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Cody Christie

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  1. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Twins Front Office Testing an Unsustainable Rotation Solution   
    On paper, the Twins have depth in the starting rotation for the first time in years. However, the front office's path to building this rotation could be more sustainable.
    Image courtesy of Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports Last week, Minnesota completed a trade that will add Pablo Lopez to a starting rotation that includes Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, and Kenta Maeda. None of these pitchers is considered an ace, but all five have shown the ability to be playoff-caliber starters at different points in their careers. Also, the Twins didn't develop any of these pitchers, which might become a problem for the front office.

    Maeda was the first of the group to join the Twins rotation. Minnesota acquired Maeda along with Jair Camargo for Brusdar Graterol and Luke Raley. Graterol was one of the Twins' best pitching prospects at the time of the trade, but it was expected that he would shift to a bullpen role. Now, he has only pitched 106 1/3 innings with a 7.8 K/9. Maeda finished runner-up for the Cy Young during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and will return to the mound in 2023 following Tommy John surgery. He is a free agent following the season and has been limited to 173 innings in a Twins uniform. 

    Ryan was the next pitcher acquired among this group. The Twins traded Nelson Cruz and Calvin Faucher to the Rays for Ryan and Drew Strotman at the 2021 trade deadline. Cruz was integral to Minnesota's success during the 2019 season, but he wasn't on an expiring contract. Tampa is known for its ability to develop pitching, and Ryan was nearly big-league-ready. In two seasons, he has posted a 3.63 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with 9.4 K/9. Since he debuted at age 25, the Twins have team control over Ryan into his early-30s. 

    The Twins had to give up a substantial amount to acquire Sonny Gray during the last off-season. Minnesota had selected Chase Petty with the 26th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. In his age-19 season, the Reds pushed him to High-A, and he compiled a 3.48 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 8.8 K/9. Gray is no stranger to trades because he was traded three times in six seasons. In 2022, he pitched 119 2/3 innings with a 125 OPS+ and 8.8 K/9. Like Maeda, he can be a free agent following the 2023 campaign. 

    Minnesota reengaged Cincinnati at last year's trade deadline to acquire Mahle. This time the cost was significantly more, with the Twins trading multiple top prospects, including Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Steve Hajjar, and Spencer Steer. Mahle was limited to 16 1/3 innings with the Twins due to a shoulder injury, but the Twins hope he's healthy in 2023. This trade may haunt the front office if Mahle's shoulder continues to be an issue. 

    The Lopez trade differed from many others mentioned above because both teams included an established big-league player. Lopez and Ryan are the only two pitchers under team control beyond the 2023 season. Over the last three seasons, Lopez has posted a 3.52 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP while averaging 113 innings per season. Fans will expect a lot from Lopez, mainly since the Twins traded fan favorite Luis Arraez.

    One of the reasons Minnesota hired Derek Falvey was because of the pitching pipeline he helped develop in Cleveland. So far, the Twins have yet to see the results of pitchers developing in the organization's farm system. Every team needs more than five starting pitchers, and the Twins will use homegrown players like Bailey Ober, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Louie Varland, and Jordan Balazovic. Minnesota's top pitching prospects, Connor Prielipp and Marco Raya don't figure to impact the 2023 roster. Starting pitching depth is critical, but the Twins might not be able to continue to trade for rotational help. 

    Time will tell if the Twins surrendered too much to acquire their projected starting rotation. Minnesota has shown a tendency to avoid long-term contracts for starting pitchers, and that's why the trade market has been their go-to method for acquiring talent. The organization's farm system already ranks in the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league, so it is unsustainable to think the front office can continue to trade prospects to acquire talent. Mid-market teams like the Twins thrive with young players supplementing the big-league roster, and that can't happen if the team continues to trade away prospects. 

    Is this model of building a rotation sustainable for the Twins? Will any of the organization's homegrown pitchers break out in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  2. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in The Twins Continue to Deal in Distressed Assets   
    Minnesota's front office continues to collect players with injury concerns. Will these distressed assets come back to haunt the Twins?
    Image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have followed different trends since taking the Twins' front office reins. Those trends include the types of players they target in the draft process, using a patient approach in the offseason, and acquiring players that some may consider distressed assets. Some distressed assets have provided value for the Twins, but others have been unmitigated disasters. Can the Twins find a way to be successful while following this player acquisition trend?

    Reasons for this Trend 
    The current front office has placed a premium value on acquiring players on good contracts or with multiple years of team control. There is risk involved with long-term deals for free-agent players, and the Twins typically aren't swimming in the deep end of the free-agent market. However, there have been multiple instances when a player's value had dropped enough that the Twins were comfortable offering multi-year deals. Minnesota was willing to make the highest offer because the front office felt the player would provide enough value in the contract's early years to make up for the back end. 

    On the pitching side, Minnesota has recently traded for multiple arms, and there have been injury concerns with some of those acquisitions. Trading for any pitching asset comes with some level of trepidation. Last season, Twins fans clamored for the team to acquire Frankie Montas, but he was traded to the Yankees and will start the 2023 season on the injured list because of a shoulder injury. Only some pitchers can perform at a high level after a trade. 

    Also, the Twins value the prospects this regime has accumulated, so they have shown a hesitancy to deal top prospects for pitching assets. That made last year's trade deadline so intriguing because it looked like the front office was putting the team in the best position to win. Unfortunately, recent seasons haven't played out in the team's favor. 

    Distressed Assets: Pitchers
    Sam Dyson was one of this front office's first significant trade deadline deals in 2019. His Twins' tenure was disastrous as he allowed nine earned runs in 11 1/3 innings while making multiple trips to the Injured List. Eventually, he revealed that he had been pitching through shoulder discomfort for multiple weeks. The Twins tried to investigate if the Giants knew anything about his injury before the trade. There were no signs of his injury or poor performance before the trade, so this deal looks like bad luck for the Twins. He hasn't pitched in professional baseball since 2019 because of sexual assault allegations and a suspension. 

    Leading into the 2020 season, the Twins traded for Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. Los Angeles expressed concerns about Maeda's elbow when he initially signed in 2016, and that's why he signed an incentive-laden contract. He pitched nearly 590 innings with the Dodgers before being traded and showed no signs of his elbow being an issue. His first season in Minnesota couldn't have gone much better, as he posted a 2.70 ERA while leading baseball with a 0.75 WHIP. Maeda's performance declined in 2021, forcing him to undergo Tommy John surgery. He pitched over 760 big-league innings before his elbow gave out, so this wasn't a red flag before the trade. 

    Minnesota recently finished an extension with Chris Paddack to keep him with the organization through the 2025 season and delay free agency by one year. The Twins acquired Paddack leading into the 2022 season after he dealt with a sprained UCL at the end of the 2021 season. He pitched well in limited action last season, and the Twins are hoping he can return in 2023 following his second Tommy John surgery. His extension gives the Twins some cost certainty and has the potential for Paddack to provide the team upside over the next three seasons. 

    Tyler Mahle was arguably the Twins' most prominent trade deadline acquisition in 2022. The front office attempted to add a playoff-caliber starter to the rotation, but it came at a cost. Shortly before the trade, Mahle missed time with a shoulder injury, and those issues continued with the Twins. He couldn't help the team down the stretch, and now there are questions about his health entering the 2023 campaign. Mahle is a free agent at season's end, and the Twins hope his off-season regime has built up his shoulder enough to provide value at the rotation's front end. 

    Distressed Assets: Position Players
    Entering the 2020 season, the Twins planned to target free-agent starting pitching, but the market didn't work out in the club's favor. Instead, Josh Donaldson was still available because of lingering injury concerns and the fact that he was in his mid-30s. Minnesota hoped that Donaldson could be an asset to help push the team to postseason success. However, he didn't appear in either playoff game during his Twins tenure. Luckily, the Twins were able to trade Donaldson, which helped pave the way for signing Carlos Correa. 

    Carlos Correa 's free agent journey has been well documented in recent weeks, but there's no question he remains with the Twins because of long-term health concerns. Minnesota offered a front-loaded contract that is very team friendly, but there are risks involved with any free-agent signing. Even Byron Buxton 's extension can be viewed as a distressed asset, because of his long-running injury concerns. The Twins' success is now tied to Correa and Buxton staying healthy. Minnesota's line-up should have two of baseball's best hitters if both players perform up to expectations. 

    Are you concerned with Minnesota's trend of acquiring distressed assets? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     

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  3. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan in New Year's Resolutions for the Top 5 Twins Prospects   
    Flipping the calendar to a new year allows everyone to reevaluate themselves and adjust for the coming year. Here are resolutions for Minnesota's top five prospects.
    Image courtesy of Darren Yamashita, USA Today Sports Multiple names listed below had tremendous stretches during the 2022 season, which is why they are ranked so highly in 2023. Nearly every top-5 Twins prospect has a chance to impact the 2023 big-league roster if everything breaks right. Each player needs to set a resolution for the new year to reach those lofty goals. 

    Royce Lewis , SS/3B/CF
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 1
    Unfortunately, Lewis won't be ready for spring training after ACL surgery ended his season for the second consecutive year. Expectations are that he will be able to rejoin the club near the middle of the season. Last year, he was electric in his big-league debut by hitting .300/.317/.550 (.867) with four doubles and two home runs in 12 games. There are questions about his long-term defensive home as the Twins moved him to multiple defensive positions last year. After missing out on Correa, the Twins hope Lewis can fill their shortstop void for multiple years. 
    Resolution: Prove he can be a long-term big-league shortstop

    Brooks Lee , SS
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 2
    Minnesota was elated when Lee fell to them with the eighth overall pick since he was arguably the best college bat in the 2022 draft class. He flew through the Twins system during his professional debut by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) across three levels. Lee finished the season at Double-A, where he is expected to begin the 2023 season. Many national prospect rankings have him ranked as the organization's top prospect, even though there are questions about his long-term defensive home. He will have plenty of pressure on his shoulders next season as he works his way through the upper levels of the organization.
    Resolution: Prove he is the team's top prospect

    Emmanuel Rodriguez , OF
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 3
    Rodriguez made his full-season debut in 2022 and had a breakout season. As a 19-year-old, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely after he tore his meniscus, which required surgery. He is expected to be ready for the season's start and has all the skills to be a five-tool player. By this time next year, he will likely be the Twins' top prospect, and he has a chance to be an exceptional player for the long-term. 
    Resolution: Prove that 2022 wasn't a fluke

    Connor Prielipp , SP
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4
    The Twins snagged Prielipp in the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, but he wasn't always expected to fall that far. There was talk of him being a potential number-one overall pick, but he injured his elbow in the first start of his sophomore season. Leading into the draft, he pitched in front of evaluators multiple times to prove he was fully healthy. Prielipp has yet to make his professional debut, and the Twins will take it slow since he was limited to 28 collegiate innings. He still has unbelievable upside, and the Twins hope he is a long-term answer for the rotation in the years ahead.
    Resolution: Prove he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter

    Simeon Woods Richardson , SP
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5
    Woods Richardson broke out in 2022 after struggling for much of the 2021 season. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP with 9.6 K/9 at Double- and Triple-A. By season's end, he made his big-league debut, and the Twins hope he can build off that performance in 2023. Minnesota has yet to add to the rotation this winter, so Woods Richardson has a chance to earn a starting spot coming out of spring training. Other pitchers are ahead of him on the depth chart, so he will need a solid performance to come north with the club.
    Resolution: Prove he deserves a rotation spot during spring training. 

    Do you agree with these resolutions? What other resolutions should the organization's other top prospects make? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  4. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in 3 Top Twins Prospects with Something to Prove in 2023   
    Every prospect dreams of putting together a season that solidifies their top prospect status. These three Twins prospects have something to prove in 2023.
    Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports (Martin), William Parmeter- Mighty Mussels (Rodriguez), Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services, LLC (Prielipp) Minnesota saw multiple prospects break out last season, including Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner, and Simeon Woods Richardson. Based on those performances, all three players are expected to impact the big-league roster in 2023. Even with these players, the Twins' farm system ranks in the middle of the pack compared to other organizations. Minnesota's farm system can continue to improve if these three players prove something in 2023.

    Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 3
    Rodriguez needs to prove that his shortened 2022 campaign was legitimate. Last season, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. As a 19-year-old, he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition in his league. Few Twins prospects have power like Rodriguez, and his numbers are expected to improve as he continues to improve and add to his frame. 

    National prospects rankings have started to take notice of Rodriguez, who has all the tools to be considered one of baseball's best prospects. To do that, he must compile strong numbers as he moves up the organizational ladder. He has the chance to be a superstar player, but he has a long way to go before reaching Target Field. 

    Connor Prielipp, SP
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4
    An argument can be made that Prielipp is facing one of the most crucial development seasons in recent Twins history. He needs to prove he can be a top of the rotation starter after only pitching in seven college games since the start of 2020. The Twins will likely take it slow with Prielipp when he makes his professional debut, but the left-handed starter has the potential to be an ace. 

    Prielipp will likely get most of his innings in Fort Myers, where he will be closer to the team's training facilities. His performance may dictate a second-half promotion, but there is no rush to get him to the big leagues. For Prielipp, the 2023 season is about proving he is healthy and has the potential to be Minnesota's best starting pitching prospect in quite some time. No pressure, kid. 

    Austin Martin, SS/CF
    Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 6
    Entering last season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin as the Twins' top prospect. From there, things couldn't have gone much worse for one of the key pieces from the Jose Berrios trade. In 92 games, he hit .241/.368/.317 (.685) with 19 extra-base hits and a 55-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Luckily, he ended the season on a high note and carried that performance into the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a .936 OPS. Over the last two seasons, he has played at Double-A, so expectations are for him to make his Triple-A debut in 2023. Can he prove that he is still one of Minnesota's top prospects? 

    It's easy to look at the Twins' top prospects and have hope for the future. Minnesota's farm system will be sitting in a much better place if these three players take the next step in 2023.
    What can these three prove next season? What other prospects have something to prove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     

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  5. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in 3 Twins Players Who Need to Step Up in 2023   
    As the calendar turns to a new year, it is often a time for players and fans to reflect on the future. Here are three players the Twins need to step up in 2023 for the team to return to contention.
    Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports When it comes to 2023, improved health has to be the Twins’ most important resolution. Minnesota sat atop the AL Central for most of 2022, but the club couldn’t overcome one of baseball’s most injured rosters. Luckily, a new year brings hope for the club’s future, and these three players need to prove they can fit into new roles for the club. 

    Jose Miranda, 3B
    Minnesota showed plenty of faith in Miranda by trading away Gio Urshela earlier this offseason. Urshela was coming off a season where he posted a 121 OPS+ in 144 games, so Miranda will be stepping into some big shoes to fill. However, it was clear from the onset of the offseason that the Twins wanted Miranda to take over an everyday role at third base. He was the organization’s 2021 Minor League Player of the Year after destroying the upper minors with a .937 OPS, 32 doubles, and 30 home runs. Now the Twins hope he can produce at a similar level in the big leagues. 

    Projection systems point to Miranda being an above-average offensive third baseman. Baseball-Reference projects Miranda to post a .748 OPS with 22 doubles and 13 home runs in just over 400 at-bats. FanGraphs' ZiPS points to Miranda having a better season with 31 doubles, 19 home runs, and a .778 OPS. It is important to note that ZiPS projects Miranda to get over 140 more at-bats than Baseball Reference. Minnesota would undoubtedly be happy if Miranda could reach his 119 OPS+ projected by ZiPS.   

    Jorge Lopez, RHP
    Reliever’s on-field results can be fickle, especially with the small sample sizes pitched by bullpen arms in any given season. Lopez was terrific during the first half of 2022 as he shifted from starting pitcher to the bullpen. He was selected to his first All-Star Game and posted a 1.68 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 44 games. For Lopez, nearly every statistical area declined after the Twins acquired him, including strike rate, walk rate, exit velocity, etc. Minnesota tried to adjust Lopez, but the results were not positive, as Parker outlined (for Twins Daily Caretakers) last week. 

    Few relievers can post the numbers Lopez compiled with Baltimore in 2022’s first half. Baseball-Reference projects Lopez to post a 4.28 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP and an 8.4 K/9 across 80 innings. FanGraphs’ ZiPS projects have Lopez compiling a 4.41 ERA with an 8.7 K/9 in close to 86 innings. To put that in perspective, ZiPS projects Emilio Pagan to have a better ERA and a higher strikeout rate than Lopez. For Minnesota’s bullpen to be successful, Lopez needs to improve over his second-half numbers and be a late-inning bullpen weapon.  

    Ryan Jeffers, C
    The Twins signed Christian Vazquez to add to the team’s catching depth, but Jeffers is still part of the team’s long-term plans. Last winter, the club dealt away Mitch Garver, assuming that Jeffers was ready to take on a more significant catching role. Like many Twins last season, injuries limited Jeffers to 67 games with a .648 OPS and a 62-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He doesn’t turn 26 until next June, and he is under team control for four more seasons, so the Twins have hopes he can put it all together. 

    ZiPS projects Jeffers to hit .226/.302/.406 (.708) while producing a career-high 1.9 WAR. Those totals are in 355 plate appearances, over 60 more than he has accumulated in any previous season. Baseball Reference projects him to get 347 PA with a .682 OPS and double-digit totals in doubles and home runs. It’s also important to consider that Jeffers was limited to 24 games above High-A before debuting as a 23-year-old. COVID impacted player development, and Jeffers can continue to make adjustments at the big-league level.

    Which players do you hope make the most significant improvements in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  6. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Looking Ahead to Joe Mauer's First Hall Of Fame Ballot   
    Next winter, Joe Mauer's name will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Let's look ahead at the players that may join him in the hunt for Cooperstown.
    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports There are a variety of ways to examine a player’s Cooperstown case. JAWS is one way to measure a player's Hall of Fame worthiness as it averages their career WAR with their seven-year peak WAR. Jay Jaffe developed it to compare players' Hall of Fame candidacy across different eras. Some positions have fewer players currently elected to the Hall of Fame, which can skew the averages. However, JAWS provides a solid baseline for comparing a player's candidacy. 

    Hold-Overs from 2023
    Currently, voters are considering candidates for the 2023 voting cycle, and Ryan Thibodaux does a masterful job of tracking the publicly available ballots. Players must be listed on 75% of ballots submitted to be elected. Scott Rolen and Todd Helton are the two players tracking above 75%, but their support is not overwhelming. Rolen ranks as baseball's tenth-best third baseman, according to JAWS, while Helton ranks 15th among first basemen. Both players likely fall short of 75% as more ballots become available, resulting in both remaining on the ballot for the 2024 voting cycle, with some other strong candidates joining them. 

    Strong First-Ballot Considerations
    In recent years, some strong players have fallen off the ballot, but Mauer will join the ballot with some other players that will be Hall of Famers. Adrian Beltre is a lock to be elected next year. His accolades are nearly endless, and he is the only player in big-league history with at least 3,000 hits and 450 home runs among players who appeared in at least 50% of their games at third base. According to JAWS, Beltre only ranks behind Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, and Wade Boggs among third basemen. Beltre should be a nearly unanimous selection.

    Chase Utley doesn't have the open and shut case like Beltre, but he is still among the all-time best second-basemen. He was one of his era's best players with some tremendous Phillies teams. His resume includes being a six-time All-Star and a four-time Silver Slugger with over 30 home runs and 100 RBI in multiple seasons. JAWS ranks him as baseball's 12th-best second baseman, with multiple players ranked behind him already inducted to Cooperstown. He won't be a unanimous selection, but he is a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

    Catching Counterparts
    For Mauer to be elected, many voters will compare him to other top catchers of his era. In recent years, Buster Posey and Yadier Molina have retired, and each has a strong case for the Hall of Fame. According to JAWS, Mauer (7th) ranks significantly higher than Posey (14th) and Molina (22nd). Molina's JAWS ranking has him behind catchers like Jason Kendall and Jorge Posada, who didn't get significant support in their HOF voting cycles. Like Mauer, Posey retired earlier than some of the all-time great catchers. However, he will likely garner enough support when he appears on the ballot for the first time in 2027. 

    Mauer's accolades were significant during the years he could stay behind the plate. He was a six-time All-Star and a five-time Silver Slugger while winning three Gold Gloves. He is the only catcher in big-league history to win three batting titles, and he finished in the top 10 for AL MVP in four seasons, including winning top honors in 2009. He is the only catcher who started his career after 1930 to top the .400 mark in OBP in six seasons. Concussions forced him to move out from behind the plate, but his case is still strong enough for induction. 

    Do you think Mauer will be a first-ballot induction to the Hall of Fame? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     

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  7. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Shortstop Continues to Be a Revolving Door for the Twins   
    Shortstop is one of baseball's most important positions, and the Twins have had minimal long-term stability at that spot. So, is there hope for the future?
    Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports (Correa), David Berding (Polanco), Brad Rempel (Escobar)  
    Shortstop is a challenging position for any team to fill in the long term. Many teams rotate through players as younger and more athletic prospects reach the big-league level. However, calling the Twins' shortstop position a revolving door is not just hyperbole. Cristian Guzman was the last Twins shortstop to start on Opening Day in more than two consecutive seasons, and he hasn't worn a Twins uniform since 2004. 

    There have been 13 Opening Days since Target Field opened in 2010, and the Twins have used nine different players as their starting shortstop. Jorge Polanco provided a brief respite for the revolving door as he made Opening Day starts in three seasons (2017, 2019, and 2020). Eduardo Escobar (2016, 2018) and Pedro Floirmon (2013, 2014) each made two Opening Day starts. Otherwise, the Twins have rotated through JJ Hardy (2010), Alexi Casilla (2011), Jamey Carroll (2012), Danny Santana (2015), Andrelton Simmons (2021), and Carlos Correa (2022). Minnesota fielded some sub-par Twins rosters during the Target Field era, but this list is tough to digest. 
    Minnesota made other mistakes at shortstop during this stretch as well. Entering the 2011 season, the Twins signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka to play shortstop while trading away JJ Hardy for Brett Jacobsen and Jim Hoey. Nishioka only played 71 games in Minnesota while hitting .215/.267/.236 (.503) with a 41 OPS+. Hardy went on to be an All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove in Baltimore, averaging 136 games per season with a .700 OPS over six seasons. Moving on from Hardy is one of the biggest blunders in team history. 

    Fans often look at a team's top prospect rankings to search for the team's long-term shortstop solution. However, this is only sometimes the best option because many prospects play shortstop during their minor-league career with little chance to stick at the position at the big-league level. Shortly after Derek Falvey took over the organization, three of the Twins' top six prospects were shortstops. Out of that group, Royce Lewis still has an opportunity to play multiple years at shortstop, but Nick Gordon and Wander Javier will see minimal time at the position. Also, Lewis is rehabbing from a second ACL surgery, so there are no guarantees he will play shortstop for multiple seasons. 

    Minnesota's top prospect list currently contains multiple shortstop prospects, but there continue to be questions about whether each player can stick at the position. Brooks Lee had an impressive start to his professional career last season, but when the team drafted him, the Twins knew he would likely move to third base. Royce Lewis has played some outfield and third base, but his most recent ACL injury happened when he crashed into the outfield wall. Austin Martin was one of the key pieces acquired for Jose Berrios, and he's been playing other defensive positions. Outside of Lewis, Noah Miller offers some long-term hope for shortstop even though he is multiple levels away from making his big-league debut.
    For now, Twins fans can put their hope in Royce Lewis being an above-average regular at shortstop. He showed plenty of promise during his big-league debut, even if he is limited at the position. If the season started today, Kyle Farmer is the likely Opening Day shortstop, and few would call him a long-term solution. There is a chance the Twins will trade for a starting shortstop, but it still seems unlikely for the revolving door to stop anytime soon. 

    What player can stop the revolving door? Is it a good strategy for teams to rotate through shortstops? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     
     

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  8. Yikes
    Cody Christie got a reaction from Malachi in Minnesota’s 3 Most Tradeable Prospects   
    MLB’s Winter Meetings can be a time for front offices to put the finishing touches on trades. If the Twins want to add to the 2023 roster, here are the organization’s three most tradeable prospects.
    Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel, USA Today Sports  
    The Twins were very active at last year’s trade deadline, which saw the team acquire two relievers (Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer) and one starter (Tyler Mahle). Acquiring these players cost multiple prospects that were close to big-league ready. Minnesota may need to dip deeper into an already depleted farm system to acquire other players to improve the 2023 roster. 

    Rising Stock: Edouard Julien
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 10
    Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline named Julien as the most tradeable prospect. Last season at Double-A, Julien hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 39 extra-base hits in 113 games. He carried that performance to the Arizona Fall League, where he led the league in hitting (28-for-70, .400 BA). Julien did so well that he was named the AFL’s Breakout Player of the Year. Currently, there is no direct path for Julien to the big leagues, as his defensive future isn’t clear. Minnesota may decide that other better infield options can make Julien expendable. His stock is likely at its highest point, so the team may want to sell high. 
    Top Talent: Brooks Lee
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 2 
    On most national rankings, Lee is considered the team’s top prospect entering the 2023 campaign. He was widely considered the best college bat in the 2022 MLB Draft, and the Twins were lucky he fell to them with the eighth overall pick. During his pro debut, he impressed by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) with ten extra-base hits in 31 games. Minnesota was also aggressive with him by pushing him all the way to Double-A for Wichita’s playoff run. The Twins will likely want to hang on to Lee, but the club might want to acquire a top of the rotation starter. Trading for that type of pitcher will require Lee to be included in the prospect package. 
    Upside Starter: Simeon Woods Richardson
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 5
    At this time last year, Woods Richardson saw his stock drop to the point where he fell off national top-100 prospect lists. He had a resurgent year in the upper minors with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP on his way to making his big-league debut. Woods Richardson is entering his age-22 season, so it seems likely for him to reappear on top-100 prospect lists this winter. Woods Richardson seems the least likely to be traded out of the players on this list. He has multiple years of team control, and he is big-league-ready. Minnesota can include him in a trade for a top-tier starter, or the club can hold on to him and hope he continues to develop.
    Many fans get attached to top prospects because they offer unlimited hope for the future. Unfortunately, no prospects are guaranteed to succeed at baseball’s highest level. The Twins roster is far from complete for 2023, and trading prospects is undoubtedly one path the front office has to consider. Do the Twins want to go all-in for 2023 and trade other top prospects? Or should the team hang on to the names above and hope they can help the club in the years ahead? 

    Will the Twins consider trading any of these prospects? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     
     

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  9. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in 4 Observations from the Twins' 2023 ZiPS Projections   
    Projection systems can have pros and cons when providing a glimpse into the team's future. Here are four observations from the Twins' recently released ZiPS projections.
    Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports FanGraphs referred to the Twins as "underwhelmingly adequate," which seems like an appropriate description of the team at this juncture. Even if the team signs Carlos Correa, there are holes to fill on a club that has fallen out of contention over the last two seasons. So, what are ZiPS projections, and what do they show for a team?

    ZiPS is a projection system that uses multi-year statistics to try and predict how players will perform for an upcoming season. More recent seasons are weighted more heavily, and StatCast data has helped to make the model more accurate. There are hundreds of thousands of baselines for pitchers and hitters. ZiPS is a midpoint projection for a player, so some players will outperform their projections, and others will fall short. That being said, a few observations stand out among the Twins' 2023 ZiPS projections. 

    The Bullpen is Top Heavy
    Jhoan Duran is coming off a tremendous rookie campaign, and his number one comp is Jonathan Broxton. ZiPS projects him to accumulate a 1.1 WAR with a 125 ERA+ and a 14.5 K/9. Jorge Lopez projects to see a small bounce-back after struggling down the stretch for the Twins. The model projects him to have a  0.6 WAR with 8.7 K/9. ZiPS projects Cody Stashak to pitch well in 2023, but the team dropped him from the 40-man roster and is now a free agent. He is coming off surgery for a torn labrum, so the Twins must not feel he can help the 2023 team. Will the Twins try to add to the bullpen before the season starts?

    Minnesota's Offense Projects to Be Above Average
    Carlos Correa still isn't part of Minnesota's 2023 roster, but there are positives up and down the line-up. Unfortunately, FanGraphs said, "There's a larger-than-normal dropoff if injuries happen to hit hard." In 2022, injuries were one of the biggest storylines for the club. For the second consecutive season, ZiPS projects Luis Arraez to hit over .300, but his projection has limitations because of his defensive. Royce Lewis is scheduled to return from his second ACL injury in July, and ZiPS still has him projected for more WAR than Max Kepler and Ryan Jeffers. 

    Buxton's Comp is Disappointing
    Byron Buxton projects to finish with the team's top WAR (3.9) though the model has him limited to 350 plate appearances (10 more than in 2022). He projects to hit .256/.323/.544 with a 134 OPS+ and 22 home runs. ZiPS lists Jeff Heath as the comp for Buxton, who showed plenty of promise but was also often injured. Fans can hope that Buxton plays in over 100 games for the first time since 2017, but it is unlikely to happen at this point in his career.   

    The Starting Rotation is Bland
    It's hard to look at any projection system for the Twins starters and have faith in what will occur in 2023. Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle, and Bailey Ober all dealt with injuries last season, and there's no guarantee they can be relied on for a full workload in 2023. Mahle projects to pitch the second-most innings behind Joe Ryan, but there are still questions about his shoulder. The projections have Ober and Maeda pitching 90 innings or fewer. The Twins project to have a bunch of back of the rotation starters, which can help the team contend. However, the team likely needs another playoff-caliber starter to end the team's playoff losing streak. 

    What thoughts do you have about the team's ZiPS projections? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     

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  10. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nclahammer in Pandemic Impacts Multiple Twins Prospects for Future Rule 5 Drafts   
    There’s no question the pandemic left a lasting impact on baseball. Over the next three seasons, the Rule 5 Draft will be impacted by players signed during the COVID shortened season.
    Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (Sabato), William Parmeter (Raya) Baseball is entering an unprecede
    nted time when it comes to prospect development. The pandemic caused the 2020 MLB Draft to be limited to five rounds because high school and college seasons were truncated. Another wrinkle was the fact that the 2020 international free agent class couldn’t officially sign until January 2021. Over the next three seasons, these players will be entering their 40-man roster evaluation year. 

    College players taken in the 2020 Draft must be added to their club’s 40-man roster next winter to be exempt from the Rule 5 Draft. Most high school players taken in that draft will have their Rule 5 decisions made following the 2024 season. International players signed in January 2021 need to be added prior to the 2025 Rule 5 Draft. Baseball America expects there to be a lack of eligible players for upcoming Rule 5 Drafts because of the shortened draft and the canceled international signing period. 

    Minnesota’s 2020 Draft Results
    The Twins took Aaron Sabato with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. In 103 games last season, he hit .215/.336/.438 with 17 doubles and 22 home runs. He struck out 142 times in 372 at-bats between High- and Double-A. Many evaluators don’t consider him one of the team’s top prospects, because his bat hasn’t developed as quickly as expected. Unless Sabato has a huge 2023 season, Minnesota is unlikely to add him to the 40-man roster next winter. 
    In the second round, the Twins took Alerick Soularie from the University of Tennessee. Over the last two seasons, he has been limited to 125 games while hitting .231/.343/.376 (.719). During the 2022 season, he combined for 28 extra-base hits in 91 games. He was slightly younger than the average age of the competition in the Midwest League this year. The 2022 season will be critical to show he can find success in the minors’ upper levels. 

    Marco Raya is Minnesota’s highest ranked prospect from the 2022 Draft. Last season, he made his professional debut as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. In 19 games (65 IP), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 10.5 K/9. Raya has a chance to develop into one of the best starting pitching prospects to come through the organization in quite some time. With his limited professional innings, it will be interesting to see how the Twins handle his workload in 2023 and beyond. 
    Kala’i Rosario was the Twins’ final pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. In 2022, he played the entire season in Fort Myers where he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition. In 109 games, he hit .239/.320/.408 (.727) with 36 extra-base hits. Since he was a high school draft pick, the Twins get two more seasons to decide if he should be added to the 40-man roster. 

    International Signing Period (January 2021)
    Danny De Andrade and Fredy Michel were the highest ranking international free agents signed by the Twins in January 2021. Last season, De Andrade came stateside and played 48 games in the Florida Complex League. In 178 at-bats, he hit .242/.333/.371 (.704) with nine doubles and four home runs.  De Andrade will likely get his first taste of full-season action with Fort Myers in 2023. 

    Michel is following a similar development path to De Andrade with his first season in the Dominican Summer League before playing 2022 in the FCL. Last season, he hit .163/.317/.233 (.549) with five extra-base hits in 40 games. When he signed, Baseball America compared him to a “young Eduardo Escobar,” so there is still hope for him to develop in the coming years. It seems likely for him to repeat the FCL in 2022. 

    It’s clear there are going to be fewer options for teams in upcoming Rule 5 Drafts. The players listed above have important seasons facing them over the next three years. Raya is the lone 2020 pick that looks like an easy decision to add to the 40-man roster. Other players need to show some growth before the team adds them into the organization’s long-term plans. 

    Do you think any of these players can take the next step in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  11. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Why Can't the Twins Spend Like the Padres?   
    The Padres made a splash on the final day of MLB's Winter Meetings by signing Xander Bogaerts. So, why can't the Twins spend like the Padres? The answer is complicated.
    Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports Fans of every MLB team want their franchise to spend more money. It is one of the most straightforward solutions to improve a team because increasing payroll allows clubs to add the best free agents. However, spending more money is no guarantee of success. Plenty of small market teams are annual contenders because of their player development and smart front offices. The Twins and the Padres take different approaches to create their 26-man roster, so why are these clubs so different?

    Payroll Comparison
    Last season, the Padres had a payroll of $214 million, with three players making more than $16 million. Minnesota's payroll was $72 million less than the Padres, with Carlos Correa accounting for 24.7% of the team's $142 million payroll. San Diego has Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. signed to contracts worth over $300 million. Yu Darvish and Wil Myers are making $20 million or more in 2022. Currently, the Padres only trail the Mets and Yankees for the highest projected payroll for the 2023 campaign. 
    Market Size
    Compared to other MLB teams, the Padres are a clear mid-market team, which is one reason San Diego is down to one professional sports team. MLB's three largest markets (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) all have multiple MLB franchises The San Diego metropolitan area, and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul markets are similar in population. It seems logical that both teams can spend similar amounts on payroll, but that isn't the case. 

    TV Deals
    One of the club's most significant revenue sources is its TV deal. Minnesota is entering the final year of a 12-year, $480 million deal that pays the club around $40 million annually. In 2012, the Padres signed a 20-year deal for $1.2 to 1.5 billion, putting the average annual payments to the club in the $50-$75 million range. The Padres also have a 20% equity share in the network broadcasting their games, which means the club can earn more revenue as more fans watch games. Minnesota's expiring TV deal will be interesting to watch over the next year. Will the club be able to spend more in 2023 and beyond because of increased revenue from a new deal?   
    AL Central Comparison
    Minnesota is in one of baseball's weakest divisions, and the club has a higher payroll than every team in the division besides Chicago. Last week, Ted Schwerzler discussed that the Twins' payroll should be closer to $160 million than $140 million. Cleveland easily won the AL Central last season with a payroll below $70 million. Some expect the Guardians' payroll to increase as a new ownership group gains more say in the team's spending. Detroit has also shown a willingness to spend when the club is in contention.

    There are similarities between San Diego and Minnesota regarding market size, but the Padres have continually outspent the Twins. Rosters are incomplete for the 2023 season, but it seems unlikely for the Twins to get anywhere near the $235 million projected for the Padres. Minnesota's TV deal is hampering some of its revenues, but they are spending more than enough to be competitive in the AL Central. 

    Should the Twins spend similarly to the Padres? Will a new TV deal help the team's willingness to spend? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     

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  12. Yikes
    Cody Christie got a reaction from RpR in Minnesota’s 3 Most Tradeable Prospects   
    MLB’s Winter Meetings can be a time for front offices to put the finishing touches on trades. If the Twins want to add to the 2023 roster, here are the organization’s three most tradeable prospects.
    Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel, USA Today Sports  
    The Twins were very active at last year’s trade deadline, which saw the team acquire two relievers (Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer) and one starter (Tyler Mahle). Acquiring these players cost multiple prospects that were close to big-league ready. Minnesota may need to dip deeper into an already depleted farm system to acquire other players to improve the 2023 roster. 

    Rising Stock: Edouard Julien
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 10
    Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline named Julien as the most tradeable prospect. Last season at Double-A, Julien hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 39 extra-base hits in 113 games. He carried that performance to the Arizona Fall League, where he led the league in hitting (28-for-70, .400 BA). Julien did so well that he was named the AFL’s Breakout Player of the Year. Currently, there is no direct path for Julien to the big leagues, as his defensive future isn’t clear. Minnesota may decide that other better infield options can make Julien expendable. His stock is likely at its highest point, so the team may want to sell high. 
    Top Talent: Brooks Lee
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 2 
    On most national rankings, Lee is considered the team’s top prospect entering the 2023 campaign. He was widely considered the best college bat in the 2022 MLB Draft, and the Twins were lucky he fell to them with the eighth overall pick. During his pro debut, he impressed by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) with ten extra-base hits in 31 games. Minnesota was also aggressive with him by pushing him all the way to Double-A for Wichita’s playoff run. The Twins will likely want to hang on to Lee, but the club might want to acquire a top of the rotation starter. Trading for that type of pitcher will require Lee to be included in the prospect package. 
    Upside Starter: Simeon Woods Richardson
    Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 5
    At this time last year, Woods Richardson saw his stock drop to the point where he fell off national top-100 prospect lists. He had a resurgent year in the upper minors with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP on his way to making his big-league debut. Woods Richardson is entering his age-22 season, so it seems likely for him to reappear on top-100 prospect lists this winter. Woods Richardson seems the least likely to be traded out of the players on this list. He has multiple years of team control, and he is big-league-ready. Minnesota can include him in a trade for a top-tier starter, or the club can hold on to him and hope he continues to develop.
    Many fans get attached to top prospects because they offer unlimited hope for the future. Unfortunately, no prospects are guaranteed to succeed at baseball’s highest level. The Twins roster is far from complete for 2023, and trading prospects is undoubtedly one path the front office has to consider. Do the Twins want to go all-in for 2023 and trade other top prospects? Or should the team hang on to the names above and hope they can help the club in the years ahead? 

    Will the Twins consider trading any of these prospects? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     
     

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  13. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Will the Twins Regret Leaving Steven Cruz Unprotected?   
    Minnesota protected multiple players before the Rule 5 deadline, but only some players can make the cut. Would losing Steven Cruz come back to haunt the Twins?
    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge The 2022 Rule 5 Draft will take place on Wednesday, December 7, as part of the Winter Meetings in San Diego. It will be the first Rule 5 Draft in two years since last year's draft was canceled due to lockout. It also marks the first Rule 5 Draft since rosters expanded to 26 players. This may allow teams the roster flexibility to carry an extra player for the entire season, especially a relief pitcher that has traditionally been easier to hide.  

    In the last Rule 5 Draft, the Twins lost Akil Baddoo and Tyler Wells, who have each had promising starts to their big-league careers. Baddoo posted a 2.0 WAR season as a rookie before struggling in his sophomore campaign. Wells shifted to a starting role for an improving Orioles squad looking to get back into contention. Will Steven Cruz follow a similar path as Baddoo and Wells?

    Minnesota initially signed Cruz as an international free agent in March 2017 for $30,000. His professional debut came in the Dominican Summer League, where he posted a 3.68 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 16 appearances. He moved stateside in 2018 and saw his strikeout rate jump from 8.0 K/9 to 11.4 K/9 with the GCL Twins. In 2019, he improved with a sub-3.00 ERA and 48 strikeouts across 31 innings for Elizabethton. His walk rate continued to be higher than teams want from a reliever, but he was showcasing some strong strikeout ability. 
    Cruz's first taste of full-season affiliates had to wait until 2021 after the 2020 season was canceled. All but three of his appearances came at Low-A, where he was slightly older than the average age of the competition. In 50 innings, he posted a 4.32 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP and 80 strikeouts. His 14.4 K/9 was a career-high, and his walk rate dropped from 6.7 BB/9 to 5.9 BB/9. He was making improvements, and his stuff was becoming hard to ignore. 
    Minnesota was aggressive with Cruz in 2022 by sending him to Double-A with only two appearances above Low-A on his resume. He pitched the entire season out of Wichita's bullpen with 46 appearances. In 56 innings, he compiled a 5.14 ERA with a 1.59 WHIP and a 72-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His walk rate dropped for the second consecutive season, and he has a 12.1 K/9 for his professional career. 
    He proved he could routinely hit triple-digits with his fastball, and his slider is a solid secondary offering. MLB.com ranks Cruz as the organization's 27th-best prospect with a 75-grade fastball and a 50-grade slider. Even though he is a righty, he held lefties to a .640 OPS with 30 strikeouts in 89 at-bats. Nearly 85% of his plate appearances came against older batters because it was the first time in his career that he was significantly younger than the average age of the competition. 

    There are no guarantees that Cruz will be selected in next week's Rule 5 Draft, but elite fastball and strikeout totals give him a chance. Plenty of non-contending teams across baseball can take flyers on relievers like Cruz that can pay big dividends down the road. Do you think the Twins will regret leaving Cruz unprotected? What can his ceiling be at the big-league level? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  14. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nclahammer in Emmanuel Rodriguez Looks Like Minnesota's Big-Bat Prospect   
    Plenty of big bats can help the Twins in 2023, but Minnesota's best-hitting prospect is likely a few years away from Target Field. Let's explore Emmanuel Rodriguez and his professional career so far.
    Image courtesy of William Parmeter- Mighty Mussels Rightfully, Royce Lewis and Brooks Lee get much of the Twins organization's focus. An argument can be made for either player being the team's top prospect, but both may graduate off prospect lists by next offseason. Enter Emmanuel Rodriguez and a bat that might have the power to change the Twins organization. 

    Rodriguez was considered one of the top available international prospects during the 2019-20 international signing period. Minnesota signed him for $2.75 million, but it took some time for the organization to know what they had in Rodriguez. During the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he participated in fall instructional leagues while dealing with a hand injury. His professional debut came in 2021, and he quickly made an impact. 
    Many international prospects get their start in foreign summer leagues, but Rodriguez made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League. As an 18-year-old, he hit .214/.346/.524 (.870), including ten home runs in 37 games. After striking out 56 times in 126 at-bats, Minnesota worked to adjust his swing by keeping the bat in the zone longer so he could make consistent contact. These adjustments were evident during the 2022 season as he made his full-season debut. 

    The 2022 campaign was a breakout season for Rodriguez. In 47 games, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 17 extra-base hits and more walks (57) than strikeouts (52). He went 11-for-16 in stolen base attempts and made the majority of his defensive appearances in center field. His numbers were even more impressive considering he was a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. Only three of his at-bats came against younger pitchers. Unfortunately, his season ended in June after he tore his meniscus, which required surgery. It was a tough way for his season to end, but his ceiling continues to be among the highest in the Twins organization. 
    Rodriguez had surgery in mid-June, and expectations were that he would follow that with 3-4 months of rehab. This timetable should put him on a path to easily be ready for the start of spring training in 2023. Minnesota's coaches worked to improve his swing, which impacted his breakout season, and now his rehab may allow him to continue making adjustments. He's very good at hitting the ball in the zone but has shown a tendency to chase pitches out of the zone. The injury may also give him time to add more muscle, giving him more power as he climbs the organizational ladder. 

    Defensively, some question whether or not Rodriguez will be able to stick as a center fielder. Minnesota will continue to use him in center in the coming years, but he started four games in right field last season. His arm might be his best tool at this point, and that will play from any outfield position. As he returns from a knee injury, it will be interesting to see if his speed is impacted, especially if he has added more muscle to his frame. 
    Rodriguez is a player that fans can get excited about, but he likely will make his debut in 2024 or later. There are a lot of steps left for him to climb, and some prospects can struggle in the minors' upper levels. For now, his ceiling is one of the highest in the organization as the Twins watch his big bat continue to develop. 

    What are your expectations for Rodriguez? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  15. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nclahammer in Debating Minnesota’s Top Prospect: Brooks Lee vs. Royce Lewis   
    Minnesota is lucky to have two of baseball’s best-position player prospects, but who should rank as the team’s top prospect entering the 2023 season?
    Image courtesy of Darren Yamashita, USA Today (Lewis), Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge (Lee) Many national outlets will rank Brooks Lee as Minnesota’s top prospect entering the 2023 season. However, Royce Lewis still sits in the top spot here at Twins Daily. The franchise’s long-term performance is tied to both players. Arguments can put both players in the top spot, so let’s examine what separates these two players from each other. 

    Arguments for Brooks Lee
    Minnesota drafted Lee with the eighth overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, and the club had to be surprised that Lee was still on the board. Entering the draft, evaluators considered him the best collegiate bat, and he showcased that ability in his professional debut. Lee got his feet wet in four games with the FCL Twins before skipping Low-A and heading to Cedar Rapids. In 25 games with the Kernels, he hit .289/.395/.454 (.848) with four doubles and four home runs. But Cedar Rapids wouldn’t be his final stop, since the Twins' Double-A team, the Witchita Wind Surge, was heading for the playoffs. 

    Lee was over three years younger than the average age of the competition at Double-A, but he was indeed able to hold his own. He helped Wichita make a run to the Texas League Championship before the team eventually fell short of the title. It was an impressive start to his professional career, and there is plenty of optimism surrounding his future. 
    Lee is a switch-hitter with a tremendous ability to make consistent contact. In 115 collegiate games, he had more walks (64) than strikeouts (63). He has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields, and he will likely improve his power numbers as he continues to mature. His dad is a college coach, so he has grown up around the game, which will help him continue to rise through the Twins system. 
    The Twins drafted Lee as a shortstop, and there is some thought that he will need to move to third base when he adds more muscle to his frame. If Lee isn't going to be a shortstop at the big-league level, that's why some rank Lewis as a higher prospect.

    Arguments for Royce Lewis
    The Twins took Lewis with the number one overall pick back in 2017. A lot of pressure comes with being selected 1-1, but Lewis continues to show promise. The pandemic and a torn ACL meant he didn’t play in a competitive game for over two years. He returned from injury in 2022 and made a strong first impression at the Triple-A level. In 34 games, he hit .300/.405/.534 (.940) with 12 doubles, a triple, and five home runs. Some may have thought his knee surgery would hamper his speed, but he was successful in 12-of-14 stolen base attempts. It certainly looked like Lewis was ready for the big-league level. 

    When a pitch hit Carlos Correa, it looked like the Twins may need to turn shortstop over to Lewis for multiple months. Instead, Correa didn’t suffer any broken bones, and Lewis made a brief but impactful debut. In 12 games, he went 12-for-40 (.300 BA) with four doubles and two home runs. Unfortunately, he crashed into the center field wall, tearing his ACL for the second consecutive season. Lewis will not be ready to start the season, which has the Twins searching for other shortstop options. 
    His defense has significantly improved since joining the Twins organization, with some evaluators thinking he can stick at shortstop in the big leagues. There is no way to know how he will respond to a second ACL surgery, but he lost little speed from the first surgery. Minnesota will test the free agent waters this winter for one of the top shortstops, but the front office may also be comfortable with Lewis being the shortstop of the future. 

    Currently, I have Lee ranked higher than Lewis because of his age and potentially elite bat. Who do you think is Minnesota’s top prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  16. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Contemplating a Bullpen Reunion with One Former Twin   
    The Minnesota Twins need to scour the free-agent market to upgrade the bullpen. One under-the-radar option may be a former Twin coming off a solid second half. 
     
    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports In 2012, the Twins made a series of moves to rebuild a rotation that had struggled for two consecutive seasons. At the beginning of December, Minnesota sent Ben Revere to Philadelphia for starter Vance Worley and prospect Trevor May. Worley and Revere haven't played at the MLB level since 2017, so May will end up being the last active player associated with the deal. 

    May debuted in 2014 as a starter for the Twins but struggled in his first taste of the majors. He allowed 40 earned runs in 45 2/3 innings (7.88 ERA) with 44 strikeouts and 22 walks. May started the 2015 season in Minnesota's rotation, and there continued to be ups and downs. He had a 4.37 ERA as opponents posted a .753 OPS in 15 starts. The Twins decided it was time for a change, and he moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. 

    As he adjusted to his new role, May saw improved results. In 34 1/3 innings, he had a 3.15 ERA and a 39-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio while earning seven holds. The 2016 season marked May's first full year as a reliever, but he dealt with multiple injuries on the way to a 5.27 ERA in 44 appearances. Minnesota decided that May should switch back to a starter role heading into 2017, and his performance looked to have him on track to be the fifth starter. Unfortunately, an elbow injury meant he needed Tommy John surgery, and he missed the entire season.  

    May returned in 2018 and became one of Minnesota's best relievers. From 2018-20, he made 113 appearances with a 3.19 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 113 innings. The Twins won over 100 games in 2019, and May was an integral bullpen piece on one of the best teams in Twins' history. Also, May struck out a career-high 14.7 batters per nine innings during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Following the campaign, May headed to free agency as one of the best available relievers, and the Mets signed him for two years and $15.5 million.  
    His first season in New York was his best as he compiled a 3.59 ERA with an 11.9 K/9 in 68 appearances. May suffered multiple injuries during the 2022 season, including an arm injury and a triceps injury. He was limited to 26 starts, but he finished the year strongly. In his final 18 appearances (16 2/3 innings), he posted a 3.24 ERA (2.75 FIP) while striking out 25. When healthy, May proved he is still an effective big-league reliever. 

    May used his slider and changeup more regularly in 2022 and saw improved results. He held batters to a .182 BA versus his slider and a .222 BA against his changeup. His four-seam fastball had been a dominant pitch for him in 2021, but his arm injuries this season made it less effective. Batter's slugging percentage increased from .371 in 2021 to .582 in 2022. May's results at the season's end might point to his fastball being back on track, and that can help him as he heads to free agency for the second time in his career. 
    Now 33 years old, May is in a very different free agent position. He is likely looking for a one-year deal that pays significantly less than he made over the last two seasons. Relievers can be inconsistent, with some burning bright before quickly flickering out. Minnesota should consider adding him on a one-year deal that allows May to prove he can return to his dominant self. 

    Does a reunion with Trevor May fit Minnesota's offseason plan? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     
     

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  17. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in What Would a Perfect Offseason Look Like for the Twins?   
    The Twins must make multiple moves if they want to contend in 2023. Here is the blueprint I would follow for the perfect offseason that sets up a rebound to contention.
    Image courtesy of Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota's front office has a clear shopping list to improve the Twins for 2023. Shortstop is the team's most significant need, especially with Royce Lewis out until the season's second half. Luckily, there is a strong crop of free-agent options, but plenty of other teams could be looking for an upgrade at shortstop. Also, there is always room to add more frontline starting pitching and to supplement other spots on the roster (catcher, right-handed power bat). Here is how the Twins can address all of those needs. 
    Lineup: Correa Returns to Supplement Youth Movement
    There have been a few times in Twins history when the club had the flexibility to sign one of baseball's best players. Carlos Correa was tremendous during his first season in Minnesota, and the Twins should spend big to have him return. It will likely take a nine or ten-year deal for over $300 million. The Twins can be creative with their contract offer to Correa and frontload the deal, so the end of the contract is more palatable. 
    To create more financial flexibility, I have the team trading Gio Urshela and Max Kepler for prospects. Minnesota will turn third base over to Jose Miranda, and a trio of young outfielders is waiting to take over in the corner spots. Omar Narvaez is the other essential addition, as he offers a natural platoon with current catcher Ryan Jeffers. 

    Bench: Adding Right-Handed Power
    Trey Mancini is the most significant addition to Minnesota's bench as he offers an upgrade compared to Kyle Garlick. The Twins lineup is loaded with left-handed hitters, and Mancini adds a corner outfield option that is right-handed. Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino proved their value during the 2022 season, and Jeffers can switch to a platoon role. 

    Rotation: Adding an Ace
    Minnesota has many starting pitching options for next season, but there is no true ace at the top of the rotation. The Twins' front office needs to go out of their comfort zone to sign Carlos Rodon to a similar contract that Robbie Ray signed last winter (5-years, $115 million). There have been concerns about Rodon's health in the past, but he's been one of baseball's best pitchers over the last two seasons. His addition also adds more depth to the rotation for when injuries eventually strike. 

    Bullpen: Internal Options
    Spending money on the lineup left little room for changes to the bullpen. Kepler or Urshela could be used to acquire a package that includes a potential bullpen arm. However, the Twins are getting back Jorge Alcala, and there are other young options to add to the mix. Bailey Ober and Cole Sands will be needed in the rotation sometime next season, but they can be used to piggyback Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle to start the year as they return from injury. Minnesota will trust Jorge Lopez to return to form and can be relied on in critical late-inning situations. Other players will shuffle between St. Paul and Minneapolis, but getting rid of Pagan will help the club from the season's start. 

    Final Payroll
    Minnesota's 2022 payroll was around $142 million, depending on the source. The team will see a slight bump in payroll next year, especially if the front office can justify signing Correa and Rodon to long-term deals. Some of the dead money mentioned below will also be tied to last year's payroll, giving the team more flexibility.

    Is this the best possible outcome leading into the 2023 season? Twins Daily also allows you to make your own offseason blueprint. Feel free to create your own roster and share it in the forums with an explanation. 

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  18. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Reviewing 2022 Performances by the Twins Starting Pitching Prospects   
    Derek Falvey was touted for his pitching pipeline in Cleveland. Can the Twins start seeing results from their own pitching pipeline?
    Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022.  

    Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022)
    Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. 

    The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. 

    Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. 

    Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024)
    Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery.  

    Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. 

    High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024)
    The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. 

    Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season.   

    Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. 

    Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025)
    In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. 

    The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success.

    Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  19. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from jorgenswest in Edouard Julien Can Take the Next Step in 2023   
    Edouard Julien has been an on-base machine over the last two years. Now on the cusp of the big leagues, can he take the next step in 2023?
    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge  
    Not many teams hit on an 18th-round draft pick, but the Twins may have found a sleeper in the 2019 MLB Draft. He was a draft-eligible sophomore because MLB ruled his secondary school year in Canada counted as a college season. During his final amateur season, he posted an .841 OPS with 14 doubles and ten home runs in 65 games. Minnesota took Edouard Julien with the 539th overall pick and went way over slot to sign him for $493,000.   

    Julien's pro debut had to wait until 2021 because of the shutdown, but he quickly made his mark on the Twins system. He split time between Low-A and High-A while hitting .267/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles, 18 home runs, and 34 steals in 112 games. His 110 walks led all of the minor leagues, but he struck out in nearly 30% of his plate appearances. He was roughly the same age as the competition at his level, so there was some concern with his lack of consistent contact and high strikeout totals. Luckily, he remedied some of those issues in 2022. 
    Minnesota sent Julien to Double-A for the entire 2022 season, and he hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His .441 OBP ranked fifth in the minor leagues. He reduced his aggressiveness, allowing him to make more consistent contact. He also struck out in 24.6% of his plate appearances after striking out in 28% of his plate appearances in 2021. He can drive the ball to all fields with plenty of power. Julien was also over a year younger than the average age of the competition Double-A, so he faced older pitchers in 87% of his at-bats. There were positive signs, and Minnesota wanted him to continue to develop in the 2022 AFL. 
    Julien is an on-base machine, and that trend has continued in limited AFL action. He drew ten walks in his first seven games compared to eight strikeouts. Offensively, he has gone 7-for-23 with six runs scored, a double, and a stolen base. All his defensive innings have come at second base in the AFL, and that's another area for him to improve as he gets closer to the big-league level. 

    During his professional career, the Twins have used Julien at multiple defensive positions, including first base, second base, third base, and left field. Over 70% of his defensive innings have come at second base because his arm typically rates below average. He likely won't be an above-average defender at any defensive position, but he can continue to improve at second base. 

    The Twins have developed Julien from a late-round pick into one of the team's top-15 prospects. If he continues on his current path, there is a chance he will make his big-league debut in 2023. He has inserted himself into the team's long-term plans and will be an exciting prospect to watch in the years ahead. 

    How do you view Julien at this point in his professional career? Can he be the Twins' second baseman of the future? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     

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  20. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Review the Debuts: Twins Rookie Position Players   
    The Minnesota Twins had 13 players make their MLB debuts in 2022, one shy of the club record. Here’s a look back at the position players who debuted.
    Image courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota’s injury woes forced the team to utilize more rookies than the club had planned. Some rookies were impressive in their debuts, while others will need more time to showcase their future value. Frankly, some of these guys debuted because there were so many injuries, not necessarily because they were ready or part of future planning. Overall, there are some bright futures for the names described below. 

    Jose Miranda
    2022 Stats (125 G): .268/.325/.426 (.751), 116 OPS+, 25 2B, 15 HR
    Miranda was one of Minnesota’s highest-rated prospects entering the season because of a massive 2021 campaign. His big-league career started slowly when he posted a .512 OPS through his first 22 games. Things finally clicked for him at the beginning of June. He has an .807 OPS over his last 99 games, which is well above the league average this season. Miranda’s debut makes it easy to project him being a middle-of-the-order bat for multiple seasons. 
    MLB Debut (May 2): 0-for-4
    Royce Lewis
    2022 Stats (12 G): .300/.317/.550 (.867), 144 OPS+, 4 2B, 2 HR
    Everything was going great. Lewis returned from his torn ACL that cost him the 2021 season. He posted a .940 OPS at Triple-A after not appearing in a competitive game since the 2019 Arizona Fall League. After a pitch hit Carlos Correa, it looked like Lewis might get an extended look at the big-league level. Instead, Correa returned, and the Twins started using Lewis around the diamond including in the outfield. In his first game back to the big leagues, he smashed into the wall and tore his ACL for a second time. It was a tragic end to a tremendous debut.
    MLB Debut (May 6): 1-for-4

    Mark Contreras
    2022 Stats (28 G): .121/.148/.293 (.441), 23 OPS+, 1 2B, 3 HR
    Contreras was never considered one of the team’s top-rated prospects, but the Twins needed outfield depth this season. He has struggled offensively in limited big-league action, including a 20-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Next season, he will be 28 years old, and the outfielder may have limited upside left to provide to the club beyond depth. There is a chance the team designated him for assignment as part of the season’s annual 40-man roster clean-up. 
    MLB Debut (May 11): 0-for-2, RBI, R
    Jermaine Palacios
    2022 Stats (30 G): .143/.184/.229 (.413), 19 OPS+, 0 2B, 2 HR
    Palacios’ calling card is his strong defense, which is why the Twins brought him back to the organization on a minor-league contract in 2021 and again in 2022. He was needed at the big-league level when Correa went on the COVID restricted list and Lewis headed to the IL. Palacios had an .803 OPS at Triple-A in 102 games, so his bat isn’t as bad as his big-league performance might indicate. If Correa opts out, the Twins may need Palacios as infield depth for the 2023 season. 
    MLB Debut (May 31): 0-for-3, BB, R, K

    Caleb Hamilton
    2022 Stats (22 G): .056/.227/.222 (.449), 31 OPS+, 1 HR
    Hamilton has hung around on the Twins roster much of the second half, but he has been given limited playing time. He seemed to put things together at Triple-A to start the 2022 campaign. In 62 games, he hit .233/.367/.442 (.808) with ten doubles and 11 home runs. Hamilton also seemed to be controlling the strike zone better with a 67-to-43 strikeout to walk ratio. It’s hard to know if that performance was legitimate with how little playing time he has received for the Twins. Will the Twins trust Hamilton in a backup role next season, or will the club look for a veteran?
    MLB Debut (July 17): 0-for-1

    Matt Wallner
    2022 Stats (18 G): .228/.323/.386 (.709), 105 OPS+, 3 2B, 2 HR
    Wallner was the easy choice for the TD Minor League Hitter of the Year, and he has shown some of his power potential since being called up. Unfortunately, the club waited a confusing amount of time to call him up as the team’s division lead slipped away. Wallner may have surpassed Minnesota’s other young outfielders with his performance this season, especially if he can stay healthy in the future. He can join Miranda in the middle of the Twins line-up over the majority of the next decade. 
    MLB Debut (September 17): 1-for-3, HR, R, RBI, K
    Which rookie performance stands out to you? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  21. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Cleaning Up the Twins’ 40-Man Roster Will Take Some Work   
    Injuries have forced the Twins to dig deep into the organization to fill spots on the active roster. Before this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, Minnesota has some housecleaning to do on the 40-man roster.
    Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota has 18 players on the injured list, with 11 players on the 60-day IL. Because of these injuries, the team currently has 50 players on the 40-man roster. Before the team makes any moves this winter, the 40-man roster must be cleaned up. Here are the moves the Twins will need to explore before the offseason begins. 

    Heading to Free Agency: Carlos Correa (player option), Gary Sanchez, Sandy Leon, Billy Hamilton, Michael Fulmer, Miguel Sano (club option), Chris Archer (club option), Dylan Bundy (club option) 
    Correa’s opt-out will be something fans eagerly watch, but all signs point to him opting out and looking for a significant free agent contract. Minnesota will need catching depth with Sanchez and Leon out of the picture, so the team may look to re-sign one of their veterans. Fulmer is an intriguing option if the club wants to add him to the bullpen mix for 2023. Based on their performances this season, it seems unlikely for the team to bring back Sano, Archer, or Bundy. 
    40-Man Roster: Down to 42 with these subtractions

    Designate for Assignment: Jake Cave, Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Emilio Pagan (arbitration-eligible), Kyle Garlick, Danny Coulombe, Jhon Romero, Devin Smeltzer, Trevor Megill 
    There are some tough decisions in this group and some players many fans don’t want to see again. Cave was optioned off the 40-man roster earlier this season and stayed in the organization, so the Twins may try something similar this winter. Minnesota can attempt to trade Pagan for a low-level prospect, or the team might DFA him without receiving anything in return. Megill is also a tough call to make for the roster. Megill looked good at different points during the 2022 season, and certainly has some really good "stuff," but has struggled recently.
    40-Man Roster: Down to 33 with these subtractions

    Prospects to Add: Simeon Woods Richardson, Matt Canterino, Edouard Julien, Misael Urbina
    Woods Richardson was added on Sunday before his MLB debut and is part of the team’s long-term pitching plans. Canterino will miss most of the 2023 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. However, he has one of the highest upsides of any prospect in the organization. Julien posted a .931 OPS at Double-A this season and has experience playing multiple defensive positions. According to MLB Pipeline, Urbina is a top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. He struggled in 2021 with a .585 OPS in Fort Myers, and his 2022 season started late because of visa issues. This year, he hit .247/.323/.407 (.730) with 26 extra-base hits in 60 games. Do the Twins still view him as highly as when he signed back in 2018?
    40-Man Roster: Up to 37 with these additions
     
    The Twins will have room to add a player in the Rule 5 Draft by making these moves. This roster flexibility also allows the team to add other players via free agency when the World Series ends. Will Minnesota keep any of the players mentioned above on the 40-man roster? Has Urbina done enough to earn a 40-man spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  22. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Jordan Balazovic Ends Season on a High Note   
    Not much went right for Jordan Balazovic during the 2022 season. Thankfully, he finished the season strongly with an eye toward 2023. 
     
    Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints Baseball development is not a linear path. Prospects can look great one month and then spiral downward later in the same year. Organizations with the greatest success level can minimize slumps and help their prospects improve before reaching their ultimate goal. 

    The Twins drafted Jordan Balazovic in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was a high school pitcher from Ontario, Canada, which isn’t exactly a hotbed of MLB talent. Minnesota liked his frame and projectability, and those scouting reports looked true as he began his professional career. 

    Since he was 17 years old, Minnesota kept Balazovic in the GCL for two seasons to start acclimating to the professional ranks. He posted a 3.61 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP, but he was adding to his frame and making adjustments to help him as he moved up the organizational ladder. His first full season came in 2018 at Cedar Rapids, where he posted an 11.4 K/9 with a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.94 ERA. At the time, he was nearly three years younger than the average age of the competition in the Midwest League. 

    The 2019 season put Balazovic on the prospect map as he continued to be young for his level. In 18 appearances (93 2/3 innings), he posted a 2.69 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP and a 129-to-25 strikeout to walk ratio. He represented the Twins at the 2019 Futures Game, and it looked like the Twins had developed a top-of-the-rotation starter. Baseball America and MLB.com placed him in their top-100 lists entering the 2020 season.

    Coming out of the lost COVID season, Minnesota sent Balazovic to Double-A, and he made 20 starts in the Wind Surge rotation. He continued to strike out more than a batter per inning (9.5 K/9), but he also started giving up more hits (9.1 H/9) and walks (3.5 BB/9). By the season’s end, he had a 3.62 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP as over 81% of his at-bats came against older batters. The 2022 season was setting up to be a critical turning point in Balazovic’s development. 

    Balazovic entered the 2022 season as a borderline top-100 prospect, with Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus including him on their list. At Twins Daily, he was the fourth overall prospect in the Twins organization and the highest-rated pitcher. He had success in the upper minors and was projected to make his big-league debut, but that plan didn’t work out. 

    During spring training, Balazovic suffered a back injury that forced him to begin the 2022 season on the injured list. His first appearance came in May for Fort Myers as he worked his way back. By May 7th, he was in the Saints rotation, but there were struggles to start the year. Through his first nine starts, he posted a 9.24 ERA as batters accumulated a 1.141 OPS with eight home runs against him. His next eight starts slightly improved as his ERA dropped to 8.88, but he continued to surrender too many home runs. It looked like a lost season for Balazovic, but something clicked near the season’s end. 

    During September, Balazovic had his best month of the season. He posted a 3.43 ERA in five starts with 30 strikeouts and ten walks in 21 innings. Batters still hit four home runs, but two of those home runs came in the same game. For the month, batters hit .247/.330/.469 (.799) as he filled the strike zone with a 62% strike rate. It had to be a satisfying end to a season that didn’t go as planned for Balazovic. 

    Entering 2023, Balazovic won’t make any top-100 lists, and he will drop on Twins prospect rankings. However, he has something to build off of for 2023. Sometimes struggles are part of the development process, and Minnesota hopes Balazovic can learn from a rough 2022 season. 

    What are your thoughts on Balazovic’s 2022 season? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  23. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Carlos Correa Makes His Decision Clear   
    For most of the season, fans have wondered if Carlos Correa would opt out of his unique Twins contract. His message on Thursday points to a clear decision already in his mind.
     
    Image courtesy of Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports There were many reasons why the Twins were able to sign Carlos Correa. Minnesota freed up salary space by dumping Josh Donaldson's contract on the Yankees. The front office also hadn't made any major free agent signings, so there was still payroll flexibility. And that was just the beginning of the Correa free agent puzzle. 

    Correa's new agent, Scott Boras, didn't want to split his major contract with his previous representatives. His free agent market didn't develop exactly as planned, and he was young to reach free agency, so pushing his major contract one year shouldn't hurt his long-term value. The perfect storm allowed Correa to wear a Twins' uniform for the year.

    Correa started slowly in 2022, but some of that may have been expected after an abbreviated spring training. His OPS was under .700 in the season's first month, and the rest of the campaign became a roller coaster ride. He posted an OPS above 1.000 in July and saw it dip to under .620 in August. While the Twins have faded in September, Correa has been playing his best. In 25 games, he has hit .347/.405/.594 (1.000) with seven doubles and six home runs. His 5.1 WAR leads the Twins, and he's also made defensive improvements after a slow start on that side of the ball.

    Through the 2022 season, Correa has made it clear that he'd love to stay with the Twins. He has two years remaining on the $105.3 million deal he signed this winter. However, he told reporters what it would take for him to stay with the Twins for 2023 and beyond.
    Correa said, "When I go to the mall and I go to the Dior store and I want something, I get it. I ask how much it costs and I buy it. So if you really want something, you just go get it. I'm the product here, so if they want my product, they just gotta come get it."

    It seems clear from this message that Correa will opt out of his contract in the days following the World Series. He's also making it clear that the club won't be receiving any type of discount even after paying him the highest annual contract for any infielder in baseball history. The Twins would have to pay up to sign Correa long-term, which seems unlikely to happen. 

    If he opts out, Correa will join a free agent class that is expected to include Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson. Last winter, Corey Seager received $325 million from the Texas Rangers, so it seems likely for Correa to want to be around that contract amount. Minnesota can give him a contract near that total, but this front office enjoys payroll flexibility. 

    As the Twins finish the season, it's even more apparent now than before that Correa's on his way out the door. Did Correa's comments surprise you? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  24. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from gman in Contemplating Max Kepler's Future   
    Max Kepler enters the winter with one guaranteed year remaining on his contract. What does that mean for his future with the Twins organization?
    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports  
    Max Kepler was part of one of the best international signing classes in Twins' history. Back in 2009, Kepler signed as a teenager out of Germany and joined Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco in the same class. All three players have impacted the Twins over the last 13 years, but Kepler showed his potential as a prospect moving through the system.

    During the 2015 season, Kepler dominated in the minor leagues on his way to being one of baseball's top-60 prospects. He spent most of that season at Double-A, where he hit .322/.416/.531 (.947) with 32 doubles, 13 triples, and nine home runs. At season's end, Twins Daily named him the Minor League Hitter of the Year, and he was well on his way to debuting in 2016. 

    At the big-league level, Kepler hasn't been able to replicate some of his numbers from earlier in his professional career. His OPS+ was below league average in his first three seasons, even though he averaged 27 doubles and 19 home runs per year. Many thought he finally broke out during the 2019 campaign as he hit 32 doubles and 36 home runs. However, it turned out that the baseballs were juiced, increasing power leaguewide. 

    Like many players, Kepler hasn't been able to repeat his numbers from the 2019 campaign. Over the last three seasons, he has hit .220/.314/.392 (.706) while averaging 16 doubles and 12 home runs. Even with an above-average OPS+ in 2020, he has combined for 98 OPS+ since the start of that season. Sometimes he can be frustrating to watch at the plate, but his value goes beyond his offensive struggles. 

    Kepler's value during the 2022 season can be deceiving. He has gone through terrible stretches at the plate as he fought through various injuries, and his 93 OPS+ is the worst total of his career. Defensively, he has been among the league's best right fielders. In SABR's updated SDI rankings, Kepler was the second-ranked right fielder behind Houston's Kyle Tucker. He will likely be a Gold Glove finalist, but his recent injury won't let him pass Tucker. 

    It's easy to look at Kepler's offensive numbers and believe he is a below-average player. However, his defensive totals help to raise his overall value. Minnesota paid Kepler $6.75 million in 2022, and he is due to make $8.5 million next season. The Twins also control his age-31 campaign for $10 million, or the club can exercise a $1 million buyout. FanGraphs pegs Kepler as providing the Twins with $16 million in value this season, so it's reasonable to think the team will want him back next year. 

    MLB rule changes for the 2023 season will impact all players differently, but some may benefit more than others. Teams tend to shift on Kepler because he is a pull hitter, so he might be able to get a few more hits that find a way through the infield. However, it might not be as many hits as one would think because Kepler's outs tend to be weak fly balls. It likely won't result in Kepler turning back into the power hitter he was back in 2019.  
    It seems likely for the Twins to ride out Kepler's contract in 2022, but it's not out of the question for the team to consider a trade. In the past, Kepler was considered one of Minnesota's most valuable trade assets because of his team-friendly deal. Now, his Twins tenure is inching closer, and the front office will need to decide what's best for the 2023 club. 

    What do you think the team should do with Kepler moving forward? Is it time for the team to go in a different direction? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     
     

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  25. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Byron Buxton Set for Season-Ending Knee Surgery   
    Minnesota hoped Byron Buxton would return to help the team with their playoff push. With the team’s playoff chances fading, he is set to undergo season-ending knee surgery. 
    Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports The Twins announced Friday afternoon that Byron Buxton would undergo season-ending knee surgery. For the first-time All-Star, it is a frustrating end to one of his best big-league seasons. The arthroscopic procedure is considered a clean-up, and expectations are that he will be fully ready for the start of spring training. 

    Multiple injuries plagued Buxton throughout the 2022 campaign. His knee is the main problem he fought all season, and his recent hip issues are likely tied to his knee issues. His knee has been drained of fluid, and he has continued to get treatment throughout the season, such as platelet-rich plasma injections. Even while batting injuries, he started in center field at the All-Star Game and hit a career-high 28 home runs. 
    Injuries are part of the narrative that has followed Buxton throughout his career, and it’s also one of the reasons the team was able to sign him to a team-friendly long-term deal. He’s only played more than 92 games in one season, and his injury list is full of things that were in and out of his control. He’s missed time with a left-thumb injury, knee contusion, back spasms, migraines, groin strain, sprained wrist, fractured toe, shoulder surgery, concussion symptoms, hamstring issues, and hip strains. 

    For another offseason, injury questions will surround Buxton even though he was tremendous during the 2022 campaign. Minnesota paid Buxton $9.14 million for the 2022 season, and FanGraphs pegs his total value this year at nearly $32 million. Some fans may say he isn’t providing value to the team on his current contract because of how often he is injured. However, he provided enough value this season to cover his contract for this year and next.  Overall, a combination of bad luck and aggressive play has resulted in his ever-growing injury history. One positive of the Twins falling out of the race is the fact that Buxton can have the surgery now instead of waiting until further into the offseason. The team’s goal for him was to get to 100 games, and he fell just short of that total. Now, he can get his knee healthier and hopefully be ready for the start of 2023. 

    What are your thoughts on Buxton’s 2023 season? Was it a success? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     

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