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big dog

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  1. Like
    big dog reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Twins Fans Absolutely Furious at Surprise First Place Start   
    With the Minnesota Twins holding a surprisingly sturdy lead in the American League Central, it’s no wonder that the team’s fans have some strong words about their unexpected success.
    “It is absurd to me that they treat Byron Buxton with kid gloves,” said Hank Winters, 67, a retired bank executive. “Harmon Killebrew played every day and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Buxton may as well just work for the government. Sick of this.”
    The Twins lead the heavily favored and godless Chicago White Sox by three games after a rocky 4-8 start. They're on pace to win a stunning 94 games. This playoff-worthy effort has given the fanbase plenty to talk about.
    “Royce Lewis hits the cover off the ball and you send him to Triple-A,” said Beck Bradford, 41, a youth volleyball coordinator from Castle Rock Township. “Miranda can’t hit a bull in the ass with a handful of sand and Correa won’t even be here next year. But the boy geniuses (Twins executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine) looked at the algorithms and said, ‘Nope, Royce, you go over to St. Paul, grab a stool at Alary’s, get comfortable. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’
    “I’ve never been more angry,” added Bradford.
    Minnesota’s 22-16 record can be chalked up to several factors, perhaps none more important than the bullpen, which has been asked to do a lot with the starters still rounding themselves into shape after the lockout-shortened spring. This has not gone unnoticed.
    “Chris Paddack is already going under the knife for Tommy John and we have no consistent closer,” said Tamara Kapsner, 49, a car salesperson in Robbinsdale. “Meanwhile, Taylor Rogers is going to the All-Star Game. If I made that kind of deal at my job they wouldn’t have to fire me, I’d just throw my [EXPLETIVE] in a box and go. Great call. Super.”
    With the team’s schedule remarkably soft over the next couple weeks, the chance for Minnesota to put some space between them and the rest of the Central has people talking.
    “I never took PTO in 27 years at TCF (Bank),” said Winters. “Because I had a work ethic. Did I miss birthdays and graduations and custody hearings and my third marriage? Yes. All of them. Cry more, Byron.”
    “Spreadsheet oughta be manager, not Rocco (Baldelli),” said Bradford. “Bleep boop, pivot table, bench Correa, he’s played one game in a row, might hurt himself again.”
    “May as well just trade (Jhoan) Duran for (retired former Twin) Mike Pelfrey,” said Kapsner. “Disgusting. Pohlads should’ve contracted them when they had the chance.”
  2. Like
    big dog reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Complete Padres Trade with Pitching Prospect Brayan Medina   
    It can certainly be intriguing when a trade includes a player to be named later. Jeremy tried to identify which player might be included in the deal, which can be a tough task. Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan were the first two pieces of the trade, but here’s a little about prospect the team just added to the deal. 

    Brayan Medina was considered the top Venezuelan pitching prospect when the 2019 international signing period opened. San Diego signed him for $700,000, and he was set to make his debut during the 2020 season. Unfortunately, the pandemic canceled the 2020 season and pushed his pro debut to the 2021 season. 

    Last year, the 18-year-old started in the Dominican Summer League. In 28 2/3 innings, he posted a 4.71 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP and a 42-to-21 strikeout to walk ratio. Medina’s last three appearances came in the Arizona Complex League, where he struggled in limited action. He allowed four earned runs in two of his appearances as he surrendered three home runs. On a positive note, he struck out seven batters in five innings. 
    Still a teenager, Medina has room to add to his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame, which may increase his velocity in the years ahead. He currently has a three-pitch mix, including a fastball, slider, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, his fastball grades as a 60 as it sits in the mid-90s, but he can occasionally pump it up into the high-90s. His slider is his best secondary pitch as it currently grades as a 55, which is above average. His changeup has shown the most improvement since he signed and currently grades as a 50. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 14th best Padres prospect.
    FanGraphs isn’t relatively as high on Medina as MLB Pipeline as they ranked him as San Diego’s 29th best prospect. They grade his fastball as a 45 with a future grade of 55. FanGraphs identifies his best secondary pitch as a curveball instead of a slider, but some of that is due to his vertical slot delivery. His curveball currently grades as a 45 with a future grade of 55. Both of these pitches would rank as above average. 

    One of his most significant issues last season was a high walk rate, as he surrendered 24 walks in just under 34 innings. Some of this comes from a violent delivery, but it can also be attributed to the limited amount of innings he has accumulated as a professional. His release point is from a vertical slot, which helps his secondary pitches to be more effective. 

    As a player to be named later, Medina has plenty of potential. His ceiling looks like a mid-rotation starter, but his top two pitches also make him an intriguing bullpen option. In the Twins system, he’d likely rank in the back half of the team’s top-30 prospects. What do you think about Medina’s scouting reports? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
  3. Like
    big dog reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Ryan Jeffers Will Justify Front Office's Belief   
    One question that I have been asked frequently over the past couple of offseasons was, “How would you split up the catcher position between Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers?” 
    It was a great question and one I enjoyed answering. In my mind, there was a great answer. Play both of them half of the time. Keep them both fresh. Keep them both playing often. Help both of them keep their legs underneath them. The two backstops are so similar in so many ways offensively and defensively in such a way that should allow for continuity for the pitchers. 
    Physically, Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are both big catchers. Garver is about 6-1 and 230 pounds. Jeffers stands 6-4 and about 240 pounds. 
    I think in some ways, their size gave both of them a perception of poor defense. Garver certainly acknowledged his defensive deficiencies early in his career and set out to improve behind the plate with the help of then-minor-league catching coordinator Tanner Swanson. True to the hard work, over one season he went from the worst pitch framer in baseball to league average. That’s more impressive when you consider that it was becoming a huge focus in the game and the overall framing numbers were improving. 
    Like Garver, Jeffers was drafted as an offense-first catcher, at least in the eyes of national sources. However, the Twins scouts saw something in Jeffers that told them he can be a very good catcher. When he got into pro ball and started having the technology and analysis to determine such things, it showed that he was a plus-pitch framer. And he has continued to rank highly even in his first two big-league seasons. 
    Jeffers and Garver are both very smart away from the baseball field. Garver went to the University of New Mexico to become a chiropractor and play a little baseball. Jeffers was a physics major at UNCW. 
    Aside from general intelligence, both have a very high Baseball IQ. Both are analytical and study the game. They put in the time before the game to understand what the opposing hitters like and how that day’s pitcher could use their repertoire to get each hitter out. 
    As important, both are tremendous communicators. They work well with their pitchers and their coaches. They both have talked about their communication with each other on pre-game scouting reports and planning. And yes, both are fantastic with the media too. 
    And then there is the offense. Yes, both can mash. Both have had rough spots in their careers, but overall, these guys can really hit
    Mitch Garver posted an OPS over 1.000 in his junior and senior seasons at New Mexico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter in 2014 when he played at Cedar Rapids, and in 2017 with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He made his MLB debut late that season. He has been in the big leagues since. He earned the American League’s Silver Slugger Award in 2019 when he hit  .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 home runs. Yes, he struggled and was hurt in the shortened 2020 season. But after a slow April in 2021, he was back. Overall, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 home runs in 68 games. 
    Jeffers posted an OPS over 1.000 in all three seasons he played at UNC-Wilmington. Along with power, he walked more than he struck out, something that was important to him. After being drafted in 2018, he crushed the ball at both Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He split the 2019 season between Ft. Myers and Double-A Pensacola. 
    He was invited to the Twins’ alternate site in St. Paul, and when Garver was hurt, the Twins went directly to Jeffers. In 26 games, he hit .277/.355/.436 (.791) with three homers. He had a rough season offensively in 2021 as Garver began the season by getting significantly more playing time. While he hit just .199, he still provided the team with 10 doubles and 14 home runs. His power is legit. 
    Following the lockout, the Twins front office traded Garver, 31, to the Texas Rangers which started a series of moves. A week later, Ben Rortvedt was included in a deal with the New York Yankees. 
    After having the question about how to split up playing time between Garver and Jeffers for a couple of years, there were questions about the Twins’ sudden lack of catcher depth behind Jeffers. Yes, they acquired veteran Gary Sanchez from the Yankees, but he will certainly do less catching and more DHing. That’s why they added minor-league veteran Jose Godoy on a waiver claim to provide another body, a guy who can play good defense. 
    And, after Jeffers’ disappointing .199 batting average in 2021, it is fair for some Twins fans to question the decision of handing him the reins behind the plate. 
    However, if one thing is clear, it’s that the Twins front office has complete confidence in the abilities behind the plate and at the plate of 24-year-old Ryan Jeffers. When a team is looking for a catcher, there is a mental checklist that a front office marks up in their mind as they evaluate a player. For a catcher, that list includes defense, framing, leadership, communication, and then offense, quality plate appearances, power, etc. While needing to show more consistency, Jeffers is a guy who checks all the boxes. 
    So why even bring up Mitch Garver in this article? Why not just speak on the accolades and talents of Jeffers? I think it's important for a couple of reasons. First, it's OK for Twins fans to miss Mitch Garver. He was great with fans and media alike. And, he was a senior sign who made it big, against the odds, to be a Top 5 player at his position. Second, and certainly more important to the Twins and their fans going forward, I think it showed the similarities. Just because players are similar does not mean that the results will be similar. However, it is important to understand what kind of potential Ryan Jeffers has. 
    In 2022, Ryan Jeffers will start getting that opportunity to prove it on a larger scale, as the Twins’ primary catcher. He will likely be able to hit toward the bottom of the lineup which may help take a little bit of the pressure off of his bat. He will be challenged with a pitching staff with three new veteran starters and two pitchers with less than one year of service time. That is a lot to take on, to be sure, but Jeffers is certainly up for the challenge.
  4. Like
    big dog reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Report from the Fort: 3/23 News and Notes   
    The Twins and Red Sox play each other a handful of times every spring training. Given the close proximity of their homes, it makes for an easy opponent as far as travel is concerned. Rather than going across town today, the action with rookie and Single-A teams on the back fields seemed more appealing.
    Minnesota put 2020 draft pick Marco Raya on the mound to start the game for the Single-A club. He looked the part of beginning to fill out his body and really filled up the strike zone. His stuff played well, and he looked to largely overmatch the Boston lineup. With the 2020 season being canceled and then dealing with injury much of last year, Raya has yet to make an appearance in a professional game. This upcoming season will be exciting for him, and he’s definitely one to watch.
    Cade Povich drew the start against a loaded rookie-level Red Sox club on the opposite field. Both Red Sox top prospects, Marcelo Mayer and Blaze Jordan started, and Povich handled each of the talented competitors. The former Nebraska Husker struck out the side in one inning today and was largely dominant for Minnesota. He struck out nine batters in 4 2/3 innings.
    It was hard to be unimpressed with Casey Legumina, who took over for Povich while he was dealing. Strikeouts were added in bunches as he displayed a strong pace and swagger on the mound. There's no assessing velocity without a radar gun on him, but the intent behind his fastball was more than evident.
    Some general observations include the growth Keoni Cavaco has seen as he fills out his frame. The Single-A club displayed an impressive power outing with three homers in four batters (and a double in between), and despite the wind blowing out, catching prospect Noah Cardenas left the yard in a big way.
    A few other notes from today include:
    the roster cutting of six players being reassigned out of big-league camp. None of the names are shocking, but there’s more than a couple here that should be options for the Twins at some point in 2022. Big leaguers Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff both got at-bats on the back fields today. Carlos Correa saw his first live at bats since the World Series. Former teammates Sonny Gray and Gary Sanchez worked together during live at-bats today. Catching coach Hank Conger was heavily involved in their exchanges. The experimental rules in the minor leagues also became official today, as did the continuation of what’s incorrectly being dubbed a “ghost runner” in Major League extra innings.
    Minnesota’s bats woke up en route to a 10-4 victory over the Red Sox today, and the highlight could have been Trevor Larnach’s three-run blast to the big part of the park. Tomorrow Tampa comes to town, although there is a good chance of rain in the forecast.
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  5. Like
    big dog reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Offseason Status Update: Here Comes Correa   
    Spring training is fully underway but that doesn't mean Hot Stove SZN is over. The Twins made a huge addition over the weekend and seemingly have at least one more on tap. 
    Pressure is building to check off the final boxes ahead of the season opener in just 18 days. What does the front office still need to accomplish and what are their options?
    Donaldson Trade Clears the Books
    I posted the last of these offseason status updates last Sunday night, figuring that at 9:22 PM I could safely assume the news cycle had settled, and the whirlwind weekend's moves were finished. But if there's been one lesson from the past week, it's that the news cycle never sleeps.
    Literally minutes after clicking publish on an article reviewing the Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Sonny Gray trades, I learned of another blockbuster going down: the Twins dealt Josh Donaldson, along with Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt, to the Yankees in exchange for Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, and a bunch of salary relief.
    With that, Minnesota's short-lived and unfulfilling engagement with Donaldson came to an end. It was a signing that ultimately illustrated the hazards of spending big on aging veteran talent. The Twins can consider themselves lucky to get out of the last two years, even though they had to actively worsen their roster to do it.
    In the wake of this shakeup, many unknowns were in play. But among the few things we DID know: "The Twins now have all kinds of flexibility to make at least one HUGE move."
    What would it be?
    Twins Shock the World with Correa Signing
    For five days, we all sat mired in uncertainty, wondering how the Twins planned to flex their newfound financial clout. As reports emerged of Trevor Story leaning toward other destinations, anxiety started to rise. Had the front office boxed itself into a corner?
    Nah. They went out and signed the No. 1 free agent on the entire market, landing Carlos Correa in an absolute game-changing stunner. The three-year, $105.3 million contract makes Correa the highest-paid infielder in the game, and addresses the club's need at shortstop decisively. (For now.)
    In all likelihood, it'll end up being a one-year deal, as Correa has the ability to opt out following either the 2022 or 2023 season. His aim is clearly to put together a good year, return to a less-crowded FA shortstop market next year, and score the $300+ million payday he desired. But that's okay. Getting an MVP-caliber player at age 27 on a one-year pact is a win, even if the framework of the deal creates a bit of team risk.  
    On Sunday, Story signed with the Red Sox for six years and $140 million, prioritizing length of the deal over AAV. Meanwhile, the Yankees were basically left out in the cold. You hate to see it.
    Still in Need of a Starter
    Perhaps New York can still claim a victory in all of this late offseason action. They are reportedly among the teams in on Oakland's Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. With so much steam around the two front-line starters and their availability, that situation feels like the last big domino yet to fall. 
    The Twins have also been repeatedly connected to the Athletics in rumors, which only makes sense because they let every free agent starter come off the board while failing to adequately address their starting pitching needs. 
    Even fallback mid-tier options like Michael Pineda and Tyler Anderson are now gone, and Minnesota has a glaring hole after (or ahead of?) Gray atop their rotation. Chi Chi Gonzalez might add some welcome veteran depth on a minors deal, but he's not moving the MLB needle in any way. The Twins almost HAVE to make a trade in order to put the finishing touches on a complete offseason. 
    Are they willing to meet the extraordinary price that extracting Montas will surely require? Or will they opt instead for Manaea, who has only one year of team control left but will command a lesser return? Could they acquire ... both?
    Given how the Twins have operated this offseason – conditioning us to expect the unexpected – something tells me the most likely outcome is none of the above. They'll find a way to surprise us by zagging while everyone anticipates the zig. Stay tuned.
    Bullpen Gets a Veteran Boost
    With all the attention being paid to starting pitchers and shortstops, the team's bullpen needs have been more or less on the backburner. Outside of grabbing Jharel Cotton before the lockout, and bringing back the likes of Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe on minors deals, the Twins hadn't taken much action to offset their various question marks in relief.
    On Saturday they did something about that, signing veteran right-hander Joe Smith to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. I would describe this as a low-wattage signing; the sidearmer, who turns 38 on Tuesday, hasn't put together a complete quality season since 2017. But he's been a pretty reliable righty specialist throughout his career and that was a need.
    We'll see if the front office has anything else in store for the bullpen. Remaining options are limited. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see them lean primarily on internal arms in rounding out this unit. Griffin Jax looked really good in his first spring appearance and is one to watch. Lewis Thorpe is out of options.
    Roster & Payroll Projection
    Accounting for all of this wheeling and dealing, here's an updated look at the Twins' projected roster and spending commitments for this season. The payroll currently stands at about $122.5M, which is $7.5M short of their baseline target. 
    With the news that Randy Dobnak is still bothered by his finger and unlikely for Opening Day, I've moved him out of the bullpen picture and added his (meager) guaranteed salary to the "Dead Money" section." 

    I still see opportunities to add a fourth outfielder and one or two bullpen arms, though each of those needs could reasonably be filled with existing options. The remaining hole in the rotation, however, needs an external fix. 
    For what it's worth, Montas is expected to earn around $5.5M via arbitration this year, and Manaea $10.2M.
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  6. Like
    big dog reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Women of the Diamond: The Wives Club   
    I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family.
    The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. 
    The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. 
    Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers.
    Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately.
    When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. 
    Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there.
    Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" 
    "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. 
    "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff."
    "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." 
    The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other.
    None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. 
    Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. 
    All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. 
    Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. 
    "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team."
    "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us."
    "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." 
    Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful.
    While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. 
    It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? 
    The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. 
    Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. 
    What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. 
    Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. 
    They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving.
    As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. 
    The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. 
    When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. 
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    big dog reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Still Looking Up for Larnach   
    Fellow first-round picks Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have been near each other on the Twins prospect lists for years and had similar ETAs to make their debuts at Target Field. It was only natural that when Kirilloff got the call, Larnach made the jump shortly thereafter. Kirilloff showed that a trip back to the minors was unlikely despite his season-ending injury. Larnach’s 2021 however is a bit tougher to piece together.
    The Good
    Despite just 13 at-bats in his AAA career, Larnach looked far from overmatched upon his arrival. He posted an .845 OPS through his first month with an incredible eye at the plate. The left-hander was showing off some tremendous power as well with some tape-measure home runs and hit a ball 116 mph, a strong indicator of raw power.
    In the outfield, Larnach did surprisingly well in some facets. Left field appeared to be a bit of a struggle, but in right field, he played the overhang incredibly well, posting an Outs Above Average of 2 and 4 Defensive Runs Saved. We've heard Larnach isn't the fleetest of foot throughout his minor league career and there's been little in the way of excitement over his defense. That being said, he showed that he not only has the ability to be a difference-maker at the plate, but that he could surprisingly be a plus defender as well.
    The Bad
    Despite Larnach’s .845 OPS in his first month, he finished with a final OPS of just .672. It’s not hard to imagine the steep decline it would take for such a drop-off. From June 1 forward, Larnach posted a slash line of .222/.301/.320, a .621 OPS. The issues were completely obvious: Larnach stopped seeing fastballs. He hit .165 and slugged .215 against breaking balls in 2021 as well as .143 and .179 against off-speed pitches. 72% of his strikeouts came against pitches other than fastballs.
    Further complicating his struggles was an injury sustained after fouling a ball off of his foot. It’s hard to say whether the nagging foot pain contributed to the hitting woes, but after his demotion to St. Paul Larnach struggled mightily and played in just 10 games before being shut down for the season.
    What’s Next?
    With his significant struggles fresh in our minds, it’s understandable that the former top prospect has lost some shine in some fans' eyes. He’s shown a very significant weakness that will surely be abused at the Major League level over and over again until he shows he can overcome it. That being said, Larnach is far from the stereotypical slugger.
    Comparing him to a similarly tremendous slugger in Brent Rooker, for example, Larnach has a much better plate approach and his eye at the plate has held up at every stop of the minor leagues. He’s also been graded as having a far superior hit tool to Rooker, meaning more contact should be expected moving forward. He still has his issues to fix against the soft stuff, but his advanced offensive approach should prevent him from collapsing into the pool of hitters who can crush the ball on the rare occasion they make contact. These adjustments would likely be easier to make if he’s 100% healthy in 2022 as well.
    Larnach’s early showing defensively, especially in right field, is extremely encouraging. The Twins have a rash of depth in the corner outfield with more on its way in the minors. If Larnach can be more than just a body to put out there to get his bat in the lineup, he could easily grab that job if the necessary adjustments are made at the plate.
    These results also have to be encouraging for the front office, who will likely have to part with controllable pieces to get the arms needed to fill out the rotation effectively. Max Kepler has long been a rumored trade asset for example. While he’s had his incredible defensive seasons in right field, Larnach being competent at the position with a step up on offense would make Kepler much easier to part with. Larnach has possibly already shown more of a ceiling against left-handed pitching with 15 hits in 90 plate appearances against southpaws in 2021.
    Like much of the Twins 2021 season, Larnach’s year had an encouraging start only to collapse down the stretch. That being said, such tendencies are not uncommon when it comes to rookies getting their first taste of Major League pitching. He may not be as highly rated as a possibly generational hitter such as Kirilloff, but Larnach is a pure hitter capable of adjusting. Regardless of the teams’ plans to compete in 2022, he should spend a few months in St. Paul before getting another crack at cementing a roster spot for the next six years. Come this time next offseason, we may just be talking about Trevor Larnach as a staple in the heart of the Twins 2023 lineup.
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  8. Like
    big dog reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Josh Donaldson is Better Than You Think   
    2020 was admittedly a bad start to the four-year, $92m contract the Twins gave Josh Donaldson after whiffing on a big-name starting pitcher the offseason before. The former MVP missed more than half of the 60-game season with injuries including the best of three playoff series that ended in a whimper from the offense. Per game, however, Donaldson was the same star hitter he always has been, and he showed that across a much bigger body of work in 2021.
    For those unfamiliar with MLBs use of Statcast measurements, these numbers read in percentiles, meaning Donaldson is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 95th percentile in barrel percentage, etc. In most offensive measurements, Donaldson’s raw skills were among the top 5-10% in all of baseball. For a season many considered disappointing, I think such a strong showing deserves some context.
    As you can see, Donaldson actually bested fan-favorite Nelson Cruz in many raw measurements in 2021 according to Statcast. It’s interesting to look at considering one of these players is discussed as the cornerstone of whatever lineup he’s in while the other is being discussed as a possible salary dump. Why might that be?
    2020 Left a Bitter Taste

    2020 was a season that likely had the front office wishing for a do-over on the largest free-agent contract the team had ever handed out. There was an understandable amount of frustration as the biggest addition to the team was nowhere to be seen for most of a season where the Twins captured their second consecutive division title only to be swept out of the playoffs once again.
    To make matters worse, those feelings of frustration had gasoline thrown onto the fire when Donaldson injured his hamstring on opening day 2021 and missed a chunk of time. For many, their minds were made up. Donaldson’s availability down the stretch was an incredible accomplishment, however, and showed that while his injury concerns are very much a reality, he’s still capable of being an everyday player across a full season. To once again make a Cruz vs. Donaldson comparison, DH Nelson Cruz played in 140 games compared to Donaldson’s 135 in 2021 which may surprise even the biggest Twins fans to hear.
    2021 Was Unlucky

    The ongoing joke in 2021 was the continued use of the phrase “bad luck” as so much went wrong that it’s impossible to chalk it all up to misfortune. For Donaldson however, we have Statcast measurements saying his raw offensive ability hasn’t declined at all at age 35. His .247 average was much lower than his .268 expected batting average. His .475 slugging percentage was much lower than his .541 expected slugging. He also hit four fewer home runs than expected given the way he impacts the ball. His speed on the bases may be a partial explanation for these discrepancies but his hampered legs can only explain away a portion of these gaps in expected performance.
    If you aren’t a believer in expected stats, it’s still difficult to look back and be disappointed in his body of work that included a triple slash of .247/.352/.475, good for 24% above league average. Repeating that line would be just fine for 2022, but he appears to still have the physical capabilities to garner MVP votes if he can remain on the field as he did in 2021.
    So why point out Donaldson’s impressive performance in 2021? To be honest, he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. His impact would have essentially erased a disappointing 2020 in the eyes of fans had he performed exactly the same and the team hadn’t crumbled. Statcast says he could have performed even better.
    He’s talked about like he’s over the hill and his contract needs to be dumped before it’s too late so the Twins can improve. In reality, however, Donaldson is probably one of the three most important pieces of the Twins offense in 2022. Without Nelson Cruz, Donaldson is an important figure on the team not just on the field, but as a veteran-hitting savant who can have a huge impact on the upcoming prospects.
    It’s entirely possible that Donaldson’s health in 2022 could go the way of 2020 rather than 2021. That being said, at bat for at bat there still aren’t a ton of players you want in the heart of your lineup over Josh Donaldson, and he’s still a tantalizing talent that should have Twins fans looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season.
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  9. Like
    big dog reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 2022 Prospect Previews: Chase Petty   
    While the MLB lockout continues to stagnate the offseason, minor-league players are preparing to travel to Florida and Arizona to begin preparation for their seasons. In this series, I’ll look at some of the Twins' notable picks from the early rounds of the 2021 draft. I’ll dig into scouting reports and storylines to look for ahead of the 2022 season. In the first piece of the season, we'll look at the Twins first pick in the 2021 draft, RHP Chase Petty.
    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55 (scouting grades courtesy of Baseball America).
    Signing and Scouting
    The Twins selected Chase Petty with their first-round pick in the 2021 draft (26th overall). Petty, out of Mainland Regional HS in New Jersey, signed for a slightly below slot $2.5 million bonus. Petty was ranked the 29th best available prospect by Baseball America and 27th by MLB.com. Despite the consensus around his overall prospect status, he qualifies as an extremely high variance pick due to being a prep pitcher who throws at extreme velocity. 
    The Falvey regime has never drafted a high school pitching prospect in the first round. The Twins, as an organization, haven’t done so since Kohl Stewart in 2013, generally preferring high floor, college power bats. It’s easy to see what drew them to Petty, whose arm talent is elite.
    Petty was the most famous prep pitcher in his class, thanks to a fastball he can run up to 102 mph and was compared by some evaluators as the best they had seen from a prep-pitcher since Hunter Greene and one of the best in the history of the draft.
    Petty’s fastball and slider both have 70-grade potential. Petty’s fastball benefits from a ton of arm-side movement. Petty used his changeup infrequently in high school (he didn’t need to) but the Twins believe this can be developed as a plus pitch also. 
    Petty’s upside is incredible, with two caveats. High school prep pitchers are an inherently risky group of players to draft. Some get injured, some don’t live up to their lofty potential. Petty needs to keep his arm slot in the three-quarter range to maintain consistent control of his fastball.
    What Makes Him Special?
    So what does all this arm-talent look like close up? Here’s a clip from the summer of 2020, where Petty was already blowing away his competition.
    Another clip from March of 2021 shows not only the incredible velocity by the arm-side movement generated by his fastball.
    This tweet from Ben Brewster (a must-follow if you're interested in player mechanics) is a great breakdown of how Petty generates so much velocity and includes a link to a more in-depth YouTube breakdown of why he is a such a special talent.
    Offseason Additions
    By all accounts, in addition to having incredible on-field upside, Petty is an incredibly hard worker, charismatic, and has an effervescent personality, as evidenced by his interview shortly after he was drafted by the Twins.
    Petty has clearly been working hard on his changeup since being drafted by the Twins, as shown by this recently posted video from his training facility in NJ. While Petty will need significant time to develop, the addition of a plus changeup would give him three plus pitches (two at 70-grade) and the type of arsenal capable of being a front-line MLB caliber starting pitcher.
    Likely to Start At: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (A)
    While Petty will need time to develop and carries inherent prospect risk, the talent and stuff are as good as the Twins have ever had in their system. Petty is a starting pitcher to dream on.
    The next article in the Prospect Preview series will look more closely at Noah Miller, the Twins competitive balance pick at the end of the first round (36 overall). If there's any additional information you would like to see in these 2022 prospect previews, please let me know in the comments.
  10. Like
    big dog reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, 3 Realistic Trade Targets for the Minnesota Twins' Bullpen   
    Trades are a good route for baseball teams to acquire talent in that they can bring back quality players at a cost-controlled rate that free agency can’t offer. While there is a good argument for why the Minnesota Twins should avoid making a trade this offseason, the three relievers below figure to bring value to the Minnesota Twins without costing much prospect capital to be acquired.
    Target #1: Chris Stratton, Pittsburgh Pirates

    After struggling in a starting pitcher role over the first few years of his career, Stratton moved into a reliever role full time after being acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019. Since that time, Stratton owns a 3.69 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 156 innings. Stratton is a ground ball pitcher who has found success with high spin rates on his fastball and curveball, landing in the 99th and 98th percentile on those respective pitches, the type of reliever who can come into jams with runners on and get out of them with double plays. The right hander still boasts two more years of team control via arbitration.
    Target #2: Cole Sulser, Baltimore Orioles

    Hiding on the lowly Orioles, Cole Sulser was quietly one of the better relievers in the American League in 2021. In 63 innings last season, Sulser posted a 3.71 ERA with a K/9 of 9.3 while walking just over three batters per nine innings. The righty boasts an impressive changeup, which allowed him to neutralize left handed hitters last season, allowing them to hit just .186 on the year. Sulser is still pre-arbitration, which means he will come with an affordable price tag over the next handful of seasons.
    Target #3: Lou Trivino, Oakland Athletics

    The Oakland Athletics are reportedly open for business as they look to shed salary and right handed reliever Lou Trivino is one of their more intriguing names. In 72 1/3 innings last season, Trivino posted a 3.18 ERA and showed that he has the chops to close ball games, earning 22 saves. While Trivino doesn’t have big time strikeout numbers (9.0 career K/9), he does throw a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and specializes in limiting contact, with an opponent exit velocity of just 87.4 MPH. Trivino is set to earn about $3M in 2022 and still has two more years of arbitration after that, making him an intriguing trade target for the Twins.
    Which of the above names would you be most interested in seeing the Twins go after in a trade? Are there any other potential trade targets not listed? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
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  11. Like
    big dog reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Could the Twins Weather the Blowback of a Luis Arraez Trade?   
    Luis Arraez is an extremely popular player. This is known. Merely bringing up the idea of trading him can stir up considerable emotion and anger, as I've learned here and on Twitter.
    I get it. It's easy to see why he is so popular. Arraez has earned the affinity of casual fans and hardcores alike. His consistent .300 batting averages, in an era where those are increasingly rare, endear him to the more traditional follower. For those who gravitate more toward sabermetrics and advanced stats, it is the healthy OBPs driven by Arraez's bat and discipline that define his indispensable value.
    Everyone can agree that his personality and his amusing mannerisms on the field are treasures. Arraez is a joy to behold.
    But the front office can't make decisions based solely on likability or popularity if they want to steer this ship back into contention. They need to make savvy moves and opportunistic improvements. They need to make hard choices.
    Trading Arraez would certainly qualify, but the logic is undeniable:
    The 24-year-old's considerable strengths are balanced by significant detriments. His knees have already proven to be a chronic issue at his young age. He's not a defensive asset anywhere on the field. He doesn't hit for any power. Despite these drawbacks, he'd clearly be a coveted asset on the trade market. Arraez is still at the front end of his physical prime, with three remaining years of team control. He's a bona fide OBP machine at the top of the lineup, and still has a chance to develop some pop. His defensive versatility could be viewed as highly appealing for many teams. However... Arraez is very redundant within the Twins' roster planning. The two positions he's most capable of playing — second and third — are manned by two of the team's best veteran players, who are both under guaranteed contract for the next two years. Meanwhile, top prospects Austin Martin and Jose Miranda also seem destined to end up at one of the three positions Arraez has played most (2B/3B/LF).  A year ago, ultra-plugged national reporter Ken Rosenthal mentioned the idea of Arraez being floated as a trade piece, suggesting the Twins had at least entertained such discussions. That was before the arrival of Martin and the emergence of Miranda. In the present situation, there's an urgency to clear a logjam and acquire impact pitching in the process.
    Arraez doesn't necessarily have to be the guy sent out in such an undertaking, but he sure strikes me as the most likely. 
    Are fans ready for that? Is the front office ready for the reaction that would likely follow? How about ownership, which was reportedly applying pressure for a Byron Buxton contract extension in part because of dwindling fan morale? 
    The Twins and their decision makers aren't exactly on firm footing in the eyes of a fanbase beaten down by a brutal season and totally inactive offseason thus far. If they make a move like this, the return had better be undeniably strong, as well as the messaging.
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  12. Like
    big dog reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Minnesota Made: Cold Spring’s Joey Stock   
    Everything was ready to go for Joey Stock to move from Cold Spring, Minnesota, to Wisconsin on August 27, 2020. He was set to begin the fall semester at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to start working on his master's degree in Business Communications . This was the day before he would be taking a seven-hour drive to further his career in higher education and have a chance to play with the UW-Milwaukee baseball team in the spring. Then the Boston Red Sox gave Stock a call that day and offered him a deal to become a professional athlete.
    "I remember like it was yesterday. It's something I'll probably never forget," recalled Stock. 
    The news was not as surprising as the timing of the call from the Red Sox. A week prior, once the Northwoods League's 2020 season concluded, Stock had been given notice by his manager for the St. Cloud Rox that the Red Sox still saw talent in him worth signing.
    "As I'm literally driving off from the ballpark, my manager stopped me and asked, 'Hey, are you still entertaining any big league contracts? And I said, 'Yeah, I probably would,' and he told me that Boston's interested and to keep my phone nearby. Sure enough, a couple of days later, their head scout called me saying, 'Hey, we like you. We like what we see. We want to fly you out here to Boston to do some physicals and just make sure everything's okay.'”
    A couple of days after flying to Boston where the Red Sox had made their signing of Stock official, the news spread quickly across Central Minnesota. 
    "That was one of the coolest days of my life. With all of the congratulatory text messages, phone calls, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram messages, that I got from people. Some I hadn't seen in 10 years that somehow found out. It just spread like wildfire. I didn't put my phone down. I'm answering emails, phone calls, texts, voicemails. The support that I got from the entire central Minnesota community was freakin' unbelievable," said Stock. 
    Prior to graduating from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, in May of 2020. Stock had received a couple of offers from MLB teams but turned them down, wanting to complete his undergraduate degree before taking a chance as a professional ballplayer. 
    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, Stock had been scouted by the Red Sox as the Johnnie's baseball team prepared for the 2020 season. Stock shared that the team was set up to be one of the best he ever played on but couldn't get the season rolling due to the pandemic. 
    "We had a really good team at St. John's, my senior class. Seven of the nine guys that started on the field, including myself, were seniors. We had an unbelievably good freshman class coming in with pitchers; we had a lot of talent, a lot of experience, and a lot of depth. We were ranked in the top 25 that year to start, and we took that as kind of an insult. We thought we were a heck of a lot better than that. We were ready to prove ourselves to the league, then we never got to play," said Stock.
    Stock had recently reunited with a good number of his former teammates at St. John's, and they had the chance to reminisce on what could have happened if they had a full season of college ball in 2020.
    "All of us still haven't really gotten over not being able to play. We put St John's on the map because we truly knew what we had, and we were ready to prove it to the entire country, and we just never got the chance to. That's why I turned down opportunities to sign before graduating, and I don't regret that at all," said Stock.
    Having signed with the Red Sox in late August of 2020, Stock could not join any of the Minor League teams or camps with the minor-league baseball  season canceled by their parent, Major League Baseball. 
    Stock arrived at the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers in February of 2021, and when he did, the reality of starting his professional career hit him almost immediately. 
    “When I got to Fort Myers, the feeling that hit me was overwhelming. I'll be honest. You're around so many talented guys, and they all know what's going on.” 
    Stock continued , "A lot of them have been through at least one instructional league where they have been brought into what spring training is going to be like. I'm coming in wide-eyed. I didn't know about the facility. I didn't know where all the other fields were outside of the facility. I didn't really know a whole lot. Luckily for me, I had a roommate that had been around professional baseball for a very long time. I was able to bounce ideas off of him and just get his stories on spring training experiences because he had been to plenty of them." 
    Stock's spring training roommate Zach Kelly began his professional career in 2017 with the Oakland Athletics organization and spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons in the Los Angeles Angels organization. Kelly, like Stock, entered his first spring training with the Red Sox in 2021 but quickly became one of many mentors to Stock to help him adjust to the minor-league baseball lifestyle. 
    Stock spoke more on Kelly, "He is a Division II guy from South Carolina and didn't sign for very much money. I'm a Division III guy. We were both undrafted free agents, and so he's a guy that you definitely want to root for. He had a great year. He was in Portland with the Sea Dogs. Then halfway through the summer, Zach got called up to Triple AAA, and from there, he's a phone call away from the Red Sox."
    The organization was welcoming and helpful for Stock's adjustment into professional baseball. Coaches and players at all levels of the organization and additional staff were very approachable for Stock whenever he had any questions, comments, or concerns. 
    The first day in the clubhouse for Spring Training was another surreal moment for Stock of realizing where he was. He was taking his first steps into becoming a major-league  pitcher, and when the Red Sox jersey with his name on the back was given to him, it topped many moments for him in 2021. 
    "One of my favorite moments was seeing my jersey and my last name on it. You know, whether you're Chris Sale, Ryan Brasier, or myself, you're wearing the same jersey for Spring Training. That was really cool. And then again, to be able to see Stock right there with the Boston Red Sox font on the back of your jersey, it was really freaking cool," said Stock.
    Appropriately, Stock's professional debut was against his home state's FCL affiliate, the Twins. Although his debut was not how he hoped it would go, it was still an excellent experience for Stock to start his career against the affiliate of a team he often watched growing up. 
    Stock and his older brother Jake, along with their cousins who also lived in Cold Spring as kids, did not grow up with cable in their households. This made their grandma Joyce and grandpa Dick Stock’s house the place to go to watch Joey’s favorite Twins growing up, Torii Hunter and Joe Nathan. One of Stock’s favorite memories from watching Twins  games at grandma and grandpa Stock’s was the iconic game 163 of 2009 when the Twins beat the Tigers in extra innings to win the division. 
    “I got to stay up really late watching that one in my grandparents' house. That was a fun game watching Alexi Casilla hit the walk off to win it for the Twins,” recalled Stock.
    Going into 2022, Stock has a few goals for himself. He currently has two pitches in his arsenal that may be close to being Major League ready; his fastball and curveball. Stock says that a third pitch will need to come into plan sometime this year but wants to build more speed into his fastball and command with his curveball before adding that third pitch. 
    "I'd say the biggest goal for me right now is to get to Double-A as soon as possible. Obviously, the goal is to play at its highest level, but you gotta take it in stride. What I'm shooting for this season is Greenville, South Carolina, which is our High A affiliate. From what I've seen with professional baseball, especially with the Red Sox, the jump from Single-A to Double-A is the biggest jump in the minors. My goal is to get to Greenville this year, spend the whole year there and continue to strive and continue to keep doing what I did where our pitching staff, including myself, is just throwing strikes. We're not pitching to contact. We're tunneling our pitches and just making the most of our opportunities," said Stock. 
    Stock isn't the first professional athlete from Cold Spring, Minnesota. Eric Decker played in the NFL for eight seasons from 2010-2017. He was drafted by the Twins but wen to the University of Minnesota where he played baseball and football. Some may remember shortstop Steve Huls who played for the Gophers and then spend five seasons in the Twins minor leagues. Justin Stommes played basketball at East Carolina before playing professional basketball in Europe. Stock hopes to become the first MLB player from his hometown, and to represent Minnesota baseball well as he journeys through the minors during 2022. With the mentorship and great organizational care the Red Sox show to their minor leaguers, Stock is confident he is with the right team currently to make that dream come true.
  13. Like
    big dog reacted to Andrew Mahlke for an article, Best Seasons by Veterans in Twins History   
    As players age, their physical abilities deteriorate and they often can not play as well as they used to play.. So when a player 35 or older has a great season, it is remarkable. Veterans are usually good locker room presences and leaders for younger players, but if they can also be one of the best players on the team, that is an added bonus.
    In this article, we will look at the top five seasons by hitters in Twins history over the age of 35. If a player has multiple great seasons over the age of 35, I picked their best one. All of the players on this list have had illustrious careers and while their production in these seasons wasn’t as high as they had in their primes, they still were very impactful players on their teams.
    5. Josh Donaldson, 2021 -  2.2 fWAR
    When Josh Donaldson made news in 2021, it was for sparking a sticky controversy with White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito and for feuding with Gerrit Cole. Despite being one of the most controversial players in baseball, Josh Donaldson has also been one of the best. Since 2013, he has the third highest WAR in all of baseball, trailing only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts.
    In Donaldson’s prime, he was a 6-8 WAR player, winning AL MVP in 2015 and finishing in the top 10 four times. In 2021, he was only worth 2.2 WAR, making him the third best player on the Twins behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. Donaldson hit .247/.352/.475 (.827) in 135 games. He had a wRC+ of 124, meaning he was 24 percent better than league average at creating runs for his team. He also had a keen eye at the plate, leading the Twins with 74 walks.
    When you dive deeper into the numbers, Donaldson was even more impressive. He ranked 4th in MLB in average exit velocity (94.1), 3rd in Barrels per plate appearance (11.2 percent), and 11th in hard hit rate. Below are his Baseball Savant percentile rankings.

    In nearly all of the offensive categories, Donaldson ranked in the top 10 percent of all hitters. This is incredible for a player who is 35 years old. As Donaldson ages, he will get more time in the DH role as the Twins look to younger players like Luis Arraez and Jose Miranda to occupy third base to keep Donaldson’s bat in the lineup more regularly. Donaldson had a good 2021 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his production improve in 2022 as a 36 year old.
    4. Paul Molitor, 1996 - 2.5 fWAR
    After an outstanding career in Milwaukee and Toronto, Hall-of-Famer and native Minnesotan Paul Molitor returned to play in his homeland for the final three years of his career. As is the case with most veterans, Molitor was mostly a designated hitter in his tenure with the Twins. During his career, Molitor’s versatility was one of his best assets so confining him to DH took a lot of his value away. Still, the future Twins manager was able to post 2.5 WAR in 1996, his first season with the Twins.
    In Molitor’s prime, he was consistently a 4-6 win player for the Brewers and Blue Jays. He won the World Series in 1993 with the Blue Jays and was named World Series MVP, going 11-for-24 with five extra base hits, seven RBI, three walks, and no strikeouts in six games. He also tied the World Series record for most runs in a series with 10 runs scored.
    In 1996, Molitor hit .341/.390/.468 (.858) for a 114 wRC+. Molitor led the American League with 225 hits, which is the third most for a single season in Twins history. He also drove in 113 runs and hit 41 doubles in that year. During that season he became the first player to hit a triple for his 3000th career hit. Molitor was a great veteran addition to a Twins team that needed some guidance.
    3. Jim Thome, 2010 3.1 fWAR
    As a player who spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, Twins fans did not associate Jim Thome with good memories. In his career against the Twins, Thome hit an ungodly .314/.415/.635 (1.049) with 61 home runs in 196 games. In 2010, the Twins decided that if you can’t beat him, join him, so they signed Thome to a one year deal worth $1.5 million.
    In his age 39 season, Thome was outstanding. He appeared in 108 games and hit .283/.412/.627 (1.039) for a 177 wRC+. Among players 39 and older who appeared in 100 or more games, the only players in MLB history with a higher OPS than Thome were Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron.
    Thome posted 3.1 WAR in only 108 games despite only playing DH. The only primary DH’s in MLB history with more WAR in a similar amount of games are Yordan Alvarez and David Ortiz. Thome hit his 600th career home run with the Twins in 2011, but his signature moment as a Twin was this walk-off home run he hit in August of 2010, the first walk-off homer in Target Field history.
    Thome was also an outstanding clubhouse presence, being named the nicest player in baseball by his fellow players, a nice touch on an outstanding career.
    2. Harmon Killebrew, 1971 3.9 fWAR
    Killebrew was an outstanding player for the entirety of his career. He actually had two seasons that would’ve placed him on this list but I chose to go with the better of the seasons, 1971. Killebrew was already on his way to the Hall of Fame before he turned 35, having hit 487 home runs in his career. But in his age 35 season, Killebrew had a great season. By this time, Killebrew’s outfield days were behind him and he was splitting time between first base and third base.
    In 1971, Killebrew hit .254/.386/.464 (.850) for a wRC+ of 137. He led the American League in RBI (119) and walks (114). He was named to the final all-star game of his fantastic career. In late July of this year, Killebrew hit his 499th homer. For the next 16 games, Killebrew went into a slump, not able to hit his 500th. But in the 17th game, Killebrew hit home runs 500 and 501 at Metropolitan Stadium to cement his legacy as an all-time great. Killebrew was relieved, telling the Associated Press he could finally breathe a sigh of relief again. “When people keep asking you when you’re going to hit it, you try a bit harder. The only time I thought about it was when people were asking me about it”, said Killebrew.
    1. Nelson Cruz, 2019 - 4.3 fWAR
    The ageless wonder, Nelson Cruz, was a fantastic signing for the Twins in the 2019 offseason. In his age 38 season, Cruz turned the Twins from a mediocre team into a 100 game winner. The Dominican slugger helped guide young Hispanic sluggers Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to career highs in home runs. Cruz had such a profound impact on Sano that Sano decided to name Cruz the Godfather of his daughter. He also won the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award for all of the great work he does in the community.
    Along with his great leadership, Cruz was one of the best hitters in the league. In 2019, Cruz hit .311/.392/.639 (1.031) for a wRC+ of 164. His .639 slugging percentage was the best single season slugging percentage in Twins history. He hit 41 home runs and drove in 108 runs. He also led MLB in Barrels per Plate Appearance, Hard Hit Rate, and Average Exit Velocity. The combination of this means that he hit the ball harder than anyone else did more consistently than anyone else. This led to a lot of success for Cruz.
    Nelson Cruz had two more good seasons for the Twins before he was traded during his age 40 season to the Tampa Bay Rays for Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. Cruz has a strong impact on baseballs and teammates, making him a great addition to any team.
    Throughout the Twins history, they have had some great seasons by older players, proving that baseball isn’t always a young man’s game. Hopefully another great season by Donaldson next year can move him up on this list, but don’t look for many Twins to make this list in the near future as the Twins will try to get younger players more experience.
    Who did I miss on this list? What would you change about the order? Is Cruz the best power hitter in Twins history? Leave a comment below! Let me hear your thoughts.
    Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  14. Like
    big dog reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The Twins Prospect You’re (Actually) Waiting For   
    In 2017, the Twins selected Brent Rooker 35th overall out of Mississippi State. He was a stud from a strong SEC conference. Rooker was coming off a ridiculous 1.306 OPS and power that was expected to translate. However, he was immediately tabbed as a bat-only prospect, and his greatest path to the big leagues was in being able to hit. We’ve seen him struggle in the outfield, and reports are that his footwork at first base is worse. Rooker may have a future yet, but he’s now 27 and has just 234 plate appearances to the tune of a .713 OPS under his belt. That’s not going to earn time as a regular.
    This isn’t a piece to knock Rooker though, Minnesota’s hope undoubtedly is that a guy under team control through 2027 will find it. Instead, the player you may have been expecting could instead come from 2019 39th overall pick Matt Wallner.
    Wallner is a Minnesota native from Forest Lake. He played his college ball at Southern Mississippi, and his 1.127 OPS out of college was plenty impressive in its own right. Wallner both pitched and hit for the Golden Eagles. He has a cannon from the outfield and an arm on the bump that can run it up in the mid-90s. The .810 OPS was a solid start in his 2019 pro-debut, but the pandemic shelved him.
    Without an invite to the Twins alternate site in St. Paul, Wallner kept himself ready while 2020 was shelved for Minor League Baseball. In 2021, he played at High-A Cedar Rapids and posted an .858 OPS with 15 dingers in just 68 games. Having been placed on the Injured List with a broken hamate bone which required surgery, Wallner missed nearly half of the season. Participating in the Arizona Fall League, he could have been in contention for league MVP with a 1.011 OPS if a hit-by-pitch in the face didn’t limit him to just 18 games.
    Even with the time on the shelf, production suggests the recently-turned 24-year-old is putting it together. Wallner is much more of an athlete than Rooker before him, and he’s average at worst in the outfield. Pitching could be a fallback option for him, but that’s probably never going to be part of the story. I’d be pretty surprised if Minnesota isn’t aggressive with the former Southern Miss star in 2022. Starting at Double-A wouldn’t be a shock, and making it to Triple-A or better is potentially in the cards.
    This time last year, Jose Miranda was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and became the biggest no-brainer addition. Wallner’s status didn’t necessitate a 40-man roster move this winter, but his production certainly could by next year... or sooner.
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
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  15. Like
    big dog reacted to renabanena for an article, Things Twins Players Did Recently   
    Randy Dobnak was thankful for beans, rice, Jesus Christ, and Byron
    Who? BYRON!
    Byron Buxton surprised us with the best early-Christmas gift
    No one thought the Twins could get it done. Byron Buxton will remain a Twin for a very long time with his 7-year extension. That means we’ll have some of this in our future:  
    And definitely a little bit of this: 
    Buxton’s athleticism is like a perfectly crafted Thanksgiving plate, with the perfect amount of turkey, stuffing, and a heaping side of taters. 
    Josh Donaldson celebrated his 36th birthday 
    The Bringer of Rain celebrated the big 3-6 presumably in style yesterday. The entire staff of Twins Daily celebrated his birthday by joining hands and watching one of his best moments from last season. Happy birthday Josh!
    Eduardo Escobar broke ground at Citi Field
    Despite moving on to his third team after the Twins, Eduardo Escobar remains one of the most beloved Twins of all time. We wish him nothing by the best as he moves on to the NL East. Fogo Power, baby! 

    Miguel Sano Took No Days Off
    Thanksgiving, shmanksgiving. Sano said no to giving up on his quest to prepping for the year ahead. 

    Lewis Thorpe took his horse to the Old Town Road 

    Max Kepler Continues to Live the Good Life
    We have no idea where Max Kepler spends most of his days. Wherever he is, there will be no grainy photos with poor lighting for Max. Kepler continues to be, what the kids say, ~*a vibe*~

    Don’t ask us what that means.
    Which other players would you like to hear from in the offseason? Comment below! 

  16. Like
    big dog reacted to David Youngs for an article, Moms of Minor Leaguers: Allison Mason   
    Allison Mason sat alongside her five-year-old young son Ryan outside of the t-ball fields in Auburn, California in her car. As the first day of T-ball practice awaited, a situation arose. What should have been a moment of excitement was one of confusion and concern. 
    Ryan refused to get out of the car. 
    No pitching involved? Nope, not for me.
    "He wouldn't play T-ball when he was five and he wouldn't play baseball when he was six because the coaches pitched," Allison recalled. "By the time he was seven and was finally allowed to pitch he was chomping at the bit to be in the full windup."
    Most kids need the grassroots staple of baseball to develop basic skills. Not Ryan. In a world of kids on first, Ryan was well on his way to third base and headed home. 
    That full trip around the bases is now inches from touching home plate.
    Coming off a strong 2021 season Ryan Mason has established himself as one of the strongest pitchers in the Twins Minor League Organization. After dabbling with excellence upon belong selected by the Twins in the 2016 draft, Ryan dominated in 2021, posting a 4-2 record and 2.67 ERA out of the bullpen. On July 31 his success earned him a promotion from AA Wichita to AAA St. Paul, his highest ascension on the ladder to Major League Baseball.
    Mason is on the cusp of achieving the dream that every boy fantasizes about in his backyard from a young age. 
    Yet from the days of watching Ryan refuse Tee-ball, to pitching at his home-state university, to sitting on the fringe of the highest level of baseball, Allison's experience has remained constant. 
    Proud and grateful. 
    Young Talent
    Allison reflects on her son's journey through baseball; a mother of two, Ryan fell in love with the game at an early age thanks to his older brother Jeff. 
    "His older brother was doing all the sports. baseball, soccer, basketball, all of it," Allison recalls. "As a younger brother, Ryan wanted to be out there and he wanted to be the same age as his brother so he could do all of it."
    Like many younger brothers, Jeff's baseball equipment would become Ryan's once he was big and old enough to fill it. The only exception was gloves, as Jeff was a lefty pitcher and Ryan throws with his right arm. 
    And while many hours were spent with Jeff in the backyard, Ryan had a knack for tuning up his fastball in the living room... at inconvenient times. 
    "We were in the living room and he was two and half years old; I can remember him setting up four couch cushions and he would pitch from the windup into the cushions," Allison said. "He would hit his spot 99% of the time. At the time it was annoying because we were trying to watch TV and I can remember saying 'Ryan can we give it a rest, can we please just sit down for a while,' and he would just keep doing it."
    It became apparent that Allison and Bob's son had a special gift from a young age. When Ryan was seven and finally able to pitch, he would scare the opposition out of the batter's box because he threw so hard for his age. 
    "I can remember other parents commenting 'What is he doing? Why is he doing this?' and I just responded with 'he lives for this," Allison said. "He couldn't wait for that moment to be on the mound."

    From Auburn's 'Nugget League' through the local Little League, Ryan established himself as one of the premier baseball players in the state by the time he was a high schooler. And while Allison was just happy to see her son succeed, an offer to play for the University of California Golden Bears was a dream come true. 
    "We never dreamt that big for him, we were just really, really glad that there were options," Allison said. "When Cal called, we were just like 'wow this is a DI, Pac-12 opportunity."
    Ryan was a stalwart for the Golden Bears, compiling a 26-11 record and 3.25 ERA over four years. He even went viral thanks to a pretty impressive pregame feat that landed him some airtime on ESPN and four million views over social media
    Ryan's success for the Golden Bears streamlined him to professional baseball. For Allison, the relationships that he built in Berkeley were equally as impactful as the success on the field. 
    "Some of his best friends to this day are from that program," including his coach," she said. 
    Bound in Auburn
    Auburn, California sits just northwest of the state capital of Sacramento. Far from the hustle and bustle of LA and San Diego, its population of just over 13,000 is a tight-knit community. Nestled in the town is the Mason's lumber store, where locals will come to check in on the progress of the finest athletes the community has ever seen. 
    Yet Ryan's legacy expands beyond the walls of Auburn Hardwoods; Ryan's story is a staple in the NorCal town. 
    "The high school keeps tabs on him, little league coaches, there's a whole community here that has his back and are watching him every step of the way," Allison said. 
    Tears of Joy
    Each time Ryan gets the news that he has been promoted to a higher level of play, his mother is one of the first to know. 
    "It's just tears, every single time. I'm the first one that he calls. It's fantastic, I'm proud every single time," she said. 
    By now, the national pastime is second nature to Allison and the Mason family. Yet with time comes change and growth, including Allison's perspective when her son takes the mound. 
    "When I was watching him pitch at Cal I was living and dying by the outings that he had," Allison said. "If he had a bad outing my heart would hurt for him."
    After a few years of watching Ryan pitch at the professional level, her mindset shifted from a roller coaster to one word. 
    "Being able to watch every game on MiLB.TV of Ryan and his teammates, I wasn't living and dying by every game anymore. I was just grateful for every single opportunity. My husband and I learned to step back and not ride the roller coaster, we're just grateful."

    Ryan has played 132 games for the Twins organization. And while the number is certain to grow, Allison is just proud of her son and his journey from tee-ball dropout to a world-class pitcher. 
    "Ryan is someone who is able to rise to the occasion, you don't know how long this is going to last and we're just grateful to watch it. Ryan has traveled all over the place and met so many people and lifelong friends and it's all through this connection of baseball."
    Are YOU a mother of a player in the Twins organization? We'd love to hear you and your son's story. Email David Youngs (dyyoungs15@gmail.com, @CYoungsAward on Twitter) for more information!
    Check out Seth's Episode of Twins Live with Ryan Mason!
  17. Like
    big dog reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Parting Ways with Colome Leaves Some Troubled   
    “When I was growing up, we didn’t just cut a guy loose after a bad year, we kept him on the team for years,” said Stephen Gilchrest, an electrician from Castle Rock Township. “It sucked. I hated every minute of it.”
    The 50-year-old father of two was in the prime of his Twins-loving life when Minnesota acquired reliever Ron Davis from the New York Yankees. It left a mark on Gilchrest that he says he still feels.
    “I don’t think you really ever get over something like that,” said Gilchrest, his voice lowering as he battled to keep his emotions in check. “At the same time, it teaches you so many valuable lessons that you can draw on in everyday life.”
    Such as?
    “Pain. Life is pain. Keep your expectations low. Understand that the world is not fair, and it will never be fair. Unqualified people will maintain positions of privilege despite flaws so glaring it’ll make your teeth hurt. Ron Davis will be your team’s closer for over four years and there’s nothing you can do about it. Admittedly that last one is super specific, but it still resonates.”
    Although many might be glad the Twins are opening a new chapter in their search for a 2022 closer, Gilchrest is not among their ranks.
    “What kind of lesson does it teach the kids of today when the Twins can just go out and make the right decision, just like that,” asked Gilchrest. “I had to suffer for years. I listened to the Jamie Quirk game on the radio and my dog died the next day. I buried Shep and my dreams on the same weekend in 1984.
    “You know who the closer was in 1985? Ron Davis. That’s when I stopped going to mass.”
    Gilchrest worries that the move might cause some younger fans to get too confident in the team’s prospects.
    “They’ll probably get a younger guy on a cheaper deal and he’ll turn out to be OK, maybe even better than OK, and the kids will get their hopes up,” said Gilchrest. “Hope. That’s what always gets you. Hell, I’m thrilled that they’re going in a different direction, but isn’t it even more important to let the children know that nothing gets better? Put Colome out there with a 2-run lead on Opening Day 2022. They’ll learn something that day.”
  18. Like
    big dog reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Potential Lockout Already Impacting Beat Writer Shirt Purchases   
    The prospect of a Major League Baseball lockout is growing by the day. While impacts on free agency and the 2022 season are only speculative at this point, some segments of the economy are already facing the consequences of a potential work stoppage head-on.
    “The male beat writers aren’t buying their new Spring Training shirts,” said a source close to the Minnesota chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. “Can’t justify the expense if there won’t be a spring training.”
    Replacing the previous year’s shirts, often marred by sweat, spilled coffee, missing buttons, and stains from a staggering variety of dipping sauces, is a hallowed tradition for writers both old and new.
    Right now, this tradition is riding the pine.
    “The whole market, be it staid Target golf polos or hideous button downs from brands with names like Panama Beachcomber, is in shambles,” said Steve Mediate, a consumer goods analyst for Forbes. “Clearly, they’re holding off until there’s more clarity from MLB and the players union.”
    Mediate is concerned that, even if an agreement is reached and a lockout avoided, it’ll be too late for the journalists to acquire their repulsive garments.
    “There’s a textile factory in Vietnam that specializes in the more garish designs certain baseball writers favor,” said Mediate. “They’ve been shuttered for a month. If he wants a shirt that looks like an educational film about farm accidents, they’re not even making them right now. His best bet for a button down designed by someone who hates the gift of sight and the concept of beauty is a vintage store or Goodwill.”
    Mediate confirmed that similar impacts are being felt in sectors like sandals and dumb-looking hats.
    “There are warehouses full of hats that keep the sun off your neck and also make you look like a real chump, a cosmic dorkwad who frankly should be bullied,” said Mediate. “They’re gathering dust and not going anywhere. It’s a mess.”
    Image license for photo of grotesque shirts here.
  19. Like
    big dog reacted to renabanena for an article, Things Twins Players Did This Week   
    Spoiler Alert: Your NLCS MVP is Eddie Rosario
    Unsurprisingly, Eddie Rosario was named the NLCS MVP last Saturday, surrounded by his loved ones including his parents, wife, children, and closest inner circle at Truist Park. 
    Lest we forget that Rosario was DFA’d by the Twins last offseason, signed by Cleveland, and subsequently traded to Atlanta for Pablo Sandoval, who had the third slowest sprint speed of all active players. 
    As Jesse Sanchez of MLB said in his profile of Rosario’s humble upbringing to his MVP honor, Rosario was “born to hit” and “may be the best unknown player in baseball”. 
    Give it up one more time for Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die! 
    Nelson Cruz won the Roberto Clemente Award
    Last night, Nelson Cruz won the coveted Roberto Clemente award for philanthropy, joining the ranks of Clayton Kershaw, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, and many others. Cruz was awarded this honor for his tremendous philanthropic efforts in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic throughout the pandemic. Here’s a list of some of Cruz’s philanthropic efforts that he aided in this past year:
    Provided financial support to over 1,200 families who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic Helped feed over 700 struggling families Gifted a firetruck, ambulance, and 80 uniforms to the town after a childhood friend’s home was burned down in a fire Organized dentists and optometrists to provide check-ups, dental services, glasses, and dental services  Began construction of an education center  And more! Not only is Cruz one of the most beloved players of all time, but he’s also an exemplary human being. Congratulations Nelson!
    Josh Donaldson watched a LOT of baseball 
    Josh Donaldson was all of us, live-tweeting during every playoff game. 
    Max Kepler snuggled a Frenchie
    *Googles how to become a bulldog* 

    Randy Dobnak wasn’t a regular mom; he was a cool mom
    The man induces ground balls and is the biggest hype man on the planet. Everyone needs a friend like Randy. 

    Louie Varland caught a big fish

    Devin Smeltzer caught an even bigger fish
    Sorry Louie

    Brent Rooker missed Jake Cave
    ....and we all now know where Cave stands on duck, duck, goose. 
    Which other Twins would you like to see here in the future? Let us know down below in the comments! 
  20. Like
    big dog reacted to renabanena for an article, Things Twins Players Did This Week   
    Taylor Rogers watched Tyler Rogers Pitch for the First Time
    Despite a heartbreaking Game 5 loss to the Dodgers, the silver lining was that Taylor finally got to watch Tyler pitch in person for the first time. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as one brother trolling another. 
    Taylor also had fun playing the Parent Trap on Giants fans by pretending to be Tyler in the stands during Game 1. We knew that we had a talented lefty on our hands, but who knew that Taylor was also a comedian by night. 
    Eddie Rosario was a Postseason Darling
    There is no question about it: Eddie Rosario has been the star of the NLCS. He’s currently batting .400 in the postseason with a .864 OPS. This is a different Rosario than even the one we saw in the postseason with the Twins. Minnesota’s beloved Eddie has, as they say, “leveled up”. 
    There may be something else to it though. Baseball players, such as Rosario, are just like us. 
    Minnesota may not have a horse in this NLCS race, but this entire state is behind Eddie on his World Series quest. 
    Max Kepler sat on some logs

    ….and ate some candy

    Randy Dobnak had some questions
    Matt Wallner, Zach Featherstone, Michael Helman, Andrew Bechtold, Evan Sisk, Cody Laweryson, and Kody Funderburk, all played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League
    The 2021 Arizona Fall League opened last week. Although the Scottsdale Scorpions have started slowly, each prospect has been exciting to watch. We’ve got you on all of the coverage and recaps from the first week that you need on the AFL season. 
  21. Like
    big dog reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review: Walk-Offs and Wins   
    For this week again, let’s start with a Question of the Week. Leave your responses in the Comments section.  
    Question of the Week: How concerned are you about all of the injuries in the Twins minor league system already this season? 
    A few transactions were announced on Monday. 
    RHP Regi Grace was placed on the Mighty Mussels Injured List with a right shoulder impingement.  The Twins signed RHP Bobby Milacki and OF Nick Anderson late last week. On Monday, they were added to the Ft. Myers roster. Milacki was the 38th round pick of the Nationals in 2018 out of Arizona Christian University. He was released after the 2019 season. In his most recent start for the Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League, the 24-year-old tossed five shutout innings. Anderson played for four years at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi. He played professionally in 2019, and he began the 2021 season with the Houston Apollos in the American Association.  Cody Laweryson has been added to the Cedar Rapids Kernels roster. He began the season on the Injured List. 
    As always, I welcome your feedback on what you would like to see from these Week in Review articles, so let me know in the comments below. Of course, I also encourage you to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday. 
    With that, let’s look at Week 5 in the Twins minor leagues: 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (2-4 @ Louisville), overall (15-15)
    Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (4-2 hosting Arkansas), overall (18-12)
    High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (3-3, @ Ft. Wayne), overall (13-17)
    Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (5-1, hosting St. Lucie), overall (16-14) 

    With the Twins struggles early this season, we have had a lot of minor league articles including articles on players who could be promoted and the daily minor league reports. 
    Twins Minor League Week in Review: Saints Sweep Minnesota’s Forgotten Prospect  Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - May 2021  Tuesday: Cabbage Blast Propels Kernels  Examining Minnesota’s Center Field Depth  Wednesday: Mussels Muster Night Saving Win  Get Ready for More 2021 Twins Debuts  Thursday: Wind Surge Win in Walk-Off Fashion  Prospect Retrospective: Gilberto Celestino  Friday: These Games Were Closer Than the Major League One!  Time for a Changing of the Guard  Saturday: Jordy Blaze Debuts  Prospect Retrospective: Griffin Jax  Sunday: Salvaging the Sweep   
    News & Notes 
    First and foremost, the St. Paul Saints are at home the next two weeks, and the Twins expect Byron Buxton and Kenta Maeda (and maybe Max Kepler?) to start a rehab assignment very soon. Head over to SaintsBaseball.com and get some tickets! Starting on Tuesday, CHS Field will be open to full capacity. On Tuesday, the Saints will be hosting (Re)Opening Day! 
    The Saints have turned 24 double plays this year. That is most among the Twins affiliates. 
    Brent Rooker has walked three or more times in a game six times in his career. Two of those happened this season. 
    Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids (home of the Kernels) has been the site of the Division III Baseball Championship. On Tuesday morning, Salisbury University (Maryland) will play St. Thomas (Minnesota) for the championship. St. Thomas, in its final season before jumping to Division I, would need to win twice for the title. Former Kernels Tanner and Trey Vavra are coaches for the Tommies. 

    We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 5 performances too. 
    Twins Player of the Week: Jose Miranda, Wichita Wind Surge   
    The Twins named Jose Miranda their Player of the Week. In six games, he hit .320/.393/.480 (.873) with a double and a 481-foot walk-off homer in extra innings on Friday night. On Sunday, Miranda extended his hitting streak to nine games. The 2016 draft pick has played in all 30 games for the Wind Surge. He has hit .319/.390/.546 (.936) with six doubles, seven homers and 27 RBI. 
    Twins Pitcher of the Week: Sawyer Gipson-Long, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels    
    Gipson-Long was the Twins sixth round pick in 2019 out of Mercer. In his start this past week, he gave up four runs (2 earned) on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 batters without issuing a walk. He has been much better since some early-season struggles. Overall, he has made five starts and is 2-2 with a 7.78 ERA. In 19 2/3 innings, he has walked seven and struck out 30 batters. 
    Other Strong Performances this Week
    St. Paul Saints
    Brent Rooker played in all six games. He hit just .222 but posted a .919 OPS thanks to three walks and two home runs. 
    It was an interesting week for Gold Glove outfielder Mark Contreras. When Gilberto Celestino was promoted to Triple-A, Contreras was sent back to Wichita. He played one game and went 2-for-4. When Celestino was called to the Twins, Contreras was back to St. Paul. He hit two doubles and his first Triple-A home run. 
    Charlie Barnes provided the Saints with their best start of the week. He went six shutout innings and gave up three hits, walked two and struck out six batters. Chandler Shepherd gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck one batter out. 
    Wichita Wind Surge
    Caleb Hamilton played in five games this past week. He hit .333/.350/.722 (1.072) with a double and two homers. Both home runs came in the same game. Ernie De La Trinidad played in all six games and hit .348/.400/.565 (.965) with two doubles and a home run. Jermaine Palacios and Aaron Whitefield both hit .333 while playing in all six games. 
    Yennier Cano, Ryan Mason, Jovani Moran and Alex Phillips each pitched twice out of the Wind Surge bullpen this past week. They combined to throw 12 2/3 innings and gave up only one unearned run. They walked three batters and struck out 17 batters. The other highlight of the week was the return of Jordan Balazovic. On Saturday night, he made the first start of the season. He struck out five batters in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, walked two batters and hit two batters. 
    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Andrew Cabezas struck out five batters over five shutout innings in his start this week. He gave up just three hits and walked one batter. Jon Cheshire gave up only a walk over 4 1/3 innings over three games. Zach Featherstone got eight outs over two appearances. He struck out seven batters. Jon Olsen gave up one run on two hits and a walk over five innings in his start. Kody Funderburk struck out nine batters over his 4 2/3 innings. 
    Alex Isola continues to be an on-base machine. In five games this week, he hit .250/.455/.563 (1.017) with two doubles and a homer. He walked six times. Max Smith played in four games and hit .438/.471/.500 (.971) with a double and four RBI. Wander Javier hit .318/.375/.591 (.966) with two doubles and two triples. He had a four-hit game. Trey Cabbage hit .333/.391/.571 (.963) with two doubles, a homer and six RBI. Spencer Steer hit two home runs on Sunday, and he also walked seven times. 
    Ft. Myers Might Mussels
    Edouard Julien has had a great pro debut, and after one rough weekend, he was strong again this past week. In five games, he hit .438/.524/.688 (1.211) with a double, a homer and three walks. Kyle Schmidt has also become a regular in these weekly reports. In four games this week, he hit .364/.500/.818 (1.318) with a triple and a homer. He also had three walks to just two strikeouts. Jefferson Morales walked six times in his five games and added two doubles. Aaron Sabato and Yunior Severino both went 6-for-20 (.300) in six games last week. 
    The Mussels went 5-1 for the week, and it’s certainly in large part due to their pitching. Louie Varland had the start of the week for the Mussels. The St. Paul native tossed six shutout innings. He gave up just three hits, hit one batter and struck out six batters. Brent Headrick gave up one run on two hits over five innings on Sunday. He walked two and struck out 11 batters. Regi Grace went 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in his start which is impressive when you consider he gave up one hit but walked four batters and hit three more. Sean Mooney walked four and struck out five in his four scoreless innings this week. The Mussels bullpen was strong. Denny Bentley, Steven Cruz, Osiris German, and Juan Pichardo combined to work 12 1/3 scoreless innings with 19 strikeouts. Matthew Swain gave up a solo homer, but he struck out nine batters over his two appearances (4 2/3 innings). 
    We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches.  
    St. Paul Saints
    Lewis Thorpe gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, and actually all of the hits and runs happened in that second inning. More noteworthy than one bad inning, however, is that he ended up going on the Injured List with a shoulder issue. Tom Hackimer gave up three runs on one hit over 1 2/3 innings. He walked seven batters. On Sunday, he walked six batters and got just two outs.  
    The Daniel Delscalso struggles continued. He went 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts this past week. Jimmy Kerrigan and David Banuelos combined to go 0-for-18 with 11 strikeouts. Damek Tomscha and Drew Maggi both went 2-for-17 (.118) in five games. 
    Wichita Wind Surge
    Peter Mooney had just one hit in 18 at bats this week. In his past 14 games, he is just 4-for-49 (.082).
    Reliever Brandon Koch pitched in three games. In 3 2/3 innings, he gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits, three walks and a hit batter. He had a 12.27 ERA and a 2.45 WHIP. In his start, Cole Sands gave up five runs (4 earned) on eight hits, three walks and a hit batter.  
    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Derek Molina gave up three runs on six hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, a 2.73 WHIP. 
    Gabriel Maciel returned to the lineup. In three games he went 1-for-10 (.100). Gabe Snyder went 3-for-23 (.130), but he did have six walks. 
    Ft. Myers Might Mussels
    It has been a struggle for 19-year-old outfielder Misael Urbina since a strong first week. Over five games last week, Urbina went 1-for-16 (.063). 
    Trending Storyline 
    We have talked about this before. Age-to-level of competition is a factor in prospect rankings, but it doesn’t need to be a primary factor in roster decisions and promotions. That said, following a missed 2020 season due to the pandemic, many of the Twins prospects began this season one step ahead of where they ended 2019. Several stayed at the same level. I thought it would be interesting to see how the current average age of hitters and pitchers at each of the four Twins full-season affiliates compares to the past couple of pre-pandemic seasons. 
    2018 Cedar Rapids: Hitters (20.9), Pitchers (21.4)
    2019 Cedar Rapids: Hitters (21.5), Pitchers (22.1)
    2021 Ft. Myers: Hitters (21.6), Pitchers (22.5)
    I would say that having Keoni Cavaco (20) and Misael Urbina (19) getting nearly everyday playing time helps keep the Low-A average age about the same. Again, many of these players were drafted in 2019 as 21-year-old college juniors (or 22-year-old seniors), and they’re just making their pro debuts (minus a few games at E-Town in 2019). 
    2018 Ft. Myers: Hitters (22.2), Pitchers (23.5)
    2019 Ft. Myers: Hitters (21.8), Pitchers (22.8)
    2021 Cedar Rapids: Hitters (23.2), Pitchers (24.3) 
    Several of the primary players in Cedar Rapids are guys who were drafted out of college in 2019. They were 21, and some of them got a little time in Low A Cedar Rapids at the end of that season, but they are now two years older. And the players from that previous draft are now 24 and 25, but they played in Low-A and 22 and 23. On the pitching side, you’ve got Jordan Gore who has moved to pitcher after playing shortstop in the system for a few years. He’s 26 with a 96 mph fastball and three pitches, so it’s a good move to keep him. Zach Featherstone was drafted as an OF/1B out of college but quickly was shifted to a pitcher, and then he needed Tommy John surgery in 2018. 
    2018 Chattanooga: Hitters (24.3), Pitchers (25.3)
    2019 Pensacola: Hitters (23.4), Pitchers (24.3)
    2021 Wichita: Hitters (25.1), Pitchers (25.2) 
    There is a bit of a jump in the hitters’ age, and that makes a lot of sense. These are the most advanced of the prospects that unfortunately missed a season. Most of the prospects here would have likely played in Double-A a year ago. So that is noteworthy, but Peter Mooney is 30 and playing about 75-80% of the time. The same story with the pitchers who are, on average, just under a year older than in 2019. That said, they’re at essentially the same age as 2018, which is a good reminder that these numbers can vary. 
    2018 Rochester: Hitters (27.2), Pitchers (25.5)
    2019 Rochester: Hitters (27.2), Pitchers (26.3)
    2021 St. Paul: Hitters (28.1), Pitchers (27.5)
    If not for the Twins' plethora of injuries, Kirilloff (23), Larnach (24), Rortvedt (23). Instead, they found themselves in a position to sign 34-year-old Daniel Descalso and play him nearly every day. And now Ryan Jeffers (24) is back in the big leagues. 
    The pitcher ages are a little higher than they have been, but that number could (or should) come down by the end of the season as I would think we would see Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic and Cole Sands work some Triple-A innings, and Duran will certainly get more before he would be promoted. 
    One thing to watch, as the injuries are piling up now, and the Twins continue to sign players out of independent leagues, those players may alter these numbers, so it will be interesting to see how they look at season’s end. And, ultimately, it won’t matter. Players need to develop at the right pace for them individually, and if players are performing, they’ll move up. 
    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects have performed on the season (as well as too many unfortunate injuries). This was requested in the comments last week. Let me know if it provides value. 
    #1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – St. Paul (2 rehab games, went 3-6 with 2 homers, 2 K), Minnesota (28 games, .238/.277/.410 (.686) with 6 doubles, 4 homers, 18 RBI, 6 BB, 30 K)
    #2 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL)
    #3 - Trevor Larnach (Minnesota) – St. Paul (3 games, went 3-11 with two homers, two walks, 8 strikeouts), Minnesota (25 games, .247/.389/.438 (.827) with 5 doubles, 3 homers, 8 RBI, 13 BB, 26 K) 
    #4 - Ryan Jeffers (Minnesota) – St. Paul (24 games, .217/.340/.446 (.786) with four doubles, five homers, 16 BB, 26 K), Minnesota (15 games, .200/.245/.380 (.625) with one double, one triple, two home runs, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 21 K)
    #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 2 GS, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 14 K, 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP 
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 1 GS, 3.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP 
    #7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 24 games, .242/.314/.316 (.630) with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 30 K, 4 SB
    #8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 28 games, .173/.372/.286 (.658) with 5 doubles, 2 homers, 7 RBI, 28 BB, 44 K
    #9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 4 GS, 18.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 35 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP (went on the IL with right elbow strain)
    #10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (went on IL with right elbow strain) 
    #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesotal) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), Minnesota (4 games, .000/.000/.000 (.000) with 0 BB, 4 K)
    #12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – St. Paul (24 games, .238/.380/.513 (.893) with one double, 7 homers, 18 BB, 31 K), Minnesota (8 games, .103/.133/.241 (375) with 1 double, 1 homer, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 13 K)
    #13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 17 games, .333/.384/.621 (1.005) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 14 RBI, 5 BB, 28 K. (on IL with wrist injury)
    #14 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – Ft. Myers (22 games, .177/.292/.241 (532) with 1 double, 2 triples, 15 RBI, 11 BB, 21 K, 3 SB)
    #15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Wichita (6 GS, 26.1 IP, 21 H, 15 BB, 34 K, 3.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) 
    #16 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (elbow)
    #17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – St. Paul (5 games, .286/.318/.571 (.890) with3 doubles, 1 homer, 1 BB, 6 K), Minnesota (15 games, .147/.216/.235 (452) with 1 homer, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 15 K)
    #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (injured)
    #19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 29 games, .322/.394/.557 (950) with 6 doubles, 7 homers, 27 RBI. 10 BB, 14 K
    #20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – St. Paul (4 GS, 16.0 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 21 K, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Minnesota (2 GS, 8.0 IP, 10 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 5.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) 
    Ft. Myers @ Jupiter (Sawyer Gipson-Long, Louie Varland, Sean Mooney, Miguel Rodriguez, Brent Headrick, TBD): 
    Cedar Rapids @ Beloit:(TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD)
    Wichita @ Tulsa: (Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic, Chris Vallimont,  Austin Schulfer, Josh Winder) 
    Omaha @ St. Paul: (Charlie Barnes, Kenta Maeda (rehab), Jhoan Duran, Andrew Albers, TBD, TBD): 
    Feel free to provide some feedback below regarding these reports. What do you like to read? What types of information would you like added? Also, feel free to ask any questions you like.
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