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dbminn

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  1. Like
    dbminn reacted to David Youngs for an article, St. Paul to Stardom: Louie Varland is the Real Deal   
    Look at Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher Louie Varland’s stat line and you’d think he was a Division I standout drafted in the first few rounds of the MLB Draft.
    Not a 15th round pick who played college ball at Division II Concordia-St. Paul. 
    These aren’t just part of the home-grown star’s identity; they’re things that have motivated him unlike anything else. 
    “It definitely has been a chip on my shoulder, but it came down to the fact that ‘I’ve got something to prove,” Varland said. “I wasn’t a DI guy, but I came in to prove my own and show that I can compete at this level.” 
    The confidence from that chip has shown. Since being promoted to Cedar Rapids from Low-A Fort Myers on July 13, Varland is 2-0 with a 0.83 ERA in four starts for the Kernels. That second win came Friday night when Varland tossed 5 2/3 innings of two-run, five-strikeout ball to lead the Kernels to a critical win over league-leading Quad Cities in front of a season-high attendance at Perfect Game Field. 
     
    The Maplewood, Minnesota native and North St. Paul High School graduate began the season with the Mighty Mussels and was nothing short of rock-solid. Varland appeared in ten games and made eight starts for Fort Myers, going 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA. He was named Low-A Pitcher of the Week on June 14 after pitching 12 consecutive scoreless innings and striking out 17 in that period.
    Yet as the competition increased upon his arrival to High-A, so did the difficulty for batters to hit Varland. Opposing batters mustered up a meager .228 batting average against Louie in the Sunshine State. That number has dipped to an incredible .173 average throughout his time in Cedar Rapids so far. 
    “I feel great. I feel confident on the mound. I’ve got my stuff working for me,” Varland said. 
    That confidence was crafted in the in Fort Myers earlier this year at the Twins’ spring training site and courtesy of the Mussels’ staff with a dash of technology. 
    “I had some mechanical flaws earlier in the year, so down at the Low-A level, we have simulation cameras (that helped), and Pete (Larson) and the coaching staff helped me fix those issues to create a more efficient arm path, leading to more strikes,” Varland said. “I can throw harder, my delivery is cleaner, and I feel ready to go.”
    Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa
    After exiting a stellar pitching staff in Fort Myers, Varland arguably joined an even more dominant one in Cedar Rapids. The Kernels staff touts a league-leading 3.66 ERA and an impressive 1.23 WHIP. Ben Gross has led the starting pitching staff with his 4-1 record and 3.27 ERA. He’s also been an incredible asset to the newest member of the pitching staff.
    “It’s absolutely helped (having other successful pitchers), especially Ben Gross,” Varland said. “He’s really helped me dive into the preparation part of things; what to throw and when to throw certain pitches. He’s helped me dive into opposing hitters, which he’s really big into, and that’s helped me out a lot.”
    And while Varland is surrounded by a strong group of players on the field, the greatest asset of his Iowa promotion may be off the field. Cedar Rapids is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Twins Cities metro, where Varland’s family still resides. 
    “It’s especially nice for my family,” Varland said. “It’s the closest affiliate of all the affiliates to my hometown. Every trip (for my family) to Cedar Rapids, Beloit, and Wisconsin (Appleton) are all roughly four and a half hours away so it’s great for them.”
    Varland’s dad Wade, who played a huge role in mentoring Louie and his brother Gus, can attend games more frequently. The family is even taking a trip to Tulsa to watch Gus pitch for Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate Tulsa later this month. 
    “It’s just really nice to have my family back in the stands watching me play,” Louie said.
    Sprint to the Finish
    Now that Varland has gotten his feet wet in Cedar Rapids, his dominance couldn’t have come at a more critical time. 
    The Kernels are amidst a playoff race that looks like it will come down to the wire. While there are two divisions in the High-A Central League, only two teams will qualify for the playoffs, regardless of division. Quad Cities (Royals affiliate) holds a commanding ten-game-lead in the league with a 54-26 record. Cedar Rapids and Great Lakes (Dodgers affiliate) are tied for second, sitting at 45-37. Lake County (Cleveland affiliate) and Dayton (Reds affiliate) are within two and a half games from Great Lakes and the Kernels. 

    It’s going to be exhilarating. And only one team can make it. 
    The good news for the Kernels? They arguably control their destiny. Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities will play each other eight more times before the end of the season, all at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids. 
    “The atmosphere is really competitive. Every game, we’re fighting for a playoff spot," Varland said. "With six and a half weeks left, every game counts, especially these against Quad Cities. Hopefully, we can win this series.”
    The Kernels face off against Quad Cities tonight at 6:35 PM CST in Cedar Rapids. Tickets are available at www.kernels.com, and the game can be viewed on MiLB.TV.
     
    More on Louie Varland from Twins Daily
    Twins Prospect Louie Varland Won't Stop at Pretty Good Twins Spotlight: Louie Varland
  2. Like
    dbminn reacted to Allen Post for an article, Twins Minor League Report (8/6): Affiliates Feast on Home Cooking   
    TRANSACTIONS
    No transactions today.
     
    SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 1, Louisville 0 
    Box Score
    The Saints’ pitchers were untouchable tonight and the Louisville arms were only a little bit less untouchable in this pitchers duel. Saint Paul gets Louisville back for last night, winning this one 1-0.
    Chandler Shepherd was nothing short of dominant in his start tonight. The St. Paul starter went six full innings and didn’t allow a run. Unfortunately for the Saints, Shepherd’s Louisville counterpart, Michael Mariot, matched his every move (literally) and when Shepherd gave way to Yennier Cano to start the seventh, both starters had allowed four hits and no runs.  
    Mariot was taken out after the seventh and Sherman Johnson, for one, was happy to see him go. Johnson gave the Saints the first lead of the ballgame in the eighth with a clutch solo shot to right center.
    In contrast to their opponents, the Saints bullpen did not let them down tonight. Cano walked his first two batters in the seventh but struck out a couple to get out of the inning unscathed. Then, Kyle Barraclough hurled a hitless eighth and Nick Vincent closed the game with a strong ninth. One run was all the Saints needed in this one.   
    Thomas Telis and home run hero Sherman Johnson had the only multi-hit games for the St. Paul.
     
    Winder Shut Down
    Saints starter and Twins Daily’s #8 prospect Josh Winder will be shut down for the following few weeks with shoulder fatigue. Winder hasn’t pitched since July 21st and the Twins have decided to protect their asset by resting him an additional two or three weeks.
    Thorpe Finishes Rehab Stint
    In positive news, Lewis Thorpe finished his rehab stint with the FCL Twins and is set to start for the Saints on Sunday.
     
     
    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 11, Midland 4
    Box Score
    Trey Cabbage led the Wind Surge bats to a big night and Chris Vallimont was an exciting watch on the mound. It was a good night for Wichita as they take this one in blowout fashion.
    The best way to start a ballgame is to put a crooked number up in the first, and that’s exactly what the Wind Surge did tonight. Wichita put up four in the opening frame, with an RBI each coming on Cabbage and Jermaine Palacios singles and two runs scoring on Andrew Bechtold’s double.
    After giving up a four spot to hard-hit Wichita liners, Midland got one back in the third off a weak infield single from Devin Foyle. However, Cabbage responded with two more RBI on a deep blast to right that extended the Wichita lead to 6-1.
    Midland got an additional run back in the fourth, but Cabbage had another two-run shot up his sleeve in the fifth, giving him his fourth and fifth RBI of the night.
    While Cabbage and the Surge were mashing, Vallimont was dealing on the mound. He struggled a bit with walks (he had four, two came around to score), but his swing-and-miss stuff was on full display as he had eight strikeouts over five innings. Just check out the Rock Hounds’ facial expressions for confirmation for how filthy he was tonight:
    Midland got a two-run homer of their own in the seventh, but, like they did all night, the Wichita bats had an answer. Austin Martin drove in two with a double in the eighth, and this one ended 11-4 in Wichita’s favor.
    After Vallimont left the ballgame, Alex Phillips allowed two earned runs over two innings and Jordan Gore took care of the eighth and ninth without allowing a baserunner. Cabbage's big night was the only multi-hit showing for Wichita.
     
    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2
    Box Score
    The Kernels jumped in front early and held on for the rest of the game, taking a tight one tonight, 4-2.
    The Kernels’ first trip to the plate was quite a productive one, as they sent eight men to bat and pushed three runs across. The big hit came in the form of a two-run Yunior Severino single, and Seth Gray also notched an RBI on a groundout. Matt Wallner helped Cedar Rapids add on in the second, with an RBI single of his own.
    Quad Cities finally got on the board in the fifth, using a Maikel Garcia triple to score Gavin Stupienski from first for their first run. Then, in the sixth, Jake Means doubled and drove in another run to cut the Cedar Rapids lead to 4-2. Kernels’ starter Louie Varland left the ballgame shortly after. At the end of his outing Varland had gone 5 ⅔ innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five. 
    The bullpen took over from there for Cedar Rapids. Melvi Acosta grabbed the last out of the sixth and pitched a hitless seventh, and Zach Featherstone allowed the bases to fill in the eighth, but got out of the inning without allowing a run. Then, Featherstone shut down the River Bandits one more time, securing the 4-2 win for Cedar Rapids.
    Alex Isola and Severino had multi-hit games for the Kernels tonight.
    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Fort Myers 4, Dunedin 3
    Box Score
    This one looked to be headed towards slugfest territory after the first inning, but in what turned out to be a quiet offensive game, the Mussels edge out the Blue Jays, 4-3
    Dunedin got two runs right away in the top of the first, with RBI coming on a Jesus Feliz fielding error and a P.K. Morris sac fly. But, Fort Myers had a first-inning run of their own, on a Charles Mack RBI groundout that scored Misael Urbina.
    The score stayed at 2-1 until the fourth, when the Mussels grabbed a run to tie it up. Urbina was involved again, this time driving in a run on a sac fly.
    After the rocky first inning, Mussel’s starter Bobby Milacki settled down well and allowed no runs over the next three innings, and when Matthew Swain took over in the fifth, he dominated the Blue Jays bats with three hitless innings and five strikeouts. 
    The solid pitching paid off in the seventh, when Fort Myers took their first lead of the ballgame. Jeferson Morales hit his seventh bomb of the year, driving in himself and Charles Mack to give the Mussels a two-run advantage.
    However, that lead got cut in half in the eighth, after a Miguel Hiraldo sacrifice fly scored Dunedin’s third run of the game. Dunedin got two baserunners on in the ninth, but they couldn’t bring them across. Denny Bentley gets credit for the six-out save and the Mussels win 4-3. 
    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    FCL Red Sox 5, FCL Twins 5 (Suspended/7)
    Box Score
    Today’s game between the Twins’ and Red Sox’ Complex League sides was suspended due to lightning with no outs and one man on in the bottom of the seventh inning, with the score tied at five runs apiece. Of note in this one, is that Alerick Soularie made his pro debut for the FCL Twins. So far, he is 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
    The game will be resumed tomorrow, so check back in tomorrow’s report for a full recap!
     
    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day - Chandler Shepherd (St. Paul) 6 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 3 K
    Hitter of the Day - Trey Cabbage (Wichita) 3-for-4, 3 R, 5 RBI, 2 HR (9), SO
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain)
    #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch
    #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain)
    #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 1-for-4 
    #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, K
    #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 1-for-3
    #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch 
    #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – Did not play
    #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-3, R, RBI, BB
    #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery)
    #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, BB, 5 K
    #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch
    #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 0-for-5, K
    #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-for-2, R, RBI
    #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-3, 2 R, K
    #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-4, K
    #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – 0-for-3, BB, K (game suspended)
    #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow)
    #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K
     
    SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Louisville @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – RHP Ian Hamilton (2-1, 2.61 ERA)
    Midland @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Austin Schulfer (3-7, 4.58 ERA)
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beck (2-1, 2.06 ERA)
    Dunedin @ Ft. Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Miguel Rodriguez (2-2, 3.62 ERA)
     
    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
     
  3. Like
    dbminn reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Health Helping Resurgent Twins   
    Last season Mitch Garver was a non-factor at the dish for Minnesota. He played just 23 games in the shortened calendar but also posted a paltry .511 OPS. His expected on-base prowess had fallen off, and the power production was non-existent. Amid failed expectations, there was an intercostal injury that placed him on the shelf.
    In talking with Garver and through observation while he was active, there was an evident inability to uncork his traditional swing path. The muscle strain was hampering his typical swing and had him late and less than effective when making contact. While all players deal with injuries or fatigue during a season, this was something Garver couldn’t produce through.
    Fast forward to 2021, and we have seen the same stellar catcher that exploded onto the scene two seasons ago. Although he started slow and missed time due to a gruesome injury, he now has 50 games under his belt and is toting a .901 OPS. Since May 1, Garver owns a 1.060 OPS, and that number jumps up to 1.180 since returning from the Injured List. Blasting his way through opposing pitching staffs, Garver is working harder by carrying a 1.038 OPS against righties.
    Now 30-year-old and under team control through 2023, there’s not much reason to extend the backstop. However, it is worth making the argument that Mitch may be the best catcher in baseball, and that’s something that the Twins would love to have at their disposal when retooling for another run at the division and beyond.
    Joining him in this year of resurgence is none other than Jorge Polanco. After adding 22 dingers to the Bomba Squad tally in 2019, Polanco quite literally limped through 55 games and a .658 OPS last season. He was consistently bailing out on swings, revealing that his surgically-repaired ankle was never truly right.
    Like Garver and many Twins batters, for that matter, Polanco got off to a slow start in 2021. Even despite that, he’s now racked up 100 games worth of action and has an .811 OPS to show for it. It’s all but certain that a new career-high in homers is coming, and the move to second base has proven to be a successful if not welcomed change of scenery.
    Since July 1, Polanco owns a .963 OPS with a .325 average. He’s finding gaps, putting the ball over the fence, and looking like every bit of his swing exudes both confidence and power. Rocco Baldelli needed this version of Polanco back, and this is the guy Derek Falvey believed he extended before the 2019 season.
    There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the Twins chances in 2022. They had a clear retooling opportunity, but the trade of Jose Berrios is a significant blow to their need for immediate pitching help. The front office will set out to find a new group of supplementing talent, but this internal pair is one they should again feel confident in for the year ahead. Minnesota was seen as a contender coming into 2021 due mainly to the expectations placed on the holdovers. Many failed to reach those marks, and some have still had more questions than answers. For Garver and Polanco, though, it’s never been more clear what’s left in the tank.
    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Like
    dbminn reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Top 5 Picks for the Twins to Target in the 2022 Draft   
    The dust has now settled from the trade deadline. In combination with the draft, the deadline served to significantly re-stock a Twins prospect pantry that had been recently depleted by graduations. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Ryan Jeffers all played significant roles for the 2021 Twins, surpassing prospect status. The Twins acquired five of their top fifteen prospects in July, landing Joe Ryan, Drew Strotman, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Austin Matin through trades and Chase Petty through the draft. One of the few silver linings of the Twins terrible 2021 season will be their ability to augment an already strong farm system through the 2022 draft. With the Twins on track for a top-five pick, what caliber of prospect might the Twins be able to acquire? Who are some names to look out for?
    Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford (GA), HS
    This Spring, Lesko went 11-0 with a 0.35 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 60 innings for Buford High. Lesko has been projected as a top pick for several years and has the talent to go 1-1 overall. Lesko was the Gatorade Player of the Year as an underclassman and offers an incredible combination of size, easy arm action, and projection. Lesko offers a 96 mph fastball, with a plus changeup and is currently committed to Vanderbilt.
    Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly
    Brooks is the son of Larry Lee, the Cal Poly head coach. In 2021, he put up a .342/.384/.626 line with 10 HR and 27 doubles. Lee is a switch hitter with incredible bat-to-ball skills and a solid infielder. He may end up as a second baseman as a professional. 
    Temarr Johnson, SS, Mays HS (Atlanta)
    Johnson is thought to be one of the best hitters in the entire draft class. Johnson has the best barrel control and has top-of-the-order upside. Evaluators seem unsure of Johnson’s eventual defensive home. He has played SS, 2B, and CF with Team USA. Although Johnson is just 5’10, 175 lbs, he drives the ball hard and has a good chance to develop solid to good power. Johnson is currently uncommitted. 
    Jace Jung, 2B/3B. Texas Tech
    Jace Jung is the younger brother of Rangers’ draftee Josh Jung. He hit 21 home runs and walked more than he struck out in 2021, finishing the season with a 1.159 OPS and an 18% walk rate. Jung is currently playing in the Cape Cod league and may end up at 2B or 3B as a professional.
     
    Which of these prospects would you most like to see in the Twins system? What other names should we be looking out for in the 2022 draft?
     
  5. Like
    dbminn reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (8/4): Sabato Blasts, Martin’s Heroics   
    SAINTS SENTINEL
    St. Paul 12, Louisville 2
    Box Score
    Andrew Albers took the ball for the Saints, and he twirled an absolute gem. Working seven strong, he allowed eight hits but limited the damage to just a single run on a solo shot. Albers also punched out five and walked just one batter.
    Trailing after the top half of the first, the Saints quickly erased the deficit on a Mark Contreras two-run blast, his 11th of the year. In the third, Damek Tomscha doubled with the bases loaded and brought everyone home, pushing the St. Paul lead to 5-1.
    Contreras wasn’t done adding for St. Paul as his sac fly in the 5th inning allowed Tomas Telis to scamper home. Jose Miranda then continued his hot hitting and contributed an RBI single to score Roberto Pena.
    Up 7-1 in the 7th inning, Jimmy Kerrigan blasted his 13th home run of the season and was followed by a Tomscha dinger making it back-to-back jacks. After a Louisville run scored in the 8th inning, the Saints added further distance. Gilberto Celestino crushed his second dinger for St. Paul, a three-run shot, and the final tally sat at 12-2.

    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 7, Midland 6
    Box Score
    On the mound for Wichita was Bryan Sammons. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on four hits and four walks. Sammons struck out six in the contest.
    Trailing 1-0 after the top of the first inning, the Wind Surge answered in a big way. An Austin Martin double was followed by a B.J. Boyd single to plate Wichita’s first run. Andrew Bechtold drove in Boyd on a sacrifice fly before Jermaine Palacios sent a ball over the wall for his 14th home run of the year and pushed the lead to 4-1.
    Spencer Steer lifted his ninth homer for the Wind Surge (19th overall) in the 3rd inning and gave Wichita a 5-2 lead. After Midland took the lead in the 5th inning, Steer drove in Martin on a sacrifice fly in the 8th inning to tie the game at six. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the newly-acquired Martin stepped to the dish and drove in Leobaldo Cabrera with a single to right field to walk things off for the good guys.
    Martin had two hits in this one and was joined by the game’s designated hitter, Trey Cabbage.
    John Bonnes was also in attendance for this one.
    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Quad Cities 8, Cedar Rapids 5
    Box Score
    Tyler Watson made the start for Cedar Rapids tonight and lasted just 3 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on four hits while striking out two and walking two batters. It was a tough night for a guy who’s been great in 2021. 
    Cedar Rapids got on the board first with Alex Isola recording his 12th double of the season to drive in Edouard Julien. A DeShawn Keirsey homer then answered a Quad Cities two-run blast in the 2nd inning to bring things back even.
    Getting down 8-2 by the the inning, Cedar Rapids had quite the hill to climb. Yunior Severino chipped away with a two-run double in the 6th inning, and Max Smith homered on a solo shot in the 7th inning. That three-run deficit was as close as they’d make it, however, and 8-5 is where this one ended.
     
    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Game 1: Dunedin 5, Fort Myers 4 (F/7)
    Box Score
    Scheduled for a pair of games Wednesday after a postponement on Tuesday, Casey Legumina took the mound in game one. He worked two innings allowing one run on one hit and one walk while striking out two batters. Fort Myers saw the bullpen give up a total of four runs in relief, but just a single run was earned.
    Ruben Santana gave the Mighty Mussels their first tally on a 3rd inning sacrifice fly to score Willie Joe Garry Jr. Trailing 5-1 entering the home-half of the 6th inning, Aaron Sabato blasted his fifth homer of the season, a three-run shot, to bring the Mighty Mussels back within one run. That’s where the rally ended, and Fort Myers came up short.
    Game 2: Fort Myers 6, Dunedin 5 (F/7)
    Box Score
    These two clubs tried making up for the weather issues last night, but a full second tilt wasn’t in the cards. Sean Mooney worked 2 1/3 innings and gave up two runs, just one earned, on a hit and three walks. He also struck out three batters.
    Down first again in this one, Sabato blasted his second of the evening, a two-run shot this time, to give Fort Myers the lead. Trailing 3-2 in the 3rd inning, Misael Urbina roped his fourth homer which scored Justin Washington and put the Mighty Mussels back on top. Sabato followed with a sacrifice fly to provide some breathing room.
    After the Mighty Mussels lead disappeared, Will Holland put them back on top for good with a solo shot, his seventh of the season, and the 6-5 lead held in the nightcap.
    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    FCL Orioles Orange, FCL Twins
    Postponed - Rain
    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day - Andrew Albers (St. Paul) - 7.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
    Hitter of the Day - Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) - 2-5, R, 6 RBI, 2 HR(6), 2 K
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain)
    #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #4 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain)
    #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-5, R, RBI
    #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 1-3, R, K
    #7 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR(2), BB, K
    #8 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Did not pitch
    #9 - Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) - 2-5, R, 6 RBI, 2 HR(6), 2 K
    #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, R, BB, K
    #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery)
    #12 - Bailey Ober (Minnesota) - Did not pitch
    #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    #14 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-5, 2 K
    #15 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR(4), BB, 2 K
    #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-3, R, 2 RBI, HR(9), K
    #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, 3 K
    #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) - N/A (foot injury)
    #19 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - Injured List (elbow)
    #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - Did not pitch
    THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Louisville @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) - RHP Drew Strotman (7-2, 3.73 ERA)
    Midland @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (3-2, 3.59 ERA)
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Ben Gross (4-0, 2.48 ERA)
    Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Landon Leach (0-0, 3.38 ERA)
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!

     
  6. Like
    dbminn reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Four Players the Twins Could Trade This Winter   
    Taylor Rogers
    It seemed like a certainty for a Taylor Rogers trade to occur before the deadline, but his recent finger injury made it tougher to swing a deal. He is still under team control for 2021, and there isn’t a guarantee the Twins will be in the race next season. On the most recent episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron Gleeman mentioned that multiple teams were interested in adding Rogers even with his injury. Relievers, especially late-inning options, are a valuable commodity, and Rogers seems like one of the most likely candidates to be dealt in the off-season.
    Byron Buxton
    Like Rogers, Byron Buxton trade rumors were swirling in the days leading up to the deadline. There are some similarities between the two players because they were both on the IL, and have one more year of team control. Minnesota made multiple contract offers to Buxton in the weeks before the deadline, but Buxton’s rejection of those offers means his name will be out there this winter. Nothing stops the Twins from revisiting a contract extension before other teams are offered him in a trade. That being said, a player with Buxton’s ceiling has the potential to draw trade interest even on an expiring contract. 
    Josh Donaldson
    Donaldson is a little trickier proposition when looking at potential trades because the Twins would need to pay down part of his contract to find a partner. By multiple metrics, Donaldson is having a solid season for the Twins as he has posted a 133 OPS+ for the second consecutive year. Health questions are part of the Donaldson equation, but he is on pace to play over 120 games for only the second time since 2016. It will take the right kind of team to get a Donaldson trade done, but more teams might be interested in him if he finishes the season healthy. 
    Max Kepler
    While the names above might be obvious, Kepler has the potential to be one of the organization’s most valuable trade assets. He is under team control through 2024, and the maximum he can earn is $25.3 million. As Twins fans know, it’s a very team-friendly deal, which might make other teams interested in adding him. He has value because he produces consistent numbers while also providing some defensive flexibility. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff’s emergence in the outfield make Kepler more expendable. Trading teams looking for a left-handed bat with multiple years of team control may be willing to part with the right package. 
    Which player do you think is most likely to be dealt? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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    dbminn reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, 5 Free Agent Options for the Minnesota Twins to Replace José Berríos   
    When the Minnesota Twins traded away José Berríos they gave away their most durable, consistent and talented pitcher they’ve had since Johan Santana. While the Twins will look to their farm system to fill in the gaps of the depleted rotation that Berríos left behind, they should also look to free agency to replace as much of the consistent, veteran arm of Berríos that they can. 
    When looking for a replacement for José Berríos, the Minnesota Twins will need to look for a pitcher who mirrors the age and upside of José Berríos. The Twins should be targeting a pitcher better than impending free agent names like Vincent Velasquez and Aaron Sanchez, but at the same time avoiding aging stars that do not fit the Twins’ timeline such as Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer.
    In looking at replacements for Berríos, let’s look at pitchers aged 30 or younger who have shown flashes of excellence. Acquiring a pitcher in this mold would ideally allow the Twins to replace ~85% of Berríos’s production on a cheaper contract than the Puerto Rican right hander will command after the 2022 season. Let’s get to the list...
    Marcus Stroman
    RHP
    30 years old
    2019 - 2021: 306.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 7.6 K/9
    Marcus Stroman was a name that many Twins fans wanted Minnesota to sign at the 2019 trade deadline and again in free agency last offseason. Stroman ended up being traded to the Mets in 2019 and then signed the qualifying offer last offseason, but will finally be a fully unrestricted free agent this winter. Stroman is currently having the best season of his young career with a 2.80 ERA in 122 innings with the Mets. Stroman is not a lights-out pitcher with top-notch velocity, but he limits damage extremely well with pinpoint control and a sinker that induces ground balls more than 50% of the time.
    Stroman is still only 30 years old and has the type of profile that figures to age well. Stroman will command some big-time offers in free agency but with numbers similar to José Berríos, the Twins have a unique opportunity to replace their former ace with a new one.
     
    Kevin Gausman
    RHP
    30 years old
    2019 - 2021: 288.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 10.7K/9
    Kevin Gausman was another name that Twins fans were looking at as a potential free agent option last offseason, only to miss out on him via the qualifying offer. Similar to Stroman, Gausman is in the midst of the best season of his career, with a 2.35 ERA and a 10.6 K/9. Gausman has a nasty pitch arsenal and the type of stuff that could play over the life of a 5 year contract.
     
    Noah Syndergaard
    RHP
    28 years old
    2019 - 2021: 197.2 IP, 4.28 ERA, 9.2 K/9
    Another name that was once linked to the Minnesota Twins, Syndergaard was talked about as a potential trade return for Byron Buxton when the Twins were looking for a starting pitcher at the 2019 trade deadline. Now a free agent, Syndergaard figures to be a name that will draw interest from many clubs. Syndergaard has elite stuff, highlighted by his fastball that can reach triple digits. What has held “Thor” back is injury, as he is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery he underwent at the end of the 2019 season. When healthy, Syndergaard can be one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball, and while his injury presents risk, it could also present an opportunity to get value on a potential contract.
     
    Eduardo Rodriguez
    LHP
    28 years old
    2019 - 2021: 303.0 IP, 4.40 ERA, 9.9 K/9
    Moving to the southpaws, Eduardo Rodriguez has been an underrated starting pitcher with the Boston Red Sox over the past number of years. Rodriguez is having a tough 2021 season, with an ERA of 5.60, but his underlying statistics show that he has been pitching much better than that. Rodriguez would bring a left handed pitcher to a rotation and farm system full of righties, and at just 28-years-old it’s fair to wonder if the Minnesota Twins could add some MPH to his low-90s fastball and unlock even more from the promising lefty. 
     
    Robbie Ray
    LHP
    29 years old
    2019 - 2021: 350.1 IP, 4.21 ERA, 11.7 K/9
    After a miserable 2020 season, Robbie Ray has rebounded in 2021 and is having a career year. After always having the strikeout arsenal, Ray has found his control and is walking a career-low 2.4 batters per 9 innings. Ray is only 29 years old, and if he has truly turned a corner in terms of his command, he could be an ace for the next half-decade and a great candidate to replace José Berríos.
     
    Which of these impending free agent pitchers would be the best replacement for José Berríos? Which do you think will command the least and most money on the free agent market? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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    dbminn reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - July 2021   
    Following a non-existent 2020 minor league season, the line between reliever and starter continues to be blurred for prospects. That being said, a few pitchers were used more regularly out of the bullpen and were able to separate themselves statistically. 
    Before exploring the top four relievers, here are three Honorable Mentions:
    Jordan Gore, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 8 walks, 21 strikeouts Osiris German, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 6 walks, 23 strikeouts Ryan Mason, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 0.82 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 10 H, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts.  THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS
    #4 - RHP Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 22 K
    Molina was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round back in 2017. He ended the 2019 season at High-A and that’s where he’s spent all of 2021. Things didn’t start off great for him during the 2021 campaign as he entered the month of July with a 5.46 ERA with opponents getting on base over 33% of the time against him. There were some positive signs as his strikeout totals were high (40 K in 29 2/3 innings). He seemed to put it all together in July as was asked to pitch two innings or more in every appearance. Opponents were only able to hit .190/.257/.286 (.543), and his five walks were the fewest he’s had in any month. Righties really struggle against Molina as he has held them to a .190 average with 35 strikeouts in 100 at-bats this season. His numbers could have looked even better if he hadn’t allowed two earned runs on the last day of the month.
    #3 - LHP Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints - 8 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 34 K
    Moran joined the Twins in 2015 as a 7th round pick from Puerto Rico, and the development of his dominant changeup have made him a reliever to keep an eye on. He made his first five appearances at Triple-A during July, where he is over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He posted some dominant numbers during the month as he faced a total of 71 batters and compiled 34 strikeouts. Yes, he struck out nearly 50% of the batters he faced during the month. Also, he was asked to pitch more than one inning in every appearance during July. Batters struggled to do anything against him as he held them to a .094/.183/.203 slash line. With him now in St. Paul, it is not hard to imagine him making his big league debut before season’s end. 
    #2 - LHP Denny Bentley - Fort Myers Mighty Mussels - 11 G, 1.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 8 H, 8 BB, 21 K
    Bentley, a 33rd round pick back in 2018, was the June Relief Pitcher of the Month, so it’s no surprise to see his name back near the top of the list. For the second straight month, batters hit under .145 against him and got on base only 25% of the time. All three of his earned runs this month came in one appearance as he was asked to make a spot start back on July 6. That means he ended the month with eight straight scoreless appearances. Even as a lefty, Bentley allows a .705 OPS against left-handed hitters, which is nearly 240 points higher than his OPS versus righties. Since he’s pitched at Low-A for the entire season, one has to wonder if he will make the jump to High-A during the season’s second half. 
    And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
    RHP Erik Manoah Jr. - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 20 K
    Manoah might not be a familiar name to Twins fans because he wasn’t even in the organization at season’s start. He began the year pitching in independent baseball as part of the Atlantic League, but he impressed enough to catch the eye of the Twins organization. Originally, he was a 13th round pick of the Mets and he pitched parts of three seasons for that organization before joining the Angels organization. He topped out at High-A with Los Angeles and ended 2019 pitching in the American Association. 
    As the calendar turned to July, Manoah was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he made an immediate impact. Across nine appearances, he only allowed one run and he held batters to hitting .140/.241/.180 (.421). Lefties have only been able to combine for a .313 OPS when facing Manoah. Also, he seems to buckle down in pressure situations as he has 24 strikeouts in 43 at-bats with runners on base. Because of his stints in independent leagues, all but one of his at-bats this season has come against younger batters. Other players might have quit after multiple years in independent leagues, but now he is back on the professional map. And yes, his younger brother Alek pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays.
    As the Twins have seen this year, an organization can never have too much relief pitching. All of these players had strong month and some may be worthy of promotions in the weeks ahead. 
    Congratulations to Erik Manoah Jr., the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2021.
  9. Like
    dbminn reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Is Jorge Polanco the Veteran Leader for the Twins Turnaround?   
    Jorge Polanco must have been riding high back in 2019 as he made his first All-Star Game as the American League’s starting shortstop. He finished that season with career highs in nearly every offensive category, and the Twins were at the top of the AL Central. Life was good. 
    In each of the last two offseasons, he underwent ankle surgery. Polanco’s clearly-hampered swing was evident as he played through the injury. During the 2020 season, he played in 55 of the team’s 60 games, but his slugging percentage dropped over 130 points compared to 2019. Over the team’s final 15 games, he posted a .167 batting average with two extra-base hits. 
    Entering the 2021 season, Minnesota’s offseason plan included moving Polanco from shortstop to second base. He has always been stretched defensively at shortstop, and the switch may also take some pressure off his ailing ankles. He has been good defensively as he ranks just outside the top-3 AL second basemen when it comes to SABR’s Defensive Index. While the defensive switch has worked, his offensive numbers are what really needed to improve.  
    Quietly, Polanco has rediscovered his swing during the 2021 season. Over the team’s last 70 games, he is hitting .297/.355/.524 (.879) with 15 home runs and 17 doubles. If the season ended today, there’s a good chance he would be named the team MVP. On a last-place team, that might not mean a lot, but it might be a sign of him being healthy for the first time in multiple seasons. 
    Polanco is signed through 2023 as part of his 5-year, $25.75 million extension, but vesting/team options can keep in Minnesota through 2025. If he stays with the Twins, he will turn 31-years old in 2025, and the team would control the majority of his prime years. By being with the organization for this long, he also has the opportunity to be the veteran presence on a team that will include a young core of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and other prospects yet to debut.
    Over the last decade, veteran players like Nelson Cruz, Brian Dozier, and Torii Hunter took on the team leader role to help nurture young players and be the contending team's voice. Polanco hasn't taken on that role yet, but looking into the future makes it easier to imagine him taking on the leadership role the future Twins will need on and off the field. 
    Do you think Polanco is the right veteran leader for the Twins turnaround? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     
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  10. Like
    dbminn reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, The Twins Bought Low on Austin Martin   
    Austin Martin is a highly-regarded prospect and has been since well before he was drafted 5th overall by Toronto in 2020. Many evaluators even saw Martin as the top hitter of the entire draft. He was arguably the most talented prospect to change jerseys at this year’s deadline as well. Making it all the more incredible is the Twins not only received Martin in their Berrios deal, but also another top 100 prospect in right handed pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson. It seemed too good to be true at the time, and it may be worthwhile to consider how the Twins talked the Blue Jays into parting with a player who was drafted 5th overall just a year ago.
    Contact Concerns
    In his senior season at Vanderbilt, Austin Martin struck out just twice in 69 plate appearances against some of the best collegiate pitching in the country. It set him apart from the typical college masher as a savant when it came to bat-to-ball skills. Such a skillset comes with a high floor which is likely why Toronto was aggressive enough to assign Martin to AA in his professional debut in 2021.
    His 2021 season hasn’t been a complete disaster, but it has raised some eyebrows. Martin has struck out over 20% of the time which was an outcome not many scouts saw coming. Some attribute it to his passive approach which while leading him to a near 15% walk rate, may also get him unnecessarily deep into counts that he can’t battle his way out of. Martin may need to find a happy medium between drawing his walks and being just aggressive enough to take advantage of hittable pitches early in counts.
     
    Impacting the Baseball:
    You typically hear of prospects “flashing plus power”, whereas Martin has been cited to flash average power. Given his eye at the plate and impressive bat-to-ball skills, the Twins won’t need him to become a 40 home run hitter in order to be a success. That being said, his .383 slugging % in 2021 paired with an 8 mph drop in average exit velocity has been enough to cause worry among some scouts. It’s easier to develop power as a player ages than it is elite contact ability, and the Twins will be counting on Martin to do so to some extent as he continues to inch closer to the Major League level.
     
    Defensive Future:
    By almost all accounts, Martin is not the Twins shortstop of the future. While athletic and soft handed, his arm may be lacking for the most important position in the infield. While listed as a shortstop, he played third base for much of his senior year before being moved to center field due to throwing issues by year’s end. Scouts have yet to come to much of a conclusion in regards to Austin Martin the center fielder.
    The Twins will surely get a closer look at their new top two prospect at shortstop, but don’t be surprised to see them pivot to trying him as an heir to the center field position in the case of a Buxton departure. A player of such a skillset just doesn’t slot in well to the traditionally power-heavy corner positions in the outfield. Such a lack of clarity on a defensive future is enough to rub some of the prospect shine away on a 22 year old. 
     
    Austin Martin is certainly an incredibly exciting prospect and one that isn’t too far off from the Majors in all likelihood. There are further questions that have been raised in the last year about his ceiling however that without a doubt contributed to the Twins ability to receive both him and a highly-regarded pitching prospect. 
    The front office admitted they were enormous fans of Martin during the 2020 draft but had no shot at drafting him. While his stock hasn’t crashed, Falvine and company have bought relatively low on a prospect that caught their eye a year ago and now have the opportunity to develop a possible cornerstone of the next great Minnesota Twins team. Can the Twins come out on the winning end of the gamble they made on trading away their home grown ace?
     
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  11. Like
    dbminn reacted to Matthew Lenz for an article, Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Hitter of the Month - July 2021   
    After Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz took home the prestigious title in May and June, respectively, we will have a new award winner for the month of July. Before we announce the winner, let’s look at a group of honorable mentions for the month.

    Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez
    Arraez missed some time in July, otherwise he’d be higher on this list, but he was still one of the most productive Twins of the month. In the month of July, he had the highest batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.415) of his career in months where he had at least 40 at-bats. Due to the time he’s missed this year, he’s currently about 50 plate appearances short of being a qualified hitter but he would rank 13th in the league in batting average if he had the minimum number of plate appearances. He gets bonus points for the crafty slide he showed on July 19th against the Chicago White Sox
    Honorable Mention #2: Josh Donaldson
    At 35-years-old, it’s safe to assume that Donaldson’s MVP days are behind him but that was probably an unfair bar to hold him to in the first place. Over the last two months, Donaldson has been one of the Twins best hitters smashing 11 homeruns with a .929 OPS. Although Donaldson slowed a bit in July and missed some time, he still accrued 0.5 fWAR with three homeruns and a .854 OPS. Included in his three home runs from the month was this 446 foot moon shot against off of José Cisnero where he broke through some career milestones.
    Honorable Mention #1: Max Kepler
    Kepler has struggled since his impressive 2019 season, but he hit well in July hitting one double, one triple, and a team-leading eight homeruns. He ended the month slashing .228/.290/.522 with a wRC+ of 118. Most notably, he became the all-time leader in walk off hits with this bloop against the Tigers that scored utility pinch runner Kenta Maeda in extras.
     
    Many thought that Kepler might get traded at the deadline and it even sounds like they had some preliminary talks with the Yankees. Alas, he’ll keep manning Centerfield and Right Field for the foreseeable future as the Twins begin a (hopefully) mini rebuild.
    Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco
    This was quite easy. In the month of July, Polanco slashed .327/.366/.548 with a wRC+ of 149 and this is now two plus months of solid play from the Twins second baseman. 
    It seems that part of Polanco’s rebound can be thanks to a healthy ankle, and I wonder if shifting to second is a little easier on the joint. Regardless, this is an important development for a player who is under contract until 2024-2025 and could theoretically be a contributor to the next competitive window for the Twins.
  12. Like
    dbminn reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - July 2021   
    Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Four Starters for July, there were some other solid starting performers that just missed the cut. Let’s discuss the top starting pitchers in the organization in July. 
    HONORABLE MENTION
    RHP Ben Gross - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 G, 3 GS, 21.0 IP, 2.14 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 14 H, 4 BB, 25 K RHP Jordan Balazovic - Wichita Wind Surge - 5 GS, 28.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 21 H, 11 BB, 31 K. THE TOP FOUR STARTING PITCHERS
    #4 - RHP Giovahniey German - FCL Twins - 5 GS, 16.2 IP, 1.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9 H, 7 BB, 19 K
    German was born in Massachusetts but grew up in the Dominican Republic. The Twins signed him as a 16-year-old in 2017. He spent two seasons in the DSL. After missing the 2020 season, He came to the States this spring and was placed on the FCL Twins roster. His first start was June 28th and he gave up four earned runs in four innings. In his first start of July, he gave up three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Since then, he has tossed 13 1/3 innings and only allowed an unearned run. In his July 13th start, he tossed five no-hit innings and allowed two walks.    
    #3 - LHP Aaron Rozek - FCL Twins/Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels/Wichita Wind Surge - 5 G, 2 GS, 22.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 16 H, 2 BB, 29 K
    Rozek grew up a Twins fan in Burnsville. After high school, he went to Minnesota State-Mankato. He redshirted and then pitched four seasons for the Mavericks. He also played in the Northwoods League during his summers. He went undrafted in 2018 and has played independent baseball since. Until, that is, the Twins signed him in June. It’s been an interesting month. After two appearances in the FCL, including five shutout innings on July 3rd in which he struck out 11, he was moved to the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. He pitched three scoreless innings in relief and recorded a Win. He was then sent to Ft. Myers where he has pitched three times. He tossed five scoreless innings in his first start there and ended the month with a two-inning scoreless outing. The lefty rarely, if ever, touches 90 on a radar gun, but he mixes things up well to keep hitters off balance. 
    #2 - LHP Tyler Watson - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 G, 3 GS, 19.0 IP, 0.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 11 H, 7 BB, 17 K
    Watson spent most of the season’s first month in a piggybacking role, either starting and working three innings or coming on after the starting and working three innings. In June, he worked mostly as a more traditional relief pitcher, working two innings or less. His final appearance of June was a four-inning start, and his four outings in July  were all either four or five innings. His non-start, he came into the game in the second inning and pitched until the seventh inning. On the month, he gave up just two earned runs. He limited base runners. He was very good. Overall this season, the former Nationals prospect is 2-1 with a 1.68 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. 

    And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is (Drumroll, please...) 
    Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - RHP Louie Varland - 5 GS, 27.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 20 H, 8 BB, 36 K
    Louie Varland was a star on the diamond and on the wrestling mat in his years at North St. Paul High School. He stayed home and pitched for three years at Concordia University in St. Paul, the first two years with his brother Gus. Gus was the 14th round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2018. He was traded to the Dodgers earlier this year.  Louie was the 15th round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2019. He pitched in just three games that summer for Elizabethton. 
    He used the 2020 summer to get healthy, get stronger and gain velocity, and he did just that, hitting 100 mph on a radar gun before spring training. But for now, the intent for Varland is to be a starter, and he’s been fantastic. He began the season with Ft. Myers where he went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 10 games. In 47 1/3 innings, he walked 16 and struck out 76 batters. He made two July starts in Ft. Myers, but mid-month, he was promoted to HIgh-A Cedar Rapids. He has made three starts for the Kernels so far and is yet to allow a run. In 16 innings, he has given up just eight hits, walked seven and struck out 17 batters. His best start was in Cedar Rapids against Beloit when he gave up one hit and struck out nine batters in five scoreless innings. 
    Overall this season, the 23-year-old is 5-2 with a 1.56 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. In 63 1/3 innings, he has walked 23 and struck out 93 batters. 

    Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of July, Cedar Rapids RHP Louie Varland. 
     
  13. Like
    dbminn reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - July 2021   
    Here are the top four hitters for the month of July, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention. 
    HONORABLE MENTION 
    OF Keon Broxton - St. Paul Saints - 19-68, .279/.383/.618 (1.000) with 2 doubles, 7 home runs, 11 BB, 24 K.  IF Andrew Bechtold - Wichita Wind Surge - 21-78, .269/.374/.577 (.951) with 6 doubles, 6 home runs, 12 BB, 31 K. OF Max Smith - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 16-65, .246/.398/.538 (.936) with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 17 BB, 30 K. C Charlie Mack - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 19-55, .345/.419/.491 (.910) with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 7 BB, 11 K. OF Luis Baez - FCL Twins - 18-49, .367/.466/.551 (1.017) with 3 doubles, 3 triples, 5 BB, 11 K. C Alexander Pena - FCL Twins - 21-50, .420/.473/.520 (.993) with 5 doubles, 4 BB, 13 K.  OF Kala’i Rosario - FCL Twins - 26-80, .325/.360/.563 (.923) with 5 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs, 5 BB, 20 K.   
    THE TOP FOUR HITTERS
    Number 4 - Cedar Rapids Kernels - UT Michael Helman - 29-94, .309/.404/.521 (.925) with 6 doubles, 1 triples, 4 home runs, 14 BB, 20 K.
    Michael Helman was the Twins 11th round pick in 2018 after one season at Texas A&M. Previously, he had put up monster numbers at Hutchinson CC. His pro career started out well with 12 games in Elizabethton before playing 27 games at Cedar Rapids. Combined, he hit .361/.409/.510 with six doubles, two triples and four homers. He jumped to High-A Ft. Myers, but he hit just .197 in 82 before an injury ended his season. After a missed 2020 season, Helman began the season in Cedar Rapids, now the High-A affiliate. In 70 games, he is hitting .233/.332/.421 (.753) with 13 doubles and ten home runs. He’s also got 11 stolen bases. The increased power and his ability to play at least seven positions on the diamond have moved him back up prospect rankings. 
     
    Number 3 – St. Paul Saints - IF Drew Maggi - 21-81, .259/.355/.667 (1.022) with 6 doubles, 9 homers, 8 BB, 27 K.
    32-year-old Drew Maggi is in his third season in the Twins organization. His pro career began in 2010 when he was the 15th round pick of the Pirates. Since then, he also has played in the Dodgers and Cleveland’s system. After splitting 2019 between Pensacola and Rochester, he spent the 2020 season in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. In 56 games with the Saints this year, he has hit .238/.336/.481 (.818) with ten doubles and 11 homers, nine of which came in July. He had homers in the first four Saints games of July and seven in the first 12 games. 

    Number 2 - St. Paul Saints – IF Jose Miranda - 37-112, .330/.402/.571 (.973) with 9 doubles, 6 home runs, 13 BB. 22 K. 
    Jose Miranda was the Twins Daily choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month in both May and June. This month, his first full month with the Saints, he drops to second on the list despite putting up another great performance in July. 
    Miranda was the 73rd overall pick in the 2016 draft, one spot ahead of Akil Baddoo. Like Baddoo, Miranda was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Unlike Baddoo, Miranda was not selected. He spent two months in Double-A to start the season and was promoted to the Saints where he has played 29 games now. Combined, he is hitting .347/.410/.612 (1.022) with 18 doubles, 22 homers and 62 RBI. 
     
    And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:
    St. Paul Saints – OF Jimmy Kerrigan - 25-68, .368/.436/.735 (1.171), 4 doubles, 7 home runs, 9 BB, 23 K.   
    A Philadelphia native, Kerrigan stayed home and went to Temple University where he played two seasons. Then the school dropped its baseball program. He went to Virginia Commonwealth where he played well for two years but went undrafted. He played in the independent Frontier League before the Twins signed him midway through the 2017 season and played in Cedar Rapids. In both 2018 and 2019, he spent most of the seasons in Double-A with some time in Triple-A. He began the 2021 season at Double-A Wichita, but after just two games, he was promoted to the Saints. 
    In 62 games, he has hit .261/.353/.495 (.848) with eight doubles and 12 home runs. He also can play all three outfield positions well, and has a very strong arm. 
     
    We would like to congratulate St. Paul outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan, Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month for July 2021. Feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions.
     
  14. Like
    dbminn reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Game Score: Twins 8, Cardinals 1   
    Box Score 
    Bailey Ober: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (64 pitches, 44 strikes (68.8%))
    Home Runs: Jeffers (9), 
    Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (0.126), Bailey Ober (0.117), Miguel Sano (.109)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    The Return of Arraez
    Before Saturday’s game, the Twins announced that Luis Arraez was being activated from the Injured List. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul (will he finally make his Saints debut?). 
    He was put into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. It paid immediate dividends for the team. In the first inning, he came up with runners on second and third base. He gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. He added another RBI his second time up. With runners on first and second, he hit a double down the right field line. He added a walk later in the game. 
    Bailey’s Big Hit 
    Bailey Ober had not had an at-bat in a baseball game in eight years, since he and Vikings center Garrett Bradbury were starring at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina. He stepped to the plate, and on an 0-1 pitch, lined a single to right field for his first big-league hit. OK, softly lined a single to right field. It doesn’t matter. Congratulations to Ober! 
    The Twins' pitchers haven’t had a lot of hits of late. 
    More importantly, Bailey Ober pitched well. He began with three scoreless innings, and then in the fourth, he gave up a run but was able to limit damage with a big double play ball. Despite a 7-1 lead, Ober was due to bat for the third time but Willians Astudillo pinch hit and grounded a single through the infield to give the Twins an 8-1 lead.   
    Ober’s fastball sat between 92 and 93 mph, but he is able to get swings and misses with it up in the strike zone. Why? 
    As important, the Twins bullpen combined for five shutout innings. Jorge Alcala worked two innings, and then Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alexander Colome each pitched one inning. (see the bullpen usage chart below)
    Jeffers Jolts
    In the third inning, Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 7-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the season, but it was his third in his past two starts. Remember, he had two homers in that crazy, 17-14 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. 
    In his past nine games, Jeffers is 9-for-29 (.310) with two doubles, three homers and an OPS north of 1.000). 
    Since returning from the IL, Mitch Garver has played in five games and hit .278 (1.324 OPS) with two doubles, three homers and ten RBI.
    After both struggled mightily at the plate in April, Twins fans are now seeing what we thought we might from the Twins catching duo. 
    It feels appropriate to talk about the performance of Twins catchers on a night when Hall of Fame catcher Ted Simmons' number was retired by the Cardinals and a statue of his likeness was unveiled outside the stadium. 
     
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 10 0 0 23 0 33 Thielbar 13 16 0 0 0 14 43 Alcala 0 11 0 0 0 21 32 Gant 0 0 24 0 0 0 24 Colomé 16 0 0 0 0 16 32 Minaya 0 0 45 0 0 18 63 Duffey 11 7 0 0 32 0 50 Burrows 0 0 63 0 0 0 63
  15. Like
    dbminn reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Did the Twins Win or Lose the Trade Deadline?   
    DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman
    Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines.
    RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson 
    José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid.
    LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk
    Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least.
    RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff
    Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. 
    Who Wasn't Traded? 
    Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end.  
    There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues.
    Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022.
    Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline.
    Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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  16. Like
    dbminn reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin   
    1. Some felt Martin was the top player in last year's draft class.
    The Vanderbilt star ended up going to the Jays fifth overall, but plenty of outsiders (and I would imagine some insiders) viewed him as the best player available in the 2020 draft – both before and after it took place. 
    CBS Sports had Martin ranked No. 1 on their board ahead of the draft, one spot ahead of Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson, who ended up going first overall to Detroit. Months later, when The Athletic's Keith Law put together his preseason top prospect rankings for 2021, he remarked: "The best prospect in the 2020 draft class slipped to the Blue Jays, who picked fifth."
    This appears to be a fairly common sentiment, and it's not hard to see why analysts and evaluators would be high on Martin's potential. He had a monster collegiate career, marked by standout athleticism, defensive versatility, steadily increasing power, and ridiculous bat-to-ball skills. (In his COVID-shortened junior year, he struck out twice in 69 plate appearances.)
    "This bat at a skill position is pretty unusual and gives him some MVP upside," said Law in his writeup.
    2. Most prominent prospect publications now view him as the Twins' best prospect. 
    In our recently released midseason top 30 prospects update, we had Royce Lewis ranked as Minnesota's top prospect, which reflects the industry consensus now that Alex Kirilloff has graduated. Some outlets still view it that way – MLB Pipeline has Lewis ahead of Martin, though it's close (No. 13 versus No. 16 in the overall top 100 rankings), and FanGraphs has Lewis ranked No. 32 compared to Martin at No. 59.  
    That's one virtual tie, and one outlier. The rest of the big pubs view Martin more favorably than Lewis, and often by significant margins. Law's preseason rankings for The Athletic had Martin at No. 14, and Lewis at No. 46. (Law's updated midseason top 50 saw Martin move up to 12, with Royce not appearing.) Baseball America has Martin ranked 21st, and Lewis ranked 60th. Baseball Prospectus likes them both, but also gives Martin the edge: their preseason rankings had him at No. 22 with Lewis at No. 31, and the midseason top 50 bumped Martin up to 20 with Lewis sliding off. Said BP in their latest blurb on Martin: "There are too many ways he can provide value to a team for abject failure to be a possibility."
    It's difficult to assess the two in comparison right now. Martin is a 22-year-old getting his first taste of the majors at Double-A, whereas Lewis is out for this whole season and hasn't played since 2019. The bottom line is that they're both really high-caliber prospects and the Twins have a very healthy system with these two at the top.
    3. He could end up filling one of several positions of uncertainty for the Twins.
    One of the most intriguing things about Martin is his defensive fit. Like Lewis, his future in the field is uncertain, but as with Royce, that's not because he's bad with the glove – quite the contrary. Martin can play several different positions well, which is surely something that drew the Twins to him.
    This year at Double-A, he has split time evenly between shortstop and center field. By the end of his career at Vanderbilt, he was playing primarily third base. 
    Hmm... what are the most glaring positions of uncertainty for the Twins going forward?
    Well, there's center field, where Byron Buxton is heading into a walk year, and shaping up as an offseason trade candidate. Then there's shortstop, which is essentially unspoken for after Andrelton Simmons wraps his one-year deal. Oh, and let's not forget third base, where 34-year-old Josh Donaldson is a chronic injury risk and also could be shipped out next winter.
    Perhaps Martin's future is not as a full-timer at any one spot. The Twins love their flexibility, and it's probably not by accident that their top two position prospects embody such a quality. As R.J. Anderson wrote in Martin's pre-draft profile for CBS Sports: "A creative team could maximize his value by having him split time between the infield and the outfield, a la Whit Merrifield and Scott Kingery, among others."
    4. He posted a .500 on-base percentage over 76 plate appearances in July for the Class-AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
    Martin's pro career got off to a bit of a slow start, but he's improved with each passing month. 
    May: .265/.378/.353 June: .284/.402/.432 July: .296/.500/.352 Yes, you read that right: Martin reached base in 50% of his plate appearances this past month. Sandwiched in their was an appearance at the 2021 Futures Game, where he batted second and started at shortstop. You'll never guess: he reached base both times up.
    This speaks to Martin's offensive strengths. He's a natural-born lead-off hitter, with tremendous discipline, solid speed, and a knack for finding knocks. In his July slash line we also see Martin's biggest current shortcoming: the .352 slugging percentage – just one double and one triple in those 76 plate appearances. But the 22-year-old is still growing into his body and most scouts agree that power will come, and on-base skills like this are a lot rarer in today's game than slugging prowess.
    5. He's the best minor-league talent the Twins have acquired in decades.
    I mean, time will tell whether this ACTUALLY proves to be true. But if you look at prospect rankings and available evidence when moves were made, it's hard to find a precedent for the Twins making an acquisition like this. 
    The closest example would have to be Delmon Young, who was viewed as one of the best prospects in baseball before the Twins traded Matt Garza for him, but he'd already played a season and change in the big leagues. (Not a great precedent, obviously, but Martin and Young are polar opposites as players.) 
    Outside of that, who would even qualify in this discussion? Carlos Gomez was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana package, and was highly regarded as a prospect but not on the level of Martin. (Gomez ranked No. 52 according to BA and No. 65 according to BP when the Twins acquired him, and also, he'd already played some in the majors.) How far back do you have to go to find a real comp for Martin? Back before the days of prospect rankings really even being a thing, I would think. 
    The bottom line is, this organization has rarely ever brought in a prospect of this caliber because they've rarely been willing to do what it takes to land one. In Martin, the Twins added a true prize with legitimate franchise-altering potential. Now that's how you sell at the deadline.
    It doesn't take away the sting of losing a cherished fixture in Berríos, but makes it a whole lot easier to stomach.
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  17. Like
    dbminn reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Five Takeaways for the 2021 Twins   
    We still have a ways to go, and while there is no August waiver trade period in 2021, Rocco Baldelli’s roster should continue to get a shake-up over the next few weeks. Cycling in different hitters and pitchers when attempting to find future opportunities, this club can also look back on what has been and begin making assessments for 2022 and beyond.
    While not all the biggest storylines, here are five key takeaways from what we’ve seen to this point:
    Miguel Sano is inconsistently consistent
    Through 21 games to start the year, Sano owned a .119/.280/.209 slash line. Over his next 38 games from May 15 through June 30, he held a .233/.280/.549 slash line. Then, in July, he’s owned a .246/.325/.478 slash line across 20 games. He’s got a .737 OPS in 79 games this year and has paired that with 17 homers and a .291 OBP.
    If you’re looking for Miguel Sano to be the mega-prospect he once was considered, that’s probably on you at this point. The slash line still leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s got a 103 OPS+ and has not wavered on a solid sense of plate discipline. Timing continues to elude him for frustrating stretches, but he’s also capable of going on an absolute power tear.
    Should the Twins find themselves back in a position of strength throughout their lineup, a bat like that in the bottom half is hardly something to scoff at. He’s owed $9.25 million in 2022, and that’s an overpay but not to the extent of being ultimately damaging and acting as a primary designated hitter; that may be the role he’s always been destined for anyways.
    Nick Gordon has utility
    I was convinced that opportunity had passed the Twins former first-round pick by for quite a while. I knew he could play at the big-league level but wasn’t sure it would happen in a Minnesota uniform. Now I’m more convinced that it needs to continue.
    He’s still the same player he’s been throughout the minors. A soft-hitting speedster that will occasionally run into one, this is a singles hitter that has the instincts to swipe bases. Add in the utility he’s provided by learning centerfield on the fly, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster in 2022.
    Gordon may find a bit more success in year two when it comes to batting average; he’s made a career out of taking steps forward after acclimating to a level. Even if he doesn’t, though, speed on the bench is something Minnesota hasn’t had, and the combination of being a lighter version of Chris Taylor is a good thing for any roster to have.
    Mitch Garver can still mash
    To say that 2020 was disastrous for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. The Twins Silver Slugger winning catcher posted a terrible .511 OPS and hit just two homers in 23 games. Things started slow for him in 2021, with a .517 OPS being toted through 17 games.
    In his last 29 games since April 28, with a severe injury mixed in there, Garver has slashed .299/.449/.740 with nine homers and a 20/19 K/BB. The life-altering foul tip he took was incredibly scary, but as rehab progressed and healing took place, he’s been back behind the dish and picked up where he left off. Even after being plunked by a pitch on his hand recently, it’s fair to dream of the production that will soon return.
    Garver is a late-blooming prospect, so he’s going to age relatively quickly, but this is the anchor of a tandem behind the dish that Twins fans were hoping for.
    The pitching staff needs an overhaul
    Minnesota owns the fourth-worst pitching staff in baseball by fWAR in 2021. The starters rank 24th, and the relievers are 25th. The entire unit has been a complete abomination. With the uncertain status of Jose Berrios’ future and veterans like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda being done this offseason, the rotation will be in flux.
    Taylor Rogers sapped his trade value with a finger injury just days ago, but whether he was dealt or not, the rest of the bullpen remains a complete question mark. None of the signings made by the front office have worked out, and while they were short-term pacts, a re-do is less exciting when considering just how many times they missed over the winter.
    Derek Falvey has long been lauded for his ability to develop and identify pitching. Minnesota has a farm system rich with names attached to arms, but none have begun to bear fruit, and plenty are currently injured. For this organization to thrive at the highest level, it’s going to need to start on the mound once again, and they’re going to be doing so from next to nothing for 2022.
    Corner rookies are real
    In a season where winning takes a back seat, the best way to prevent it from becoming lost is by watching your youth thrive. Alex Kirilloff is done for the year after having wrist surgery, but it’s pretty realistic to call his rookie campaign a success. The top prospect came up early and handled his own. He’s not an ideal fit in the outfield, but he’ll play at first base, and the bat is every bit as advertised.
    Trevor Larnach joined Kirilloff sooner than expected, but it’s hard to pick apart much of what he’s done this season. Even while slumping of late, the 24-year-old owns a .322 OBP and has shown plenty of power potential. He’ll run into more baseballs as his career progresses, and the discipline in the box has been a sight to behold.
    These are both pillar players that Minnesota needs to see as foundational cornerstones of future lineups, and early returns should suggest they are both capable of doing just that.
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  18. Like
    dbminn reacted to David Youngs for an article, Minor League Report (7/28): Bombas Across the Board   
    TRANSACTIONS
    There were no reported transactions today.
    SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 10, Indianapolis 5
    Box Score
    One of just three teams in the Triple-A Midwest Division with a winning record, the Saints looked to gain ground on Toledo (41-30) against Indianapolis on Wednesday night. 
    After Indy put two on the board in the top of the first, the Saints responded with a run of their our in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Rob Refsnyder laced a double to right field to continue his red-hot rehab assignment. Ben Rortvedt followed suit with a single to left that scored Refsnyder to cut the lead to one.
    And while the run in the first got the party started, the main act took place in the third and fourth innings for St. Paul, racking up seven runs in the two innings. Sensational prospect Jose Miranda led off the third inning with his ninth home run on the season to knot the game at two. Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Sherman Johnson knocked his fifth double of the year, plating all three runners to give the Saints a 5-2 lead. 
    Miranda once again led the offensive forge in the fourth inning, knocking a double to left. After a Mark Contreras walk, Refsnyder crushed a homer over the right field wall to expand the St. Paul lead to 8-2.
    And while extra-base hits and the long ball dictated the Saints’ scoring early on, the club would add two more insurance runs in the seventh thanks to a pair of singles from Rortvedt and Jimmy Kerrigan. 
    Miranda, Rortvedt, and Refsynder all tallied multi-hit games for the Saints. Miranda now has a .355 batting average, the highest on the team. 
    The offensive at CHS Field was nothing short of spectacular for the Saints on Wednesday night. Yet many fans may wonder why starting pitcher Charlie Barnes only tossed one inning on the night. No, it’s not an injury or trade situation. It’s probable that the Twins will need Barnes’ arm later this week given the excess of pitchers the major league club has used in the past few days and the trade deadline. 
    And while Barnes wasn’t amazing in his one inning, the Saints bullpen sure was. Yennier Cano (W, 1-1), Jovani Moran, Ian Hamilton, and Kyle Barraclough combined for eight innings of three run ball, giving up only three hits and striking out nine. Well done, gentlemen!
    The Saints’ second straight win puts them at 39-34 on the season. Unfortunately for St. Paul, Toledo also won on the evening, keeping the club three games above the Saints in the standings. Yet if there’s one thing for sure it’s that the Saints are starting to get hot when it matters. 
     
    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 8, NW Arkansas 5
    Box Score
    A night after scoring a season-high 18 runs the Wind Surge brought the bats to the Walmart-state once again on Wednesday night.
    Andrew Bechtold got the frenzy started in the second inning thanks to a leadoff double. BJ Boyd followed that up with his own double, scoring Bechtold from second.  Aussie Aaron Whitefield decided to one-up Bechtold and Boyd with his fourth triple on the year, scoring Boyd. Whitefield scored on the next at-bat thanks to a failed pick-off move. 
    Boyd continued his hot night with an RBI single in the third, scoring Spencer Steer from second to make it 4-0.
    After NW Arkansas gained a run back in the fourth, the Surge turned on the jets in the fifth for a four-run inning. Spencer Steer knocked a two-run homer to extend the lead to 6-1 and BJ Boyd followed up with a solo-shot of his own. Trey Cabbage finished off the strong inning by doubling in Aaron Whitefield to give Wichita an 8-1 lead.
    Starting pitcher Austin Schulfer was excellent through five innings, giving up only three hits and one run while striking out eight. Schulfer ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up back-to-back homers before striking out his final batter of the night. Schulfer has been an absolute workhorse for the Surge all season, leading his team with 16 total starts. 
    After Schulfer left the game the Wichita bullpen sprung into action. Zach Neff, Jordan Gore, and Ryan Mason were electric, allowing zero runs in 3.2 innings while striking out six. Mason now has six saves on the year. 
    Wichita’s win puts them at 43-31 on the year, a steady 3.5 games ahead of Arkansas for the lead in the Double-A Central North Division. The Surge are 7-3 in their last ten games and have a +46 run differential on the season. 
     
    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 9, Wisconsin 6 (8)
    Box Score
    Three-hit performances from Wander Javier and Matt Wallner propelled the Kernels to a high-scoring win over Wisconsin on Wednesday night in a shortened game due to rain. 
    Wallner continued his dominant return with a two-run homer and a double and Javier laced two singles and a triple to push the Kernels to a 42-32 record in the High-A Central West division. 
    The Kernels got things going in the second inning thanks to a Jair Camargo double that scored Yunior Severino to put the Kernels on the board. And after Wisconsin plated three of their own runs in the third, Cedar Rapids responded with seven runs in the fifth and six innings. 
    Michael Helman led off the fifth with a leadoff first-pitch triple to center field to get the rally started. Two batters later Edouard Julien launched a homer over the right-center field wall to tie the game at three. Seth Gray followed suit with a single and was later scored by Javier’s triple. 
    The fifth inning was only a sneak peak to what the sixth inning would offer from the Kernels’ bats. After a Helman walk Max Smith smacked his fifth homer of the year to give Cedar Rapids an 8-5 lead. Matt Wallner would follow suit with his own two-run shot in the inning to add some insurance to the Kernels’ lead. 
    Wednesday proved that the Cedar Rapids offense is firing on as good of cylinders as they have all year. Yet there were still moments of brightness on the pitching staff that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Starting pitcher Jon Olsen struck out four batters, and relievers Derek Molina and Osiris German struck out a combined seven on the night. 11 K’s on the night for a staff? Not bad.
     
    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Game Postponed
    Wednesday’s scheduled game at Clearwater was postponed due to rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Thursday. Game one will begin at 3:00 pm CST and game two will begin shortly after the completion of game one. Both games will be seven innings. 
     
    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    No Game 
    The Florida Complex League Twins had an off day. However, multiple players have had standout seasons so far.
    Right fielder Ka’lai Rosario is off to a hot start, slashing .293/.333/.533 (.867) in 75 at-bats. The Hawaii native is among league leaders in a number of stats. He’s tied for fourth-most hits (22), is second in RBI (21),  and leads the league with four triples.  While he doesn’t have the at-bats of Rosario, first basemen Alexander Pena has been electric, slashing .426/.481/.532 (1.013) with 20 hits and five doubles.  RHP Giovahniey German has been solid through his first four starts, going 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Opposing hitters have just a .219 AVG when facing German. Throw 'em the heater, Giovahniey! The GCL Twins return to action tomorrow afternoon, facing the FCL Pirates Black at noon. 
     
    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day- Ryan Mason (Wichita)- (S, 6) 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, SO
    Hitter of the Day- BJ Boyd (Wichita)- 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, SO
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain)
    #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) –Did not play 
    #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain)
    #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB
    #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – Game postponed 
    #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – Did not play
    #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch
    #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – Game postponed
    #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 3-for-5, 2B, HR,  2 R, 2 RBI, SO, 
    #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery)
    #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – Did not pitch
    #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) –Did not pitch
    #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 2-for-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB
    #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – Game postponed
    #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI
    #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 3-for-5, RBI
    #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury)
    #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow)
    #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch
    THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Indianapolis @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – RHP Matt Shoemaker (1-0, 2.77 ERA)
    Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05PM CST) – LHP Bryan Sammons (2-3 6.29 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (7:05PM CST) – LHP Tyler Watson ( 2-0. 1.87 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater- Game One (3:00PM CST) – LHP Brent Headrick (3-4, 3.44 ERA)
                                                 Game Two (makeup from July 28) - RHP Landon Leach (0-0, 2.25 ERA)
  19. Like
    dbminn reacted to Andrew Thares for an article, Game Score: Tigers 17, Twins 14   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Happ 3.0 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
    Homeruns: Sano 2 (17), Jeffers 2 (8), Kepler (14), Rooker (4), Polanco (15)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Happ -0.321, Minaya -0.158, Kepler -0.154 
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    J.A. Happ’s Horrendous Start
    It has been far from a good season for offseason signing J.A. Happ, who put together arguably his worst outing of the season, yes even as bad as his start against the White Sox back in May. By the time the plug was finally pulled on Happ, the game was seemingly well out of reach. After giving up a couple of baserunners, but no runs in the first, Happ surrendered four singles and a walk in the second that gave the Tigers the early two run lead.
    Happ then had a strong three-up-three-down third and appeared to get his start back on the right track. That was before all hell broke loose in the fourth. To start the top of the fourth, the Tigers offense started the inning by going single, walk, double, single, single, walk, double before Rocco Baldelli finally came out and ended J.A. Happ’s outing.
    Former Tigers first round pick Beau Burrows came in to relieve Happ, and got out of the inning, but not before allowing two sac-flies and an RBI triple, giving the Tigers an early 10-0 lead. Burrows would stay in the game and pitch a scoreless fifth, after the Twins bats somehow got them back in the game, but then let the Tigers build on their lead again in the sixth. He gave up two walks to begin the inning, before Zack Short hit an RBI double. Burrows then got the next two guys on flyouts, the former being a sac-fly, before Grayson Greiner ripped another double off Burrows giving the Tigers what was at the time a 13-6 lead.
    Twins Monster 4th Inning
    After the Tigers appeared the bust the game completely wide open in the top of the fourth, the Twins bats made the game interesting after a big inning of their own. Miguel Sano got the scoring started with a leadoff solo home run to center field.
     
    After the Sano home run, which was nice to see, the game still felt very much not in the balance. That, however, would all change just four batters later. After the Sano home run, Trevor Larnach, Willians Astudillo and Nick Gordon all hit singles to set the table for this Ryan Jeffers grand slam!
     
    The Twins bats were not done after that, as they continued to pile on the hits. After Andrelton Simmons lined out to right, Max Kepler was hit by a pitch and that was the end of the road for Tigers pitcher Wily Peralta, who was replaced by Kyle Funkhouser (great name). Funkhouser did not find any more success, as Rooker, Polano and Sano all proceeded to get singles off of him to begin his outing, cutting the Tigers lead to four and giving the Twins bases loaded and just one out. They failed to capitalize on this, however, as Trevor Larnach struck out and Willians Astudillo grounded out to end the inning.

    Twins Coming Roaring Back in the 8th
    Yes, I know that was a bad Tigers pun, but it was a long game. With the Twins still down 13-6 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Twins bats exploded for a second time in today’s ballgame. Max Kepler, who has been swinging the bat a lot better in July, got the inning started with his fourteenth home run of the season, and that would not be even close to the last home run the Twins would hit this inning.
     
    Then it was Brent Rooker’s turn to stay hot, after he’s been tearing it up in St. Paul this year to the tune of 19 home runs and an OPS of .908 in 61 ball games for the Saints. In total, Rooker has hit 23 home runs in just 75 games played between the Saints and the Twins this season.
     
    Now down 13-8, it felt like the Twins were still in the ball game, and that feeling became even stronger once Jorge Polanco drew a walk to get on base for what was the most no-boudt of all no-doubters that has ever come off the bat of Miguel Sano, and that is saying something.
     
    According to Statcast, that home run left Miguel Sano’s bat with an exit velocity of 114.8 MPH and a launch angle of 30 degrees, traveling an estimated 473 feet into the third deck in left-center. Truly a mammoth home run, even by his standards. 
    The Twins bats did not slow down after that, as they continued to use the long ball to get back into this ballgame. After a Willians Astudillo double, sandwiched between a Tevor Larnach fly out and a Nick Gordon strike out, Ryan Jeffers blasted his second home run of the game, bringing the Twins back within one.
     
    Juan Minaya Shines Until Things Fall Apart in the Ninth
    After the struggles of J.A. Happ and Beau Burrows, Juan Minaya was a refreshing change of pace for the Twins on the mound, when he entered the game to start the seventh. He began his outing by retiring all six batters that he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, and came back out to pitch the ninth, after the Twins had just made it a one-run ball game. He got the inning started off strong by striking out Harold Castro, before walking Grayson Greiner. After a quick mound visit, Minaya seemed to get back on track as he struck out Akil Baddoo for the second out of the inning.
    That is when things fell apart on Minaya, who was arguably left in the game a bit too long, especially with the Twins back in it. With two outs, the Tigers proceeded to get a single and a walk to load the bases for Eric Haase, who promptly delivered with a bases clearing double to bust the game back open for the Tigers. He would then come around to score on the next batter, when Jeimer Candelario hit a double of his own, giving the Tigers a 17-12 lead.
    It is worth noting that none of the Tigers 17 runs in today’s ballgame were scored on a home run.
    Jorge Polanco Gives Twins a Glimmer of Hope in the Ninth
    Given all that had happened today, a five run lead in the ninth did not seem insurmountable for the Twins. After all, they already had two six run innings, so why not a third and the way the inning started it appeared as though that was possible. Brent Rooker leadoff the inning with a hard fought walk and was immediately followed by a home run off the bat of Jorge Polanco, the Twins seventh of the ballgame.
     
     
    That comeback effort would not come to fruition, as Miguel Sano and Trevor Larnach would both strike out and Willians Astudillo would ground out to end what was not only an incredible game, but an incredible series.
    Bullpen Usage Chart

    What's Next
    The Twins are off on Thursday before traveling to St. Louis to begin a three-game series with the Cardinals. Jose Berrios is scheduled to be on the mound for the Twins, though that is still very much up in the air depending on what happens with the trade deadline fast approaching.
  20. Like
    dbminn reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Trade Deadline Preview: The Seattle Mariners   
    What's Their Situation?
    When writing the title for this article, I thought to add a question mark after the word "Mariners." Such a thing would have served two purposes. The first would have reflected the surprise some may have when they realize that the Seattle Mariners are in wild card contention (1.0 games out as of Tuesday morning), with the second being the enigmatic future of the team. Will they buy? Will they sell? Quite honestly, I am not even sure that Jerry Dipoto knows. On Tuesday, they swung their first major deal in an odd swap with the Astros that, according to Dipoto, will make sense once all of their planned deals have been completed. The team was also in on Adam Frazier before San Diego, as per usual, swooped in to pick him up. In the dead of night on Tuesday, Tyler Anderson was swiped from under the Phillies nose. Knowing Dipoto’s love of deals, we are in for some truly wild stuff.
    What Do They Need?
    Bats, and a lot of them. The team has just a 91 wRC+ as a whole as their team batting average infamously dipped below the Mendoza line for a portion of the year. They have somewhat rebounded as their wRC+ since the start of June is 100, but holes still exist at significant positions. 
    Second base has been a particularly nasty position for them as either Dylan Moore or Shed Long Jr. have participated there this season with little success. They also have no significant prospects at the position. 
    Beyond that, there is no real clear-cut need in the lineup. Many of the Mariners' position players are either in flux due to injuries or are just warming the spot of a significant prospect. Even with their poorly performing players, I find it challenging to put together a trade because the team is in such a major transition. Perhaps they usurp one of those prospects with an unexpected deal, but I do not see that happening. Again, I must stress that nothing is out of question with Dipoto, to the point that them bringing in Miguel Sanó or Max Kepler would not be out of the question.
    Their starting rotation, however, is more apparent as a point of concern. Yusei Kikuchi has been outstanding, and Logan Gilbert looks to be the real deal, but the rest is uninspiring. Chris Flexen is hilariously overperforming, Marco Gonzales has regressed, and Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield have been flimsy during their time in the majors. They have prospects to fill these spots, but most of them will not be ready until 2022 or beyond. They did fill a need by acquiring Anderson.
    Which Twins Are The Best Fit?
    In a beautiful twist, the best fit may be an ex-Mariner.
    Michael Pineda would be a consistent presence in a rotation full of youthful arms. He could provide the exact type of 5-6 inning guarantee that few other pitchers on their roster can promise. Depending on the price, the team may add him for a more negligible cost than what other, more major names may net.
    A shocking trade for José Berríos may not be out of play. The Mariners have well learned that pitching prospects are far from promises, and Jerry Dipoto is an absolute madman, so a move for an established arm could be in their plans. Still, Berríos looks to depart after 2022, and that kind of uncertainty will probably turn off a team looking towards the future.
    If you squint hard enough, then a surprising deal for Luis Arraez also may be in the cards. The second base position has been a black hole for the team, and they could use a long-term player with the ability to play third as Kyle Seager is unlikely to return following the end of the season. The team knows this as well-they tried to acquire Frazier, as mentioned earlier, and other second baseman have been connected to them Still, the Twins' asking price for Arraez and the Mariners' willingness to meet that mark are probably on two separate continents. 
    Beyond them, the team may look to add a bullpen depth piece like Tyler Duffey. Originally I had written Hansel Robles in here as well, but his performance on Tuesday reflects a player who is anything but valuable.
    Do you like pitching prospects? Good. Their top 7 or so prospects are likely untouchable, but beyond them, they have:
    Wyatt Mills: A 26-year-old pure reliever with enough funk to make George Clinton proud. Eric Longenhagen wrote that Mills' "combo of repertoire depth (though he's been exclusively fastball/slider so far in the big leagues) and command are both rare for a reliever." Yes, a pure reliever prospect is not the most exciting option, but he would satisfy a desperate need. 
    Sam Carlson: A 22-year-old Minnesota boy with upside. Carlson is almost entirely unknown as a prospect as a combination of Tommy John surgery and an absent minor league season in 2020 forced him to go four years between throwing a pitch in a professional setting. In any case, Carlson's pedigree as a 2nd round pick reflects an arm with potential.
    Matt Brash: A more typical hard-throwing righty with quality stuff. Brash is a prototypically modern pitching prospect who possesses great ability with questionable command. If he reigns it in, he's an All-Star; if not, he's a reliever. He can be yet another lotto ticket in the Twins farm.
    Review:
    Quite frankly, a trade with the Mariners made much more sense a week ago-when this article was first written. The Cruz trade and the Anderson deal have thrown any predictions out the window. All I can really say now is "be prepared for something weird from this team."
    The Mariners are genuinely in the great unknown as a team. All signs point towards them selling, but their record so far has gifted them a chance to become soft buyers in the hope that other franchises crash and burn around them. Players like Duffey, Pineda, and potentially Robles may be of interest to them. The partnership is certainly odd, but it would not be all too surprising if the two teams find a way to make a deal with each other. Remember, the Twins did trade Zach Duke to the Mariners in 2018, so a prior relationship does exist.
  21. Like
    dbminn reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (7/27): Everybody Hits, Sometimes...   
    After the MLB team’s disappointing collapse against Detroit, it will be a breath of fresh air to read about all the hits instead of hurts, so hold on and keep reading to find out just how many your favorite Twins prospects racked up on Tuesday night!
    TRANSACTIONS
    The Minnesota Twins recalled RHP Beau Burrows from St. Paul in advance of their game with the Detroit Tigers LHP Lewis Thorpe was sent to the FCL Twins on a rehab assignment from the Saints. After signing with the Twins on July 20th, LHP Chris Nunn was assigned to the Wichita Wind Surge. The Wind Surge also received LHP Sean Gilmartin from the Complex.  The Cedar Rapids Kernels released IF Yeltsin Encarnacion. The Twins released RHP Donny Breek from the FCL Twins.  SAINTS SENTINEL
    Indianapolis 1, St. Paul 16
    Box Score
    This one was seemingly over before the first inning finished as the Saints sent 11 men to plate in the opening inning, and eight of them crossed home plate. Rob Refsnyder and Jimmy Kerrigan did the bulk of that damage with home runs, while Jose Miranda and Drew Maggi added doubles in the onslaught.
    They continued the run parade in the second inning, tacking on five more thanks to a 2-run double from Ben Rortvedt, an RBI single from JT Riddle, and the second home run of the game from Kerrigan.
    Starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd handled it from there, holding Indianapolis to just two hits and one walk in seven innings pitched. He struck out four and picked up his fifth win of the season. Robinson Leyer allowed the only Indianapolis run in the eighth on a solo homer and struck out one. Ian Gibaut finished off the blowout with a scoreless ninth, walking one and striking out one.
    Six of the nine hitters in the St. Paul lineup collected multiple hits, with Miranda (3-for-5, 2 R, 2B) and Kerrigan (3-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI) leading the way with three each. Maggi had two doubles on the game, and Mark Contreras continued his strong July (.957 OPS in 16 games) with a double and scored three runs. In addition to the sixteen total hits as a team, all nine batters scored at least one run, and they combined to go 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left only three men on base for the game. 
    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita 18, NW Arkansas 8
    Box Score
    In a box score quirk I don’t recall seeing very often, if ever, the Wind Surge managed to score at least one run in every single inning of this game, including five of them with a crooked number. That resulted in another blowout victory as they improved to 42-31 on the season.

    Like their older brothers in triple-A, each hitter in the lineup scored at least one run, though Wichita one-upped their peers with seven hitters collecting multiple hits on the game.
    They were led by Spencer Steer who racked up five hits on the night, including three doubles and a triple. He also scored four runs and drove in four more. 

    Chris Williams wasn’t that far behind, finishing 4-for-6 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and five RBI. 

    B.J. Boyd (3-for-6, R, 2B, 4 RBI) and Leobaldo Cabrera (3-for-6, 3 R, HR, RBI, K) had three hits on the night as well. Trey Cabbage also hit his sixth  home run with Wichita and 15th overall this season. With 23 hits as a team, you have to open the box score link above to appreciate how dominant the Wind Surge lineup was throughout this game.
    Chris Vallimont made the start and wasn’t as sharp as you’d like in such a game, but you don’t need to be great when your offense piles up runs as they did. He went four innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks while racking up six strikeouts. Cole Sands came on for the fifth and went the next three innings, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk, striking out four.
    The recently-signed Chris Nunn made his organizational debut and went 1 2/3 innings. He worked around a walk with a pair of strikeouts for a scoreless eighth inning, but after three singles in the ninth, he was replaced by Joe Kuzia for the final out, a strikeout to punctuate the dominant win.
    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 5, Wisconsin 2
    Box Score
    Righthanded pitcher Louie Varland made his third start with the Kernels since his promotion and kept his ERA at a clean 0.00 in the "Midwest League" with another five strong innings. He allowed three hits, walked three, and struck out three while throwing 80 pitches (49 for strikes).
    While he was on the mound the Cedar Rapids lineup built him a 4-0 lead, mainly due to the loud bats of Edouard Julien and Matt Wallner, who each launched a home run in their three-run third inning.

    After Varland’s exit Breckin Williams (2/3 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and Erik Manoah Jr. (1 1/3 IP, ER, BB, 2 K) let the Timber Rattlers close the gap to 4-2, but Zach Featherstone righted the ship with two scoreless innings to close out the game. He walked two, struck out five, and picked up his fifth save of the season in the process.
    Wallner added an insurance run in the top of the eighth with his second home run of the game that made the final score of 5-2. Since his return from the injured list, Wallner has gone 8-for-22 (.363) with four home runs in six games, and his OPS is up to 1.103 on the season with the Kernels.
    In addition to Wallner, Cedar Rapids got multiple hits from Jair Camargo (2-for-4, K) and Michael Helman (2-for-4, R, SB) in the victory.
    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Fort Myers 7, Clearwater 1
    Box Score
    The Mighty Mussels, like the Saints above, got the scoring started early in this one, putting up three runs in each of the first and second innings.
    In the first inning, it was a three-run blast from Will Holland, his sixth of the year, that got them going. In the second it was an RBI single from Ruben Santana, a sac fly off the bat of Misael Urbina, and a solo homer from Keoni Cavaco to account for the early 6-0 lead.
    That was more than enough for the Fort Myers pitching staff, as starter Sawyer Gipson-Long held the Clearwater lineup to just three hits in seven innings. His lone run allowed was unearned, and he struck out nine compared to just one walk on the night. At one point he retired 11 men in a row and also finished his outing strong, striking out the last two hitters he faced.
    Burnsville, MN native Aaron Rozek finished the final two innings by retiring all six hitters he faced, including one strikeout, to seal the victory.
    The Mussels got multiple hits in the game from Holland (2-for-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K) and Santana (2-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, K)
    COMPLEX CHRONICLES
    FCL Orioles Black 7, FCL Twins 6
    Box Score
    The FCL Twins fought back from a 7-0 deficit but fell short, leaving the tying run 90-feet away in the bottom of the ninth. This was after Kala’i Rosario delivered a two-RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth that closed the score to 7-6 with just one out.
    LaRon Smith got the Twins on the board in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run blast, his fourth of the season. Alexander Pena delivered a two-run double in the seventh that made the score 7-4. Smith (2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB), Pena (2-for-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K), and Rubel Cespedes (2-for-2, 2 R, BB, SB) each collected two hits on the game.
    Lewis Thorpe was sent to the FCL Twins on a rehab assignment and started this one. He finished 2 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits while striking out three. Wilker Reyes surrendered the bulk of the damage in his 3 1/3 innings, being charged with five runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out three and recovered from the initial barrage to hold the Orioles scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings. Ramon Pineda delivered a scoreless seventh inning, and Samuel Perez finished the game for the Twins with a pair of one-two-three innings, including three K’s in the eighth.
    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day – Sawyer Gipson-Long, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (W, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 9 K)
    Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer, Wichita Wind Surge (5-for-6, 4 R, 3 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, K)
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    Please take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
     
     #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain)
    #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch
    #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain)
    #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 3-for-5, 2 R, 2B
    #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, 2 R, HR, RBI
    #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – 0-for-2, K
    #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch
    #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – Did not play
    #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 3-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K
    #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery)
    #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – Did not pitch
    #13 – Cole Sands Cole Sands (Wichita) – 3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K
    #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 3-for-4, R, 2B
    #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, RBI
    #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 5-for-6, 4 R, 3 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, K
    #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-4, 2 K
    #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury)
    #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow)
    #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 6 K
    WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

    Indianapolis @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes (5-3, 4.02 ERA)
    Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05PM CST) – RHP Austin Schulfer (2-7, 4.28 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (7:05PM CST) – RHP Jon Olsen (1-3, 3.40 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater (11:00AM CST) – LHP Brent Headrick (3-4, 3.44 ERA)
     
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
     
  22. Like
    dbminn reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Trade Deadline: GM For A Day   
    The Twins made their first big move sending Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay in exchange for two pitching prospects. 
    There were reports over the weekend that Byron Buxton won't be signing a contract extension with the club and rumors of willingness to listen on team-controlled players such as Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, and Max Kepler.
    So, where do we go from here?
    We're going to start with the players on expiring contracts.
    Trade Andrelton Simmons to the Reds for SS Gus Steiger. Steiger, who is from Minnetonka and played collegiately at South Dakota State, signed with the Reds as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and would provide organizational depth in Fort Myers. The Twins would send no cash in the deal, leaving the Reds on the hook for the remaining $3.5 million on Simmons' contract.
    Trade Michael Pineda to the Astros for P Misaell Tamarez. Tamarez has less than 75 professional innings under his belt and has a walk rate over six, but he also strikes out more than a hitter per inning and has some ceiling. Tamarez would join the Fort Myers staff, where he could start or relieve. The Twins would get all of next year to evaluate Tamarez before deciding whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster. Pineda has $3.4 million left on his contract, which the Astros would pick up. I'd also expect Big Mike to be back with the Twins on a two-year deal this offseason.
    Trade Hansel Robles to the Red Sox for RP Durbin Feltman. Boston will give up Feltman, who may help in a bullpen someday, for Robles, who will help them in the bullpen for the rest of the year. Robles is owed less than $700,000 for the remainder of the year. Feltman, who has seen his velocity dip since turning pro in 2018, is the type of prospect on who the Twins could take a chance. If they can unlock some of that lost velocity, there is a chance he could be added to the 40-man when first eligible this upcoming offseason.
    Trade J.A. Happ to the Phillies for a PTBNL or cash. Happ broke into the big leagues with Philadelphia in 2007 and can provide rotational depth. The return for Happ would likely be a little bit of cash to offset his contract. He's still owed just shy of $3 million. The Twins would stay on the hook for almost all of that. 
    The only other impending free agent is Alex Colome, who has been bad this year. If there's a team interested, he could be had for a meager price. Even if the Twins pay the remainder of his salary, the return will be low… in fact, it would be a win if someone else would be responsible for buying out his option.
    Before going on to the next - and definitely more debatable - part, one thing that needs to be discussed (because it will get a lot of consideration) is the 40-man roster. Except for Drew Strotman, none of the actual or projected returns to this point include someone on the 40-man roster. The Twins also have five players on the 60-day IL that will need to be activated this offseason. 
    Now, granted, the roster has several fringe-40-man players that can be removed, but the organization has to be very careful about the position they put themselves in with acquiring players. Part of the reason Tampa Bay was ok giving up two of their top prospects for Cruz likely had to do with the crunch they were going to face this offseason. (They probably would have lost Strotman on outright waivers.)
    Just by my quick estimation, there are eight players (seven pitchers!) that I think are more likely to get added to the 40-man than not either later this season or in the offseason. If the Twins are going to rebuild, they would be wise to acquire prospects who are at least a year away from needing to be added to the 40-man roster. 
    Whatever Taylor Rogers did to his finger last night puts his status on the trade market in question. If healthy - and if I were calling the shots - I would have him very available. But for this exercise, he will remain with the Twins.
    I'm not going to trade Josh Donaldson either. My stance would be that I would make him available, but I want a fair prospect return. The money complicates that. The Twins, in my opinion, will move Donaldson if someone is willing to take on the remainder of his contract. That will minimize the return. Josh Donaldson is too good of a baseball player just to give away.
    I'll listen on Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, but I don't see either getting moved. Kenta Maeda as well. For an overpay, I'd move every one of them.
    Now for the big dogs…
    Not only do I think Byron Buxton will not be moved, I believe a whirlwind Trade Deadline Week is going to be capped off with a Byron Buxton extension. Maybe it won't be Friday because the front office will be busy. But soon enough that the fanbase won't be able to check out for the year.
    Jose Berrios is a different story. Even a week ago, I wasn't convinced that Berrios was going anywhere. Now I've done a complete 180 and think there is no way he's not traded. And there's going to be a market. Take your pick…
    San Diego is aggressive, has prospects, and is forward-thinking enough to pull off another blockbuster. Would they include any of their four top prospects? Would MacKenzie Gore, who's been a mess lately, even be enough? Or would the Twins shoot for the injured CJ Abrams or Robert Hassell? Could the Twins bring back Eric Hosmer's bad contract to help the Padres out financially and ask for another top prospect too? 
    The Dodgers don't want to share the spotlight. Is it really a possibility that they offer Dustin May? If so, that is a conversation that needs to be had.
    Maybe the Giants won't want to be outdone, and though they can't offer a top-end pitching prospect, they do have prospect currency, including SS Marco Luciano and C Joey Bart. There should be enough interest that the Twins don't have to settle for prospects that aren't in the top tier.
    The AL East is also worth watching. Toronto (P Nate Pearson and SS Austin Martin) and New York (P Deivi Garcia) would both be able to move the needle.
    The NL East is just as interesting. The Mets have the prospects, but all are a few promotions from the major yet. (Plus, Kevin Mulvey is no longer available.) The Braves could be a match. 
    So what would I do….?
    I'd call Trader Jerry and make a deal with the Mariners. The basic framework would be Jose Berrios for P George Kirby. Kirby is a Top 20 prospect and hasn't reached AA yet (but will soon). 
    The Mariners are also in the market for an infielder. Does expanding the deal to include Jorge Polanco make sense? Would the Mariners have any interest in taking on Josh Donaldson? Does DiPoto want to roll the dice on Taylor Rogers being ready soon and helping out down the stretch?
    It would be hard to bet against the Mets, Dodgers, Padres, or Yankees in a bidding war, but the Mariners are a longshot who could make the best deal for both teams. 
    Maybe the holes these trades would create would have to be filled internally, which may not seem to scream "we're competing in 2022," but in a season with so many questions and so few answers, do we really want to be tricked into thinking that's possible anyway?
  23. Like
    dbminn reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Scouting Twins Prospects: Jose Miranda   
    A highly regarded prep prospect out of Puerto Rico, the Twins selected Miranda with the 73rd overall pick in the 2016 draft based on his projected ability to hit for power and average while providing solid defense at third base. However, Miranda largely failed to live up to his reputation before the 2021 season as neither his power numbers nor batting average ever reached the levels many thought they would.
    However, 2021 has been a much different story.
    As of this writing, Miranda is slashing .337/.398/.653 in 24 games with Triple-A St. Paul - he's reached base safely in all 24 games - and that's after hitting .345/.408/.588 in 47 games at Double-A Wichita. His 167 wRC+ is 10th among all MiLB players who have accumulated at least 150 plate appearances. Bump up the required plate appearances to 230, a number that should be easily obtainable for minor leaguers who play nearly every night and have remained healthy - Miranda has 331, for example - and he jumps up to fourth. 
    In essence, while the sample size is still relatively small, Miranda has displayed enough consistency at both the Double- and Triple-A levels to suggest that some level of his success is here to stay. His numbers will regress before the season winds down, but it's fair to say that FanGraphs needs to update his 35-grade hit tool and 30-grade game power.
    Miranda's 2021 season is likely the ceiling for what he can be at the major league level: 20-30 home run power with a high OBP and solid, versatile infield defense. That type of player is a multi-time All-Star, MVP candidate, and a cornerstone in the lineup for a contending team. However, the odds that he reaches his current production level while on an MLB roster remain slim.
    In all likelihood, Miranda won't reach his 100% outcome. A more likely scenario involves him developing into something more akin to former Twin Michael Cuddyer. Cuddy finished his career with 197 home runs and a .277 batting average across 15 major league seasons. It should be considered a wild success if Miranda develops into the next Michael Cuddyer.
    A significant reason why Miranda has been so successful this season and may continue to be in the future is his ability to control his bat head through the strike zone. 
    Miranda generates loft on pitches, even those down in the zone. He accomplishes this by keeping the barrel of his bat relatively parallel to the ground, which increases the surface area of the bat that may come in contact with the ball, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that a ball will be barreled rather than squibbed or popped up. 
    Suppose he can maintain his form while facing major league-level pitching and implement minor refinements to increase his power even more. In that case, Miranda should have no problem hitting 25 or more home runs per season and for a good average.
    Additionally, Miranda is solid in the field, particularly at third base.
    While he has seen time at first, second, and third base at both Double- and Triple-A, his future, or at least his near future, is most likely at the hot corner. He possesses enough arm strength to be at least average at third and could easily fill in for Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff at his other positions as needed.
    Miranda's emergence this season has allowed the Twins to think long and hard about trading current third baseman Josh Donaldson, and if (or more likely, when) they decide to pull the trigger, he may find himself on the next city bus to Target Field. If not this season, then next. 
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    dbminn reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Letting Byron Buxton Walk Will Haunt   
    In Minnesota baseball lore, David Ortiz is the equivalent of Boston's Bambino, or Wrigleyville's billy goat. The very mention of Big Papi causes a visceral shudder for any Twins fan within earshot, surfacing deep feelings of regret and lament. How differently things might have gone for the Twins had Ortiz stayed in Minnesota. (Aaron Gleeman wrote a fun "what if" article about this last year.)
    Naturally, the Ortiz example is invoked any time a promising Twins player departs unduly – the sports fan's equivalent of a PTSD reaction. Lingering fear of a recurrence envelopes us, clouding our judgment. In most cases, this apprehension proves unwarranted. Nonetheless, the Curse of Papi persists.
    You all know where I'm going with this: Is Byron Buxton the next David Ortiz??
    In some ways, it's a fitting parallel. Ortiz left Minnesota in his late 20s, having shown flashes of standout ability, before immediately blossoming elsewhere. In Boston, he emerged as a perennial MVP contender, postseason legend, and franchise icon. It's all too easy to envision the same path for Buxton, except therein lies the difference: you don't need to imagine it. Buxton already IS that guy. He was the AL Player of the Month in April and has been one of the game's best players on a per-game basis for the last three years. After a long and meandering path, he has finally reached his true potential as a top-shelf elite MLB player. 
    Yes, the injuries have remained a constant. But that's exactly why a long-term extension with Buxton would even be attainable right now for a team like the Twins. If not for the implications and associated risk of his health history, he'd likely be eyeing a deal outside of Minnesota's realistic scope. 
    It might seem odd when you're talking about offering more than $100 million to a player whose track record is as sparse as Buxton's, but the Twins should theoretically be able to secure a relative bargain here due to the circumstances. 
    Alas, the front office seems a tad too ambitious in its hunt for a bargain. The allure of signing Buxton long-term is that he can offer a potential impact on the level of a Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Fernando Tatis Jr., but at a fraction of the guaranteed commitment.
    That said, the clear value needs to be there for Buxton, who knows his level of ability, and it is evidently not. His camp rejected Minnesota's offer, which reportedly elevated from $73 million to $80 million in guaranteed money with a "unique incentive package." Sounds like those incentives were the sticking point. At this juncture we don't what was proposed or countered, so analyzing the negotiation is murky.
    Then again, it's also difficult to fathom what kind of request or suggested terms from Buxton's agent would make the Twins balk to the point they're giving up on an opportunity to secure this generational talent, at the precipice of true superstardom.
    A somewhat similar dynamic is at play with José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and is also looking ahead to free agency at the end of 2022. One can certainly argue that Berríos is more critical to the Twins' future, given their scarcity of high-quality arms. 
    But in a way, he is the antithesis of Buxton: ultra-reliable with a capped ceiling. Berríos has been one of the most durable and consistent pitchers in the game – steadily very good, just short of great, always available. Meanwhile, Buxton has improved every season in a setback-riddled career that's been full of ups and downs. He's just now reaching his full form, displaying game-changing greatness that is almost unparalleled.
    Yes, Berríos will be difficult to replace, in that arms like his don't come along often. The Twins certainly haven't proven adept at finding or developing them. But Buxton is irreplaceable in a more absolute sense. Athletes and human beings like him almost NEVER come along. His speed, power, and defense are off-the-charts good. He's one of the most entertaining players I've ever seen. And he's still getting better.
    I can see the rationale in moving on from Berríos. He's clearly intent on testing free agency and maximizing his earnings. There will be no discount or bonus-contingent contract in play there. And it's awfully hard for a mid-market team to build balanced contending rosters when paying one of their five starting pitchers $25+ million annually.
    Their everyday center fielder, though? One who's proven to be an MVP-caliber talent while on the field? And who won't even be reaching that salary range unless he's staying on the field enough to trigger incentives? 
    I'm struggling to understand why the Twins aren't stepping up here. Target Field was ostensibly built for the exact purpose of keeping a player like this. From available evidence, it doesn't seem like the team is making a particularly hearty effort to do what it takes to retain him. Whatever Buxton's side is asking for – $30-plus million in annual achievable salary, an early opt-out clause, lower-than-desired bonus thresholds – none of those should be deal-breakers.  
    Maybe there's still a way. Buxton said on Monday "it's not the end," leaving some faint cause for hope. But at this point, the outlook is grim. 
    It's true that signing Buxton long-term would entail some risk. But it pales in comparison to the risk of watching him go elsewhere, shake off the snakebitten injury luck, and emerge as a late-blooming legend while Twins fans spend another decade lamenting the one that got away. In this case, it'd be a much less excusable gaffe than releasing David Ortiz. 
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    dbminn reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, This Saints Outfielder is Making His Mark   
    2019 was a rough year at the plate for Mark Contreras. In 27 games with the Ft. Myers Miracle, he hit just .101. At Double-A Pensacola, he hit .210/.279/.381 (.660). He did start to display his power stroke with the Blue Wahoos, hitting 12 doubles, three triples, and ten home runs. He was moved up and down five times before sticking in Pensacola after mid-June.  
    Earlier this year, Ramon Borrego talked about the challenge of moving back and forth between levels during a season. Not being able to get into a routine, or once you do, you could be sent packing either direction. 
    It wasn't easy, but Contreras understood and used it as motivation. "It wasn't the best of situations, but honestly, it fired me up. When I initially got to Double-A, we had a series in Biloxi, and I was there for one series. I hadn't been hitting much in Ft. Myers, and I had some success that one week. I was like, that's where I need to be, that's the swing, that's the approach. I got sent down after that. I told myself I need to get back to Double-A because that's where I'm comfortable."
    The experience taught Contreras another lesson. "That back-and-forth helped me understand the mental grind of the game."
    As difficult as 2019 was for Contreras, he was great defensively in the outfield. In fact, he won a minor league Gold Glove Award for his glove work. 
    "Winning the Gold Glove was awesome. My dad always told me, if it's in the air and it's going to hit your glove, you better catch it. If you're having a bad day at the plate, you can't take it into the field. You can make a great play and change the whole energy of the game. Maybe not for you, but maybe for your teammates. You can change the momentum real quickly with one play, one catch, one throw. So I take that very seriously."
    Contreras arrived at spring training in 2020, ready to prove that he could hit. He frequently spent time with the big league club throughout spring games and had the opportunity to work with the big leaguers. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and while Contreras stayed ready, hoping for an invitation to the alternate site, he spent the entire year at home in southern California. 
    "I hit every day of the week, Monday through Friday, with my dad." 
    Mark's father has been a big part of his development over the years. He coached Mark in Little League, some All-Star, and travel teams. 
    His mom played a huge role in his development as well. "My mom deserves a lot of the credit. She's there. She drove me to wherever I needed to be. Mom was the one that made sure I was eating well. She made sure I got the support after a bad game. She was always there to motivate me."
    Things weren't always easy, though. I mean, his dad is a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, but his side of the family is all big Dodgers fans. His mom's side of the family is fans of Angels. 
    Mark noted, "We would go to both games (Angels and Dodgers), especially the Freeway Series. Lots of smack talk."
    But beyond that, his parents instilled in him the work ethic that still drives him today. 
    "My dad was always there. Whenever you want to do some more work, let's do it. It was tough love, but he wanted me to live out my dream of being in the big leagues. He always took the passive approach of when you're ready, let me know. He wasn't down my throat. Tell me if you want to work. That's how my parents were. They helped me establish my work ethic. They were not going to tell me; you have to go hit today. You have to go lift today. It's like, if you really want to do it, you have to put the time in. You have to seek out the help, and let's go get it. That's how they were. All credit to them because they helped mold me into the person I feel like I am today. I'm always learning something about myself, but they helped me get to where I am now. Every lesson that they taught me, I take it every day and try to build off that."
    It’s a work ethic that made him and his high school teammates during his four years at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley (CA) stay late after practices to get more swings and more ground balls. (Side Note: Former Twins outfielder/DH Bobby Kielty went to the same high school, 20 years earlier.)
    And it's that work ethic that motivated him during the lost 2020 season. For Contreras, it was a return to what worked for him in college that he feels helped him a lot. 
    "When I was younger and playing in college, I went from the college season, straight to summer ball, straight to fall ball. You don't stop. I feel like the rhythm that I had in the 2020 spring training, I wanted to continue that and continue to work on the things we were working on." 
    Mark began the 2021 season in Wichita. He played 18 games before moving up to Triple-A St. Paul. The 26-year-old played in six games for the Saints in Des Moines. But, Gilberto Celestino needed to be promoted to Triple-A in case he (and his 40-man roster spot) needed to be called up to the Twins. Contreras returned to Double-A and played one game for the Wind Surge (and went 2-for-4). At that point, the Twins called up Celestino, and Contreras was promoted back to the Saints and has been there since June 3rd. 
    In 19 games with the Wind Surge, he hit .269/.355/.448 (.803) with four doubles, a triple, and two home runs. 
    In 41 games with the Saints, Contreras has hit .260/.335/.562 (.897) with ten doubles, two triples, and ten homers. 
    Quick to credit those he's worked with, Contreras said, "When the season started, I had hitting coach Ryan Smith in Double-A, and he worked with me, not on the physical, but the mental side of the game." 
    He continued, "Getting to Triple-A, Borgs (hitting coach Matt Borgschulte) and Smars (coach Tyler Smarslok), they took me aside and said we really need to establish the approach now and work on a plan every time you're in the box. I've been riding it and continue to work on it every day because it will never be perfect. It's just constant working on it."
    And, seeing the results certainly helps too. But what kind of hitter does Contreras think that he is? Power hitting (22 extra-base hits in 41 games)? Patient? Solid plate discipline. 
    Does he consider himself a home run hitter? 
    "I just hit it and start running. I've never considered myself a home run hitter. I know that I have it in me, but I'm not trying to hit a home run. I'm just trying to make some hard contact and put the ball in play. My thought every day is, let me hit four line drives, and that's a good day."
    And now he finds himself one call, one step from the big leagues. He is also playing with and against players in Triple-A with a lot of experience, several major leaguers. 
    "They have a different outlook on the game itself. It took me a while to get used to. Get to the field. Get yourself ready for your game and do what you have to do for yourself, but also what you need to do to help win the game today."
    His roommate on the road is Sherman Johnson. In 2018, he played ten games for the Los Angeles Angels. Contreras hasn't been afraid to pick his brain. "He was around Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani when he debuted, and he's helped me understand the preparation aspect of getting to the big leagues. You have to show up every day."
    Already a strong defender, he has been able to learn from Keon Broxton, a great defensive outfielder with five years in the big leagues. 
    Contreras noted, "Keon is a great guy, funny, always joking around. I talk to him a lot about his speed. His jumps laterally; he gets to his top speed so fast. What's the key to that first step?"
    He can also gain confidence by playing against some players with a lot of experience. "Every team we face has big leaguers, ex-big leaguers, or current big leaguers. We're playing against that kind of competition. So it's encouraging. We're facing big-league pitching every day."
    Mark Contreras has enjoyed his time in St. Paul with the Saints. It's not the first time that he has played in Minnesota, though. 
    Following his sophomore and junior seasons at UC-Riverside, Contreras was an outfielder for the Rochester Honkers in the Northwoods League. 
    "That was fun. Meeting new guys. The competition was great. The success our first year. We got to the semi-finals. The St. Cloud Rox kept kicking our butt. They put it on us. Going back for another year was great. Playing in Rochester exposes you to a lot of excellent players from around the country."
    He hoped to get drafted after his junior college season. He became a key bat in the lineup and hit .332/.407/.430 (.837) with 14 doubles, a triple, and a home run. He also was becoming a quality defensive outfielder. Not bad, considering he had been a shortstop throughout his high school days and transitioned to the outfield because a spot was open.
    At that time, his coach asked, "How comfortable are you in the outfield?" to which Contreras replied, "If I'm in the lineup, it doesn't matter. I'd love to play."
    "I proved to myself that I could play college baseball. You never know. Maybe I'll get an opportunity. When it didn't happen, I said OK, on to the senior year."
    As a senior, he hit .366/.427/.558 (.985) with 11 doubles, eight triples, and two home runs. He had also had several conversations with scouts, including Twins southern California area scout John Leavitt (a veteran of nearly 35 seasons in the Twins organization). 
    Contreras noted, "It was a crazy feeling. John Leavitt gave me a great feeling when he talked about possibly being drafted by the Twins. That comfort. That trust. Hey, this could possibly be happening. He stayed in contact with me the most throughout the process. I was excited when he called me on the second day of the draft and said we might be taking you in the next few rounds."
    As a senior in the draft, it's hard to know what will happen. You could be a senior signed, selected in the top ten rounds to manipulate a team's bonus pool, or you could be selected any round later. 
    On Day 2 of the 2017 draft, Contreras was at home, watching the draft with his sister. During the seventh round, Leavitt made a phone call to Mark, telling him to be ready, that the Twins could take him in the eighth or ninth round.
    Regarding where he might be drafted, Contreras wasn't too concerned. "Doesn't matter. Take that next step. Get my foot in the door. Then from there, we'll show them again. I was blessed to be drafted in the ninth round as a senior sign, which didn't matter to me because I'm there, I'm here. Thanks to the Minnesota Twins for that and for making this dream come true. Now the next step in this journey is to get to the big leagues, and going through the minors has been fun. You learn something every year, even every day. I'm excited about the opportunity and to be in the position I'm in. Excited to be here, and we'll see."
    Another goal? He is just a few credits shy of completing his degree from UC-Riverside in Business Management and takes a couple of classes each offseason.
    **********************************************
    Contreras has enjoyed his time in St. Paul. "The city of St. Paul is very nice. It's opening back up and there are some nice breakfast spots. I'm a big brunch person, so I love going to a nice little breakfast before the game."
    He loves playing at CHS Field and the atmosphere of the ballpark. "The things they do throughout the game to keep it lively for the fans. It's a great fan experience, I believe. It's fun. The field is beautiful. They take care of it. The locker room is nice. We have everything we need." 
    Another nice feature of CHS Field for the players? It's 12 1/2 miles from Target Field. "We're 20 minutes from Target Field, and being so close to that… We know we're so close."
    He has seen many of his current and former teammates get The Call, and not only is he excited for them, but he is also motivated by them. 
    "It's definitely amazing to see my teammates that I grinded a whole year at High-A or Double-A with getting their opportunity to be in the big leagues. Not just there and back, but proving that they can be in the big leagues. Trevor Larnach. Alex Kirilloff. Luis Arraez is one of the best hitters I've seen. Griffin Jax got his opportunity this year, and he's doing what he needs to do. Charlie Barnes just got called up the other day, and he had a great outing for his first start. We were drafted in the same year. I know there's a lot more that I've played with. Akil Baddoo is getting his opportunity. It's very motivating because it shows that they're getting the chance to show, I can be a part of this long term. I can contribute to the end goal here of winning ball games and having fun doing it. Just seeing them be able to do that and have success is very motivating, but playing alongside Larnach and Kirilloff in High-A and AA the last few years. I played with Arraez in High-A. He's doing what he's doing, and talking to him and having a relationship with him is very motivating. He always tells me, just keep doing what you're doing. Keep hitting. Have great at-bats."
    What does it mean to Mark Contreras, being one phone call away from the big leagues, to get The Call himself? 
    "I mean, that's a lifelong dream. I feel like that's the cliche answer, for sure, but it just shows that with the work we put in in the past, we're going in the right direction. It would mean everything, honestly. But the work doesn't stop when you get there. What I've always heard is that it's hard to get there and very hard to stay there. So you've always got to be on, at 100%, do what you need to do to survive, and help the team succeed in winning games, whether it's defense, offense, pinch-run, pinch-hit. I believe that's where the actual work starts. All of this (minor leagues) is just prep for the main stage. Att the main stage, that's when everything counts. There can be no stone left unturned when you get there. You have to perform from Day 1.” 
    He added, "I want to have a big-league career. I don't want to just get there and bounce back."
    Until then, he knows that there is more work to be done. 
    "I'm not there, so the goal is to take care of the What, and then the When will happen. That's the mindset I have. I can't worry about somewhere I'm not right now. I have to worry about today, the game we have today. One day at a time. I tell everybody. My goal is to get two hits every game, but you can't get two hits with one swing. You have to take care of the first one before you take care of the second one. That's just always how I've been. I can't worry about something somewhere I'm not because it can be a distraction. But definitely, the end goal is I want to be a big leaguer."
    And he wants to see Target Field. He hasn't been there before, so if and when that big-league promotion comes, it will be a memorable, 20-minute trip.
     
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