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Nick Nelson

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  1. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Melissa for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  2. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Melissa for an article, Twins Daily Winter Meltdown Returns with a Bang: Event Recap   
    Taking place a few blocks away from Target Field at The Pourhouse, the 2023 Winter Meltdown brought together hundreds of people for a lively night of food, drinks, and baseball chatter. 
    The staff at the venue did an excellent job keeping up with a huge crowd of attendees, serving up tasty 612Brew beers, snacks, sliders, and more. Twins fans and media, many having walked over from TwinsFest at Target Field, filled both of Pourhouse's two levels to catch the action on-stage, which featured Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes interviewing two iconic figures in Twins media, as well as several interactive games and giveaways. 
    The first interviewee was legendary columnist Patrick Reusse, fresh off being recognized by the Twins with the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his decades covering the team. As always, Reusse was full of amusing anecdotes and snarky one-liners, sharing his thoughts on the Luis Arraez trade, Joey Gallo's strikeouts, and MLB's rule changes, among other things.
    Reusse was followed by featured speaker Glen Perkins, a former three-time All Star closer for the Twins who now serves as analyst and commentator for the Bally Sports North broadcast team. In the past I've called Perkins a Twins Daily Hall of Famer: a hometown big-leaguer who was one of the team's best players throughout the site's early years of existence, adopted an analytical mindset midway through his career, and once famously bought a bunch of TD pub-crawlers a round of beers from the bullpen during a rain delay.
    He was a perfect headliner for the Winter Meltdown's return, and was a great guest, reminiscing on his playing days while also sharing insights about the current team and the state of baseball. I found particularly interesting Perk's explanation of how the front office influences the contents of the TV broadcast: the increased presence of people like him who can speak to the analytical side of baseball is no coincidence. As he put it, they want fans and viewers to gain a better understanding of the game through this lens because it's fundamental to how they build and run the team.
    If you missed the event, you can catch recordings of both Reusse's and Perkins' interviews on the latest episode of the Gleeman and the Geek podcast.
    There were plenty of other highlights from the night, including some recognizable faces among the crowd (I enjoyed catching up with former Minneapolis mayor and staunch Twins Daily advocate RT Rybak) along with plenty of great apparel on display. The rebrand seems to be resonating with the fanbase, as the updated logo and styles were quite prevalent.
    With that said, the "best dressed" award has to go to the combo of Aaron Rupar and Brett Howe, who were sporting Giants and Mets Carlos Correa shirseys, respectively.
    It's all part of the unique Winter Meltdown experience that I have missed so dearly over these past two years. I'm filled with gratitude for everyone who played part in making it happen, and who came out to make it what it was. 
    HUGE thank you Bonnes, who did a majority of the legwork on planning and overseeing the event. Big thanks also to Reusse and Perkins, who were among the most engaging guests we've had; The Pourhouse for hosting us with such great accommodations; and to 612Brew for supplying the beers and take-home pint glasses. 
    The scale this event has reached is truly amazing to me, and speaks to the powerful sense of community among Twins fans, and surrounding this website specifically. We appreciate you all. If you didn't make it this year, I hope to see you at next year's Meltdown – or better yet, this summer at the ballpark.
     
  3. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Melissa for an article, How the Twins Addressed Their Biggest Weaknesses from 2022 This Offseason   
    Reviewing the Twins offseason up to this point after a flurry of January activity, some notable trends and focal points emerge. In sizing up the front office's moves this winter, it strikes me that there was a clear intent to address six key areas that factored into last year's fade, starting with the biggest one: 
    Better physical outcomes with a new head trainer.
    One of the first moves the Twins made this offseason was replacing head athletic trainer Michael Salazar with Nick Paparesta, a reputed leader in the field who'd spent the past 12 years in Oakland with the A's.
    It was a fitting top priority for the front office coming off a season that was completely wrecked by injuries, with unending recovery timelines and frustrating setbacks decimating the roster. The Twins were not a flawless team, as we'll cover below, but the level of physical attrition and number of days lost gave them no legitimate chance to hang on.
    To a large extent, injuries are uncontrollable. Training staffs tend to become scapegoats in circumstances where sheer bad luck is the prime culprit. But that's the nature of the beast, and as bad as things got last year, it can't hurt to bring in a fresh – yet seasoned – perspective.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Better pitching depth from the start.
    The pitching staff was definitely hurt by injuries last year, but not to the same degree as the lineup. No, the problem with the Twins' pitching staff last year was more foundational: On Opening Day, they had Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer as members of the starting rotation. On Opening Day, they had Tyler Duffey, Joe Smith, Jharel Cotton, Jhon Romero, and Josh Winder – owner of zero major-league innings – all as part of the bullpen. 
    This year the Twins will be much more structurally sound from the start on the pitching side. The return of Kenta Maeda, along with the acquisitions of Tyler Mahle and Pablo López, have surrounded Sonny Gray with a bevy of proven veterans. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober, who both pitched very well last year, push the rotation to six deep, while Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson have both proven ready to step in. Randy Dobnak is a wild card. 
    On the bullpen side, Jhoan Durán emerged as a force last year while Caleb Thielbar and Griffin Jax are both coming off outstanding seasons. Jorge López, if he returns to form, can give the Twins an unparalleled 1-2 punch alongside Durán in the late innings. Jorge Alcalá is back after missing almost all of last year, joining middle-relief options like Trevor Megill, Jovani Moran, and Danny Coulombe. Your mileage may vary on Emilio Pagán but he's a high-upside piece they don't need to rely on.
    I wouldn't be surprised to see another addition on the relief side (Michael Fulmer, come on down?), but as things stand, the 2023 Twins are in a much better position on pitching stability. 
    Dynamic contingencies and depth in the position player corps.
    If you want to stir up some bad memories, I've got a recommendation to fulfill your sadistic urge: go back and pull up a random Twins starting lineup from last August or September. The club's utterly ravaged position-player corps regularly left Rocco Baldelli submitting sad lineups with little hope to compete. 
    Nick Gordon and Gio Urshela trading off at cleanup. Jake Cave and Mark Contreras starting against lefties. Gilberto Celestino hitting fifth or sixth, repeatedly. It was ugly, and something none of us want to experience again. The front office is doing everything it realistically can to prevent it.
    Kyle Farmer and Michael A. Taylor are borderline starting-caliber players and top-shelf backups. They both provide experience, flexibility, and defensive prowess to help keep things chugging along in a variety of injury scenarios. The Twins are stacked with options in the corners and that's before you account for their prospects nearing readiness. 
    Presently, it's kind of hard to see how someone like Gordon or Trevor Larnach is even going to find his way to steady at-bats. Things will change, as we know, but the Twins are well prepared for that eventuality. Even with their 2022 leader in plate appearances gone, Minnesota is very strong on depth across the board. 
    Improved hitting against left-handed pitchers.
    Southpaws were a perpetual pain point for the Twins last year, holding the team to a .240/.310/.391 overall slash line while regularly shutting down poorly optimized lineups. This owed partially to injuries, especially later on, but was also a result of poor planning. Kyle Garlick can mash lefties and is a nice piece to have on hand, but you don't want to be primarily dependent on him in that role as they were last year. 
    This year, Garlick will likely open in Triple-A as ready-made depth for the same role. Meanwhile, the big-league club is significantly more balanced on the bench. Taylor could hardly be described as a "lefty masher" but he's solid against them, and should reduce the need for lefty-hitting outfielders to start against same-siders.
    The big add here is Farmer, whose defensive flexibility will allow him to plug in all over and start against almost all left-handed pitchers, against whom he has a .288/.345/.492 career slash line (including .309/.380/.568 last year).
    Run prevention via defensive improvements.
    You might feel the Twins were not emphatic or aggressive enough in their approach to upgrading a pitching staff that ranked 14th in runs allowed and remains plagued by question marks. You'd have a fair point.
    But the name of the game isn't pitching well – it's preventing runs. While performance on the mound obviously plays a major role, defense is also a big factor in this equation. The Twins weren't necessarily bad in this area last year, ranking 12th in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved thanks in large part to CF/RF, but they could stand to get better. 
    In 2023, they're poised to field one of the best defensive units in the league. Buxton and Correa return as elite up-the-middle defenders, and are joined by glove-first catcher Christian Vázquez. Newcomer Joey Gallo adds a standout fielder to the corner mix. Max Kepler provides another top-shelf glove if he sticks around, and if he goes, Larnach's a very good defender in his own right. 
    Alex Kirilloff is a superior first baseman to Luis Arraez (Gold Glove hub-bub aside), and we won't see Arraez's sub-par defense at second or third, which is a benefit through this lens. 
    Even beyond the starting lineup, we find defensive strength in the Twins' depth. Taylor is a great center fielder whose range is elite in the outfield corners. Farmer is a capable shortstop who excels at the infield corners. Jeffers is a glove-first backup to a glove-first starter. 
     
     
     
    Greater catching stability.
    Speaking of Jeffers and Vázquez, the presence of these two puts the Twins in a much better position behind the plate than they were last year, when Minnesota backstops collectively posted a .629 OPS and just 1.8 fWAR. 
    Dealing away Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt left the Twins woefully short on high-level catching depth. When Jeffers went down, they were forced to lean on Gary Sánchez as a starter before turning over the reins to no-hit veteran Sandy León after grabbing him from Cleveland's Triple-A club. 
    Bringing in Vázquez makes a profound difference in this regard, giving the Twins two starting-caliber catchers to buttress against an injury to either. The addition of Tony Wolters on a minor-league deal also supplies the Twins with some experienced depth at Triple-A; Wolters has played more than 400 games in the majors, albeit only 16 since 2020.
    Additions like Vázquez and Wolters might not be the most exciting, but like many of the other moves mentioned above, they had strategic underpinnings geared toward shoring up the weaknesses that brought down the 2022 Twins. 
  4. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from IndyTwinsFan for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  5. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Cory Engelhardt for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  6. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from MN_ExPat for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  7. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  8. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from PatPfund for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  9. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from nclahammer for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  10. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from JDubs for an article, Twins Daily 2023 Top Prospects: #16-20   
    Earlier this week, Seth Stohs took a dive into the deeper end of the Minnesota Twins system, highlighting players who finished in the 21-30 range of our voting tabulation, and honorable mentions who fell just outside that threshold. (For what it's worth, note that Luis Arraez was once found in these very same outside ranks of our lists and others. And he's only one fresh-in-mind example.)
    With that said, the odds of an MLB future start to increase as we break into the top 20 of our list. In this group of five, representing Twins Daily's choices for the organizations 16th-through-20th best prospects of 2023, we find an intriguing mix of untapped promise and fading high-end upside.
    20. Misael Urbina, OF
    Age: 20
    2022 Stats: 263 PA, .247/.323/.407, 5 HR, 27 RBI
    He was the Twins' big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, scoring a $2.75 million bonus, but four years later he hasn't played a game above Low-A. That's how it can go for players that sign as extremely raw talents at age 16 (especially with a lost COVID season mixed in). Through it all he still won't reach legal drinking age until this April.
    Urbina's outstanding tools remain intact but he needs to start backing them up with production in order to keep his prospect status from fading. Thus far he has a .228/.326/.359 slash line as a pro.
    19. Jose Rodriguez, OF
    Age: 17
    2022 Stats (Rookie): 219 PA, .290/.361/.605 , 13 HR, 49 RBI
    Typically speaking, when teenage players sign from another country and head to the States to play pro ball, it takes a little while to acclimate and warm up. You'll often see meager results in short-season debuts for players who go on to accomplish a great deal. Rodriguez broke the mold after he signed last summer and joined the Twins' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
    He wasn't the most high-profile player acquired in Minnesota's 2022 international signing class, which helped make his spectacular showing on the field so jarring. Rodriguez posted a jaw-dropping .966 OPS and led the short-season league with 13 homers in 55 games. He was an absolute slugging machine and it's scary to think how that might evolve as he ages. The stellar showing earned him Twins Daily's nod as short-season hitter of the year.
    "Rodriguez’s exit velocities may have been even more impressive than his homer total," wrote Aaron Gleeman, who is higher than most on the prospect, ranking him 13th on his list. "He destroyed the ball, in an environment where that isn’t supposed to take place."
    So far, so very good. And the strikeout/walk rates are promising for future development. But Rodriguez has a long way to go, as a player from a mold that has high burnout rates. He's a candidate to fly up these rankings with a reinforcing 2023 campaign.
    18. Tanner Schobel, 2B
    Age: 21
    2022 Stats (Rookie/A): 136 PA, .242/.367/.303, 1 HR, 11 RBI
    The Twins snagged Schobel in the second round of last year's draft out of Virginia Tech, where he emerged as a slugging shortstop to boost his appeal. After signing him to a $1 million bonus the Twins him to get his feet wet in Low-A. There, Schobel's power evaporated.
    Following a 19-homer outburst in the college season, Schobel managed just one home run in 120 plate appearances at Fort Myers, producing a mere .303 slugging percentage. He did, however, show good plate discipline with a 23-to-18 K/BB ratio while swiping seven bags.
    The power drop-off and move from short to second keep Schobel's helium in check, leading to a lower ranking than you'd normally see from such a highly-drafted prospect in the latest class. But there are some Brian Dozier parallels here, and he's the poster child for late-blooming middle infield power. 
    17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
    Age: 22
    2022 Stats (AAA): 95.1 IP, 5.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 
    The Twins were excited to get Ronny Henriquez as an addition to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in last offseason's Mitch Garver trade. They viewed him as underrated addition to their pitching pipeline, capable of racking up strikeouts and moving quickly to the majors.
    They were correct on those two counts. Henriquez tallied 106 strikeouts in 95 innings at Triple-A, and reached the majors in September at age 22, posting a 2.31 ERA in three appearances.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== With the goods news out of the way, he also allowed a 5.66 ERA at St. Paul, coughing up 19 homers and 33 walks in those 95 innings. Some changes in pitch usage could help Henriquez take the final step to fulfill his potential, and that'll probably start with moving him to full-time relief duty. The righty made 14 starts for the Saints last year among 24 appearances. Don't sleep on him as a significant factor in Minnesota's bullpen this year.
    16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    Age: 24
    2022 Stats (AAA): 70.2 IP, 7.39 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
    What was supposed to be Balazovic's breakthrough year turned into a total breakdown. From start to finish it was an abject disaster. He was all over the place, utterly hittable when in the zone, and incredibly home run prone. Virtually every start unraveled on the big right-hander, at least up until a decent final month softened his landing at season's end.
    There were reports of a bothersome knee issue, but Balazovic was healthy enough to avoid the injured list following his late start, so this seems more an issue of mechanics and execution. The reason he remains as high as he does in our ranks is because Balazovic had elevated himself to such a level prior to this lost season. 
    Bad as it was, it's only one season, and the 24-year-old still has time to get (at least somewhat) back on track to recapture the form that made him arguably the system's best pitching prospect prior. Over the past three years he's ranked fourth, sixth, and fifth on this list. 
     
    Feel free to discuss these prospects and ask as many questions as you like in the COMMENTS below. I will try to get to as any of them as I can. 
    For more Twins Daily content on these ten Twins prospects, click on the link with their name here: Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Tanner Schobel, Jose Rodriguez, Misael Urbina. 
    Previous Installments
    Honorable Mention
    Prospects 21-30
    Prospects 16-20 
    Prospects 11-15 - Coming Soon! 
  11. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from MN_ExPat for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  12. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from EGFTShaw for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  13. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from gman for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  14. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from IndyTwinsFan for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  15. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from wsnydes for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  16. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from mikelink45 for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  17. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from PatPfund for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  18. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Dman for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  19. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  20. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Karbo for an article, 5 Twins Players with Something Specific to Prove This Year   
    Yes, we all know that health uncertainty is the banner headline for the 2023 Twins. "If they're healthy" is the rallying cry for even the most optimistic fan. 
    As pivotal as they are, these situations just aren't very fun to analyze or talk about, because they feel so beyond anyone's control. Much of the team's outlook hinges on whether Tyler Mahle can pitch without shoulder weakness, and Alex Kirilloff can swing without pain.
    These things either will happen or they won't, and if they don't, it's not necessarily anyone's fault. The human body is fickle.
    Today I'm going to look at five critical points of uncertainty for the Twins that have nothing to do with injuries. (Well, almost nothing.) Instead, it's about these players proving they can deliver in areas where the club really needs them if they're to achieve their goals.
    1. Can Joe Ryan excel against good teams?
    Hidden in Ryan's very good overall numbers last year (13-8, 3.55 ERA in 147 innings over 27 starts) is the fact that his success was largely buoyed by beating up on horrible AL Central opponents.
    In eight starts against the Royals and Tigers, the two teams he faced more than any other, Ryan went 8-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He won every start, allowing just five earned runs on 26 hits (one homer) in 48 innings.
    Look: that's an absurd level of dominance against any major-league lineup. Ryan certainly deserves a ton of credit for being absolutely automatic in those match-ups. But the flip side is that against all other opponents, he went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA. 
    The 26-year-old has already established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter who can take care of business against lesser lineups. But with so many question marks elsewhere in the rotation, the Twins are really leaning on him to be more. 
    Showing he can up his game against better offenses than Detroit and KC will be key, both because he'll face less of each in the rebalanced schedule, and because the Twins will (hopefully) need starters they can count on in the postseason.
    2. Can Jorge Polanco fill Luis Arraez's OBP void?
    There's no question that Arraez's ability to get on base will be deeply missed, and his departure raises questions about how a power-driven lineup will fare without his penchant for creating opportunities. There's reason to hope Polanco can make up for some of what the top of the order just lost.
    You might look at Polanco's career .334 OBP and say, eh, nothing special. Even his .346 mark last year was quite ordinary. But here's the thing: he posted it while batting a career-low .235, thanks to DOUBLING his walk rate from 2021. Polanco's 14.4% BB rate last year would've ranked fifth-best in baseball if his at-bats qualified. 
    If the newfound patience sticks and Polanco is able to sustain a similar walk rate while his batting average rebounds to somewhere in the range of his .270 career benchmark, you've got the recipe for an Arraez-like OBP, or better.
    To wit: if Polanco walked at same rate in 2021 – when he batted .269 with a .323 OBP – as he did in 2022, he would've had 92 walks and a .395 on-base percentage. 
    3. Can Nick Gordon make himself essential?
    Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season that earned him Most Improved Twin honors and saw him accrue nearly 450 plate appearances. In many cases, a campaign like that for a former first-round draft pick would open the door for a big opportunity, if not a starting role. But the circumstances of the offseason leave him in a spot where he'll be scrapping for playing time from the start, and potentially buried on the depth chart.
    He's not their top backup center fielder (that's Michael A. Taylor). He's not their best lefty-swinging backup corner OF or DH option (that's Trevor Larnach). He's not their top backup anywhere in the infield, and in fact, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Twins view him as anything more than an emergency option on the dirt.
    Injuries can of course change the equation here, but as things stand, Gordon will have a hard time finding his way off the bench with any regularity. That is, unless he can force the issue. At times last year the former light-hitting shortstop looked like a game-changing offensive force, like in August when he slashed .321/.360/.531 with three steals and 17 RBIs in 26 games. Gordon was electric.
    Bring more of that to the table, and Rocco Baldelli will find a way to get Gordon into the lineup as much as he can.
    4. Can José Miranda play third base effectively?
    The viability of Miranda's bat is not in question after a convincing rookie campaign that saw him handle everything MLB pitchers could throw at him, thanks to high-contact swing that generated power to all fields. 
    Now he needs to define his defensive future.
    If he's able to hold on as a capable third baseman, at least for a few years, as opposed to switching to 1B/DH duty, it'd be a boon for the team's planning and lineup-building. An early slide down the defensive spectrum diminished Arraez's value in the front office's eyes, but Miranda can still avoid that route.
    Thus far, I would say the signs are less than encouraging. His defense at third base checked out pretty poorly last year, by almost any measure or metric, and scouting reports were hardly glowing in the minors.
    But plenty of third basemen who looked rough as rookies went on to establish themselves  at the hot corner (calling Corey Koskie), and Miranda's still only 24. His offseason efforts to slim down have also notably resulted in a body that, per Carlos Correa, "looks sexy." We'll see if the defense can follow suit.
    5. Can Jorge Alcalá get lefties out?
    Coming off a season where he made only two appearances due to an elbow injury that ultimately required debridement surgery, Alcalá is obviously a health question mark. Can his arm hold up, much less get back to pumping the upper-90s heat that led to big results in 2020/21?
    The Twins seem to be counting on it, because they have yet to make any significant additions to their bullpen this offseason. Unless that changes, they're banking largely on Alcalá's return to provide depth in the mid-to-late innings, setting the table for Jhoan Durán and Jorge López at the back end.
    Even assuming he's healthy, Alcalá needs to turn one more corner to be the kind of weapon the Twins need him to be. He needs to overcome his susceptibility against left-handed pitchers, who have pummeled him to the tune of .275/.358/.508 in his MLB career. That .866 OPS is 354 points higher than his mark against righties.
    Baldelli will have the ability to strategically deploy Alcalá in favorable match-ups to an extent, but if the righty wants to truly be relied upon as a key late-inning weapon, he'll need to show he can handle the lefty sluggers and pinch-hitters that come his way.
  21. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from h2oface for an article, Offseason Status Update: All in a Month's Work   
    Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history.
    The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial.
    Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins
    It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. 
    Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins.
    Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. 
    López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. 
    Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason.
    Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside.
    Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field
    The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. 
    It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. 
    For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense.
    In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. 

    With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. 
    Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work.
    More Moves Left to Come?
    Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed.
    The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.)
    Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.)
    The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned...
    Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7
    Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence.
    As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter.
    You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022. 

     
  22. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from PatPfund for an article, Offseason Status Update: All in a Month's Work   
    Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history.
    The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial.
    Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins
    It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. 
    Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins.
    Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. 
    López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. 
    Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason.
    Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside.
    Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field
    The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. 
    It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. 
    For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense.
    In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. 

    With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. 
    Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work.
    More Moves Left to Come?
    Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed.
    The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.)
    Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.)
    The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned...
    Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7
    Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence.
    As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter.
    You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022. 

     
  23. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from DocBauer for an article, Offseason Status Update: All in a Month's Work   
    Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history.
    The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial.
    Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins
    It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. 
    Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins.
    Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. 
    López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. 
    Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason.
    Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside.
    Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field
    The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. 
    It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. 
    For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense.
    In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. 

    With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. 
    Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work.
    More Moves Left to Come?
    Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed.
    The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.)
    Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.)
    The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned...
    Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7
    Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence.
    As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter.
    You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022. 

     
  24. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan for an article, Offseason Status Update: All in a Month's Work   
    Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history.
    The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial.
    Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins
    It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. 
    Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins.
    Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. 
    López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. 
    Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason.
    Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside.
    Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field
    The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. 
    It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. 
    For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense.
    In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. 

    With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. 
    Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work.
    More Moves Left to Come?
    Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed.
    The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.)
    Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.)
    The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned...
    Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7
    Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence.
    As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter.
    You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022. 

     
  25. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Dman for an article, Offseason Status Update: All in a Month's Work   
    Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history.
    The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial.
    Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins
    It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. 
    Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins.
    Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. 
    López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. 
    Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason.
    Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside.
    Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field
    The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. 
    It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. 
    For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense.
    In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. 

    With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. 
    Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work.
    More Moves Left to Come?
    Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed.
    The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.)
    Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.)
    The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned...
    Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7
    Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence.
    As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter.
    You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022. 

     
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