so does the other team. As far as operations go, not much has changed.” Don’t let the modest Minnesota-Crookston graduate fool you. This year has featured the most games, double-headers, and events that CHS Field has seen since its inception in 2015. Yet through all the late nights, early mornings, and constant demands, there couldn’t be a better team to garner CHS Field as one of the top facilities in all of professional baseball. Heck, they even have a bit of fun while doing it. Early to Bed, Early to Rise Walk through the back gates at CHS Field on a game day and you’ll catch nostalgia of a small town café crossed with a fully functioning hardware shop. A half pot of coffee sits on a counter below a TV with the news all in front of a lunch table filled with lunch bags, soft drinks...and more coffee. The caffeine is essential. After nights that keep Campbell and his team at the ballpark until unthinkable hours, the crew makes sure that 4-6 members are at CHS by 9:00 am the next morning to prep for that evening’s game. Day game? That’s a different story. "Turnaround games and doubleheaders are the most challenging days,” Campbell said. “We work all day for a 7 pm game, keep going until 2 am, and are back at 7 or 8 am for a 1 pm game. Lots of caffeine.” Regardless of the start time, the routine stays the same. Campbell’s right-hand man Cody Pamperin stirs a concoction of pearly-white paint that will be used to chalk the baselines. Cody and Marcus go back quite a ways. The two played college baseball together at Minnesota-Crookston and took different routes following graduation. A few years later Pamperin was on the job market and gave his old friend a call. “He had helped towards the end of season last year and was looking for work and I knew that he’d be a great addition to our team,” Campbell said. Campbell and Pamperin are short-staffed, as many of their interns have returned to college with the summer waning. The two and the rest of the full-time team start the day by patching both bullpens to mend the divots created by pitchers and catchers. When the clock strikes 10 am, Pamperin heads to the infield to garnish the mound with clay, a product that the crew purchased 40 pallets of last year. $11 per bag, you do the math. The top priority of every morning is keeping the grass lush and the infield moist; something that can be difficult during one of the driest summers in the past 30 years. “We’ve had to water quite a bit this season, even in our landscape areas,” Campbell said. “Normally we can get by with watering those just once a week but this summer it’s been 2-3 times a week.” Cody Pamperin waters the infield grass at CHS Field, something that is done every morning. (David Youngs) On top of keeping the field in top shape, the grounds crew also maintains all the flowers, plants, and greenery surrounding the ballpark. Not to mention the sidewalks, artscapes, and dog park that snuggle the boundaries of CHS Field. In fact, the acreage outside of the playing surface surpasses that of the field. After morning duties are completed, the mecca of ballparks takes place; mowing the outfield. After sharing childhood attempts to mow my backyard with the trademarked ‘crisscross outfield’ design (if you didn’t do this as a child you didn’t live) Marcus breaks down the process. And while the design was never mastered in my Fargo yard, Campbell delivers the process like he’s done it his whole life. “We change it up sometimes but it’s just a checkerboard,” Campbell said. “If you mow a pattern too much the ball will snake. We’ll test it sometimes by rolling a ball through the outfield. If the ball snakes, we‘ll change our pattern. The hallowed 'crisscross outfield' pattern. Often imitated, rarely duplicated. (David Youngs) In addition to mowing every day and testing the grass themselves, Campbell and his crew get constant feedback from Saints players on how the field is playing. "I’m posted in the dugout during the game so I communicate with the guys to see how the field is playing,” Campbell said. “We’ve changed things a few times from the feedback they’ve given us. There are certain things that I notice and things they notice because they’re the ones who are actually taking ground balls on the field.” As batting practice and first pitch approach the crew removes the tarp that covers home, still moist and freshly nourished from the night before. Tasks upon tasks keep the Saints crew busy until the last fan has left the stadium. Yet during the game, there’s one member of the staff that manages to make ‘fun good’ through 280 characters. For the Fans Field Operations Manager may be an official job title for Erik Franke. More importantly? He’s the heart and soul of the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter. Inspired by his extensive background in fan relations and marketing Franke debuted one of the most interactive accounts in professional baseball earlier this season. Yet it isn’t just his experience in working social media and marketing at places like Harvard and UMass that prompted Franke to put pen to paper. It was a best practice for showcasing the work that his team does. After stints in collegiate athletics marketing and fan promotions, Field Operations Manager Erik Franke gets to channel his creativity through the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter account. (David Youngs) “So much of working grounds crew revolves around creating and showcasing the best product possible,” Franke said. “What better way to do that than a Twitter account?” From interacting with fans to showcasing new machinery to flat-out stunning shots of a pristine ballpark, Franke keeps one thing in mind when running the account. Fun. “Fan relations portion is so important and it’s been so fun interaction with fans through Twitter,” Franke said. “Sometimes I’ll just search ‘St. Paul Saints’ to see who is at the game so I can thank them for coming.” A Child’s Game Bound by the ‘fun is good’ mantra, the joy of the St. Paul Saints is perhaps perfectly personified by the Saints grounds crew. A group that crafts their skill to perfection, has fun doing it, and genuinely cares about the people that get to enjoy baseball with them. Franke first experienced the ‘fun is good’ culture as a Gameday Operations Intern in 2013 during his college days at St. Cloud State. Eight years later, the phrase couldn’t ring more true. “I knew how much fun the Saints were from prior experiences and it turns out that is just as true for the grounds crew,” he said. That doesn’t take away from the grueling hours, nasty elements, and ever-changing tasks that the team endures. For Campbell, it’s the people in the organization that leave him fulfilled at the end of the day. Not just his team, but everyone from the top to bottom, regardless of status. “One day Nick Gordon showed up on an off day at the box office to buy a ticket for a game,” Campbell recalls. “He could have just walked through the back door but bought a ticket to go watch his boys play but that just speaks for the type of guys in this organization.” And at the end of the day, Franke and Campbell just enjoy the pureness of being able to spend their days and nights around America’s pastime. “Watching the players, playing baseball my whole life, it doesn’t seem like work when you’re around a child’s game,” Campbell said. “You get to watch guys play a game that they love. There’s something about that that makes our job fulfilling.” And as someone who’s been to the coast and back, Franke couldn’t be happier to work for an organization that values the people. “There’s not one thing that makes the Saints special but there are a whole lot of small things the organization does on all levels,” Franke said. “We’re putting out a good product but at the end of the day, there are fans coming to these games. They're spending their money, time, and energy to be here. To make that experience the best that it can be is something that everyone in this organization understands.” The Saints begin their final homestand tonight against the Iowa Cubs at 7:05 pm. Purchase tickets here! And be sure to follow @STPGroundsCrew on Twitter! View full article
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