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Cody Christie

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  1. Ortiz began his big-league career with the Twins back in 1997 after the team acquired him in the 1996 offseason from the Mariners organization. Over the next six seasons, he became a regular in the Twins line-up, and he helped the Twins win the division for the first time since 1991. During his Twins tenure, he hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. He wasn't on a path to Cooperstown, and Terry Ryan faced a tough decision. Ortiz would start getting expensive through the arbitration process with an expected salary close to $2 million. The Twins front office had multiple reasons for non-tendering Ortiz. Matt LeCroy was an adequate replacement for Ortiz as the team's DH. Also, the club wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. Minnesota was being cheap, but there is no guarantee Ortiz would have followed his HOF path if he stayed in Minnesota. After signing with Boston, Ortiz immediately transferred himself into one of the game's best hitters. He finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in his first season outside the Twins organization. Over the next 14 seasons, he hit .290/.386/.570 (.956) with 483 home runs. Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star, a 7-time Silver Slugger winner, and he finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in five straight seasons. October is where Oritz shined as he led the Red Sox to three World Series titles. He played 85 postseason games in his career and posted a .947 OPS with 41 extra-base hits. Ortiz won the ALCS MVP as part of the Red Sox's remarkable comeback over the Yankees in 2004. In 2013, he won World Series MVP as he went 11-for-16 with four extra-base hits and six RBI in the series. He was truly an October legend. Even with his on-field accomplishments, Ortiz wasn't seen as a lock for Cooperstown because of the looming steroid cloud. Back in 2003, 100 players failed a supposedly anonymous steroid survey test. Six years later, The New York Times reported that Ortiz was one of the players that failed the survey test. Other players tied to steroids have struggled to reach the 75% threshold needed for election, but voters were able to look past Ortiz's steroid ties. Congratulations to Ortiz on a Hall of Fame career! Other Twins On the Ballot While other former Twins were on the ballot, many didn't have a chance at being elected in the current cycle. In fact, many were in danger of falling off a crowded ballot. Torii Hunter made his second appearance on the ballot, and the two halves of his career make him an intriguing candidate. He received 21 votes (5.3%) and will remain on the ballot. Joe Nathan is one of the best relievers of all time, but relievers are historically underrepresented in Cooperstown. Nathan finished with 17 votes (4.3%) and fell three votes shy of staying on the ballot. The other former Twins on the ballot were expected to be one-and-done candidates. Justin Morneau was a great player, especially to the current generation of Twins fans. Morneau was named on five ballots (1.3%). AJ Pierzynski played many years at a grueling defensive position, but he doesn't have the resume of other enshrined catchers and he received two votes. HOF Class Includes Oliva and Kaat The Minnesota Twins will be well represented in Cooperstown this summer. Former Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat found out last month that they will be part of the current Hall of Fame class. It was a long time coming for both players as they had waited decades and multiple votes before finally getting the call. Following his election, the Twins also announced that Jim Kaat will become the ninth member of the organization to have his number retired. That ceremony will take place this summer at Target Field. Bonds and Clemens Question Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens entered their tenth and final year on the ballot with their best chance at enshrinement. Leading into the ballot announcement, both players were tracking at over 75% of the announced ballots, but that was no guarantee that they would get the famous call from Cooperstown. There is no question that Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players in baseball history. However, the steroid cloud has surrounded them, which has prevented them from being elected by the writers. Bonds finished second behind Ortiz on the 2022 ballot with 260 votes (66.0%). Clemens was three votes behind Bonds (65.2%). Now, both players will have to wait for their chance on the committee era ballots. What are your thoughts about this year's Hall of Fame voting? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. David Ortiz had a legendary career, but unfortunately, his best years were outside the Twins organization. He found out that he would be enshrined in Cooperstown on Tuesday night. Ortiz began his big-league career with the Twins back in 1997 after the team acquired him in the 1996 offseason from the Mariners organization. Over the next six seasons, he became a regular in the Twins line-up, and he helped the Twins win the division for the first time since 1991. During his Twins tenure, he hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. He wasn't on a path to Cooperstown, and Terry Ryan faced a tough decision. Ortiz would start getting expensive through the arbitration process with an expected salary close to $2 million. The Twins front office had multiple reasons for non-tendering Ortiz. Matt LeCroy was an adequate replacement for Ortiz as the team's DH. Also, the club wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. Minnesota was being cheap, but there is no guarantee Ortiz would have followed his HOF path if he stayed in Minnesota. After signing with Boston, Ortiz immediately transferred himself into one of the game's best hitters. He finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in his first season outside the Twins organization. Over the next 14 seasons, he hit .290/.386/.570 (.956) with 483 home runs. Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star, a 7-time Silver Slugger winner, and he finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in five straight seasons. October is where Oritz shined as he led the Red Sox to three World Series titles. He played 85 postseason games in his career and posted a .947 OPS with 41 extra-base hits. Ortiz won the ALCS MVP as part of the Red Sox's remarkable comeback over the Yankees in 2004. In 2013, he won World Series MVP as he went 11-for-16 with four extra-base hits and six RBI in the series. He was truly an October legend. Even with his on-field accomplishments, Ortiz wasn't seen as a lock for Cooperstown because of the looming steroid cloud. Back in 2003, 100 players failed a supposedly anonymous steroid survey test. Six years later, The New York Times reported that Ortiz was one of the players that failed the survey test. Other players tied to steroids have struggled to reach the 75% threshold needed for election, but voters were able to look past Ortiz's steroid ties. Congratulations to Ortiz on a Hall of Fame career! Other Twins On the Ballot While other former Twins were on the ballot, many didn't have a chance at being elected in the current cycle. In fact, many were in danger of falling off a crowded ballot. Torii Hunter made his second appearance on the ballot, and the two halves of his career make him an intriguing candidate. He received 21 votes (5.3%) and will remain on the ballot. Joe Nathan is one of the best relievers of all time, but relievers are historically underrepresented in Cooperstown. Nathan finished with 17 votes (4.3%) and fell three votes shy of staying on the ballot. The other former Twins on the ballot were expected to be one-and-done candidates. Justin Morneau was a great player, especially to the current generation of Twins fans. Morneau was named on five ballots (1.3%). AJ Pierzynski played many years at a grueling defensive position, but he doesn't have the resume of other enshrined catchers and he received two votes. HOF Class Includes Oliva and Kaat The Minnesota Twins will be well represented in Cooperstown this summer. Former Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat found out last month that they will be part of the current Hall of Fame class. It was a long time coming for both players as they had waited decades and multiple votes before finally getting the call. Following his election, the Twins also announced that Jim Kaat will become the ninth member of the organization to have his number retired. That ceremony will take place this summer at Target Field. Bonds and Clemens Question Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens entered their tenth and final year on the ballot with their best chance at enshrinement. Leading into the ballot announcement, both players were tracking at over 75% of the announced ballots, but that was no guarantee that they would get the famous call from Cooperstown. There is no question that Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players in baseball history. However, the steroid cloud has surrounded them, which has prevented them from being elected by the writers. Bonds finished second behind Ortiz on the 2022 ballot with 260 votes (66.0%). Clemens was three votes behind Bonds (65.2%). Now, both players will have to wait for their chance on the committee era ballots. What are your thoughts about this year's Hall of Fame voting? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. Not every starting pitching prospect is going to develop into a rotational stalwart. Here are three of the team's top pitching prospects that might be destined for a bullpen role. Finding solid relief pitching can be a challenging task for an organization. Relievers can burn bright for short periods and then burn out quickly. Many of the best relievers in Twins history were pitching prospects that were unsuccessful as starters, including Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan, and Taylor Rogers. The pitchers listed below are still considered starting pitchers, but their eventual development path may shift them to a bullpen role. Jhoan Duran Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 8 Minnesota originally acquired Duran as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Since then, he has become one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins farm system in quite some time. His electric fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph, even if the gun was a little hot. His off-speed offerings include a slider and a famous "splinker." With at least three big-league pitches, it's easy to imagine him sticking as a starter, but injuries impacted his 2021 season. Last season, he started the year on the IL with forearm/elbow issues, which can cause lingering problems. Duran was limited to 16 innings pitched with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. He flashed some electric stuff and struck out more than a batter per inning. After five appearances, he was placed back in the IL and shut down for the year. Luckily, he avoided surgery, but the bullpen may offer him a way to stay healthy and provide value with his dominant pitch mix. Even Baseball America thinks Duran will be in the bullpen by 2025. Simeon Woods Richardson Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 4 Woods Richardson has been part of two different blockbuster trades before his 21st birthday. At last year's trade deadline, the Twins acquired him along with Austin Martin for José Berríos. Both the Blue Jays and the Twins were aggressive with Woods Richardson last season as he pitched the entire season at Double-A, where he was over 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. Across 15 starts (53 1/3 innings), he posted a 5.91 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP and a 77 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. Currently, he utilizes a four-pitch mix, and he can add more velocity as he adds to his frame. He will likely repeat Double-A next season, where he will still be young for the level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to make it as a starting pitcher, and a move to the bullpen would be multiple years into the future. However, his fastball and changeup are above average pitches that could translate to him becoming a dominant late-inning reliever. Cole Sands Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 13 Sands was an intriguing pick when the Twins took him with a fifth-round pick back in 2018. He had posted a 4.73 ERA in three seasons in college, but he had projectability. Now, he has turned both of his offspeed offerings into plus pitches, and his fastball velocity has increased. Last season at Double-A, he posted a 2.46 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 80 innings. These improvements point to his potential to stick as a starter, but a shift to the bullpen may also be on the table. He has yet to pitch more than 98 innings in a season throughout his professional career. If he is going to stick as a starter, he will have to increase his workload in the years ahead. Another issue was his walk rate more than doubled from 1.8 BB/9 in 2019 to 3.9 BB/9 in 2021. He's dealt with some arm problems in the past, so a shift to the bullpen may give him a better opportunity to impact the big-league roster. Which pitching prospect is destined for a bullpen role? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Finding solid relief pitching can be a challenging task for an organization. Relievers can burn bright for short periods and then burn out quickly. Many of the best relievers in Twins history were pitching prospects that were unsuccessful as starters, including Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan, and Taylor Rogers. The pitchers listed below are still considered starting pitchers, but their eventual development path may shift them to a bullpen role. Jhoan Duran Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 8 Minnesota originally acquired Duran as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Since then, he has become one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins farm system in quite some time. His electric fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph, even if the gun was a little hot. His off-speed offerings include a slider and a famous "splinker." With at least three big-league pitches, it's easy to imagine him sticking as a starter, but injuries impacted his 2021 season. Last season, he started the year on the IL with forearm/elbow issues, which can cause lingering problems. Duran was limited to 16 innings pitched with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. He flashed some electric stuff and struck out more than a batter per inning. After five appearances, he was placed back in the IL and shut down for the year. Luckily, he avoided surgery, but the bullpen may offer him a way to stay healthy and provide value with his dominant pitch mix. Even Baseball America thinks Duran will be in the bullpen by 2025. Simeon Woods Richardson Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 4 Woods Richardson has been part of two different blockbuster trades before his 21st birthday. At last year's trade deadline, the Twins acquired him along with Austin Martin for José Berríos. Both the Blue Jays and the Twins were aggressive with Woods Richardson last season as he pitched the entire season at Double-A, where he was over 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. Across 15 starts (53 1/3 innings), he posted a 5.91 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP and a 77 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. Currently, he utilizes a four-pitch mix, and he can add more velocity as he adds to his frame. He will likely repeat Double-A next season, where he will still be young for the level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to make it as a starting pitcher, and a move to the bullpen would be multiple years into the future. However, his fastball and changeup are above average pitches that could translate to him becoming a dominant late-inning reliever. Cole Sands Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 13 Sands was an intriguing pick when the Twins took him with a fifth-round pick back in 2018. He had posted a 4.73 ERA in three seasons in college, but he had projectability. Now, he has turned both of his offspeed offerings into plus pitches, and his fastball velocity has increased. Last season at Double-A, he posted a 2.46 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 80 innings. These improvements point to his potential to stick as a starter, but a shift to the bullpen may also be on the table. He has yet to pitch more than 98 innings in a season throughout his professional career. If he is going to stick as a starter, he will have to increase his workload in the years ahead. Another issue was his walk rate more than doubled from 1.8 BB/9 in 2019 to 3.9 BB/9 in 2021. He's dealt with some arm problems in the past, so a shift to the bullpen may give him a better opportunity to impact the big-league roster. Which pitching prospect is destined for a bullpen role? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Across the baseball landscape, teams have turned more regularly to openers and bullpen games to cover innings in a 162-game season. Do the Twins have a perfect pitcher to fit the opener role? Tampa Bay has long been looked at for their front office prowess as they find ways to stay near the top of one of baseball's toughest divisions. Using an opener is one idea that originated in Tampa that other teams have adopted in recent years. In 2019, many teams jumped on the opener bandwagon, and there were mixed results. According to MLB.com, "An 'opener' is a pitcher -- normally a reliever -- who starts a game for purposes of matching up against the top of the opponent's line-up in the first inning, which has traditionally been the highest-scoring inning, before being relieved by a pitcher who would otherwise function as a starter. This allows for a team to counter its opponent's first three batters with the pitcher it feels has the best chance for success against them." Twins manager Rocco Baldelli joined Minnesota from the Tampa Bay organization, so there was some thought to him bringing the opener strategy with him. Baldelli has turned to bullpen games in his tenure, but the opener strategy hasn't been used very often. With the Twins short on starting pitching, there is a chance the team is more likely to use an opener next season to cover more innings. The good news for the club is the team may have a perfect candidate to slide into the opener role. Minnesota originally drafted Griffin Jax from the United States Air Force Academy back in 2016. His military commitment meant he had a unique path to the big leagues, but he debuted in 2021. Across 82 innings, he posted a 6.37 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP and a 65 to 29 strikeout to walk ratio. One of his most significant issues was he allowed 23 home runs. While those numbers don't look great, a silver lining may point to his future value with the club. There's no question that Jax struggled to adjust to the big league level, but he was excellent during his first time through the order. Last year in the first inning, he posted a 2.57 ERA with a 13 to 3 strikeout to walk ratio. Batters only hit .160/.204/.240 (.444) with one home run in the first inning. Looking at these numbers, it is easy to see how Jax may be an opener candidate, but his early inning success wasn't just limited to the first frame. Over half of Jax's innings pitched came in innings 1-3 when he would be facing a line-up for the first time. He held batters to a .184 batting average with a .266 OBP in those frames. He struck out 38 batters in 43 1/3 innings, which is nearly a full strikeout higher compared to his full-season rate. He did allow 12 home runs in innings 1-3, but seven of those homers came in the third inning when a lot of line-ups would be turning over for the first time. Limiting Jax to one time through the order might be the sweet spot to put him in a position to succeed. There are other reasons the Twins might be interested in employing an opener strategy next season. Many of the team's top prospects are pitchers, and there can be challenges transitioning to the big-league level. Some pitchers will be on pitch counts or innings limits, and others are returning from injury. Putting Jax into an opener role can help transition some of these other young pitchers into the rotation. Do you think Jax would be a good candidate to serve as an opener? Are the Twins going to use an opener more regularly next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Tampa Bay has long been looked at for their front office prowess as they find ways to stay near the top of one of baseball's toughest divisions. Using an opener is one idea that originated in Tampa that other teams have adopted in recent years. In 2019, many teams jumped on the opener bandwagon, and there were mixed results. According to MLB.com, "An 'opener' is a pitcher -- normally a reliever -- who starts a game for purposes of matching up against the top of the opponent's line-up in the first inning, which has traditionally been the highest-scoring inning, before being relieved by a pitcher who would otherwise function as a starter. This allows for a team to counter its opponent's first three batters with the pitcher it feels has the best chance for success against them." Twins manager Rocco Baldelli joined Minnesota from the Tampa Bay organization, so there was some thought to him bringing the opener strategy with him. Baldelli has turned to bullpen games in his tenure, but the opener strategy hasn't been used very often. With the Twins short on starting pitching, there is a chance the team is more likely to use an opener next season to cover more innings. The good news for the club is the team may have a perfect candidate to slide into the opener role. Minnesota originally drafted Griffin Jax from the United States Air Force Academy back in 2016. His military commitment meant he had a unique path to the big leagues, but he debuted in 2021. Across 82 innings, he posted a 6.37 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP and a 65 to 29 strikeout to walk ratio. One of his most significant issues was he allowed 23 home runs. While those numbers don't look great, a silver lining may point to his future value with the club. There's no question that Jax struggled to adjust to the big league level, but he was excellent during his first time through the order. Last year in the first inning, he posted a 2.57 ERA with a 13 to 3 strikeout to walk ratio. Batters only hit .160/.204/.240 (.444) with one home run in the first inning. Looking at these numbers, it is easy to see how Jax may be an opener candidate, but his early inning success wasn't just limited to the first frame. Over half of Jax's innings pitched came in innings 1-3 when he would be facing a line-up for the first time. He held batters to a .184 batting average with a .266 OBP in those frames. He struck out 38 batters in 43 1/3 innings, which is nearly a full strikeout higher compared to his full-season rate. He did allow 12 home runs in innings 1-3, but seven of those homers came in the third inning when a lot of line-ups would be turning over for the first time. Limiting Jax to one time through the order might be the sweet spot to put him in a position to succeed. There are other reasons the Twins might be interested in employing an opener strategy next season. Many of the team's top prospects are pitchers, and there can be challenges transitioning to the big-league level. Some pitchers will be on pitch counts or innings limits, and others are returning from injury. Putting Jax into an opener role can help transition some of these other young pitchers into the rotation. Do you think Jax would be a good candidate to serve as an opener? Are the Twins going to use an opener more regularly next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Every team has prospects that need to stay healthy to reach their full potential. Here are three top prospects in the Twins system looking for a healthier 2022. Earlier in the week, Baseball America discussed some of baseball’s top prospects looking to return from injury in 2022. It was tough to gauge prospects from an evaluation standpoint, especially on the heels of a nonexistent 2020 minor league season. There are some prominent names in the Twins’ system, and the three names below have a lot riding on how they look next season. Royce Lewis, SS/OF 2021 Injury: Torn ACL Lewis is widely considered one of Minnesota’s top prospects, as he was the top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, he hasn’t appeared in a minor league game since November 2019, and that’s a long time in the prospect development world. When Lewis was last on the field, he won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League while getting an extended look in the outfield. Lewis was sent to the AFL that year on the heels of a sub-par 2019 regular season where he hit .236/.290/.371 (.661) at High- and Double-A. All signs point to Lewis being on pace to start the 2022 season with the chance to begin the year at Triple-A. However, it’s hard to know what he will look like and how long it will take to shake off the rust. A significant knee injury can impact his best tools like his speed and athletic ability. His long-term defensive position and swing have been questioned in the past. There is a lot for Lewis to prove in 2022. Matt Canterino, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Minnesota initially selected Canterino from Rice in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Based on his college experience, his pro debut put him on the prospect map as he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in the low minors. With no 2020 minor league campaign, Canterino worked on his changeup, and reports had this as a dangerous pitch coming out of the shutdown. All signs pointed to Canterino having a breakout 2021 season, but injuries eventually played a factor. Canterino dominated hitters at Cedar Rapids to start 2021 as he struck out 45 batters in 23 innings and only allowed two earned runs. His elbow began bothering him from there, and he was limited to five innings the rest of the season. Canterino’s time at Rice may point to some of his injury issues. Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers. Canterino has the potential to be Minnesota’s top pitching prospect, but he needs to prove he can get past his 2021 injuries. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Duran joined the Twins organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade back at the 2018 trade deadline. At the time, he was a teenager in the low minors, but the Twins believed he had a high ceiling. Since the trade, he has established himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects with a fastball that can hit triple-digits and various off-speed offerings. He got plenty of attention to start 2021 as radar guns had his fastball clocked at over 100 mph. Already at Triple-A, it looked like Duran was knocking on the door to the big leagues. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his 2021 season. He was limited to 16 innings before being shut down with a strained elbow. There was some hope he would be back on the mound after six weeks on the IL, but he didn’t make another appearance last year. So far, he has avoided surgery, and this recent injury has some believing Duran may be heading for a bullpen role. Earlier this month, he turned 24 years old, so there is still time to prove that he can stick as a starter. Which player do you feel has the most to prove? Can they all avoid injury in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  8. Earlier in the week, Baseball America discussed some of baseball’s top prospects looking to return from injury in 2022. It was tough to gauge prospects from an evaluation standpoint, especially on the heels of a nonexistent 2020 minor league season. There are some prominent names in the Twins’ system, and the three names below have a lot riding on how they look next season. Royce Lewis, SS/OF 2021 Injury: Torn ACL Lewis is widely considered one of Minnesota’s top prospects, as he was the top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, he hasn’t appeared in a minor league game since November 2019, and that’s a long time in the prospect development world. When Lewis was last on the field, he won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League while getting an extended look in the outfield. Lewis was sent to the AFL that year on the heels of a sub-par 2019 regular season where he hit .236/.290/.371 (.661) at High- and Double-A. All signs point to Lewis being on pace to start the 2022 season with the chance to begin the year at Triple-A. However, it’s hard to know what he will look like and how long it will take to shake off the rust. A significant knee injury can impact his best tools like his speed and athletic ability. His long-term defensive position and swing have been questioned in the past. There is a lot for Lewis to prove in 2022. Matt Canterino, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Minnesota initially selected Canterino from Rice in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Based on his college experience, his pro debut put him on the prospect map as he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in the low minors. With no 2020 minor league campaign, Canterino worked on his changeup, and reports had this as a dangerous pitch coming out of the shutdown. All signs pointed to Canterino having a breakout 2021 season, but injuries eventually played a factor. Canterino dominated hitters at Cedar Rapids to start 2021 as he struck out 45 batters in 23 innings and only allowed two earned runs. His elbow began bothering him from there, and he was limited to five innings the rest of the season. Canterino’s time at Rice may point to some of his injury issues. Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers. Canterino has the potential to be Minnesota’s top pitching prospect, but he needs to prove he can get past his 2021 injuries. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Duran joined the Twins organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade back at the 2018 trade deadline. At the time, he was a teenager in the low minors, but the Twins believed he had a high ceiling. Since the trade, he has established himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects with a fastball that can hit triple-digits and various off-speed offerings. He got plenty of attention to start 2021 as radar guns had his fastball clocked at over 100 mph. Already at Triple-A, it looked like Duran was knocking on the door to the big leagues. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his 2021 season. He was limited to 16 innings before being shut down with a strained elbow. There was some hope he would be back on the mound after six weeks on the IL, but he didn’t make another appearance last year. So far, he has avoided surgery, and this recent injury has some believing Duran may be heading for a bullpen role. Earlier this month, he turned 24 years old, so there is still time to prove that he can stick as a starter. Which player do you feel has the most to prove? Can they all avoid injury in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Looking at Minnesota's current pitching staff, many things are going to have to go right for the team to be competitive in 2022. Here are three names that point to bouncing back next season. Two of the names below struggled mightily last season, and the other pitcher missed multiple seasons throughout his career. All three have something to prove in 2022, which can be exciting for a team like the Twins that need big-league pitching depth. Dylan Bundy Bundy was Minnesota's lone free-agent signing before the lockout, but there might be some reasons to hope he can bounce back in 2022. Bundy surprised many during the pandemic shortened 2020 season with a resurgent year, including finishing in the top-10 for the AL Cy Young. He posted a 3.29 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. It looked like Bundy was finally reaching the ceiling many thought he had as one of baseball's top prospects. Last season, Bundy couldn't replicate his 2020 numbers, and that's one of the main reasons the Twins were able to sign him for such a relatively cheap contract. One of Bundy's most prominent issues in 2021 was his inability to strand runners. Bundy has a 70.8 LOB% for his career, but last season that number dipped to 64.0%. Another change last season was he doubled his sinker usage, and batters posted a .609 SLG against it. Minnesota likely pushes Bundy to throw more sliders and batters combined for a .494 SLG versus that pitch in 2021. Randy Dobnak Dobnak's name will be featured on multiple bounce back lists this winter because he can't be as bad as he was in 2021. Last season, Dobnak was pushed out of the rotation coming out of spring training, but it was clear that he wasn't a reliever. In 14 big-league appearances, he allowed 43 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings. At Triple-A, he made four starts and posted a 3.00 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP. A finger injury caused him issues throughout the season, and he was eventually put on the 60-day IL. His terrible, no good, very bad season came to an end, so things can't go much worse for him in 2022. Minnesota doesn't need Dobnak to be a frontline starter, but he needs to fit into the backend of the rotation. Last season, his slider got plenty of hype during spring training as he looked like a whole new pitcher. Then during the season, his slider was his worst pitch as batters posted an .815 SLG against it. Dobnak needs to prove he is healthy, and then he can be relied on to be more than rotational depth. Fans are understandably low on him, but a healthy Dobnak will be a welcome addition to the team's rotation next year. Jharel Cotton Minnesota claimed Cotton off of waivers from Texas this winter, and he certainly offers some intrigue for a pitcher-hungry team. Previously, Cotton was a top-100 prospect in the Oakland organization, and they gave him opportunities to stick as a starter. Last season, he pitched in the big leagues for the first time since 2017 and compiled a 3.52 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP. All his appearances came as a reliever in 2021, but some believe he might provide some valuable innings for the Twins in 2022. One of the reasons for this optimism is the amount of spin Cotton has added to his fastball. According to FanGraphs, his fastball had the second-highest amount of vertical movement in baseball last year among pitchers with at least 30 innings. He also utilizes a changeup with a lot of movement that is more than 10-mph slower than his fastball. By adding in his average slider and it's easy to see how he might fit into the rotation when needed next season. Minnesota will have starting opportunities, and Cotton has a chance to prove he can be more than a reliever. Which pitcher is most likely to bounce back? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. Two of the names below struggled mightily last season, and the other pitcher missed multiple seasons throughout his career. All three have something to prove in 2022, which can be exciting for a team like the Twins that need big-league pitching depth. Dylan Bundy Bundy was Minnesota's lone free-agent signing before the lockout, but there might be some reasons to hope he can bounce back in 2022. Bundy surprised many during the pandemic shortened 2020 season with a resurgent year, including finishing in the top-10 for the AL Cy Young. He posted a 3.29 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. It looked like Bundy was finally reaching the ceiling many thought he had as one of baseball's top prospects. Last season, Bundy couldn't replicate his 2020 numbers, and that's one of the main reasons the Twins were able to sign him for such a relatively cheap contract. One of Bundy's most prominent issues in 2021 was his inability to strand runners. Bundy has a 70.8 LOB% for his career, but last season that number dipped to 64.0%. Another change last season was he doubled his sinker usage, and batters posted a .609 SLG against it. Minnesota likely pushes Bundy to throw more sliders and batters combined for a .494 SLG versus that pitch in 2021. Randy Dobnak Dobnak's name will be featured on multiple bounce back lists this winter because he can't be as bad as he was in 2021. Last season, Dobnak was pushed out of the rotation coming out of spring training, but it was clear that he wasn't a reliever. In 14 big-league appearances, he allowed 43 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings. At Triple-A, he made four starts and posted a 3.00 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP. A finger injury caused him issues throughout the season, and he was eventually put on the 60-day IL. His terrible, no good, very bad season came to an end, so things can't go much worse for him in 2022. Minnesota doesn't need Dobnak to be a frontline starter, but he needs to fit into the backend of the rotation. Last season, his slider got plenty of hype during spring training as he looked like a whole new pitcher. Then during the season, his slider was his worst pitch as batters posted an .815 SLG against it. Dobnak needs to prove he is healthy, and then he can be relied on to be more than rotational depth. Fans are understandably low on him, but a healthy Dobnak will be a welcome addition to the team's rotation next year. Jharel Cotton Minnesota claimed Cotton off of waivers from Texas this winter, and he certainly offers some intrigue for a pitcher-hungry team. Previously, Cotton was a top-100 prospect in the Oakland organization, and they gave him opportunities to stick as a starter. Last season, he pitched in the big leagues for the first time since 2017 and compiled a 3.52 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP. All his appearances came as a reliever in 2021, but some believe he might provide some valuable innings for the Twins in 2022. One of the reasons for this optimism is the amount of spin Cotton has added to his fastball. According to FanGraphs, his fastball had the second-highest amount of vertical movement in baseball last year among pitchers with at least 30 innings. He also utilizes a changeup with a lot of movement that is more than 10-mph slower than his fastball. By adding in his average slider and it's easy to see how he might fit into the rotation when needed next season. Minnesota will have starting opportunities, and Cotton has a chance to prove he can be more than a reliever. Which pitcher is most likely to bounce back? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Next week, Major League Baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results from this year's voting cycle. Plenty of former Twins are on the ballot, but do any of them have a chance at Cooperstown? To be elected to Cooperstown, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots submitted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Players remain eligible for ten years as long as they continue to receive a minimum of 5% of the vote. Some former Twins players are sitting dangerously close to falling off the ballot. David Ortiz, DH Cooperstown Case Ortiz is currently one of three players trending at over 75% of the known ballots, and he has the highest vote total with 83.5% of the vote. Twins fans are well aware of Ortiz and his case for Cooperstown as he went on to a legendary Red Sox career after Minnesota released him following the 2002 season. Entering this voting cycle, Ortiz's first ballot election wasn't guaranteed because his transition from Twins castoff to legendary slugger came under a cloud of steroid suspicion. It doesn't seem like those suspicions will keep him from being elected as it has with other players on the ballot. Joe Nathan, RP Cooperstown Case Nathan is one of the best relievers in baseball history, but relief pitchers are highly unrepresented in Cooperstown. It also means Nathan is dangerously close to falling off the ballot because of a slew of other worthy candidates on the ballot and a 10-vote limit. Through 170 ballots, Nathan has four votes (2.4%) which means he likely needs another 16 votes to reach the 5% threshold to stay on the ballot for 2023. Billy Wagner, another reliever, has comparable numbers to Nathan, and he is tracking at over 47%. Nathan has a Hall of Fame resume, but he may have to wait for a committee vote in the years ahead. Torii Hunter, OF Cooperstown Case Hunter's case is unique because of how he started and ended his career. He was an elite defender who won nine straight Gold Glove awards as a younger player. In his career's second-half, he became an improved hitter as he posted a 120 OPS+ from 2006-2013. Hunter received 8.1% of the vote in 2021, his first year on the ballot. This season, he has three votes (1.8%), and he will need 17 more votes to reach the 5% threshold. Hunter's closest comparison on the ballot may be Andruw Jones, also known as an elite defender, and he is tracking at over 48% of the known votes. Justin Morneau, 1B Cooperstown Case Morneau collected many accolades throughout his big-league career, including an AL MVP Award and an NL Batting Title. Those accomplishments likely will not be enough to keep him on the ballot past 2022, as he currently has one vote, and he will need to be listed on 19 other ballots to reach 5%. Morneau had some great moments throughout his career, but there's no question that one slide in Toronto changed the course of his career. AJ Pierzynski, C Cooperstown Case Pierzynski is best known in Twins Territory for being part of one of the most famous trades in team history. He'd go on to have a long career at a grueling defensive position, and some writers may consider this as part of the voting process. Like Morneau, he has one vote so far, and he would need a significant boost in the remaining ballots to reach 5%. Are the results playing out as you expected? Do you think Nathan or Hunter deserves to stay on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. To be elected to Cooperstown, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots submitted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Players remain eligible for ten years as long as they continue to receive a minimum of 5% of the vote. Some former Twins players are sitting dangerously close to falling off the ballot. David Ortiz, DH Cooperstown Case Ortiz is currently one of three players trending at over 75% of the known ballots, and he has the highest vote total with 83.5% of the vote. Twins fans are well aware of Ortiz and his case for Cooperstown as he went on to a legendary Red Sox career after Minnesota released him following the 2002 season. Entering this voting cycle, Ortiz's first ballot election wasn't guaranteed because his transition from Twins castoff to legendary slugger came under a cloud of steroid suspicion. It doesn't seem like those suspicions will keep him from being elected as it has with other players on the ballot. Joe Nathan, RP Cooperstown Case Nathan is one of the best relievers in baseball history, but relief pitchers are highly unrepresented in Cooperstown. It also means Nathan is dangerously close to falling off the ballot because of a slew of other worthy candidates on the ballot and a 10-vote limit. Through 170 ballots, Nathan has four votes (2.4%) which means he likely needs another 16 votes to reach the 5% threshold to stay on the ballot for 2023. Billy Wagner, another reliever, has comparable numbers to Nathan, and he is tracking at over 47%. Nathan has a Hall of Fame resume, but he may have to wait for a committee vote in the years ahead. Torii Hunter, OF Cooperstown Case Hunter's case is unique because of how he started and ended his career. He was an elite defender who won nine straight Gold Glove awards as a younger player. In his career's second-half, he became an improved hitter as he posted a 120 OPS+ from 2006-2013. Hunter received 8.1% of the vote in 2021, his first year on the ballot. This season, he has three votes (1.8%), and he will need 17 more votes to reach the 5% threshold. Hunter's closest comparison on the ballot may be Andruw Jones, also known as an elite defender, and he is tracking at over 48% of the known votes. Justin Morneau, 1B Cooperstown Case Morneau collected many accolades throughout his big-league career, including an AL MVP Award and an NL Batting Title. Those accomplishments likely will not be enough to keep him on the ballot past 2022, as he currently has one vote, and he will need to be listed on 19 other ballots to reach 5%. Morneau had some great moments throughout his career, but there's no question that one slide in Toronto changed the course of his career. AJ Pierzynski, C Cooperstown Case Pierzynski is best known in Twins Territory for being part of one of the most famous trades in team history. He'd go on to have a long career at a grueling defensive position, and some writers may consider this as part of the voting process. Like Morneau, he has one vote so far, and he would need a significant boost in the remaining ballots to reach 5%. Are the results playing out as you expected? Do you think Nathan or Hunter deserves to stay on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Minnesota has plenty of prospects that were initially signed as international free agents. Here are the top-5 ranked international prospects in the Twins system. This weekend, the international signing period opens for prospects eligible in 2022. Before new prospects join the organization, MLB Pipeline ranked each organization's top-ranked international prospect. Minnesota has plenty of high-ranking prospects initially signed on the international market. Here is a look at some of the top names. 5. Danny De Andrade, SS Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: NR De Andrade was Minnesota's top-ranked international signee during the 2020-21 signing period. At the time, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 16th overall prospect and the 8th best shortstop in the class. The Twins handed out a $2.2 million signing bonus to get him into the organization. Last season, he made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits in 50 games. Defensively, the majority of his starts came at shortstop, but he is already seeing some time at third base. Some scouts project that third base will be his likely defensive position, but Minnesota will continue to give him every opportunity to stick as a shortstop. 4. Yunior Severino, 2B/3B Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 16 Severino originally signed for nearly $2 million with the Atlanta Braves, and he was considered one of the best international prospects in the 2016-17 class. Following the 2017 season, he became a free agent after the Braves were punished for international signing violations. Minnesota signed him to a $2.5 million bonus, and he has made his way up the organizational ladder. Last season as a 21-year-old, he hit .273/.372/.430 (.802) with 39 extra-base hits in 98 games split between Low- and High-A. He's a player to keep an eye on as he may have unlocked power potential waiting still yet to surface. 3. Misael Urbina, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 12 Minnesota signed Urbina as part of the 2018-19 signing period and gave him the third-highest bonus in the class ($2.75 million). He was ranked as the 6th best prospect in the class, and he has shown some solid tools during his professional career. Last season as a 19-year-old, Urbina made his stateside debut with Fort Myers. In 101 games, he hit .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. He was over two years younger than the average age of the competition at his level, and he only had four plate appearances against younger pitchers. Urbina can play all three outfield positions, and his speed is his best tool at this point. He likely gets another shot at Low-A to start 2022. 2. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 5 With other well-known hitting prospects, Rodriguez may be a little more unknown by fans. Among the top-30 international prospects in 2019-20, Rodriguez was the 8th ranked prospect. Minnesota signed him for a $2.5 million bonus, and the pandemic meant he spent his first two professional seasons in the instructional leagues. Last year, he played 37 games for the FCL Twins and hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits, including ten home runs. At season's end, Rodriguez finished runner-up to Kala'i Rosario as the Twins Daily Short-Season Hitter of the Year. 1. Jhoan Duran, RHP Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 9 Duran may have taken a step back in 2021, but that still doesn't take anything away from his enormous potential. Arizona signed Duran in December 2014 for $65,000. Minnesota acquired Duran along with Gilberto Celestino for Eduardo Escobar's expiring contract at the 2018 trade deadline. Last season, Duran was limited to five Triple-A as an elbow strain put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. When healthy, he can regularly reach triple-digits with his fastball, and he utilizes a sinker-splitter hybrid pitch that is tough for hitters. Duran needs to prove he is healthy in 2022, and then he might be able to help the big-league pitching staff. Which prospect stands out the most to you? Who do you think makes the most significant impact in the years ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE — Yasser Mercedes — Yilber Herrera — Bryan Acuña — International Signing Period History View full article
  14. This weekend, the international signing period opens for prospects eligible in 2022. Before new prospects join the organization, MLB Pipeline ranked each organization's top-ranked international prospect. Minnesota has plenty of high-ranking prospects initially signed on the international market. Here is a look at some of the top names. 5. Danny De Andrade, SS Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: NR De Andrade was Minnesota's top-ranked international signee during the 2020-21 signing period. At the time, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 16th overall prospect and the 8th best shortstop in the class. The Twins handed out a $2.2 million signing bonus to get him into the organization. Last season, he made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits in 50 games. Defensively, the majority of his starts came at shortstop, but he is already seeing some time at third base. Some scouts project that third base will be his likely defensive position, but Minnesota will continue to give him every opportunity to stick as a shortstop. 4. Yunior Severino, 2B/3B Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 16 Severino originally signed for nearly $2 million with the Atlanta Braves, and he was considered one of the best international prospects in the 2016-17 class. Following the 2017 season, he became a free agent after the Braves were punished for international signing violations. Minnesota signed him to a $2.5 million bonus, and he has made his way up the organizational ladder. Last season as a 21-year-old, he hit .273/.372/.430 (.802) with 39 extra-base hits in 98 games split between Low- and High-A. He's a player to keep an eye on as he may have unlocked power potential waiting still yet to surface. 3. Misael Urbina, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 12 Minnesota signed Urbina as part of the 2018-19 signing period and gave him the third-highest bonus in the class ($2.75 million). He was ranked as the 6th best prospect in the class, and he has shown some solid tools during his professional career. Last season as a 19-year-old, Urbina made his stateside debut with Fort Myers. In 101 games, he hit .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. He was over two years younger than the average age of the competition at his level, and he only had four plate appearances against younger pitchers. Urbina can play all three outfield positions, and his speed is his best tool at this point. He likely gets another shot at Low-A to start 2022. 2. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 5 With other well-known hitting prospects, Rodriguez may be a little more unknown by fans. Among the top-30 international prospects in 2019-20, Rodriguez was the 8th ranked prospect. Minnesota signed him for a $2.5 million bonus, and the pandemic meant he spent his first two professional seasons in the instructional leagues. Last year, he played 37 games for the FCL Twins and hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits, including ten home runs. At season's end, Rodriguez finished runner-up to Kala'i Rosario as the Twins Daily Short-Season Hitter of the Year. 1. Jhoan Duran, RHP Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 9 Duran may have taken a step back in 2021, but that still doesn't take anything away from his enormous potential. Arizona signed Duran in December 2014 for $65,000. Minnesota acquired Duran along with Gilberto Celestino for Eduardo Escobar's expiring contract at the 2018 trade deadline. Last season, Duran was limited to five Triple-A as an elbow strain put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. When healthy, he can regularly reach triple-digits with his fastball, and he utilizes a sinker-splitter hybrid pitch that is tough for hitters. Duran needs to prove he is healthy in 2022, and then he might be able to help the big-league pitching staff. Which prospect stands out the most to you? Who do you think makes the most significant impact in the years ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE — Yasser Mercedes — Yilber Herrera — Bryan Acuña — International Signing Period History
  15. Yasser Mercedes has the tools to rank him as one of the best international prospects in this year's signing class. So, what separates him from the other player the Twins will sign? According to MLB Pipeline, Yasser Mercedes is the highest-ranked player projected to sign with the Twins in the current signing class. He ranks 17th overall, and he projects as the eighth-best outfield prospect. Cristian Vaquero is the top-ranked outfielder in the class, and he has the same overall grade (55) as Mercedes. Comparing the two players shows how close the top prospects can rank, especially while they are still only halfway through their teenage years. In the summer of 2019, Mercedes was one of 50 teenagers who traveled to Chicago for the Dominican Prospect League's Elite Underclass Series. MLB.com named him on the list of possible "future stars" included on that travel team. His trainer throughout the scouting process has been Hector Evertz, who is a member of MLB's Trainer Partnership Program. According to MLB, "the Trainer Partnership program is a collaboration between MLB and independent trainers to help develop international baseball while addressing important issues in the international market." Yasser Mercedes Scouting Report Bats: R | Throws: R | HT 6'3" | WT: 180 MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55 Mercedes has the best overall tools of any player in Minnesota's signing class because the other top two signees currently rank lower in one tool or another. Some players look great on the practice field, and their skills never translate to actual gameplay, but Mercedes can already put it all together during game action. At the plate, he has the skill set to be an average hitter with average power, which can be valuable when combined with solid defense at a critical up-the-middle defensive position. Defensively, Mercedes has the tools and athleticism to stick in center field. His run and field tools grade the highest, and they both help to bring up his overall grade. Right now, his speed allows him to make up for inefficient routes to the ball. As he develops, Twins coaches will work with him to improve his route running in center. He already has a solid frame, and his arm should continue to develop as he adds muscle. Many believe his skill set will allow him to stick in center field for the long term, and that's what makes him the highest-ranked prospect in Minnesota's signing class. International players play a vital role in an organization building depth and helping to get back into contention. Minnesota has multiple regular players currently on the roster signed initially as international free agents. The team hasn't found the next Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez in recent years, but one player from the current class might help reshape the organization in the years to come. What stands out to you about Mercedes? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Yilber Herrera — Bryan Acuña — International Signing Period History MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. According to MLB Pipeline, Yasser Mercedes is the highest-ranked player projected to sign with the Twins in the current signing class. He ranks 17th overall, and he projects as the eighth-best outfield prospect. Cristian Vaquero is the top-ranked outfielder in the class, and he has the same overall grade (55) as Mercedes. Comparing the two players shows how close the top prospects can rank, especially while they are still only halfway through their teenage years. In the summer of 2019, Mercedes was one of 50 teenagers who traveled to Chicago for the Dominican Prospect League's Elite Underclass Series. MLB.com named him on the list of possible "future stars" included on that travel team. His trainer throughout the scouting process has been Hector Evertz, who is a member of MLB's Trainer Partnership Program. According to MLB, "the Trainer Partnership program is a collaboration between MLB and independent trainers to help develop international baseball while addressing important issues in the international market." Yasser Mercedes Scouting Report Bats: R | Throws: R | HT 6'3" | WT: 180 MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55 Mercedes has the best overall tools of any player in Minnesota's signing class because the other top two signees currently rank lower in one tool or another. Some players look great on the practice field, and their skills never translate to actual gameplay, but Mercedes can already put it all together during game action. At the plate, he has the skill set to be an average hitter with average power, which can be valuable when combined with solid defense at a critical up-the-middle defensive position. Defensively, Mercedes has the tools and athleticism to stick in center field. His run and field tools grade the highest, and they both help to bring up his overall grade. Right now, his speed allows him to make up for inefficient routes to the ball. As he develops, Twins coaches will work with him to improve his route running in center. He already has a solid frame, and his arm should continue to develop as he adds muscle. Many believe his skill set will allow him to stick in center field for the long term, and that's what makes him the highest-ranked prospect in Minnesota's signing class. International players play a vital role in an organization building depth and helping to get back into contention. Minnesota has multiple regular players currently on the roster signed initially as international free agents. The team hasn't found the next Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez in recent years, but one player from the current class might help reshape the organization in the years to come. What stands out to you about Mercedes? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Yilber Herrera — Bryan Acuña — International Signing Period History MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Dereck Rodríguez will always draw ties to his Hall of Fame father, Ivan, but he has made his own professional path. Now, the Twins have re-signed Rodríguez and brought him back to the organization that drafted him. Minnesota selected Rodríguez with a sixth-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of high school in Florida. At the time, the organization drafted him as an outfielder, and that’s where he started his professional career. From 2011-2013, he played regularly as an outfielder in the rookie leagues while hitting .216/.279/.336 (.615) in 129 games. Rodríguez was a good athlete with a big arm, so the organization shifted him to the mound. He spent all of 2014 with Elizabethton and posted a 1.05 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP. All of his appearances were from the bullpen, and he combined for a 19 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio in 25 2/3 innings. During the 2015 seasons, he pitched as a starter at three different levels and reached High-A by posting a 3.35 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 75 1/3 innings. Over the next two seasons, he continued to move up the ladder and finished the 2017 season at the Double-A level. Rodríguez was making improvements, but now another team took notice. Because he started his pro career as an outfielder, Minnesota lost organizational control of Rodríguez following the 2017 season. He quickly signed with the San Francisco Giants as a minor league free agent. He began the next season at Triple-A, where he posted a 3.40 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with 53 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings over nine starts before making his big-league debut. His rookie campaign made it look like the Twins made a mistake in their evaluation process. He posted a 2.81 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with 89 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings over 19 starts. While his numbers looked great on the surface, some outlying numbers pointed to a potential decline. He struck out fewer than seven batters per nine innings and posted a 3.73 FIP. Rodríguez saw his big-league numbers decline over the next two seasons. He began the 2019 season in the Giant rotation and struggled with an ERA north of 5.00 in eight starts. In late May, he returned to the majors as a reliever, and he’d filled that role for the remainder of the season. As a reliever at the big-league level, he has pitched 31 innings and posted a 6.39 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. Even though he was still under team control through 2024, San Francisco parted ways with him following the 2020 campaign. Last season, Rodríguez pitched the entire season as a starter at the Triple-A level in the Rockies organization. In 85 2/3 innings, he posted a 6.72 ERA and 1.66 WHIP with an 87 to 30 strikeout to walk ratio. These numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but Rodríguez has a reputation as a hard worker and a good teammate. Minnesota will likely extend him a non-roster invite for spring training, especially with questions surrounding the team’s pitching staff in 2022. What are your thoughts on the Rodríguez signing? Do you think he can impact the 2022 Twins? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or emai View full article
  18. Minnesota selected Rodríguez with a sixth-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of high school in Florida. At the time, the organization drafted him as an outfielder, and that’s where he started his professional career. From 2011-2013, he played regularly as an outfielder in the rookie leagues while hitting .216/.279/.336 (.615) in 129 games. Rodríguez was a good athlete with a big arm, so the organization shifted him to the mound. He spent all of 2014 with Elizabethton and posted a 1.05 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP. All of his appearances were from the bullpen, and he combined for a 19 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio in 25 2/3 innings. During the 2015 seasons, he pitched as a starter at three different levels and reached High-A by posting a 3.35 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 75 1/3 innings. Over the next two seasons, he continued to move up the ladder and finished the 2017 season at the Double-A level. Rodríguez was making improvements, but now another team took notice. Because he started his pro career as an outfielder, Minnesota lost organizational control of Rodríguez following the 2017 season. He quickly signed with the San Francisco Giants as a minor league free agent. He began the next season at Triple-A, where he posted a 3.40 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with 53 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings over nine starts before making his big-league debut. His rookie campaign made it look like the Twins made a mistake in their evaluation process. He posted a 2.81 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with 89 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings over 19 starts. While his numbers looked great on the surface, some outlying numbers pointed to a potential decline. He struck out fewer than seven batters per nine innings and posted a 3.73 FIP. Rodríguez saw his big-league numbers decline over the next two seasons. He began the 2019 season in the Giant rotation and struggled with an ERA north of 5.00 in eight starts. In late May, he returned to the majors as a reliever, and he’d filled that role for the remainder of the season. As a reliever at the big-league level, he has pitched 31 innings and posted a 6.39 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. Even though he was still under team control through 2024, San Francisco parted ways with him following the 2020 campaign. Last season, Rodríguez pitched the entire season as a starter at the Triple-A level in the Rockies organization. In 85 2/3 innings, he posted a 6.72 ERA and 1.66 WHIP with an 87 to 30 strikeout to walk ratio. These numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but Rodríguez has a reputation as a hard worker and a good teammate. Minnesota will likely extend him a non-roster invite for spring training, especially with questions surrounding the team’s pitching staff in 2022. What are your thoughts on the Rodríguez signing? Do you think he can impact the 2022 Twins? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or emai
  19. Ronald Acuña Jr. is a baseball superstar, and now Twins fans can hope his brother follows in his footsteps. Here's a look at Bryan Acuña, a top international prospect. Minnesota is favored to sign Bryan Acuña later this week, and he comes from a family of baseball players. His father, Ronald Acuña Sr., signed with the Mets in 1997. He played parts of eight minor league seasons and hit .282/.330/.364 (.694) while never playing higher than the Double-A level. He posted a .722 OPS in two High-A seasons with 36 extra-base hits in 148 games. His power never developed, but he continued to play in the Venezuelan Winter League until he was 30-years-old. Two Acuña brothers have already signed and started their professional careers. Ronald Acuña Jr. has played parts of four big-league seasons with three top-12 finishes for NL MVP. He has a .925 OPS with two Silver Sluggers and two All-Star selections for his young career. Jose Acuña signed with the Rangers in 2018. Last season as a 19-year-old, he played 111 games at Low-A, where he hit .266/.345/.404 (.749). He was over two years younger than the competition at that level, and he hit double-digit home runs and doubles. Now the focus turns to Bryan, the youngest Acuña brother. Bryan Acuña Scouting Report Bats: R | Throws: R | HT 5'11" | WT: 155 MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50 Offensively, Acuña has impressed scouts for multiple years. Back in 2019, he was one of the top prospects at an international showcase held in Arizona. At the time, he was drawing comparisons to his older brother, and his swing looked advanced for a 14-year-old. He has grown up around the game, and many of his scouting reports praise his baseball IQ. His hit tool compares well against many other players ranked ahead of him. There is also room for him to add more power as he grows and fills out his frame. Like many top international prospects, Acuña will sign as a shortstop, but there are no guarantees that will be his position for the long term. For comparison, Roderick Arias, the top-ranked international prospect this year, is also a shortstop, and he grades as a 55 Arm and a 55 Field. Acuña ranks behind him in both categories, but these are teenagers with plenty of development left to accomplish. Eventually, he may need to shift to second base, where he should profile as an above-average offensive player. Both of his older brothers topped out around 6-feet. Ronald, at age-24, weighs in at just over 200 pounds, while Jose was listed at 181 pounds last season as a 19-year-old. This should give some insight into how Bryan's body will develop into his early 20s, which is about when he'd reach the upper levels of the Twins farm system. As Jamie mentioned yesterday, there are no guarantees on the international market, especially when dealing with teenage players. Minnesota had an unbelievable class in 2009, but there have been other misses along the way. Now, Twins fans hope the youngest Acuña will use his baseball acumen to follow his family to the big leagues. Do you think Acuña's swing is similar to his brother's? What type of ceiling will he have? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. Minnesota is favored to sign Bryan Acuña later this week, and he comes from a family of baseball players. His father, Ronald Acuña Sr., signed with the Mets in 1997. He played parts of eight minor league seasons and hit .282/.330/.364 (.694) while never playing higher than the Double-A level. He posted a .722 OPS in two High-A seasons with 36 extra-base hits in 148 games. His power never developed, but he continued to play in the Venezuelan Winter League until he was 30-years-old. Two Acuña brothers have already signed and started their professional careers. Ronald Acuña Jr. has played parts of four big-league seasons with three top-12 finishes for NL MVP. He has a .925 OPS with two Silver Sluggers and two All-Star selections for his young career. Jose Acuña signed with the Rangers in 2018. Last season as a 19-year-old, he played 111 games at Low-A, where he hit .266/.345/.404 (.749). He was over two years younger than the competition at that level, and he hit double-digit home runs and doubles. Now the focus turns to Bryan, the youngest Acuña brother. Bryan Acuña Scouting Report Bats: R | Throws: R | HT 5'11" | WT: 155 MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50 Offensively, Acuña has impressed scouts for multiple years. Back in 2019, he was one of the top prospects at an international showcase held in Arizona. At the time, he was drawing comparisons to his older brother, and his swing looked advanced for a 14-year-old. He has grown up around the game, and many of his scouting reports praise his baseball IQ. His hit tool compares well against many other players ranked ahead of him. There is also room for him to add more power as he grows and fills out his frame. Like many top international prospects, Acuña will sign as a shortstop, but there are no guarantees that will be his position for the long term. For comparison, Roderick Arias, the top-ranked international prospect this year, is also a shortstop, and he grades as a 55 Arm and a 55 Field. Acuña ranks behind him in both categories, but these are teenagers with plenty of development left to accomplish. Eventually, he may need to shift to second base, where he should profile as an above-average offensive player. Both of his older brothers topped out around 6-feet. Ronald, at age-24, weighs in at just over 200 pounds, while Jose was listed at 181 pounds last season as a 19-year-old. This should give some insight into how Bryan's body will develop into his early 20s, which is about when he'd reach the upper levels of the Twins farm system. As Jamie mentioned yesterday, there are no guarantees on the international market, especially when dealing with teenage players. Minnesota had an unbelievable class in 2009, but there have been other misses along the way. Now, Twins fans hope the youngest Acuña will use his baseball acumen to follow his family to the big leagues. Do you think Acuña's swing is similar to his brother's? What type of ceiling will he have? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Minnesota’s lack of starting pitching has some fans clamoring for the team to tear down the current roster. However, there are multiple reasons why it isn’t a great time to start the rebuilding process. Here are three reasons why the Twins should avoid starting a rebuild in 2022. 1. Rebuilds Don’t Guarantee Future Success Many fan bases love the idea of a rebuild because of the hope it can offer for the future. In recent memory, there have been successful rebuilds in Houston and Chicago as both franchises won a World Series. These success stories are hardly the norm for rebuilds, as many teams struggle to stay relevant in a competitive MLB landscape. For every successful rebuild, plenty of teams never quite make it back over the hump. Philadelphia lost 81 games or more for eight straight seasons from 2012 through 2019. As the team started coming out of the rebuild, they spent big on free agents like Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. It’s been a decade since they made the playoffs, and they only have one season with a winning season during that stretch. San Diego had high expectations over the last two years after losing 90+ games for four straight seasons. Their rebuild results include one playoff appearance, and no playoff wins since 2006. 2. Twins Trailing Other Teams Already Rebuilding Minnesota can undoubtedly try to rebuild, but it will be tough to field a roster worse than some of the other teams already rebuilding. Last season, seven teams lost 90 games or more, including four that recorded over 100 losses. Franchises like Baltimore, Arizona, and Pittsburgh are stuck in what seems like a yearly rebuilding cycle. Since 1998, Baltimore has had three playoff appearances. Pittsburgh has one playoff appearance that wasn’t in a Wild Card Game since 1993. Over the last decade, Arizona has made two NLDS appearances but never made it out of that round. All of these teams are already ahead in the rebuilding process, and their rosters look worse on paper than the Twins. One of the goals of a rebuild is to build draft capital throughout multiple seasons, but there are few guarantees when it comes to the MLB Draft. Even Houston made drafting mistakes as part of their rebuild. In the last decade, Minnesota drafted highly for multiple years, and there were plenty of players that didn’t pan out, including top-10 picks like Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, and Nick Gordon. First-round draft picks are valuable, but teams need to develop players in the organization to rebuild successfully. 3. Minnesota Is Currently In A Winning Window It may be hard to forget, but the Twins just got out of a rebuild and are in the middle of their current winning window. From 2011-2017, Minnesota’s average finish in the AL Central was 23.6 games out of first place. The Twins saw the results of these losing seasons by winning back-to-back AL Central titles in 2019-20, but that can’t be the peak of this current core. With a veteran core, the Twins should be trying to reload the roster and get back to the playoffs. Plus, the AL Central isn’t getting any easier with other teams like the Tigers and the Royals coming out of their own rebuilds. Also, Minnesota signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year contract extension, so it is essential to field competitive rosters when he is in the prime of his career. Age is certainly a risk to consider with a player of Buxton’s skillset, so the team needs to be in win-now mode. A Twins rebuild would take multiple seasons, and then Buxton would be at the back-end of his contract or no longer part of the team. While the winning window is open, Minnesota needs to stay competitive. Do you think the Twins should start a rebuild or try to avoid it? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  22. Here are three reasons why the Twins should avoid starting a rebuild in 2022. 1. Rebuilds Don’t Guarantee Future Success Many fan bases love the idea of a rebuild because of the hope it can offer for the future. In recent memory, there have been successful rebuilds in Houston and Chicago as both franchises won a World Series. These success stories are hardly the norm for rebuilds, as many teams struggle to stay relevant in a competitive MLB landscape. For every successful rebuild, plenty of teams never quite make it back over the hump. Philadelphia lost 81 games or more for eight straight seasons from 2012 through 2019. As the team started coming out of the rebuild, they spent big on free agents like Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. It’s been a decade since they made the playoffs, and they only have one season with a winning season during that stretch. San Diego had high expectations over the last two years after losing 90+ games for four straight seasons. Their rebuild results include one playoff appearance, and no playoff wins since 2006. 2. Twins Trailing Other Teams Already Rebuilding Minnesota can undoubtedly try to rebuild, but it will be tough to field a roster worse than some of the other teams already rebuilding. Last season, seven teams lost 90 games or more, including four that recorded over 100 losses. Franchises like Baltimore, Arizona, and Pittsburgh are stuck in what seems like a yearly rebuilding cycle. Since 1998, Baltimore has had three playoff appearances. Pittsburgh has one playoff appearance that wasn’t in a Wild Card Game since 1993. Over the last decade, Arizona has made two NLDS appearances but never made it out of that round. All of these teams are already ahead in the rebuilding process, and their rosters look worse on paper than the Twins. One of the goals of a rebuild is to build draft capital throughout multiple seasons, but there are few guarantees when it comes to the MLB Draft. Even Houston made drafting mistakes as part of their rebuild. In the last decade, Minnesota drafted highly for multiple years, and there were plenty of players that didn’t pan out, including top-10 picks like Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, and Nick Gordon. First-round draft picks are valuable, but teams need to develop players in the organization to rebuild successfully. 3. Minnesota Is Currently In A Winning Window It may be hard to forget, but the Twins just got out of a rebuild and are in the middle of their current winning window. From 2011-2017, Minnesota’s average finish in the AL Central was 23.6 games out of first place. The Twins saw the results of these losing seasons by winning back-to-back AL Central titles in 2019-20, but that can’t be the peak of this current core. With a veteran core, the Twins should be trying to reload the roster and get back to the playoffs. Plus, the AL Central isn’t getting any easier with other teams like the Tigers and the Royals coming out of their own rebuilds. Also, Minnesota signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year contract extension, so it is essential to field competitive rosters when he is in the prime of his career. Age is certainly a risk to consider with a player of Buxton’s skillset, so the team needs to be in win-now mode. A Twins rebuild would take multiple seasons, and then Buxton would be at the back-end of his contract or no longer part of the team. While the winning window is open, Minnesota needs to stay competitive. Do you think the Twins should start a rebuild or try to avoid it? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. José Miranda is coming off a tremendous 2021 season where he cemented himself into Minnesota's long-term plans. Which other prospects will be looking to follow in his footsteps next season? Entering the 2021 season, it's not as if Miranda was a completely unknown commodity. Minnesota selected him in the second-round pack in 2016, and his first two professional seasons were spent in the rookie leagues, where he posted a .722 OPS. In 2018, most of his season was at Low-A as Miranda combined for a .760 OPS. Before the pandemic, he played at High-A and was limited to a .663 OPS. Minnesota eventually left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, but he luckily stayed in the organization. Miranda's 2021 production is what an organization hopes can happen as a player develops through their system. He was a surprise player that produced big power numbers in the minor's upper levels. Here are three prospects that can follow Miranda's footsteps this year for various reasons. Power Production: Austin Martin One of the knocks against Martin throughout his professional career has been his lack of power. When the Blue Jays drafted him, he was coming off a collegiate career where he posted a 1.007 OPS. Last season, he made his professional debut and played the entire season at Double-A. In 93 games, he combined for a .796 OPS with 25 extra-base hits. Before his 30 home run explosion, there were questions about Miranda's power development. After 2021, Miranda's power concerns have been put to rest, and Minnesota hopes for the same kind of transformation from Martin in 2022. Surprise Production: Yunior Severino Initially, the Braves signed him, but MLB granted his free agency after Atlanta was punished for illegal infractions on the international market. Atlanta's loss was Minnesota's gain. Like Miranda, Minnesota left Severino unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he hit .273/.372/.430 (.802) between Low- and High-A. He was younger than the average age of the competition at both levels. Next season, he will be 22-years-old, and he should reach Double-A. There is a chance a team selects him in the Rule 5 Draft, but it's tough to imagine him sticking as a big-league utility player for the entire 2022 season. Upper-Level Production: Aaron Sabato Things didn't go perfectly for Sabato in his first professional season. Minnesota selected him with their first-round pick in 2020, so expectations for him entering the year were high. At Low-A, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with a 117 to 73 strikeout to walk ratio in 85 games. After being promoted to High-A, he posted a 1.015 OPS with 11 extra-base hits in 22 games. Based on his college experience, Sabato should be penciled in to spend the bulk of 2022 in the upper-levels of the minors. Can Sabato duplicate his production from Cedar Rapids as he moves up the organizational ladder? Which player do you think will be this year's Miranda? Are there other players that should be on the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  24. Entering the 2021 season, it's not as if Miranda was a completely unknown commodity. Minnesota selected him in the second-round pack in 2016, and his first two professional seasons were spent in the rookie leagues, where he posted a .722 OPS. In 2018, most of his season was at Low-A as Miranda combined for a .760 OPS. Before the pandemic, he played at High-A and was limited to a .663 OPS. Minnesota eventually left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, but he luckily stayed in the organization. Miranda's 2021 production is what an organization hopes can happen as a player develops through their system. He was a surprise player that produced big power numbers in the minor's upper levels. Here are three prospects that can follow Miranda's footsteps this year for various reasons. Power Production: Austin Martin One of the knocks against Martin throughout his professional career has been his lack of power. When the Blue Jays drafted him, he was coming off a collegiate career where he posted a 1.007 OPS. Last season, he made his professional debut and played the entire season at Double-A. In 93 games, he combined for a .796 OPS with 25 extra-base hits. Before his 30 home run explosion, there were questions about Miranda's power development. After 2021, Miranda's power concerns have been put to rest, and Minnesota hopes for the same kind of transformation from Martin in 2022. Surprise Production: Yunior Severino Initially, the Braves signed him, but MLB granted his free agency after Atlanta was punished for illegal infractions on the international market. Atlanta's loss was Minnesota's gain. Like Miranda, Minnesota left Severino unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he hit .273/.372/.430 (.802) between Low- and High-A. He was younger than the average age of the competition at both levels. Next season, he will be 22-years-old, and he should reach Double-A. There is a chance a team selects him in the Rule 5 Draft, but it's tough to imagine him sticking as a big-league utility player for the entire 2022 season. Upper-Level Production: Aaron Sabato Things didn't go perfectly for Sabato in his first professional season. Minnesota selected him with their first-round pick in 2020, so expectations for him entering the year were high. At Low-A, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with a 117 to 73 strikeout to walk ratio in 85 games. After being promoted to High-A, he posted a 1.015 OPS with 11 extra-base hits in 22 games. Based on his college experience, Sabato should be penciled in to spend the bulk of 2022 in the upper-levels of the minors. Can Sabato duplicate his production from Cedar Rapids as he moves up the organizational ladder? Which player do you think will be this year's Miranda? Are there other players that should be on the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Minnesota’s bullpen has plenty of question marks heading into the 2022 season. Tyler Duffey is supposed to be one of the team’s most reliable late-inning options, but his 2021 campaign showcased some worrisome signs. From 2019-20, Duffey had been one of baseball’s best relievers. Across 80 games, he posted a 2.31 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and 12.5 K/9. In fact, MLB.com ranked Duffey as one of baseball’s best relievers entering the 2021 season. Minnesota used Duffey as a fireman out of the bullpen, and he was successful in this role. Things changed in 2022 as he struggled for the first time since becoming a full-time reliever. So, what are some concerns with his 2021 performance? Concern 1: Surrendering Hard Hits Giving up hard contact is never a good trait for a pitcher, and this problem can be even more apparent with relievers and a smaller sample size. During the 2021 season, Duffey’s average exit velocity (4th percentile) and hard hit% (7th percentile) were among the lowest in baseball. Back in 2019, his hard-hit % ranked in the 48th percentile, so this was quite the drop from the last full season. Last season, his four-seam fastball was one of the pitches that resulted in the aforementioned changes. His slugging percentage on his fastball was .289 in 2020, and he allowed a .374 slugging percentage in 2021. Duffey was pitching from behind more regularly in 2021, which meant he saw an increase in his fastball usage by 5%. His fastball velocity isn’t elite, so good hitters will be able to square it up and make hard contact. Concern 2: Decrease in Strikeouts Another concern with Duffey’s 2021 season was the significant dip in strikeout percentage. During 2019-20, his 12.5 SO/9 is exactly what teams want from a late-inning reliever. His K% ranked in the 92 percentile or higher in each of those seasons. Last season, his K% dropped to the 54th percentile as he posted an 8.8 SO/9 which was a career-worst since moving to the bullpen. Last season, Duffey posted a 40 K% with his four-seamer, but that dropped to 22% in 2021. In the previous three seasons, his curveball has averaged nearly 35 K%, but he only got a 25.4 K% in 2021. His Whiff% with his curveball also dropped almost 14%. Since he was behind in the count more regularly, there’s a good chance he couldn’t use his pitch mix to the best of his advantage. Concern 3: Change in Pitch Usage Duffey also saw increased use in his sinker last season, which doesn’t cause issues on the surface. Using a new pitch can keep batters off-balance, but Duffey’s sinker didn’t do that at all. Opponents posted a .444 batting average with a .556 slugging percentage when facing his sinker. It also had the lowest Whiff% of any of his pitches. Luckily, he only threw his sinker 44 times, but the results were lacking. His other pitches also saw some change in usage. In his first two seasons as a reliever, he saw increased curveball use. Last year, he decreased usage of his curveball by nearly 5%. Some of this change in pitch usage was related to being behind in the count more regularly. This forced him to cut back on his curveball and turn to his fastball, which had disastrous results. Duffey is entering a critical year of his professional career. Next winter, he will hit the free-agent market, and he is coming off a career-worst season. In a contract year, the 2022 campaign will go a long way in determining the kind of market he will face in his first taste of free agency. Relief pitchers can be fickle, and Minnesota hopes that Duffey can alleviate these worries in 2022. What are you most worried about with Duffey’s 2021 performance? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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