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Steve Lein

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    Steve Lein got a reaction from gagu for a blog entry, The Next Minnesota Twins - 2018   
    The first time I remember watching Minor League Baseball was when I was 11 years old on vacation to visit family living in Appleton, Wisconsin. At the time, the city was home to a Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, the Appleton Foxes. That season, they had a player who went on to become one of the greatest and most hated baseball players the game has ever seen—a wiry shortstop by the name of Alex Rodriguez who would make his Major League debut at just 18 years old later that same year.
     
    My experiences at those small stadiums, and later seeing those same guys play in the major leagues, sparked an immense interest for me in the prospects of my favorite game. When I got older, it was watching a kid younger than me being interviewed on ESPN after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins that sunk that hook in further and got me started blogging on the topic. Trevor Plouffe was his name, and since then I have always wished I had the level of skill required to get to where he was going. Instead, I settled for being a mediocre town ball player (but that was a lot of fun, too).
     
    As a big fan of the minors, top prospects lists have always been must-read material for me during the Major League Baseball offseason. There are incredibly detailed lists everywhere, including some of the best you will find right here on this site. But because there are so many such lists, I like to take a different approach to my own and look at the prospects you might see make their Major League debut with the Twins during the upcoming season. Some of them are “top” prospects, but they’re not the only ones who can make an impact in the majors in the year ahead.
     
    Players who made their MLB debut for the Minnesota Twins in 2017 included pitchers Justin Haley, Randy Rosario, Alan Busenitz, Aaron Slegers, Jason Wheeler, Trevor Hildenberger, Felix Jorge, John Curtiss, Nik Turley, Dietrich Enns, and Gabriel Moya. On the position player front they were joined by Mitch Garver, Niko Goodrum, and Zack Granite.
     
    If you think that list of players seems long (especially on pitchers), you would be right. The Twins set a club record for the number of different pitchers they used in an MLB season during the 2017 campaign, and they relied on their farm system heavily in that regard.
     
    Of that list Haley, Granite, Rosario, Hildenberger, and Goodrum were players I profiled in this column before the 2017 season started. It was a bit of an off year for me considering how long the actual list was and I only pegged those five (missing on the other nine), but in the prior year I did hit on every player that made their MLB debut with the Twins.
     
    From that extended list of the 2017 season Garver, Hildenberger, and Moya are (currently) the locks for the 2018 opening day roster, with Granite being optioned in the final round of cuts in favor of #SireOfFortMyers Ryan LaMarre. Haley, Rosario, Wheeler, Turley, and Goodrum are no longer with the organization while Busenitz, Slegers, Jorge, Curtiss, and Enns provide a solid list of pitching depth now with major league experience ticketed for AAA.
     
    The Minnesota Twins already have a strong young core of players in the majors, but as we saw last year a lot can happen during a 162-game season. So, who are the potential Next Minnesota Twins in 2018?
     
    Tyler Kinley (27 years old) – RHP
     
    The almost yearly Rule 5 draft pick, Kinley comes to Minnesota out of the Miami Marlins system. While many were perplexed that Kinley was selected when the Twins had already left several in-house prospects with similar profiles unprotected for the same draft, since then you may have heard a lot about what went into that process from the front office. There’s not much to really argue with, given the moves they’ve made and even if he’s the name you don’t know.
     
    Kinley can hit triple-digits with his fastball, and throws a slider in the 90’s. That kind of stuff is hard to find and it impressed Twins scouts enough to select him during the Winter League season where he posted a 0.47 ERA and allowed just 5 hits in 19 innings. He also struck out 32, a rate of 15.2 K/9IP that many players would be envious of. That followed his MiLB season across the A+/AA levels where he struck out 12.2 per nine.
     
    As you’ll often hear about with prospects of his ilk, the high K-rate does come with a high walk rate. This spring in 11IP he has struck out 12, but also issued 7 free passes. The hope would be he could be hidden at the back of the bullpen to not overexpose this flaw, and as the season goes on earn more trust with coaches. There’s also the possibility the Twins like him enough that they complete a trade with the Marlins to keep his rights and send him to the minors when any such roster move needs to be made.
     
    LaMonte Wade (24) – OF (TD’s #14 Twins Prospect)
     
    I have to admit, I love prospects like LaMonte Wade. He wasn’t drafted with much fanfare (9th round in 2015) and never gets talked about as having a standout tool, but just keeps getting the job done moving up the ladder. He does however happen to have one tool that isn’t part of the shed even though it’s the one that led the Moneyball revolution: plate discipline.
     
    All Wade has ever done since he’s had a bat in his hand is get on base—not even his dad could get him out throwing pitches to him in the back yard at five years old.
     
    Okay, that last part is made up but the first part is true and has been on display this Spring as he led the Major League team by drawing 8 free passes. Since being drafted Wade owns a career .404 on-base percentage in the minors, and he’s drawn more walks than he has struck out in each of his three professional seasons. It’s also an impressive rate at which he’s been able to coax these walks, sitting at 14.67% for his career. That’s elite territory and in a #FunWithNumbers comparison to Joe Mauer’s minor league career, you would think Mauer was a free-swinger.
     
    For this year Wade reminds me a lot of what Zack Granite was looking at heading into last season. With Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler’s “nothing falls but raindrops” outfield there’s not much room for him to crack the roster on his own. He also hits left-handed so platooning with Kepler wouldn’t be ideal despite his lack of platoon splits. But injuries and other things happen, and Wade will be on the MLB doorstep at AAA. I think the ceiling here is a Denard Span type hitter built through a strong on-base percentage, just as a corner outfielder instead of in center. That’s an intriguing 4th outfielder option to have in the Twins back pocket at a minimum.
     
    Stephen Gonsalves (23) – LHP (TD’s #4 Twins Prospect)
     
    Gonsalves has been fantastic at every level he has pitched since being signed for above slot in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. He doesn’t get as much press nationally because that success has been built around his secondary skills rather than his pure stuff, but discounting what he does bring has been a fool’s errand for MiLB hitters since turning pro.
     
    He’ll sit in the low-90’s with his fastball and his best pitch is his changeup, but also throws a curveball, slider, and tinkers with a cutter to complete his repertoire. In 2017 he lowered his walk rate to a career best 2.5/9IP and gets above average marks from scouts for his control. He finished last year with four starts at AAA, three very good and one clunker that hampered his small-sample-size stats there and should be a big part of a stacked Rochester rotation to start the season. He’s probably not first in line for a call-up right away when a long-term need arises, but spot start duty is not out of the question as he was added to the 40-man roster this offseason.
     
    Barring any flare-ups with shoulder issues that have been intermittent in his minor league career, I fully expect Gonsalves to pitch with Minnesota during the 2018 season. He should slot in the middle of the Twins rotation in the near future.
     
    Fernando Romero (23) – RHP (TD’s #2 Twins Prospect)
     
    If you’re looking for that potential “ace” in the Twins system, your best bet may be Romero. If you’ve also paid attention this Spring you probably saw plenty of that potential, as he was arguably the best Twins pitcher before being reassigned in the first round of cuts. In 8 innings across 4 appearances, Romero did not allow a hit, walked only one, and struck out 8. That performance came on the heels of a 2017 season spent entirely at AA where he posted a 3.53 ERA and struck out 120 over 125 innings. Late in the year he was shut down as he neared an innings limit and showed signs of wearing down, but that’s not atypical for a pitcher who has missed nearly two full seasons of action due to injury (Tommy John Surgery in 2014, knee surgery in 2015).
     
    It’s this fact that makes me a bit more lukewarm on his potential with the Twins this season than most, despite his enticing stuff that includes a mid-to-high 90’s fastball. If I was making a prediction, I’d say he doesn’t start a game for them. He’s barely thrown even 300 innings in his MiLB career and his 125 from a season ago is where a starting prospect signed at his age should hope to be at already before reaching AA. What I do see happening is a return to AA to start the year due to the depth in front of him, a midseason or earlier bump to AAA, and provided he continues performing, a bump to the Minnesota bullpen as he nears an innings limit in what hopefully is a playoff push. The St. Louis Cardinals are known to have had some good success with this approach and Romero is a prime prospect for the Twins new regime to adopt this type of plan for during the 2018 season.
     
    Nick Gordon (22) – IF (TD’s #3 Twins Prospect)
     
    Gordon, along with the next player in this list, I am a lot more bullish on than a lot of people. That’s not just because he’s the first of two consecutive 1st round picks on this list I wrote the draft profile for on our favorite website since I began helping with our unparalleled MiLB reports (follow all our writers!!!).
     
    While it’s well known how he struggled in the 2nd half of last season at AA, batting just .221/.304/.305 after appearing in the Future’s Game midsummer, it amazes me how quickly his first half seems to be thrown away. That’s when he hit .315/.376/.504 and was the unquestioned MVP of his team, and perhaps the Southern League. Even with that swoon he ended the year top 5 in the circuit in runs scored (3rd – 80), hits (3rd – 140), doubles (tied for 5th – 29), and triples (tied for 1st – 9). In big league camp for most of Spring Training, Gordon was also a standout performer among their prospects as he hit .417/.440/.625 with a double and two triples in 24 at-bats.
     
    While questions remain about his long-term ability to play shortstop in the majors, I often find myself laughing at any takes that say he can’t or won’t play there for the Twins. That’s not because I think they’re incredibly right or wrong, but because this is the Minnesota Twins we’re talking about. In the past 13 seasons, 11 different players have opened the season at the position, and off the top of my head I’d argue Jorge Polanco’s 2017 may have been the best of those. There is an incredibly low bar here for a player to clear, both offensively and defensively. But don’t take that as a knock on Gordon skills, either.
     
    I think he will hit wherever he plays, with slugging numbers that sneak up on you as he racks up doubles and triples in the place of home runs with his also sneaky speed. At just 22 years old he’s also going to keep getting stronger. As for that defense that gets questioned, if you want a comparison I think your best fit is the player you hoped would be the starter on opening day before his unfortunate suspension. Gordon won’t be any different than Polanco has been, and that’s decidedly average or slightly worse, with the remaining potential for more than that in the future.
     
    With no other infielders on the 40-man roster besides those on the opening day roster, Gordon is suddenly very high on the organization’s depth chart. With another strong start to a season at AAA, he will likely get the call when the need arises.
     
    Tyler Jay (23) – LHP (TD’s #19 Twins Prospect)
     
    The second of those 1st round draft picks I wrote the draft preview for was the left-handed relief pitcher they selected in 2015, Tyler Jay.
     
    If you peruse that link, you likely know by now that the ship has sailed on Jay’s potential as a starting pitcher, but that shouldn’t discourage you about what potential remains. I think the comparison I made to Glen Perkins is still very much valid, though perhaps now the ceiling instead of the floor as a prospect.
     
    Transferred to a bullpen role for good before the start of last year, Jay had his season derailed in Spring Training by an injury that many initially thought would lead to thoracic outlet surgery (the same procedure Phil Hughes has yet to overcome). He would appear in two games in May with Chattanooga, then not again until August on a rehab tour at the CenturyLink Sports Complex with the MiLB season nearly over. With no surgery determined to be needed, Jay made up as much time as he could in the Arizona Fall League. Though that time was a mixed bag of results, it did provide some confidence on his health heading into the 2018 season.
     
    Jay is likely back with Chattanooga for the start of the MiLB season, but the plan for 2018 isn’t much different than it was a year ago. If he’s performing he should be a quick mover, with the Twins bullpen very much in sight before September.
     
    Zack Littell (22) – RHP (TD’s #11 Twins Prospect)
     
    Littell was plucked from the Yankees with the surprising double-deal of Jaime Garcia at the trade deadline last year and could prove to be a shrewd move on the new front office’s part. Not highly regarded, Littell put himself on the prospect radar with a 2017 performance that earned him the Fan’s Choice MiLBY award for Top Starting Pitcher. That was due to his nearly unblemished 19-1 record and 2.12 ERA on the season.
     
    Like Gonsalves, Littell gets by more on his pitchability than his pure stuff which limits his upside to a mid-rotation starter at this point, but over the past 2 seasons he has maintained a sub 3.00 ERA at each stop on his journey and his consistency start-to-start stands out. As one of the youngest starters in AA last season, his performance becomes even more impressive. Due to the depth in front of him he’s likely to spend at least a half-season back at AA but could be one of the first moves up when that depth is put to work.
     
    Brent Rooker (23) – OF/1B (TD’s #7 Twins Prospect)
     
    Although he’s only been in the organization for less than a season’s worth of baseball, Brent Rooker is the prospect I’m most interested to follow this season. After winning the Triple Crown in the SEC with the Mississippi State Bulldogs and being drafted by the Twins with the 35th overall pick, Rooker got his pro career started with a bang—18 of them to be exact. Those 18 home runs in 62 games after being drafted was the most by a Twins prospect in his draft year since 1990 and it’s hard to ignore his approach, preparation, and dedication to the art of hitting.
     
    Though his defensive position is undefined at this point he will get plenty of opportunity in the outfield, at first base, and as a designated hitter. As he puts it himself in a great Q & A courtesy of MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, “I'll play left field, first base, right field, I'll DH. Whatever gets me in the lineup and allows my bat to contribute as quickly as possible.” You also have to love the confidence.
     
    I think Rooker is going to mash for the Twins for a long time. In terms of this article it’s just a matter of how quick his bat can get him there. With his experience in the SEC and the advanced plan and preparation he brings to the plate every at-bat, I think that could be late in 2018. That becomes even more likely if he starts the year with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
     
    Other Names To Keep An Eye On:
     
    Lewis Thorpe (22) – LHP (TD’s #12 Twins Prospect): Thorpe has missed a full two seasons of action, but returned in 2017 to log 77 innings with Fort Myers and also made one start with Chattanooga. Added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, Thorpe should start back in AA. If he looks anything like when I interviewed him with Cedar Rapids, he could be knocking on the MLB door late in the year.
     
    Jake Reed (25) – RHP: Reed has made good impressions in Spring Training for a few years now, but his 2017 season was delayed by a shoulder injury that hampered his MLB debut plans. He allowed one run (on a HR) in 6 innings with 4 walks and 8 K’s this Spring in MLB camp. He’ll be a big part of Rochester’s bullpen to start the 2018 season, a phone call away.
     
    Mason Melotakis (26) – LHP: A left-handed bullpen arm that will be in AAA to begin the year. Melotakis was a 40-man roster add last year, but as reports of a diminished velocity surfaced he was removed during the season and cleared waivers. Whether or not he can throw a mid-90’s fastball anymore won’t be a problem if he can continue to post numbers like he has at AA.
     
    Kohl Stewart (23) – RHP: A lot has been made of Stewart’s lack of strikeouts since being drafted with the 4th overall pick in the 2013 draft. When you read scouting reports on him though, there’s still a lot to like. My favorite is the idea he doesn’t get hit hard, as evidenced by the fact he’s only allowed 17 home runs in 462 career innings (a rate of 0.33/9IP). If he finds a way to pile up some more K’s, Stewart could put himself back on the map as a prospect as he’s still just 23 years old. He should be in the Chattanooga rotation again to start his 2018 campaign looking to do just that.
     
    Jake Cave (25) – OF: Acquired from the Yankees on March 17th, Cave is another option to serve as a 4th outfielder with the Twins during the season. He had a breakout year of sorts during 2017, batting .305/.351/.542 with 20 home runs at the AA and AAA levels. Unlike LaMonte Wade above, Cave is on the 40-man roster so it could be easier to add him to the MLB roster if a need arises.
     
    Nick Anderson (27) – RHP: The Twins signed Anderson before the 2015 season after he had spent a few years in the independent leagues. Since then, he may be the most impressive reliever the Twins have had in the system as far as results go. In 2017 with Fort Myers and Chattanooga he posted a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings while notching 11 saves. He may not be considered a prospect due to his age (turns 28 in July) but numbers force the promotion issue sometimes, and that’s what Anderson has produced. He’s also #OneOfUs, as he went to high school in Brainerd, MN.
     
    Minor League Depth:
     
    Willians Astudillo (26) – C, Zack Jones (27) – RHP, Andrew Vasquez (24) – LHP, D.J. Baxendale (27) – RHP, Ryan Eades (26) – RHP
     
    These are the guys I think have the best chance to make their MLB debut in 2018, but as evidenced by last season’s roster turnover there’s likely a few I’ve missed. If you think I overlooked anyone, state your case in the comments! Hopefully when anybody does make their debut, they can emulate the results of Trevor Hildenberger last year!
  2. Like
    Steve Lein got a reaction from Oldgoat_MN for a blog entry, The Next Twins - 2017   
    Top prospects lists have always one of the most fun things to read in the baseball offseason for me. Whether that’s by checking out the 2017 Prospect Handbook by Twins Daily’s own Seth Stohs and company, the great prospect capsules that are written on this site, or checking out any of the litany of lists available elsewhere, I can’t ever get enough. But because there are so many resources for this type of information, I like to take a little bit of a different look at prospects coming into a new year, and that means throwing out names that you might actually get to see in the majors with the Twins during the upcoming season.
     
    Players who made their Major League debut for the Twins in 2016 included pitchers Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, J.T. Chargois, Pat Dean, Alex Wimmers, and Adalberto Mejia. Byungho Park and James Beresford made their debuts on the position player front, and all of these players besides Mejia, who came over in the Eduardo Nunez trade during the season, were players I profiled in this column before the 2016 season started.
     
    From that list of debuts, only Rogers and Mejia made the opening day roster, but Berrios, Chargois, Wimmers, and Park all likely will make an impact with the major league team at some point during the upcoming season.
    With Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Eddie Rosoria already being established in the majors, there’s not a ton of talent represented in this list on the position player front, but there is a bunch of ready or nearly ready pitching that could finally break through and begin to transform the Twins pitching staff that has been in desperate need of it for several seasons.
     
    So for 2017, who are the potential next Minnesota Twins?
     
    Justin Haley – RHP (TD’s #20 Twins Prospect)
     
    I’ll start with the gimme pick. Haley represents the almost yearly Rule 5 draft prospect that is likely to debut right off the bat for the Twins as they can’t send him to the minors without working out a trade. The Twins didn’t make a Rule 5 selection last year, but in 2015 it was J.R. Graham who came over from the Atlanta Braves. Haley is likely to play a similar role out of the Twins bullpen as Graham did, that of a long-man and spot-starter. There’s not much more upside to him than that, but he has a good track record of performance in the minor leagues and is ready to contribute in the majors. He finished the 2016 season with a 3.01 ERA in 146.2 innings pitched across AA and AAA, and was fantastic the offseason leagues, allowing just one earned run in 23 additional innings. Haley didn’t do anything this Spring to lose a spot on the roster, and there is a good chance you could see him make his debut against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field in the first series of the 2017 season.
     
    Stephen Gonsalves – LHP (TD’s #2 Twins Prospect)
     
    Gonsalves has done nothing but dominate the minor leagues every step of the way thus far in his career, and is likely to start the 2017 season in AAA just one final step away from making his MLB debut. His “stuff” has always been talked about as being behind his results, but eventually you have to accept the idea that he might just be pretty good at what he does. He saw a bump in his walk rate when he made the move to AA last season (4.5/9IP), but that also came with a jump in his strikeout rate (10.8/9IP) and a sterling 8-1 record and 1.82 ERA over thirteen starts. Don’t expect to ever see him lighting up radar guns, as a low-90’s fastball is likely the best you’ll ever see when he’s on the mound, but always remember to consider there’s more to a pitch and pitcher than just pure velocity. I’ve started to think of him as a left-handed Brad Radke-type, and while he walks far more than Radke ever did (3.5 BB/9IP vs. 2.0BB/9IP in the minors), he’s also struck out more (9.7K/9IP vs. 7.0K/9IP) with a superior WHIP. He had some shoulder trouble that kept him out most of the AFL season, and this came up again this Spring, but he was back to pitching on the Minor League side of the field before camp broke. If he continues as he has in the regular season throughout his MiLB career a mid-summer debut is certainly achievable for the young left-hander.
     
    Zack Granite – OF (TD’s #16 Twins prospect)
     
    If you really know your Twins prospects, Zach Granite is a guy that should remind you a lot of the career path of a current Minnesota Twins star, Brian Dozier. Both were below the radar college draftees (8th round for Dozier, 14th round for Granite) that weren’t necessarily expected to make an impact in the majors. Dozier did so by reinventing himself as a hitter once he reached the majors (his 42 home runs last year were more than double his career total in the minors over 365 games), and while I don’t believe that’s remotely possible with Granite, he brings a different skill set to the table. Granite was named the Twins 2016 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .295/.347/.382 and leading the minors in stolen bases with 56 on the season. Granite’s plus speed also benefits him on defense, where he is an excellent center fielder and was able to show the major league staff some of his skills there this Spring. Added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, Granite will start in AAA and is likely high on the pecking order for a fill-in outfielder in the majors when the need arises.
     
    Nick Burdi – RHP (TD’s #17 Twins prospect)
     
    Nobody would be more disappointed with how their 2016 season went than Nick Burdi. After making an impression in Spring Training with the MLB team, he was able to make just three appearances with Chattanooga before a bone bruise in his pitching arm put him on the shelf. A setback in June proved to be the nail in his 2016 coffin, and he comes into the 2017 season looking to do the same things he’d hoped for a year earlier. He’s been trying out an alteration to his pitching mechanics in an effort to stay healthier moving forward, and reports from Spring Training still have him throwing in the high-90’s like he always has. Burdi is the definition of a power pitcher, and if you enjoyed seeing J.T. Chargois or Ryan Pressly hitting 95+ on the radar gun last year, you’ll enjoy seeing triple digits even more. Burdi also brings a high velocity slider with bite, and even if he’s walking a few batters, that combination will continue to rack up strikeouts in the majors. While it’s taken a little longer than he or a lot of fans had hoped, I still believe there’s potential Burdi is closing games for Twins in the future.
     
    Tyler Jay – LHP (TD’s #5 Twins prospect)
    Another pitcher who could be closing games for the Twins in the future is left-hander Tyler Jay. Drafted number six overall during the 2015 season, the Twins had visions of turning Jay into a starter despite performing in that role very little during his collegiate career. After what some would call an underwhelming year of development as a starter in the system, this Spring the new front office quickly identified this was not how they would like to proceed with him, announcing they’d be moving him into the bullpen to put him on a faster track to the majors. Back in 2015 I wrote the draft profile on Jay for Twins Daily, and much of what I wrote about there hasn’t changed. Starting in the future has not been completely ruled out by the Twins, but he could be an impact arm in the bullpen much sooner. Many will complain that he’s a top-10 pick that now may only ever be a reliever, but he could be an elite one with his stuff who also has the ability to go multiple innings when needed (as a junior in college, over half his appearances were 1+ innings). Think something like playoff Andrew Miller-Light. I believe the move to the bullpen was made so Jay could make an impact this year if he’s performing. He’ll be back in Chattanooga to start the year, but I would not be surprised if he’s bumped to AAA early in the summer and making a case for the majors before September rolls around.
     
    Daniel Palka – OF/DH (TD’s #14 Twins Prospect)
     
    To this point Daniel Palka is perhaps most famous for being the guy the Twins received in a trade for catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann, but there’s a reason many believe that was a great trade for the Twins. Herrmann was admirable in the role the Arizona Diamondbacks employed him in 2016 (he hit .284/.352/.493 as the backup catcher and outfielder in 56 games), but Palka brings an elite skill to the plate with his power. His 34 home runs across double and triple-A were good for fourth in all of the minor leagues, and he was named Twins Daily’s 2016 Hitter of the Year for his efforts. His first exposure to AAA proved to be a challenge, as he hit just .232 in 54 games with 86 K’s, but he also slugged a robust .483 on those hits and will look to improve his plate discipline in 2017. He was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason and if and when there is a need for a power bat or a fill-in corner-outfielder, Palka could be the guy who gets the call. I see a September call-up as a more realistic scenario for Palka, but like Adam Walker before him, he will have to show an improved approach in AAA to make the necessary impression.
     
    Engelb Vielma – SS/IF (TD’s #18 Twins Prospect)
     
    Engelb Vielma is an especially intriguing prospect given how the Twins have handled the shortstop position in the majors over the past several seasons. They currently have Jorge Polanco manning the spot, and while his offensive punch has proved an asset in his short time, his defense at short has not. Vielma is the opposite. His defense gets universally rave reviews from scouts and is well known for making the flashy plays with his slick glove and plus arm from the hole, but there isn’t a great profile as a hitter. While he’s shown an ability to make contact, there is little to no semblance of power as evidenced by his .636 career OPS in the minors. If defense at short becomes a priority as the season goes on, Vielma will be the guy who gets the call, but it is also more likely he makes his impact as a utility infielder who actually has the chops to make a difference with defense, as opposed to someone like say, Danny Santana. If he’s getting on-base at a clip around .330 or above, he can provide enough offensive value, but I don’t think he’ll ever have a slugging percentage that eclipses that number.
     
    Jake Reed - RHP
     
    Another reliever with a mid-90’s arm, Reed spent the bulk of the 2016 in AA with the Chattanooga Lookouts, but ended his season by making nine appearances with the Rochester Red Wings. He creates some deception with an unorthodox looking delivery that includes a low arm slot, and although he’s not yet on the 40-man roster, results will get him to the majors at some point this year.
     
    Mason Melotakis - LHP
     
    Melotakis career thus far perhaps should have made the Twins learn their lesson much earlier, that drafting relievers and turning them into starters or bouncing players between those roles doesn’t work, both in results and overall pitcher health. Melotakis missed the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery after being drafted as a reliever, spending a year as a starter, then returning to the bullpen. The Twins took it easy on Melotakis last season, as he did not appear in back-to-back games on any occasion, but should be ready to show off his mid-90’s velocity from the left-side at full capacity this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start in AA again, but like several others in this list he’s an early bump candidate.
     
    Randy Rosario - LHP
     
    Rosario is another lefty that can bring mid-90’s velocity, and while he was a starter for his first five years in the Twins system, in 2016 he made his final nine appearances out of the bullpen at Fort Myers and then Chattanooga, along with his stint in the Arizona Fall League. This Spring after a brief stay with the Major League team, it was made official that Rosario would also be moved to the bullpen for the 2017 season, a role he also said he prefers. He will start 2017 with the Lookouts.
     
    D.J. Baxendale – RHP
     
    My first of a few darkhorse picks, Baxendale is a lesson to me in why you don’t ever need to put a successful collegiate starter in any league below the advanced single-A level after signing them. After he was drafted, he demolished rookie league and Midwest League hitters before doing the same to Florida State League hitters the next season and getting promoted to AA. For the next three years he languished at that level trying to put it all together as a starter, before finally getting the bump to AAA to end last season. Only thing was, all twenty-three of his appearances there came out of the bullpen. In that role he raised his strikeout rate into territory it hadn’t been since the low-levels, and was pitching in higher leverage roles as the season finished. He allowed just five earned runs in 35.0 innings with Rochester. Although he didn’t get an invite to MLB camp in Spring Training and he’s also not yet on the 40-man roster, it will be hard to ignore similar numbers out of the bullpen in 2017 when almost nobody in the major league ‘pen is a sure thing.
     
    Trevor Hildenberger - RHP
     
    All Hildenberger has done is his MiLB career, is put up numbers. In his three seasons he holds a 1.47 ERA, has struck out 10.5/9IP, and walked just 1.1/9IP with an otherworldly 0.82 WHIP. He’s also racked up 46 saves. Hildenberger reminds me a lot of Pat Neshek, both in their deliveries (side-winders) and the results, though Hildenberger has been noticeably better in the minors in comparison. There is a reason he has been named Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year the past two seasons, and barring injury you should see him join the bullpen carousel at some point in 2017.
     
    LaMonte Wade – OF (TD’s #15 Twins Prospect)
     
    Another darkhorse pick on this list for 2017, Wade is an outfielder who does a little bit of everything, despite not necessarily having a tool that stands out. He gets on base, plays good defense, and in general seems to impact every game in a different way. Many might try to tell you something has to give at some point, but it’s hard to ignore an .868 OPS over his first two seasons. He missed some time in 2016 to injury but should start the year in Chattanooga with an outside chance for an appearance in September if he continues performing in several facets of the game as he has thus far in his career.
     
    Niko Goodrum – UT
     
    Goodrum got a lot of run with the major league team this Spring Training and made appearances all over the diamond. He’s been slow to develop, but the talent the Twins saw in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft has started to show the last two seasons in AA. His path to the majors at this point is a utility role much like Danny Santana’s, and if he continues to show improvements in AAA their roles quite easily could be swapped at some point in 2017.
     
    Nick Gordon – SS (TD’s #4 Twins Prospect)
     
    I don’t really believe Nick Gordon will reach the majors at any point in 2017 other than a not that likely cup of coffee in September, but he’ll start the season in AA and I don’t see him staying there the whole season like he has in Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers the last two years. At this point I still think many evaluators are underrating his bat, and while I think his defense lags a bit behind, I do believe he is the shortstop of the future and will bring a much better overall package than the other names mentioned on this list at the position.
     
    Fernando Romero - RHP (TD's #1 Twins Prospect)
     
    Romero isn't as well known as he should be in prospect circles, but that will change in the upcoming season. He's gone under the radar because he missed nearly two full seasons due to Tommy John surgery. He was ready to go at the start of the 2016 season and made it through with no further issues, however he was handled with kid gloves as he pitched just 90.1 innings. If you're looking for a future ace in the Twins system, Romero is your guy. He's not tall but has size (6'0", 215+ lbs) which allows him to maintain mid-90's velocity throughout his starts, and he is capable of dialing it up to 100MPH. That velocity combined with with average to above-average flashing secondary pitches with room for further improvement give him plenty of projection. Due to his lack of innings, I don't think he'll be able to crack the Twins rotation this year, but a stint out of the bullpen when he's close to any imposed innings limit is not out of the question. 2017 could be a big year for Romero's national profile, but 2018 is when you can really expect big things in Minnesota.
     
    Kohl Stewart – RHP (TD’s #8 Twins Prospect)
     
    My final darkhorse pick for this season, my thought process here is much like the one I used to include Alex Wimmers on this list last a year ago. Stewart might have an even bigger hurdle to jump first because of the general belief he can’t strike people out, but I always like to point out his MiLB career ERA is better than another prospect who got far more acclaim for that type of thing in Jose Berrios. I’m not quite sure what has held Stewart back from maintaining his top-5 pick allure in his career thus far, but I can’t ignore the observations I hear from numerous sources about him: he has the stuff. That stuff includes a heavy fastball that he can alter to reach into the mid-90’s when he wants to, a vast repertoire of off-speed pitches, and competitive demeanor that check a lot of big-league talent boxes. Is 2017 the season he can maintain consistency? I think so.
     
    So there you have it, my picks for Twins prospects who you could see making their Major League debut at Target Field during the 2017 season. Who do you think will make their MLB debut for the Twins this season, and when?
  3. Like
    Steve Lein got a reaction from big dog for a blog entry, The Next Twins - 2015   
    Even though the Twins lost yesterday at the hands of David Price and the Detroit Tigers, it’s hard not to be excited for MLB Opening Day. The start of the baseball season means summer is just around the corner, and the prospect of spending afternoons and evenings at Target Field gets me all giddy, even if the opening day roster doesn’t.
     
    You see, despite the fact this roster is currently loaded with veterans and retreads, both new (Tim Stauffer, Blaine Boyer, Ervin Santana, Shane Robinson) and old (Torii Hunter) that don’t necessarily instill immediate confidence, the youth movement we’ve all been waiting for was finally taken out of neutral and eased into first gear late last season.
     
    Players who made their Major League Debut for the Twins in 2014 included pitchers A.J. Achter, Logan Darnell, Yohan Pino, and Trevor May, and position players Jorge Polanco, Danny Santana, and Kennys Vargas.
     
    It was May, Santana, and Vargas’ debuts in particular that signaled Terry Ryan finally releasing the clutch on a farm system that could be the equivalent of a Ferrari. While they’re barely out of the starting gate, the performances of Santana (.319/.353/.472, 41 XBH’s and 20 SB in 101 games) and Vargas (.274/.316/.456, 9 HR and 38 RBI in 53 games) in the latter portion of 2014 put some pretty good tread to tar on this track.
     
    While May will have to wait a bit longer to get back in the Twins rotation on this track, Santana and Vargas have been handed the keys to the 2015 revolution out of gate, and are poised to be infused with nitrous-boosters throughout the year.
     
    Top 100 prospects lists and team specific Top 10’s are always fun to read and one of my favorite parts of the baseball offseason whether it’s reading the great capsules here on Twins Daily, or checking out the litany of lists available elsewhere. But since there are so many of them, I like to take a little bit of a different look at prospects coming into a new season, and that means throwing out names that you might have a chance to actually see in the Majors during the upcoming season.
     
    Usually when I’ve done this list, there haven’t necessarily been a whole lot of Top-10-type prospects that populate it because they’ve been so far away from the Majors, but this year is different, and this Ferrari of a Farm System is ready to roll with those types of players littering AA and AAA for the Twins.
     
    So let’s take a look at some players that could make (or have now made) their MLB debut for the Minnesota Twins in 2015:
     
    J.R. Graham
     
    Graham was the Twins Rule V draft pick coming into the season which gave him a leg up on the competition to both make the roster, and his MLB debut. When healthy, which has been a big question mark in recent seasons, Graham brings legit velocity and was once a Top 5 prospect for the Atlanta Braves. On my trip down to Spring Training last month, Graham registered the highest radar gun readings of anyone I saw, Twins or otherwise (including Alex Meyer), so the Twins are banking on the potential he has to evolve into a useful bullpen piece after flaming out as a starter.
     
    Eddie Rosario (TD’s #8 Prospect)
     
    A disappointing 2014 season for Rosario began with a 50-game drug suspension, and he did nothing to help improve his stock going into 2015 with an underwhelming .672 OPS at AA when he finally got on the field. But he reversed that trend in a big way with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, which is a proving ground for top prospects. His performance there put him in the competition for the centerfield job this spring, but he didn’t quite do enough. If he’s strong out of the gate at AAA Rochester, Rosario could be the first outfielder called up to fill in for an injury.
     
    Jason Wheeler
     
    The big left-hander has gone a bit unnoticed in a farm system that includes Top 100 pitching prospects like Meyer, Kohl Stewart, and Jose Berrios, but has been a workhorse in the minors since being drafted out of Loyola Marymount University in the Eighth Round of the 2011 draft. He pitched at three levels in 2014, ending his season with a start in Rochester, and totaled 158 innings with a 2.68 ERA and 1.190 WHIP on the season. He doesn’t have big velocity for a pitcher his size (6’6”, 255) nor does he rack up strikeouts (6.6K/9IP), but he doesn’t issue free passes (2.1BB/9IP) and gets a lot of ground balls to profile as a back-end starter. He’s on the 40-man roster, so his route to a 2015 debut is easier than a few others on this list. I was also impressed watching one of his outings this spring on the backfields down in Fort Myers.
     
    Alex Meyer (TD’s #5 Prospect)
     
    If not for a (repeated) shoulder injury near the end of 2014, Meyer may not have been eligible for this list in 2015, but it wasn’t meant to be. There’s no denying his ability, as he brings mid-to-high 90’s velocity and a wipeout slider out of his 6’9” frame that has placed him high on Top 100 lists since he was drafted. And despite the limitations (85 pitches or 6 innings) put on him in 2014 in an effort to keep him healthy the entire season, he still led the International League in strikeouts with 153 in 130.1 innings (10.6K/9IP). He can get wild as we all know, but when taken together with his penchant for strikeouts, he is able to limit the damage, as evidenced by his solid 3.52 ERA at AAA, which also ranked 6th in the league. Trevor May is probably in front of him on the call-up depth chart, but if Meyer doesn’t make his debut in 2015, something has gone extremely wrong.
     
    Miguel Sano (TD’s #2 Prospect)
     
    Sano was primed to burst onto the scene in 2014 after a season that saw him smash 35 home runs between Fort Myers and New Britain, but a cloud was also hanging over him that reared its head in his first Spring Training game, and that was his right elbow. After Tommy John surgery Sano is back to being healthy heading in to 2015, and will be part of perhaps the scariest lineup in all of the minor leagues at Chattanooga to start. Thus far he has had zero setbacks, and though he only collected two hits in Major League camp this spring, they were both mammoth HR’s, and he also displayed good patience and hit several other balls extremely hard, including one that prompted this reaction from me on the back fields after being sent to the Minor League camp. Sano is without a doubt THE GUY I’m looking forward to debuting in 2015, and let’s hope that the end to the second movie being made about him comes sooner rather than later.
     
    Jose Berrios (TD’s #3 Prospect)
     
    Berrios vaulted up prospect lists in 2014 as he burned through the Florida State League to the tune of a 1.97 ERA in 16 starts and 96 innings while striking out 109 hitters. He also made 8 starts at AA and 1 at AAA, but was noticeably less effective. He’s not on the 40-man roster yet, so his path to a 2015 is more clouded than others, but it’s also hard to put anything past him due to his work ethic and desire, which has been on full display this offseason if you follow him on social media circles. His size will always be a question mark, as he lacks the prototypical height and fastball plane of a top of the rotation starter, but he also brings surprising velocity and a diverse mix that he has full control over. He’ll start the season in AA, but could easily find himself in Rochester by July, just a phone call away from the majors.
     
    Nick Burdi (TD’s #10 Prospect)
     
    Burdi is the closest thing to a blue-chip pure relief prospect you will find in all of the minor leagues, and that’s because of his 100+MPH heat and a slider that comes in at 90+. He had a very forgettable MiLB debut, where he walked all four batters he faced, but after that minor setback, he struck out 38 hitters in just 20.1 innings between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers while allowing just 13 hits and 6 walks. I was able to catch him while he was with the Kernels last season, and he’ll give you as exciting of an inning as you can imagine out of the bullpen. On several other teams, I have to believe he’d already be in the majors, but with the Twins we may have to wait until after the All-Star Break or longer.
     
    Byron Buxton (TD’s #1 Prospect)
     
    I honestly don’t actually believe that Buxton will make it to the majors this season, but there is a reason he’s one of the best prospects in all of baseball: He’s shown he can hit, has burgeoning power, can steal a ton of bases and run down fly balls with his speed, and has a big arm that he used to throw mid-90’s from a mound in high school. He’s a genuine five-tool prospect. The reason I think it will be hard for him to debut in 2015, is because he was so incredible in 2013, and then had everything possible that could go wrong for him in 2014, that it would be hard to reproduce. Then again, the Twins outfield situation is dire, so it may become a necessity at some point if he’s doing anything close to what he did in 2013 with his bat.
     
    Other Notable Names:
     
    RP Jake Reed – The Oregon closer made a name for himself after being drafted in the fifth round of last year’s draft by allowing just 1 earned run and 11 hits along with racking up 39 strikeouts over 31 innings pitched for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids.
     
    IF Levi Michael – The first forgotten 1st round draft pick finally showed some life in 2014, though he wasn’t able to play a full season, hitting .313/.389/.387 across three levels, including .340/.444/.358 in 15 games at AA.
     
    SP/RP Alex Wimmers – The second forgotten 1st round pick also was able to get his career back on track in 2014 while making most of his appearances as a reliever. In 84 innings at Fort Myers and New Britain, Wimmers struck out 97 hitters and improved as the season went on.
     
    RP J.T. Chargois – The first half of the former Rice University closer committee drafted in 2012 missed all of 2013 and 2014 due to injury, but is back to pitching and flashing the same 100 MPH velocity he did when the Twins selected him in the 2nd round. Could be a fast mover if it all comes back.
     
    SP Tyler Duffey – The second half of the Rice University closer committee, drafted in the 5th round of 2012's draft, has been the Twins best reliever to starter conversion, and made three starts at AAA in 2014. Like Wheeler, he has the potential to be a back-end starter in the majors.
     
    IF James Beresford – The Australian native has spent the past 2 seasons at AAA in a utility role and has hit for a solid average. With the ability to field multiple infield positions, he could find himself in the same role with the Twins if the need arises.
     
    RP Ryan O’Rourke – O’Rourke is the unique LOOGY reliever who absolutely dominates same-handed hitters, but struggles to get anyone else out. It’s a luxury to be able to have his type of arm in a major league bullpen, but there are plenty of situations where it can be of use.
     
    SP Taylor Rogers – Rogers spent all of 2014 in AA, and will find himself in the rotation at AAA to begin 2015. He’s buried on the starting pitching depth chart, but is in the same position as Wheeler and Duffey as a future back-end starter candidate.
     
    Cheers to the 2015 MLB season, and to the potential debuts of the next great Minnesota Twins!
  4. Like
    Steve Lein got a reaction from Willihammer for a blog entry, Twins Minor League Report (AFL Week 6 and Final Recap): Kepler Finishes Season Strong   
    It was about a week ago where the Minnesota Twins AFL team, the Salt River Rafters, clinched their spot in League Championship game, but they still had a few games left to play before that.
     
    Eddie Rosario entered the season’s final week with a chance at a batting title, and two relief pitching prospects had yet to allow a run in a league play. How would they finish?
     
    Let’s check out what happened in week 6!
     
    Byron Buxton – Did not play.
     
    Buxton had surgery on his fractured finger three weeks ago, and is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.
     
    Final AFL totals: 13 games, .263/.311/.298, 2 2B’s, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 12 K’s, 5 SB (6 attempts)
     
    Eddie Rosario – 3 games, 2-13 (.154), 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K’s.
     
    Rosario admittedly let the pressure of winning the League’s batting title affect him in the season’s final days, and the results showed. He had just two hits in thirteen at-bats, which resulted in a final batting average of .330 to finish second in the race.
     
    Of course, it didn’t matter much two days later, as Rosario had his best game of a fantastic overall AFL season in the League Championship game.
     
    Final AFL totals: 24 games, .330/.345/.410, 4 2B’s, 2 3B’s, 18 RBI, 5 BB, 19 K’s, 10 SB (14 attempts).
     
     
    Max Kepler – 3 games, 7-14 (.500), 4 R’s, 2B, 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K.
     
    Kepler had a strong final three games, racking up multiple hits in each contest to raise his average to .307 to finish the season.
     
    In Monday’s 8-4 win he was 2-4 and scored two runs. The next night he was 2-5 with a run scored, double, and an RBI in a 4-4 eleven inning tie. Then in his final game of the week, Wednesday’s 4-5 loss, he was 3-5 with a run scored and a triple.
     
    Final AFL totals: 18 games, .307/.366/.440, 4 2B’s, 3 3B’s, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 14K’s, 3 SB (3 attempts)
     
     
    Taylor Rogers – 1 game, 1 IP, 0 H’s, 0 BB, 0 K’s.
     
    Rogers made a single appearance in the final week of the AFL regular season, making the start in Tuesday’s 4-4 eleven inning tie.
     
    He pitched two innings, and needed just twenty-two pitches, fourteen of which went for strikes.
     
    In the first, Peoria’s leadoff man, top prospect Francisco Lindor, pushed a ground ball through the infield, but was nailed at second base while trying to stretch it into a double. Rogers struck out the next batter and induce a ground ball to end the inning 1-2-3.
     
    In the second inning, Rogers again set the Javelina’s hitters down in order, inducing two easy ground ball outs and a fly out.
     
    Final AFL totals: 3 appearances, 2 starts, 5.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 4 H’s, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K’s, .211 BAA.
     
    Jason Adam – 1 game, 1 IP, 5 R’s (2 ER), 4 H’s, 1 BB, 1 K. 18.00 ERA.
     
    Adam also made a single appearance on the week, and after a rough start to his AFL season had gone five consecutive appearances without allowing a run. That streak ended in Thursday’s 8-5 loss, as Adam was charged with the Blown Save and Loss after coming into the game in relief of top prospect Archie Bradley in the third inning.
     
    He was summoned with two outs after Bradley allowed Scottsdale to close an early game lead of 4-0 to 4-3. Adam got the final out, but would run into trouble of his own in the fourth.
     
    He walked the leadoff man and surrendered the tying and go-ahead run after an RBI triple and sacrifice fly to the next two hitters. A throwing error and two consecutive singles would load the bases, before Adam picked up the second out of the inning by striking out Josh Bell for the innings second out. But an RBI single and the second error of the inning would end his night and AFL season on a sour note.
     
    Final AFL totals: 10 appearances, 1-1, 13.1 IP, 5.40 ERA, 23 H’s, 8 ER’s, 6 BB, 7 K’s, .371 BAA
     
    Zack Jones – 2 games, 2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 5 BB, 2 K’s, 1 Hold (6). 0.00 ERA.
     
    Jones’ first appearance of the final week came during Monday’s victory, where he picked up his sixth AFL Hold while making it interesting in the eighth inning. He walked two batters and hit another with a pitch to load the bases, recording two outs before he was taken out of the game.
     
    In Thursday’s 8-5 loss, he relieved Adam in the bottom of the fourth inning, and walked his first hitter to load the bases before escaping by inducing and foul pop up. In the fifth, the bases would again be loaded against him after a single and two walks, but a strikeout of Dante Bichette Jr. would preserve his 0.00 ERA in AFL League play, despite his odd overall numbers.
     
    Final AFL totals: 11 appearances, 11.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 7 H’s, 0 R’s, 12 BB, 11 K’s, .171 BAA.
     
    Jake Reed – 1 game, 1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H’s, 1 BB, 1 K. 9.00 ERA.
     
    Reed made his only appearance of the week before the AFL championship game in Tuesday’s tie game. He gave up his first earned run of the AFL season, and only his second ER in 43.2 innings during his professional debut season.
     
    He was charged with a Blown Save after entering the game to start the top of the eighth. He surrendered a leadoff double and a walk before striking out Patrick Leonard for the first out, but a ground ball single up the middle to Justin O’Connor would bring in the run. The final two outs were recorded on plays during the next two at-bats, so he did limit the damage.
     
    Final AFL totals: 10 appearances 12.2 IP, 0.71 ERA, 10 H’s, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 K’s, .213 BAA.
     
    Notes/Links:
     
    -Overall, Twins prospects fared very well in the Arizona Fall League.
    -The Salt River Rafters won the AFL League Championship on Saturday, after defeating the Peoria Javelina’s 14-7 in Scottsdale.
    -Rosario and Kepler combined to bat .333 with 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 R’s, 2 RBI, 1 BB, and 3 K’s during the week.
    -Twins pitchers compiled a 5.09 ERA in 5.3 IP, allowing 3 ER’s on 8 H’s and 7 BB’s, while striking out 5 on the week.
  5. Like
    Steve Lein got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, Twins Minor League Report (AFL Week 3): Hits and Holds   
    The end of the third week in the Arizona Fall League marks the halfway point of the season, and at this juncture the Salt River Rafters, for whom the Twins prospects play, have clearly been the class of the League. They lead the East Division with a 12-4-1 record and are the only team with double-digit wins.
     
    In week 3, Taylor Rogers was again the only Twins representative who didn’t see action.
     
    Did Eddie Rosario continue to hit? Did Byron Buxton turn it around? Did Zack Jones and Jake Reed continue to mow down hitters?
     
    Read on to find out!
     
     
    Byron Buxton – 4 games, 6-18 (.333), 2B, 3 R’s, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K’s, 3 SB’s (4).
     
    Buxton played in four games this week, including another appearance in RF.
     
    His big game of the week came on Friday, when he went 3-5 with a double, scored two runs, drove in two more, and stole two bases. It was the second game in a row he collected multiple hits after going 2-5 the day before.
     
    It’s a good sign to see all of his tools back on display, and Buxton is happy to be moving forward after his injury-wrecked 2014 season.
     
    Buxton raised his average from .229 to .264 during the week.
     
     
    Eddie Rosario – 4 games, 6-13 (.462), 2 R’s, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 3 SB (9).
     
    Rosario continued to bat third in the Rafters lineup this week, and continued to rack up hits.
     
    He currently is second in the league in batting average (.429) and total hits (21), fourth in RBI’s (11), and second in stolen bases (9).
     
    He had at least one hit in all four games during the week and collected multiple hits twice. In Tuesday’s 5-0 Rafters win, he was 2-2 with two RBI sac fly’s in four plate appearances.
     
    He was 2-4 with three RBI in his next game on Thursday, where he also stole two more bases.
     
    Of major note in reference to Rosario, is the fact he has hit safely in all ten games he has played in the AFL, and seems to like the pace of play created by the 20-second pitch clock.
     
     
    Max Kepler – 3 games, 5-12 (.417), 2 R, 2 2B’s, 3B, RBI, 1 BB’s, 4 K’s, SB (3).
     
    Kepler saw action in three games during the week, and made the most of his opportunities as he went 2-4 on Tuesday, 2-5 with a double and triple on Wednesday, and 1-3 with a double, walk, and RBI on Thursday.
     
    His triple in Wednesday’s 9-3 victory sparked a four run second inning for the Rafters.
     
    He raised his average to .290 in league play, with an on-base percentage of .405.
     
     
    Taylor Rogers – Did not play.
     
    Rogers took a line drive to his shoulder in his only start for the Rafters in week 1, and has not pitched since.
     
     
    Jason Adam – 1 game, 1 IP, 0 R’s, 1 H’s, 0 BB, 1 K. 0.00 ERA.
     
    Adam finally made his first scoreless appearance in Friday’s 8-1 win, allowing just a single in the sixth inning. The runner moved to second on a passed ball, but he finished the inning with a strikeout and picked up his first hold.
     
     
    Zack Jones – 2 games, 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H’s, 3 BB, 0 K, 2 Holds. 0.00 ERA.
     
    Zack Jones made appearances in the wins on Monday and Thursday, picking up a hold in both contests.
     
    In Monday’s win, he gave a double but retired the three other batters he faced.
     
    In Friday’s win, he lost his control in the seventh inning, throwing just eight of twenty-one pitches for strikes while walking three to load the bases. He recorded just one out, but still picked up a hold as Kaleb Fleck from the Diamondbacks organization retired the next two batters.
     
     
    Jake Reed – 2 games, 2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K’s, 2 Holds. 0.00 ERA.
     
    Reed also pitched in the same games as Jones, pitching the inning before him in each contest. He was extremely efficient, throwing twenty of twenty-four pitches for strikes, while allowing just one hit in his two innings. He also recorded two holds.
     
    Of note from Jones and Reed, is neither hurler recorded an out with a strikeout on the week.
     
     
    Notes
     
    -Twins hitters combined to bat .395 with 3 2B’s, 1 3B, 7 R’s, 10 RBI, 4 BB’s, 9 K’s, and 7 SB during the week.
    -Twins pitchers compiled a 0.00 ERA in 4.1 IP, allowing 0 R’s on 3 H’s and 3 BB’s, while striking out 1 on the week.
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