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Ted Schwerzler

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  1. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Minnesota Twins front office six seasons ago. 2023 will be year seven. In that timeframe the club has been to the postseason three times while winning two AL Central division titles. There’s certainly some success there, but ultimately it comes with an 0-6 record in the postseason, which has accounted for one-third of the 0-18 futility during October. There’s only a partial pass for the Twins to be had in 2022. The injuries were significant. 37 pitchers have been used for the first time in franchise history. Byron Buxton played injured from the jump, and time was missed by Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. All those things are fair to suggest that plenty has been working against Rocco Baldelli and his bosses. It’s also time to realize there’s no more room for error or excuses. It’s safe to say that the front office, and the manager, aren’t looking for a pass. Both those in the clubhouse and those employing it are looking for a way to create a sustainable winner for the future. Falvey was brought in to develop a pitching pipeline similar to that of Cleveland. Levine is a smart general manager who has made some shrewd moves. Baldelli can run a clubhouse and has orchestrated difficult decisions. For all the good each party has done, the results now have to follow. In year seven the Twins won’t, and shouldn’t be given the benefit of doubt. 2022 saw a franchise-high payroll that included the signing of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa. He fell into Minnesota’s lap and is likely gone over the offseason. It will be on the front office to appropriately name his replacement, and find ways to use that money. Plenty of the roster is penciled but almost all of it carries some level of uncertainty as to availability or expectation. There’s no more room for acquisitions like Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer. Every offseason addition has to be made under the premise of creating the best roster possible, with nothing added just to fill the fringes. Management can’t dictate any more reclamation projects to play a substantial role, and when something doesn’t work similar to Emilio Pagan this season, the plug has to be pulled. It’s more than fair to understand those running the Twins are an incredibly smart group with very good ideas. Both rooted in analytical outcomes and results based decision making, there’s probably never been a better group across the board. Ultimately though, the only thing that matters is the wins and losses, and they haven’t had enough of them. Over the winter the front office and coaching staff will need to find ways to improve internally. That will mean staffers being replaced, coaches being changed out, and developmental areas being addressed. This should be the last go-round for the collective as a whole, and there’s no excuse to forgo bringing in fresh faces to help reach the ultimate goal. There’s plenty of argument to be made that 2022 was never seen as the year to go “all in.” The trade deadline was navigated with a focus on the now, but a vision to the future as well. Fast forwarding to Opening Day 2023 and the future becomes now, with no more room for missteps. It’s time to come through on the vision, or change it entirely.
  2. The Minnesota Twins are trending towards a finish to the 2022 Major League Baseball season that has them looking at something near a .500 record. It was hardly how this had to go, but not far off from where projections initially suggested. If the organization is going to avoid another shakeup, then 2023 is do or die. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Minnesota Twins front office six seasons ago. 2023 will be year seven. In that timeframe the club has been to the postseason three times while winning two AL Central division titles. There’s certainly some success there, but ultimately it comes with an 0-6 record in the postseason, which has accounted for one-third of the 0-18 futility during October. There’s only a partial pass for the Twins to be had in 2022. The injuries were significant. 37 pitchers have been used for the first time in franchise history. Byron Buxton played injured from the jump, and time was missed by Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. All those things are fair to suggest that plenty has been working against Rocco Baldelli and his bosses. It’s also time to realize there’s no more room for error or excuses. It’s safe to say that the front office, and the manager, aren’t looking for a pass. Both those in the clubhouse and those employing it are looking for a way to create a sustainable winner for the future. Falvey was brought in to develop a pitching pipeline similar to that of Cleveland. Levine is a smart general manager who has made some shrewd moves. Baldelli can run a clubhouse and has orchestrated difficult decisions. For all the good each party has done, the results now have to follow. In year seven the Twins won’t, and shouldn’t be given the benefit of doubt. 2022 saw a franchise-high payroll that included the signing of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa. He fell into Minnesota’s lap and is likely gone over the offseason. It will be on the front office to appropriately name his replacement, and find ways to use that money. Plenty of the roster is penciled but almost all of it carries some level of uncertainty as to availability or expectation. There’s no more room for acquisitions like Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer. Every offseason addition has to be made under the premise of creating the best roster possible, with nothing added just to fill the fringes. Management can’t dictate any more reclamation projects to play a substantial role, and when something doesn’t work similar to Emilio Pagan this season, the plug has to be pulled. It’s more than fair to understand those running the Twins are an incredibly smart group with very good ideas. Both rooted in analytical outcomes and results based decision making, there’s probably never been a better group across the board. Ultimately though, the only thing that matters is the wins and losses, and they haven’t had enough of them. Over the winter the front office and coaching staff will need to find ways to improve internally. That will mean staffers being replaced, coaches being changed out, and developmental areas being addressed. This should be the last go-round for the collective as a whole, and there’s no excuse to forgo bringing in fresh faces to help reach the ultimate goal. There’s plenty of argument to be made that 2022 was never seen as the year to go “all in.” The trade deadline was navigated with a focus on the now, but a vision to the future as well. Fast forwarding to Opening Day 2023 and the future becomes now, with no more room for missteps. It’s time to come through on the vision, or change it entirely. View full article
  3. Derek Falvey has been tasked with building a pipeline of pitching talent since he was brought over from Cleveland to head up the front office. Minnesota has been intentional in targeting arms with upside that they can mold into solid workhorses. There were plenty of strong performances this season the farm, but only one took the title of Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Before getting to the winner, here are some others that were in contention: Honorable Mention- Pierson Ohl (Fort Myers) - 20 G 91.2 IP 3.53 ERA 1.178 WHIP 9.9 K/9 1.3 BB/9 Jaylen Nowlin (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 71.0 IP 3.80 ERA 1.352 WHIP 14.1 K/9 4.6 BB/9 Travis Adams (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 100.2 IP 3.93 ERA 1.162 WHIP 9.7 K/9 2.3 BB/9 #5 Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - 19 G 65.0 IP 3.05 ERA 1.077 WHIP 10.5 K/9 3.2 BB/9 Raya was taken in the 4th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from United South High School in Laredo, TX. With the Covid shutdown and injuries over the past couple of years, 2022 was his professional debut. Skipping the Complex League entirely, Raya pitched as a 19-year-old for the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Across 19 games and 17 starts, he was nothing short of dominant. Arguably the staff ace, Raya racked up strikeouts in bunches while doing a good job to limit damage. He’s got mid-90s stuff and is someone Minnesota could mold into a number three starter or better. #4 Brent Headrick - (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 25 G 108.1 IP 3.32 ERA 1.080 WHIP 11.3 K/9 2.1 BB/9 Selected in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft out of Illinois State University, Headick has really seen the ceiling for his stuff grow. Last year was his first full professional season and he put up strong numbers for Low-A Fort Myers. Splitting time between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita this year, Headrick has become an anchor on the staff at whatever level he plays. Headrick has continued to rack up strikeouts in bunches, and has shown a very strong ability to command the baseball. He gave up a few more homers after the promotion to Double-A, but was every bit as dominant. When the Wind Surge advanced to the Texas League postseason, it was Headrick tabbed as the Game 1 starter. #3 David Festa - (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) 21 G 103.2 IP 2.43 ERA 1.090 WHIP 9.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Festa made quick work of Fort Myers after starting the season there following his 13th-round selection out of Seton Hall during the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. Pitching substantially for Cedar Rapids this season, he made adjustments to continue strong outings while the strikeouts took a slight dip. Just 22 years old, Festa has done a great job avoiding big innings by limiting the longball. In just over 103 innings this season, he allowed opposing batters to leave the yard only six times. For a late-round pick, the immediate development here has been incredibly encouraging. Runner-Up Simeon Woods Richardson - (Wichita/St. Paul) 21 G 2.93 ERA 1.080 WHIP 9.7 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Acquired alongside Austin Martin from the Toronto Blue Jays when Minnesota sent Jose Berrios north of the border, Woods Richardson has been nothing short of dominant this season. Not being interrupted by the Olympic appearance as he was last season, Woods Richardson has settled into a routine. His 2.55 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul is even better than it was with Double-A Wichita, and he continues to average over a strikeout per inning. This is a top-half-of-the-rotation arm that Minnesota could call upon as soon as 2023. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year - Louie Varland - (Wichita/St. Paul) - 24 G 126.1 IP 3.06 ERA 1.259 WHIP 10.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Winning this award for the second season in a row is none other than Concordia St. Paul product Louie Varland. A St. Paul native, Varland was a 15th-round pick by the Twins during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. After dominating Single-A in 2021, Varland continued his roll by earning a promotion to Triple-A late this season. After a 3.34 ERA across 105 innings with Wichita, Varland posted a dominant 1.69 ERA in four starts for the Saints. As has been the case over the duration of his professional career, Varland has been a strikeout arm. This season he’s tallied 146 strikeouts while ceding just 42 walks. Once working in the low-90s, Varland has put in the offseason work to push his fastball in the mid-90s on a consistent basis with the ability to top out near 97 mph. When Minnesota needed an arm for a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, it was Varland who was called on to make his big league debut. Brother, and Dodgers prospect, Gus Varland was in the stands to see Louie punch out Aaron Judge for the first strikeout of his career. Varland will continue to grow at the big league level, but he has looked the part of an arm with intrigue. He’s a hard thrower that works quick and isn’t afraid to trust his stuff. Although the Twins may not have immediate room for Varland in the 2023 Opening Day rotation, there should be no doubt that he’ll make a handful of starts and be ready to make an impact when his number is called. Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2021 winner - Louie Varland 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen
  4. The Minnesota Twins used a franchise record 37 pitchers at the Major League level this season. With plenty of short starts causing a level of scrutiny, the goal is in developing better arms that can go deeper into ballgames. There’s no better place to do that than within your own system. Derek Falvey has been tasked with building a pipeline of pitching talent since he was brought over from Cleveland to head up the front office. Minnesota has been intentional in targeting arms with upside that they can mold into solid workhorses. There were plenty of strong performances this season the farm, but only one took the title of Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Before getting to the winner, here are some others that were in contention: Honorable Mention- Pierson Ohl (Fort Myers) - 20 G 91.2 IP 3.53 ERA 1.178 WHIP 9.9 K/9 1.3 BB/9 Jaylen Nowlin (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 71.0 IP 3.80 ERA 1.352 WHIP 14.1 K/9 4.6 BB/9 Travis Adams (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 100.2 IP 3.93 ERA 1.162 WHIP 9.7 K/9 2.3 BB/9 #5 Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - 19 G 65.0 IP 3.05 ERA 1.077 WHIP 10.5 K/9 3.2 BB/9 Raya was taken in the 4th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from United South High School in Laredo, TX. With the Covid shutdown and injuries over the past couple of years, 2022 was his professional debut. Skipping the Complex League entirely, Raya pitched as a 19-year-old for the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Across 19 games and 17 starts, he was nothing short of dominant. Arguably the staff ace, Raya racked up strikeouts in bunches while doing a good job to limit damage. He’s got mid-90s stuff and is someone Minnesota could mold into a number three starter or better. #4 Brent Headrick - (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 25 G 108.1 IP 3.32 ERA 1.080 WHIP 11.3 K/9 2.1 BB/9 Selected in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft out of Illinois State University, Headick has really seen the ceiling for his stuff grow. Last year was his first full professional season and he put up strong numbers for Low-A Fort Myers. Splitting time between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita this year, Headrick has become an anchor on the staff at whatever level he plays. Headrick has continued to rack up strikeouts in bunches, and has shown a very strong ability to command the baseball. He gave up a few more homers after the promotion to Double-A, but was every bit as dominant. When the Wind Surge advanced to the Texas League postseason, it was Headrick tabbed as the Game 1 starter. #3 David Festa - (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) 21 G 103.2 IP 2.43 ERA 1.090 WHIP 9.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Festa made quick work of Fort Myers after starting the season there following his 13th-round selection out of Seton Hall during the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. Pitching substantially for Cedar Rapids this season, he made adjustments to continue strong outings while the strikeouts took a slight dip. Just 22 years old, Festa has done a great job avoiding big innings by limiting the longball. In just over 103 innings this season, he allowed opposing batters to leave the yard only six times. For a late-round pick, the immediate development here has been incredibly encouraging. Runner-Up Simeon Woods Richardson - (Wichita/St. Paul) 21 G 2.93 ERA 1.080 WHIP 9.7 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Acquired alongside Austin Martin from the Toronto Blue Jays when Minnesota sent Jose Berrios north of the border, Woods Richardson has been nothing short of dominant this season. Not being interrupted by the Olympic appearance as he was last season, Woods Richardson has settled into a routine. His 2.55 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul is even better than it was with Double-A Wichita, and he continues to average over a strikeout per inning. This is a top-half-of-the-rotation arm that Minnesota could call upon as soon as 2023. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year - Louie Varland - (Wichita/St. Paul) - 24 G 126.1 IP 3.06 ERA 1.259 WHIP 10.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Winning this award for the second season in a row is none other than Concordia St. Paul product Louie Varland. A St. Paul native, Varland was a 15th-round pick by the Twins during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. After dominating Single-A in 2021, Varland continued his roll by earning a promotion to Triple-A late this season. After a 3.34 ERA across 105 innings with Wichita, Varland posted a dominant 1.69 ERA in four starts for the Saints. As has been the case over the duration of his professional career, Varland has been a strikeout arm. This season he’s tallied 146 strikeouts while ceding just 42 walks. Once working in the low-90s, Varland has put in the offseason work to push his fastball in the mid-90s on a consistent basis with the ability to top out near 97 mph. When Minnesota needed an arm for a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, it was Varland who was called on to make his big league debut. Brother, and Dodgers prospect, Gus Varland was in the stands to see Louie punch out Aaron Judge for the first strikeout of his career. Varland will continue to grow at the big league level, but he has looked the part of an arm with intrigue. He’s a hard thrower that works quick and isn’t afraid to trust his stuff. Although the Twins may not have immediate room for Varland in the 2023 Opening Day rotation, there should be no doubt that he’ll make a handful of starts and be ready to make an impact when his number is called. Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2021 winner - Louie Varland 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen View full article
  5. Last winter, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine hammered out a deal with Carlos Correa’s agent Scott Boras. Having previously assumed Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be their Opening Day shortstop, the Twins pivoted after dealing Josh Donaldson and freeing up substantial money for the payroll. Correa was never the expected plan for Minnesota, and he probably didn’t see himself here either. When a $300 million mega-deal didn’t materialize, the opportunity to secure a Major League-record deal for an infielder arose and he had to take it. Boras and the Twins structured the deal in a way that Correa could once again explore the open market this winter. That had to always be his plan and is why he’ll opt out. Sure, the Twins could’ve made more aggressive actions towards an extension (and maybe they have), but this front office would’ve been negotiating against itself. Knowing that Correa’s true intentions are a long-term pact, it behooves the organization to throw out a number and see where it lands amongst the competition. Maybe the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers are more interested this time around. Maybe the San Francisco Giants or Chicago Cubs bite. Maybe Correa decides to return for a longer period of time in the Twins Cities. No matter what, Minnesota needs (and likely has already started) thinking about succession plans. It’s pretty hard to replace a player the caliber of Correa, and internally there are few options. Royce Lewis won’t be ready on Opening Day as he returns from a second season in which he underwent surgery for a torn ACL. Noah Miller has been heralded as an MLB-ready defender, but he’s hardly handled that bat at the Low-A level for Fort Myers. 2022 top pick Brooks Lee is finishing this season at Double-A, but it’d be beyond aggressive for him to start at the Major Leagues in 2023. The developmental staff and front office will have to blueprint a game plan as to what the timeline of succession looks like. Do they want a long-term shortstop brought in from outside? Is Lewis the man waiting in the wings, or is there a different position he’s more suited for? How about Lee? Is he the shortstop of the future, and will that future begin in the season ahead? Much of what the front office has done from a talent acquisition perspective this season has been with a focus on more than just one season. As they enter into 2023, they’ll be positioned to start kicking in their window with the developed youth. Jose Miranda is a big-leaguer. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff will hopefully be healthy. Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan have now all seen how the highest level works. Punting on the shortstop position with a roster on the brink doesn’t seem like the way they’ll go about things. It’d be great if Correa was back manning the middle for Minnesota next season, but if and when he’s not, the blueprint to surviving his absence must be ironclad.
  6. The Minnesota Twins are barreling towards the end of their 2022 regular season. With postseason hopes all but dwindling, the clock on Carlos Correa’s decision to opt out of his three-year contract now comes front and center. Minnesota has to get to work. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Last winter, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine hammered out a deal with Carlos Correa’s agent Scott Boras. Having previously assumed Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be their Opening Day shortstop, the Twins pivoted after dealing Josh Donaldson and freeing up substantial money for the payroll. Correa was never the expected plan for Minnesota, and he probably didn’t see himself here either. When a $300 million mega-deal didn’t materialize, the opportunity to secure a Major League-record deal for an infielder arose and he had to take it. Boras and the Twins structured the deal in a way that Correa could once again explore the open market this winter. That had to always be his plan and is why he’ll opt out. Sure, the Twins could’ve made more aggressive actions towards an extension (and maybe they have), but this front office would’ve been negotiating against itself. Knowing that Correa’s true intentions are a long-term pact, it behooves the organization to throw out a number and see where it lands amongst the competition. Maybe the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers are more interested this time around. Maybe the San Francisco Giants or Chicago Cubs bite. Maybe Correa decides to return for a longer period of time in the Twins Cities. No matter what, Minnesota needs (and likely has already started) thinking about succession plans. It’s pretty hard to replace a player the caliber of Correa, and internally there are few options. Royce Lewis won’t be ready on Opening Day as he returns from a second season in which he underwent surgery for a torn ACL. Noah Miller has been heralded as an MLB-ready defender, but he’s hardly handled that bat at the Low-A level for Fort Myers. 2022 top pick Brooks Lee is finishing this season at Double-A, but it’d be beyond aggressive for him to start at the Major Leagues in 2023. The developmental staff and front office will have to blueprint a game plan as to what the timeline of succession looks like. Do they want a long-term shortstop brought in from outside? Is Lewis the man waiting in the wings, or is there a different position he’s more suited for? How about Lee? Is he the shortstop of the future, and will that future begin in the season ahead? Much of what the front office has done from a talent acquisition perspective this season has been with a focus on more than just one season. As they enter into 2023, they’ll be positioned to start kicking in their window with the developed youth. Jose Miranda is a big-leaguer. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff will hopefully be healthy. Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan have now all seen how the highest level works. Punting on the shortstop position with a roster on the brink doesn’t seem like the way they’ll go about things. It’d be great if Correa was back manning the middle for Minnesota next season, but if and when he’s not, the blueprint to surviving his absence must be ironclad. View full article
  7. Starting pitching will always be the focal point of a Major League franchise, but we’ve seen how impactful having a dominant bullpen can be. After retooling the relief unit on the fly this year, Minnesota will look to have stronger internal options for 2023 and beyond. This group of up-and-comers could certainly factor into the equation. Before getting to the winner, here are a few pitchers were in the running: Honorable Mention - Bobby Milacki (Cedar Rapids) - 36 G 2.83 ERA 1.194 WHIP 9.6 K/9 3.1 BB/9 Malik Barrington (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 33 G 3.61 ERA 1.186 WHIP 11.5 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Matt Mullenbach (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 30 G 1.60 ERA 1.111 WHIP 9.2 K/9 2.2 BB/9 #5 Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) - 36 G 51.1 IP 2.98 ERA 1.305 WHIP 10.2 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Hicks was signed by the Twins in July 2021 after going undrafted out of the University of North Carolina and pitching in Indy Ball. Working solely as a reliever this year for Fort Myers, Hicks racked up strikeouts in bunches. Across over 50 innings of work, Hicks only got beat for a homer three times. His command still has room for improvement, and at 24 years old he was well above the average age in the Florida State League, but Hicks certainly earned himself the opportunity to compete at the next level in 2023. #4 Hunter McMahon (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 43 G 73.2 IP 2.81 ERA 0.896 WHIP 9.3 K/9 2.0 BB/9 McMahon was a 9th-round selection by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Minnesota acquired him in 2020 when they sent reliever Ryne Harper to Washington following his DFA to make room for Josh Donaldson. He pitched at three levels this season but predominantly split time between High and Low-A. His 76 strikeouts to just 16 walks were a result of an ability to pound the zone and dictate at-bats to hitters. McMahon routinely worked the highest leverage innings and also picked up seven saves. #3 Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) - 43 G 55.1 IP 3.09 ERA 1.012 WHIP 9.9 K/9 2.6 BB/9 A 19th-round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Schulfer has continually elevated his stock since. This season the talented righty compiled a 0.39 ERA across 23 innings at Double-A to earn his promotion. Schulfer scuffled some in his first taste at Triple-A, but the strikeouts remained. He was burned a bit by walks and a jump in H/9, but adjustments are something he’s shown an aptitude to make. This was Schulfer’s first season working as a reliever, and he racked up eight saves in the process. Runner-Up - Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 35 G 94.2 IP 0.982 WHIP 10.6 K/9 2.6 BB/9 Laweryson was taken in the 14th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Maine. He worked primarily as a starter throughout the start of his professional career until transitioning into a relief role this season. The 2.57 ERA at High-A Cedar Rapids earned him a promotion, and a 1.06 ERA in just shy of 60 innings at Double-A was an eye-opener. Over the entirety of the year Laweryson gave up just two home runs, and his 111/27 K/BB indicates how much command and stuff he possesses. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year - Evan Sisk (Wichita/St. Paul) - 46 G 57.0 IP 1.58 ERA 1.053 WHIP 10.4 K/9 4.4 BB/9 Last summer the Minnesota Twins sent veteran starter J.A. Happ to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Evan Sisk. Minnesota was going downhill and had no need for the veteran to keep taking the mound, and Sisk represented an opportunity to net something in return. Since the deal, the Twins have morphed Sisk into a promising weapon in the pen. During the 2021 season, Sisk posted a 3.91 ERA but it came with a 5.9 BB/9. Topping out at the Double-A level, that frequency of free passes was never going to be workable in the Majors. This season Sisk has shaved nearly two walks per nine off the total and continued to rack up strikeouts in droves. He’s a lefty with a funky delivery that works to get on hitters with a bit of deception. Repeating Double-A Wichita to start for Minnesota, Sisk owned a 33/11 K/BB across 28 1/3 innings. The free passes ballooned a bit at Triple-A St. Paul when he went 33/17 K/BB in 28 2/3 innings. There’s no doubt a big league reliever here, and the more he can command the zone while controlling the base paths, the higher his ceiling will grow. Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2021: Jovani Moran 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger
  8. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins cycled through pitchers like crazy in 2022. Needing a franchise-record 37 to get through the season, more than a handful of players saw their first opportunity. Knowing the farm has some options is also a great reality. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints (graphics by Thieres Rabelo) Starting pitching will always be the focal point of a Major League franchise, but we’ve seen how impactful having a dominant bullpen can be. After retooling the relief unit on the fly this year, Minnesota will look to have stronger internal options for 2023 and beyond. This group of up-and-comers could certainly factor into the equation. Before getting to the winner, here are a few pitchers were in the running: Honorable Mention - Bobby Milacki (Cedar Rapids) - 36 G 2.83 ERA 1.194 WHIP 9.6 K/9 3.1 BB/9 Malik Barrington (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 33 G 3.61 ERA 1.186 WHIP 11.5 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Matt Mullenbach (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 30 G 1.60 ERA 1.111 WHIP 9.2 K/9 2.2 BB/9 #5 Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) - 36 G 51.1 IP 2.98 ERA 1.305 WHIP 10.2 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Hicks was signed by the Twins in July 2021 after going undrafted out of the University of North Carolina and pitching in Indy Ball. Working solely as a reliever this year for Fort Myers, Hicks racked up strikeouts in bunches. Across over 50 innings of work, Hicks only got beat for a homer three times. His command still has room for improvement, and at 24 years old he was well above the average age in the Florida State League, but Hicks certainly earned himself the opportunity to compete at the next level in 2023. #4 Hunter McMahon (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 43 G 73.2 IP 2.81 ERA 0.896 WHIP 9.3 K/9 2.0 BB/9 McMahon was a 9th-round selection by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Minnesota acquired him in 2020 when they sent reliever Ryne Harper to Washington following his DFA to make room for Josh Donaldson. He pitched at three levels this season but predominantly split time between High and Low-A. His 76 strikeouts to just 16 walks were a result of an ability to pound the zone and dictate at-bats to hitters. McMahon routinely worked the highest leverage innings and also picked up seven saves. #3 Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) - 43 G 55.1 IP 3.09 ERA 1.012 WHIP 9.9 K/9 2.6 BB/9 A 19th-round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Schulfer has continually elevated his stock since. This season the talented righty compiled a 0.39 ERA across 23 innings at Double-A to earn his promotion. Schulfer scuffled some in his first taste at Triple-A, but the strikeouts remained. He was burned a bit by walks and a jump in H/9, but adjustments are something he’s shown an aptitude to make. This was Schulfer’s first season working as a reliever, and he racked up eight saves in the process. Runner-Up - Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 35 G 94.2 IP 0.982 WHIP 10.6 K/9 2.6 BB/9 Laweryson was taken in the 14th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Maine. He worked primarily as a starter throughout the start of his professional career until transitioning into a relief role this season. The 2.57 ERA at High-A Cedar Rapids earned him a promotion, and a 1.06 ERA in just shy of 60 innings at Double-A was an eye-opener. Over the entirety of the year Laweryson gave up just two home runs, and his 111/27 K/BB indicates how much command and stuff he possesses. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year - Evan Sisk (Wichita/St. Paul) - 46 G 57.0 IP 1.58 ERA 1.053 WHIP 10.4 K/9 4.4 BB/9 Last summer the Minnesota Twins sent veteran starter J.A. Happ to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Evan Sisk. Minnesota was going downhill and had no need for the veteran to keep taking the mound, and Sisk represented an opportunity to net something in return. Since the deal, the Twins have morphed Sisk into a promising weapon in the pen. During the 2021 season, Sisk posted a 3.91 ERA but it came with a 5.9 BB/9. Topping out at the Double-A level, that frequency of free passes was never going to be workable in the Majors. This season Sisk has shaved nearly two walks per nine off the total and continued to rack up strikeouts in droves. He’s a lefty with a funky delivery that works to get on hitters with a bit of deception. Repeating Double-A Wichita to start for Minnesota, Sisk owned a 33/11 K/BB across 28 1/3 innings. The free passes ballooned a bit at Triple-A St. Paul when he went 33/17 K/BB in 28 2/3 innings. There’s no doubt a big league reliever here, and the more he can command the zone while controlling the base paths, the higher his ceiling will grow. Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2021: Jovani Moran 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger View full article
  9. After winning Game 1 of their postseason series last night, the Wichita Wind Surge were traveling on Wednesday. That left the St. Paul Saints as the only affiliate in action, and unfortunately, they fell short on the road. TRANSACTIONS RHP Austin Schulfer placed on 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul C David Banuelos activated from 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 7, St. Paul 1 Box Score Jordan Balazovic drew the start today for St. Paul and was chased after three innings. He allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four. Balazovic did give up a walk and was burned by two homers. A five-run 3rd inning by Indianapolis put St. Paul in a bad spot early. They gave up two more in the 6th inning and before recording their first run, the Saints were staring at a seven-run deficit. Ryan Jeffers, still working his way back on a Major League rehab assignment, hit a homer in the 8th inning to make sure the Saints wouldn’t be shut out. Trevor Larnach, also rehabbing, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the designated hitter. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Melvi Acosta (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K Hitter of the Day – Chris Williams (St. Paul) - 1-2, 2 BB PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - Twins Play Wednesday night in Kansas City. #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily Short Season Hitter of the Year View full article
  10. TRANSACTIONS RHP Austin Schulfer placed on 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul C David Banuelos activated from 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 7, St. Paul 1 Box Score Jordan Balazovic drew the start today for St. Paul and was chased after three innings. He allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four. Balazovic did give up a walk and was burned by two homers. A five-run 3rd inning by Indianapolis put St. Paul in a bad spot early. They gave up two more in the 6th inning and before recording their first run, the Saints were staring at a seven-run deficit. Ryan Jeffers, still working his way back on a Major League rehab assignment, hit a homer in the 8th inning to make sure the Saints wouldn’t be shut out. Trevor Larnach, also rehabbing, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the designated hitter. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Melvi Acosta (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K Hitter of the Day – Chris Williams (St. Paul) - 1-2, 2 BB PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - Twins Play Wednesday night in Kansas City. #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily Short Season Hitter of the Year
  11. After limping through the last impactful series of the season against the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend, Minnesota’s postseason hopes were all but cooked. Having led the division for a vast majority of the season, injuries mounted and ultimately ruined any potential to hang on. That’s not to say injuries were the defining factor in falling short, Minnesota contributed to that plenty on their own as well. Relatively early on in the year, it was apparent that the AL Central was going to fade behind the competition. Chicago’s ineptitude was injury-related as well, but they were also horribly managed by Tony La Russa, and consistently played bad baseball defensively. Cleveland has a great manager in Terry Francona, and as expected, their pitching kept them in it while young players got their feet wet. Minnesota’s place in all of that got shuffled early after a strong May, but it shouldn’t be lost that no one seemed to want to win this division down the stretch. Therein lies the definition of the 2022 Minnesota Twins season: A failure to capitalize. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine didn’t throw all of Jim Pohlad’s resources at the 2022 season to suggest it was World Series or bust. Nothing about a bullpen addition of only Joe Smith said, “We’re all in.” However, what was done should’ve been enough and at every juncture, the Twins came up short. When the trade deadline came around and there was an opportunity to improve a winning ball club, the front office added a top-level starter in Tyler Mahle. They addressed the bullpen by bringing in Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez. Then, as it had all season long, it quickly was wiped out on and off the field. Every team has injuries, but very few had as many and those as impactful as the Twins. Byron Buxton played hurt from the jump. Pitching was constantly in flux. Alex Kirilloff never got better. They won through them, for a time. When Minnesota would create their own fortunes, generating base runners and putting guys in scoring position, they consistently failed to capitalize. Baserunning was bad, defense equally so. All season long the Twins found themselves with the opportunity to control their own destiny, run away and hide with the division, and create noise. Instead, they responded with more trips to the injured list, poor situational hitting, and an overall lack of execution. If we were to reflect on the season as a whole, taking a bit of a step back from the emotions down the stretch, maybe we should've seen this coming. After all, a .500 record was largely what was projected from the get-go. For a good portion of the season, all this team amounted to a .500 ballclub. Ultimately though, after creating their own good fortune, a wilting happened and nothing was done to substantiate it. There’s certainly a handful of different ways to get where Minnesota finished, but as The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman put it, the Twins took the least enjoyable way to get there. Good teams capitalize on their opportunities, and although this one was masked as a good team for a while, they simply never capitalized on what was in front of them.
  12. Coming into the 2022 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins were largely projected as a runner-up to the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central Division. Now with the regular season coming to a close and it not playing out that way, how would you define the year as a whole? Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports After limping through the last impactful series of the season against the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend, Minnesota’s postseason hopes were all but cooked. Having led the division for a vast majority of the season, injuries mounted and ultimately ruined any potential to hang on. That’s not to say injuries were the defining factor in falling short, Minnesota contributed to that plenty on their own as well. Relatively early on in the year, it was apparent that the AL Central was going to fade behind the competition. Chicago’s ineptitude was injury-related as well, but they were also horribly managed by Tony La Russa, and consistently played bad baseball defensively. Cleveland has a great manager in Terry Francona, and as expected, their pitching kept them in it while young players got their feet wet. Minnesota’s place in all of that got shuffled early after a strong May, but it shouldn’t be lost that no one seemed to want to win this division down the stretch. Therein lies the definition of the 2022 Minnesota Twins season: A failure to capitalize. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine didn’t throw all of Jim Pohlad’s resources at the 2022 season to suggest it was World Series or bust. Nothing about a bullpen addition of only Joe Smith said, “We’re all in.” However, what was done should’ve been enough and at every juncture, the Twins came up short. When the trade deadline came around and there was an opportunity to improve a winning ball club, the front office added a top-level starter in Tyler Mahle. They addressed the bullpen by bringing in Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez. Then, as it had all season long, it quickly was wiped out on and off the field. Every team has injuries, but very few had as many and those as impactful as the Twins. Byron Buxton played hurt from the jump. Pitching was constantly in flux. Alex Kirilloff never got better. They won through them, for a time. When Minnesota would create their own fortunes, generating base runners and putting guys in scoring position, they consistently failed to capitalize. Baserunning was bad, defense equally so. All season long the Twins found themselves with the opportunity to control their own destiny, run away and hide with the division, and create noise. Instead, they responded with more trips to the injured list, poor situational hitting, and an overall lack of execution. If we were to reflect on the season as a whole, taking a bit of a step back from the emotions down the stretch, maybe we should've seen this coming. After all, a .500 record was largely what was projected from the get-go. For a good portion of the season, all this team amounted to a .500 ballclub. Ultimately though, after creating their own good fortune, a wilting happened and nothing was done to substantiate it. There’s certainly a handful of different ways to get where Minnesota finished, but as The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman put it, the Twins took the least enjoyable way to get there. Good teams capitalize on their opportunities, and although this one was masked as a good team for a while, they simply never capitalized on what was in front of them. View full article
  13. Last season, the Twins relied relatively heavily on Bailey Ober as a regular starting rotation arm. Then after acquiring Joe Ryan for aging-slugger Nelson Cruz, the former Rays pitcher wound up making five starts down the stretch for Rocco Baldelli’s club. There’s not time for either of those two exposure levels, but Simeon Woods Richardson could be worth giving a turn to. Logistically, there are a few things to work through. The St. Paul Saints regular season schedule goes through a final home game on September 28. They’ll obviously need arms to make those starts, and while they aren’t lined up for a postseason berth, the goal isn’t to minimize those games. There’s also the reality that Woods Richardson doesn’t currently have a spot on the Minnesota 40-man roster. That’s more than easily worked around, but would generate an increase in pay and start his Major League service time. From an individual perspective, it’s hard to suggest that Woods Richardson hasn’t earned the opportunity. Acquired by the Twins from Toronto when they sent Jose Berrios north of the border, the former second-round pick has a 2.93 ERA this season between Double and Triple-A. Only five of his starts have come with the Saints, but Woods Richardson owns a strong 9.7 K/9 and a manageable 3.0 BB/9. If there’s concern about a workload, the most bringing Woods Richardson to the Twins would add is an additional turn. Minnesota plays through October 5th, and should they wait to give him a single game, he could start in the season’s final series against the Chicago White Sox. Pitching just 53 1/3 innings last year after playing for Team USA in the Olympics, Woods Richardson has built back up to 95 1/3 innings this year and did throw 106 2/3 innings as an 18-year-old in the Mets system during 2019. There’s certainly no urgency to push Woods Richardson up a level, and we’re hardly going to learn much from a single start. That said, he should be expected to contribute next season, and given the amount of depth Minnesota needed this year, his having knowledge of The Show this offseason could benefit his preparation. You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a scenario where Woods Richardson is in the Twins Opening Day rotation to start 2023. This is not like Ryan starting on Opening Day coming off just five starts. You could make a good case that he’ll generate at least ten starts for Minnesota in 2023, however, and giving him a look with a few months to prepare for what that looks like seems reasonable. While the Twins were in the division race through the bulk of the season, even leading it most of the way, making the most out of the final games should be the goal. There’s not really a feel-good organizational guy to get an opportunity for, so showcasing the young talent and allowing them further to assert themselves could be a good way to put a bow on things.
  14. With the Minnesota Twins all but eliminated from postseason contention at this point, they could play out the string by getting some young players a bit more acclimated. There’s virtually no one left to promote from Triple-A St. Paul at this point, but starting pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson may make sense. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints Last season, the Twins relied relatively heavily on Bailey Ober as a regular starting rotation arm. Then after acquiring Joe Ryan for aging-slugger Nelson Cruz, the former Rays pitcher wound up making five starts down the stretch for Rocco Baldelli’s club. There’s not time for either of those two exposure levels, but Simeon Woods Richardson could be worth giving a turn to. Logistically, there are a few things to work through. The St. Paul Saints regular season schedule goes through a final home game on September 28. They’ll obviously need arms to make those starts, and while they aren’t lined up for a postseason berth, the goal isn’t to minimize those games. There’s also the reality that Woods Richardson doesn’t currently have a spot on the Minnesota 40-man roster. That’s more than easily worked around, but would generate an increase in pay and start his Major League service time. From an individual perspective, it’s hard to suggest that Woods Richardson hasn’t earned the opportunity. Acquired by the Twins from Toronto when they sent Jose Berrios north of the border, the former second-round pick has a 2.93 ERA this season between Double and Triple-A. Only five of his starts have come with the Saints, but Woods Richardson owns a strong 9.7 K/9 and a manageable 3.0 BB/9. If there’s concern about a workload, the most bringing Woods Richardson to the Twins would add is an additional turn. Minnesota plays through October 5th, and should they wait to give him a single game, he could start in the season’s final series against the Chicago White Sox. Pitching just 53 1/3 innings last year after playing for Team USA in the Olympics, Woods Richardson has built back up to 95 1/3 innings this year and did throw 106 2/3 innings as an 18-year-old in the Mets system during 2019. There’s certainly no urgency to push Woods Richardson up a level, and we’re hardly going to learn much from a single start. That said, he should be expected to contribute next season, and given the amount of depth Minnesota needed this year, his having knowledge of The Show this offseason could benefit his preparation. You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a scenario where Woods Richardson is in the Twins Opening Day rotation to start 2023. This is not like Ryan starting on Opening Day coming off just five starts. You could make a good case that he’ll generate at least ten starts for Minnesota in 2023, however, and giving him a look with a few months to prepare for what that looks like seems reasonable. While the Twins were in the division race through the bulk of the season, even leading it most of the way, making the most out of the final games should be the goal. There’s not really a feel-good organizational guy to get an opportunity for, so showcasing the young talent and allowing them further to assert themselves could be a good way to put a bow on things. View full article
  15. TRANSACTIONS RHP Tyler Beck added to Triple-A St. Paul from Double-A Wichita SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 9, St. Paul 1 Box Score Tonight Austin Schulfer started for the Saints but threw to just three batters after a throw from catcher Ryan Jeffers hit him in the back of the head. He did walk off under his own power and indications are that he should be fine. Tyler Beck, recently added from Double-A Wichita having pitched just one inning this year due to injury, then gave up five runs on four hits and four walks across 1 2/3 innings. Indianapolis tagged St. Paul pitching for one run in the 1st inning, five runs in the 2nd inning, one run in the 4th inning, and another in the 6th inning before the Saints could answer. Wander Javier lifted a sacrifice fly, scoring John Andreoli to break up the shutout, but that was the end of their scoring. Indianapolis wiped that away with a run in the 8th inning and they completed the 9-1 victory. WIND SURGE WISDOM The regular season is over for the Wichita Wind Surge. Winning the finale, they finished the season 78-59. After going 35-33 in the first half, it was a 43-26 second half record that vaulted the Wind Surge into the Texas League Division Series. Wichita will play host to the Tulsa Drillers, who went just 29-40 in the second half after a near opposite 40-27 mark in the first half. Wichita has been a dominant 26-10 at home during the second half while Tulsa has gone just 13-23 on the road. Second rank Twins Daily prospect Brooks Lee was recently promoted to Wichita and will provide a significant boost to the lineup. Edouard Julien and Alex Isola have also been catalysts for the Wind Surge this season. With Kody Funderburk going in the final, he would seem unlikely to pitch in the series. Twins rookie Louie Varland’s brother Gus Varland has pitched 70 2/3 innings for Tulsa this year and should appear in the series. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Evan Sisk (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Hitter of the Day – John Andreoli (St. Paul) - 2-3, R, BB PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-3, K #16 - Ronny Henriquez (Minnesota) - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (5:35PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games!
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