Dman reacted to SportsGuyDalton for a blog entry, Spring Training Winners and Losers
After a long, harsh Minnesota winter, Spring Training offers and a glimpse of green grass and the hope of a successful Twins season. The Twins’ time in Florida is like any trip to the Sunshine State—some visitors leave with a golden tan, others depart with bad sunburn. As the team prepares to head north, here are my winners and losers from the Twins’ Spring Training. Let’s start with the guys who got burned.
1. Kenta Maeda
Spring Training stats should never weigh heavily in player evaluations, but when a veteran pitcher like Maeda returns from 19 months of Tommy John rehab, his performance will be scrutinized. Despite a solid outing today, Maeda’s spring has been mediocre. He has posted a 4.91 ERA in 14.2 innings, issuing 10 walks, striking out 14 batters, and showing inconsistent fastball velocity. These numbers aren’t awful, yet with Bailey Ober, Louie Varland, and Simeon Woods-Richardson all seeking a spot in the rotation, Maeda’s grasp of the fifth starter role grows looser. King Kenta will need to regain his pre-injury form quickly or risk being relegated to a diminished role.
2. Trevor Megill
Megill’s arm talent is undeniable. His fastball consistently touches 100 MPH and advanced metrics show that his breaking pitches are competent. Unfortunately, the on-field results never seem to match the underlying metrics (much like his bullpen mate Emilio Pagán). Megill entered the spring with a shot at a bullpen role with the Twins, then struggled to a 10.80 ERA and 2.10 WHIP before being demoted to Triple-A on March 19. Twins fans will probably see Megill again this season as he will be one of top relief options available in St. Paul, yet it’s fair to wonder how many second chances Megill will receive.
3. Gilberto Celestino
2023 is the most important season of Gilberto Celestino’s career. That is a strange statement considering Celestino played 122 games with the Twins last season and will likely spend most of 2023 in Triple-A. However, given Celestino’s limited minor league experience (only 75 career games above High-A), this season at Triple-A is critical for his maturation as a player. The thumb injury Celestino suffered early in camp required surgery, putting his development plan on hold while he is out until late April. Missing one month isn’t catastrophic, but finger injuries can linger. If Celestino rushes back or suffers a setback, his long-term development will pay the price.
1. Edouard Julien
Despite all the praise that top prospect Brooks Lee garnered in Fort Myers, Julien is undoubtedly the Twins prospect whose stock has risen the most this spring. Across seven games with the Twins and four games with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, Julien is hitting .394 (13 for 33) with five homeruns and six walks. His advanced approach at the plate looks MLB-ready, mixing patience with power. The Twins’ infield depth and questions about Julien’s defensive home created a roster crunch that resulted in Julien being optioned to Triple-A on March 14, but Julien’s performance this spring shows that he is ready to contribute at Target Field.
2. Kyle Farmer
Farmer’s solid Spring Training—an OPS of 1.052 and four homeruns—has flown under the radar as health questions about Alex Kiriloff, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda have dominated Twins infield storylines. The 31-year-old Farmer is a six-year veteran, so a good month of March doesn’t change his projected upside, but he is a “winner” here because he will leave Fort Myers poised to parlay his hot bat into important at-bats for the Twins. His infield counterparts Polanco and Kirilloff are starting the season on the Injured List, meaning Farmer will play a critical role in the Twins’ early-season success. If Farmer keeps hitting, the Twins offense will get a massive boost and Farmer could become a valuable trade chip to fill an everyday role on another team.
3. The Twins Front Office
There are plenty of valid questions about the Twins’ offseason moves. Will Joey Gallo rebound from his terrible 2022 season? And did the team need another left-handed hitting outfielder? How will the offense replace the bat-to-ball skills of Luis Arraez? etc. Regardless, one thing is clear this spring: this Twins roster is deep. Yes, Jorge Polanco and Alex Kiriloff are starting the season on the IL, however the Twins have starting-caliber replacements in Kyle Farmer, Donovan Solano, and Nick Gordon. Typically, exclusively DH-ing a Platinum Glove winner like Byron Buxton would wreck a team’s defense, but the Twins adding recent Gold Glove winners in Michael A. Taylor and Joey Gallo minimizes the defensive decline. And Bailey Ober, probably the odd man out of the Twins’ early-season starting rotation, has yet to allow a run this spring and continues to look like a fourth starter in a competent MLB rotation. Not to mention the prospect reinforcements waiting at Triple-A. All said, Spring Training has shown that this front office deserves credit for building the deepest Twins roster in recent memory.
Thanks for reading! I'm interested to hear your thoughts and your winners/losers of the spring.
Dman reacted to Luke Thompson for a blog entry, The Downfall of Byung-Ho Park
When the Minnesota Twins signed Korean slugger Byung-Ho Park, fans believed he was the next "big thing" and that he was the player they needed to compete. But what happened to Byung-Ho Park?
Park was a huge superstar in the Korean Baseball Organization with the Nexen Heroes. In five seasons with the Heroes, Park led the KBO in home runs five times, RBIs four times, slugging percentage twice, a 2X MVP of the KBO, and was a five-time Gold Glove winner. In the KBO, Park had two consecutive seasons with 50 home runs (2014–2015) and was the home run title winner for four consecutive seasons (2012–2015). He holds the KBO record for RBI during a single season, with 146 RBI in 2015. With those numbers, the Twins gave the highly wanted Park a four-year, $12 million contract. With those numbers in the KBO, you would think It would be a steal of a contract; the only problem is that Park wasn't a very good MLB player.
The move for the Twins made sense as he dominated pitching in the highest league in South Korea, and many teams were after him. It was exciting when the Twins won the bidding war for Park because things like that usually don't happen to Minnesota. It was initially very exciting to see what he could do in America, but ultimately it was another disappointing move. When Park arrived with the Twins, he only played 62 games, hitting .191/.275/.409 with 12 homers before he was sent to Triple-A Rochester. The only real hope Park had at the time of his demotion was his 12 homers, which had him on pace for 31 homers if he had played the whole season. After spending an entire season with the Rochester Red Wings, Park asked to be released and returned to the Heroes for the 2017 season. He performed well in Park's first year back in the KBO League. Park batted .345 with an OPS of 1.174 with 43 HR in 113 games. Currently, Park is on the KT Wiz in the KBO. He is slashing .275/.349/.556 with 35 HRs. He has only been incredible since he went back to the KBO. This leads me to wonder what went wrong for Park in the majors and why he did not perform up to expectations.
In 2016, Park's only season in the MLB, he had a strikeout rate of 32.8%. He struck out in nearly one-third of his plate appearances. Whereas in 2016, the league average strikeout rate was 21.1%, Park's strikeout rate was over 10% more than the average. The following reason for his struggles: Park's batting average in 2016 was .191. This was well below the league average of .255. On-base percentage, Park's on-base percentage (OBP) in 2016 was .275, which was also below the league average of .321. Park struggled to hit the breaking pitches. In 2016, he had a batting average of just .111 against curveballs and a batting average of .125 against sliders. Park also had difficulty staying on the field, suffering a knee contusion and a wrist injury that ended his season. Park also had issues with the front office and how they handled his injury. Park believed little treatment was given to him during his injuries which slowed down getting him back on the field.
I wish the Twins would have kept Park on their roster, it's very possible that his performance would have improved in the Major Leagues, he just needed to be given more playing time and consistent at-bats. However, it's a possibility that he would have continued to struggle and been demoted or released. In 2016, Byung Ho Park's rookie season with the Twins, he played in 62 games and had 244 plate appearances. He hit .191 with 12 home runs, 24 RBI, and a .658 OPS. In comparison, the Twins' starting DH in 2016, Robbie Grossman, played in 99 games and had 380 plate appearances. He hit .280 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and a .386 OBP. If Park had been given consistent playing time and more at-bats, it's a real possibility he could have improved his numbers and been a good player for the Twins. However, it's also possible that he simply wasn't built for the MLB and would have continued to struggle.
I wonder what would've happened if Park would have had more time to adjust to MLB pitching and his injuries didn't keep him off the field. We know he had the potential but sadly couldn't piece it together. Byung-Ho Park's career would have been an interesting one for sure. Sadly, Twins fans will have to live with the disappointment of Park not panning out quite as we hoped.
Dman reacted to CoryMoen for a blog entry, Why Donovan Solano is a Better Fit than you Might Think.
As you have likely seen at this point, the Twins signed Infielder Donovan Solano to a 1 year, $2 million dollar deal. When you first look at this deal, you may have thought that Solano is a similar role to Kyle Farmer and seems to be redundant. While there may be some overlap, I think there are a few reasons where both guys still get a good amount of at bats this year, especially against lefties.
So let's compare Solano to a few other guys that I saw many people mention as targets for the Twins, Luke Voit and Yuli Gurriel. One reason the ladder two guys were brought up was their ability to hit lefties, so let's look at that first.
Luke Voit versus lefties in 2022 had the following line: .174/.298/.271. I will concede that these stats are lower than his career .236/.329/.439 line against lefties.
Yuli Gurriel versus lefties in 2022 had the following line: .265/.298/.441. These are slightly lower than his career .282/.333/.474 line against lefties as well.
As for the Twins most recent acquisition, here are his stats versus lefties:
Donovan Solano had a slash line of .301/.348/.422 line versus lefties in 2022. His career line is .282/.322/.389.
The next thing I wanted to compare these players on was their Walk%, K% and their projected WAR going forward.
Projected WAR (using ZiPS):
Voit: 0.8 WAR
Gurriel: 1.5 WAR
Solano: 1.2 WAR
Seeing these stats, you might try to say that Gurriel would be the best choice of the three for a fit. The reason I think this is not the case can be summed up in one word: versatility.
Donovan Solano can not only play 1B, but can also play 2B, 3B, and will likely get some ABs as a DH as well, against lefties specifically. Gurriel at this point in his career is a 1B with the ability to DH of course as well. Voit is a 1B/DH as well.
Not to overlook Solano's ability to hit against righties as well. He doesn't hit righties super well, but can at least give you a good AB if needed. He has a career slash line of .276/.329/.367 against RHP.
One thing to remember is Solano is a depth piece who, similar to Kyle Farmer, will play mostly against LHP with occasional starts coming against RHP. Solano's versatility will also be helpful in case someone gets dinged up (which will happen at some point) and as a potential defensive replacement depending on who is in the game as well. Solano hits a lot of line drives, as evidence by his career .332 BABIP.
I'd like to make this clear, I don't think Donovan Solano is an all star level player, but I think he's a solid depth piece that gives manager Rocco Baldelli another option this coming year. The Twins depth is much different than the past years, and hopefully this means they learned their lesson regarding not being too top heavy on the roster and not having as much depth.
Let me know what you all think of the Solano signing. Who do you think this bumps off the roster? My gut reaction says Larnach, but maybe things change before opening day (perhaps a trade?).
Dman reacted to Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Ricardo Olivar
Although the Twins are really hurting for viable future catching yet it seems like Ricardo Olivar is totally off the Twins radar. In '22, Olivar was named the MVP of the FCL, FCL post season All-Star catcher and FCL player of the month in July. Although he's listed at catcher, where he played the most of his games, he still played a lot of games at CF and some at 2B and cOFs. He's also good defensively w/ above average arm.
Season Team Level Age G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ 2021 MIN FCL 19 34 59 1 5 5 3 13.6% 28.8% .143 .290 .204 .339 .347 .336 92 2022 MIN FCL 20 40 154 5 16 23 5 11.7% 21.4% .256 .430 .349 .442 .605 .480 181 He got drafted in '19 but didn't start pro ball until '21 because of covid. Like a lot of these prospects during this time their development stopped & they became stagnant. The problem is he turned 21 last Aug, & that's a little old for rookie ball. My hope is like Endy Rodriguez exploding this year going from A to AAA, Olivar will do this coming year starting at A ball. Endy was Rule 5 draft eligible this year & Ricardo will be next year.
Ricardo didn't even make TD's honorable mention but he's been on my radar & I'll be tracking him this coming year.
Dman reacted to Ted Wiedmann for a blog entry, What if the Twins Didn't Trade Max Kepler?
With Kyle Garlick being dfa'd and Gilberto Celestino being far from reliable, who should the Minnesota Twins have as their bench outfielder? Free agent options such as A.J. Pollock and Andrew McCutchen have signed elsewhere; options are becoming thin for the Twins. Adam Duvall and Tommy Pham are available, but both are 34 years old and could be nearing the end of their time in the Big Leagues. I want to look at one option still in-house that could fill this role for 2023 that would be a practical choice for Minnesota; Max Kepler.
Cover Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Yes, I am aware that Kepler hits left-handed. However, Kepler held his own against lefties in 2022; he had a 98 wRC+ in left-on-left matchups. I don't think a right-handed bat is as big of a need as the presumption is; Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Ryan Jeffers, and Jose Miranda should all serve as plus bats against left-handed pitching. It seems inevitable that the Twins will trade Kepler this offseason, but if they don't, there is no reason he can't be a very serviceable outfielder off the bench. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Byron Buxton have all missed significant time the last two seasons due to injuries, so the Twins should be cautious to pencil in any of those guys for 150+ games. Kepler provides elite defense in RF, amassing a very impressive 46 DRS (defensive runs saved) and 51 OAA (outs above average) throughout his career; he should be comparable in LF as well. Kepler has also held his own in CF throughout his career. In just over 1,100 innings in CF, he has recorded 2 DRS and 8 OAA in his time there. Certainly a few steps below Buxton, but nobody is at that level.
The frustration with Kepler from Twins fans has not come from his defense. Many point to a low batting average as a sign that Kepler has been an underwhelming hitter, but I do not believe that is the case. While not reaching the heights his batted ball data would suggest he is capable of, Kepler gives value in other ways at the plate. He borders on having both elite plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills. This shows with Kepler ranking in the 88th percentile in K% and 84th percentile in BB% in 2022. He was also tied with Yordan Alvarez for 17th in BB/K rate among hitters with 400 plate appearances.
Kepler could make some batted-ball adjustments as well. According to Statcast, in 2022, Kepler's ground ball% was 46.6% (league average 44.9%), a massive 8.9% jump from 37.7% in 2021. His flyball% dropped to 24.5%, down from 28.1% in 2021 (league average 23.1%), his lowest flyball% since 2017. As I'm sure you are familiar, Kepler is a very pull heavy hitter, ranking in the 74th percentile in pull% among hitters with 250 plate appearances in 2022 despite this being his lowest pull% since 2017. Unfortunately pulling ground balls is one of the least effective ways to get hits. In 2019, Kepler had his second-lowest career ground ball% at 35.9% and his highest career flyball% at 29.8%; if Kepler starts hitting the ball in the air again instead of on the ground, there may be a lot more room for improvement.
I don't think Kepler should be a middle-of-the-order hitter, but that's what he has been for the last few years on the Twins. In part because of a career year in 2019 and in part due to necessity because of injuries. Throughout his Major League career, Kepler has taken over two-thirds of his plate appearances in one of the top 5 spots in the lineup despite being only a 101 wRC+ hitter. If Kepler is hitting seventh or eighth in the lineup, he is a much better fit. Even last season, a down year by almost all metrics, Kepler finished with a 95 wRC+, five percent worse than the league average. It is important to mention injuries got to him as well, as he put up a 116 wRC+ in the first half of the season and a 33 wRC+ in the second half, where he was playing much of it through foot and wrist injuries. Kepler can consistently put together quality at-bats and is very capable of hard contact; this makes for an ideal fit for a bench player who can play every day if (when) someone gets injured.
I want to touch on a very underrated part of Kepler's game; his base running. Only once in his career has Kepler had a negative BsR season by Fangraphs, and it was in 2019 when he had his best season at the plate. I do think there is more base-stealing upside for Kepler. Although he only has 33 career stolen bases, hitting more toward the bottom of the lineup could make him more willing to run. He will not have hitters like Nelson Cruz or Carlos Correa hitting behind him, making the risk of stealing less penalizing. He does have 64th percentile sprint speed and stole ten bases in 2021. Under the right conditions, I think he has 20 SB potential.
In totality, it seems that it is only a matter of time until Max Kepler is no longer a Twin. Still, it is worth considering the possibility of reducing his role and hanging onto him. For one, he is already under contract for 7 million, the same amount as A.J. Pollock received and only two million more than Andrew McCutchen. Kepler is a much better player than either of those two at this point in their careers. He has a team option for 10 million in 2024 as well. Kepler has been a remarkably consistent player year to year for the Twins, never having a season below 2.0 fWAR and never having a season below 93 wRC+. For reference, Nick Gordon impressed many people last year but only put up 1.5 fWAR in 2022. While frustrations have grown watching him hit in the middle of a lineup undeservingly, it's not fair to fault Kepler for that. If he can serve as a fourth outfielder and hit more toward the bottom of the lineup, I think Kepler still has a place on the Minnesota Twins this year and next. If they can land a good return for him, the front office will not hesitate to pull the trigger, but they shouldn't treat him as a salary dump. He isn't making very much, and he still has a skillset to help a team win games.
Dman reacted to Adam Friedman for a blog entry, 4 Breakout Candidates for the Twins in 2023
For the Twins to get back into the playoffs in 2023, they will need a host of elements to go well. Not only will the Twins require significantly better health in 2023 — they will also need some players to make leaps in the new year. Whether it’s younger established players or prospects, the Twins need big improvements from some young players to be a successful team. I’ve put together a list of players I think can take those steps to be impact players in 2023.
Since the Twins acquired Joe Ryan in exchange for Nelson Cruz at the 2021 trade deadline, he has impressed, and at times, dominated. In 32 starts, he has pitched 173.2 innings with an ERA of 3.63 and a FIP of 3.90. He has had a 25.7% strikeout rate and a 7.1% walk rate. These are all very good numbers for a guy coming off of his rookie year, and he would slot into just about any rotation in baseball. Ryan isn’t a typical breakout candidate due to his early success, but I believe at 26 years old, he has the ability to develop into more of a frontline starter and break out as a true star.
In 2022, Ryan was much worse after a tough bout with Covid-19. Per Fangraphs, in starts before his long absence due to the virus, Ryan had a 2.25 ERA and a 3.25 FIP, but in starts after he came back, he had a 4.08 ERA and 4.30 FIP. Essentially, before his 3-week Covid absence, he was the frontline starter the Twins needed him to be, and after, he was a back-end of the rotation starter. Hopefully, once fully recovered in 2023, we can see Ryan lead the rotation and be a frontline starter.
Beyond his mediocre numbers after his Covid-19 absence, Ryan’s performance against right-handed hitters in 2022 surprised me. I expected him to be a typical pitcher who performs better against same-sided batters. In the minors, Ryan had typical splits, where he was better against righties than lefties, but that was not the case in 2022. Against right-handed batters in 2022, Ryan threw fewer fastballs and more sliders. But his fastball was one of the best pitches in baseball in 2022 based on Baseball Savant’s run value metric, while his slider was well below average. For Ryan to become a frontline starter, he will need to improve his performance against right-handed batters, by either improving his slider or throwing fewer sliders against right-handed batters. If either of those strategies is effective and he can return to top physical shape, Ryan can be the Twins best starting pitcher (as the roster is currently constructed) and possibly become the frontline starter the Twins need in 2023.
Almost every number available shows that Jovani Moran is a really good relief pitcher who is ready to be an impact reliever for the Twins from Opening Day forward. From his 2.21 ERA and 1.78 FIP in 2022 for the Twins in 40.2 innings, to his 11.95 K/9, Twins fans should be excited for him to join the fold more in 2023. While his numbers holistically are awesome, he does walk a ton of batters. However, he limits home runs and strikes out enough hitters that the walks have rarely haunted him at any level, and his overall numbers should continue to be strong in 2023.
While Moran has been extremely stingy against both righties and lefties, as a 2-pitch pitcher who relies a ton on nasty changeup, he has reverse splits, meaning he is better against right-handed batters than lefties. Because of this, he would benefit if the Twins add an additional left-handed reliever, so if Caleb Thielbar is unavailable, he doesn’t have to be the guy to just come in against lefties. Instead, he should be used in other high leverage situations, whether it’s an 8th inning in a 1- run game, or if there are guys on second and third and one out. If the Twins are going to hunt any matchups for Moran, they should seek right-handed hitters in 2023. Facing primarily righties will further improve his numbers and make him a weapon in a bullpen that could be the best in years for the Twins.
Kirilloff has unfortunately been on these types of lists for 3 years. The Twins expected that in 2021, once they blatantly manipulated his service time, he could come in and be a star left fielder every day for years to come. That expectation was reasonable at the time. In 2018, he was the Twins Minor League Player of the Year, and his strong performances continued in 2019 during his first taste of the upper minors at AA. He had wrist problems flare up for the first time in 2019, but after a strong performance at the Twins alternate site in 2020, which they believed warranted a rare playoff Major League Baseball debut, it was time for the global top 20 prospect to be an impact player for the Twins.
That has not yet happened for Kirilloff as his wrist has bogged him down. Over the past two seasons, Twins fans at times saw him hit the ball hard and really be the hitter prospect analysts promised us, but far more often his wrist left him sidelined, or he at least performed at a subpar level. In 2021, his batted ball data indicated that he would start seeing a lot of hits and extra base hits with a .544 xSLG, but he didn’t play enough for those results to come, only playing 59 games for the Twins. In 2022, he was bad in the MLB, but at AAA he showed that a great hitter is in there, with a 1.106 OPS. There even was a stretch with the Twins from July 2nd to July 23rd when he posted a 157 wRC+, making him a 57% above average hitter. During that stretch, it seemed that he was finally coming along, especially when he went 6 for 13 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs, in what seemed like a pivotal series against the White Sox. Soon after, he fell off a cliff and didn’t play another game in the majors for the Twins in 2022.
Wrists are tricky and sometimes hitters never get back to their best due to a wrist injury. That could be the unfortunate reality for Kirilloff. But if the new medical staff can help him navigate the wrist problem, he can be a huge bat in the middle of the lineup, hitting for extra bases and average, and could even be the best left-handed hitter in the Twins lineup.
When the Twins drafted Ryan Jeffers and signed him above slot value, he was seen as a player who would be a really good power hitter, but he likely would have to move off catcher due to his defense. Thus far, he has been a very solid defensive catcher, but he has not yet tapped into the bat that the Twins thought they were getting. In 2022, Jeffers was an above average pitch framer, who handled the staff well, and a well below average hitter, with a wRC+ of 87, making him 13% below average. If he can tap into more power, which prospect analysts believed he had, he can be a real asset for the Twins in 2023. If the Twins can get above average offensive production from catcher, that’s a huge advantage on the competition, when most catchers are their team’s worst hitters. We saw that when Mitch Garver had a monstrous season in 2019, and when the Twins had AJ Pierzynski and Joe Mauer in the 2000s.
The most obvious way for him to put up better offensive numbers is for him to play almost every game when the Twins are facing a left-handed pitcher. If that’s around 40-50 games, he’ll be in a great position to succeed, especially if he can even slightly improve against right-handed pitchers. While Christian Vázquez has been better against lefties than righties, he hasn’t been nearly as good over his career as Jeffers has been. Against lefties, Jeffers has crushed, with a wRC+ of 125, which is really good for anybody, but especially for a catcher. Hopefully, he can thrive getting more of those platoon matchups while continuing to be a very good defensive catcher. If he does, the Twins could have a big offensive advantage at catcher, making their lineup dangerous enough to really contend for a division title.
Dman reacted to Hunter McCall for a blog entry, *UPDATED* Is a Window Open to Reunite With Correa?
The Carlos Correa free agency roller coaster continued on Monday night, as a series of Tweets from several different accounts suggested that they had sources who confirmed the Twins had finally called it quits on the All-Star shortstop. This was far from unexpected, as it was assumed that a reunion between Correa and the Twins was a long shot at best.
However, it was only about an hour later when Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes dropped a report that the Twins are, in fact, not out on Correa, but instead, talks between the two sides have accelerated recently. With the growing frustration between the Mets and Correa, is a window finally open for the Twins to reunite with Correa? Should the Twins even consider it?
The easy answer to the first question is yes. A window is open. Just as the Mets' window opened when the Giants balked at Correa following a flagged physical, there is a reasonable chance the Mets will do the same thing. The window is there, but should it be one the Twins jump in?
The answer to that question is much muddier than just yes or no. Correa has been flagged on two separate physicals by two different team doctors for a lower leg injury sustained long ago. The injury is not calling into question how he will perform tomorrow, but rather how he will hold up throughout a 10+ year contract. With as much guaranteed money as we've seen thrown around, it's no surprise that the Mets and Giants have both paused on committing to a long-term deal. With this in mind, whatever Correa's new contract is, it will likely feature a lot less guaranteed money, which is why the stalemate is taking place.
On the flip side, Correa was outstanding for the Twins in 2022. He was great at the plate, in the field, and in the clubhouse. He is well-liked by the whole organization and is the type of guy you want to build your team around. Correa would also fill a massive need for the Twins at shortstop, where they are currently slated to start Kyle Farmer, who mashes lefties but is far from an everyday shortstop, regularly. If the Twins can chop off some of the guaranteed money and shorten the contract to a length everyone feels comfortable with, the organization and fans would welcome Correa back with open arms.
These Correa stories are exhausted and old, but as long as he remains unsigned, it remains relevant news. No one has any idea what will happen with Correa. Until the pen meets the paper, he will remain a wild card on the free agent market, who could sign anywhere under the sun. The Athletic article by Hayes and Rosenthal is interesting enough to keep Twins fans engaged in a dream of a reunion. Still, until he steps foot in Target Field again, it's best to view the situation as a long shot.
What do you think? Where will Correa land? Should the Twins do everything in their power to convince him to stay? Let me know! As always, Go, Twins!
*UPDATE* The Minnesota Twins sign Carlos Correa to a 6-year $200M contract with a four additional option years that could max out the contract at $270. The Twins are reportedly "optimistic" about the upcoming physical, which has already been scheduled. Barring another unforeseen twist, the Correa saga ends in happiness for the Twins!
Dman reacted to Adam Neisen for a blog entry, Derek Falvey's best trade
We've reached the point in the offseason where the free agent market has dried up and - aside from Correa - there's no one left for the Twins to target. If the Twins are looking to upgrade their roster prior to opening day, they will have to turn to the trade market. The front office of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have made numerous trades over the past couple of years, with mixed results. Giving up an aging Nelson Cruz to acquire Joe Ryan turned out to be an instant success. On the other hand, the acquisition of Emilio Pagan and Chris Paddack has been anything but. Given the amount of trades over the past five years, one of the most influential deals has flown under the radar: the 2018 Eduardo Escobar trade.
Coming off of 2017, in which the Twins snuck into the wildcard after beating out the weak American League, the Twins looked to improve upon a young core consisting of players such as Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios. After the Twins got off to a poor start, they were not able to recover and found themselves sellers at the trade deadline. After all was said and done, the Twins traded Brian Dozier, Ryan Pressley and of course, Eduardo Escobar.
In return for Escobar, the Twins received 3 players out of high A ball: 22 yr old Ernie De La Trinidad, 19 yr old Gabriel Maciel and 20 yr old Jhoan Duran.
At the time of the trade, Escobar was slashing .274/.338/.514 with an OPS+ of 129. With his defensive flexibility, he also provided the Diamondbacks with some much needed infield depth. Despite never taking the Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Escobar was solid during his time there.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards 2018 29 ARI NL 54 223 198 30 53 11 0 8 21 1 1 18 35 .268 .327 .444 .772 102 88 5 2 0 5 2 5/H 2019 30 ARI NL 158 699 636 94 171 29 10 35 118 5 1 50 130 .269 .320 .511 .831 111 325 8 3 0 10 3 *54/HD 2020 31 ARI NL 54 222 203 22 43 7 3 4 20 1 0 15 41 .212 .270 .335 .605 63 68 5 2 0 2 4 *5/D4 2021 32 ARI NL 98 400 370 50 91 14 3 22 65 1 0 29 85 .246 .300 .478 .778 107 177 1 0 0 1 1 54/H6 Over the course of roughly four years, Escobar posted a 102 OPS+ and a WAR of 5.6
Now on to the Twins.
Ernie De La Trinidad played in the Twins organization until 2021 and reached AA. Gabriel Maciel also played in the Twins organization until 2021 and reached A+ ball.
As for Jhoan Duran, he was arguably the most beneficial player for the Minnesota Twins in 2022.
Before looking at his stats, it's hard to miss his stuff. His fastball was the fastest in the MLB, averaging 100.8 MPH and topped out at 103.8. His famous "splinker" was also the fastest in the league at 96.4 MPH. On top of that, his 88 MPH curve held opposing batters to just a .120 batting average and has gotten a swing and a miss almost 50% of the time.
As you dive into his underlying metrics, it just keeps getting better.
His chase rates and K% are elite with 89 strikeouts over 67.2 innings pitched. Duran has also done an incredible job at throwing strikes with just 16 and a 2.1 BB/9. His chase% and whiff% are both 10% above league average.
Duran excelled at keeping batter's exit velocity and barrel percentage low, as well as forcing a groundball more than 60 percent of the time. All of this allowed for Duran to have great home run rates, something the Twins struggled with in 2022.
As a team, the Twins' bullpen ranked 18th in win probability added at +1.26. Duran alone had a +4.56 WPA, good for second out of all relivers this past year. While it may be hard to quantify, it's no understatement to say that Duran singlehandedly kept the bullpen afloat this past year.
In terms of overall value, Duran had a 1.5 Fwar, which Fangraphs valued at 12 million dollars. In comparison, Eduardo Escobar posted a 4.9 Fwar during his time in Arizona. It is important to note that the Twins have Duran through at least the 2027 season and he should be a prime candidate for an extension. The Diamonbacks however, got less than four years with Escobar before trading him to the Brewers.
While it is difficult to directly compare Escobar and Duran because of their different positions, the overall value and talent that Jhoan Duran will provide to the Twins seems likely to greatly exceed what Escobar provided to the Twins.
Fan morale is at a low, and a part of that is the front office and their lack of spending and big moves. But when they make a move that clearly worked out for them, it is important to recognize and acknowledge it.
Because of them, we get to watch Duran pitch for the next five years.
Dman reacted to Hans Birkeland for a blog entry, Correa or no Correa, 5 things that must happen for the Twins to contend in 2023
The team is in a tricky spot following the winter meetings. They allegedly remain in play for Carlos Correa, but their backup options are getting swallowed up and their 50M remains unspent. Even with Correa, this team will have some challenges going into 2023. Winning the Central can’t be the goal, especially with the state of the competition being as sorry as it is. To be a real force in the AL, the Twins need a few things to happen, Correa or not:
The Astros take a step back. The Astros are a juggernaut. It might seem like the Yankees are too, but ask any Yankees fan and they will admit they had no chance in the ALCS against Houston; they were totally outclassed. Since divisional play, the torch in the AL has passed from Cleveland to the Yankees to the Red Sox to the Astros (you could make the argument for the Royals in 2014-2015 if you’re generous). The Astros have built some more runway, as well, with 2023 looking incredibly bright. Alex Bregman still isn’t thirty, and all of Yordan Álvarez, Jeremy Peña and Kyle Tucker will play next year at 26 or younger. Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez, José Urquidy and Luis Garcia are all 28 or younger. They play crisp and confident, and free agents know their numbers will improve in Houston; whether by altering a pitchers mix to perfection or getting to hit in front of Yordan. The only way the Astros aren’t favorites come October is if the aforementioned Yordan is hurt, they lose one of their starters and Ryan Pressley loses a tick of his stuff. Anything short of that is going to be near impossible to beat, regardless if the next four items on my list were to happen.
The starting pitching takes a step forward They can get Carlos Rodón and do that, or hope to get lucky by rolling out Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda off Tommy John, and Bailey Ober. Consecutively. If Joe Ryan had excellent command he could be a playoff caliber starter, but he doesn’t have excellent command. Yet? As much as I like Louie Varland, SWR and the prospect of Jordan Balazovic bouncing back, not even the most optimistic prospect evals have them starting game one or even two in a playoff series. I really hope Marco Raya has a nice year.
Get big RBI totals from two of Miranda, Kirilloff and Larnach This isn’t about RBIs being valuable as much as a high number of them would indicate a lot of involvement from this crop of young hitters. José Miranda has proven more durable than the two outfielders, but they wouldn’t surprise anyone if one of them hit .280 with twenty-two home runs next year. Depending on all three is folly, but getting two middle of the order hitters from the group lengthens the lineup and puts less pressure on Buxton, Polanco and Arraez.
Jhoan Durán stays healthy He hasn’t had a long track record of health and he is THE bullpen. The good news is that Durán got stronger as the year went on last year, but any young pitcher throwing 103 with a history of arm injuries can be a ticking time bomb.
Ryan Jeffers is an All-star This may seem like a shocker but it wouldn’t take a lot for Jeffers to suddenly seem like a building block again. Maybe he gets a little hot streak and gets shielded from enough righties to be at .270/.320/450 at the break (Ends up at .255/.310/.410 or so). Jose Trevino started the All-star game in 2022 and ended up with a .671 OPS, for comparison- if the Twins are in contention in July, Jefers gets extra credit for “leading the staff.” The hitting lends legitimacy to that claim. Further, a homegrown catcher is the truest expression of how a team wants to run its on-field operations. They come up in the system learning a certain style of play that is background noise to the talents of the other positions. Jeffers is gritty, emotive and solid defensively, which, in theory, validates their organizational philosophy. But this ephemeral stuff works a lot better if the player in question can punish pitchers from the bottom of the lineup. In related news, there is a reason Cleveland isn’t interested in bringing Austin Hedges back. Long story short, if Jeffers hits to the point where the opposing pitcher has to think about how to attack him, that’s a major win for the Twins.
Like the two New York teams, the Twins making a big splash in free agency just gets them back to where they were (which maybe isn’t the worst thing). Signing Correa and leaving the Giants and Cubs to fight over the average-ish hitting Dansby Swanson would be a coup, but as we saw last year, it guarantees nothing.
Dman reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, 2022 Twins--What Went Wrong and How to Fix It
Some time after the All-Star break, I was pondering how the Twins could fit all of their quality major league position players on the active roster. A few weeks later, baseball immortals Mark Contreras and Caleb Hamilton were on the big club. Fast forward to a crucial five-game series in Cleveland and the Twins were starting Bailey Ober, Josh Winder (both coming off injuries) and having Louie Varland make his second major league start and Jake Cave and Gilberto Celestino were considered regular starters. The season unraveled quickly and now the Twins look likely to finish below .500 and in third place in the weak AL Central. How did it happen? I have several answers--there have been enduring issues all year exacerbated by a rash of injuries, most of them season-ending.
Offense underperformed almost all year. Going back to the start of the season, after a rocky first couple of weeks, the Twins offense was sufficient to win a lot of game despite never scoring runs commensurate with their underlying numbers. Right now, the Twins are 18th in runs scored despite being 11th in OPS and 12th in homers. They have often been futile with runners in scoring position and they have been a terrible running bases as a team. I have seen many posters state that the team is terrible at fundamentals. I would submit that all teams draw their fans ire for not advancing runners and "beating the shift". Part of these problems is the way the Twins are built. They lack team speed and their is a lot of swing and miss in their collective game. With the changes made to limit homers, the Twins (IMHO) have suffered disproportionately.
Pitching regressed after overperforming early. The Twins seized first place in late April and held on to the top spot for most of the season bolstered by a pitching staff that performed better than expected. Despite seemingly having at least one and usually two or more guys in their rotation that were locks to go no more than five innings, they won a lot of games and obvious weaknesses at the back end of the bullpen were not evident in the win-loss record. Things unraveled here in slow motion. The failure of anyone but Jhoan Duran in late innings cost games (particularly to Cleveland). The extra innings assigned to the bullpen showed the lack of depth that so many short starts demanded. Back to statistics--the Twins currently are right in the middle of total runs allowed stats. Underlying stats (WHIP, Opponents BA and OPS and BB and K numbers) come out slightly below the mean. I think team defense has been slightly better than average, which has helped keep runs allowed acceptable.
Injuries (oh my!). The Twins lead the AL in total man-games on the Injured List. They went into the season with one player slated to miss time, so it isn't like there were a bunch of players already on the IL. Some of the injuries could be expected and put on the front office. The Twins obtained several pitchers with injury issues and this season have come up snake eyes with most of them missing significant time.
There have been plenty of position player injuries as well. Regular players Ryan Jeffers, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler have all missed significant portions of the season. Carlos Correa also missed over 20 games with COVID and a badly bruised finger. We all know Buxton hasn't made it through a season without spending time on the IL. The other guys would figure to be healthier than they have this year.
Dick Bremer characterized the Twins as developing a "slow leak" from June through August. The leak has been accelerated in the month of September and injuries are a factor in that. That said, even without the injuries, the Twins' flaws probably were too big to win the division. The club exhausted their depth and seeing Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Caleb Hamilton, Sandy Leon, Aaron Sanchez, and (second half) Devin Smeltzer "perform" in key situations just shows that the Twins have scraped bottom.
I think some roster turnover is necessary. Among the position players, they need more guys who make contact, are better base runners and who have more speed. They need more left-right balance in corner outfielders. The front office needs to adjust their focus and bring in more durable players. It should be noted that the position players they brought in (Urshela, Sanchez and Correa) have been basically healthy. The problem has been with the pitchers.
I think there is too much talent to tear it down. If the club fails to compete next year, it is probably time to try something else, starting at the top. It won't be easy to win the Central next year, but there needs to be significant progress and better health.
Dman reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, Matt's Top Prospect List (July) + Writeups
Royce Lewis Nothing has changed here; Royce Lewis is a phenomenally talented shortstop on the mend with his second ACL tear. All we can do is hope he’ll return quickly enough next season to impact the team meaningfully.
Brooks Lee It’s a miracle that Brooks Lee fell to the Twins at 8. We should thank the Cubs and Mets every day—the former for reaching on a pop-up college arm; the latter for turning their noses at Kumar Rocker in 2021, allowing the Rangers to snag him, re-creating the Vanderbilt 1-2 punch. Lee is a great prospect, checking all the offensive boxes with a pedigree as a coach’s son. Sure, he may not stick at shortstop, but people have said that about every infielder ever drafted; only time will prove whether he will have to switch positions. Until then, we can cherish having a guy who slashed .357/.462/.664 in 2022.
Guys I love:
Noah Miller I don’t like placing Noah Miller this high; either Austin Martin or Jordan Balazovic should be here, but they have underperformed so drastically that I can’t, in good conscience, continue to act like nothing is wrong with them. Miller’s defense remains elite, but his bat has lost its early-season thunder; he slugged .270 in July. I don’t know when I saw a slugging percent that low. Nick Punto slugged .323 over his career. Miller cut down on the Ks, but he’ll need to re-find his power before this placement reflects his ability instead of needing someone to be here.
Emmanuel Rodriguez Emmanuel Rodriguez hasn’t played since his brutal injury, but not playing means he couldn’t tank his value by performing poorly. It’s funny how prospect evaluation can work like that; he’s like Schrödinger's baseball player. His strikeouts were still high, but we’re talking about a 19-year-old who walked 28.6% of the time while slugging .551 during his first stint at A-ball; beggars can’t be choosers.
Connor Prielipp The pessimist would point out that a freshly-drafted pitcher being the best pitching prospect in the Twins system is a bad sign, but I choose to look at it in another way: Connor Prielipp had a legitimate claim to go first overall before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The procedure is still a severe setback, but modern health advancements have prettied up its boogeyman face, and all reports point towards his stuff returning to previous levels. I’m incredibly excited to see what Prielipp can do in the Twins organization.
Guys I like with reservations:
Austin Martin Checking Austin Martin’s slash line is like learning that a childhood hero is a scumbag; it’s depressing, and a harsh reminder that the world sucks. Martin’s strikeout rate has plummeted to an impressive rate (13.8%), but he has 11 extra-base hits on the year. 11. It’s August. Martin hasn’t played since the month’s opening game—perhaps the Twins have him locked away deep in the chasms of Fort Myers until he builds more than Jamey Carrollian power—but maybe the reset helps him find his old groove. Until that happens, I have to drop him down the list.
Simeon Woods Richardson Simeon Woods Richardson quietly slid to the IL in June—the Wind Surge never announced the move, which I thought was odd—but has finally returned. I remain a skeptic; his high walk rate, low BABIP, and low home run rate all scream vicious regression, but Woods Richardson has avoided that trap, and given that every other top pitching arm has capitulated, he’ll remain here by default. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team calls him up out of desperation for somebody, anybody who can save this pitching staff.
Jordan Balazovic Jordan Balazovic’s AAA numbers don’t even make sense, and not in a good way; he’s walking a batter every two innings, and his HR/FB rate is a cartoonish 38.9%. Let me put it in another way: over 34 ⅔ innings, Balazovic has allowed 14 home runs. It’s clear that he isn’t healthy, and I have little clue as to why the team continues to let him die on the mound when he can’t net outs in his current state. I’ll keep Balazovic at this spot because he has dominated hitters in a way I have not seen in a post-José Berríos landscape.
Marco Raya The Twins still refuse to let Marco Raya pitch longer than four innings in a game—yes, I know that’s how teams deal with young pitchers these days, but it still feels ridiculous, especially since no research exists that proves this strategy works—but he has crushed his competition. Raya struck out 24.3% of batters he faced in July, and he has been almost untouchable since mid-June. I don’t anticipate a promotion soon, but Raya is well-positioned for a big 2023 if he can stay healthy.
Edouard Julien Edouard Julien keeps chugging, taking walks, and putting up impressive slash lines. Julien hit .287/.443/.517 in July, a healthy line that will play in any environment. He also walked as much as he struck out. The worry with Julien is still this: where is his position, and will he have enough power to sustain production there? If he’s a second baseman, that answer becomes more straightforward, but we will have to wait and see. He should be in St. Paul soon.
Matt Wallner I previously said that a player needs to have legendary power to offset a strikeout rate like Matt Wallner’s, and he may have that jolt. Wallner’s homer in the Future Games was comical, and it’s easy to imagine his exit velocities translating well in the major leagues. AAA has not been kind to Wallner, but he struggled during his first taste of AA also, so that could just be how the big guy operates. Is he Joey Gallo 2.0? Is that something the Twins want? We shall see.
David Festa David Festa is holding his own at A+ ball; the righty is 3rd in the system in innings and owns an ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line of 2.24/2.83/3.39. He struggled with command in July, walking 11.8% of batters, but I believe that to be a blip, not a worrisome trend. He also picked off three straight baserunners during a game in July, which I’ve never seen before in a baseball match.
Guys I’m intrigued by:
Louie Varland I’ve been one of the low-men on Louie Varland for a while. His peripherals weren’t great last season, and he’s continued that trend at AA ball in 2022. Varland’s July was good (3.91 ERA, 18.6 K-BB%), but those numbers are inflated by an eight-strikeout performance at the end of the month; the rest of his starts were inconsistent and a little sloppy.
Blayne Enlow I’m still cutting Blayne Enlow an enormous amount of slack. The righty is trying to pitch his first mostly-full season since 2019, and getting him accustomed to pitching again is the goal for 2022. July was remarkable for his ERA—he allowed two runs over 13 innings—but the walk rate was elevated, and, well, it was just a 13-inning sample. Hopefully, we can see more dominant performances, like his three-inning, five strikeout relief outing to conclude the month.
Brent Headrick Brent Headrick crushed A+ ball and earned a promotion to AAin July. He made one disastrous outing—seriously, don’t look it up—but I can chalk that up to jitters around making his first AA appearance. Headrick has the potential to fly up this list even further as the season continues, and he’s now undoubtedly the best left-handed pitching prospect in the system after Cade Povich and Steve Hajjar found new homes.
Cole Sands Given the Twins’ inability to pitch at even a watchable level, I’m surprised that Cole Sands hasn’t earned an extended leash in the majors. He sometimes struggles with command, but his sweeper is deadly enough to coax an extra strikeout or two when he really needs it. Sands struck out 30.4% of batters at AAA in July; I think the team could use that.
Ronny Henriquez In July, Ronny Henriquez secretly turned a corner; the newly acquired ex-Ranger farmhand put up an ERA of 3.05 with a healthy K-BB% of 20.9. Henriquez had struggled—and I mean struggled—at AAA to begin the season, but this great month could prove to be the launching point for the 22-year-old. Add him to the list of arms the team could look to in their pursuit of pitching.
Matt Canterino Matt Canterino is a reliever who can’t stay healthy. I don’t care about stuff or anything else; a pitcher with a James Paxton-level of durability should not rank highly on any prospect list. If Canterino returns to AA and throws strikes, the team should move him to the major league bullpen before August ends.
Possible diamonds in the rough:
Yasser Mercedes It’s typically unwise to rank DSL players, but Yasser Mercedes commanded a signing bonus of $1.7 million; we aren’t dealing with a random Joe here. As a 17-year-old, Mercedes is hitting well during his first stint in professional baseball; he’s currently good for a .324/.394/.532 slash line.
Chris Williams Missing Chris Williams was the most glaring mistake in my previous ranking. I’ve had my eye on Williams since he put together some powerful stretches in 2019, but his play has been dreadfully inconsistent. The 25-year-old slumped during an injury-plagued 2021 season, but he’s evolved into the Terminator recently, slugging a truly absurd .708 in July. He may be somewhat positionless, but you’ll move heaven and earth to find a place for that bat.
Noah Cardenas Noah Cardenas is walking 18.2% of the time at A ball, and I feel like no one has mentioned it. Cardenas can already field the position well, so the newfound offensive boost could give his game a new, exciting wrinkle. I would suggest keeping your eye on him.
Cesar Lares Cesar Lares is striking out 44.2% of hitters faced at the DSL. This concludes fun facts with Cesar Lares.
Misael Urbina Misael Urbina had a late start to the season—visa issues limited his movement—but it seems like that problem is far behind Urbina. The talented outfielder slugged .589 at A ball in July, a good sign considering that power was his most prominent issue in 2021. Urbina could quickly move up a tier or two if he continues to smoke the ball well.
Alerick Soularie Alerick Soularie shed the strike-out problems that clouded his prospect status; he punched out in just 19.8% of plate appearances in July while hitting for a solid 123 wRC+. His power output is still low, but that feels like a nitpick in an otherwise excellent hitting package.
Yunior Severino Post-post-hype can still exist for a ballplayer; a statement never more true than with Yunior Severino. After the Twins snagged the infielder when the Braves got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, it seemed that Severino had greatness in his future. That timeline branched off into a far more boring story, but Severino did slug .690 in July, so he may still have a chance.
Aaron Sabato The first spot in my “guys” list goes to one of the more frustrating prospects in the Twins’ system. Aaron Sabato has not yet put together an extended period of excellent performance–at least not in my eyes—but he did slug .709 in July while bringing home a Midwest League Hitter of the Week award. Is this a hot streak or a sign of things to come? I’m pessimistic, but we will see.
Keoni Cavaco Keoni Cavaco remaining on this list is the baseball equivalent of the lifetime achievement award; he hasn’t impressed since the team took him in the 1st round in 2019, and he’s only here because of that pedigree. He did crawl above a league-average hitting line in July (110 wRC+), but his strikeout problem is still critical.
Michael Helman Is Michael Helman just a feel-good story? Maybe. He’s 26 and is just holding his own at AAA, not dominating. No one attribute sticks out about Helman, but there’s a slight chance he’s called up in a pinch and proves enough to stick around.
Kala’i Rosario Kala’i Rosario’s hitting peripherals—walks and strikeouts especially—look gross and not in a good way: a 5.8% walk rate compared to a 35.8% K rate. Still, the young, athletic outfielder has serious power potential, which could lead him to future success.
Brayan Medina I still don’t know what to make of Brayan Medina, and he’s walking a small village in the low minors. He has almost no professional innings to his name, though, so I’m willing to wait before critically analyzing him.
This group of names looked a lot better a few days ago when I started this writeup; of course, the team was always going to lose crucial players if they wanted to buy enough to offset their major league weaknesses. Still, I don’t feel like they lost major foundational pieces; Spencer Steer hurts, but he had no immediate fit on the Twins’ roster; Cade Povich is the primary, painful loss in my eyes. I think Povich will continue to evolve and become a valuable starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. I’m lower than a lot on Christian Encarnacion-Strand—he’s a butcher on the field, and that’s difficult for a major league team to hide—Steve Hajjar has command and shoulder issues, and Sawyer Gipson-Long feels replaceable. This system still isn’t great, but I think it’s in a better spot than it was last month—and that’s while considering the players they lost at the deadline.
Dman reacted to Brandon for a blog entry, The Bench (Its a huge team strength gone unnoticed)
When you think of players on the bench, usually there is a reason they are on the bench. Usually the bench players can field really well but not hit, or they hit and can't field, or they have severe platoon splits. Whatever the reason its there, they are not able to be successful enough as everyday players. Looking at our bench we have players that fit that mold in one shape or another. but when you look at the production we are getting from our bench players you have to take notice and appreciate the job they are doing.
Gordon is a player that appears to be just shy of being good enough to be an everyday starter. not enough walks and not enough power and just low enough batting average to keep the obp low. but he has speed and has taken well to playing the OF. He is even OPS+ 104 as of today. with 16 XBH in 193 AB he is only -3 in what I consider average power. (1 XBH per 10 AB) Garlic has 7 HRs and an OPS+ of 148 Killeroff and Miranda are raking and now OPS+ 107 and OPS+ 111 after really slow starts. Gary Sanchez is a league average hitter for a back up C with an OPS + 96 Celestino has been slumping lately but was hitting over .300 for most of the season and is at OPS+ 94 Celestino is also the only bench player with little power at all with 8 XBH in 147 AB as a -6 or -7 if you round up.
Compared to other play off contenders:
The Redsox have Refsnyder off to his fast start and Duran as the only 2 OPS+ 100 or more players on their bench. in fact Cordero at OPS+ 90 is the next best and there is a drop off from there.
The Rays have 2 OPS+ 130 players in Paredes and Margot (on 60 day DL) and no one with any serious playing time is over OPS+70
The Yankees are getting production from their bench but dont really use them that often. Marwin GOnzales is league average at OPS+100 Matt Carpenter is hitting HRs like Garlic, and Hicks and LeMahieu should be starters are both over OPS+100
On the Whitesox bench the good players are hurt, or do not have much playing time while the bad players are getting the bulk of time at this point and they are not hitting well at all.
Houston's bench is their achillies heal as well theyhave one player at OPS+104 and no one else over OPS+95
Cleveland's bench is bad too.
So if you are looking for an area where we stack up better than the rest of the league (Maybe the Yankees are as good if not better). Look no further than our bench.
Dman reacted to Jack Griffin for a blog entry, Twins prospects that I was wrong on
Since roughly 2009 the Twins have had some well... rough seasons. When a team is bad, they become sellers at the deadline, and at least me personally, stop caring as much about the active games, and switch to focusing on prospects and the future.
During those bad years I become pretty fixated on prospects, so lets go over some that I really thought were gonna be good.
1. RHP Dakota Chalmers
Woof. I was so high on this guy when we acquired him from Oakland for Fernando Rodney in 2018. I blame Garvin Alston, the Twins pitching coach at the time, for talking up Dakota from his time coaching in the A's minor league system. I can't quite remember what he said but I'm almost certain he called him a "potential system changing arm" and I was hooked. Chalmers had a myriad of injuries as well as off the field mental health stuff that lead to him not pitching a whole lot before coming to the Twins, but once he did he had success. In 2019 he even pitched in the AA playoffs, and everyone seemed to be talking about his stuff, I was so intrigued. He was added to the 40 man roster in 2021 and I envisioned all his success, and it was followed by struggles and a pretty quick DFA. I was devastated. Since then he has been on a few different teams with little success, and is currently in the Dodgers system.
2. RHP Fernando Romero
Most Twins fans will probably remember this one, and probably at some point felt the same I did. A top arm in the Twins system for years, what wasn't to like about him. A fastball that reached 100 mph (This was pre Graterol and Duran so the Twins just frankly never saw that) and a wipeout slider to boot. We all remember his electric 2018 rookie season, where he had immediate success. He did drop off slightly as the year went on but still, the sky was the limit. That was followed by a ton of control issues in 2019 and after the season, he was out of the MLB completely (Although he potentially had a chance to re establish himself in 2020, but it was stopped completely by Visa issues. Because well... there were some things going on in the world that made it tough to travel) He is currently pitching in Japan.
3. OF Adam Brett Walker
This one was more me just being young and naïve more than anything. ABW was a 3 true outcome guy before it was cool. High power, high strikeout, and not a whole lot else. I really had no reason to be high on him besides the fact he had some really exciting homeruns. Wow could he hit the ball when he connected. He really was never much of a true prospect and never even got added to the 40 man in a Twins uniform. His last year with the Twins was in 2016, he bounced around the league until 2018. He then moved to indy ball, and actually some some success as recent as 2021, but it never materialized into a second MLB chance. He's currently playing in Japan.
4. OF Oswaldo Arcia
Much like Romero, I feel like most fans will remember this name. Arcia was an international FA signed in 2008, who quickly worked his way up through the levels and had a TON of success at each level. He reached the majors in 2013 and had some initial success, but really couldn't put together any consistency year-to-year. from 2013-2016 he was basically on the Twins taxi squad going up and down multiple times a year. The Twins eventually gave up on waiting and traded him to the Rays, but that didn't last very long. Altogether he was on 4 total teams (TBR, SDP, MIA, MIN) in 2016 but really had no success with any of them. In 2017 he had somewhat of a renaissance in the DBacks system, but I don't think anything could've happened to get him up with the team. Arcia was pretty much the definition of a AAAA player. He is currently playing in an Independent league.
5. RHP Alex Wimmers
I don't really have an explanation on this one. He was a first round pick I suppose so that always makes you hope they work out. Wimmers had a 22 game cup of coffee from 2016-2017 and had very mediocre results. in 2018 he struggled at AAA and was released. He had a short stint that year with Miami but registered no official playing time. He is currently not playing baseball anywhere.
Some of these are more defensible than others, but I just wanted to talk about them.
Dman reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, Matt's Top Prospect List (June) + Explanations
Royce Lewis Royce Lewis is still the best prospect in the Twins’ system, but the soul refuses to accept that truth. Lewis will now miss extended time with another ACL surgery, and it’s impossible to feel anything but grief and sympathy for the man; he’s an elite talent that life continues to deal poor hands to maniacally. His major league performance proved that he’s capable of great things, and all we can do is hope that he’ll come back without missing a beat as he did before.
Austin Martin .311. That number represents a crappy rock band from the 90s and Austin Martin’s season slugging percentage as of June 29th. It will be impossible for Martin to fulfill his destiny as a high-level number 2 hitter unless he—at the very least—finds his .380s slugging mark from last season. I’m not sure why he’s suddenly trying to put the ball in play with no regard for extra-base damage, but it is failing; he has 11 extra-base hits in 60 games. We knew Martin would never become Sammy Sosa at the plate, but he desperately needs a buoyant power level from which his excellent OBP skills can consistently launch upwards. Martin is also not a shortstop.
Noah Miller Now we get to the messy part of the system. I like Noah Miller, but he has cooled off tremendously since his blistering May; this is the danger in trying to rank recently-drafted high school players. I’ll stick with my guns and say that he’s a future star—his defense and on-base abilities are still undeniably elite—but that statement carries less oomph than it did just a month ago. I believe he’ll grow into some power, but he probably will never be Fernando Tatís Jr. out there; instead, I see him as a jack-of-all-trades type of quality shortstop.
Emmanuel Rodriguez Have you ever heard about the tragedy of Emmanuel Rodriguez the wise? Rodriguez was laying waste to low-A pitchers before he tore up his knee, costing him at least the rest of this season. Knee injuries for athletic marvels like Rodriguez are still scary, but Lewis’ success in returning from one proved that it might not be worrisome. It’s a shame, Rodriguez’s play was cartoonishly dominant, but we’ll have to wait a while before seeing him on the field again. The long-term outlook remains sturdy, but the short-term playing time loss hurts.
Jordan Balazovic Aaron Gleeman recently noted that Jordan Balazovic is dealing with a knee issue that has curtailed his effectiveness this season. Maybe it’s weird to say this, but knowing that fact improves my opinion on Balazovic; his under-performance has to do with injury, not a sudden loss in ability. Still, he’s walking far too many hitters at AAA and gives up contact loud enough to break the sound barrier. I’ve knocked him down a few spots already, and the slide will continue unless he changes something quick.
Spencer Steer Is Spencer Steer the only top name here with an unimpeachable performance in 2022? The Oregon product is slaying the ball, slashing .277/.360/.577 between AA and AAA with only a slight drop-off in production since his promotion; a low BABIP may be the culprit. He’s no defensive whizz, but he doesn’t need to be with that bat, and he should be firmly implanted in the Twins’ future infield plans. I debated placing him above Balazovic, but since Steer has less overall time as an elite player, I gave the nod to the pitcher for now.
Simeon Woods Richardson Simeon Woods Richardson was pitching well, and then he got injured because of course he did. I was still deeply suspicious of his performance—4.87 xFIP and all—but he at least had a nice ERA, and that’s better than nothing. I don’t think he has unquestionably shed the narrative that he can’t pitch at AA; Woods Richardson is striking out fewer batters than he did at every other level in the minors before this season. Yet, he’s still just 21 years old, so it would be foolish to write him off yet. It’s strange that that team placed him on the IL with no explanation or announcement.
Edouard Julien I’m uncomfortable placing Edouard Julien this high on the list, but I also don’t know who would reasonably overtake him. Julien is positionless, but who cares about that when you walk 20% of the time. He has had a suspicious drop-off in power (.138 ISO this season), which could be an ominous sign of future disappointment; until that shoe drops, he’ll remain a top-10 prospect on my list.
Cade Povich Cade Povich is probably my new favorite Twins pitching prospect. The lefty has been dominant, striking out hitters at a 32.7% clip with an average walk rate and few homers; that’s a great combination, by the way. Povich has little left to prove at A+ and will be pitching in Wichita sooner than later. Just pray that his arm doesn’t fall off.
Marco Raya I think the hype train on Marco Raya has accelerated a touch too quickly, but I can understand why. Raya combines the top-dog mentality needed in an ace with top-tier stuff; that’s an excellent combination for a pitching prospect. The drawback remains: Raya has 36 innings over 10 appearances and just recently left a start after netting two outs. Are the Twins using kid gloves to handle him? Probably, but I need a nice, unquestionably dominant run from Raya before I move him up any further; TINSTAAP and all that jazz.
Cole Sands Yeah, I’m still too high on Cole Sands. His command needs tweaks that may be beyond his abilities—how many players suddenly drastically improve in their fourth year with a team—but that sweeper is what keeps Sands up here. His breaking ball is ridiculous, mimicking the great American migration of the early 1900s in how it moves from East to West with great efficiency. The rest of his profile is meh, but he’ll always have potential thanks to his vicious breaking ball.
David Festa David Festa is the most pop-up-y pitching prospect in the system; as a 13th-round pick, he’s punching out hitters at a 30.4% mark over 54 ⅔ innings split between A and A+ ball. His status as an “un-prospect” may benefit him, as the team is less likely to baby him, instead throwing him to the wolves where he can prove his ability. Festa may reach AA this season—he’s pitched that well—and we should know more about him once he does.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand It’s been a while since CES went berserk in April to the tune of a billion RBIs (at least that’s what it felt like). No, he’s not that good, but he is a solid hitter. Encarnacion-Strand’s beautiful slash line is .291/.357/.567, which will play in any league, which is good because he cannot field even a little bit. Errors are far from the end-all stat they used to be, but he has 21 of them in just over 400 innings at 3rd base this season; that’s bad. Being a future 1st base/DH type player curtails his upside, so his entire prospect pedigree rests on the power of his bat.
Matt Wallner I think I was too harsh on Matt Wallner last month. I emphatically stated that a player with his strikeout numbers would need to be otherworldly in other aspects to offset the K. His response? Walk a lot. I still hold those reservations, but if his new monstrous walk rate (21.4% in June) is even slightly sticky, he has a solid shot at becoming a major league contributor. Also, he owns an absolute cannon in right field.
Blayne Enlow Blayne Enlow is dipping his toes into the minor league waters after a missed year, so I find it difficult to evaluate him too harshly. The numbers aren’t great, but that barely matters; him just being on the mound is good enough for the moment. At some point, slack will no longer exist, but I’m okay with punting on criticizing him for now.
Louie Varland In a season that has been chaotic for so many players, Louie Varland chugs along like nothing is wrong. The Minnesota native’s under-the-hood stats aren’t the best—he’s walking more batters than he did in his stellar 2021 campaign—but the rest of his profile appears solid. His 68 ⅓ innings leads the entire Twins minor league system.
Brent Headrick Brent Headrick might be the biggest under-the-radar name in the Twins system. As a late-blooming 24-year-old in A+ ball, Headrick has utterly dominated with a 2.40 ERA and a strikeout rate above 30%. It’s hard to scout prospects in this vein; I give Headrick the benefit of the doubt until/if his numbers reverse.
Ronny Henriquez What do we make of Ronny Henriquez? Sure, he’s still just 22 years old, but there’s little to latch onto regarding his AAA play so far. It seems that the Twins are okay with letting him die at that level, given that his ERA is 6.95 and his FIP isn’t far behind (6.07). At some point, I need performance to outweigh pedigree; that needs to change soon for Henriquez.
Matt Canterino I’ll try to be as diplomatic as possible: Matt Canterino has not yet shown the ability to be a consistent, innings-eating top-level arm. He recently set his single-season record for innings pitched as a professional (34 ⅓) before another elbow injury sidelined him for a significant time. I don’t see real reasons for optimism; the Rice background combined with these injuries leaves little faith in him ever becoming the big front-of-the-rotation starter we expected of him.
Steve Hajjar Steve Hajjar was following in the Cade Povich breakout mold until a shoulder injury in the middle of June stopped him in his tracks. Shoulder problems are not the death sentence they once were, but that ailment is still something to keep an eye on for the future.
Sawyer Gipson-Long Sawyer Gipon-Long is shockingly similar to Brent Headrick; he is also an old-for-his-level breakout prospect looking to prove that he isn’t a fluke. The process is farther along for Gipson-Long as he recently enjoyed a promotion to AA Wichita; he has one clunker and two solid starts. The rest of the season will be essential to understand Gipson-Long more as a prospect.
Kala’i Rosario Kala’i Rosario dropped three points off his strikeout rate since I last wrote about him, but that still leaves him at 36.0%. My view on players with a penchant for whiffing is well known; you must do something extraordinary to offset the Ks. Rosario has good power (.204 ISO) and is still just a teenager, so he still possesses the rare chance to evolve into an elite power threat.
Michael Helman Not mentioning Michael Helman was probably my last ranking’s worst mistake. The 26-year-old has quietly hit well at every level in the minors and is now knocking on the Major’s door thanks to his 125 wRC+ at AAA. Is this just Brian Dinkelman 2.0? Maybe, and that’s not just because of how similar their last names are. Helman could debut soon if the Twins desperately smash the “break in case of emergency” glass if a few too many infielders suffer injuries.
Brayan Medina Brayan Medina finally pitched in the Twins system for the first time this month. He’s thrown fewer than 10 innings, so who knows where he’s at in his development, but the stuff descriptions are good, so he’ll stay here until further notice.
Aaron Sabato Aaron Sabato’s slash line is still not optimal for a great 1st base prospect. The walks are good (14.2%), but he doesn’t neutralize his strikeout tendencies with overwhelming power (.171 ISO). I remain skeptical that Sabato will develop into the type of player the Twins expected when they drafted him.
Alerick Soularie I didn’t rank Alerick Soularie in my last write-up, but the guy put up a 144 wRC+ in June, and now here he is. His play rounded more into form; he struck out a little less, walked a little more, and ballooned his ISO from .114 to .167. If he’s genuinely backing his elite athletic ability with a more sound game, Soularie could rocket up this list.
Misael Urbina Misael Urbina just recently popped back up in the Twins system after dealing with visa issues earlier in the year. He’s played a few games in the DSL; he’ll likely rejoin Fort Myers when he’s back in the groove.
Keoni Cavaco Keoni Cavaco rebounded a little bit in June (101 wRC+), but his walk and strikeout rates remain heavily lopsided, and his power does not make up for it (.151 ISO). Maybe the play improvement will aid his confidence; he needs to improve his performance before people buy back into his prospect stock.
Jake Rucker Jake Rucker recently earned a promotion to A+ ball after holding his own with Fort Myers (100 wRC+). He’s 22 years old, so the Twins might accelerate his movement through the system; keep an eye on him in the Michael Helman under-the-radar vein.
Travis Adams All Travis Adams has done this season is pitch well for Fort Myers. The former 6th-round pick is crushing with a 3.10 ERA and peripherals to match. There’s still an unknown factor to his game that will only clear once he plays in A+ ball and beyond, which should be soon.
Dman reacted to Dave The Dastardly for a blog entry, The Road To Baseball's Pearly Gates
The Years of the Rookies: 1982 and 2022
I’ve mentioned in several (okay, numerous) posts that as far as I was concerned the 2022 season is primarily a “look-and-see” season for the Minnesota Twins; a fish-or-cut-bait season for testing out those promising young players that have been shining at the minor league level. Are they ready to play at the major league level or aren’t they? If they are, we’re a contender in 2023. If not… back to the Baseball Trade Casino looking for “deals” followed by another couple seasons of wallowing in baseball hell.
That’s why I argued back before spring training even got started that the Twins needed to move Sano, Donaldson and Cave to make room for Kirilloff, Larnach, Lewis and Miranda. Did I think these four rookies were sure things? No. But I did think they showed “promise”; that is, enough talent to be at least as good as the older players on the team and hopefully, better in the long term whereas Sano, Donaldson and Cave were all on the downhill slide of their careers. There is no future in the past.
Anyway, reminiscent of the early 1980’s Twins team, which also brought a number of rookies up to the major league level, I prepared a chart comparing the 2022 rookies to Gary Gaetti and Kent Hrbek so as to gain a perspective how this year’s “experiments” are doing as compared to a solid ball player like Gaetti and a star player like Hrbek, both mainstays on the team throughout the 1980’s.
Draw your own conclusions. Me, I think we’re headed to baseball’s Pearly Gates in 2023.
*Lewis I left off because of his latest ACL injury, though I think most of us were ready to declare him a future star before he went down.
* Stats are current as of 1:46 PM 6/29/22
* Hrbek finished second in Rookie of the Year Award in 1982 to Cal Ripken, Jr. Gary Gaetti finished 5th.
* Interesting to note how many games Gaetti and Hrbek played that season.
Dman reacted to Brandon for a blog entry, 500 HRs
Looking back on the 2009 International Signing Period, We signed 3 really good productive players who are all still with the Twins today. While that may change soon. Here is some fun with numbers to show what they have done with us.
In 2009 we signed Polanco, Kepler and Sano. Sano was the star of the entire signing period and there was much debate over his actual age that teams were scared off from signing him and we were able to get him for 3.15 million. I think Kepler got 800,000 and Polanco I think got 700,000. feel free to check those numbers. Polanco was viewed at the time of the signing as a defensive SS with his bat the concern. Kepler was seen as a 5 tool player with minimal baseball experience.
As we get closer to some of the players moving on I thought it would be fun to see where they are as a group and where they will likely be when they leave.
Sano currently has 161 HRs with the Twins and he is off to the worst start of his career and injured. He should be back soon and could be released or be given some time at DH to see if he could build some value before the deadline. If he could come back and hit close to a .750-.800 OPS for a few weeks we might find a team we could trade him to for basically nothing and while we would probably have to throw in some salary, We would still get some salary relief from his contract and not have to pay the 2.75 million buyout. That would leave Sano's career with the Twins at 161 - 165 HRs I know I was hoping for more from Sano with something in the neighborhood of a few 40 HR seasons. I am also surprised he regressed so fast as I expected solid production from him into his age 32-33 seasons anyways with all of our young options at this point I think its time to move on from Sano and I also think that is the consensus here as well.
Kepler is currently at 127 and should finish the year around 140 +- a few. Kepler has 1 more year guaranteed and a buyout. I can see the Twins going either way on the buyout so lets assume they keep him that season. Kepler tends to hit around 20 HRs a season. so with both seasons, he would end up around 180-185 HRs
Polanco is at 89 HRs and is all over the board. He has 3 seasons after this one including 2 option years. I expect the Twins to pick them up if he is healthy. To project his level of production is hard so I am going with 20 HRs per season. with 11 more this one. That puts him at 160 HRs at the end of his contract.
In Total there is a fair to good chance that these three players who signed for less than 5 million will produce just over 500 HRs for us during their careers. I hope to see Kepler and Polanco extended so they can increase that total. It is definitely fun to follow.
Dman reacted to bean5302 for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022
Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
To paraphrase my previous blog:
Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.
Link to previous blog:
So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.
Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off.
Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.
Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.
Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.
Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.
Now for the fallers:
Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.
Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.
Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.
Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans.
Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.
All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
Dman reacted to Tim for a blog entry, Twins Positioned for Deadline Creativity
With trade season approaching, the Twins find themselves in a unique position that could allow them to get creative.
Max Kepler has been pretty damn good for the Twins this season. He's one of the best defensive right fielders in the game and has posted a .243 / .341 / .400 (116wRC+). That's good for a 1.2 fWAR through 55 games.
Another guy who's been pretty good is top prospect Alex Kirilloff. What he's doing at AAA right now is fairly incredible. He looks ready for the next level, right? that .370 / .477 / .661 (1.139) line in 34 games makes it seem like it.
I'm sure we all are aware that the pitching could use some upgrades. I don't need or want to throw random stats and convince you otherwise. I'll skip that part.
It's my belief that the Twins can utilize their excess of solid RF's for an upgrade to the staff. Let me lay out the grand plan
San Diego's pitching this season has been outstanding. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove have been pitching like Cy Young candidates. Sean Manaea has been the perfect middle of the rotation innings eater. Mackenzie Gore has ended up looking like he's going to be the ace everyone thought he would be prior to his 2021 from hell. Nick Martinez might be the best bargain signing from the offseason. That's not even factoring in Mike Cleavinger who's just getting back into the grove of starting after missing 2021 with Tommy John or former Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
Looking from afar as a Twins fan, I'm not sure most of us could comprehend what that much pitching feels like.
Unfortunately for the Pads, the bats haven't been as great. As a team, they have a slash of .237 / .313 / .365 (96wRC+ .. ew). That ranks them in the bottom of 1/3 of the league from an offensive perspective. It gets even worse when you look at how the lineup handles righties, .234 / .306 / .353 (90wRC+)
Compound that with the recent news of Fernando Tatis still not able to swing a bat, GM Aj Preller has to be on the hunt for some reinforcements at the plate.
Right Field has been their biggest achilles heal this season as they've compiled a total WAR of -0.3 and are hitting a .225 / .277 / .287 (63wRC+) from the position.
Internally top prospect, Robert Hassell is most likely still 2 years away from contributing as he is still at A+.... 23 year old popup prospect Esteury Ruiz, who was just promoted to AAA, has been on an incredible run hitting .363 / .489 / .656 (1.145 OPS). While they could count on him to be the savior in RF, they may believe him to be the savior in CF, as Trent Grisham and his .226 / .315 / .383 (698 OPS) over the last 200 games isn't cutting it. Maybe it's CJ Abrams? though they tried that earlier this season and it only lasted 20 games.
For a team that looks like it is "all - in" and has pitching staff that owns a sub 3.00 ERA on the season, banking on an unproven prospect when you have a 229 million dollar payroll probably isn't the most ideal situation.
Lets take a look at how its shaken out this season ...
Not exactly a group that gives you much confidence going forward.
SO, enter Max Kepler
Kepler would provide the Padres relief in a few different ways. Obviously the immediate production in RF vs what they currently have is a massive upgrade, both offensively and defensively. Secondly, Max's career slash vs RHP .242 / .331 / .468 (.799 OPS) gives them a proven veteran that can come in day one and elevate the lineup as a whole where they are the weakest.
But in my opinion Max Kepler's greatest asset to the Padres comes in the form of his contract. As previously mentioned, if he was traded by August 2nd, he is essentially on what is a 2 year 13 million dollar contract with a club option for 10 million in 2024.
ZiPS, FanGraphs player projection model, anticipates Kepler will be worth about 2.5 WAR over the course of the next 3 seasons. Now its somewhat volatile but a win in 2022 is worth roughly 8.5 million. (read more if you are curious).
Max Kepler on his 2 year 13 million dollar contract (w / the club option for 10 million ) is making wellllll below what he would receive in free agency and the Padres would be hard pressed to find a proven veteran, offensively and defensively, that is both a better roster fit and under team control at a reasonable cost. (pls dont comment Juan Soto).
That's not to say the Padres could go trade for a rental like Andrew Benintendi, but does that really solve any of Aj Preller's problems?
Cause he could have some serious ones ..
Following the 2022 season, San Diego is set to lose 3 vital pieces of the starting rotation to free agency.
- Joe Musgrove (29) - 1.50 era / 72 ip / 72 k's / 2.1 fWAR
- Sean Manaea (30) - 3.85 era / 73 ip / 76 k's / 1.1 fWAR
- Mike Clevinger (31) - 3.18 era / 17 ip / 20 k's / 0.3 fWAR
There's a world where if those 3 starters continue performing at this level for the rest of the season, each could command an AAV of 20 mil - 25 mil + in free agency. The following season, Yu Darvish is set to become a free agent. That leaves them essentially with Mackenzie Gore as the lone controllable starter past the 2023 season.
This also doesn't account for their closer, Taylor Rogers, becoming a free agent after this season. But it only gets murkier for the Pads... Baseball Reference projects them to have a payroll around 147 Million in 2023 and that's before arbitration, which looks to be an additional 30 - 40 million.
While I'm not a capolgist, ill do my best to break this down. They sit at around 229 million right now. It appears they seem to be intent on not going over the 230 million dollar luxury tax for the second consecutive year, as they would be penalized to a greater extent for being a repeat offender. (hence the Twins paying Rogers 6.7 million dollar salary to keep them below that threshold)
Put simply, if the Padres have any ambition to upgrade offensively at the deadline, while staying under the luxury tax, AND try to recoup some of Musgrove / Manaea / Clevinger / Rogers, AND THEN potentially get a RF in FA, they almost certainly have to move money around in a trade at this coming trade deadline.
Here's my proposal to how these two teams can help each other yet again with a trade.
The Blake Snell experience in San Diego definitely hasn't gone according to plan, Dennis Lin of The Athletic has reported a few times now that they have been open to a trade. Since Snell's arrival in 2021 they have received a 4.33 ERA over 153.2 IP in 32 starts.
That's not exactly what Preller and co had in mind when they gave up 2 top 75 prospects (+ more) for the 29 year old lefty who is owed 12 million this year and 16 million in 2023. look, It's not absolutely terrible, but it's not great.
With that said, there is hope for Blake.
The underlying numbers show that he's definitely not cooked. The velo on his fastball hasn't diminished, he's sitting around a 96 mph avg. His xERA of 3.74 through 5 starts this year tells a different story than the 5.04 era on paper. It's not a super inspiring, slam dunk lock, and far from likely synch that he returns to his Cy Young form in 2018. But it's a glimmer of what might be the start of a turn around to be an at least slightly above average pitcher.
It also goes to stay Snell hasn't been a complete bust. From June 4th to Sept 7th of last season, Snell started 15 games and had a 3.44 ERA with 100k's across 81 IP.
Zips, Fangraphs projection model, believes he can produce a 2.0 fWAR next season. Again lets go back to using the logic a win is worth 8.5 million. Snell basically is owed a 2 year 24 million dollar contract if traded by August 2nd. You get Snell for 2 months the rest of this season (hopefully more with playoffs) and all of the 2023 season. So you hope that he can live up to the projected 2.0 FWAR and you'd be happy paying him 16 million next season.
Snell started 65 games from 2018 - 2020. In 337 IP he owned a 2.85 ERA and had a 11.5 SO/9.
While the past 2 years as haven't been good, It's my belief the risk on a 29 year old lefty with that kind of track record is worth the gamble for the Twins.
Now what would the entire deal look like? Max Kepler definitely has more value, as we dove into that earlier, so a 1 for 1 swap isn't going to cut it.
By taking on Blake Snell, the Twins would be taking on what is basically 8 million the rest of the season and 16 million next season.
The Padres would be taking on Max Kepler's remaining 4 million this year, 8.5 million in 2023, and have the 10 million dollar option for 2024. It's my understanding that its AAV throughout the duration of the contract that counts against the the luxury tax, and club options are not counted until picked up. So the Padres would be really going from 16 million to 6 million next season, saving them 10 million against the tax.
The organization has been stacked with top prospects over the past few years, but through trades, the overall depth has taken a hit. Abrams and Hassell are off limits, just not happening. But, their #3 overall prospect per MLB pipeline is catching prospect Luis Campusano, who is most likely expendable at this point.
Campusano has been a consensus top 50 prospect for about 2 years now, but has seen little playing time with the major league club, playing in only 16 games over the last 3 years. I find it incredibly odd that he's been stashed at AAA for 2 seasons now and has a slash line of .303 / .388 / .486 (896 OPS) in 117 games.
I've read numerous reports that the industry isn't quite as high on Campusano and his ability to stick at catcher long-term contrary to popular prospect ranking sites. When you look at the Padres and what they've gotten out of the position offensively the past few years, that's probably true. Plus they've stated a few times they would rather go with defense at the position (Nola + Alfaro).
With that said, the Twins have a good track record of developing catchers on the defensive side, just look at how Gary Sanchez has progressed. Combine that with how Jeffers has played the past few seasons and Sanchez being a free agent, a possible long term catching solution would be a great get.
He could help support the Twins in a few different ways this season. Obviously a few days mixed in playing catcher, DH is always an option, and he has gotten work at 1st base in the past.
But with the question mark about his ability to stick at catcher and playing first might be a challenge as he's only 5'10, I would want one more upside piece in the deal.
Michel Baez is who I would target. Only 26, the former top prospect underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 and has been rehabbing in AA this season. Baez worked out of the bullpen in 2019, his lone season with the Padres. He was thought to be a staple in the bullpen after posting a 3.03 era in 29.2 IP with 28ks.
Baez has looked sharp this season in his rehab stints this year touting a 2.45 era in 18 IP with 23 k's. It feels like he's not going to be down in AA for much longer. This would be the perfect flier to help the Twins going forward the next few years.
The popular site - https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/trade-simulator/ , has this deal about dead even between the Twins and Padres. While I believe Campusano is overvalued in their model based on the fact that it has him pegged as a sure fire catcher, I think it undervalues Snell slightly in terms of the potential he may still have, The Baez throw in seems to be perfectly valued for a guy coming off TJ and only has 23 MLB innings logged. Nothing more than a flier.
At the end of the day, the Padres get an above average RF for the next 3 years at an extremely discounted rate and save 10 million on the books for the next 2 years. The Twins continue the movement in top prospects blossoming at the major league level, get another rotation piece with upside for the next 1.5 years, a great catching prospect, and a young controllable bullpen flier piece with proven success.
Oh and Kirilloff comes in to hit .300 / .375 / .450 to replace Kepler.
Perfect world, right?
Dman reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Frustration
I just fed my obsession by playing golf for about the fifteenth day out of sixteen. Well, it wasn't pretty and I left the course pretty frustrated. Before I got home, I had a chance to read the latest on Twins Daily and Major League Trade Rumors. The Twins will face the high-flying Yankees with three red-hot pitchers going for the Evil Empire. The Twins will counter with Cole Sands, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy. I don't think I've ever seen such a lopsided matchup in favor of the visiting team when both teams are leading their divisions. Ever.
As frustrated as I am with my golf game, the Twins continuing use of the Injured List and granting days off for their most dynamic talent provides me and plenty of other Twins fans with continual angst. It is like they are trying to win with one arm behind their back.
Let's examine the components of my frustration; Injured List (pitchers)--A key bullpen arm (Alcala) has missed two months with an arm issue. That happens and all teams run into that on occasion. A marginal projected contributor (Dobnak) has missed the entire season so far and isn't close to coming back. Again not unexpected and all teams run into this. Currently, Gray (pectoral), Ryan (COVID) and Ober (groin) are all out. This is where the frustration builds for me. These aren't arm injuries and both of the injuries were borderline enough that the player wasn't disabled immediately. It seems that maximum caution has been used in all three cases. But these three are the top three starters on the team and none of them will face the Yankees this week. Beyond the immediate frustration is the fact that the team has been very conservative in extending the starts of all of their starters, yet here come the injuries. Add the cherry on top of a COVID case for their top young starter that has caused him to miss about three weeks and you start to wonder, what will happen next. One (frustrating) thing we can count on--there will be more short starts when the Injured List guys return to the rotation. Again, it seems that it is a constant, not the exception.
Part two--position players. Having players who are breaking out miss time to injury and illness happens, but the Twins seem to have that as a rule. Gilberto Celestino, Kyle Garlick, Trevor Larnach and Royce Lewis all seemed on the way to proving they were valuable major league players and all were detoured to the injured list for a period of time. The Buxton management scheme seems to have accomplished one thing--make Byron Buxton an ordinary ballplayer. We've seen little of the blazing speed (don't "open it up" unless you absolutely have to) and he's no longer even causes anxiety for teams when he's on base. Buxton has only played about half the time in center field and when I last looked, he wasn't even a plus defender this year (that is a big portion of his value). Buck has hit homers at a prolific rate, but he's not getting on base enough and, as mentioned, he is not displaying many of his off the charts tools. Next Carlos Correa. After a slow start, Correa has shown himself to be a premium player, but because of a bad bruise when he was hit by a pitch and a case of COVID, he will have missed over a third of the Twins games to date when he returns. The COVID absence wouldn't have been so bad, but his heir apparent was hurt the day before he was diagnosed, so the Twins have used a career minor leaguer as their shortstop (Palacios has looked like a big leaguer. Good for him!).
From what I can tell the Blue Jays have all of their top position players and top starters healthy and playing every day. Same for the Yankees. Since the middle of April, that hasn't been the case with the Twins. Why can't we have nice things? Agree? Give some feedback if you'd like. Go Twins!
Dman reacted to Doc Munson for a blog entry, Premature Consternation
The Twins are in 1st place in the AL Central by 4.5 games, yet there is creeping concern everywhere regarding the Twins future. Are all of the sweaty palms and consternation? is it an overreaction to just a bad stretch against a bad team? Are the Twins about to lose their hold on 1st place with us playing the AL East while Cleveland gets Baltimore, Texas, and Oakland?
Lets take a look at some of the concern in Twins Territory and see what we think.
1) Our offense.
Before last nights game with the Blue Jays we had scored 3 or less runs in 7 of our last 12 games, with multiple shutouts, and low number hit games. We do not seem to have much consistency overall recently. and those low runs scoring games came against the likes of KC and Detroit. Does that make it seem worse? I think it does. also, Buxton has been a shell of himself, and we have been putting out a number of replacement level players due to injuries.
Hopefully last nights game re-ignites Buxton. It has been incredibly clear to anyone, even morons like me who know nothing about hitting mechanics, that Buxton has been off-balance at the plate. He has been off balance because of his right knee. His back knee, his leverage knee. As a result of not being able be comfortable putting his weight on the back foot/knee, and torque of it twisting, he has been swinging with his weight on his front leg, causing him to be off balance and losing power. Hopefully this is beginning to change as his knee gets a little better, but of course even a "healthy" Buxton plays only 2/3 of our games.
Miranda has been unplayable, although ironically has been hitting pretty well during this stretch. Garlick should not be on a MLB team, Jeffers has been horrible offensively, But really, overall everyone else has been at least decent. Urshella and Sanchez have been hitting well lately, while not eye popping numbers they are playable and have come up big recently. Losing Correa again, will be a short term hit with no long term impact. Hopefully Lewis is only out for a short time (but then let the debate reignite) Kepler has been decent, Larnach has been hitting well, Arraez has been the Rodney Carew/Tony Gwynn clone many saw him as when he was a rookie.
So our offense should not be a problem going forward once we get everyone back healthy.
1B - Arraez ?? while nto an ideal position we need his bat in the lineup.
2B - Polanco. I would actually submit that even though he leads the team in RBI, and even though he is coming off an All-Star year, and has been a great Twin, he has to be the one to be impacted when Royce Lewis gets back with the team.
3B - Urshela - his .270 avg, above average defense and clutch hitting has him holding down 3B for the rest of the year (at least for now)
SS - Correa - He is obviously there longterm... unless we crater, then he is traded and Lewis slides in at SS.
RF - Kepler - very serviceable, and actually having a pretty decent year,
CF - BUxton - with the obvious exception of his rest days is a lock.
LF - Larnach - Mashing with strong exit Velo, lots of doubles which are starting to turn into HR
C - Jeffers/ Sanchez - Jeffers cant hit but plays majority of games, with Sanchez backing him up and being primary DH
DH Sanchez/rotation - His bat is starting to come alive. His bat was never really the problem.
Again the only real issue going forward here is where do you put Lewis? and what happens if Kirilloff continues his 337/449/932 play in St. Paul??
I am not overly concerned with our offense, we should be just fine. Which brings us... "gulp" to our pitching. and I am going to combine coaching with our pitching, because a lot of the pitching performance is also based on how they are used.
While there is good here, lets assume the good is good and only concern ourselves with a few questions.
Chris Archer: ERA is good at 3.89, but just 39 IP in 10 starts??? This cannot hold up, if we only let him go 4 IP then he needs to be in the pen as the "long guy" Each starter impacts the game before and after him as well as the one he starts. we cannot regularly use our pen for 5 innings every fifth start. Last night he was cruising and still pulled after 57 pitches!!! This needs to change!! we may be able to compete in a pathetic AL Central like this, but this kind of ball does not win against good teams in the playoffs. At this point it is more of a coaching issue than an issue with Archer, but it is still an issue.
Sonny Gray: Again great numbers, but another trip to the IL? is this concerning? I guess only time will tell, but we will be without him for another 2-3 weeks and then another month plus of treating him with kid gloves to get him "ramped back up". he only had 33 innings in 7 games for less than a 5 IP per game average as it was, so look for more bullpen busting, innings restricted starts when he gets back
Dylan Bundy: Throw out back to back bad starts in Aoril/May and he has been quite good. but can you "throw out" 25% of a pitchers starts? and can he hold up over the long haul? History says no
What is Smeltzer?: Is he a fluky guy with a weird delivery that team will hit better the more they see him. or is he legit now? he has always been phenomenal in short stretches in the past.
Ryan is good and Ober has been decent.
OVERALL: Be scared, be VERY scared!!! IF we continue to have starting pitching go less than half the game, whether by plan or by play, then our pen will get overexposed, burned out and we will start losing games we should win. Unfortunately I think our philosophy about never letting a starter see a batter a 3rd time will be what holds us back.
Dman reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, Matt's Top Prospect List + Explanations
Royce Lewis I have been conservative about Lewis for a while, and it is time to admit that he is the best prospect in the Twins system. His hit tool looks real, at least much better than before, and the eye test shows that he can currently play a passable shortstop, a significant point in his development. The Twins are lowering him into a super-utility role, which is fine given his athleticism, but I would prefer to have him challenged at shortstop every day. There is no real easy answer to that conundrum until Carlos Correa no longer calls that position home. For now, we shall appreciate watching a unique talent perform at the highest level for years to come.
Austin Martin 2022 has not been the best season for Martin. He is striking out at a lower rate but is somehow hitting for less power than before; his season wRC+ sits at 95. While I have supreme confidence in his bat turning around eventually, his glove is a different story. He is not a shortstop; that is clear now. I’m not sure what position he can play, but the Twins will have to find one, and his value is now much lower as a super-utility guy unable to cover such a crucial position. He also has a ridiculous 20 steals, perhaps hinting at a skillset philosophy leaning closer towards a traditional, scrappy type of player. I think he’ll figure it out and become a useful major league player, but his future is far hazier than one prefers from one of their best prospects.
Jose Miranda Although not because of his performance, Miranda moves up one spot in my ranking. He hasn’t hit during his time in the majors, owning terrible batted ball data during his brief stint that ended with Lewis’ re-appearance on the Twins. One should never overreact to 70 plate appearances, and Miranda’s 2021 was so legendary that I tend to believe this to be a fad and not an indictment of his hitting ability. He owns a rare batting average/power combo that few in baseball can claim, and that alone is what keeps Miranda sitting near the top of this list. Time shall tell whether Miranda can find his groove again.
Jordan Balazovic I’m still a firm believer in Balazovic as the team’s best pitching prospect, but it has been an extended period since he last unquestionably dominated hitters for a significant stretch, and it’s fair to lean into doubts. Early returns at AAA have been ugly, although the eye doesn’t catch exactly what the problem for him seems to be. He’s avoided major injury, but the nicks and dings are starting to add up, holding him back from being the “set-it-and-forget-it” ace that many thought he would become after his excellent 2018 and 2019 performances. Again, let’s not overreact, but it’s time for a correction of sorts for Balazovic.
Noah Miller Miller is good, and people should recognize this as soon as possible. 19-year-old shortstops are not supposed to dominate A-ball like this, and the ones that do tend to become exceptional players. He’s hitting for a 146 wRC+ with reportedly silky smooth defense that could play if the team called him up tomorrow. He isn’t hitting for much power (ISO of .113), but that feels like an extreme nitpick for an otherwise otherworldly performance this far into the season. Get used to his name this high on prospect lists.
Emmanuel Rodriguez Rodriguez could have easily claimed the five spot, but Miller’s shortstop potential broke the tie, and Rodriguez ends up here. He’s also just 19, which is ridiculous, and he’s walking at a 27.3% clip while slugging .475. If one wanted to nitpick, he’s also striking out 28.5% of the time, a number digestible given his age, but one to keep an eye on given how sticky strikeout numbers tend to be as a player changes levels. His profile will clear up with time (mainly whether he owns discipline or is plain passive against wild pitchers), but things are exciting for the former international big shot signing.
Spencer Steer I don’t think that Steer is legitimately a 147 wRC+ batter, but it is apparent that he is a well-rounded player with a potentially rare batting average/OBP/power combination. His best comp is probably Jose Miranda’s 2021 season which was equally impressive in how he didn’t have to sacrifice batting average for power. We’ve seen that combo struggle in the majors over a short sample with Miranda, but a player like Ty France proves that it can work with refinement. He can pass at both 3rd and 2nd base, giving the team options if they ever decide to clean out their gutter at 3rd or trade Jorge Polanco.
Simeon Woods Richardson I originally had Woods Richardson above the previous three hitters, but I kept questioning whether I was more excited about him or the other batters, and you can see the answer I came to. Woods Richardson’s ERA is excellent, but his FIP is merely passable, and his xFIP is dreadful; combine that with a suspicious BABIP, and I’m not sold that he has improved significantly since struggling at AA all of last season. He’s still just 21, which feels impossible, but his stock remains stagnant in my eyes.
Matt Canterino Canterino is a reliever. Usually, I don’t consider relievers prospects, but his stuff is so otherworldly that it’s not out of the question that he becomes a 2-3 inning fire-breathing dragon, which can be extremely valuable to every team in MLB. He has already bested his innings total from last season, and he should be up with the team down the stretch if he can remain healthy. Walks are up this year, but I believe that to be a mirage and not a loss of command for a pitcher who has otherwise thrown strikes during his time in the minors.
Cole Sands I like Sands more than I probably should. He flashed an incredible sweeper during his cup of coffee, a pitch that I believe can carry him to some sort of helpful niche in the team’s pitching staff. The rest of his profile is pretty vanilla, and he’s currently on the IL, a statement often too true about Sands, but the power of his breaker keeps him elevated on my list.
Ronny Henriquez Henriquez is still a somewhat mysterious prospect. He came over as an afterthought in the Mitch Garver deal and has flashed some major league playable stuff but has yet to play enough for me to get as good of a read on him. It’s been a rough go at AAA so far, but he’s not even 22-years-old yet, and his development feels like it will be more of a slow burn a la Woods Richardson rather than a fiery explosion like Jhoan Duran.
Edouard Julien Julien is unfortunately injured at the moment, but his profile is far too intriguing to ignore. It’s not every day that one comes across a player practically guaranteed to get on base at a .400 clip, but Julien is precisely that kind of player. His OBP is true, a sign of patience over passivity, which will carry him across all levels of baseball. He’s more positionless than one would like, but his bat projects so well that the Twins will find a way to make it work.
Marco Raya Raya was a popular pop-up pick in the pre-season, and he’s impressed so far with an 18.8 K-BB%. His stuff is electric, the classic mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider combo that fans can dream on with a curve and change that will need refinement as he elevates through the minors. It has been less than 30 innings into Raya’s professional debut, but it’s easy to see why the Twins were so high on him in the 2020 draft.
David Festa The Twins system has lost top-end credibility due to some graduations and players in that tier struggling, but their middle area has beefed up considerably thanks to arms like Festa. Festa came out of nowhere in 2022, dominating hitters with Fort Myers before enjoying a promotion to Cedar Rapids. His K-BB% sits at 28.9%, the highest in the system amongst pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand Encarnacion-Strand went supernova to begin the season, netting all the RBIs before gently cooling off and settling in as a merely great, not Bondsian hitter. Evaluators are still baffled by Encarnacion-Strand; he fits into the scary right/first baseman/college bucket from which hitters go to die (or become Pete Alonso), and it’s unclear if he’s made proper adjustments since joining the Twins organization. For now, it’s best to shrug your shoulders and continue to ride the wave.
Cade Povich Povich, like Raya, was also a popular breakout pick for 2022. He’s responded with an eye-catching 27.4 K-BB%, a total bested only by Shane McClanahan amongst qualified MLB pitchers this year. It’s not a 1:1 comp, but his success should not be understated, and he could find himself at AA sooner rather than later at this rate.
Blayne Enlow I remain a firm believer in Enlow. Tommy John surgery derailed his path to AA in 2021, but he recently returned from the procedure, and his performance the rest of the season will help illuminate his prospect status; it says a lot that the Twins protected him in the rule 5 draft despite his injuries and underperformance.
Brayan Medina Medina has yet to pitch in an organized game for the Twins, so this ranking is an aggregate of other publications rather than a personal evaluation.
Louie Varland Varland is not having as fine a season like 2020, but he has still settled in as a consistent, reliable arm at AA. The walks have crept up while his home run rate has ballooned, perhaps an ominous sign of regression waiting in the wings. Back-sliding has not hit yet, so he remains solidly in the mid-tier of prospects until otherwise.
Steve Hajjar Hajjar, like Povich, was an intriguing breakout arm to keep an eye on in 2022. He’s punched out a small army but has also walked far too many batters for his good; less than 50% of plate appearances against him have ended with a ball put into play. It has been less than 30 innings, but I’m far leerier of his skillset translating unless he tames his walks.
Brent Headrick Like Gipson-Long in the next spot, Headrick is an old-for-his-level starter who has easily crushed his competition. His command is much improved in 2022, and hitters are now overwhelmed by stuff that they can no longer just wait out for the inevitable walk. He’s so similar to Gipson-Long in this regard that I gave him the one-spot nod for better peripherals (28.3 K-BB %).
Sawyer Gipson-Long Gipson-Long is an old-for-the-level starter but should not be ignored when looking at this system. He has picked up right where he left off in 2021, owning the 9th best K-BB% rate amongst all pitchers with 30 innings in the system this year (22.4%). He should get a taste of AA soon, which will help illuminate his prospect status more than feasting on A+ hitters.
Kala’i Rosario Rosario is a raw, toolsy prospect dipping into the full-season waters for the first time. His 94 wRC+ is far from disastrous, but his 39.2% strikeout rate is ghastly, perhaps a sign that he’s still too green. As a 19-year-old, he exists in that frustrating “potential” sphere of prospect evaluation where his struggles are summed up as him “learning,” and no actual analysis is gleaned from his performance. In summary: early returns are not favorable but not indictable yet.
Matt Wallner To be blunt, I have little faith in Wallner becoming a valuable major league player. Hitters who strike out 34% of the time need legendary power to negate their whiffs, and Wallner seems to have merely great, not jaw-dropping power. He can still walk and bop homers, but I remain skeptical of his skillset translating at the major league level; Brent Rooker soured any ability I have to overlook one’s strikeout rate.
Aaron Sabato Speaking of hitters striking out too much, Sabato has been disappointing since the Twins took him in the 1st round in 2020. He can take a walk, but his ISO is far lower than one wants from a pure 1st baseman (.163). At this point, I don’t expect Sabato to become a useful contributor for the Twins, and he can join Keoni Cavaco in the club of “Falvey and Levine’s unwise 1st round picks.” Speaking of which…
Keoni Cavaco Cavaco has never shown any consistent ability to hit at any level during any extended period of play. His career minor league OBP begins with a .2, which should tell you everything you need to know. Yes, injuries have played a role in his poor performance, but injuries can’t excuse his immense strikeout problems, and his ranking on any prospect list is honorary at this point. I’m holding on to his draft pedigree, but he will be dropped soon unless his performance turns around.
John Stankiewicz I have no idea what to make of Stankiewicz. He was an undrafted free agent in 2020 and has performed very well during his time in the Twins system. Time will tell if it’s a lower-level mirage, but he should still be a name to remember throughout the remainder of the season.
Jake Rucker I just wanted to get Rucker a mention on one of these lists. Since the Twins drafted him in 2021, he's held his own and has improved his ISO (.059 to .111) despite the rest of his stat-line not falling in line. He feels like the kind of prospect who can suddenly be in AAA despite flying under the radar for the entirety of his professional career.
Misael Urbina Urbina showed great peripherals in 2021 (12.3% walk rate, 18.7% K rate), which lost out overall to his otherwise poor slash line. Visa issues have delayed the start of his season, which is both a shame and a detriment to his development. Hopefully, he’ll be playing baseball in the Twins system soon.
Drew Strotman The clickbait 30 spot goes to Strotman out of deference towards teams far wiser than I. The Rays added Strotman to the 40-man roster, and the Twins targeted him in a trade now overshadowed by Joe Ryan’s success, showing that there are franchises that believe in him. He is now a reliever, limiting his upside, but I’ll wait to give up on him when the Twins do.
Dman reacted to TwerkTwonkTwins for a blog entry, Kyle Garlick Is Outslugging MVPs
Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez, Mike Trout. What do these names all have in common? They have worse expected statistics than Kyle Garlick. But...so does the entire league, so they shouldn't feel too bad.
To level-set, Kyle Garlick has amassed a standard slashline of .250/.359/.625 (.984 OPS). That's amazing, and 90% above average in a year like 2022. But his underlying Statcast data is even more impressive, due to the type of contact he's been making.
I do want to warn that this post will be a bit of Fun With Small Sample Sizes™, but it's a lot of fun. For much of the expected statistics I'll be looking at, the minimum amount of balls in play (BIP) needed to qualify for the official Baseball Savant leaderboard is 33. Garlick has amassed 26 BIP through 39 plate appearances due to injuries, and being sheltered from right-handed pitching -- the latter of which is certainly contributing to his eye-popping stats.
Starting off with the most impressive clove of Garlick's loaded bulb of batting stats is his Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA). This stat blends a lot of Statcast data such as exit velocity, launch angel, expected batting average. It's then assigns value to each batted ball and walks like wOBA, but removes defense from the equation.
When filtering to 25 Balls In Play, Kyle Garlick ranks 1st in xwOBA with .492, which is outpacing his standard wOBA (.415). Being first in this stat places him in the 100th Percentile, and it's quite the impressive list below
Kyle Garlick's xwOBA is outpacing multiple former MVPs, and two Twins players in the Top 20. How is he doing this?!
Garlick is outperforming his batting average of .250, by having an expected batting average (xBA) of .332. That's the 19th largest swing in batting average to expected batting average. He's been great AND unlucky, as that xBA ranks 6th among MLB players filtering to 25 balls in play.
His slugging is an even greater disparity between actual and expected results. A slugging percentage of .625 is great, but Garlick has the highest expected slugging percentage (xSLG) of .804, for a nearly 18% difference in actual vs expected.
Garlick is causing a stink among left-handed pitchers, because he's patient and hits the ball with extreme authority. His walk rate is 15.4%, nearly twice as the MLB average in 2022 (8.4%), and the highest of his career.. Pitchers are likely scared to come in the zone to Garlick, because when he makes contact, the ball is hit among the hardest in the league.
Hard Hit Rate: 61.5% (4th) Hard Hit Swing %: 22.6% (6th) Average Exit Velocity: 94.7 MPH (7th) Barrels Per Plate Appearance: 10.3% (22nd) Barrels Per Batted Ball Event: 15.4% (27th). These are all expected statistics of a upper-echelon slugger and MVP candidate. To pour some cold water on this, I'm overanalyzing a whooping four barrels that Garlick has hit across 26 times he's put the ball into play. However, that doesn't mean that Garlick hasn't been a potent weapon in Baldelli's lineup against left-handed pitching. Just like how the Twins are in first as we enter late May, we should all savor what we are seeing.
And Garlick should keep savoring those bananas. Don't change a thing.
Dman reacted to Axel Kohagen for a blog entry, Joyous Victory! - A Twins Blog
Three baseball games. Three consecutive one-run victories. All around Twins territory, fans’ brains are secreting happy hormones.
Last year was such a different story. I had a dry-erase board at work. I drew the Twins logo on it and then two numbers underneath that logo. One for wins, one for losses. We all remember which number grew the fastest. Every day, it seemed like I’d be adding one to the loss column. “They lost again?” the people I worked with asked. “Your team sucks,” came next. It wasn’t a question. I didn’t argue with it.
I’m so much happier this year. I have a Twins buddy at work.I usually don’t bring up a victory right away. I start with a pleasant greeting, then a little bit of small talk. I’m waiting, though. I’m waiting for the right moment. I’m smiling already. I’m thinking it, and I know he’s thinking it, too.
“How ‘bout them Twins?” I say. And whammo! There we are! Joyously reveling in the glory of another Twins victory. Today, there was a scary side to the victory - Pagan has the potential to give both of us heart attacks. But it’s fun to be a little scared when there’s a happy ending, right?
Meaningful baseball is like a campfire. It brings everyone into its glow. It inspires conversation. In our age, that conversation can happen in person, on social media, or through podcasts. When the message is winning, people want to keep spreading the message.The fire is warm; all fans are welcome.
Last year, instead of a campfire, we had a desperate fan rubbing two soggy sticks together for warmth. We had cold, raw hot dogs and nothing to talk about. I firmly believe a meaningful summer of baseball adds a whole other level to the season. It’s the B story for the rest of your life. And it’s better shared with other fans.
Dman reacted to TwerkTwonkTwins for a blog entry, Gilberto Celestino - The Contact King
Gilberto Celestino has had an interesting path to the majors, and one that reduced his initial shine for most of the fanbase. Celestino was acquired for Ryan Pressly at the 2018 trade deadline, alongside Jorge Alcala, in a very unpopular deal at the time. MLB Pipeline ranked Celestino the 15th best prospect in 2019, and 14th best in 2020. The consensus was that Celestino was a standout defensive center fielder, but questions about his bat and power limited his overall projection.
When Celestino was called up out of emergency in 2021, his initial performance not only confirmed the offensive questions in the prospect rankings but the calling card of his defense was also poor with -2 Outs Above Average coming from 56 attempts. Celestino was clearly overmatched at the major league level, as he played a handful of games at AA before making the jump to the Twins. Celestino accumulated a 22 wRC+ and -0.7 fWAR in only 62 plate appearances in 2021.
Needless to say, when Celestino was added to the 2022 Opening Day roster the reaction amid the fanbase was tepid. It's probable that the Twins didn't even envision Celestino making the roster, as they optioned him to Triple-A St. Paul on 3/31. Many believed that his status on the roster was to be temporary, with rumors swirling about the Twins adding Justin Upton to be a source of right-handed power in the outfield.
Derek Falvey even went as far to say that Celestino could be off the major league roster in a week's time.
Flashing forward to early May, Celestino has outperformed expectations, and probably any output that could have come from Justin Upton. As of 5/9, Celestino has provided some of the best offensive and defensive numbers on the team.
AVG OBP SLG OPS OPS+ wRC+ wOBA fWAR bWAR Gilberto Celestino .324 .390 .405 .796 144 143 .361 0.6 0.4 FanGraphs has Celestino as the 6th most valuable offensive player on the Twins in fWAR and his wRC+ is the third highest on team behind Byron Buxton and the legendary Kyle Garlick. On the defensive side of his game, Celestino has 2 Outs Above Average (84th percentile). It's a small sample size, but how has Celestino been so valuable this early on?
The answer to that question: Celestino has had amazing plate discipline.
Season Pitches Zone % Zone Swing % Zone Contact % Chase % Chase Contact % Edge % 1st Pitch Swing % Swing % Whiff % Meatball % Meatball Swing % 2021 235 51.5 64.5 82.1 26.3 63.3 43.8 30.6 46 23.1 6 85.7 2022 145 52.4 65.8 96 15.9 72.7 46.2 28.6 42.1 8.2 8.3 66.7 MLB 48.5 66.8 82 28.3 58.4 42.6 29.2 47 24.6 7.2 76
The highlighted cells show that areas where Celestino has been outperforming both his 2021 self, and the MLB average. He's simply become one of the most contact-oriented players in the game, and one of the most discerning about balls and strikes. He's swinging and making contact at pitches that are meant to be swung at in the zone, and spitting at the outside pitches that usually result in outs.
Among all players with at least 25 plate appearances, Celestino ranks 3rd in Whiff % (8.2%) , and 16th in Chase Rate (15.9%). To put that in further perspective, here's a look at Celestino compared to two other players with great plate discipline reputations.
Pitches Zone % Zone Swing % Zone Contact % Chase % Chase Contact % Edge % 1st Pitch Swing % Swing % Whiff % Meatball % Meatball Swing % Gilberto Celestino 145 52.4 65.8 96 15.9 72.7 46.2 28.6 42.1 8.2 8.3 66.7 Luis Arraez 351 43.6 66 92.1 25.8 88.2 46.4 19.5 43.3 8.6 5.7 60 Juan Soto 549 43.4 56.7 80.7 19.3 66.7 41 20.3 35.5 23.1 5.8 78.1 MLB 48.5 66.8 82 28.3 58.4 42.6 29.2 47 24.6 7.2 76 Am I saying that Gilberto Celestino is the next Juan Soto or Luis Arráez? No, but I am saying that Celestino is a supremely disciplined hitter with extreme contact skill. That doesn't always take a large sample to determine. Soto has a chase rate of 19.3%, which ranks in the 90th percentile. Arráez has a miniscule whiff rate of 8.6%, which is in the 100th percentile of MLB players. Celestino tops both players in these areas at this point in the season.
The only knock on Celestino this year can be his lack of power. Both his Barrel Rate (3.2%) and his average exit velocity (86.9 MPH) rank below the MLB average. However, the Twins have plenty of slugging across their lineup to make up for that. Luis Arráez used to be the lone bat-to-ball man in the lineup with names like Miguel Sano, Gary Sanchez, Alex Kiriloff, and Gio Urshela. It helps to have offensive diversity, and Gilberto Celestino may be filling a needed niche that nobody expected.
If Celestino's current blend of strong defense and astounding swing decisions holds up, he probably ranks as a starting-caliber outfielder on most major league teams. The lack of power will always hold him back from being a true star, but his skillset fits today's game more so than the previous half-decade. The surprise addition to Opening Day roster may have been the perfect fit for the 2022 brand of baseball.
Dman reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Where We Stack Up
As I occasionally do, I checked MLB statistics today. I wanted to see how the team stacked up to the rest of Major League Baseball. Most teams have played about 10 games, so we have an idea of trends, although some things are out of whack. Baltimore has good pitching? Cleveland has the top team BA in the American League? Nah, those things won't last. What about the Twins? Well, with a 4-6 record and and -6 run differential, I figured the Twins would profile poorly on offense and middle of the road on the run prevention side, Here's what I found.
Pitching. Far from a disaster, but not league average. The Twins are 20th (of 30) in team ERA and 15th in runs per game. That difference is explained by only allowing three unearned runs despite 8 errors in 10 games. They haven't played any extra inning games and unearned runs really happen there due to the "ghost runner". Other stats--23rd in walks per nine innings, 21st in strikeouts per nine innings, 15th in Opponents Batting Average and 20th in WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched). The starting staff has been better than expected, but the bullpen ERA is over 4.50. This looks like pretty good luck to this point--they're allowing more balls than average to be put in play, walking more than league average and still at the median for allowing base runners and runs.
Hitting. The only stat where the Twins are significantly better than league average is home runs. They are sixth in the league in homers per plate appearance. Other key stats--third in strikeouts per plate appearance, 25th in team OPS, 22nd in runs per game. Hitters are more predictable and projectable that pitchers. The Twins have been projected to be a good offensive team, probably enough to make up for their pitching deficiencies and hang around .500, so far that isn't the case.
To summarize, it is early. The offense has been a major disappointment, but will improve. Pitching has been better than expected, but there are some number that predict a downturn. After playing three straight 90-win teams (from 2021), the Twins will face a less daunting schedule in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully, the record and stats improve over that time.