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Steve Lein

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Steve Lein last won the day on November 7 2019

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  • Birthday 05/14/1983

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    When I'm not blogging, I'm an Electrical Engineer

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  1. In a continuing theme for the 2021 Arizona Fall League season, the power hitting Matt Wallner again sent one out of the park in Week 6, and finished among the league’s leaders in OPS. Each of their relief pitchers also got one final outing, so keep reading to see how all your Minnesota Twins prospects did during the final week of the AFL season. In a bit of a scheduling quirk with the AFL, the Scottsdale Scorpions played only three games in the final week of the season, going 1-2 to finish with an overall record of 12-18, good for second place in the East Division and fifth overall. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 4-for-8, R, HR (6, tied for 4th in AFL), 2 RBI, BB, 2 K; .303/.405/.606 (1.011 OPS) overall. Wallner got the start in two games on the week, batting fifth in both contests and one game each in the opposite corners of the outfield. In Tuesday’s 9-7 loss at the Surprise Saguaros, he was in right field and led the team with three hits on the day. Down 8-4 at the time and in his third at-bat, Wallner picked up the first of those three hits with a single the opposite way that put runners on first and second with no outs. Unfortunately that’s as far as he’d make it as their rally attempt was snuffed out with three consecutive outs after that. He’d add another single in the seventh inning with a line drive to right field, and this time ended up stranded on third. With the score 9-5 going into the top of the ninth, Wallner followed a leadoff single with his sixth home run of the AFL season, a blast into right field that made it the final of 9-7. Wallner finished off his time in the AFL playing left field in Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox. He grounded out to first base in his first at-bat in the second inning, then singled in the fourth with a ground ball into right field. The Scorpions took a 1-0 lead in the inning on four total singles and a sac fly, but Wallner ended up stranded on third after reaching there with only one out. After a double, single, and another sac fly made it 2-0 in the fifth, he drew a walk to put runners on first and second. They extended the lead to 3-0 with another single before a double-play ball ended any further threat. Leading 3-2 in the seventh and final inning of the contest, Wallner went down swinging before the Solar Sox clubbed two home runs in the bottom half to walk it off. The power hitting outfielder ends his time in the AFL with an outstanding .303/.405/.606 batting line, good for a 1.011 OPS that led the Scorpions roster and was 10th overall in the league. His six home runs were tied for third in league play while his 15 RBI also led the Scorpions and ranked 10th in the league. For comparison, Royce Lewis won the AFL MVP award during the 2019 season with a .353/.411/.565 line and .975 OPS, having 85 at-bats compared to Wallner’s 66. In 18 total games, Wallner walked 9 times and struck out 27 times, batting primarily in the middle of the Scorpions lineup. Despite his 2021 season being limited to 66 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, I’d fully expect Wallner to begin the 2022 season in the middle of the Wichita Wind Surge’s lineup. Zach Featherstone: 1 appearance, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K; 8.10 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 10 IP overall. Featherstone made his lone appearance on the week in Friday’s walk off loss to Mesa, being tabbed as the first relief pitcher summoned to start the third inning. With the game still scoreless, he delivered a one-two-three inning, getting a groundout and a pair of fly outs on just 12 pitches (7 for strikes). The left-hander made appearances in 11 of the Scorpions 30 games on the season, totaling 10 innings pitched with a 12-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed 9 earned runs on 13 hits and finished with a 2.20 WHIP, 8.10 ERA, and .310 batting average against. Featherstone spent all of the 2021 season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen, amassing 107 K’s in 73 1/3 innings pitched that was good for a 2.13 ERA, but as was apparent in the AFL needs to continue working on limiting free passes. I’d expect him to be with Wichita to begin the 2022 season. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-3, R, RBI, BB, 0 K; .237/.333/.305 (.638 OPS) overall. Bechtold saw action in two of the Scorpions three games on the week, getting the start at first base in one while entering as a pinch hitter and designated hitter in the other. His first game of the week came in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Salt River Rafters, where he came on as a pinch hitter for the leadoff man in the fifth inning and got a rally started by drawing a one-out walk. After an error he was on third base and scored their second run of the game on a single two batters later. Before the inning was over the Scorpions would tie the game at three. In the bottom of the sixth Bechtold delivered the most important at-bat of the game for Scottsdale, with a sacrifice fly into right field that scored the go-ahead and winning run. While Bechtold did not have a home run in AFL play, he did collect four doubles in 16 games after hitting 18 home runs and 23 doubles with the Wind Surge in 99 games. Depending on offseason roster moves Bechtold could be back in double-A, but with further improvement in his average and on-base percentage should see time with the St. Paul Saints in 2022. Kody Funderburk: Did not pitch; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. With just three games on the week Funderburk’s spot in the rotation did not come up to close out the AFL season, but he finished his time there very strong with wins in his final three starts. Those three wins led the Scorpions pitching staff and was also the second most among all AFL pitchers. His 17 2/3 IP also ranked third on the roster, while his 22 strikeouts ranked second on the team and seventh in the league. His final ERA, WHIP, and BAA numbers are skewed by his first few starts where he gave up some runs in bunches, but the 22-to-6 K-to-BB ratio is a good stat to hang his hat on, as was his excellent finish. Funderburk pitched at two levels during the 2021 season, starting ten games with Cedar Rapids before finishing with seven appearances out of the bullpen with Wichita. I’d expect him to be back in double-A to begin the 2022 season as part of the Wind Surge’s starting rotation, looking to build on his limited innings in 2021. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, BB, 0 K, SB; .216/.355/.255 (.610 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw playing time in two of three games on the week, with one of those appearances coming as a pinch hitter part of the way through. In Tuesday’s loss at Surprise, Helman entered the game as a pinch hitter for the DH in the seventh inning with runners on first and third after Wallner delivered a single. His ground ball toward second base turned into an error and allowed a run to score, closing the gap on the scoreboard to four runs. After Wallner’s home run in the ninth, Helman grounded out to short for the first out as their comeback attempt came up short. In Wednesday’s win over Salt River Helman batted ninth in the lineup and played center field. He popped out in the second inning, grounded out to short to leadoff the fifth, then drew the second of two consecutive walks in the sixth inning that loaded the bases with one out. Bechtold followed him with his sac fly that gave the Scorpions the lead and with second base open, he stole his seventh base of the AFL season. Those seven steals led the Scottsdale roster and was good for fourth in the league. He was not caught stealing once during the season, and had three games where he stole two bases. In 16 games in the AFL, Helman scored 10 runs and played all around the diamond, including plenty of run in center field as he continued to expand his positional versatility. He spent all of 2021 with Cedar Rapids, and should move up to Wichita in 2022. Like Bechtold, he didn’t hit a home run during AFL play, but was among organizational leaders with 19 during the regular season. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 18 K, 7 BB, 14 IP overall. After pitching in the Fall Stars Game during week five, Laweryson finished his AFL season with a lone appearance in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Salt River. With his team down 3-1 going into the fifth, he came on as the second relief pitcher to start the inning. He allowed a one-out single but retired the other three hitters he faced, including ending the inning with a swinging strikeout after a good battle with MLB.com’s #45 overall prospect, Brett Baty of the New York Mets. Laweryson pitched in eight games with the Scorpions, including one start, and for the most part was asked to go multiple innings as he finished with 14 total innings. He held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average against, allowing 10 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 18 hitters. That K total ranked fourth on the Scorpions pitching staff. After missing the first few months of the 2021 season, the right-hander started fourteen games with Cedar Rapids but totaled just 58 2/3 innings. It’s possible he begins the 2022 season in double-A, but also would not surprise me to see him back with the Kernels looking to lengthen his outings as a starter. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 14 K, 9 BB, 10 2/3 IP overall. Like his other relief pitching teammates, Sisk made just one appearance in the season’s final week, getting the ball in Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to the Surprise Saguaros. With the score 8-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Sisk was summoned to start the inning as the third reliever of the game for Scottsdale. He bookended a strikeout with a pair of walks, before a balk then moved both runners into scoring position. A single to the next hitter scored one before a mound visit got him back on track. He picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning without any further damage, but did put an end to his scoreless inning streak at 6 total innings pitched. Like Funderburk, Sisk had a bit of a rough start to his time in the AFL, but finished strong. After allowing eight earned runs total in his first five appearances, he allowed just one over his final five to end the season. Over those final five games, Sisk allowed just two hits, walked three, and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings. As he’s new to the Twins organization, I’d expect him to begin the 2022 season back in the bullpen in double-A looking to improve upon his control, much like Featherstone. Thanks for following the 2021 AFL season along with me, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who were there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. In a bit of a scheduling quirk with the AFL, the Scottsdale Scorpions played only three games in the final week of the season, going 1-2 to finish with an overall record of 12-18, good for second place in the East Division and fifth overall. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 4-for-8, R, HR (6, tied for 4th in AFL), 2 RBI, BB, 2 K; .303/.405/.606 (1.011 OPS) overall. Wallner got the start in two games on the week, batting fifth in both contests and one game each in the opposite corners of the outfield. In Tuesday’s 9-7 loss at the Surprise Saguaros, he was in right field and led the team with three hits on the day. Down 8-4 at the time and in his third at-bat, Wallner picked up the first of those three hits with a single the opposite way that put runners on first and second with no outs. Unfortunately that’s as far as he’d make it as their rally attempt was snuffed out with three consecutive outs after that. He’d add another single in the seventh inning with a line drive to right field, and this time ended up stranded on third. With the score 9-5 going into the top of the ninth, Wallner followed a leadoff single with his sixth home run of the AFL season, a blast into right field that made it the final of 9-7. Wallner finished off his time in the AFL playing left field in Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox. He grounded out to first base in his first at-bat in the second inning, then singled in the fourth with a ground ball into right field. The Scorpions took a 1-0 lead in the inning on four total singles and a sac fly, but Wallner ended up stranded on third after reaching there with only one out. After a double, single, and another sac fly made it 2-0 in the fifth, he drew a walk to put runners on first and second. They extended the lead to 3-0 with another single before a double-play ball ended any further threat. Leading 3-2 in the seventh and final inning of the contest, Wallner went down swinging before the Solar Sox clubbed two home runs in the bottom half to walk it off. The power hitting outfielder ends his time in the AFL with an outstanding .303/.405/.606 batting line, good for a 1.011 OPS that led the Scorpions roster and was 10th overall in the league. His six home runs were tied for third in league play while his 15 RBI also led the Scorpions and ranked 10th in the league. For comparison, Royce Lewis won the AFL MVP award during the 2019 season with a .353/.411/.565 line and .975 OPS, having 85 at-bats compared to Wallner’s 66. In 18 total games, Wallner walked 9 times and struck out 27 times, batting primarily in the middle of the Scorpions lineup. Despite his 2021 season being limited to 66 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, I’d fully expect Wallner to begin the 2022 season in the middle of the Wichita Wind Surge’s lineup. Zach Featherstone: 1 appearance, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K; 8.10 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 10 IP overall. Featherstone made his lone appearance on the week in Friday’s walk off loss to Mesa, being tabbed as the first relief pitcher summoned to start the third inning. With the game still scoreless, he delivered a one-two-three inning, getting a groundout and a pair of fly outs on just 12 pitches (7 for strikes). The left-hander made appearances in 11 of the Scorpions 30 games on the season, totaling 10 innings pitched with a 12-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed 9 earned runs on 13 hits and finished with a 2.20 WHIP, 8.10 ERA, and .310 batting average against. Featherstone spent all of the 2021 season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen, amassing 107 K’s in 73 1/3 innings pitched that was good for a 2.13 ERA, but as was apparent in the AFL needs to continue working on limiting free passes. I’d expect him to be with Wichita to begin the 2022 season. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-3, R, RBI, BB, 0 K; .237/.333/.305 (.638 OPS) overall. Bechtold saw action in two of the Scorpions three games on the week, getting the start at first base in one while entering as a pinch hitter and designated hitter in the other. His first game of the week came in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Salt River Rafters, where he came on as a pinch hitter for the leadoff man in the fifth inning and got a rally started by drawing a one-out walk. After an error he was on third base and scored their second run of the game on a single two batters later. Before the inning was over the Scorpions would tie the game at three. In the bottom of the sixth Bechtold delivered the most important at-bat of the game for Scottsdale, with a sacrifice fly into right field that scored the go-ahead and winning run. While Bechtold did not have a home run in AFL play, he did collect four doubles in 16 games after hitting 18 home runs and 23 doubles with the Wind Surge in 99 games. Depending on offseason roster moves Bechtold could be back in double-A, but with further improvement in his average and on-base percentage should see time with the St. Paul Saints in 2022. Kody Funderburk: Did not pitch; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. With just three games on the week Funderburk’s spot in the rotation did not come up to close out the AFL season, but he finished his time there very strong with wins in his final three starts. Those three wins led the Scorpions pitching staff and was also the second most among all AFL pitchers. His 17 2/3 IP also ranked third on the roster, while his 22 strikeouts ranked second on the team and seventh in the league. His final ERA, WHIP, and BAA numbers are skewed by his first few starts where he gave up some runs in bunches, but the 22-to-6 K-to-BB ratio is a good stat to hang his hat on, as was his excellent finish. Funderburk pitched at two levels during the 2021 season, starting ten games with Cedar Rapids before finishing with seven appearances out of the bullpen with Wichita. I’d expect him to be back in double-A to begin the 2022 season as part of the Wind Surge’s starting rotation, looking to build on his limited innings in 2021. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, BB, 0 K, SB; .216/.355/.255 (.610 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw playing time in two of three games on the week, with one of those appearances coming as a pinch hitter part of the way through. In Tuesday’s loss at Surprise, Helman entered the game as a pinch hitter for the DH in the seventh inning with runners on first and third after Wallner delivered a single. His ground ball toward second base turned into an error and allowed a run to score, closing the gap on the scoreboard to four runs. After Wallner’s home run in the ninth, Helman grounded out to short for the first out as their comeback attempt came up short. In Wednesday’s win over Salt River Helman batted ninth in the lineup and played center field. He popped out in the second inning, grounded out to short to leadoff the fifth, then drew the second of two consecutive walks in the sixth inning that loaded the bases with one out. Bechtold followed him with his sac fly that gave the Scorpions the lead and with second base open, he stole his seventh base of the AFL season. Those seven steals led the Scottsdale roster and was good for fourth in the league. He was not caught stealing once during the season, and had three games where he stole two bases. In 16 games in the AFL, Helman scored 10 runs and played all around the diamond, including plenty of run in center field as he continued to expand his positional versatility. He spent all of 2021 with Cedar Rapids, and should move up to Wichita in 2022. Like Bechtold, he didn’t hit a home run during AFL play, but was among organizational leaders with 19 during the regular season. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 18 K, 7 BB, 14 IP overall. After pitching in the Fall Stars Game during week five, Laweryson finished his AFL season with a lone appearance in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Salt River. With his team down 3-1 going into the fifth, he came on as the second relief pitcher to start the inning. He allowed a one-out single but retired the other three hitters he faced, including ending the inning with a swinging strikeout after a good battle with MLB.com’s #45 overall prospect, Brett Baty of the New York Mets. Laweryson pitched in eight games with the Scorpions, including one start, and for the most part was asked to go multiple innings as he finished with 14 total innings. He held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average against, allowing 10 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 18 hitters. That K total ranked fourth on the Scorpions pitching staff. After missing the first few months of the 2021 season, the right-hander started fourteen games with Cedar Rapids but totaled just 58 2/3 innings. It’s possible he begins the 2022 season in double-A, but also would not surprise me to see him back with the Kernels looking to lengthen his outings as a starter. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 14 K, 9 BB, 10 2/3 IP overall. Like his other relief pitching teammates, Sisk made just one appearance in the season’s final week, getting the ball in Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to the Surprise Saguaros. With the score 8-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Sisk was summoned to start the inning as the third reliever of the game for Scottsdale. He bookended a strikeout with a pair of walks, before a balk then moved both runners into scoring position. A single to the next hitter scored one before a mound visit got him back on track. He picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning without any further damage, but did put an end to his scoreless inning streak at 6 total innings pitched. Like Funderburk, Sisk had a bit of a rough start to his time in the AFL, but finished strong. After allowing eight earned runs total in his first five appearances, he allowed just one over his final five to end the season. Over those final five games, Sisk allowed just two hits, walked three, and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings. As he’s new to the Twins organization, I’d expect him to begin the 2022 season back in the bullpen in double-A looking to improve upon his control, much like Featherstone. Thanks for following the 2021 AFL season along with me, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who were there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. It's a fair question to ponder! I look at it this way, and maybe it's a bit era dependent, but his .761 OPS on the road wasn't exactly what I'd call, just "normal," for the time. It was in fact, still very above average. The highest average OPS across the league during Puckett's early and middle career was in the range of .695-.710, and in 1987 when it was .747, his was .921 on the road. In the last three years of his career the average OPS was .736-.763. His was .895 on the road in 1995, and .726 in the two years preceding. You certainly can make the conclusion the Metrodome was nice to him, but it's not like he didn't ever crush on the road either in a season-to-season look. Definitely other thins I'd want to look at too.
  4. This debate, has been one of my favorites over the years, and I am 100% team Puckett, and it's not even close for me (Joe Mauer is great, too... But that doesn't mean I think it's close). But this part of the argument in favor of Mauer is one of my favorites to (try to? you decide...) tear to shreds. In this day and age, on-base-percentage is (rightly, to a degree) favored over batting average, but the thing about OBP is, the high values of it are driven by walks —which do absolutely nothing when it comes to scoring runs except on the most rare player on-base situation in baseball. They only give the rest of your team that opportunity to score a run, which you've been deriding in the arguments as something the player has to rely on as "team contextual" (which is hilarious to me in a comparison between these two players, as you'll discover below). What gets forgotten with this idea, is that hits are always better than a walk, a lot better, in fact... So, lets look deeper at Mauer vs. Puckett with Runners in Scoring Position, Men-On-Base, and in the Clutch: RISP: .334/.459/.477 line for Mauer absolutely looks great, and that's because it is! But... he had 540 hits, and 418 (!) walks leading to that line... So what you actually have here, is one of the greatest hitters of his era, actually being one of the most passive players ever in those situations. He drove in 756 runners, had 32 homers, 116 doubles, and 10 triples among his 540 hits. Compare with Puckett, who had a .322/.383/.496 batting line in those situations, with 598 hits, and 204 walks. What you should notice right away in the batting line, is Puckett's average was close to Mauer's, but he also had .020 more points in slugging. This is because Puckett drove in 842 runners, had 57 homers, 114 doubles, and 19 triples among his 598 hits in comparison. The point here is, Puckett did significantly more damage than Mauer in these situations despite the perceived difference in OPS, because he swung the bat more. The importance of this point will become even more apparent in the following. Men-On-Base: This is where it gets really fun for me, and I'll tie it into batting with RISP. Over his career, adding together how many runners were in scoring position, Mauer had the "opportunity" to drive in 2,451 total runners in scoring position. He tallied the already mentioned 756 RBI in those situations, and 756 / 2451 means he drove in 30.8% of possible runners he could have (including himself with a HR and any stragglers that weren't actually in "scoring position"). Puckett, over his career had the "opportunity" to drive in 2,456 runners in scoring position (See where this is going, and why that "team contextual" argument is meaningless in this comparison, yet?). He totaled 842 RBI, 842 / 2456 means he drove in 34.3% of those possible in comparison, and is the first of what I'll call a "significant difference." When going to all runners ever, including themselves as the batter, Mauer had 12,695 possible "opportunities" to put a run on the scoreboard in his career. He had 923 career RBI. 923 / 12695 means he put 7.3 % of all possible runs he could have in his career, on the scoreboard. Puckett had 12,630 of these same possible "opportunities" in his career (again, basically an identical number to Mauer) to put a run on the scoreboard, and did so 1085 times. 1085 / 12630 = 8.6%. (In case you're not really familiar with the mathematics subject/concept of "statistics," it's at this point I'd point out that the larger of a sample size you have, which these arguments definitely are a large sample, the less and less any concept of "team contextual" or "opponent" argument becomes relevant in a game of baseball context, to the point of being meaningless here.) If you don't think that 1.3% is another significant difference... Well, it's incredibly significant. Especially when you take into account, that per the OPS argument being made above, Mauer "should" have been better than Puckett was in this regard. To give you a different level of comparison with this type of number, Mike Trout has scored a run on 9.3% of all possible "opportunities" in his career. So, Puckett is a lot closer to Trout in this regard, than Joe was to Kirby. Clutch: The big crux here again, is how Mauer arrives at this OPS versus Puckett. Joe's batting average of .321 is .019 points higher than Kirby's, but has a mammoth .150 Isolated discipline in comparison to .090 for Puckett. That OPS difference is mostly due to the fact that Joe, again, was much more willing to take walks rather than try to do damage. Sure, if he swung more, that batting average would likely go down, but the tradeoff for an elite hitter like Joe, most certainly would be a net-win when it comes to scoring runs. 849 career Plate Appearances for Joe with RISP and 2 outs: 278 RBI. 813 career Plate Appearances for Kirby with RISP and 2 outs: 267 RBI (extrapolated to 849 PA = 278 RBI) For a difference of .089 in OPS, literally nothing was gained for Mauer in terms of putting runs on the scoreboard over Kirby in these "clutch" situations. For me, these ideas formulate the main rub in this argument and comparison: Mauer absolutely SHOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER than Puckett... but he wasn't, for the simple fact he didn't swing enough (hits are better than walks, friends!). And please don't take these points as a knock on Mauer, they're absolutely not. He was great! Just different, but if he ever had added a more aggressive situational hitting approach (in my opinion, he had the same approach for everything, which worked great for him, obviously, but...), he probably also could have been even more. Also just for funsies, more simple arguments I like to point out: Kirby scored more than 80 runs in a season 9 times out of 12 in his career (Mauer had: 5/15), drove in 80+ runners in 10/12 (Mauer: 4/15), batted .300+ in 8/12 (Mauer: 8/15), had more than 160+ hits in 11/12 (Mauer: 6/15), had 250+ TB in 9/12 (Mauer: 2/15), had 35+ doubles in 7/12 (Mauer: 4/15), was an All-Star in 10/12 (Mauer: 6/15), won a Gold Glove in 6/12 (Mauer: 3/15), and Silver Slugger in 6/12 (Mauer: 5/15). Mauer has that MVP over him, but Kirby has the 2 World Series Titles. Much different players, you can make great arguments for either, both are among my favorite Twins ever, and Joe gets a lot of credit for being a catcher. But Kirby is undisputed on the top of this podium for me.
  5. Outfielder Matt Wallner hit another home run, Kody Funderburk picked up another win, and Evan Sisk continued his turnaround during Week 5 of Arizona Fall League play for Minnesota Twins prospects. One of their pitchers also got to play in the Fall Stars Game, in which their AFL East team won. Week 5 was the first of the season where the Scottsdale Scorpions put together a winning record, with three wins compared to two losses. Going into the last week of play their record sits at 11-16, good for second in the East division standing, 3.5 games behind Mesa. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-13, 2 R, 2B, HR (5), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K; .276/.386/.569 (.955 OPS, leads team) overall. The power hitting lefty was back to full participation in Week 5, getting the start in four games. He came out hot in Monday’s 11-10 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox, getting the nod at designated hitter and batting sixth. He drew a walk in the first inning that loaded the bases, and the hitter after him delivered a two-run single for an early 3-0 lead for the Scorpions. Leading off the third, Wallner clubbed his fifth home run of the AFL season the opposite way into left-center to kick start an inning where his team batted around. That of course means Wallner came up again, and in addition to starting it, he also finished the scoring in their six-run barrage with an RBI double that made it 10-0 Scottsdale. Unfortunately for them, that was the end of their scoring on the game, and the Solar Sox came scorching back with 11 runs of their own the rest of the way to steal a victory. Wallner was also hit by another pitch in the 5th inning, meaning he reached base four times on the day in six plate appearances. He was back in action for Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at home versus the Surprise Saguaros, taking left field and again batting sixth. With his team down 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Wallner led off their last at-bat with a line drive single into right field on the first pitch he saw. Teammate Kole Cottam followed his lead, and took the very next pitch deep to right center, giving the Scorpions a walk-off win after being held to just three hits as a team before the ninth. After a day off Wallner was moved up in the lineup for Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, batting third and playing in right field. His team again had some trouble collecting hits, but he had one of their four on the game with a single in the sixth inning. He also drew a walk in this one, and had two strikeouts in his other plate appearance to finish 1-for-3. In the team's final game of the week on Friday, Wallner was again in right field and batting fifth for their 4-2 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs in a seven inning affair. He extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the third inning but ended up stranded at second base. His team was already up 4-0 and was more than enough the rest of the way for the Scorpions. He ended the game 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts, but otherwise had another strong week and currently tied for the team lead with five home runs, and leads the squad with 14 RBI and a .955 OPS on the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1.2 IP, H, ER, 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 2.44 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 9 2/3 IP overall. Featherstone made his first appearance of the week to start the fifth inning in Wednesday’s 6-1 win over the Salt River Rafters. He was credited with his second hold of the AFL season as he delivered a scoreless frame. He struck out the first hitter he faced before allowing a walk, but a groundout and caught stealing attempt erased any threat. 12 of his 21 pitches in the inning went for strikes, including four swinging. In their win against Glendale on Friday, Featherstone was brought into the game with one out in the sixth inning and a runner on second base. A walk to the first hitter he faced this time came back to bite him. With two runners on and two outs a batter later, he had an epic 12-pitch battle he ultimately ended up losing after the hitter fouled off six different pitches. The two-run double that resulted made the final score of 4-2. After another walk triggered a mound visit, Featherstone finally put an end to the threat by getting a pop out to the infield to keep his team in front. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 1-for-9, R, 6 K; .214/.313/.286 (.598 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the catcher for the first game of the week for Scottsdale on Monday, and batting eighth in the lineup. In their six-run third inning that Wallner led off with a bomb, Bechtold later delivered a loud and long single before trotting around the bases on another home run from teammate Jordan Qasar. He’d finish the game 1-for-5 with three strikeouts as the Scorpions collapsed after jumping out to a big lead early. In their shutout loss to the Peoria Javelinas on Thursday, Bechtold batted cleanup playing first base, and finished 0-for-4 with another three strikeouts. In a game where his team had just four hits it’s a little hard to feel bad about such a performance, then you also take a look at how other players did and come to the conclusion it was just one of those days. Maybe there was a bad glare around the batter's eye as despite the win, Peoria’s leadoff hitter was 0-for-5 with five K’s for the infamous “platinum sombrero,” another who was 0-for-4 with the “golden” variety (4 K’s), and finally another who matched Bechtold with the boring regular sombrero. All in all the teams combined to strike out 27 times in the game, or exactly half the outs recorded. Yikes. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, W, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. After a two-win Week 4 Funderburk continued his rebound from a bit of a rough start with another win in his lone start of Week 5. He got the nod in Friday’s scheduled seven inning game, and completed a perfect first three innings, retiring all nine hitters he faced. He picked up a strikeout in each inning and needed just forty pitches in his time on the mound. 26 of those pitches went for strikes, and included five of the swinging variety. That’s three straight wins for the left-handed starting pitcher and in that time he’s allowed four runs on eleven hits, walked only one, and struck out 15 batters in 10 2/3 IP. His ERA is down from above 10 to 6.11, and his WHIP down nearly a whole point to 1.75, in that timeframe, coming on strong for the Scorpions starting staff as the end of the season approaches. He is second on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts in AFL play. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .234/.368/.277 (.649 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw action in only two of the five games one week, getting the start in Wednesday’s and Friday’s wins. Batting leadoff and playing center field in their 6-1 win over Salt River, Helman reached base in three of five plate appearances. He picked up an RBI in the second inning when his bases loaded ground ball to short ended with no out being recorded for a fielder’s choice play. He drew a walk in the fifth inning and came around to score on a single that gave the Scorpions a 2-0 lead. He added another base on balls in the sixth and finished the game 0-for-3 with a run scored. In Friday’s win over Glendale, Helman was inverted to ninth in the lineup, and this time playing left field. He was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance, and subsequently stole second base, ending up on third when the throw went into center field. He scored on a sacrifice fly from the next batter to give them a 4-0 lead at the time. He led off the fourth inning with a walk and as he has done so far in the season, took off for second base again, picking up another stolen base. This is the third time in AFL play he has stolen two bases in a game and his six total steals lead the team and is tied for third in the league. He’d end this game 0-for-1 with a run scored, walk, and strikeout. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (including Fall Stars Game), 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 2 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 17 K, 7 BB, 13 IP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, though only one of those was with the rest of his Twins teammates as he was their only selection to play in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday. In Monday’s game where Scottsdale blew a 10-run lead, Laweryson unfortunately got charged with the loss. He began his outing in the fifth inning with the score 10-6, and he delivered a scoreless frame on 12 pitches, picking up a strikeout in the process. A leadoff single was erased when he got an inning-ending double play ball. Back out for the sixth inning, it then went downhill for him and the Scorpions. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out, before he gave up a grand slam that tied the game at 10. Another walk put an end to his day, and that runner later came around to score on an error to complete the epic comeback for the Solar Sox. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, Laweryson was charged with five runs (four earned) on three hits and three walks. It was a different story in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game, where Laweryson got the invite after piling up strikeouts and in the season’s first half. With his East squad up 5-2, he got the ball to start the fifth inning and set the opposition down in order. He was credited with a hold and punctuated his outing with a swinging strikeout to end the inning. The East team won the game 6-5 powered by home runs from the game’s MVP JJ Bleday of the Miami Marlins, and Hunter Bishop from the San Francisco Giants. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K; 7.45 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 12 K, 7 BB, 9 2/3 IP overall. The left-handed Sisk made his first appearance of the week in Tuesday’s walk-off win against Surprise, called upon for the seventh inning with his team down 1-0. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out one and getting a pair of ground balls on fifteen pitches. Continuing his surge in AFL play Sisk was next called upon as a fireman in their shutout loss to Peoria on Thursday. After two runs had already scored in the inning, Sisk entered the game with two outs and runners on the corners in the sixth. He ended the rally with a big strikeout to keep the score at 3-0, then also delivered a scoreless seventh, allowing just a single before striking out his last hitter on three pitches. In his last five appearances, Sisk has pitched a total of 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, walking none, and striking out seven. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Week 5 was the first of the season where the Scottsdale Scorpions put together a winning record, with three wins compared to two losses. Going into the last week of play their record sits at 11-16, good for second in the East division standing, 3.5 games behind Mesa. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-13, 2 R, 2B, HR (5), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K; .276/.386/.569 (.955 OPS, leads team) overall. The power hitting lefty was back to full participation in Week 5, getting the start in four games. He came out hot in Monday’s 11-10 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox, getting the nod at designated hitter and batting sixth. He drew a walk in the first inning that loaded the bases, and the hitter after him delivered a two-run single for an early 3-0 lead for the Scorpions. Leading off the third, Wallner clubbed his fifth home run of the AFL season the opposite way into left-center to kick start an inning where his team batted around. That of course means Wallner came up again, and in addition to starting it, he also finished the scoring in their six-run barrage with an RBI double that made it 10-0 Scottsdale. Unfortunately for them, that was the end of their scoring on the game, and the Solar Sox came scorching back with 11 runs of their own the rest of the way to steal a victory. Wallner was also hit by another pitch in the 5th inning, meaning he reached base four times on the day in six plate appearances. He was back in action for Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at home versus the Surprise Saguaros, taking left field and again batting sixth. With his team down 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Wallner led off their last at-bat with a line drive single into right field on the first pitch he saw. Teammate Kole Cottam followed his lead, and took the very next pitch deep to right center, giving the Scorpions a walk-off win after being held to just three hits as a team before the ninth. After a day off Wallner was moved up in the lineup for Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, batting third and playing in right field. His team again had some trouble collecting hits, but he had one of their four on the game with a single in the sixth inning. He also drew a walk in this one, and had two strikeouts in his other plate appearance to finish 1-for-3. In the team's final game of the week on Friday, Wallner was again in right field and batting fifth for their 4-2 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs in a seven inning affair. He extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the third inning but ended up stranded at second base. His team was already up 4-0 and was more than enough the rest of the way for the Scorpions. He ended the game 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts, but otherwise had another strong week and currently tied for the team lead with five home runs, and leads the squad with 14 RBI and a .955 OPS on the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1.2 IP, H, ER, 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 2.44 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 9 2/3 IP overall. Featherstone made his first appearance of the week to start the fifth inning in Wednesday’s 6-1 win over the Salt River Rafters. He was credited with his second hold of the AFL season as he delivered a scoreless frame. He struck out the first hitter he faced before allowing a walk, but a groundout and caught stealing attempt erased any threat. 12 of his 21 pitches in the inning went for strikes, including four swinging. In their win against Glendale on Friday, Featherstone was brought into the game with one out in the sixth inning and a runner on second base. A walk to the first hitter he faced this time came back to bite him. With two runners on and two outs a batter later, he had an epic 12-pitch battle he ultimately ended up losing after the hitter fouled off six different pitches. The two-run double that resulted made the final score of 4-2. After another walk triggered a mound visit, Featherstone finally put an end to the threat by getting a pop out to the infield to keep his team in front. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 1-for-9, R, 6 K; .214/.313/.286 (.598 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the catcher for the first game of the week for Scottsdale on Monday, and batting eighth in the lineup. In their six-run third inning that Wallner led off with a bomb, Bechtold later delivered a loud and long single before trotting around the bases on another home run from teammate Jordan Qasar. He’d finish the game 1-for-5 with three strikeouts as the Scorpions collapsed after jumping out to a big lead early. In their shutout loss to the Peoria Javelinas on Thursday, Bechtold batted cleanup playing first base, and finished 0-for-4 with another three strikeouts. In a game where his team had just four hits it’s a little hard to feel bad about such a performance, then you also take a look at how other players did and come to the conclusion it was just one of those days. Maybe there was a bad glare around the batter's eye as despite the win, Peoria’s leadoff hitter was 0-for-5 with five K’s for the infamous “platinum sombrero,” another who was 0-for-4 with the “golden” variety (4 K’s), and finally another who matched Bechtold with the boring regular sombrero. All in all the teams combined to strike out 27 times in the game, or exactly half the outs recorded. Yikes. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, W, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. After a two-win Week 4 Funderburk continued his rebound from a bit of a rough start with another win in his lone start of Week 5. He got the nod in Friday’s scheduled seven inning game, and completed a perfect first three innings, retiring all nine hitters he faced. He picked up a strikeout in each inning and needed just forty pitches in his time on the mound. 26 of those pitches went for strikes, and included five of the swinging variety. That’s three straight wins for the left-handed starting pitcher and in that time he’s allowed four runs on eleven hits, walked only one, and struck out 15 batters in 10 2/3 IP. His ERA is down from above 10 to 6.11, and his WHIP down nearly a whole point to 1.75, in that timeframe, coming on strong for the Scorpions starting staff as the end of the season approaches. He is second on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts in AFL play. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .234/.368/.277 (.649 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw action in only two of the five games one week, getting the start in Wednesday’s and Friday’s wins. Batting leadoff and playing center field in their 6-1 win over Salt River, Helman reached base in three of five plate appearances. He picked up an RBI in the second inning when his bases loaded ground ball to short ended with no out being recorded for a fielder’s choice play. He drew a walk in the fifth inning and came around to score on a single that gave the Scorpions a 2-0 lead. He added another base on balls in the sixth and finished the game 0-for-3 with a run scored. In Friday’s win over Glendale, Helman was inverted to ninth in the lineup, and this time playing left field. He was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance, and subsequently stole second base, ending up on third when the throw went into center field. He scored on a sacrifice fly from the next batter to give them a 4-0 lead at the time. He led off the fourth inning with a walk and as he has done so far in the season, took off for second base again, picking up another stolen base. This is the third time in AFL play he has stolen two bases in a game and his six total steals lead the team and is tied for third in the league. He’d end this game 0-for-1 with a run scored, walk, and strikeout. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (including Fall Stars Game), 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 2 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 17 K, 7 BB, 13 IP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, though only one of those was with the rest of his Twins teammates as he was their only selection to play in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday. In Monday’s game where Scottsdale blew a 10-run lead, Laweryson unfortunately got charged with the loss. He began his outing in the fifth inning with the score 10-6, and he delivered a scoreless frame on 12 pitches, picking up a strikeout in the process. A leadoff single was erased when he got an inning-ending double play ball. Back out for the sixth inning, it then went downhill for him and the Scorpions. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out, before he gave up a grand slam that tied the game at 10. Another walk put an end to his day, and that runner later came around to score on an error to complete the epic comeback for the Solar Sox. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, Laweryson was charged with five runs (four earned) on three hits and three walks. It was a different story in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game, where Laweryson got the invite after piling up strikeouts and in the season’s first half. With his East squad up 5-2, he got the ball to start the fifth inning and set the opposition down in order. He was credited with a hold and punctuated his outing with a swinging strikeout to end the inning. The East team won the game 6-5 powered by home runs from the game’s MVP JJ Bleday of the Miami Marlins, and Hunter Bishop from the San Francisco Giants. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K; 7.45 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 12 K, 7 BB, 9 2/3 IP overall. The left-handed Sisk made his first appearance of the week in Tuesday’s walk-off win against Surprise, called upon for the seventh inning with his team down 1-0. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out one and getting a pair of ground balls on fifteen pitches. Continuing his surge in AFL play Sisk was next called upon as a fireman in their shutout loss to Peoria on Thursday. After two runs had already scored in the inning, Sisk entered the game with two outs and runners on the corners in the sixth. He ended the rally with a big strikeout to keep the score at 3-0, then also delivered a scoreless seventh, allowing just a single before striking out his last hitter on three pitches. In his last five appearances, Sisk has pitched a total of 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, walking none, and striking out seven. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Overall the Scottsdale Scorpions had their first .500 or better record over their six games, going 3-3 while facing the same team three days in a row to close it out. They’ll look to continue that upward trend as a squad in Week 5. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 1-for-9, 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K; .269/.381/.596 (.977 OPS) overall. Wallner didn’t see his first action of the week until Thursday, in the Scorpions 6-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, as he recovered from being hit in the face by a pitch last week. He batted sixth in the lineup and played left field in the game. He flew out to center field in the second inning, was called out on strikes in the fifth and eighth innings, and grounded out in the ninth for the final out of the contest to finish 0-for-4. On defense, he collected an outfield assist by cutting down a runner at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. There were few opportunities for Scottsdale in the game, as they finished just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left only six men on base as a team. His second game of the week came in Saturday’s 11-7 win over Peoria, where he was the cleanup hitter and on the other side of the outfield in right. He got the Scorpions started with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at two. It was his first double of the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 9.82 ERA, 2.45 WHIP 7 1/3 IP) overall. The left-hander made two relief appearances on the week with the first of those coming in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Surprise Saguaros. With his team out front by five runs, he was summoned to finish the game for the Scorpions in the ninth. He walked the first man he faced in the frame but then got two quick outs, including a strikeout, before a single and another walk loaded the bases to make it a little interesting. But he recovered on the next hitter, getting a fly out to finish the game in the win column for Scottsdale. His second outing of the week was in Friday’s 12-1 loss to the Javelinas. With the score 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Featherstone got the call as the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions. A pair of one-out singles put runners on base before he allowed a three-run home run to Jose Cabellero that broke the game open for Peoria. He then retired the next two hitters he faced, including a strikeout to end his inning, but the homerun he allowed was a bit of a catalyst for Peoria as they scored six more runs in the final two innings. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 3-for-13, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 5 K; .231/.333/.308 (.641 OPS) overall. Bechtold played in three games last week, playing a different position on the field in each as he continues to display his versatility around the infield. In Tuesday’s 10-9 win in extra-innings over Salt River Bechtold batted seventh and served as the catcher. Though he finished 0-for-5 in this one, his RBI groundout in a four-run eighth inning helped the Scorpions take a 9-8 lead going into the final frame. As the catcher, he also threw a runner out at second base on a steal attempt in the seventh inning after the Rafters had taken an 8-4 lead with a two-run home run. Bechtold was at first base and batting cleanup in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Mesa, where he finished his day 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s. With the score tied at one in the third inning, Bechtold came to the plate with runners on second and third, and drove an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single and 3-1 lead for his team. His other at-bats included a fly out and two strikeouts, and on defense he had a throwing error attempting to deliver the ball to the pitcher covering first base. The final action of the week for Bechtold came in the Scorpions 11-7 win on Saturday against Peoria, where he was back to batting seventh but on the other side of the diamond at third base. He drew a walk to lead off the second inning and scored Scottsdale’s first run of the inning three batters later that gave them a 3-2 lead. In the third inning his one-out double got a rally started and trotted home again on a three-run home run from teammate Will Wilson. Bechtold then capped the Scorpions scoring on the game with a two-run single in the eighth inning that was too hot to handle for the shortstop, as he could only deflect the ball into center field. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double, walk, two runs scored, and two RBI for a strong finish to his week. Kody Funderburk: 2 starts, 7 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, BB, 12 K; 7.36 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (14 2/3 IP) overall. Funderburk was tabbed for two starts on the week, and he collected the win in both of them, evening his win-loss record in AFL play to 2-2. In his 3 2/3 IP in Monday’s 8-3 win over Surprise, Funderburk was charged with two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six Saguaros. As you can tell from that pitching line, he dealt with a lot of baserunners, but was able to limit some of the damage with big strikeouts. In the first frame, a single and a walk put multiple runners on base, but he bore down and struck out two hitters to end the threat. In the second he allowed one run after a double and an RBI single, but after another single he got another strikeout to keep the Saguaros tally at just one. In the third inning it was a one-out triple that led to another run, but he got the other three hitters he faced out, including another K to end the inning. In the fourth he got two quick strikeouts before a pair of singles ended his outing, but it was enough to be awarded the win by AFL/exhibition rules and encouraging outing compared to his first few weeks. He continued that upward trajectory in Saturday’s 11-7 win over the Peoria Javelinas, striking out another six hitters while this time finishing four innings. In all he allowed two runs on four hits and walked none. The Javelinas got to him early with a pair of runs in the first on three hits, but he got out of the jam by picking off a runner at first base. He allowed only a single in the second inning, then the third and fourth frames were both of the one-two-three variety, including two strikeouts in each. When his day was done his team was up 8-2 and the win would again be his. Michael Helman: 4 games, 5-for-15, 2B, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .256/.347/.302 (.649 OPS) overall. Helman saw the most action of any Twins player this week, playing in four games and collecting five hits in total. On Monday, his 2-for-5 effort came out of the leadoff spot in the batting order while he played center field. He doubled to lead off the third inning, stole third base, and then scampered home on another double for a 3-1 lead. In the fourth, he singled and stole second base before being left stranded after two runs had already scored. The double was his second of the AFL season and is the second time he’s stolen two bases in a game thus far. Back in action again on Thursday against Peoria, Helman was flipped in the order to batting ninth, and was back roaming center field. Though his team was shutout in the game, Helman collected two of their seven total hits with singles in each of the sixth and eighth innings, finishing 2-for-3 on the day. He played for a third day in a row on Friday, again against Peoria in another blowout loss. He again batted ninth and played center field, closing his week with an 0-for-3 effort. His plate appearances included a ground out to first, pop out to short, and fly out to right field as the Scorpions had only five hits and three walks in the game as a team. On defense he also had a throwing error trying to gun down a runner at home in the seventh inning. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 2/3 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (13 IP) overall. After impressing in the the first half of the AFL season Laweryson saw action in just one game during Week 4, though he did go multiple frames. His lone appearance came in Thursday’s shutout loss to the Javelinas and he was summoned in the middle of the second inning after four consecutive walks had led to one run and the bases were still loaded. He got a ground ball that should have ended the threat there, but a throwing error from the shortstop allowed one more run to score and extended the inning. On his next pitch he got another groundball and this time the shortstop didn’t misfire. Laweryson went on to retire seven men in a row, including three strikeouts through the third and fourth innings. He even came out for the fifth, but a leadoff walk and ground out put an end to his day after 44 pitches. Overall he struck out three, including two in the fourth inning, in his 2 2/3 innings pitched. He was charged with an earned run as the next reliever gave up an RBI double to the first hitter he faced that made the score 5-0 Peoria. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K; 8.64 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (8 1/3 IP) overall. Sisk saw action in two of the Scorpions wins on the week, pitching middle innings in both Tuesday’s and Saturday’s games. In the first, he was called in from the bullpen with two outs in the fifth inning after a bases-clearing double. He got his batter to fly out to right field to end the inning without any further damage. Back out for the sixth he retired the side in order, including a strikeout to punctuate his perfect outing. In the second game on Saturday, Sisk was brought on to start the seventh inning, and needed just 11 pitches to retire the side. He got two groundballs and a strikeout to complete a perfect week and lower both his ERA and WHIP on the AFL season substantially. After a rough introduction to the AFL, Sisk has retired all ten hitters he has faced in his last three outings, including four of them via strikeout. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. With the power-hitting Matt Wallner sitting out the first half of the week after being hit in the face by a pitch last Thursday, it was a trio of Minnesota Twins pitchers who shined in Week 4 of the Arizona Fall League season. A starting pitcher even picked up two of their team’s three wins on the week. Overall the Scottsdale Scorpions had their first .500 or better record over their six games, going 3-3 while facing the same team three days in a row to close it out. They’ll look to continue that upward trend as a squad in Week 5. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 1-for-9, 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K; .269/.381/.596 (.977 OPS) overall. Wallner didn’t see his first action of the week until Thursday, in the Scorpions 6-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, as he recovered from being hit in the face by a pitch last week. He batted sixth in the lineup and played left field in the game. He flew out to center field in the second inning, was called out on strikes in the fifth and eighth innings, and grounded out in the ninth for the final out of the contest to finish 0-for-4. On defense, he collected an outfield assist by cutting down a runner at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. There were few opportunities for Scottsdale in the game, as they finished just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left only six men on base as a team. His second game of the week came in Saturday’s 11-7 win over Peoria, where he was the cleanup hitter and on the other side of the outfield in right. He got the Scorpions started with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at two. It was his first double of the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 9.82 ERA, 2.45 WHIP 7 1/3 IP) overall. The left-hander made two relief appearances on the week with the first of those coming in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Surprise Saguaros. With his team out front by five runs, he was summoned to finish the game for the Scorpions in the ninth. He walked the first man he faced in the frame but then got two quick outs, including a strikeout, before a single and another walk loaded the bases to make it a little interesting. But he recovered on the next hitter, getting a fly out to finish the game in the win column for Scottsdale. His second outing of the week was in Friday’s 12-1 loss to the Javelinas. With the score 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Featherstone got the call as the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions. A pair of one-out singles put runners on base before he allowed a three-run home run to Jose Cabellero that broke the game open for Peoria. He then retired the next two hitters he faced, including a strikeout to end his inning, but the homerun he allowed was a bit of a catalyst for Peoria as they scored six more runs in the final two innings. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 3-for-13, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 5 K; .231/.333/.308 (.641 OPS) overall. Bechtold played in three games last week, playing a different position on the field in each as he continues to display his versatility around the infield. In Tuesday’s 10-9 win in extra-innings over Salt River Bechtold batted seventh and served as the catcher. Though he finished 0-for-5 in this one, his RBI groundout in a four-run eighth inning helped the Scorpions take a 9-8 lead going into the final frame. As the catcher, he also threw a runner out at second base on a steal attempt in the seventh inning after the Rafters had taken an 8-4 lead with a two-run home run. Bechtold was at first base and batting cleanup in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Mesa, where he finished his day 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s. With the score tied at one in the third inning, Bechtold came to the plate with runners on second and third, and drove an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single and 3-1 lead for his team. His other at-bats included a fly out and two strikeouts, and on defense he had a throwing error attempting to deliver the ball to the pitcher covering first base. The final action of the week for Bechtold came in the Scorpions 11-7 win on Saturday against Peoria, where he was back to batting seventh but on the other side of the diamond at third base. He drew a walk to lead off the second inning and scored Scottsdale’s first run of the inning three batters later that gave them a 3-2 lead. In the third inning his one-out double got a rally started and trotted home again on a three-run home run from teammate Will Wilson. Bechtold then capped the Scorpions scoring on the game with a two-run single in the eighth inning that was too hot to handle for the shortstop, as he could only deflect the ball into center field. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double, walk, two runs scored, and two RBI for a strong finish to his week. Kody Funderburk: 2 starts, 7 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, BB, 12 K; 7.36 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (14 2/3 IP) overall. Funderburk was tabbed for two starts on the week, and he collected the win in both of them, evening his win-loss record in AFL play to 2-2. In his 3 2/3 IP in Monday’s 8-3 win over Surprise, Funderburk was charged with two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six Saguaros. As you can tell from that pitching line, he dealt with a lot of baserunners, but was able to limit some of the damage with big strikeouts. In the first frame, a single and a walk put multiple runners on base, but he bore down and struck out two hitters to end the threat. In the second he allowed one run after a double and an RBI single, but after another single he got another strikeout to keep the Saguaros tally at just one. In the third inning it was a one-out triple that led to another run, but he got the other three hitters he faced out, including another K to end the inning. In the fourth he got two quick strikeouts before a pair of singles ended his outing, but it was enough to be awarded the win by AFL/exhibition rules and encouraging outing compared to his first few weeks. He continued that upward trajectory in Saturday’s 11-7 win over the Peoria Javelinas, striking out another six hitters while this time finishing four innings. In all he allowed two runs on four hits and walked none. The Javelinas got to him early with a pair of runs in the first on three hits, but he got out of the jam by picking off a runner at first base. He allowed only a single in the second inning, then the third and fourth frames were both of the one-two-three variety, including two strikeouts in each. When his day was done his team was up 8-2 and the win would again be his. Michael Helman: 4 games, 5-for-15, 2B, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .256/.347/.302 (.649 OPS) overall. Helman saw the most action of any Twins player this week, playing in four games and collecting five hits in total. On Monday, his 2-for-5 effort came out of the leadoff spot in the batting order while he played center field. He doubled to lead off the third inning, stole third base, and then scampered home on another double for a 3-1 lead. In the fourth, he singled and stole second base before being left stranded after two runs had already scored. The double was his second of the AFL season and is the second time he’s stolen two bases in a game thus far. Back in action again on Thursday against Peoria, Helman was flipped in the order to batting ninth, and was back roaming center field. Though his team was shutout in the game, Helman collected two of their seven total hits with singles in each of the sixth and eighth innings, finishing 2-for-3 on the day. He played for a third day in a row on Friday, again against Peoria in another blowout loss. He again batted ninth and played center field, closing his week with an 0-for-3 effort. His plate appearances included a ground out to first, pop out to short, and fly out to right field as the Scorpions had only five hits and three walks in the game as a team. On defense he also had a throwing error trying to gun down a runner at home in the seventh inning. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 2/3 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (13 IP) overall. After impressing in the the first half of the AFL season Laweryson saw action in just one game during Week 4, though he did go multiple frames. His lone appearance came in Thursday’s shutout loss to the Javelinas and he was summoned in the middle of the second inning after four consecutive walks had led to one run and the bases were still loaded. He got a ground ball that should have ended the threat there, but a throwing error from the shortstop allowed one more run to score and extended the inning. On his next pitch he got another groundball and this time the shortstop didn’t misfire. Laweryson went on to retire seven men in a row, including three strikeouts through the third and fourth innings. He even came out for the fifth, but a leadoff walk and ground out put an end to his day after 44 pitches. Overall he struck out three, including two in the fourth inning, in his 2 2/3 innings pitched. He was charged with an earned run as the next reliever gave up an RBI double to the first hitter he faced that made the score 5-0 Peoria. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K; 8.64 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (8 1/3 IP) overall. Sisk saw action in two of the Scorpions wins on the week, pitching middle innings in both Tuesday’s and Saturday’s games. In the first, he was called in from the bullpen with two outs in the fifth inning after a bases-clearing double. He got his batter to fly out to right field to end the inning without any further damage. Back out for the sixth he retired the side in order, including a strikeout to punctuate his perfect outing. In the second game on Saturday, Sisk was brought on to start the seventh inning, and needed just 11 pitches to retire the side. He got two groundballs and a strikeout to complete a perfect week and lower both his ERA and WHIP on the AFL season substantially. After a rough introduction to the AFL, Sisk has retired all ten hitters he has faced in his last three outings, including four of them via strikeout. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  9. Sabato figured some parts out toward the end of the year. Still would like to see a higher batting average definitely, and I know it's the minors, but this is Joey Gallo: Date G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip per 162 games 162 703 557 130 126 24 0 63 126 119 8 229 16 0 12 0 0 0 Aug 4 to Sep 26, 2021 41 178 141 33 32 6 0 16 32 30 2 58 4 0 3 0 0 0 .227 .371 .610 .981 .229 They're still very similar for me, but I do have Wallner rated higher.
  10. Matt Wallner continued to display his big power in Week 3 of the Arizona Fall League season with two more home runs, but Minnesota Twins hitting prospects playing with him in the desert combined to go 0-for-20 after having strong starts. Pitchers also had a rough go in Week 3, but one continued to impress while a pair of relievers did have nice bounce-back outings. Overall on the week the Scottsdale Scorpions had just two wins in six games and are now 5-11 on the season. They will look to put together their first winning record of the AFL campaign in Week 4. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 2-for-9, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K; .278/.400/.611 (1.011 OPS) overall. While Wallner only had two hits on the week, they were both big ones and raised his OPS during the AFL season over .100 points from Week 2 to Week 3. Wallner played right field and batted sixth in the lineup in Scottsdale’s first game of the week, a 7-6 loss to Glendale on Monday. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Wallner drew a walk that put runners on first and second base before another walk loaded the bases. He then trotted home on Jeter Downs’ grand slam that pulled the Scorpions within one run. He was the final out of the game when he grounded out to the pitcher with the tying run on first base. He finished this one 0-for-4 with one walk, the run scored, and one strikeout. In Tuesday’s 11-2 loss to Surprise Wallner was one of the few bright spots for Scottsdale as he scored both of their runs and as a team managed just five hits. In his first at-bat with one out in the second inning, Wallner blasted a moonshot solo home run to right field. His third home run of the AFL season made the score 2-1. He also drew a walk in the ninth inning and came around to score on a single three batters later. In the game Wallner was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, the home run, a walk, and one strikeout. He played left field and again batted sixth. The final action of the week for Wallner came in Thursday’s 11-4 win over Mesa where he batted fifth in the lineup and was back in right field. He struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat but didn’t waste any time in his second one to lead off the third inning. He took a big hack at the first pitch he saw and drove it over the fence the opposite way, giving his team a 5-1 lead at the time. The game got a little interesting for Wallner from there. In the fifth and sixth innings he was hit by pitches in both at-bats. The second of those resulted in an RBI, but hit him in the face. He was subsequently removed from the game, requiring some stitches but avoiding anything serious. In total, he reached base three times in the win, finishing with a 1-for-2 batting line with the home run, one strikeout, and two HBP’s and finished his week tied for second in the league in home runs with four in 36 at-bats on the season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; 8.44 ERA, 2.25 WHIP (5 1/3 IP) overall. Featherstone established a bit of a theme for Twins relief pitchers in AFL games this week with a forgettable first appearance that was followed by a rebound effort. He was the first reliever out of the bullpen in Monday’s loss to Glendale to start the fifth inning. He struck out the first hitter he faced and then got out number two on a liner to center. But from there it was walk, single, single, single, and another walk before he was pulled with two runs already in and responsible for the bases being loaded. Two more runs would be charged to him before the inning was over and Scottsdale was down 5-1 after five. Back in action for the Scorpions 11-4 win over the Solar Sox on Thursday, Featherstone was tabbed this time to pitch the eighth inning with his team up by seven. It was a one-two-three effort requiring thirteen pitches, with the final two hitters going down swinging. In 5 1/3 innings thus far for Featherstone, he has a 9:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio he’ll look to improve upon in the season’s final three weeks. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 0-for-9, R, 6 BB, 3 K; .235/.366/.324 (.689 OPS) overall. Although Bechtold didn’t collect a hit on the week as he was moved up in the lineup, he did draw an impressive six walks in his three games, raising his OBP on the AFL season to .366. In their 7-6 loss to the Desert Dogs on Monday, Bechtold was 0-for-3 but drew the first two of those free passes while serving as the DH and batting fifth in front of Wallner. He drew those walks in the fourth and sixth innings but made it no farther than first base. Playing third base and moving up to third in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Salt River, Bechtold drew three walks and struck out twice in his five plate appearances. After drawing a free pass in the first inning and being among those to load the bases, Bechtold got to third base with just one out, but Scottsdale was only able to score one run in front of him for an early lead. His other walks came in the third inning (stranded on second) and the ninth (that put the tying run in scoring position), but was unable to notch a run scored on the game. Bechtold’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 6-5 win over Glendale, where he batted cleanup and played catcher. He was 0-for-4 on the game, but drew his final base on balls of the week in the eighth inning and later scored on a two-run double that ended up being big runs for the Scorpions as the game went to extra innings before they were able to win it in the eleventh. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; 10.29 ERA, 2.71 WHIP (7 IP) overall. The left-handed Funderburk was tabbed to start Tuesday’s game against Surprise, which they ended up losing big. He was saddled with his second loss of the AFL season. The Saguaros got to him early with the first three hitters of the game reaching base, the third with an RBI single to open the game’s scoring. Another RBI single later in the frame put the Scorpions in a 2-0 hole before their first at-bat. The second inning was much easier for Funderburk. He needed just six pitches to record three outs in one-two-three fashion, picking up a swinging strikeout to end the frame. The third inning was more like the first, except this time the hits came more in the form of doubles. After a leadoff single Funderburk got his second strikeout of the outing, but the consecutive doubles that followed led to two more runs. To finish the inning and his outing, he did notch his fourth strikeout (swinging) on three pitches. Michael Helman: 3 games, 0-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K; .214/.333/.250 (.583 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman did not have a hit in his three games, but due to a few base on balls did score a couple of runs in his time on the field in Week 3, including a game winner. He had to wait until Wednesday’s game against Salt River to see some action. He batted eighth and played left field. His at-bats included a pair of pop-outs to the infield, a lineout to center, and one strikeout. His next game was on Friday in the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale. His two walks in five plate appearances helped them win the game. The first of those free passes came in the seventh inning, and he would score the second run of the inning to tie the game at three. In the eighth his second walk loaded the bases before a Christian Koss double scored two to put the Scorpions ahead 5-4 at the time. After lining into a double play to end the 10th inning, Helman started the 11th on second base with the game still tied, after a (intentional?!) balk moved him to third, Helman was able to trot home for the walk-off winning run on a Koss single to right field. He played second base this time around and again batted eighth in the lineup. Helman was again in the lineup, batting sixth and playing center field, for the Scorpions in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to Surprise. It was an 0-for-4 effort a game the Scorpions outhit the Saguaros 10-7 as a team. He reached base on an error to leadoff the second inning, grounded out to third in the fourth, popped out to first in the sixth, and flew out to center in the seventh to account for all his plate appearances. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (9 IP) overall. After impressing with strikeouts in the season’s first two weeks, Laweryson got his job done in different fashion in Week 3, lowering his ERA to 1.00 on the AFL season in the process with just one strikeout in two appearances. In Wednesday's 3-2 loss against Salt River, Laweryson was brought on to start the sixth inning with the score already 3-2. The first batter reached base on an error, but he was able to retire the next three hitters with a strikeout and two more grounders to keep his team in front. He threw 15 pitches, with nine going for strikes (2 swinging) in this outing. With his team down 6-1 after a bases loaded two-run single in the seventh, Laweryson was summoned with runners on first and second base and two outs in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Saguaros. Looking to limit the damage in the frame any further, Laweryson did allow his first big hit of the AFL season, a two-run double to the first batter he faced that made it 8-1, but he was not responsible for those runners. He got a lineout to end the inning after that and with a clean slate in the eighth delivered a scoreless frame. He allowed two hits in his 1 1/3 innings in this one and will look to get back to punching out hitters in Week 4. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 14.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (5 IP) overall. Like Featherstone before him, Sisk had a rough first appearance followed by a solid second in Week 3 of AFL action. In their big loss on Tuesday, Sisk was brought in from the bullpen to start the fifth inning with the score already 7-1 Surprise. He got the first two outs on a grounder and flyout around a walk, before a single put runners on first and second, and a double to the next hitter brought them both home for a 9-1 Saguaros lead. Another walk prompted a mound visit before he got the final out of the inning on a fly ball to center field. In the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale on Friday, Sisk was tabbed for the sixth inning with the score 2-1 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He made quick work of the hitters he faced, retiring them in order with the first of those two outs coming via strikeouts on foul tips that teammate Bechtold held onto as the catcher. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. Overall on the week the Scottsdale Scorpions had just two wins in six games and are now 5-11 on the season. They will look to put together their first winning record of the AFL campaign in Week 4. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 2-for-9, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K; .278/.400/.611 (1.011 OPS) overall. While Wallner only had two hits on the week, they were both big ones and raised his OPS during the AFL season over .100 points from Week 2 to Week 3. Wallner played right field and batted sixth in the lineup in Scottsdale’s first game of the week, a 7-6 loss to Glendale on Monday. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Wallner drew a walk that put runners on first and second base before another walk loaded the bases. He then trotted home on Jeter Downs’ grand slam that pulled the Scorpions within one run. He was the final out of the game when he grounded out to the pitcher with the tying run on first base. He finished this one 0-for-4 with one walk, the run scored, and one strikeout. In Tuesday’s 11-2 loss to Surprise Wallner was one of the few bright spots for Scottsdale as he scored both of their runs and as a team managed just five hits. In his first at-bat with one out in the second inning, Wallner blasted a moonshot solo home run to right field. His third home run of the AFL season made the score 2-1. He also drew a walk in the ninth inning and came around to score on a single three batters later. In the game Wallner was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, the home run, a walk, and one strikeout. He played left field and again batted sixth. The final action of the week for Wallner came in Thursday’s 11-4 win over Mesa where he batted fifth in the lineup and was back in right field. He struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat but didn’t waste any time in his second one to lead off the third inning. He took a big hack at the first pitch he saw and drove it over the fence the opposite way, giving his team a 5-1 lead at the time. The game got a little interesting for Wallner from there. In the fifth and sixth innings he was hit by pitches in both at-bats. The second of those resulted in an RBI, but hit him in the face. He was subsequently removed from the game, requiring some stitches but avoiding anything serious. In total, he reached base three times in the win, finishing with a 1-for-2 batting line with the home run, one strikeout, and two HBP’s and finished his week tied for second in the league in home runs with four in 36 at-bats on the season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; 8.44 ERA, 2.25 WHIP (5 1/3 IP) overall. Featherstone established a bit of a theme for Twins relief pitchers in AFL games this week with a forgettable first appearance that was followed by a rebound effort. He was the first reliever out of the bullpen in Monday’s loss to Glendale to start the fifth inning. He struck out the first hitter he faced and then got out number two on a liner to center. But from there it was walk, single, single, single, and another walk before he was pulled with two runs already in and responsible for the bases being loaded. Two more runs would be charged to him before the inning was over and Scottsdale was down 5-1 after five. Back in action for the Scorpions 11-4 win over the Solar Sox on Thursday, Featherstone was tabbed this time to pitch the eighth inning with his team up by seven. It was a one-two-three effort requiring thirteen pitches, with the final two hitters going down swinging. In 5 1/3 innings thus far for Featherstone, he has a 9:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio he’ll look to improve upon in the season’s final three weeks. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 0-for-9, R, 6 BB, 3 K; .235/.366/.324 (.689 OPS) overall. Although Bechtold didn’t collect a hit on the week as he was moved up in the lineup, he did draw an impressive six walks in his three games, raising his OBP on the AFL season to .366. In their 7-6 loss to the Desert Dogs on Monday, Bechtold was 0-for-3 but drew the first two of those free passes while serving as the DH and batting fifth in front of Wallner. He drew those walks in the fourth and sixth innings but made it no farther than first base. Playing third base and moving up to third in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Salt River, Bechtold drew three walks and struck out twice in his five plate appearances. After drawing a free pass in the first inning and being among those to load the bases, Bechtold got to third base with just one out, but Scottsdale was only able to score one run in front of him for an early lead. His other walks came in the third inning (stranded on second) and the ninth (that put the tying run in scoring position), but was unable to notch a run scored on the game. Bechtold’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 6-5 win over Glendale, where he batted cleanup and played catcher. He was 0-for-4 on the game, but drew his final base on balls of the week in the eighth inning and later scored on a two-run double that ended up being big runs for the Scorpions as the game went to extra innings before they were able to win it in the eleventh. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; 10.29 ERA, 2.71 WHIP (7 IP) overall. The left-handed Funderburk was tabbed to start Tuesday’s game against Surprise, which they ended up losing big. He was saddled with his second loss of the AFL season. The Saguaros got to him early with the first three hitters of the game reaching base, the third with an RBI single to open the game’s scoring. Another RBI single later in the frame put the Scorpions in a 2-0 hole before their first at-bat. The second inning was much easier for Funderburk. He needed just six pitches to record three outs in one-two-three fashion, picking up a swinging strikeout to end the frame. The third inning was more like the first, except this time the hits came more in the form of doubles. After a leadoff single Funderburk got his second strikeout of the outing, but the consecutive doubles that followed led to two more runs. To finish the inning and his outing, he did notch his fourth strikeout (swinging) on three pitches. Michael Helman: 3 games, 0-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K; .214/.333/.250 (.583 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman did not have a hit in his three games, but due to a few base on balls did score a couple of runs in his time on the field in Week 3, including a game winner. He had to wait until Wednesday’s game against Salt River to see some action. He batted eighth and played left field. His at-bats included a pair of pop-outs to the infield, a lineout to center, and one strikeout. His next game was on Friday in the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale. His two walks in five plate appearances helped them win the game. The first of those free passes came in the seventh inning, and he would score the second run of the inning to tie the game at three. In the eighth his second walk loaded the bases before a Christian Koss double scored two to put the Scorpions ahead 5-4 at the time. After lining into a double play to end the 10th inning, Helman started the 11th on second base with the game still tied, after a (intentional?!) balk moved him to third, Helman was able to trot home for the walk-off winning run on a Koss single to right field. He played second base this time around and again batted eighth in the lineup. Helman was again in the lineup, batting sixth and playing center field, for the Scorpions in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to Surprise. It was an 0-for-4 effort a game the Scorpions outhit the Saguaros 10-7 as a team. He reached base on an error to leadoff the second inning, grounded out to third in the fourth, popped out to first in the sixth, and flew out to center in the seventh to account for all his plate appearances. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (9 IP) overall. After impressing with strikeouts in the season’s first two weeks, Laweryson got his job done in different fashion in Week 3, lowering his ERA to 1.00 on the AFL season in the process with just one strikeout in two appearances. In Wednesday's 3-2 loss against Salt River, Laweryson was brought on to start the sixth inning with the score already 3-2. The first batter reached base on an error, but he was able to retire the next three hitters with a strikeout and two more grounders to keep his team in front. He threw 15 pitches, with nine going for strikes (2 swinging) in this outing. With his team down 6-1 after a bases loaded two-run single in the seventh, Laweryson was summoned with runners on first and second base and two outs in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Saguaros. Looking to limit the damage in the frame any further, Laweryson did allow his first big hit of the AFL season, a two-run double to the first batter he faced that made it 8-1, but he was not responsible for those runners. He got a lineout to end the inning after that and with a clean slate in the eighth delivered a scoreless frame. He allowed two hits in his 1 1/3 innings in this one and will look to get back to punching out hitters in Week 4. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 14.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (5 IP) overall. Like Featherstone before him, Sisk had a rough first appearance followed by a solid second in Week 3 of AFL action. In their big loss on Tuesday, Sisk was brought in from the bullpen to start the fifth inning with the score already 7-1 Surprise. He got the first two outs on a grounder and flyout around a walk, before a single put runners on first and second, and a double to the next hitter brought them both home for a 9-1 Saguaros lead. Another walk prompted a mound visit before he got the final out of the inning on a fly ball to center field. In the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale on Friday, Sisk was tabbed for the sixth inning with the score 2-1 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He made quick work of the hitters he faced, retiring them in order with the first of those two outs coming via strikeouts on foul tips that teammate Bechtold held onto as the catcher. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Laweryson was our Short Season Pitcher of the Year award winner back in 2019. After not pitching competitively in 2020 and missing two months to start 2021, there was likely a lot of rust to shake off. His WHIP definitely rose as he allowed almost double the rate of hits as he did in 2019, but the strikeout to walk ratio in 2021 was still near a very solid 4:1 and his FIP was 3.84. 2022 will be a big year for him and I love to see results in the AFL like he has had so far!
  13. Overall on the week, the Scottsdale Scorpions went just 1-5 and gave up runs in bunches in several of their games. They will look to rebound as a team in week three. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-16, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K; .296/.375/.519 (.894 OPS) overall. Wallner started off week two just as he finished week one, with a home run in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Salt River. His second blast of the fall season led off the second inning and put Scottsdale up 1-0 early in the game. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Wednesday, hitting third and playing right field in the Scorpions 11-9 loss to the Solar Sox. His first four at-bats included a pop-out to the catcher and three strikeouts, but helped start their attempt at a comeback with a single on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth. He would later come around to score the Scorpions final run of the game. In Thursday’s 17-2 loss to Surprise Wallner in left field and batting third again. You can tell from the score there wasn’t much going right for the Scorpions in this one, but Wallner contributed one of their two runs batted in with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. For the game he was 0-for-2 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Wallner’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 10-8 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. As the cleanup hitter in this one, he would finish 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. He singled in the fifth inning and drew a walk to load the bases in the ninth, but would end up stranded in scoring position both times. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, H, 1 BB, 2 K; 2.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP overall. The left-hander saw action in two games on the week, with his first appearance coming in Tuesday’s 12-4 win over the Desert Dogs. He was the first reliever summoned and pitched a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed a single and struck out two hitters in the outing. In Thursday’s blowout loss to the Saguaros, Featherstone was the last reliever called upon and got the final two outs of the game for the Scorpions. After six of the first seven hitters of the eighth inning reached base and four runs had already scored, he was brought in with runners on first and second. He got a flyout then walked one to reload the bases before a pair of wild pitches got away from him and two more runs came across home plate for Surprise. He got a groundout later in that at-bat to finally end the onslaught. Andrew Bechtold: 4 games, 6-for-17, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K; .320/.346.440 (.786 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the designated hitter and batted sixth in Monday’s loss to the Rafters, but like Wallner, he had a big game as they combined for five of the Scorpions 10 hits on the day. Bechtold finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. His double in the fourth inning put Scottsdale in front 2-1, and he scored his run on a double a batter later. Leading off the sixth inning Bechtold clubbed another double to center field, but ended up stranded on second base. He also drew a walk in the second inning. In Wednesday's game against Mesa, Bechtold moved up into the cleanup spot behind Wallner.. He played first base in this one and had another two-hit day. He singled in both the first and eighth innings and scored a run in the eighth when the Scorpions cut the Solar Sox lead to 9-7. Bechtold’s third game of the week was on Thursday and he was the catcher, batting fifth. He finished 1-for-4 to collect one of the Scorpions four hits on the game. He singled in the second inning and was left on base. He also grounded out in the fourth, flew out in the sixth, and struck out in the ninth. Behind the dish he allowed one passed ball and three bases were stolen by the Saguaros. In Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Salt River Bechtold was at third base and again hitting cleanup in the lineup. He extended his hitting streak to his first six games in the AFL with a 1-for-4 effort. He singled in the first inning to drive in the Scorpions only run of the game. Unfortunately, in his other three at-bats, he struck out but has otherwise been impressive thus far in Arizona with a .320 batting average. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Funderburk made the start in Wednesday’s loss to Mesa after allowing three unearned runs in his two innings. He walked the first two batters of the game but came back with a strikeout before inducing a double-play ball for a scoreless inning. In the second, it was a walk and single followed by an error on Bechtold at first base that allowed the first unearned run to score. An RBI groundout and RBI single later in the inning accounted for the other two before Funderburk got the final out on a grounder to third to cap his outing. In his two innings he allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out one. Michael Helman: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB; .353/.450/.412 (.862 OPS) overall. Helman saw action in three games on the week, playing third base, second base, and center field in the games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He batted ninth in all three contests and collected three more hits to keep his batting average in AFL play above .350 thus far. Against Mesa on Wednesday Helman picked up singles in the third and eighth innings. He led off the third inning with his first of the game, and would score from first on a double from the next batter to cut the Mesa lead to 3-2 at the time. His second single in the eighth was of the RBI variety and made the score 9-6 Solar Sox. In all he finished 2-for-5 with one strikeout as a hitter, but also had two errors in the field. In the all-around clunker of a game against Surprise on Thursday Helman was 0-for-3 with a lineout, fly out, and groundout, his first AFL game without a hit so far on the season. Against Peoria on Friday, Helman got back to his hitting ways, and also caused some havoc on the base paths. In his first at-bat in the third inning he drew a walk and promptly stole second base. He would then score Scottsdale’s first run of the game on a single before they took a 3-1 lead on a home run from early standout Jeter Downs. In the fourth Helman delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1 and he again took second base to get himself into scoring position, though he wouldn’t make it any farther around the bases. He finished this game 1-for-3 with the run scored, an RBI, walk, and the two stolen bases for a nice finish to his week. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (1 start), 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K; 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, including a start in Friday’s loss to the Javelina’s. His first game of the week was in Tuesday’s win over Glendale where he pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed a single to the first hitter he faced, but then retired the other six he faced in a row, including two strikeouts. In his start on Friday he was sharp for the first two innings, striking out four hitters and allowing only two baserunners after an error from his third baseman and a walk in the second inning. Back out for the third he surrendered a single and a double around a lineout before being replaced by the bullpen. In his 2 1/3 innings he was charged with one run on two hits and a walk while striking out four. So far on the season Laweryson leads the Scorpions pitching staff in innings pitched (6 2/3), and strikeouts, and his 12 K’s rank second among all pitchers in the AFL. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Sisk made two relief outings on the week and was roughed up a little in each, though strikeouts came in bunches in one of those outings. In Monday’s loss to Salt River Sisk was unable to record an out in the sixth inning and by the time it was over the Rafters had taken a 5-4 lead. A leadoff double was followed by two walks and a hit batter before he was removed. Responsible for the bases being loaded, three more runs would end up being charged to him and the Scorpions were not able to fully recover the rest of the way. On Thursday Sisk was the first reliever summoned after the Scorpions starter went 3 1/3 innings and he struck out the first hitter he faced. But that was then followed by a single and a two-run home run that put Surprise out front 6-2. He then hit a batter before picking up his second strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth it was a lot better for the lefty to end week two on a high note as all three hitters went down swinging on pitches up in the zone. In his 1 2/3 innings in this one, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk, but all five of his outs came on K’s. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Week two for Minnesota Twins prospects in the Arizona Fall League included one hitter continuing to show his power, infielders racking up hits, two pitchers making a start during the week with one of them continuing to flash elite strikeout numbers in the early going. Overall on the week, the Scottsdale Scorpions went just 1-5 and gave up runs in bunches in several of their games. They will look to rebound as a team in week three. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-16, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K; .296/.375/.519 (.894 OPS) overall. Wallner started off week two just as he finished week one, with a home run in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Salt River. His second blast of the fall season led off the second inning and put Scottsdale up 1-0 early in the game. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Wednesday, hitting third and playing right field in the Scorpions 11-9 loss to the Solar Sox. His first four at-bats included a pop-out to the catcher and three strikeouts, but helped start their attempt at a comeback with a single on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth. He would later come around to score the Scorpions final run of the game. In Thursday’s 17-2 loss to Surprise Wallner in left field and batting third again. You can tell from the score there wasn’t much going right for the Scorpions in this one, but Wallner contributed one of their two runs batted in with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. For the game he was 0-for-2 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Wallner’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 10-8 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. As the cleanup hitter in this one, he would finish 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. He singled in the fifth inning and drew a walk to load the bases in the ninth, but would end up stranded in scoring position both times. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, H, 1 BB, 2 K; 2.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP overall. The left-hander saw action in two games on the week, with his first appearance coming in Tuesday’s 12-4 win over the Desert Dogs. He was the first reliever summoned and pitched a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed a single and struck out two hitters in the outing. In Thursday’s blowout loss to the Saguaros, Featherstone was the last reliever called upon and got the final two outs of the game for the Scorpions. After six of the first seven hitters of the eighth inning reached base and four runs had already scored, he was brought in with runners on first and second. He got a flyout then walked one to reload the bases before a pair of wild pitches got away from him and two more runs came across home plate for Surprise. He got a groundout later in that at-bat to finally end the onslaught. Andrew Bechtold: 4 games, 6-for-17, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K; .320/.346.440 (.786 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the designated hitter and batted sixth in Monday’s loss to the Rafters, but like Wallner, he had a big game as they combined for five of the Scorpions 10 hits on the day. Bechtold finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. His double in the fourth inning put Scottsdale in front 2-1, and he scored his run on a double a batter later. Leading off the sixth inning Bechtold clubbed another double to center field, but ended up stranded on second base. He also drew a walk in the second inning. In Wednesday's game against Mesa, Bechtold moved up into the cleanup spot behind Wallner.. He played first base in this one and had another two-hit day. He singled in both the first and eighth innings and scored a run in the eighth when the Scorpions cut the Solar Sox lead to 9-7. Bechtold’s third game of the week was on Thursday and he was the catcher, batting fifth. He finished 1-for-4 to collect one of the Scorpions four hits on the game. He singled in the second inning and was left on base. He also grounded out in the fourth, flew out in the sixth, and struck out in the ninth. Behind the dish he allowed one passed ball and three bases were stolen by the Saguaros. In Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Salt River Bechtold was at third base and again hitting cleanup in the lineup. He extended his hitting streak to his first six games in the AFL with a 1-for-4 effort. He singled in the first inning to drive in the Scorpions only run of the game. Unfortunately, in his other three at-bats, he struck out but has otherwise been impressive thus far in Arizona with a .320 batting average. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Funderburk made the start in Wednesday’s loss to Mesa after allowing three unearned runs in his two innings. He walked the first two batters of the game but came back with a strikeout before inducing a double-play ball for a scoreless inning. In the second, it was a walk and single followed by an error on Bechtold at first base that allowed the first unearned run to score. An RBI groundout and RBI single later in the inning accounted for the other two before Funderburk got the final out on a grounder to third to cap his outing. In his two innings he allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out one. Michael Helman: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB; .353/.450/.412 (.862 OPS) overall. Helman saw action in three games on the week, playing third base, second base, and center field in the games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He batted ninth in all three contests and collected three more hits to keep his batting average in AFL play above .350 thus far. Against Mesa on Wednesday Helman picked up singles in the third and eighth innings. He led off the third inning with his first of the game, and would score from first on a double from the next batter to cut the Mesa lead to 3-2 at the time. His second single in the eighth was of the RBI variety and made the score 9-6 Solar Sox. In all he finished 2-for-5 with one strikeout as a hitter, but also had two errors in the field. In the all-around clunker of a game against Surprise on Thursday Helman was 0-for-3 with a lineout, fly out, and groundout, his first AFL game without a hit so far on the season. Against Peoria on Friday, Helman got back to his hitting ways, and also caused some havoc on the base paths. In his first at-bat in the third inning he drew a walk and promptly stole second base. He would then score Scottsdale’s first run of the game on a single before they took a 3-1 lead on a home run from early standout Jeter Downs. In the fourth Helman delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1 and he again took second base to get himself into scoring position, though he wouldn’t make it any farther around the bases. He finished this game 1-for-3 with the run scored, an RBI, walk, and the two stolen bases for a nice finish to his week. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (1 start), 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K; 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, including a start in Friday’s loss to the Javelina’s. His first game of the week was in Tuesday’s win over Glendale where he pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed a single to the first hitter he faced, but then retired the other six he faced in a row, including two strikeouts. In his start on Friday he was sharp for the first two innings, striking out four hitters and allowing only two baserunners after an error from his third baseman and a walk in the second inning. Back out for the third he surrendered a single and a double around a lineout before being replaced by the bullpen. In his 2 1/3 innings he was charged with one run on two hits and a walk while striking out four. So far on the season Laweryson leads the Scorpions pitching staff in innings pitched (6 2/3), and strikeouts, and his 12 K’s rank second among all pitchers in the AFL. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Sisk made two relief outings on the week and was roughed up a little in each, though strikeouts came in bunches in one of those outings. In Monday’s loss to Salt River Sisk was unable to record an out in the sixth inning and by the time it was over the Rafters had taken a 5-4 lead. A leadoff double was followed by two walks and a hit batter before he was removed. Responsible for the bases being loaded, three more runs would end up being charged to him and the Scorpions were not able to fully recover the rest of the way. On Thursday Sisk was the first reliever summoned after the Scorpions starter went 3 1/3 innings and he struck out the first hitter he faced. But that was then followed by a single and a two-run home run that put Surprise out front 6-2. He then hit a batter before picking up his second strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth it was a lot better for the lefty to end week two on a high note as all three hitters went down swinging on pitches up in the zone. In his 1 2/3 innings in this one, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk, but all five of his outs came on K’s. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. The opening week of the 2021 Arizona Fall League season started off slowly for the Scottsdale Scorpions as they went 0-2 in their first two games. But with help from one of the Minnesota Twins prospects and his power, they finished the week with two consecutive wins to even their record after week one. There was one start from a Twins pitcher in those four games, some big strikeout performances from their relievers, and an impressive early stat line from another hitter. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K; .273/.385/.545 (.930 OPS) overall. After missing about half of the 2021 minor league season with a hand injury, Matt Wallner is looking to make up development time in the AFL. He got off to a pretty good start. In the AFL season’s opening game that Scottsdale lost to Glendale 4-3, Wallner batted third in the lineup (which is a good indication of his talent level on a team with Marco Luciano and Triston Casas in the same lineup) and played in right field. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, but notched a single in the third inning that put runners on the corners for a Scorpions scoring threat they didn’t cash in. His other at-bat was a lineout to left field in the fifth. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Friday for the Scorpions first win, a reverse of their opener where they defeated the Desert Dogs 4-3. Wallner batted fifth and switched sides in the outfield, getting the nod in left in this one. He finished 0-for-2, but drew a pair of walks and was on base when Curtis Mead clubbed the deciding three-run homer in the top of the seventh. In his final game of the week, an 8-2 victory over Peoria, Wallner was again batting fifth and was the designated hitter. Down 1-0 after three innings, Wallner stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on first before putting the Scorpions ahead for good with one swing of the bat. His homer to left-center field made the score 2-1. He got another RBI opportunity in the ninth, and delivered a run-scoring single to account for the Scorpions eighth and final run. It was an exclamation point game for the slugger to end his first week of action on a high note. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP overall. Zach Featherstone was an excellent part of the Cedar Rapids Kernels bullpen during the 2021 season, amassing 93 strikeouts in 55 innings with a 2.13 ERA and nine saves. He came in third in Twins Daily’s 2021 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting. While he definitely walked too many (42 batters) and is likely part of the reason he’s in Arizona, hoping to learn some new tricks when it comes to his command and control. He appeared in two games on the week, the first of which came in the season opener against Glendale. He was tabbed for the sixth inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced before allowing a double and single that put runners on the corners. He recovered nicely, striking out the next hitter on three pitches for a scoreless frame and a nice start to his AFL ledger when it comes to strikeouts. His second appearance of the AFL season came in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas. He was the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions and came on to start the fifth inning. It wasn’t as clean as his first game, as he allowed a leadoff single where the runner ended up coming around to score on a double three batters later. He walked one and struck out one in his inning, being credited with a hold, and will look to continue racking up strikeouts in week 2. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-8, 2B, 0 BB, 3 K; .250/.250.375 (.625 OPS) overall. Andrew Bechtold was the Twins fifth round pick in the 2017 draft after an excellent season at Chipola College. He was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 minor league season with 18 in 99 games for Wichita. One interesting development for Bechtold that he will continue in the AFL, is the Twins working with him at the catcher position, where he advanced enough during the year that they got him in a single game there late. Bechtold had to wait for the Scorpions third game to get his first AFL action, and he was tabbed to play third base and bat seventh in the lineup in their 4-3 win over Glendale. He finished the game 1-for-4, clubbing a two-out double in the fifth inning before being stranded. His other three at-bats included three ground balls, including two that ended in double-plays. In Saturday’s 8-2 win, Bechtold again was batting seventh and got the start behind the dish for the Scorpions. I’m sure he’d like to have been better than his first three at-bats in his first game as the catcher for the Scorpions that all ended in strikeouts, but he got another chance in the eighth, where he singled to put a runner in scoring position. As the catcher, Bechtold allowed one stolen base with an errant throw, but later also threw a runner out at second. Scorpions pitchers walked eight Javelinas and had two wild pitches, but Bechtold surely contributed to them scoring just two runs calling the game as they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.50 WHIP overall. After finishing the 2021 season as a reliever with Wichita, Kody Funderburk is tabbed as a starter for the Scorpions in the AFL. He did make 10 starts for Cedar Rapids before his promotion to Wichita where he was used only as a reliever. However, he was a long reliever and averaged more than three innings per appearance. He also had a sub 1.00 WHIP with Wichita and is likely in Arizona in part due to his limited innings as a professional, as he’s thrown just 155 innings since being drafted in 2018. Funderburk was on the mound to start Scottsdale’s second game of the season on Thursday, a game they lost big. You might think Funderburk was the biggest reason for that after you see he allowed four runs on six hits in his two innings, but those that followed him on the mound were infinitely worse as the Scorpions lost 13-5 behind a nine-run third inning after Funderburk’s day was over. He pitched a scoreless first inning, allowing only an infield single, but with a 4-0 lead after the top of the second, Funderburk wasn’t able to keep runners off the bases in the bottom half. Two doubles, three singles, and a walk in the inning led to the score being tied at four, but he did end his outing with his second strikeout of the frame and his outing. When I used that term “infinitely” above I was being quite literal, as the next two pitchers for Scottsdale in the third inning didn’t record a single out and were charged with nine earned runs. Michael Helman: 2 games, 3-for-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, 0 K; .500/.625/.667 (1.292 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Michael Helman was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 season, slugging 19 with the Kernels in 111 games. He was an infielder when drafted and played mostly second base in his first two seasons, but in 2021 was primarily an outfielder (all three positions) with some middle-infield mixed in. He’ll likely play all around the diamond in Arizona, but I’ll be watching for his opportunities in center field especially. His first game of the week came in Thursday’s big loss to Mesa, but it wasn’t because of anything he did as he reached base three times and scored a run. He batted eighth in the lineup and played third base, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks. He drew his first base on balls in the second inning and later scored on a Jeter Downs single. In the fourth inning, he singled to right field and was on third base when the bases were loaded, but was forced out at home on a comebacker to the pitcher. His second walk of the game came in the eighth inning, but he was again the force out on a double-play ball that ended the inning. Helman was tabbed for center field in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas, and batted eighth in the lineup behind his organizational teammate Andrew Bechtold. He singled in the fifth inning and later scored Scottsdale’s third run of the game on a double. In the seventh inning, his first double of the AFL season put a runner on third that later scored on a sacrifice fly from the next hitter. He finished the game 2-for-4 and his first week with an excellent batting line. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 6 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP overall. After a strong debut season in 2019 in which he struck out 63 batters in 46 innings with a 0.80 WHIP and 1.57 ERA, Cody Laweryson missed some time to start the 2021 and wasn’t back to pitching until June. The strikeouts were still there as he racked up 73 in just 58 2/3 innings with the Kernels over 15 games (14 starts), but the missed 2020 season and injury loomed large as his ERA was 4.91 with a 1.33 WHIP. He’s looking to make up some innings and gain confidence in the AFL. Laweryson’s lone appearance on the week came in Thursday’s 13-5 loss to Mesa. After his team fell behind so big he was one of the stabilizing forces, along with another of his organizational teammates, as he entered the game in the middle of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. He struck out both hitters he faced to squash that threat, and followed that up by striking out all three hitters in the fifth. Back out for the sixth he got two more outs, including another strikeout, before losing some steam and walking his final two hitters before being removed. I say that last bit a little tongue in cheek, as if you believe the data available, he should have gotten his seventh strikeout of the night on multiple pitches in the at-bat resulting in the first of those walks: In all, Laweryson struck out six hitters and walked two in his 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and if this game is any indication his confidence should be sky high moving forward. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 1 1/3 IP, H, 2 BB; 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP overall. Evan Sisk is new to the Twins organization, coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in the trade of J.A. Happ during the 2021 season. He pitched in 14 games with the Wichita Wind Surge that resulted in a 4.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Like Featherstone he’ll need to work to cut down his walks and the AFL gives him a good opportunity to hone those skills against top competition. Sisk’s only outing of the week also came in the Scorpions blowout loss to Mesa, but he was the pitcher who picked up where Laweryson left off after those walks in the sixth inning. He did issue another walk to the first hitter he faced to load the bases, but got a fly out to escape that jam. Back out for the seventh, Sisk gave up a leadoff single and a walk later in the inning, but otherwise got three ground ball outs to finish his game with a scoreless outing. In total, he allowed no runs on one hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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