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Cody Christie

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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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    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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from SwainZag in Prospect Retrospective: Ronny Henriquez   
    As the season winds down, many teams will give prospects their first shot at the big-league level. Ronny Henriquez was part of a significant trade this winter and made his debut earlier this week.
    Image courtesy of Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports  
    The Texas Rangers signed Ronny Henriquez as a 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He was given a $10,000 signing bonus, which can be seen as a bargain on the international market. His small stature likely drove down his value as he was 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds back in 2017. The Rangers waited until the 2018 season for Henriquez to make his professional debut. 

    In the 2018 Dominican Summer League, Henriquez showed why the Rangers were impressed with him. In 11 starts (58 innings), he posted a 1.55 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP and a 79-to-8 strikeout to walk ratio. He dominated opposing hitters as he held batters to a .466 OPS while striking out in nearly 38% of their at-bats. He’d need to prove those numbers weren’t a fluke as the team moved him stateside for 2019. 

    At Low-A, Henriquez struggled for the first time in his professional career, but it would be tough for any pitcher to live up to his professional debut. In 21 appearances, he posted a 4.50 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP and 10.9 K/9. He allowed three runs or fewer in 18 of his 21 appearances. Henriquez was nearly three years younger than the average age of the competition at his level, with all but 10 of his at-bats coming against older batters. 

    Henriquez spent the 2020 COVID season living at the Rangers village dorm in Arizona, which provided access to the team’s spring training facilities. He was allowed to work out with protocols in place, but like many prospects, he didn’t have formal workouts until the team’s fall development camp. Henriquez must have impressed during camp because Texas continued to be aggressive with him in 2021. 

    With a new minor league season, Henriquez began the year at High-A, where he posted a 3.75 ERA in five starts. Then he was promoted to Double-A, where he was 3.7 years younger than the average age of the competition. In 16 appearances (11 starts), he posted a 5.04 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP. He continued to strike out more than ten batters per nine innings, but home runs became an issue as he allowed 1.9 HR/9 after his promotion. There were areas for improvement, but he’d shown enough to be added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster. 

    One of Minnesota’s targets for the 2022 offseason was acquiring a starting shortstop. The Twins dealt Mitch Garver to the Rangers for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Henriquez. During his age-22 season, Henriquez was five years younger than Triple-A competition. He made 14 starts and ten relief appearances with a 5.66 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. He only faced a younger batter in one plate appearance this season, but he continued to have 10 K/9. 
    Many consider Henriquez a top-20 prospect in the Twins organization. He has three above-average pitches that he can use to get outs. His fastball can hit in the upper 90s and has high spin rates that help him miss bats up in the zone. Henriquez also uses a slider and a changeup that has improved as he has climbed the minor league ladder. He will likely need to repeat Triple-A next season as the team decides whether or not he can be a starter.

    What have been your initial impressions of Henriquez? Do you think he fits into the team’s long-term plans? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  19. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from ashbury in 3 Rookie Records Set to Fall   
    Strong performances from rookie players have been one of the highlights of the 2022 Twins season. Here are three records that Twins players can break over the season’s final weeks. 
    Image courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports  
    Even in a season that has gone sour, signs point to a bright future for the Twins. Joe Ryan, Jhoan Duran, and Jose Miranda have all cemented themselves into the team’s plans for the foreseeable future. The Twins might not be in a position to win the division, but these rookie records are something to watch in the team’s final games. 

    Most Strikeouts in a Season by a Twins Rookie Pitcher
    Ryan has posted some strong performances over the last couple of weeks, which has helped him move up the rookie strikeout list. Over the weekend, Ryan collected his 138th strikeout, and he moved past Bert Blyleven for second on the team’s strikeout list for a rookie pitcher. The only player left for Ryan to pass is Francisco Liriano, who struck out 144 batters in 2006. Ryan has at least two starts left to break the record, and he has struck out eight or more batters in three of his last four starts. He’s already set a career-high in innings pitched as a professional, so the only way to keep him from the record is if the team shuts him down early. 
    Most Win Probability Added by a Twins Rookie Pitcher (Since 1990)
    Relief pitcher usage in the 1970s and 1980s differed significantly from the modern game. Many writers use the 1990 season as a cutoff for modern bullpen usage, which helps to put in perspective how good Jhoan Duran has been this season. Duran’s 4.58 WPA is 0.83 points higher than Pat Neshek in 2006. Duran currently ranks as the 6th best AL rookie reliever in baseball history regarding WPA over the last 32 years. He can move into the top-3 by passing Dellin Betances, Neftali Feliz, and Chris Sale over the season’s final weeks. In Twins history, only Doug Corbett’s 1980 rookie campaign will be the only season to accumulate more WPA than Duran. 
    Rookie Hitters to Lead the Twins in RBI
    Jose Miranda enters play on Monday with 64 RBI, the most for the Twins. His next closest competitors are Carlos Correa (58 RBI), Gio Urshela (57 RBI), and Gary Sanchez (53 RBI). All of those players have played more games than Miranda, which highlights how good he has been in his first taste of the big leagues. The last Twins rookie to lead the team in RBI was Kent Hrbek back in 1982. His 44 RBI since July 1st ranks eighth in the American League in that span. Miranda is also in the top-10 among MLB rookies in SLG (6th), OPS (6th), BA (7th), RBI (3rd), multi-hit games (4th), and home runs (7th). There have been some strong rookie performances in the AL this season, but Miranda has proven he can hit at baseball’s highest level. 
    Other rookie players have also impacted the Twins roster this season. Gilberto Celestino will lead the team in games started in center field while getting on base over 30% of the time. Jovani Moran and Trevor Megill have pitched over 70 innings out of the Twins bullpen. Even top prospects like Royce Lewis and Matt Wallner have impacted the line-up in limited action. 

    Are you surprised by any of the rookie records mentioned above? Which Twins rookie has the brightest future? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  20. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Déjà Vu: Can the Twins Surge Back in 2022?   
    Throughout Twins history, there have been mutiple seasons where the team has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to win the AL Central. Can the current roster find some Minnesota magic and surge back into contention?
    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports  
    Most franchises have seasons a fanbase can remember fondly for how their team fought to the season's final days. The Twins are no stranger to some late-season comebacks, and younger fans may have forgotten about the below-mentioned runs. In September, the current Twins team is facing its largest deficit in the division so far in 2022. Minnesota is running out of games to win the AL Central, but so were these three teams. 

    2006 Twins (96-66)
    Farthest Behind: 12.5 Games (May 27)
    September Deficit: 5 Games with 23 Remaining (September 7)
    The 2006 Twins only spent four total days in first place, but the club was on the top of the standings when it mattered most. With 96 wins, Minnesota already headed to the postseason, but that didn't take away from the drama. In the season's final series, the Twins lost the first two games against Chicago to make things more interesting. Minnesota won their final game, but fans refused to leave the Metrodome as the division title was still up for grabs. 

    The Tigers and Royals headed to extra-innings, and the fans and players could watch the final innings on the stadium's screens. Detroit entered the day tied with the Twins, but the 100-loss Royals put up a final day fight. Kansas City eventually won in 12 innings, and the Twins stormed the field before taking a victory lap.  

    2008 Twins (88-75)
    Farthest Behind: 6 Games (June 10)
    September Deficit: 2.5 Games with 6 Remaining (September 21)
    Minnesota made up three games in three days to enter the season's final weekend up a half-game on the White Sox. Unfortunately, the Twins couldn't take advantage of facing the Royals in the season's final series and ended up tied with Chicago. Everything came down to a Game 163 where future Twin Jim Thome hit a home run that accounted for the game's lone run. It was a brutal ending after a thrilling race to the division's top, but the Twins put themselves in a position to win the Central. 

    During the 2022 season, there will be no tie-breaker games, so the Twins need to win the head-to-head match-up with the Guardians. Entering play this weekend, Minnesota has gone 5-9 versus Cleveland, so the Twins need a five-game sweep to take the season series. 

    2009 Twins (87-76)
    Farthest Behind: 7 Games (September 6)
    September Deficit: 7 Games with 26 Remaining(September 6)
    Minnesota saved their longest winning streak for the season's final month with six straight wins from September 13-19. For the second consecutive year, the Twins ended the season with a series versus the Royals, but this time the Twins needed a sweep to force a decisive tie-breaker game. 

    Detroit and Minnesota played one of the most memorable games in team history as Alexi Casilla's one-out single in the bottom of the 12th inning scored Carlos Gomez. Minnesota went on to be swept by the Yankees, but the Tigers didn't reach the postseason, and fans were left with one final Metrodome memory. 
    Like the seasons mentioned above, Kansas City will play a role in deciding who eventually wins the AL Central. Because of the lockout, Cleveland's final six games are all at home against the Royals. It looks like Kansas City doesn't have much fight in them if the Twins recently concluded series is any indication. Minnesota will likely need KC to win multiple games in the season's final week for more Minnesota magic to unfold. 

    Do you think the Twins still have a chance to win the division? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  21. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nicksaviking in Minnesota’s Other Breakout Pitching Prospect   
    Louie Varland is getting a lot of attention this season, especially with his performance in the upper minors. Another pitcher from Varland’s draft class is also putting his name on the prospect map.
    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge Twins fans know Louie Varland after his impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He’s the organization’s reigning minor league pitcher of the year, but he might not have gotten the respect he deserved entering the season. Many Twins rankings didn’t have him in the organization’s top-10, and another prospect may be following his path to the big leagues. 

    Drafting and developing pitching is one of the critical strategies for teams to keep their winning window open as long as possible. Varland was a 15th-round pick in 2019, and the Twins have developed him into a legitimate starting pitching prospect. Picks later in the draft can allow for some sneaky value, and Brent Headrick fits that mold. 
    The Twins drafted Headrick in the 9th round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Illinois State University. It was tough to know what to expect from Headrick as he posted a 6.40 ERA as a sophomore. Following that season, he headed to the Northwoods Summer League and had a 2.63 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. Some of those positives translated to his junior season, where he posted a 10.8 K/9 with a 1.09 WHIP. Minnesota saw potential and selected him later in the draft. 

    Entering the 2021 season, Headrick was limited to three professional appearances because of the missing 2020 campaign. Minnesota sent him to Fort Myers in 2021, where he was over a year older than the average age of the competition at that level. In 15 appearances, he posted a 3.82 ERA with a 12.6 K/9 over 61 1/3 innings. His biggest issue was allowing more than a hit per inning, resulting in a 1.58 WHIP. Luckily, Headrick has made vast improvements in 2022. 

    Headrick started the year by dominating at High-A, where he posted a 2.34 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 15 starts. He significantly reduced the number of hits per nine from 9.3 H/9 in 2021 to 7.3 H/9 in 2022. Since being promoted to Double-A, his strikeout rate has improved to 12.2 K/9, and he is slightly younger than the competition for the first time in his career.  
    Only one Twins prospect has struck out more batters than Headrick this season. Varland has accumulated 146 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings, while Headrick has 130 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. For the season, his 11.2 K/9 is the highest among Twins prospects who have pitched at least 80 innings. Headrick is one of a handful of Twins prospects who will pitch more than 100 innings this season, and he is making the most of his time on the mound. 

    Headrick won’t finish the season ranked as highly as Varland, but he is having a standout performance while other top prospects struggle. He should enter next season as one of the team’s top-30 prospects with a chance to prove himself in the upper minors. His ceiling may be a back-end of the rotation starter, but that can provide value to a Twins organization that has recently filled those spots with veterans. Keep your eye on Headrick in 2023 and beyond.  What are your thoughts on Headricks’ performance so far in 2022? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  22. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Brooks Lee's Stock is Already Rising   
    Minnesota was ecstatic to have Brooks Lee fall to them with the 8th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Now, he's proving that other teams might have been wrong to leave him on the board that long.
    Image courtesy of Steve Buhr, Twins Daily  
    MLB scouting departments have followed Brooks Lee since he was a high schooler in California. As the son of Cal Poly's head coach Larry Lee, he has grown up around baseball. In the 2019 MLB Draft, he fell to the 35th round because teams knew he wanted to play in college for his dad. Unfortunately, the pandemic limited his first college season, and he suffered an injury that required knee and hamstring surgery.   

    In 2021, Lee returned and showed why he had been a highly ranked high school prospect. He hit .342/.384/.626 (1.010) with 27 doubles, three triples, and ten home runs in 55 games. Lee also showed tremendous control of the strike zone with a 34-to-18 strikeout to walk ratio. He was named the co-Big West Player of the Year at the season's end. After the season, he headed to the Cape Cod League and continued to hit with a 1.099 OPS. This performance helped improve his draft stock because this league utilizes wood bats, and it didn't stop Lee from putting up strong numbers. 

    It's hard to imagine, but Lee performed better during his junior year, establishing himself as the best college bat in the 2022 draft class. In 58 games, he hit .357/.462/.664 (1.125) with 25 doubles and 15 home runs. Some felt he should be a top-3 pick in the draft, so it was surprising that he fell to the Twins with the eighth overall selection. Another team's loss is Minnesota's gain, as he is already showing his potential in his first professional season. 
    Minnesota has been aggressive with Lee as the team promoted him to High-A after only four games in rookie ball. Since arriving in Cedar Rapids, he has hit .297/.391/.473 (.863) with four doubles and four home runs. Even as a college draftee, he is over a year younger than the average age of the competition at his level, with over 73% of his at-bats coming against older pitchers. It's a small sample size, but Lee is already showcasing his elite hit tool.

    The Twins drafted Lee as a shortstop, but he will likely move to third base as he continues to mature. His arm is considered above average, so that he will play well at the hot corner. So far in his professional career, all his defensive innings have been at shortstop, so the Twins aren't ready to move him yet. Overall, his hit tool will carry him no matter his eventual defensive position. 
    Many national outlets updated their prospect lists throughout the season, and Lee is in the discussion for Minnesota's top prospect. For instance, MLB.com has Lee ranked as baseball's 33rd best prospect, and that was before his performance at High-A. According to their rankings, Lee is one of three prospects to have a hit grade of 65 or higher, with the potential to reach a 70-hit tool in the future. Lee will likely continue to rise on national prospect lists as other players graduate and he continues to build his professional resume. 

    How high is Lee's ceiling? Where do you think he will rank on top-100 lists heading into the 2023 season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  23. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Could the Twins' Injured Roster Win the AL Central?   
    Few MLB teams have been bitten by the injury bug like the Twins this season. Could Minnesota win the AL Central with the players currently on the injured list?
    Image courtesy of Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota's injury list has continued to fill up with players up and down the roster. No AL team has put more players on the injured list than the Twins, making it tough to evaluate the team's overall talent value. Looking back on the 2022 season, it will be easy to point to all the team's injuries as one of the reasons for its downfall. That being said, the AL Central is still up for grabs, so could the Twins' injured players win the division?
    Catcher: Ryan Jeffers
    Jeffers was supposed to take over the full-time catching duties this season after the team traded Mitch Garver. Before fracturing his thumb, he saw his OPS+ rise eight points compared to 2021. He also does a great job behind the plate as his framing ranks in the 65th percentile. 

    1B: Miguel Sano
    There's no question that Sano struggled during the 2022 season, but this is a player that averaged a 122 OPS+ over the last three seasons. He's been streaky throughout his career, which doesn't help how fans view him. His Twins tenure is likely done, but he was a solid contributor during that time. 

    2B: Jorge Polanco
    Polanco had avoided the injured list for much of his career until the 2022 season. He's played through injuries in the past and been relatively productive. This season the injuries were clearly bothering him at the plate, and his defensive numbers took a significant drop. Even with injuries, his WAR ranks in the team's top 5. 

    3B: No Current Injury <Knock on Wood>
    Minnesota doesn't have a current injured third baseman, but this position can be filled with an infielder from St. Paul. Andrew Bechtold seems like a possible fit since he can be a replacement-level player and has played third base during the 2022 season. 

    SS: Royce Lewis
    It's hard not to think about what Lewis might have meant to the 2022 Twins if he had stayed healthy. His first taste of the big leagues was spectacular as he went 12-for-40 (.300) with four doubles and two home runs. Lewis looked like a star, and the Twins could desperately use a right-handed power bat for the stretch run. 

    OF: Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach
    Minnesota expected all three players to fit into the middle of the lineup this season. Buxton avoided the injured list for much of the season, but now he hasn't been available for the team's stretch run. Kirilloff put together some eye-popping numbers at Triple-A as he returned from injury. Unfortunately, something was still wrong with his wrist, and he underwent a unique surgery to alleviate some of the pain. Larnach had a 105 OPS+ in 2022, and the team has been forced to use replacement-level players to fill in for his production.  

    Rotation: Tyler Mahle, Chris Paddack, Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak
    The top three pitchers in the injured rotation have been acquired by the current front office in trades. Now it seems unlikely that any of the three will be available for Minnesota's stretch run. Ober and Dobnak have started their rehab assignments, but it's questionable how much they will be able to provide the club for the season's remainder. Josh Winder is also another name to consider as he is no longer rehabbing but he is getting back to strength in the Saints rotation. Adding him to this rotation allows Dobnak to be a long-man out of the bullpen. 

    Bullpen: Jorge Alcala, Danny Coulombe, Jhon Romero, Cole Sands, Cody Stashak
    Minnesota's bullpen has been a mess, so it's intriguing to consider what these missing players may have been able to provide the team. Alcala has the make-up to be an elite reliever and had the potential to take over a late-inning role in 2022. Stashak and Sands can fit into this team's imaginary set-up roles. Not much was expected from Coulombe and Romero, but relievers can surprise in small sample sizes. 

    Cleveland and Chicago have flaws, and the Twins roster above might be good enough to compete in the AL Central. Do you think they'd have enough pieces to compete in the division? Is the Twins injured roster better than their current roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  24. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Minnesota's Top 3 Most Underappreciated Players   
    As the season winds down, it's easier to focus on some players who may be the team's secret weapons. So, who have been Minnesota's most underappreciated players in 2022?
    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA TODAY Sports Last week, MLB.com attempted to name the most underappreciated player on every team. This can be a challenging exercise for a national writer who can't focus on the day-to-day of every MLB team. The Twins have players that have exceeded expectations and others that have struggled to fill their roles. Here are the team's most underappreciated players this season. 

    Gio Urshela, 3B
    MLB.com picked Urshela as the team's most underappreciated player for multiple reasons. Surprisingly, he has a higher OPS than Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson. That doesn't tell the entire story with Urshela. His defense at third base has dramatically improved in the second half, which helps his overall value to the club. During the offseason, the Twins will need to decide whether or not to offer Urshela arbitration in his final year of eligibility. 

    Urshela's contributions to the team may be underappreciated because of baseball's offensive drop this season. He has an OPS near his career mark of .744, which translates to a 114 OPS+ in 2022. According to FanGraphs, Urshela has provided his second highest amount of value ($10.6 million) in any big-league season. Minnesota may consider this when deciding whether or not to bring him back for 2023. 

    Caleb Thielbar, RP
    It's easy to look at Thielbar's overall numbers for the season and not be impressed with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. However, some poor appearances near the season's start cloud those numbers. Since April 30, Thielbar has posted a 2.36 ERA with a 57-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings. For much of the season, he has also been the team's only left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. While others have struggled, Thielbar has been invaluable as a late-inning option. 

    Before the 2020 season, Thielbar was close to retiring from baseball as he was going to take a college coaching job. Luckily, the Twins convinced him that he had something left in the tank. Over the last three seasons, Thielbar has provided the Twins with nearly $20 million worth of value, including close to $9 million in 2022. Relievers can go through ups-and-downs with the small sample size of innings they pitch in a season, but Thielbar has continued to be consistent into his mid-30s. 

    Gilberto Celestino, OF
    In 2021, Celestino's first taste of the big leagues couldn't have gone much worse. He hit .136/.177/.288 (.466) with three doubles and two home runs in 23 games. Minnesota rushed him to the MLB level without playing at Triple-A, so the results should have been expected for a 22-year-old. He has improved significantly during the 2022 campaign, including a month when he was one of the team's best hitters. Back in May, he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) across 19 games. With Byron Buxton getting regular rest, Celestino has been needed to fill the void in center field. 

    Celestino can't compare to Buxton's defensive prowess, but few players can be that good. Defensively, Celestino ranks in the 82nd percentile for Outs Above Average, and his sprint speed is in the 65th percentile. He is an above-average defender that has provided offensive value that impacts the line-up. Some may forget that he is only 23 years old and has played fewer than 120 games at the big-league level. Minnesota will need him to continue to fill an outfield role in the years ahead. 

    Who do you think have been the most underappreciated Twins players this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  25. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn in Multiple Twins on Pace to Be Gold Glove Finalists   
    Minnesota’s defensive numbers have improved significantly over the last month and a half. How many Twins players have put themselves in the Gold Glove conversation?
    Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One metric developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). 

    According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, MLB has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. The rankings below are through games played on August 28, 2022. 

    Pitcher (AL Ranking): No Twins Pitchers Qualify
    The Twins have yet to have a pitcher qualify for the SDI leaderboard in this season's rankings. Many of the team's top starters have missed time during different parts of the season, which means they don't have enough defensive innings to appear on the leaderboard. Former Twin Jose Berrios currently ranks 4th in the AL with a 1.4 SDI.

    Catcher (AL Ranking): Gary Sanchez 0.2 SDI (11th)
    Sanchez came to the Twins with a reputation as a terrible defensive catcher. Last season, he ranked as the AL's worst catcher with a -8.2 SDI, which was 1.4 points lower than the next qualified player. His increase of over eight SDI points this season shows how much he has improved. In the last SDI ranking, Ryan Jeffers was sixth in the AL with a 2.0 SDI. His recent injury means he no longer qualifies for the leaderboard. 

    First Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez 1.2 SDI (2nd)
    Arraez's bat has cooled off recently, but his defensive performance has vaulted him into the Gold Glove conversation at first base. Only Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a higher SDI total among AL first basemen, and Arraez trails by 0.3 points. In July's rankings, Arraez was ninth in the AL with a -0.5 SDI. Can Arraez pass Guerrero Jr. in the season's final month?

    Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco -2.6 SDI (13th)
    While Arraez improved significantly, Polanco's SDI steeply declined over the last month and a half. Polanco has been a strong defender since switching from shortstop to second base. Last season, Polanco finished fourth among the AL's second basemen in SDI. One must wonder if Polanco's knee injury impacts his ability to get to balls defensively. 

    Third Base (AL Ranking): Gio Urshela -0.2 SDI (T-8th)
    Urshela's defense vastly improved compared to earlier in the season. In July, only one AL third baseman ranked lower than Urshela, but his SDI total improved by 1.6 points. Form Twin Josh Donaldson leads all AL third basemen with 7.8 SDI, which ranks as the fifth best SDI total in the AL. 

    Shortstop (AL Ranking): Carlos Correa 3.1 SDI (5th)
    Correa posted an MLB-high 15.8 SDI last season on his way to winning the American League's Platinum Glove. His early season defensive numbers were disappointing, but he has slowly climbed the SDI leaderboard. Correa improved his SDI total by 2.5 since the July rankings, and another month like that would move him into the AL's top three shortstops. 

    Left Field (AL Ranking): Nick Gordon 0.8 SDI (5th)
    Gordon was an infielder throughout his professional career until the Twins shifted him to a utility role for 2022. Injuries to regular outfielders like Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have forced the Twins to use Gordon regularly in left field. His leaderboard position has improved in each SDI update as he becomes more comfortable in the outfield. 

    Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins Players Qualified
    No Twins center fielders have appeared on the SDI leaderboard this season because Byron Buxton has been getting regularly scheduled rest days and time at DH. According to Baseball Savant, Buxton has an Outs Above Average in the 95th percentile, which places him among baseball's best defenders. The Twins also added Billy Hamilton to the big-league roster to improve the team's outfield defense. 

    Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler 5.7 SDI (2nd)
    Fans may be frustrated by Kepler's offensive woes this season, but he continues to be an elite defender in right field. Only Houston's Kyle Tucker ranks higher than Kepler among AL right fielders. Over the last month, Kepler has closed the gap on Tucker, and he has a chance to finish the year in first place. Can Kepler win his first Gold Glove?

    Which rankings above surprise you the most? Will Kepler or Arraez win the Gold Glove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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