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  1. Like
    beckmt reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, The Twins Shouldn't Trade for an Ace   
    Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober… Dylan Bundy… Folks, that’s your Minnesota Twins rotation at the time of this writing. After trading Jose Berrios and losing Kenta Maeda to injury, the starting pitching lacks depth, high-end talent, floor, etc. Despite this fact, 14 of the top 15 starting pitchers on the free-agent market signed with teams before the lockout without a single whisper of interest from the Twins front office.
    This development led some to call shenanigans on the organization's statement that they plan on competing in 2022. Plenty of fans still hold out hope however that the Twins have some enormous splashes left to make that will push the Twins back into the driver’s seat of the AL Central.
    There are several starting pitchers on the trade market that would instantly become the leaders of the Twins rotation. Luis Castillo, Chris Bassitt, and Frankie Montas to name a few that have been thrown around in hypotheticals. One such hypothetical was just recently proposed by TwinsDaily’s own Nash Walker:
    The package here is steep but fair, as right-hander Frankie Montas has two years of control and finished 6th in AL Cy Young voting in 2021. In acquiring Montas, the Twins would part with Luis Arraez who is controlled through 2026 in addition to recently acquired Drew Strotman, former 1st round pick Keoni Kavaco, and Jhoan Duran whose triple-digit arm suffered an injury in 2021 but made it to AAA. Such a deal would cost the Twins in the present while leaving them open to get burned in the future, as these trades are often composed.
    Such a deal should raise questions, the first of which being “Does this move push the Twins over the top?”. To which I would argue “not even close”. The Twins had two front-end starters in 2021 in Berrios and Kenta Maeda for most of the season and finished in dead last place in the worst division in baseball. With a similar returning lineup (without Nelson Cruz) and a bullpen that likely won’t have any significant additions, it could be argued that the Twins are paying top dollar just to get halfway to where they were at the beginning of a disastrous 2021. 
    Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will certainly have a huge role in how the rotation performs, but to push the chips in while leaning so heavily on two rookies totaling well under 200 career innings would be quite the gamble.  The pair would need to replicate their 2021 performances if not improve upon them to set the foundation of the Twins 2022 rotation. It’s certainly possible both are up to the task, but with such little track record and an offseason of scouting reports, it’s fair to expect some turbulence from the two rookies. It may be more realistic and fair to expect these two to perform closer to #4 starting pitchers than the rotation leaders the Twins need to make a Frankie Montas pairing worth their while.
    The other consideration in regards to acquiring Frankie Montas is that he’s exactly where Jose Berrios was before 2021 with two years left under contract. What would stop the Twins from similarly shipping him out at the trade deadline if the team is struggling again come July? The return would certainly be less than the price they paid in the preseason.
    If the Twins do in fact struggle in 2022 and hold onto Montas for the following year, he could definitely become a huge piece of the rotation in 2023 where it’s much easier to see the Twins returning to contention. That being said, they’ll have paid top dollar for two years of a premier arm and only get one meaningful season from him.
    In short, the Twins have a ton of question marks heading into 2022. In order to truly feel good about the rotation they probably needed at least two legitimate starting pitching additions. There are few impact options left in free agency and it’s hard to imagine them swinging two enormous trades to make up for it.
    What the Twins have now is a rotation problem that doesn’t come close to being solved by one big move. There are moves to be made in free agency and admittedly they could very well hit on some lower-profile additions. The lineup and bullpen could also shine bright enough to pick up some slack from the rotation. It’s hard to look at the roster and say this is the likelier scenario, however. Given the hoops we have to jump through to imagine a contender in 2022, wouldn’t it make more sense to be prudent before Opening Day and respond accordingly at the July trade deadline?
    It may be the anti-fun stance, but it would be a shame to see the Twins mortgage their future for a huge addition that doesn’t pay off. Especially with so many high-end prospects nearing the Major Leagues. Of all the times to acquire a huge starting pitcher the last few years, right now may be riskiest with the least amount of possible payoff. The Twins shouldn’t be looking to go all-in on an ace.
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  2. Like
    beckmt reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, We Should Be More Excited About Noah Miller   
    The Twins opted to draft Noah Miller 36th overall in the 2021 draft after taking right-handed pitcher Chase Petty with their first pick. Petty got a deserved amount of hype for his triple-digit fastball and future upside as a stud pitcher, but Miller appears to have gotten overshadowed just a bit too much.
    Noah Miller boasts fantastic contact ability with a great eye at the plate, average speed, and developing power. He pairs his raw skills with highly touted athleticism and baseball IQ, all of which adds up to a fantastic floor even for a player drafted out of high school. His lack of standout offensive ability would give him the ceiling of a decent major league player if he has to move to a position like outfield or second base, but there appears to be more and more optimism in his ability to remain at shortstop.
    Miller falls into the mid-teens across most Twins prospect ranking lists. Keith Law of the Athletic, however, recently released his ranking of the Twins system and bumped Miller all the way up to 10. For those unfamiliar with Law, he’s recognized for being particularly pessimistic (or perhaps realistic) when it comes to ranking prospects. 
    Law essentially believes in Miller’s safe offensive profile and more importantly his ability to play a sufficient shortstop. While Miller doesn’t have the ceiling to be the next Fernando Tatis Jr. or Wander Franco, Law believes Miller has an achievable ceiling as an everyday contributor at the position. An evaluator as highly regarded as Keith Law making such a statement should be exciting, and Twins fans in particular should have an appreciation for this possibility playing out.
    It seems to be a yearly tradition where the Twins either draft or internationally sign a significant number of shortstops and fans ask “Why?”. Despite the perception of casting a wide net at this position, the Twins have made little progress in developing any players who are anywhere near a lock to be the long-term answer. Typically we see these “shortstops” Make a pivot elsewhere on the diamond shortly thereafter.
    In regards to the history of the Minnesota Twins, Jorge Polanco was the starting shortstop in consecutive Opening Days in 2019 and 2020. Before him Pedro Florimon earned that honor in 2013 and 2014. Since 2004 however when Christian Guzman made his 6th consecutive Opening Day start, the position has essentially been a revolving door.
    Miller may be a long way off from Major League action at just 19 years old, but his offensive skillset that made him a first round pick is also one that gives him a relatively good shot at an MLB career. Twins fans saw with Aaron Sabato in 2021 that even in the first round there’s significant risk with prospects that have a feast or famine slugger profile. While prospects are always risky, Miller’s contact ability alone may give him a slightly better chance of overcoming the minor league gauntlet over the next few years.
    The bar is admittedly set quite low when it comes to shortstops in Twins territory. That being said, if Noah Miller has a full 2022 of proving he can do it at shortstop, his notoriety is going to go through the roof. For as much flak as the Twins get for their pitching development, taking a first-round shortstop who actually pans out would be an incredible development for the organization.
    There are a lot of MLB-ready prospects to watch in 2022, but none have an opportunity to raise their stock quite as much as Noah Miller. We won’t see him in Minneapolis this summer, but we just may be talking about him as the future franchise shortstop by this time next year.
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  3. Like
    beckmt reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Twins Are Rebuilding, Not Retooling, if They Trade Buxton   
    The Twins find themselves in a difficult situation this winter. After trading their #1 starting pitcher in Jose Berrios, they’re left with only two rotation spots tentatively spoken for, each by a rookie. A pitching staff that sunk the former back-to-back AL Central champs has to be completely reworked on the front end with significant needs in a bullpen that struggled as well. 
    Shortstop, the quarterback of the infield, is also vacant and will require a legitimate impact addition in order to help propel the team back into contention. In addition to on-field tangibles, they’ve also lost the leader of their pitching staff in Berrios, as well as the leader of the team as a whole in Nelson Cruz. A path to a comeback in 2022 is a bumpy one, but it could certainly be done.
    What can’t be recovered from, however, is adding center field to the list of vacancies. 
    Center field is one of the most important everyday players on any baseball team. In Minnesota, the player manning the position has been the reason the team has sunk or swam. Since the Twins rise to success in 2019, they’ve been 100-64 with Buxton on the field and 106-106 without him. Correlation does not equal causation, but there’s no denying those numbers are indicative of Buxton’s impact when you watch him on the field.
    Some have called for Buxton to be traded in the past, mainly due to his long list of injuries. There’s no stopping such an opinion, but those who hold it have to realize what they’re advocating. The Twins almost certainly surpass the point of no return if they choose to field a team without Byron Buxton.
    The best case scenario following a Buxton trade, regardless of the return, is to sell off literally everyone else. Pay part of Josh Donaldson’s contract to get the best possible return. Take advantage of the need for catchers across the league and get a haul for Mitch Garver. See if anyone is willing to make an offer for Taylor Rogers. 2022 will certainly be a wash, and these players would offer more value on the trade market than on a losing team.
    Does that reality sound painful? Try the alternative where the Twins trade one of the best players in baseball and try to compete in 2022. The path to doing so without emptying the farm system or spending an unrealistic amount in free agency simply doesn’t exist. Pretending that the team marches into the playoffs in 2022 without Buxton manning center field would set Twins baseball back years. At least Option A gives full attention to collecting young talent to try to develop a new core for the near future.
    The team still has a path to contention in 2022, and even if that doesn’t work out, their upcoming prospects should position them well for 2023. Extending Byron Buxton is a vote of confidence not only in the front office's ability to rebound, but in the current core that’s in place. Trading Byron Buxton is waving a white flag on both fronts.
    The next move by the front office won’t be forced. It’s a choice. Byron Buxton isn’t asking for anything near record-setting money. There is no better player they’ll ever find to man center field, and the one they have is a home-grown fan favorite. Such a move by the front office would be giving up on a two-year window that earned them so much praise despite it never having been capitalized on.
    In six years this front office has inherited a stinker of a team and converted it into a core of players that once had fans thinking the stars are the limit. Now they sit on the edge of a decision that would rightfully leave fans wondering “What was it all for?”.
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  4. Like
    beckmt reacted to Matt Braun for an article, The Twins Shouldn't Spend (Much) On Starting Pitching This Offseason   
    (For the record, I did not intend for this to be a pseudo-response to Nick Nelson’s article from the other day, but it worked out like that.)
    In all likelihood, Kenta Maeda’s Tommy John surgery has ended any chance he has of pitching to any significant degree in 2022. There remains an outside chance that he can return in nine months, but even that heavily optimistic prediction shortens his 2022 season. Because of this, the potential Twins starting rotation in 2022 as of this very moment will consist solely of players with little MLB playing time and John Gant. And John Gant is not a starter. You, yes, you, my good reader, have about as much playing time as any of these other guys. Sure, Bailey Ober has flashed some ability; but the names after him are either questionable or dreadful. It is an unsustainable rotation. The natural thought would be then to sign an entire stable of starters. Just line up pitchers and send them through in such rapid fashion that FDR’s 100 days would appear to have run at a snail’s pace. 
    But this would not be a good idea. First, which teams have built a successful starting rotation on such short notice? Yes, the Giants have found success this season with this method, but they are the exceptions. Look down the list of the top rotations by fWAR. Almost every team has a foundation of starters who were either developed internally or acquired before this last off-season. Teams like the Giants are relatively rare in building a starting rotation; most great units require a more solid base. The Twins, by comparison, would have to sign four starters (or three and pray that someone fixed Randy Dobnak) and assume that Bailey Ober will be available for 160+ quality innings next season. Not a great plan.
    Secondly, let’s think big picture. What good would a patchwork rotation be in 2022? There remain significant questions regarding the stability of this current core of players. The central nucleus of names is getting older. Considering that this same group of players has struggled early in 2021, why should we believe the situation will suddenly be any better? Will Miguel Sanó abruptly learn plate discipline? Will Max Kepler’s BABIP finally go above .250? I think not. The moves made by the front office signal to me that they do not plan on seriously competing until 2023. They traded José Berríos, a starter under control for 2022, for prospects. Yes, it was also because the deal was great for them, but the main driver, I believe, was a fundamental belief that this team, as currently constructed, will come up short in any effort in 2022 without heavenly intervention. Why else would they also peddle core players like Byron Buxton and Kepler? 
    One of the other main tenants in the belief of a 2022 surrender is the prospect situation. It isn’t the lack of quality of prospects; they have those. It’s when they should make their MLB debuts. According to MLB.com, nine of their top 10 prospects will likely debut this year or next year. According to Fangraphs, it is nine of 11. Neither of these lists includes Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, who, while no longer prospects, will become long-term players in their own right who can (and will) replace current names. These soon-to-be-Twins reflect a conscious effort to have 2022 be a messy season in which the Twins can figure out which players will contribute in 2022 and beyond. Call up all the kids, see what they can do, then decide from there. There will be no competing next season.
    Now, while this should prevent the Twins from going all-in on starters, they should not utterly abstain from signing. They should target a younger long-term arm like Jon Gray, Eduardo Rodriguez, or even a more prominent name like Marcus Stroman. These players can bring an essential veteran presence while not presenting the same risks that an older (but probably better) pitcher like Zack Greinke or Justin Verlander will have. If the team wants to sign a player of that magnitude, it makes more sense to do so after 2022, when the genetic makeup of the team makes more sense. 
    This line of thought does raise one more important question. If the team only signs one major starter, where does the rest of the money go? Their theoretical spending limit will be significant after this season. While I would love to give Mr. Pohlad a chance to purchase another absurd yacht or buy off a state senator or something, I don’t believe that money should go to waste. Perhaps the team could look towards signing one of the many All-Star shortstops available this off-season or decide to hand out an early extension to one of their numerous pre-arb players. I know that advocating for minimal movement on the rotation front while inking a high-caliber position player to a long-term deal seems like a strange idea, and it is. The key phrase is “long-term”; I’m thinking about building a better 2023 team, not a better 2022 team, and a burnt contract year is just the cost of investing. 
    I get it, though. This team has not won a playoff game since the Bush administration, and it feels that it may be asking the world of some to hold off another season before diving headfirst back into the fray. No one wants to do that. This idea comes from the same desire that every other Twins fan possesses; we want this team to succeed. We want to finally shed the pressure that is years of unmatched playoff ineptitude. All I am asking is that the team realizes the poor situation that 2022 will likely be and instead decide to take a better-calculated shot at playoff success with a more solid foundation underneath them. What good will one more poorly constructed hopeful playoff run do? Plan for a better future. 
  5. Like
    beckmt reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Twins Minor League Pitching Report: Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman   
    Most publications will herald Joe Ryan as the primary chip returning to the Twins - MLB Pipeline lists him as the team's No. 6 prospect - though he wasn't always a high-level prospect.
    Ryan was the Rays' seventh-round selection out of Cal State, Stanislaus in 2018, though we could not confirm if Cal State, Stanislaus is an actual university. Ryan boasted a 1.65 ERA in 98 ⅓ innings while posting a ridiculous 127/13 K:BB ratio, which was more than enough to get him on MLB teams' radar. Ryan never posted a FIP higher than 3.24 while in the Rays' system, and his strikeout and walk rates remained near the top in the organization replete with pitching talent.
    At first glance, Ryan's stuff doesn't appear to be all that electric. His fastball touches the mid-90s but most often sits 91-93 with a good ride. 
    His changeup isn't particularly exciting, and his curveball, while good, is not going to draw out batters' swords over and over again, at least not right now.
    And yet, he has never posted a K/9 rate lower than 11.84 nor a WHIP higher than 1.13 in his minor league career. 
    What makes Ryan such an exciting prospect is his command, which is instantly the most prolific in the Twins' system. 
    Ryan can place the ball, particularly his fastball, which primarily resides at the top of the zone, with pinpoint accuracy, allowing him to nibble at the corners without issuing free passes. His pitch mix - which also includes a pretty mediocre cutter at the moment when viewed in isolation - plays exceptionally well off of each other, with all his offerings featuring the same arm slot. 
    Essentially, the complete package that is Joe Ryan is greater than the sum of his parts. He doesn't have a glaring weakness like many of the pitching prospects in the Twins' system. Instead, the only question is whether or not his stuff will play at the MLB level, and there isn't a ton of evidence at the moment to suggest it won't.
    However, while simply securing a pitcher of Ryan's caliber would have been enough to consider the trade of Cruz as a win for the Twins, he wasn't the only pitching prospect the team brought back.
    Drew Strotman similarly hailed from humble beginnings before rising towards the top of the Rays' farm system. He was the team's fourth-round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary's College, where he owned a career 5.26 ERA in 59 appearances, with only 14 coming as starts.
    However, unlike with Ryan, it becomes apparent why the Rays' coveted him when looking at film. Strotman's stuff is truly electric.
    His fastball sits 91-94 mph, and, like Ryan, he likes to keep it up in the zone. 
    His changeup plays well off the fastball and features significant tailing action.
    He also owns a good curveball and a slider or cutter, depending on which publication you read.
    Strotman owns a legit four-pitch mix; however, for what he boasts in offerings, he lacks significantly in command and strikeout numbers. 
    If Strotman can figure out how to throw more strikes, he'll find himself in the Twins' starting rotation for years to come. If he can't, he'll likely find a home in the bullpen where he may experience an uptick in fastball velocity and likely rely more heavily on his curveball. 
    All in all, the Twins picked up two athletes in exchange for Nelson Cruz that are similar in prospect pedigree to that of, say, Matt Canterino and Chris Vallimont. That's a haul for a 41-year-old designated hitter who may or may not re-sign following the 2021 season. Regardless of how the trade ultimately plays out, the Twins would have been crazy not to accept the Rays' offer.
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  6. Like
    beckmt reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Finding Hope for a 2022 Bullpen   
    Some possible solutions to the rotation were found with the return from the Nelson Cruz trade on Thursday. Still, the front office has their work cut out for them to improve the pitching staff as a whole. More trades are surely on the way and a fair share of the available payroll will likely be spent on arms. There are three relievers at AAA however who we may see by season’s end that could put a massive patch in the sinking ship that is this pitching staff. 
    Ian Hamilton
    Nick summarized just about every reason to have hope for Hamilton in one tweet. Hamilton was drafted in the 11th round in 2016 and quickly proved to be an exciting up and coming bullpen arm in the White Sox system. Unfortunately Hamilton’s career was thrown off course by two freak accidents. He struggled thereafter and eventually bounce around waiver claims before the Twins claimed him (and then successfully DFAd him) this spring.
    Hamilton has spent the entire season in St. Paul which is by no means an indicator of his effectiveness. Instead, it almost seems like the Twins are developing the 26-year-old as if he was a prospect as he weathers his first full season of professional baseball since 2018. This plan appears to have paid dividends, as Hamilton has posted a 34% K rate with a 0.58 HR/9 so far and has sorted out his early season walk issues. He should get a chance by season’s end to showcase his high 90s fastball at Target Field in an attempt to earn a place for 2022.
    Yennier Cano
    Signed in 2019 as an international free agent out of Cuba, Cano is a bit different than most prospects in the Twins top 30 as he’s 27 years old. Cano has moved a bit more slowly through the system than expected when he was signed, but he appears to be on the precipice of the Major Leagues after debuting at AA ball this year and getting called up to St. Paul a few weeks ago.
    Cano got hit around a bit in his AAA debut allowing three Earned Runs in 1 2/3 innings. He’s settled down since then, dropping his ERA to 4.50 with a 3.05 FIP. He’s struck out 28.4% of the hitters he’s faced. He has a pitch mix that profiles extremely well with a mid 90s fastball to go with a great slider and a splitter to equalize left-handed hitters. It’s honestly a bit surprising that Cano hasn’t received The Call already, but it’s easy to foresee him in Minneapolis very soon.
    Jovani Moran
    Moran was Cano’s partner in crime when it came to terrorizing opposing lineups out of the AA bullpen to start the year. Moran has long had the reputation of having nasty stuff but has struggled with control thus far in his career. After having 14% walk rates at both levels in 2019, it was encouraging even to see those numbers drop to 10% at AA to start the season.
    Moran is a left-handed pitcher with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, but his changeup is likely one of the best the Twins system has seen since Johan Santana as Lucas points out (tweet above). The pitch allows him not only to avoid big lefty/righty splits, but is also his go-to weapon for swings and misses. He seems to have the right idea, as he’s struck out 46% of AA hitters and 44.4% of AAA hitters thus far. His late arrival to AAA makes him a bit more questionable to debut with the Twins this season, but it’s certainly a possibility depending on how the trade deadline shakes out. 
    Skepticism is warranted after this season, but it’s been a long time since the Twins in particular have developed arms with such high octane, can’t miss stuff. While far from a sure thing, we should get a look at at least a few of them this year. At the very least it’s a bit of excitement in what will be an inconsequential finish to 2021. At best, we just might get a glimpse into a more effective stable of arms for 2022.
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  7. Like
    beckmt reacted to Matthew Lenz for an article, Analyzing José Berríos' Trade Value   
    I will let you read Matthew’s article in full as he does a tremendous job of explaining why now is the time, but will add that I’ve been ready to move on simply due to his lack of development. Berríos has been the same pitcher since his first full season in 2017 where he’ll give you 5-6 strikeouts, 2-3 walks, and an ERA/FIP in the high 3’s, but he’ll have those couple performances that’ll leave you thinking he can be an “ace” in this league. In short, he hasn’t shown consistent effectiveness or efficiency to prove he can become an “ace” and, although exact details have never been leaked, he wants to get paid more than the Twins are willing to pay him. In my opinion, Berríos is a middle of the rotation arm (low-2/high-3) who likely wants to be paid like a frontline guy which I don't think they should do. This brings me back to Matthew’s article where he went on to say “Berríos possesses the talent and the years of control that should bring back a top-100 prospect (and then some) in return.” Inarguably, there is still some upside to Berríos, some people will quickly remind you that Scherzer took time to become Scherzer, and his durability cannot be understated, but can he really net a “top-100 prospect and then some”? Let's take a look.
    I went back to the last few seasons to find trades that involved starting pitchers who had the potential to make an immediate impact to a big league club. Before diving in, understand that no situation is going to be the same as contracts and years of team control can obviously vary, teams have been financially impacted by COVID-19, and the current CBA expires in December. All that said, it’s not completely apples and oranges to look at previous trades and I’d think teams would use that to help establish the market for Berríos.
    Padres acquire RHP Mike Clevinger, OF Greg Allen and a PTBN from the Indians for C Austin Hedges, 1B/OF Josh Naylor, RHP Cal Quantrill, SS Gabriel Arias, IF Owen Miller and LHP Joey Cantillo
    Clevinger has had a much better, yet shorter, career compared to Berríos while also having an extra year of team control at the time of this trade, but on the flipside he’s also three-and-a-half years older than José. Even considering the age difference and now knowing that Clevinger is out with Tommy John surgery, I think most would take Clevinger over Berríos in a heartbeat. This deal included two young, MLB ready guys in Naylor and Quantrill but none of Arias, Miller, and Cantillo were or are currently top-100 guys, although Quantrill was as high as #38 back in 2017.
    Astros acquire SP Zack Greinke and $25MM from D-backs for Seth Beer, J.B. Bukauskas, Corbin Martin, and Josh Rojas
    Age is a big difference here, but the Astros were acquiring a former Cy Young and gold glove winner, bonafide ace, who still had two-and-a-half years left on his contract and received about a third of his remaining salary from the Diamondbacks. At the time of the deal, Seth Beer was the only top-100 prospect (coming in at #96) and entering the 2021 season none of the prospects the Diamondbacks received are ranked in the top-100 although three of the four are currently in the organizations top-30 prospects.
    Marlins trade SP Trevor Richards and RP Nick Anderson to Rays for opener Ryne Stanek and OF prospect Jesús Sánchez
    I almost view this trade as Richards for Sánchez as Anderson and Stanek were pretty equal, although comparing the two relievers minor league track record shows that Anderson maybe has the higher upside. Anyway, at the time of this trade, Richards had 45 starts under his belt, looked to be less talented than Berríos, but still had five plus years of team control before becoming a free agent. By giving up the two better players in the deal, the Marlins received the 51st best prospect in all of baseball in Sánchez but is currently unranked after batting .040 in 25 big league at-bats in 2020.
    Marlins trade SP Zac Gallen to D-backs for SS prospect Jazz Chisholm
    At the time of this deal, Gallen was emerging as a promising young arm for the Marlins sporting an ERA under 3 and a K/9 north of 10 and on the previous day had limited the bomba squad to one homerun over seven innings while striking out eight. He still had six plus years of team control and In return the Marlins received the 54th best prospect in baseball in Chisholm whose time clock hadn’t yet started as he had only reached AA. Now, Chisholm is competing for the NL Rookie of the Year with an OPS of .817 and wRC+ of 127.
    Mets trade SP Marcus Stroman and $1.55MM in cash to Blue Jays for Minor League pitchers Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson
    At the time of the deal, Stroman was having the best year of his career and was in the some spot as Berríos having one plus year of team control left before being a restricted free agent. Comparatively, Berríos and Stroman have had similar careers although Stroman strikes out and walks less batters while also being less susceptible to the long ball. In return, the Blue Jays received two prospects who were outside of the top-100 at the time of the deal, but to this point Woods-Richardson is the 74th ranked prospect in baseball while Kay has struggled in his first 52.2 big league innings.
    A’s acquire LHP Mike Minor from the Rangers for Dustin Harris, Marcus Smith, and $133K of international slot bonus money
    Stick with me here...I promise I’m not trolling the Berríos stan’s with this one…
    By age and contract, Mike Minor (32) and Jose Berríos are not super comparable BUT (here’s the kicker, for me) statistically they have been nearly the same pitcher throughout their careers and, moreover, ZiPS projects in two years Berríos will still basically be Mike Minor.
    Minor Career (thru 08/31/2020)
    3.98 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9
    Career: 4.05 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9
    ZiPs 2023: 3.97 FIP, 9.22 K/9, 2.71 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9
    Minor, who was just a one month rental for the A’s, had a pretty poor 2020 which obviously hurt his trade value and thus didn’t even net two players that are ranked in the Rangers Top 30, let alone Major League Baseball’s Top-100. Moreover, the $133K in international slot bonus money obviously helps but doesn’t move the needle a ton either. Undoubtedly, a deal involving Berríos will net more than this but I thought it was interesting to see how similar these two pitchers are, and I think it really just proves Matthew Taylor’s original claim that we need to trade Berríos now.
    That said, after analyzing recent trades I don’t think I can confidently predict the Twins “should bring back a top-100 prospect (and then some) in return” just for Berríos. In the deals that netted a top-100 prospect there was more at play than simply getting a young-ish pitcher with a year plus of team control left:
    Greinke is far superior to Berríos yet still only netted the #96 prospect in baseball, among other pieces. Marlins sent high-ceiling reliever Nick Anderson to sweeten the deal for the Rays. Gallen was much younger, had many more years of team control remaining, and had pitched almost as well through his first seven starts as Berríos ever has in any seven start stretch of his career. Two years after the deal was completed, the Blue Jays can claim they received a top-100 prospect from the Mets. Especially with the unknown of the next CBA and the 2022 season, I think it’s realistic to think the Twins are going to need to add at least one additional sem-impactful piece (hmm...maybe a rent-a-reliever???) to a deal with Berríos to net a top-100 prospect. Next week, I will look into the teams that may be interested in a Berríos deal and some prospects the Twins could receive in return.
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    beckmt reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Building a Pitching Pipeline   
    For years Twins fans have watched the Cleveland Baseball Club bring up pitcher after pitcher who finds success. In recent years, they have traded pitchers such as Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger and still have a top ten pitching staff in 2021. 
    It seems to have started in July of 2010 when Cleveland acquired middling pitching prospect Corey Kluber as part of a three-team deal. At the time, Kluber was a 24-year-old just starting to put things together in Double-A. He was never a Top 30 prospect with the Padres, and he wasn’t a Top 20 prospect for Cleveland either. 
    Kluber debuted in 2011 with three games. He made 12 starts in 2012 and went 2-5 while posting a 5.14 ERA. In 2013, he gained a regular rotation spot, went 11-5 and had a 3.85 ERA. In 2014, he won his first of two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top three in voting four of the next five seasons. 
    Mike Clevinger was Cleveland’s fourth round pick by the Angels out of junior college. Four years later, in August of 2014, he had not reached Double-A and was traded to Cleveland in exchange for reliever Vinny Pestano. Clevinger debuted in 2016 as a 25-year old. He split time between the bullpen and the rotation through the 2017 season before becoming a full-time starter in 2018. 
    Shane Bieber was Cleveland’s fourth round pick in 2016 out of UC-Santa Barbara. His timeline was pretty quick. He pitched at three levels in 2017. In 2018, he started at Double-A and dominated for five starts. He moved up to Triple A for eight starts and was great. He debuted in May 2018 at age 23 and moved up and down for awhile, but he’s been in their rotation ever since. He became an All Star in 2019 and was the unanimous Cy Young winner in 2020 at age 25. Bieber wasn’t a top ten Cleveland prospect until that 2018 season. 
    Aaron Civale was Cleveland’s third round pick in 2016 out of Northeastern. He spent all of 2018 in Double-A. In 2017, he began at Double-A but quickly moved up. The rest of that season, his age-24-season, bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and Cleveland. He posted a 4.74 ERA in 12 starts in 2020, and has started 2021 6-1 with a 3.30 ERA. Civale found himself just outside of Cleveland’s Top 10 prospect rankings. 
    Zach Plesac was Cleveland’s 12th round draft pick in 2016 out of Ball State. Three years later, he made his debut as a 24-year-old in May of 2019. Since then, he has posted season ERAs of 3.81, 2.28 and 3.93.  
    So again, what can we learn?
    Don’t write off any pitcher in the minor leaguers, even if they aren’t a top 30 prospect in the organization. It is normal for pitchers, even good ones, to bounce between Triple-A and the big leagues for a little while. You don’t have to debut at 23 or younger to become a star.  You can win Cy Youngs at age 25 like Bieber or 29 like Kluber.  You don’t have to go to a top college to become a good big-league starter.  Repeating a level doesn’t disqualify a pitcher from becoming a good starter.  Maybe the most important thing to remember is that you just never know.     
    Where are the Twins now?
    Jose Berrios is homegrown, though he was called up before the current regime took over. The current front office has signed Michael Pineda as a free agent (twice), J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker and others. They also traded for Kenta Maeda a year ago. In other words, they are still piecing things together as they wait for the pipeline to produce. 
    While Lewis Thorpe was signed and developed early under a past regime, he has also developed the past four or five years under the current regime. 
    Randy Dobnak is absolutely a success story, even if he never makes another start in the big leagues (which, by the way, after six shutout innings on Friday night, it won’t be). You know the story. Undrafted free agent from a Division II school. Signed from an independent league. Spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids. Pitched at four levels in 2019, including in the big leagues. Signed a long-term extension. 
    But, now we want (and really, really need) to start seeing the pipeline. Remember, the first year with Derek Falvey at the helm, there weren’t a lot of changes. There was a lot of evaluation. So in 2017, they started adding some additional technology (Rapsodo, high-speed cameras, added Trackman capabilities). They have also now been adding coaches and coordinators. Each affiliate has two pitching coaches. Each affiliate has at least one Spanish-speaking coach. They have had a minor league pitching coordinator with a couple of assistants. Each pitcher has an individual improvement plan that they get to be part of making. 

    So who are some of the pitching prospects that potentially could keep developing?
    Jhoan Duran (23) made his first appearance on Saturday night for the Saints. He was hitting 97-99 (the radar gun kept showing 102), though it was also clear he was shaking off some rust. The Twins acquired him in a trade from the Diamondbacks and have helped him develop as a starting pitcher. 
    The Twins current front office has traded for some other pitching prospects early in their development. Luis Rijo (22) came to the Twins from the Yankees in the Lance Lynn deal. He was a pitcher with good command of his pitches. By 2019, he was hitting 95 with his fastball. When the Twins traded Lewin Diaz to the Marlins in 2019, they received Sergio Romo and Chris Vallimont (24).  The hard-throwing right-hander made his Wichita debut on Saturday night and struck out eight batters in 4 2/3 innings. 
    Jordan Balazovic (22) should be returning to action soon. He has been working back from an oblique injury in Ft. Myers, but he is obviously very talented. He was the Twins fifth round pick in 2016 out of high school in Canada. A year later, the Twins were able to sign Blayne Enlow (22) after drafting him in the third round of the 2017 draft and keeping him from LSU. Enlow is now throwing 95-96 mph with a four-pitch mix that has come a long way.  
    Two other pitchers to watch are in St. Paul. Griffin Jax (26) was the team’s third round pick in 2016 from the Air Force. He was only able to participate part-time early in his career due to obligations, but he’s been a very consistent performer all the way up. Charlie Barnes (25) was the Twins’ fourth round pick in 2018 out of Clemson. Known for his changeup, he also has been quite good as he’s moved up the ladder. Both have been invited to big-league spring training the last two years. 
    Bailey Ober (25) made his MLB debut this week, a spot start in place of Michael Pineda. He has put up just silly numbers in his minor league career, though he has missed time with arm issues. When healthy, he’s really good despite not throwing real hard. 
    The 2018 draft brought the Twins a couple of very intriguing prospects. In the fourth round, they selected Cole Sands (23) out of Florida State. In 2019, he pitched at three levels and is starting well in Wichita this year. Wichita’s Opening Day starter was 2018 seventh-round pick Josh Winder (24). No one has increased their prospect value in the past year than Winder. After sitting 91-92 mph in 2019, he now is hitting 97 mph with a fastball and has a very sharp slider and a good change. 
    Also from that 2018 draft, lefty Kody Funderburk (24, 15th round, Dallas Baptist) and Andrew Cabezas (24, 18th round, U of Miami) have started out well with Cedar Rapids. 19th round pick, Austin Schulfer (25, UW-Milwaukee) has made three starts at AA Wichita already. Regi Grace (21)was the Twins 10th round pick out of high school in Mississippi, and he just had his best start with the Mighty Mussels. 
    The Twins grabbed Matt Canterino (23) with their second-round draft pick in 2019 out of Rice University. He was an advanced college pitcher when drafted, and then he ended 2020 at the Twins alternate site. He participated in the Twins depth camp at spring training and showed an upper-90s fastball to go with a terrific pitch-mix. 
    The Twins drafted and signed ten more college pitchers between the sixth and 19th rounds that year. And then in the 30th round, they drafted Tyler Beck, a closer from Division II’s University of Tampa.  He has started the 2021 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA. Through his first 12 2/3 innings, he has given up just three hits, walked two and struck out 15. Now, he is already 25, but he has taken a very circuitous route to where he is today and whatever he has been developing over the last year or more seems to be encouraging. 
    And that brings me back to Age. Of course, Age-to-Level-of-Competition is a factor in prospect rankings, it should be only a minor piece to an organization’s evaluation of a player. If that’s the case, the Twins never would have signed Nick Anderson out of the independent leagues, and the Marlins and Rays certainly wouldn’t have traded for him. 
    In addition, we just have to remember that the majority of these pitching prospects missed a full season of development. 
    Again, it may be hard to figure out which pitching prospects will become big leaguers, much less big league rotation members, much less All Stars. So what can you look for?
    Stuff - Obviously to get to the big leagues, a pitcher has to have some ‘stuff’. Stuff, in my opinion, means velocity as well as quality pitch movement and shape. Velocity obviously helps make it possible to make some more mistakes and get away with them, but we have also seen so many successful pitchers who top out at 91-92 mph. Those guys need to have quality pitches, movement, shape, sharpness. It is also important to remember that pitchers are able to improve upon those things. Josh Winder bumping his fastball from 92 to 97 is just one example. The technology the Twins have provides the coaches and pitchers to work together to increase velocity, find a more consistent release point, increase spin and more.  Command - As mentioned, a way to be successful even without triple-digit velocity is by being able to place the pitch exactly where you want to. “Control” just means that you don’t walk many batters. Command means that you are able to place the ball where you want it within the strike zone or just off it.  Obviously there can be more factors for a pitcher’s success as well, but those are the two biggest. In addition, having a high baseball IQ is good. Being willing to ask questions is a good thing. Talking to both Josh Winder and Matt Canterino, they learned from the veteran pitchers while at big-league spring training. However, Canterino also talked about getting to spend some time talking with Josh Donaldson about his stuff, what a hitter might be thinking in certain situations and more. Being willing to learn is very important. And finally, being able to understand that the process is more important than the results, especially lower in the minor leagues. If you are doing the right things mechanically, mentally, in your preparation, and understand that it is understanding the big picture, you can continue to learn. 
    Like all teams, the Twins have some very intriguing pitching prospects. A couple will make it. A couple may get a short stint. A few probably won’t get there. We will have a good idea of where the Twins front office and pitcher development programs are and will be going forward.
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